Monthly Archives: May 2008

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 23

At 1.9 million, the most famous one is the first answer that would come to mind for most people in response to this question. But it’s actually third, behind one at 2.61 million and another at 2.01 million, near each end of the city.

And with a project under way at 1.92 million, it’s about to drop to fourth.

What is the question? And what do these numbers signify?

UPDATE: Here’s a hint: The “most famous one” is at Mount Royal (The mountain? Avenue? Town? Metro station? Train station?).

UPDATE No. 2: BruB gets it right below. The question is “What is the largest park in Montreal?”

Mount Royal Park is an obvious candidate at 1.9 million square kilometres (192 hectares). But it’s beat by a bunch of parks on the periphery (it’s sixth, not third, according to figures from the city):

  • Cap St. Jacques Nature Park, 288 hectares (2.9 million square metres)
  • Jean-Drapeau Park, 268 hectares (2.68 million square metres)
  • Pointe-aux-Prairies Nature Park, 261 hectares (2.6 million square metres)
  • Bois-de-l’Ile-Bizard Nature Park, 201 hectares (2 million square metres)
  • Anse à l’Orme Nature Park, 201 hectares (2 million square metres)

And the St. Michel Environmental Complex is being built into another huge park, which will measure about the same as Mount Royal Park in 15 years.

It’s Canada. Who cares?

Number of foreign bureaus at the Washington Post: 18

  • Bureaus in the Middle East: 5
  • Bureaus in Europe: 4
  • Bureaus in South America: 2
  • Bureaus in China and Japan: 3
  • Bureaus in Canada: 0

Number of foreign bureaus at the New York Times: 23

  • Bureaus in Europe: 7
  • Bureaus in South America: 3
  • Bureaus in Africa: 4
  • Bureaus in Canada: 0

Number of foreign bureaus at the Los Angeles Times: 20

  • Bureaus in Europe: 5
  • Bureaus in South America: 2
  • Bureaus in Africa: 3
  • Bureaus in China and Japan: 3
  • Bureaus in Canada: 0

Number of foreign bureaus at CNN: 28

  • Bureaus in Europe:6
  • Bureaus in the Middle East: 6
  • Bureaus in South America: 3
  • Bureaus in Africa: 4
  • Bureaus in China, Japan and South Korea: 4
  • Bureaus in Canada: 0

Does anyone else notice something odd there?

Metrovision at Bonaventure station

Last week, the Metrovision system went live at Bonaventure station, with flat-panel TV sets installed above the platforms. It joins Berri-UQAM, McGill and Lionel-Groulx as stations that provide time, weather and train arrival information as well as news from RDI, and of course advertising to pay for it all.

Hope they’re tied down tight because they look really stealable. Especially if the lights go out again:

STM wants you to vent

On Wednesday evening, the STM is holding a public meeting to show off some planned “improvements” to the public transit network and “discuss” people’s concerns about the system in Montreal.

In other words, let’s get ready to grummmmmblllllllllllle!

The meeting is at the Intercultural Library at 6767 Côte-des-Neiges Road, just across from the cinema near Goyer St. It starts at 7pm and is expected to end at 9.

Expect a lot of discussion about the overall service improvements (despite nagging bus shortages). Also, expect grandma to go on for 20 minutes about how that bus was too full that one time.

By-elections today

Gaétan Legault of Québec solidaire, who is apparently either a communist or a separatist (or a communist-separatist) is just one of 20 candidates running in three by-elections today in Quebec: Hull, Bourget (east-end Montreal) and Pointe-aux-Trembles.

Aside from the Big 3 parties, there are candidates in each riding from Québec solidaire, the left-wing party, the Green Party, which still takes itself seriously despite never winning anything, and the new Parti indépendantiste, which thinks the PQ is too soft on sovereignty. There are also two independents running in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

If you live in one of these ridings and for some reason haven’t been bombarded with information about this vote, check out the by-elections website.

Globe, La Presse dominate National Newspaper Awards

(The title of this post is coincidentally the same as the story)

The National Newspaper Awards (or Concours Canadien de journalisme) were handed out this week. I mentioned the finalists in March.

The big winner was the Globe and Mail, which won six first-place prizes (they were nominated 15 times, including a sweep of one category), and they’re very proud of themselves. Also posting a strong showing was La Presse, who won in five of the six categories it was nominated in. Again, lots of pride.

The biggest disappointment goes to the Toronto Star, who won only two categories despite eight nominations (though two were for the same category). But hey, they’re still proud of themselves too.

As for my beloved paper, it was shut out, winning in neither of the two categories it was nominated in. In fact, the entire chain combined picked up only three awards (two for the Ottawa Citizen, one for the National Post). Still it does a valiant effort covering the situation in its Canwest News Service story. You’ll notice it mentions the Globe and La Presse in the final paragraph.

Newspapers? Self-obsessed? Nevah!

In related news, The Gazette’s Words Matter campaign has won even more kudos, this time from the International Newspaper Marketing Association, which apparently exists. You can see a video of the TV spot on the website if you haven’t seen it ad nauseam already — ironically it makes you watch an ad before you get to the actual ad. You can also see a photo gallery of the “On Thin Ice” gimmick of a block of melting ice on a downtown street.

As for me, I’m still waiting for my awards.

Lessons on plagiarism

Torontoist (via Regret the Error) talks about a Toronto blogger and Flickrite who had photos of his used on Citytv’s CP24 news network without permission, credit or compensation, and has finally received vindication in the form of a Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruling in his favour.

This kind of thing, sadly, is nothing new. Last year I mentioned TVA using a photo from Taxi de nuit’s Pierre-Léon, similarly stolen from his Flickr page. There was also blogger Julie Bélanger, who had a photo of hers taken from her Flickr page and used in Quebecor’s 24 Heures.

I think there are lessons to be learned from this, not just for traditional media, but for bloggers as well, about using other people’s content without permission.

In many blogs I subscribe to, I often see photos used to illustrate posts. That’s usually a good idea, because photos attract attention, and they can show things clearly that words sometimes can’t.

But in most of those cases, the photos weren’t taken by the blogger. They might have been taken by a wire service like Canadian Press or Getty Images, or by a local newspaper, or by some random person on Flickr.

And very often (almost universally for professional photos), they are used without permission.

The problem comes, I think, because of a misunderstanding of “fair use” or “fair dealing” provisions of copyright law (assuming the infringer cares about copyright to begin with — some clearly don’t). These are exceptions to copyright law for things like academic study, criticism and parody.

For example, if I wanted to criticize a Hollywood movie, I would be within my rights to use an excerpt from that movie to do so. Or if I was writing a news article about a work of art, I could print a photo of it beside the article.

But many people misunderstand the exception, and assume that they can just slap on any wire service or Flickr photo to illustrate any story, even if the story is not about the photo.

The excuses used for this, by professional and amateur media moguls alike, include:

  • It was free (gratis) online, therefore it’s free (as in freedom) to use
  • My site is non-commercial
  • It’s used to illustrate a news article
  • There was no alternative
  • I used a small-resolution version

Neither of these, by themselves, or together, justify copyright infringement. They may be mitigating factors, but they are not criteria for fair use.

The last excuse, used more by bloggers who think they’re doing the right thing, is that the photo is credited, and therefore there’s no infringement.

This unwritten policy seems to have come out of increasingly popular copyleft licenses used by people to encourage the spreading of their work. There’s an assumption that everyone on the Internet uses such licenses, which allow the free use of material provided it is credited. Not all blogs, nor all photos on Flickr, use copyleft licenses. And even those who do have different clauses which allow for different things.

In the absence of a copyleft (or other) license, all rights are reserved, and that means you need to get permission before using other people’s work.

In most cases, that permission is given freely. But you still need to ask.

Strombo + Cusack = OMGYES

There are two men out there that get the hearts of teenage girls (at least, people who were teenage girls in the early 90s) pumping with gusto, mostly because of their resemblance to me:

George Stroumboulopoulos* and John Cusack.

Before now, you might have wondered if the two could somehow be combined to form some sort of überhottie (and then merged into me, but that would create a form of hotness that would start fusing hydrogen atoms into helium and create a star that would quickly consume the Earth, so let’s not ponder that).

But lo and behold, Strombo interviews Cusack.

Ladies (and some gentlemen), prepare yourselves:


*I totally just spelled that without looking.

Vogels to talk dirty on CBC Radio

Ex-Montrealer Josey Vogels, who was replaced as Hour’s sex columnist in October but is still doing weekly columns on sex and dating, will be joining CBC Radio One, where she gets her own “sexuality” show called Between You and Me.

That was part of a lineup announcement that included an interesting-obit show hosted by Gordon Pinsent, as well as a multiculturalism identity show hosted by CBC Montreal’s Geeta Nadkarni (CBC’s article calls her “Geeta Nadkami”).

The news about Vogels’s new show comes coincidentally at the same time we hear that Torontonian sex superstar Sue Johanson will be hanging up the dildo and retiring from full-time sex advising and ending her show’s run on the Oxygen network.

Roberts revisited

Speaking of Vogels, her replacement at Hour, Laura Roberts, asked me to critique her column. I admit that I’ve stopped reading Hour and Mirror regularly because they don’t have RSS feeds and have a very small news-to-advertising ratio.

So I perused through the archives, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. It’s a bit wordy, a bit opinionative (in the sense of spouting opinions without much analysis or research to back them up), and a bit too focused on the author’s personal life. These are all fairly common for new columnists still trying to figure out what works, and even then it may appeal to others more than it does to me.

In the end, even though it’s been six months already, it’s still a bit too early to tell if the column works or not. It’s definitely not Josey, nor should it be.

MP’s ex is hot

In this Canadian Press photo, you see Julie Couillard, a woman once linked to a Hell’s Angels member, being escorted by an unidentified MP to an official function. We’ve decided not to identify the MP in question, since he hasn’t been charged with anything and we don’t want to sully his reputation.

Wait, you say? It’s stupid of me to disguise his identity since his name and photo have appeared in Quebec media all over the place?

Tell that to Quebecor/Sun Media.

Quebecor-owned outlets, including TVA/LCN and the Journal de Montréal, pretty notorious for exposing gossip, decided to blur this woman’s face and refrain from mentioning her name in their news reports (though apparently the word didn’t get out to all their bloggers, nor to the anglo Sun Media papers which are running CP stories with her name on their websites).

Both are in the news recently because of allegations that she, the ex-girlfriend of Maxime Bernier, was once married briefly to a member of the Hell’s Angels biker gang.

Of course, no evidence whatsoever has been brought to light suggesting that she did anything wrong, much less him. In fact, it seems the guy, Stéphane Sirois, actually grew out of favour with the Hell’s for marrying her.

Now while the Conservatives are pleading for privacy and the opposition is screaming OMG biker warz NATIONAL SECURITY!!!111, most of the media outside of Pierre-Karl Péladeau’s control are milking this story for all it’s worth. They want to give it maximum exposure, reveal as much as possible, put it out there for everyone to gawk at.

(I guess the Journal, for one, had a change of heart after that, and decided to un-anonymize her later this morning)

Fortunately, the rather obvious and curious actions have not been missed by the bloggerati. Patrick Lagacé, Martin Patriquin, Richard Therrien of Le Soleil, 321Blogue, Julie Bélanger, MédiaTrib and others have pointed this out with curious looks on their faces. Could there be some collusion between Bernier and Péladeau? Could Quebecor be afraid of the biker gangs? Surely their explanation of not wanting to sully the reputation of an innocent person can’t be taken at face value considering what we know of the Journal et al’s ethics.

As we ponder the conspiracy theories, let’s get back to the story.

And really, there’s a very important reason this story is getting so much attention: Look at her. She’s hot. We-stiff-on-hard-for-thee hot.

Imagine, if you will, taking sex out of the equation. If this were an unattractive male friend who had, say, an important business relationship with someone alleged to be linked with the mafia or other organized crime, would it have gotten attention from the news media, even if there was no evidence of anything wrong involving the minister?

Of course it would. But it would have been a 500-word story in the politics section. Not Page 1, and not more than a brief on TV.

So, in the end, Quebecor is at fault for nonsensically hiding information from the public. And the rest of the media is at fault for sensationalizing this issue just as an excuse for running file photos of her boobies.

UPDATE (May 11): According to LCN, the woman (who they’re still not identifying) told the Journal her life has been destroyed by this scandal. Note that the Journal identifies her. But the LCN story about the Journal story doesn’t. How weird.