- D-Brief notes the first-ever use of Einsteinian gravitational bending to examine the mass of a star.
- Language Log announces the start of an investigation into the evolving rhetoric of Donald Trump. Something is up.
- The LRB Blog reports from Tuareg Agadez in Niger, about rebellions and migrant-smuggling.
- Marginal Revolution wonders what is the rationale for the extreme cut-off imposed on Qatar.
- Maximos62 wonders about the impact of Indonesia's fires on not just wildlife but indigenous peoples.
- Personal Reflections notes the irrelevance of the United States' withdrawal from Paris, at least from an Australian position.
- Savage Minds points to a new anthropology podcast.
- Window on Eurasia
- Yahoo News shares the story of a cat that visited every national park in the United States, with photos.
- CBC's Mike Crawley takes a look at the impact of the Ontario $15 minimum wage, finding it should have little effect on the economy at large.
- In The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller suggests that Donald Trump's actions do a great job of promoting China as a responsible superpower.
- CBC notes research suggesting that global warming will make the heat island effect in cities much worse.
- It is easy, editor David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in The Globe and Mail, to mistake Pittsburgh for Paris.
- The Toronto Star notes Ariana Grande's surprise visit to her fans in hospital before tomorrow benefit concert.
- The Atlantic reports on the problems of post-Communist gentrification in Moscow.
- The Georgia Straight shares one Vancouver artist's goodbye to her adopted city, beloved but now too expensive.
- Beyond the Beyond notes an image of a wooden model of Babbage's difference engine.
- James Bow talks about the soundtrack he has made for his new book.
- Centauri Dreams considers ways astronomers can detect photosynthesis on exoplanets and shares images of Fomalhaut's debris disk.
- Crooked Timber looks at fidget spinners in the context of discrimination against people with disabilities.
- D-Brief notes that Boyajian's Star began dimming over the weekend.
- Far Outliers reports on a 1917 trip by zeppelin to German East Africa.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that there is good reason to be concerned about health issues for older presidential candidates.
- The NYRB Daily reports on Hungary's official war against Central European University.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes the origins of modern immigration to Russia in internal Soviet migration.
- Savage Minds shares an ethnographer's account of what it is like to look to see her people (the Sherpas of Nepal) described.
- Strange Maps shares a map speculating as to what the world will look like when it is 4 degrees warmer.
- The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the US Congress does not have authority over immigration.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's population will be concentrated around Moscow, compares Chechnya's position vis-à-vis Russia to Puerto Rico's versus the United States, and looks at new Ukrainian legislation against Russian churches and Russian social networks.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes how Evelyn Waugh's writings on the Horn of Africa anticipate the "Friedman unit", the "a measurement of time defined as how long it will take until things are OK in Iraq".
- blogTO reports that Honest Ed's will have its final sign sale this weekend.
- D-Brief looks at the New Horizons probe's next target after Pluto, and reports that Venus is tectonically active.
- Centauri Dreams reports on the mechanics of the antimatter sail.
- Dangerous Minds features a video of France Gall singing about computer dating in 1968.
- The Dragon's Gaze considers biological fluorescence as a marker for life on red dwarf exoplanets.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on a wall of taco trucks set to face Donald Trump in Las Vegas.
- The LRB Blog notes the flailings of the Nigerian president.
- The NYRB Blog reports on how Brexit will wreck a British economy dependent on single market access.
- Transit Toronto notes that preliminary work has begun on the Scarborough subway.
- The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr links to an editorial of his arguing that it should be made easier for Americans to migrate.
- Window on Eurasia notes that Russia is losing a third world war over brainpower and looks at the problems of sleeping districts in Moscow, a legacy of Soviet misplanning.
- blogTO notes that Green Day will be headlining a festival in the Distillery District.
- Centauri Dreams looks at research into an interstellar solar sail.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes a study of brown dwarf populations.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at ancient Martian rivers and flood plains.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the protest of Colin Kaepernick.
- The Map Room Blog reports on a map exhibition at the Library of Congress.
- Marginal Revolution notes low murder rates among Haitian-Americans in Florida.
- The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe's low orbit scans of Ceres.
- Otto Pohl announces the beginning of his first semester in Kurdistan.
- The Volokh Conspiracy notes that it is a crime to talk about the Nazi-Soviet alliance versus Poland in Russia.
- Window on Eurasia looks at how North Caucasians in Moscow identify quickly as Muscovites.
- At Antipope, Charlie Stross describes how Brexit has forced him to rewrite his latest novel.
- D-Brief suggests early Venus was once habitable, and notes the rumour of an Earth-like planet found around Proxima Centauri.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the detection of storms of brown dwarfs.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on more signs of water on Mars.
- False Steps notes an early American proposal for a space station in orbit of the Moon.
- Language Hat talks about lost books, titles deserving broader readership.
- The LRB Blog talks about the EU and Brexit.
- Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting Trump support is concentrated among people close to those who have lost out from trade.
- Neuroskeptic reports on the story of H.M., a man who lost the ability to form new memories following a brain surgery.
- The Volokh Conspiracy engages the idea of voting with a lesser evil.
- Window on Eurasia notes the role of immigrants in Moscow's economy.
Bloomberg's Leonid Ragozin looks at the politics behind the reconstruction of Moscow.
Ilya Bogdanov evacuated his family from their cozy apartment in the heart of Moscow after spending two summers with clouds of dust and roaring construction machinery. For the rest of the warm weather, they will stay on the Baltic seaside in Latvia.
"We need a respite from urban improvement," the 44-year-old insurance analyst deadpanned.
Moscow is undergoing a massive reconstruction, amid an economic crisis caused by the slump in oil prices and Western sanctions imposed after Russian's incursions on Ukraine. The city was last subject to such a major revamp under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in the 1960s, said Grigory Revzin, an urban development expert and a champion of the project even before Moscow hired his architecture firm.
Sidewalks are being widened and primped on all the major streets of the city center, with about 50 streets in reconstruction each summer. Beyond the center, more than 70 new metro stations are being built, at a cost of roughly $15 billion. Two additional circle lines, which connect the radial lines that cross in the city center as in London and Berlin, will complement the existing one, built in the 1950s.
In the past four years, the authorities have made over Moscow’s numerous parks and gentrified old industrial areas, turning them into slick hipster haunts that swarm with galleries, designer shops, startup offices, and co-working spaces for freelancers. They have considerably reduced traffic chaos by introducing paid parking across the city. Separately, a reconstruction of all major soccer stadiums in Moscow is under way for the World Football Cup to be hosted by Russia in 2018.
- The Big Picture shares photos of a Shanghai neighbourhood that refuses to sell out to developers.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the large dwarf planet 2007 OR10.
- Dangerous Minds notes a campaign by a 9/11 conspiracy theorist to raise funds to buy an airplane and a building.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at the Kepler-223 system.
- Language Hat looks at an astonishingly thorough German-led effort to publish a dictionary of Latin.
- The NYRB Daily assesses the Iran nuclear deal.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers Brazil and argues that any treachery in Sykes-Picot was less in the deal and more in the assumptions behind it.
- Transit Toronto notes the return of GO Transit's seasonal trains to Niagara.
- Window on Eurasia notes Moscow's refusal to allow Circassians a memorial march.
James Bow rates California rail.
- blogTO shares ten facts about the Toronto Islands.
- Centauri Dreams features an article talking about "exoanthropology", a theoretical branch of that social science aimed at examining human adaptation to offworld environments.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper speculating that white dwarf NLTT19868 shows signs of having eaten a rocky world.
- The Dragon's Tales links to one paper identifying different species of bacteria which can grow under simulated Martian environments and notes another looking at the possibility of a subsurface ocean on Titan.
- Languages of the World looks at patterns of religiosity in Russia.
- The NYR Daily considers Donald Trump's long-term strategy.
- Peter Rukavina reflects on the new music of Jane Siberry and Brian Eno.
- Torontoist notes some neglected public art by Fort York under the Gardiner.
- Window on Eurasia notes core/periphery divisions in Moscow's population.
- On Livejournal, bitterlawngnome shares some remarkable vintage print ads from the early 20th century.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that robots installed the mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the abundant water ice on the surface of Pluto.
- Joe. My. God. and Towleroad note the imprisonment of Philadelphia gaybasher Kathryn Knott.
- Language Hat explores college girl fiction.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Marco Rubio's encounter with a gay man in New Hampshire.
- Marginal Revolution notes the global market for super-butlers.
- Steve Munro considers how Smarttrack and GO will co-exist.
- Otto Pohl compares nation-building in Central Asia with that in the Middle East.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes a conference held in Moscow on Muslims and their space in that city.
- At Antipope, Charlie Stross talks about the American far right and the popularity of Trump.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about her shortlist of places to visit around the world.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the trinary brown dwarf system VHS 1256-1257.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the use of CRISPR to edit human genomes.
- Geocurrents has a mini-atlas showing the diversity of the Russian Federation.
- Joe. My. God. notes that Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, is strongly pro-gay to the point of supporting same-sex marriage.
- Language Log and The Dragon's Tales both reacted to news, product of genetic studies, suggesting that the Celts were recent arrivals to Ireland.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at birtherism as now applied to Ted Cruz, perhaps being too gleeful, while Joe. My. God. notes Trump's use of this rhetoric.
- The Map Room Blog links to a map showing the relative economic strength of different Japanese municipalities.
- Marginal Revolution looks at Walmart in the context of its store closings.
- The Planetary Society Blog shares some Cassini photos of the Saturn system, including Titan and Enceladus.
- Towleroad notes that Truvada, as used for PrEP, is no more risky than aspirin.
- Window on Eurasia suggests anti-Putin protests are most likely in relatively prosperous regions like Moscow, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan, and notes a push to make Russian an official language of the European Union.
This CBC News report from Russia was amusing.
Imagine standing in a Moscow graveyard late at night. You're alone, with no bars on your phone and desperately curious about Russian author Anton Chekov.
It's an unlikely horror movie scenario, but it's one Moscow is preparing for by introducing free Wi-Fi to three major cemeteries.
Visitors to Novodevichy, Troyekurovskoye, and Vagankovo cemeteries will have access to free Wi-Fi starting sometime next year, according to French news service Agence France-Presse.
These are the city's historic burial grounds, which collectively hold the remains of Soviet Union leader Nikita Khruschchev, writer Nikolai Gogol and author Anton Chekov.
- blogTO notes the opening of a new Taiwanese fried chicken restaurant location in Toronto.
- Centauri Dreams notes an odd crater on Charon.
- D-Brief reports on a study suggesting that geography--specifically, topography--can influence the number of consonants in a language.
- The Dragon's Gaze reports on the craziness of the KOI-89 planetary system and suggests Kepler-91b might have a Trojan companion.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on American fears of a shortage of aircraft carriers.
- The New APPS Blog considers if neurons have preferences.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw talks of the British Museum.
- The Planetary Society Blog reports on new rover science on Mars.
- Peter Rukavina celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Prince Edward Island government website, among other things.
- Savage Minds notes that these days, we don't have much time for slowness.
- Window on Eurasia suggests student surveys in Moscow and St. Petersburg indicate high levels of ethnic and religious tension.
- Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
- Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
- BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
- Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
- Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
- The Dragon's Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
- Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
- Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
- Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
- Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan's speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer's during the presidency.
- Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
- Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer's new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
- Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
- Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
- Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
- Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen's Park.
- Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
- The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau's criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
- Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.
The Guardian's Shaun Walker reports on the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
What will this mean?
What will this mean?
Prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in Moscow. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a sharp critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was reportedly shot four times in the chest by a killer in a passing car.
The killing took place in the very centre of Moscow late on Friday evening on a bridge near St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, two days before Nemtsov was due to lead a major opposition rally in Moscow.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the president would take the investigation into Nemtsov’s death under “personal control”, and that he believed the killing to be a provocation.
“Putin noted that this cruel killing has all the signs of a hit, and is a pure provocation,” said Peskov. He said Putin offered condolences to Nemtsov’s family.
Nemtsov, 55, was deputy prime minister during the 1990s in the government of Boris Yeltsin. He had written a number of reports in recent years linking Putin and his inner circle to corruption, and was one of the most well-known politicians among Russia’s small and beleaguered opposition.
At Open Democracy, Mikhail Kaluzhsky argues that the popularity of Richard Florida and his "creative class" thesis in Russia actually wasn't supported by the facts on the ground.
As little as 18 months ago, one could still count hundreds of people in the Moscow metro who were prepared to demonstrate their involvement in political protest. No one wears the famous white ribbons anymore. The imitation of political activity on social networks has triumphed over real political activity, once and for all. Russians still turn out to defend their economic rights, but no one protests against the illegitimacy of parliament. Does anyone actually still remember that the Russian Duma is illegitimate? The war in Ukraine and the economic crisis, it seems, have completely eclipsed the political protest we saw in 2011-2012.
So, who are those people who took to the streets, and have now just as unexpectedly disappeared?
Apparently, the former protesters aren’t sure themselves. The social composition of the failed 'snow revolution' has been variously described, but the terminological confusion that this created only goes to demonstrate the acute identity crisis of the protesters. Identification and self-identification were focused around two seemingly interchangeable terms: 'middle class' and 'creative class'. Members of the opposition themselves declared that the 2011-2012 protests were a movement of the creative class. Those who did not support the white ribbon wearers still talk of the opposition-minded in derogatory terms (kreakly – creatives) in the pro-Putin media and social networks.
Just like the 19th century Russian intelligentsia’s love for Marxism, in the 2000s, Russians became obsessed with the theory of the creative class.
The Russian translation of Richard Florida's 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life appeared in 2005. This concept soon became a source of inspiration for people who believed Russia possessed 'a capacity for innovation' and 'a knowledge-based economy', as well as those who believed that progress would be possible without actually changing the political system. The phrase itself quickly became fashionable: ‘creative class’ became part of everyone’s vocabulary (whether you believed in it or not). Yet discussions on topics such as 'Is there a creative class in Russia?' demonstrated first and foremost that the participants had not read Florida.
There was, of course, no creative class in Russia, or certainly not the phenomenon that Florida was writing about. For Florida, a creative class could only emerge if certain conditions – the ‘Three T’s’ – were met: talent (a talented, well-educated, and qualified population), technology (technological infrastructure is essential for the support of business), and tolerance (a diverse community guided by the principle of 'live and let live').
- blogTO notes the development of a new shopping mall in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the ability of the James Webb telescope to detect exoplanet transits.
- Joe. My. God. notes a breakthrough for GLBT rights protesters in Seoul.
- Language Log notes Google's localization in Kazakh and observes Erdogan's desire to revive Ottoman Turkish.
- Languages of the World looks at the Gagauz.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer shares the story of a poor Texan fallen into the cracks of Obamacare because of his state's chosen policies.
- Savage Minds looks at early African-American anthropologist St. Clair Drake.
- Spacing Toronto examines the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan in the GTA in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Torontoist looks at the career of Joseph Shlisky, a Toronto-based Jewish cantor who tried to combine secular and religious careers.
- Towleroad suggests that Elton John and David Furnish might be getting married next week.
- Window on Eurasia notes that immigration has made Moscow the city with the largest Muslim population in Europe, and looks at security fears related to Central Asian migrant workers.
- The Financial Times' The World wonders if Netanyahu has triggered the end of his political career.
- Bad Astronomy notes the astoundingly successful imaging of the nascent HL Tauri system and its young planetary system.
- Centauri Dreams briefly notes some of the challenges of SETI, notably the possibility of very different life and intelligence.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining how exoplanetary systems are structured mathematically.
- Eastern Approaches notes political turmoil in Georgia.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks Bank of Canada governor Stephen Peloz's proposal that the unemployed should work for free.
- John Moyer notes that the understanding of poverty in popular culture in North America is off. Poor people do not own chalets on the lakeside, as in one rom-com.
- Torontoist notes that the North by Northeast music festival will be setting up shopping on the grounds of the substantially empty MaRS research complex near Queen's Park.
- Window on Eurasia notes Crimean Tatar controversies in Russian life and looks at the effect of migration to Moscow.
Moscow’s largest gay club will soon close its doors for good, after a string of vigilante attacks, including shootings, violent assaults and the release of poison gas.
According to Queerussia, the Central Station club, which is Moscow’s biggest gay club, will shut its doors for good, after owner Andrei Lischinsky resigned as CEO earlier this year.
The club has suffered from a huge number of attacks in the past year, including shootings, the release of a poisonous gas, and a coordinated attack by around 100 men.
Lischinsky previously said that Moscow Police had refused to investigate any of the incidents, and that none of his 30 complaints had received a police response.
Announcing his resignation earlier this year, he said: “I am resigning from my job as CEO of the Central Station club on February 1, 2014. Tired of fighting with the ‘windmills’.
“It has been 3 years of unforgettable work in the biggest gay club in the country, a lot has been passed through: the attack of the local prosecutor’s office, and burning my car down, and the fight against the raiders… It was one of the most interesting experiences of my work in the best club in its [market] segment.”
Just days after I compared Toronto to Moscow, inspired by a Windows on Eurasia post that suggested Moscow was a cosmopolitan place new to many of its inhabitants, Toronto transit blogger Steve Munro shares concerns voiced at a public meeting on transit yesterday that Toronto might suffer from the "Moscow syndrome". What is it?
Munro's overview of the discussion, with a half-dozen informed people talking about transit in front of an audience of hundreds, is worth reading indeed.
Toronto has a very different transportation problem than other North American cities, one that is harder to cope with, and [former Vancouver transit planner Larry] Beasley calls this “the Moscow syndrome”. Beasley has worked in that city in its attempt to come to grips with rising transit demand and strangling congestion, but Moscow faces the result of 20 years during which nothing was invested in the system after the fall of the Soviet system. The transit network has very high daily ridership, the urban structure encourages walking and transit trips, but things are coming apart at the seams. A trip to the airport takes three hours in traffic, and crowd control measures are needed on the transit system. There is not enough money for any projects, and governments have been in a collective denial about the scope of the problem.
There are universal truths — transportation needs cannot be sustained just on automobiles. Auto investment leads to increased use, and in Moscow’s economic climate, to exponential growth. Failure to invest leads to a decline in transit’s attractiveness and falling riding, and the longer this persists, the harder it is to catch up. Moscow planners have no idea how to get control of the situation. The dysfunctional network makes the city less competitive and economic development incentives don’t work because they cannot overcome fundamental transportation problems.
Moscow offers a lesson to Toronto. We are not as far down this path, but the symptoms are there for anyone to see. Moscow’s experience confirms that this is not about choosing one funding source, but all that are available. The debate will be over timing and ordering of new revenues (some are easier to implement both organizationally and politically), what Beasley called a “choreography of spending”.
Munro's overview of the discussion, with a half-dozen informed people talking about transit in front of an audience of hundreds, is worth reading indeed.