- Centauri Dreams notes one source suggesting red dwarf stars may produce too little ultraviolet to spark life on their planets.
- Hornet Stories notes how LGBTQ Dreamers will be hit badly by the repeal of DACA.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money approves of Frederick Crews' critical takedown of Freud as a scientist.
- The LRB Blog looks at a new South Korean film examining the Gwangju massacre of 1980.
- The NYR Daily notes that China seems set to head into a new era of strict censorship, with calamitous results.
- The Planetary Society Blog considers the 40th anniversary of the Voyagers in the light of the Pale Blue Dot of Carl Sagan.
- The Signal reports that, for archivists' purposes, online newspaper sites are actually very poorly organized.
- At Spacing, Adam Bunch notes how Upper Canadian governor John Simcoe's abolition of slavery was not quite that.
- Window on Eurasia notes the continued official contortions around Circassian history in Russia.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
I am fascinated by this project. Consider this post a placeholder of sorts.
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.
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.
There's homophobia, to name a single instance.
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?”
- Bloomberg talks about Poland's problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei's progress in China.
- Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito's opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe's soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
- CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals' lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
- The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton's in the Philippines.
- The Guardian notes that Canada's impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
- The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
- MacLean's notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
- National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar's complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto's dwarf planet status.
- The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
- Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
- TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
- Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
- Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump's tweets clearly show two authors at work.
- The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
- Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders' dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.
MacLean's carries Colin Perkel's Canadian Press article noting the investigation of what seems to be a sad mess at the Toronto Star newsroom.
Canada’s largest newspaper has agreed to an independent review of its newsroom culture in the aftermath of the suicide of a prominent reporter, its chairman and editor said Wednesday.
The newspaper had earlier rejected a union call for an outside probe of the circumstances around the suicide of Raveena Aulakh, saying it would have been too bureaucratic.
In a memo to newsroom staff, the senior executives say a seasoned professional will facilitate the review and come up with recommendations.
“The union has publicly called for an ‘independent investigation’ of the newsroom’s ‘poisonous workplace’ where ‘ harassment’ and ‘bullying’ are rife,” Torstar Chaiman John Honderich and Star Editor Michael Cook say in their memo.
“The union’s assessment is not our view.”
The CBC's Don Pittis reports on the grim future of Postmedia, and by extension of the Canadian newspaper industry. At best, the mass media in print might become a heritage industry. (At best.)
Reports this week that the U.S. hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management is looking to sell its stake in the Canadian newspaper chain Postmedia may be less important than they appear. And whatever happens, a Canadian businessman will hold the balance of power.
This development does, however, shine a light on a company that many financial industry observers say is so indebted that share ownership may be a moot point.
It is the holders of the debt that matter. And it reminds us of the uncertain future for a company that owns some of Canada`s most illustrious newspaper titles less than a year and a half after it announced a merger with the Sun chain would solve its financial problems.
Some harsh name-calling between Terence Corcoran at the National Post and David Olive at the Toronto Star recently has only drawn attention to the fact that the entire print newspaper business is in trouble.
Print chains across North America have been cutting staff and titles, desperately trying to find a business model that will attract readers and replace lost ad revenue.
- Bad Astronomy shows a photo of an ancient X-ray jet amplified by photos from the Big Bang.
- Centauri Dreams considers fast radio bursts.
- The Great Grey Bridge's Philip Turner notes that the Republican Party establishment is finally responding to Trump.
- Joe. My. God. and Towleroad note the ridiculousness of Caitlyn Jenner's desire to be a trans ambassador to Ted Cruz.
- Language Hat notes medieval naming patterns, with many religious names and many of these shared.
- Language Log notes controversy over a Chinese newspaper headline.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at American conservatives who think that the failure of people in distant countries to hear of minor figures in their movement proves a conspiracy.
- The LRB Blog argues the Swedish model is a viable alternative.
- The Map Room Blog maps the distribution of Syrian refugees across Canada.
- Marginal Revolution notes the low crime rate in many Muslim societies.
- The New APPS Blog argues Donald Trump is the perfect expression of contemporary capitalism.
- The Planetary Society Blog pays tribute to astronaut Scott Kelly.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers how Mexico can go on the offensive against a Trump administration.
- The Russian Demographics Blog looks at statistics on religious affiliation in Belarus.
- Transit Toronto notes the various subway disruptions this weekend.
- Whatever's John Scalzi admits the possibility of being wrong, while still keeping to his criticisms and predictions re: BernieBros.
- blogTO notes some interesting-looking apartment complexes scheduled to be built in Toronto.
- Dangerous Minds notes that, in the late 1970s, Debbie Harry wanted to remake Alphaville with Robert Fripp.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that the Hubble telescope directly imaged gas giant 2M1207b, determining its rotation about its brown dwarf primary.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at continuing developments in stealth technology.
- Far Outliers notes some grim Soviet jokes from the 1930s about famines.
- At The Great Grey Bridge, Philip Turner wonders if President Gore could have avoided 9/11.
- The Map Room Blog notes "Null Island", at 0 degrees of longitude and latitude.
- North's Justin Petrone grimly contrasts Estonian newspaper headlines before and after the 1940 Soviet annexation.
- The Understanding Society Blog considers ways of using schematics to understand society.
- Window on Eurasia shares an unconvincing argument that many minority languages in Russia are endangered.
- The Financial Times' The World blog considers the political impact of allegation Lech Walesa was a spy for the Polish government in the 1970s.
David Olive's Toronto Star opinion piece on the 30th makes good points.
There is a cancer on Canadian journalism.
The malignancy is Postmedia Network Canada Corp., a foreign-controlled, debt-burdened contrivance flirting with insolvency that nonetheless is relied upon by about 21 million Canadian readers. Postmedia’s 200-plus media outlets, mostly newspapers, including some of the biggest dailies in the country, represent a far greater concentration of news media ownership than exists in any other major economy. And a degree of foreign ownership of the free press that would not be tolerated in the U.S., France, Japan or Germany.
The good news is that the Postmedia abomination, which has never turned a profit, is in such wretched condition that it’s not long for this world. The bad news is that as long as the biggest newspaper publisher in the country clings to life, it is a blight on all the communities it underserves.
Postmedia is controlled by quick-buck hedge funds in the U.S. Leading this group is New York-based GoldenTree Asset Management, which alone controls 35 per cent of Postmedia. Indeed, it was GoldenTree that created Postmedia, just five years ago, by salvaging proud, venerable newspapers like the Vancouver Sun, The Calgary Herald, the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette from the ruins of the Asper family’s bankrupt Canwest empire.
For generations, Canadian law has forbidden foreign ownership or control of Canadian cultural assets. But after permitting the sale to non-Canadians of practically the entire Canadian-owned steel and mining industries, then PM Stephen Harper’s government signed off on Postmedia’s creation as well. The Americans put a Canadian face on the deal by selecting Paul Godfrey, 77, as Postmedia’s CEO. Not by coincidence, Harper and Godfrey, a diehard Tory, are kindred spirits.
- On Livejournal, bitterlawngnome shares some remarkable vintage print ads from the early 20th century.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes that robots installed the mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope.
- The Dragon's Tales notes the abundant water ice on the surface of Pluto.
- Joe. My. God. and Towleroad note the imprisonment of Philadelphia gaybasher Kathryn Knott.
- Language Hat explores college girl fiction.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Marco Rubio's encounter with a gay man in New Hampshire.
- Marginal Revolution notes the global market for super-butlers.
- Steve Munro considers how Smarttrack and GO will co-exist.
- Otto Pohl compares nation-building in Central Asia with that in the Middle East.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes a conference held in Moscow on Muslims and their space in that city.
Writing in NOW Toronto, Ross Howard argues for the protection of Canada's mass media as cultural assets.
[A]s the Toronto Star’s David Olive presciently pointed out a year ago, most of the money drained by Postmedia from its newspapers – some of which were actually breaking even or better – went back to the offshore debt-holders (the company is 35 per cent owned by Manhattan-based hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management) instead of into better content that could actually attract readers and advertisers. Advertisers won’t pay for expensive print ads when they can reach more eyeballs on TV and online.
Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey claims that convergence, extreme economizing and digitalized “news products” will soon pay off for Postmedia, but not, as Olive argued, the escalating payouts continue to go to its American owners who keep the newspaper chain alive only to pick it clean beyond the bone.
If Canadians want a diversity of independent and reliable sources of professionally-curated essential information to get through their day – and at election times – the time has come to think about alternatives to machine-made journalism.
That may require more philanthropists funding truly independent media, encouraged by federal tax credits. But Canada could also emulate Europe where governments grant media outlets across the political spectrum annual subsidies, no strings attached, to keep alive diverse approaches to news and opinion.
The news media can be declared another national strategic industry and tighter controls imposed against monopoly ownership.
Writing in The Globe and Mail, graphic novelist Seth reflects on the very recent closing of his local paper, the Guelph Mercury, and what that means for him and the community.
I didn’t subscribe to the paper myself – this is not a shameful admission. You see, my wife, Tania, subscribes to “The Merc” at her barber shop (The Crown) and then brings it home for me at the end of the day, so I always see the news the day after. That’s fine with me. I’m not in a great hurry for the local news. I can wait a day. What’s the rush, everybody?
By the time I get the paper it is well-thumbed. More thumbed than the Globe or the Post (which also come home to me). Often those papers haven’t even been unfolded by Tania’s customers. Why is that? Well, it’s not because the Mercury was the best paper in Canada, it’s because it was the local paper. Believe it or not, even in this current worldwide mega-culture people still have some desire to be connected to where they live.
Thinking about it, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with another example, besides a local paper, that so effectively does that job. I mean, simply living somewhere doesn’t necessarily connect you to a place. You can live in Guelph, for example, yet spend your entire inner-life online – living in some “neitherworld” of neither here nor there.
If you are not actively involved in the local culture – somehow personally invested in it – it’s pretty easy for that place to simply be where you sleep and buy your groceries.
The National Observer's Bruce Livesay describes the continuing decline of Conrad Black's lost Postmedia empire.
Postmedia is a national media giant with nearly 200 papers, magazines and websites. Its dailies reach 6.3 million Canadian readers every week, with some of its best-known papers including the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Regina Leader-Post, Winnipeg Sun, The London Free Press, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.
But Postmedia is also a ship taking on water, due to both self-inflicted and industry-wide wounds.
Of the self-inflicted variety, Postmedia was pilloried last month in the run-up to the federal election after its Toronto executives ordered 16 of its major daily newspapers to run editorials endorsing Stephen Harper. (Postmedia did the same thing last spring during Alberta’s provincial election, forcing its papers there to back Jim Prentice’s Tories).
In a surprising move, John Honderich, chair of Torstar Corp., which publishes Canada’s largest daily paper, The Toronto Star, devoted an entire op-ed page article two weeks ago heaping scorn on Postmedia’s decision, decrying “the negative impact this affair is having on the newspaper industry in general. At a time when the relevance and impact of newspapers are under attack, this doesn’t help.”
Then there was the stunning resignation of Andrew Coyne as the National Post’s editorials and comments editor. Coyne quit on the eve of the election – although he remains a columnist with the paper – when his superiors told him he was not allowed to publish a column dissenting with their endorsement of Harper. Coyne, who declines to discuss the matter, tweeted his disapproval of the censoring, saying “I don’t see public disagreement as confusing. I see it as honest.”
- Former Globe and Mail editor William Thorsell's essay throwout, a scathing criticism of the Conservative government by a right-leaning critic, got widely syndicated, first on the Medium account of MacLean's journalist Paul Wells then at MacLean's itself. Scott Gilmore's similar MacLean's essay is also worth reading in this light.
- The publicity received by Thorsell also relates, in part, to the Globe and Mail's nonsensical endorsement of the Conservative Party but not Harper. Over at the National Post, Andrew Coyne resigned as an editor on account of interference from above. Torontoist, meanwhile, noted the history of newspaper endorsements in Toronto.
- The fate of the NDP, never breaking through and in fact losing more than half of the seats won in 2011, was also discussed. MacLean's before the vote noted many of the challenges, while the Toronto Star after the vote noted the disaster. NOW Toronto examined the contest in Spadina-Fort York between Olivia Chow and Adam Vaughan. Jacobin Magazine mourned the NDP defeat.
- MacLean's and the Toronto Star celebrated the high voter turnout, 68.5%, the highest in two decades.
- Toronto was a major battlefield. MacLean's looked at the desperate attempt of Harper to cultivate the Ford brothers, while right-leaning mayor John Tory congratulated the Liberals on the scale of their win. Steve Munro looked forward to the impact of the election on mass transit, blogTO looked at the city's recent voting pattern and noted surprising outcomes, and re-elected Adam Vaughan promised an end to the controversial Toronto Islands airport expansion.
- Much is expected of the new government. Suburban ethnic voters are looking to the Liberals to fulfill promises, while on the world stage much is expected of a Canada apparently returned to its progressive promise. Meanwhile, much policy change is expected, everything from science to urban policy.
- The blogosphere took note of the election. Lawyers, Guns and Money started a discussion before the election about what might happen, while Crooked Timber celebrated afterwards. Joe. My. God. and Towleroad were among the sites to note the Trudeau victory briefly, Torontoist shared a cute election-day photo, and The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer celebrated the fact that this election proved Duverger's law.