October 13, 2016 – Newsletter 1

Newsletter

1)

The Intellectual Yet Idiot 

by Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb is obnoxious but makes interesting points.

Specifically, I’m interested in looking into some of Taleb’s quasi-assertions. The anti-GMO argument has been soundly de-bunked by a lot of top-notch scientists, and I question what his real knowledge of the topic is. (Also, obviously, there are different types and degrees of GMOs… it isn’t intrinsically good or bad.)

2)

The Mission – Working, Fast and Slow

by David Kadavy

I find it borderline annoying that this is an article, but it’s on-point and I will give it credit for being a good reminder. (Side note: can the internet stop writing self-help ‘guides’ and start writing ‘reminders’? Instead of claiming that they have some novel new idea, let’s just use frequent updates and contrived narratives to keep important ideas top-of-mind…) 

3)

Engadget – Gamers Beat Scientists to Protein Discovery

by Jon Fingas

I’m stoked to read more on this as they keep digging. I DON’T think gasification solves everything, but this is definitely an interesting application of it.

4)

The Ringer – How Much is Your Sleep Worth 

by Molly McHugh

So the sub-heading is Way. Over. Aggressive. (iPhones? you really want to compare a mattress to a smart phone?) but there’s some value to the content. Where the article peaks is that it calls out the trend of questioning ‘traditional’ values around sleep. The ‘all-nighter’ is frequently lauded in business circles, but to what end? As more and more research shows that lack of sleep makes us LESS competent at our jobs, does it still make sense? To use a baseball metaphor because BOSTON’S OUT AND TORONTO’S STILL IN IT!! sure, it’s nice to have a strong closer to finish the game and get you a save, and we all loooove saves, but isn’t it better to have a team that puts you in a minimal umber of save situations BECAUSE THEY ARE KILLING IT ON OFFENCE? We should be praying at the altar of managers and environments where, in general, excess chaos can be navigated and mitigated. But I digress, sleep is important. Get some.

5)

Athena Talks – The Easy Failure of Professional Male Feminism 

by Chris Mohney

One of my chosen hills to die on, the fact that we, as a culture, choose not to frequently, actively engage ourselves when it comes to gender issues, is frustrating. This also gets to my general belief that GOOD INTENTIONS ARE WORTHLESS.  Intentions are only valuable in that they provide a vector for action (reaction?)

How do we figure out what to do?

Start by communicating. Simple, open conversations. Ask questions. Listen for answers. Understand that YOU and YOUR OPINIONS are not tautological. You can change your views AND you don’t have to be upset or take it as a personal attack when someone disagrees with you.

Also, recognize that fixing gender and race issues requires buy-in from the people who have the advantages. That’s not necessarily a massive roadblock; like Chris, many if not most privileged individuals (read: white males and adjacent individuals) HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS (see above) but don’t think them through to their consequences.

The final thing to do (for the sake of my statement… no, this is not an exhaustive list, I just don’t want to go heavier into detail…) is stop thinking about yourself for a moment. Think about the challenges someone else may/will have to face. Think about where another person’s perspective comes from. Sympathize. If you can, empathize. (You probably can’t.) Your world is about you, but you’re a supporting cast member in EVERYONE ELSE’S LIVES and unless you want YOUR supporting cast to suck and light your narrative on fire, maybe try being a good supporting cast member yourself.

6)

The New Yorker – Black Like Her

by Jelani Cobb

Fresh off the end of Luke Cage, I was deep-diving into some race-issues reading and re-stumbled onto this article from last year. It’s a really interesting line of questioning to pursue. How much of the cultural side of race can be appropriated, when the ‘defining trait’ is determined at birth. Despite the fact that ‘race’ is a cultural reality, not a genetic one, it’s birth that determines skin colour, and thus allows membership, with all of its perks (limited) and drawbacks (numerous).

Also, as a counter-point to the previous link, while it’s great to be supportive of other groups, there might be line between membership and groupie supporter proponent appreciation.

7) 

Tech Crunch – Stilla is a ridiculously simple security system

by Brian Heater

The potential is definitely there for this to work, but it feels like a stop-gap measure in the world of security that’ll be dead in 3-5 years. I’m sure there are variants that can be worked on, but there are enough tech-savvy thieves out there than will star by avoiding items transmitting a certain type of bluetooth signal, or that will jam it if they WANT your bag… so it feels more like artificial peace of mind than a real solution.

8)

INSIDER – Vietnam’s students perform mysteriously well on tests, and researchers have figured out why

by Chloe Pfeiffer

First thing to note: AT BEST researchers have solved HALF of the mysterious outperformance. No, headline, they have not “figured out why.”

Also, I tend not to like INSIDER articles because I find the reporting to be more spotty than a lot of other sources, but they DO cover some interesting topics others don’t always pick up on, so here we are.

But here we go: a culture that preaches the value of education, invests in it, gets buy-in from parents and teachers while providing more structure for them, is going to produce students who perform better on traditional metrics. Shocking, I know.

9)

Engadget – The FBI recommends you cover your laptop’s welcome, for good reason

by Violet Blue

There’s nothing for me to say on this. It’s been a reality FOR YEARS. Get with it.

10)

Harvard Business Review – Stop Doing Low Value Work

by Pricilla Claman

Lesson 1) recognize low-value work, which I’m interpreting to be best identified as work with a high opportunity cost, which is to say things that are not the best, most productive use of your time

Lesson 2) recognize how to get rid of it

-automation can be a great tool

-centralization can be a great tool

Also note that smaller companies are going to be more concerned with helping you manage your low-value work than big companies are, unless you’re a senior member of the company. Why? Because the opportunity cost is lower for them in relative terms. (It may lose them the same 20k per year as a smaller company, but that’s nothing if annual revenues are 10BN, as opposed to a start-up pulling in 800K.)

BONUS MATERIAL

Tech Crunch – Why an unhackable mobile phone is a complete marketing myth

by David Jevans

TLDR: Phones are really complex. Lots of people do lots of work to make them. You can’t fix all of the mistakes all of those people made. Marketers are lying to us.

The Ringer – The Simpsons Character who predicted Silicon Valley villainy

by Alan Siegel

I rewatched this episode last night. It really is quite on-point. As with many things in pop culture though, I’m not sure I’d appreciate it as much without having read this article. What I can’t tell is if I’m tone deaf, looking for different things, or others are reading way deep into the banal. Regardless, I really enjoyed that episode of the Simpsons (something I haven’t said in well over a decade.)

And I’ll leave you with this: an actual self-five, caught in the wild.

Oh D’Angelo Russell, that whole videotaping incident ruined your cred so much…

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Thoughts on heroism and gender in Netflix’s Daredevil

Your blogger is a fan of comics, and of well-made television, and so Netflix’s Daredevil has been an absolutely treat; a rare intersection of these two worlds. The characters have enough depth to add a layer of intrigue that comics take months or years to develop, and while artistic license has led to choices that are not necessarily true to canon, the overall flow is quite compelling.

One of the best things about great comics, or television, is their ability to spark conversations. In an interview with DailyXY, Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen Page on the show, discussed how important it was for her to have a nuanced character with impact, and not wind up as a plot device. In doing so however, she seems to suggest the issue of who engages in conflict as a matter of gender.

The double standard I was scared about with this show was that if Karen walked down a dark alleyway in search of truth, they would call her an idiot, and if Matt walked down a dark alleyway in search of truth, they would call him a hero

This, unfortunately, isn’t quite right, and it isn’t the gendered double-standard that she seems to think it is. There is a key difference to recognize: Karen is untrained and proved largely unable to defend herself in a physical altercation, while Matt, being the titular Daredevil, has an uncanny ability to protect himself in some of the most brutal of encounters. Karen doesn’t go out looking for ‘trouble,’ but as a reasonable-enough person she can certainly foresee when she is more likely to encounter it, and having her character go forth regardless isn’t the solution to a gender bias. Setting Karen and Matt on the same plane is an apples-and-oranges comparison issue.

While there is an overarching element of a gender issue, in that female characters should be as complex and capable in media as women are in real life, it isn’t the driver in this particular situation. The truth of the matter is that it would be equally foolish for Foggy to engage in any kind of physical escapades, but outside of one incident, he contributes by using the tools at his disposal as effectively as he can. He uses his friends, network and skills as a lawyer; the tools he is effective at wielding. If anything, Foggy’s intervention and protection of her in an incident that arises partway through the season does more gender damage than any protection offered by the Daredevil.

Like Foggy, Karen is highly capable, and contributes significantly to the plot and the eventual success of the protagonists as a whole. She is not in a position to do so as a fellow vigilante, and that’s why a differentiation in behaviour between her and and Matt isn’t a double-standard. What’s important to recognize here, is that a selfless act isn’t necessarily heroic. To sacrifice oneself, without any significant reason to think that this will lead to a positive change, is reckless, not brave, and it’s philosophically important to observe that distinction.

Ms. Woll’s character was well developed, but it can’t be her responsibility to battle bad guys toe to toe.  The real test of gender parity will come when Elektra, the Black Cat or another combat-oriented female character enters the mix. As of now, there’s no reason to think it that these characters will be treated any differently from expected male cameos, like the Punisher, Luke Cage or the Immortal Iron Fist.

What Daredevil did exceedingly well is develop the entire main cast in a way that made each character a multi-faceted human, a unique feat in a universe of superheroes. The next step, for characters like Karen and Veronica in particular, will be to build up a larger sense of motivation. Once a viewer can truly imagine how each character would react to a given scenario, the show will be able to operate fully on its merits as interesting television, above and beyond its draw as a comic-based series.

Note: This is an extrapolation based on a single line of an interview. It is not meant to critique Ms. Woll, nor does it assume any understanding of her opinion or an accurate interpretation of her statement; it is meant to look at the words as phrased, and raise an issue based on the immediate message they convey.

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Religious belief requires a healthy dose of narcissism

That’s kind of an awkward sounding title right? Maybe a little abrasive? The notion that being religious implies a certain level of narcissism seems incredibly counter-intuitive too. Aren’t most religions about doing good, caring for others, and putting faith in some incarnation of God over yourself? In theory, and at face value, yes. Does this trickle into all facets and arguments? No.

There is at least one ‘default’/backup argument for religious belief that is basically predicated upon an incredibly inflated sense of ‘self’-importance. A friend recently said to me “the odds of humanity existing are just so low. Things had to go in exactly the right way for human life to evolve. It’s such a crazy unlikely event, that it just seems reasonable that there’s a God or something involved in all of it.” Now my friend is a super cool guy, and ironically for the counter-argument I made, a former statistics major at the University of California (which, despite being a public University, boasts more Nobel laureates than the vaunted, private, Stanford.) Functionally, he claims that the incredibly low probability of life evolving as it has, in an independent way at least,  suggests that there must be something else tipping the scale. In the end, that’s really just a flouting of the law of super large numbers. (As an example, 99:1 odds suggest that if you do something 100 times, you’ll have one result occur 99 times, and the other event occur 1 time. While the likelihood is incredibly low, that doesn’t make it impossible that if you only do the activity once, you end up with that 1 in 100 result.) What’s even more relevant than the pure mathematical challenge that the argument faces is the Law’s authors explanation that we tend to put more cognitive weight on the few instance of unlikely events, rather than the massive majority of likely events, such that we end up searching for reasoning when chaos and chance are reason enough.

Now, when I countered with this math-based argument, my friend’s response was “but man, even if there’s life, is it human life?” That’s where my notion coalesced. What’s so special about human life? Are we not 90%+ genetically similar to all animal life on this planet? Humans are 40-50% genetically the same as cabbage! This notion that our (human) life is particularly valuable/important is definitely narcissism. I won’t deny that I feel important. My Mum told me I was special, and I am incredibly aware of the many wonderful opportunities that I have, but from a cosmic perspective, amI/are humans even remotely significant? Is ANY life on earth cosmically significant? Before you answer that question, let’s add some much-needed perspective, because even though we talk about the universe being big, I bet you don’t have a good understanding of how it’s truly unfathomable scale.

There are believed to be 100 billion (100 000 million for European readers) human-inhabitable planets in our galaxy the Milky Way. That’s right, there are approximately 14 times as many inhabitable planets in our galaxy as there are people on the planet Earth right now. Take a moment to register that this isn’t the total number of planets, just the number of inhabitable planets. As an incredibly uneducated comparison, assume that most solar systems mimic ours in terms of proportion of livable vs. unliveable planets. That’s 800 billion. In the galaxy. That’s the equivalent of the combined market cap of Apple (587bn) and Facebook (197 bn).

Now, expand that to the universe and we’re looking at 50 sextillion inhabitable planets. (this is an Australian journal and specifies that it uses the American sextillion, so 50 * 10^21, instead of the European sextillion 10^36.) With a similar extrapolation, that implies about 400 * 10 ^ 21 planets in the universe. 4 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 planets! (This article suggests there are 100 * 10 ^ 21 planets in the universe, and given that Fermi estimation suggests order of magnitude is more important than actual values, I’ll give myself a very small pat on the back for getting close.) These numbers are way outside of our concept of understanding, but suggest the Earth probably isn’t the unique cradle of life in the universe. (And that’s just considering the ‘space’ factor; we haven’t talked about time. A video I watched recently but unfortunately can’t seem to find right now, discusses the notion that intelligent life on other planets may not necessarily exist at the same time as intelligent life on earth. Perhaps it has come and gone on one planet, or has not yet arrived on another.)

Before succumbing to the admittedly comforting logic that we’re so unique, something has to at least have pushed all the pieces into place, we really should ask ourselves a few questions. When looking at the scale of the universe, are humans really that special? If there is a God, why make that many planets but only populate one?

The math suggests that given a large enough number of planets, humans were bound to show up on one of them. There is no reason to believe that our existence is so special/rare as to only be possible by God’s hand, and it is only our narcissistic self-importance as individuals and as a species that lets us make that argument.

This isn’t an attack on religion or religious beliefs, but from where I’m sitting, it sure feels like borderline ignorance to lean on an argument with such little evidence to support it (and I stand behind the distinction that an argument is based on some kind of evidence while statements without evidence are personal opinions.) What’s more, my challenge most certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility that life is unique and the result of divine involvement. What it does mean is that regardless of what reality ends up being, the aforementioned statement is so improbable that after contemplation it is no more than an incredibly unreasonable opinion.

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Creativity vs: Originality

I’ve gotten into arguments about the nature of creativity.  Most people use creativity and originality interchangeably, but I think there is value in specifying the natural distinction, albeit one not encapsulated by their standard definitions.  First, let’s start with the actual definitions.

Originality: 1)  the quality or state of being original (the source or cause from which something arises; that from which a copy is made); 2) freshness of aspect, design, or style; 3) the power of independent thought or imagination.

Creativity: 1) the quality of being creative(marked by the ability or power to create); 2) the ability to create(to bring into existence; to produce or bring about by a course of action or behaviour)

Both definitions belie a relatively similar notion; churning out that which is new and different.  Despite colloquial usage tying these words together, they’ve always seemed to be functionally differentiated to me.  The very root of the word originality is origin, which caries with it the context of primacy, of being first.  Creativity has no such stigma; the usage of the root word ‘create’ as a synonym for ‘producing’ or ‘making’ lends an additional layer to it as well, such that creativity does not imply an order of occurrence.  An artistic re-interpretation of a famous painting is likely quite creative.  What’s more, it is probably the first time that that specific combination of design elements has come together.  In the end though, it is still a re-interpretation, and while it may be ingenious, it isn’t the first true look at the underlying material.

And that, I think is the difference between originality and creativity.  Originality should be treated as the first instance of an interpretation.  It is a subset of creativity, being the  most fundamental building block.  All originality is creativity, but not all creativity is originality.

But then, what about two individuals who come to the same conclusion at different times?  Are they to be treated the same?  I’d choose to recognize both individuals as having original ideas, though I would clarify them as first or second order.  If we take originality as meaning the first, we can flesh out the definition as being something without direct inspiration.  First-order originality can only be assigned once; to the absolute first individual/group to spawn the idea (or to make it visible, as we have yet to mass produce technology capable of reading minds.)  Second-order originality is attributed to anyone who devises the same notion, without direct prompting (i.e. encountering the first-order idea) but that comes after the first-order idea.  Consider a math prodigy who unintentionally re-discovers theorems long-ago codified by great mathematicians; his creativity is unquestionable and he merits the term originality in that, had he existed before many of the greats, it is reasonable to assume he’d have produced the same material and thus have been ‘first’.   But it is important to distinguish this individual from Fermat, Caley, Newton and the other greats who did come first; in this sense, being born in ages gone-by seems advantageous.  (There is a not-insignificant turmoil within me at this further distinction.  I vehemently want to brand all non-first creativity as that and that alone.  Unfortunately, that would unfairly minimize the exceptional work of those who ‘re’-produce the work of others unwittingly.  While an asterisk and a link to the first-order original is always deserved, to ignore the potential for first-order originality simply because it’s occurrence  was temporally inconvenient for the author is a slight on creativity.

Now, I am fully aware that this is a nit-picky look at an esoteric distinction, but I believe that these definitions enrich the words by adding layers of precision and meaning.   Granted, the information density plays a very limited role in the speed at which information is conveyed between people, meaning these distinctions aren’t necessarily practical.  (Unfortunately) I find a significant appeal in the elegance that distinctions like these provide.  What’s more, this difference heavily informs my opinions on education reform, which I will get into soon.

For now, I bid you toodles

P.S. To all of my Torontonian friends who are caught in the rain or flooded out of house and home, I wish you the best of luck and would happily house you for a night or to.  Just reach out to me.

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Assigning rights via efficiency

I stumbled upon this article earlier today and it really got me worked up.  The short of the situation is that Ms. McGregor walked into Mr. Sadeen’s barber shop wanting a male haircut.  Mr. Sadeen and his employees, being devout Islamic practitioners, could not cut her hair as their religion forbids them to touch women who are not members of their family.  In response, Ms. McGregor is going to the human rights tribunal, claiming they are unfairly discriminating against her because she is a woman.

Now I am not a religious person, nor do I agree with overly devout beliefs, but the fact is, people have every right to believe what they want to believe and to act in accordance with those beliefs, so long as their actions do not conflict with the beliefs and more importantly rights of others.

At the same time, it seems reasonable that one should not be able to discriminate against patrons on the basis of their gender.  (Women’s fitness clubs, I’m looking at you!)

Naturally, when two sets of rights are at odds there is going to be conflict, and ultimately there will have to be some compromising, though this does not mean that either right will be disregarded or even crossed.

As usual, the main perspective your writer will take is that of an economist.  Generally, the economic analysis of law relies on Coasian bargaining, a very old but very effective ‘rule’ that says that given limited transaction costs and impediments to bargaining an efficient outcome will result.  Generally this implies that both parties at least as well of as had the bargaining not taken place.  (OK, so that last bit is a bit of a Pareto efficiency  spin, but it keeps it tidy.)

Well, let’s consider what the parties want:

Ms. McGregor wants specific performance; she feels that she should be able to walk into any business that offers a service she could want and be able to receive it.  She seems to feel this is justified on the following grounds: since she wanted a “man’s” haircut, she should be able to go to a barber salon that only serves men’s haircuts.

On the other hand, Mr. Sadeen and his employees want to adhere to their religion and run his barber shop.

To give Ms. McGregor the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume she doesn’t expect Mr. Sadeen or his employees to act in contradiction to their religious beliefs.  For Ms. McGregor to get what she wants while respecting Mr. Sadeen’s right to observe his religion, he would have to hire a barber who does not follow Islamic tradition, or at least has no limitation keeping him from working on women.  Assuming Mr. Sadeen is a capable businessman, he’ll have reached a staff size such that there isn’t enough general demand to merit hiring another employee (or he already would have), and he can’t replace an existing staff member simply because his religious beliefs keep him from touching potential female clients.  This is tantamount to Ms. McGregor asking Mr. Sadeen to make a poor business decision to satisfy her personal desires.

Meanwhile, Ms. McGregor probably doesn’t HAVE to go to this salon; seeing as they’ve never cut her hair before, she has obviously gone elsewhere before.  In fact, Ms. McGregor can go to any number of other barber salons – I’m sure there are at least a few others in the vicinity – to find a barber who can provide the service she needs.  Even if the nearest alternative is ten minutes away, the inconvenience to her is almost certainly worth far less than the cost Mr. Sadeen would incur to employ someone else who could cut her hair.  (Again, assuming he’s a good businessman, he’d have sought someone out for this purpose if the female demand for male haircuts was sufficiently large.)

A reasonable economist would say “suck it up Ms. McGregor, this barber shop isn’t keeping you from getting a haircut, they are just saying you can’t get it there.” I feel that any reasonable person would say the same.

Keep in mind that this perspective may not work for other services, but given the abundance of barber salons in Toronto, there is no reasonable argument to be me. In the end, this is a stand on principle that makes Ms. McGregor look ignorant and ridiculous.  She will lose, the right will squawk and the world will move on, but it still bugs me.

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The myth of bountiful time

Images like this abound on facebook and lately have started to irk me. Bear in mind that I’m not exactly a friend of fat people, but these are exactly the kind of naive tropes that wind up gaining critical mass while being based in delusion (like “the four hour work week” or the need to spend “10 000 hours to master a skill.”)

For our purposes, a standard day on earth has 24 hours, thus we find 4% by dividing 1 over 24. Except that we learn very little of practical value, because we don’t really have control over all 24 of those hours, thus it is a useless denominator for activity selection purposes. The first thing thing we must do is determine the relevant denominator.

Assume that the average person sleeps about 8 hours out of every day (denom = 16). We will pretend that everyone is employed and works a typical 40 hour workweek just to keep this tidy. That means that on a given weekday, another 8 hours disappear for work (denom = 8). Now, assume that the average person spends an hour between morning pre-work routines and evening pre-sleep routines (a rather gross underestimate of time spent on showers, shaving, brushing teeth, relevant make-up, clothing selection, etc…; denom = 6.5) Now, assume that two meals are consumed daily outside the hours of work, at 30 minutes each in total duration, for another hour of the clock (denom = 5.5).  This is excessively conservative since preparation, cooking and cleaning up after meals would assuredly add another hour at least.  Now take a look at the relative time of that hour of exercise ; all of a sudden, an hour actually represents close to 20% of a person’s “discretionary” time.  What’s more, we haven’t factored in any travel time to and from work or the gym, any errands or activities, family commitments overtime or anything else that would shrink the denominator even further (I’m going to leave it at 5 in an effort to be extremely charitable).

We haven’t even begun to address the fact that most people don’t exercise properly or efficiently.  Nor have we dealt with the fact that diet plays a far larger role in the health of an average person.  The fact is, banal, universally prescriptive statements don’t actually help people.  We aren’t all students or part-time workers with excessive amounts of free time to burn.  Just because I make time for a workout doesn’t mean everyone can, and people need to think about that a bit more.

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Step one for Ontario Education reform

Every once in a while I’m reinvigorated by others who share my beliefs.  Yesterday I read this announcement and my brain lit up.  I am a firm believer that 95% of the world’s problems will be fixed, in time, with an overall improvement in education.  I’m proud of the fact that Ontario boasts one of the best public education systems in the world, but that does not preclude it from improving.  As wonderful as an Ontario education seems, I am perpetually stunned by the general ignorance and incompetence that often greets me in my day-to-day life, especially when our taxpayer-funded education was meant to solve the issue-at-hand.  I have been known to lambaste the Green Party, but I wholeheartedly support Ms. Conning’s stance on a unified education system, and frankly, everyone but the excessively religious should!

We can easily make the fairness argument that Catholics do not deserve a publicly-funded school board if other religions can’t have them, and Ontarians have shown their disdain for the latter idea by turning on John Tory in Ontario’s 2007 provincial election shortly after he announced his support for faith-based education.   Evidently this is not a particularly compelling argument, regardless of it’s validity, because there is no real groundswell regarding a unified education system.

If fairness is not a good enough answer, let’s think about this from the perspective of the quality of education the province provides.  The provincial goal is for all students to have access to the same high-quality education.  We already face problems based on demographic and geographic factors, with challenges spreading equality to the north and to minority-infused population centers (citation).  Having two publicly-funded school systems simply makes it harder to oversee the education system and make it function properly.  So how do we go about fixing it, and what do we stand to gain/lose if we implement the changes?

Fortunately, the business world has already provided an ideal model.  If we look at this from a business perspective, the province is ostensibly the parent firm for a chain of franchises, the schools/school boards.  Franchises thrive on the quality of their reputation, which they create and maintain by enforcing uniformity and quality standards.  When you walk into McDonald’s, you know that you are getting the same high quality burger, regardless of whether you purchased it in France, Argentina or Kentucky.  It’s exactly why unadventurous travelers flock to chain restaurants when on vacation; they know it’s “safe.”  At the same time, these chains benefit financial from the increased bargaining power with suppliers through larger purchase sizes, which can yield quantity discounts and other favorable pricing policies.

Similarly, uniting the catholic and public boards would provide a plethora of economic advantages. 1) It would improve comparability and transparency, making it easier to spot troubled groups/areas and develop policies to bring underachieving schools/students up to par.  2) It allows for larger supply orders and standardized textbook purchases.  The savings would make it easier to update classroom resources on a more regular basis meaning students won’t be stuck with texts that use the moon landing as an example  of contemporary human achievement.  3) A unified education system would allow teachers to find employment closer to home, since there would be a larger number of local positions to compete for.  4) It would provide equal opportunity for employment, meaning that under-qualified teachers wouldn’t get hired simply because they meet a religious requirement.  5) Students would not be segregated by religion, meaning that tolerance and acceptance would be more easily embraced (though we should credit children with being far more ignorant of petty, marginal differences and should hope to foster a continued naivete into adulthood.)

Now, it would be unfair to berate the current system without considering  potentially harmful consequences as well.

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