Updates from December, 2022 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:16 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

    This year’s calendar is a collaboration, imagining twelve views of the city with the help of the artificial intelligence Midjourney.

    For now the pages are 11×8½ but I can make them into single 11×17 pages later.

    I could also easily make a calendar with the art and the holidays, but otherwise with blank days rather than history and blog quotations. If you’d like this kind of calendar, just ask me.

    If I use a quote of yours that you’d prefer I didn’t, please let me know and I’ll swap it out.


    • walkerp 09:48 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Whoah November!

      Looks lovely.

    • MarcG 10:24 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      These images are really disturbing and beautiful, nice work! I noticed a small thing: in Feb, the space between ‘last’ and ‘year’ with the allcaps red font isn’t evident.

    • steph 11:13 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      That looks beautiful. Thanks!

    • Ephraim 11:17 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Wow… I’ve finally made it into the calendar. In case you wanted to add it, Grand Prix is 16th to 18th of June this year. Okay, fine… it’s important in my planning calendar, not everyone else’s 🙂

    • Kate 11:37 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Ephraim, I try to put in the major holidays of several traditions. What tradition is Grand Prix a holiday of?

    • M 11:39 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Nicely done, the images came out really good.

      I appreciated seeing some noteworthy historical dates marked which aren’t frequently recalled except in more niche publications.

      The quotes from the blog though were kind of hit or miss. Would much rather you take that space to publish something from your own reflections in maintaining this blog and watching Quebec

    • Kevin 11:45 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      That is absolutely gorgeous, especially the images of Habitat 67 and the one for December.

      I love the quotes and the facts about the city. Brilliant work!

      /Editing hat on: There’s a typo in my quote in May, (probably in my original text) where it say the word change instead of charge.

    • shawn 11:51 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Very interesting. How does the “reimagining” work?

    • Ephraim 12:05 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      @Kate – Those who pray at the altar or dinosaurs and oil… and climate change deniers 😀

    • DeWolf 12:38 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Nice work, Kate!

      Somebody should send the November image to Moshe Safdie. I wonder what he’d think about it.

      October makes Montreal look like the capital of a steampunk theocracy.

    • mare 13:14 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Great work!
      (I don’t have any experience with Midjourney other than seeing some other generated images and their prompts. I’m trying to think what your prompts might have been. Something like ‘a painting of [something] in Montreal, Quebec in the [season], in the style of [someone]’ but they were probably much more detailed. No need to divulge the secret sauce, but the typography for sure wasn’t done by an AI!)

    • PatrickC 13:35 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Lovely ! But that picture of Habitat came as a shock.

    • Kate 14:14 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      mare, the descriptions were not especially wordy, although I had to put “Montreal” in all of them, otherwise the images came out looking too generic. I wanted them all to reflect something about Montreal, if not faithfully.

      The typography is all mine, yes.

      shawn, it’s an AI called Midjourney. It’s a hoot to work with – you soon learn to work around its quirks and limitations.

    • Mark Côté 15:18 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Given a lot of folks here are left-leaning (myself included), I’m a little surprised to not find any comments here about the conversation around the ethics of AI art. I know some artists who are really concerned.

      (Probably obligatory: I am not saying “take this down!”; I just think there are very important societal questions regarding the sudden explosion of powerful AI trained on copyrighted content.)

    • Kate 16:43 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Thanks MarcG and Kevin for corrections.

      Mark Côté: I’m not going to profit by this, though. I suppose it’s a PR gesture from the blog, but I don’t think it gets me new readers. I just like finding a new angle each year and making up the calendar.

    • Tee Owe 17:04 on 2022-12-08 Permalink


    • MarcG 17:11 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      I would love to purchase a print of the Montreal Metro image but it doesn’t seem right.

    • Tim S. 18:12 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Interesting, I kinda wish Montreal looked like some of these pictures. Though there’s also a bit of an odd Victorian nostalgia and Blade Runnerish dystopianism mix which I guess is also reflective of Montreal.

    • Joey 19:34 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Marc – kick it off!

    • Kate 19:51 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      Mark Côté, I’ve been thinking. When I make an illustration of a thing or a place, I start by researching existing images, collecting ones that can serve as reference, and proceed from there. The final piece will be a synthesis of the various views available to me, whether under copyright or not.

      How is what the AI does any different – except that it’s faster?

      Tim S., I know, it’s got kind of a mixture of weird Dickensian urban texture and future grunge. It’s not suitable for everything, but it’s a hell of a nice tool.

    • DeWolf 21:41 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      @Kate It works both ways. I recently interviewed several architects about the potential of AI in their profession, and the answer they gave me is that it’s mainly useful by adding to the mood boards they usually create at the beginning of a project. Apparently architects use a lot of Pinterest and Midjourney is a nice supplement to that.

    • thomas 22:26 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

      My first thought was “if my future is imagined by a computer f- that, I’m not going” but on 2nd thought this looks better than whatever else I had in mind for 2023.

    • Marc R 01:57 on 2022-12-09 Permalink

      reactions to AI-assisted art in 202x have a lot in common with reactions to photograhpical art in 186x; i find it beautiful and surreal (in the literal sense– more than real)

      Kate I salute your courage in deploying this technology to supplement the deeply real and human calendar it illustrates and absolutely love the final product as a piece of art

    • Mark Côté 11:20 on 2022-12-09 Permalink

      There are a couple of dimensions. The fidelity is one thing; even parts of artists’ signatures are ending up in AI-generated art. It’s way beyond just imitatng a style; it’s outright copying.

      There is a comparable legal challenge right now against Copilot, an AI-driven software tool, because license attention is basically impossible. True when you write a simple piece of code that’s been done hundreds of times, attribution would be hard and probably pointless regardless. But give Copilot something more specialized and you get lengthy code snippets stolen right from someone’s open source repo, the license of which may require attribution, amongst other restrictions.

      But the copyright angle may not be the biggest issue. Imitating someone’s style is usually difficult and would therefore be restricted to a relatively small number of talented artists, which means both incidents of outright copying would be lower and easier to trace. AI art completely commodifies this process now. The argument is that it heavily devalues art and artists, far beyond what photography did, which is a very different medium from, say, painting. Is this aspect illegal? Maybe, maybe not. Is it unethical and societally harmful? There’s a strong argument there.

      As usual, the software industry is shrugging and saying “it’s not our problem what people do with this tool we built” while potentially massively disrupting and undermining yet another industry. I’m surprised there aren’t more comparisons to, say, what Uber did to taxis. I can’t help but think that the major difference is that this is fun to play with for the average person, unlike driving a taxi.

  • Kate 21:05 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

    Atlas Obscura has a new piece on Montreal’s outdoor staircases.

    • Kate 18:13 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

      The city owns some older buildings it’s hoping to donate to community groups – presumably with some clauses keeping them out of the open market.

      • Kate 14:38 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

        The rate of Covid in our wastewater has surged since last month. The line climbs off the graph starting a week ago.

        • Blork 18:35 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

          Interesting that reported cases are up too, but not as drastically. I wonder if that’s because fewer people are testing and reporting. RSV and flu are running wild right now, and I know people who have gotten sick and haven’t even bothered testing for COVID, thinking “OK, I’m sick, I’ll be sick for a few days, then I’ll be fine, so who cares if it’s COVID, flu, or RSV?”

          Total side note here, to illustrate part of the reason we’re still in this: someone I know recently had a f2f meeting at work with a client. Client shows up, blows her nose, and says “I’ve got some sniffles, so I’ll put on this mask.” Client wears the mask as they walk to the meeting room THEN TAKES OFF THE MASK and sits through the meeting maskless. This is what we’re dealing with.

        • Kevin 19:21 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

          Last time I checked (3 weeks ago today) the Quebec covid site and others were full of busted links for reporting test results

          Here is the only functional link I could find. https://covid19.quebec.ca/autodeclaration/accueil

        • Chris 22:40 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

          >“OK, I’m sick, I’ll be sick for a few days, then I’ll be fine, so who cares if it’s COVID, flu, or RSV?”

          Indeed, why would you bother testing? 90% of the time treatment is the same: rest, kleenex, tylenol, etc. Sure, it’d be nice to have stats for all these things, but testing cost money, and money is finite.

        • Kate 23:10 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

          Chris, Covid is not like flu or a cold, and it really is worth knowing which you’ve got. Covid doesn’t have the familiar pattern of feeling certain symptoms, having them develop in a predictable way, then fade out. It’s a different disease and many people report being startled by how the symptoms come and go, and how often they feel better for a day or so, then get knocked out by it again for another period of time.

          If you know you have Covid, you will look out for this and make sure you take enough time off to allow for it. Also, you will take better care not to pass it around.

          Yes, you will brush off what I say as anecdotal, but it’s gathered from a lot of reports, media, friends who’ve had it. The experience is different from cold or flu.

        • Chris 00:47 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          >Covid is not like flu or a cold … Covid doesn’t have the familiar pattern of feeling certain symptoms, having them develop in a predictable way, then fade out

          It very often does. For 85% of the dozens of people I know that have had it, including myself, and people in their 80s, it’s been a regular cold. I don’t know a single person that needed a hospital visit. A handful were on their ass, but were fine at home. They were all vaccinated mind you. All bets are off for the unvaccinated fools. Obviously symptoms vary wildly, from literally nothing, to literally death. But for the kinds of people Blork seemed to be describing, that have basic cold-like symptoms, it could easily be RSV, flu, or covid. 5 years ago, you would not have cared to get tested to know if it was RSV or flu, and it’s just as pointless today, 90% of the time. Now, sure, if you have severe symptoms, then a test could be useful to determine better treatment, but if you’ve merely got the sniffles, it doesn’t much matter why.

          >If you know you have Covid…you will take better care not to pass it around.

          No doubt some would, but that’s idiotic. If you have flu or RSV you should stay home too.

        • MarcG 10:30 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          When you visit a doctor now they often ask “Have you had Covid?”. It’s a significant disease which can have long lasting and important effects on many different parts of the body so it’s important to know if you’ve had it or not.

        • Kate 10:37 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          > that’s idiotic

          Thanks, Chris.

        • jeather 11:09 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          Wastewater data link: provinical, federal. I don’t know why they don’t match up.

        • Uatu 11:20 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          If you’re a hospital employee you get tested so that you can be eligible for your salary insurance for your quarantine.

        • Kevin 12:19 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          I know anecdotes are not data, but I’ve heard of plenty of people who had Covid and felt reasonably well until 2 or 4 or 6 weeks later and they suddenly collapsed with *something* whether it was walking pneumonia or debilitating fatigue.

          It sounds kinda like a mononucleosis relapse

        • CE 14:30 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          Now that there are no more benefits for people who have to miss work due to quarantine, many people might want to be willingly ignorant about their condition so they can go into work and not miss a week of pay. Especially if their symptoms are mild.

        • Tee Owe 15:44 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          Kevin – spot on re mononucleosis – I had mono 50 years ago and Covid this year – very similar after-effects, broadly, post-viral or chronic fatigue syndrome, as it was known then

        • Tee Owe 15:59 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          Further to that, reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the cause of mono, has been seen in a number of Covid patients. Most of us have been infected with EBV, whether or not we had mono – it may be similar for Covid, eventually

        • Kate 21:35 on 2022-12-08 Permalink

          Oh that’s nasty, Tee Owe. What about the herpes virus that we all harbour if we’ve had chickenpox? Any sign that Covid can provoke shingles?

        • MarcG 09:23 on 2022-12-09 Permalink

        • Kate 20:56 on 2022-12-09 Permalink

          Oh fucking yikes, MarcG!

        • Chris 09:49 on 2022-12-15 Permalink

          >> that’s idiotic
          >Thanks, Chris.

          In case it wasn’t clear: what I was saying is idiotic is to take care to not pass covid around (by staying home) BUT NOT taking the same care for flu or RSV. You should stay home for all three.

      • Kate 14:03 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

        The city has taken a step to protect Chinatown by barring the construction of any new towers in the area.

        I noticed later that none of these items actually say what the limit is on storeys for new buildings.

        • Kate 10:45 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

          There’s absenteeism of 20 to 30% at the SPVM, which is given as the reason for its chronic high overtime pay.

          • Ephraim 11:43 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

            I do wonder if that rate of absenteeism is because of vaccinations or other jobs. Could it also be a way they are ripping us of, by ensuring that there aren’t enough police so that we have to pay overtime?

            Definitely time to start training a non-police corps to professionally direct traffic… as well as brining in some social workers to go with police. And some non-officers to take reports (or just put the damn PDF fillable files online). It’s time we look at policing differently

          • Em 14:59 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

            Overtime is definitely part of the culture of being a police officer, in my opinion. They tend to count on a lot of it to boost their salaries and I bet they’ll be resistant to changing it.

            However, I would imagine there’s also a lot of stress leave due to the nature of the job. As well as the requirement to be in good physical shape, which probably means the bar for sick leave is likely lower.

          • Ephraim 19:18 on 2022-12-07 Permalink

            There are a few tricks that police forces have been known to use to force overtime. One is to make an arrest close to the end of their shift so that they have to submit paperwork before the end of shift. In order to combat this, some forces require half shift partners. You start at 8AM until 5PM and your partner was from 3PM to 12PM and another from 12PM to 9PM… so they do the paperwork. This was done because prosecutors complained that those last cases were inevitable dropped. In some forces the other way to combat it was the bonus pay that officers were paid related to how many cases were accepted by prosecutors and how many were dismissed and therefore any case that wasn’t prosecuted counted against their bonus and they had an interest in not faking a final arrest/stop of the day.
            There are many websites dedicated to ways that the police fleece the public purse.

        • Kate 10:07 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

          Police are warning of a series of street robberies in which a pair of young guys beats up a random passerby to rob them of phone, money and other valuables. They’ve happened recently in three boroughs, hospitalizing at least one man as described in the piece.

          • Kate 09:59 on 2022-12-07 Permalink | Reply  

            CBC’s headline starts ominously Protests begin but TVA makes it clear there were about 60 people and that the marchers went off to UQÀM or the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal after a brief demo at the Palais.

            L’actualité looks at the difficult negotiations involved as each country tries to pass the hot potato of maintaining biodiversity to someone else.

            Xinhua shows us some photos from the inside (text in English).

            Radio-Canada examines differences of opinion among climate activists. I bet they were very pleased with that headline.

            Metro inquired into what kind of food the conference participants are being offered, and whether the choices are environmentally responsible.

            The Journal is irked at the preponderance of English in the event, and the scarcity of French.

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