How to save the planet

You’re feeling good because you think you are saving the environment by recycling and switching to LED light bulbs? Well, don’t (feel good, I mean). It is totally useless.

Last week-end, I read an interesting article in The Gazette titled “Want to save the planet?” (also from the National Post via PressReader). A study by the University of British Columbia is showing that what we are told to do to reduce climate change is rarely the most effective way.  We’re told that “making a difference doesn’t have to be difficult” when, in truth, making a real impact demands some major sacrifices!

The most interesting part of the article is found in a graphic that was available only in the print version. What high school textbooks suggest students to do for the environment is not very effective: using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones represent only a saving of 0.005 tonne (5 kg) of carbon dioxide per person per year, while upgrading light bulbs saves 0.1 tonne, hanging your laundry to dry in the sun saves 0.21 tonne, recycling saves 0.213 tonne and washing your clothes in cold water saves 0.247 tonne. Small changes.

In opposite, the more effective actions for helping the environment represents only four per cent of the suggestions given to students. The best tactics are eating less meat with a plant-based diet (saving of 0.8 tonne per year), buying green energy (saving 1.5 tonne per year), taking one less transatlantic flight per year (saves 1.6 tonne), and going car-free (saving 2.4 tonne per year — note that switching from an electric car to car-free saves 1.15 tonne per year and buying a more efficient car saves 1.19 tonne per year!). However, the most effective way to be environmentally friendly is to have one less child: you would save 58.6 tonne of CO2 emission per year! I always said that those kids are killing the planet.

I am really happy because I am already doing all those things (switching light bulbs, washing in cold water, hang-drying, using reusable bags, hydro-electricity, having a plant-based diet, no flying, no car, no kid) and I hope you will consider it too. I won’t go as far as some sci-fi shows and suggest, as some sort of Sophie’s Choice, that we should reduce the children population (or even the general population) — it would surely make the environment quieter — but please copulate with moderation (I would say “practice abstinence” but that would be inconsiderate: just don’t have four or five kids and think of it as a planetary-wide one-child policy)! There are already too many people on earth…

That would certainly be a good way to save the planet.

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Progress report (02.017.211)

Front garden

Since the first growth in April, fifteen weeks ago, the front garden has grown into a thick jungle where sunflowers and cosmos are now dominating (See previous report).

Jardin de juillet
(iPhone 6s, 2017-07-25)

Floraison de Cosmos Nombreux tournesols
(iPhone 6s, 2017-07-27 & 29)

Parc Frédéric-Back

Now that the parc is electrified, the signalisation is backlit at night and the lamp posts are working keeping the path well lit. It’s actually quite beautiful. Now, they just need to open the new section (See previous report) !

Backlit signalisation Lamp post

(iPhone 6s, 2017-07-25)

Kittens

The kittens have seen a veterinarian for an examination and their first shots. They will be taken in charge by a shelter in a week. The two mothers are still waiting to be neutered (they are on a waiting list) but it is taking a long time. They’ve already been in a cage for too long. I hope we’ll be able to release them soon… (See previous report)

Update (2017-08-01): After pleading the urgency of the situation, the Mittens’ Targeted Permanent Sterilization Clinic of the SPCA contacted us yesterday, and the two mothers have been sterilized today. We will let them recover for a few days and then release them in our backyard.

Update (2017-08-07): After a week, we have released the two mothers. They have bolted out of the cage and, four hours later, they are still nowhere to be seen. Hopefully, they’ll keep hanging around our backyard… Also, still no news from the shelter that is supposed to take custody of the kittens sometimes this week. Hopefully everything will go well on that side too.

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Movie capsule-reviews (02.017.204)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

The latest Luc Besson’s movie (The Professional, Fifth Element, Lucy) is based on the comic series Valérian and Laureline by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. That series is one of my favourite comics and it has a quintessential place in my heart as it is one of the series that made me discover science-fiction (in the comic magazine Pilote). The movie looks like a Fifth Element on speed and a darker Star Wars. It respects the spirit of the comic but doesn’t really FEEL like it. However, despite many criticism I’ve heard, I found the acting to be faithful enough to the original characters (at least as they were portrayed in the latest albums): a somewhat clumsy Valerian (however, I admit that, barring some occasional heroism, he is far from being an action hero in the comic) and an intelligent, kick-ass and beautiful Laureline! I am also sure that some dumbass will complain that the spaceship looks a little like the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars but, since the comic series was created ten years before Lucas’ franchise, I am sure it is the other way around.

Although the title might let us believe that it’s an adaptation of the Empire of a Thousand Planets, the movie’s story is, in fact, based on Ambassador of the Shadows (the sixth album: L’ambassadeur des ombres) and is relatively faithful to the original. However, in the movie, Central Point is rename Alpha and its origin story has unfortunately been changed to make it centred on Earth (it evolved from the Space Station) and the humans are kind of in control of the Council (this human-centred aspect goes against the spirit of the comic — although it reflects the imperialistic ambition of the humans in the comics). We find in the movie some of the critters from the original story like the shingouz (the three informants) or the transmuteur grognon de Bluxte (the converter) — but the role of the latter is quite different. And the biggest change of all: in the original story it is Laureline who conducts the investigation to save Valerian who was captured with the ambassador (and not the contrary as in the film). And of course the movie ending is more positive (for Earth) than in the comic but it is still a kind of love story between Valerian and Laureline. All in all, it is a nice adaptation of the original story.

My only complain is that the time-traveling aspect has been totally erased from the story — because, above all, Valerian & Laureline are spatio-temporal agents! That omission is rather annoying. But, since there will never be another Valerian comics (unless, of course, the authors feel the movie’s pressure), this adaptation is surely the next best thing (slightly above the animated tv series). The 3D effects are superb and provide quite an immersive experience. The story is good, the acting great and the movie offers excellent workmanship (although quite expensive). I can’t ask for more. All in all, despite the fact that the reviews are not that good (maybe people can’t appreciate french sci-fi?), I was entertained and enjoyed it thoroughly.

[ GoogleIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Fantastic Beast and where to find them

This movie is really fleshing out the Harry Potter universe and giving it a different perspective, this time from 1926 New York (the relations between wizards and no-majs [muggles] is completely different). It makes the Potter’s alternate universe much more interesting. The acting is good but it is especially the designs and the special effects for the beasts that are commendable — although by moments it looks a little too much like a bestiary (menagerie catalog). The period sets and costumes are really excellent. Over all it’s quite a good entertainment. I am looking forward for the next movie (after taking the effort of creating an all-new cast of characters for this spin-off, I guess it would be a shame not to make it at least a trilogy!). Strangely, the extras on the BluRay Disc are almost as long as the movie itself!

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Silence

The movie is set in the same era than the TV mini-series Shogun (James Clavell‘s best-selling novel was inspired by the fascinating life of English navigator William Adams). While Shogun was mainly concentrating on the political reasons that brought Tokugawa Ieyasu to ban christianity and the Jesuits from Japan, Silence explores the religious reasons. The Japanese mind-set (buddhism, shinto) was said to be incompatible with the Church teachings which was often distorted by the local followers. Also, like in the 2nd century Roman Empire, a religion empowering the poor and disfranchised was seen as subversive. Finally, the shogunate was quite wary of the political interferences caused by the religious and economical rivalries between the European superpowers of the time (Spain, Portugal, England, Netherland). Japanese had no patience toward the European arrogance, although they would gladly use their knowledge (medicine, science, technology) when it was needed and trade with the Dutch — who didn’t care much about spreading their religion.

Along with The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, Silence is part of a trilogy of movies where Scorsese explores the struggle with faith, a subject that seems dear to him. Based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō (which had already been adapted to the screen in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda), the story is inspired by the life of Giuseppe Chiara, an Italian Jesuit who went to Japan during the Kakure (hidden) Kirishitan period in search for fellow priest Cristóvão Ferreira. In many aspect, Silence is similar to The Last Temptation as the main character wonder why the terrible suffering he witnesses is met only by God’s silence. He is also constantly pushed to renounce his faith by Japanese officials and then tempted by his tormentors to reveal he didn’t!

It is a quite beautiful movie on a very interesting and deep subject (although, personally, I find it hard to comprehend how people could endure this kind of hardship for such a silly belief) but it is a bit long, cerebral and offers several cruel scenes. Despite great acting, the movie received quite a lukewarm reception, not so much amongst the critics [see reviews from The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New Yorker] as from the public (the box office was abysmal). It’s understandable for a beautiful but difficult movie that was released against a though competition (the Martin Luther King holiday weekend also saw the release of Hidden Figures, La La Land and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story !!!). Despite all this, I liked it very much.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Warcraft

Even if I never played any of the World of Warcraft games, I liked this fantasy movie because somehow it felt familiar. The world is obviously well developed (i.e. numerous video games, novels and comics), the story is interesting, the acting is good enough and the special effects are excellent. When it comes to those so-called “blue-screen” movies (actually they’re green), where most of the scenes involves some sort of special effects, I am always afraid the story will be shallow, but it is not the case here. Despite the fact that there has been plenty of other high fantasy movies and TV series around recently (The Hobbit & Lord of the rings, Shannara Chronicles, etc.), this one offer something original enough to be interesting and entertaining. Of course, you still have humans, dwarves, elves and, most importantly, orcs, but the mix doesn’t feel stale. It is interesting to note that Warcraft was directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code), the son of David Bowie.

Although the ending clearly leave the way for a sequel, none has been produced or announced so far (after a year). The movie did quite well at the box office (nearly three time its budgets) but probably not as much as expected or at least not enough to entice the producers to green-light a sequel. And to me that’s probably the most disappointing aspect of this movie. However, SOMEONE was obviously disappointed by the movie (the game fans? the muggles?) because the critics were not very good (seriously? 28% on Rotten Tomatoes!). Well, it was good enough for me.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Il Divo

After seeing Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, Youth and his TV series The Young Pope, we were curious about his only major film that we hadn’t watch yet. It doesn’t have the depth and beauty of the other movies, but the story is interesting from an historical point of view. I vaguely remember earring in the news about events like the Aldo Moro’s kidnapping and murder in 1978, but don’t know much about the Italian political scene. So, I learned a lot with this movie. It is a biographical drama about Italian seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti who allegedly had ties with the mafia — most of his opponents or critics were murdered — but nothing was ever proven in court. It is set between his seventh election in 1992 and his failed bid for presidency and trial in 1995. Like most European movies, it has a slow pace and long scenes so north American viewers can be easily bored (although there’s a lot of violence). But for me it was worth seeing.

[ AmazonBiblioIMdBWikipediaYoutube ]

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Lettre à l’arrondissement

Mme la mairesse d’arrondissement
M. le conseiller de Saint-Michel,

J’ai quelques questions que j’espère vous aurez, cette fois, l’obligeance (sinon la décence) de répondre.

En novembre dernier, suite à une annonce dans le journal de St-Michel (“Toujours à l’écoute de vos besoins, nous vous invitons à nous faire part de vos demandes et commentaires”) qui incitait les citoyens à envoyer leur questions par courriel à leurs conseillers (jusqu’alors, quand j’avais un problème, je me déplaçais au bureau de mon conseiller — que je n’ai jamais rencontré par ailleurs mais sa secrétaire à toujours fait en sorte que les problèmes soient réglés de façon satisfaisante), je vous ai écrit au sujet d’un grave problème de gestion animalière dans notre arrondissement (j’ai par la suite publié cette lettre sur mon blogue et ma soeur, co-signataire, vous l’a très récemment envoyé de nouveau). Je n’ai jamais eu de réponse, ni même d’accusé-réception!

Je ne vous répèterai pas ici le contenu de la lettre (pour cela je vous réfère à mon blogue où le sujet est abondamment documenté par des hyper-liens) mais je me permet d’insister sur le fait que, cette année, la situation est pire: une dizaine de chats errants (deux femelles, cinq chatons, un mâle dominant et deux prétendants) font un véritable ravage dans le jardin de ma cour arrière. Non seulement la situation était-elle devenue intolérable mais apparemment les règlements municipaux nous menaces d’amendes si l’on “tolère” des animaux errants dans notre cour (?!).

Je n’ai donc pas eut le choix d’attraper tout ce beau monde (du moins les femelles et les chatons) mais maintenant qu’en faire? Les refuges privés sont toujours bondés (particulièrement à ce temps-ci de l’année où il y a beaucoup d’animaux abandonnés), c’est très difficile de trouver de bons samaritains pour adopter autant de chats et la seule solution officielle offerte est le Berger Blanc, qui a très mauvaise réputation (l’an dernier un employé m’a avoué que 100% des animaux errants y étaient euthanasiés) et que je me refuse à utiliser. J’espère trouver une place pas trop chère pour faire stériliser les deux femelles (et ensuite relâcher au moins la plus vieille des deux, sinon les deux, pour faire un TNR — “trap, neuter & return”) et trouver des gens pour adopter les chatons. Aux États-Unis et aux Canada anglais la plupart des villes ont des programmes subventionnés pour la stérilisation gratuite ou à bas prix ($15-$20) pour les animaux errants mais ici cela va me coûter autour de $60-$80 chacune! Avez-vous des suggestions?

Donc, suite à ce trop long préambule de contexte (je m’en excuse), j’aimerais bien que vous répondiez à ces deux questions:

  1. Comment cela se fait-il que notre arrondissement fasse affaire avec le refuge qui a la pire des réputations, le Berger Blanc, et non avec la SPCA comme beaucoup d’arrondissements environnants (Anjou, Montréal-Nord, Plateau, Rosemont, etc.)? Si VSP faisait affaire avec la SPCA cela serait déjà un peu mieux…
  2. Comment se fait-il que la ville repousse sans cesse la construction de son propre refuge animalier (dans notre arrondissement)? Aux dernières nouvelles il était maintenant annoncé pour 2019 !!!

Tant qu’à vous écrire j’aurais encore quelques questions sur d’autres sujets:

Comme vous le voyez je ne me gène pas pour commenter les absurdités municipales que j’observe que ce soit des problèmes de déneigement ou la politique de contraventions abusives sur Saint-Roch…

Merci de me lire et, surtout cette fois, de répondre à mes questions…

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Monthly notable news (w20-25)

On the domestic front, after much hesitation, the summer has finally arrived. At work, it is crazier than ever with the start of the vacation loan, the TD summer reading club, the twenty-days of amnesty, the summer clean-up and all this often in a sweatshop-like environment (hot and humid, because the ventilation and AC doesn’t work properly). It is so exhausting. I’ve applied for a job with more responsibilities (and pay) but flunked the interview (for the second time!). I am either good for nothing else or there’s something rotten in the HR kingdom.

I felt quite depressed lately. With all the problems with the house and at work, as well as the fact that I have not written or read much in several months, it’s no surprise. I come back from work with all my energy spent. I feel worthless. I feel I give a lot to the people around me and doesn’t get much (attention, respect, gratitude, etc.) in return. I hate it when dark thoughts keep me from enjoying life. But, hey!, it’s summer so lets enjoy the sun, the parks, the museums, the flowers, the cats, the people and particularly the few remaining days of my second ten-day summer vacation. There’s lot to do around the house and so much writing (hopefully) to catch up (I’ll try to go at it with smaller bites)!

In the news, Apple has announced some great software updates (iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, watchOS 4) and some new products (iMac & MacBook Pro, or iPad Pro updates, as well as a new iMac Pro and the HomePod, a speaker that they say will reinvent music at home) and my evenings have been consumed with listening to the latest Trump craziness on MSNBC. Everyday brings a new lie! More on the news in the links bellow…

I have always enjoyed the stray cats in my backyard but this year it is a real infestation: a battered dominant male [Toffee], two females (mother [Grisou] and daughter [Chaussette/Socks], their FIVE kittens and a couple of tomcat challengers. That’s TEN cats! They have laid waste to the backyard garden so I had to do something to control the situation. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent animal management policies in the city (and particularly in this borough, VSP) puts all the burden on the citizen and doesn’t give much help. My only option is to bring them to the Berger Blanc (which has a terrible reputation and an almost all-kill policy — also, for some mysterious reasons [$$?], my borough doesn’t deal with the SPCA) which I refuse to do. So far, I’ve caught all the females and their kittens, and I’ll see what I can do from there (any suggestions?)…

I’ve also started taking some omega-3 supplements, which (according to an NHK World report) is supposed to be good against cholesterol and dementia, amongst other things (like cancer or arthritis). It’s messing up with my digestion, but strangely I feel that my mind is a little clearer. Placebo effect? Anyway, we’ll see…

Strangely, I kept busy during the last month by doing lots of little things (cleaning up the garage, buying a new couch, burying my mother’s ashes, etc. — daily routine stuff) about which there’s little to say (or I just can’t recall some of them). I confess that I also probably watch too much TV. Anyway, that’s about it for now…

Although, as always, I continued to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered nearly a hundred notable news & links — which I share with you (in both french or english, and roughly separated in a few categories of interest), after the jump.

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Chagall

En fin de semaine j’ai finalement réussi à visiter l’exposition Chagall au Musée des Beaux-Arts avant qu’elle ne se termine. D’habitude je ne suis pas trop fervent d’art moderne mais je dois avoué avoir été surpris par celle-ci. Marc Chagall est juste assez figuratif pour que je l’apprécie. Il a une palette de couleurs attrayante et ses sujets sont très révélateurs de la culture qui l’a nourrie (il était juif hassidique russe). Étrangement, les thématiques récurrentes dans son oeuvre semblent correspondre aux instruments à cordes (violons, mandolines), au coq et au cirque! C’est un artiste très polyvalent qui a touché à pratiquement tout les media, de la peinture à la sculpture, aux fresques et aux vitraux, de même qu’à la céramique ainsi qu’aux décors et costumes de scènes…

Une très belle exposition qui m’a beaucoup apprise. Un gros merci au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal pour nous abreuver, année après année, de tant de culture!

Voici un bref aperçu de l’exposition :

Et voici quelques unes de mes oeuvres favorites de Chagall :

Vous pouvez voir une sélection plus complète des oeuvres qui m’ont le plus touché sur l’album Flickr que j’ai créé à cet effet.

Et si vous désirez en connaître plus sur ce grand artiste du vingtième siècle vous trouverez en bibliothèque probablement tout ce qu’il vous faut pour satisfaire votre curiosité.

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Rappel: le solde de livres

Petit rappel: le solde de livres des Amis de la Bibliothèque de Montréal est toujours en cours et se termine dimanche prochain, le 28 mai. Pour les détails, vous référez au billet précédent ou simplement cliquer sur les images du signet pour les agrandir (ci-contre).

J’y étais le première journée et la file d’attente était plutôt longue (j’ai attendu un bon deux heures!). Évitez donc les week-ends. L’idéal c’est d’y aller la semaine ou en fin de journée. J’y suis retourné deux trois fois depuis et j’ai trouvé quelques trésors: des guides de voyages de l’éditeur DK (Voir en français), quelques documentaires, de nombreux mangas (principalement de Tezuka, plus deux Taniguchi et j’ai complété une partie de la série Zipang), des romans de chez Alire (Champetier, Houde, Lalumière, J-J Pelletier, Rochon, Sernine, Vonarburg), un Philip K. Dick, quelques auteurs japonais, etc. Ça vaut vraiment la peine alors essayez d’aller y faire un tour!

Promenade au parc

Je prends régulièrement des marches de santé dans le Parc du Complexe Environnemental de Saint-Michel (récemment renommé le Parc Frédéric-Back). J’ai donc pu constater ce printemps le progrès (plutôt lent) dans les différents aménagements des entrées de la nouvelle section (partie sud-est) dont l’ouverture avait été annoncé pour le printemps 2017. Bientôt sûrement (à moins que cela ne soit reporté comme la plupart des grands projets de M. Codère! L’ouverture totale du Parc annoncée pour 2020 est maintenant reporté à 2023!). Voici quelques photographies qui illustre cela:

La promesse

Mise à jour (2017-05-27): J’ai remarqué aujourd’hui que l’on avait ajouté une nouvelle signalisation de sentiers et quelques nouveaux arbres. Bon, ça progresse mais quand cette nouvelle section ouvrira-t-elle au public?!

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Absurdity of the day (#02017117)

I feel I was born in a parallel universe with a completely different logic system and then absconded here for some mysterious reasons. This place doesn’t make sense at all to me as nobody seems to follow what I consider to be basic common sense. Here are two examples that I witness daily.

In this part of town, people are waiting for the bus in line from the back to the front or the concept of lining-up seems foreign to them. I know many of them are deeply religious (as they read the Bible or pray on the bus, probably going to church every Sunday) and “Jesus” told them “the last shall be first” but he meant it for the kingdom of Heaven, not here! I can’t stand such hypocrisy: they are supposed to be charitable and humble and they are the first to cut the line, steal your place or hate you for daring to stand your ground (sometimes even accusing you of being racist if you complain)! As an agnostic I feel I have more moral values than most of them.

I also don’t understand how an employer can be so callous and disrespectful toward its employees (the people who are actually making things work): I should not have to fight for compassionate leave (it has nothing to do with the collective bargaining agreement: it’s in the damn labor code!) or to work in difficult and unpleasant conditions as the work place was without any ventilation or air conditioning for several days and the room temperature was neighbouring 24 to 27.5 ℃ (if we were simply sitting at a desk it would probably be bearable but our work requires to be constantly standing or moving — actually, if the ideal comfort zone is defined as 21-23°C, there is NO maximum Temperature Limit set by the labor code) ! And, to add insult to injury, this week they also used the employees’ room (where we rest and take our meals) to store the stinking floor polishing equipment! It is not enough for the employer to trim our pension (unilaterally changing a negotiated agreement), cut some of our leave, reduce the staff and increase the number of tasks so we have to force the pace until we feel we are on an assembly line, but they must also show us a total lack of respect? And, after that, they still expect their employees to be loyal, enthusiastic and performing? The union is no better because, when we complain, they just do nothing (they are masters of collusion). It is inconceivable, unacceptable, completely outrageous!

I don’t understand how this could be completely normal to other people. I really must be from another world…

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Old Books

I love old stuff, particularly coins and books. Unfortunately, I don’t have the enthusiasm of youth, the time to travel nor the money to collect them anymore. Old stuff is now rare, harder to find and, mostly, more expensive. So I have to make do with enjoying what I already have (and sometime sharing this pleasure with others).

Unlike some of my friends, I don’t have really rare stuff (one has a page from a Book of Hours or another has a 1661 french edition of Suetonius!) but I have just a little more than a dozen ancient books that I cherish. Some because they are history books or works of an ancient author, others just because they are old (and despite the fact they are insipid religious documents).

Inspired by a question I was asked on Facebook, I invite you to share my joy after the jump >>
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