The Mediocre Gazette: Late night edition. 19 December 2012

Greetings folks and welcome to another edition of the gazette. My name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from the games industry, and from the world you all know by now as Montreal. You can leave comments at the suggestions tab at the top of the page, as well as the comments section below with ideas for future editions. Now before I go on, I must apologize for this, rather late edition of the gazette. Final exams take time to prepare for, and since this particular course is of importance to my program, I had to focus on that over preparing the gazette for publication. I thank you guys for your patience; and now without further delay, the news you care about. In the headlines today: Westmount’s bilingual status is deemed safe for the time being, the PQ is suddenly taking an interest in the Anglophone community in Quebec, Restaurant owners in Quebec are not happy with the PQ government’s retroactive tax on alcohol, NASA is making video games, and the OLF have ordered Pharmacists to take off English-language flyers and posters from their stores.

According to the Westmount Examiner – Westmount’s main daily newspaper – the enclave’s bilingual status is safe as the PQ government has softened their approach to reviewing a municipality’s bilingual status annually. Just to recap for those of you unaware of the situation over in Quebec in general: the PQ government has tabled a new bill 14 which is essentially a toughed bill 101 which imposes new restrictions on languages other than French. In the case of Westmount and other municipalities who are bilingual, the supposed new clause would put into effect an annual review of bilingual municipalities. Should the population of Anglophones in these municipalities fall below 50 per cent, the bilingual status could be revoked. The end result would be that services provided in English could disappear, along with road signs and other government services. Now Westmount is an Anglophone Enclave within the city of Montreal. It is sitting at around 57 per cent when it comes to the Anglophone population, and that has the mayor of Westmount concerned. According to the article, the PQ government addressed this concern by stating that they would lower it to 40 per cent, and the change would not occur overnight. The review process will be done so with care, but the mayor – while glad to hear the news – is skeptical when it comes to the bilingual status of the city in the future. One can see where this concern stems from: after all, a sizeable population of Anglophones live in Westmount, and if the bilingual status is revoked, those citizens can suddenly find themselves doing tax paperwork in French only, with no other options. Now what the mayor has done was confront the PQ government on this issue; and for that he has my support. Yet I am skeptical that the PQ government is sincere and honest when it comes to this issue. The only reason in my opinion, as to why they would downplay the fears, is because they only hold a minority government, and are therefore ‘obliged’ to be reasonable. This is but another episode in the PQ government’s little struggle for a sovereign Quebec; let us hope we never have to see that day. You can find the link to this story under this paragraph:

http://www.westmountexaminer.com/News/Local/2012-12-11/article-3138183/Westmount%26rsquos-bilingual-status-safe%2C-for-now%3A-Trent/1

The Parti Quebecois is suddenly trying to befriend Anglophones, according to Montreal Gazette’s Philip Authier. In his article, Authier describes some of the steps that the PQ government has taken to sort of ‘court’ the Anglophone communities in Quebec. Yet the article also notes the skepticism amongst the Anglophone community; and how despite the PQ’s offer to dance with the community – if I may be allowed the phrase – they are not holding their breath and waiting for a positive outcome. Now Philip’s article has made some very interesting highlights in regards to the past four months of PQ actions. For starters, when the Anglophone community became outraged at the new bill 14, some PQ ministers went ahead of their party to sort of ‘warm the water’ when it came to relations with the Anglophone community. When the election was occurring, apparently Marois switched to English during her acceptance speech: a sure sign that she is attempting to ease the fears of the Anglophone community. Now I would not doubt that she has an alter motive; namely independence of Quebec from the rest of Canada. This sort of “everything is going to be okay, just stick with our ship and ignore the leaks” is typical of any political movement or party, seeking the support of the masses. Another detail to draw attention towards is the appointment of a minister in charge of the Anglophone community; something the Liberals never did. However with that said, most of the Liberal ministers were bilingual, and did not need to have a specialized position so that their party could communicate with the Anglophone community. Conspiracy theories aside: the PQ government understand – and so do the Liberals – that ALL of Quebec is needed in order to achieve any form of ‘progress’ that is to be positive. Yet I cannot help but wonder: is the PQ government playing two ball games at the same time? What I mean by this is the idea that they would put forth bill 14 to appease the language coalition in Montreal hell bent on making the city unilingual; then start to water down the heavy dose of medicine – so to speak – when the Anglophone communities got word of this, paints a rather odd picture. The PQ government may be realising that their position in the National Assembly is not as strong as they hoped it would be, and they have to start playing a different game if they hope to gain the confidence and support of all Quebecers. Yet I still would not hold my breath when it comes to such issues like bill 14. The PQ is only playing nice, because with a minority government, they have no other choice. When the power base is weak, any group or organization – even military units – will play it safe in order to survive and keep hold on whatever advantage they may have for a little longer. The link to this story is located in the address below this paragraph:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/been+going+closer+anglophones/7711308/story.html

Business is tough enough in today’s economy, and now the PQ government wants to get a piece of a pie that was eaten long ago: so to speak. According to the Montreal Gazette, restaurant owners in Quebec have from now until November 2013 to pay a 25-per-cent retroactive tax hike on all alcohol they have in inventory. Restaurant owners can expect to cough out an additional 37.5 cents per 750-ml bottle of wine, 57 cents for a 1.14-litre bottle of spirit, and 5.8 cents for a regular bottle of beer; with liquor stores expecting similar rates. Not only is this retroactive, but places can also expect this tax hike to go forth until 2015; which brings the PQ government 233 million dollars. Now some restaurants – especially those with vast stores of alcohol – are quite upset over the PQ government’s decision to demand more money. Essentially what the PQ government has said is: “Anything you have now, and will purchase in the future, will be taxed.” Now personally I am not an eatery owner, but I can sympathize with the association. This sort of: “I didn’t get a cut of the pie, so give me a slice now” is completely unreasonable, and can hurt businesses; forcing some to shut down in a worst case scenario. The end result is yet another group of staff unemployed, and a potential business owner – who pays taxes – out of the game, or looking to another province to re-establish their operations. Ultimately the PQ government want to reduce the deficit; this is a reasonable objective for a government to put forth. However cutting spending in key areas such as health care and education, and implementing a retroactive tax on small businesses can seem like a good idea in the short term, but in the long run will severely damage the province as a whole. Adding insult to injury, their allocation of 1.1 million dollars to the OLF – Quebec’s Language laws enforcement bureau – is not only misguided, but also a poorly thought-of plan of action which is more of an ideological move than a practical one. There is ample reason to question the PQ in regards to their strategic planning, and whether or not they actually thought about this plan of action thoroughly. Personally, I would have to say that they did not think this one through, and allocating 1.1 million dollars to a rather worthless department is only going to lead them to a shortened term in office and another provincial election. The link to this story is located below this paragraph:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Eateries+bars+holiday+booze/7705491/story.html

Gamasutra.com has released a story detailing an interview with one of NASA’s project managers on their own line of educational games. Titled: Space Race Blastoff, and Sector 33, both titles are part of NASA’s ongoing mission to educate the world about areas of study and of current projects the agency has undertaken. The article goes on to highlight various objectives from teaching Aeronautics, to various other spaceflight-related topics that NASA has in mind when they create such games to be made available to the world-wide audience. Now this movement of using video games to educate the general population is not a new phenomenon. Back in early 2001; there was a game called Math Blasters; I am certain some of my readers remember this one. Math Blasters was a game where you play as a creature from Mars (if I recall correctly), and you go about solving math problems. Each disk contained a new series of mathematics-related lessons and practice, all using some form of interactive game play to encourage children in elementary schools to learn math and develop a love for it. Now I recall loving Math Blasters when I was younger; it was absolutely amazing, and the most memorable sections were the 2D, going left to right, space ship combat sections. They were timed, and if you answered the question correctly, then the ship would avoid the obstacles. If the answer was incorrect, the ship crashes. That was a rather interesting mechanic to help children familiarize themselves with mathematics; by making them work under pressure. Now all praise and nostalgia aside, NASA making educational games for consumption by the greater public is a smart move, and could help in the development of future scientists and physicists. Gaming is a media outlet: similar to TV, or print media. Using it to educate young children is a sound idea, however one must exercise caution. When Math Blasters was used, it was used as practice of already existing knowledge taught in a traditional classroom setting. The video game itself, while entertaining and educational, may not help entirely with the absorption of material. It can certainly help with memorization by adding new mechanics to enable the coding of data in the mind, but ultimately what a classroom does for kids, a video game can never replicate. Now before I finish off here, I would like to say: do not mistake video games for online lessons. Distance education software is not a video game, and as such is geared towards simply learning the materials of a particular course, whereas video games implement some sort of interactive mechanic and entertaining elements to keep an audience engaged. A bit of a difference there my friends: the link to this story is located below this paragraph:

http://gamasutra.com/view/news/40282/Whats_NASA_doing_making_video_games.php#.UNAUMXc0Fx4

The Quebec OLF – the language laws enforcement bureau – have stepped up their operations and have recently told the Order of Pharmacists to remove English-language posters and flyers from their pharmacies, and citing the Quebec language charter. The anonymous Pharmacist who approached the radio news outlet: CJAD 800, told the radio station that he had always served clients in their language of choice. Now this problem – once again – comes back to the OLF being a bit too over-zealous when it comes to their duties. Medical services and products must be labelled in the language of the clients (both Francophone, and Anglophone), not just unilingual Francophones. What is important to understand is that the OLF is made up of radicals, and moderates; thus it is prone to over-zealous behaviour. While the French language is the official language of the province; there are clauses that explain the use of other languages in Quebec, such as health and safety (“A non-official language may be used on signs and posters of the administration for health or public safety reason,” Civil Administration section of Bill 101). When the OLF goes around and orders bilingual businesses to take down their English-language signs, in particular medical services, not only are they violating the very charter they are tasked to uphold, they can potentially harm the economy of that particular region: namely the West Island. What happens when a business person from New York enters Montreal and wants to buy medication for his headache? Will the OLF then come forward and ‘demand’ he learn French before tackling his headache? The OLF is nothing more than a useless government department staffed by radicals, who sap the funds out of a province in deficit, and continue to drink away the money at the expense of other more valuable sectors; like education, and medical services. I hope – assuming the article earlier in this gazette is somewhat accurate – the PQ government will come to their senses, and order the OLF to ‘stand down’, meaning to relax their zealous attitudes and revert back to their primary function. It seems to me that the OLF have nothing else to do, as the whole of the Anglophone community understand the need to be bilingual, so they begin to pick at fine details in an effort to prove to the province that the money allocated to them was a worthy investment. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.cjad.com/CJADLocalNews/entry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10481841

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_French_Language

Alright folks, that wraps it up for this edition of the gazette. Tune in Saturday, December 22nd for another dose of news on our two favourite topics. My name has been Vincent, and I shall see you next time.

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About thoughtsandtopics

Creating articles related to the games industry and military news.

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