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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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My attention was piqued at the end of May by Lauren Pelley's CBC report about the West End Phoenix, a new community newspaper in Toronto imagined by Dave Bidini. The Phoenix, a monthly broadsheet slated to concern itself with west-end Toronto "from the Junction Triangle to Parkdale, Christie Pits to Baby Point", will be sustained by annual subscriptions and gifts from donors.

The non-profit publication is the brainchild of Toronto writer, publisher and musician Dave Bidini, and sparked, in part, by his 2015 writing trip to the Northwest Territories, where he spent the summer working at The Yellowknifer.

"I was reinvigorated by that experience," he told CBC Toronto.

Bidini — who's beloved in Canada for his years with the Rheostatics — wondered if a hyper-local newspaper could flourish in Toronto's west end, where he's been living for 23 years in the house he bought from his grandmother.

"I've seen the west end evolve as a social organism, I suppose. It's a pretty interesting time here. You blink, and there's something new and different," he mused. "I wondered about the ability of a newspaper to sustain here, and to illuminate that evolution."

[. . .]

Bidini's vision for the newspaper is a visual and literary representation of "that feeling you get when you're wandering home one night and you find yourself up an alley you haven't traveled through before."

Already, he's joined by deputy editor Melanie Morassutti and senior editor Susan Grimbly, both formerly of The Globe and Mail, and has an advisory council assembled with notable names from the city's arts and culture scene, including Grid founder Laas Turnbull and J-Source managing editor H.G. Watson.


I am fascinated by this project. Consider this post a placeholder of sorts.
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Back one day in March, I accidentally and irretrievably deleted the private entry on Dreamwidth that had contained links to URLs and details on sources that I had been saving for future posts for perhaps a couple of years. I was a bit upset by this, but, I soon realized, I was more upset by my accidental deletion of the entry than by the loss. This private document, full of links pointing to possible future writings, had become baggage, something to be periodically updated and then consistently forgotten.

This realization prompted me to a rethinking of what I am doing, as a writer and a blogger and a person active on social media. What, exactly, am I doing? Why am I doing this? What should I be doing?

I am still thinking. Suffice it to say that something different will be coming. If I don't decide to make sure this difference will arrive thanks to my effort, well, who will do that?
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  • Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.

  • Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.

  • The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.

  • Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.

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  • Centauri Dreams remembers Ben Finney, this time from the angle of a man with an interest in space colonization.

  • Crooked Timber wonders what will happen to the Anglo-American tradition of liberalism.

  • Dangerous Minds imagines the VHS tapes of Logan and Stranger Things.

  • Far Outliers notes the Soviet twist on Siberian exile.

  • Inkfish notes that Detroit is unique among cities in being a good place for bumblebees.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders if modern Germany really is a laboratory for innovative politics.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at José Maria de Eça de Queirós, the "Proust of Portugal".

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw updates his readers on his writing projects.

  • Torontoist reports on how Avi Lewis and Cheri DiNovo have advocated for the NDP's Leap Manifesto.

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  • 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".

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Last evening, I kept my computer busy by uploading the more than two hundred photos I had taken last weekend, during Jane's Walk in Toronto. At one point, I had planned to take eight, but reality and fatigue intervened so as to limit me to six, five on Saturday the 5th and one on Sunday the 6th.

  • My first was "St. Lawrence Market: Role of Public Markets in Placemaking", led by Samantha Wiles. Wiles ably took her group around St. Lawrence Market, past the archeological excavations to the market's north, around its perimeter, and to the south, introducing us to the market's very long history at the heart of Toronto. Photos are here.

  • In the afternoon, I followed urbanist Richard Longley in his "Harbord Village east side: architecture old, new, diverse, domestic, insitutional, sacred, profane", taking a large contingent through a rapidly changing neighbourhood south of the Annex. I was particularly taken by the abundance of creative graffiti in the back alleys, especially on Croft Street. Photos are here.

  • Later in the afteroon, I followed Brian Sharwood and Melinda Medley, the bloggers behind OssingtonVillage.com, on a short but information-packed stroll north in Indie Ossington, from Ossington at Queen on the CAMH grounds up to Dundas Street. Photos are here.

  • In the evening, I went down to Exhibition Place for the Ghost Walk led there by Steve Collie. As night fell, Collie took dozens of people on a stroll through some of the locales where ghost sightings have been claimed, from the stacks of the centre's archives to the barracks where soldiers sent off to war spent their last moments in Canada. The behind-the-scenes perspective it offered of Exhibition Place was a big plus. Photos are here.

  • Late at night, at 11 o'clock, I joined the Nightwalking & Secret Staircases: Baby Point walk led by Oona Fraser. My photo album includes my pre-walk, east from Old Mill station and up Jane Street to the Baby Point Gates. Walking through the wooded parks along Humber River, up and down the stairs, underneath the luminous sky, was magic.

  • Sunday afternoon, after joining a visiting Taiwanese friend for lunch and then doing some independent walking south on Roncesvalles and east on Queen Street West to Dufferin, I joined "Here's the Thing: A Creative Writing Walk (Part 2 / Downtown)" at Dufferin Station. Led by Denise Pinto and Shari Kasman, this was a guided walk, the participants being given (and providing) prompts at different moments on the walk to write different things. I enjoyed this late afternoon walk, a lot. My output tended more towards prose poetry than fiction, but it was fun regardless.


  • I'm not sure what I'll do with all of these photos. I doubt I'll post most of them to this blog, to Tumblr or Instagram. They remain on Flickr nonetheless, ready for you to peruse. (I also have uploaded them all to Facebook, too, so those of you who follow me there can see them there, too.)
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    Goodbye, rfmcdpei


    Almost two hours ago, I deleted my LiveJournal. User rfmcdpei is no longer active on this site.

    I do allow for the possibility that I might change my mind. Maybe I will bring it back temporarily, so as to convert it to some kind of personal docment via BlogBooker, or perhaps I will restore it in the name of minimizing link rot on the Internet and to continue to be able to read what few (ever fewer) people still write only on LiveJournal. This post, however, is the first post that I will not be crossposting from Dreamwidth over to LiveJournal, and no other post shall follow.

    I did join the rush on account of the new user agreement unleashed earlier this week, of course.



    Any number of news sources, like the Daily Dot and Boing Boing and Gizmodo and Charlie Stross at Autopope, have written at great length about the new terms of service agreement. That this agreement is not available, not in a legally binding form and not in a well-translated form, in the English language made the exodus inevitable.

    Russia, as a classical dictatorship, wants to be able to restrict what people write about within its sphere, to do away with anonymity and to limit the range of permissible subject matter. LiveJournal, which happens to be based in Russia as a consequence of a long series of business decisions (bad decisions, I would argue, ones which kept LiveJournal from emerging as a lasting social network of worldwide scope), is subject. Therefore, anyone who is not dependent on LiveJournal is leaving a social network that appears to be fatally compromised.

    (What is the opposite of soft power?)

    I have had alternatives ready. Back in October 2012, I blogged about how I had moved away from LiveJournal as a primary blog, towards Dreamwidth for LiveJournal-like social networking and to WordPress for the more blog-like functions. I am losing nothing as a consequence of this. My regrets about this are not especially profound ones, characterized much more by wistfulness and nostalgia than by serious regret.

    rfmcdpei has been around for a month short of fifteen years. It's amazing.



    LiveJournal was always been there for me. I remember reading Tom's LiveJournal, and the LiveJournals of others, back in early 2002 when I was so desperate to connect with anyone. I remember how excited I was when I got an invite code from Darren back in June of 2002. I remember writing an online diary of my life there, and then, first slowly then with speed, transforming this diary into a blog. I know that I met all sorts of people who I know nd like even know there, came to learn all kinds of things there, helped other people learn through LiveJournal. In my life, LiveJournal was a huge net positive.

    And now it's over. It's an era that was bound to end, I know, and what an era it was. Thank you, LiveJournalers and LiveJournal founders, too, for making this so good and fun.
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    Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reflects on his experience of being a flâneur, and the problems of said.

    Introduced to the concept by a friend, there was a time when I was a most dedicated flaneur. Then I drifted away a little, although I introduced a remarkable number of people to the concept.

    I think one of the reasons for my decline in flaneuring is that I started walking for exercise. This may be healthy, but it tends to defeats the point, the discoveries that can come from random idling.

    I find that when walking for exercise I have in mind distance and time, two things in direct conflict with the art of flânerie. What's worse, I tend to get very bored and thus stop walking! Even the desire to achieve a minimum number of paces (10,000 per day appears to have become an almost universal target) provides insufficient incentive.

    The irony, of course, is that I actually walked more as a flaneur than as an exerciser because I was simply more interested, was inclined to keep moving.
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    • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes a week in her life as a freelance writer.

    • The Dragon's Tales notes how the Indus Valley Civilization did, and did not, adapt to climate change.

    • Language Log reshares Benjamin Franklin's writings against German immigration.

    • The NYRB Daily follows one family's quest for justice after the shooting by police of one Ramarley Graham.

    • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the Pale of Settlement.

    • Torontoist looks at Ontario's food and nutrition strategy.

    • Transit Toronto reports on how PRESTO officials will be making appearances across the TTC in coming weeks to introduce users to the new system.

    • Window on Eurasia looks at how ethnic minorities form a growing share of Russian emigration, looks at the manipulation of statistics by the Russian state, and suggests Putin's actions have killed off the concept of a triune nation of East Slavs.

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    • Beyond the Beyond shares Yves Behar's thoughts on design in an age of artificial intelligence.

    • blogTO makes the case for the east end of Toronto.

    • The Big Picture shares photos of a family of Congolese refugees resettled in New England.

    • Centauri Dreams hosts an essay looking at the prospects for off-world agriculture.

    • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the beauty created by graffiti removal.

    • The Dragon's Tales looks for signs of possible cryovolcanism on Europa.

    • Joe. My. God. shares audio of the new Blondie track "Fun."

    • Language Hat remembers the life and career of linguist Leon Dostert.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues protest is needed in blue states, too.

    • The LRB Blog warns people not to forget about Pence.

    • Marginal Revolution considersa trends in the British economy.

    • Neuroskeptic shares disturbing findings about the prevalence of plagiarism in science.

    • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia does not expect Trump to take all the sanctions down at once.

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    • At Apostrophen, 'Nathan Smith writes about the status of his various writing projects.

    • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling links to an article examining pieces of software that have shaped modern music.

    • blogTO notes the expansion of the Drake Hotel to a new Junction site. Clearly the Drake is becoming a brand.

    • Citizen Science Salon looks at how Internet users can help fight illegal fishing in the Pacific.

    • Crooked Timber asks readers for new Doctor Who candidates.

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper finding that the presence of Proxima Centauri would not have inhibited planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.

    • The LRB Blog notes the growing fear among Muslims in the diaspora.

    • The Map Room Blog shares a reimagined map of the Paris metro.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy and Towleroad have very different opinions on the nomination of Neil Gorusch to the US Supreme Court.

    • Transit Toronto reports on the reopening of the TTC parking lot at Yorkdale.

    • Whatever's John Sclazi responds to the past two weeks of Trump-related chaos, and is not impressed.

    • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church carries itself as an embattled minority because it is one, and looks at the future of Russian federalism in regards to Tatarstan.

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    • blogTO notes concerns in Church and Wellesley about a spike of reported anti-gay violence.

    • Crooked Timber looks at the shambolic mess that is the Republican healthcare plan.

    • Language Hat links to an article concerned with the question of how to try cracking the Indus Valley script.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the malevolence and incompetence of the Trump Administration are record-breaking.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the proposed border tax on Mexican imports is likely workable for all the major actors.

    • Strange Maps examines with maps how families of landowners centuries old still own huge swathes of downtown London.

    • Une heure de peine's Denis Colombi examines, in French and in the French political context, the idea of a guaranteed minimum income.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy shares Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" welcoming refugees to American shores.

    • Window on Eurasia notes the concerns of one Tatar historian that Russian federalism is being undermined and looks at the consequences of Putin's chat with Trump.

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    • blogTO notes that Uniqlo will be giving away free thermal clothing tomorrow.

    • James Bow shares his column about the importance of truth.

    • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly shares with us her mid-winter walk.

    • Centauri Dreams reports about cometary water.

    • Dangerous Minds shares German cinema lobby cards from the 1960s.

    • Language Hat talks about dropping apostrophes.

    • Language Log reports about lexical searches on Google.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the latest from Trump.

    • The NYRB Daily shares a review of an Iranian film on gender relations.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the ongoing gas price protests in Mexico.

    • Spacing links to some articles about affordable housing around the world.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Germany's abolition of a law forbidding insults to foreign heads of state.

    • Window on Eurasia suggests that stable Russian population figures cover up a wholesale collapse in the numbers of ethnic Russians, and looks at the shortages of skilled workers faced by defense industries.

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    • The Crux makes the case that, for too long, modern homo sapiens have underestimated the genius of the Neanderthals.

    • D-Brief looks at the efforts of some scientists to develop brewing standards for the Moon.

    • Language Hat examines different languages' writing standards--Turkish, Greek, Armenian--in the late Ottoman Empire.

    • Language Log deconstructs claims that Japanese has no language for curses.

    • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen looks at the standards of truth by which Trump's supporters are judging him.

    • The NYRB Daily looks at the hollow Styrofoam aesthetics of the Trump Administration.

    • Savage Minds considers the idea of personhood.

    • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell considers key mechanics of populism.

    • Arnold Zwicky meditates, somewhat pornographically, on a porn star of the last decade and public sexuality.

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    • 'Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith describes his writing projects for this year.

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining exomoon formation.

    • The LRB Blog worries about Trump's hold on the button.

    • The NYRB Daily looks at Rex Tillerson, an oil company diplomat to autocrats.

    • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw shares the rediscovered mid-19th century painting by Legros, L'Angelus.
    • Towleroad looks at the Russian tradition of kompromat, the gathering of compromising information for blackmail.

    • Transit Toronto notes that TTC surveying in Scarborough is beginning.

    • Understanding Society looks at path dependency in the formation of academic disciplines.

    • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian tensions regarding gastarbeiter migration and suggests Russia is set to actively sponsor separatism across the former Soviet Union.

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    • Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait shares a video showing how tacos are made in space.

    • blogTO shares some classic photos of the TTC in the 1960s and 1970s.

    • The Crux goes into more detail about the mesentery.

    • D-Brief notes how the binary star KIC 9832227 is projected to experience a stellar merger in 2022.

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to one paper suggesting that exoplanets and brown dwarfs are as common around A and F stars as around dimmer Sun-like stars, and links to another paper examining the potential of detecting transits of exoplanets orbiting brown dwarfs.

    • The Dragon's Tales links to an article wondering if China's seizure of a US navy drone could set a precedent for satellite seizures.

    • Language Log links to Yiyun Lee's article about abandoning Chinese for English.

    • The LRB Blog remembers philosopher Derek Parfit.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the recent riots in Mexico, caused by rising gas prices.

    • Strange Maps shares informative maps exploring the Netherlands' internal distinctions.

    • Window on Eurasia looks at how the Russian language has multiple standards despite Russian official claims, and shares complaints about Kaliningrad's vulnerability.

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    • Anthropology.net looks at the genetics of how the Inuit have adapted to cold weather.

    • 'Nathan Smith's Apostrophen shares the author's plans for the coming year.

    • Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling shares Margaret Atwood's commitment to fighting for freedom of expression.

    • Crooked Timber asks its readers for recommendations in Anglophone science fiction.

    • D-Brief notes the discovery of the human mesentery.

    • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the protoplanetary disk of LkCa 15 disk.

    • Far Outliers looks at some lobsters imported to Japan from (a) Christmas Island.

    • Joe. My. God. notes Janet Jackson has given birth.

    • Language Hat examines the contrast often made between indigenous and immigrant languages.

    • Language Log looks at the names of the stations of the Haifa subway.

    • Steve Munro notes Bathurst Station's goodbye to Honest Ed's.

    • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe's discoveries at Ceres in the past year.

    • Window on Eurasia looks at how the permafrost of the Russian far north is melting and endangering entire cities, and contrasts the prosperity of the Estonian city of Narva relative to the decay of adjacent Ivangorod.

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    The Toronto Star's Allan Woods describes how Canadian Inuit are moving towards a common writing system, one that involves dropping the syllabary.

    For Canadian Inuit leaders, creating a unified written language system out of 12 dialects and two existing writing systems, one word is proving more important than the rest.

    “Asijjiiniaqtut” — roughly translated as “give and take.”

    That’s because everyone is having to compromise in order to progress toward an agreed-upon code that can be conveyed by someone in the western Arctic village of Tuktoyaktuk and understood in Clyde River on the eastern coast of Baffin Island, or written in the northernmost Nunavut village, Grise Fiord, and read in the Quebec community of Kuujjuaq.

    [. . .]

    Christian missionaries arrived long ago in the eastern Arctic with a system of syllabic writing — the Inuit script we still use today, using triangles, humps, dots and squiggly lines — while a Roman writing system took hold in the western Arctic. About a century later, the federal government tried and failed to institute a single system based on the Roman alphabet.

    In the ensuing years there were attempts to standardize the two systems, but they were adopted by some and resisted by others. Advocates of a unified system say the status quo hinders communication between far-flung communities, affects the quality of the education system and limits Inuit access to jobs.

    “Inuit have always functioned as one, but because of the government system invisible borders have divided us,” said Jeannie Arreak-Kullualik, a member of the Atausiq Inuktut Titirausiq task force that is consulting on the changes.

    “We’re trying to unify so that we can eliminate those barriers because we all have the same challenges, which is to keep our language and culture alive and get more education for our children.”
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    • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith announces some of his plans for the forthcoming year.

    • C.J. Cherryh talks about her experience of early winter in Oklahoma.

    • The Map Room Blog links to a collection of electoral map what-ifs.

    • Marginal Revolution looks at the worrying connection between Rogue One and fake news.

    • The NYRB Daily shares Tim Parks' reflections on Machiavelli's The Prince.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on the ongoing constitutional crisis in the Congo.

    • Peter Rukavina shares a photo of Charlottetown's Province House.

    • Strange Maps shares Radio Garden, a map of the globe that lets people pick up thousands of radio stations around the world.

    • Transit Toronto notes a new boarding area for GO Transit users at Union Station.

    • Window on Eurasia shares criticism of Russia's Syria policy that calls it Orwellian.

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