February 9th, 2017

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO
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<li>blogTO <a href-"http://www.blogto.com/city/2017/02/facts-about-union-station-toronto/"><U>shares</u></a> ten facts about Union Station.</li>
<li>Centauri Dreams <a href="http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=37096"><U>describes</u></a> possible ice volcanoes on Ceres.</li>
<li>Crooked Timber <a href="http://crookedtimber.org/2017/02/08/why-we-should-put-basic-before-universal-in-the-pursuit-of-income-equality/"><U>argues</u></a> in favour of implementing a basic income before a universal income, on grounds of reducing inequality and easing the very poor.</li>
<li>The Crux <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2017/02/06/dogma-derailed-search-dark-matter/"><U>shares</u></a> an argument against dark matter.</li>
<li>The Dragon's Gaze <a href="http://thedragonsgaze.blogspot.ca/2017/02/nitrogen-oxygen-in-exoplanet-atmosphere.html"><U>talks</u></a> about nitrogen and oxygen in exoplanet atmospheres as biomarkers.</li>
<li>Far Outliers <a href="http://faroutliers.blogspot.ca/2017/02/tribe-vs-tribe-in-northern-plains.html"><U>looks</u></a> at intertribal warfare on the American plains in the 19th century.</li>
<li>The LRB Blog <a href="https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/02/06/anna-aslanyan/shambles-in-court/"><U>talks</u></a> about critical shortages of translators, and funding for said, at official functions in the United Kingdom.</li>
<li>Language Log <a href="http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=30924"><U>tries to translate</a> the Chinese word used by the head of the Chinese supreme court to insult Donald Trump.</li>
<li>The Map Room Blog <a href="http://www.maproomblog.com/2017/02/mapping-where-america-depends-on-trade/"><U>shares a map</u></a> showing how particular areas of the United States are especially dependent on foreign trade.</li>
<li><b>pollotenchegg</a> <a href="http://pollotenchegg.livejournal.com/240929.html"><U>maps</u></a> areas of relative youth and agedness in Ukraine.</li>
<li>Peter Rukavina <a href="https://ruk.ca/content/i-broke-twitter"><U>looks</u></a> at what happened to his Twitter stats after he quite.</li>
<li>Towleroad <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2017/02/chrissie-hynde-neil-tennant/"><U>links</u></a> to a new duet featuring Chrissie Hynde and Neil Tennant.</li>
<li>Window on Eurasia <a href="http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.ca/2017/02/putin-may-exploit-disarray-in.html"><U>warns</u></a> of a Russian invasion of Belarus and <a href="http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.ca/2017/02/little-remains-of-novgorod-tradition.html"><U>argues</u></a> that Novgorod's proto-democratic tradition no longer exists.</li>

[LINK] "Canadians want Trudeau to stand up to Trump, even if it leads to trade war: poll"

Robert Fife and Adrian Morrow write for The Globe and Mail about the apparent willingness of a majority of Canadians to risk a trade war if need be with the United States of Donald Trump.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares for his first encounter with Donald Trump at the White House, a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail shows Canadians expect him to stand up to the President’s aggressive America-first strategy even if it leads to a trade war with Canada’s biggest trading partner.

Presidential Counsellor Kellyanne Conway told CNN Tuesday that Mr. Trudeau would be travelling to Washington next week to hold wide-ranging talks with Mr. Trump.

Trade talks were the focus of a meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had Tuesday in Washington with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and other members of Congress. The discussions included dairy-market access, suggesting that Canada’s protectionist “supply management” system could be on the table in the North American free-trade agreement renegotiations. Ms. Freeland meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump’s pledge to renegotiate NAFTA is not sitting well with most Canadians. A Nanos poll, conducted between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1, found that 58 per cent of Canadians surveyed would support a trade war with the U.S. if the Trump administration slapped new tariffs on Canadian exports.

“It’s kind of a recognition that there is going to be unavoidable conflict with the Trump administration on trade,” Nik Nanos said in an interview. “When Canadians see the type of leadership style from Donald Trump, they realize that the only way to respond to him is assertively and confidently, even if it means a trade war. Even though we are a small trading partner, many Canadians believe the [trade] war is coming.”

[LINK] "Canada shouldn’t throw Mexico under the bus to placate Donald Trump"

MacLean's shares Kevin Carmichael's argument that there are sound reasons for Canadian negotiators to not sacrifice Mexico out of the desire to stabilize trade relationships with the United States of Donald Trump. Ignoring the ethical concerns of dropping a partner and the question of whether this tactic could actually work, the considerable and growing value of Canadian-Mexican trade is not to be ignored.

The months ahead will feature a lot of what I call, “Little Canada.” By that I mean the impulse to narrow Canada’s world view to what goes on in the United States, which I mentioned in a piece on January 27. As if on cue, Evan Solomon documented unofficial Ottawa’s willingness to abandon Mexico if doing so would allow Canada to protect its “special” relationship with the United States. Solomon spoke to Derek Burney, the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. who helped negotiate NAFTA. “The U.S. war of words with Mexico is dangerous, and Burney, among others, is convinced the first thing that Canada has to do is abandon the Three Amigos relationship,” Solomon wrote at Maclean’s on January 30. He quoted Burney as saying the following: “We should not indulge in ridiculous posturing—like getting together with Mexico to defend our interests, when Canada has very different economic interests than Mexico. It is a fundamental error to conflate them.”

Are the economic interests of Canada and Mexico really so different? Both are middle powers that depend on access to international markets because their populations are either too small (Canada) or too poor (Mexico) to consume all the goods and services they are capable of producing. Economic gravity pulls most of what they sell into the United States. But the post-War commitment to more-the-merrier trade agreements has created a system in which smaller countries can trade under rules that aren’t entirely skewed in favour of the two or three biggest players.

Much of what Trump has proposed to do on trade would violate the terms agreed at the World Trade Organization, but it is possible the new president may not care. Suing the U.S. at the WTO would take years, and Trump, who has called the Geneva-based trade watchdog a “disaster,” could follow through on his threat to quit it. “He may believe (possibly correctly) that the next day, trade ministers will be lining up in Washington to negotiate bilateral FTAs, ready to accept U.S. terms, thus handing him another victory,” Oonagh Fitzgerald, director of the international law program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and Hector Torres, a member of the International Monetary Fund’s executive board, wrote in an op-ed on January 30. (Disclosure: I am a senior fellow at CIGI.)

Clearly, it would be a mistake for Canada to go out of its way to pick a fight with the White House. But Trudeau also is making a mistake by failing to contain talk that Canada’s interests are best served by becoming Trump’s patsy. Mexicans are “perplexed by some of the recent calls in Canada for ‘dumping’ Mexico from NAFTA and negotiating a bilateral deal with Washington,” Andrés Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister, wrote in the Globe and Mail on January 27. “This is both short-sighted and a mistake. If NAFTA is torn apart, Canadian investment and trade with Mexico will be adversely affected, as will the overall relationship.”

[URBAN NOTE] "Honest Ed’s sign will move to Ed Mirvish Theatre"

The relocation of the iconic Honest Ed's sign downtown from the Annex to the Ed Mirvish Theatre was shared by, among others, the Toronto Star's Laura Beeston.

A portion of the Honest Ed’s sign will be saved and relocated when the former site of the iconic Toronto discount store is demolished in the spring, Mirvish Productions announced Wednesday.

The 30-foot-tall by 60-foot-wide sign from the corner of Markham and Bloor Sts., will be moved to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in the Yonge/Dundas neighbourhood, David Mirvish said.

The sign, which was installed in six parts, will be dismantled and taken to a warehouse for refurbishing before being installed on a new steel frame on Victoria St.

“It needs to be taken out of town and needs body filler like a big plastic automobile,” Mirvish said in an interview. “Then we have to seal it up and remove the bulbs because otherwise it will rust out over the years.”

He said the repairs and installation will cost six figures but that he “had to bite the bullet.”

[URBAN NOTE] "Preservation of Honest Ed’s sign part of new movement, ‘sign-ism:’"

Edward Keenan's column in the Toronto Star about the impulse behind the preservation of the Honest Ed's sign reminds me of what others have called "façadism". On the whole, I think I prefer this impulse: If we can salvage something, why not?

There are good and bad examples, just as there are beautiful and hideous buildings of every vintage, but, on the whole, I like it.

Yes, sometimes I’d prefer that a whole building, or collection of buildings, be adapted and used anew in something close to its original state, such as is the case (in the extreme) of the Distillery District.

But, just as often, the blend of old and new on one site shows a city evolving: for example, the old bank building that houses much of the Hockey Hall of Fame inside BCE place.

Sometimes, things should be preserved, such as a museum (Hello, Casa Loma!). Sometimes, they can be reused for a new purpose (Come on down, Old City Hall!). But where there are good reasons to redevelop, sometimes it’s just worth preserving a fragment of what was there, as a kind of memento.

[MUSIC] Roxette, "The Look"

Roxette's 1988 song "The Look", the Swedish group's breakout song, is something I'll always have fond memories of. Is it a very 1980s song, full of synth riffs and guitar? Are the lyrics somewhat simple?

Walkin' like a man
Hitting like a hammer
She's a juvenile scam
Never was a quitter
Tasted like a raindrop
She's got the look

Yes. It doesn't matter. Their Look Sharp! is one of the first albums I ever bought--on cassette, even!--and this song, like so many of their other songs, is fun. We could even see Roxette in its historical context, as the first Swedish musical group of international stature to appear after ABBA, hinting at the era of Swedish pop dominance to come. Why not enjoy the music?