A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes the breakdown of the Libyan state.
  • Bloomberg mentions Finland’s new interest in NATO, notes European Union plans to strengthen sanctions against Russia, takes note of China’s vetoing of democracy in Hong Kong and looks at China’s strengthening of its South China Sea holdings, and in West Africa notes the unburied bodies in the street in countries hit by Ebola and observes the apparent spread of the epidemic to Senegal.
  • Bloomberg View observes how the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong is alienating Taiwan, notes that Scotland may secure its future in the European Union by leaving a United Kingdom hoping to leave, looks at the frightening military theories of Russia, considers whether taxation may spur corporate consumption in Korea, wonders if France’s Hollande can pull off Mitterand’s turn to the right, examines secular stagnation, considers the issues of Macau, and warns Israel about economic issues ahead.
  • CBC looks at how walking bichir fish may explain how vertebrates moved onto the land, notes that Canadian federal government roundtables on the sex trade aren’t inviting sex workers, and notes that convicted serial killer Russell Williams has settled lawsuits made by some victims and their families.
  • Defense One notes that the Islamic State controls mainly areas around roads (but then, the roads are usually the areas that are controlled).
  • The Inter Press Service examines the settlement of Somalian refugees in Istanbul, considers the future of Ukrainian agriculture, looks at the spread of jihadi sentiments in Tajikistan, points out that the United States and Brazil will soon improve genetically engineered trees, examines anti-gay persecution in Lebanon, and looks at the legacies of the balsero migration from Cuba 20 years later.
  • National Geographic examines the positions of Yazidis in northern Iraq versus the Islamic State, notes the mobilizatin of Assyrian Christian refugees in the same region, and notes that more trees in the mountains of California means less run-off.
  • Open Democracy notes the precedents for Russian policy in Ukraine two decades earlier in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and provides a critical tourist’s perspective on Belarus.
  • Universe Today notes an ancient star that preserves legacies of the first generation of stars to form, and observes the preparation for the landing of the Philae probe on the surface of its comet.
  • Wired examines sriracha and maps where future roads should be placed.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes that claims Arctic ice cover is recovering are ill-founded.
  • blogTO shares some of the most notable catastrophes from Rob Ford’s days coaching high school football.
  • Centauri Dreams shares a new map of Triton, Neptune’s moon.
  • The Cranky Sociologists map the distribution of different religions and the unaffiliated around the world.
  • Crooked Timber has at the old canard about Silent Spring‘s DDT ban killing millions with malaria.
  • Discover‘s Crux notes how GPS location services owe their existence to relativity.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining how rocky asteroids can be detected around white dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales note that tuberculosis was in the Americas before Columbus.
  • Eastern Approaches notes an appeal by Polish intellectuals to support Ukraine.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas wonders what if, instead of imagining worst-case scenarios for new technologies, we imagine positive things.
  • Language Hat comments on a new book on Russia in the Napoleonic Wars that mentions how Latvian was used as a code.
  • Language Log notes that technology is not dehumanizing us.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the biggest split in Ukraine is between supporters of European and Eurasian integration, and notes that Putin’s Russia has kickstarted a new era of global politics.
  • James Nicoll reviews Heinlein’s juveniles.
  • Otto Pohl notes that modern Kazakhstan can trace its history directly only to the Soviet era, not to earlier states.
  • Registan looks at the Chinese geopolitical concept of continentalism.
  • Towleroad looks at a controversial gay club poster featuring two notable male writers kissing.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reminds readers of the Crimean annexation and doesn’t think eastern Ukraine has a compelling moral case at all for secession.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the economic costs to Tatarstan of remaining Russian, reports that Russian neo-Nazis are fighting in Ukraine, looks at how past actions are being seen in a more biased light, and quotes Vladimir Lukin to the effect that Russia wants Donbas to stay in Ukraine so as to prevent the country from looking to NATO.

[LINK] “Why Edmonton’s growth is outpacing Calgary’s”

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In an article jointly authored by the Calgary Herald‘s Jason Markusoff and the Edmonton Journal‘s Elise Stolte, the prospects of economic hub Calgary and political capital Edmonton are examined. Apparently the latter city is starting to grow slightly faster than the larger Calgary.

That smaller city to the north — you know, the one with the legislature and that megamall — is now growing at a faster clip than booming Calgary.

There are 877,926 Edmontonians, according to the city’s 2014 census released Friday. While that remains a far cry from Calgary’s nearly 1.2 million, the capital’s two-year growth rate of 7.4 per cent is greater than Stampede City’s 6.7 per cent.

While each city is being propelled by the energy boom, Edmonton is faring better in job creation than the city where the corporate headquarters are, said ATB Financial economist Todd Hirsch.

“It’s orders of magnitude. Both cities are kind of the envy of the nation,” he said Friday. “But Edmonton’s unemployment rate is just a touch lower, a lot of service jobs around the oilpatch.”

[. . .]

If Edmonton continues growing at this pace, it will top one million people in 2018 — a milestone Calgary surpassed in the 2007 population count.

If both Calgary and Edmonton each somehow keep growing at their respective rates — for argument’s sake, setting aside their boom-bust cycles and sheer urban capacity for the sake of argument — the capital would be on track to become Alberta’s largest city in 2110, when Edmonton becomes first to hit 27 million. Ottawa is the next largest city in Canada. The 2011 federal census found their population was 883,391, but the city’s internal estimates place their population at 944,900 in 2014.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2014 at 7:33 pm

[LINK] “Inside the Brazilian all-woman village desperate for men”

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The Telegraph‘s Harry Wallop describes in the National Post how the Brazilian village of Noiva do Cordeiro, located in Minas Gerais, has a shortage of men. (Selective male migration to larger centres seems to be the main issue at hand.)

The village of Noiva do Cordeiro is nestled in Belo Vale, which translates as “beautiful valley.” And it is not hard to see why.

About 300 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, in south-east Brazil, the valley is dotted with groves of thick-skinned, sweet tangerines, banana plants, and ipe trees covered with bright yellow flowers.

But it is not just landscape that catches the eye in Noiva do Cordeiro. It is the inhabitants. Or, specifically, its women.

That is because the majority of the village’s residents are female and as gorgeous as the bougainvillea plants that blossom in the valley. This area of Brazil is famous for producing great beauties. More than that, many are single and in search of love.

Nelma Fernandes, 23, had pleaded: “Here, the only men we single girls meet are either married or related to us; everyone is a cousin. I haven’t kissed a man for a long time. We all dream of falling in love and getting married.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm

[LINK] “Who’ll Win the Fight Between Russia and Ukraine? Maybe China”

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Vice‘s Ryan Faith argues that one beneficiary of the emergent Russo-Ukrainian war will be China. The disruption of the Soviet-era military industries shared by Russia and Ukraine will leave China, inheritor of much Soviet technology, in a great position to expand its market share in the arms trade.

The once-mighty Soviet Union has fallen on hard times, and has fragmented into a motley collection of countries, enclaves, vassal states, and fiefdoms. As a result, the vast network of factories, technical expertise, and supply chains that once powered the Soviet military machine has disintegrated. Previously intertwined industries are now divorced, living in different countries. Entire supply chains vital to one national military are in countries completely out of the control of that military.

In some cases, old armament factories operated as if little had changed except for the drop in production volume. Russia was, until this year, the biggest single export market for Ukrainian defense manufacturers, just as Ukrainian imports were the single biggest share of Russian defense imports. For example, most of Russia’s helicopters are powered by engines made by the Ukrainian company Motor Sich. Conversely, the biggest use of Motor Sich’s engines has been in Russian helicopters.

But once fighting broke out between Ukraine and Russia — or more accurately, a few months after fighting broke out — the defense trade between the countries ground to a halt.

Although China has grown in technological sophistication, a lot of the old standards and technologies have left their mark. Much of the equipment and parts still in production are compatible with Soviet-era standards, and China has close relationships with the defense industries of both Russia and Ukraine. But the rupture between the two countries — the engines powering the remnants of the Soviet military-industrial machine — has, as Jane’s points out, put China in a very advantageous position.

First, Ukrainian and Russian manufacturers alike are eager to replace revenue lost from the end of their relationships with one another, and will be looking to sell to China instead. In fact, Ukrainian and Russian companies could find themselves in competition for business while their governments compete on the battlefield and in the international political arena. This competition means it’s a buyer’s market for China, and may give Beijing access to a lot more technology and design expertise at lower cost than was previously possible.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2014 at 7:24 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Strip club owner spawns rivals as Bloordale tidies up on his watch”

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The Toronto Star‘s Aaron Harris notes an apparent local furor in Bloordale over local strip joint House of Lancaster. The House of Lancaster has been present in this neighbourhood for 27 years, and its owner Spiro Koumoudouros has played a major role in promoting this now up-and-coming neighbourhood. It’s now unwelcome.

At one time, Bloordale was a hot spot for cheap drugs, street prostitution and arrests. Vestiges remain, but major changes have been underway for years on the stretch of Bloor St. W. between Dufferin St. and Lansdowne Ave.

The old Dale’s, a diner of ill repute, is now a trendy brunch spot. There’s no Starbucks yet, but among the psychic dens, cash-for-gold joints, laundromats and the token Coffee Time, you’ll find a gourmet sandwich counter, hip bars and a bakery that ominously proclaimed “the vegans are coming!” in its window before opening.

Property values have gone up 35 per cent, according to realtor Tasi Farquhar, with one detached house fetching $1,070,000 recently. Where it used to be littered with needles, a playground was installed at the Susan Tibaldi Parkette to accommodate families.

The old butts up against the new in Bloordale. And the long-standing House of Lancaster strip club is right in the middle.

Owner Spiro Koumoudouros has been a member of the BIA for 27 years and at the helm for as long as anyone can remember. He takes credit for cleaning up Bloordale and making it more inviting for newcomers. But now some say it’s time for him to go. Koumoudouros says without him, the BIA would collapse.

“(Spiro) was one of the only people who would chair the BIA so we have to give him kudos for that. But it doesn’t mean he has to continue,” said Liza Lukashevsky, who formally joined the BIA this year but has owned the Nuthouse health food store since 2010.

“This seems like a natural time for change to happen to reflect what’s happening already organically in the neighbourhood,” she said.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2014 at 7:21 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Iranian-connected house in Toronto at centre of international showdown”

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The Toronto Star‘s Jacques Gallant reported last month about how a piece of north Toronto real estate now features in a lawsuit regarding Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. As described at the time by MacLean’s, this location back in 2010 was briefly the host of a controversial and apparently Iranian-sponsored Centre for Iranian Studies, so there clearly is some kind of Iranian state connection.

It’s rather hard to believe that the empty red-brick backsplit house on Sheppard Ave. W. with the overgrown grass and damaged roof finds itself at the centre of an international showdown.

And yet, a Toronto judge ruled earlier this year that the house, along with a commercial building in Ottawa, is “beneficially owned” by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and can be seized by victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.

The ruling, which also named as defendants the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is just one of several cases slowly moving through Canadian and American courts, demanding damages for bombings and kidnappings dating back more than 20 years throughout the Middle East that have been linked to Iran.

Although it did not participate in any of the proceedings leading up to the March 17 ruling by Superior Court Justice David M. Brown, Iran is now fighting back and has retained Toronto lawyer Colin Stevenson.

The Iranian government maintains that the house at 290 Sheppard Ave. W. in north Toronto and the building at 2 Robinson Ave. in Ottawa are legally owned by active corporations, and that there is no evidence they were held in trust for Iran, Stevenson told the Star. He said Iran will argue state immunity. The next court dates are scheduled for December.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm


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