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Selected Blogs
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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Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
8:41 pm - [WRITING] "How Italy Improved My English"
Tim Parks' essay at the New York Review of Books describes how, for him, living in a decidedly non-Anglophone Italy helped him perfect his command of the English language.

I left London in 1981 at twenty-five, in part because my wife, who was Italian and whom I had met in the States, wasn’t happy with England, and again because, having failed to secure a publisher for any of my first four novels, I needed to get away from friends and family who were pressing me to settle on a decent career before it was too late. I knew no Italian. I had no desire to leave England. Indeed, I was extremely anxious about losing touch with English. Two years previously, I had abandoned a Ph.D. at Harvard because I wanted to be in England to write about the English, not the Americans. So this new move felt a little like a failure. My hope was that I’d be back in a couple of years bringing a publishable novel with me. What changed my mind was learning Italian.

[. . .]

We had chosen to live in Verona because my wife’s brother was studying there. There was not a large English community in the city at the time, and anyway we did our best to avoid it so that I could learn Italian. For four or five years, aside from the language lessons I taught to make ends meet, I spoke little English and read even less, concentrating entirely on Italian fiction, Italian newspapers, Italian history books, checking every word I didn’t know in the dictionary. It was exhausting. There was no radio in English, no satellite TV, no Internet. I was immersed in Italian in a way that I think has become difficult today.

I say I was learning Italian, but in fact I was learning English too. Relearning it. Nothing makes you more aware of your own language, its structure and strategies, than the differences of a new one. And very soon I had my first major pay-off from all this effort. I had been reading the work of Natalia Ginzburg—È stato così; La strada che va in città; Caro Michele. I had chosen Ginzburg merely because friends advised that she was the easiest Italian writer for foreigners. But something in the laconic colloquial voice meshed with my own writing. Trying to imagine how that voice and downbeat storytelling style might work in English I wrote two short novels, Tongues of Flame and Loving Roger, in rapid succession. Oddly, though I had taken both voice and, to an extent, structure from Ginzburg, these would be the most English of all my novels, acts of pure memory of places and people: my family in the first book, an office where I had once worked in the second. Though both books were rejected dozens of times, I felt confident that I had got it right. Five years later both were published and won prizes.

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8:40 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Why Are Wages for Toronto’s Early Childhood Educators So Low?"
Torontoist's Sarah Sahagian examines the reasons behind the poor wages of daycare workers in Toronto.

It's no secret that childcare costs have—and continue to—skyrocket in Toronto. These days, the median cost of childcare for an infant is now more than $1,700 per month, and that number seems to be growing steadily. In fact, Ontarians pay the most for childcare in the country.

But what of the people who provide the services? How much of that money gets passed onto them?

[. . .]

Early childhood educators, or ECEs, perform the work of childcare—from changing diapers to teaching toddlers how to share, and helping older children with their homework. The work can often be gruelling, with long hours and fussy kids to look after. And the wages of workers—who the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare says are 97 per cent women—seldom make up for the amount of time, energy, and dedication they put into the job.

Both private and public sectors are rife with underpaid workers. Kristen Varley, a 2014 graduate of George Brown’s Early Childhood Development program, currently makes $18.50 an hour working at a public daycare facility. And Chanequa Cameron, who trained to become an ECE in 2006, makes just $16 at the private facility where she works.

Even worse, both Varley and Cameron are saddled with thousands of dollars of student debt from training to work in the childcare field. After completing undergraduate and graduate studies at Ryerson, Cameron’s debt load is approximately $70,000. Even though she has worked in the field for years, her earnings still cannot provide her with “a good quality of life.”

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8:38 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto cannabis entrepreneurs vow to fight proposed fines"
The Globe and Mail's Craig Offman writes about the ongoing struggles of cannabis entrepreneurs and city regulators in Toronto. Clearly, clear laws and regulations of this new business are needed.

On Tuesday night, the Cannabis Friendly Business Association held an emergency meeeting at Toronto’s Hotbox Cafe. Entrepreneurs, consultants and lobbyists gathered to take on Mayor John Tory, who has vowed to fine unlicensed marijuana dispensaries as much as $50,000 a day. It was standing room only – and no one was taking the threat lying down.

All the tropes and trappings of the high life one might expect in the Kensington Market setting were in effect: berets, goatees, dreads, bongs and vapes, the air inexorably filled with suspicious wafts. But the fog wasn’t so thick that one couldn’t see that this energized group meant business.

There was little talk about the constitutional implications of the proposed clampdown. Instead, it was more about strategy. Amid the various speeches and calls to arms, there was an entreaty to lawyer up to challenge the legality of the fines, even though some of the vendors, such as Rick Vrecic, said they had already done so. “Even $25,000 a day would shut us down,” said Mr. Vrecic, who runs True Compassion Toronto, a west-side clinic that caters to those suffering from chronic pain.

Consultant Marko Ivancicevic called for attendees to inundate the city’s board of health with requests to speak at Thursday’s meeting, which will address a report from the city’s top doctor regarding the implications of legalizing cannabis. “We could filibuster it, so to speak,” he said.

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8:36 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "In Brampton, a return to Fennell-era dysfunction"
The Toronto Star's San Grewal looks at the continuing problems of Brampton.

Bill Davis walked onto the stage in a Brampton banquet hall to introduce the city’s new mayor, as wide-eyed supporters waited to hear their new leader’s vision to rehabilitate an aching city. Linda Jeffrey had just put an end to four painful years under Susan Fennell.

As they circled the dance floor to bhangra music and noshed on samosas, the euphoric crowd could not imagine the painful 18 months that were about to unfold.

It was election night, Oct. 27, 2014.

Her landslide victory over Fennell “sent a clear message that (voters) want a better Brampton . . . We needed real leadership,” Jeffrey said that night, as Davis, the revered former Ontario premier — who knows a thing or two about leadership — looked on.

Brampton had just experienced four years of scandal emanating from the mayor’s office. A series of Star investigations revealed a history of reckless spending by Fennell and her staff; that a private gala in her name raised hundreds of thousands of dollars annually without financial disclosure — including tens of thousands that came from city coffers without council’s knowledge; and that hundreds of city contracts awarded to a close friend of Fennell.

Things, it seems, have not improved.

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8:34 pm - [ISL] "The Tiny Cayman Island Holding $265 Billion in Treasuries"
News stories like Andrea Wong and Alexandra Scaggs' Bloomberg article leave me wondering about how long island jurisdictions can continue to be major financial players on this scale. If transparency is the watchword of the future, what future do these have?

A Caribbean financial center favored by hedge funds is now the third-biggest foreign owner of U.S. government debt.

The Cayman Islands, where more hedge funds are domiciled than anywhere else in the world, held $265 billion of Treasuries as of March, up 31 percent from a year earlier, according to data the U.S. Treasury Department released Monday. It was the first time that the U.S. released details of bond holdings among OPEC and Caribbean countries, and it came in response to a Freedom-of-Information Act request submitted by Bloomberg News.

The stockpile makes the British territory, an offshore tax haven with about 60,000 residents, the largest holder after China and Japan. Those nations, the world’s second- and third-biggest economies, each own more than $1 trillion of Treasuries.

The surge in ownership of U.S. debt for the Caribbean getaway shows that hedge funds are joining more traditional mutual fund managers in buying Treasuries amid lackluster returns in other assets, with many global stock indexes posting losses in 2016. Negative bond yields in Europe and Japan are also pushing asset managers into the $13.4 trillion Treasuries market, which is on pace to gain for a third consecutive year.

“Most hedge funds are using Treasuries as a way to park assets without taking a lot of risk,” said Donald Steinbrugge, managing partner of hedge-fund consulting firm Agecroft Partners in Richmond, Virginia.

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8:31 pm - [ISL] The Canadian Press on the erosion of Lennox Island
The Globe and Mail carries Kevin Bissett's Canadian Press article about the slow erosion of Lennox Island, just off the north coast of Prince Edward Island. What makes this all the more ironic is that Lennox Island is the main Mi'kMaq reserve in the island. If it goes, what next?

Back when he was in his 20s, Dave Haley often watched from his kitchen window as children played baseball in the field behind his home. But now at the age of 65, less than 20 feet of soil remains between his tidy green bungalow and the glistening waters of Malpeque Bay.

Lennox Island off the northwest coast of Prince Edward Island is in a battle with the sea, and the sea is winning.

“It’s devastating. This is our home,” Haley said.

Lennox Island - like the rest of Prince Edward Island - is vulnerable to coastal erosion because it’s made of sand and sandstone. There is no hard bedrock.

“Sea levels have been rising over the last 100 years and the land itself is lowering a little bit,” said Adam Fenech, director of the climate research lab at the University of Prince Edward Island.

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12:22 pm - [NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Bloomberg notes Twitter will stop counting photos and links against its 140-character limit, reports on the challenges of the new Taiwanese president, and reports on Japan's efforts to boost its workforce.

  • Bloomberg View argues European banks just aren't good at investment banking, suggests austerity worked for Latvia, and argues an IMF suggestion of a debt holiday for Greece is impolitic.

  • CBC notes J.K. Rowling's defense of Donald Trump.

  • Via The Dragon's Gaze, I found this Eurekalert post noting a search for Earth-like worlds around highly evolved stars, like the red giants that our sun will evolve into.

  • Gizmodo reports on how Sweden is moving the city of Kiruna to safer ground, and describes Amazon's interest in opening more physical bookstores.

  • The Inter Press Service wonders what will happen to Brazil now.

  • The National Post notes the mysteries surrounding a secret American military spaceplane.

  • Open Democracy looks at the human rights consequences of Mexico's long-running drug war.

  • TVO considers the impact of a long NDP leadership campaign on the party.

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12:09 pm - [BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of a Shanghai neighbourhood that refuses to sell out to developers.

  • James Bow rates California rail.</li>
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the large dwarf planet 2007 OR10.

  • Dangerous Minds notes a campaign by a 9/11 conspiracy theorist to raise funds to buy an airplane and a building.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the Kepler-223 system.

  • Language Hat looks at an astonishingly thorough German-led effort to publish a dictionary of Latin.

  • The NYRB Daily assesses the Iran nuclear deal.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers Brazil and argues that any treachery in Sykes-Picot was less in the deal and more in the assumptions behind it.

  • Transit Toronto notes the return of GO Transit's seasonal trains to Niagara.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Moscow's refusal to allow Circassians a memorial march.

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9:21 am - [PHOTO] Tree at night, Dupont at Dovercourt
Tree at night, Dupont at Dovercourt #toronto #night #tree #dovercourtvillage #dovercourtroad #dupontstreet

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
11:28 pm - [ISL] On how old Rapa Nui ended, not through indigenous ecocide but foreign genocide
Easter Island, easternmost outpost of Polynesia, has long been of at least passing interest to me. Even before Jared Diamond had presented a story of the island culture's eventual decine through environmental exploitation as a warning for our times in the mid-1990s, I had been interested in the island for its cultural achievements. There were the famous moai statues, depicted in the books I read as a child as liberally scattered across the island, but there was also the mysterious rongorongo, something that might be a script but was currently undecipherable. What mysteries did the island hide?

Aurbina's photo in the Wikimedia Commons, "Moai set in the hillside at Rano Raraku", is superb.

Diamond's narrative was simple.

Eventually Easter’s growing population was cutting the forest more rapidly than the forest was regenerating. The people used the land for gardens and the wood for fuel, canoes, and houses--and, of course, for lugging statues. As forest disappeared, the islanders ran out of timber and rope to transport and erect their statues. Life became more uncomfortable-- springs and streams dried up, and wood was no longer available for fires.

People also found it harder to fill their stomachs, as land birds, large sea snails, and many seabirds disappeared. Because timber for building seagoing canoes vanished, fish catches declined and porpoises disappeared from the table. Crop yields also declined, since deforestation allowed the soil to be eroded by rain and wind, dried by the sun, and its nutrients to be leeched from it. Intensified chicken production and cannibalism replaced only part of all those lost foods. Preserved statuettes with sunken cheeks and visible ribs suggest that people were starving.

With the disappearance of food surpluses, Easter Island could no longer feed the chiefs, bureaucrats, and priests who had kept a complex society running. Surviving islanders described to early European visitors how local chaos replaced centralized government and a warrior class took over from the hereditary chiefs. The stone points of spears and daggers, made by the warriors during their heyday in the 1600s and 1700s, still litter the ground of Easter today. By around 1700, the population began to crash toward between one-quarter and one-tenth of its former number. People took to living in caves for protection against their enemies. Around 1770 rival clans started to topple each other’s statues, breaking the heads off. By 1864 the last statue had been thrown down and desecrated.

The problem with this story, I began learning a few years ago, is that it isn't true. The bulk of ecological damage to the island was, two archaeologists argued, a consequence of the accidental importation of the Polynesian rat, compromising native ecosystems. The Rapa Nui of the island ended up coping quite well, as described in 2013 at NPR.

For one thing, they could eat rats. As J.B. MacKinnon reports in his new book, The Once and Future World, archeologists examined ancient garbage heaps on Easter Island looking for discarded bones and found "that 60 percent of the bones came from introduced rats."

So they'd found a meat substitute.

What's more, though the island hadn't much water and its soil wasn't rich, the islanders took stones, broke them into bits, and scattered them onto open fields creating an uneven surface. When wind blew in off the sea, the bumpy rocks produced more turbulent airflow, "releasing mineral nutrients in the rock," J.B. MacKinnon says, which gave the soil just enough of a nutrient boost to support basic vegetables. One tenth of the island had these scattered rock "gardens," and they produced enough food, "to sustain a population density similar to places like Oklahoma, Colorado, Sweden and New Zealand today."

According to MacKinnon, scientists say that Easter Island skeletons from that time show "less malnutrition than people in Europe." When a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggevin, happened by in 1722, he wrote that islanders didn't ask for food. They wanted European hats instead. And, of course, starving folks typically don't have the time or energy to carve and shove 70-ton statues around their island.

[. . .]

Because, say the Hawaiian anthropologists, clans and families on Easter Island didn't fall apart. It's true, the island became desolate, emptier. The ecosystem was severely compromised. And yet, say the anthropologists, Easter Islanders didn't disappear. They adjusted. They had no lumber to build canoes to go deep-sea fishing. They had fewer birds to hunt. They didn't have coconuts. But they kept going on rat meat and small helpings of vegetables. They made do.

Discover's Collide-a-scape took a look in 2014 at the shift in the consensus away from a long history of decline. Estimates of ancient population sizes have been found to be overlarge, for instance. The Rapa Nui seem to have been good custodians of their island. The newest studies seem to confirm this.

What ended a civilization that built so many impressive stone statues and even managed to develop what might have been a writing system? The statues were no longer being built when the Chileans came, nor was knowledge of rongorongo passed on. What happened to the Rapa Nui? Not ecocide, as Diamond's scenario implies, but genocide.

The above Wikimedia Commons picture shows Side b of Rongorongo Text R, one of the few rongorongo texts to survive. I saw them myself in a 2001-2002 exhibition at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Splendid Isolation: The Art of Easter Island. The catalogue, happily, is available in PDF format here. Texts R and S were there on loan from the Smithsonian, along with a few dozen artifacts of pre-contact Rapa Nui society. This society did not survive, it turns out, because it was actively destroyed as a consequence of genocidal acts. Wikipedia's dry summary leaves my head spinning at the scale of the catastrophe.

In December 1862, Peruvian slave raiders struck Easter Island. Violent abductions continued for several months, eventually capturing or killing around 1500 men and women, about half of the island's population. International protests erupted, escalated by Bishop Florentin-Étienne Jaussen of Tahiti. The slaves were finally freed in autumn, 1863, but by then most of them had already died of tuberculosis, smallpox and dysentery. Finally, a dozen islanders managed to return from the horrors of Peru, but brought with them smallpox and started an epidemic, which reduced the island's population to the point where some of the dead were not even buried.

Little wonder, as I noted in my review of Andrew Robinson's Lost Languages, that the few survivors of Easter Island by the end of the 1860s had abandoned much of their traditional culture. For all its brilliance, all its accomplishments and knowledge, it had clearly failed to save the Rapa Nui from catastrophe. That conscious rejection made far more sense to me than Diamond's narrative of decline.

Savage Minds noted in 2005 that researchrs were challenging the integrity of Diamond's historical research. Sitting here in 2016, knowing what I know about how the depopulation of any number of colonized populations by disease and the extension of foreign rule and how this depopulation has been used to justify the very colonization, I wonder about the potential misuses of Diamond's apparent misinterpretation of the island's historical trajectory. Is his model of an imagined Easter Island as a metaphor for the Earth and its risks even usable?

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7:50 pm - [URBAN NOTE] On the tragedy in Rexdale, and its origins and consequences in the Fords
This news has made national headlines, and for good reason.

Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35, of Malton, was in the back seat of a car near John Garland Boulevard and Jamestown Crescent in suburban Rexdale when someone in a vehicle driving in the opposite direction started shooting, striking the pregnant woman, according to Homicide Det.-Sgt. Mike Carbone, who provided an update Monday morning.

"For some reason, only known to the offender at this point, that vehicle was certainly targeted," said Carbone about the vehicle that Bobb was sitting in.

The three other people with Bobb were not hurt and Bobb, was driven to Etobicoke General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead and the baby was delivered. After the delivery, the baby was transported to the trauma centre at Sunnybrook hospital.

The baby is now in stable condition, according to Carbone, who would not reveal any further details on the child, including sex.

There have been calls from religious and political figures, local and otherwise, to deal with gun violence. The neighbourhood of Rexdale, a neighbourhood in northern Etobicoke and in the northwest of the amalgamated City of Toronto, has long had a reputation for random gun violence as well as high rates of crime and poverty, at least by Canadian standards.

It's also worth noting that Rexdale includes the Ward 2 where Rob Ford built his political career. He was reelected here repeatedly, up to the 2014 election. His famous drunken rant in a restaurant occurred in Rexdale.

Why? Simply put, Ford's populist stance appealed strongly to people who felt, mostly rightly, that they were marginalized in a larger city driven by downtown concerns. Jeet Heer's 2014 Toronto Life "Rexdale isn’t perfect, but I prefer it to the hypocrisy of downtown" does a great job of explaining this alienation and how the Ford family exploited this alienation.

Because of Ford’s antics, Rexdale has become a major journalistic stomping ground. Although newspapers like the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have done a top-notch job of exposing Ford’s many nefarious deeds and habitual mendacity, I’m appalled by the way they’ve depicted Ford’s milieu. Journalistic accounts of Rexdale are written in the same tone of anxious amazement as ­Victorian explorers’ reports from Africa. The National Post once described Rexdale as “blighted and violence-plagued,” and on another occasion alluded to “the wilds of Islamic Rexdale.” The Globe’s publisher has said his newspaper is only interested in readers who make more than $100,000 a year, which by implication means his paper isn’t for the cab drivers and factory workers who live in Rexdale.

Despite his buffoonery, Rob Ford’s political prowess should never be under­estimated. He doesn’t reflexively look down on Rexdale. He knows his way around it all too well. Ford once promised to make “Rexdale the new Rosedale.” This typical Fordian flourish earned him many a snide laugh in downtown Toronto yet endeared him to his core constituency. He might be promising the stars, but at least he takes Rexdale seriously. Ford’s right-wing populism derives its power from understanding the aspirations of Rexdalers for projects like the expansion of ­Woodbine Racetrack into a shopping and casino complex. Although the billion-dollar project fell apart, Ford’s efforts on its behalf earned him street cred. What do Ford’s opponents have to offer Rexdale, aside from austerity and condescension?

Alienation, combined with suffering, produces anti-establishment figures. Who knew?

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6:23 pm - [URBAN NOTE] On the pop-up shop of Justin Bieber, in Toronto and elsewhere
When I saw Bianca Venerayan's blogTO post pop up on my RSS feed, I knew I'd be going to see this.

Justin Bieber just announced via Facebook that his merchandise will be sold at Nomad (819 Queen St W) this Wednesday and Thursday (May 18 - 19) from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Designed by Jerry Lorenzo of menswear label Fear of God, the Purpose tour merch will be available to those willing to wait in a round-the-corner line up (undoubtedly forming as you read this). A variety of exclusive Toronto gear and Nomad collaboration pieces will also be up for grabs.

A Vogue.com interview, "Talking Justin Bieber’s VFiles Pop-Up Shop With Designer Jerry Lorenzo" by Steff Yotka, goes into more detail about the idea behind the shop.

Jerry Lorenzo, the Purpose tour merch designer and Fear of God founder, was inside the shop, mingling with fans and thumbing the racks. “[The pop-ups are] a way for the artist to take that experience from the show and provide it to some other kids that possibly couldn’t get tickets to the show or weren’t able to make the show in certain cities,” Lorenzo told Vogue.com. “It’s just another touch point for the artist. It’s another place for the fans to come and congregate and talk and vibe. It’s just proven to be really successful. It was a model that, with what we’re doing with Justin, we felt like was necessary to follow.”

From the looks of the lines, the shop will prove to be successful for Bieber, too. When Vogue.com toured the interior, fans were piling hoodies and long-sleeve tees onto their arms in droves. Among the most popular styles were a black long-sleeve tee with Bieber’s face on the back, a beige-y T-shirt with “My Mama Don’t Like You” written down the back, and the electric yellow hoodie made in collaboration with VFiles that reads “Security” on the front. On the whole, the pieces bent toward the hard-core—perhaps a new style note for some of Bieber’s younger fans, but one they seem keen to test out. “It’s all Justin’s vision. It’s his idea, it’s his direction,” Lorenzo said, explaining that the singer was inspired by the brands he wears and his hobbies outside of music. “What he’s doing with his life when he’s not performing is skating. He wanted it to have this ’90s skate feel, and he’s super into all these vintage tees, so he wanted it to have this timeless, vintage, ’90s metal touch to it. I got this metal artist, Mark Riddick, who’s one of the best in coming up with logos and full-on art, and we worked hand in hand in coming up with some ideas. The design team from Bravado had their ideas, and I kind of just sat back and put the pieces together and made sure that it kind of was the same language in the end.”

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6:20 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "How to Fight Against the Devastating Emerald Ash Borer"
Torontoist's Ryan O'Connor reports on terrible ecological news for Toronto.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species of beetles first spotted in North America in 2002. Since then the metallic-green insect has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees across the continent. When it was detected in Toronto in 2007, its devastating effects were widely known. Simply put, once the emerald ash borer takes root in a locale, it is nearly impossible to stop its spread, and the subsequent destruction of the entire ash tree population.

According to a study undertaken by the City of Toronto’s Urban Forestry department, there were 860,000 ash trees at the time of the infestation, with approximately 40 per cent located on public land. The City implemented a mitigation and replacement strategy to limit the damage, including planting new trees and using an injection to protect existing ash trees. The injections, which use the insecticide TreeAzin, manage to protect the trees from the emerald ash borer, but must be reapplied on an annual basis. As of the end of 2015, there were 11,479 trees located on public lands that had received these life-sustaining injections, while 48,400 ash trees have been removed by Urban Forestry. Although there are no firm figures available for ash trees located on private property, Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park), Council’s tree advocate, estimates that just 300,000 remain in the city. This number will continue to dwindle, with all but the injected ash expected to be dead by 2020.

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6:18 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto laneway to be turned into community garden"
Derek Flack's blogTO report is fascinating. I will definitely be doing an expedition out to the Milky Way.

Running just south of Queen St. to the west of Dufferin, Milky Way is one of those Toronto laneways worth writing a love letter about. There's excellent graffiti, people regularly use it as a quieter alternative to walking/riding on Queen, and over the years various art spaces have called the place home.

Now, the laneway could also be home to an urban garden. The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) & Greenest City have joined forces to acquire the space at 87 Milky Way in an effort to set up a community garden here. The two groups are launching a fundraising campaign later this week for part of the sum required to take possession of the land.

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6:13 pm - [URBAN NOTE] On the defense of James Forcillo against imprisonment made by his wife
I understand this argument coming from Forcillo's wife. It's really only when it comes from other people--the police, say--that I get upset. The National Post carries Diane Mehta's Canadian Press article on the subject.

The wife of a Toronto police officer found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting death of a troubled teen says her husband doesn’t deserve to go to jail because he isn’t a risk to society.

Irina Forcillo has made her plea to Justice Edward Then in a letter submitted as part of Const. James Forcillo’s sentencing hearing, which is to hear lawyers from Crown and defence lawyers on Wednesday.

“I do not see how James can ever be in jail. He is not a danger to the public, I assure you of that!” the mother of two wrote. “In fact, he is the one whose purpose has always been to protect.”

[. . .]

Forcillo’s lawyers have since filed a constitutional challenge to the mandatory minimum sentence of four or five years the officer faces, asking a court to consider a sentence of house arrest for the man rather than time in prison.

[. . .]

They argue that Forcillo was duty-bound to protect the public from a knife-wielding Yatim, trained to draw his gun and had been found to be justified in killing Yatim.

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2:33 pm - [NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Business Insider looks at the sad state of a project to build a Chinese bullet train in Venezuela.

  • Bloomberg notes the profound unconstitutionality of Donald Trump's suggestion that the US national debt might be renounced, looks at the needs of the Brazilian economy, and suggests Poland's economic nationalism is viable.

  • CBC reports that Sinéad O'Connor is safe in Chicago.

  • National Geographic shares hidden pictures of the Cultural Revolution.

  • The National Post notes the discovery of what might be the ruins of an old fort at Lunenburg.

  • Open Democracy suggests that Brexit, by separating the City of London from the European Union, could trigger the end of globalization, also taking a look at the popularity of populism.

  • Reuters notes the softening of the terms of a Chinese-Venezuelan loan arrangement.

  • The Washington Post notes the migration of some Ethiopian-Americans to a booming Ethiopia.

  • Wired looks at how natural gas will be used to move beyond the Haber-Bosch process which has created fertilizer for a century.

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11:22 am - [BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Dangerous Minds looks at the oddly sexual imagery of zeppelins entering their births.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes a paper looking at ways to detect Earth-like exomoons.

  • Imageo notes unusual melting of the Greenland icecap.

  • Language Log shares an extended argument against Chinese characters.

  • The Map Room Blog notes the hundredth anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement to partition the Ottoman Empire.

  • The NYRB Daily notes authoritarianism in Uganda.

  • Noel Maurer looks at the problem with San Francisco's real estate markets.

  • Towleroad follows RuPaul's argument that drag can never be mainstreamed, by its very nature.

  • Window on Eurasia notes that a flourishing Ukraine will not be itself restore the Donbas republics to it.

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7:03 am - [PHOTO] Into the pit of 11 Wellesley Street West
Into the pit #toronto #condos #construction #pit #hole #yongeandwellesley #yongestreet #wellesleystreet

11 Wellesley Street West will rise, but first a deep pit must be dug.

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Monday, May 16th, 2016
8:46 pm - [OBSCURA] On that graffiti showing Putin and Trump kissing in Lithuania

The above wall, this photo taken by the Associated Press' Mindaugas Kulbis, has gone viral. This is a fantastic image that gets right down to the fundamental similarities between Russia's actual and America's potential leaders. Timothy Snyder's NYR Daily post of last month goes into detail about this odd couple, and what attracts them to each other.

It is not hard to see why Trump might choose Putin as his fantasy friend. Putin is the real world version of the person Trump pretends to be on television. Trump’s financial success (such as it is) has been as a New York real estate speculator, a world of private deal-making that can seem rough and tough—until you compare it to the Russia of the 1990s that ultimately produced the Putin regime. Trump presents himself as the maker of a financial empire who is willing to break all the rules, whereas that is what Putin in fact is. Thus far Trump can only verbally abuse his opponents at rallies, whereas Putin’s opponents are assassinated. Thus far Trump can only have his campaign manager rough up journalists he doesn’t like. In Russia some of the best journalists are in fact murdered.

President Putin, who is an intelligent and penetrating judge of men, especially men with masculinity issues, has quickly drawn the correct conclusion. In the past he has done well for himself by recruiting among politicians who exhibit greater vanity than decency, such as Silvio Berlusconi and Gerhard Schröder. The premise of Russian foreign policy to the West is that the rule of law is one big joke; the practice of Russian foreign policy is to find prominent people in the West who agree. Moscow has found such people throughout Europe; until the rise of Trump the idea of an American who would volunteer to be a Kremlin client would have seemed unlikely. Trump represents an unprecedented standard of American servility, and should therefore be cultivated as a future Russian client.

(Needling at least one homophobe is, I think, a bonus.)

The Associated Press carried an article explaining why the Vilnius eatery Keulė Rūkė commissioned this work.

Restaurant owner Dominykas Ceckauskas said Saturday the presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee and the Russian president both have huge egos "and they seem to get along pretty well."

He said the image is "an ironic view of what can be expected."

Local artist Mindaugas Bonanu created the wheat paste poster for the eatery in the capital Vilnius on Friday. It's on the outside of the Keule Ruke restaurant— Lithuanian for "Smoking Pig" — along with the text "Make Everything Great Again" — a play on Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again."

Ceckauskas said the poster was a nod to a 1979 photograph of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing East German ally Erich Honecker on the mouth — once a customary greeting between Socialist leaders. The iconic shot was later painted on the Berlin Wall.

The only downside that I can see is that, if Trump actually does get elected, Lithuania could be in for hard times. Offending two narcissists is risky enough when only one actually could have power over your country.

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5:24 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto weed dispensary closes doors ahead of looming crackdown"
In a tweet-heavy article, City News notes the pressure on Toronto weed dispensaries. In fairness, I'm not sure what the owners of not-quite-legal businesses were thinking, with their plans to open up on such a large scale when the regulatory and legal frameworks were so vague.

Last weekend, Toronto Mayor John Tory walked into the Kind Supply marijuana dispensary in Kensington Market, seeking to learn more about the burgeoning industry that’s leapfrogged the legalization process.

“I went into one of them and started asking a lot of questions and the one I went into, they of course said that they were following all the rules and it was everybody else that wasn’t,” Tory told reporters. “They helped to educate me a little bit,” he added.

Tory’s trip may have amounted to the Cole’s notes version of a complex issue, but he emerged with a clear directive — it’s time to clamp down.

A few days later Tory penned a letter to Municipal Licensing and Standards urging immediate enforcement, in tandem with police, while the city further studies how to deal with the snowballing situation.

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