The Royal Ontario Museum's The Family Camera exhibit, open during Nuit Blanche and running until the 29th of October, provides an interesting look at the role photography plays in the internal lives of families, preserving memories of noteworthy events indefinitely. The exhibit's emphasis was on film photography, the only form available to most people until very recently.
The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski writes about how, in the Toronto real estate market, the idea of co-ownership is starting to take off.
Toronto is not your average housing market and Lesli Gaynor is not your typical realtor.
It’s her background in policy writing and social work that informs her efforts to facilitate different co-ownership arrangements through her own company, GoCo Solutions.
On Wednesday, she has organized a seminar on co-owning a home that will feature legal and financial experts on the subject.
Home ownership has become extremely challenging with property values for single-family homes jumping 36 per cent from 2012, to an average of $770,000 last year.
"Co-operative housing is one way we can enable everyday Canadians to take advantage of the economic, social and community benefits of home ownership," says the online posting for An Evening of Wine and Wisdom at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex on Bathurst St.
More than 200 people had registered in advance for the event, said Gaynor, a Royal LePage agent, and member of the Purdy Team that specializes in home co-ownership.
- Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith wonders why so many stories featuring gay children kicked out of their families feature the children later reuniting with these same people.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly draws from her own experiences growing up in a family marked by abuse to argue that Trump is treating Americans as any abuser treats their dependents.
- D-Brief notes how the Moon is being bombarded by a wind of oxygen from Earth.
- Joe. My. God. reported rumours that the Trump administration is set to remove employment protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the firing of the US Attorney General for refusing to defend Trump's anti-Muslim visa ban.
- The Map Room Blog looks at how medieval people read maps.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders how the Trump presidency will end up, if he will self-destruct or if he will manage to threaten American democracy.
- Torontoist interviewed some of the Torontonians protesting the US visa ban outside of the American consulate.
The Guardian's Owen Bowcott describes the first heterosexual couple to acquire a domestic partnership in the United Kingdom. All I can say is that if the United Kingdom wanted domestic partnerships to be viable, on the model of France, they would have been opened up long before now to opposite-sex couples.
The first opposite-sex couple in the British Isles to go through a civil partnership ceremony have celebrated their union in Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man.
Adeline Cosson, 24, and Kieran Hodgson, 22, wanted to “keep it simple” rather than have a traditional wedding. They are considering getting married at a later date.
Civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2004 for same-sex couples following lobbying by equal rights campaigners, are not available for heterosexual partners in the UK.
A London couple, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, are going to the court of appeal in November to argue that denying opposite-sex couples civil partnerships breaches their human rights.
But the Isle of Man, which is not part of the UK and decriminalised gay sex in the 1990s, made civil partnerships available to everybody this summer.
- blogTO shares photos of the new Yonge-Eglinton Centre.
- Beyond the Beyond's Bruce Sterling makes the comparison of the Middle East now to central Europe in the Thirty Years War.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the discovery of a hot Jupiter orbiting a T Tauri star just two million years old.
- Joe. My. God. reports on the conviction of a man who had been accused of involvement in kidnapping the child of same-sex parents.
- Language Hat reports on the American Jewish accent.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that Republicans are coming to accept Donald Trump.
- The Map Room Blog reports on a Boston exhibition of Hy-Brasil.
- The Planetary Society Blog reports on the 9th anniversary of the Dawn probe's launch.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer points out that Erik Loomis is wrong, that Ford is not moving jobs to Mexico.
- Window on Eurasia suggests an isolated Russia might lash out against Belarus, and looks at Putin's support in non-Russian republics.
- blogTO examines the history of Annex pub Brunswick House.
- The Frailest Thing shares a touching anecdote about the parent/child relationship.
- Joe. My. God. notes the autobiographical essay of a former American senator, once married to a woman and now set to marry a man.
- Language Hat notes a new Lakota-language news site.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw tries to find a middle ground on climate change.
- Savage Minds considers the concept of peership in anthropology.
- Window on Eurasia notes that Chinese living in border areas have been given a three-child limit.
- Bloomberg notes controversy over Sanders' attendance at a Vatican conference and reports on the proposal for a bridge linking Saudi Arabia and Egypt across the Gulf of Aqaba.
- Bloomberg View notes mixed evidence behind the idea that separatism can work economically, and criticizes San Francisco's family leave policy as having too much impact on business.
- CBC notes that the European Union will require visas of Canadians if Canada does not give visa-free access to Bulgarians and Romanians and looks at the controversy over women praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
- The Globe and Mail < a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
news/politics/ndp-delegates-divided-on- mulcair-ahead-of-leadership-review/ article29578043/?cmpid=rss1">notes the division of the NDP over Mulcair, looks at the importance of the long-form census for northern Canada, and examines Vancouver's rental market.
- The Inter Press Service reports on how the Nicaragua Canal is bogged down by money and environmental issues.
- MacLean's defends transparent tax havens, as opposed to the other kind.
- National Geographic reports on the role of amateur mapmakers in charting the Syrian conflict and describes an exciting reconstruction of Pompeii.
- Universe Today reports on the ice disk of HD 100546.
This fascinating Economist article looks at how the Wallenberg family makes its family business keep on working, contra the general rule with family businesses.
Credit Suisse, in its annual report on global wealth in October, pointed to findings that the richest 1% of Swedish households control 24% of the population’s total wealth, making it only a bit less unequal than India (25.7%). In contrast, Spain’s 1% control 16.5% of the wealth, and Japan’s only 4.3%. As in many countries, family-controlled businesses are the norm in Sweden. But as Randall Morck of the University of Alberta in Canada has noted, Sweden is an extreme case among rich countries in that one particular family, the Wallenbergs, holds such sway in business.
The foundations were laid for the dynasty’s fortunes 160 years ago when André Oscar Wallenberg, the globe-trotting son of a Lutheran bishop, returned from America with a book on how to set up a bank, and founded Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB). The bank flourished, and began buying chunks of distressed industrial firms, leading the family to set up a holding company, Investor, 100 years ago.
At the height of the Wallenbergs’ pre-eminence, in the 1970s, their various firms together employed 40% of Sweden’s industrial workforce and represented 40% of the total worth of the Stockholm stockmarket. Like most modern manufacturers, the industrial firms in their portfolio, including ABB and Atlas Copco (engineering), AstraZeneca (drugs) and Electrolux (appliances), are no longer huge employers. But Investor, plus SEB and the other listed firms in Investor’s portfolio, still account for about a third of the stockmarket’s value. And they generally do better than the rest: in the past decade, Investor’s shares have doubled, whereas the OMX Stockholm 30 Index rose by just 40%.
Swedes often talk about the collection of companies as Wallenbergsfaren, “the Wallenberg sphere”, and to its smaller local rivals as “systems”. One of the largest systems is Industrivarden, whose portfolio includes Handelsbanken and the maker of Volvo Trucks. It has passed through several hands down the years, including those of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the IKEA furniture stores; its leading investor nowadays is Fredrik Lundberg, the son of a construction magnate. The Wallenbergs and Industrivarden both have large stakes in Ericsson, a maker of telecoms equipment.
Science Sushi's Christie Wilcox reposted a 2013 article on the continuing popularity of the idea of giving birth admist dolphins. This might be a good idea if the dolphins were actively consenting to this activity. One wonders what the hell they think is going on.
Let’s talk about dolphins for a moment. I get it — they’re stunning creatures. These sleek, smart, playful animals are almost universally loved by people. Dolphin interactive experiences are hot sellers at tourist locations worldwide, and we naturally want to trust their cheeky, smiling faces. So many people I know got into marine science because of their affinity for dolphins and other marine mammals. I understand why a to-be mother might want to calm her nerves by having a dolphin in the tub during an underwater birth. I can even stretch my imagination and see why a woman would enjoy swimming with a pod of dolphins and giving birth while watching the beautiful displays of these majestic animals.
But, DEAR GOD. NO. JUST. NO.
Because of their friendly disposition and common occurance in aquariums, we tend to think of dolphins as trustworthy, loving creatures. But let’s get real for a minute here. Dolphins don’t eat sunshine and fart roses. They’re wild animals, and they are known to do some pretty terrible things.
At the Huffington Post, Julia Ioffe examines the cases of four Western mothers whose children went off to fight with ISIS and died. What happened? How do they cope? What do they hope to accomplish? All is there, in a sensitively written article.
Much more there.
Since the Syrian civil war began four years ago, some 20,000 foreign nationals have made their way to Syria and Iraq to fight for various radical Islamist factions. Over 3,000 are from Western countries. While some go with their families’ blessing, most leave in secret, taking all sense of normalcy with them. After they’ve gone, their parents are left with a form of grief that is surreal in its specificity. It is sorrow at the loss of a child, it is guilt at what he or she may have done, it is shame in the face of hostility from friends and neighbors, and it is doubt about all the things they realize they did not know about the person whom they brought into the world. Over the last year, dozens of these mothers from around the world have found each other, weaving a strange alliance from their loss. What they want, more than anything, is to make sense of the senselessness of what happened to their children—and, perhaps, for something meaningful to come from their deaths.
In April, I visited Christianne Boudreau in Calgary, and she told me how hopeful she had been when Damian discovered Islam. At 46, Boudreau is still vaguely girlish, with a slender nose and bright, probing brown eyes. Her first husband left the family when Damian was ten, and the boy retreated into his computer from a world that exasperated and excluded him. When he was 17, he tried to commit suicide by drinking antifreeze.
Shortly after his release from the hospital, Damian told his mother that he had discovered the Quran. Although Boudreau had raised him Christian, she welcomed his conversion. He got a job and became more social. “It grounded him, made him a better person,” she recalls. But by 2011, Boudreau noticed a change in her son. If he was visiting and his new friends called, he would only answer the phone outside. He wouldn’t eat with the family if there was wine on the table. He told his mother that women should be taken care of by men and that it was acceptable to have more than one wife. He spoke of justified killings. In the summer of 2012, he moved into an apartment with some new Muslim friends right above the mosque in downtown Calgary where they all prayed. He became a regular at the gym and went hiking with his roommates in the wilderness around the city. At the time, the conflict in Syria was in its infancy, and all Boudreau saw was her often-troubled son going through another phase, one she hoped he would outgrow. In November, Damian left Canada, telling his mother that he was moving to Egypt to study Arabic and become an imam. To Boudreau’s distress, he quickly fell out of touch.
On January 23, 2013, Boudreau was home from work nursing a bad back when two men knocked on her door. They told her they were Canadian intelligence agents. Damian was not in Egypt. He had traveled to Syria with his roommates and joined the local branch of al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra. After the agents left, Boudreau says, “I was physically ill.” In the days and weeks afterwards, the only thing she could think to do was to scrounge around jihadist websites, searching for her son. “How sick and twisted is that?” she says.
Most young people who run away to join radical groups in Syria make takfir—that is, they sever all ties with non-believers, including their parents, who stand in the way of their jihad. But, starting in February, Damian called his mother every two or three days, often while he was on watch. “You can hear all the noises in the background,” Boudreau says. “You can hear people yelling at each other in Arabic.” Once, Damian told her there were planes flying low, which he said meant that they were about to drop bombs. He began to run while Boudreau was still on the phone. Mostly, though, Damian was careful about what he told his mother, and she still doesn’t really know what he was doing there. Every possible scenario turns her stomach.
Much more there.
Andrew Solomon, author of noteworthy books and articles including The Noonday Demon, has an article up at New Statesman on his experience as a gay parent. Don’t think of a white bear: Andrew Solomon on the hidden joy of gay parenting" addresses the issues at hand with the expected intelligence and wit.
Gayness was for a long time so unsayable that it received an epithet to designate it so: the love that dare not speak its name. I grew up entrapped in the unsayable nature of what I was, hoping that if no one spoke of it, it wouldn’t be true. I inhabited a contrived yet fortified secrecy, and I defended and comforted myself with silence and euphemisms. A well-worn conundrum from an introductory logic class holds that if you say to someone, “Don’t think of a white bear,” that person will immediately think of a white bear. If you actually want the person not to think of a white bear, you should talk about butterflies instead. I turned my sexual orientation into a white bear and hoped everyone would think about something else, and the more I wished it, the less they did.
Nowadays, people often ask me when I came out, generalising from the experience of many young people who announce themselves to the world on a particular afternoon. But I did not divorce my reticence in a single sharp break. Rather, I seeped out like a spreading wine stain. I told someone; I told a few more people; I denied what I’d said; I said it again, to someone else; I wished it away; I told my family; I denied it to the people I was sleeping with; I admitted it to those people; I denied it to my family, and so on. I had been completely closeted for two decades and I took another decade to declare myself even to myself. I apologise now to the pretty women I couldn’t love enough and to the handsome men to whom I couldn’t commit; to the tolerant friends who met them all with equal faith and to the blinkered parents who did not.
Since then, coming out has been an almost daily exercise. I am forever weighing whether I have the wherewithal to mention my husband, John, to an elderly someone on a train, or a brusque someone in a shop, or a fundamentalist someone to my left at dinner. It crosses my mind; it is often relevant; I can choose not to mention it, but then I have to live with the feeling that I am perhaps hating myself, or deferring to other people’s tedious disapprobation. Then I have to wonder whether I am merely imagining such disapprobation. Would I have needed to mention a wife at this moment if I had one? Am I the one who is being aggressive when I deploy the word “husband” in a conversation with someone I think will be unnerved by it?
When I began writing about my experience of clinical depression, friends asked whether I wasn’t distressed by taking so public a stance about mental illness, and I had to explain repeatedly that I had done the closet once and wasn’t going to do it again. Overcompensating, I made an ostentation of my candour. I had become allergic to secrets, so much so, that I sometimes forgot that you can have privacy even when you don’t disguise your identity. I often supposed the choice was between circumlocution and broadcast. The problem is that even as you reveal the mysteries in your past, you are accumulating them in the present; complete honesty is the stuff of post-mortem, not autobiography. I found it easier to be honest about external events than about internal ones; I made my own life sound more lyrical than it was and expressed enthusiasm about identity challenges I mostly regretted: those entangled with my being American, Jewish, gay, depressed, unathletic, half a stone heavier than I’d have liked, not a morning person. I aspired to dignity but not pity and I found both. Children had laughed at me when I was a child and people were laughing at me again. I was lonely.
Oddly, I am nostalgic for that loneliness. A few months ago, I had to go through all of my photo albums, starting from early childhood, in conjunction with a film project with which I am involved. The photos taken before I turned 18 felt as though they were of someone I knew only vaguely; images of other people in those albums conjured more emotion than those of me. The photos taken between the time I left for university and the time I met John filled me with paralysing nostalgia for the exhilarating, difficult times in which I became myself. The ones from the past 15 years, since John and I found each other, felt so recent that it was hard to credit them with being documents of the past at all.
The Guardian</> shares an article by one Ilnur Sharafiyev looking at a St. Petersburg equivalent to PFLAG, a private club that tries to reconcile the families of non-heterosexual Russians with their children. It is a sign of hope, but it also sounds bleak.
The parents’ club has a few rules: you can only speak if you’re holding the navy dragon, a soft toy that has grown shabby in the club’s four-year existence; no interrupting is allowed; and phones must be switched off.
In an unassuming building in the centre of St Petersburg, families of Russian gay men and women gather each month, hoping for understanding and reconciliation.
Although the group is ostensibly for parents, they are far outnumbered by sons and daughters who have faced the difficulties of coming out in a homophobic country. Not one father is present.
“Mum fell seriously ill recently and she allowed me to care for her,” says Sergei. “At least she didn’t yell at me, like before: ‘Stop that, [you] gay, get away from me, don’t touch my things!’”
Seventeen people sit in the circle listening to him, wearing badges with handwritten names. “Now that mum is no longer rejecting me, it means that she [has started to] care again,” Sergei continues. For now though, he doesn’t speak to his mother often.
- blogTO shares some wacky and unusual maps of the Toronto subway system.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly describes her reason why she did not want to have children.
- Gerry Canavan has another post of links.
- Centauri Dreams looks at Earth-like planets with circumbinary orbits and considers a new model of gas giant formation that explains Jupiter.
- Crooked Timber examines the ongoing controversy over the Hugo awards for science fiction, as captured by American right-wing authors.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the habitability of water worlds.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the delay of China's Mars exploration program.
- Far Outliers looks at different systems for representing vowels with consonant symbols in the languages of the Pacific Islands.
- Geocurrents has some posts--1, 2, 3--looking at ways in which the state system does not reflect the reality of the Middle East.
- Language Hat looks at the revival of Manx.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the United States' Endangered Species Act is important for saving not just individual species but entire ecosystems.
- Marginal Revolution tells readers how to find good Iranian food.
- Steve Munro is dubious about the economics of the Union-Pearson Express.
- pollotenchegg looks at changing industrial production in Ukraine in 2013, finding that the east was doing poorly.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at the military situation in eastern Ukraine.
- Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares beautiful pictures of Bermuda.
- Peter Rukavina continues mapping airplanes flying above Prince Edward Island.
- The Russian Demographics Blog reports on the results of the famine in 1930s Ukraine.
- Window on Eurasia argues that the Belarusian language is still endangered, quotes a Putin confidant on eastern Ukraine's separation, looks at the impact of the Internet on Karelia, and looks at ethnogenesis as two small nations of the North Caucasus merge.
- blogTO rates the top ten buildings built in Toronto over the past fifteen years.
- Centauri Dreams looks at some of Kepler's candidate exo-Earths.
- The Cranky Sociologists applaud Howard Becker, sociologist of deviance.
- Joe. My. God. notes an Italian court's recognition of the citizenship of a foreign-born child of a same-sex Italian couple.
- Language Hat notes a site promoting the Aborigine language of Yugambeh.
- Language Log studies the problems of translating art language from Chinese to English.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Kirby Delauter.
- Personal Reflections reflects on upcoming elections in Queensland.
- Peter Rukavina shares a link tracking electricity production and consumption on Prince Edward Island.
- The Russian Demographics Blog maps the origin of Russian soldiers killed in the fighting in Ukraine.
- Spacing Toronto looks at how, one day in Toronto, one railroad bridge was swapped with another.
- Towleroad notes how a Texan man still hasn't been charged with the murder of a lesbian couple including his own daughter after almost a year, and looks at a hate crime in Russia.
- The Volokh Conspiracy notes the visit of El Sisi to a Coptic Christmas mass, the first time any Egyptian president made this visit.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Russian policy towards Ukraine won't change until Russia changes, reports certain statistics from the periphery of Russia, and looks at the role of Russian media in encouraging ethnic violence.
The Inter Press Service's Marianela Jarroud reports on how in Chile, young people today are growing up to discover that they were abducted from their disappeared parents by the Pinochet dictatorship. Argentina, as Jarroud notes, engaged with this at a much earlier date than its neighbour.
The suspicion that babies of people detained and disappeared during Chile’s 1973-1990 dictatorship were stolen is growing stronger in Chile, a country that up to now has not paid much attention to the phenomenon.
“There has always been a suspicion that something similar to what happened in Argentina also occurred in Chile, and that many women who were pregnant when they were detained actually gave birth in detention centres,” a 70-year-old woman who asked to be identified simply as Carmen told IPS.
“No one dug into that issue much back then, because we were afraid, and nobody would have listened to us,” she added.
[. . .].
According to the official investigation, 40,000 people were tortured during the 17-year military dictatorship, and 3,095 of them were killed, 1,000 of whom are still disappeared.
It has been confirmed that at least 10 women were pregnant when they were detained and disappeared. They were between the ages of 26 and 29, and were three to eight months pregnant.
Writing for Open Democracy, Ekaterina Loushnikova argues that deep-seated cultural and policy inhibitions against adoption in Russia means that children who, before the 2012 Magnitsky law, might have been adopted by foreigners are now languishing.
Irina Onokhina’s family includes, apart from her own two children and five grandchildren, sixteen adopted children. Irina used to be a journalist; she worked for 33 years as a news photographer on ‘Komsomol Flame’ magazine. Her career was going very nicely, when she suddenly decided to change everything: both her profession and her life. ‘I always dreamed of having a large family,’ she told me, ‘but my husband wasn’t keen, and we divorced. Then, when I reached my 48th birthday, I thought: now what? I’d be retiring in a few years [Russian women receive their state pension at 55]; my children are grown up and have their own lives. I’m still in the prime of life, but nobody needs me.’ In 1990, to her colleagues’ amazement, Irina decided to organise a family-type children’s home. She applied to her local council for the necessary permission, but instead of support she met with incomprehension.
‘Communist Party officials came to my home and even my parents’ home, and tried to put me off. “Don’t have anything to do with these children!” they said. “You don’t know what you are letting yourself in for. They’re all disabled and mentally retarded; they steal, smoke, drink and swear! You’ll never cope with them!”
When Irina went to the committee meeting that would decide the matter, she took with her journalist colleagues with cameras and microphones. ‘When we arrived we switched on the tape recorders and set up the mikes, as though we were going to do an article about it. And it actually worked!’
[. . .]
‘It’s not so simple these days. If you want to adopt you need to do a special course, have a medical check-up, collect lots of bits of paper to show that you’re not an alcoholic or a mental case. And then there’s our notorious juvenile justice system – it’s getting so that a parent can’t even give a child a slap or they’ll end up in court! But I think inter-country adoption is a good thing, and I don’t know why they had to ban it. The foreigners mostly used to take kids with disabilities. If our government can’t treat them, why stop other people trying? Ok, so a few bad things happened, but it’s not like they don’t happen here as well. Just take a look at that!’
Irina points to a local news bulletin on the TV. ‘The young girl gave birth in secret, wrapped her baby in a polythene bag and took it out into the cold, where it died of hypothermia,’ says the newsreader in his dispassionate voice. ‘The woman has admitted her guilt and will spend the next four years in a prison camp.’ The screen shows a weeping girl hiding her face from the camera, and the material evidence of her crime – the child’s body in its polythene wrapping –lying on a table. Its life lasted only a few minutes. According to official statistics, a hundred children perish at the hands of their own mothers every year in Russia.
NPR's Steve Haruch started an interesting discussion with his article about changing attitudes about adoption in South Korea. Overcoming the stigma of adoption and adoptees is a necessary precondition for a country that even now remains a major source of adopted children elsewhere in the world.
In the Gwanak-gu neighborhood of Seoul, there is a box.
Attached to the side of a building, the box resembles a book drop at a public library, only larger, and when nights are cold, the interior is heated. The Korean lettering on its front represents a phoneticized rendering of the English words "baby box." It was installed by Pastor Lee Jon-rak to accept abandoned infants. When its door opens, an alarm sounds, alerting staff to the presence of a new orphan.
The box, and the anonymity it provides, has become a central symbol in a pitched debate over Korean adoption policy. Two years ago last month, South Korea's Special Adoption Law was amended to add accountability and oversight to the adoption process. The new law requires mothers to wait seven days before relinquishing a child, to get approval from a family court, and to register the birth with the government. The SAL also officially enshrines a new attitude toward adoption: "The Government shall endeavor to reduce the number of Korean children adopted abroad," the law states, "as part of its duties and responsibilities to protect children."
In the years after the Korean War, more than 160,000 Korean children — the population of a midsize American city — were sent to adoptive homes in the West. What began as a way to quietly remove mixed-race children who had been fathered by American servicemen soon gained momentum as children crowded the country's orphanages amid grinding postwar poverty. Between 1980 and 1989 alone, more than 65,000 Korean children were sent overseas.
For the first time in South Korean history, the country's adoption law has been rewritten by some of the very people who have lived its consequences. A law alone can't undo deeply held cultural beliefs, and even among adoptees, opinion is divided over how well the SAL's effects match its aims. The question of how to reckon with this fraught legacy remains unsettled and raw.
- blogTO notes the continuing problems of Toronto's food truck project.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the differences between transit and radial velocity detection methods for planets and the relative advantages for detecting planets in stellar habitable zones, and links to a paper describing how hot Jupiters can become super-Earths.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the changing strategic situation of Australia.
- Marginal Revolution notes that most of IKEA's photo shoots are actually computer-assembled from stock imagery.
- Joe. My. God. notes the impending retirement of Berlin's gay mayor Klaus Wowereit.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that anti-Obamacare red states are hurting their poor citizens.
- New APPS Blog considers the question of what makes happy children.
- Towleroad notes anti-gay persecution by Lebanese police and quotes the mayor of Kazakhstan's capital city talking badly about non-heterosexuals.
- Window on Eurasia notes the emigration of Kazakhs and even Uighurs from Xinjiang to Kazakhstan, touches upon Western disillusionment with Russia, notes the possible impending defection of most of the Ukrainian churches of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and reports on the relocation of a Ukrainian factory to Russia.
- At the Broadside Blog, Caitlin Kelly promotes Greenwich Village's Bleecker Street, in New York City, as her favourite street.
- The Crux argues that the apparent existence of multiple planets capable of being broadly Earth-like argues ill for our future. (The question "where is everybody?" becomes much more worrisome if it appears that there should be people out there already.)
- Cody Delistraty writes about the ways in which travel can be a negative phenomenon, unmooring people.
- Edward Hugh, at A Fistful of Euros, is pessimistic about Spain's economy.
- Joe. My. God. shares video from a New York City cat cafe.
- Language Log reports on the exceptional difficulties of Macartney's mission to China in the late 18th century in writing Chinese.
- Marginal Revolution notes that the legacies of the Cold War are still felt in central Europe, in the movement of deer herds which do not cross the German-Czech border.
- Towleroad reports on the grief of a lesbian couple in Iowa after their adoptive son died in the care of his parents.
- Window on Eurasia notes the unstable and questionable nature of the "Russian world" model and observes the sympathies of some in Tatarstan for Crimean Tatars.
- blogTO shares vintage photos of cycling Torontonians, some dating back a century. Apparently there was much more traffic a century ago.
- Centauri Dreams comments on exoplanet habitability, noting the discovery of Kepler-186f and the importance of a wildly shifting axis.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to two papers, one examining the stability of the planets in the Gliese 581 system, the other looking at factors which might aid or hinder the habitability of exomoons.
- Geocurrents' Martin Lewis compares India and Indonesia, noting how Indonesia, while less territorially secure than India, is more culturally united. (By and large.)
- Lawyers, Guns and Money's Robert Farley links to some interesting papers examining Jewish practice and politics in the US South and then the Confederacy.
- Torontoist notes how TTC policies on graffitied streetcars led to a traffic shutdown on the Sheppard line.
- Understanding Society's Daniel Little examines paradigms we can adopt to make change easier (or not).
- The Volokh Conspiracy takes a look at the contentious subject of the sterilization of the intellectually disabled. Are there circumstances where this is possible?
- Window on Eurasia quotes from Eurasianist ideology Alexander Dugin, who (speaking of a supportive Armenia and a non-supportive Azerbaijan), warns that other post-Soviet countries can keep their borders only with Russian permission, and speculates about the possibility of Russian threats in Latvia.