Quand l’austérité tue

austérité«Si la récession fait mal, l’austérité tue». Cette phrase est tirée de l’introduction du livreQuand l’austérité tue de David Stuckler, sociologue spécialisé en santé publique et en économie politique et Sanjay Basu, épidémiologue. Il ne s’agit pas d’un slogan ou d’un truc de marketing pour vendre un livre, mais bien d’une conclusion tirée de données fiables.

Après avoir démontré certains faits dans leur avant-propos (notamment le lien solide entre l’espérance de vie et le niveau de dépenses sociales dans les pays industrialisés), les auteurs étudient le lien entre les récessions et la santé publique à travers diverses situations vécues un peu partout dans le monde.

La Grande dépression et le New Deal

Dans ce chapitre, les auteurs ont tenté de déterminer l’évolution de la mortalité aux États-Unis au cours de la Grande Dépression de 1929 à 1937. Les données brutes étaient peu utiles, car, surtout en raison…

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Road Trip to Vancouver and Back: a Most Excellent Boubou and Daddy Adventure Travel Idea.

PSX_20140718_170240A good friend of mine from British Columbia was just in town for a conference and stayed at our place as he’s been doing for the passed couple of years. We’ve also been saying that we want to go visit for a few years, but have never actually been able to act on it. I have not been in over 10 years and my wife and daughter have never been. I have also been meaning to spend more time with my daughter, and with spring around the corner, I am thinking that perhaps a long road trip would make for an epic Most Excellent Boubou Adventure with my daughter (some of you may remember last summer’s Boubou’s Most Excellent Friday Adventure)!

At this point, I’m just really throwing the idea in my head, essentially writing this post in an exploratory fashion of what is possible.

So, why a road trip?

PSX_20140825_192156Why not just fly over there and spend more time on location instead of spending a whole week traveling? Why not perhaps doing it by train? Well there are a few reasons (and admittedly I’m not completely arrested on the road trip idea, hence it still being at the idea stage). The main reason I won’t be doing it by train is that I just checked the price, and a standard economy fare for an adult and a child is 1500$, not including meals and sleeping accommodations. Add a cabin for two, and it’s 4000$. So that’s out of my price range. Way out. Finally, you don’t exactly control stops and breaks riding the train, as beautiful as the trip can be. With a 3 or 4 years old in tow, it can be problematic.

Flying over there is also a very good option, and is most definitely the main contender. The advantage of this mode of transportation is that it’s the quickest, avoiding sleeping accommodations for the travel time. However, a large part of the Most Excellent Adventure is also getting there. The idea of spending a full week getting to Vancouver with Boubou, and taking our time to stop and explore a lot of the country together is quite alluring.

Some travel costs math

PSX_20140416_150154Let’s do some quick math with information from Google. Airfare is about 900$ for return tickets. That means 1800$ for Boubou and I, 2700$ if mommy comes with us. Google tells me the driving distance is about 4500km. The family car can do about 600km on a full tank of fuel, and costs us between 30 and 35$ for a fill up. We’ll work with 35$ to play it safe. That gives us 7.5 fill ups; so let’s round to 8 fill ups. This means we’re looking at about 280$ worth of fuel for a one-way trip. Let’s round up again, and we’re looking at 600$ return trip in fuel, whether mommy comes with us or not. Finally, and I’m going out on a limb here, we need to account for accommodations, and I’m going to guesstimate 75$ a night for cheap hotels/motels along the way. If I count 7 nights (to account for a possible extra day of traveling), I’m looking at 575$ extra for one-way, 1150$ for the return trip. It totals about 1750$, which is about the same as the 1800$ airfare. It comes to be actually more expensive than airfare if you count meals.

Other costs that should be accounted here are transportation once on location. Doing the road trip solves that issue; we have the car to get around as much as we want. Flying in entails extra costs for transportation, where the most expensive one is probably renting a car. I am not overly familiar with B.C.’s transit system, but using buses might be feasible option, if it’s not too limiting. We do want to see more than just Vancouver; we’d like to see as much of the province as we can. Nonetheless, these costs may well tip the advantage back to driving to B.C. instead of flying.

Accommodations

I am hoping we can stay (or at least base ourselves) at our friends’ places. I’m looking in Kai’s general direction. Yet, there will be a need to get accommodations in places we don’t know anyone, and we’ll need to budget for that. I’m thinking Air BnB will be helpful here. I’m even hoping I can mitigate accommodation costs from the road trip to get there by also using Air BnB, which would mean a stronger advantage on the road trip side.

Timeframe

We want to make it a big Most Excellent Adventure! I would like to be able to spend at least 3 weeks exploring B.C. Throw in the road trip, and we’re looking at a 5 to 6 weeks overall trip.

If we do end up driving it, I am hoping to do it in 7 days, as hinted above. This should require about 7 hours worth of driving everyday to cover the 48 hours Google is telling us it would take. It should be manageable, but I do want to be able to stop frequently to explore a lot with little Boubou. 7 days on the road will probably be hard on her, and I’m thinking 7 hours a day might be too much, even if spread in the entire day. Perhaps 8 days might be a better approach. I’m not too sure here.

Possible?

I don’t know, yet. I sure love the idea, though. From the looks of it, we’re probably looking at 4000$ and up if we’re to spend 3 to 4 weeks on location. It might be above our budget for this year, but I would like to see how much I could reduce the costs for a long stay, using the sharing economy, friends, and low cost travel tips. Perhaps I can do some work on the side there? But the idea is to spend quality time exploring with Boubou, not to work. Maybe photo work? Travel writing? That’s why it’s still only an idea. There’s nothing concrete yet, before it actually becomes a project.

To all of you who have done the drive with a toddler, or spent time in B.C., and most especially all of you who are from there, and are there now, what do you think? What would you suggest me to do, not do? What would you recommend to lower possible costs? Did you see some horrible mistakes in my early guesstimations? Something important I forgot? Let’s talk!

I just can’t stop talking about dress codes.

Living My Social Work

I’m still thinking a whole lot about this dress code situation. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and read many comments on newspaper articles and blog posts, and I feel I need to address a few of the ones that keep coming up. 

School is a place of business.
The school as an institution serves several functions. First, it’s a place families can send their children for child care that their taxes pay for. This is even true for adolescents. We have a collective need to know that our minors are supervised for the majority of the day, and schools provide this. Second, schools are places of learning. Literacy, numeracy, arts, humanities, social sciences – schools provide space to facilitate this curricular learning. They also provide social learning. After all, isn’t the biggest (fallacious, incidentally) argument against homeschooling the lack of peer socialization? Children learn at school (and at home)…

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Six ways to keep the pipeline debate on track

From B.C., but also worthwhile for easterners regarding the pipeline flow’s reversal.

Kai Nagata

It’s been a day since the National Energy Board recommended approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, and some of the people who otherwise distrust government, want it out of the economy, and hate quasi-judicial independent appointed bla bla bla — are lining up to praise the probity and wisdom of the Joint Review Panel. Some of these folks are your friends and relatives. Some have a wider audience.

The words of the pro-pipeline press are worth reading today, because they point to both the true debate and the false debates that we will face going forward. Indeed, some of these conversations might come up over the holidays. If so, let’s make sure we don’t get lost in rhetorical cul-de-sacs.

For example, in a Toronto Sun editorial titled “Northern Gateway? Get on with it” we are told the “job of government” (executed to applause here by the JRP) is “to stand…

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The Amazing story of James Croll, 19th Century Janitor Scientist

This is an excerpt from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, a great book worth the read on all accounts. This particular excerpt talks about the development of the first glacier theories and early geology. I find this guy’s story all sorts of amazing!

In the 1860’s, journals and other learned publications in Britain began to receive papers on hydrostatics, electricity, and other scientific subjects from a James Croll of Anderson’s University, in Glasgow. One of the papers, on how variations in Earth’s orbit might have precipitated ice ages, was published in the Philosophical Magazine in 1864 and was recognized at once as a work of the highest standard. So there was some surprise, and perhaps just a touch of embarrassment, when it turned out that Croll was not an academic at the university, but a janitor.

Born in 1821, Croll grew up poor, and his formal education lasted only to the age of thirteen. He worked at a variety of jobs – as a carpenter, insurance salesman, keeper of a temperance hotel – before taking a position as a janitor at Anderson’s (now the University of Strathclyde) in Glasgow. By somehow inducing his brother to do much of his work, he was able to pass many quiet evenings in the university library teaching himself physics, mechanics, astronomy, hydrostatics, and the other fashionable sciences of the day, and gradually began to produce a string of papers, with a particular emphasis on the motions of Earth and their effect on climate.

Management Responses to Global Problems

From the point of view of those with a vested interest in the status-quo, efforts to manage our problems can actually be a useful diversion: such efforts provide a focus for research, discussion, and countless meetings for academics, politicians, consultants and NGOs, while in practice nothing really changes. The Kyoto climate-change negotiations kept thousands of scientists and other experts busy for years (ironically generating vast amounts of carbon dioxide as they traveled from meeting to meeting) while providing cover for politicians who wanted to say they were doing something about global warming.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down, 2007

Globalizing the Risks of Civilization

The globalization tendency brings about afflictions, which are once again unspecific in their generality. Where everything turns into a hazard, somehow nothing is dangerous anymore. Where there is no escape, people ultimately no longer want to think about it. This eschatological eco-fatalism allows the pendulum of private and political moods to swing in any direction. The risk society shifts from hysteria to indifference and vice versa.

On The Logic of Wealth and Risk Distribution in Living on the Volcano of Civilization by Ulrich Beck, 1992