No Food for Thought

Food is something you should provide to your brain long before coming to this blog. You will find no food recipes here, only raw, serious, non-fake news for mature minds.

Chronic inflation: still insufficient to deflate short-termist illusions?

admin Thursday June 6, 2024

In April 2001, I was still 15 and knew very little about USA politics. Yet it took a single misleading and high-stakes declaration from its then-president brushing off the Kyoto Protocol to put him at the top of my personal blacklist:

George W. Bush wrote on 2001-03-29:
But I will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt American workers.

If Bush's rejection of an insufficient and highly flawed protocol could be excused, its administration's inaction, and even its disruption of climatic disruption response, kept making its position on my blacklist well-deserved.

A couple decades of laissez-faire later, climatic disruption has become even more obvious and economically taxing, not just to American workers, but to shoppers worldwide, contributing alone to an estimated 1% of price inflation every year.

So what does the party "leader" most likely to become Canada's next Prime minister offer to "fight inflation"? Pierre Poilievre, "leader" of the federal party with the most voting intentions, is well aware of how us poor Canadians struggle with inflation. His solution: stop carbon pricing.

In the end, there are indeed a couple things the Conservative Party of Canada is good at conserving: short-termism and economic illusions.

The Cost of Dialects

admin Tuesday May 28, 2024

KNP has been interested in conventions for decades. Notably, I have been trying to curb linguistic proliferation, hoping that an artificial language can optimize communication, improving communication quality and reducing the tremendous costs of language acquisition and communication between people who do not master a common language.

But beyond the societal costs of the uncontrolled number of languages, what are the personal costs of... dialects? Could a native speaker of an organization's common language lose much money just for not speaking its dominant dialect? A study suggests speaking "the wrong dialect" does cost, and a lot. According to the 2019 study The Wage Penalty of Regional Accents, linguistic differences not only cause discrimination, but a wage penalty estimated at a fifth! While this was studied on a personal angle, if true, this implies a major societal cost, directing workers to local employers and making it harder/costlier for organizations to grow geographically.

I can't help being skeptical about the importance of the difference, but I have am not surprised to find yet another cost of our linguistic chaosfrown

Égalité en santé

admin Thursday April 25, 2024

En matière de santé, le Québec est fou d'égalité. En théorie, tous ont accès à des soins de santé gratuits.

En pratique, mon médecin de famille, qui travaille pour le système public, travaille dans une clinique privée (comme pour la majorité des Québécois). Hier, il m'a référé pour un examen à un spécialiste du secteur privé. Il m'a aussi dirigé vers une pharmacie privée pour une prescription de médicaments. Et bien sûr, la rémunération de tous ces divers travailleurs de la santé est différente.

Est-ce à dire que l'égalité en matière de santé est menacée? Oh non! Du moins, elle est encore bien ancrée à la Clinique médicale de Sillery :
Clinique médicale de Sillery ― Réfrigérateur à urine

On peut être rassurés que notre santé est entre bonnes mains : même les médecins ont les mêmes conditions de travail que les réceptionnistes (à part des rémunérations dans des ordres de magnitude différents), et cette égalité est prônée bien à la vue des clients!

Voir aussi

On ne fait pas dans les corridors ce qui va dans les toilettes

Urgence aux pôles, urgence au Parlement

admin Tuesday April 23, 2024

Le dérèglement climatique n'a rien de nouveau, à notre échelle de temps. Mais malgré tout ce que j'ai déjà lu à ce sujet, j'ai trouvé intéressant (et encore plus effrayant) la brève chronique Urgence aux pôles de Philippe J. Fournier.

Mais l'urgence aux pôles provient d'une urgence bien plus grande, touchant toutes nos juridictions. Combien d'extinctions et d'articles aussi éloquents et percutants nous faudra-t-il avant que nos gouvernements se préoccupent réellement de l'environnement? Quelle canicule faudra-t-il pour réveiller l'humanité?

Imcaration and Canada's alternative to incarceration

admin Tuesday February 20, 2024

How much would it cost someone to be caught driving a vehicle with a fake license plate? When you ask people, their answers vary widely. As it can cost about 155 CAD to drive with a snow-covered plate, one would assume intentionally hiding the actual license and having one of your cars "imcarate" another one would cost you way more.

The answer depends on where you are. In some countries, doing so would cost you jail time. But in this liberty-crazy country, such a harsh punishment would be inconceivable. In some parts, imcaration is even the most economic way to drive, efficiently getting someone else to pay for your transportation. The version of the above CBC report which aired nationally mentioned that no Canadian province would charge more than 200 CAD for such an offense.

Wanna fully enjoy your liberty? Come to Canada and fully legally order a fake plate, almost for free! As a bonus, your actual license will be hidden, so that your car isn't imcarated by others!

Canada's liberty and vulnerability: Yours to Discover, Ours to Exploit!

Bill C-18, Canada's Foreign Link Tax: A Threat to the Free Market AND Free Information

admin Monday December 18, 2023

For more than a year now, Canada's Online News Act, known as Bill C-18, has been... in the news. Unfortunately, not for the right reasons.
On paper, the act requires approval of online news publishers for digital news intermediaries to facilite access to the former's content.
It's based on the non-mistaken assumption that if a corporate website links to another website, the link must bring value to the corporate website. So why not put a tax on foreign corporations who link to Canadian sites? With many mass media struggling, forcing foreign corporations who link to Canadian media content to pay these media would seem like a profitable move, if it can be pitched properly. Which is what the LPC tried to do, by specifically targeting Wealthy and Evil foreign corporations ("Big Tech"). In practice, C-18 is trying to subsidize Canadian media by forcing Meta and Google to finance them, so that it isn't technically a tax.

The Canadian media I follow the most―CBC/Radio-Canada and L'actualité―keep mentioning Meta and Google's reactions negatively. Which would be understandable given how interested they are, if it wasn't for the fact that in addition to running propagandist ads, they also cover the story with an unrestrained bias. Even the public broadcaster fails to at least disclose its conflict of interest, particularly intense given how underfunded it already is.

So I was pleasantly surprised to get a small break from this enduring and frustrating rhetoric when I saw the CBC's The National explain what it really was about in At Issue's latest edition, all thanks to Andrew Coyne, its economy-educated panelist. I was curious to hear more than this short intervention (at 02:55) on the topic from Coyne, so I went looking for articles online and found his excellent The best thing the government could do to save the media is to stop trying to save the media, which beautifully highlights the mass media's contradictions. Coyne says it well:

Two things may be said with some confidence. One, the future of the news industry, like most industries, probably belongs to publications that don’t exist yet, applying business models that haven’t yet been devised (or whose superiority has not yet been acknowledged). And two, the ones that succeed will be the ones that are the most adept at connecting with readers: that are best able to figure out what readers want, and how to deliver it to them. Because whatever else might have changed, and will in future, there will always be people – a minority, to be sure, but still a decent number – who want to be informed, and are willing to pay for it. The challenge is persuading them they are getting their money’s worth.

And yet, The Globe and Mail was expecting me to subscribe for more than 400 CAD/year to read Coyne's article. I've never read The Globe and Mail regularly, but I doubt it would provide that much value to a Quebecer like me, who has access to multiple other (less costly) quality news sources, and little time to follow them all.

I checked if there was a more reasonable way to read Coyne's view and quickly ended up on a website which has been shamelessly copying The Globe and Mail for years. The highrony of watching the same government tolerate crooks blatantly stealing our IP for years, while focusing its efforts on a counterproductive attempt to steal lost revenue back from innovators―merely guilty of being foreign―, is one sorry exemplification of how populist―if not downright ignorant―Canada has become.

Unwilling to let most of my readers choose between financial health and theft, I searched for a more accessible neutral article on the topic and was impressed by Michael Geist's remarkable The Bill C-18 Reality: Everyone Loses When the Government Mandates Payments for Links. This truly free article dismantles the media's rhetoric, as in this brilliant example:

As some have noted, the government says the companies are stealing content if they link and blocking content if they don’t.

But I can't conclude without pointing out just how contradictory C-18 proponents remain. As Coyne noted:

[Digital news intermediaries] perform a service for us, in other words, the proof of which is the profusion of “Share this” and “Link to this” buttons we plaster all over our stories. We want readers to post our stories to Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

But even as the law is about to enter into force, months after Meta restricted linking to CBC News content, the CBC is still advertising Meta:
CBC Bill C 18 Passed
Even 5 months into a Meta boycott by the government (including CBC/Radio-Canada), the CBC is still advertising Facebook for free, as this surreal press release shows:
CBC Meta Boycott
Coyne had warned of unintended consequences, as taxing access to credible information effectively favours disinformation. But looking at the lies deliberately spread in the above CBC pages, this concern may have been unjustified… The foreign link tax will just replace local sources of disinformation by more numerous and foreign sources of disinformation.😒

And yet here we are despairing about the public's waning trust in journalism and complaining about disinformation, while spending on fancy projects to restore trust, rather than starting with the basics. If CBC News can't avoid conflict of interest, can it not at least avoid sensationalism and obvious bias in its stories?

A new milestone for Europe: provisional agreement on digital identity

admin Saturday December 16, 2023

In November, the European Union made a major step towards eID, with a provisional agreement on a new framework for a European digital identity!

With many more steps still left, I can only hope that the process will complete and result in a framework as good as what's being proposed, with a free "business model" (as it's called) and an open source implementation, at least on the client side. I am impatiently waiting for history to write itself…

What is "Canada News Media" (canadanewsmedia.ca)? And the sorry state of Canada's news media

admin Saturday December 9, 2023

While trying to read this paywalled article from Andrew Coyne titled "The best thing the government could do to save the media is to stop trying to save the media", I landed on a webpage with the same title which featured the article's contents verbatim, but attributed to "Harry Miller". Trying to follow the link to the page supposed to provide information about that guy yielded a broken page. The article featured little attribution to The Globe and Mail.

The About Us page of Canada News Media (or "CanadaNewsmedia" or "Canadanewsmedia"―just the about page uses all 3 forms) only offered a couple paragraphs of uninformative marketing speak. A 5-minute web search didn't find any more genuine information about it. According to HypeStat, the domain was created in December 2017. And indeed, the Wayback Machine shows it has been copying The Globe and Mail and others for more than 5 years.

So what's my take? I believe Canada News Media is no more than a cheap, rogue, half-broken website blatantly violating the copyright of the sources it copies, profiting thanks to abundant clickbait.

Having now read the article, I must say it's highly ironic that I could read it from free from an illegal website which has been operating at the expense of journalists and readers for years, when the government is putting ridiculous efforts into sucking Bad Big Tech. Coyne's article starts:

It would be ironic, to say the least, if a bill purporting to save the Canadian news media were instead to hasten its demise. But that seems to be where we are heading with Bill C-18, the Online News Act.

Indeed, how much better informed would we be if―rather than entering a public fighting show against giants and common interest, artificially favoring a few lucky media―our government focused on the boring enforcement of existing, rational legislation, protecting all media against theft, and accessorily protecting everyone against misinformation as a bonus?

Cookie consent: how many clicks should the ePrivacy Directive cost citizens?

admin Wednesday November 22, 2023

By now, everyone has consented to cookie usage hundreds of times. All technologists are aware this phenomenon was started by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive 2002/58/EC, also known as the ePrivacy Directive (ePD).

But why is it you had to consent thousands of times? Sure, the web is a chaotic network of way too many websites. I had about 5 cookie prompts just while I was researching this post. But just before that, why did I have to also consent to cookies when scheduling my fifth vaccine against SARS, using the same browser profile, and the same website? Can all websites be so bad?

It turns out the answer is mostly negative. The main reason is unfortunately legislative; according to 2 sources I found, the EU's maximum consent duration is just 1 year.

According to CookieYes's "How long does cookie consent last?":

You should renew cookie consent at least once a year (as per the ePrivacy Directive) or have periodic renewal as per the guidelines set out by your local data protection authority (DPA). For instance, the Irish DPC and the French CNIL recommends that consent should be re-obtained after no longer than six months. The GDPR does not specify a time limit for how long consent will last, therefore you should set a renewal period as per the guidelines of your respective DPA.

According to Proton Technologies AG's Cookies, the GDPR, and the ePrivacy Directive:

Persistent cookies — This category encompasses all cookies that remain on your hard drive until you erase them or your browser does, depending on the cookie’s expiration date. All persistent cookies have an expiration date written into their code, but their duration can vary. According to the ePrivacy Directive, they should not last longer than 12 months, but in practice, they could remain on your device much longer if you do not take action.

Is that to say we are doomed to endless clicking? Not quite, since a software solution is apparently possible. The UK's 2012 Guidance on the rules on use of cookies and similar technologies already stated:

Both the Directive on which the Regulations are based, and the Regulations themselves, suggest browser settings may be one means of obtaining consent if they can be used in a way that allows the subscriber to indicate their agreement to cookies being set.

I just wish at least one browser will get there before more decades go by. How good would it be to go back to the good old times...

La décarbonisation du carbone, ou l'écoblanchiment de l'énergie fossile

admin Sunday November 19, 2023

Quelle stratégie un pays comme le Canada, devant des précipices démocratiques, environnementaux et économiques, devrait-il choisir? Simplement adopter le principe pollueur-payeur serait, bien entendu, beaucoup trop efficace pour se faire sans controverse. Mais peut-on au moins cesser d'encourager la pollution, en cessant d'accorder aux pollueurs des subventions? Ne serait-ce pas un bon premier pas pour ralentir la dégradation environnementale tout en réduisant le déficit?

Comme l'explique Québec Science dans un éditorial de Mélissa Guillemette, il est bien plus simple d'user d'un brin de rhétorique que d'écouter la science. Le gouvernement évite ainsi une gestion de changement, et―qui sait―pourrait arriver à survivre quelques années de plus.

Il est permis de rêver à ce que notre pays serait devenu si nos prédécesseurs s'étaient autant démarqués en matière de populisme. Peut-être serait-on arrivés à lutter contre le tabagisme bien plus efficacement si, au lieu d'instaurer une taxe favorisant la contrebande, on aurait tout simplement choisi de subventionner Imperial Tobacco. Après tout, ce sont bien à eux que l'on doit les regrettées Player's Lights!

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