Quotulatiousness

March 25, 2017

How to become public enemy number 1 in Quebec

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Andrew Potter, writing for Maclean’s did much more than just ruffle a few feathers in his March 20th article titled “How a snowstorm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise“:

Major public crises tend to have one of two effects on a society. In the best cases, they serve to reveal the strength of the latent bonds of trust and social solidarity that lie dormant as we hurry about the city in our private bubbles — a reminder of the strength of our institutions and our selves, in the face of infrastructure. Such was the case in New York after 9/11, and across much of the northeast during the great blackout of 2003.

But sometimes the opposite occurs. The slightest bit of stress works its way into the underlying cracks of the body politic, a crisis turns those cracks to fractures, and the very idea of civil society starts to look like a cheapo paint job from a chiseling body shop. Exhibit A: The mass breakdown in the social order that saw 300 cars stranded overnight in the middle of a major Montreal highway during a snowstorm last week.

The fiasco is being portrayed as a political scandal, marked by administrative laziness, weak leadership, and a failure of communication. And while the episode certainly contains plenty of that, what is far more worrisome is the way it reveals the essential malaise eating away at the foundations of Quebec society.

Compared to the rest of the country, Quebec is an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society, deficient in many of the most basic forms of social capital that other Canadians take for granted. This is at odds with the standard narrative; a big part of Quebec’s self-image — and one of the frequently-cited excuses for why the province ought to separate — is that it is a more communitarian place than the rest of Canada, more committed to the common good and the pursuit of collectivist goals.

But you don’t have to live in a place like Montreal very long to experience the tension between that self-image and the facts on the ground. The absence of solidarity manifests itself in so many different ways that it becomes part of the background hiss of the city.

To start with one glaring example, the police here don’t wear proper uniforms. Since 2014, municipal police across the province have worn pink, yellow, and red clownish camo pants as a protest against provincial pension reforms. They have also plastered their cruisers with stickers demanding “libre nego” — ”free negotiations” — and in many cases the stickers actually cover up the police service logo. The EMS workers have now joined in; nothing says you’re in good hands like being driven to the hospital in an ambulance covered in stickers that read “On Strike.” While this might speak to the limited virtues of collective bargaining, the broader impact on social cohesion and trust in institutions remains corrosive.

We’re talking here about a place where some restaurants offer you two bills: one for if you’re paying cash, and another if you’re paying by a more traceable mechanism. And it’s not just restaurants and the various housing contractors or garage owners who insist on cash — it’s also the family doctor, or the ultrasound clinic.

The backlash to Potter’s article hasn’t yet diminished … he’s had to resign from his position with McGill University as Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (although he still holds a professorship there), and Maclean’s has made some modifications to the original text of the article in response to the outcry. In the Montreal Gazette, Don Macpherson says the anger isn’t at what Potter wrote, exactly:

Potter’s piece, though not entirely unfounded, is poorly informed and argued, and betrays the authoritative ignorance of an overconfident observer who only recently moved to this place. It is so indefensible that not even he would try to defend any of it less than 24 hours later. (May I never write anything for which I apologize the next day.)

But the vehemence of the reaction to it, and the indifference to Martineau’s similar column, show that Potter’s real crime is not what he wrote; it’s who wrote it, the language in which he wrote it, and for whom he wrote it.

That is, Potter is an anglophone, who wrote in English, for a publication from outside Quebec (whose editors were therefore unable to do their duty to protect their writer from himself by questioning such assertions as the one that restaurants here routinely offer their clients second bills for payment in cash, tax-free).

[…]

Potter is not family, even though he speaks French well enough to have taught at the Université de Montréal. And he would not be, even if he had been born and raised and educated here, and had spent his entire life here.

For to belong to the English-speaking community in Quebec is to be excluded, or to choose to exclude oneself, from the French-speaking one, the true Québécois nation.

And every now and then, it’s useful for everybody to be reminded of that.

December 7, 2015

Rescuing Yazidi captives from ISIS

Filed under: Cancon, Liberty, Middle East — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Hannah James reports on Montreal’s “Jewish Schindler”:

From his office at The Prancing Horse — a high-end car and motorcycle dealership in Montreal — Steve Maman is scrolling through picture after picture of Yazidi women and girls he’s helped liberate. They were held as slaves in northern Iraq by fighters with the Islamic State group.

“You relive the emotions,” Maman explains as he looks through his files of dozens of women and children. “It’s anger. Right now I’m getting angry. That’s all it is. It builds anger. You get angry.”

In August 2014, IS militants raided villages in the Sinjar District of northern Iraq. It’s an area occupied by many Yazidis – a religious minority practicing an ancient religion, pre-dating Islam.

IS considers the Yazidis heretics, and set out to purge the villages of men, and to kidnap thousands of women and children to sell as sexual and domestic slaves.

Not long after the invasion of Sinjar, an IS video surfaced, showing a group of men laughing and joking about buying and selling Yazidi girls.

“Can you prove to her you’re a man?” one of the men asks another.

Maman, a car dealer specializing in luxury vintage automobiles, saw the news coverage of the massacres across Sinjar, and says he felt he had to take action. He calls his mission not a “choice” but “divine providence.” He says he’s inspired by his religious beliefs, and also by Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who rescued 1,200 Jews during the holocaust.

March 27, 2015

Stanley Jordan – Autumn Leaves 1990

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 12 Jul 2013

Live in Montreal Jazz Festival 1990

Bass player Charnett Moffett

The drummer Tommy Campbell

H/T to Victor for the link.

March 20, 2015

Epigenetic researchers – “We can double the size of these bugs!” Everyone else – “No, thanks. We’re good.”

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Science can be a great source of fascinating experiments. Doubling the size of insects is perhaps not the best way to advertise your particular speciality, however:

Florida carpenter ants

Researchers have changed the size of a handful of Florida ants by chemically modifying their DNA, rather than by changing its encoded information. The work is the latest advance from a field known as epigenetics and may help explain how the insects — despite their high degree of genetic similarity — grow into the different varieties of workers needed in a colony.

This discovery “takes the field leaps and bounds forward,” says entomologist Andrew Suarez of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who wasn’t connected to the study. “It’s providing a better understanding of how genes interact with the environment to generate diversity.”

Ant nests have division of labor down pat. The queen spends her time pumping out eggs, and the workers, which are genetically similar sisters, perform all the other jobs necessary to keep the colony thriving, such as tending the young, gathering food, and excavating tunnels. Workers in many ant species specialize even further, forming so-called subcastes that look different and have different roles. In Florida carpenter ants (Camponotus floridanus), for example, workers tend to fall into two groups. Minor workers, which can be less than 6 mm long, rear the young and forage for food. Major workers, which can be almost twice as long, use their large jaws to protect the colony from predators.

A team from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, suspected that the mechanism involves DNA methylation: the addition of a chemical to DNA. Genome sequencing and other methods suggest that these physical differences don’t usually stem from genetic differences between individual ants. Instead, environmental factors help push workers to become majors or minors — specifically, the amount of food and coddling that young ants receive. But just how do these factors change the size of ants?

December 21, 2014

The first historical European martial arts tournament

Filed under: Cancon, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:05

Aaron Miedema shared a link to this story about the first known tournament for historical European martial arts:

If I asked you when was the first historical European Martial Arts tournament what would you say? 1997? 2003?

Not even close.

How about where? America? Great Britain? Germany? France?

No, none of the above.

What if I told you that the earliest known tournament took place in a region of the globe which we probably don’t hear enough about, but which surely deserves to be known across the HEMA community: Quebec.

Yes. The first ever tournament took place on the island of Montreal in… 1889. Who was heading this tournament? Perhaps Alfred Hutton on a trip in Canada? Or how about one of those French guys from the Olympics? No, it was another HEMA pioneer. One which is unfortunately unknown to us because he did not leave us any manual, but an interesting figure all the same: David Legault.

[…]

Legault came back to Montreal around 1882. There were very few qualified fencing instructors in town at that time, and the art was going through a revival. His friends then encouraged David to open up a fencing salle in the former Institut Canadien, a learned French Canadian society which regularly drew the wrath of the church. There he will teach not only swordsmanship but also boxing, savate, wrestling, great stick and gymnastics. He will try to introduce the model inside Quebec schools, with more or less success, but his regular classes will grow in popularity and Legault will decide to change the nature of his club which will become known as the Guard of the Archiepiscopal Palace. This group acted as an honorary guard to the Catholic archbishop of Montreal as well as a sort of militia to prepare men for military service. Several similar groups will be created across the province, all of them teaching fencing. Volunteering in the Canadian army and various official militia units which were mostly English speaking was not very popular with French Canadians, and many turned toward these groups instead.

November 22, 2014

QotD: The first “American” college football game

Filed under: Cancon, Football, History, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

… the first college-football contest was not played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, but in 1874 between McGill and Harvard. The game the two New Jersey schools played was something close to soccer, with players (25 per side) allowed to kick the ball or bat it with their hands, and points scored by kicking the ball into the opponents’ goal. This game spread to a handful of other northeastern colleges in the next few years, under varying rules.

Meanwhile, Harvard played a different, more rugbyish game that allowed the ball to be carried and thrown. In 1874 it agreed to a two-game series in Cambridge with McGill, which also played a rugby-type game. The first game, played on May 14 under Harvard’s rules, was an easy victory for the home team. The next day they played under McGill’s rules, which permitted more ball handling, used an oval ball (unlike Harvard’s round one), and scored points with a “try,” similar to the modern touchdown. The contest ended in a scoreless tie, but Harvard’s players decided they liked McGill’s rules better than their own.

The “Boston game” soon became more popular than the kicking-oriented variety, and when representatives from four American colleges met in November 1876 to standardize football rules, they largely adopted the McGill/Harvard version. So while the 1874 game was quite different from today’s football, it is at least recognizable as an ancestor, whereas the game Rutgers and Princeton played in 1869 was an evolutionary dead end.

Fred Schwarz, “Why American Football Is Canadian”, National Review Online, 2014-11-13.

June 30, 2014

Differences between NFL and CFL rules

Filed under: Cancon, Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

Current Chicago Bears coach (and former Montreal Alouettes coach) Marc Trestman talks about his time in the CFL and what the differences are between real maple-flavoured football and the NFL variety:

There are now nine teams in the CFL, and because of that there is a great deal of familiarity between the organizations. The league itself is tradition-filled and more than 100 years old. Each team plays each other up to three times during the 18-game season. Here are some more CFL nuances:

  • The game is played on a 110-yard field with 20-yard end zones.
  • The field is 65 yards wide (compared to the NFL’s 53 yards), with a 20-second time clock between plays. That leads to action-packed football.
  • There are only three downs to make 10 yards, not four.
  • They play 12 players to a side, and the defensive line must line up a yard off the ball.
  • Six eligible receivers can be in motion prior to the snap.
  • On kicking teams, there are no fair catches, which makes for a very exciting punting game with the wide field.

[…]

Another important difference between the CFL and NFL: the makeup of the teams. In the CFL, you have a 42-man game-day roster, and 20 of the 42 players must have Canadian heritage. The two quarterbacks don’t count against the ratio and you have to start seven Canadians among your 24 starters. But, there is no difference in the competitive makeup of each player. The men in the Montreal locker room were essentially no different than the men in our Chicago locker room. The players truly love the game, train extremely hard in the off-season, are highly competitive and “football intelligent,” and the game is as important to them as the NFL players I have coached. The only difference is the CFL player salary is significantly less than the NFL player. The CFL has a collective bargaining agreement, but the salary cap is $125 million lower than the NFL’s this year.

[…]

The rules in Canada were brilliantly conceived. It’s more of a mental challenge on game day. For example, on a missed field goal, the kicking team gets a point. But if the opponent runs it out of the end zone, the point is taken off the board. There are many tedious rules like this that make it challenging to manage a game. But the rules make sense and are tied to making the game extremely challenging from a game management point of view.

Because you have three downs to make a first down instead of four like U.S. football, most people would say, “You’ve got to make a first down in two downs, or punt on third down.” But because the defense is a yard off the ball, if you are third-and-one or less, most teams go for it. So if you make nine yards on two downs your chances of moving the chains are very good. The kicking game is extremely exciting. Because there are no fair catches, the covering team has to leave a five-yard halo around the returner so he can catch the ball. The return game therefore has more chances for explosive plays. With the wider field, the quicker players can make more things happen.

This may all be of interest to US television viewers, as ESPN just announced a deal to allow them the US broadcast rights for the CFL:

ESPN has acquired exclusive rights in the United States to Canadian Football League (CFL) games through a multi-year agreement, beginning with the 2014 season. ESPN will present at least 86 games in 2014 with 17 or more contests to be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS, including the 102nd Grey Cup. An additional 69 games will be carried on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3.

The TV schedule kicks off Saturday, June 28, at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2 when the Calgary Stampeders host the Montreal Alouettes, whose star wide receiver is Duron Carter, son of ESPN NFL analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter. Canada’s Sports Leader TSN will work with ESPN on game productions and their team of commentators will call the games.

ESPN’s relationship with the CFL spans more than three decades. In 1980, ESPN televised its first live football telecast ever – the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts vs. Montreal Alouettes – and continued televising CFL games from 1980-84, 1986-89, 1994-97 and in 2013. Additionally, ESPN3 has carried CFL games since 2008, including 54 games in 2013.

May 27, 2014

WSJ – “…the Canadian government is paying almost 80% of his developers’ salaries”

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Economics, Government, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:32

Stephen Gordon linked to this rather boggling Wall Street Journal article that outlines how the Canadian and provincial governments are attempting to lure start-up technology businesses to locate in Canada with vast bribes of taxpayer money:

Imagine you are launching or running a startup and there’s a place where all of your developers — the biggest expense for most tech companies — cost one quarter what they do in Silicon Valley. Sure, it’s cold there, but talent is plentiful and the locals are friendly. Would you trade your hash browns for poutine?

Adam Adelman, co-founder of Mighty Cast, a startup working on a new kind of wearable technology, recently told me the Canadian government is paying almost 80% of his developers’ salaries. And that’s not a tax credit. It’s a rebate, a check he gets from the government whether or not his startup makes money.

Even at Mighty Cast, a two-year-old hardware startup, salaries have been 80% of expenses. Combine that with the lower salaries demanded by engineers in Montreal, where Mighty Cast moved its headquarters after its genesis in Silicon Valley, and Mr. Adelman says he’s able to stretch his angel round of investment four times as far.

So the federal government is literally giving away money to start-up tech companies to compete at a huge advantage against actual Canadian companies? Nearly 80% of the payroll is funded from taxes, partly collected from the domestic competition? Does this seem like a good idea to anyone who isn’t already drawing 100% of their income from Ottawa?

The government is particularly badly suited to picking technology winners, and this program sounds like a vast give-away for the well-connected few, literally at the expense of everyone else. Maple-flavoured crony capitalism, with the official stamp of approval of Stephen Harper’s “conservative” government.

February 25, 2014

Next on Quebec’s language hit-list – getting rid of “Bonjour-Hi”

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:48

The Anglos in Quebec will be facing tougher language laws if (when) the Parti Québécois wins a majority in the next provincial election:

Speaking to business leaders, Diane De Courcy vowed to halt Quebec’s “unacceptable slide” into institutional bilingualism — in Montreal and across the province.

A PQ majority government would make it a priority to bring back Bill 14 and to stamp out examples of creeping bilingualism like sales staff who greet customers with “Bonjour-Hi,” she said at a day-long conference on francization programs held by the Conseil du patronat.

“Montreal is not a bilingual city. Quebec is not a bilingual Quebec,” De Courcy said to reporters after her speech.

Last year, the government decided not to push for adoption of Bill 14, strengthening Quebec’s French Language Charter, because of a lack of support from opposition parties. The wide-ranging bill would extend Bill 101 rules for large businesses to smaller companies with between 25 and 50 employees, and toughen up aspects of the language law on access to English education and bilingual municipalities.

[…]

Employees who deal with the public must be able to address customers correctly in French, “not like what we have right now in downtown Montreal, and not only in Montreal, which is ‘Bonjour-Hi,’” De Courcy said.

De Courcy said she thinks it’s great if individuals want to learn different languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin or Arabic in their private lives, but institutions and businesses must function strictly in French.

“There is a difference with what is institutional and it must be without mercy,” she said.

February 20, 2014

Even when he does nothing, Justin still gets great press

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:18

Paul Wells discusses the upcoming Liberal Party convention in Montreal, and the evergreen topic of Justin Trudeau’s ability to get loving press coverage even when he’s not doing or saying anything at all:

… Justin Trudeau, whose party has led the others in national polls for 10 months. Since Trudeau has been the Liberal leader for the same length of time, he has become a figure of some fascination, not least among the members and supporters of other parties. They are convinced the coltish young man, who first set foot in 24 Sussex Drive at the same moment he first set foot anywhere at all, has been given a free ride by the press gallery. Not just a free ride: a leg up. Perhaps even a leg over. In my own case I’ve gone about it in odd fashion, by publishing a 400-page book about Stephen Harper whose thesis is that the Prime Minister is eternal, but you knew I was devious when you walked in.

The Liberals’ opponents have compensated for the gallery’s failure to give Trudeau proper scrutiny by scruting him as hard as they can. The Conservatives have spent millions of dollars on commercial radio ads — in Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and English — warning parents that Trudeau will give their kids marijuana. The Liberals have spent large sums rebutting the Conservative ads with their own. This fight has been going on for four months and may now stand as the most sustained bout of pre-writ campaign advertising in your lifetime. Newspaper reporters, who do not listen to commercial radio and are not sure they believe it exists, have covered almost none of it.

But if the Conservatives attack Trudeau for four months on the radio — and every day in the Commons, and almost as often in email blasts to Conservative donors — and the Liberals still lead, are the Conservative attacks failing? Hard to know. Maybe the Liberals would be less popular if the Conservative back bench and Ezra Levant stopped talking about him. Or maybe they’d be riding even higher, carried aloft on the praise of complacent scribes. Politics rarely lets us test counterfactuals properly.

But if Trudeau’s big mouth reliably gets him into trouble — a proposition routinely argued by his opponents while they are on breaks from trying to get him into trouble — then the Liberals’ Montreal convention is a risky proposition for him. He has two big speeches scheduled there, one on Thursday and a second on Saturday. If his jaw is a shovel custom-built to dig his political grave, he will have two chances to dig deep.

I must commend whoever it was in the Liberal war room that suggested the Tories get “Justin”-themed rolling papers printed up. Even the Conservatives — who have been known for generations for laughably bad political notions — might not have come up with something so dumb without help.

January 31, 2014

(Micro-)Break it to make a material stronger

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 14:18

Another example of how sometimes we can benefit by using biomimicry:

Engineers intrigued by the toughness of mollusc shells, which are composed of brittle minerals, have found inspiration in their structure to make glass 200 times stronger than a standard pane.

Counter-intuitively, the glass is strengthened by introducing a network of microscopic cracks, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

A team at McGill University in Montreal began their research with a close-up study of natural materials like mollusc shells, bone and nails which are astonishingly resilient despite being made of brittle minerals.

The secret lies in the fact that the minerals are bound together into a larger, tougher unit.

The binding means the shell contains abundant tiny fault lines called interfaces. Outwardly, this might seem a weakness, but in practice it is a masterful deflector of external pressure.

To take one example, the shiny, inner shell layer of some molluscs, known as nacre or mother of pearl, is some 3,000 times tougher than the minerals it is made of.

May 2, 2013

Warren Moon says Tim Tebow couldn’t hack it in the CFL

Filed under: Cancon, Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 13:50

And if there’s anyone in the NFL’s Hall of Fame who also knows what it takes to be a great quarterback in the CFL, it’s Warren Moon:

Hall of Famer Warren Moon said in a radio interview Wednesday that the Canadian Football League is not a viable option for Tim Tebow to prove he can play quarterback, as the former Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t throw the ball well enough to play in the league.

“You have to be able to throw the ball up there, if anything. They throw the ball a lot. It’s only three downs, so the passing game is much more important up there, and there’s a lot more field to cover,” Moon said in an interview with KILT-AM in Houston.

“If you can’t throw the football, it doesn’t matter where you play quarterback,” he said. “You have to be able to throw it. That’s his biggest problem, just being able to complete passes, be an accurate passer. I think he’s a really good athlete playing the position, but I don’t think that’s enough sometimes.”

Tebow cleared waivers on Tuesday after being released by the New York Jets. The Montreal Alouettes, who own his CFL rights, have said they would welcome Tebow to the league — provided he’s willing to compete for a job as a backup quarterback.

[. . .]

Moon played six seasons in the CFL after going undrafted out of Washington in 1978, leading his Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup titles, throwing for 21,228 yards with 144 touchdowns and 77 interceptions. In 17 NFL seasons, he threw for 49,325 yards, 291 touchdowns and 233 interceptions. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Moon said he thinks that if Tebow wants to continue playing in the NFL, he’ll have to switch to another position. Moon told ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on Monday, “I don’t think it’s going to happen at the quarterback position for him, at least not in the National Football League. You have to be able to throw the football before everything else happens.

June 14, 2012

The “victim” mindset among Quebec protestors

Filed under: Cancon, History, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:13

Dan Delmar on some of the long-standing grievances being channelled by Quebec’s most recent protestors:

“White Niggers of America:” That’s how author Pierre Vallières famously described the Québécois people in his 1968 book, which the former Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ) terrorist leader wrote from his prison cell.

Vallières argued that the struggles of French settlers in British North America were similar to those of pre-segregation era blacks in America, and the lingering effects of English repression were reason enough to issue a call to arms in the late 1960s. FLQ members then kidnapped and murdered Pierre Laporte, who was Quebec’s deputy premier, and sparked a national crisis that ended in martial law.

Vallières and the FLQ may be dead, but the notion that Quebecers are an oppressed people lives on.

[. . .]

Although the “N Word” hasn’t made a noticeable comeback just yet, it’s only a matter of time before fringe elements search for new and more shocking tactics to attract attention to their cause which, at least legislatively, has hit a dead end.

Upon seeing the salute images, many jumped to the conclusion that protesters were racists or that Neo-Nazism was on the rise in Montreal; neither is true. They aren’t racist – at least not intentionally. There is a genuine belief, as Vallière expressed, that Quebecers are in the midst of an epic battle to save democracy and break away from the shackles imposed on them by their Anglo overlords.

[. . .]

In many ways, he [Amir Khadir] embodies the Quebecois victim mentality. At a press conference last week, he compared his struggle with those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. He turned to a CTV News reporter, a black woman, and said that “Law 78 is as unacceptable as segregation of blacks was in the 60s.” And he said that in all sincerity, with a straight face.

The culture of victimization runs deep. Some Quebec laws are based on the concept that Francophone culture is under attack, and restricting the use of other languages, as is the case with Bill 101, is an important weapon in the war against Americanization. And make no mistake: This is a war, ideologically speaking. Political elites, particularly within the separatist movement and the opposition Parti Québécois, believe the mere existence of the English language in this province is an assault on French.

June 2, 2012

The end of a weird week in Canadian journalism

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:26

David Akin on all the unusual happenings over the past week:

I suspect Alex felt that way because he and his staff had to deal with a) the ongoing battle between students and Premier Jean Charest b) a grisly murder that forced police in Montreal to issue an international warrant for kitten-killing gay porn star Luka Magnotta c) a freak rain storm that put 70 mm of water on the ground in 30 minutes pretty much flooding most of downtown Montreal for an afternoon. But enough of that, let’s get to God using a bear to deliver God’s own brand of justice [. . .]

“The corpse of a man eaten by a B.C. bear was that of a convicted killer, officials have confirmed.”

[. . .]

“46 mm of rain in half an hour floods Montreal.”

[. . .]

On Friday, heavy rain would contribute to flooding which would end up flooding and shutting down Toronto’s Union Station on Friday causing commuter chaos

[. . .]

The Montreal flash floods occurred as Quebec Premier Jean Charest was trying to broker a deal with post-secondary students who have been “on strike” for more than 3 months because they don’t want to pay an extra $350 or so a year in tuition — over five years. Charest has been over-patient. The students have been, as they say on St. Urbain Street, “stiff-necked”. So the two sides met and then talks broke down.

All that, plus the kitten-killing, body dismembering fugitive porn star…

February 6, 2012

Battery sizes: AAA, AA, C, plus S, M, L, and XL

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:02

Coming to a boutique near you soon: wearable battery clothing.

Scientists charged into the fashion industry this week, unveiling a flexible battery that can be woven into fabric and used to boost the juice of everyday gadgets.

The lithium-ion cells were produced by a group of boffins from the Polytechnic School of Montreal. The team claims their bendy power cells are the first wearable battery that uses no liquid electrolytes, New Scientist reports.

The team sandwiched a solid polyethylene oxide electrolyte between a lithium iron phosphate cathode and lithium titanate anode. These are thermoplastic materials which, when gently heated, can be stretched into a thread.

There is a short-term restriction, however:

The next step is to waterproof the technology before attempts to implement it in future clothing and accessories can go ahead. Backpacks and medical-monitoring garments are said to be the first items the team is planning to add the tech to.

It’d be a bit unpleasant to have your shirt packing “hundreds of volts” discharge unexpectedly just because you broke a sweat …

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