World's longest Instagram tour: Toronto's Graffiti Alley

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Heritage Toronto has curated a cool Instagram account (graffitialley.to) that documents Toronto's Graffiti Alley. It works best on a phone, but it's OK on other screens if you don't mind turning your head 90 degrees. Read the rest

Young Conservatives' "leadership seminar" featured food & water deprivation, sexist epithets, physical abuse

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The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has issued an apology to attendees at a 3-day, $300-400 Conservative Leadership Foundation seminar where attendees experienced sexist epithets, thrown shoes, and denial of food and drink. Read the rest

Pro-tar-sands activists say dirty Canadian oil is better because "lesbians are hot"

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The "In Canada lesbians are considered hot!" campaign is the brainchild of Robbie Picard, a tar-sands booster from Fort McMurray, Alberta. Read the rest

Post-Brexit, EU Commission plan to ram through disastrous Canada-EU trade deal dies

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CETA -- the "Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement" is a secretly negotiated deal between Canada and the EU, mirroring many of the most controversial provisions in notorious deals like ACTA, TPP, and TTIP -- including the "corporate sovereignty" clauses that permit multinational corporations to sue governments in closed courts, and force them to repeal environmental, labour and safety rules (albeit dressed up in new clothes that make the provisions appear different, without making any real difference). Read the rest

The Great Sulphur Pyramids of Alberta

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Sulfur, useful as it is, is produced in such vast quantities as a byproduct of energy production that it is of little value. There's so much of it that Canadian oil company Syncrude's storage site is slowly turning into an enormous pyramid of sulfur.

Google Maps reveals that there are in fact three of them, a Gizeh of The North!

Here's a photo by Jason Woodhead, released under the Creative Commons.

If they keep going, it'll eventually be far larger than the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

Read the rest

Kickstarting open source steampunk clocks that use meters to tell the time

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Kyle writes, "The Volt is a fully open source, arduino-based, handmade analog clock that tells time with meters. Available in a DIY install kit, 2 pre-made models, and a mix & match hardware option. The clocks are but with solid black walnut and maple, with faceplates produced in brass, copper, and steel. Only on Kickstarter!" Read the rest

Space botanists are beneficiaries of Canada's legal weed boom

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It's hard to fund space exploration research -- the commercial applications are speculative and far-off -- but there's never been a better time to study super-efficient, closed-loop botany of the sort that will someday accompany human interplanetary missions, thanks to the need to develop better grow-ops for the burgeoning legal weed market in Canada. Read the rest

Unnamed Canadian telco sabotages' library's low-income internet service

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Toronto's public libraries have followed New York and Chicago's lead in offering wifi hotspot lending to low-income families, allowing them to "check out the internet" and take it home with them. Read the rest

Canadian trade policy expert calls TPP a "threat to democracy"

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Gus Van Harten is a law professor at York University's Osgoode Hall and a well-respected expert on trade law; he's published a damning report on the Trans Pacific Partnership deal. Read the rest

Mounties used Stingrays to secretly surveil millions of Canadians for years

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Motherboard used public records requests to extract 3,000+ pages of court docs from a massive 2010 RCMP mafia/drug bust in Montreal, codenamed "Project Clemenza," which revealed the full extent of the Mounties' secret use of Stingrays -- AKA "IMSI Catchers," the fake cellular towers that let cops covertly track whole populations by tricking their phones into revealing information about them. Read the rest

How to Speak Canadian

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Dan Nosowitz of Atlas Obscura has posted a pair of funny pieces on how to “speak Canadian.” I was reminded of this clip from comedy legend John Candy.

Canada RULES! I love swearing in Québécois. Also, I deeply respect Boing Boing's revered tech guru and sysadmin Ken Snider, who is Canadian.

Atlas Obscura's short guide to cursing like a French Canadian is fantastic. Basically you mutter a bunch of religious terms under your breath, like tabernak and callise!

Nosowitz also tackled one of the great mysteries of North American language, the Canadian “about”. I'm still not sure I can get my head around it.

Via Atlas Obscura:

The Canadian diphthong in “about” starts with something closer to “eh,” and migrates to a blank space on the American linguistic map somewhere between “uh,” “oh,” and “ooh.” That transition is actually easier on the mouth than the American version; our vowels go from low to high, and theirs from mid to high.

To say that Canadians are saying “aboot” is linguistically inaccurate; “ooh” is a monophthong and the proper Canadian dialect uses a diphthong. “A-boat” would actually be a bit closer, but still relies on a monophthong. Why can’t Americans get their heads around the Canadian “about”?

“What's going on is a compound of pronunciation and perception,” says Dailey-O’Cain. “The Canadians do pronounce it differently. Americans hear this and they know it's different—they're hearing a difference but they don't know exactly what that difference is.” Americans do not have the Canadian diphthong present in the word “about,” which makes it hard to understand.

Read the rest

Delightful vintage bus spotted during unrelated event

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A youngster somewhere in British Columbia was recording video of an unrelated event in a strip mall parking lot when he noticed a charming, red-striped vintage bus. It's not every day you run into a 1970s General Motors New Look! The exciting moment is at about 41 seconds in. Read the rest

Canada Post drops legal claim over crowdsourced postal code database

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Canada Post claimed a "crown copyright" over the postal codes assigned to Canadian homes, meaning that Canadian organisations and businesses could only use this vital information if they paid -- that is, they'd have to pay to access something their taxes already paid for, and the richer you were, the more access you could afford. Read the rest

Canadian government thinktank warns that renewables will gut market for Canada's dirty oil

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For a decade, Canada's previous petro-tory government prosecuted scientists who publicly reported their results without first passing them through the party's commissars, almost as though reality had a well-known left-wing bias and couldn't be trusted. Read the rest

Technology's "culture of compliance" must be beaten back in the name of justice

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In 1989, Canadian activist, engineer and thinker Ursula Franklin gave a series of extraordinary lectures on the politics of technology design and deployment called "The Real World of Technology." Read the rest

Read: Strategic Dog Patterning, a story from "Why I Hunt Flying Saucers"

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My latest book just came out: Why I Hunt Flying Saucers & Other Fantasticals. The title comes from the short story of the same name, which was nominated for an Aurora Award in 1991.

Read the rest

We Stand on Guard: in 100 years, America seizes Canada for its water

Brian K Vaughan's varied career in comics has had numerous and diverse hits like Saga, the epically weird and sexy space-opera; Y: The Last Man, an end-of-the-world story; now, with We Stand on Guard, Vaughan dramatically ups his body count in a tale of an American resource war that's a lot closer to home than the invasion of Iraq.

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