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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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Mr Mercer – Day 52 – May 7, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Follower Favourites, 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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Day 48 – May 3, 2020

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

In 2012, I was in L.A. to visit a movie set. The hotel was in a nice part of town; the set, perhaps not so much. I ordered an Uber, and a black SUV showed up. The destination (call it “Z”) was already entered into the app, so off we went. It was interesting to note that this driver had his car set up with at least four different phones or devices dangling from the windshield and dashboard. Uber, Nav, Music, actual phone… I don’t know.

But at one point, one of them went out of sync… and he asked, “I thought we’re going to Z”
“That’s right”, I replied.
“Well… this says we’re going somewhere else”

Odd.. some glitch… one of his devices was pointing to some location maybe 20 blocks away from Z. Call it X.

“No… not sure why. It’s Z”
“OK, because I can’t take you to X”
“No worries”

Curious though… so I asked…. “Just wondering, why can’t you take me to X?”
“Sir, I can’t take you to X”
“I understand, and we’re not going to X… I am just wondering what’s the big deal with X and if I wanted to, why you wouldn’t you take me there?”
“Sir, I told you, I will not take you to X”
“I don’t want to go to X. I want to go to Z. I am just curious… if I wanted to go to X, why wouldn’t you take me?”

He pulled the car over.
“I can’t take you to X. I can drop you here and you can find another Uber”
“I don’t think you understand. I don’t want go to X. I’ve never heard of X. I don’t know where or what it is. I am simply wondering what’s so bad with X that you wouldn’t drive me there”
“Sir, you’ll have to get another Uber”

We sat there for a moment, me trying to figure this out. This wasn’t a language issue; he spoke English perfectly. This was just a guy that couldn’t wrap his head around a hypothetical situation. Those two words, which are my favourite when put together… the two words that have led to all of the innovation that’s ever happened in history, when posed by somebody…”What if…” — this guy couldn’t process it; there seemed to be no version of “What if” in his world. I sat there imagining what it might be like to be playing chess against this guy. He moves a piece, you take it. “Oh, darn”. He moves another, and you take it too. “Oh, hmm, you’re good at this”. Well, I’m ok, but it sure helps that I can think ahead more than zero moves. Like I can propose a hypothetical situation in my mind, evaluate it, do that several times and come up with something useful.

But this guy… he just didn’t get it. And maybe he couldn’t.

“Yeah, ok, forget X. Let’s just go to Z”.

And off we went. But there was no more conversation after that, and as much as I really wanted to, I didn’t ask him the same question for the 10th time when we finally arrived. What was the point? He wouldn’t get it. And further to that, I guess the conversation bothered him, because my Uber rating dropped from a perfect 5 stars down to 4.92 after that.

I remember another time a friend sent around an email, asking us to answer a few simple math questions, and explain how we did them in our head. His son was having trouble with math at school, and he was looking for different ways of explaining things. Like, what’s 9+9. I was so surprised to see some answers that came back. Like, for me, it’s just 18. I just know that. But some people were saying… add 1 to each 9, that makes 20, then subtract 2. In their head, they were doing (9+1)+(9+1) – 2. Or 15+8, which for me is just 23, was somehow turned into (15+5)+3 for one person, and (15+10)-2 for another.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with thinking differently. Whatever works for you. But what happens when it doesn’t work?

This was brought to light (and it reminded me of these two examples) by a friend who commented on a recent post of mine, the one about Covidiots. That maybe calling them that was a little harsh; that maybe they not only don’t know any better, but perhaps they *can’t” know any better. Like it’s actually beyond them. There’s possibly some truth to that, and since I’m the biggest proponent of letting people live their lives with freedom and their own particular pursuit of happiness, what’s the big deal… the usual golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is actually a bit better if you change it slightly: “don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you.” It’s better because instead of imposing on others what you think is right, this un-imposes anything on anyone, as long as it’s not hurting you.

But that’s the thing. A bunch of people ignoring intelligent, well-thought-out and proven directives… has the potential to affect us all — drastically, and we’re no doubt going to see the results of it in different places.

The state of Oklahoma is opening up; they think they’re in a position to handle things, and reading their planned phase re-opening, I guess it might look good on paper. Oklahoma has a population of 4 million, compared to B.C.’s 5 million. They also have twice as many confirmed cases and twice as many deaths. They’ve already opened up hair salons, barbershops, spas, nail salons. Two days ago… restaurants, movie theatres, entertainment venues, gyms, spotting venues… the list goes on.

In trying to balance out the greater good of business vs. public health, the officials in Oklahoma made it mandatory for clients of the aforementioned businesses to wear masks. As we know, wearing a mask protects others more than it protects you, and it would make sense for the benefit of the workers of all these places that people wear masks. If they’re going to be subjected to hundreds of people, their safety needs to be taken into account.

That mandate lasted about 3 hours before it had to be lifted… as threats, violence and guns all made appearances… as a lot of people who perhaps aren’t quite clear on exactly what the constitution of their country actually says, protested that their rights were being violated. What’s becoming abundantly clear is that there is a group of people incapable of understanding. Their preconceived notions and/or brainwashing seems to preclude any sort of rational thinking. And it’s also clear that there will never be a way to convince them. And that, unfortunately, is putting everyone around them in danger. So let’s leave it at that… you’re free to do whatever you want, but if your ridiculous actions have the possibility of affecting me, then you’re a Covidiot.

A brief note about today’s numbers — there was a huge spike in Quebec’s numbers, apparently due to a computer error that had neglected to count 1,317 cases from the past. Not counting those, their 892 actual new cases for the day looks a lot better… but that jump obviously affects our national numbers as well. And, it’s quiet day in B.C. — I will correct my guess with tomorrow’s real data.

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Day 47 – May 2, 2020

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

The first Saturday in May… The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport… The Run for the Roses… even if you know nothing whatsoever about horse racing, you’ve heard of it. And if you’ve ever been flipping channels on some random first Saturday in May and stumbled upon it on NBC, perhaps you stopped and took it all in. The Kentucky Derby — up to 20 horses, all of them among the best 3-year-olds in the world.

Since 1875, every single year… through two world wars, through the great depression… without interruption… until today.

The pomp, the pageantry, the intrigue, the expectations, the finely-tailored suits, the elegant dresses, the big fancy hats, the mint juleps, the magnificent horses, the colourful jockeys, the call to the post, the singing of “My Own Kentucky Home”, the post parade and… of course… the race itself. For the first time since… ever… Churchill Downs is empty today. Louisville, Kentucky, home of the derby (and Muhammad Ali and KFC) is a relative ghost town. All of it postponed until the first Saturday… in September.

NBC, who has held the broadcasting rights to the race since 2001 and who blocked-off the usual 3 hours of coverage, managed to fill it with some excellent content… jumping between past and present day. The only word to describe the opening shots… haunting. The show opened to several pans of Churchill Downs, completely empty. Not a soul in sight. If you’d told me 6 months ago that that’s what we’d be looking at, I’m not sure I could’ve come up with a scenario to explain it, short of World War III — but even then, the previous two didn’t stop it.

There were lots of present-day isolated interviews, a re-run of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, and all of the storylines leading up to its winner (and eventual Triple Crown winner) American Pharoah. And then, the coolest part of it, especially being a tech-guy… they ran a simulated race with the best 13 of the historical winners — all 13 triple-crown winners battling each other. Their lifetime past-performances, meticulously and professionally put together by the folks at The Daily Racing Form, thrown into a simulation and rendered beautifully. I must admit, it was exciting to watch.

Secretariat won this virtual race, really to nobody’s surprise. He was voted “Horse of the Century” for a reason and, again — if you know nothing about horse racing, at least go to YouTube and pull up his Belmont Stakes win in 1973 — that’s all you need to see.

Secretariat was the betting favourite in all but one race he ever ran, and he was the betting favourite today. And… interesting stat, if you look at any racetrack in the world, from any period of time… the rate at which favourites win is remarkably consistent… between 32% and
36%.

An interesting thing about that… odds are not set by a bookie; they’re set by you and me. These days, odds in racing fluctuate as people bet on different horses, and so the horse on which most money is bet… is the favourite. That means, roughly one third of the time, the crowd consensus is right. Which means the majority of the time, like 2 out of 3 times, everyone is wrong. Not totally wrong, because, after all, it’s a horse race, and anything can happen.

Which really summarizes where we all are today. Nobody is at Churchill Downs sipping mint juleps (the provider of mint to the track is stuck with two tons of it). Nobody is anywhere, really… but we’re slowly emerging. So let’s pretend we’re all racehorses, all of us with our individual styles, all of us trying to win. Some of us like to sprint to the front and hope we hang on. Some of us like to sit mid-pack and make a late move. Some of us like to sit far back, let everyone else get tired, and then take a huge run at the end.

There are a few issues that can arise. Like if you are the type that likes to run out in front of everyone, but you had a bad start and after a few steps, everyone is ahead of you. Or you like to come from way behind, but nobody is running that fast and nobody is getting tired enough for you to have a chance to make up ground. Or you’re sitting happily in the middle of the pack, but unfortunately can’t find any room to make a move when it’s time because you’re blocked on all sides, by the rail or other horses. It was a great plan… but now it’s time to course-correct.

Some of us want to sprint back to work, or at least want others to do so. Some of us want to hang back until we feel we’re comfortable making a move. Some of us will just go with the pack and see where it takes us. And some of us, like two thirds of us, if you stick to this metaphor… will probably wind up going about things differently than we’d planned. And, of course, this is a humungous racetrack that’s thousands of miles all around, with 7 billion horses and staggered starts and a lot of conflicting bets and misaligned interests… so yes, the metaphor falls apart, but the general idea of it is the same… we’re all running in the same direction trying to reach a common goal. The biggest difference is that this race can have lots of winners, not just one… and the strategy that we run with (or is imposed upon us) can make a huge difference. It will make a big difference — all the difference.

Let’s all run an intelligent race, and get to that finish line safely.

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  • October 20, 2020 Graph

October 20, 2020

By |October 20th, 2020|Politics, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming|0 Comments

So, I did something today I haven’t done in years… I voted. It was as seamless and easy as I thought, and as I promised recently. In and out in five minutes.

Watching these two elections is like watching the same sport, but in two totally different leagues. Like, there’s FIFA – and their World Cup, every four years… and the whole planet stops and watches soccer for a couple of months. FIFA… with its controversies and corruption and racist scandals. And, as usual, every four years, there’s a U.S. presidential election… and the entire world is watching… and it’s also full of corruption and racism and controversy.

Then, there’s the B.C. Soccer Association. I’m far more familiar with that one, having participated in it as a kid… and, of course, also living within the jurisdiction. And every once in a while, B.C. has an election, and nobody outside of our provincial borders cares. The rest of the country pretty-much couldn’t care less. And it’s all relatively peaceful and harmonious, just like playing soccer around here used to be… with the exception of an elbow to the head once in a while.

FIFA and the BCSA have a couple of things in common… one, they’re both soccer, though at significantly different skill levels. And two, they were both founded around the same time – ages ago, in fact… in 1904.

The two elections have exactly one thing in common; they’re electing people into leadership roles. And that’s where the similarities end.

At the local community center, no armed militia. No 10-hour lineup. Nobody intimidating me. Nobody setting the ballot box on fire.

As I said, take advantage of it. We are living within a framework of peace and freedom that’s rare; history implies us to be in a bit of a bubble around here, and while it lasts (hopefully for centuries, but, as we can see… things can fall apart pretty quickly)… let’s take advantage of it. Set an example… for yourself, for your kids… and in honour of those who went through a lot to make sure we’d have this right… and vote.

October 20, 2020 Graph

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  • October 19. 2020

October 19, 2020

By |October 19th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Life in Vancouver|0 Comments

Right around the time the distinguished Dr. Anthony Fauci was being awarded the National Academy of Medicine’s first-ever Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership, the president himself was quoted as saying, “People are tired of Covid. I have these huge rallies. People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots.”

There are indeed idiots in our midst, but Dr. Fauci is not one of them. However, if you want a good sampling of idiots, look no further than this weekend’s “B.C. Freedom Mega Rally” – 1,000 Covidiots, standing unmasked, shoulder-to-shoulder, at the usual rallying-spot… the Art Gallery plaza.

In no particular order, they were protesting censorship, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, quarantines, travel bans, social distancing, contact tracing and government orders.  Also… claiming it’s all a hoax, and supporting wild conspiracies, anti-vaxxers, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Oops… well… that escalated quickly.

To be clear, not all Covidiots are anti-vaxxer, white-supremacist nazis. I suppose you can be anti-mask or anti-vaccine or anti-quarantine without being a racist freak. But, interestingly, all anti-vaxxer/white-supremacists/nazis are very much against masks and vaccines and quarantines. We don’t see any white supremacists supporting social distancing. We don’t see any neo-nazis with swastika masks.

That should tell you something. Birds of a feather, etc.

In the meantime, the world-wide case number went over 40 million. Over a million have died. Canada just went over 200,000 cases. More than 4,000 people here in B.C. are in quarantine. This is far from over, and it will get worse before it gets better.

Dr. Henry added a fourth word to her mantra today… Be calm, be kind, be safe… and, be brave.

Yes… seeing what’s going on all around us, it’s certainly going to take some bravery to get through this.

October 19. 2020

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October 18, 2020

By |October 18th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19|0 Comments

No new numbers till tomorrow, but here’s something older that you may remember, especially if you’ve been reading these updates since the beginning. Today’s graphs aren’t the usual up-to-date provincial and national tallies. Rather, these are what those original Time-To-Double (TTD) graphs look like today.

Early in the pandemic, when things were spiraling out of control, the TTDs were being measured in handfuls of days… 2, 3, 5… that’s what we were witnessing in places like Italy and Spain and, for a little while, severely-affected pockets of the U.S. That’s what we were hoping Canada would avoid.

While things are still growing exponentially, the TTDs are way down. The recent second wave is certainly visible, especially in the left-most (non-logarithmic) graph, but the TTD line on which Canada sits is 20.

The middle graph is the same as the one on the left, except represented with a logarithmic Y-axis… which straightens out the curves of those dotted exponential TTD lines, and serves to represent the rate of exponential growth (or lack thereof) compared to the beginning.

The graph on the right is what Canada looks like compared to the U.S… and since the Y-axis is “compressed”, it makes things look a lot closer than they actually are. Rather than scaling up evenly, every Y-axis grid line on those two right-most graphs represents 10-times the growth. The red line is just below 200,000. The blue line is above 8,000,000.

All that being said, the Canadian graphs’ hockey-sticking up-to-the-right is quite evident, both nationally and provincially. What we’d obviously like to see is for them all to flatten out again… which one day they will.. but, hopefully, sooner than later. We know what we need to do to make that happen…

October 18, 2020

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  • October 17, 2020

October 17, 2020

By |October 17th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

We are exactly one week away from the election… no, not *that* election – that one is 17 days away and approaching quickly… but I’m talking about our local Provincial election… and all I have to say about it is… vote. Just go out and vote. You don’t have to wait 10 hours in line, like in some attempted-voter-suppression ridings in the U.S.

Around here, if you haven’t (safely and conveniently) already mailed it in, you can vote in person. It takes 2 minutes, especially if you vote early and don’t wait until next Saturday. Advanced polls are already open, will be open throughout the weekend, and are around until Wednesday. They are virtually empty most of the time.

It wasn’t that long ago that more than half the people reading this post wouldn’t have been allowed to vote… due to race or gender or some other discriminatory reason. But a lot of people went through a lot of trouble to grant you the right… so the least you can do is exercise it.

And if you’re so out of tune that you’re not even sure what’s going on nor who to vote for, simply Google “BC election cheat sheet” and read that article… it’s as good a starting point as any, and you can walk into that polling booth armed with some real knowledge and ownership that you’re putting you vote toward ideals in which you believe.

October 17, 2020

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  • October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

By |October 16th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Life in Vancouver, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature, History|0 Comments

This is pretty long… not only because I couldn’t make it any shorter without leaving out something I consider important, but because I have a busy weekend ahead and might not get a chance to post much. No new local numbers till Monday anyway, so here’s most of the weekend’s updates in one convenient place… and we’ll start on the opposite end of the country.

About 25km off-shore from Newfoundland, you’ll find a collection of 8 little islands. They’re not very big. Collectively, they’re about 1/10th the size of Metro Vancouver. They’re known by the name of the two biggest islands, St. Pierre and Miquelon. Not relevant, but in case you’re curious… their population of 6,000 has had 16 cases of C19, 12 of which have fully recovered and 4 of which are still ongoing.

That entire population lives on those two islands, where they do a lot of fishing and play a lot of hockey. No big deal, except if you’ve never heard of them, you’ll be quite surprised to learn that they’re not part of Canada. Even though they’re closer to Newfoundland than Vancouver Island is to the mainland, they’re 100% French. Not like Québec French. Like French French.

How they got to that point is a long and interesting story… Indigenous people, Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, American, Canadian… all have laid claim to the islands at some point over the centuries… but, as it often goes with land grabs/invasions/conquests, whoever had it last… gets to keep it.

And that was France, who, despite opposition from Canada, Britain and the U.S., seized the islands during WWII… seized by that troublemaker Charles de Gaulle… the same one whose “Vive le Québec libre” 20 years later started a shitstorm that will never go away.

But since then, these little independent French islands have been happily doing their thing, and for the most part have a very close and functional relationship with their Canadian neighbours. A little border dispute or fishing-rights argument pops up occasionally, but it’s never a big deal. It always gets worked out.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Trudeau suddenly went nuts and invaded those islands? It would be a very weird situation for us, but also for our allies, especially the U.S. and the U.K…. both of which are always … [Continue Reading]

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