Thursday, March 21, 2019

Venture Capital Panel on Robotics (Silicon Valley)

I attended a Silicon Valley panel discussion on robotics this evening, and I thought I'd share a summary of the experience in case others were interested. 
Food and drinks were available
Rob Lau of "Idea to IPO" (idea-to-ipo.com) opened the seminar by introducing several of the group's members, including Albert Qian of Albert's List. One entrepreneur, Ali, discussed autonomous tutors available 24/7 capable of answering questions immediately. Another member talked about a geolocation service without satellite communication called No GPS
Rob provided a quick mission statement. He acknowledged many entrepreneurs are struggling financially, so he ensures his events are affordable to all. His aim is value for our time, which he called our most valuable asset. His group's global mission is to democratize entrepreneurship, and he referred the audience to his YouTube channel.

I was impressed with Tim Jeghers, the event's videographer. He seemed diligent without being obtrusive. 
Eric Hanson of the nationally-recognized WilmerHale law firm moderated, and he did an excellent job, following up when answers were not clear. 
I've been a huge fan of WilmerHale ever since Attorney Seth Waxman's oral arguments before the Supreme Court, and I was pleased to be able to visit one of the law firm's offices, even though Mr. Waxman works out of D.C., not Palo Alto. 

All the panelists were interesting, but I enjoyed Elana Lian's comments the most. 
Below is a heavily paraphrased summary of each speaker's comments, which attempts to capture the gist of their opinions. 

Elana Lian: I’m with Intel Capital, and I focus on AI and robotics. Opportunity is everywhere. We focus on the B-to-B side. We bring computer vision and the AI to the processing unit, a complex undertaking due to factors like data analysis and different operating systems. One example [of this fusion] is the company Bossa Nova, which makes a robot that scans shelves and QR codes in the retail industry. That involves scanning (robot vision), movement/navigation, and processing.

I agree in the long term, other jobs will replace the ones eliminated by technology, but in the meantime, people recognize short-term challenges, including in media such as Black Mirror.

One of the most critical things is to talk to the end user.

Just because you’re solving a really cool problem doesn’t mean someone will buy it. [My favorite quote of the night.] 
Kelly Chen: I’ve always been interested in the quantitative side. I have an engineering background as well as an MBA. We think about logistics--everything from shipping to packing. I’m optimistic about this space, because due to software and reinforcement learning, we can do things in weeks today that took one full year in 2012. 'Reinforcement learning" is how the robot learns, i.e., the robot uses probabilistic models similar to the human brain rather than machine learning, which doesn’t allow the robot to perform tasks it hasn’t seen before. 

We are also involved in autonomous long-haul trucking. We’re excited about what this technology can do for the labor market, because few people want to do long-haul trucking, such as deliveries from the East coast to the West coast. With new technology, however, drivers can stay closer to home, see their families more often, and focus on handling "last mile" issues. 

We invest on the enterprise side, and enterprises make decisions based on concrete factors. When selling to consumers, it’s more emotional, more based on sentiment. From an investment approach, we tend to be cautious. If you have a demo that works in the lab, it doesn’t mean it will work in the wild. 

I think GDPR and data privacy are important, but a security failure in an autonomous vehicle is much more dangerous than a data breach. 
Brandon Reeves: I’m an early stage investor. How do you reinvent a new cycle in an established business? In the short term, there will be job displacement because of technology, but if the Industrial Revolution is any indication, more jobs will be created in the long-term (10, 20, and 50 years from now). 

From a funding perspective, with consumer robotics, the difficulty is that investors want a market to already exist, while innovators often look ahead to fulfilling a demand that doesn’t yet exist. In terms of what consumers will accept, a lot of it comes from the DNA of a company rather than the product itself. We ask, “Do consumers trust the company?” [Rather than, “Do consumers trust the product?”] 

I’m very against co-working spaces at the early stages [of a company or idea]. 

Re: job displacement, I don’t believe in UBI—I tend to focus on opportunity and retraining. I also think UBI is against immigrants, because it makes it harder from a policy perspective to increase immigration. I believe immigration has been responsible for America's success, and I don't want to support a policy that will reduce it. The way to increase wages is through productivity growth, and you get productivity growth through technology. I do worry some jobs will eventually experience so much productivity growth, they’ll no longer need human beings, but I’m not sure we can predict the exact timeline. 

20% of America's GDP is healthcare or healthcare-related. 

Re: a robot tax to mitigate job losses, in general, you don’t want to levy a tax that hurts innovation in the short term, but the long term is different.
Nuno Goncalves Pedro: I’m a VC investing in next generation applications focused on the consumer. Our time horizon is five to ten years, preferably five to seven years. 

We don’t believe in the idea that robots need to be anthropomorphic. A doorbell or an ATM is also a small robot, but for some reason, people will trust a human-looking robot more than a doorbell or an ATM. Why don’t we have ATMs that look like human beings dispensing money? It’s different selling to consumers than to businesses, but the patterns in usage between businesses and individuals are becoming similar. We’re in the midst of a big shift.

There’s an entrenched supply chain that makes it hard for newcomers to break through, but even these entrenched systems are missing pieces. At the same time, if I’m GM or another OEM, why not own my software? Why rely on third parties just because that’s the way the supply chain is set up? 

There’s a war for the home going on right now. Amazon, Google, Apple are all vying for the home. Facebook tried and failed. 


From an ethics perspective, unfortunately, I do think ethics is in the hands of engineers, and engineers aren’t meant to be thinking about ethics. They’re meant to think about algos and functions. Meanwhile, most CEOs do not know what their engineers are doing, so there’s a gap between technical implementations and business leadership. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Random Travel Observations, Part 1 (2019)

1. If you want to understand the world, ascertain the top three traded commodities, then track all changes from sourcing to retail. Today, the top two physical commodities are oil and coffee beans. (The most valuable commodity is invisible--it's your data--but that's another topic.) 

I've noticed most independent or mid-sized coffeeshops, even chains, are mixing beans from all over the world. A cup of coffee from all but the major retail outlets will most likely contain beans from several different regions. This seems odd, because supply chains have improved dramatically over the last thirty years. 

Then I realized supply chains--epitomized by Amazon, which progressed from simple books to multibillion-dollar sales of everything--aren't the problem. Buyers no longer trust political (tariffs) or weather conditions to provide them with consistent supply year-round over long periods of time. 

Meanwhile, financial markets as well as insurance companies betray their deficiencies in assisting smaller businesses, whether through inaccessibility of simple hedging instruments (the complex ones are more profitable) and/or ineffective credit scores (non-existent in most countries, handicapping domestic insurance and banking industries). When I was in Indonesia, I noticed most coffee beans from come from Sumatra rather than the superior quality from Java, which brings me to my next observation... 

2. First mover advantage is longer lasting when buttressed by legal and financial markets. Developed economies have not yet figured out how to balance entrepreneurship with "lawfare," the practice of using legal systems to stymie or stall competitors, especially smaller ones. 

A disproportionate number of small or individually owned businesses in developing economies are food or drink-related, which makes you wonder whether legal and financial systems are truly effective anywhere. In Saigon, Vietnam, many houses are two-stories, and the bottom floor serves as a mini-restaurant in the evening. Either permits aren't required for such businesses, or enforcement must be lax. In short, despite Hernando de Soto's considerable scholarship on this issue, legal and financial systems continue to disfavor small businesses.

3. America's physical infrastructure is nonexistent compared to similarly developed countries, and Canada's and Mexico's aren't much better. America's post-WWII afterglow--and its status as the world's sole leader not once, but twice from 1945 to 1991--led to public safety budgeting being prioritized. This first mover advantage created a political establishment that remains firmly in control to this day--even though the advantages of a world led by a single superpower no longer apply with competition from an ascendant China, an ambitious Africa, a rising ASEAN, and a resurgent Russia. 

Indeed, the more one studies America's economy and compares it to other countries, the more one sees a country on an inexorably fascist path, where an ever-increasing police state requires greater private expansion, especially overseas, and in conjunction with the banking sector, both domestic and international, in order to maintain funding--and stability. 

Stability and trade are linked. One cannot travel without seeing American products, usually never discounted abroad due to their premium image. In some cases, such as my favorite travel brand Columbia Sportswear, the retail premium is justified. In most cases, however, what you wear, eat, and buy is dictated by a complex set of trade (and, by default, pricing/tariff) agreements entered into post-1945, with the expectation of international organizations such as the IMF and World Bank providing loans to developing countries in exchange for favorable corporate treatment. After 1995, the creation of the WTO and its rules added layers of legal complexity on top of existing financial complexity (currency fluctuations, shipping insurance, etc.), making global trade highly dependent on multinational banks and politically-connected law firms. 

With such complexity, one quickly sees why media and advertising--as well as selective censorship--are so integral to the U.S. and other developed economies. How does a company differentiate itself from competitors without a compelling story, preferably presented through compelling individuals? And how does one resist the temptation to resort to made-up stories when real life does not always follow a clean script? 

4. America's marketing machine allows more opportunities to feel special and to participate than most other nations. For example, I'm a freestyle and Olympic wrestling fan. There will almost always be some event somewhere in America I can attend, whether D1/D2/D3 college championships, world events, etc. America's ability to put on a show is closely linked to its ability to market its brands at a premium and to control which brands see the most eyeballs, both in the physical and digital realm. Such control is crucial to generating an adequate ROI on federal government outlays. 

Yet, in terms of products I specifically "buy American" when overseas, only two come to mind: Columbia Sportswear and Gillette razors. Most products are fungible, making consumer-led economies--and their debt loads--precarious if "free trade" actually existed. 

5. Overlapping jurisdictions in most Western countries no longer work the way they were intended; indeed, they create unnecessary complexity while failing to promote checks and balances. Smaller countries like Singapore and perhaps even Nordic countries have advantages over larger countries due to the ability to avoid negotiation with multiple non-governmental entrenched interests. Better and more comprehensive public transportation is one obvious result. 

6. Voters want all the benefits of immigration but none of its downsides. Such magic is impossible. You do not get a Nâdiya or Zidane without some "nonperforming assets." No banking or hedge fund manager--with the best analytical tools available--can claim 100% or even 80% success; yet, we expect immigration agencies to outperform the "masters of the universe."

The key, as with most endeavors, is whether the costs outweigh the benefits. Obviously, if slavery or colonialism is responsible for a positive outcome, the cost is too high once we take a long-term view. At the same time, such philosophical analyses are irrelevant for practical purposes because modern immigration and many other migration shifts are different in nature and require different modes of thinking. 

In reality, nations dislike competition and are having difficulty developing both financial and human investments; along the way, somehow, institutional failures have been superimposed on individuals. In the end, the principle remains the same, with an addendum: "Am I my brother's keeper?" If not, how much effort and investment is required to reach a sustainable and proper paradigm? 

7. Having seen many paintings funded by the Catholic Church, it seems much religious language (harlots, affairs, sexual miracles, modesty, etc.) and subsequent imagery try to create an environment where human nature is balanced with a code of conduct. We call these attempts to create a sustainable civilization "the law," though in the past, the terms "morality" and "religion" were more popular. One reason the 20th and 21st centuries are so problematic is because the written law has become as ambiguous and unpredictable as abstract morality

Natasha Trethewey: Well, paintings, just like poems, have a lot to do with the historical moment in which they’re made. They reveal the material culture of a moment. They’re not only giving us a vision of some historical event, but also historicizing it within the moment of the work’s making. And so I’m drawn to them because I write a lot about history. I’m also just very visual myself.

In America, one can blame almost everyone for this result. Law schools, which charge excessive tuition, limiting both their applicant pools as well as their graduates' futures. Lawyers, who have been unable to accomplish anything transformative since September 11, 2001. Judges, most of whom do not read the papers submitted to them (they rely on law clerks), and who are often out of their depth due to limited or specialized experience in former careers. What to do? 

8. Governments have not realized the marketing teams required to boost their popularity and capture citizens' attention are becoming their downfall. A simplistic example would be governments advertising anti-diabetes and anti-sugar messages. Citizens and voters are not stupid. They know their governments could have spent marketing money renting a space with a gym available to the public, but marketing is a one-time cost/bill, whereas running a public space is an ongoing, unpredictable concern. Even so, in smaller or more rural Filipino cities, where it may be less common to own a television, basketball courts are built and named by aspiring or elected politicians. Despite the potential for graft, it is precisely these ongoing community projects that create a civilization worthy of admiration. Unfortunately, in developed countries, these same projects cannot deliver votes and political messages to a broad enough audience at election time compared to media's outreach. As such, marketing triumphs over common sense in most modern democratic countries, distorting elections and communities. 

When thinking of democratic systems in an increasingly digital world, I'm reminded of the adage that self-inflicted wounds often cause more damage than direct hits. Foreign governments and billionaires have already realized a strategy of promoting, then focusing on the most divisive or unrealistic voices (Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro, Ocasio-Cortez, etc.) through advertising dollars (e.g., Cambridge Analytica) can be more effective than buying a next-generation fighter jet. 
9. It has always been the best of times and the worst of times. Economic development has occurred through capital deployment and exploitation of natural resources, whether foreign and domestic, both avenues being unequally distributed. For example, many developing countries rely on massive, upscale shopping malls to burnish their image but do not seem to care about slums three blocks away. 
In Jakarta, Indonesia, Grand Indonesia and another mega-mall are right next to each other, making traffic unbearable. I walked a short distance away from the malls and realized both houses and casual restaurants for locals--the ones who can't afford to shop at the malls--were right outside, making me re-evaluate my ideas on zoning, eminent domain, and development. 

Modern developed societies feel unhinged despite lacking such blatant incongruence because they cannot provide predictable outcomes even for residents willing to invest time and money in mainstream systems (higher education, a taxi medallion, etc.). In contrast, the life of a slum dweller a few blocks away from "progress" in the form of a new mall doesn't change much--his motorcycle can still weave through cars, and he may even have more opportunities for income in the informal market. 

10. Countries outside of the United States are allowing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to become de facto gateways and advertising platforms for their small businesses. Most countries will regret not countering such influence when they realize advertising dollars, as well as visibility for domestic residents and international travelers, are controlled by a foreign power. At the same time, without satellites to integrate GPS-tracking, it's unclear how developing countries can achieve similar platforms. (Open source?) 

11. We've all heard of the phrase, "For God and country," but it wasn't until I visited several Commonwealth churches that I understood the full meaning. Most churches in the U.K. have plaques and burial plots commemorating local stalwarts. In larger cities, there may even be an entire wall covered with names of locals who died in WWI and WWII. (Australians in particular seem to have suffered greatly relative to their small population.) 
In the olden days, your life revolved around your family and your local religious institution, which was the de facto community hub. Starbucks or another "third place" for networking did not exist. A man cast out from his church had no other place to go. 

Additionally, because many Western countries have been at war for much of modern existence, local economies from Quebec City (gun manufacturing) to Brisbane, Australia revolved around military expenditures, not unlike several American cities today. The bridges you see in other cities might have been built to accommodate transport of munitions, not passenger convenience. 

Much of social miasma today concerns a movement away from military-fueled economic expansion and religion as the community's binding agent. If we are stumbling, it is because we've yet to find anything large and stable enough to replace either pillar, despite the knowledge that both are becoming more fragile with each passing day. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Morelia and Queretaro, Mexico

Two of Mexico's lesser-known cities are Queretaro and Morelia. In Queretaro's Plaza de Armas, I visited a building with Victor Cauduro Rojas' murals of significant Mexican leaders, including Miguel Hidalgo. 

I enjoyed Queretaro. It's a large, developed city, the kind you'd want to live in, and it also has a historic center, so you have the best of the old and new worlds. 

I didn't enjoy Morelia as much, but it has two unique sights: 1) the Church of Guadalupe (aka Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe) 
and 2) Biblioteca Publica Universitaria y Fondo Antiguo. 
Puebla city, Puebla continues to be the most underrated city I've visited in Mexico. Its International Museum of Baroque is world-class, and its Biblioteca de Palafoxiana is one of the most unique libraries ever built, starting with a donation of 5,000 books from Juan de Palafox. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Quebec: Avoid at all Costs (Unless It's Winter Carnaval)

Quebec is a developing province masquerading as developed. Take away Toronto and Vancouver, and all of Canada looks like a U.S. satellite with natural resource and product sales dependent on a foreign navy. 
You'd have to be a fan of Marquis de Sade--the receiving end--to want to live in Quebec, so of course this is where the Canadian government placed many of its Syrian refugees

The weather is cold and intolerable as you move farther Northeast, and Quebec City is colder than Montreal. One local artist remarked, "It's a freezer and it's raining ice cubes." 
At Winter Carnaval, an enjoyable annual event
He wasn't kidding. Imagine a third-tier San Francisco, just as expensive (except for housing) and colder--that's Quebec most months out of the year, thanks to onerous taxes and regulations. See this convoluted Uber receipt in Montreal? 
A twelve minute ride anywhere will cost about 10 USD, higher than most major metropolises. In Quebec City, I was charged 55 Canadian cents because the driver waited less than one minute while I put my backpacks in the trunk of his car. (It's automatically added as a "waiting fee.") Where do these taxes go? As far as I can tell, to white residents so they can have government jobs. 100% of the police officers, 90% of the bus drivers, 90% of Montreal's Metro workers, and 100% of the school crossing guards I saw were white. 
Despite aiming for égalité, the Québecois lack a single distinguished author or director. David Suzuki is from British Columbia; Anna Porter is from Ontario; and Jacques Poitras is from New Brunswick. Who's Quebec's best-selling international author? Here's the blurb from one of his latest books: 

For fans of Stephen King’s Misery and Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman comes an engrossing thriller about a monster who becomes a victim and a victim who becomes a monster. From Patrick Senécal, the Quebec author who has sold over a million books worldwide. 

Sigh. (If you argue Wajdi Mouawad, Jean-Marc Vallée, Chrystine Brouillet, and Simon Boulerice are Quebec's artistic "heavyweights," you've lost the debate--none of them have created anything memorable and widely distributed. As for Leonard Cohen, he achieved success only after moving from Montreal to New York in 1967. He died in the United States.) 

How is it that every other country with Muslim or African immigrants can claim credit for producing some of the world's best literature and art? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie attended three American universities. The U.K. has Zadie Smith, born in London to a Jamaican mother. America has Dominican-born Junot Diaz. We haven't even discussed sports (the 2018 French soccer/football team, coached by Zinedine Zidane) or music (Senegalese-American Akon), and we won't, because it would take too damn long to list all their accomplishments. 

You'd think a province with so little going for it would at least be dignified, but the Quebécois can't manage even that simple task. As far as they're concerned, they're bloody victims: "[T]here is an understandable strain of anger running through much Quebecois writing—an anger arising out of more than 150 years of oppression and marginalization at the hands of a dominant culture and language." To summarize, they believe being forced to speak English is an affront worse than slavery that justifies millions of taxpayer dollars to support Francophone culture. (Pro tip: you can't buy class or culture, but that hasn't stopped anyone yet.) Sadly, tax dollars promoting Francophone culture seem wasted because they boost only French-speaking collections rather than bridges towards a truly bilingual society. 
Available only in French
When not discriminating against English speakers, Quebec taxpayers also enjoy financing the translation of works from other countries into French but not English, sowing the seeds for future civil war--or separatism. Unsurprisingly, Quebec has tried to separate from English-speaking Canada two times: in 1980 and in 1995. In 1980, PM Pierre Trudeau, current PM Justin's father, negotiated an uneasy peace. In 1995, Quebec narrowly avoided secession when 50.58% voted to remain. 

Today, Quebec's economy is tied to the aerospace (aka military-industrial complex
At Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel, often featured in Hollywood movies
and finance sectors, plus its ports. 
From the small Bank of Montreal museum
Quebec City's Museum of Civilization discusses its economic history of making shoes, 
guns, then--I kid you not--a scientific Golden Age from 1990 to 2000: "Several large biomedical companies called Quebec City home from 1990 to 2000... Today, the life science industry consists of more than 100 companies providing nearly 6,000 jobs... with sales [not profits!] of 1.3 billion dollars." (For comparison purposes, Eli Lilly & Company, just one American life science company, generates about 20 billion USD in revenue annually.) 

What brilliant innovation occurred post-2000 in Quebec? Video games, and the local museum showcases American-distributed Guitar Hero. (I swear I am not making this up.) Quebec does indeed invest heavily in the video game sector--it provides tax credits up to 37.5% of employee salaries to attract talent. One major recipient of the tax credit is formerly France-based Guillaume Provost, who returned to Quebec: "native to Montreal, he has lived anywhere but..." If it sounds like Quebec has to pay millions not to lose its best people to other countries and to Toronto, you wouldn't be wrong. 

As for finance, the sector's influence is particularly interesting because it helps prove the West's economic development as historically driven by an alliance between banks and the military. Murals of fallen soldiers in WWI and WWII are solemnly displayed in large banks, and justifiably so. 
Absent war, implementation of legal and insurance systems designed to guarantee profits, and capture of other countries' resources, modern Western governments seem flummoxed in having to adapt to other, more sustainable methods of economic development. 

"All the colonial wars for the last 25 years have been fought in the interests of capital; fought to ensure markets that would guarantee more profits for European capital. Capital has become very powerful, all-powerful. Capital decides the fate of humanity." -- Pramoedya Ananta Toer, This Earth of Mankind (translated from Indonesian in 1980)  

"The United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world — and now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy." -- USA President Donald Trump, February 5, 2019 

Regardless, Quebec's economy continues to be tied to America's, for better or for worse.
When your economy revolves around your neighbor... 
Such dependency explains why Canada could not decline the U.S.'s demand to arrest Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in a brazen attempt to influence U.S-China trade negotiations. Her arrest could be a nearly fatal self-inflicted wound, because most Canadian apparel products are manufactured in China or Cambodia, and Canada's major housing markets west of Quebec are propped up by Chinese investors and Chinese foreign exchange students paying rent (and outsized tuition). 

Moreover, due to its vast size and few heavily populated cities, Canada's mobile and physical infrastructures are underdeveloped. Though competition does exist between domestic mobile providers, no foreign companies--not even global behemoth T-Mobile--have bothered to set up shop. Consequently, if you're a tourist, basic service will cost you a frostbitten arm and a leg, and only Canada among developed nations sells prepaid monthly plans offering meager starting packets of 2GB to 4GB. (I considered a roaming package from Britain's Vodafone before seeing a bonus deal from Koodo Mobile.) 
The modern U.K. economy, like many developed countries, seems dependent on surveillance capabilities.
In short, it's not a good time to antagonize Huawei Technologies, but that's exactly where Canada is, courtesy of the United States. A smart PM would invite Chinese, European, and American mobile companies to invest and compete subject to data localization requirements, but without subsidies possibly banned under WTO rules, Canada might be worried its domestic mobile companies are so weak, they'll all fold against outside competition. 

The entire situation reminds me of the Amana Colonies in also-freezing Iowa, where a culture of communal re-distribution of wealth worked well for one generation, but not two or three. 
Perhaps good times can survive more than three generations if funds are used for long-lasting physical infrastructure (trains, roads, etc.), but when you've reached the third generation in a non-innovative economy, there's a sense someone else--anyone but you, really--will handle things. 
No employees at a busy Metro station in Montreal
Service in all areas declines, then impacts the credibility of tax-receiving entities, who resort to propaganda to maintain funding. Immigrants are usually blamed, whether refugees or illegal, and if they're smart, they take their talents elsewhere. 
National Geographic, January or February 2019
A steady injection of well-targeted venture capital will improve prospects, but such economic weapons are rarely welcomed in a collaborative fashion (witness the worldwide struggles of Uber, Airbnb, Lime, etc.). Conflicts between newly funded players and established interests, while essential to progress, tear the social fabric. Worst case, Holocaust; best case, walls
From museum in Stockholm, Sweden
Even where collaboration is present, scaling a business without increasing segregation remains a challenge. Governments have yet to learn that neither laws nor taxes promote good behavior; the key is whether residents, citizens and non-citizens alike, feel connected to each other. The law, and its power to tax, are merely heavy tools to build--or break--such social cohesion. 

Luckily for Quebec and other sub-zero locales, the harsh weather provides perfect opportunities to establish credibility through the provision of public services, including transportation and snow shoveling. 
Outside McGill University, Quebec's top university
Each potential voter who wakes up and sees cleanly swept streets has less incentive to demonize governmental action. At that point, it's up to each politician to build on the credibility established by its winter crews, and some obviously do a better job than others. 

Speaking of social cohesion, I've yet to discuss Quebec's most horrific incident: the January 29, 2017 mosque shooting, where blue-eyed Quebecer Alexandre Bissonnette, a former Royal Canadian Army Cadet, used a rifle to murder six praying Muslims and to wound eight others. 
Ibrahima Barry (aged 39), Mamadou Tanou Barry (aged 42), Khaled Belkacemi (aged 60), Aboubaker Thabti (aged 44), Abdelkrim Hassane (aged 41) and Azzedine Soufiane (aged 57), all Canadian citizens, are no longer with us. 
At the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City
The judge could have issued a sentence of 150 years but chose 40 years instead, meaning the children the shooter orphaned may once day walk the same streets as their parents' killer. Meanwhile, Canada's other Muslims aren't faring well, either. According to journalist Nadine Yousif, "three years later, Alsaleh’s story, and that of other [refugee] families, is of feeling stuck. In Arabic, Alsaleh told me she misses her home in Syria, but that home is no longer there, and Canada still feels like a strange land, 'like you’re in a country that isn’t yours.'" 
F*ck you, Quebec. F*ck you and this whole province and everyone in it. F*ck Justin Trudeau, who still hasn't visited paralyzed shooting victim Aymen Derbali. F*ck your ice sculptures and your ice hotel, one-offs in a land otherwise culturally bereft. F*ck your failure to create a truly sovereign country, despite your ample natural resources. F*ck your judges, who give white terrorists lenient sentences. F*ck your fancy restaurants serving overpriced food in Montreal. F*ck your failure to innovate--you can't even manage conveniently located food trucks for snowed-in residents. F*ck your lack of African restaurants. F*ck your NYC-copied bagels. F*ck your sh*tty Tim Horton's coffee. F*ck your maple syrup, for which you haven't negotiated a TSA exemption under NAFTA or USMCA's carry-on rules. F*ck your six months of winter. F*ck this whole province and everything in it.