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3 Quarks Daily
80 Beats (Andrew Moseman, Brett Israel)
A BCer in Toronto (Jeff Jedras)
Acts of Minor Treason (Andrew Barton)
Andart (Anders Sandberg)
Alpha Sources (Claus Vistesen)
Apostrophen ('Nathan Smith)
Arnold Zwicky's Blog
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
Beyond the Beyond (Bruce Sterling)
Bonoboland (Edward Hugh)
Bow. James Bow.
Broadside Blog (Caitlin Kelly)
A (Budding) Sociologist's Commonplace Book (Dan Hirschman)
Gerry Canavan's blog
Castrovalva (Richard R.)
Centauri Dreams (Paul Gilster)
Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)
City of Brass (Aziz Poonawalla)
Crooked Timber
The Dragon's Gaze (William Baird)
The Dragon's Tales (William Baird)
Dangerous Minds
Everyday Sociology Blog
False Positives (Ian Irving)
Far Outliers (Joel)
The Fifteenth (Steve Roby)
A Fistful of Euros
GeoCurrents (Martin Lewis)
Global Sociology
The Great Grey Bridge, Honourary Canadian (Philip Turner)
Halfway Down the Danube (Douglas Muir et al.)
Hunting Monsters and inuit bikini scarlet carwash
In Media Res (Russell Arben Fox)
Inkless Wells (Paul Wells)
Intuitionistically Uncertain (Michel)
Itching for Eestimaa (Guistino)
Ivor Tossell on the Web
Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts (Jim Rittenhouse)
Joe.My.God (Joe)
Johnny Pez's blog
Karl Schroeder's blog
Kieran Healy's Weblog
Language Hat
Language Log (Mark Liberman et al.)
Languages of the World (Asya Pereltsvaig)
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
LRB Blog (London Review of Books)
The Map Room (Jonathan Crowe)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen)
Marginalia (Peteris Cedrins)
Mark Simpson
Maximos' Blog (Russell Darnley)
More Words, Deeper Hole (James Nicoll)
The Naked Anthropologist (Laura Agustín)
New APPS blog (group blog)
No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts)
The Numerati (Stephen Baker)
NYRB Daily (New York Review of Books)
Open the Future (Jamais Cascio)
Otto's Random Thoughts (J. Otto Pohl)
The Pagan Prattle (Feòrag)
Passing Strangeness (Paul Drye)
patrickcain.ca (Patrick Cain)
Personal Reflections (Jim Belshaw)
Photosapience Daily (Jerrold)
Pollotencheg (Ukrainian demography blog)
The Power and the Money (Noel Maurer)
Progressive Download (John Farrell)
Registan (group blog)
Rev Rachel Rambles (Rachel Kessler)
The Rose and Phoenix Inn (Victoria Goddard)
Russian Demographic Live Journal (Ba-ldei Aga)
A Rusty Little Box (Rebecca)
Savage Minds
The Search (Douglas Todd)
Shadow, Light and Colour (Elizabeth Beattie)
Sharp Blue (Richard Baker)
The Signal
Some Ramblings from Mr. Gueguen
Steve Munro
Strange Maps
Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin)
Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
Technosociology (Zeynep Tufekci)
Towleroad (Andy Towle)
Understanding Society (Daniel Little)
Volokh Conspiracy
Wasatch Economics (Scott Peterson)
Wave Without A Shore (C.J. Cherryh)
The Way the Future Blogs (Frederik Pohl)
Whatever (John Scalzi)
Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble)
The Yorkshire Ranter (Alex Harrowell)
Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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Saturday, May 28th, 2016
8:52 pm - [FORUM] What have you been reading?
Do you read fiction or non-fiction, books or shorter texts, printed material or online?


(3 comments | comment on this)

7:16 pm - [WRITING] "It’s a Writer’s Market": Bloomberg Businessweek on e-publishing
Karen Angel's Bloomberg BusinessWeek article is thought-provoking. Is this an accurate depiction of the situation facing writers? (Also: How do you become a midlist author in the first place?)

For Greg White, the last straw came when his publisher forgot to ship copies of his book to the launch party last October. It was just one in a series of lost marketing opportunities, says White, co-host of the Food Network show Unique Sweets. So he decided to take his book back. After getting his contract canceled, he turned to the editorial marketplace Reedsy to redesign The Pink Marine, his memoir about life as a gay serviceman. The author, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., formed his own imprint, AboutFace Books, and cut a distribution deal with Ingram Content Group. “Five years ago, self-publishing was a scar,” White says. “Now it’s a tattoo.”

A new generation of online editorial services and self-publishing platforms is fueling that change in perception. The upstarts offer skills and services that used to be available only through traditional publishing, plus favorable royalty splits. They also allow authors to retain the copyright to their work. The array of offerings is spurring some writers to leave their publishing houses—particularly midlist authors whose books receive scant marketing support. Some are also using the new services to put out e-book versions of their out-of-print titles.

Janice Graham used Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to release digital versions of her five novels, including 1998’s Firebird, a New York Times best-seller. For a novel in progress, she hired an editor through Reedsy and plans to self-publish unless a publisher offers her a good deal. “I’m not so interested in the prestige of being published by a traditional publisher at this point,” says Graham, who lives in Florence, Italy. “What I’m interested in is maximizing sales.”

Reedsy is a community of about 450 handpicked publishing professionals available for hire. The two-year-old London-based company offers software that allows authors to collaborate with editors without having to e-mail manuscripts back and forth. Reedsy co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Nataf says he had an epiphany when he got his first Amazon Kindle e-reader: “The barriers to publishing had been removed.”

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7:14 pm - [LINK] "How Literature Became Word Perfect": On the advent of word processing for writers
Josephine Livingstone's article at The New Republic describing how writers made the transition from typewriter to computer is a fascinating piece of history.

“As if being 1984 weren’t enough.” Thomas Pynchon, writing in The New York Times Book Review, marked the unnerving year with an honest question about seemingly dystopian technology: “Is It OK to Be a Luddite?” The Association of American Publishers records that by 1984, between 40 and 50 percent of American authors were using word processors. It had been a quarter-century since novelist C.P. Snow gave a lecture in which he saw intellectual life split into “literary” and “scientific” halves. Pynchon posited that the division no longer held true; it obscured the reality about the way things were going. “Writers of all descriptions are stampeding to buy word processors,” he wrote. “Machines have already become so user-friendly that even the most unreconstructed of Luddites can be charmed into laying down the old sledgehammer and stroking a few keys instead.”

The literary history of the early years of word processing—the late 1960s through the mid-’80s—forms the subject of Matthew G. Kirschenbaum’s new book, Track Changes. The year 1984 was a key moment for writers deciding whether to upgrade their writing tools. That year, the novelist Amy Tan founded a support group for Kaypro users called Bad Sector, named after her first computer—itself named for the error message it spat up so often; and Gore Vidal grumped that word processing was “erasing” literature. He grumped in vain. By 1984, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michael Chabon, Ralph Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, and Anne Rice all used WordStar, a first-generation commercial piece of software that ran on a pre-DOS operating system called CP/M. (One notable author still using WordStar is George R.R. Martin.)

In the late 1970s and ’80s, brands of home computers proliferated: TRS-80 Model I, Commodore PET, Philips/Magnavox VideoWriter 250. All of these were stand-alone machines with price tags over $500. In 1984, Apple released the Macintosh personal computer, which included MacWrite, a word processor that couldn’t deal with documents over eight pages. Very few writers liked it—with the notable exceptions of Douglas Adams, creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Mona Simpson, who used MacWrite to compose Anywhere but Here while interning at The Paris Review. Simpson had an excellent reason for enjoying the new Mac: Her biological brother, Steve Jobs, had invented it.

Genre writers were among the earliest adopters of new word processing technologies—experimenting with them as early as the 1970s—since they were often more adventurous and less precious than their hyper-literary colleagues. Many of the highest-browed in the literary world resisted word processing for decades. Indeed, some writers would conceal the fact that they used a word processor for fear of being tarnished by an association with automation or inauthenticity. In a 2011 New York Times article, Gish Jen recalled colleagues at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the 1980s doctoring their printouts, adding unnecessary pencil annotations in order to make their manuscripts seem more “real,” less perfect. Perfect copy, after all, was for the typist, not the genius.

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7:12 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Why is Same-Sex Marriage Still Up for Debate Among Conservatives?"
That it has taken so long for the Conservative Party of Canada to accept same-sex marriage, as Erica Lenti wrote in Torontoist, is astounding.

According to the platform, which was last amended in November 2013, the Conservative Party “believe[s] that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage. We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Several MPs felt strongly about removing these clauses from the platform. Winnipeg MP Michelle Rempel broke down in tears during a scrum, noting to party members that her cousin is gay and that the Tory stance should be inclusive.

But the Tories are still split: about one-third of those at the convention voted against reviewing the heternormative references from the platform. In particular, Saskatoon MP Brad Trost said the issue is “divisive” and could tear the party apart.

(1 comment | comment on this)

7:09 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto Police try to convince us marijuana dispensaries are dangerous"
Michelle da Silva and Kate Robertson of NOW Toronto report on the unconvincing arguments of Toronto police that the marijuana dispensaries were dangerous.

No one is coming from this looking good, not the dispensaries that opened while their key product was illegal, not the police that mounted the raids.

Reason #1: Because they’re not licenced to sell what they sell.

“We have to have environments where it is regulated, properly by the government so that there is a standard, not just an ad hoc, ‘I think i’ll just open a shop and go by my own rules,’” Saunders said today. “You can’t do that.”

But isn’t that why so many medpot activists and dispensary owners were eager to speak to the issue at the May 19 Licensing and Standards Committee meeting that was deferred to be held on June 27? Should the City not take some responsibility for their snail-paced approach to regulating the industry?

Reason #2: Because there are serious health and safety concerns.

“There is no quality control whatsoever on these products and, as you can see, they’re marketed in a way to disguise the unknown and unregulated amount of THC in the products,” Saunders said today. But at least some of the products on display were reportedly bought at Bulk Barn and intended to demonstrate that they are similar to edible cannabis products.

But many of the products shown at the press conference – like this Twisted Extracts’ Jelly Bomb (a fruit-flavoured edible in the shape of a Lego piece, with each dot representing one dose) – do clearly outline THC levels and recommended doses. In fact, many edible cannabis products do. To suggest that dispensaries are filled with unlabelled goods that look exactly like treats for kids is misleading.</blockqutoe>

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7:08 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto’s red-hot market sends property values soaring"
The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski describes booming property prices in Toronto. If this is not a bubble--if this is the new normal--then I worry.

Toronto's blistering housing market has prompted a 30 per cent jump in residential property values over the last four years, according to the company that assesses real estate in the province.

City homeowners will receive assessment notices — their first since 2012 — from the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) beginning next week showing a 7.5 per cent annual increase in their property values.

That's well above the 4.5 per cent provincial average, but lower than the double-digit increases in some 905-area communities such as Richmond Hill and Markham.

The average assessed value for a single-family detached home in Toronto is $770,000, up about $200,000 on average from the last assessment in 2012. Toronto condo values increased 2.9 per cent on average to $363,000, about $35,000 higher than four years ago.

Although assessments are linked to property taxes, homeowners should not panic about a steep rise in taxes, says MPAC.

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7:05 pm - [URBAN NOTE] Two links on the escaped capybara of High Park
CBC interviewed a local expert in capybara on the ability of individuals of this species to hide.

Catching the pair of capybaras currently on the lam in Toronto's High Park won't be an easy feat, according to an expert with experience wrangling the giant rodents in his native Brazil.

"They have this survival instinct. It's like running after a cheetah," said Diogo Beltran, who worked with the Tropical Sustainability Institute in Brazil, a country where capybaras are a major nuisance, not unlike rats or raccoons.

"In Brazil it's a hobby. We don't go out hunting turkeys — we capture capybaras in our spare time," he said in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

[. . . B]eltran said that in Brazil, capybaras aren't always a laughing matter. Now a computer engineer, he once worked to clear large groups of capybaras from construction sites and rivers. He and his colleagues used traps to humanely capture the animals for release in the wild. But it wasn't easy.

One reason is that capybaras are semi-acquatic. They can hide in water and remain below the surface for up to five minutes at a time. It's for this reason Beltran says they can't be captured using tranquillizer darts because they'll just run into the water and drown once the sedative takes effect.

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2:42 pm - [NEWS] Some Saturday links

  • Bloomberg notes Chinese interest in Australian housing is starting to drop, observes that Miami's condo boom is likewise slowing down, observes rising migration to the United Kingdom, notes a stated European Union refusal to compromise the deal with Turkey, and reports about Russia's search for export markets for its chicken.

  • Bloomberg View notes China's problems with launching itself as a pop culture exporter, and looks at the fragmentation of the European Union's digital markets.

  • CBC notes that apparently Mars is emerging from an ice age, and reports from the Conservative party's national polic convention.

  • The National Post notes that, after photos of Chinese students in a mountain village climbing almost a kilometre on a ladder to get to school, this village might get stairs.

  • Open Democracy hosts an unconvincing argument that universal basic income will make recipients lonelier.

  • Urban Ghosts Media shares photos of abandoned radar stations in North America along the Arctic.

  • Universe Today wonders if there could be life on Kepler-62f.

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2:26 pm - [BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO notes the warning of the Royal Bank of Canada that the city has too many condos.

  • D-Brief notes how patterns of glucose consumption in the brain can distinguish between people capable of consciousness and those otherwise.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the Victorian tradition of post-mortem photographs.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes that, apparently, our knowledge of nearby brown dwarfs is limited.

  • The Dragon's Tales considers the impact of close encounters with massive passing bodies on the crusts of ice moons.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the criticism of Peter Thiel, funder of attacks against Gawker, by Gawker's founder as a comic book villain.

  • Language Log notes early efforts to promote a single standard for the Russian language in the Soviet era.

  • The Map Room Blog shares the new map of the London subway system.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog charts the sources of different countries' immigrant populations.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the popularity of imperialism in Russia.

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10:34 am - [PHOTO] Eight photos of Toronto from the CN Tower
I have made two other visits to the CN Tower, but last Monday's visit felt different. The first time I was in the CN Tower was in 2002, the next in 2003. Both times, I was very new to Toronto and did not know what streets or what buildings I was seeing from high above. This time I did know what I was seeing.

I knew that the below was Billy Bishop Airport, on the western end of the Toronto Islands.

Toronto Island Airport #toronto #cntower #torontoislands #billybishopairport

I could follow the rail corridor as it stretched west, past the new condo districts to the south and under the bridges of Spadina Avenue, Bathurst Street, and Dufferin Street.

Looking west from on high #toronto #cntower #lakeontario #harbourfront #ontarioplace #humberbay

Over the rail corridor #toronto #cntower  #rail #spadinaavenue #bathurststreet

I could look north to the leafy west-end neighbourhoods I know well.

Looking north #toronto #cntower

I could appreciate the safety cage used by the workers who, in cleaning the windows of the CN Tower, made these views possible.

Safety cage #toronto #cntower

I could pick out the line of towers stretching north along Yonge.

Towers #toronto #cntower #skyline #tower #skyscraper

Going outside, I could pick out the Financial District through thick mesh.

Financial District through mesh #toronto #cntower #financialdistrict #skyscraper #tower

Looking down over the lip of the CN Tower, on its eastern edge, from the east, I could see that corner of Toronto as if in miniature.

From above #toronto #cntower #rail

The view is fantastic. If you're in Toronto, you really should go.

(1 comment | comment on this)

Friday, May 27th, 2016
7:18 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Residents worry about futuristic direction of Galleria Mall"
The planned redevelopment of the Galleria Mall is the subject of this Toronto Star article by Verity Stevenson. The transformation of the southwest corner of Dupont and Dufferin into a futuristic complex of towers is, as one would expect, something a lot of locals are concerned about. I'm concerned about it: The planning is interesting, but it would change the neighbourhood hugely.

On a recent rainy Sunday afternoon, Sidonio Da Silva sat on a bench in the middle of Galleria Mall and chatted with another man.

“We come here to talk about life . . . food,” the 75-year-old said with a laugh, clutching a bamboo cane and wearing a white flat cap.

Da Silva mostly visits the Galleria, as he calls it, on Sundays. But he’d caught wind of the fate of the mall at Dupont and Dufferin Sts., which was discussed the day before at an open house called “Reimagine Galleria.”

Placards depicting renderings of a development that could replace the 1970s-era mall were installed in a neon-lit hallway between two fitness centres.

They showed four triangular buildings boasting more than 2,000 units, wedged into half of the 12-acre land. The other half, separated by a diagonal road connecting Dupont and Dufferin Sts., would be a park and a new community centre.

Much more, including the developers' sketches of the future of the neighbourhood, is at the Toronto Star.

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7:14 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The Trump Tower Is Up for Sale in Toronto — And It Might Lose Its Famous Name"
VICE's Tamara Khandaker reports that, owing to debt and other issues, not only is Toronto's Trump Tower up for sale, its name might be changed. I'm quite good with both, especially the latter: I want Trump's name off of my city's map.

As Donald Trump continues to make his ascent in US politics, having secured enough delegates to capture the Republican presidential nomination, his presence in the Toronto skyline is in danger of being erased as the owners of his namesake hotel look for someone to take the property off their hands.

The Trump International Hotel & Tower, which houses 261 hotel units and 118 condo units, has been on the market for about a year, and according to the lawyer for the real estate company that owns the building, a deal is currently in the works.

"A letter of intent has been signed, and they're doing their due diligence," said Symon Zucker, who represents owner of Talon International Development Inc., Alex Schnaider.

Zucker wouldn't reveal the identity of the bidder, but says it's surprising that efforts to sell the building, which has been marketed actively for the past while, are suddenly newsworthy.

Shnaider and Raiffeisen Bank International, which loaned his company $310 million — $260 million went into default last summer — for the construction of the 65-storey building, could also put the tower into creditor protection and terminate their contract with the Trump-owned management company that operates the hotel.

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4:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] Four links on the Toronto police raids on marijuana dispensaries yesterday
The Toronto Star's David Rider and and Christopher Reynolds covered the raids yesterday in "Toronto police and drug squad raid marijuana dispensaries"

Toronto police raided dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries Thursday, sometimes kicking in glass doors, after condemnation from Mayor John Tory and written warnings from city staff about adhering to current laws failed to halt the free flow of pot.

Officers swooped down with warrants on locations from Kensington Market to the Danforth, laying charges and leaving with bags of drugs, iPads and other seized items.

Some residents passing the storefronts thanked police, while others called it a waste of time as Ottawa prepares to legalize recreational marijuana next year.

Police, who worked with city licensing staff, refused to say how many shops were raided, how many people were charged, whether the charges involve city bylaw infractions or Criminal Code offences, or how much marijuana was seized, in what was dubbed “Project Claudia.” The city said licensing officials visited 45 storefronts.

Chief Mark Saunders will disclose details Friday morning, Const. Caroline de Kloet said, adding that the raids “targeted various locations that have been identified as trafficking in marijuana outside of the marijuana-for-medical-use regulations.”

Vice's Manisha Krishnan reported from the scene of one of the raids.

VICE witnessed two plain-clothed officers raiding Eden dispensary on Queen Street West at around 1 PM Thursday.

Inside, at least eight employees sat in handcuffs while cops went through the product inside, placing large quantities of bud into large plastic bags. They were also using scales and cameras to conduct the raid.

Read More: With Trudeau About to Legalize Pot, Why are We Still Arresting People?

An employee with the city's licensing department also showed up, but said he could not comment on the situation. Speaking to an officer and an employee in cuffs, he said he would need a "declaration."

Eden customer "Pastel Supernova" who stopped by to pick up some weed was surprised when she realized a raid was taking place. She told VICE the dispensary is clean, friendly, and knowledgeable. "I just think it's lame, there are bigger crimes," she said of the crackdown.

NOW Toronto's Michelle Da Silva spoke with the manager of one dispensary on the Danforth.

We have a number of products, not only cannabis. We have oils, tinctures, edibles, other alternatives when patients can’t smoke or don’t want to get high but still need the healing powers of medicinal marijuana. The only thing we’re being charged for is anything with marijuana in it.

I’ve been answering the phone calls today, I’ve been informing all of our customers what has happened. It’s unfortunate that we had to tell them that temporarily, they’ll have to find medicine at a different location. Most likely they would run to the streets, which is very harmful and scary for me. I’m quite sad. When they took all of our products, they were mixing the bags. I can’t sell that no more. When people are looking for a specific type to treat a specific treatment or condition, now I’m unable to offer our services until we reassess and buy new products.

Global News was one of the many sources reporting on the appearance of protesters at Toronto police chief Mark Saunders' press conference today.

Saunders was repeatedly interrupted by protesters who questioned the motivation for police to shut down the dispensaries and the evidence behind the claims the chief made.

“Is that an assumption or do you actually have documentation from hospitals and stuff?” one protester shouted.

“These clubs have literally been around for 20 years and literally the medical marijuana has been around for hundreds of years and have literally never killed anybody. So how do you justify that there’s a health concern when really it’s the most benign substance you can ingest?”

Saunders attempted to respond to the barrage of questions as protesters, including marijuana legalization advocate Jodie Emery, shouted over him.

“You have 54, 55 complaints but what about the thousands of people that these clubs are helping? Where do you suggest that these people go today?” the unidentified protester said.

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4:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto’s new Cycling Network Plan: What’s in store for Scarborough?"
Spacing Toronto describes the benefits of Toronto's planned bike networks for east-end Scarborough.

On May 16th, the City of Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) recommended that City Council increase annual capital funding to $16 million for the proposed Ten Year Cycling Network Plan. This figure was recommended by Transportation Services staff and roughly doubles the City’s annual spending on cycling infrastructure. The plan calls for a total of 525 km of new cycling infrastructure throughout the city, including 280 km of bicycle lanes or cycle tracks on what the staff report refers to as ”Fast, Busy Streets”, 55 km of sidewalk-level boulevard trails also along ”Fast, Busy Streets”, and 190 km of cycling routes on ”Quiet Streets”.

In a previous post, I highlighted what Scarborough residents could expect from this new plan. To re-cap, building cycling infrastructure on major corridors like Kingston Rd., Danforth Ave., and Midland Ave. would improve transportation options, especially in southwest Scarborough, which has the highest levels of cycling mode share.

Therefore, it is promising that sections of both Danforth Ave. (between Broadview Ave. and Danforth Rd.) and Kingston Rd. (between Danforth Ave. and Eglinton Ave. E.) are slated for major corridor studies during the first three years of the plan in 2017 and 2019 respectively. A major corridor study is used in locations that would achieve an important cycling network link but where the streets are already intensely used for a wide range of existing activities. As part of the study, traffic impacts are assessed and affected stakeholders, such as residents and business owners, are consulted before new cycling infrastructure is introduced.

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4:30 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "'Waterfront reset' examines way to extend transit to new neighbourhoods along the lake
The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr writes about proposals to extend rapid transit networks to the booming neighbourhoods on the Toronto waterfront.

In the next 25 years, the lakeshore area south of Queen St. is expected to add nearly 280,000 residents and 190,000 new jobs.

The number of public transit projects being built along the waterfront to serve them? Zero.

It’s a future city planners hope to avoid. That’s why on Wednesday night, the city launched public consultations on the “Waterfront Transit Reset,” a joint effort between the TTC, Waterfront Toronto and the city planning office to jump-start transportation expansion along the lake.

Consultation documents obtained by the Star in advance of their release online show the options being considered include an LRT in its own right-of-way on Lake Shore Blvd. West and a pedestrian tunnel from Queens Quay to Union Station that could include underground bike lanes and public art.

The goal of the reset, approved by council last November, is to provide options for a continuous east-west connection to serve areas such as Liberty Village, South Etobicoke, Fort York and CityPlace, all of which have seen unprecedented waves of development in recent years but no transit to match.

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4:28 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "No sign of High Park capybaras as search continues"
First, a capybara update from the Toronto Star:

Today is day three of the citywide hunt for two “timid” rodents that escaped High Park Zoo Tuesday morning.

A bait, consisting of corn, fruit and the recording of low clicking sounds capybaras are known to make, was “unsuccessful in luring the escapees back into their pen,” said Megan Price, a spokesperson for the Parks, Forestry and Recreation department.

The capybaras, described as “skittish” by the zoo keepers were born in Texas six months ago and had not yet been named. They were being brought to the zoo to replace a male capybara, Chewy, when they managed to slip out of the pen.

According to Price, many people from all over the city reported of seeing what seemed to be capybaras, but they were mostly groundhogs.

“The difference is when a capybara walks you can see their legs,” said a Facebook post by High Park Zoo.

(1 comment | comment on this)

11:55 am - [NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Bloomberg notes Saudi Arabia's efforts to cut Iran off from trade with its neighoburs, looks at how population growth in London will outpace--and be different from--population change in the rest of the United Kingdom, and reports on the plight of child labourers in Indonesia's tobacco fields.

  • Bloomberg View argues Uber is no match for mass transit in the European Union and suggests that any negative consequences of immigration for native workers are overblown.

  • CBS News and BBC talk about the use of old technology like floppy disks in key software programs, the BBC being kinder than CBS.

  • Gizmodo describes the current heat wave in the Arctic, something literally off the charts.

  • IPS News notes the politics o mapping Kashmir, notes the chaos in Venezuela, and looks at water shortages in Burma.

  • Kotaku notes how the Ghibli museum in Japan is getting a catbus.

  • MacLean's looks at the political potential of Kevin O'Leary.

  • The National Post notes the serious concerns over the Rio Olympics.

  • Open Democracy looks at the Moscow consensus for autocracy in the former Soviet Union and proposes a new security policy for Ukraine.

  • The Toronto Star and MacLean's report from the sentencing of James Forcillo for the murder of Sammy Yatim.

  • Wired wonders if scientists can engineer coral resistant to climate change.

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11:31 am - [BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos from the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the importance of colleagues for solitary writers.

  • D-Brief notes the rediscovery of the Blue-Eyed Ground Dove in Brazil, once believed extinct.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes reports of the discovery of massive planets via gaps in the protoplanetary disks of HL Tauri and HD 135344B.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes a paper making specific projections about the shape of the Kuiper Belt if Planet Nine was around.

  • A Fistful of Euros speculates as to the severity of the United Kingdom's post-Brexit recession.

  • Language Log considers writing Shanghainese.

  • The LRB Blog remembers Madeleine Lebeau, last survivor of the cast of Casablanca.

  • Marginal Revolution engages with Peter Thiel's funding of Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes sterling work reclaiming distorted images from the Voyager probes.

  • pollotenchegg reports on the origins of migrants to Kyiv.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on Puerto Rico.

  • Seriously Science notes that wild boar apparently wash their food before eating.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Putin's traditionalism, wonders if there might be a Russian Olympics boycott to spare the country the shame of being excluded, speculates about the North Caucasus' future within Russia, and reports Ukrainian worries of being isolated versus Russia.

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9:36 am - [PHOTO] Two photos of HTO Park
HTO Park is officially spelled HTO. This is, as Wikipedia notes, "a play on H2O, the chemical formula for water, since "TO" is commonly used to refer to Toronto and it is a waterfront park." Since most people don't use subscript, I'll stick with HTO.

The HTO Park is a lovely one, a carefully designed and popular urban beach park built on reclaimed industrial land. I really like the yellow umbrellas planted in the sand below the condos. I can see this being a huge hub in summer, even if Lake Ontario is not accessible for swimmers.

The below photo is one of my favourite from Victoria Day. (I even managed to catch a seagull mid-flight.)

Umbrellas of HTO Park #toronto #lakeontario #harbourfront #htopark #umbrellas #beach #cntower

Looking down from the CN Tower's Skypod, the HTO Park's layout, beach in the front and grassy area in the back, is clear.

HTO Park from the Skypod #toronto #cntower #htopark #parks #lakeontario #skypod

Sean Marshall's June 2007 "Toronto’s Waterfront takes a big step forward", published very soon after the HTO Park opened, provides what I think is the canonical Toronto take on the park.

HtO is billed as “Toronto’s Urban Beach” – its centrepiece is a long sand pit extending along the water’s edge, with metal yellow beach umbrellas providing shade, and Muskoka chairs pitched in the sand. On the edge is part of the new wooden boardwalk that will front the lake throughout the waterfront, with only a short metal rail separating it from the water’s edge.

The Toronto Star’s architecture critic, Christopher Hume, praised the park, but in a separate article, also highlighted the glacial pace of redevelopment (funding was promised while Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister) and all the bureaucratic red tape and modifications made to the urban beach. Apprently the metal umbrellas were considered a safety risk should children decide to climb on them, and modifications were made to eliminate the steps leading into the water.

Despite all the setbacks, the incomplete park (the western half is still under construction) is a huge success. On the first Saturday night, the park was full of families, children were playing the sand pit, Afro music playing and gathering a crowd, others people walking along the water. There were at least three or four different uses that I saw at one time. Apart from not being able to swim (swimming in the inner harbour is both illegal and dangerous with all the boaters), it really feels like a beach.

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Thursday, May 26th, 2016
11:55 pm - [MUSIC] The Tragically Hip, "Ahead by a Century"
The 1996 song "Ahead by a Century" is the song I most closely associate with the Tragically Hip, perhaps because its video was released soon after I began my career as a watcher of MuchMusic.

Rain falls in real time
And rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

What can I say but that the band, perhaps for me particularly with its cerebral lyrics, is iconically Canadian for good reason?

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