Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:38 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    Awhile back I was working in Rosemont, just the far side of the tracks from the Plateau, and I found a keyring someone had left on a bench alongside the park. Nobody was around. I don’t know that area well, so I buzzed up 311 to find out where the nearest police station was, figuring if it was close by I would go drop it off.

    The guy doing 311 was an allophone. Even after I repeated my explanation in English and French he still seemed pretty confused about Rosemont. He was audibly looking things up in something like a three-ring binder – I could hear pages turning. This wasn’t the dark ages – it was about 2 years ago. We’ve only had 311 since late 2007.

    Anyway, after arguing with me about where I was, the 311 guy suggested I go to the police station on William. That’s when I ended the conversation.

    • Ian 07:39 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I’ve actually had pretty good luck with 311. I called them up a couple of months ago to complain that there were no signs indicating the local taxi stand was out of service until 9:30 am for snow clearance (as the taxi dispatcher informed me) and not only did the 311 operator find me the correct city office, but dealt with me pleasantly, and to my surprise, entirely in English. The city official was quite pleasant too.

    • Chris 08:28 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I’ve had good experiences with 311 too. I call probably weekly to report potholes, broken signs, abandoned bikes, etc. The reported issues get fixed pretty fast.

    • Kate 09:27 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      Don’t get me wrong – I think 311 is a great idea, and am glad to hear it’s usually useful and that I happened on an unusual situation with my call.

  • Kate 22:05 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The coming weekend marks the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, a fact impossible to avoid in the media. Metro looks at some Montreal connections, for example that the frieze on the Museum of Fine Arts was made by Leopold Weisz, who died in the disaster and is buried in the Baron de Hirsch cemetery here. The writer credits Alan Hustak’s Titanic tour page, which has a lot more of them.

    Later: The Toronto Star has some notes on Canadian passengers on the ship and on the fate of some Canadians involved.

  • Kate 21:56 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada has acquired a list of the 300 public buildings harbouring asbestos and that’s exclusive of healthcare-related buildings which are, for some reason, not yet enumerated.

    • dwgs 06:21 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I’d be willing to bet it’s way higher than 300. And I would be willing to place a lot of money on that bet. There are a lot of pipes wrapped in asbestos in the building where I work at a downtown university.

    • Kate 09:32 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I wouldn’t take up your bet. The government clearly wants to avoid a panic, and I would say in this case that’s not completely stupid. If I understand correctly, asbestos is not very dangerous in place – it’s when you disturb it that you create a hazard. But somebody needs to make damn sure they know where the stuff is, and that safety measures are in place if anyone needs to do any demolition or repair work.

    • mare 11:20 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      The problem with asbestos is that asbestos is everywhere in this province. It was a cheap local product that was useful in many situations. Not only in heat/insulation situations but it was also very often added to plaster to improve drying times and to make it more suitable for making ceiling ornaments. So whenever walls and ceilings are knocked down during major renovations it is released. I’ve only heard of one building site that was closed down over it and that was because the owner called the inspectors himself (adding a +$30,000 cleaning bill to the project) because his wife had lupus.

    • Ian 18:14 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      You want ubiquitous, when my Dad was a kid they used asbestos mix instead of papier-maché. He made a little totem pole with an old paper towel tube in grade school that my grandmother still had when I was a kid – and I’m from Ontario. I can only imagine how much more common it might be in Quebec.

  • Kate 20:55 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    Montreal’s considering selling off foreign rights to Bixi if it can get a good price.

  • Kate 20:41 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The Mirror’s Riff Raff has some entertaining suggestions what the Tories should require the F‑35s to do for that extra $10 billion.

  • Kate 20:37 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The Native Friendship Centre (they have their own URL but it forwards to Facebook), which acts as a social anchor for first nations people in town, may have to close for lack of funding. It’s not a federal issue, but, as this piece explains, some internecine Quebec bureaucratic issue that is denying them their grant. Clearly the whole story’s not being told here. (Half suspecting it’s because they offer services in English. Let’s see if the story comes out.)

    • Ian 18:19 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I’m going to play the race card; I suspect this is the same reason the Inuit hostel project got cancelled. Natives have a reputation, as do Friendship Centres. It’s not always about being anglo.

    • Kate 10:01 on 2012/04/14 Permalink

      So where would you put a centre meant to aid natives stranded here or passing through? The Friendship Centre is on the Main at Ontario and while the Habitations Jeanne-Mance is admittedly not too far away, in general that isn’t a delicate residential area.

      Like the problem about drug rehab and other such centres being in the Gay Village and attracting people with serious issues, you sort of have to put these establishments where people actually are, and that means somewhere in Ville-Marie, pretty much.

  • Kate 13:02 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    Here’s a nice data point for the student struggle: Quebec’s universities have spent $80 million over the last five years on advertising themselves.

    • Josh 13:09 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      My issue with these kinds of posts is that they seem to think Quebec exists in a vacuum. What is the relevance of the $80M figure unless we also know what universities in other places spend on advertising?

    • paul 13:27 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Agreed, Universities (like any organization) need to advertise to attract clientele. What is the problem?

    • erydan 13:34 on 2012/04/12 Permalink


    • Stefan 13:35 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Here in Austria, universities do not spend significant amount of money on advertising themselves. Their problem is rather having too many students. There are also no tuition fees.

    • maureen 13:40 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      What is the problem with them advertising?

    • ant6n 13:47 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      It kind of exemplifies how education has become a commodity.
      While I think that education is an investment from many points of views, this view that sees students as buying their education while going into debt because they can get the money back with their fancy degrees as misguided. One issue is that the quality of education is going down, and grade inflation up, because students who pay good money expect that piece of paper in the end; you can’t just make them do hard work and fail them if they can’t keep up, and you can’t ask them to learn to analyze and think critically, because it doesn’t match the unversity’s new role as a certificate mill. Spending a bunch of money on advertising, on the other hand, suits that new university well.

    • Stefan 14:02 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      A university like concordia spent I do not know how many million dollars on a gym. While in itself not necessarily a bad idea, doing this as an investment to attract students (and especially instead of putting this money into quality of teaching, or research!) is something i think does not really correlate with the concept that a university has been for the last few hundred years.

      The problem with these investments is that there is no cost transparency: constructing a gym may well be offset by additional prospected student tuition fees, but the majority of funding needs to be provided by the quebec government and this does not come into the equation. So it comes down to taxpayers funding the gym, instead of the primary needs of the university.

    • Kate 14:21 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      I didn’t say anything one way or another, folks, but ant6n encapsulates the problem well.

      OK, we have 4 universities in town (plus a big business school and a couple of engineering schools). They each have their reputations. I understand there’s some point in their publicizing their strong points, I agree, to help students find a good match for what they want to study. (However, do you ever see McGill doing ads saying “Come study here and become a doctor”? No, because they don’t have to.)

      By and large, then, they don’t actually need to do very much advertising here in town. You’re a student, you’re going to know where the best place is for the program you want because it’s a question of word of mouth, of what other students say, what you read on the internet, what family members and academic advisers recommend.

      But once a school has a marketing department they have to justify their raison-d’être, and what that means in this world is that lovely word branding. They are compelled to build the brand, and so strong is the present religion of the brand that some of you have not even felt the need to defend questions like “what’s the problem?” and “so?” You have an institution, you have to push its branding, even if it’s pointless, even if the school is turning students away for lack of places. Even if you’re not selling a product in the classic sense. Just say “branding” and it excuses everything.

      This is where the waste comes in, folks.

      Also, I notice that the La Presse piece only mentions ads done here in Quebec, not the cost of what’s done in other places to lure those profitable foreign and out-of-province students to study here.

    • Raoul 16:12 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      So they’ve gone from blaming the government for a lack of money, to blaming the universities for spending it badly.

      Took long enough.

    • Kate 16:47 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Raoul, a big problem with the whole student issue is that there are multiple uncertainties. Is the government credibly short of money, as it claims? Are the universities short of money, or just managing what they have badly? What kind of social impact will increased tuitions have?

      It is virtually impossible for an ordinary taxpayer to know the answers to these questions. The government spins its story according to what it wants to do – it clearly has plenty of money for some things. The universities also tend to do this: they cry poor mouth, but then they put up new buildings and offer huge buyouts to lame duck administrators without turning a hair.

      As for the impact of tuition increases, it’s unfortunately the kind of thing you can only fully assess in retrospect after the damage is done – possibly as much as a generation later.

    • Mark 18:18 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Haven’t heard very many arguments in this debate as succinct and well put as yours, Kate. I agree with every word.

    • Ian 18:24 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Agreed, it’s nice to see you editorializing. I’ve been saying all along that the “necessary” tuition increases are clearly not, given the waste in government spending and university spending. We don’t have to dig very deeply to see that there’s lots of money around, and that saddling students with tens of thousands of dollars in debt doesn’t make any sense, especially given how negative the impact will be upon society at large… and yet the cops are beating & gassing the students, and the government is digging in its heels. My biggest problem with this tuition increase is that it doesn’t even make fiscal sense, and what political capital the Liberals hope to gain here is no longer clear at all.

    • Jack 05:49 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      No Universite de Montreal does not need to buy $100,000 worth of signage on the hockey boards at the Bell Centre to attract students. Take a look at the photo of Max Pacioretty after being hit by Chara and ask yourself……..what the hell?

    • paul 07:34 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      @ant6n – of course education is a commodity, as is our health care system, phamaceutical drugs, housing, transit, and all other public services which we consider a neccessity. All public agencies advertise their services, not just to make the public aware of what is offered, but in education’s case, to attract the correct clientele.
      I agree grade inflation is a problem, but the fault of that lies just as much in the public’s percieved value of a university education rather than the university’s themselves.
      I am sure that universities would rather direct those advertising dollars elsewhere, but they are in competition with other universities and trying to attract the best studetnts/teachers/researchers. Advertising is the obvious way to do this, unless you expect all universities to advertise through word-of-mouth.

      @kate – for sure there is waste…in advertising, in administration, everywhere. It would be ideal to have a better idea of what that waste is, but I think we can assume that that is in all public. I am not an expert in marketing and can’t really justify why they spend so much advertising locally, but I assume that there is a reason (i.e. people from across Quebec watch the habs and see the board advertisements).

      We have seen the effects of tuition freeezes, in addition to salary inflation, on the rapidly decaying university infrastructure which has been ignored for 25 years in terms of investment and maintenance. The reason we are seening so many new buildings and large renovations in the past 10 years is that the government has to invest heavily to keep the actual facilities from crumbling (McGill currently has a building condemmed).

      There is a lack of funds available for the increasingly expensive education industry. The funds have to come from somewhere and just pointing at percieved waste is a bit of a copout.

    • Ian 07:46 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      “Percieved” waste – interesting choice of words – McGill is Canada’s top-ranked university, I don’t think they need to worry about advertising if their infrastructure situation is as bad as you suggest. This Gazette op-ed puts it well – effectively, the money could be better spent. http://www.montrealgazette.com/opinion/editorials/Editorial+universities+must+spend+money+wisely/6308641/story.html

    • steph 08:08 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      @paul – The tuition increases are a provincial budget cut & austerity measures [cough], the schools will not be increasing their budget, the quality of education will not be improving. Every extra dollar they get from quebec students will be a dollar less contributed by the government.

    • Robert J 08:52 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      Not sure I agree with the severity of the hike, but I don’t think we should make it free. We do need to limit the number of students in general arts programs, because we need to have more people with more specialized degrees. One of the ways to do that is to have a direct financial contribution (coupled with a generous bursary program for overachievers and a loans program with little to no interest geared to income).

      I know in France, people really don’t think twice about what university/college program to pick, because school is free and students are showered with housing allocations and allowance. That is part of the severe employment problem in France. Education does not meet the requirements of the French working world, and there is a whole class of young graduates with no work experience (not even service industry) and marginally useful degrees. We don’t have the same problem yet in Canada but we could soon.

      There should also be cheaper college options that provide some liberal arts type courses while pushing students towards more career oriented training. These programs, as well as work-based training should be valued as much as university education, which is better designed for a very theoretical/academic approach to study. Not everyone who is somewhat interested in the arts needs to study at that level.

    • Kate 09:37 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      Robert J, what do you do about the common notion that a degree – any degree – proves you can at least read with comprehension, focus on and complete a task, and have the maturity to see something through? I think that’s how it’s often used as a kind of sieve to separate the sheep from the goats when hiring. So kids know that if they don’t want to be shunted into dead-end jobs they need “a” degree, and it often doesn’t matter in what.

      Someone else here pointed out we don’t have enough people taking training in the more physical trades – we need nurses, electricians, plumbers, cooks and so on. But those are mostly not perceived as middle class jobs even if a plumber makes more than your average white-collar flunkey. I don’t know how you fix this perception.

    • paul 09:57 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      @Robert and Kate – I have been wondering about this recently as well…perhaps they should lower tuition for the degrees/trades in demand and raise them for Arts degrees?? It would encourage those that are at school ‘just because they’re supposed to be’, to enter into employable fields…Meanwhile, it would encourage that those majoring in 19th Century Lute Anthropology are REALLY motivated and driven to stay in that field.
      This would likely reduce degree inflation significantly and make education accessible (at least through some programs).

    • Raoul 10:28 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      There’s plenty of waste in government to go around. But this is what i see: every time were going to talk about making cuts, its going to affect *someones* lives (either their employment, taxes or debt) . And obviously those someones are going to look for other sources of waste and say “cut those/them first!”. And those other people/departments/NGOs/etc., are going to say the same thing.

      Someone, somewhere has to pay. And i just plain dont like deficits. But even if the students were to get their way, would they concern themselves with the fact the government still runs a deficit? doubt it.

    • ant6n 11:59 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      Saying that there have to be made trade-offs is not really an argument in favor for a particular set of trade-offs.

    • Josh 12:16 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      @ant6n It would be nice though if the people who oppose the hikes had some alternative ideas about squaring the province’s finances. You just can’t freeze tuition indefinitely. Not without a decline in the quality of education you can’t, anyway.

    • ant6n 13:14 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      You could make education free, and it wouldn’t make such a big dent in the budget. I personally don’t believe education should be free, but free education is not inherently unsustainable at all.

      Also, I don’t really understand why it should be the students responsibility to ‘square’ the province’s finances. These sort of arguments seem to imply that the Liberals have found a way to fix the budget, while distributing the burden equally among the people. But that’s not what’s happening.

      But then, this kind of argument obscures that the rising tuition is an ineffective way to balance the budget, mostly because the effect is relatively small.

    • Antonio 06:56 on 2012/04/14 Permalink

      Robert J and paul: it’s reassuring to see thoughtful contributions like yours on this site. I hope to see more to counterbalance the leftist rhetoric.

  • Kate 10:04 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s Fête des enfants, which was coming up to its 14th installment this August, has been cancelled, apparently for both lack of money and lack of interest. I would remind the city that it’s always weaker to make two excuses than to make one.

    • Michel 11:53 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Jeez, just think how much less money the city will reap, now that the pedophiles who flocked to the Fête won’t be spending their cash here.

    • paul 13:28 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Haha, nice…

    • Kate 14:23 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      I see that the first thing that crosses some minds when children are mentioned is pedophilia.


    • Michel 15:04 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      @Kate, you misinterpreted my post.
      The Fête was a major event for pedophiles. I remember reading/hearing reports of how the event was talked up certain, um, specialised websites, and warnings from cops to be extra vigilant with your kids.
      Creeped me the f out, and I would have been reluctant to bring my son there had he ever wanted to go.

    • Kate 15:10 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      It’s true, I have a vague memory this was why it was moved to the islands, though why that would be much of an obstacle I do not know.


    • Robert J 08:57 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      They should organize it at another location. Parc Jean-Drapeau always involves a lot of walking and though the transit options are there they’re a little erratic. Parc Jarry might work better, as it already has a certain proximity to residential neighborhoods, plus multiple transit options and reasonable parking.

    • qatzelok 19:19 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      This fete was a commercial event with lots of booths that were selling things that kids would cry for. It was ruined by being too crassly commercial, and wasn’t fun at all.
      A few of the other festivals on that island (beer, food) are just as boring as crassly commercial.

    • Kate 21:46 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      always involves a lot of walking

      can’t have that, can we?

      qatzelok, I think you’re onto something here. There used to be a food festival on the island and while the first one was OK, the following ones were just booths of dull commercial promotions. I don’t think they’ve held it for a long time.

  • Kate 09:59 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM is trying out a new diesel-electric bendy bus model from a European manufacturer on some of the city’s busiest routes to see how it compares to their existing Nova model. There’s quite a lot of discussion about it on the STM’s Facebook page – impossible to link to.

    • SN86 10:45 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      The transit authority has picked an interesting company to rent a test model from. A foreign one and a relatively unknown one too. They have had the chance to buy good quality European articulated buses from Van Hool and assembled in Quebec but they didn’t. The Longueuil authority did and have several Van Hool artics, they used to be exclusively Van Hool but they’ve now bought NovaBuses. They’re good buses, stood up well considering all they ever did was cross the bumpy Bonaventure and Champlain Bridge all day for decades (depending on the model year). Since the STM avoided Van Hool and have bought over 200 Nova artics it seems odd that they’re testing other models only now.

  • Kate 09:46 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    The Mercier Bridge is in even worse shape than originally thought and is going to undergo more shutdowns for repairs.

  • Kate 09:33 on 2012/04/12 Permalink | Reply  

    Student action continues Thursday with a blockade at Concordia and a student win declared in Valleyfield where the CEGEP cancelled classes after an administrative ultimatum collapsed.

    We’ve had more scraps on this blog over the student issue than over most topics, but something crossed my mind today that I haven’t seen mentioned. The students demonstrating now are not going to suffer most from the five-year cumulative tuition increase. They’re fighting for a principle, rather than for their own pockets. That’s one thing.

    But Jean Charest is ignoring another point, which is that they are fighting for Quebec. They’re hoping to make Quebec a better place by making education more accessible in the future. These students aren’t planning to get a “cheap” education then leave for greener pastures and higher salaries elsewhere. They’re doing this because they’re committed to Quebec. That’s not something he should sell cheap.

    Jean Charest is betting on the Plan Nord and the old image of jolly French-Canadians hewing wood and drawing water and providing raw materials for other people to do things with, but the students are aware that in a knowledge economy you simply can’t reduce access to education and expect to thrive.

    The students, despite being better connected to the rest of the world via the internet than any generation before them, are firmly placing their feet here and risking at least delaying the completion of their own education to make a point.

    I don’t think Charest is either quite the villain or the idiot that some do, but I think he’d be wise to ponder what he thinks he knows about the economy and whether someone who’s 60 can ever thoroughly understand the situation of someone who’s 20. He’s got to talk, and he has to begin by acknowledging that the students are trying to push him to do the right thing for Quebec, but I doubt he has the wisdom to do it.

    • Jack 10:38 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Well said.

    • Joey 11:03 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Jean Charest has probably read the tons of research on access to higher education that almost always concludes that focusing on tuition, and not on removing the informational, academic, motivational and other financial barriers, is a fool’s errand. Equating access with price may ring true, but it’s simply false.

    • Steph 11:08 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      I wanted to add that the anglophone perspective is skewed by the large presence of out of province students and international students at the English universities. I wouldn’t mind seeing a statistic on what that percentage is vs Quebec residents. This definitly contributes to Concordia’s “business as usual” approach to the strike. I know in the french universities over 90% of the students are Quebec residents which is why the French university students can leave class en mass and the school WILL have to address the strike more seriously.

    • SMD 11:22 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Amen, Kate!

    • Kate 12:23 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Who knows the facts? The government says “oh, we’re so poor” and gets half the students and more of the general population believing they need future graduates to emerge deeper in debt in order to make ends meet. I don’t know that I believe this. It’s hard not to see it in the current context of the old impoverishing the young, the rich impoverishing the poor, and the banks impoverishing everybody. Quebec hands out lavish sums to any corporation willing to set up a business here. Universities mismanage their funds and get bailed out. But the students, who are young enough not to have scarred their consciences with the multiple compromises necessary to reach middle age, can see that there are better ways to frame the discourse and manage the money.

    • Kevin 12:04 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      @Steph Don’t quote me, but it’s about 25% of out-of-province at McGill. About 15% out of country IIRC.

      @Kate I think some of the loudest, rowdiest protesters have been CEGEP students who will face a substantial hike by the time they finish their degrees.

      That said, FECQ has a poll out today. 47% of respondents support the tuition hike, 41% oppose.

      In the grand scheme of things the amount of the tuition hike is small. Tuition in Quebec will still be cheaper than in the rest of the country. And let’s face it: most people get an education in the hopes of having a better life and earning more money in the long run.

    • Christian 12:58 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      @Kevin: I’d think that most people get an education to ensure a source of income or at least ensure that they have a place in society. I’ve never thought that more education would lead to more money. If anything, pursuing a career into academia certainly leads to less money ;-).

      @Steph: I’ve always found it unfortunate that “droits de scolarite” gets distilled to “tuition” in English. Shorthand one might say, but one refers to a right whereas the other definitely refers to a privilege. At some point, with enough hikes, “droits” will become “frais”. Perhaps unrelated, but it happens to fall in line with your comments about how the franco/anglo universities are currently reacting to the debate.

    • Steph 12:59 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      A least the government isn’t saying the fee increase is to “increase the quality of education” anymore.

    • joe 13:04 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      if low tuition = more students, then something is wrong in Quebec as its student population is no different than elsewhere. i wish someone here would explain that one.

    • Antonio 19:06 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Amen, Joey and joe.

    • Alex L 20:27 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Please, be more critique than the government tells you too. Quebec has Cégeps, Canada only has universities.

      If you take the government’s numbers, accessibility to higher education is about the same everywhere if compared to Quebec. Then if you suddenly realize that Quebec has Cégeps, that are free of tuition and that correspond to the first year of an undergrad diploma, then the numbers change and you get way better accessibility here than in most places.

      You simply just can’t compare two different education systems just like that.


    • joe 22:39 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      CEGEP education does not correspond to the first year of an undergrad diploma. It is a colossal waste of time, a failed expriment whose diploma isn’t truly recognized as anything elsewhere in the world, no matter how hard you try.

    • Alex L 23:28 on 2012/04/12 Permalink

      Wow, if that’s an argument, no wonder we have that kind of government elected. I won’t waste my time on that.

    • ant6n 07:26 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      fact: CEGEP is recognized as the first year of a four-year undergraduate program in Quebec, also generally referred to as the freshman year (or u0).

    • Jonathan Evans 11:03 on 2012/04/13 Permalink

      I agree that we live in a world with a knowledge economy, but that does not equate to a university degree economy. We do need to subsidize our future biologists, chemists, engineers, et al, but what we do not need are any more subsidIzed students coming out of school with English or philosophy degrees. I am not saying that that type of knowledge is useless, what I am saying is that it does not have the benefit on society that some people seem to believe it does.

      We have made a university degree too important, even when it is sometimes quite frankly meaningless. I have many friends who are in school in fine arts or liberal arts programs and their lax attitude towards their schooling as well as their professors similar attitude towards them indicates that these programs are more than degree farms rather than true edifices of education and learning.

      If people want to protest something meaningful they should fight for a change in the meaning and value a degree from one of these institutions has in our society. But that would probably be too hard.

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