A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Dangerous Minds notes the food songs that gorillas apparently sing to themselves as they eat.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the TRAPPIST-1 system, with three Earth-sized terrestrial planets orbiting a very faint star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a paper examining methane exchange in the Martian near-surface.
  • Joe. My. God. reports that Eurovision will be broadcasting live in the USA for the first time, on Logo.
  • Language Hat reports on the effects of Japanese company Rakuten’s switch to English as a working language.
  • The LRB Blog and Marginal Revolution report on the claim of Australian Craig Wright to be Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto.
  • The Map Room Blog reports on an exhibition of the map history of Texas.
  • Marginal Revolution reports on the economic dominance of vinyl sales and streaming music in the music industry.
  • Steve Munro notes the Ontario government’s refusal to talk about how transit fares in Toronto will be set.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the discovery of the moon of dwarf planet Makemake.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the Russian response to the MH17 shootdown and reports on the firebombing of a pro-Donbas museum in St. Petersburg.

[PHOTO] Memory of the Queen Street subway that could have been

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Memory of the Queen Street subway #toronto #westqueenwest #queenstreetwest #queenstreet #subway #alternatehistory

The commemorative monument at the centre of the photo, erected on Queen just east of Dufferin dedicated to the “Queen Street Subway” with a date of 1897, is, as Derek Flack noted in 2010 at blogTO misleading: “Subway” was the word that the late 19th century used where we would use “underpass”. People who are informed about the history of mass transit in Toronto could be easily confused, since discussion of a Queen Street subway line goes as far back as 1911, with one proposed route extended from Trinity-Bellwoods Park in the west to Logan Avenue in the east.

Flack’s blogTO essay goes into the history of this proposed route at some length, while James Bow at Transit Toronto describes how Queen Street contended with Bloor-Danforth throughout the mid-20th century to be the location of the main west-to-east subway route in Toronto. Get Toronto Moving also has an extended overview of proposals to build the Queen line, noting how this has morphed over time into the Downtown Relief Line. The only physical vestige of this line is the Lower Queen station at Yonge, described by Bow at Transit Toronto here and by Tess Kalinowski at the Toronto Star in 2007 here.

James Bow’s Transit Toronto essay “What if the Queen Subway was built instead of the Bloor-Danforth?” is a fascinating exercise in alternate history, considering how Toronto’s transit system would have evolved in this case. The effect on Toronto’s urban geography would have been equally noteworthy. Perhaps the waterfront would have been developed earlier, with Queen Street being the main street of the city, with places like Bloor–never mind St. Clair, or Dupont–lagging?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 3, 2016 at 9:35 am

[DM] “On the return of the long-form census to Canada in 2016”

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At Demography Matters, I have a brief note, crossposted below, about the return of the long-form census to Canada this year.

* * *

It’s time for Canadians to deal with the 2016 Census, and this year, as the Liberal government has promised, the long-form census is back. CBC News’ Hannah Jackson outlined this in “The long-form census is back, it’s online — and this time, it’s mandatory”.

Statistics Canada today officially begins mailing out access codes so Canadians can prepare to complete the 2016 census online — either the regular or the newly restored long-form version — next week.

Census Day is May 10, but Statistics Canada is encouraging Canadians to complete their census forms as soon as they receive them.

The letters will provide a 16-digit access code to allow households to complete the census online, but also gives Canadians the option of having a paper version mailed to their homes.

[. . .]

One in four randomly selected households in Canada will receive the 36-page long-form questionnaire known as the National Household Survey, while the remainder of Canadians will receive the 10-question short version. Both are mandatory.

Under Section 31 of the Statistics Act, the consequence for failing to provide information to a mandatory census or falsely answering is liable to a summary conviction carrying a fine of up to $500, imprisonment of up to three months, or both.

The import of the census is outlined in Jordan Press’ Canadian Press article “Long-form census forms return to mailboxes this week after absence”, published at MacLean’s and the Toronto Star.

For provincial coffers, the population estimates in the census determine how much per capita funding they will receive in transfers from the federal government.

For local governments and community groups, the demographic details in neighbourhoods help with decisions on where to place new schools, transit routes, seniors’ housing and emergency services.

For companies, the census data act as a much-needed complement to what’s become known as big data.

“Some people wonder, well, why do you even need a census when we have big data?” said Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics.

“When you combine the kind of data we now can collect with census data, you can really get a more integrated view of what consumers want both in terms of products and services and that’s also true in terms of what citizens want from government.”

The politics behind the 2011 cancellation are also explored briefly by Press.

The previous Conservative government replaced the long-form census with the voluntary survey five years ago in a move that caught many by surprise and lit a political fuse over the depth of data Statistics Canada collected through regular population counts. The results from the 2011 count prevented comparisons to previous years, left out some small communities over quality concerns, and raised reliability questions around response rates of immigrants and aboriginals.

As one of its first acts in government, the Liberals brought back the mandatory, long-form questionnaire.

Kestle said there will remain gaps in the data collected five years ago, but the return of the long-form census this year should bridge many of them created by the one-time absence.

“To be realistic, of course there will be breaks (in data), but I think missing one (census) is not nearly as bad as if we hadn’t had it come back,” she said.

Craig Silverman’s humourous article at Buzzfeed is worth reading for the chuckles.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Star Trek TV series to begin filming in Toronto this fall, CBS confirms”

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CBC News’ Jonathan Rumley reports on the impending filming of the new Star Trek television series here in Toronto.

Heads up, Trekkies — filming for the new Star Trek television series is slated for Toronto, where local fans hope it will live long and prosper.

The news about the new television series was confirmed by CBS Television Studios on Twitter. The show will begin filming in the city sometime this fall.

“We don’t have [any] other details to share at this point,” Kristen Hall, CBS Television Studios’ vice-president of communications, told CBC News via email.

Last November, CBS said the series would make its debut in January 2017.

“The brand-new Star Trek will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966,” CBS said last fall in a release.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2016 at 11:27 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto library workers reach tentative agreement”

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CBC reports on the happy last-minute deal that averted the possibility of a library strike here in Toronto.

The Toronto Public Library Workers Union says it has reached a tentative agreement with the Toronto Public Library Board on a new four-year contract.

Maureen O’Reilly, president of local 4948 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Toronto Public Library Workers Union, announced the tentative deal hours after the city’s 2,200 library workers passed their strike deadline at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

“This has been a difficult round of bargaining, but our bargaining committee has secured a deal which we believe addresses some of our concerns and allows Toronto’s library workers to continue to provide great services in the city’s 100 branches,” she said.

Toronto’s public libraries will be open today and operating with normal hours of service.

The union said ratification is expected to start sometime this week.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2016 at 11:25 pm

[ISL] “Erosion could cause Gibraltar Point to split in two, says Toronto conservation authority”

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The Toronto Star‘s Dan Taekema notes how substantial erosion might end up splitting the Toronto Islands’ Gibraltar Point.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is betting on a breakwater to stop one of the city’s most popular summer destinations from washing away.

The Toronto Islands have long been victim to erosion caused by waves and winter storms, but in recent years the problem has gotten worse — stabilization of the Scarborough Bluffs and the creation of the Leslie Street Spit have limited the amount of sand and soil carried by the current to feed the island.

“We essentially started to starve the islands of a source of sediment to sustain itself,” said Ethan Griesbach, a project manager with the TRCA.

According to a report from the conservation authority titled the “Gibraltar Point Erosion Control Project,” erosion on the islands has been documented in the area since 1879.

Significant storm damage in the ’70s led to several possible solutions, but only short-term attempts to solidify the shoreline were used.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm

[ISL] On the potential renaming of Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst by Parks Canada

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Michael Conor McCarthy, writing for The Guardian of Charlottetown, notes Parks Canada’s interest in renaming the Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site. The Amherst of the name was associated with atrocities against indigenous peoples and Acadians. Is renaming the site a good way to make a rhetorical break with the past? I do wonder.

A new name may be part of the future for Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst as Parks Canada is putting forward a request to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to look into giving the national historic site a name that better reflects its past.

Parks Canada is putting forward a request to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to look into renaming Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst, a national historic site on the southwestern entrance to Charlottetown Harbour.

This is coming after local aboriginal leaders, the P.E.I. Presbytery of the United Church of Canada and the Council of Canadians have all expressed wishes to have the name changed.

“I am pleased that they are reviewing my request and the 638 other people that signed the petition to have his name removed,” said John Joe Sark, a member of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council.

[. . .]

Some historians believe Amherst used biological warfare against indigenous people through advising the distribution of smallpox-laced blankets.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm


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