Accounting 101: the theatrics of compliance

I have written before about the increasing over-administration of universities and, more widely, of the the audit society as diagnosed in the 1990s by Michael Power. The audit society, which was nascent in the 1990s, is flourishing today in many institutions, such as McGill. A McGill example: obligation to understand and comply The other dayContinue reading “Accounting 101: the theatrics of compliance”

Income level of federal workers: why should planners care?

Over breakfast yesterday (27th April) I was listening to morning radio shows, alternating between Radio-Canada and CBC, as I usually do. Both had items and interviews about the federal employee strike. The strikers’ basic demands revolve around two things: The overwhelming impression that came across the morning shows was that the federal government should limitContinue reading “Income level of federal workers: why should planners care?”

We are living in a material world (or: AI is nothing without wires and well-tended trees)

I was invited, last Friday, to be part of a panel discussing AI and the city. There are quite a few such panels these days. The common question seems to be: how much will AI alter cities? Not much, I think (and, incidentally, Paul Krugman would probably think so too). AI is about data processing,Continue reading “We are living in a material world (or: AI is nothing without wires and well-tended trees)”

What lies beneath: French pension protests and why Canadians should take note

There is an unfortunate habit, especially in the English-speaking press, to (deliberately?) misrepresent some of the recent protest movements in France. On the face of it, they can easily be labeled as irrational. The yellow vest protests of 2017-18 have often been framed as a “protest against climate action”. Current opposition to an increase inContinue reading “What lies beneath: French pension protests and why Canadians should take note”

Montréal: qui arrive et qui part?

Suite à mon billet d’hier et à certaines questions qui m’ont été posées, voici deux autres figures qui présentent les arrivées et les départs par tranche d’âge. Ces arrivées (Figure 1) et départs (Figure 2) sont présentés en % du nombre total, qui, lui aussi, est représenté sur les figures. Veuillez noter la mise enContinue reading “Montréal: qui arrive et qui part?”

Il n’y a pas d’exode urbain: mais Montréal attire moins

Il est de bon ton de s’inquiéter de l’exode urbain, surtout ces jours-ci alors que le mythe voudrait que la COVID ait accéléré le départ des populations urbaines vers les régions éloignées et les petites villes. Deux remarques s’imposent: J’expose ci-dessous les chiffres qui révèlent cette dynamique. Cette dynamique est importante, car si l’on veutContinue reading “Il n’y a pas d’exode urbain: mais Montréal attire moins”

Exode urbain au Québec?

Pendant l’urgence COVID, les chiffres de migration ont fait la une des journaux. Pendant les périodes 2019-20 et 2020-21 Montréal a connu des départs nets élevé, et l’on a aussi constaté un certain afflux de population vers des régions éloignées du Québec. Cela dit, la grande majorité des départs de Montréal a été vers lesContinue reading “Exode urbain au Québec?”

Rituals of verification: consultants, second-rate evidence, and policy

There is growing consternation in Canada as the extent of major consultants’ involvement in federal policy-making is revealed. Firms such as McKinsey seem to have taken over the public service. This is symptomatic of wider changes that have been described by Michael Power as rituals of verification, i.e. an audit culture that feeds upon itself,Continue reading “Rituals of verification: consultants, second-rate evidence, and policy”

Chat GPT: the true idiot savant?

Chat GPT – impressive but limited Chat GPT is a very impressive piece of technology. It seems to excel at rapidly compiling the information available on Wikipedia (and other web sites), producing coherent summaries. It also writes full sentences and is able to mimic styles. Of course, as a professor I am happy if myContinue reading “Chat GPT: the true idiot savant?”