No Food for Thought

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

Exit or Voice: the powerful anti-Putin voices of Arkady Volozh and Oleg Tinkov

admin Saturday August 26, 2023

Half a decade after the famous treatise on the matter, quitting or speaking remains a constant dilemma. In particular in rogue autocratic regimes like Vladimir Putin's Russia... and about a topic as political as the Russo-Ukrainian War.

đŸ‘đŸŒRussian businessmen Arkady Volozh and Oleg TinkovđŸ‘đŸŒ have managed to take the right decision, clearly voicing their opposition, despite a forced very costly exit.

Arkady Volozh wrote:
I am totally against Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, where I, like many, have friends and relatives. I am horrified by the fact that every day bombs fly into the homes of Ukrainians

Oleg Tinkov wrote:
Of course there are morons who draw Z, but 10% of any country are morons. 90% of Russians are AGAINST this war!

Google Maps driving you nuts? Welcome to the anonymous road club

admin Friday August 18, 2023

Fast Company has written a 5-point rant against Google Maps. The first 4 points honestly don't bother me much... but as for the last one, it was quite a relief to read, about a year after realizing it and wondering if I'm going crazy for being the only one getting this behavior and going mad about it:

Michael Grothaus wrote:
Many times I just want to see the name of the street I’m standing on. So, I open Google Maps and zoom in on my current location. Yet no matter how far in I zoom in, Google Maps doesn’t always apply a label to the street I’m standing on. It just remains blank. Of course, business pins I have no interest in are still prominently displayed.

Slashdot's coverage of the article has lots of comments about that problem, some of which suggest the persistence of such a flaw does not result from incompetence, but rather an intentional business decision:

ThumpBzztZoom wrote:
It's simple, Google does not want you to know where you are. The less you know where you are, the more you have to rely on Google Maps.

Unfortunately, the issue is not just limited to your surroundings. Maps fail to show road and waterway names even when exploring different regions. And no matter the explanation, I have to admit that at this time, I'm still using Google Maps.😒

Volunteer organizations, moral licensing and dysfunction

admin Sunday July 9, 2023

Having contributed to countless projects via volunteer organizations, I know that organizational dysfunction is―if not a rule―almost a norm, in particular in organizations with little funding, no staff and no management.

There are some obvious explanations for that, including volunteer burnout, but what is more surprising is the frequency and persistence of harassment. Jeroen Camps highlights an interesting scientifically studied phenomenon called moral licensing which may help explain that.

I am skeptical about the existence and importance of moral licensing, but if it affected everyone, very few of Kohlberg's stages of moral development would remain plausible.

Du Crédit d'impÎt relatif à un fonds de travailleurs à un Crédit d'imposteurs

admin Tuesday June 6, 2023

Qu'y a-t-il de pire que de subventionner le secteur privé? Mal subventionner le secteur privé. Chose bien trop commune dans notre pays.

J'allais cotiser à mon REER+ du Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec aujourd'hui. AprÚs 2 minutes, je constate, sans grande surprise, que ce n'est toujours pas possible. Les cotisations sont toujours suspendues; du moins on le suppose, puisque le site web ne semble l'indiquer nulle part. Je ne ferai pas partie des chanceux qui pourront cotiser cette année; on repassera pour la solidarité.

L'article du Journal de Montréal explique une partie du problÚme. Suffit d'ajouter qu'au lieu d'encourager les particuliers à détenir des investissements au Québec, on les encourage à en acquérir. Oups! La nuance fait toute la différence, transformant une intention d'encourager l'économie locale en une pure dépense, empirant notre déficit. Sacrés incitatifs pervers

Ah, si seulement on pouvait remplacer le crédit d'impÎt relatif à un fonds de travailleurs par un crédit d'imposteurs au Parlement du Québec!

Il y a de l'espoir, tout de mĂȘme. Cet article de Julien Arsenault indique qu'Ă  dĂ©faut d'encourager la dĂ©tention, on allonge une pĂ©riode de dĂ©tention minimale... Ă  une nouvelle tout aussi arbitraire, mais sans doute moins pire que la prĂ©cĂ©dente. L'article a aussi le mĂ©rite de rectifier celui du Journal de MontrĂ©al en indiquant que le problĂšme des Ă©missions n'est malheureusement pas la faute de la FTQ, mais bien... de la rĂ©gulation gouvernementale! Et du mĂȘme coup, on Ă©liminera le crĂ©dit pour les « riches »... car n'est-ce pas plus facile d'ajouter encore davantage de rĂšgles que de les rationaliser? Ainsi, on aura bientĂŽt un crĂ©dit avec une pĂ©riode de dĂ©tention minimale, un plafond salarial et une limite annuelle (pour ne mentionner que les plus importants des critĂšres). Et bien sĂ»r, sur des actions qui resteront difficiles Ă  se procurer. Si on cherche Ă  Ă©conomiser, ce n'est certainement pas de la complexitĂ©!

Whiste-blowing rewards

admin Saturday May 20, 2023

This month, the USA's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has paid its largest award ever to an undisclosed whistle-blower who helped identify a presumably major securities law violation. Indeed, the reward amounted to 279 million USD.

The case being confidential, it is hard to judge the collaboration's value. But the incentive is pretty clear. What is easy is to wonder what would happen if instead of—or in addition to—exceptional awards, whistle-blowing was properly valued consistently. The SEC's own policy on awards is questionable, ignoring cases under 1 million USD in sanctions. For many people, the difference between no reward and a 200 000 USD reward may have more impact on their behavior than the difference between a 200 000 USD reward and a 279 million USD reward.

It's not easy to imagine that most of the 2022–2023 Pentagon document leaks could have been prevented with only 150 000 USD, had it been awarded early. How many hundreds of lives and tens of millions of dollars would such a reward have saved?

Dyson sphere

admin Thursday May 18, 2023

I remember being halfway through high school when I had the idea of optimizing solar energy by putting panels around the Sun and relaying the energy to Earth. I did not promote the idea a lot at the time, but it turns out that wouldn't have changed much. Even the concept's name was already established when I was born: unfortunately not a "Cloutier panel", but a Dyson sphere, named after Freeman Dyson, who explored the concept... in 1937.

Not only was I ignorant of its name, but I also didn't know such structures were considered as the defining element of "type II" civilizations, on the Kardashev scale.
Here's hoping our species goes type II before burning through our planet I.

L'assurance responsabilité (civile) au Québec : obligatoire pour certains locataires

admin Wednesday May 17, 2023

L'assurance de ses propres biens est bien entendu facultative. Les locataires de logements n'ont donc pas besoin d'une assurance habitation, mais qu'en est-il de la responsabilité civile?

L'assurance de responsabilitĂ© couvre un assurĂ© qui serait poursuivi pour des dommages qu'il aurait causĂ©s. Notamment un rĂ©sident qui endommagerait des rĂ©sidences adjacentes en causant un incendie. À priori, la loi quĂ©bĂ©coise n'oblige pas les locataires Ă  souscrire une telle assurance.


Par contre, plusieurs locateurs exigent de leurs locataires de souscrire une assurance responsabilitĂ© civile et mĂȘme d'en fournir la preuve au propriĂ©taire. Cette obligation venant avec des coĂ»ts considĂ©rables—en argent mais surtout en temps—on peut se demander si de telles clauses sont abusives. Si vous avez signĂ© un bail dotĂ© d'un rĂšglement vous imposant une assurance responsabilitĂ©, ĂȘtes-vous obligĂ© de le respecter?

Selon un jugement de 2019, oui.

Tribunal administratif du logement wrote:
La clause du rĂšglement qui oblige le locataire Ă  dĂ©tenir une assurance-responsabilitĂ© ne peut ĂȘtre dĂ©clarĂ©e illĂ©gale.

Ainsi, au Québec, l'obligation de détenir une assurance responsabilité dépend du rÚglement de sa résidence.

Integrity and openness - values to better distribute

admin Thursday May 11, 2023

It might seems strange for someone who was part of Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party of Canada government for 7 years to teach about integrity.

It's nevertheless interesting to see how former astronaut Marc Garneau looks back at his career in an interview with Paul Wells:

Marc Garneau wrote on 2023-03-14:

“One of the things I loved the most about NASA was that if you fuck up” — he paused before using the salty word — “you confess. That is the culture there.”

Probably this does not need to be spelled out, but here goes anyway. This culture of honesty was not a simple preference. Shuttle crews rode a lake of liquid fuel and twin towers of solid fuel at speeds their own ancestors could not have imagined. If a bug slipped into the system it could kill them and set spaceflight back decades, as indeed it did, twice. Owning up to error was the primary method of keeping colleagues, and the dream of spaceflight, alive.

“I did hundreds of simulations. I was the first non-American CAPCOM ever. CAPCOM’s the guy who talks to the crew in orbit for Mission Control. And we did hundreds of simulations. I covered 17 missions, just as CAPCOM. And after every simulation, where the crew, perhaps, had not picked up the problem and had not reacted properly to it, we’d do a post mortem.

“And that culture of honesty and openness, which you absolutely need in the space business — you can't have people making excuses or trying to hide things — that's what I love the most. And I wish it existed in all facets of life, including the one I ended up in.”

For want of honesty from politicians, it's nice to see occasional meta-(dis)honesty from former politicians. I for one can't wait for Vladimir Putin and his USA presidency puppet to exhibit some honesty about how much dishonesty they will have resorted to.

How wonderful would our world be if it wasn't for dishonesty?

Artificial Intelligence's Current Achievement: Unlimited Disruption?

admin Sunday April 16, 2023

In 2020, No Food for Thought asked whether AI's next achievement would be unlimited trolling. As far as I know, large-scale peer production remains mostly spared from such disruption so far.

That's not because AI hasn't "progressed" in recent years. It's just that so far, it has been directed towards social engineering and spamming. Teachers have to worry about AI more than peer producers.

Very little is "lacking" for this to change very quickly though. And more importantly, there is still virtually nothing preventing this from changing.

The conclusion was too right.
No Food for Thought, 2020 wrote:
Now is the time for globally verifiable identities.

Today, we can say that the time for globally verifiable identities was years ago. And unfortunately, very little progress has been made since.

Artificial intelligence is not the problem. It is our neglect and lateness which has condemned us to years of inefficiency, multi-level disruption, distrust, and—most problematically—out of control disinformation. As long as it lacks vision and unity, our species will keep going from one crisis to more crises.

2023-06 Update

"Trolling" might not be the best name, but it's now clear artificially generated text is starting to hurt peer production, with Stack Overflow possibly the most obvious victim. With still no solution in sight

If you want peace, prepare for war - fighting violence in hockey?

admin Wednesday April 12, 2023

I have always known that my mother's last boss, athlete Dean Bergeron, was paralyzed. But it wasn't before seeing this CBC News report tonight that I learned his injury was the sad result of a fight.

This comes with the good news that such fighting is now banned in Quebec's Major Junior Hockey League. What is concerning—though—is the reaction of players, including Georges Laraque, who seem to believe fighting somehow prevents violence. Would the old adage Si vis pacem, para bellum still apply to hockeyquestion

Having never really played hockey, I can't judge that view. Is it just human nature for offenders to find a justification for their actions, or does it highlight that hockey - like many similar sports - is unsalvageably violent? No matter how Canadian it might be, if hockey relies on fighting to ensure its safety, perhaps the Hockey Canada sexual assault scandal is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. If fighting violence in hockey is unrealistic, should we not fight competitive hockey itself?

Radio-Canada has a deeper discussion with Dean Bergeron in French.


Bergeron's accident might have been a blessing by preventing him from more fighting, as a new study on NHL "enforcers" shows how bad these fare.

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