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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

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[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Gerry Canavan has a set of links up.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a video examining the nature–the mass, the orbit–of Theia, the Mars-side object that by impacting the early Earth created the Moon.
  • Geocurrents is back with a post criticizing the state-based model of geopolitics.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that anti-gay Americans are unhappy with Walmart’s opposition to pro-discrimination laws.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money supports the Norwegian model of rehabilitation in prison.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the debate on historical rates of social mobility across time and space is still raging.
  • Steve Munro proves with photos that the new streetcars displaced from Spadina by construction are on Harbourfront.
  • Savage Minds notes that two of its writers are moving on.
  • Spacing Toronto illustrates how, from the 1920s through to the 1980s, the idea of a stadium was popular.
  • Torontoist looks at Regent Park’s innovative education model.
  • Towleroad notes that the Tokyo ward of Shibuya is recognizing same-sex partnerships.
  • Transit Toronto notes that four generations of streetcars will be on display at the Beaches’ Easter parade.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia is much worse off relative to its competitors than the Soviet Union was in the 1980s, notes the crackdown on Crimean Tatar media, and looks at the history and future of ethnic jokes in Russia.

[URBAN NOTE] “Maple Leafs’ ticket sales continue to fall”

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Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports on one sign that might well be an indicator of Torontonians’ increasing disenchantment with the underperforming Toronto Maple Leafs. Is this the end of Leafs Nation?

On Monday, the team announced its lowest attendance figure — 18,366 — for a regular-season game in the 16-year history of the building. It lost 2-1 to Minnesota that night to see its record fall to 8-32-3 since mid-December.

All of that losing is finally taking a toll at the box office, although Toronto still sits seventh overall in NHL attendance this season and charges the highest ticket prices in the league.

Among the remaining home games on the schedule are two visits by Ottawa and another from Montreal in the April 11 regular-season finale, all of which should draw crowds above the ACC’s capacity of 18,819.

An extremely high percentage of Leafs tickets are held by season seat-holders and the waiting list to become one of those stretches back for years. That has traditionally made it tough for the average fan to get inside the building (to say nothing of the price).

However, with the team headed for its worst finish in more than two decades, fans have started to stay home. Strangely enough, the Leafs actually boast a winning record at the ACC — 19-16-1 compared with 8-25-5 on the road — but have been booed often there and saw sweaters thrown on the ice earlier this season.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 27, 2015 at 10:56 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO and Torontoist both report on the remarkable Honest Ed’s plan. (More than a thousand residential units, all rental? That’s rare.)
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the confirmation of a hard-to-find hot Jupiter orbiting BD-20 1790.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the mysterious explosion of an American military satellite.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog observes that raw talent is not nearly enough to ensure, that capital of all kinds is needed.
  • Joe. My. God. celebrates Slovenia’s legalization of same-sex marriage and notes Russia’s effort to block benefits for the same-sex partners of United Nations employees.
  • Language Hat is apparently not fond of National Grammar Day.
  • Language Log is critical of the BBC claim that a southern African group cannot see blue.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money starts a discussion about India’s new aircraft carrier.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the Greeks are badly overstretched as individuals.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla considers Ceres.
  • Towleroad notes the Russian government’s revenge on an lesbian couple who embarrassed an anti-gay politician.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the TTC now has a fourth super-long streetcar.
  • The Understanding Society Blog looks at how knowledge is reproduced globally.
  • Window on Eurasia criticizes the geopolitics of Eurasianism and warns of Russian involvement in Latvia.
  • The Financial Times‘ World blog notes the many issues with the Greek job market.

[URBAN NOTE] Torontoist on Eastern Commerce College and its basketball team

Torontoist’s Megan Marrelli describes how Eastern Commerce Collegiate, an east-end Toronto school with less than a hundred students set to close at the end of the year, has a strong living tradition of basketball.

In a brightly lit sixth-floor gymnasium, coach Kevin Jeffers watches his Eastern Commerce Saints battle their arch rival, the Oakwood Barons. He’s anticipating a heated match—Oakwood is one of the top teams in the city, and the Saints are arguably the most storied high-school program in Toronto’s history. Over the years, more than 50 NCAA Division I and CIS players have emerged from the program, including former Toronto Raptor and NBA all-star Jamaal Magloire. Basketball is a source of pride for the school, and the team’s pedigree is impressive. They’re the defending city champion, although they lost to Oakwood in the provincial playoffs last year.

But as Eastern Commerce squares off against Oakwood in this year’s regional championship, the Saints’ minds are not as focused as their legacy might suggest. Because today isn’t just another game, it’s also a day of reckoning that Jeffers and the team knew would come. Hours before game time, students and faculty of the 89-year-old Eastern Commerce learned that their school will close in June.

Despite sparse enrolment—Eastern Commerce only has 62 students, and for the past two years has not had a grade-nine class—the Saints are one of the best high-school basketball teams in Toronto, ranking fifth in the city. There are two weeks left in the season, and in the historic life of Eastern Commerce basketball. In that time, they intend to show Toronto what being an Eastern Commerce Saint means.

[. . .]

The Eastern Commerce Saints are close to the hearts of many people, and that’s particularly true of Sialtsis; he’s one of the guys who got the program off the ground in the 1970s. He was around when the team won its first city title in 1976 under the coaching of Simeon Mars, and the Saints quickly became known for their talent and tenacity, and things grew from there.

The team went undefeated during the 1994-1995 school year and won OFSAA gold. In 1996, they won it again, and then won four consecutive OFSAA titles between 2002 and 2005, with Jeffers new to the coaching squad. By then, the Saints had become the team to beat, and the school became known for its basketball far beyond Toronto.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the Toronto Maple Leafs, social media, and performance anxiety

The Globe and Mail‘s James Mirtle writes about the latest social media controversy in Toronto, this one involving the Toronto Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are positioned by Mirtle as people undeserving of this criticism. This sort of thing, driven by frustration and anger, is probably inevitable given the way the team has been performing so badly this season.

Kessel and Phaneuf do not appear to have many allies in the media, after more than five years as Leafs. They are rarely defended and often take the blame when the team loses.

They’re lightning rods, more than most, and it helps that people want to read and hear about them.

Make no mistake, they’re fair game. In this mess of a season, everyone deserves criticism, and that obviously includes the highest paid and highest profile players.

But the reality here is that – as a frustrated Kessel blurted out on Tuesday in his rant defending his friend and captain – Dion Phaneuf didn’t build this team. He didn’t put himself – a good but flawed defenceman who had slid down Calgary’s depth chart when he was moved – into the No. 1 role, where he’s averaged an almost-NHL-leading 25 minutes a game in his time with the Leafs.

He has played as much as Zdeno Chara, and he’s not Zdeno Chara.

But in the context of how bad this team has been, Phaneuf has performed reasonably well. With Phaneuf on the ice, the Leafs have been outscored by only 13 goals at 5-on-5 in his entire tenure with the team (354 games).

Written by Randy McDonald

March 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes a leaked E-mail from Target Canada suggesting that liquidation sales will begin Thursday the 4th.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper wondering if the unusually close orbit of Kepler-78b is a product of a stellar close encounter.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Russian interest in a BRICS space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the worsening of Sao Paulo’s water crisis.
  • Otto Pohl links to a paper of his noting the role of borders in resettling Soviet deported peoples.
  • Savage Minds started a series about indigenous anthropologists.
  • Torontoist maps biking and running across Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes the beginning of a gay scene in North Dakota’s oil patch.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that the first court heard by the Iowa supreme court saw a slave be freed.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes yet again how privatization does not make things better.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes a running race this summer sponsored by Nike on the Toronto Islands.
  • Centauri Dreams argues that the sustainability of technological civilizations should be taken into account by the Drake equation.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that a F-117 downed by Serbia in 1999 ended up sparking a Russian technological revolution.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the release of Windows 10, while Wave Without A Shore‘s C.J. Cherryh is unexcited.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes an argument against law school.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Venezuela is massively in debt to China.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes 3-D printed houses are not yet economically competitive with conventional constructions.
  • Torontoist looks at now-demolished Stollery’s at Yonge and Bloor.
  • Towelroad notes that Chilean legislators have passed a civil unions bill.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia sees Europe through the perspective of a pre-1914 imperialist, wonders if a Mongolian shift to the traditional script will cut off ties with Mongol peoples in Russia, and notes that a Belarusian national church is still some ways off.
  • Writing Through the Fog shares beautiful pictures from Hawai’i.
  • Zero Geography’s Mark Graham examines “informational magnetism” on Wikipedia.

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