Tag Archives: Ontario

On retiring my COVID-19 reporting (for now)


Recently I was reporting COVID-19 data daily. I wrote a program called covid.py that scraped the Ontario.ca Covid web site and and pulled out data for hospitalization and cases. It was a rough but useful gauge to see how COVID was going in Ontario, and I was able to get the information in a snap.

Unfortunately the information is no longer posted on the page I was visiting with my code. The data is out there somewhere in the datasets, but I think I will reconsider things before modifying my code. It is a shame that the data is harder to get though.

All these actions by government organizations to make it harder to get data is a bit frustrating. I read people say: you should track the pandemic and make good decisions. It’s hard to do that though when the information is hard to get.

For more information and data:  Government of Ontario data sets on COVID-19 are here. Government of Canada COVID-19 information is here. More on my code, here.

 

Is math political? Does it need to be? A few thoughts

You would think so, if you read this: Sneering at Ontario’s anti-racist math curriculum reveals a straight line to what people value in The Star

What has the columnist angry was the removal of several passages of progressive political text that went with the update to the recent changes of the math curriculum. I can see why that removal would anger some people with progressive political values.

I can also imagine how many conservatives would have been angry if there was text like this removed from a new curriculum: “recognize the ways in which mathematics can be used as a tool to uncover, explore, analyse, and promote actions to address greater productivity and growth within our economy and to lead Canada to a strong future of wealth and opportunity”, or if the government removed anything to do with teachers creating “pro-capitalist and pro-business teaching and learning opportunities.” Any group that tries to explicitly frame a curriculum and then have that framing removed will be upset.

Mathematics itself is not political, but it is always taught within a political and historical context. For example, I have math texts that make it seem that the only worthwhile math came from European men, while I have others that show mathematics has roots all over the world. I have math textbooks that mention 0 women, while other texts show the role women have played in mathematics and delve into why women had a hard time making more of a contribution.

Whatever context you want to frame a curriculum, I think that emphasizing politics and history with regards to teaching mathematics will not achieve some of the goals that progressive thinkers hope it will achieve. I think the new changes in the curriculum with regards to things such as streaming will help achieve those goals, as I wrote here.

Additionally, I think there are other things that can be done outside the curriculum that could help students that are disadvantaged when it comes to education in math. I am thinking of the work done by organizations like BlackGirlsCode. We could use more organizations like that who can provide specialized programs not just to help kids who are struggling with math, but to uplift kids that excel in math. Organizations that can support the next Maryam Mirzakhani, wherever she is. The kids who are struggling with math need more help than what the schools can provide: the same is true for kids that excel in math.

(Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash)

Piquette: your new summer quaffable drink


I remember when rose used to be a hard sell in Ontario. It took years before people started drinking it in the summer.

Now people adopt new approaches to wine as fast as they can. In the last few years I’ve seen cremants, orange wines and pet nats all become hugely successful. (Though you wouldn’t know it at the LCBO).  The latest thing to catch my fancy are piquettes. This write up of them in Toronto Life describes them better than I can. As they say, piquette is a …

…low-alcohol wine is made by fermenting the pomace—leftover skins and dregs of the winemaking process—and diluting it with water. What results is a wine lover’s answer to summer-y spiked seltzers. It’s zippy, sessionable, slightly bubbly and certainly affordable—you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bottle over $20. Traditionally, piquette was reserved for farmhands and winemakers to sip while working the fields, when wine may have been easier to come by than clean drinking water. And it’s low enough in alcohol (typically, 5-9 per cent ABV) to not impact productivity. “Vineyard work is very tough, physical work, and your body gets sore and full of aches and pains,” says Mike Traynor, of Prince Edward County’s Traynor Vineyard. “Piquette takes that edge off without putting you out.”  There’s also a huge sustainability appeal to piquette. Once nothing more than compost, discarded wine skins can be a thirst-quenching source of revenue. “This actually allows me to bring down the prices on a lot of my wines because I’m getting a better yield from the grapes,” Traynor says.

A few additional thoughts:

  • piquettes are fun, but the taste of them vary widely. If you get an apple cider or a glass of sauvignon blanc, you know what to expect. With piquettes, I have not found that to be the case. The taste of one brand of piquette can be very different from another. They are like pet nats in that way.
  • I can see why winemakers like them: they can squeeze another product out of their harvest. Good for them.
  • I can’t see piquettes reaching a large audience like pinot grigio or moscato did. They will have to compete with beer and cider, which already have a huge part of the summer beverage market. But I am a bad predictor, so who knows.
  • a bottle of piquette can also be good at the end of the evening if you have a big group over for a dinner party. Try it sometime.
  • I’ve had a few piquettes now and I really like the one from Leaning Post. Indeed I like much of the wine from them. Good people, great wine.
  • The wine pictured above is from Leaning Post. It has a great punk rock vibe to it, which perfectly describes a piquette.

My thoughts on the Ontario government changing the curriculum for math.

My first thought in going over some of the big changes to the Ontario high school math curriculum was: good! I am critical of the current government for many reasons, but this is a positive change by them.

I have been helping my son with his math since at least grade 9 to grade 12, and it has been frustrating for him and for me. The math he needs for university is academic and limited to specific areas like functions. This academic math  benefits students who will go to university to study physics or math and very few other subjects.  The non academic math is better, but you can’t get into even a business program with it. By changing the curriculum and stopping streaming, the government has done away with two problems with the way math is currently taught. The only downside to this is for math tutors. (Maybe.)

So “1/sine 30 degrees”**  cheers to government for this. 🙂

(Photo by Antoine Dautry on Unsplash )

** sine 30 degrees = 1/2. So 2 = 1 over that. lol.