April 4, 2020

Categories: Sports & Gaming, News Articles & Interviews|Tags: , |


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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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Day 16 – April 1, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming|Tags: , , , , , |

I’m going to talk about antibiotics for a moment.

Important point number one: COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial infection. Antibiotics won’t work. Secondary complications that can arise, like pneumonia, are… and those would be treated with antibiotics… but if someone has told you that taking some antibiotic may prevent you from getting this virus, or might help treat it, they’re wrong. And if you’re taking some antibiotic for no reason, stop. Which leads me to point number two…

If you’re supposed to be taking antibiotics, there’s exactly one correct way to do it. When the doctor prescribes them, she will look you in the eye and say “Be sure you complete the entire course, till you’ve taken them all, till the container is empty.” That might be 3 or 4 times a day, and it might be a week or two weeks or 3 months. When you pick up the prescription from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will tell you the same thing.

The reason is simple, and we will use a simple example: War. I have an army of 100,000 and you have an army of 100,000, and we battle it out, and since my army is better than yours, I’m down to 20,000 men, but you are down to 50… and we have all you backed into a deserted building and we’re about to surround you and finish you off. But instead, for some silly reason, we decide we’ve already won and we’ll show some mercy, and we let you go. So off go your 50 men, rebuild their army, and in a few months, you come back with a replenished army of 100,000 and destroy me, because chances are that’s a much tougher group than the original 100,000.

Why? Because those last 50 out of 100,000 men were the toughest of the lot. They’re the real survivors, having made it to the very end. They’re the last people you should let go. They’ll go off and recruit and train equally-tough warriors before returning.

So, if you’ve got some bacterial infection, and let’s say you’re supposed to take a course of antibiotics for a week. To begin with, you’re feeling really awful, and you start taking them and guess what, it’s the perfect antibiotic for what you’ve got, and after the third day, you’re feeling fantastic. It’s all cleared up. Awesome. But ugh, taking these pills is so annoying. And you have to stay up so late or get up so early to take one, etc etc. You’ll just go down to two or three a day, what difference can it make. Maybe you’ll just stop.

What you’re basically doing is letting the strongest of the bacteria live on, re-group, and re-attack. Maybe not you, but someone else. And, worse than that, they might mutate a bit, be a bit more resistant to that particular antibiotic… and then, after that cycle has repeated thousands of times, you’re left with our present-day problem of drug-resistant bacteria that require a whole new suite of antibiotics, many of which have yet to be invented.

The relevant connection is to our present-day plight. The COVID-19 is the bacteria, and you and I are the antibiotic.

We’re on “day 3” of that “7-day” antibiotic course. Our social-distancing seems to be making a difference… but we’re not cured yet, and loosening up the treatment can quickly change the outcome. The fact it’s working is all the reason in the world to keep doing it properly.

I actually had another example… it involves the Canucks and the Bluejackets and allowing 4 goals in the 3rd period. But you know what, YouTube is full of videos… cyclists raising their arms in the air in victory as they approach the finish line, only to be passed at the very last minute. Or football players spiking the ball 3 inches before crossing the goal-line, fumbling the ball instead of scoring a touchdown.

The countless examples all point to the same thing, and by now I’m sure you get it: There is no victory until you actually cross the finish line, the game ends, the enemy is extinguished. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Keep taking the medicine… it’s working, but we’re not cured. And abandoning the treatment now could lead to non-victory, whatever that looks like. I don’t know, and nobody wants to find out around here… and for those that are not from around here, look around at the world at places where physical distancing has been implemented correctly, and its effects. And, even more to the point, look at where it hasn’t.

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October 1, 2020

By |October 1st, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Sports & Gaming|3 Comments

I just got back from the track a few minutes ago (it’s closing day of a very memorably-odd 25-day season… but it was great to see some familiar faces), where I watched my horse “Blueprint” run 2nd in one of the most prestigious races of the year… so that’s good. But that “2” is about the only good number around.

Canada, today, saw its 160,000th C19 case… and recorded 22 deaths, the largest 24-hour total since July. When you look at the chart below, at the Canadian growth numbers, you’ll see them all above 1% over the last 5 days. And if you look further back, you’ll see them all below 1%… going all the way back to May. We slowed it down from the end of May onward, and now it’s crawled back… and, if you look at the corresponding graph, it’s crawling rather steeply.

It’s interesting to look at the trends of the other charts, too. Notably, B.C., which briefly looked like it was going to spiral out of control… hasn’t. Things have tailed off recently. That meteoric rise has slowed and backed off. Maybe Dr. Henry managed to scare us back into order.

Alberta is fighting to keep its growth flat, and while things could be better, they could also be worse. They’re fighting to keep their spread in schools under control, and it’s not looking great; let’s hope for the best.

So what’s driving this national growth? The usual, of course… Ontario and Quebec… who both, at some point, were looking to have things well under control. Not anymore. The numbers, the graphs, the deaths; none of it is good. Everything sliding in the wrong direction.

My horse “Blueprint”, to be honest, is probably not destined for greatness. He really stepped it up today and I’m proud of him… especially because there’s only so much you can do. Our very excellent trainer Dino does what he can to prepare the horse, but once the starting gate springs open, anything can happen.

Similarly, the national blueprint for handling a pandemic requires the involvement of everyone. The trainer does what he can; the jockey does what he can. But it’s ultimately up to the horse… and horses, like people… they can be stubborn.

You can lead a horse to water… you can … [Continue Reading]


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September 30, 2020

By |September 30th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|14 Comments

I should take a step back writing about Donald Trump. I’d been planning to watch the debate and then comment on it, but of course, there was no debate. There was a schoolyard bully, flailing around aimlessly, aggressively, disgustingly and frighteningly. I know the majority of people reading this were as horrified as I was, watching that shitshow… and for those who think otherwise… well, there’s really nothing I can tell you. In talking about Trump, I’m either preaching to the choir or talking to a brick wall. Either way, to a great extent, I’m wasting my time discussing it. All I can say is that if you still support that deplorable, awful excuse of a president, there’s nothing anyone can say that will change your mind. Therefore, I will leave it at that, with one final point:

I’ve said before I don’t watch a lot of TV – not because I don’t want to, but because I just don’t have time. I’d binge watch 12 hours a day for a few weeks, given the opportunity. My “to watch” list grows a lot faster than I can get through it.
As a result, at the moment, I’m a few years behind… and watching the second season of the excellent adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale”.

It’s very good… and very relevant. It deals with a dystopian future, where the first season’s episodes flash forwards and backwards – dystopian future/normal past… but, unlike most SciFi of that genre, the dystopia is not in the distant future; rather, it’s probably no more than 5 years apart… and it all takes place “now”… it could be 2005 to 2010 or it could be 2018 to 2023.

A lot has changed in those 5 years, and the differences are made clear in the first season. But now, in the second season, it’s starting to fill in the blanks… how exactly do we go from a normal society, to a messed-up fascist military occupation based on religious zealotry?

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t take long. It’s frightening to see the fiction of the show and compare it to the realities of the U.S. today. While it might sound a little alarmist, if things really derail, it will be impossible for anyone to actually say, “Jeez… … [Continue Reading]


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September 29, 2020

By |September 29th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics|0 Comments

Leona Helmsley was a wealthy hotelier, back in the 1980s. In discussing herself and her husband, she once famously said, “We don’t pay taxes; on the little people pay taxes.” Leona was ultimately sentenced to 16 years in prison for federal income tax evasion. And, as you may already know, Al Capone, guilty of every organized crime known to man (bootlegging, prostitution, racketeering, murder, etc.) was ultimately only charged and sentenced for one thing… income tax evasion… which landed him in prison for the rest of his life.

More recently, like a few months ago, I was staring at a math formula that I needed to plug into a spreadsheet. I needed the formula in terms of x, but unfortunately, x was an exponent in an expression that was under a square-root sign, and all of that was the numerator in a bigger expression. After staring at it for a minute, I asked my son, who was sitting nearby, if it he could figure it out… and he promptly did.

In hindsight, perhaps I could’ve paid him a consulting fee. What was that worth? Well, like the old joke… from the old “50 cents to push the button, and $999.50 to know which button to push” school-of-thought, $20 wouldn’t have been out of place. Even $100, since I needed it right away.

Wait… maybe I need a mathematician on payroll… I could hire him as a consultant on a monthly retainer. $1,000 a month? How about $10,000, because now I’m thinking tax benefits. How about $500,000,000 a year, and I get to deduct chunks of it for the rest of my life… and since I’m not paying him all of it, it’s of no tax consequence to him. And for me… some fancy accounting showing the liability due, and then claiming the annual credit of $10,000,000 – wow, I’ll never pay taxes again!!

Welcome to the slippery slope of how tax avoidance (totally legal) slides into tax evasion (totally not).

Setting aside the cushy job she got in her daddy’s organization, Ivanka Trump was paid an extra $750,000 in consulting fees. Giving your kids money is no crime. Claiming it as a business expense, however, is quite a different story. What’s slowly coming to light is how many tens of millions of dollars Donald … [Continue Reading]


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September 28, 2020

By |September 28th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics|7 Comments

I’m not sure where our family tradition came from… the one where you break this fast, after 24 hours of no food or drink… with a shot of liquor. Single-malt scotch in my case. Let me tell you, that’s one way to shock the system.

Anyway, it’s been a day… did… I… miss… anything?

Exactly a month ago, my closing paragraph was this:

“The President of the United States may not be aware that there are two things in life that are a certainty… death and taxes. You can’t escape either….and history will not be kind in exposing his attempts to cheat on both.”

The gist of that article was more to do with the fake numbers he was now controlling, to direct the C19 narrative… things aren’t so bad, things are getting better, numbers are going down… and so on. Sure they are, Mr. President… they can say whatever you want, when you’re managing it.

I haven’t dug into it yet, but a superficial read on these recent stories implies one of two things: Donald Trump is either among the world’s worst businessmen… or, he ruthlessly cheats on his taxes. I suspect it’s a bit of both, but I’m curious which version his die-hard supporters would prefer? That they were sold a pack of lies? Like the ones who like saying, “Yeah, ok, he’s an abrasive asshole, but at least he knows business and deal-making and all that.”

Or… how about this: “Hey, hardworking American labourer who’s single and made $18,000 last year…you paid more in taxes than your “billionaire” president.

Pick your poison, Trumpers… what do you prefer? The (brutally) inept businessman? Or the ruthless, uncaring tax evader? Tough decision… but, if you have any sort of critical thinking ability left, what shouldn’t be a tough choice is the one you face on November 3rd.

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September 27, 2020

By |September 27th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Philosophy, Art & Literature|15 Comments

Once a year, me and several million like-minded people fast – no food or water – for about 24 hours. For everyone, it’s a different experience… but one thing in common… for all, it’s a period of deep introspection.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to Google Yom Kippur.

This Jewish Day of Atonement always comes exactly 10 days after the Jewish New Year (Happy 5781!). Since it’s based on the Hebrew calendar, which is made up exclusively of 28-day months (it always lines up with the moon), these holidays move around with respect to our conventional calendar. In fact, it’s especially nice to have a New Year’s a few months before the end of December… it gives you a second shot at those new year’s resolutions that maybe didn’t stick.

Next year, Yom Kippur will fall mid-September. The year after that, early October. You never know what day of the week you’re going to get. Like all Jewish holidays, it starts the evening before the actual day… which means tonight, in a couple of hours (sunset) – and lasts till tomorrow’s sunset. As I mentioned, for that period of time… it’s a complete fast, which includes switching off all non-critical electronics as well… in an effort to truly disconnect. Accordingly, tomorrow’s update with all the new numbers will have to wait till after sunset… which will be sometime after 7pm.

In the meantime, I’ll be lost in thought… and with no interruptions and with no food or water to balance out the brain chemistry, I’m looking forward to seeing what I come up with. You may be reading about it for weeks.

For all my peeps doing the same, Gmar Chatima Tovah – and may you have an easy fast. See you on the other side.

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