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since 7 July 2005

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Demography Matters (group blog)

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CBC
Eye Weekly
Google News (Canada, English)
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Inter Press Service
National Post
NOW Toronto
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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)
Anthropology.net
Apostrophen ('Nathan Smith)
Arnold Zwicky's Blog
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
Beyond the Beyond (Bruce Sterling)
blogTO
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
Spacing.ca
Steve Munro
Strange Maps
Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin)
Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
Technosociology (Zeynep Tufekci)
Torontoist
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)
Wonkman
The Yorkshire Ranter (Alex Harrowell)
Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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Monday, April 25th, 2016
10:52 am - [PHOTO] Looking at the westbound track, Bloor-Yonge
Looking at the westbound track #toronto #ttc #subway #yongeandbloor #blooryonge

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Sunday, April 24th, 2016
5:13 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Richmond Hill to appeal OMB decision on how much parkland developers must hand over"
Noor Javed writes in the Toronto Star about the politics of parkland in Richmond Hill.

The Town of Richmond Hill has won a minor victory, after a judge ruled this week that it can appeal an Ontario Municipal Board decision that capped how much the town could ask developers to pay for parkland in exchange for building condos in the booming suburb.

The municipality will now head to Divisional Court, to make the case for why it should be allowed to implement its own policy, instead of the one determined by the OMB — an unelected board that has become the de facto decision maker in countless planning matters across the province.

“We are appealing the OMB decision as we believe that planning for the long term future of communities is a municipal responsibility,” said Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow. “No one is better equipped to understand or respond to the needs of the community.”

In his decision in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Justice H.J. Wilton-Siegel said the case “engages the issue of the correct balance between the flexibility that municipal councils seek in their land use planning and the transparency and certainty that developers seek,” he said.

The town, in conjunction with the community, spent two years developing a parks plan that would guarantee residents ample green space for its residents in light of intensification pressures.

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5:12 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Once voted North America’s best hostel, Canadiana Backpackers’ Inn closing"
Geoffrey Vendeville reports on Canadiana Backpackers' Inn's transition to being an abode for Syrians.

Beds that once welcomed travellers seeking adventure will now serve travellers seeking safety and refuge.

Once voted the best hostel on the continent, the Canadiana Backpackers’ Inn, in the Entertainment District, is closing in less than two weeks to make way for a planned 41-storey condo development, and the owner is donating furniture to Syrian refugees.

Chris Morgan gave a surplus of 40 bunkbeds to a church in Guelph sponsoring 76 Syrian families, who are expected to move to the area this year, said Jaya James, the executive director of the Refugee Sponsorship Forum.

“We were really excited because probably one of the most challenging things to acquire is bunkbeds,” she said, adding that they are in high demand among large families on shoestring budgets.

Less practical furniture, such as the stuffed moose head and lake trout that gave the hostel a distinctly Canadian air, was sold online. “François Le Pen,” a four-foot-tall wooden bear who once left the lobby to go on a pub crawl with guests, is moving to another hostel — farther from the downtown clubs, but a stone’s throw from the Kensington Market bars.

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5:08 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The unequal geography of Toronto supermarkets"
Shawn Micallef explores food deserts in Toronto. My stretch of Dupont is far from that, thankfully, grocery stores everywhere.

A new Rabba supermarket has opened on the corner of Jarvis and Charles Sts., just south of Bloor St. This part of the city could be called the “Rabba District” as this is the sixth Rabba in a one-kilometre radius of Yonge and Bloor, almost a Starbucksian level of proliferation, where you can almost see one Rabba from another.

A welcome addition, its 24-hour lights will illuminate the sidewalk around the new condo building it inhabits. There are over 30 Rabbas in the GTA, a family business that got its start a few blocks from this new location at Charles and Balmuto Sts. in 1967.

When I was a Toronto newcomer, Rabba seemed particularly urban: not a convenience store, but smaller than a proper grocery store, open all night, and usually some kind of sidewalk display of produce, firewood or Christmas trees outside. Food whenever you want it. Not all places are as lucky.

Cities are all about food, and getting it into one as big as Toronto is a daily military-like operation. The Ontario Food Terminal in south Etobicoke is the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in Canada, and one of the five biggest produce markets in North America. Toronto’s “food and beverage cluster” itself generates sales of $17 billion a year and is one of the biggest on the continent.

Most of us only see the food once it reaches our local stores, and the amount of visible food variety in neighbourhoods like Yonge and Bloor is stunning. There’s lots of choice here, from upmarket places like Whole Foods and Pusateri’s, to discount places like No Frills a few blocks east at Sherbourne. In the middle are the big Canadian chains with stores tucked in throughout the neighbourhood, in the main or lower floors of mixed-use buildings.

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2:37 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "New streetcars delayed by Bombardier again"
This Jennifer Pagliaro report in the Toronto Star is infuriating. What is with Bombardier for it to cause such delays?

In his monthly report to the TTC board released Thursday, TTC CEO Andy Byford said he shared his ongoing “frustration and dissatisfaction” with senior management of the Montreal-based transportation company but expected delays would continue.

“At the time of writing, I am unable to confirm a delivery schedule, but it is evident that Bombardier will not hit the four vehicles per month that we were promised as recently as last month,” Byford wrote.

After problems at Bombardier’s Mexican plant and defects in the manufacturing of the vehicles put delivery behind by a year, the company promised the TTC this March that four streetcars would arrive every month starting in April.

There are currently 17 new light rail vehicles in service on the 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront routes of the total 204 ordered as part of a $1.25-billion contract.

Bombardier’s expedited schedule would have put 54 streetcars on Toronto tracks by year’s end, with the full fleet still promised by the end of 2019.

That was scaled back from the original plan to have 73 streetcars arrive by the end of 2015.

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2:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "UP Express could cost taxpayers millions in subsidies"
The Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro writes about how, even from the start, the Union-Pearson Express seems to have made poor business sense.

Taxpayers may be forced to subsidize the Union-Pearson Express by more than $20 million annually despite a substantial increase in commuters using the airport trains since fares were lowered.

Studies prepared for the provincial transit body Metrolinx, which were previously censored, reveal officials knew much earlier that the high cost to ride the direct train between the airport and downtown would limit the number of people willing to use the service, and that even at lowered fares the train was unlikely to pay off.

At $30 for a one-way ticket, close to the original $27.50 fare without a Presto card, UP Express was projected to draw 2.3 million passengers by 2020, earning $65.2 million.

The March 2012 study by consultants Steer Davies Gleave found that at $10 a ride — close to the new reduced $12 fare — total passengers would nearly double, to almost 4 million per year, but annual revenues would dip to just $36.3 million. That’s well below the annual operating costs for the service, estimated at $69 million to $74 million over the next three years.

[. . .]

Revelations about the earlier revenue studies raise questions around Metrolinx’s promise to recover costs in three to five years.

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11:53 am - [NEWS] Some Sunday links

  • The Atlantic notes Thailand's "fake children", life-sized dolls that are charms.

  • Bloomberg View considers the costs to the United Kingdom of Brexit and the costs and benefits of said to the European Union.

  • Discover looks at the increasingly appreciated place of South Africa in hominid origins.

  • The Inter Press Service examines the closure of Bedouin settlements in Israel.

  • MacLean's celebrates the Yukon Gold potato's 50th anniversary.

  • National Geographic looks at the growing number of problems faced by the baboons of Cape Town.

  • The New Yorker considers what might be in the suppressed 28 pages of the 9/11 report.

  • Phys.org maps Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry worldwide.

  • Reuters notes the discovery of the first monkey fossils in North America.

  • Slate hosts an article complaining about the normalization of Berlin since reunification.

  • The Washington Post mourns the bleaching of nearly all of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

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10:57 am - [BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • blogTO notes the continued delays with Bombardier's streetcar deliveries to the TTC, looks at the expansion of WiFi to Toronto stations, and has hope for independent bookstores.

  • The Crux notes a proposal to make the Moon a solar energy power centre for the Earth.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes Venus analog Gliese 832d and observes the mass of material in orbit of WD 1145+017.

  • The Dragon's Tales studies the atmosphere of Pluto.

  • At The Fifteenth, Steve Roby reviews one book on Blondie's Parallel Lines and another on an in-universe Alien book.

  • The LRB Blog mourns Prince and reflects on the Swedish take on Brexit.

  • The Map Room Blog maps immigrants in France.

  • Towleroad shares the new Roísin Murphy single "Mastermind."

  • Window on Eurasia notes the transition of Russian to a polycentric language.

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8:48 am - [PHOTO] Rail crossing, Bartlett
Rail crossing, Bartlett #toronto #dovercourtvillage #bartlettavenue #dupontstreet #rail


There are a few places in my neighbourhood where the rail line is not elevated above the street, like at Bartlett Avenue above Dupont. Sometimes I've considered just taking a camera and a chair and waiting for an oncoming train. This will have to do for now.

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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016
11:28 pm - [NEWS] Some Saturday links

  • The BBC suggests bird-like dinosaurs survived the Cretaceous catastrophe because they could eat seeds.

  • Bloomberg wonders what lessons Poland has for China's economy.

  • Bloomberg View examines immigration controversies in Malaysia.

  • CBC notes that Manulife is now providing life insurance for HIV-positive people.

  • Gizmodo reports from the Pyongyang subway.

  • The Guardian notes the sequencing of Ozzy Osbourne's DNA.

  • The National Post reports that Québec NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau might well be considering a run for the NDP leadership.

  • Newsweek reports on the decision of the Wall Street Journal to run an ad denying the Armenian genocide.

  • Finally, there has been much written after the death of Prince. Some highlights: The Atlantic looks at how he was a gay icon, Vox shares 14 of his most important songs, the Toronto Star notes his connection to Toronto, Dangerous Minds shares videos of early performances, The Daily Beast explains Prince's stringent control of his content on the Internet, and In Media Res mourns the man and some of his songs.

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11:22 pm - [BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO shared photos of the 420 celebrations at Yonge-Dundas Square.

  • Crooked Timber wonders if financial institutions don't prepare for their ends because they don't believe they will end.

  • Maximos' Blog shares a video sampler for the blogger's new book.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer considers talk of reforming investment tribunals.

  • Torontoist reports on a lovely public art project downtown centered on stamps.

  • Towleroad reports on the stringent nature of sharia law in Indonesia's province of Aceh.

  • The Financial Times' The World notes Gove's ludicrous suggestion that the United Kingdom might enjoy the position of Albania vis-a-vis the European Union.

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10:58 pm - [CAT] Shakespeare, on the edge
Shakespeare, on the edge #toronto #shakespeare #caturday #catsofinstagram #cats

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Friday, April 22nd, 2016
2:28 pm - [PHOTO] Looking up, Yonge Eglinton Centre
Looking up, Yonge-Eglinton Centre #toronto #yongeandeglinton #yongeeglintoncentre #skyscrapers #towers

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Thursday, April 21st, 2016
3:26 pm - [NEWS] Some Thursday links

  • Bloomberg reports on anti-foreigner rioting in Zambia, looks at the effect of declining Chinese tourist numbers on malls in Hong Kong, and reports on Russia's policies towards Europe.

  • MacLean's notes that PEI has raised the HST to 15%.

  • Open Democracy explains what it means to say Karabakh rules Armenia.

  • Universe Today suggests the sun might have eaten a super-Earth interior to Mercury early in the solar system's history, and reports on the strange alignments of multiple supermassive black holes.

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12:22 pm - [BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams considers, among other things, studies of Alpha Centauri.

  • D-Brief talks about the unexpected chill of Venus' poles.

  • The Dragon's Tales shares a photo of the San Francisco shoreline.

  • Far Outliers notes the rare achievements of Michael the Brave.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the recent finding by an American court that transgendered students are protected.

  • The LRB Blog reports on the nuitards.

  • Marginal Revolution notes some of the singular failure of the Brazilian economy over the past century.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer wonders why some people apparently call Russia and North Korea the 51st states.

  • pollotenchegg maps election results onto declared language in Ukraine.

  • Savage Minds starts a series on decolonizing anthropology.

  • Torontoist celebrates the tenth anniversary of Type Books.

  • Transit Toronto notes upcoming repairs to Ossington.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Russian fears that the Russian economy might be doomed to stagnate.

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9:02 am - [PHOTO] Golden city, Yonge at Wellesley
Golden city #toronto #yongestreet #wellesleystreet

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Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
11:49 pm - [VIDEO] "Planet 9 from Outer Space"
Some time ago I linked to James Bow's post which pointed me to this episode of the BBC's The Sky at Night. Co-hosted by Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock, it does a very good job of explaining the case for a massive distant planet in our solar system.

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7:36 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Mississauga wants out, but saving Peel is the most appealing option"
Royson James of the Toronto Star thinks Peel Region's municipal federalism the best solution to the area's problems.

To the outside world it’s a match made in heaven, a picture-perfect, four-decades-old municipal union that garners awards and praise for government efficiency and excellence.

But internally, Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon are locked in an intractable civic conflict that threatens to break up the Region of Peel.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie wants out, taking her nearly 800,000 residents with her, to create a single autonomous city like Toronto. She’s tired of subsidizing her siblings.

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey wants in — but only if her more than 600,000 residents get more power. Canada’s fastest growing city could reach 1 million by 2041. It’s Brampton’s turn to rise on the collective wealth of the GTA’s second most powerful region.

Both mayors consider tiny, rural Caledon and its more affluent, horsey crowd — population 70,000 — a fiscal drain and urban nuisance. Caledon pays 5 per cent of the freight, has 5 per cent of the population, but locks down 21 per cent of the votes at regional council.

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7:35 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "What became of Toronto’s push for free public Wi-Fi?"
The Toronto Star's Vanessa Lu explains.

Compared to other cities around the world, free Wi-Fi can be hard to come by in Toronto.

Pop into a chain coffee shop or fast-food joint and you’ll probably be able to connect. Both Metrolinx and the Toronto Transit Commission are trying to offer up more access, but it’s still limited.

It’s a far cry from the experiment launched in New York earlier this year where free high-speed public Wi-Fi was made available through street kiosks. Using the city’s now outdated pay phone infrastructure, LinkNYC hopes to cover the whole city in the next 10 years, providing affordable access to an increasingly essential service.

But Toronto was already thinking ahead to the need for such a service back in 2006, when Toronto Hydro Telecom offered up the free service for six months in the downtown core.

Wireless hub devices placed on the tops of street light poles sent out powerful signals under the project known as OneZone, a small, 6-square-kilometre area running from Bloor St. to Front St., between Spadina Ave. and Jarvis St.

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7:33 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The life and death of SmartTrack: how to spur transit innovation"
In NOW Toronto, Salvator Cusimano reflects on the failure of SmartTrack and argues that new transit plans need to be actually innovative, sustainably as well.

As a seven year-old train enthusiast, I would beg my dad to take me on the non-stop GO train from Oriole Station to Union for fun. I studiously followed transit developments in the city, including the Sheppard Line’s seemingly interminable and ultimately disappointing construction.

Then SmartTrack came along during the last municipal election promising relief without the quagmire of construction - more trains, fewer Sheppard Lines. I was entering Dundas West station one morning when a woman handed me a navy pamphlet with green and white lettering. It proclaimed that if I voted for John Tory, I would soon be able to reach Union Station in less than 10 minutes, instead of the minimum 30 I knew I was about to spend balancing in a crammed subway car and staring at a system map bearing a black void where the much-discussed Downtown Relief Line was supposed to be.

Fast-forward and a much scaled-down version of SmartTrack has now been approved.

If SmartTrack was as flawed as some observers claimed, how did Tory win?

Students and practitioners of innovative design suggests that Tory won because voters wanted innovation, and Smart Track seemed to offer it.

Innovation doesn’t simply mean “new technology.” Designers define it as a process that starts with defining a challenge and identifying possible solutions and then putting these ideas to the test by creating low-fidelity prototypes that they try out, discard, and rework over and over again. With each iteration, they learn what works, what doesn’t, and how they might get it right, failing many times, cheaply, to eventually get it right is better than getting it wrong after spending big.

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