Updates from April, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 17:07 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

    The city announced plans to cut spending to offset revenue lost because of the pandemic – what’s the relevance of Donald Trump’s image on this story, CTV? – along with freezing employee salaries. The city is losing fees, taxes and fines, along with a big drop in transit revenue; Radio-Canada cites $123M in cuts, CTV says it will be between $93M and $281M, depending how things go.

    • Kate 16:58 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

      Even while closed, three bars have been targeted by arson attacks this week, two of which belong to the same owners.

      • Kate 12:54 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

        Local news has narrowed down to the one topic, which although interesting, gets a bit one-note after a point. So this post is about a couple of things I’ve been noticing.

        I was struck by the response to this Twitter thread which began with a posting from CBC news: “Speculation about motive in mass shootings could encourage copycats, some psychiatrists suggest.” It’s a fairly mild-mannered backgrounder on the Nova Scotia shootings, but the response is scorching. People are claiming a) it’s communist propaganda, b) it’s fake news, c) it’s a coverup, d) CBC takes orders directly from Justin Trudeau. Cries of “I am tired of EXPERTS!!!” and Who are these “experts”?????? (Multiple punctuation is never a good sign.)

        Speaking of Trudeau, despite his apparent popularity in the polls, any thread regarding him soon turns into a hate fest. He’s accused of groping schoolgirls – even, according to one tweet, murdering some of them. This is led to some extent by media like the Toronto Sun: Liberal Party has morphed into a cult – the comments when this was tweeted are a litany of accusations, threats and anger.

        I wonder who these people are who think Trudeau has “ruined Canada” and so forth. How many of those Twitter accounts are bots, how many are sockpuppets? And why the extreme, inflammatory rhetoric? It should be possible to criticize aspects of government actions without rushing to the extremes of despair and depravity that I’ve been seeing. But most tweets are on the extreme end like this.

        The other thread is a different topic. This week, Trudeau announced money for charities. This was reported in the anglo media but hardly a peep on the francophone side. This seems to fall in with Quebec’s tendency to rely less on charities, and in this sense, I’m a true Quebecer. Charity is a sickly word that implies condescension. A society that functions properly for all its members should not need charity at all, although I see that charities fulfill needs in some niches in our society right now. But we should all work toward making them obsolete.

        • walkerp 13:15 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

          I will waste a few minutes going through and testing a lot of those accounts and while I have very little aggregate data, I am pretty sure most of them are from bot farms and fake accounts, with a few old men angry at clouds from Alberta to keep it real. No real human spends their entire feed just retweeting angry Justin conspiracy theorists. Twitter is a real cesspool.

          Where do they come from? I can only speculate. I think they must be an offshoot of the same teams working to plant destabilizing propaganda in the west in general and they have a special focus on Canada. It is possible as well that some of them are homegrown, coming from Ezra Levant and the criminals that orbit around him.

          The other thing that happens is that one troll gets on quick probably via an automated system, then a bunch of real users react quickly to his lies, which pushes the post to the top of the responses. So you end up seeing way more propaganda at the beginning of a thread. Scroll down a bit and you start to see much more human responses.

          What I do is report the tweet to Twitter.

          Simply click on the drop-down arrow on the upper-right hand of the tweet
          Select Report Tweet
          From the next screen, select “It’s suspicious or spam”
          From the next screen, select “The account tweeting this is fake.”
          Then Block or Mute as is your fancy and click on Done.

          Twitter wants the traffic, so they do not really try to block these bots, but the more reports they get the more they will have to deal with them.

        • Tim S. 13:16 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

          Well, we know that social media engagement is driven by emotion, and that it’s deliberately structured to push people towards like-minded opinions, mostly by focusing on and demonizing an other. Mindf*ck by Christopher Wylie, about Cambridge Analytica, is really, really good at explaining this. I’m close to people whose social media feeds seem to get darker and darker, and while I can handle ideological differences, it’s the mood changes – the anger and contempt – that develop after 30 minutes of scrolling that really disturb me.

        • John B 09:16 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

          There’s a baseline of people who really hate Trudeau for a few reasons, especially in the west. Many, (maybe all), are at least partly because he’s Pierre Trudeau’s son. Reasons I have heard in real life are:

          1) He’s doing a National Energy Policy 2.0. Trudeau Sr’s National Energy Policy basically started Western Alienation, and made almost the entire west hate him.

          2) Trudeau Sr’s concept of multiculturalism, (vs the melting pot model in the US), is going to destroy Canada. Junior’s embrace of it, and of refugees & irregular border crossings drives this crowd nuts.

          Western Alienation is a real thing. It helped to have a Prime Minister from Calgary, but in the current situation basically the whole government is from Ontario & Quebec, and it’s really frustrating for westerners to have rules, that don’t align with their beliefs, dictated to them from a place that’s a week’s drive away. Combine that frustration with Twitter, and/or Rebel, and we end up with the kind of comments you’re seeing.

          I haven’t heard it in real life, but I bet there’s a big group here in Quebec that hate Trudeau because his father rolled out the army in the streets of Montreal.

          On a personal note Trudeau doesn’t some across as authentic. Anytime he speaks it seems way to smooth and prepared, to the point of being greasy. Not being able to see the real person that must be behind the show doesn’t help people see him as a human, and I imagine it’s easier to attack an idea that people don’t like, (the super-polished son of Pierre Trudeau), than a real person.

        • JaneyB 13:08 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

          Can concur. I’m from out West. Indeed, fury about the NEP and bilingualism is still very alive. Even metrification can be still enraging. ‘Toronto style multiculturalism’ (sanctimonious as opposed the century-old non-Franco, non-Anglo melting pot of the Prairies) is disliked as simple grandstanding – a cultural no-no for the most part in that region. JT sounds stagey and fake to most people though he considered genial (unlike PET who was smart, cagey, and confrontational). Even with all that though, the tweets mentioned above don’t ring true at all. The anti-Trudeau sentiment out West is normally terse and curmudgeonly and never shrill or conspiratorial. Levant is an outlier, succour to random cranks only; the Sun is not bought for news. Those Twitter accounts, Globe comments etc are almost entirely bots. No question.

        • walkerp 14:15 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

          “The anti-Trudeau sentiment out West is normally terse and curmudgeonly and never shrill or conspiratorial.”
          Yes, very well put. Excellent bot litmus test as well. 🙂

        • dwgs 21:49 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

          I’m pretty solidly left, a child of NDP voting school teacher and a blue collar father and even I have little time for JT. The man is an empty vessel.

        • Chris 00:01 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

          >I’m pretty solidly left … and even I have little time for JT

          I don’t see any contradiction there. The Liberals are hardly a Left party!

        • dwgs 08:35 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

          True enough, Liberals of today are probably roughly equivalent to the PC of my youth. I like a political leader who has had to deal with some personal adversity in their life, whose character has been forged by some hardship. I don’t see a lot of that when I look around these days.

        • GC 08:38 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

          You can also support a party’s platform and, at the same time, not think much of its leader. A distinction that seems to be lost on many of our neighbours to the south.

      • Kate 10:13 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

        Over the next few days, metro stations will be equipped with contactless hand-sanitizer dispensers.

        • Kate 10:02 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

          It’s a little dizzying to read on the one hand La COVID-19 frappe fort dans le Grand Montréal, Sacre-Coeur cancer patient dies of COVID-19, Un centre pour déficients intellectuels entièrement infecté par le coronavirus, Taux de mortalité quatre fois plus élevé à Montréal qu’à Toronto and on the other Legault says he wants to gradually reopen Quebec – while still calling for more support from the armed forces.

          Well, we’ve seen this debate already in the comments on the blog, and it’s playing out around the world. But it’s a roll of the dice given we don’t know enough yet about immunity to the coronavirus, whether everyone who’s exposed to the virus is immune afterwards, and if so, for how long.

          • Chris 10:29 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            It’s a roll of the dice either way.

          • JaneyB 10:56 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            We won’t know those things for probably another 18 months at least. We will continue to have scattered glimpses of factors, immunity, vulnerabilities etc so that’s all we have to rely on. Only experts will be able to make sense of those. We see chaos, they see probabilities and trends.

            The rate of growth (of infections as known through tests) has been about 5% per day for about 10 days now, and that’s with a focus on testing health institution workers and patients. It was 30% per day around the beginning of the lockdown, with testing focused on travellers. Also 80% of confirmed deaths have been in seniors’ residences. Lots of sickness still but the growth decrease and case concentration is why there is talk of gradual, limited opening – with the distancing measures, of course.

            I read somewhere (maybe here?) that Montreal normally has 3x the flu rate of Toronto so that sounds like there is a cultural component to our rates.

          • DeWolf 12:46 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            Public health authorities all say we’re at the peak, and I guess this is what the peak looks like. I doubt the headlines will be as scary in a few weeks. Besides, it sounds like the de-confinement will be extremely gradual. Legault is talking about starting from the less affected regions and working towards Montreal. I bet we’ll see baby steps in early May but no big change in restrictions until the end of the month or even the beginning of June.

          • David2200 16:20 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            Based on very early antibody testing out of NYC today, their health dept estimates possibly a million people in their city have been infected, putting the mortality rate at approximately 1/10 of 1%.

          • mare 18:43 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            @ David2200
            No it isn’t 1/10 of 1%
            This puts the NY State fatality rate around 1% and not 10% as current data of confirmed cases vs deaths

            Also these tests are skewed for many reasons
            • testing kits have large false results
            • they tested supermarket shoppers (so people who where outside among other people and are more at risk to get infected)
            • they excluded people under 18 for consent reasons
            • mostly suburban population
            • no old and at risk people (who stay home and aren’t infected)

            More from
            Ashish Jha, Director, of the Harvard Global Health Institute


          • david701 19:30 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            That guy clearly knows his stuff, but there’s a bunch of other twitter experts explaining that their stratified sampling method is leading to gaps that mean we don’t have enough info, but should make us feel pretty optimistic. At any rate, we’ll know more as the data continue to roll in. The 0.1% rate was mentioned by a New York City health official. Just like the 0.1-0.2% range was mentioned by a Los Angeles health official. It’s not like they know less than the people on twitter or Montreal.

            More interesting data show that pretty much everyone who croaks has a co-morbidity. https://time.com/5825485/coronavirus-risk-factors/

            This might go part of the way to explaining why ventilators won’t save us, if we’re that far gone: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/22/health/coronavirus-ventilator-patients-die/index.html

          • Kevin 19:36 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            Sweden has retracted its plan, saying it was based on terribly mistaken assumptions about infection rates and antibodies. https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidnikel/2020/04/22/sweden-health-agency-withdraws-controversial-coronavirus-report/#7d1730043494

          • Raymond Lutz 21:23 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

            “Public health authorities all say we’re at the peak” ??? Who’s saying that? As wrote JaneyB, Quebec cases are growing steadily by 5% EACH DAY SINCE TWO WEAKS! AB, ON, BC are on a perfectly exponential course too! see canadian trends plots. FYI, doubling period in days = log(2)/log(1.05) if daily growth is 5%

          • JaneyB 13:03 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            Growing 5% per day is a decrease from growing 30% per day. That means we’ve passed the peak and are on the downside. In this exponential world, growth is not incompatible with decrease. If we can get to say 2% per day for the next year, that would be great – for the crisis management of the healthcare system, which was always the primary goal. We will be reaching an infection rate of 70% of the population one way or another so that will not be a good experience for individuals and families. A vaccine would be wonderful – a full year or more from now – but it might not even be possible or it might only work for one season. Frustrating.

          • Raymond Lutz 17:16 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            “in this exponential world, growth is not incompatible with decrease” JaneyB, did you check my graph? Semi-log plot for Québec has been a STRAIGHT LINE for the last 19 days. “We will be reaching an infection rate of 70% of the population one way or another” Wow.. this is a lot… Your source? I rather found “Coronavirus ‘could infect 60% of global population if unchecked” (Guardian)

            “Growing 5% per day is a decrease from growing 30% per day” Meh… 30% lasted about 2 days. Time derivative is quite noisy so I hacked this fit: daily growth with exponential fit.

        • Kate 09:05 on 2020-04-23 Permalink | Reply  

          Folks, I’m putting the ads back for the moment. At least, the code is back and the ads should populate soon.

          I’ve been of two minds about it, but this blog ought to at least be able to pay its own bills, and with the ads, it does.

          • CE 09:09 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            I’m curious about the ads, do you get paid just for clicks or does an action have to be taken after the click? One thing I like about the ads is that I can funnel small amounts of condo developers’ marketing budgets into your blog.

          • Kate 09:23 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            CE, it’s not so easy to figure out, because it depends what the advertiser has bid. Some pay for impressions (simply having the ad present and visible), some for clicks.

          • Dhomas 10:22 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            I’m perfectly fine supporting the blog with ads (I even turned off my Adblocker for this site). You put in a lot of work on this site. It should at the very least pay for itself.

          • Tee Owe 12:30 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            I’m fine with ads

          • Kate 14:13 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            Thank you both.

          • dwgs 17:13 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            Turned off adblocker, I’m okay with putting up with ads but I think they need to work on their algorhythms, all I see ads for are 3 things that I already purchased this month.

          • Kate 17:22 on 2020-04-23 Permalink

            dwgs, I wish I had finer control over what they show, but that’s the kind of algorithmic thinking I’ve seen too, here as everywhere else.

            That said, if you or anyone starts seeing ads that are offensive in any sense, please grab a screenshot and let me know. I can rule out specific advertisers.

          • dwgs 07:24 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

            The content of them doesn’t bother me, I was just having a laugh at how two of the companies (MEC and Hockey Supremacy) are pushing me to buy shoes and skates, both of which I already purchased from those two companies recently. Seems like a waste of effort at this point.

          • JoeNotCharles 17:45 on 2020-04-24 Permalink

            If anyone sees ads that they don’t want to see, but isn’t offensive enough to report to Kate, you can block that specific ad with the “X” in the top right corner. (And hopefully the algorithm will learn not to show you similar ads.)

          • Tim F 10:55 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            I’m fine with ads, but because I use an RSS reader I only see them if I click to see the comments. Did you come to a conclusion about other fundraising? I’d be happy to contribute on Patreon. No pressure but I’d like to do my part.

          • EmilyG 21:31 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            I keep getting one about earwax. It’s disgusting. I thought I’d hidden that ad, but I guess not. If I see it again, I can try other methods to hide it.

          • EmilyG 21:33 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            I do think the ads are good in general. I just really don’t like that particular one.

          • Kate 21:38 on 2020-04-25 Permalink

            Nor do I, Emily. I’ll see what I can do.

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