Toronto's amazing science fiction library, the Merril Collection, has a new head librarian

It's been decades since I first discovered my love of science fiction on a school trip to the "Spaced Out Library," the public science fiction reference collection founded by Judith Merril -- that day, I met both Merril (who went on to be a mentor to me) and Lorna Toolis, who has just stepped down as head of the library, which grew in stature and changed names, becoming the Merril Collection of Science Fiction. Read the rest

Toronto's insane real-estate bubble is finally bursting

Toronto's crazy-insane property prices stayed high even through the 2008 crash and its aftermath, but sales volumes of houses of all types plummeted by 40.4% for July 2017-vs-July 2016, new listings are up by 5% over the same period -- and the average selling price has fallen by 19% since April. Read the rest

City claims building park stairs too pricey, later tears out free stairs built by a resident

Retiree Adi Astl just wanted some stairs down a well-trod embankment in his local park. The city told him it would cost between $65,000 and $150,000, so he and a homeless guy built a nice set of stairs for about $550. Astl was then informed he violated municipal code section 608, and the stairs were ordered removed.

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To attract customers, Toronto hotel removes the TRUMP name

As I wrote about last month, the hotelier who operates the Toronto property bearing Trump's name was desperate enough to get shut of it that they had bid millions for the right to change the name of the hotel. Read the rest

Desperate Toronto hotelier pays millions to take Trump name off its business

The owners of Toronto's "Trump Hotel" just spent a reported $6M to get out of its deal with Trump and cleanse their property of his hated name; they will probably rebrand it as a "St Regis" hotel instead. Read the rest

Remembering Prisoners of Gravity, the greatest science fiction TV show of all time

From 1989 to 1994, the public broadcaster TV Ontario ran Prisoners of Gravity, a brilliant science fiction TV show that used a goofy framing device (a host trapped in a satellite who interviewed science fiction writers stuck down on Earth) for deep, gnarly, fascinating dives into science fiction's greatest and most fascinating themes, from sex and overpopulation to cyberpunk and religion. Read the rest

A university librarian explains why her zine collection's catalog is open access

Marta Chudolinska is Learning Zone Librarian at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, which hosts a huge zine collection founded in 2007 Alicia Nauta, then a student. Read the rest

Man walks over sidewalk grate just before underground explosion

Mike Armstrong had just walked over a grate in downtown Toronto when this happened:

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The vicious war of succession for the baboons of the Toronto Zoo is finally over

When zookeepers at the Toronto Zoo euthanized Betty, the zoo's 16-year-old baboon-troop matriarch, it touched off a vicious war of succession among the troops female members that saw them mutilating one another in savage combat -- the war was finally settled when zookeepers implanted the warring baboons with estrogen-releasing implants that reduced the viciousness of the fighting. Read the rest

Inspiring ad for a Toronto children's hospital

"Sick isn't weak." Toronto's Hospital for Sick Kids has a perceptual challenge with "sick" in their name, so they created a great new ad called VS. that presents their patients and employees as heroes. Read the rest

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

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

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

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

On the death of Rob Ford

My condolences to his family, who deserved a better person in their lives. Read the rest

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford dead at 46

Rob Ford, the former Toronto mayor famous for political scandals and drug abuse, is dead at 46. He was suffering from pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

In 2013, the Star revealed that Ford had attended a military ball intoxicated and then that a cellphone video apparently showed him smoking crack. That bombshell triggered months of controversy and worldwide headlines as Ford angrily denied, and then finally admitted, abusing drugs and alcohol. Council stripped him of most of his powers. …

In October 2014, following his re-election as councillor and in between chemotherapy treatments, Ford talked to reporters about his legacy. “People know that I saved a lot of money, and people are going to know that I had a few personal struggles,” he said. “So you can remember it for what you want, but they’re definitely going to remember it.”

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Toronto City Council defies mayor, demands open, neutral municipal broadband

After years of fumbling, deference and mismanagement, Canada's telcoms regulator, the CRTC, laid down a landmark net neutrality rule and demanded that Bell, the nationally founded telcoms giant, would have to share its infrastructure with new entrants to the market. Read the rest

To do in Toronto: Create a Rey doll hackathon

Many people have noticed that the female lead character Rey is notably underrepresented in the tsunami of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Read the rest

Menu at Toronto's "Azure" was a work of fictitious fine-dining fraud

Azure is the posh restaurant Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre, where the menu boasts "BC salmon" (which turns out to mean "boned and cleaned" not "British Columbia"), "freshly squeezed" orange juice (comes out of a bottle that boasts that the oranges were freshly squeezed before bottling), and some out-and-out lies, like calling boxed Quaker Harvest Crunch granola "organic granola" and store-bought salad dressing "home made." Read the rest

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