Updates from January, 2023 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 20:27 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

    Effluent from some source in the airport was spotted in a waterway that flows into the river, angering the mayor of Dorval. He and Lachine borough both want the airport to be required to have its own filtration station to protect the river.

    • Kate 20:22 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

      Some fans were livid, enough to go picket the New York offices of Rolling Stone over the omission of Céline Dion from its recent list of the 200 greatest singers. The presence of Julie Snyder was even noted by the magazine.

      • Kate 19:38 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

        It will come as no surprise to anyone relying on buses to get around that the STM’s “10 minutes max” promise – originally applicable to 31 routes but lately observed only by eightis being officially abandoned as of Monday.

        • Kate 19:34 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

          Étémé Lebogo, a Black woman hired to grade papers for a course on Black feminism at UQÀM, found herself faced with racist expressions in the papers she was grading, and has been awarded $4000 by an arbitrator. It’s a complex story which also touches on claims that the woman was accused of grading harshly and of being “de l’école française”, the implications of which I’m not certain about. I’m expecting to see a backlash to this story in Saturday’s Journal columns.

          • azrhey 20:26 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            ha! having done both i can answer that! French system counts for content as well as form, and you loose points for “bad french” : orthographe, grammaire, syntaxe, but also niveau pauvre, incohérence de registre, etc. and you keep loosing points for the entire text. so you can have outstanding ideas, if the language is not good enough for he academic level required you can fail your exam/paper. Quebecois teachers tend to be more lenient, and give 10-25% max for quality of language and sometimes stop even correcting mistakes after the second page.
            So you end up with student graduating from university that write at 5-6th grade levels… Which is better, which is worse, I’ll let you decide.

          • jeather 21:46 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            Is it unusual to tutoie the TA for your class?

            I’m also curious about how that final exam was set.

          • dhomas 21:47 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            Another way of looking at it is that when a student is being evaluated for content and how they develop their ideas (structure), this is the main focus of the evaluation. If their ideas and how they develop them are good, should they end up with a zero grade because their spelling is bad (keeping in mind that it’s not the focus of the evaluation).
            When they are being evaluated for grammaire and orthographe, this is a separate topic and it’s evaluated separately.
            My wife is a French teacher and the parents of her French-from-France students complain that she doesn’t deduct marks for every spelling mistake (as they do in France).

          • Ephraim 21:58 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            From someone who went to university in two different languages, neither of which were my mother tongue, I can say for certain that marking errors in language are stupid. Yes, you should correct it, so that the student learns. No, it shouldn’t count against them, unless the course is specifically about language. What is the point of losing 20% of your mark in a course on sociology, history or even political science if it’s not on subject… and, as in my case, the knowledge is still there and I’m not using it in either language.

            UQAM is well known for counting spelling errors, but the same is not true of all Quebec Francophone universities and programs. Especially considering that I went through a program in French specifically aimed for my job in English in Quebec. Yes, I wrote my work in French and yes, the professor corrected my errors, no they didn’t count them against me. And yes, all my coursework was in French.

          • Kate 01:57 on 2023-01-07 Permalink

            Thanks for the explanations, folks. I thought it might be something like that, but I wasn’t sure.

            jeather, reading between the lines, given that the course lecturer seemed to be at odds with the grader, it almost sounded like the lecturer set up the situation where the grader would be forced to read list after list of derogatory words used about Black women. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

          • Tim S. 14:20 on 2023-01-07 Permalink

            It’s really too bad this got this far. The TA/marker student relationship is fraught on both sides, and speaking as someone who faced a couple of angry mobs in my time, it takes time to get a feel for these situations. It’s especially difficult because the marker doesn’t always have the chance to convey their expectations before the assignment.

            A couple of points:

            “Mme Étémé Lebogo, une femme noire, a été choisie comme correctrice par la chargée de cours.” It would have been really nice to be informed, for her own professional dignity, of her actual qualifications.

            “Plusieurs copies contenaient des réponses « épousant les stéréotypes coloniaux », a assuré la correctrice.” Keep in mind that these were written by students who chose to take a course entitled “Introduction au féminisme noir.” Whether this says something about the students or the TA’s expectations, I don’t know, but it’s pretty striking.

            Finally, it’s very weird that the university is responsible for the students’ exam answers. Students will write crazy stuff, it’s the nature of the job to deal with it, and why it’s sometimes helpful to be a bit personally detached from the subject matter.

            Overall, whatever the rights and wrongs, this woman is about to get a lot of attention, probably mostly negative, for a pretty common situation.

          • jeather 15:15 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

            Nothing up in SOQUIJ yet. Super curious to read the decision.

            I also got the impression that there was some kind of deliberation about setting the exam in order to upset the TA. It might have been a reasonable question to set, but you can’t just force that on your TA/grader (as opposed to marking them yourself).

            I still am fascinated that you’d be expected to vouvoie a TA. Is this common in French universities, or UQAM specifically, or is it (not incorrectly) that the TA felt she would not be respected otherwise (it’s not uncommon for white men to go by first names in English universities where WOC go by Dr/Prof last name)?

          • Kate 22:42 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

            jeather, the article says it was a decision by a labour arbitrator. Would that go onto SOQUIJ like a court verdict?

          • jeather 01:06 on 2023-01-09 Permalink

            I assumed they meant tribunal administratif du travail which does.

        • Kate 19:03 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

          Half a year ago I posted about a RISC study about Covid. I requested a kit, took the required blood sample and sent it off.

          It took awhile. But the result says I never had Covid. Whatever I caught in February 2020, it wasn’t SARS-CoV-2, and given I haven’t been sick since the time I did the test, I can assume I’m one of the shrinking pool of people who hasn’t had Covid. (I’ve also gone for nearly three years with no colds or other upper respiratory viruses. Silver lining there.)

          The results also say I had, at least at that point, antibodies from the vaccine. And I’ve had one booster since sending the sample, although it sounds like XBB 1.5 gets around the old antibodies, so let’s hope they can update the vaccines and give us another round.

          • Blork 22:20 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            I recently had an appointment with one of my doctors, who I haven’t seen for a year, and when I told him I’ve never had COVID he went “whaaaa?” and looked at me as if I had told him I no longer need oxygen to survive, or I haven’t had a bowel movement since the 1990s. Shrinking pool indeed.

          • GC 23:52 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            I’m not aware that I’ve had it yet, either. I’m thinking that maybe I’ve had an asymptomatic version, just because it’s statistically likely…but no concrete evidence that it’s actually happened.

            The one time during the Pandemic that I had symptoms, I took a PCR test and it was negative.

          • DeWolf 03:32 on 2023-01-07 Permalink

            XBB is still Omicron, so either of the current bivalent vaccines should be fine. (Although I speak with experience in saying that eventually they won’t prevent infection – I got Covid two months after each of my boosters, but with minimal illness and no lingering effects as far as I can tell.)

          • MarcG 11:23 on 2023-01-07 Permalink

            Only 31% of Quebec adults have had a Covid vaccine in the past 5 months. Given that vaccination is the core of our public health strategy, I would call this campaign a massive failure.

          • jeather 15:19 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

            As of June I also hadn’t had covid; as far as I know, I haven’t had it since. My last vaccine was end of September, so I assume I’ll be up again in late Feb — I haven’t seen details about what they intend about access to a sixth (i think) shot.

            Calling XBB Omicron or not is a mostly political choice by the WHO and not proof about how similar or dissimilar any variant is to the original omicron variant (iirc omicron has many more changes than original covid through to delta).

          • MarcG 21:58 on 2023-01-08 Permalink

        • Kate 18:06 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

          In November it was announced that the city would revive the Parc des Gorilles, a small forested area in the once obscure Mile Ex area (aka Marconi‑Alexandra), razed and gravelled over by the landowner ten years ago. La Presse looks at the citizen efforts that finally reversed that decision.

        • Kate 10:20 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

          Hot take from the Gazette: the city owns vehicles. And “critics say” they shouldn’t?

          • Ephraim 12:30 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            The point they are trying to make is that the city is telling everyone… use public transit and yet, in the boroughs where they have the most public transit, not only aren’t they using public transit, they have increased the number of cars that they are using. (While boroughs that don’t seem to be using less cars) And yet the data is not presented per capita or per citizen/km2, which might be more relevant

            The question I have is methodology. For example, why are there more cars and what are they used for. For example, you can’t replace a car with public transit when it comes to patrolling for parking tickets. And you can’t replace a car with public transit when goods have to be moved from one location to another. So how many cars are patrolling illegal parking out in RDP versus the Plateau and Ville-Marie. And in Ville-Marie, you have lower numbers of people living there as the numbers don’t really represent those who work downtown and/or those in hotel rooms where are occupied high percentages of the year.

            Which leads to even more questions… for example, when you have a supervisor who has to go to a location, would it be cheaper in the long run to actually use public transit (even if that public transit is a taxi/uber) and of course, my personal bugaboo… the cost of the parking spot for that car, which could be used by citizens and earn money by having a parking meter…. yes, that should be calculated into the costs of running the car, not just fuel and maintenance.

          • DeWolf 12:37 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            What a weird piece. It seems targeted at “war on cars” people who think that anyone who promotes public transit and alternative mobility actually wants to ban all cars and force everyone to ride bicycles, and if they ever use a car themselves they’re a hypocrite. Basically the Facebook trolls who think they’re pulling a real gotcha when they point out that Valérie Plante has an official car that takes her around to work functions.

            “Critics” in this case appears to be Peter Trent, so take that for what it’s worth. He says “every car takes up space and it causes problems for other cars and traffic,” which is absolutely true. But if we’re going to be casting stones, Trent didn’t do anything in his long political career to reduce car dependency.

            There are a lot of numbers in this article but no mention that if the city somehow managed to get rid of all 3608 of its cars, vans and pickups, there would still be 1 million private vehicles on the island of Montreal.

          • DeWolf 12:43 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            @Ephraim, the piece has a lot of holes in its data analysis. It notes that RPP and the Plateau have more cars than other boroughs, but they also have a larger population than most other boroughs. And it doesn’t explain what those cars are being used for.

            I think ultimately there’s a good case to be made that the city should be making more of an effort to eliminate all unnecessary car use among its own employees. Parking enforcement is a good example because I’m always surprised to see the inspectors driving around places like the Plateau when it would be much more efficient for them to walk. (I have seen parking inspectors on bikes, but rarely.) I’d like to know why that is, whether anyone has proposed getting parking inspectors out of their cars, and if they have, whether there was any pushback from employees or their union. But the piece doesn’t go into any details like that.

            The broader point about the city being hypocritical is nonsense. Cars are useful. They are sometimes necessary. But trying to build a city that isn’t completely monopolized by cars does not require someone to turn into some kind of transport vegan who eschews automotive transport at all costs.

          • Blork 12:53 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            Yeah, that piece doesn’t seem to know what its trying to say. The only noteworthy bit I found is that the small cars in Rosemount average something like 4400 km a year, which is very little. It seems like that’s a place where they have more cars than they need, although the article doesn’t get into usage patterns. For example, are those cars rarely used, but when they are used they’re all used at the same time?

            If not, then they could easily have fewer of them, and if there’s no car available when a supervisor has to go check on a site then they can take a goddamn Uber!

            Otherwise, it reads the way DeWolf describes, like FB trolls yelling at clouds. It’s like criticizing the police for wanting fewer guns on the street. “But YOU have a gun. Hypocrite!” FFS!

          • bumper carz 14:28 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            One side-effect of municipal car-generosity… Two years ago, I watched in horror as a water-truck (camion cisterne) parked on a new bike path in Vaudreuil in order to water a small tree. There was lots of room in the parking lot next to it. The bike path was ruined by the weight of the vehicle, and was patched last summer. It took less then two minutes to destroy the bike path with a heavy truck.

            This is not an isolated case. By making large trucks available to staff for things that don’t require it, cities are destroying a lot of their own infrastruture. Young guys in city-logo pickups “don’t know=don’t care” that bike paths and walkways weren’t designed to withstand these giant machines.

          • jeather 17:09 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            I also had no idea a bike path would not be able to hold a truck, I assumed it could do whatever the street next to it could, as it generally used to be part of that street.

          • bumper carz 23:04 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            jeather, if the bike lane is simply part of a city street, it can definitely hold a car or truck. But bike paths that go through forests, on lawns, through parks, etc. usually don’t have the same structure because they aren’t supposed to be carrying thousands of kgs.

        • Kate 10:15 on 2023-01-06 Permalink | Reply  

          A McGill researcher has followed people who were in utero during the ice storm, to discover how much influence the mother’s experience would have on their development. And it’s quite a lot.

          La Presse also talked with four people who had key roles throughout the crisis.

          Global looks at how the ice storm led to better disaster preparedness in Quebec.

          The Journal talked to people with bad memories of that time.

          There’s a retrospective on the BAnQ site.

          • PatrickC 10:46 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            Curious how the CBC article seems to softpedal the problems whereas La Presse makes them sound quite serious.

          • Kate 11:39 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            Talking to people who held responsible public jobs is bound to bring up the more serious angles of the time. There were moments when it felt like everything was going to go sideways in a way we’d never experienced here.

            The closest I’ve felt to the depths of the ice storm was around mid‑March to mid‑April 2020, when we didn’t know yet how serious Covid would be or how hard the pandemic would hit us.

            And yet both times, it was also sort of exciting. Something actually happening! I’ve never been sure whether this reaction is normal, or a bit sociopathic…

          • Ephraim 12:17 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            In the book Super Freakonomics they discuss how fetuses in utero are affected by Ramadan and in particular those conceived or in their first month of development when the mother fasts during the day. They also discuss the effects of the Spanish Flu and the development of fetuses and the medical effects for the rest of their lives. No doubt that the same will be true of those fetuses born during the pandemic. What we don’t yet know is if the effect will rebound and of course if the vaccination will in fact make their more resistant over time. As usual there are known knowns, known unknowns and of course unknown unknowns… which we obviously can’t even guess at, because well… we don’t know that we don’t know them, yet. 🙂

          • Tim S. 12:32 on 2023-01-06 Permalink

            My grandmother was bombed during WWII while 8 months pregnant with my mother, and to her dying day attributed aspects of my mother’s personality to that experience. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but an idea that’s always been part of family lore.

            @Kate: yes, the Ice Storm really prepared me for the pandemic. I remember chatting to some non-local neighbours a few days before things really got serious (early March), and they were feeling a bit weird about stocking up on groceries. Having memories of wandering empty grocery store aisles with a flashlight, I didn’t feel weird at all.

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