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Day 54 – May 9, 2020

By |May 9th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Humour, Philosophy, Art & Literature|9 Comments

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 … [Continue Reading]

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Day 53 – May 8, 2020

By |May 8th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Humour, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|12 Comments

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 … [Continue Reading]

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Day 52 – May 7, 2020

By |May 7th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Life in Vancouver, Travel Stories, Humour, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|14 Comments

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. … [Continue Reading]

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Day 51 – May 6, 2020

By |May 6th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|7 Comments

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?” — … [Continue Reading]

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Day 50 – May 5, 2020

By |May 5th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|16 Comments

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 … [Continue Reading]

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