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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes the discovery of activity on distant comet
    C/2017 K2.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new proposal for an orbital telescope that could detect Earth-like worlds at Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • D-Brief notes a new research finding that chimpanzees can learn to use tools on their own, without teaching.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the interesting Detroit character of Gundella, the Green Witch of Detroit.

  • Language Log tries to decipher some garbled Hebrew at an American wedding.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the continued aftershocks, social and otherwise, from the recent earthquake in Mexico.

  • Marginal Revolution argues that North Korea is set to become more China's problem than the United States'.

  • Roads and Kingdoms notes the simple pleasures of soy milk in China.

  • Seriously Science notes a study looking at the different factors in the personalities of cats.

  • Towleroad notes the recent discovery of an antibody effective against 99% or so variants of HIV.

  • Window on Eurasia argues Russian politics play a central role in getting Russophones in Ukraine to become Ukrainian.

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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross bets that barring catastrophe, the US under Trump will dispatch crewed circumlunar flights.

  • D-Brief takes a look at the evolution of birds, through speculation on how the beak formed.

  • Language Log looks at the ways Trump is represented, and mocked, in the languages of East Asia.

  • Noting the death toll in a Mexico City sweatshop, Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that sweatshops are dangerous places to work.

  • The NYR Daily notes the many structural issues likely to prevent foreign-imposed fixes in Afghanistan.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports from a seemingly unlikely date festival held in the depths of the Saudi desert.

  • Rocky Planet reports that Mount Agung, a volcano in Indonesia, is at risk of imminent eruption.

  • Drew Rowsome notes a new stage adaptation in Toronto of the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest.

  • Strange Company reports on how the Lonergans disappeared in 1998 in a dive off the Great Barrier Reef. What happened to them?

  • Towleroad notes how Chelsea Manning was just banned from entering Canada.

  • Window on Eurasia claims that the Russian language is disappearing from Armenia.

  • Arnold Zwicky maps the usage of "faggot" as an obscenity in the United States.

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  • Anthrodendum offers resources for understanding race in the US post-Charlottesville.

  • D-Brief notes that exoplanet WASP-12b is a hot Jupiter that is both super-hot and pitch-black.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining various models of ice-covered worlds and their oceans' habitability.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the value placed by society on different methods of transport.

  • Far Outliers looks at how Chinese migrants were recruited in the 19th century.

  • Hornet Stories notes that the authorship of famously bad fanfic, "My Immortal", has been claimed, by one Rose Christo.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one explanation for why men are not earning more. (Bad beginnings matter.)

  • Peter Watts has it with facile (and statistically ill-grounded) rhetoric about punching Nazis.

  • At the NYR Daily, Masha Gessen is worried by signs of degeneration in the American body politic.

  • Livejournal's pollotenchegg maps the strength of Ukrainian political divisions in 2006 and 2010.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer is afraid what AI-enabled propaganda might do to American democracy in the foreseeable future.

  • Roads and Kingdoms notes an enjoyable bagel breakfast at Pondichéry's Auroville Café.

  • Drew Rowsome celebrates the introduction of ultra-low-cost carriers for flyers in Canada.

  • Strange Company notes the 19th century haunting of an English mill.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that Crimean Tatars, and Muslims in Crimea, are facing more repression.

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Half a house, 54 1/2 St.Patrick Street (1) #toronto #grangepark #stpatrickstreet #house #oddities #54stpatrick


Half a house, 54 1/2 St.Patrick Street (2) #toronto #grangepark #stpatrickstreet #house #oddities #54stpatrick


Half a house, 54 1/2 St.Patrick Street (3) #toronto #grangepark #stpatrickstreet #house #oddities #54stpatrick


The strikingly halved house at 54 1/2 St. Patrick Avenue, lone survivor of what was a stretch of row houses on this street north of Queen Street West and just a couple minutes' walk west from University Avenue, has received international attention, from sites like Atlas Obscura and Amusing Planet. In April of 2013, blogTO's Chris Bateman explained how this building came to be and just how it managed to survive.

The row of houses was built between 1890 and 1893 on what was first Dummer Street, then William Street, then, finally, St. Patrick Street. The names of the roads in this part of the city area have been shuffled more than most: St. Patrick Street used to refer to the stretch of road that's now part of Dundas west of McCaul; McCaul used to be William Henry Street, then West William Street, for example.

For much of its past the street was blighted by poverty. Early photos show severe faces, crumbling wall cladding, and backyards strewn with detritus. More recently the area between University and Spadina has been home to a large Chinese community.

Starting in 1957, most of the block bound by Queen, McCaul, St. Patrick, and Dundas Street was purchased in pieces by Windlass Holdings Ltd., the company that developed the Village by the Grange, sometimes using aggressive tactics to secure land deeds.

The owner of 54 St. Patrick Street - once part of the original terrace - complained to the Toronto Star that the company's actions were "an extreme example of blockbusting," claiming he had received over 300 directives on his property in a single year.

Despite some resistance, the owners of the homes sold up at different times, and the row was pulled down in pieces like tooth extractions. The sole-survivor pictured here was once in the third house in the row from the south - the similar buildings next door are a later addition built on top of a laneway.

Instead, the company demolished its neighbour to the north with surgical precision, ensuring not even the woodwork on the facade of the hold-out building was disturbed. An internal supporting wall became a blank exterior when the house next door came down.


Also in 2013, Patty Winsa wrote in the Toronto Star about the house from the perspective of its current owner.

The 120-year-old residence at 54 ½ St. Patrick St. bears the scars of a development battle.

The Victorian row house was awkwardly severed from its neighbour in the 1970s when the owners refused to sell, and it lacks the symmetry of another side.

It is literally “half a house,” says its current owner, Albert Zikovitz, laughingly from his adjacent office in the Cottage Life Magazine building. “Everybody looks at it.”

The house is one of a few single-family homes left on the densely packed street near Queen and University. But Zikovitz, who purchased the house last year after the owner went into a retirement home, says he won’t tear it down.

“I love the house,” says Zikovitz, who is president of the magazine. Plans are in the works this year to restore the exterior of the building and turn the interior into office space.


Work was being done on the house when I passed by Tuesday evening. Here's to hoping this anomaly survives: the reflexive double-take of passersby is fun.
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  • At Anthrodendum, P. Kerim Friedman talks about the technologies he uses to help him navigate Chinese-speaking Taiwan.

  • Dead Things notes new dating showing the Neanderthals of Vindija cave, in Croatia, were much older than thought.

  • Far Outliers takes a brief look at the history of Temasek, the Malay polity that once thrived in Singapore.

  • Hornet Stories shares photos from New York City's Afropunk festival.

  • Imageo shows the scale of the devastating wildfires in the western United States, with satellite photos.

  • Language Hat looks at the sort of mistakes characteristic of medieval manuscripts written in Latin and Greek.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Trump's revocation of DACA and the harm that will face the Dreamers. I am so sorry.

  • Maximos62 looks at a new book examining how biologists, including Darwin and Wallace, came to draw a borer between Asia and Australia.

  • Peter Rukavina blogs about his visit to Wheatley River's Island Honey Wine Company. (Mead, it seems.)

  • Strange Company takes a look at the life of violent war-mongering British eccentric Alfred Wintle.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the very poor state of sex education in Russia's education system.

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  • Charley Ross reflects on the story of Carla Vicentini, a Brazilian apparently abducted from New Jersey a decade ago.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog reflects on the concept of anomie.

  • Far Outliers looks at the southwest Pacific campaigns of 1942, and reflects on Australian-American tensions in New Guinea in the Second World War.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects briefly on the disaster in Houston.

  • The Map Room Blog links to two interesting longform takes on maps in fantasy.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers the extent to which urban policy has contributed to Houston's issues.

  • Roads and Kingdoms tells the story of a Shabbat celebration in Zimbabwe, and of the country's Jewish community.

  • Strange Company tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of Lieutenant Paul Byron Whipkey. What was done to him?

  • Unicorn Booty reports on how the Supreme Court of India has found people have a legal right to their orientation.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the growing number of Russian citizens with Chinese connections.

  • Arnold Zwicky talks about Tom Bianchi's vintage Fire Island photos.

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  • Torontoist takes on Galen Weston and the $15 minimum wage and poverty in Toronto (and Loblaw's contribution to said).

  • At the Toronto Star, Shawn Micallef describes how high property values in Toronto discourage open-air parking lots.

  • Noor Javed looks, in Toronto Star, at the question of who authorized the cathedral elevated cow statue in Cathedraltown, in Markham.

  • The Star's Fatima Syed shares some old memories of Torontonians of the Centreville carousel, soon to be sold off.

  • At The Globe and Mail, Dakshana Bascaramurty takes a look at Jamaican patois, Toronto black English, and the many complex ways in which this language is received.

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  • Charley Ross reports on an unexpected personal involvement in the disappearance of Kori Gossett. Did an informant know?

  • Citizen Science Salon reports, in the time of #sharkweek, on the sevengill sharks.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to an article on the Chinese base in Sudan.

  • Inkfish has a fascinating article describing how New Zealand's giant black swans went extinct, and were replaced.

  • Language Hat notes two obscure words of Senegalese French, "laptot" and "signare". What do they mean? Go see.

  • Language Log argues that the influx of English loanwords in Chinese is remarkable. Does it signal future changes in language?

  • Lawyers, Guns Money notes how Los Angeles and southern California were, during the American Civil War, a stronghold of secessionist sentiment, and runs down some of the problems of Mexico, including the militarization of crime.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on what books by which authors tend to get stolen from British bookstores.
  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that Donald Trump is not likely to be able to substantially reshape NAFTA.

  • Roads and Kingdoms reports from the recent protests in Poland against changes to the Supreme Court.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the structure of the cities of medieval Europe, which apparently were dynamic and flexible.

  • Unicorn Booty shares some classic gay board games.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is going to try to wage a repeat of the Winter War on Ukraine.

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A meeting for Toronto's missing 2LGBTQA*, 1 August 2017


I saw this placard advertising a meeting, to be held tomorrow the 1st of August at 5:30 pm at the 519 Community Centre, on Toronto's missing queer men on a building at Church and Wellesley. The community is paying attention to this alarming mystery.
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the potentially deadly effect of the stellar flares of red dwarfs on potentially habitable exoplanets.

  • Charley Ross notes the strange 1957 disappearance of William ad Margaret Patterson from their Texas home.

  • D-Brief notes the evidence for a second planet at Proxima Centauri, a super-Earth Proxima C with a 215 day orbit.

  • Tom Yulsman of ImaGeo shares shares photos of the active Sun.

  • The argument made by Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money that Americans were learning to love Obamacare and Republicans wanted to take it away before they got used to it ... well.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that, and why, restaurant servers in Maine wanted their minimum wage lowered. (Tips.)

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of Na De Fo, a rare Korean restaurant in Mexico City.

  • The NYR Daily looks at how Macron might try to "California-ize" France, and whether he could pull this off.

  • Unicorn Booty notes studies noting bisexuals have a lower quality of life than gays, and wonders why. (Stigma is an issue.)

  • Window on Eurasia notes that global warming, by leading to permafrost melt, is literally undermining the infrastructure of Russia.

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  • With news that Toronto police is now treating the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman from his Cabbagetown a week ago as suspicious, the search for Kinsman is taking on new importance. Please, if you can help in any way, let Toronto police or his friends--anybody--know.

  • The Toronto Star's Hina Alam reports on the huge crush over the Canada Day weekend to see the World's Largest Rubber Duck.

  • The Parkdale Villager's Hilary Caton reports on the push to make West Queen West a protected district.

  • The National Post shares the Canadian Press' poll reporting on general anxiety, including among the well-off, on affordable housing in Canada.

  • The Globe and Mail's Kenny Sharpe writes about controversy at Ryerson University over the legacy of founder Egerton Ryerson.

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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 Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly considers the various challenges of being an independent person.

  • Centauri Dreams considers the possibility of a Mars-mass planet in the Kuiper belt.

  • Dangerous Minds notes how the 5Pointz warehouse of NYC, once a graffiti hotspot, has been turned into a condo complex that at best evokes that artistic past.

  • Language Log explores the etymology of "sang", a descriptor of a Chinese subculture of dispirited youths.

  • The LRB Blog reports on a Border Patrol raid on the No More Deaths encampment in Arizona, a camp that helps save migrant lives in the desert.

  • The Strange Company blogs about the mysterious 1829 disappearance of Judge John Ten Eyck Lansing from New York City.

  • Unicorn Booty describes three gay Muslim immigrants terrified of the implications of President Trump.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers pros and cons to the idea of religious arbitration.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the Qatar crisis is worsening Sunni/Shia tensions among the Muslims of Russia.

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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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  • Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
  • Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • D-Brief shares rare video of beaked whales on the move.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that someone has actually begun selling unauthorized action figures of Trump Administration figures like Bannon and Spencer.

  • Language Log looks at a linguistic feature of Emma Watson's quote, her ending it with a preposition.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen considers, originally for Bloomberg View, if Trump could be seen as a placebo for what ails America.

  • The New APPS Blog takes a Marxist angle on the issue of big data, from the perspective of (among other things) primitive accumulation.

  • The Search reports on the phenomenon of the Women's History Month Wikipedia edit-a-thon, aiming to literally increase the representation of notable women on Wikipedia.

  • Towleroad notes the six men who will be stars of a new Fire Island reality television show.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy finds some merit in Ben Carson's description of American slaves as immigrants.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Belarusians are beginning to mobilize against their government and suggests they are already making headway.

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Two links are being added.


  • To the news section, I'm adding the Canadian news website National Observer, which has interesting longer articles analyzing Canadian events. Of their recent articles, I would recommend Lorimer Shenher's "LGBTQ officers need to pick the right target", which argues that LGBTQ police officers should step back and consider the import of the police, as an organization, to many queer people.

  • To the blog section, I'm adding Strange Company, a great blog that assembles links of interesting and odd things around the world, in the past and present, and takes the occasional longer look at particular events. This link, examining the history of one Reverend Griffiths who was something of a ghostbuster in 19th century Wales, is a good example of the latter category of post.

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3869, Avenue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville


The signs on this family's door, warning that the dinosaur on their porch is theirs but that the cat waiting at their door is not, among other things, made me laugh when I saw them.
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The Toronto Star's Ellen Brait describes an unusual mirage, an manifestation of Toronto in the skies above Buffalo one hot summer day in August 1894.

Buffalo residents were treated to an unusual sight on Aug. 16, 1894: a detailed image of Toronto hovering over Lake Ontario.

Or rather, “a city in the air,” according to a November 1894 Arizona Republic newspaper article.

For about an hour during the mid-morning, Toronto, its harbor, and the Island to the south of the city were visible to those on the ground in Buffalo. Normally Toronto is only visible to those high up over Buffalo.

“A close examination of the map showed that the mirage did not cause the slightest distortion, the gradual rise of the city from the water being rendered perfectly,” said an August 1894 edition of Scientific American magazine.

Despite being approximately 93 km away, witnesses on that fateful day could see a few ships, and for the first 10 minutes, even count downtown church spires.
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blogTO's Derek Flack takes a look at some hidden spaces on the TTC network, starting with infamous Lower Bay station.

Lower Bay Station (or, as the TTC refers to it, Bay Lower) is surely the best known of Toronto's hidden underground spaces. The ghost subway station was in service briefly in 1966 when the TTC tried its interlining system, which turned the city's two subway routes into three.

One platform serviced the Bloor-Danforth Route, while the other was a stop on the Danforth-University-Yonge Route. The experiment failed for a number of reasons, and the lower platform was promptly decommissioned.

It now serves as an area for training exercises and film shoots, though it has also been opened to the public for events like Nuit Blanche in the past.

Lower Bay isn't the only ghost station on the TTC, though. Underneath Queen Station, there's the shell of a streetcar subway station that would likely have taken the name City Hall, but is now typically referred to as Lower Queen or Queen Lower.

It was partially built in anticipation of Queen Street transit line that was never built.

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