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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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Friday, October 21st, 2016
8:52 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "'Don't just stand there!': Honest Ed's hosting final sign sale"
CBC News' Laura Howells reports on a sale at Honest Ed's that I, of course, plan on attending.

Two months before permanently closing, Honest Ed's will start selling the last of its iconic, hand-painted signs this weekend.

Beginning Saturday, thousands of pun-heavy signs will be up for grabs, at a starting price of $1.

The signs are a defining feature of the discount Toronto department store, which will close on Dec. 31 after 68 years in business.

"Many of the signs bring back all sorts of memories for me," said owner David Mirvish, son of Edwin "Honest Ed" Mirvish.

"I didn't think I'd be quite so overwhelmed by it as I am today."

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8:33 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "A History of Bike Lanes in Toronto"
Nikhil Sharma's Torontoist article goes into some local history.

It’s been 18 years since the City of Toronto created the Shifting Gears plan for cycling policy.

While its vision—creating a cycling culture and building infrastructure to allow cyclists and drivers to share the same roads—may finally be coming to life, the challenge of maintaining safety is even greater today than it was back then.

[. . .]

In the 1890s, there was a cycling boom across Canada and the United States. Cyclists began to share the roads with pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, and electric streetcars.

Cars were something new at the time.

There were many bike paths on Toronto streets, and there was a growing debate among cyclists about whether they should fight for exclusive paths for themselves or safer roads for drivers and cyclists.

When automobiles began to dominate beginning in the 1920s, cycling was increasingly relegated to a recreational activity. However, deliveries by bike continued to be popular.

The number of cyclists per 1,000 people increased from 220 in 1950 to 350 in 1960 [PDF], and climbed to 480 by 1970.

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8:29 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "A nasty winter is in store for Toronto this year"
Bother. From blogTO:

The easy winter that Toronto experienced last year will not be repeated according the weather forecasts for 2016/2017. While there's some discrepancy in long term reports regarding whether or not southern Ontario will experience average or below average temperatures this winter, no one is calling for a mild season.

The Toronto region is expected to deal with high levels of snowfall thanks in part to the record setting heat we had this summer. While a warm summer doesn't typically have bearing on the winter temperature forecast, the above average temperatures of the Great Lakes means that lake effect snow will accompany the arrival of arctic air.

You can expect a lot of this type of snow during early winter in December and January.

As far as the general patterns go, climatologists predict a return to cold/classic winter temperatures partially because the strong El Niño event that influenced last year's weather is absent heading into this season.

"The current pattern has the look of a weak La Niña event, but it is unlikely to meet the criteria needed to be classified as such," writes Meteorologist Doug Gillham for the Weather Network. In fact, the current climatic patterns look more similar the ones that recently delivered us brutal winters rather than last year's balminess.

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5:03 pm - [BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Beyond the Beyond quotes a Vladimir Putin statement on geopolitics.

  • blogTO shares photos from Yorkdale's expansion.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at more evidence for Planet Nine.

  • Dead Things notes evidence that right-handedness has been predominant among hominins for some time.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of three hot Jupiters.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the Philippines' shift towards China.

  • The Planetary Society Weblog looks at ExoMars' mission and the failure of the Schiaparelli lander.

  • Torontoist notes that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has bought Constellation Wineries, making some Canadian wineries Canadian-owned again.

  • Towleroad reports on a Europe-wide census of LGBT identities.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi notes that Hillary Clinton is winning because she puts work into it.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Putin's changing style of governance.

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12:46 pm - [PHOTO] Three photos taken at Rosedale TTC station late on a rainy fall afternoon
The Rosedale TTC station is open to the air above. In fall, in the wooded Rosedale neighbourhood, this can lend itself to some lovely scenes.

Looking across the tracks #toronto #fall #autumn #leaves #rosedale #ttc

South through the window #toronto #rosedale #ttc #fall #autumn #leaves

East above the platform #toronto #rosedale #ttc #fall #autumn #leaves #window

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Thursday, October 20th, 2016
11:43 pm - [MUSIC] Janet Jackson, "Nasty"
Janet Jackson's 1986 song "Nasty", saw, according to Engadget, its plays on Spotify surge substantially as a result of Donald Trump's misogynistic comment last night that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman".

This song's surge in recognition in the past day is kind of amazing. That this is a good song, and a meaningful song on its own terms and in the context of the week's events, makes it all the better. I own quite a few of Janet Jackson's albums, starting chronologically with the album Control that this song comes from, an album that marks the beginning of her modern artistic and commercial prime and has quite a few songs that, like "Nasty", combine musical verve with a thoughtful mind.

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1:57 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Proposal to licence Toronto rooming houses will face stiff opposition"
The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell shares some of the arguments being made against the recognition of Toronto rooming houses throughout the broader city. I am unimpressed with the claims of regulatory burdens: Allowing legal lacunae to persist, to the detriment of renters, is terrible.

City staff is proposing a zoning and licensing regime for rooming houses across Toronto, a contentious move certain to face stiff opposition in the suburbs where many operate illegally.

[. . .]

“It’s a litany of complaints, they don’t want these houses regulated, they want them to be abolished,” said Norm Kelly, (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt.)

Kelly said anything that adds a regulatory burden and increases the costs for many rooming house operators will “work against a workable licensing system.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me in doing this that in the end you’re going to be getting more illegal (rooming houses) rather than under the proposed guidelines.”

Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt), said he favors regulation to “guarantee (an) absolute safe environment for the tenants.”

But unless city inspectors can access properties and impose strict penalties, many operators will go underground.

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1:54 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto city council takes first step towards regulating Airbnb-style rentals"
The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski looks at Toronto's tentative engagement with regulating Airbnb-style rentals.

A Toronto group pushing for the regulation of short-term, Airbnb-style rentals is welcoming a city staff proposal to evaluate the impacts of the rentals and consider what kind of restrictions should be imposed on the booming business.

Fairbnb, which is led by the hotel workers union, says the report is an important step in ensuring there are rules governing short-term rentals. But it doesn’t go far enough in looking at how online rental platforms such as Airbnb can be held to account when that doesn’t happen.

“Platform accountability is really where it’s at if we want to develop regulations that work,” said Fairbnb spokesman Thorben Wieditz.

The city report, before executive committee Wednesday, recommends public and stakeholder consultations be held early next year to look at how to protect the interests of neighbourhoods and property owners and the city’s stock of housing.

It’s a good first step according to Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who wishes it had come sooner as it will be at least another year before staff put specific regulation proposals before council.

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1:52 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The slow fade of industry on Laird Drive"
blogTO's Derek Flack has a nice photo essay looking at the transformation of Leaside's post-industrial Laird Drive.

Heavy industry has mostly retreated from Toronto in the 21st century, though there remain little pockets around the city where its impact can be witnessed most obviously. The Port Lands fits this description, as does the area around Dupont St. beside the CPR tracks, and most especially Geary Avenue.

These places are so fascinating because unlike so much of the city, they're transitional. Their ties to the past are far more evident than you'll see in a place like West Queen West, where the industrial heritage of the neighbourhood has been effectively wiped clean, and the gentrification process has run its course.

The future has yet to be written in a precious few of Toronto's former industrial zones, and the ultimate character of the streets that comprise them is a process that's playing out before our eyes. You could be forgiven for thinking that you inherit the city in its developed form, but it's always in a state of becoming.

This is perhaps most obvious on a street like Laird Drive in Leaside. There's been enormous change here in the last decade, but there's even more to come as auto garages and remaining industrial tenants slowly give way to redevelopment schemes.

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1:50 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Condo creep finally arrives in Parkdale"
blogTO's Derek Flack shows how condos are starting to expand west of Dufferin into the heart of Parkdale.

A longstanding question for observers of Toronto's urban landscape has been how long Parkdale can remain a condo-free zone. With the profound amount of development taking place on the eastern side of the Queen Street Subway and the steady increase of popular restaurants and bars, it seems inevitable that condos will infiltrate the neighbourhood.

Concerns about gentrification have been circling for over a decade, and the Parkdale has steadily become an entertainment destination despite considerable efforts by local councillor Gord Perks to maintain a balance between the rise of new businesses and the established vibe of the neighbourhood.

In some sense, new condos (rather than loft conversions) have already breached the dividing line between West Queen West and Parkdale when Q Loft was build at the northwest corner of Queen and Dufferin in 2014, but the real question is when this trend will move further west.

Tentatively speaking, the answer is now. Block Developments has proposed a seven storey development at 57 Brock Avenue on the site currently occupied by the Beer Store. Residents weren't happy with the project at the pre-application meeting in the spring, but the project is proceeding through the various stages of planning.

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1:48 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Private donations for Don River Valley Park could be 'blueprint' for future parks"
CBC News' Chris Glover reports on the philantrophic donations set to create a megapark in the Don Valley. The park appeals, but I'm unsure as to the broader soundness of this method.

Mayor John Tory introduced six donors Tuesday who have given a combined $3.5 million to help the city develop the first phase of Don River Valley Park — a move the Toronto's mayor says could be a "big blueprint" for developing parks in the future.

Philanthropist Andy Chisholm — along with his wife Laurie — is investing in a public park for the first time, and he couldn't be prouder.

"My wife has always been a strong advocate, with myself, of these natural spaces and this felt like a good way to invest in that," Chisholm said.

The other major investments come from Frances and Tim Price, the Jackman Family, Judy and Wilmot Matthews, Senator Michael Meighen and his wife Kelly, and Trans Canada Trails.

[. . .]

The private money will help convert the largely untapped stretch of urban valley between Corktown Common and the Evergreen Brick Works into a seven-kilometre network of hiking and cycling trails.

The private donation drive could mark a shift in the way Toronto's wealthiest families donate.

Traditionally, hospitals and cultural and educational institutions have received the lion's share of private money.

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1:44 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Mega-projects reshaping Mississauga sprawl"
San Grewal at the Toronto Star describes how Mississauga's transformation is starting to get attention outside of Canada.

At an international biotechnology conference in Philadelphia last year, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie heard that a Brazilian multinational pharmaceutical company was looking to set up an operation in New Jersey.

“So I pitched them on the GTA — Mississauga,” says Crombie, talking about her city’s growing confidence as a global player, while an unprecedented number of multibillion-dollar projects get set to launch in Canada’s sixth largest city.

Crombie went to Brazil and met with officials of the company, Biolab. “They rolled out the red carpet. Then they grilled me on Mississauga,” she says.

After hearing about the LRT project along Mississauga’s central commercial corridor, a new institute of management and innovation and a new medical research facility at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, as well as a number of large, vertical residential projects in the city, Biolab was sold. It is investing $56 million in a new Mississauga research and development facility.

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1:36 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Bonnie Crombie vs Mississauga’s race-baiters: Are symbolic gestures enough?"
Spacing Toronto's Fatima Syed looks at how a spat involving online racism and Mississauga's mayor illustrates failings in that city's multiculturalism/

Earlier this month, Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie was lauded for standing up against racism for the second time in a year. On Sunday Oct. 9, she filed a hate hate-crime complaint with Peel police after a local website published an article claiming she “is converting Mississauga into a dangerous Islamic war zone” so “they can kill her son just for being gay.”

The article comes a year after Mississauga council approved the zoning application for the Meadowvale Islamic Centre. During one council committee meeting, Crombie shamed Kevin Johnston, owner of the website that published the article, for distributing flyers denigrating the Muslim community and strongly petitioning against the construction of a mosque.

“Racism and flat-out lies have no place in Mississauga,” Crombie told the Toronto Star, in a statement that was widely celebrated as strong leadership.

Denouncing racism, however, is a reaction that occurs only after it has reared its ugly head. Crombie’s moves, both times, outwardly demonstrate her intention to tackle racism head-on. But they are little more than symbolic gestures, underscoring Mississauga’s preferred image of itself as a seemingly open and welcoming multicultural city. The fact is that her denunciations don’t address the reality that the Mississauga council continues to both govern and plan in a way that marginalizes its new immigrant communities, explicitly creating political spaces for racism to exist.

Like most multicultural cities, Mississauga embodies a great display of urban diversity, with 47% of residents reporting a mother language other than English. For many, it is an advertisement for global urbanism, where ethno-cultural pockets exist side by side, each with their own sounds, smells and signs.

But the city’s social diversity isn’t working as well as it may outward appear.

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10:55 am - [BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Beyond the Beyond notes that electronic newspapers just don't work.

  • blogTO notes that the Eaton Centre's HMV is closing.

  • Crooked Timber notes that it will be shifting to moderated commenting.

  • D-Brief notes a new sharp image of Eta Carinae.

  • Dead Things notes that some monkeys are apparently making stone tools.

  • Joe. My. God. shares Le Tigre's new pro-Clinton song, "I'm With Her".

  • The LRB Blog is critical of Britain's hostility towards refugee children.

  • The Map Room Blog links to a new historical atlas of Tibet.

  • The NYRB Daily examines Assange's reasons for using Wikileaks to help Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that New Horizons target 2007 OR10 has a moon.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the reasons for Ecuador's clamping down on Assange.

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7:41 am - [PHOTO] Welcome to Toronto colouring book, $C 20 each
Welcome to Toronto colouring book, $C 20 each #toronto #agakhanmuseum #welcometotoronto #colouringbooks #syria #refugees

When I went into the Aga Khan Museum yesterday evening, I saw the Welcome to Toronto colouring book . The Toronto Star's Louise Brown described the project in February.

What colour is Toronto?

Syrian refugee children will have the chance to decide, with a new colouring book created to let them shade in images of the city they now call home.

With captions in Arabic and English, the collection of drawings — some intricate, some whimsical — feature points of interest from the Royal Ontario Museum to the Toronto Islands, Grenadier Pond to the Toronto Zoo, from Lake Ontario to Canada’s Wonderland, all ready to be brought to living colour by young newcomer hands.

The sketches were donated by some 30 Toronto artists as a way to give Syrian refugee families a visual introduction to the city, said Rafi Ghanaghounian, one of three arts supporters who spearheaded the “Welcome to Toronto” colouring book project.

“The idea is that while kids are colouring, they’re exploring the images and learning about the city and also getting a little English as well,” said Ghanaghounian, who organized the book with fellow art supporters Andrea Pearce and Nicole Baillargeon, following the lead of a Windsor high school teacher who created a similar colouring book for that city’s Syrian refugees. He and his partners call their arts group Keep 6 (named for the five senses, plus a person’s own experience of art.)

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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
9:37 pm - [LINK] On the case for going to Venus before Mars
In his Washington Post article "Why Obama may have picked the wrong planet", Brian Fung makes the case for Venus to be visited before Mars.

The Obama administration has been pursuing a visit to Mars for years. But Obama may be overlooking an easier target, if the arguments of one NASA researcher (and numerous supporters) are to be believed. While Mars may seem to be an attractive destination, we should consider sending people to Venus instead, these people argue.

Obama's essay conjures images of NASA habitats on the Red Planet like we saw in the film “The Martian.” But that future is a long way off: As the actual author of “The Martian” has said, it's far more likely that NASA's first manned Mars mission will involve humans orbiting a few times and coming back. Even Elon Musk says he'll be creating a “cargo route” to Mars long before he sends actual people to land there.

You see, Mars is a challenging destination. It's far away, the gravity is a fraction of Earth's — posing additional health hazards beyond the lack of atmospheric radiation shielding — and you have to be suited up just to breathe outside.

By contrast, Venus is a lot closer to Earth than Mars is. At their closest points, Venus is only 25 million miles away, compared with Mars's 34 million miles. The shorter distance means you'd need less time and fuel to get there, reducing the cost. And although Venus's surface temperature is hot enough to melt metal, and the crushing pressure will squish you like a bug, the upper atmosphere is actually rather habitable.

“At about 50 kilometers above the surface the atmosphere of Venus is the most earthlike environment (other than Earth itself) in the solar system,” wrote Geoffrey Landis, a NASA scientist, in a 2003 paper. Landis has spent much of his career dreaming up ways to make a human trip to Mars actually feasible, so he knows what he's talking about.

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9:34 pm - [LINK] "China wants the Moon. But first, it has to spend a month in space"
Emma Grey Ellis' Wired article takes a look at how China's space program is progressing.

On Monday, at a launch center in the middle of the Gobi desert, two taikonauts boarded a spacecraft and rocketed into space. Yesterday their ship, Shenzou-11, docked with China’s experimental space lab, Tiangong-2. For the next 30 days—China’s longest crewed space mission—they will conduct experiments, test equipment, practice repairs, try to grow plants, and keep track of how the space environment affects their bodies. Sound familiar, space fans?

It should. Tiangong-2 is like a baby International Space Station. Sure, it doesn’t have the ISS’s scale, technological sophistication, or multi-national backing. But it’s the technical testing ground for the grown up space station China plans to launch in the next couple of years. Which will more permanent, and about the size of Mir, the Soviet Union’s space station in the 80s and 90s. But mostly, Tiangong-2 an important part of China’s long term plan to build a Moon base. And from there, it’ll be hard to deny China a seat at the space superpower table.

Like everything China does, people consistently underestimate the nation’s space program. Common snubs include: It’s miles behind the curve; their gear is all Russian knockoffs; their launch schedules are hopelessly slapdash. Yeah, those have all been true at one point, but not an honest assessment of the program as it currently stand.

China did not launch its first satellite until the 1970s, and didn’t really invest heavily in their space program until the early ’90s (the Cultural Revolution was a bigger priority) but they’ve been gaining ground on the US and Europe ever since. Early on, the nation’s program relied on Russia, both for components and training for their would-be taikonauts.

And the Shenzhou spacecraft do resemble Soviet (now Russian) Soyuz. But don’t hate: “The Shenzhou is the same idea, but not a copy,” says Jonathan McDowel, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “In its present form, it’s very much a Chinese vehicle.” The Chinese spacecraft is bigger, more powerful, and its forward habitation module has solar panels that can provide power for a separate mission—even after the astronauts climb aboard Tiangong-2.

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9:13 pm - [LINK] "Was Venus the first habitable planet in our solar system?"
The Guardian's Hannah Devlin reports on new models of Venus' environment which suggest this world was very broadly Earth-like well into the history of solar system. This is tantalizing, not least because of the prospects for life.

Its surface is hot enough to melt lead and its skies are darkened by toxic clouds of sulphuric acid. Venus is often referred to as Earth’s evil twin, but conditions on the planet were not always so hellish, according to research that suggests it may have been the first place in the solar system to have become habitable.

The study, due to be presented this week at the at the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Pasadena, concludes that at a time when primitive bacteria were emerging on Earth, Venus may have had a balmy climate and vast oceans up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) deep.

Michael Way, who led the work at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, said: “If you lived three billion years ago at a low latitude and low elevation the surface temperatures would not have been that different from that of a place in the tropics on Earth,” he said.

The Venusian skies would have been cloudy with almost continual rain lashing down in some regions, however. “So while you might get nice sunsets you would have mostly overcast skies during the day and precipitation,” Way added.

[. . .]

Way and colleagues simulated the Venusian climate at various time points between 2.9bn and 715m years ago, employing similar models to those used to predict future climate change on Earth. The scientists fed some basic assumptions into the model, including the presence of water, the intensity of the sunlight and how fast Venus was rotating. In this virtual version, 2.9bn years ago Venus had an average surface temperature of 11C (52F) and this only increased to an average of 15C (59F) by 715m years ago, as the sun became more powerful.

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9:11 pm - [LINK
The Guardian's Ian Sample <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/oct/19/esa-exomars-scientists-wait-and-hope-as-fate-of-mars-schiaparelli-lander-remains-uncertain Exomars scientists wait and hope as fate of Schiaparelli lander remains uncertain Play VideoPlay Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 1:04 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% FullscreenMute Success for ESA’s Mars orbiter but Schiaparelli probe status is unknown Ian Sample Science editor @iansample Wednesday 19 October 2016 23.46 BST Last modified on Thursday 20 October 2016 00.55 BST Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Shares 161 Comments 198 Save for later After a journey of seven months and half a billion kilometres across the solar system, the fate of the European Schiaparelli Mars lander was uncertain on Wednesday night amid fears that a last-minute glitch had scuppered hopes for a historic touchdown on the red planet. Earlier in the day, the half-tonne spacecraft was on target to become the first from the European Space Agency to perform science on the Martian surface. But despite a seemingly perfect approach to the planet, the lander appeared to run into difficulty as it neared, or reached, the ground. Mars landing: ESA declare success despite Schiaparelli probe's silence - as it happened ExoMars Trace Gas orbiter successfully positioned, but engineers will work overnight to decode the reason why probe’s signal failed prior to landing Read more At the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, grim-faced mission controllers peered at their monitors as the moment they expected the probe to call home came and went in silence. Hours later, the veteran Mars Express orbiter relayed data back to Earth that the lander had gathered on the way down. “Those signals stopped at a certain point which we reckon was before the landing,” said Paolo Ferri, head of mission operations at ESOC. “It’s clear this is not a good sign.” The high-speed descent called for the Schiaparelli lander to slow from 21,000 km (13,039 miles) per hour to a standstill on the Martian surface in the space of six minutes. In that time, the spacecraft was programmed to release a parachute and fire nine thrusters to slow its fall through the tenuous, dust-filled atmosphere, before belly-flopping the final two metres to the ground, a crushable underside cushioning the blow. Signals broadcast from the probe and picked up by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India showed that the descent was going well until the final moments when the telescope lost contact.

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3:41 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Brexit threatens London's status as 'best city in the world' — even if nothing changes
Lianna Brinded's Business Insider article makes a point that is all the more sadly ironic on account of London's mostly anti-Brexit vote in the recent referendum.

PwC, in collaboration with BAV Consulting, surveyed a group of 5,200 people from 16 countries about where they believe the best cities in the world to be.

The demographic was made up of "an equal number of business decision makers, informed elites, and other general population adults over 18 years of age."

London hit the number one spot in the ranking of 30 best cities in the world after the respondents scored the capital highly across 40 metrics, which included infrastructure, influence in terms of economics, politics, as well as culture, entertainment, and great food.

Matthew Lieberman, a director at PwC, told BI that Brexit could damage the perception of London as an open city and this could have a negative impact on the country overall.

"London scores number one in the metric 'connected to the rest of the world,' number two in political influence and number two in being a leader; these attributes are contributing to London’s position as the number one city overall – but they could foreseeably be impacted by Brexit," said Lieberman.

"We’ll have to see if it manages to keep the same ranking next year, or if, due to Brexit, we see a slip. We do not currently have empirical data on this, but based on judgment and anecdotal evidence, we would presume that there’s still a lot of uncertainty and perceptions are in flux."

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