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  • Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait notes how the media made a simulation of a third planet at Gliese 832 a discovery of a new Earth-like world.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly calls on a consideration of why schoolchildren are labelled troublemakers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that 51 Eridani b has been discovered to be a cloudy world, and how.

  • Far Outliers notes how the decline of Temasek (the future Singapore) was followed by the rise of Melaka.

  • Hornet Stories tells of an Orthodox Christian priest in Australia, who, at the funeral of a lesbian, called for gays to be shot.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Catalonia's parliament approved a referendum on secession.

  • The LRB Blog considers the import of Monte Testaccio, a man-made hill of rubble and waste dating from Roman times.

  • The NYR Daily considers the engaging and engaged pop art of Grayson Perry.

  • Roads and Kingdoms tells of a lazy afternoon spent drinking New Zealand beer in a Moscow pub.

  • Towleroad notes an upcoming revealing documentary about Grace Jones.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how, in the Donbas wars, mercenaries are becoming a major, potentially destabilizing force.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the conflict between quantitative data and qualitative stories in politics.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes the latest on fast radio burst FRB 121102.

  • D-Brief makes a good case for the human diet to expand to include insects. I'd like to try an insect burger myself.

  • Dangerous Minds shares some wonderful photos of Joy Division's Ian Curtis.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting up to 1% of stars could capture, at least temporarily, rogue planets.

  • Hornet Stories--the new name for Unicorn Booty--notes the latest shake-up in German-language LGBTQ media.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money shares a thoughtful essay by Christa Blackmon, drawing from her experiences as a survivor of Hurricane Andrew. How do you best take care of child survivors?

  • The Map Room Blog links to a fascinating-sounding book, Alastair Bonnett's new Beyond the Map.

  • The NYR Daily reviews a documentary about the Venerable W, a Buddhist monk in Burma who has led anti-Muslim violence.

  • The Planetary Society Blog considers the way forward for NASA's Mars Exploration Program.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports on the search for Texas barbecue in Mexico City.

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  • NOW Toronto notes the huge impact of the departure of Jennifer Keesmaat on the city of Toronto. Who will be next?

  • At Spacing, John Lorinc notes that Lilie Zendel, head of Street ART Toronto, is leaving her successful public art job behind.

  • Julien Gignac writes about Andrew O'Connor's pirate radio broadcasting, based from Parkdale.

  • On how St. James Cathedral preserves in its archives a guest book signed by Diana, Charles, and their children.

  • Why, as Canadaland reports, would The Globe and Mail get rid of Tabatha Southey and Leah McLaren? (And keep Margaret Wente?)

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  • blogTO lists some interesting things to do and see in Toronto's American neighbour, Buffalo.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly strongly defends contemporary journalism as essential for understanding the world.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money rightly takes issue with the claim identity politics hinders the US left. Remember New Deal coalitions?

  • Marginal Revolution notes just how expensive it is to run Harvard.

  • Otto Pohl notes the upcoming 76th anniversary of the Soviet deportation of the Volga Germans.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on the remarkably fluent code-switching between English and French of some Washington D.C. subway riders.

  • Strange Maps notes rival food and fabric maps of India and Pakistan.

  • Tricia Wood at Torontoist argues that, for environmental and economic reasons, Ontario needs high-speed rail.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Tatarstan has done a poor job of defending its sovereignty from the Russian government.

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  • At VICE, Mike Miksche writes about how being Lebanese in North America became much more complicated, after 9/11 and with Islamophobia.

  • The story of how Cedar's Eatery helped Lebanese food become entrenched on Prince Edward Island is fascinating. VICE reports.

  • CBC reports on how The Globe and Mail is going to stop print distribution in the Maritimes.

  • Bloomberg notes that rural ideas need high-speed internet, too.

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  • I really liked this Kerry Gold article in the Globe and Mail showing how the young, priced out of Vancouver, simply went on to remake Port Moody.

  • In the Toronto Star, Edward Keenan describes how the West End Phoenix, a new model of newspaper, is set to develop.

  • Also in the Star, Scott Wheeler describes how Torontonian John Vyga ended up helping take the Berlin Wall down in 1989.

  • Steve Munro takes a look at what the metrics for TTC station cleanliness actually mean. We're doing better than we think.

  • Shawn Micallef wonders why so few Torontonians make a habit of swimming in Lake Ontario.

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  • As VICE notes, it is terribly frustrating that we still have to fight to make sure others do not lie about our queer lives.

  • Julia Carpenter at the Washington Post
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  • Centauri Dreams notes evidence that pitted terrain, as found on Ceres and Vesta, indicates subsurface ice.

  • Dead Things links to evidence suggesting insomnia and poor sleep are not disorders, but rather evolutionary inheritances that were useful in the past.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the critical human role in the ongoing sixth extinction.

  • Language Hat links to speculation that the Afroasiatic language family has its origins in the Natufian Levant.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a fascinating French show about espionage, Le Bureau des légendes.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw reports on an important speech by Malcolm Turnbull on politics and Australia's Liberal Party.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares Marc Rayman's report on the latest discoveries of Dawn at Ceres.

  • Spacing' Sean Ruthven has a review of a beautiful book on the Sea Ranch, a northern California estate.

  • Back in May, Septembre Anderson argued at Torontoist that rather than embracing diversity, Canadian media was more willing to wither.

  • Window on Eurasia shares an argument suggesting Baltic Russians would not follow the Donbas into revolt because the Baltics are much better off economically.

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  • Anthropology.net notes on how a fossil tooth led eventually to the identification of the fourth Denisovan individual known.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about reasons for people to travel solo.

  • The Dragon's Tales' Will Baird notes that the INF Treaty is on the verge of collapse.

  • Mathew Ingram uses a recent GIF of Trump with the Polish president's wife to show how these lie and mislead.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a sharp collapse in London's LGBT venues--more than half in the past decade!

  • Marginal Revolution reports on British actors who take up tutoring as a second job to support their careers.

  • The NYR Daily takes a look at the latest concerns of South Koreans regarding their northern neighbour.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw takes issue with proposed Australian government surveillance of the local Internet.

  • Progressive Download's John Farrell dissects the origins of the false claim that Copernicus was a Catholic priest.

  • Unicorn Booty has a fantastic interview with a scholar, Jamie Bernthal, who makes a case for queer content in Agatha Christie.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that methane bubble explosions in Siberia could wreck Russian pipelines.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.

  • Discover's The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.

  • Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.

  • The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne's move into the newspaper business.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one observer's suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.

  • The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis' cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.

  • Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.

  • Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.

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  • The National Park Service's LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study is an amazingly thorough survey of sites and stories of note.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Stephanie Chambers explores how the history of homophobia recorded in her newspaper's old articles.

  • Back2Stonewall shares rare archival footage of the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day parade, ancestor of Pride.

  • The New Yorker's Daniel Penny tells the story of Joseph Touchette, at 93 the oldest drag queen in Greenwich Village.

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Consider this post a consequence of a consolidation of my blogroll, with three posts from older blogs I've added previously and two new posts from new blogs.


  • Missing persons blog Charley Ross shares the strange story of five people who went missing in a winter wilderness in 1978.
  • Roads and Kingdom shares an anecdote by Alessio Perrone about a chat over a drink with a Cornishman, in a Cornwall ever more dependent on tourism.

  • Strange Company shares the story of Kiltie, a Scottish cat who immigrated to the United States in the First World War.

  • Starts With a Bang, a science blog by Ethan Siegel, argues that there is in fact no evidence for periodic mass extinctions caused by bodies external to the Earth.

  • Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, a group blog by Canadian economists, considers the value placed on Aboriginal language television programming.

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  • City News shares a Canadian Press article sharing the warning issued by Sears Canada itself, another historic colossus of retail, that it may well be coming to its end.

  • The Columbia Review of Journalism warns that Canada's Postmedia chain is failing, and could take all our newspapers with it.

  • Tess Kalinowski at the Toronto Star observes that the number of Greater Toronto Area home sales has continued to decline.

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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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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.

  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.

  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman's thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.

  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.

  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States' leaving the Paris climate agreement.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens' longer history overturn.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman's claims about privacy in modern journalism.

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Torontoist's Jamie Bradburn reports on how the Toronto Sun, the right-wing tabloid of note in Toronto, has since its foundation in 1971 has been a forum for expressing lots of terrible sentiments about lots of different people.

In a response to a reader question on Twitter earlier this week provoked by Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah’s comments on the Quebec City mosque shooting, Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale described the Sun as publishing, beyond a decent sports section and solid tabloid-style news coverage, “the country’s worst opinion writers.” While readers can debate Dale’s use of “worst,” the current crop of Sun columnists continues a long tradition of deliberately provocative writing that has shaped the paper since its inception in 1971.

It’s a tradition that hasn’t always landed on the right side of history. To be fair, flipping through the back pages of any newspaper exhumes opinions which would be questionable today. Skeletons among the Toronto press range from George Brown’s attacks on Irish immigrants during the early days of the Globe to unflattering descriptions of minorities in the Star which matched the prejudices of the day.

But the Sun has always stood out for its unapologetic view of the world, which grew from cockiness as the new kid on the block and its ability to connect with its conservative readership. It played upon fears of outsiders, and earned its stripes as a dedicated Cold Warrior by labeling opponents as evil Communists/Marxists/socialists/bleeding hearts/etc.

During the 1970s and 1980s the Sun’s biases regarding anyone who wasn’t white provoked consternation among minority groups, which nearly caused the City to pull its advertising from the paper. An extensive report by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations published in 1987 pulled few punches in its analysis of the paper’s stances: “The sheer volume of racial stereotypes, racism, scapegoating, and the presence of statements that may elicit fear and hatred against racial minorities can leave little doubt that there is considerable prejudice and racism directed toward non-whites and ethnic minorities within the pages of the paper.”


There's homophobia, to name a single instance.

Let’s be blunt: the Sun was intolerant toward homosexuals during the 1970s and 1980s. From cartoonist Andy Donato’s frequent limp-wristed depictions of gays to editor Peter Worthington’s threat following the 1981 Bathhouse Raids to expose names of anyone rounded up in subsequent police scoops, there was no sympathy to anyone who wasn’t heterosexual.

Perhaps the most homophobic of the lot was Queen’s Park columnist Claire Hoy. In piece after piece, Hoy depicted homosexuals as sad, pathetic creatures. He was convinced that there was an agenda by homosexuals to gain access to classrooms to convert innocent children to their perverted lifestyle. “It is not true that homosexuals want simply to be left alone to do whatever it is they do to each other,” he wrote in January 1978. When a “Gaydays” celebration was held later that year, he wondered why “more Torontonians don’t let them know they’re not welcome here” and when people would “wake up and realize the danger of keeping silent in the face of this creeping, crawling sickness in our society?”
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Sean Craig and Adrian Humphreys's National Post article reports on criminal allegations of international drug smuggling which have the potential to harm emergent international media empire Vice Media.

A former editor with Vice Media used the Canadian headquarters of the youth-focused publishing empire as a recruiting ground to draw young journalists and artists into a transnational cocaine-smuggling ring, according to allegations by current and former Vice employees who spoke to the National Post.

Three current or former Vice journalists independently told the Post that Yaroslav Pastukhov, then Vice Canada’s music editor who went by the name Slava Pastuk, personally tried to recruit them as international drug couriers, offering each of them $10,000 to carry illicit cargo hidden in the lining of suitcases from Las Vegas to Australia. They say they did not accept the offer.

Meanwhile, Pastukhov’s one-time roommate, a promising Toronto electronic music artist named Jordan Gardner whom Vice had featured in a profile, now sits in an Australian prison, awaiting sentencing after being caught at Sydney airport with a large stash of cocaine.

Gardner, three other Canadians and one American — a New York-based model — were arrested on Dec. 22, 2015, when cocaine valued between US$5.1 million and US$6.6 million in Australia was allegedly discovered in the lining of their luggage. The Australian Federal Police described it as the work of “a transnational criminal syndicate.”

According to Gardner’s Australia-based lawyer, friends and family, he blames Pastukhov for badgering him into making the trip. When Gardner and some of his traveling companions tried to back out of the deal in Las Vegas, his lawyer told the Post, unknown men threatened Gardner with a gun.
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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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  • Centauri Dreams shares a proposal for the relatively rapid industrialization of space in a few short years using smart robots with 3d printign technology.

  • To what extent, as Crooked Timber speculates, the Arthurian myth complex science fictional?

  • Dangerous Minds shares a lovely middle-finger-raised candle.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the interactions between atmospheres and rotation for super-Earths and Venus-like worlds.

  • Joe. My. God. notes Wikileaks' call for Trump's tax returns.

  • Language Hat shares some words peculiar to Irish English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the words of Trump are meaningless.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cown considers some scenarios where nuclear weapons may end up being used.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at births and deaths in Russia between 2000 and 2015.

  • Savage Minds considers, inspired by the recent Michel Foucault read-in protest to Trump, the relationships between Foucault's thinking and racism.

  • Window on Eurasia calls for a post-imperial Russian national identity, argues that Trump's assault on globalization will badly hurt a Russia dependent on foreign trade and investment, and wonders what Putin's Russia can actually offer Trump's United States.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell offers a unique strategy for journalists interested at penetrating Trump's shell: trick them into over-answering.

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The Toronto Star shares veteran reporter David Rider's advice to journalists covering the many issues of Donald Trump, with five paragraphs drawing from his experience with Rob Ford when that man was mayor of Toronto.

1. Lack of shame is a political stun gun: Public officials caught in lies usually duck, weave and when pressed, apologize. Trump is remarkably Ford-like in his ability to boldly lie and shrug off unwelcome facts, dumbfounding reporters. Your only defence is to keep asking key accountability questions over and over and over, wherever you can, and refuse to let him dictate the story. After the Star revealed Ford was impaired at a military ball, I had to interrupt softball questions after a “Key to the City” ceremony in 2013 to ask him if he was battling alcoholism.

2. Don’t count on your competitors: Freezing out and even demonizing specific media outlets while giving preferred access to rivals is effective — divide and conquer works. It’s great that a Fox anchor stuck up for CNN, but don’t expect mass boycotts or co-ordinated demands for equal access by competitive media outlets covering the biggest newsmaker in the world. When Ford froze out the Star, some rivals helped informally, passing on press releases or notices of events when they remembered. Others actively took advantage of our disadvantage.

3. Being blackballed has its benefits: As Bob Dylan sang: “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Most great stories come from sources and documents, not news conferences and press releases. While it was inconvenient and unfair to be cut off from mayoral communications, it was also incredibly freeing not to have to worry about keeping the pipeline open More importantly, the flow of leaks and brown envelopes increased amid the Ford Freeze because we were seen as the outlet holding him to account. Also, some politicos felt sorry for us.

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