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  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting exoplanet transits could start a galactic communications network.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the connections between eating and identity.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas looks at the need for a critical study of the relationship between technology and democracy.

  • Language Hat notes how nationalism split Hindustani into separate Hindi and Urdu languages.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects on the grim outlook in Somalia after the terrible recent Mogadishu bombing.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen thinks Trump's decertification of the Iran deal is a bad idea.

  • The Map Room Blog links to an article imagining a counter-mapping of the Amazon by indigenous peoples.

  • Neuroskeptic considers the possibility of Parkinson's being a prion disease, somewhat like mad cow disease.

  • The NYR Daily notes that a Brexit driven by a perceived need to take back control will not meet that need, at all.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw looks at the problem Sydney faces as it booms.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the extent to which an independent Catalonia would be ravaged economically by a non-negotiated secession.

  • Peter Watts tells the sad story of an encounter between Toronto police and a homeless man he knows.

  • Window on Eurasia notes a Sakhalin bridge, like a Crimea bridge, may not come off because of Russian weakness.

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  • DNA tests of Beothuk remains reveal that the extinct group was related to neither Mi'kmaq nor Inuit. The Globe and Mail reports.

  • Some Newfoundland outports are seeing many young professionals move in, to make homes and businesses. CBC reports.

  • Marginal Revolution claims a group wanting to mount a seasteading effort off French Polynesia are getting close to their goals.

  • Politico.eu notes that, in the Shetlands, while fishers hope Brexit will lead to the revival of the fisheries others fear a labour shortage without EU-27 migrants.

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  • Anthrodendum takes a look at the way community knowledge is now being subject to a privatization.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlyn Kelly starts a discussion about what makes home.

  • Bruce Dorminey suggests a pre-Theia, Moon-sized impactor gave the Earth its metal crust.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the current state of knowledge about Proxima b.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that Russia is apparently testing advanced nuclear weapons.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas considers the religious impulse in so many technophiles' view of the world.

  • Language Hat considers the dynamics associated with learning minority languages in Europe.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares a classic traffic safety clip from 1913.

  • The LRB Blog mourns the loss of Glen Newey, long-time contributor.

  • Lovesick Cyborg notes a NASA study into the economics of a viable space-based solar power project.

  • Roads and Kingdoms takes a look at the açorda of Portugal, a bread-based broth that was a long-time food of the poor.

  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands celebrates the passage of summer into fall through photos of her vegetable garden.

  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at the representation of LGBTQ people on television, and sees much reason for cheer.

  • Science Sushi notes that different dolphin groups seem to have different dialects.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at Robert Merton's refinement of social functionalism.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that many ethnic Russians in Belarus, as in Ukraine, have shifted identity to that of the titular nation.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes one mistake made about artificial intelligence: it is not automatically more accurate.

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  • GW170814, detected by VIRGO and LIGO, marks the collision of two black holes, 31 and 25 solar masses, 1.8 billion light-years away. Ars Technica reports.

  • The American Museum of Natural History in New York has a new exhibition linking birds and dinosaurs. National Geographic notes.

  • This new asteroid belt model suggesting it began empty, then filled from the inner and outer system, is interesting. Universe Today goes into more detail.

  • New studies are suggesting that the oceans are starting to warm up. The Guardian reports.

  • Offshore wind farms are apparently serving as platforms for flourishing marine ecologies, starting with mussels. Technology Review examines preliminary findings here.

  • Hydroelectric development in the highlands of Georgia is disrupting already fragile human communities there. Open Democracy reports.

  • Australian scientists may have found the genes causing the small wings of emus. Could they get bigger wings now? The Herald-Sun describes the finding and its import.

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  • Universe Today reports on the potential game-changing nature of a hyperloop connecting Toronto and Montréal.

  • Hacking of the brain is an obvious risk of two-way brain/Internet interfaces. From VICE.

  • Puerto Rico's ongoing economic crisis has only been worsened by Hurricane Maria. Bloomberg reports.

  • The problem with the German economy, strong as it may be now, is that not enough has been invested in the future. Bloomberg warns.

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  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of dispatching a fleet of sail-equipped probes to map the asteroid belt.

  • Crux considers the importance of the invention of zero for mathematics.

  • D-Brief notes that Scotland's oldest snow patch is set to melt imminently.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper looking at the stability of multiplanetary systems in star clusters.

  • Imageo notes the modest recovery of icecaps in the Arctic this summer.

  • Language Log notes the importance of Kazakhstan's shift to using the Latin script for the Kazakh language.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a writer's visit to Helsinki.

  • The Map Room Blog notes a giant relief map of Guatemala, built to reinforce claims to what is now Belize.

  • The NYR Daily considers the continued salience of race in the fragile liberal-democratic world, in America and Europe.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders if the heavy-handed Spanish government is trying to trigger Catalonian independence.

  • Roads and Kingdoms considers the palm wine of Senegal, and its vendors.

  • Understanding Society considers the Holocaust, as an experience sociological and otherwise.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy makes a libertarian case for open borders.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi celebrates his meeting mutual fan Alison Moyet.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Belarus' cautious Belarusianization is met by Russia's pro-Soviet nostalgia.

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  • At Slugger O Toole, Gerry Lynch makes an excellent case that the people behind Brexit might well have laid the foundation for a radical left takeover of the UK.

  • Natalie Nougayrède at The Guardian suggests that the EU-27 does not care especially about a UK deal, and just wants the country out.

  • Will Frankfurt and Dublin end up being the big winners of Brexit in the EU-27? The Irish Times reports.

  • Amsterdam, as Bloomberg notes, might also benefit from Brexit. Broadcasters are looking east from London.

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  • Peter Geoghegan writes at Open Democracy about the mess that Brexit has made of Ireland, two decades after the Troubles' end.

  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub notes that a North Korean attack on Guam, among other things, would threaten the Chamorro natives of the island.

  • The Toronto Star carries an excerpt from a book by Mark Dowie looking at how the Haida, of Haida Gwaii, managed to win government recognition of their existence.

  • CBC's Sameer Chhabra explores how Canadian students at Caribbean medical schools find it very difficult to get jobs back home.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes the exobiological potential of Titamn after the detection of acrylonitrile. Cryogenic life?

  • This guest essay at Lawyers, Guns and Money on the existential problems of Brazil, with politics depending on people not institutions, is a must-read.

  • The LRB Blog considers, in the context of Brexit, what exactly might count for some as a marker of dictatorship.

  • Did the 15th century construction of the Grand Canal in China lead the Ming away from oceanic travel? Marginal Revolution speculates.

  • The NYR Daily considers
  • Out There explores the reasons why the most massive planets all have the same size.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the 5th anniversary of the arrival of Curiosity on Mars.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, with regards to Venezuela, the United States has no good options.

  • Roads and Kingdoms considers the febrile political mood of Kenya.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Putin is making the mistake of seeing the United States through the prism of Russia.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes a proposal for British mayors to have representation at Brexit talks makes no sense.

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  • In The New York Times, Michael Kimmelman reports on the Crossrail mass transit line in London. It sounds promising, even in the era of Brexit.

  • Emily Nonko at Curbed argues that the underfunding of mass transit in NYC by Robert Moses is the cause of the current crisis.

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  • James Bow considers the idea of Christian privilege.

  • Centauri Dreams reports on the oddities of Ross 128.

  • D-Brief shares Matthew Buckley's proposal that it is possible to make planets out of dark matter.

  • Dead Things reports on the discoveries at Madjedbebe, in northern Australia, suggesting humans arrived 65 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey reports on the idea that advanced civilizations may use sunshades to protect their worlds from overheating. (For terraforming purposes, too.)

  • Language Hat notes the struggles of some Scots in coming up with a rationalized spelling for Scots. What of "hert"?

  • The LRB Blog considers the way in which the unlimited power of Henry VIII will be recapitulated post-Brexit by the UK government.

  • Drew Rowsome quite likes the High Park production of King Lear.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the idea that Pluto's moons, including Charon, might be legacies of a giant impact.

  • Unicorn Booty notes the terrible anti-trans "Civil Rights Uniformity Act." Americans, please act.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers/u> the perhaps-unique way a sitting American president might be charged with obstruction of justice.

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  • Bloomberg's Steven Arons and Gavin Finch observe that Brexit may let Frankfurt emerge as a truly global financial centre.

  • Der Spiegel's Alexander Smoltczyk describes how north German port Hamburg is starting to inch towards a bigger global role.
  • Deutsche Welle reports on how, after the G20 meeting, far-left and anarchist groups in Berlin are facing a crackdown.

  • Global News shares Joseph Nasr's Reuters article reporting on the incomprehension of Arab refugees in Hamburg at that city's G20 rioters. Why are they doing it?

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The Washington Post was just one of many news sources to note a recent report provided by the National Vital Statistics System of the Centers for Disease Control, "Births: Provisional Data for 2016" (PDF format). This report noted that not only had the absolute number of births fallen, but that the total fertility rate in 2016 was the lowest it had been in more than three decades: "The 2016 total fertility rate (TFR) for the United States was 1,818.0 births per 1,000 women, a decrease of 1% from the rate in 2015 (1,843.5) and the lowest TFR since 1984." The Washington Post's Ariana Eunjung Cha noted that this fall was a consequence of a sharp fall in births among younger Americans not wholly compensated for by rising fertility rates in older populations.

According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.

[. . .]

Those supposedly entitled young adults with fragile egos who live in their parents' basements and hop from job-to-job — it turns out they're also much less likely to have babies, at least so far. Some experts think millennials are just postponing parenthood while others fear they're choosing not to have children at all.

Strobino is among those who is optimistic and sees hope in the data. She points out that the fall in birthrates in teens — an age when many pregnancies tend to be unplanned — is something we want and that the highest birthrates are now among women 25 to 34 years of age.

“What this is is a trend of women becoming more educated and more mature. I’m not sure that’s bad,” she explained.

Indeed, as fertility treatments have extended the age of childbearing, the birthrates among women who are age 40 to 44 are also rising.


Total fertility rates in the United States were last this low, as noted above, in 1984, after a decade where fertility rates had hovered around 1.8 children born per woman. The United States' had sharply dropped to below-replacement fertility occurring in 1972, with a sharp increase to levels just short of replacement levels only occurring in the mid-1980s.

There has been much talk this past half-year about the end of American exceptionalism, or at least the end of a favourable sort of American exceptionalism. To the extent that fertility rates in the United States are falling, for instance, this may reflect convergence with the fertility rates prevalent in other highly developed societies. Gilles Pison's Population and Societies study "Population trends in the United States and Europe: similarities and differences" observed that, although the United States and the European Union saw the same sorts of trends towards lower fertility rates and extended life expectancies, the European Union as a whole saw substantially lower birth rates and lower completed fertility.

The strong natural growth in the United States is due, in part, to high fertility: 2.05 children per woman on average, compared with 1.52 in the European Union. In this respect, it is not the low European level which stands out, but rather the high American level, since below-replacement fertility is now the norm in many industrialized countries (1.3 children per woman in Japan, for example) and emerging countries (1.2 in South Korea, and around 1.6 in China). With more than two children per woman in 2005, the United States ranks above many countries and regions of the South and belongs to the minority group of highfertility nations.

Average fertility rates conceal large local variations, however: from 1.6 children per woman in Vermont to 2.5 in Utah; from 1.2 in Poland to 1.9 in France. The scale of relative variation is similar on either side of the Atlantic. In the north-eastern USA, along a strip spreading down from Maine to West Virginia, fertility is at the same level as in northern and western Europe. Close to Mexico, on the other hand, the “Hispanic” population (a category used in American statistics) is pushing up fertility levels. Over the United States as a whole, Hispanic fertility stands at 2.9 children per woman, versus 1.9 among nonHispanic women [4]. Between “White” and “AfricanAmerican” women, the difference is much smaller: 1.8 versus 2.0.

The highest fertility levels in the European Union are found in northern and western Europe (between 1.7 and 1.9 children per woman) and the lowest in southern, central and eastern Europe (below 1.5). Exceptions to this rule include Estonia (1.5), with higher fertility than its Baltic neighbours, and Austria (1.4) and Germany (1.3), which are closer to the eastern and southern countries.


This overall pattern seems to have endured. Why this is the case, I am uncertain. Even though the United States lacks the sorts of family-friendly policies that have been credited for boosting fertility in northern and western Europe, I wonder if the United States does share with these other high-fertility, highly-developed societies cultural similarities, not least of which is a tolerance for non-traditional families. As has been observed before, for instance at Population and Societies by Pison in France and Germany: a history of criss-crossing demographic curves and by me at Demography Matters back in June 2013, arguably the main explanation for the higher fertility in France as compared to West Germany is a much greater French acceptance of non-traditional family structures, with working mothers and non-married couples being more accepted. (West Germany's reluctance, I argued here in February 2016, stems from the pronounced conservative turn towards traditional family structures without any support for government-supported changes following efforts by totalitarianism states to do just that, first under Naziism and then in contemporary East Germany.)

It's much too early to come to any conclusions as to whether or not this fall in American fertility will be lasting. From the perspective of someone in the early 1980s, for instance, the sharp spike in American fertility in the mid-1980s that marked arguably the single most importance divergence between the United States and the rest of the highly developed world would have been a surprise. Maybe fertility in the United States will recover to its previous levels. Or, maybe, under economic pressure it will stay lower than it has been.

(Crossposted at Demography Matters here.)
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  • Nikhil Sharma at Torontoist looks at the latest City of Toronto TransformTO report on adapting to climate change.

  • The Toronto Star Fatima Syed looks at how community organizations in Toronto are getting involved in running local parks.

  • Politico.eu notes how Malta, despite having plenty of sun, is having difficulty getting solar energy (and other alternative energy) up and running.

  • The Inter Press Service examines the potential complexities involved in China's involvement in Argentina's nuclear energy program.

  • VICE reports on the desperate need to get Ojibwa consent before building a nuclear waste disposal site on their traditional lands.

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  • In Toronto, the new Port Lands plan imagines a new island, Villiers, at the mouth of the Don.

  • Brexit means, among other thing, that the EU is no longer supporting the UK on the Chagos. The Economist reports.

  • VICE notes that people on Mauritius fear extensive fish farming will also boost the shark population offshore.

  • The Independent notes that tides and currents have created a new sand bar-cum-island more than 1 km long off of North Carolina, Shelly Island.

  • The National Post notes that sub-Arctic Vardo Island, in Norway, has moved on from its fisheries to become a NATO outpost set to watch Russia.

  • Carmela Fonbuena reports for The Guardian from Thitu Island, a Filipino-occupied island uncomfortably near a Chinese base in the contested South China Sea.

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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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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about "cis", "trans", and the non-obvious meaning of this classification.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a recent sailing festival in Boston.

  • blogTO reports on the trendy charcoal-black ice cream of a store across from Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of a "runaway fusion" drive.Crooked Timber wonders how a bad Brexit agreement could possibly be worse than no Brexit agreement for the United Kingdom.
  • D-Brief warns of the possibility of sustained life-threatening heat waves in the tropics with global warming.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how sociology majors are prepared, or not, for the workforce.

  • Language Hat links to a wonderful examination of the textual complexities of James Joyce's Ulysses.

  • The LRB Blog looks at how British big business is indebted to the Conservatives.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on China's emergent pop music machine.

  • Steve Munro reports on the latest on noise from the 514 Cherry streetcar.

  • The NYRB Daily has a fascinating exchange on consciousness and free will and where it all lies.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a successful expedition to Argentina to examine Kuiper Belt object MU69 via occultation.

  • Peter Rukavina celebrates Charlottetown school crossing guard Dana Doyle.

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  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles' most iconic album.

  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language's alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.

  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.

  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May's election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia's concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her week in Paris.

  • Centauri Dreams notes one paper examining the complex formation of the dense TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers reports from early 20th century Albania, about how tribal and language and ethnic identities overlap, and not.

  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • Anthony Easton at MacLean's writes in defense of Nickelback, one of Canada's most popular bands if not a critical darling.

  • Also in MacLean's, Stephanie Carvin notes that the new foreign and military policies announced by the Canadian government could still fall short.

  • Bloomberg View's Stephen L. Carter considers the idea of the just war through the lens of Wonder Woman.

  • Nuclear energy, it seems, will be India's answer to global warming in the era of Trump.

  • Qataris, Bloomberg notes, are trying to deal with their island country's state of siege.

  • Airbus may pull its production plants from the United Kingdom unless the country keeps single market access.

  • Refugees, Lynne Olson notes at National Geographic, helped save the United Kingdom during the Second World War.

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