Updates from May, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:07 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s pure luck that a concrete slab fell off a building on René-Lévesque at a time when streets are mostly empty. More photos from TVA.

    • Kevin 23:31 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

      So much for Law 122.
      Can we get competent engineers please?

  • Kate 22:05 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

    Aaron Derfel’s thread du jour is a brief one, just a footnote to a piece about how outbreaks may be tapering off in CHSLDs.

    • Kate 17:29 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

      The city is looking at contact-tracing phone apps to track disease transmission.

      • Faiz imam 18:08 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

        I hope they are using the Google/apple tech. I’ve studied it in great detail and its extremely elegant and well made. the tracing itself does not shed any private information. Totally anonymous. I have no issue installing it after having looked into it.

        if its not the google/apple API, its crap. Nothing else has the proper permissions from the OS to transmit at all times, so they have to always be running. Which is not gonna happen.

      • Faiz imam 18:21 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

        Just to clarify, the API runs in the background, it’s used by an app that will be designed and run by a government agency (Montreal, regional, or Quebec).

        That agency could use the app to collect extra information that would be problematic.

        Well have to wait and see, but our health authorities already have a ton of info that they are required to protect, this seems no different.

      • Kate 19:00 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

        Faiz Imam, what do you make of this story?

      • Faiz imam 23:56 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

        LOL, that’s weak.

        Some wider context. Analog/manual contact tracing is basically detective work. Investigators talk to infected people and trace their path over the previous weeks to find other infected as early as possible, to limit the spead of the virus. It’s a time tested method and works very well. Places like korea and germany have thousands of investigators, and they get results.

        Quebec’s “system” is a small extension of the existing manual interview process were you submit the names of people you think you might have infected, which saves the investigators a little bit of time.

        The app based systems such as apple/google are also designed to be an extension of human investigators, but they are much more powerful because they don’t rely on faulty human memories.

        The quebec “system” such as it is, is fine. But its a very basic, simple thing that is not changing the situation much.

      • Raymond Lutz 09:50 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

        Contact tracing apps? Useless. C’est une fausse bonne idée qui m’a séduite aussi en premier lieu mais je citerai simplement cet interview:

        “My problem with contact tracing apps is that they have absolutely no value,” Bruce Schneier, a privacy expert and fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, told BuzzFeed News. “I’m not even talking about the privacy concerns, I mean the efficacy. Does anybody think this will do something useful? … This is just something governments want to do for the hell of it. To me, it’s just techies doing techie things because they don’t know what else to do.” source.

        While beeing on Schneier’s blog, don’t miss “Privacy vs. Surveillance in the Age of COVID-19” Fancy some Canadian content about tech, privacy and covid-19? Google “michael geist covid-19”

      • JaneyB 12:53 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

        Contact tracing apps should have been in place as soon as they shut the city down. There are apps that don’t compromise privacy that have been around for several weeks now eg: https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/safepaths/overview/ Made by MIT/Harvard, it’s also free and open source. It seems to have been designed with the (properly) paranoid American user in mind.

        Apparently only 86% of Canadians have a smartphone. Fine, that’s still 86%. We’ll never have one solution that fits everyone. If we’re feeling ambitious, providing even a junky phone with some data to the other 14% would be less expensive than shutting everything down. Many of those people include the very old and are hopefully being watched by family members or institutions.

      • Chris 18:18 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

        >Contact tracing apps should have been in place as soon as they shut the city down

        No thanks. Some of us don’t want megacorps and/or governments tracking our every move.

      • Faiz imam 20:13 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

        Raymond, I read Bruce’s article when it first came out.

        While I respect him a lot on his area of specialization, its clear that he is no epidemiologist. (Of course neither am I)

        I see his critique as a “perfect being an enemy of the good”. contact tracing(distinct from tracking) is far from fool proof, but its a very powerful tool in the hands of investigators that can make them much more effective. That is a key part of the next phase of re-opening our society. If we loosen isolation procedures, we need to replace that with the most effective track, tracing and testing system possible.

        Brice seems to think these apps would work on their own, with no institutional framework. If that were the case I would agree with him. But that integration is going to be key.

        Chris. That’s a very important point. The apps that are currently out there by China, Singapore and Australia rely on GPS tracking that goes back to a central server. Its absolute worst case scenario for privacy.

        In contrast the google/apple API is totally different. Its “contact tracing”. To use a simple analogy its like a bee visiting flowers. You can examine the bee at the end of the day and know what flowers its visited due to the pollen stuck to it, but you will not get a exact trace of its activity.

        What we need is a list of all the devices a person has been near for a certain period of time. the API gives us that in a totally anonymous way.

        This graphic explains the tech quite well:


      • Raymond Lutz 21:53 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

        Here’s some funnier comics explaining the protocol principles :How Privacy-Friendly Contact Tracing Can Help Stop the Spread of Covid-19. But cute comics don’t make good arguments… be sure to read until the end where some caveats were added by kottke.

      • Faiz imam 00:34 on 2020-05-17 Permalink

        Wow, that comic is fantastic, I’m definitely going to forward it on to others. Much better than any of the others i’ve seen going around.

        The argument about trolling is exactly what I was talking about. The assumption is that this app is working on its own, and all users would have equal authority, like a social network.

        But in fact these apps will be closely managed by health authorities. infection notifications will not be sent by end users, but by medical staff after official confirmation.

        If there is any leakage of information, it must be by the app and apart from the API.

        most of the nations using it that have seen have made the app open source, or at least uber transparent, and have advocated for a privacy first attitude.

        I’m wary of that changing, but at this point it looks like these apps are on the right track.

      • ant6n 18:32 on 2020-05-17 Permalink

        I dunno. I was thinking of considering the contact tracing apps, but after this “discussion” I feel icky about it.

      • Raymond Lutz 12:05 on 2020-06-23 Permalink

        Old thread but pour ceux qui veulent approfondir le sujet (electronic tracing of population) moi j’ai pas le temps: j’ai un chauffe-eau à remplacer. https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=5820 C’est un peu plus développé que la critique ‘agnostique’ de Bruce Schneier du #ContactTracing

    • Kate 17:27 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

      A man was shot in the leg in Villeray on Friday. Cops don’t know who did it or why.

      • Kate 12:58 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

        The city is putting in a lot of temporary bike and pedestrian paths to make summer feel more open and accessible.

        • DeWolf 17:03 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

          Temporary for now, but I’ll bet you that quite a few of these initiatives will eventually be made permanent. For example, the St-Urbain bike lane is being doubled in size and protected from cars, and this is something the Plante administration has been planning to do for years. The pandemic is just a convenient excuse to make some big changes that may otherwise have been implemented more gradually.

        • DeWolf 17:08 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

          Another interesting point from the story: the city will allow restaurants and bars to install extra-large terraces for a $50 fee. I wonder if this will set a precedent for European-style sidewalk terraces rather than the fussy fenced-in ones we have now.

        • david111 13:11 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

          Man, that would be so great. Never waste a good crisis. Hopefully, old school PM surges back and goes crazy. Still time to get that Pink Line study ready to go! Get that project as close to shovel ready as possible, and hound Trudeau like crazy!

        • DeWolf 14:27 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

          I see in today’s Devoir that Lionel Perez is (of course) opposed to the new arrangements. He thinks the corridors sanitaires were enough even though they don’t do anything to provide more space for cyclists. What a small-minded man. I shudder to think of what Montreal would look like if he was mayor. I guess there would be a lot more parking everywhere.

        • Chris 18:20 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

          >Man, that would be so great. Never waste a good crisis.

          I really hope so. This is literally a once in a lifetime excuse to reclaim more space from cars. If even Projet can’t manage that, then that’s quite depressing.

      • Kate 12:55 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

        This morning I took the bus down to Jean-Talon market to buy some seedlings. About half the people on the bus (in both directions) and at the market were wearing masks. Most of the market workers were not masked. As I entered the market I was directed by a security guard to use hand sanitizer, but there was no line; by the time I was done, a line had formed.

        The usual plant dealers were in the market, but some were not allowing people inside to browse. I understand why, although I found it disappointing: it’s nicer to look at all the plants, see new varieties, choose the plants that look liveliest, rather than asking someone else to bring you items off a list.

        Media had said the market folks were only allowing payment by card, but this wasn’t true of the plant dealers, who only wanted cash.

        I noticed a long line to get into Milano as I got on the bus homeward – encumbered with a blue Ikea bag full of plantage – and a shorter line to get into the SAQ nearby.

        On the bus back, an older man turned to me and asked if this bus was taking him to Ville St‑Laurent. Can’t be the first time someone has boarded the 55 bus thinking this, but where normally I’d have suggested he ask the driver what to do next, now we can’t do that, which is a loss. I tried to explain he should stay on the bus till Sauvé and then take the 121 west, but by then I’d reached my stop and I’m not sure he understood my directions.

        • Bussman 15:11 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

          I don’t think the 55 reaches Sauvé. He’d have to take the 53 from Legendre or something like that.

        • CE 16:14 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

          The 55 goes all the way to the back river. It makes a detour at Chabanel to drop workers off at the garment factories then continues back up St-Laurent.

        • Kate 16:44 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

          CE’s right, Bussman. What you say used to be true, but the 53 was phased out a couple of years ago and the 55 now runs all the way with the dip around by Esplanade that CE describes.

      • Kate 10:10 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

        Various roads will be closed for the long weekend.

        • Kate 09:17 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

          Quebec’s youngest COVID-19 fatality so far is a 27-year-old woman whose mother is a nursing aide at Notre-Dame hospital. The mother is in hospital now herself.

          City hall wants to extend the state of emergency till July 2.

          A poll suggests that public transit has lost a lot of traction: people who have the option are more likely to choose to drive from now on.

          • qatzelok 10:46 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            Even your housecat might need to wear a mask. (good luck putting it on)

            Jeffrey St. Clair at Counterpunch: “According to the New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus was detected in three cats after they were housed with cats that had been experimentally inoculated with the virus. Cats may be a silent intermediate host of COVID-19…”


          • DeWolf 11:52 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            I’ll be interested to see how lasting the switch away from public transit will be. Cities are using the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate their plans to encourage active mobility and reduce space for cars, so even if someone says they’d prefer to drive everywhere, they may change their minds when they find there’s less parking than there was before.

          • Kate 12:57 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            qatzelok, “cats that had been experimentally inoculated with the virus.” I don’t think that’s happening around here.

          • Uatu 13:53 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            I’m curious to see the kind of measures adopted to separate riders since the idea of jamming people Japanese train style isn’t advisable in the near future

          • qatzelok 17:36 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            @ Kate: “I don’t think that’s happening around here.”

            Cats travelling back from Spain or Italy might have been innoculated there and could be discreetly spreading infection with every meow or neck rub.

          • Chris 18:24 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

            Will be interesting to see. Covid could be either really good or really bad for public and active transit… Fingers crossed!

        • Kate 08:49 on 2020-05-15 Permalink | Reply  

          CBC talked to Aaron Derfel, who says he was surprised François Legault blamed him for anglos being more concerned about the pandemic. Derfel actually should be wearing this as an accolade: as the saying goes, news is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.

          Rima Elkouri likens Legault’s response to Derfel’s reporting to Trump’s cries of “fake news”.

          Derfel’s Twitter thread from Thursday updates us on the numbers, and gently digs back at Legault, reminding us the premier had withheld CHSLD figures for two weeks. It seems clear that what Legault didn’t like about Derfel’s work was that he’s been keeping the numbers in the public eye at a time the premier was wishing he could keep them quiet.

          Here’s Derfel’s Friday piece on Legault and the CHSLDs.

          It seems to me if Legault wants to throw some serious shade, he should be reminding us that his government is coping with fallout from the austerity measures brought in by Couillard and Barrette. It’s come up, but it’s much more cromulent than hitting out at a journalist doing his job.

          • Daniel 10:15 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            Pointing a finger at a journalist seems like — if nothing else — a tactical error on Legault’s part, perhaps born out of frustration with a situation that’s out of control. It seems tantamount to an admission of incompetence, i.e., if you have to blame “the media” (and turn it into a language issue, to boot) you’re not doing so hot.

            I’ve watched in horror as the pandemic plays out as a political issue in the States. And, as is perhaps predictable enough, I’m wincing as it takes on shades of a language issue in Quebec.

          • Douglas 15:22 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            That reporter has been reporting like the sky is falling and I am of the impression he thinks we should shut down until 2021.

            The wheels are turning for a re-open. As long as the momentum is building to re-open that reporters opinions or reporting doesn’t matter

          • walkerp 20:32 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            You did see that schools in Montreal are now closed through September? That wheel seems to have stopped turning, Douglas.

          • Kate 22:33 on 2020-05-15 Permalink

            Douglas is unable to take in that the facts (as Derfel has been reporting them) are not amenable to human wishes. We can’t make the virus go away by waving our hands and pretending it’s not there.

            Every so often I think about King Canute.

          • Kevin 13:03 on 2020-05-16 Permalink

            King Canute was an awesome troll, surrounded by idiots.

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