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Day 56 – May 11, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

William Henry Harrison was elected to the presidency of The United States of America in 1840, as only the 9th president of that young nation. Indeed, right around the time he was born, George Washington was giving his first State of the Union address. His running mate, John Tyler, was elected vice-president. But this posting has little to do with the presidency of Harrison, because he didn’t do much, and died a month into his term, leading to his VP’s ascension to the throne.

John Tyler (1790-1862) was sworn in as the 10th president, and served in that capacity from 1841 until the next election, where he was soundly defeated, making him the longest-serving president who was never actually elected.

Tyler may not have made a great president, but he did make a lot of children… 15 of them. He was 63 years old when one of them, Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935), was born.

Lyon Gardner wasn’t quite as good as his dad at fathering lots of children, but he did ok, having 6 of his own. And he was certainly good at having them at an older age. One of them, Lyon Gardiner Tyler Junior, was born in 1924, when Senior was 71. And another, Harrison Ruffin Tyler (we can only assume after whom he was named) was born in 1928, when daddy was 75.

These Tylers clearly come from good stock… but it’s still mind-boggling to realize that since those latter two are still alive, John Tyler, born in 1790, has two living grandsons. Three generations that span the entire existence of the country.

That was perhaps the best example I could find of just how “new” the U.S. is. It’s arguably three generations old. From a Canadian point of view, someone born at the time of confederation (1867) could easily have a child that’s still alive today. Two generations.

There’s a rich history between these two young countries, who at times have been mortal enemies. In fact, it was a war that started both… and depending with which side of history you want to associate, you could say, as an American, that you “won” — and those defeated British, who went on to retreat to what ultimately became Canada, “lost”. If it means so much to call it that, by all means — take your victory. And of course it should be noted that both sides of the war were being fought by people who had much more in common with each other than the indigenous people, whose land it actually was.

The two countries weren’t done squabbling quite yet. The war of 1812, which technically was between the U.S. and the U.K. was really more Canada vs. America. We burned down the Capitol and White House in that one.

It’s not fair to summarize a complex war — that went on for years — in one paragraph, but the summary is that it was probably a sort of stalemate, which of course, in North America, means both sides thought they won. Or at least claimed they did. There is no overtime or shootout or sudden-death to an entire war, but by the time the Treaty of Ghent was signed, both sides simply had had enough. Nobody had any fight left in them, so that was that.

The fighting didn’t end there, as far as America was concerned because of course, the civil war came along… more similar people just fighting each other over ideology. The soon-to-be Canadians fought in that war too, on both sides — but the vast majority with the anti-slavery Union soldiers, who eventually defeated the Confederate states. Interesting little factoids… the soldier who organized the detachment of Union solders that captured and killed Lincoln-assassin John Wilkes Booth — was Canadian. And the composer of “O Canada” was a French-Canadian Union soldier.

By the time the two World Wars rolled around, the countries were strong allies, and have been ever since. The world’s longest undefended border. Each other’s largest trading partners, till recently.

But as young nations grow — and by any measure, these are still mere children in the sea of adult countries from around the world that have existed for many centuries or millennia — personalties begin to develop, and whatever the older generations may have had in common… well, things change. It’s sometimes hard to gauge whether you’re dealing with the attitude of an entire country, or just a vocal minority, or just its leaders… especially when the messages are so mixed. For two countries that are really pretty similar when you compare populations with anywhere else… we sure seem to be on different paths these days. Americans really like to stick to their guns… in every sense of that statement. The vast and conflicting confusion that’s becoming evident is worrisome to say the least. A cohesive plan is by no means guaranteed to succeed, but a confused, mismanaged one is doomed to fail. It seems like a lot of state governments aren’t listening to the feds. It looks like a lot of municipal governments aren’t listening to the state. It looks like a lot of people aren’t listening to any of those three, and just doing what they want — or cherry-picking what works for them, and hoping for the best.

I’ll end this with my usual profound gratitude that I was on the “losing” side of a War of Independence… and as much noise is being made about how poorly Canada is handling this at a federal level (it’s not a lot of noise, and it’s not really true) — or how the government here, whether provincially or municipally, could be doing so much better, because jobs economy lockdown jobs money jobs economy — yeah, we get it, we are all suffering. We’re also all surviving, and are far more likely to with an infrastructure that can handle it. I’ll take Canadian-handling criticism all day long. If what we’re doing is some version of failure, some version of “losing” — like the British or Canadians from wars of the distant past — I’ll take it.

Some numbers… the U.S. counted its 80,000th death over the weekend. Canada is under 5,000. That’s deaths per million of 247 vs. 132. And today was the third straight day of declining new-case numbers in Canada.

Bring on the phased re-openings… with all things continuing as they are, that’ll be just after the upcoming long weekend.

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Day 55 – May 10, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

As it’s Sunday, no B.C. numbers today… so I’ll throw in my usual guess, which today is just the same as yesterday’s +15, and we’ll leave it at that… and hopefully that’s pretty accurate (we’ll know tomorrow) because it’d imply another good day all across the country. Speaking of good days, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there… I hope those who are celebrating in person have found a safe and socially-responsible way to do so. The weather is certainly cooperating… outside is good, for many reasons. Just stay away from others and it’ll be more than fine. You know the drill.

Mother’s Day every year marks the point in the NHL playoffs where fans around here are trying to figure out who to cheer for now, because if the Canucks made the playoffs, they’ve probably been recently eliminated. There’s a reasonable chance they could’ve gone a little deeper this year, but we’ll never know what this season and post-season would have looked like, were it not so rudely interrupted. We can only speculate.

Speaking of hockey and speculation… back in the day, when Wayne Gretzky dominated the NHL, it became a bit of an issue what to do with him in hockey pools… the pools where you draft players and then accumulate points as the players on your team accumulate goals and assists throughout the season. Fantasy sports leagues do this on a whole new level, where you have to decide who on your roster you’ll “dress” for tonight’s game, because you can’t play your full team of 22 players. Rest assured, in today’s world, the guy who got to draft Gretzky would dress him 100% of the time. In fact, Gretzky was a bit of a hockey-pool one-man wrecking machine, because whoever got him usually ended up winning everything. To prevent that, one possibility was to break Gretzky’s goals and Gretzky’s assists into two, as if he were two separate players, and then someone could draft one or the other. But even there, his assists alone were dominant. Or, of course, nobody got the opportunity to draft Gretzky, and that kept things even.

That was a good example of the tail wagging the dog, a good metaphor where one little statistically-significant aspect of something can have a profound and obfuscating effect on everything else. And, as mentioned, one option is to remove it entirely,… but then things look a whole lot different.

Today’s example of the tail wagging the dog involves a pair of U.S. states, New York and New Jersey, very much the hotspot of this outbreak in the U.S. Let’s call that area NYJ for simplicity.

NYJ has a population of 28.4M out of the American total of 331M which is around 8.6%. But out of the American total test case count of almost 1.4M, they have 35.6% of them. And 44.7% of the more than 80,000 deaths. Not just the hotspot, but now very much the epicentre, which was not always the case.

What’s interesting, and good for NYJ, is that they’ve managed to get things far more in control than was the case not so long ago. The individual numbers there are flattening and trending well. Who knows what that will look like after seeing the crowds in Central Park, but at least they’ve contained things to a manageable level… and, in doing so, made the U.S. numbers in general look a lot better… and consequently, created a lot of false optimism.

The Federal recommendation for re-opening involves declining case rates over a period of 14 days. This does not mean 14 straight days of succeedingly-declining numbers. It simply means a 14-day period after which the number of active cases is simply lower, ie recoveries (plus deaths, I suppose) have out-paced new cases. At present, numerous states are in varying stages of re-opening. At present, the number of states who meet that 14-day criteria is… zero. Nevertheless, openings with reckless abandon. Because that’s Freedom.

Perhaps a better spelling of that word these days, in some places, would be “Free-dumb”. Somehow, freedom and the constitution and liberty and guns all get wrapped up in the same, confused package. There’s the word for it.

Indeed, more than 200 years ago, American founding father Patrick Henry proclaimed “Give me liberty or give me death!”

It seems some Americans, not happy with having to make a choice, and perhaps a little greedily — both from inward-facing and public-facing points-of-view — have found a way to obtain both.

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Day 54 – May 9, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Humour, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Especially these days… you know what’s worse than no WiFi? Crappy WiFi. Where the email kind of crawls in, but the attachment is now stuck and won’t refresh. Where you swipe down on Instagram, and it just hangs there forever. Where the webpage only half-loaded and managed to lock-up the browser. Where you need to get onto that Zoom meeting but it won’t connect. Or when it connects, you’re getting two frames per second and your face looks like the guy from Minecraft.

Such has been my day, trying to do all of this… outside! But the trade-off in quality and quantity of this post is offset by all the glorious sunshine I managed to absorb, so we’ll call it even. And ZoomHanging with some friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

But I should point out that I did my outside gig — at home, in my yard, where social distancing is imposed by fences, hedges and the laws that apply to private property. Unlike some of the pictures and videos I saw from yesterday evening.

A stunning sunset by any definition, the sort where last year we’d all run down to English Bay or Spanish Banks and soak it all in. Except that this isn’t last year and things are a lot different. Or, should be a lot different, but judging from what I’ve seen of last night, there is a large part of the population that seems to have had enough, and to hell with restrictions and social distancing and everything else. It looked like the typical crowd getting ready to see the fireworks. It looked like a lackadaisical attitude of “We’ve had enough” coupled with “I’m young and healthy” coupled with “Even if I get this, outcomes around here are exceedingly optimistic” coupled with “I probably had this already and am immune.”

The combination of that will lead to — well, I have no crystal ball. We seem to have been spared the worst of it, around here, for now. It doesn’t take a lot to radically change that, and this entire thing is evolving very differently all around the planet. We’re doing very well around here — a world-class example when measured against other comparables — in fact, in populations of 5 million or greater, we are amongst the best on the planet, if not number one. This is the sort of false confidence that can lead to real trouble as the Summer drags on, as the heat sticks around, as the curve stays sort of flat but… annoyingly, still new cases popping up… and then the fall hits, and the second wave that’s looming on the horizon… which everyone seems to agree will be bad in some places. The question, of course, is where.

I have been following South Korea from the start; they are a good model to follow, and if you’ve been looking at my charts for any period of time, you’ll have seen that black line flat, and far below everything else. Five days ago, their new test-positive counts were +3, +2 and +4 for a few days. And in the last two days, they’ve been +12 and +18. They’ve had a flare-up, which started in a nightclub or two. South Korea, from the start, has managed things with massive testing and contact tracing, so it will be interesting to see how well they can contain this. Hopefully it flares down as quickly as it flared up. In a perfect world, it’ll get squashed right down, but… nightclubs? A hot, enclosed environment where people are sweating and breathing heavily in close proximity? We shall see.

Unfortunately, as we well-know, there’s a 14-day lag to know for sure. That’s in South Korea, and that’s also around here. We won’t know what effect, if any, the beach-crowding from last night will have. Or, tonight’s expected beach-crowding. Or tomorrow’s. Or next weekend’s long weekend. The problem with that is that neither outcome is great. If nothing bad comes of it, as in we don’t see a big rise in numbers, that will empower the “See? No big deal” crowds and it will become harder and harder to convince people to stick to it… and when people stop enforcing upon themselves what’s in the best interest of the greater good, we all suffer the consequences…. especially when September/October and the possible second wave all roll in.

Or, these numbers do generate a visible spike in positive tests… in which case the business re-openings and social relaxations… the phases 2, 3 and 4… all get pushed back until we have numbers which align with when those things should happen. And if you want to see what happens when rules get relaxed when the numbers aren’t where they should be, the U.S. will be providing many examples in the weeks to come.

For now, great day all across Canada… declining numbers everywhere… but now is not the time to irresponsibly give back all we’ve gained from all the sacrifices we’ve collectively made over the last couple of months. It seems a lot of people don’t understand that and/or don’t care. The effects of that remain to be seen.

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Day 53 – May 8, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Humour, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is a 26-minute video going around called “Plandemic”, ostensibly a first part of a longer movie that’ll be released eventually. This blog is not about reviewing movies, but if I ever run out of things to talk about, maybe I’ll switch to that. Until then, I’ll try to stay on topic… but once in a while there will be overlap, so here’s what I think.

This video is well-produced and professionally-filmed. It lays out its story using every known method for conveying sincerity. It tugs at our heartstrings and incites outrage. How dare they. The video spends the first 10 minutes doing nothing but creating a narrative around the subject of the film, Judy Mikovits, being an underdog, a victim, a scapegoat… one of us, up against “the man” or “the establishment” or even just “common sense” — whatever individual challenge you may have holding you back, you can relate. She can relate. Nobody has ever heard of this woman before, so it’s important to start there — who is this person? Well, she’s clearly calm and collected and well-spoken, meaning she’s intelligent, meaning we can trust her. Notwithstanding much of what’s used to get us there is nonsense, twisted, unproven or simply fiction… it’s laid out very convincingly, and we don’t even hear the word COVID-19 until all of that is well-established.

The twisted, unproven and/or fictional claims continue, and it’s actually a bit jarring to see someone stating one-sentence lies with such calm conviction. Perhaps we have Donald Trump to thank for that. The ability to stand in front of a global crowd, spout easily-disproven lies with a straight face, and stand behind them because you have a mass of people who want to believe it and will support it and, when ultimately confronted with the irrefutable truth, will just shrug it off and laugh; haha, got you, you mis-understood, that was out of context, just being sarcastic, just kidding, whatever. Or even worse… yeah, we know he’s lying but so what.

In the video, there are facts that are easily disprovable, but the lighting, sound-editing and pacing, coupled with her calm, measured voice. Wow, it’s convincing. The Medium is the Message — indeed, Marshall McLuhan coined that phrase back in 1964. The same guy who coined the term “global village”, his vision of a more connected world thanks to the emerging technologies taking things in that direction. He died in 1980, but if he could see this video, he would be proud of his visionary assumptions, which were on point… how when you craft the medium, the message becomes secondary. The message can be anything you want it to be.

Also proud would be Joseph Goebbels, chief architect of the propaganda machine that fuelled Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Goebbels wrote the book on propaganda, a playbook that has been used countless times since… and that’s what bothers me most about things like Plandemic. Like a virus with multiple paths to attachment, this video is spreading, and it’s contagious to many different sorts of immune-depressed people. Instead of old and diabetic and asthmatic, this one attaches to… well, let’s break it down a bit.

There’s the usual crowd of deniers, those who yell Zag before you’ve even finished yelling Zig. The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” crowd, and there are many of those “partnerships” emerging these days.

There’s the crowd who want to fit in with like-minded people, and this video caters to them very effectively by grouping together countless unrelated conspiracy theories, and throwing them into the mix. Whether Epstein killed himself or not is quite irrelevant to this present pandemic (or is it?!), but it’s thrown in there. Maybe you agree with that, and this intelligent video agrees with that, therefore everything else in the video, you must agree with. Maybe you don’t like wearing a mask, for your own personal reasons… it traps bacteria, making it more dangerous… or it doesn’t fit well or looks silly or infringes on your constitutional rights; whatever reason you have, and whatever reason the video has, you both agree. Therefore, etc etc.

And then there’s the crowd who like to believe celebrities, because obviously, if they’re good at acting or singing or throwing a football or sinking a 3-pointer from beyond the line, they must be experts on this as well. Anyone with a blue “verified” checkmark on Instagram — well, wow, expert. And as per the point above, if I agree with said celebrity, then I’m like that celebrity. Wow!

I happen to know a lot of people… friends, professional contacts, and even family — with that little blue checkmark. None of them are epidemiologists. None of them are promoting this crap. Most of them, some of whom have audiences in the many hundreds of thousands, have come to understand that with a big platform, one offered these days by the global village that McLuhan was talking about, comes responsibility. The man with the biggest platform on this planet is using it to promote bullshit, so why shouldn’t anyone else? Press conferences, speeches, Twitter. The presidency of the United States is the greatest soapbox of all, and once people have decided that if anything goes for that guy, anything goes for anyone. And that’s where we’re in big trouble.

And that’s why this video crosses-over from just being the usual fringe nonsense to actually being dangerous. This video will kill people. That couple that ingested the aquarium additive that contained chloroquine phosphate — the man died, and the woman told NBC News that she’d heard Donald Trump speaking repeatedly about chloroquine and put two and two together, hey, isn’t that the stuff we give the fish?

People will see this video, feel empowered by its dangerous nonsense and, more than ever, act in what they believe to be in their best self-interest… without realizing that they’re not only taking themselves down, but possibly others with them.

I don’t have a simple answer to this, so here’s a complicated answer: instead of dismissing everyone who’s promoting this video as stupid or crazy, do your part in intelligently trying to show them why it’s wrong, why it’s propaganda, why it’s false and why it’s dangerous. Certainly, there are people who don’t want to be convinced otherwise. There’s little you can do, other than avoid them in person until there’s a vaccine. But there is a big difference between stupidity and ignorance. One of them is fixable, and there’s no reason not to try. Like herd immunity, if enough people are educated enough to actually know and understand what’s going on — and act accordingly — perhaps we can reach beyond a tipping point of “herd knowledge”. There’s no vaccine for that one either, although it seems many people could use a good dose.

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Day 52 – May 7, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Life in Vancouver, Travel Stories, Humour, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There is a Canadian alternative rock band from Tsawwassen called 54-40, named after the longitudinal line of 54’40°… where in the 1840s, U.S. President James Polk wanted the border. That whole dispute is a long story on its own, but suffice it to say, “we” won — otherwise, places like Prince Rupert, Terrace, Prince George… and everything south of that — would be American territory. A tiny part — the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle — is all that’s left of that line.

That 54’40° line is very far north of Tsawwassen, but just south, literally bordering it, is the 49th parallel, the agreed-upon resolution to the aforementioned dispute. Another long story, but the short of it was that west of somewhere, the 49th parallel would define the Canada/U.S. border. It was a lengthy back-and-forth, and pretty-much the last thing settled was the exception of the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Before that, the border sliced right across it, but that didn’t make a lot of sense, and it was the final concession granted. But nobody noticed till after, the tiny (less than 5 square miles) little peninsula that’d been chopped off and isolated… and when they did, they just decided to leave it for another day. Probably the U.S. would just cede it back to Canada, and that would be that, right? Wrong.

And that is why there is a tiny U.S. enclave, completely landlocked by Canada. It has an official border crossing, and while its residents are officially living in the U.S., it’s Canadians who make up the vast majority of visitors, to buy cheap gas and access “Suites” (really, just P.O. Boxes) to take delivery of items that won’t ship to Canada, but will to the U.S. Ironic, of course, is that all of those goods must go through Canada to get there.

Way back when, that border crossing was little more than a formality. Those 54-40 guys rode their bikes in and out of there and barely waved at the border guard. You could go down to the beach, draw a line in the sand, and jump back and forth between countries. Before 9/11, you didn’t need a passport. And while technically, you’re supposed to declare everything you buy down there, apart from liquor and cigarettes, nobody cares. But, on that note, funny story.

At some point in the late 80s, I was flying down to Chile to visit family. My uncle and aunt who lived down there smoked a very unique brand of smokes that was only available in the U.S., so he asked me to bring him “as many as you can”. I told him that it would be way over the limit and the duty on it would be ridiculous, but he said not to worry about it. He’d pay me back everything. And furthermore, if I did it right, I could get those duty payments back when I left the country with the cigarettes.

So a couple of days before my flight, I headed down to Pt. Roberts, went to that one big gas station/store and picked up all of the “Now” brand menthol cigarettes they had. Seven cartons (not packs — cartons) — so 70 packs of cigarettes. I think 1,400 cigarettes is probably over the “out of the country for 20 minutes” limit, but I had no intention of smuggling them — I was going to be paid back, whatever it was.

The look on the guy’s face was pretty good though… anything to declare? Yeah, cigarettes. How many? Seven cartons. That got him to sit up straight. He made me pull over and get out. He looked at my backseat, packed with cartons. He looked at the receipt. He told me to come inside. So I went into his tiny hut. There was a hockey game playing in the background, on a postage-stamp-sized black & white TV. His first question was, “What are you doing?”

I explained the whole thing to him, how I’m happy to pay the duty, how all of those cartons would be leaving the country in 48 hours, how I don’t mind paying, but I want to make sure I can get that money back. Yes… he said, that’s all correct. OK.

He pulled out a huge stack of paper. He let out a big sigh. On TV, Tony Tanti scored a goal. He picked up the pen, put it down, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Do you promise me you’re taking all of these out of the country?” “Yes!” “Ok, get out out of here”.

Apart from the technicality of it being part of the U.S., it may as be Canada. This friendly American enclave is a great place to “live” in Canada but still “live” in the U.S., if you know what I mean. For residency purposes, many Canucks and Grizzlies have lived there.

Back in grade 10, a new band teacher showed up — Mr. Mercer — fun, jolly American guy, who lived in Point Roberts, worked in Vancouver, and proudly announced how he paid taxes in neither. Music was a big part of my life, so I spent a lot of time in the band room, and was having lunch there one day with some friends when a couple of guys in dark suits showed up looking for Mr. Mercer. I guess they eventually found him, because he was never seen nor heard from again. Staff wouldn’t talk about it, except to say he’d had some legal issues and wouldn’t be back. Nice guy — I hope the Club Fed he was thrown into wasn’t too bad. And as an interesting coincidence, to loop things around, a few of those school bands I played in was alongside a guy called Dave Genn… who in 2003 joined 54-40 and has been their lead guitarist ever since.

And speaking of looping things around… way back in the day, we used to go down to Pt. Roberts to a place called The Breakers… it was a happening place in the early 90s — always a fun experience. I was usually the designated driver for such outings, but on this particular night, I’d had a bit too much… so someone else took the wheel. We all piled into the rickety VW van for the trip home, being loud and obnoxious as you might imagine, but as always, getting quiet at the border. We drove up to the border crossing little hut, that night inhabited by a tired-looking near-the-end-of-his-career border guard. The old guy stuck his head in the window and looked back at us, all staring at him.

“You boys been drinking?”, he asked.

“Well — they have, but I haven’t”, replied our driver, pointing his thumb back at us.

“OK, off you go, drive safe.”

And that was that… back to whooping and hollering… but suddenly (queue the Twilight Zone music), things didn’t look right. It’s a straight line from the border to highway 17, cutting straight through Tsawwassen, but that’s not where we were. We were on some winding road in the middle of a forest. What just happened?

We’re all screaming “You idiot!” “Turn around” “What are you doing?” “Where are we?” — but on we go… and suddenly… more Twilight Zone music… up ahead is the same border crossing we’d just crossed 10 minutes earlier. Don’t ask me. I mean, obviously, he’d somehow turned left, then left again, and entered Point Roberts through some back road… and we’d looped back and… here we were.

Now we were terrified. “Stop!” “Don’t stop!” “Pull over!” “Don’t pull over, that looks suspicious!”. Well, we drove straight up to the same little hut, same old guy. And he stuck his head in the window and looked back at our petrified faces.

“You boys been drinking?”, he asked, with the exact same tone as before.

“Well — they have, but I haven’t”, replied our driver, giving the same thumb gesture as before.

“OK, off you go, drive safe.”

The rest of the (careful) ride home was silent.

What’s the deal with Point Roberts these days? Is that border all locked up like the rest of the 49th? There’s no hospital or pharmacy down there, and American citizens are not allowed into Canada except when it’s essential. I couldn’t find much about it, but I have to assume a medical emergency would count as essential. Unless you’re symptomatic, then what? I hope the have it figured out. Especially since 99% of the money spent in Pt. Roberts comes from Canada, and that’s dropped to near zero for now.

Point Roberts is part of Washington State, and there’s not much bad to say about Governor Jay Inslee’s handling of this difficult situation. President Trump told him, “You’re on your own”, and they’re rolling with it. I hope that includes a plan for Point Roberts.

Yes, it occurs to me there’s not much tie-in here with our present pandemic except this: this whole topic of Pt. Roberts came up because of the wonky Detroit/Windsor border, and how different Ontario and Michigan are in handling things. I’ll once again go on the record to state my appreciation for our local neighbours to the south. We, here, have a lot more in common with our American counterparts than they do over in Ontario, something that will become more and more relevant as things open up. B.C. and Washington are in agreement on most things, and on the same page about how phased re-openings should look. Works for me. And them.

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Day 51 – May 6, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

During my first week of university, back in September of 1986, SFU set up a number of booths in the Academic Quadrangle where all sorts of vendors could set-up shop, catering to the wet-behind-the-ears first-year crowd. Student credit cards, cheap dentists, bus passes, discounts on numerous things. One that caught my eye was Cypress Bowl; I was an avid skier back then, and they were offering a heavily-discounted season’s pass for students. $120 for the entire upcoming ski season. The quick math on that indicated it to be a no-brainer. I’d have it paid off in a few weeks, for a ski season that’d hopefully last 6 months.

There was a catch though… it was a restricted pass. Only good for daylight hours, and not on weekends. Monday to Friday, dawn to dusk — and that suited me just fine; my intention was to ski outside of class… before or after (and, as it turned out — on particularly sunny days — during) school. I had Tuesdays off, and only morning classes on Thursdays. And Fridays, done by noon… plenty of time. SFU to Cypress was about 30 minutes.

They took my picture (with a fancy Polaroid that printed two of the same), kept one and created my pass… logo, picture and name, all professionally laminated. And since it was restricted, as per above, the word “RESTRICTED” stamped right across the face of it, in bright red letters.

I wore that thing out. True to my word, I paid it off in weeks — I was up there at least twice a week, usually 3 times. That turned into 4 after I dropped a course that was nowhere near as engaging as flying down the slopes.

Curious thing though… when you’re skiing, and you get to the chairlift, there’s that 10 seconds of time when you’re next, and you shuffle-up to the marker, awaiting the chair to scoop you up. During that time, you usually have a 1 or 2-sentence discussion with the chairlift operator -the “Liftie”.

“Hey, what’s up”
“Have a good one”
“It’s icy, eh”

That sort of thing. Well, that would be typical… but for some reason, with me… I’d always get, “Oh, hello! And how are you doing today? Are you having a good day? Is everything OK?” — some version of that. “Yeah, man, it’s all good…” I’d say… but think to myself… well, that was weird.

One particular day, months into this, I got to the bottom of the hill, and joined the lineup to the chairlift… and noticed, ahead of me, a group of intellectually and physically-disabled individuals, many of them with an accompanying care-aid. And then a few more of them, having made their way down the mountain, drifting in behind me in the line-up. And all of them had the exact same pass I did, “RESTRICTED”, boldly planted on their own, individual, professionally-laminated passes.

Oh…. now I get it. Now that makes sense. I watched ahead of me as these folks made their way onto the chairlift… and then it was my turn. And before I could say a word, there was the Liftie, a very nice older lady… 2 inches away from my face. “Oh, you’re going up all by yourself! Good for you! Have fun, but be safe!”. Well, thank you! I certainly will!

Amusing story, but if the lesson of it hasn’t hit you yet — with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the stomach — it’s this: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.

There’s a lot of book-cover-judging going on these days, and perhaps I’m a little guilty of it. I painted the state of Michigan yesterday with a pretty broad paintbrush, and it’s unfair to do so. The majority of residents of Michigan are not government-defying white-supremacist gun-toting swastika-tatooted Covidiots. They’re just normal people, and if the state were a book, those normal people would be pages 689 or 472 or whatever, any white page with black letters, indistinguishable from all the others. But the cover, that’s what you notice, and that’s what we see when the majority sit back and don’t make their voices heard (or seen). Michigan, in fact, is a good example of that. Back in 2016, that state was a given…. it hadn’t gone Republican since 1988, and Hilary Clinton had it in her “checked-off” list. All polls pointed to a Blue state, and when many voters stayed home and didn’t bother voting, guess what happened. By a margin of 0.23%, the state, and all 16 electoral college votes, went to Trump — a significant piece of the unexpected, complicated and surprising election result.

It’s the bright cover that gets the attention… the squeaky wheel that gets the grease… the tall trees that get the wind… the nail that sticks out that gets pounded down. So many versions of the same thing. In Spanish, “El que no llora, no mama”, with reference to crying babies: “He who does not cry, does not suck.” — that seems to lose some meaning when you translate it. On the other hand, perhaps it gains a different one…

Dr. Bonnie Henry keeps saying the same thing over and over, to the extent it might one day become the provincial motto: “Be kind, be calm, be safe”. It’s working well around here, and it’s probably working well elsewhere, but we never hear about it because the Covidiots take front and centre stage, and that’s what we judge. But they are the cover to a book that has a lot more to it; a book that is far from completion. We are writing the chapters as we live them. One day, we will judge that book — as will history — by its contents. Not its cover.

But if one day I write a novel, the title of the book will be “Stephen King” — in that familiar Stephen King font, Scary Times Roman™ or whatever it’s called. That will be the cover. Actually, let’s make it better… “Stephen King”, in that lettering, “Pandemic,” in a smaller font just below it. And far below that, in the tiniest font allowable, in the most transparent colour possible: “a novel by horatio kemeny”. All of this text overlaid on top of pandemic/apocalypse art: viruses, guns, militia, flags, doctors in masks, burning hospitals in the background. That thing would fly off the bookshelves and be #1 on every best-seller list on the planet… before anyone had a chance to say, “Hey… hey wait… what is this crap!?”.

That book, you’re allowed to judge by its cover. But that’s the only one.

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Day 50 – May 5, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As always, on the heels of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you, if you don’t get it), comes Cinco de Mayo. I guess we’re all getting a little tired of hearing that same old refrain… “It’ll be different this year”. But yeah, indeed it will. As you may recall, around here, the first “celebrated” holiday affected was St. Patrick’s Day… and the decision to pull the plug on pub gatherings was made only a few days, if not hours, before March 17th. My first post of this entire series was on that day, me sitting here in front of the computer with a pint of Guinness, digging into some numbers, trying to figure this out for myself.

Good trivia question… how many countries in North America are called the United States? I obviously wouldn’t be asking this if the answer were obvious… the answer is two, because the official name of the other one is “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” — literally, the United States of Mexico.

Now that you’re back from Googling that, let’s continue…

There are 32 states in Mexico, and most of us haven’t heard of many of them. Looking at this list… the following stand out: Jalisco, Baja California Sur, and Nayarit… because I’ve vacationed there. Chihuahua, Sonora and Sinaloa stand out because they’re continually in the news related to drug cartels and violence (and cute dogs). Mexico City, of course. And Veracruz, but only because my buddy, two-time-Kentucky-Derby-winning-jockey Mario Gutierrez is from there.

The Mexican federal government has their hands full fighting this thing, but they have the added headache of the very powerful and ubiquitous drug cartels, who control many areas, especially near the border. It also doesn’t help that these criminals are stepping-up, handing out care packages to locals who happily accept them and who can use any help they can get. Big-time criminals love this sort of stuff — step up for the little guy, do more for the people than the government is doing, etc. Pablo Escobar was good at it. So was Al Capone. Optics.

There hasn’t been much talk of the border wall these days; remember, the big wall Trump was going to build and which Mexico was going to pay for. I think they may have built some parts, or maybe that was just refurbish/remodel. I don’t know. What I do know is that Mexico hasn’t paid a cent for it. Whatever.

The border-wall, or lack thereof, that worries me a lot more, is the virtual one that exists 30km south of here. For the moment, that border is closed, and that suits me just fine. And if our neighbours to the south could follow along with what’s best for the common good, I wouldn’t be against re-opening it. But, at the moment… well, at the moment, let’s look at a different state that borders Canada.

Recall the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer… at some point she called-out President Trump, labelling his federal response to the pandemic as “slow” and “mind-boggling”. Trump’s response was to sit back, reflect and admit he was wrong, and quickly move to provide whatever help he could.

Ha ha! Of course not. As expected, he lashed back, made up a name for her on Twitter ("Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer” — because, I guess, she only does ‘half’ a job? Or because she's a half-wit?) — and proceeded to insult her. By the way, even by Trump’s infantile-nickname standards, that’s pretty lame. I would’ve expected something like “Grumpy Gretchen”. This was the governor that Trump made a point of not calling, and telling us all about it.

In any case, Governor Whitmer was doing the best she could under exceedingly difficult circumstances. As of yesterday, Michigan was in third place for most deaths in any state, and that’s not a good spot to be in when it’s only New York and New Jersey ahead of you. Going with the best advice she could get, from all of the intelligent people she’s surrounded herself with, by evaluating what’s going on elsewhere, by listening to her medical experts… Governor Whitmer renewed the state emergency order a few days ago, extending it from April 30th to May 28th. This led to loud and crowded protests at the state Capitol building. You know the kind, lots of flags, guns and “MAGA” hats. But this time, add to the mix — nooses, Confederate flags and swastikas. With all due respect (which isn’t much), f#@& these people.

President Trump, upon whom the game “How low can he go?” is based, tweeted his support for the protesters, which in a sense validated and empowered their insanity. A man in Flint, Michigan shot and killed a security guard — who’d simply asked him to put on a mask. Also, in Holly, Michigan, a man wiped his nose on a store clerk who told the man he needed to wear a mask.

Michigan has a population of 10 million, exactly double that of British Columbia. But while we’ve had only 2,232 confirmed cases since day one, they’re over 44,000… a clean 20x… which makes it about 10x more than it would be if people were following orders. And while B.C. is at 121 deaths, Michigan is at 4,179… a staggering 35x. They’re not in good shape, and it’s about to get worse. And, of course, Michigan borders Canada. In fact, given the twisted border situation of Windsor and Detroit, parts of both countries are actually inside of each other. All I can say is I much prefer our Washington neighbours to the south, who I suspect wouldn’t be anywhere near as tolerant of the insanity. The Peace Arch border crossing has engraved on it “May these gates never be closed”. Indeed, those gates can’t literally be closed as they’re not hinged; they’re bolted into the stone. But virtually, the border is closed to all non-essential travel, and until things get sorted out and settled to both sides’ satisfaction, it needs to remain that way. We are doing well here, and we don’t need to mess with that. We apparently have bee-murdering hornets now visiting from Washington State. That’s enough for now.

On that note, around here, our single-digit increase (+8) in known cases is the lowest since March 14th, when things were just starting up, and heading in the wrong direction. Dr. Henry thinks we may be down to zero by the middle of June. We are approaching the end of the beginning, but there’s a ways to go. Moving too quickly can mess this up; things will be gradually eased, but it has to be done right. And if we do it right, and stick to the new normal for a while… we’ll be ok.

Wow, look at that sunshine… time to go get some Vitamin D… and after that, time to go crack open a bottle of Corona and find a slice of lime. Salúd.

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Day 49 – May 4, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Consider this sentence: Over 20% of people tested positive.
Now consider this one: Only 20% of people tested positive.

Without even knowing what we’re talking about… without even knowing if testing positive is a good thing or a bad thing… like, perhaps we’re talking about infections. Perhaps we’re talking about antibodies. Perhaps we’re talking about random drug testing in your office. Perhaps we’re talking about cyclists and performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps we’re talking about asking random people on the street what their outlook is for the future.

We don’t yet have a clue what we’re talking about, but the very first word of that sentence is already guiding your thought process. Better stated, the writer of that sentence (that’d be me) knows what he wants you to think, and is subtly suggesting it. I want you to agree with me. Maybe I want you to think that anything under 20% is fine. Or maybe I want you to think that anything over 20% is bad. But wait a minute, what if testing positive is a good thing? Then it’s the other way around.

Let’s take out those first words… what are you left with…. “20% of people tested positive”

OoOoOohhh, now what. What are you supposed to do with that? Think for yourself and decide?! Indeed, the vast majority of content we consume these days is written more towards getting you to think a certain way, or agree with a certain viewpoint — than to simply present the information. And further to that, once the algorithms have figured out what you like to think/read, they’ll spoon-feed you those sorts of stories… mostly because they know you’ll click on them, and that’ll generate ad revenue for them. This has pretty-much nothing do to with conveying news.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I did work for what was, at the time, the largest multi-line BBS west of Ontario. A BBS is an electronic Bulletin Board System, where you could call in with your computer’s modem and read/post public or private messages and play games and download a variety of different things. The vast majority of BBSs were single-line systems operated by hobbyists, but a few managed to take the technological leap to allow more than one person online at a time, no small feat as it required a lot of computing power, complicated software, multiple modems and multiple phone lines. From there arose chat systems and multi-player games.

This particular BBS, Mind Link, grew from 4 to 8 to 16 to around 40 phone lines by 1994, at which time it was acquired in the first wave of consolidation leading to what is today, the Internet. Indeed, Mind Link was one of the first in all of Canada to be able to offer an on-ramp onto that emerging information superhighway. It was all text-based back then, and it took about 10 finicky steps of loading unstable software in just the right sequence, just to get online. It was a virtual building of a delicate house of cards, every time. One wrong move and it would all lock up. In fact, it often locked-up for no reason at all.

I loved that job, for numerous reasons. First of all, the staff, all wonderful people, all intelligent and bright and some as tech-geeky as myself. And, I got to play with the coolest technology around; I was there the day we switched on the pipe to the internet — four Telebit Trailblazer modems working in sync, achieving a combined bandwidth of about 75 Kbps. Your internet connection today is somewhere between 20,000 and 1,000,000 Kbps. But back then, state of the art. Leading edge. Bleeding edge.

Part of my job was keeping it all going, a jack of all trades fixing whatever problem came up, known or obscure. And part of what I kept going were the news feeds. Back then, Mind Link contracted to receive news from a guy called Brad Templeton. His company was called ClariNet, and it was possibly the very first dot com to ever exist, because before that, commercial use of the internet was prohibited. Brad was a cool guy, and I spoke to him on a few occasions… and one time, the discussion drifted to the commercialization of the Internet, something most of its users (me included) did not want. What the heck is a dot com? There were dot org (non-profit organizations), dot edu (educational), dot gov (government) — but dot com? Commercial enterprise? Forget that. “It’s coming”, he said, “Prepare yourself. There’s opportunity here.” And I remember telling him, “Forget it. We won’t let that happen.” I told that quote to a few friends at the time, and they still won’t stop teasing me about it.

ClariNet dot com was allowed to exist because Brad cleverly convinced the powers that be that news is indeed an educational resource, and it would make sense to distribute it with the existing infrastructure. That he was doing it for profit was a secondary point, because what Brad was doing was very useful… he was consolidating news feeds straight off the wire… from UPI (United Press International), AP (Associated Press) and Reuters. These are the wire services where all news outlets get their news (or should, at least). Here was an unfiltered, raw source of news, straight from the ground. No editor, no opinion, just the facts. Twenty precent tested positive. No “Over”. No “Only”.

Part of what I did was make sure that the ClariNet feed was working properly, and that Mind Link was properly taking the news from those three sources and parsing and indexing everything into the right newsgroups. So, yes — I ended up reading an awful lot of news, and it led to a great appreciation of those particular three sources. I still look to them today for raw news, unfiltered by bias or opinion.

upi dot com
reuters dot com
ap dot org

In my opinion, far better than much of what’s out there.

So, on that note… acting as a news wire today, I will pass along four items of relatively unfiltered news, all of them interesting in their own way.

First… South Korea today is now reporting that those 263 patients who initially had been thought to have been re-infected — weren’t. Those people had re-tested positive after having been cleared of the virus, and it had been thought they may have become re-infected. However, none of those people developed symptoms again, and they’re now saying what many others around the world were saying… it must be a testing issue. Yes… the tests were picking up dead remnant virus fragments, not new infections. It might take months for the body to clear itself of dead virus fragments, but as of yet, there has not been a single case where those fragments have sprung back to life, nor is there any evidence of anyone who’s ever had the virus catching it a second time.

Second… an interesting story developing out of France. Something like 25% of French people smoke… but of the almost 500 COVID-19 patients admitted to a certain Paris hospital, only 5% were smokers. That is statistically significant, implying smokers are less likely to catch this disease. This is so counter-intuitive, it begs a closer look… and what’s emerging from the research is this: There is a cell-membrane protein called ACE2 which the COVID-19 virus attaches to, in order to infiltrate a healthy cell. But nicotine also binds to ACE2, leaving less of an opportunity for the virus to do so. And nicotine is also known to decrease inflammation. I would strongly urge you… do not take up smoking to protect yourself from this disease… but if you’re a recovering smoker and presently on nicotine patches or gum — that might be doing you more good than you think. France is preparing a trial of providing nicotine patches to patients, front-line workers and ordinary citizens. We shall see.

Third… an as-of-yet-not-peer-reviewed-but-still-interesting study… in a small sample group of ICU patients suffering from serious complications of this disease, in a group of patients aged less than 75… 100% — yes, all of them — were found to be Vitamin D deficient. That’s also eyebrow-raising, and it’s one you can very easily manage. Vitamin D supplements are available everywhere, and they’re cheap… and, it’s pretty difficult to OD on Vitamin D. There does exist such a thing as Vitamin toxicity, but you have to go way overboard to get there. Recommended doses range between 500 and 5,000 IU a day. I take 2,000. Apparently, you can go up to 10,000 a day for long periods of time and not suffer any consequences, but one might add that perhaps an optimal range is what’s desired; too much may also be harmful and it should be noted that Vitamin D, unlike Vitamin C, is not water-soluble. It’s fat-soluble, so your body will store it. But then again, you really have to go insane to over-do it… like 40,000 to 100,000 IU daily for months, before it becomes toxic. And/or, of course, just listen to Dr. Henry — go outside to the glorious wonderful sunshine for 30 minutes a day… it’s good for you in more ways than you might imagine.

Finally… green numbers all across Canada today. TTD numbers approaching 4 weeks or more… everywhere.

Extra extra, read all about it… good news all around.

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October 10, 2020

By |October 10th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Business & Economics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|3 Comments

No new local numbers today or tomorrow (or Monday), so while we wait in limbo to collectively answer the question, “How are we doing?”, here’s a different sort of thing to do with numbers. I thought I’d mention this because it’s a good one to have when you’re bored or have nothing to do.

Actually, wait… there’s a big difference between being bored and having nothing to do… actually, it’s more like we all, always, have something to do – something we should be doing, something that’s been on the backburner for a while… something left to do for a rainy day or long weekend. Whether we actually feel like doing it is a different story, and sometimes we want (ie. need) something relatively mindless.

A few months ago, my friend Elaan pointed me towards such a thing… and I both thanked her and cursed her for it… because it was interesting, immersive, and I wasted hours – many hours – on it.

It’s very simple… there’s this website with a button that says [Make paperclip]. Click the button… your inventory of paperclips just went from 0 to 1. Bang on it a bit… each click produces one more. And you’ll notice there’s public demand for your paperclips, and by [lower] or [raise] the price, you can manage the inventory… perhaps find a good balance between price and demand. All along, keep clicking and making paperclips.

When you’ve saved up enough money, you can buy an autoclipper. Now you can worry about other things (the price, buying more wire… marketing upgrades which boost demand)… anyway, by virtue of a few clicks that create paperclips, you’re soon running a business.

How big can you grow it? Keep at it, though I’m warning you… you may end up wasting a lot more time on it than you intended.

That being said, I’m not sure it’s wasted time… you’ll engage your brain, you’ll learn a lot… and those 100 things that need doing… they all waited this long; they can wait a bit more. This is, after all, Thanksgiving Weekend… let’s not forget to thank ourselves too. We’ve earned it, and if that means a little bit of time put towards growing a virtual paperclip empire, so be it. And if you waste … [Continue Reading]

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October 9, 2020

By |October 9th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Life in Vancouver, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|6 Comments

If there were any doubts about there being a second wave here in Canada, that question seems to have been answered. We’re no doubt in it, and the question that remains is how bad might it get.

This is a big country… from here in Vancouver, St. John’s is not much closer than Tokyo. That’s a lot of space, in which the 38,000,000 of us are all navigating this journey differently.

Heading into the weekend… yesterday, B.C. crossed that “10,000 cases” line. Alberta will have crossed their 20,000 line by the time you read this. Comparatively speaking, Quebec has seen 10,000 new cases in only the last 10 days. Ontario will see its 3,000th death tomorrow.

As we head into this rainy weekend, I don’t have much more to add for today, but one thing… we won’t get updated local stats till Monday, and while I used to do some fancy math to extrapolate/guess what might be in store, I think I’ll back off from that. This isn’t a math exercise; each stat is a real person somewhere, just like you and me.

And wishing every one of those people a good start to this Thanksgiving weekend.

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October 8, 2020

By |October 8th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|3 Comments

A little follow-up to yesterday’s post… and the words “abject despair” that I used.

In trying to remember a time I felt something like that, what comes to mind is the first time I ever participated in Paintball. If you’re not familiar with paintball, it’s where your shoot other people will fancy weapons that fire out gumball-sized balls of paint.. so that when you hit your target, there’s no doubt you “killed” them.

It was a large outdoor course… trees, flats, hills. Both teams start at either end, perhaps 200 yards apart, in their own little fort… which houses a flag. The idea is to attack the opponent team’s fort (10 people per team), take their flag, and bring it back to your own fort.

We strategized for a few minutes, before the horn sounded to start the game, and came up with a pretty good plan… some of us would launch a blatant attack up the middle, while a couple of other stealthier and faster teammates would try to sneak around the sides and attack from behind. A few others, known to have good aim, would guard our fort and flag.

I was chosen to be one of the “up the middle” attackers… tasked with basically getting as close to the enemy fort as possible, surviving as long as I could, hopefully killing some of them, and distracting them away from the periphery.

The horn sounded, and I began sneaking my way toward the enemy. Hiding behind obstacles where I could (rocks, trees, brush), I impressed myself with how close I’d managed to get.

But just as I was about to continue my journey from behind the rock I was presently hiding behind, a paintball went whizzing by me. Shit… I’d been spotted. And for several minutes, there I was, pinned behind the rock. As soon as any part of me moved, paintballs would fly all around me.

Even though it’s a game… even though you’re not going to really die… the despair of being trapped like that really started getting to me. I’m sure my adrenalin, heartbeat and blood pressure were all off the charts.

At some point, my brain just blew a gasket. Without really understanding what I was doing, I stood up, screaming, and charged up the hill toward their fort.

Had this been a … [Continue Reading]

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October 7, 2020

By |October 7th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19, Life in Vancouver, Travel Stories, Philosophy, Art & Literature|2 Comments

After the NTSB investigation into US Airways flight 1549 – the one that was so rudely interrupted by a flock of Canada Geese, and plunged into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 – the pilots were asked if they would’ve done anything differently. Notwithstanding the whole episode was one of heroic achievement (“The Miracle on the Hudson”)… nobody died, the movie (Tom Hanks) was made, and so on… still, it’s a question worth asking. First Officer Jeff Skiles had an answer: “I would’ve done it in July.”

Sure, if you’re going to plunge a plane into a river, the warmer summer waters are preferable to the icy winter alternative. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that choice.

Similarly, nobody chose the starting date for this pandemic… but if we’d had to have made that choice, chances are, around here, we would’ve picked almost exactly what we got; right at the start of spring, as the weather gets better, the air is warmer and the skies are bluer. We would’ve chosen that, because, at least, it’s a more gradual descent into the sort of unpleasantness that now awaits us.

There was never any chance of this going away by the end of the year; the “12 to 18 months” thing was an ambitious take, already factoring in the corner-cutting and fast-tracking that would otherwise take years… but, six-plus months into it, those estimates are looking pretty good. The unfortunate part of this is that it’s not going to go away “suddenly”. It’s not like the virus will one day sign a surrender to the allies and we’ll all be dancing in the streets. But, after all this time, much has been learned about treatment. In the coming new year, eventually, we’ll all have immunity. There will be vaccines… probably numerous ones, all landing at the same time. A few will get the big OK from Health Canada and over time we’ll all have access to them, and, slowly… things will head back to normal.

The point of all that is a crucial one – and one we all need to keep in mind, especially since we haven’t managed to get rid of daylight savings time yet – that soon, it will be dark and cold and depressing, and this holiday season, already a stressful time for … [Continue Reading]

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October 6, 2020

By |October 6th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|2 Comments

We’ll keep the Trump-bashing to a single paragraph today… just to point out that Donald Trump, once again putting himself ahead of anything that might mean something important to anyone else — because callously and recklessly putting at risk and/or infecting everyone around him isn’t enough — called off the stimulus package talks… really, for no other reason than to stick it to the Democrats and make them, and Nancy Pelosi, look like the bad guys. It was a move that caught even his fellow Republicans by surprise. So who’s affected? Millions upon millions of Americans whose lives have been devastated by C19 and who are seeking some economic relief out of the mess… from the president that led them into it.

I’d like to briefly compare that to what’s going on around here.

Last week, the House of Commons voted on bill C-4, to replace CERB with something more robust… to add more flexible and generous aspects to employment insurance. To add a new benefit for those who don’t qualify for EI. To add a sick-leave benefit and caregiver benefit for those who need to take time off work, due to C19.

The Liberals proposed it, and the Conservatives and NDP and Bloc all had issues with it. They all argued and postured and threatened and made lots of noise. And ultimately, having discussed it and re-aligned and addressed their concerns, voted on it… where it passed, with a unanimous vote of 306 to 0. Welcome to Canada.

As much as you may disagree with the Liberals and a lot of what they do, let’s at least recognize that we’re fortunate to have a functional government. There’s a long list of countries around the world that are not so lucky. One of them is next door… hopefully a situation that doesn’t last much longer… 28 days, or 106 days… depending how you look at it.

Local government financial help aside, it’s still up to us to do our part to end this nightmare sooner than later… and Quebec’s health minister is pleading with people to stay home, if they can… because things are approaching a frightening tipping point. Since Oct. 1st, Quebec has averaged more than 1,000 new cases per day… and has recorded 49 deaths. In fact, their deaths per million of … [Continue Reading]

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