Article in Canadian Thoroughbred – Horse Owner Horatio Kemeny Reaching Many

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Horse Owner Horatio Kemeny Reaching Many With Informative Posts

Swift Thoroughbreds’ Kemeny has attarcted a large following with his daily graphs and chatty write-ups about BC and Canada’s battle against COVID-19

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April 4, 2020

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Day 22 – April 7, 2020

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

When Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, took to the airways recently to address her nation, it was only the 5th time in her 68-year reign that she had done so (other than to say Merry Christmas). And when I say her nation, I’m not just talking about the U.K., and I don’t just mean the British Commonwealth, whatever is left of it, though it’s somewhat eyebrow-raising to realize that she has been Canada’s reigning monarch for 47% of this country’s existence… but no, her nation is the world. When you reference “The Queen”, nobody asks you which queen you mean. We’re not talking about the queen of Sweden or the queen of Spain or the queen of Bhutan. Or Beyoncé. There is only one Queen.

The rarity of this sort of event underlines its importance. In time of war, in time of national mourning… when everyone needs a serious dose of encouragement.

Before she even opened her mouth, the picture spoke thousand words. The setting was like a glorious painting, liberally sprinkled with meaning. The bed of roses, because life is beautiful, but sometimes a little thorny. The single lamp, off in the distance — the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The blank slate; the future unwritten. The empty office holders — signifying the paralyzing of business — which one day again will hold pens, paper clips and postage stamps (no doubt with her ubiquitous silhouette).

Then there was the Queen herself, looking radiant and royal and confident in green — the colour of nature and Spring and renewal. Her trademark pearls. I looked up what turquoise might represent, because that was the stone at the centre of that incredible brooch: Healing, love and protection. Perfect.

And, of course, there is what she said. The final sentence of her address was this: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again."

It’s hard not to read that in her voice. Strong, powerful words, spoken with an accent that exudes class and elegance to a level we can only hope to achieve. Those familiar with the history of World War II (and/or the music of Pink Floyd) will recognize the reference to Vera Lynn at the end of it; the war-time song that kept them all together during those darkest of times: “We will meet again”.

Indeed, it’s been a brutally difficult few years for our friends across the pond. Long before this pandemic hit, they were wrestling with Brexit… an enormously complex problem that has no Plan B. It simply can’t be allowed to fail because nobody is sure what that would look like, but they all agree it’s ugly. Very. And in the midst of trying to push it over the finish line, oh, let’s throw in a global pandemic and see how that affects things. The answer is… not well.

There’s a lot to learn from the U.K.’s COVID-19 experience, because their attitude was initially quite different, and its effects are worth exploring.

Their initial assumption that this was just a bad flu that would course its way through the population eventually (and hopefully quickly) establishing herd immunity. It was thought that this would only harshly affect elderly people, and that people whose age was below a certain threshold might get affected, but they’ll get over it, and there’s really no reason to panic because as long as we isolate those at risk (elderly, immunocompromised, asthmatic, diabetic, etc), this shouldn’t overwhelm the medical system.

By the time that attitude was course-corrected and social distancing imposed, things were already launched in a worrying trajectory. This was far more virulent and serious than initially thought. The lockdowns are now in place and how it plays out remains to be seen, but those critical few days of “not a big deal” and people going about their business… have made a big difference. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the fearless leader (and the man tasked with delivering Brexit) was proudly going about shaking hands with people, including those in hospital… only a few weeks before his own positive test. Today he finds himself in the ICU of a London hospital, battling for his life.

Closer to home, where we are all taking social/physical distancing seriously (right?), especially this long weekend with its good weather and where even though there are holidays coming up that are usually big family gatherings, we will do all that remotely (right?) — as Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix keep hammering home, we are in the midst of this. And we are succeeding. They don’t want to come right out and tell you that, but I will. Barring a significant very-out-of-left-field sort of thing, we are looking very good here in B.C. But what sort of thing might that be? Glad you asked, because it’s exactly what they’re telling us… if you go out these coming days and pretend things are ok, and you hang out with family and/or you visit the family cottage, then guess what… things can go from great to gruesome in a hurry.

Our dynamic duo always talk about the coming weeks, but we all know we’ve been cooped up for longer than 14 days, so what’s the deal? The deal is this… if you think things are so good right now that we can just get back to normal, what will happen is a sharp increase in cases starting… well, starting shortly after the long weekend and extending to 14 days past that. And if that happens, if just a few people let up, it can make a big difference. The actions of the coming weeks will make all the difference.

Listen to The Queen. Hang in there. After much to endure, there’s a finish line. We will meet again.

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Day 21 – April 6, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories|Tags: , , , , , , |

When you’re on a plane, approaching the end of a long flight… if you happen to be paying attention at about 30 minutes before landing, you may notice the hum of the engines drop a semi-tone or two. And you will feel the nose of the plane pitch forward slightly. This is the result of the pilots reducing power to the engines, which is the first step of many needed to land the plane safely. It takes about 30 minutes to bring an airliner flying at 35,000 feet and 500 knots down to 0 feet and 0 knots. Indeed, there are ways of doing it much faster than that, and they’re highly not recommended. If you want to get the plane and all its occupants down safely, it’s a process, and that’s how long it takes. But what if we just “dive steeper”? Or just crank the engines and point it down and “go down faster”?

Anyone who’s ever pitched a proposal can tell you what two questions need answering first: how much will it cost and how long will it take. The cost is often negotiable. The “how long” often is not. Some processes can’t be altered nor compromised nor made better nor anything. You want a baby? You need a man and a woman and 9 months. Well, jeez… I’m in a hurry… what if we put 9 men on the job… can we have that baby in a month? Uhhh…. no.

That plane is in the hands of two people who know what they’re doing, and we put our trust in them, and they always seem to deliver. But if you happen to be sitting back in 29B, sitting next to “an expert” who’s explaining to you everything the pilots are doing wrong (“Hey see how that flap extended, man that’s gonna slow us down and burn more fuel, that’s no good, why’d he do that”), then you might understand how I’m feeling today after posting something yesterday that an awful-lot more people than usual read.

I like my plane metaphor, because it’s useful in two directions.

Number one, and more important… today is “double-header” day here in B.C. — we get both yesterday and today’s numbers of new cases, and that can go one of three ways… two wins… or two losses… or a tie. A quick eyeballing of the days leading up to today would imply that anything below a 5% case increase would be a win for either day. Less than 4% on both or either would be great.
The numbers were 2.2% and 3.0%, which are both really excellent. But as our resident captain and co-pilot keep telling us, we haven’t landed yet. Stay in your seat and keep your seatbelt fastened. We’re not there yet. And if you stand up now, we might hit some turbulence and you could get really hurt, or hurt someone else. See? Good metaphor.

Number two, I find it fascinating that everyone who 6 months ago was an expert on impeachment hearings and the way the senate works and immigration and indigenous rights… is today an expert epidemiologist.

The best evidence I have that I’m no expert is that it just took me quite an effort to spell that word correctly. And I don’t claim to be. I am an expert with computers, and I’m pretty good with numbers and I suppose I have a way with words… which leads to this possibly entertaining and hopefully informative but in no way expert opinion of what’s going on around us. Give me some numbers, and I can make some pretty graphs with pretty colours. I can map some tables with pretty informative numbers too. And, if you’re still reading at this point, can evidently write about it in some engaging fashion. I can tell you what’s going on from my own, unique point of view.

I feel the need to mention this so I can address this issue of “the numbers are all wrong so this is all B.S” which I see both publicly and privately. Sure… notwithstanding you’re not even a photographer, those shadows don’t look right and why aren’t there any stars in the background… clearly, the moon landings were faked. And here, give me the controls, I can land this plane. I saw it in a movie once.

These numbers are all we have, and, at present, they are serving us well. Some are straightforward. Some are inferred. Some are assumed. A lot of great minds are coming up with these numbers, and they’re in-line with what we’re experiencing. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, and I’m only going with what the credible sources tell us, but in general, those numbers are lining up with the associated experiences around the world. I am also, along with everyone else, waiting for the local emergence of a quick and accurate at-home serological antibody test… the test that will detect whether you’ve ever had the virus. And not just here. Everywhere. Actual science, not guesses and assumptions based on ignorance or hope. That will answer a lot of questions. That will verify the numbers. Or prove them all wrong.

Either way, until then, I’m going with the science.

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Day 20 – April 5, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Follower Favourites, Politics, Travel Stories|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When the historians who will ultimately document the great pandemic of 2020 begin their work, they will be asking themselves some tough rhetorical questions, many of which will begin with the words, “I wonder why they didn’t….” Indeed, some of those questions are being asked today, in the present tense, and good answers are not forthcoming. When those historians finish their books, most of them will have a chapter titled, “The United States of America”. Often, underneath the chapter name, there is a chapter subtitle… sometimes a little more detail, sometimes a quote. Usually in italics… you know what I mean. This particular subtitle will say:

“I don’t take responsibility at all” — President Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2020

Today is Sunday, “silent day” here in B.C., where the people upon whose words our futures (near and far) may depend, take a well-deserved break. Indeed, as loud as it gets at 7pm every night around here… it gets just as quiet at 3pm on weekdays when the only words you might hear are, “Shut up — Dr. Henry is speaking”. Today is their day off, so my B.C. number is just a guess bases on the averages of last week — I will fix it tomorrow when we get real data. But I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

Until recently, none of us had even heard of Dr. Bonnie Henry… but now, we all want to adopt her. And it’s not just the calm, soothing voice of reason that’s so enchanting… it’s the actual substance of what she’s saying. She’s not making it up as she goes along. She’s not up there to make herself look good. She’s not up there incoherently throwing blame around. She’s surrounded herself with excellent people who she consults on a continual basis. She’s not afraid to admit she was wrong, and, accordingly, she’s willing to course correct… which, if you read back on the evolution of this emerging pandemic in B.C., has happened more than once. She is, in every sense of the word, a leader.

On the day Donald Trump spoke those words, there were 2,300 known cases of COVID-19 in the USA. By that point, Italy was well aware they had a serious problem on their hands. They were at close to 20,000 cases and growing quickly, and they had begun throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at it in every feasible way. Pandora was out of the box, and the trajectory was not looking good. Everybody was paying attention, and everyone was making plans.

In Canada, on that day, there were 198 known cases, 64 of which were in B.C. If we were to map our growth rates to match what’s happened in the U.S., Canada would presently have 29,500 cases (we’re at 15,500) and B.C. would have 9,500 (we’re at 1,250 or so). And Italy, had they continued that same trajectory, would presently be looking at 26,300,000 — an unlikely number for other reasons, but that’s what the math implies if you leave this thing alone to propagate unchecked in an environment that could support that growth.

On March 13th, here in B.C., the only orders that were In place were that travellers returning need to self-isolate for 14 days, and that all gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled. Physical distancing as we know it today had not yet been implemented. And as we all know, a lot has changed since then… here, at least… not the least of which are the social distancing orders.

There are places in the U.S. at this moment where none of these sorts of orders are in place, and if they are, they are not being taken seriously or enforced. It boggles the mind to think that while we’re having a quiet Sunday here, there is a church in Louisiana where today 26 busloads of people arrived for services. People want to start talking about how we emerge from this, and it’s a complicated question because the world is a complicated place, where lots of different things are going on in lots of different places. The answer to how and when B.C. emerges from this will likely be very different than Louisiana.

B.C. has a population of 5 million. Louisiana has a similar population of 4.7 million.
On March 13th, B.C. had 64 cases. Louisiana had 77.
Today, we have 1,250 cases. Louisiana has 9,150.

What a difference real leadership can make.

 

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Day 19 – April 4, 2020

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

When time and good weather allow, you’ll often find me on my bike. I really enjoy it… doing something healthy that gives me the opportunity to get lost in my thoughts without interruption. And since physical distancing doesn’t mean locking yourself in a cabinet, just staying far away from other people, today was a perfect day to do that, and the contents of what you’re reading were generated while cycling around the city, observing people.

And what I saw many of were… masks. A hot topic these days, so just thinking about it as I rode around — here is every argument I could think of, broken down into 4 quadrants of possibilities, and reasons that fit those categories, as wrong or misguided or irrelevant as they may be. A brain white-boarding exercise to see if out of the conflicting arguments, some sort of reasonable course of action can emerge. And many of these reasons aren’t just made up by me, they’re speculative… so put “might” or “could” in front of most of these:

A. Reasons you should wear a mask
– prevents you coughing your potentially infected droplets onto other people and surfaces
– prevents you inhaling other people’s droplets who cough in your vicinity
– shows others you’re taking this seriously

B. Reasons you shouldn’t wear a mask
– there’s a front-line medical worker who needs it more
– increased (false) sense of security
– virus could get caught in it and linger there for a while, increasing your risk of infection
– uncomfortable
– looks silly

C. Reasons everyone else should wear a mask
– when they cough, they’re not shedding virus onto other people or surfaces

D. Reasons everyone else shouldn’t wear a mask
– looks silly
– can traumatize and cause anxiety in other people

There’s this whole “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” thing… but I prefer a slight variation: “don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you” — it’s a subtle difference, but it’s more along the lines of… if what you’re doing isn’t hurting anyone, they shouldn’t care. And, of course, if someone else is doing something that doesn’t hurt you, you shouldn’t care.

That came to mind because I look at A and B, and I suppose you could argue either side. But when you look at it from the other point of view, the answer that emerges is pretty obvious… everyone should be wearing masks, because there’s no good reason NOT to, and there’s the potential benefit to you, if everyone else is wearing one. And therefore, for that to work, everyone should wear one. Not everyone will subscribe to that point of view, which is fine… but the conclusion is, if wearing a mask isn’t hurting anyone and can possibly benefit the greater good, go for it. No one is stopping you.

And when I say mask, I mean anything that blocks you coughing on people and things. Without getting into an N95 discussion — by all means, priority one for those things are the front-line workers — but anything else… surgical masks, cosmetic masks, bandanas, scarves, baggy turtlenecks, whatever. Whereas in the past, reasons under D may actually have been relevant… like, for sure, 6 months ago, someone walking in with a hazmat mask into Whole Foods would have gotten a lot of looks and a wide berth. These days, you could show up wearing a 100-year-old diving suit with those huge metallic helmets that look like an alien — and nobody would bat an eye.

B.C.’s numbers are looking very encouraging. I know I sound like a broken record, but for those who ever had real records, ie vinyl, will recall that the easiest way to break a record was to overplay it. After 10,000 times of listening to Dark Side of the Moon, it began to skip… one particular spot, it’d jump back about 5 seconds. Over and over. Much like the message of physical distancing. I will keep repeating it until we’re all allowed to engage in a 100,000 person group-hug, signifying the end of this thing. Until then, keep at it… it’s making a difference. And, if you need to go out, feel free to cover your face… with anything. It can’t hurt.

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Day 18 – April 3, 2020

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

By now, we’ve all settled into some sort of routine… or, at least, the intention of one. 3pm-5pm is my “Corona time” — not because I sit back to enjoy a refreshing Mexican beer (and my preference would be Guiness anyway), but because I’m trying to give this aspect of my life a limited and structured block of time. I listen to the provincial 3pm update from Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix while digging through articles and messages I’ve received, updating numbers, and writing this… and 10 seconds after posting this, shortly after 5pm, I try to forget all about it for the next 22 hours. Much easier said than done, but distraction helps.

If you’re reading this post on Facebook, then you have at your disposal the technology to distract yourself in isolation forever… with endless books, music, videos, movies… all at your fingertips. Distract yourself to your heart’s content with all of that… or just send memes and pictures of cute cats to your friends; whatever keeps your brain in a happy place.

And, of course, connect socially — not physically. You know, of all the whacked-out conspiracy theories I’ve heard — and I’ve heard many — if I had to believe one, it’d be that this virus was created by the people who are behind the Zoom software.

To Zoom’s credit, they took advantage of this situation very intelligently. Luck = preparation + opportunity, and lucky they were… but also smart. They announced that their software would be unlimited and free for educational purposes. Every school jumped onto it. They also made it free for everyone, sort of. Up to 100 people can communicate for free, for up to 40 minutes. It’s genius, because if you manage to get a large group together for free for a 30-minute meeting… and the meeting invariably drifts toward that 40-minute mark, the hassle of hanging up and starting over is superseded by the simplicity of just signing up. Somebody on that call will sign up. We are all signing up in droves. And above and beyond all of that, they understood where the “friction” was, and removed it. Setting up a conference is easy. Joining one, even if you’ve never done it, is simple. Jump through a couple of hoops and you’re in, and once you’re in, the next time is trivial. The days of tying up the first 15 minutes of any videoconference with “We can’t see you” and “I see you but can’t hear you” and “How do I unmute this” and “It won’t install” and “What’s the admin password” and “I’m getting an error… wait…” and so on… those days are over.

A company that many of us hadn’t even heard of a month ago is now worth close to $40 billion. And for those that know what it means, has its shares trading with a P/E ratio of 1,500. For comparison, Amazon’s P/E is 80. Apple’s is 20.

Whether it’s Zoom or whatever else you many be using, this has radically changed the way we socialize and, to a great extent, I find myself Zooming with people I haven’t seen in ages. Like, there is a particular group of people I’ve been hanging out with, on and off, for over 30 years. Before the internet (as we know it) existed, we were a bunch of geeks who connected via modems… which ran at speeds so comparatively low to what we have today, you’d think we’re kidding. We used to go for burgers and beers every week, but as people grew up and evolved into real lives, those meets got few and far between. But guess what we did last week — got together on Zoom, geeked out discussing technology, asked a lot of “Remember that time when…” questions, watched a bit of Demolition Man together, and watched each other eat burgers and drink beer. It was wonderful. Guess what we’ll be doing every week.

Yeah, it’s not the same, but how lucky we are that we have this technology to stay connected. Let’s milk it for all it’s worth. A virtual hug is nowhere near the same as a real one, but it’ll do, for now. Stay at home and reach out to all your friends and consume the gigabytes of free data being generously offered to us by our internet providers.

Back to today… this post didn’t talk a lot about numbers, because around here… B.C., and Canada in general — we’re in this sort of “hurry up and wait” phase. As optimistic as the B.C. numbers look, it’s exactly not the time to take our foot off the collective gas pedal. Don’t go dancing in the streets. Dance all you want in your living room. And if you’re don’t remember why, read yesterday’s post. Once the weekend numbers have settled down early next week, we’ll see where we’re at, and by then, there will be plenty of trending data to discuss. But don’t worry — even if I have nothing meaningful to say, or what I say seems to be irrelevant… the numbers and charts always have something to say and I’ll keep posting them daily while we’re all here.

And finally, in other news… I visited my car for the first time in a couple of weeks and found a 2-week-old Starbucks Iced Latte there. The mold/fungus/bacteria/whatever-the-hell-it-was growing in there may well have held the cure for COVID-19… but we’ll never know.

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Day 17 – April 2, 2020

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

I added a little table (just above the logarithmic chart) to the spreadsheet yesterday, and today I will explain it. It’s a simple “look-up” table for “Time To Double”, useful if you want to know how a certain percentage maps to a TTD. For example, let’s say you have $1,000 to invest, and you want to double it to $2,000 in 7 years. What interest rate would you need? The answer is 10.5%. If you can wait 10 years, you’d only need a rate of 7.2%. How long to double your investment if you’re being offered 20%? The answer is 3.8 years.

These percentages and their related time periods can measure years… or days, which is the relevant discussion.

Let’s begin with a simple example, where we start with the number 100. And we are adding 20 to it every day. After 5 days, it’s doubled to 200. A TTD of 5. Now we keep adding 20 per day… so it’s going to take another 10 days to go from 200 to 400. And to double from 400 to 800, it’ll require a further 20 days. The only thing doubling here is the TTD itself… and this represents linear, not exponential growth. Certainly, it’s growing… and in this example, that 100 will grow indefinitely… but, as it does, its TTD gets bigger and more distant.

Now let’s imagine an example where on day 1, we’re at 100. But by day 4, we’re are 200. And at day 7, we’re at 400…. and we’re at 800 after only 10 days. So this is clearly a TTD of 3, and if you look at the continuing growth… 800, 1600, etc… it’s not hard to imagine what this would look like on a graph… an ever-increasingly steep curve. With a consistent TTD, there is exponential growth. The steepness of that curve has everything to do with the actual TTD, and that’s important because no matter what the finish line, it’s important how quickly we get there. In this case, we want to get there as slowly as possible.

The big graph on the bottom left shows those curves, overlapped on each other, showing how numbers have evolved for different jurisdictions from similar starting points. The logarithmic graph to its right shows the same data, and when you graph exponential data on a logarithmic scale, consistent exponential growth shows up as a straight line. Those 4 TTD lines of 2, 3, 5 & 10 days are the best example. A logarithmic presentation also helps to show the deviation, positive or negative. As that exponential growth increases or decreases… ie, as the TTD increases or decreases, the lines for each country (or province) will move… and obviously, to the left (into the steepness) is bad, and to the right (flattening out) is good.

Logarithmic graphs can be a little misleading in the way they squish data, and can misrepresent reality. But from the point of view of displaying trends, they’re pretty good. We can look at the encouraging B.C. line. We can look at the Canada line, and at least relate to the fact that we’re on a very different trajectory than what the U.S. is following. As much as the numbers back east have jumped, and as exponential as the growth continues to be, it’s less exponential, ie slower, ie the TTD has gone up, ie… from a trending point of view, not worse than what led up to it.

Even without the graphs, the numbers speak for themselves, and the growth percentages are there, day to day, both for Canada and for B.C. You can plug those numbers in to the little table… from today, from a week ago… and see what TTD would correspond.

That being said, what exactly are we measuring? These TTDs are important to chart the rates of growth, but rates of growths of what? Known cases? Presumed cases? Hospitalizations? Patients in critical condition? Deaths?

The only thing I’ve been dealing with are confirmed cases and their growth. My data deals with the confirmed known spread of the virus…. but all of those other numbers are also important, and will be tackled in due course. Topics for another day.

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September 26, 2020

By |September 26th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics, Travel Stories, Humour, Philosophy, Art & Literature|8 Comments

No numbers till Monday… though it’s worth sadly noting that by this time tomorrow, the world will have seen its one millionth C19 death. We have a long way to go with fixing things.

You know… “Fixing things” used to mean something positive… like, you have something, it broke, you fixed it… and now it’s good again.

The word’s more sinister implications… well, you have disgraced and disbarred former attorney Michael Cohen… Trump’s “fixer”… who fixed things like campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. Evidently, like cheap scotch tape, his illegal fixes were temporary, and fell apart when put to the test.

I have a particularly fond memory playing poker. A friend went to the washroom, and in the 60 seconds he was gone, we “fixed” the deck. By the end of the hand, he’d put every penny he had into the pot, and lost it all on the last card. He couldn’t believe it, and we couldn’t stop laughing at the emotional rollercoaster we put him through. All in good fun; he was incredibly relieved to hear it was all a set-up, and he hadn’t actually lost his entire net worth. I suspect most fixed poker hands don’t end so well.

When it comes to elections, history has seen plenty of fixes… and some are so blatant, they’re ridiculous.

The Liberian general election of 1927 is a good example. There were 15,000 registered voters. One candidate received 9,000 votes – pretty reasonable. The other candidate received 243,000 (that’s not a typo).

It’s interesting to note that until relatively recently, like the mid-19th century, when you voted, you made your vote public. The British colony of Victoria, ie Australia, adopted a secret voting system in 1856… where a generic paper ballot was produced by an independent third party. Before that, each campaign would produce their own ballot, on a piece of paper with their own colour. To vote, you’d drop your selected coloured ballot… into a glass bowl. Surrounding those glass bowls would be party operatives or even the candidates themselves… persuading, bribing and even threatening the voters. It took guts to vote because, as you might expect, it was frequently a violent undertaking.

Fortunately, neither the American nor Canadian upcoming elections will be people publicly dropping red of blue pieces of paper into large … [Continue Reading]

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September 25, 2020

By |September 25th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19, Philosophy, Art & Literature|17 Comments

There’s that old parable where, suddenly, people can’t bend their arms. There’s plenty of food to eat, but people are starving… because they can’t reach their mouths.

The parable goes on to explain how, actually, it’s only the self-serving narcissists that are starving. The good people have figured out that all they need to do is feed each other, and everyone will be ok.

To some extent, we’ve been told that masks are sort of like that; you wear one, more than anything, to help others; to avoid you infecting them with your sneezes and coughs… and, as long as everyone is doing that to help others, we all benefit.

For a lot of my life, I thought catching a cold or flu was like getting pregnant; you’re either pregnant or you’re not. Similarly, either you have a cold… or you don’t. Certainly, you can be 7 weeks pregnant vs. 7 months, and it’s a very different experience… just like you can have a mild cold or a really bad cold.

The subtle difference in my mind was this: Once you have a cold, how bad it is depends on that particular cold virus. Some hit you really hard, while some give you little sniffles. Some years it’s really bad, some years… not so much.

What I didn’t understand was the whole concept of viral load. It’s not necessarily the severity of the strain of the virus… it’s also how much of it you got. The actual level of dosage, the actual number of little virus balls you inhaled… like, how badly you were infected… has a huge influence on how it affects you.

This is becoming very evident with the analysis of C19 patients; those exposed with high viral loads have a much more difficult journey. In fact, viral load at the time of diagnosis seems to be, on its own, an independent predictor of mortality.

All of this goes back to masks, and a recent article that pointed out something that should be pretty obvious, but perhaps hasn’t been made abundantly clear: If you wear a mask, you’re not only protecting others, but you’re protecting yourself. Your chances of receiving a lethal infectious dose are dramatically reduced if you’re wearing a mask.

Further to that – a very promising conclusion that follows from that is that … [Continue Reading]

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September 24, 2020

By |September 24th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Life in Vancouver, Humour, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|24 Comments

When I was around 13, my mom’s cousin came to visit – from way far away; he and his family live in an industrial town in Slovakia. It was just him that came to visit, and he spent a week with us. I recall he arrived on Saturday morning, and we spent the weekend taking him around town, hitting a bunch of tourist sites. The beauty of Vancouver made a big impact on him; it was all very different from his typical surroundings.

On Monday morning, we all had breakfast together, and then it was time to go… my sister and I to school, my parents to work. They offered to take him downtown or drop him somewhere to look around, but no… he just wanted to chill at home. No worries. When we all left, he was sitting outside, on the deck, overlooking the backyard… with a cup of coffee and a cigarette in his hand.

Fast forward about 10 hours… I got home before anyone, and there he was, still sitting on the deck… the cup of coffee had transformed into a beer, and the ashtray was now overflowing with cigarette butts.

“Have you been sitting here all day?”

“Absolutely.”

OK… whatever melts your butter, I guess… but at the time, I do remember thinking how insanely boring that must have been. I thought about everything I’d done that day (a lot) and compared it with what he’d done (nothing).

The next day, it was the same thing… a full-on 10-hour chill. A few cups of coffee, a few beers, a pack of smokes… and call it a day. And that was pretty much it for the rest of the week. Every single day, all he did was sit outside and stare into the garden.

The world’s most boring man, I thought, at the time.

I told him, at one point,

“I really can’t understand how you can just sit here all day.”

“One day, you will.”

Over the years, every time I think about it, I have a more profound appreciation for it. This guy flew 8,000km to disconnect from his day-to-day reality, and he did it right. Back home, he was a hard worker with tons of responsibility and stress. And here, well before the era of perpetual connectedness, he’d found his oasis and he milked it … [Continue Reading]

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September 23, 2020

By |September 23rd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Life in Vancouver, Philosophy, Art & Literature|7 Comments

I spent a wonderful, relaxing day yesterday (once again, thank you for all the good wishes) – soaking in the good weather, and feeling deeply appreciative of many things. Certainly, a big part of that is having the privilege to ride out this pandemic here in Canada. The colossal difference that thin line running along the 49th parallel makes; it has never been more evident.

I am, in all sincerity, hoping The United States of America can hold it together. So much has already been written about the GOP’s hypocrisy with respect to the Supreme Court; how they’ve done a clean (actually, couldn’t be dirtier) 180 with respect to filling a vacancy during an election year. They denied Obama the opportunity in 2016, but they will jam down everyone’s throat their candidate in a matter of months. And all of it, both 4 years ago and today, beautifully described and justified in a gleaming, shiny steaming coat of bullshit.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a card-carrying Marxist or a fanatic right-wing fascist. Most people are neither, and find themselves in the moderate in-between. But all of you should be horrified at how your country, you know – the one with life, LIBERTY and the pursuit of happiness – is being ripped away from you… a process that started years ago but really caught its footing in the last four. It began to quickly accelerate right around the time the president figured out he could just make it all up as he goes along, jam “truth” down people’s throats, and make them swallow it, either by persistently sticking to it, or by just ignoring the backlash and moving on to the next thing… all the while being cheered by his adoring crowd.

Accountability is at an all-time low, scraping along the bottom of credibility. If anyone is deserving of a dying wish – after all she did, to benefit the greater good – it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And her dying wish was to not be replaced before the next election. It’s more than unfortunate that she won’t be granted that. On the flipside, voter registration surged after her passing. Perhaps enough people are realizing that unless they do something, it’ll get done to them… and it won’t be pretty. But to flip it … [Continue Reading]

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September 22, 2020

By |September 22nd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Follower Favourites, Philosophy, Art & Literature|32 Comments

Thank you all for the kind birthday wishes; certainly a most memorable one. Not being much of a party animal, I have very little memory of my last 5 birthdays… but this one will certainly never be forgotten. I hope by next birthday we’ll all be back to a much more mundane and forgettable – ie familiar ie normal —sort of party schedule, whatever that means for you. ????

But for now, I’ve spent the day enjoying some free time, playing hooky from everything… and it’s been great… and I’m about to continue to do so.

See you tomorrow.????????

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