Updates from February, 2023 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:06 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

    Doing a few errands in the neighbourhood, everyone was talking about the cold snap, getting in supplies for a few days. The city is putting up warming stations – the item says one opened “on Tuesday in the Ville-Marie borough and a second one will open on Thursday in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough” which is useless information as it stands, but I can’t find anything more precise in the news.

    Hydro-Quebec expects record demands Friday and Saturday.

    • Clément 22:04 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      Apparently, they don’t want to make the locations of the extra sites public. They want the homeless population to go to their usual spots where, if full, they will be redirected to the temporary sites. In other words, make sure the existing resources are put to full use before using the additional resources.

      At least, that’s the reason given here in Quebec City.

    • Kate 22:32 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      Hi Clément!

      Yes, there was some indirect reference there: “Montreal police and members of the Équipe mobile de médiation en intervention sociale will be mobilized “to accompany people on the street to the appropriate shelter services,” according to the city.”

  • Kate 19:00 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

    Ricova and Société VIA held pressers this week to emphasize that their recycling methods are improving and they’re producing less contaminated paper, which should eventually pay off for the city.

    • shawn 19:24 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      That’s great to read. I hope the St-Michel facility is doing as well, so I’m not just wasting my time.

    • Kate 21:08 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      I know. I sometimes feel like I’m recycling as an offering to some deity that doesn’t exist.

    • GC 23:33 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      Me, too. I keep going through the motions, but realizing it’s maybe not doing any good.

    • shawn 12:43 on 2023-02-03 Permalink

      On the other hand, if you’re reading this blog post in the western part of the island, this is fantastic news and proof that even those plastic bags that you’re bundling up are getting recycled, it seems.

    • shawn 12:00 on 2023-02-04 Permalink

      Here it is: Ricova claiming at its Saint-Michel recycling plant is doing better too:

      “Ricova said its contamination rate is two per cent at its Saint-Michel recycling plant, down from 35 per cent when it took over the facility in August 2020. Ricova attributed its $6-million investment in modernizing the facility’s optical sorters.”

      Of course, Ricova is dealing with a ban on bidding for new contracts due to past malfeasance. Not sure if we should believe them.

    • shawn 12:00 on 2023-02-04 Permalink

  • Kate 15:40 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

    The Journal gives us an infographic on the polar vortex.

    It’s not from an AI. This is what a polar vortex infographic looks like, made by an AI:

    • EmilyG 15:59 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      I tried giving a prompt to a text AI : Write a review for Le Nouveau Duluth in the style of MTLBlog.
      The result I got was much too coherent and literate to be from MTLBlog.

    • GC 17:53 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      That’s awesome, EmilyG.

  • Kate 15:02 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

    Workers at the Grande Bibliothèque are preparing to strike mid‑month, after three years of no new contract.

    • Margaret 09:38 on 2023-02-03 Permalink

      Please settle this contract, PTB!!!!! The Grand Bib is like food, water…oxygen! to me. There is also a great new exhibition : “Plongez dans l’exposition «Vues du fleuve»
      BAnQ et Loto-Québec s’unissent pour présenter l’exposition Vues du fleuve, un parcours illustré et sonore sur le fleuve Saint-Laurent. Portée par le duo mère-fille Manon Barbeau et Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, Vues du fleuve présente 36 estampes ainsi qu’un dialogue original, intime et émouvant écrit et narré par les créatrices.” – https://www.banq.qc.ca/exposition-vues-du-fleuve/

    • Kate 19:33 on 2023-02-03 Permalink

      Thank you, Margaret.

      The library used to put up occasionally interesting exhibits in the gallery below street level, but the last I heard, they were forced to discontinue them because of budget cuts. It looks like this one is in a different location.

    • Margaret 10:20 on 2023-02-04 Permalink

      Yes, it is on the 2nd floor, along the windowed corridor behind Services Quebec. It is in a space I wasn’t familiar with and it has great light for just this sort of thing. The soundscape is done with devices reminiscent of the “cone of silence” used by Max Smart and The Chief on ‘Get Smart’. Very effective! And well worth a visit. I was glad to see the GBib was offering warm shelter and hot drinks to those in need yesterday.

  • Kate 12:49 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

    A La Presse editorialist makes a plea for development of Blue Bonnets, which has lain fallow through three different mayors so far.

    • Kate 11:51 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

      Barron’s, not a source I’ve linked before, has an AFP piece about how Montreal’s snow clearance is efficient but bad for the environment, truck emissions and road salt both doing damage.

      • jeather 12:04 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        “As a substitute, “we tried coffee grinds, it smelled good, but it was not a success,” Sabourin added.

        Beetroot juice has also been tried, which is less corrosive than salt, “but it stained floors a lot, people were not happy,” he said.”

        Who knew.

      • carswell 12:11 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        They’re not wrong but I do take issue with the following: “Some 3,000 employees and 2,200 vehicles go into action day and night every time it snows…” (emphasis mine).

        Eventually electrification will take care of the emissions. Road salt’s a different issue and, with the CAQistes in power and car addicts, especially suburban ones, holding great political clout, the necessary lifestyle changes mentioned in the article won’t be happening anytime soon.

      • Kate 12:29 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        jeather, here’s a piece from 2015 about Laval using beet sugar to melt ice, although this piece says it doesn’t stain. I remember blogging about Montreal trying this out, but can’t find any postings about it in this recension of the blog, so it must have been around the same time. (There are no posts available from before October 2017.)

        Never saw anything about coffee grounds.

      • Blork 12:40 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        I feel like that article was written by an AI bot. It implies that the salt issue is unique to Montreal, when in fact most cities in the high northern hemisphere salt their roads. It’s not like if Montreal switched to another abrasive then yay, the world is saved.

        Also, what does this mean? “In Montreal alone, the equivalent of 150,000 tons of salt is spread on roads and sidewalks over the winter.” What is “the equivalent” of 150,000 tons? Does that mean SOMETHING ELSE is spread that would be the same as 150,000 tons of salt? Why not just say “In Montreal alone, 150,000 tons of salt are spread…”

        And what about this one? “According to Barbecot, the city should simply use less salt, but that would require changing “the way we live” by limiting urban sprawl and driving less. / “That’s a societal choice,” he said. / In the streets, locals do not seem ready to embrace such a massive shift.”

        Well, yeah, but this implies it’s just a matter of saying “OK, no more urban sprawl!” and all those sprawling suburbs will just melt into the earth and their residences will be magically teleported to condos in Griffintown. Oh, if only we had that magic button! Plus “In the streets, locals do not seem ready to embrace such a massive shift” implies that IN THE STREETS OF MONTREAL, people don’t want to stop urban sprawl. Um, no, it’s the sprawlers who don’t want to stop urban sprawl!

        Chat GPT article FAIL.

      • CE 13:05 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        This is content farm writing. I’ve known people who work for these places. They find click-baity topics and churn out articles on them which are sold around to different properties, sometimes with minor changes so Google thinks they’re different stories. They’re written to maximize SEO and are vague enough that they can be published over and over for years. Editing is minimal, if it happens at all which is why you see all those weird sentences and structures that a good copy editor would weed out. Sadly, a lot of what you read on the internet is made up of this stuff. It exists to get you on websites where you’ll then be redirected to “native advertising” which is just sponsored content that looks enough like a news story or editorial that you won’t really notice that you’re being sold something.

      • carswell 13:23 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

      • Blork 13:28 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        @CE, yes, exactly. And even if this one wasn’t written by an AI bot (probably wasn’t, I was just making a joke) it’s just a matter of time (and not much) before such content farming is totally in the realm of such bots.

      • carswell 13:30 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        The only mention of equivalency is in reference to the length of the streets and sidewalks being equivalent to the distance between Montreal and Beijing. So the English article is sloppily translated (maybe an attempt to cover for salt being measured here in metric tons?).

      • Kate 13:54 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Oh dear. OK, will look out for these in future.

        I sort of thought Barron’s was legit, but I don’t know that much about business publications (obviously).

      • mare 14:29 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        @Blork ‘equivalent of salt’ because AFAIK they try to not use NaCl (table salt) too much because it’s bad for concrete and we have enough bad concrete already.
        From a casual internet search I found roadsalt can be Calcium Chloride (CaCl2), Magnesium Chloride (MgCl2) Potassium Chloride (KCl) or some combination of any or all of these as well. It depends if it’s used preventative, before an ice storm or snow, or has to melt existing hard ice and also what temperature. I think that when it’s very cold, NaCl works best.

        @kate Coffee grounds were used in our park on a corridor of ice between the hockey rink and a skating circle because it’s less abrasive as sand for the skates but still ‘dulled’ the slipperiness of the ice for crossing pedestrians. (Info from leaflets stapled to trees, I’ve no idea if it worked well.)

      • Blork 14:40 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        @mare, road salt is still salt. The problem is not “what equivalent is being used.” The problem is the pointless use of the word “equivalent.” As Carswell points out, the original French version just flat out says “150,000 tons of salt” (no “equivalent”). Specifically: Uniquement pour la ville de Montréal, ce sont 150.000 tonnes de sel qui sont étalées sur les routes et les trottoirs au cours de l’hiver.

        So: sloppy translation.

      • Blork 14:48 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Regarding coffee grounds and beet sugar, that falls into the “be careful what you wish for” category. Given the scale of road salting across North America (and elsewhere), you can’t change it all to bio materials, nor would you want to. They’re potentially useful in small scale situations here and there, but not at large scale.

        It’s a bit like all the folks who think biofuels solve all environmental problems. No, they only solve political problems regarding oil drilling and trade, and to some extent solves some environmental problems around drilling sites. But you’re still burning stuff and creating greehhouse gases. And while the world is full of hungry people, there you are growing massive amounts of edible plants to be used as fuel for cars instead of food for people.

        That’s not just posturing. During the brief biofuel boom a decade or so ago, vast stretches of the US mid-west were used to grow corn for biofuels. As a result, the price of corn around the world spiked, which caused a lot of problems in places like Mexico where corn is a food staple.

      • Andre W 15:02 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        The piece’s author is a trainee journalist — and it’s her first for AFP (according to her Twitter), produced in Paris. She probably never considered it would be held to such high standards, or that it would get a middling translation by AFP.
        That said, it snows in parts of France, and that could have been an easy add for some contrast or comparison.

      • Blork 16:09 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        I give a lot of latitude for trainee writers. In this case the culprits seem to be the lack of good editing and bad translation. Unfortunately, when it comes to content creation “trainee” often just means “underpaid” and they don’t even get properly trained (i.e., they don’t get proper editing and mentorship).

      • Jake 17:18 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        I really don’t understand some of the criticisms of this piece from the commenters on here.

        This is an interesting, original, story that involved real reporting. Clearly, the writer did multiple interviews, which is not something that AIs can do, nor something that “content farms” (if such things still exist) do.

        Yes, there are some issues with the translation — the switch from metric tonnes to the “equivalent” of Imperial tons is an odd one– and this is written primarily for an audience in France and other francophone countries outside Quebec, which seems to have caused some confusion here (there may not be a lot of outlets in Canada that publish AFP stories, but it is the world’s third largest news agency, after Reuters and the AP).

        AFP does excellent work and its correspondents in Canada are probably the highest-paid journalists in the country. Barron’s is a fine magazine that publishes decent reporting — much of what it publishes is behind a hard paywall and it appears to be operating with a business model based around the idea that people will pay for original, quality reporting.

      • carswell 18:59 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Couldn’t agree more, Andre W and Jake. The original article is a decent if lightweight overview of snow removal in the city and some of the issues it raises and the author appears to have done some legwork, getting actual quotes from a city official, a prof and a “snow man.” I’m sure readers in France will have learned a thing or two. Here, though, column inches of verbiage yet next-to-no discussion of the relevant issues raised.

        FWIW I’ve often seen AFP-credited articles in English-language North American publications.

    • Kate 11:15 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

      An industrial condo was the target of a molotov cocktail overnight in eastern St‑Laurent.

      Following a recent suggestion by reader walkerp, I’ve added a layer of suspicious fire locations to the 2023 incident map. (I’ve shared the map now so everyone can see it – thanks to reader Bryan who warned me it wasn’t accessible before.)

      • walkerp 20:29 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        This is great! I was just joking, but this map is actually really helpful. Maybe we should send the link to the SPVM anti-corruption force (or actually maybe not).

    • Kate 10:34 on 2023-02-02 Permalink | Reply  

      What does it presage about our weather when the groundhog dies? CTV has a rather gruesome picture of a guy holding the dead animal. (Photo is gone, according to comment below.)

      • Francesco 10:48 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        I must need to see a shrink or something. I’ve been reading the articles and laughing uncontrollably at just how bizarre it is

      • jeather 11:00 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        It’s the first sign of fimbulwinter.

      • steph 11:01 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        the picture is from 2021, when it was still alive.

      • Kate 11:22 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Thank you, steph.

        It doesn’t look thrilled to be held, though.

      • MarcG 11:27 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Weird that CTV includes a tweet of theirs, in an article explaining that he’s dead, that says “According to Fred la Marmotte we’re in for six more weeks of winter”. Also, what they don’t mention in the article, but is shown in the image at the end, is that the adults decided to dress the child up in a groundhog suit. I’m with Francesco, this is comedy gold.

      • Francesco Fato 12:06 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        The CTV page has been edited to eliminate the (what looks like a) morbid photo. The photo that made me laugh even more.

      • Kate 14:00 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        Francesco, I fished the picture out for you.

      • thomas 16:12 on 2023-02-02 Permalink

        For completeness sake here is the livestream of the event:https://livestream.com/accounts/6944075/events/8964861/videos/234861501
        Featuring the ballad of Fred la marmotte with a statue of the Virgin Mary making an appearance.

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