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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly re-introduces herself to her readers.

  • Bruce Dorminey shares one man's theory about how extraterrestrials could use exoplanet sightings to build up a galactic communications network.

  • Far Outliers shares some unusual Japanese words, starting with "amepotu" for American potato.

  • Language Hat takes
  • Did the spokeswoman of the NRA threaten to "fisk" the New York Times or threaten something else? Language Log reports.

  • Drew Rowsome notes that, compared to San Francisco, Toronto does not have much of a public kink scene.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the quantum reasons behind the explosion produced by sodium metal and water.

  • Understanding Society takes rightful issue with The Guardian's shoddy coverage of Dearborn, Michigan, and that city's Muslims and/or Arabs.

  • Unicorn Booty notes that Canada is, at last, starting to take in queer refugees from Chechnya.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the embarrassing support for Jean-Luc Mélenchon for Venezuela. Was opposing the US all he wanted?

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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith updates his readers about the progress of his various writing projects.

  • The Big Picture shares photos from the Battle of Mosul waged against ISIS.

  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of rogue binary planet 2MASS J11193254–1137466, two super-Jupiters by themselves.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the raw photography of early 20th century New York City's Weegee.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is rightly unimpressed by the reflexive Russophilia of The Nation. Imperialism is still imperialism ...

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen strongly recommends Dali, in the Chinese province of Yunnan, for tourists.

  • The NYR Daily features Masha Gessen, looking at the truth underneath the lies of Trump.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer makes a case that Macron's use of "civilizational" to describe Africa's issues might be the subject of over-quick outrage.

  • Peter Rukavina describes his two weeks with a Nokia N95, without a modern smartphone. There was good and bad to this.

  • Speed River Journal's Van Waffle explains, with photos, what hoverflies are and why they are so important.

  • Understanding Society considers a fraught question: what paths to modernization were open for China in the 1930s, before the People's Republic?

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that, in 30 years, Moscow will be a megacity with a large population of (substantially immigrant) Muslim origin.

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Michelle Da Silva's brief article in NOW Toronto notes that Queen Street West in Toronto will finally get some free public WiFi--indeed, already has it. Now for the rest of Toronto to follow suit!

Accessing free WiFi in Toronto can often mean ducking into a McDonalds, Starbucks or other fastfood chains. In “world class” cities, such as Tel Aviv, New York City, Seoul, Barcelona, Bangalore and Osaka, free Internet access is readily available everywhere.

The neighbourhood of West Queen West is hoping to change that. Starting February 23, anyone walking along Queen West between Niagara and Markham streets will be able to access free WiFi by logging onto FREE WQW WI-FI.

The service is being offered by the West Queen West BIA and Besify, a Markham-based Internet firm. This stretch of Queen West marks the first phase of a project. Rob Sysak, executive director of the WQW BIA, says that phase two of the project, which includes Queen West between Gladstone and Dovercourt, will launch in March.
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The Canadian Broadcasting Centre's Ivan Harris Gallery is hidden away from the CBC Museum, behind the escalator leading to the Centre's food court. My attention was caught by the vintage technology on display, by the RCA TK-76 A camera that enabled mobile news gathering in the late 1970s, or the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 that could transmit as many as ten pages of text (!) from the field.

RCA TK-76 A Electronic News Gathering (ENG) Camera)


Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100


Televisions of the 1950s


Sound mixer


Tape recorder
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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto's Wellington Street.

  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet's disintegration.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.

  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour's Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, "misogynoir" as it is called.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump's immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

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I really approve of this CBC proposal, described at the CBC itself. Why not establish Canada's national broadcaster as financially independent?

CBC/Radio Canada has submitted a position paper to the federal government proposing the public broadcaster move to an ad-free model, similar to the one used to pay for the BBC in the United Kingdom, at a cost of about $400 million in additional funding.

"We are at a critical juncture in our evolution, continuing to operate under a business model and cultural policy framework that is profoundly broken," said the CBC's document, released on Monday afternoon. "At the same time, other nations are moving their cultural agendas forward successfully — and reaping the benefits of strong, stable, well-funded public broadcasters."

The additional money CBC is asking for would largely be "replacement funding" if the media organization eliminates advertising. The proposal requests $318 million to replace advertising revenue: $253 million in lost ad sales plus $105 million to "produce and procure additional Canadian content" to fill the programming gaps in their absence. CBC is also asking for $100 million in "additional funding of new investments to face consumer and technology disruption."

However, the proposal notes that removing ads will also result in savings of $40 million in the cost of selling advertising.

Total government funding for CBC would equal an investment of $46 per Canadian every year — up from the current $34 per Canadian it currently receives, the document says.

Two-thirds of the ad revenue given up by the CBC, the proposal argues, "would migrate to other Canadian media, including private TV and digital, for a net gain to them of $158M."
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BBC's technology reporter Dave Lee reports on the West Virginia town of Green Bank, isolated from the outside world by strict limits on radio transmissions which may be coming to an end.

I am not the first BBC reporter to pop in here. In fact, Green Bank is a source of constant fascination for journalists all over the world. Recently, several people in the town told me, a Japanese crew baffled everyone when it appeared to set up a game show-style challenge in the area.

Outsiders come here for two reasons. One, to marvel at the science. Two, to ogle at the unique people who have chosen to live here.

Green Bank sits at the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile (33,669 sq km) area where certain types of transmissions are restricted so as not to create interference to the variety of instruments set up in the hills - as well as the Green Bank Observatory, there is also Sugar Grove, a US intelligence agency outpost.

For those in the immediate vicinity of the GBT, the rules are more strict. Your mobile phone is useless here, you will not get a TV signal and you can't have strong wi-fi  - though they admit this is a losing battle. Modern life is winning, gradually. And newer wi-fi standards do not interfere with the same frequencies as before.

But this relative digital isolation has meant that Green Bank has become a haven for those who feel they are quite literally allergic to electronic interference.
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CBC explains why, among other things, the WIND app on my phone changed names the last time I updated. If this leads to better service, I'll be happy.

Wind Mobile is rebranding itself as Freedom Mobile and adding to its old 3G network with an LTE network that should be available in every market where it operates by August.

The company, which was acquired last year by Calgary-based Shaw Communications, has grown to roughly one million customers since its launch under foreign ownership in late 2008.

The company offers discounted mobile service in major urban centres, but on an inferior spectrum band that has been plagued by slow or dropped signals.

The new LTE service, to be first rolled out in Toronto and Vancouver on Nov. 27 and then everywhere else the company operates by the fall of 2017, could change all that.

Customers' bills could be changing too. Wind plans range between $25 and $50 a month for all-inclusive texting, talk and data plans that offer far more downloading capability than the big three — but on a network that makes it hard to ever take advantage of those numbers due to spotty service.
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  • Bloomberg talks about Poland's problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei's progress in China.

  • Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito's opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe's soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.

  • CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals' lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.

  • The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton's in the Philippines.

  • The Guardian notes that Canada's impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.

  • The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.

  • MacLean's notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.

  • National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar's complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto's dwarf planet status.

  • The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.

  • Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.

  • TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.

  • Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.

  • Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump's tweets clearly show two authors at work.

  • The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.

  • Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders' dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.

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  • Bloomberg notes that Brexit might drive British migration to Australia, suggests Russia's recession might be coming to an end, looks at carbon emissions from dead trees, and reports on Guiliani's liking for Blackberry.

  • Bloomberg View notes Israel's tightening restrictions on conversions and looks at how Putin has become a US election issue.

  • CBC notes the construction in Turkey for a cemetery for participants in the recent coup.

  • Gizmodo reports on flickering AR Scorpii, an unusual binary.

  • The Inter Press Service reports on urban land tenure for migrants and describes Malawi's recent translocation of elephants.

  • MacLean's describes the Chinese labourers of the First World War.

  • The National Post notes the marginalization of conservative white men in the Democratic Party.

  • Open Democracy looks at politics for the United Kingdom's Remain minority, looks at Scotland's European options, and suggests Hillary needs to learn from the lessons of Britain's Remain campaign to win.

  • The Toronto Star notes the plans of Tim Horton's to expand to Southeast Asia, starting with the Philippines.

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  • Bloomberg notes the advance of Catalonian separatism, looks at the economic catastrophes hitting Mozambique, and looks at how Africa is getting more people online by devising apps for non-smartphones.

  • Bloomberg View examines at length the implications of Donald Trump's not quite criminal call to have Russia hack more E-mails.

  • The CBC notes young British Leave voters defending their choices and observes the implications of the shutdown of the Manitoba port of Churchill.

  • The Inter Press Service notes that the Rio Olympics will be a mess.

  • MacLean's notes the dominance of the Canadian economy by the housing bubble.

  • The National Post reports on a team of Turkish commandos sent to kill the president found hiding in a cave.

  • Open Democracy looks at the negative results of the European Union's incoherent policies in Azerbaijan.

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CBC News' Lindsay Bird and Zach Goudie described the role of Newfoundland in ushering in the era of instantaneous global communications.

Of all the ocean views that can take your breath away on the beach of Heart's Content, it's safe to say you wouldn't look twice at the rusty old cables that run across its rocks and out to sea from the small town — population 375 — perched on the shores of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.

But 150 years ago a single cable forever changed the way the world communicated, as the first successful transatlantic subsea cable, able to send and receive telegraphed information, solidified a link between the old world and the new for the first time.

Prior to July 27, 1866, if you wanted to send a message across the ocean, it would be carried over in a ship's cargo hold. In 1865, the news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination arrived in Europe a week after that deadly shot rang out through Ford's Theatre.

But the subsea cable consigned that level of communication patience to history that July day, as a ship landed on the town's shore, bringing with it a cable that stretched all the way back to Valentia Island, Ireland. With that, the small cable station in Heart's Content became the starting point for all those 21st-century text messages now built into everyday life.

"This is where we truly began. There are some books that dub us the 'Victorian internet,'" said Tara Bishop, an interpreter at the Heart's Content Cable Museum, a small station which has gone from being a hub of communication processing to a provincial historic site, and now thrust back into the spotlight as the epicentre of the town's 150th anniversary celebrations of the event that ushered in a technological revolution.
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The Toronto Star's Vanessa Lu explains.

Compared to other cities around the world, free Wi-Fi can be hard to come by in Toronto.

Pop into a chain coffee shop or fast-food joint and you’ll probably be able to connect. Both Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission are trying to offer up more access, but it’s still limited.

It’s a far cry from the experiment launched in New York earlier this year where free high-speed public Wi-Fi was made available through street kiosks. Using the city’s now outdated pay phone infrastructure, LinkNYC hopes to cover the whole city in the next 10 years, providing affordable access to an increasingly essential service.

But Toronto was already thinking ahead to the need for such a service back in 2006, when Toronto Hydro Telecom offered up the free service for six months in the downtown core.

Wireless hub devices placed on the tops of street light poles sent out powerful signals under the project known as OneZone, a small, 6-square-kilometre area running from Bloor St. to Front St., between Spadina Ave. and Jarvis St.
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The Toronto Star carries Albert Gea's Reuters article noting the latest stages in Huawei's investments in Ontario for 5G technology. With provincial government funding, of course.

The Canadian arm of Chinese telecom giant Huawei is getting up to $16 million from Ontario taxpayers to help create 250 new jobs developing the next wave of 5G smartphone technology.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday that the deal — which had its roots in her 2014 trade mission to China — further cements a strategic partnership with the firm which has research and development facilities in the province.

Huawei Technologies is investing $303 million in the project, establishing new research laboratories in Markham and Waterloo and expanding its research facility in Ottawa.

Ontario’s contribution is “laying the foundation for sustainable growth for years to come” and building the
province’s reputation as a leader in the knowledge economy, Wynne said at the company’s office in Markham.

The $16 million is from the province’s $2.7 billion “jobs and prosperity fund” aimed at bolstering innovation and boosting Ontario’s exports.
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3 Quarks Daily linked to James McWilliams' essay in the American Scholar, looking at how to make best use of social networking and instant telecommunications for our own sake.

In 2012, Paul Miller, a 26-year-old journalist and former writer for The Verge, began to worry about the quality of his thinking. His ability to read difficult studies or to follow intricate arguments demanding sustained attention was lagging. He found himself easily distracted and, worse, irritable about it. His longtime touchstone—his smartphone—was starting to annoy him, making him feel insecure and anxious rather than grounded in the ideas that formerly had nourished him. “If I lost my phone,” he said, he’d feel “like I could never catch up.” He realized that his online habits weren’t helping him to work, much less to multitask. He was just switching his attention all over the place and, in the process, becoming a bit unhinged.

Subtler discoveries ensued. As he continued to analyze his behavior, Miller noticed that he was applying the language of nature to digital phenomena. He would refer, for example, to his “RSS feed landscape.” More troubling was how his observations were materializing not as full thoughts but as brief Tweets—he was thinking in word counts. When he realized he was spending 95 percent of his waking hours connected to digital media in a world where he “had never known anything different,” he proposed to his editor a series of articles that turned out to be intriguing and prescriptive. What would it be like to disconnect for a year? His editor bought the pitch, and Miller, who lives in New York, pulled the plug.

For the first several months, the world unfolded as if in slow motion. He experienced “a tangible change in my ability to be more in the moment,” recalling how “fewer distractions now flowed through my brain.” The Internet, he said, “teaches you to expect instant gratification, which makes it hard to be a good human being.” Disconnected, he found a more patient and reflective self, one more willing to linger over complexities that he once clicked away from. “I had a longer attention span, I was better able to handle complex reading, I did not need instant gratification, and,” he added somewhat incongruously, “I noticed more smells.” The “endless loops that distract you from the moment you are in,” he explained, diminished as he became “a more reflective writer.” It was an encouraging start.

But if Miller became more present-minded, nobody else around him did. “People felt uncomfortable talking to me because they knew I wasn’t doing anything else,” he said. Communication without gadgets proved to be a foreign concept in his peer world. Friends and colleagues—some of whom thought he might have died—misunderstood or failed to appreciate Miller’s experiment. Plus, given that he had effectively consigned himself to offline communications, all they had to do to avoid him was to stay online. None of this behavior was overtly hostile, all of it was passive, but it was still a social burden reminding Miller that his identity didn’t thrive in a vacuum. His quality of life eventually suffered.

Miller recalled the low point of this period of social isolation. He was walking to the subway one evening with several friends. When they reached the platform, his companions did as he once would have done: they whipped out their smartphones and went into other worlds. Feeling awkward, he stood on the platform, looked into his empty hand, and simulated using a smartphone. “I now called it my dumb phone,” he said. When the offline year ended, he was relieved.
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Newsweek's Seung Lee describes how the FBI conflict with Apple might undermine the position of the United States in the European Union (and of Apple, too!).

With Apple openly fighting court orders backed by the FBI and the Department of Justice this week, several news outlets have reported on how Russia and China may use this case to expand their surveillance powers.

But this legal battle may have huge ripple effects among America’s closest allies in Europe as well. The United States and the European Union do not currently have an agreement on how to share data across the Atlantic. But both sides have recently reached a new transatlantic data protection agreement called Privacy Shield, which would allow companies to move data across the Atlantic lawfully and with protection against foreign threats.

But European public trust toward the United States remains shaky following the disclosure via Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency (NSA) engaged in large-scale data collection involving EU citizens. If the FBI is able to coerce Apple into opening encrypted smartphones, that trust—and maybe even Privacy Shield—could topple quickly, one security expert tells Newsweek.

“Privacy advocates will use this is as a bargaining position against Privacy Shield,” says Stephen Cobb, a senior security researcher at the IT security company ESET. “They will cry, ‘See, the United States is still not secure.’”
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Bloomberg's Caroline Hyde notes Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei's support for Apple. This will be interesting to watch.

Huawei Technologies Co. will back Apple Inc. as it contests a U.S. government order requiring the unlocking of a terrorist’s iPhone, taking the side of the industry’s biggest names in a clash over the balance between law enforcement and consumer privacy.

China’s largest smartphone maker joined Google Inc. and other technology companies in supporting Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who last week vowed to fight a court order compelling the company to help investigators break into the phone used by one of the shooters in a California terrorist attack.

Consumer privacy is key for smartphone makers, Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s fast-growing consumer devices division, told Bloomberg Television on Sunday. Huawei becomes one of the first major Asian technology companies to speak out on a debate that has galvanized an industry long resistant to government efforts to gain access to data in criminal cases.

[. . .]

“It’s the top one, the most important thing to the consumer. We should really protect the consumer’s privacy and security,” said Yu, who was at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to unveil Huawei’s first laptop. “Personally, I support Apple’s, Tim Cook’s idea.”

Huawei showed off the laptop -- which is powered by Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 10 and comes with a detachable screen -- to help fuel its rapid ascent in consumer devices. Now the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker, behind Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple according to IDC, Huawei has aspirations of becoming the No. 1 brand in five years.
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The Toronto Star hosted Aimee Blanchette' Minneapolis Star Tribune article noting how, ultimately, texting is an impoverished form of communication that leaves much too much open to question.

This modern convenience easily can morph into an anxiety-ridden mystery as you look for signs behind a text’s real meaning, question nonsensical acronyms and wonder if using an exclamation mark or a period will change the receiver’s interpretation of your text. (The answer is yes.)

“These delicate decisions consume far too much of my attention, so much that a brief exchange of texts or emails can leave me psychologically depleted for the rest of the day,” said Paul Scott, 52, of Rochester, Minn. “The exclamation point seems to have become officially required in order to not look like you have produced a passive-aggressive text.”

[. . .]

“Yes” doesn’t mean “yes!” “K” signals annoyance and “hi.” with a period usually means, “We need to talk and you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.”

“Texts have such a variety of meanings with a simple change of punctuation,” said Sara Kerr, a business professor at St. Catherine University. “Text messaging makes passive-aggressiveness worse in the same way Internet comment boards breed nasty trolls and vitriolic comments.”

Even when we try to be direct in our messages, texting is limiting. Without facial expressions, body language and the tone of someone’s voice, we often assume the worst.

“There’s so much misunderstanding that occurs through this medium just because there’s not a universal approach to it,” said Luke Youngvorst, a doctoral student/instructor at the University of Minnesota. “There is ambiguity to texting and we’re left to our own perceptions.”
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CBC notes the continued decline of BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has confirmed it is laying off 200 employees, in Waterloo, Ont., where the company is headquartered, and at a manufacturing facility in Sunrise, Fla.

The company filed a worker adjustment and retraining notification with the state of Florida on Thursday to lay off 75 manufacturing workers between Feb. 4 and Feb. 26. The other 125 jobs, part of the 200 overall, would be cut from Waterloo.

BlackBerry denied reports in the tech blog Mobile Syrup, which suggested the number of layoffs at BlackBerry's Waterloo headquarters could be as high as 1,000 people, or 35 per cent of the company's estimated workforce.

[. . .]

The company has also parted ways with Gary Klassen, creator of BlackBerry Messenger.

"We can confirm that Gary Klassen has left BlackBerry. The company is grateful for his many contributions during his tenure and we wish him the best in his future endeavours," said BlackBerry in a statement.

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