Shooting in the US vs stabbing in China

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Let’s talk about firearm regulation

Yesterday, there were two parallel atrocities happening on opposite sides of the planet. In the US, there was a school shooting, while in China there was a mass stabbing. Both were done by individuals, and in both cases, the victims were children while at school. This is an interesting situation, because these terrible events line up well and allow for a convenient comparison. It would be a disservice to the memory of the children who have suffered or died if we didn’t try to learn something from what happened, and if we didn’t do our best to try to prevent it from ever happening again.

When something like this happens (and this has been happening more and more often) and there is a general call for regulation of firearms in the States, it is common for gun rights advocates to say some of the following things:

  • It is “too soon” to politicise this issue
  • Regulating firearms more strictly may make everyone feel safer, but it will infringe on some basic rights
  • Stricter regulation of firearms will not prevent events like the one in Connecticut on Friday (either because a shooter will find a way to illegally obtain firearms, or because someone who is intent on doing harm will find a way to do so, even without one)

I will deal with each of these in turn.

Too soon

Calling “too soon” is not being intellectually honest about the issue. To say, “let’s not politicise this out of respect for the victims,” is just another way for a gun-rights advocate to say, “you care about this issue now, and there is momentum working against my position, so let’s wait until this issue is so old that no one cares about it, and there is no political will to change the status quo by the time I have decided that it would be respectful to discuss it.” This is dishonest, because the “too soon” response is actually just a subtle way of politicising the issue in favour of the status quo.

If anything, it’s way too late to start talking honestly about gun control. Gun-rights advocates called “too soon” after Columbine and after Aurora, and here we are again.

Basic human rights

The “right to bear arms” is not an actual human right. There are lots of things that are dangerous and regulated by the government, and we think that’s all right, and that it isn’t an infringement on our rights. Not everyone is allowed to drive a car, for example. You have to be licensed. That licence can be taken away under certain conditions. It is not a human right to drive a car.

Similarly, it is not a human right to have or use a gun, and the state should have the powers to regulate their sales, ownership and use. Part of the American constitution has been interpreted to say that its citizens have a right to guns. I admit that I am neither an American nor a constitutional lawyer, but I feel like even the framers of the American constitution would agree that their government should have the powers to curb the sales and use of firearms.

Effectiveness of firearm regulation

Finally, gun-rights advocates often make claims that stricter regulation wouldn’t prevent events like the shooting in Connecticut. This is where the parallel event in China becomes very interesting to me. At a first glance, it appears that the gun-rights advocate is right. China has much stricter gun control—Chinese law largely prohibits the private ownership of guns, and yet there was still a similar attack at an elementary school on the same day.

On closer inspection, a comparison of the two attacks on Friday would undermine such an argument.

First of all, the gun-rights advocate usually makes a claim that regulation of firearms is a futile task. She claims that no matter how stringent the laws or how well-enforced, people who mean to cause harm will always find a way to get their hands on deadly weapons. The case of the stabbings in Henan on Friday show that this is not necessarily the case. At least for Min Yingjun, he either was unable, or it was too much trouble and cost for him to get a gun (or many guns) for his deadly attack.

Second, a gun-rights advocate will say that an attacker without access to guns can equally cause harm. The parallel attacks on Friday give reason to think otherwise. I do not mean to minimise the damage done by Min Yingjun at all, but given the choice between being murdered outright by a man with a gun and being stabbed by a man with a knife, the choice is clear. In China, there were no deaths among the nine students admitted to hospital. In Connecticut, there were 27 killed in total, 20 children.

After making one or both of the above arguments, usually the gun-rights advocate tries to point the finger at single mothers, video games, abortions, the gays, or not-enough-Jesus-in-Amurrica.

I think it’s time we moved past these inevitable and dishonest talking points and started having an honest discussion about what can be done to control the dangerous and irresponsible gun culture that has evolved.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-3198,
    title = {Shooting in the US vs stabbing in China},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-12-15,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/12/15/shooting-in-the-us-vs-stabbing-in-china/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Shooting in the US vs stabbing in China" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 15 Dec 2012. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/12/15/shooting-in-the-us-vs-stabbing-in-china/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Dec 15). Shooting in the US vs stabbing in China [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/12/15/shooting-in-the-us-vs-stabbing-in-china/


Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP

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Dear Andrew Williams and Randy Pettapiece,

Recently, my father was hospitalised for schizophrenia in the psychiatric ward at the Stratford General Hospital. This was good news. It was a welcome change after months of increasingly abusive and dangerous behaviour on his part that affected the entire family. Not only was he suffering from disordered thoughts and paranoid delusions, he lost his impulse control with regard to money (and some other things as well). Due to his condition he lacks the ability to deal with his own finances. He was admitted to the Stratford General Hospital and shortly thereafter, a medical tribunal determined that he was not competent to make his own medical decisions. My mother was assigned to be his medical decision-maker and power of attorney.

Yesterday, we found out that some unscrupulous lawyer visited the Stratford General Hospital to arrange the papers so that my dad could transfer his medical decision-making and power of attorney away from my mother, and give it to another patient on the psychiatric ward. As far as we know, this other patient is just some guy that my dad met less than two weeks ago when he was admitted. The name sounds made-up, though, so for all we know, it’s not his real name. This “other patient” could even be a delusion of my dad’s.

Needless to say, we were upset.

We contacted the lawyer to ask him what he thought he was doing. He said he didn’t do anything—that it was my dad who made it happen, and that he had training to determine when someone was competent to make such decisions. We will be inquiring about what legal options we have against this individual.

When we told our own lawyer about the problem, his administrative assistant broke out laughing, because it was such a ridiculous turn of affairs. He advised us to get a letter from dad’s psychiatrist, and on the basis of such a letter, it would be possible to have this transfer of power of attorney reversed. This seemed reasonable. On contacting the doctor, we were told that he could not release such a letter, since my dad has requested that his medical information not be shared with us (one of his paranoid delusions is that we’re out to get him), and my mother no longer had her status as his medical decision-maker and power of attorney.

In the face of this Catch-22, we’re not sure what to do next. As of today, the doctors at the Stratford General are still refusing to provide a letter indicating my dad’s condition, because they are afraid of being sued.

I’d like to emphasise at this point that the unscrupulous lawyer got paid for what he did. Paid with money. He came in to the locked ward of the Stratford General and walked out substantially richer, thanks to money he took from a person who was determined by a medical tribunal to be incapable of making his own medical decisions.

If someone walked into a hospital and found an old woman with dementia and exploited her condition for his own financial gain and gave her nothing in return, that conduct would be reprehensible, but it still wouldn’t be as bad as what this lawyer did to my dad yesterday. Not only did he take money from someone whose mental condition renders him incompetent to handle his own financial affairs, but he made it a thousand times harder for us to get my dad back on his meds to stop the paranoia and abuse.

But the really perverse part about this whole system is that if I were to march into his office and punch his face in like he deserves, somehow I would become the bad guy. (For the record, though, I would never do this.)

I have two questions. One for the CEO of the hospital and one for the MPP for Wellington-Perth.

Andrew Williams: When do your doctors plan on doing the right thing for their patient and his family?

Randy Pettapiece: What pressure are you going to bring to bear on this situation? Can you help us to ensure that the lawyer is dismissed from the bar in Ontario, and that my father receives the care he needs?

Yours angrily,

Benjamin Carlisle MA (Biomedical ethics)

Cc: Leona Aglukkaq MP, Deb Matthews MPP, Dr Brian Goldman (feel free to spread this around)

(Edit 21h00—the original version had more cursing, but as my friend advised, “Try not to swear so that your interlocutor doesn’t have an excuse to dismiss you.”)

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2012-3132,
    title = {Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2012-11-16,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Nov 2012. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2012, Nov 16). Catch-22 in mental health: An open letter to Andrew Williams, CEO of Stratford General Hospital and Randy Pettapiece, MPP [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2012/11/16/catch-22-in-mental-health/


Things that any Tom, Dick or Harry would know how to do

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“John Smith,” “Bob,” and “George,” are very “common” names. That is, they were probably common once, but now, even though they have largely fallen out of use, we all still have a cultural memory of them being “common” and “normal-sounding.” We even use them when we’re trying to think up non-specific names for use in examples or clever aliases. Who among us wasn’t given a set of dummy data to enter into a spreadsheet in grade nine business class that included names like “Bob,” “George” and “Harry” in the “names” column? (Side note: the next time I need a clever alias, I’m going with “John Q. Taxpayer.”)

This summer, I started composing a short list of things I don’t know how to do. Of course, there are lots of things I don’t know how to do that could have gone on this list. It’s easy to come up with specific professional skills that I don’t know how to do: I don’t know how to commit brain surgery, milk a cow, draft legislation, pilot a Tardis … the list could go on indefinitely. But those sorts of things are not what I had in mind with this list.

This list was specifically for “common” skills—skills that are common in the way that the names “Harry,” “Bob” or “George” are common. That is, we think of these skills as being ones that most people know how to do (more-or-less), but in reality, they have fallen out of common use, or maybe never were very common.

For example, in books or movies, when someone is thrown a rope and told to tie a person or a boat or something up, every character instantly knows exactly what knot to tie and how to do it, without thinking, even if it was totally implausible for that character to know how to do that at all. In other movies, cars are hot-wired in seconds. Locks are picked with the use of only bobby pins, and by people who you would not expect to be able to do that. If you drop any character from any movie in the woods, after a brief montage, she will have caught a fish, and be frying it over a fire that she started without matches.

As for me, if I ever even lost the keys to my own apartment, I’d have no flying clue how to get back in.

For the record, I do realise that I shouldn’t aspire to master a set of skills simply because it would make me more useful in an action-adventure movie. That said, there’s a saying, that if you only have a hammer, all your problems start to look like nails. I wonder how many inefficiencies I have endured and problems I have left unsolved simply because the set of skills or tools I possess is limited. I remember my Grandpa Searles always used to carry a knife around with him, and it was useful to him all the time.

With the exception of juggling, I have no concrete plans right now to learn how to do any of these things, but they are all things that I would eventually like to know how to do. After finding this list again, I’m strongly tempted to start carrying around a pocket-knife, a length of rope and a bump key set. Maybe I can look up some YouTube videos for interesting ways to use them.

Here’s the list for your consideration.

Things I don’t know how to do

  • Clean a fish
  • Sharpen a knife
  • Juggle
  • Do handsprings/backflips/etc.
  • Drive a car with standard transmission
  • Change a car’s oil
  • Change a flat tire
  • Anything related to automobile maintenance, really
  • Diving (I can swim a number of strokes decently well, tread water and even do flip-turns, but I could never make myself dive)
  • Do my taxes (I just go to an accountant. Let him deal with it.)
  • Start a fire with only rocks
  • Tie knots
  • Tie different kinds of ties (I only know one)
  • Tie a bow tie
  • Hot-wire a car
  • Pick a lock
  • Dance

If you have some other suggestions for things that most of us probably don’t know how to do, but might be a useful thing to know in certain contexts, please leave it in the comments.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2265,
    title = {Things that any Tom, Dick or Harry would know how to do},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-10-19,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/19/things-that-any-tom-dick-or-harry-would-know-how-to-do/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Things that any Tom, Dick or Harry would know how to do" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 19 Oct 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/19/things-that-any-tom-dick-or-harry-would-know-how-to-do/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Oct 19). Things that any Tom, Dick or Harry would know how to do [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/10/19/things-that-any-tom-dick-or-harry-would-know-how-to-do/


A scary email to receive less than a week before the thesis submission deadline

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I bet you thought I was done posting about my thesis. Last Friday (6 days ago), I received this email after I had the pleasure of submitting my thesis electronically.

[Your supervisor] approved your e-thesis on September 23, 2011 at 11:51.

If your thesis has been accepted by all your supervisor(s), it has been sent to GPSO for processing.

If your thesis has been rejected, please make the changes requested by your supervisor(s) to your original document*, and create a new pdf, delete the file on the server, and upload the new file.

You can track the progress of your thesis on Minerva.

Hooray! It was good news to receive this email, and I tweeted about it immediately, of course.

Then, this morning, I received the following email.

Dear Benjamin, … We [at the philosophy department] have been told that you haven’t submitted your thesis electronically, and this is one of the graduation conditions. Can you do this immediately? The conditions have to be met by Tuesday, 4 October. Best wishes.

October 4th is on Tuesday (5 days from now). I’m pretty sure that my thesis has been submitted electronically. Here is my evidence:

  • Minerva lists my thesis as being uploaded and approved
  • I received the aforementioned email from the e-thesis computer

So I really don’t know what this fuss from the philosophy department is all about, but now I’m nervous that something’s messed up.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2219,
    title = {A scary email to receive less than a week before the thesis submission deadline},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-09-30,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/30/a-scary-email-to-receive-less-than-a-week-before-the-thesis-submission-deadline/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "A scary email to receive less than a week before the thesis submission deadline" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 30 Sep 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/30/a-scary-email-to-receive-less-than-a-week-before-the-thesis-submission-deadline/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Sep 30). A scary email to receive less than a week before the thesis submission deadline [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/30/a-scary-email-to-receive-less-than-a-week-before-the-thesis-submission-deadline/


E-thesis final submission

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This week, my goal was to make final submission of my thesis. All the actual work on the document was finished. I just needed to figure out how to hand it in. As per instructions on the GPS website, my thesis has to be submitted in PDF/A format.

For those of you who are unaware, a PDF/A is not the same thing as a PDF. What’s the difference? It’s more expensive of course.

The thesis has to be converted to PDF/A using special software to ensure that it can still be opened in the future. So, in order to submit my thesis, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies recommends that I buy Adobe Acrobat Pro, at a cost of $101.38 with tax—and that’s the reduced student price.

And the most frustrating thing about this? According to the instructions, “Standard PDF files will be rejected unless the thesis was written in LaTeX.” For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you will recall that up until February, I was using LaTeX to typeset my thesis, and it was a painful and scary transition for me to move to Microsoft Word part-way through.

So ultimately, it came down to a choice between trying to convert my thesis back to LaTeX, or spending $100 to avoid all that hassle.

Laziness won, of course.

On Thursday, I went in to the bookstore and bought the software. When I first installed it and tried to convert my thesis, I got an error. Acrobat couldn’t convert my thesis. This seemed strange, since there wasn’t any strange formatting in it. I fiddled with the settings, tried restarting, but the very expensive software wouldn’t do it. Fortunately after a half hour, it auto-installed an update and after that, the conversion went as planned.

So as of yesterday, I have submitted my thesis to McGill. It’s over! Those are all the requirements for my master’s in bioethics! The only thing that’s left is my supervisor clicking “accept.”

By the way, one of the most satisfying things about making final submission of my thesis is the fact that I can take the ugly EndNote app out of my computer’s dock. It was such an eyesore! :P

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2194,
    title = {E-thesis final submission},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-09-23,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/23/e-thesis-final-submission/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "E-thesis final submission" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 23 Sep 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/23/e-thesis-final-submission/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Sep 23). E-thesis final submission [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/23/e-thesis-final-submission/


But what do we call them?

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In school this year, we have spent a good deal of time talking about our relationship to our patients. Actually, that’s not true. We have actually spent more time talking about our relationship to our “clients.” It’s surprisingly difficult to find any reference to “patients” in our readings or texts.

There has apparently been a movement away from referring to someone as a patient, because of the meaning of the word, I suppose. In philosophy, the word “patient” is sometimes used in opposition to the word “agent.” For example, a moral agent is someone for whom her actions, character or the results of her actions are the proper subject of moral evaluation. By contrast, a moral patient is someone for whom her treatment by others is the proper subject of moral evaluation. (So a human being would be a moral patient. An inanimate object would not be a moral patient, since you can treat an inanimate object any way you please without it being even slightly wrong, as far as the object itself is concerned.)

If that is the way that we conceive of a patient—someone who is acted upon, then we make an implicit divide between “us nurses” (the agents) and “those patients” (the patients). On this conception, it is we who act upon the patient to bring about health. By labelling her a “patient,” we take away her agency.

I can understand this concern. This is why the language has changed. We now interact with “clients.” On this model, the client comes and uses the services of the nurse. I think this word is better than the word “consumer,” but only just. It has a very economic feel, I think. When I call someone my “client,” it sounds like I see them as someone with whom I am about to have a business transaction.

What’s funny about this is that I’ve had some instructors at McGill who disapprove of the word “patient,” and others who disapprove of the word “client.”

I’m tempted to just use the word “buddy.” E.g. “I’m going to give my buddy his meds.” It’s non-gendered, it doesn’t imply a lack of agency, and it doesn’t sound like I mainly have a business transaction in mind.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2190,
    title = {But what do we call them?},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-09-22,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/22/but-what-do-we-call-them/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "But what do we call them?" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 22 Sep 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/22/but-what-do-we-call-them/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Sep 22). But what do we call them? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/09/22/but-what-do-we-call-them/


Registering with the OIIQ

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On Friday, in the post, I got my application for registration from the OIIQ. That’s great! I’ve been wondering when that would come for a while. :)

The problem is that in order to fill it out and return it, I need to get a passport photo, and have it signed by a person authorised to act as a respondent. So that person must have known me for at least 2 years, and must be a doctor/lawyer/nurse/engineer-type. There is no one in Québec who has known me for 2 years yet. I moved here 2 years ago.

Further, I also need a “certified true copy” of my birth certificate. So that means I need to copy it and have it notarised. This is also something of a hassle. Last time I had something notarised, it cost me $50. Maybe it’s cheaper in Québec?

I’m not sure how I’m going to figure out the passport photo thing, since going to Ontario isn’t really an option with so little time left. I don’t even know how to find a notary here either. Oh well. I’ll figure it out.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2104,
    title = {Registering with the OIIQ},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-08-28,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/28/registering-with-the-oiiq/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Registering with the OIIQ" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 28 Aug 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/28/registering-with-the-oiiq/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Aug 28). Registering with the OIIQ [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/28/registering-with-the-oiiq/


Completion inefficiencies—going for the last one percent

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Humans are very good at making most processes 99% efficient. It’s the last 1% that’s hard to figure out. The last 1% of the job takes the most effort, causes the most stress, costs the most money and produces the most waste.

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

Internet inefficiency

For example, humans invented the internet. Cities, countries, even different continents can connect and share incredible amounts of information constantly. This is an example of what I mean by a process that is 99% efficient. Maybe even more than 99% efficient.

And yet, connecting that vast network to the computer in my apartment can be painfully difficult. That is an example of what I mean by “the last 1%.” The telephone pole just outside my building has wires that, if properly connected, will get me on the internet. It’s only metres away from me. And yet, it took months for Bell to finally figure out how to connect my internet properly because the wires in my apartment building are messed up. (It’s still somewhat messed up, although not as messed up as before.)

Social media and the Vancouver riot

Another interesting example is the case of the Vancouver riot: Police are pretty efficient at catching and taking people away to be processed by the justice system. When the police are looking for you, generally speaking, they catch you. (Bounty hunters in the States are even better.) The inefficient part of this process is finding and identifying people who break the law. When my van was broken into, two summers ago, the police took my information, but really, there was nothing they could do. They just don’t have eyes and ears everywhere. They can’t always be watching, and so some criminals get away with breaking into my van and stealing the GPS.

The recent Vancouver riot is a clear example of what happens when this inefficiency is taken away. More than 100 people were arrested by Vancouver police as a result of the use of mobile phones during the riot. Some have even suggested that the increase in use of mobile phones with cameras have caused a decrease in the rate of crime generally.

It turns out that in some cases it might not be such a bad thing that Big Brother is watching.

“Tea, Earl Grey, hot”

Consider the case of food distribution. Farms are very good at efficiently producing food. We’re pretty good at putting that food on trucks and getting them to grocery stores without losing very much in the process. It’s the last step, at the grocery stores themselves, where the efficiency drops dramatically. If you go behind any supermarket, there are always dumpsters full of expired produce, eggs that break, meat that goes bad.

Imagine if your house had a Star-Trek style replicator, where you pushed a button and whoosh, a machine produced the food you like best, one “food pixel” at a time, heated by a laser beam and drawn from a food printer cartridge. These could be frozen and kept indefinitely. No more spilling—no more waste. No more trying to choose the best tomato or the ripest avocado. Just buy a cartridge of the right stuff, and away you go.

This isn’t even sci-fi anymore. 3D food printers exist, although they’re really expensive. We could have incredible control over the efficiency of food production and the consistency in quality in food with such a system. We could give consumers exacting control over portion size and nutritional completeness. In situations where food aid is required, such a system would have great benefits as well.

I imagine logging on to the iTunes Food Store, syncing my recipes with my replicator and then receiving a notification on my iPhone when dinner is done printing.

Trying to park my car

Having moved to the island of Montréal two years ago, one of the most frustrating things for me was trying to park my vehicle. Here in Montréal, people will just bring their car to a stop on a major thoroughfare and turn their reverse lights on. If they do this in front of you, it’s because they want to park on the side of the road and need to back into their spot. They expect you to just go around them.

Parking is not just a problem in Montréal. Cars are wonderfully efficient at getting you from point A to somewhere within about 500 metres of point B. To actually get to point B, you usually have to backtrack a bit, circle the area for 15 minutes, find a spot, then discover that the spot is only available for 20 minutes at a time anyway, and even when you do find a spot to park (usually for a price) you have to walk a good while to get where you’re actually going. Then you have to remember where you parked, and hope that no one breaks into your vehicle to steal your stuff while you’re gone.

Airports are a prime example of this. They have officers at the entrances to airports whose only job is to make sure that people don’t just park their car in front of the door leading to “domestic departures.” You’re allowed to stop your car, pull your stuff out, kiss your loved one and then drive off. That’s all. If you’re going to park the car, there’s a huge inefficiency of the other person having to wait for you while you park it, and if you don’t want to have to bother with that, you have to either get a friend to go out of her way to help you, or you have to hire a taxi at great cost to yourself.

In response to this problem, I’m somewhat intrigued by Google’s driverless car project. I don’t think that this will solve the problem I have outlined in its entirety (even if this project succeeds), but I would be very happy to see the day where I can get in my car, tell it my destination, jump out when I’m in front of the building I’m going to and watch it drive off to find a parking spot on its own.

Process Efficient part Inefficient part Solution
Internet connexion Communication between large centres The last few metres from the telephone pole to the back of your computer Wireless internet
Crime investigation Arrest and processing of already-identified suspects Identification of criminals Camera phones + Facebook
Food distribution Mass production, distribution to retail venues Sales and consumption 3D food printers
Automotive transport Travelling, especially long distances Parking Driverless parking
Table 1. Examples of completion inefficiencies

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1924,
    title = {Completion inefficiencies—going for the last one percent},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-06-29,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/29/completion-inefficiencies-going-for-the-last-one-percent/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Completion inefficiencies—going for the last one percent" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 29 Jun 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/29/completion-inefficiencies-going-for-the-last-one-percent/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jun 29). Completion inefficiencies—going for the last one percent [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/29/completion-inefficiencies-going-for-the-last-one-percent/


I submitted my thesis today

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ACCO-Press bound thesis

ACCO-Press bound thesis

When I woke up this morning, I was three steps away from submitting my thesis:

  1. Get French translation of my abstract
  2. Print thesis
  3. Get my supervisor’s signature

Well, it turns out my translator’s computer crashed, and so I didn’t get the French version of my abstract until exactly 12h today.

I printed my thesis—all 87 pages—bound it in ACCO-press binders, applied the necessary stickers, packed everything up and then wondered why I hadn’t heard back from my supervisor. He’s generally very fast at responding to emails, and last night he offered by email to sign my thesis submission form this afternoon, so it was surprising that he hadn’t got back to me.

I called his office. I called his home. I sent another email. I decided to do a stakeout at the Biomedical Ethics Unit and see if I run into him. When I was putting on my shoes, I considered for a moment whether I should put on my running shoes or my regular shoes. I had this nagging feeling like somehow I would end up sprinting to the James Administration Building at the last second, and that I would be happy to be wearing running shoes. Then I dismissed that thought. All I had to do, after all, is get my supervisor’s signature and then walk across the street and submit it. Putting running shoes on would be silly.

I put my regular shoes on and went to the Bioethics Unit to look for my supervisor. I ran into the administrative assistant who informed me that he was having a terrible day. A few seconds later I got a phone call from him.

Apparently my supervisor had a minor car accident and spent the morning in the emergency room. He invited me to his house to have the forms signed. This would not normally have been a problem, but Villa-Maria station (where he lives) is closed until September 6, and so I went to Vendôme station and hired a cab to get me to his place.

I saw the back of his car when I arrived. There were indentations that I’m sure were never intended by the manufacturer to be there. My supervisor and his family are all right, I think, but understandably this has been a bad day for them.

The forms all signed, I sprinted to the nearest Bixi station and decided that it would be fastest to just ride the Bixi all the way to campus. This may or may not have been the case, but I made it back to campus in 25 minutes, which is probably better than what it would have taken to get to a métro, wait, transfer at Lionel-Groulx and then walk from station McGill to the James Administration Building.

On arrival, I was hot, sweaty and breathing heavily, but I still had the presence of mind to turn on the Voice Memo app on my phone, so that I could secretly record it when the person in the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office said, “Yes, everything appears to be in order.” (Thank goodness for iPhone headphones that have a built-in mic for clandestine voice recording.)

I guess I’m paranoid because I’ve recently had two separate experiences where I handed in everything on a document checklist only to receive a mystifying message later on, indicating that I failed to submit all the required documents. I don’t plan to use this recording for anything but soothing my own nerves, for the record. It just feels good to hear someone say that I submitted everything.

So after all that, I have now made initial submission of my thesis. Hooray!

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1898,
    title = {I submitted my thesis today},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-06-10,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/10/i-submitted-my-thesis-today/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "I submitted my thesis today" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 10 Jun 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/10/i-submitted-my-thesis-today/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jun 10). I submitted my thesis today [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/10/i-submitted-my-thesis-today/


Liveblogging my RAMQ experience

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8h30—RAMQ says: “Yes of course, we’ll fax your temporary card to your pharmacy. Ask your pharmacy to call you when they receive it. It might take up to an hour.”

[I gave RAMQ the fax number twice during this call.]

9h00—pharmacy says: “We’ll call you as soon as it arrives.”

12h00—pharmacy says: “No, we haven’t received anything.”

14h15—RAMQ says: “The lady said she was waiting for the fax number. We’ll fax it for real this time. ;) It will probably take 15 minutes to a half hour.”

15h15—pharmacy says: “No, we haven’t received anything.”

15h20—RAMQ says: “No, there’s no note on your file that mentions anything about faxing a temporary card. What’s the number you want it sent to?”

15h40—pharmacy says: “Ah yes, it just came in two minutes ago.”

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1881,
    title = {Liveblogging my RAMQ experience},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-06-6,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/06/liveblogging-my-ramq-experience/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Liveblogging my RAMQ experience" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 06 Jun 2011. Web. 22 Nov 2017. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/06/liveblogging-my-ramq-experience/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jun 06). Liveblogging my RAMQ experience [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/06/liveblogging-my-ramq-experience/


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