A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for December 2015

[FORUM] How will you be celebrating the end of 2015?

For the first time in a long time, I’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve quietly at home. No party with friends, no sightseeing on the streets, just a quiet evening at home.

And you?

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Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 10:18 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly asks what readers are reading.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the miraculous way gravitational lensing can refract supernovas.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the compplex HD 100546 system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at the dinosaurs of ancient South Africa.
  • Geocurrents looks back on the past year.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers which Republican presidential candidates might be good drinking partners.
  • Torontoist suggests things to do this New Year’s Eve.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is even alienating Armenia and notes Russian upset over Turkish support for the Crimean Tatars.

[URBAN NOTE] Why I Love Toronto at year end

Tumblr-based Toronto blog Why I Love Toronto has been wrapping up the year with a series of year-end posts, noting newly-closed attractions of various kinds, looking at new places of interest, and celebrating the best exhibits of the year.

Strongly recommended, these posts and the blog itself. Everything is covered: muséums, restaurants, shopping, the works.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:35 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Free rides, later service, New Year’s Eve, December 31”

Transit Toronto reports about New Year’s Eve public transit options. Full and detailed schedules are provided.

You may never get that free lunch that you’ve been waiting for, but you can ride your favourite train, subway, bus or streetcar free of fare New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day. Many Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Golden Horseshoe transit agencies are offering passengers free rides and later service to help everyone get home safely after celebrating the start of 2015.

Most local transit agencies absorb the cost of the free rides in their budgets. However, a major distillery is sponsoring free TTC service until about 4 a.m.— in 2010, the TTC estimated this cost at about $85,000. In Durham Region, two major employers are paying the bills to offer residents free and later DRT service. In Guelph, the downtown business association is footing the bill for free and later Guelph Transit service, while down in St. Catharines, the union representing area paramedics and other emergency medical service personnel and several businesses are grabbing the cheque for the free and later rides.

Ride safely, guys.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:31 pm

[LINK] “Resolute seeks more than $70-million in damages over revival of Nova Scotia paper mill”

The Globe and Mail carries this Canadian Press report about an unusual complaint brought against Nova Scotia under NAFTA rules.

Resolute Forest Products Inc. is seeking damages of more than $70-million under the North American Free Trade Agreement, citing losses it blames on the government-aided revival of an idled paper mill in Nova Scotia.

The Montreal-based company said in a statement late Wednesday that it has filed a notice of arbitration under NAFTA, saying the closure of its Laurentide mill in Quebec was a result of competition from the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, N.S.

The mill, idled for about a year, was restarted with aid of more than $124-million in government assistance in 2012.

“Resolute contends those measures discriminated in favour of Port Hawkesbury and resulted, among other damages, in the closing of Resolute’s Laurentide mill in October 2014, depriving Resolute of its investment in that mill, and the value of other investments, in violation of the company’s rights under NAFTA.”

The company said it is seeking damages for direct losses of some $70-million, as well as unspecified consequential damages “and additional costs and relief deemed just and appropriate by an arbitral tribunal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm

[LINK] “Atlanta’s alarming HIV/AIDS epidemic reminiscent of New York in the ’80s”

Al Jazeera’s report on the rampant HIV epidemic in Atlanta, particularly concentrated among blacks, is alarming. At a time when such progress is being made in preventing and controlling the epidemic, this is shameful.

“Atlanta is like New York was in the ’80s in the need to develop a public health response to a serious [HIV] epidemic,” said Devin-Barrington Ward, an advocate based in Washington, D.C., who helped organize the Georgia symposium.

The issue is particularly acute for young gay and bisexual black men. One Emory University study followed a group of Atlanta-area men ages 18 to 39 who had sex with men during 24 months and found that 12.1 percent of the black men under 25 contracted HIV, compared with only 1.0 percent of the white men under 25 — “one of the highest figures for HIV incidence ever recorded in a population in the resource-rich world,” according to the National AIDS Manual. What’s more, AIDS is the leading cause of death among black people in Georgia ages 35 to 44, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Grady Memorial, one of the nation’s largest public health hospitals, also found alarming numbers, through a grant-funded project that allowed its staff to offer opt-out HIV screening to all patients entering its emergency room: About half the patients diagnosed with HIV already had clinical AIDS. This means they had the virus for years and not received the sort of treatment that would prevent further deterioration of their immune systems.

“None of my colleagues [nationally] are seeing those numbers,” said Dr. Wendy Armstrong, a researcher at Emory University’s Center for AIDS Research. “It’s appalling.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:28 pm

[LINK] “Elon Musk `Stepping on Toes’ in Space Race, Russia Official Says”

Bloomberg’s Alexei Anishchuk reports that the reorganization of Russia’s space program into a state corporation is allegedly a product of competition with Elon Musk’s business.

Elon Musk’s success in launching reusable space rockets means Russia must make its own projects cheaper as the cash-strapped country struggles to retain its share of the market, the country’s defense-industry chief said.

“The main goal today is to make space cheap,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who’s in charge of defense, told Rossiya 24 TV in an interview on Wednesday in Moscow. “Competitors are stepping on our toes. Look at what billionaire Musk is doing with his projects. This is very interesting, well done, and we treat this work with respect.”

Rogozin’s comments follow the first successful liftoff and landing of a reusable spacecraft this month by Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. The South African-born mogul says the technology will dramatically cut the cost of space launches.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2015 at 12:26 pm