November 29, 2021

My first thought upon hearing that there’s a new, far-more contagious variant emerging was, “Great… finally.”

Given the world’s sudden panic with respect to it, I guess I should clarify. I’m not some Evil Overlord awaiting the demise of humanity; quite the opposite. So… here’s what comes to mind…

Let’s rewind to the beginning of the pandemic. But no, not this one… the big one a long time ago. And no, not that one either… I’m not talking about the 1918-1919 Spanish flu. Let’s jump further back… and arrive at the 1889-1890 Russian flu pandemic. That pandemic killed around a million people out of a world population of 1.5 billion… roughly 0.7% of everyone which, if you map it to today’s world population, would be a death toll of over 5 million… a number which, unfortunately, has already been far-exceeded by Covid-19.

That flu epidemic has been studied ever since, and it certainly got a closer look in 1918, when scientists were trying to figure out what they were dealing with. As it turns out, after a century of research, with scientists all-along trying to shoehorn in what sort of flu virus that might have been (because nothing made perfect sense, and nothing really fit), a simpler explanation has recently come to light… and it’s become evident that the Russian flu pandemic wasn’t actually the flu after all. It was… yeah, you guessed it.

This sort of retro-science is obviously much easier in hindsight… indeed, that’s the only way to do it… so when you read about the symptoms of that ancient pandemic these days, and read about the high fever, chest inflammation, respiratory issues, killing predominantly older people, loss of taste and smell… yes, it does all sound somewhat familiar… and it’s not the flu.

As it turns out, the great Russian flu pandemic was actually caused by a coronavirus strain labelled OC43, one that has been found to have jumped into the human population exactly around 1890… and it certainly hit the ground running, infecting and killing countless people.

But here’s an interesting fact, 130 years later… OC43 is one of the leading causes of… the common cold. Has it gotten weaker over the years? Is it now more contagious but less virulent? Are we just more immune to it? Did we acquire some of that immunity from our parents? Are treatments more common and accessible to the extent that it’s no longer a big deal?

Yes – to all of the above. It’s just a common cold. We’ve all been dealing with it all our lives, and it’s generally – the vast majority of the time — not a big deal.

For virus like OC43 to go from killing close to 1% of the population to being no big deal took over a century. These days, we’re not interested in waiting that long. We have nowhere near the attention span. The sort of mindset that demands we be able to binge-watch an entire seven seasons of some show during three days of lockdown is the same mindset that insists everything, including pandemics, be dealt with in a quick and efficient manner.

Nature doesn’t really care what we think, so we simply have to take what we can get… but what we’re getting, as per my opening paragraph is, in my opinion, cautiously optimistic.

Like a common cold, we’re all going to come into contact with it. Everyone scrambling to close their borders? It’s a nice theatrical exercise, but the truth is that the Omicron variant is probably already here. Where’s here? Exactly. Everywhere. Watch for cases to start rising dramatically… everywhere.

And is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Cases will go up, but far-more-importantly, will hospitalizations? ICU admissions? Deaths?

I won’t go out of my way (yet) to say it’s all a good thing, but there’s one potentially very positive version of this: That this is the virus’s end-game. That this is where it gets a lot more contagious and a lot less virulent. Indeed, if we start getting data that this thing spreads like wildfire but causes only mild symptoms, we’re actually well on our way out of this mess… on a global scale. While it’s still too early to say for certain, initial indications imply a milder disease. While Delta cases cause elevated pulse rates, low oxygen levels and the loss of taste and smell, Omicron cases seem to cause different symptoms: Fatigue, head and body aches, and occasional sore throats and coughs.

And if that’s the extent of it – what sounds like nothing more than a common cold – and if it’s so virulent that we all get it and, with that, develop antibodies against the underlying C19… mission accomplished. Problem solved.

It’s interesting that this variant was first identified in South Africa.

On a somewhat related noted, it’s interesting to note that for the most part, the entire continent of Africa bypassed conventional telephone lines. It just wasn’t worth it to wire the entire country. They missed out on decades of the benefits of telephones in every household… but they’re making up for it now. Cellular infrastructure has arrived and, with it, internet and apps and everything that comes with it. They missed telephony the first time around, but thanks to leapfrogging technology, are pretty-much caught up. They’re exactly where you and I are with mobile phones, and, given how much we pay for cell service around here, probably a bit ahead. They leapfrogged into the cellular age… and they may end up leapfrogging vaccines.

The pathetic vaccination rates in Africa (not because they don’t want it, but because it just hasn’t been made available) might quickly become as irrelevant as an old Bell telephone (you know, the old ones… the ones where you could deliciously slam down the receiver in frustration) – because the prevalence of a mild and very-contagious version of this virus might finally be the thing to slam it out of existence. Africa may immunize themselves out of the pandemic by simply infecting each other with a much milder strain. And if that turns out to be the case, it won’t just be Africa; it’ll be everywhere.

I sincerely hope I’m not completely wrong. It’ll take a bit of time to confirm (or shoot down) some of these assumptions.., but I think it’s fair to put out there that there’s a version of this doom and gloom that’s not so gloomy and doomy. Far from it. The news that initially sent the world into a panic and markets tumbling and airports shutting down flights… might turn out to be a significant positive turning point.

September 10, 2021

Hey… it’s been a while! So… sit back and relax, because this is going to be a long one. We have plenty to cover.

I’ll start by glossing over a bit of the current situation, because we’re all familiar with it, and although the numbers continue to provide a glaringly obvious message, there are those who refuse to look at them.

Depending where you look, you’ll find variations on the same theme… and they all say things like your chances with vaccines are not 20% or 60% better… it’s more like 2,000%… or 6,000%. Every single person in BC today in the ICU that’s under the age of 50 is unvaccinated. The vast majority of people in hospital are unvaccinated. We can talk about BC, Alberta, Ontario, Canada, California, Nebraska, Florida, whatever… it’s all the same everywhere; just a different multiplier, often based on vaccination rates. The numbers all range from quite significant to truly significant. There are no exceptions anywhere; the vaccinated population is way, way better off.

I’ve included the usual three rows of graphs, though the top one – the graphs of daily new cases – once, the most important graphs imaginable… are becoming somewhat irrelevant. Much more relevant is who got infected (Vaccinated? Unvaccinated?) and how it’s affecting them. The real numbers to look at (and the graphs that go with it) are hospitalizations and ICU admissions; the bottom row of graphs. There’s certainly a kick upwards, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan, who are seeing levels comparable to back in May… but for the rest of us, it looks pretty reasonable and no reason to panic. Especially if you’re vaccinated.

In the last three days, the average daily number of C19 deaths in Canada is 34. Since the American population is about 9x ours, you might expect a death rate 9 x 34, which is around 300. But instead, it’s close to 2,500. And needless to say, largely due to overwhelmed hospitals way beyond capacity in jurisdictions with low vaccination rates. No matter how you slice the data, it all points to the same thing.

On that note, the daily vaccination rates show a significant slowdown. That’s the middle row of graphs. It hasn’t totally died out, but we’re nowhere near the rates of early July… though it’s picking up a bit again, and I have something to say about that.

There are a lot of people who’ve recently gotten vaccinated because of the “vaccine passport” that’s coming alive in 72 hours.

Side-note with respect to the rollout; I am an IT/tech/computer guy and I can be as critical as they come, especially when talking about deploying systems to massive amounts of people who’ll all use it simultaneously. I have a lot of experience in that, and I know it’s complicated, so I know what you have to plan for, etc… and so I have to say, Kudos to those involved with this thing. It certainly wasn’t without some initial little hiccups, but that’s to be expected when unprecedented numbers of people suddenly flood to it. In fact, if it hadn’t bent a little under the load, I’d be complaining they spent too much on it. It’s like building a 16-lane Lions Gate Bridge, 8 lanes each way… when it’s only needed for New Year’s Eve. Sure, you’ll never have traffic problems on the bridge itself, but just imagine Georgia St. or Taylor Way. What a mess it’d be without addressing them too.

And this thing has to not only be its own infrastructure, it has to communicate with varying other older systems and not flood them with too many connections and requests. The queuing system seems to have worked well; I jumped on it the moment I saw the url and found myself in a 17-minute line-up. That queue grew to over an hour at some point, and indeed, some people got 503 errors and gateway timeouts and whatever else. So what. Moments later, it worked. I have yet to hear about anyone who got past the queue and then had a problem, and that implies excellent design. Everything past the choke-point, that single point of failure… so far has been flawless. And, after all of that… at this moment, the wait time is zero and it’s likely to remain that way, even with the flood of people on Monday rushing to get it.

But let’s talk about those people who, today, would get a “No Record Found” if they tried to fetch their card.

For the last two years, there have been those people… well all know a bunch… masks are useless, vaccines are useless, conspiracies and so on. Now, perhaps having done some actual research and listened to some actual reliable sources, maybe they’ve come to the conclusion that getting vaccinated would be the intelligent thing to do. But how can they, without totally losing face? Admitting they’re wrong now would mean admitting they’ve been wrong all along, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. Some people’s egos just can’t take the hit.

Well… now they have the perfect out. They can proudly and loudly announce how they still feel vaccines are useless… but… they just want to live their life in peace and do things they want… so, they just got vaccinated and there’s their little blue vaccine card, and soon, after their second dose, it’ll be green. Yay!

And if you’re one of those people or know someone… yes, do it. Tell them to do it. Go for it. All of your friends and family who’ve been pleading to you to get vaccinated couldn’t care less about your justification, whether it’s the inward-facing or the outward-facing version, however different they may be. Just go get it done. Go right ahead and blame it on anything and everything else. It doesn’t matter. All of those aforementioned people will welcome your decision with open arms.

Looking back at where a lot of this anti-everything came from, and removing Donald Trump’s catastrophic contribution to the public sentiment, in hindsight, there may have been two things that might have “spun” better. Better “optics”. It’s not like pandemics have a PR department, but if they did…

For one thing, naming this a novel coronavirus initially convinced people that this is something new, unseen and a complete mystery. If instead they’d labelled it originally what it really is… a new version of something old, perhaps there’d have been a lot less hesitancy when the vaccines appeared. Everyone understands sequels. Remember SARS from years ago? Well, here’s “SARS 2: The Killer Returns”. And everything we’ve learned from the original SARS we can now put to use. This is not a new story; it’s a continuation of an old one. So instead of a brand new vaccine technology being quickly developed against a pathogen the likes of like we’ve never seen before, people might understand that it’s just a new version of a virus that’s been around for decades, being fought by R&D technology that’s also been around for decades. In Hollywood terms, that story certainly would’ve “tested better.’

That didn’t happen, and that lesson didn’t get learned, and then that skeptical crowd was met with “Vaccine Passports”. Once again, something new, untested and worthy of rebellion.

Calling it was it is – an immunization record – would also have “tested better”. We all already have an immunization record… with words like smallpox and measles and diphtheria and mumps and whatever else in it. We all have it and many of us have needed it. Some employers demand it. Some schools demand it. Some travel destinations demand it. All doggy daycares demand it too. There’s nothing new with immunization records… but you throw the word “passport” in there, and the implications of not having one, and the “Freedom And Rights!!1!1!!!1!!!” crowd shows up.

And on that note… if you think I’m going to voice my disgust at people who picket and protest outside of hospitals, insulting healthcare workers and blocking access for actual patients… I am, but that’s only part of it.

The other part of it is the symbolism associated with it. I happened to see among the pictures of the protesters a person wearing a little yellow star with “Not Vaccinated” written on it, where conventionally you’d expect to see the word “Jude’”.

Cultures these days are up in arms about appropriation. Here’s a cheap dreamcatcher for $5.99, available in the local tourist shop. It’ll look so cute in the window! Here’s a bundle of sage; take it home and light it and wave it around. That’s called smudging. Isn’t that cute? And Woke? We’re *so* Culturally Lit!!

Yeah, one can see how offensive that would be to people who understand the depth and significance of what those things really are. Their history. What they symbolize. What it meant to the people for whom it was intended.

So, let’s talk about that little yellow star. First of all, and this part of it isn’t so well known, that wasn’t the only Nazi-imposed oppressive symbol of The Holocaust. Red triangle? Communist. Brown triangle? Gypsy. Purple triangle? Jehovah’s Witness. Pink inverted triangle? Homosexual.

And for a brief moment, imagine the outrage from the LGBTQ community if that pink triangle were appropriated for this purpose. Idiots screaming about freedom, comparing it to the struggles of a community that’s been marginalized for centuries.

But they’ve chosen that little yellow star to complain about their lack of freedom, so let’s go with that. That little yellow star is indeed a striking symbol of lack of freedom. For those who had to wear it, it meant a loss of freedom, and depending on what year, it meant something different. From 1933 to 1945, at differing times, it meant the loss of freedom to travel. To go to school. To own a business. To operate a business. To own property. To have your own home. To own anything. And finally, to live… slowly and surely, those rights were eroded until there was nothing left. But really, at no point, did it have anything to do with being able to book a table at that sushi place in Yaletown where they make those awesome cube-like nigiri that they roast with a blowtorch. No… the Jews of the Holocaust weren’t worrying too much about stuff like that and, further, if the solution to their problems could’ve been solved by a disease-preventing inoculation, I can think of at least 6 million people who gladly would’ve taken advantage of it.

If you want to complain about freedoms being ripped away from you, talk to the women of Afghanistan. Hell, you don’t even need to go that far. Talk to the women in Texas… both groups of women who until recently had rights which were ruthlessly and unexpectedly ripped away from them.

So… I look at these despicable people marching with their ignorant, illiterate signs and their tasteless and inappropriate symbols… and here’s what comes to mind: Many years ago, I took a few law courses at VCC… a sort of evening-adult-education thing. It was more about getting familiar with some business law issues, but we covered a bit of criminal law as well. Interesting stuff. One thing I remember is the difference between assault and battery. Those two terms are commonly used somewhat interchangeably, but there is a difference… and the word assault is sometimes used incorrectly. Hitting someone isn’t an assault; that’s the actual battery. There doesn’t need to be any physical contact for there to be an assault… just inducing fear or threats or intimidation; that’s an assault. Of course, it’s hard to hit someone without there having been some element of those three things beforehand, so it’s often assault and battery combined.

Why do I mention this? I mention it only because, in my case, it’ll undoubtedly be both that I’ll be charged with if I see anyone wearing one of these little yellow stars… because I will walk up right up to them and rip the fucking thing right off their shirt or jacket while simultaneously punching them in the face. A very quick one-two.

My thinking is that it’d be so quick that there technically might not be time for it to be an assault. Just battery… for sure. Anyway, nitpicking… but I think everyone who knows me well would be surprised… that the guy who goes out of his way to shoo a fly or bee or even spider out of the house, instead of so-easily squashing them… would be the guy arrested for punching a protester in the face. Truthfully, I haven’t been in an actual fistfight since I was 10 years old. But I’m telling you right now – perhaps somewhat blowing my potential “moment of rage, no pre-meditated intent” defence: If I run into one of these people, they will need to visit the hospital to which moments earlier they’d been blocking access.

Well! You’ll either hear about me in the news… or I’ll be back here in due course with more to say; this has already gotten a bit long. Enough for now. Have a great weekend… till next time!

November 11, 2020

On the 11th day… of my chronicling this pandemic… March 27th, 2020, I wrote this:

“…The thing to do is what you’re doing. Stay home. What else are you going to do, anyway… it’s rain for the next several days. Yay Vancouver weather!! That’s it. It’s not too much to ask. You’re not being called to charge Vimy Ridge. You’re not being called to storm the beach at Normandy. You’re being called to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I have all the faith in the world you’re up to the task.”

The 11th day thing is a nice coincidence, today being the 11th day of the 11th month… and several hours ago, it was the 11th hour that marked the end of The Great War, in 1918. The War To End All Wars.

World War I didn’t end anything, for too long… because, at every level, history has a way of repeating itself. World War I ended exactly 102 years ago. March 27th was only 229 days ago. Wars keep going on; there are more than 40 active conflicts in the world today. And the advice/strong suggestion/orders from late March; we’re back to that as well. Things may have changed in the meantime, but we’re right back to it. Whether it’s 102 years or just several months; round and round we go.

Those 40 conflicts will all eventually end, or morph into something else. The same can be said for this pandemic. And, interestingly, it was that great pandemic of 1918 that helped end WWI.

Those heroes – the ones who actually did charge Vimy Ridge and storm the beaches at Normandy – they did it so that we, today, could enjoy the sort of freedom… that ironically allows us to be idiots who don’t wear masks and social distance. As we well-know, there are places around the world that aren’t so free, where the rules aren’t just suggestions; they are the law, and not following the law has serious repercussions. Dr. Henry has gone on the record saying there’s not much point mandating certain things, because people who are inclined to break the rules will do so anyway. This isn’t North Korea or China. You and your family will not be arrested, exiled or executed for walking into Costco without a mask.

But I don’t want to give too much attention to today’s Covidiots.

Today, let’s focus on remembering the real heroes of the past. Your Facebook feed is probably as full as mine of posts from friends whose fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, uncles, etc… gave their lives for what we, today, pretty-much take for granted. Look at their pictures. Read their stories. They are the ones upon whose shoulders we enjoy our freedom.

It’s important to remember that, often… not just once a year. Lest we forget.

COVID-19 Daily Report Graph for November 11, 2020

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November 10, 2020

The KGB (today known as the FSB) is well-known for their “honey pot” traps. A foreign official shows up in Moscow and is treated to the finest food and the finest wine. And, through some clever social engineering, some of the finest women enter the picture as well… whose duty to Mother Russia is to seduce the target. This is all very-well thought out in advance, the who/what/where/when… which allows all of the activities to be secretly monitored and recorded. The victim is then told about (and possibly shown) the footage, and their cooperation is assured. Textbook blackmail.

But… it doesn’t always work out that way.

In 1945, Indonesia secured its independence from Dutch colonial rule. The first president they elected, a man by the name of Sukarno, fiercely loved his country. And women too, a fact that was well-known to the Soviets when Sukarno visited in 1960. It was quite a coincidence that a whole crew of attractive air hostesses was staying at the same hotel as Sukarno. Of course, it was no coincidence at all… and, of course, they weren’t actually stewardesses… they were all spies. Sukarno picked his favourites, and then, yadda yadda.

I wasn’t there to record the aftermath, but from what I gather, the conversation before the next day’s official meeting went something like this:

Soviets: “Mr. President, before we begin the negotiations, you should know that last night’s activities – all of them, including your time with Valentina and Natasha in your hotel room, were recorded on film. But as long as you…”

Sukarno: “What?! You filmed that? All of it? Like… everything…?!”

Soviets: “Yes, Mr. President… but if you…”

Sukarno: “AWESOME!! Hey, do you think you could score me a couple copies of that film!? They’re going to love this back home!! High five!!”

Sukarno thought he’d be a hero, going home with evidence he’d conquered some Russian beauties. The reception back home to his cavorting is not known, but given he had 9 wives throughout his life, many of the overlapping, it probably wasn’t a big deal.

In 2017, a British spy filed 17 intelligence reports, one of which outlined Donald Trump’s activities back in 2013 when he was in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. There is apparently a video, recorded in the Presidential Suite of the Ritz-Carlton… and nobody is too sure exactly what’s on the entire thing, but part of it is Trump watching two women urinating on the bed – the same bed in which the Obamas had previously slept.

These sorts of tapes rarely see the light of day. They’re very useful for “controlling the asset” while said asset is of any use. And once the asset is no longer relevant, there’s no point in disclosing it. In fact, there’s every reason not to… because it shows everyone around the world currently being blackmailed that as long as they play along, they’ll forever be ok.

That partially answers the question of “What do the Russians have on Trump?”… but it doesn’t really answer the question of “Now what?”

There is an emerging concern, and it’s a deep concern.

Trump knows a lot of state secrets. Given his treatment of the Russians over the last four years, it’s not hard to imagine they have something on him, and it’s pretty bad. And, he owes hundreds of millions of dollars. If you’re Putin, you’re holding the only winning trifecta ticket, where three longshots managed to come in 1-2-3. And now you’re pondering when and how to cash it in.

Let’s hope even Donald Trump, as low as he might stoop… and he’s stooped mighty low… would never reach those depths. Because if he did, this pandemic would be the least of the U.S. concerns.

HK COVID-19 Daily Report Graph for November 10, 2020

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November 9, 2020

Tonight… November 9th, marks the 82nd anniversary of an event known as “Kristallnacht”. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a brief summary:

On the evening of November 9th, 1938, the mobs took to the streets in Nazi Germany. Jews were assaulted, beaten, and dragged from their homes… which were then ransacked. Over 7,000 Jewish businesses were looted and destroyed. Hundreds of Jews lost their lives, many by suicide. Over 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.

The word “Kristallnacht” literally means “Crystal Night”, named for the piles of broken glass left behind. Indeed, if you were to try to find a “kick-off’ event for the Holocaust that ultimately claimed the lives of 6,000,000 Jews, this was probably it.

The German police stood around and did nothing to stop it. German citizens not participating stood around, many of them horrified at what they were seeing… but also did nothing.

Historians have been writing about, discussing and analyzing this event (and what led up to it, and what came from it) for decades. And every year, it is commemorated… with events where those who were there talk about their experiences, what they witnessed, how it affected their lives. Every year there are fewer of them… but it is important to remember it, to never forget. Those events are happening tonight, like they do every year… except, this time, via Zoom.

I was at one of these events four years ago, and it was more sombering than usual. Donald Trump had been elected the previous evening, and for many people, it was hitting a little too close to home. Nobody knew what lay ahead. Those historians were nervous; they’d seen this before.

Four years later, here we are… and I can assure you, the tone of this piece would be far different had we seen a different election result. I am not saying another four years of Trump would have led to something like that, but if something like that were being led to, we were in the midst of what it would’ve looked like. I’m sure we can all agree that if Hitler had been “un-elected” four years into his term, Kristallnacht, and everything that came after it, almost certainly wouldn’t have happened.

As ridiculous as they looked, dancing in the streets of Charlottesville with their Tiki Torches purchased at the local Walmart, the brown-shirts-to-be are no joke. That’s the “stand down and stand by” crowd, ready to follow their leader. That “leader” is on his way out, and he’ll eventually leave… flailing, kicking and screaming, firing people indiscriminately… like his Secretary of Defense today. Who knows what else he’ll try to pull in the next 72 days, but 72 is a lot less than 1,533.

I feel very relieved to not have to keep writing these “what if” pieces, because they’re tough to write and fill me with dread. Or, at least, used to. It’s like in one fell swoop, problem gone. And maybe you vehemently disagree that things could ever have gotten so bad. Perhaps you’re right. But now, all the conversations become hypothetical, and that’s a truly wonderful thing. And, to be clear, the underlying problem isn’t gone… there’s plenty of healing and plenty of fixing that needs to happen… but all of that starts from the top, with a true leader.

November 9th. November 11th. These are times to look back and remember, and an important part of remembering is learning; learning from what went wrong… learning so that it doesn’t happen again.

And they’re also times to look forward. It’s a time for optimism, and certainly that’s helped by today’s announcement from Pfizer, and their continuing study whose preliminary results show a vaccine that’s up to 90% effective at preventing C19. Maybe this is the one. Maybe this is close to the one. Either way, it implies it’s a solvable problem and we’re far along the path. It’s an appropriately-timed light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel announcement.

People have been telling each other this for a long time, and I’ve said it here many times… but it bears repeating, especially today: “It’s going to be OK.”

COVID-10 Daily Report Graph for November 9, 2020

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November 7, 2020

There’s that moment in “The Wizard of Oz” where everything goes from black-and-white to colour. It makes quite an impact…and to a great extent, for a lot of people, that’s how it feels today; a four-year journey of black vs. white, right vs. wrong, us vs. them… finally coming to an end. We are once again surrounded with colour. Isn’t it beautiful?

Nearing the end of that movie, Dorothy and her entourage finally come upon The Wizard himself… and pull back the curtain to reveal that he’s no wizard after all… just a fraud, pulling some levers. Far from a wizard… he’s just a failed showman.

But this is where the similarities end. The wizard gracefully exits; he leaves The Scarecrow in charge of Oz, with The Tin Man and The Lion at his side. A very elegant transfer of power. Then he gets into a hot-air balloon, and flies off to live happily ever after.

Our present fraud-wizard-failed-showman won’t be leaving quietly. The hot-air balloon would be a helicopter in this case, but on January 20th, there’s a relatively good chance Trump won’t be on it.

What’s becoming interesting is the method with which the rats are leaving the sinking ship. For four years, they agreed with, acquiesced to, and validated – his narcissistic venomous bullshit. Now they don’t have to. In many cases, these are people with similar personality profiles, so now what? They arguably played along because it served their purpose; stay on his good side or find yourself with a figurative knife in your back, exiled from the kingdom of Trump. That’s no longer the case. In fact, Trump himself has been pissed off for the last few days, wondering why none of those people are Tweeting their support for their soon-to-be fallen leader. The answer is pretty simple; they’re looking out for themselves at the expense of others… a lesson they learned from Trump himself. It’s time to jump ship.

What’s also not black and white is what’s going on here… it’s red… as in cases across the board in Canada… as per below, so… much… red. All rising… sharply. Red alert.

Dr. Bonnie spoke earlier today and imposed new restrictions, in place for two weeks, effective as of 10pm tonight, affecting social gatherings, travel, indoor group exercises and workplaces. And, in that order: don’t, don’t, don’t, and… follow the rules. Let’s see if we can actually stick to that for two weeks.

We are effectively back to late March/early April; it’s Déjà Vu all over again… and we managed to get this under control back then. And, of course, we’ve learned a lot since then… but don’t think that just because of that, and treatment options, and just because we actually have a vaccine around the corner, that we don’t need to take this seriously. We do… because the tornado that can sweep us away to a world of hurt appears quickly and powerfully. Just ask Dorothy. And yes, we all want things to be normal… and we’ll get there eventually… “there’s no place like home”… but unfortunately, just closing your eyes and tapping your feet a few times, and hoping… isn’t going to do it.

HK COVID-19 Daily Report Graph Nov 7, 2020

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November 6, 2020

To follow-up briefly on yesterday’s poker analogy… we’re at the point where Joe Biden went all-in, and Donald Trump, hesitatingly, called… so Joe flipped over his cards; what’s colloquially known as “the nuts” — the unbeatable hand, because there’s nothing left to deal that can change anything. Trump is drawing dead, and can only helplessly watch the hand play out.

Normally, a player in Trump’s position would realize he’s beaten, flip over his cards, and watch the chips get dragged over to the other side of the table. But, of course, Trump is trying to bluff an unbluffable hand. Perhaps at some point, his fans cheering him from behind will be able to convince him to just face the fact that he lost, and move on. But it’s doubtful. Many of them continue to cheer him on blindly.

Notwithstanding that this may end up being a bigger victory for Biden than was originally thought a few days ago, there are a lot of posts from people wondering how it’s possible that a misogynist racist narcissist whose policies have further divided a country the desperately needs unity – not to mention his abhorrent handling and messaging of this pandemic – could have received so many votes? There are many takes on it, but it boils down this…

First of all, some simple math… rough numbers, some 144 million people voted. Of those, there is an unshakable core of Republicans who’ll vote that way no matter who the candidate. How big is that core? It depends how you measure it. Here’s a rough breakdown of Trump voters:

American Preservationists (20%)
Staunch Conservatives (31%)
Anti-elites (19%)
Free Marketers (25%)
Disengaged (5%)

Within that breakdown, there are probably 40% who won’t be swayed, no matter what. And 40% of 144 million is around 57 million… so really, perhaps it’s only 13 million who “really” voted for Trump… and the vast majority of those are white men, and it must be noted that the urban voter turnout is what probably made the difference. The People Of Colour… Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous peoples… they showed up. In person, waiting hours to vote… or mailing it in… however they did it, they showed up. It’s no surprise that even in many Republican states, the big cities are hubs of blue votes.

On the flipside, the rural areas, many of them populated by people with very different priorities… Immigration, jobs, terrorism, the economy, national debt. Who cares if the leader is a jerk? These are the things that matter to me, end of story. My house and my job and my gun… mean more to me than whatever is going on elsewhere. Any by the way, for many people who’ve never left their own state, let alone country… “elsewhere” is everywhere else that’s not within driving distance. They couldn’t care less what’s going on in Portland or Kenosha.

While Biden got more votes than any presidential candidate ever, in second place is Donald Trump. His seventy million votes is what Obama got in 2008 when he crushed (365 to 173) John McCain. It should be noted that four years ago, when Trump beat Hilary, it was 304 to 227. And this was viewed as a huge victory, a demographic shift, a fundamental realignment, etc. It’s looking like Biden will wind up with almost identical numbers. So while it’s not a Blue Wave many hoped for, let’s not discount the inherent statement being made: No more Trump – spoken quite loudly.

The voting system may need a bit of thought, but there are no easy answers. It’s hard to fix it when there’s no agreement with respect to what’s broken. One thing about the electoral college system is that without it, given how fractured the country is, you might not see a Republican president elected again for a very long time. Biden is ahead by 4 million votes, but Hilary was ahead by 3 million and lost. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by half a million and lost. In 1960, JFK crushed Richard Nixon 303-219… but won the popular vote by a ridiculously small margin, like 100,000 votes.

The sad truth is as that the chasm gets wider, like the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the popular vote gap between Democrats and Republicans will widen… and that will, at least for the foreseeable future, be reflected in the left-leaning popular vote. Biden has his work cut out for him; he’s inheriting a mess on every level. I hope he, and the excellent people with whom I hope he surrounds himself, are up to the task.

A final, unrelated note… when I started writing these daily thoughts 235 days ago, it was supposed to be exclusively a daily update of C19 numbers and perhaps a paragraph with respect to where things are. It started to turn political when my daily research of what was going on south of here went from surprise, to incredulity, to anger, and all of it directly pointed at Donald Trump.

With him on his way out, and hoping Biden and his administration start taking things seriously, the daily bashing of American politics will be far less frequent. We have more important things to worry about. Here in B.C., almost 600 new cases in the last 24 hours… and I unfortunately know one of those people. Also, more than 600 in Alberta. And in Ontario and Quebec, more than 1,000 each.

The U.S. has its stuff to fix… they quietly reached 10,000,000 cases while all of this has been going on… but here, north of the turmoil, we have ours.

HK COVID-19 Daily Report - Graph for Nov 6, 2020

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November 3, 2020

Rainy day today… good weather to stay in and watch something. I wonder what’s on tonight…

If your intention is to watch election results, here’s a three-paragraph summary of what to watch for:

By the time you’re reading this, polls on the east coast will have closed more than an hour ago… results may be trickling in… and watching what’s happening there will give you a good idea of where things are going. Florida, Georgia and North Carolina… if Biden wins any of those three, he’s almost certain to win the whole thing. If he loses all three, it probably implies he’s in trouble because it’d also mean the polls were “wrong”, and things are leaning strongly Trump’s direction.

If that happens, the next state to watch is Pennsylvania, where polls close an hour later. Unfortunately, that will be a slow count… and those results may not be known till later in the week. Without Pennsylvania, in the scenario above, Biden is in big trouble. He’d need Arizona, Michigan, and a bunch of other states.

And then there’s Texas… and that could drastically change things. Very heavy voting in Texas, and it’s a close race there. Chances are Biden isn’t going to win Texas if he hasn’t already won some other southwestern state, but who knows. And if Biden wins Texas, he doesn’t need any of the above. He needs what Hilary won in 2016 and that’s it.

That’s all factual, and perhaps that’s all that’s needed for now… simple, and free of opinion. If you know what you’re hoping for, keep an eye on that… and steer clear of the propaganda bombardment.

Of course, well-above and beyond all of that is the acceptance of those results, and that’s a far bigger question mark. The current president won the last election… but has spent four years claiming voter fraud anyway. There’s zero chance of him not disputing today’s results, no matter what happens… and I hope the U.S. is ready for that, and ready to handle it in a way that doesn’t lead to catastrophe.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the election. He pleaded, in his inaugural address… “We are not enemies… we must not be enemies…” Unfortunately, many didn’t see it that way. Eleven states refused to accept his presidency, formed The Confederacy, and plunged the country into civil war.

The list of “What if…?” scenarios is too long to plunge into now. It’s at least comforting to know that voter turnout in the U.S. is the highest ever. People ultimately care, and are willing to do what it takes to have their voices heard. Many of those voices disagree harshly with each other, but that’s what democracy is all about. Let’s hope whatever happens today is the first step towards healing everything that needs healing down there… though it may be many steps on a long, bumpy and uneven path.

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October 26, 2020

The “politicization” of Covid-19 is really quite interesting to observe. Perhaps the right word is “weaponized” – with the U.S. being the best example. Forget the reality of it; there will one day be “Covid denial” – it’ll be something that “maybe didn’t really happen”, was “exaggerated”, was “fabricated” for “sympathy” or “political gain”… the same nonsense every other flavour of denier likes to preach.

The discussion in the U.S. that’s now appearing is puzzling when based on reality, but perfectly in-line with the paragraph above… that, given that C19 is a political fabrication, invented to damage the presidency of Donald Trump, as soon as the election is over, it’ll all just go away. Win or lose, the whole pandemic will have served its purpose.

Of course, after November 3rd, and continuing into the future, long after all the ballots have been cast, guess what… C19 will still be here, numbers will be surging, and people will keep dying. I wonder what the deniers will have to say after that. Actually, there’s no need to wonder; we can just assume it’ll be as confusing and misguided as what we’re hearing now.

So, let’s ignore the complete bullshit, and talk a bit about the more subtle bullshit. The White House Chief of Staff, twice now, has basically admitted that there’s no plan to control the pandemic. This is not really news, though it’s nice and surprising to hear some honesty so close to the source of misinformation itself. Unlike his boss, Mark Meadows isn’t saying it’s getting better. That it’s turned the corner. That it’ll be over soon. That the vaccine is just around the corner.

No – none of that. All he’s said, and doubled-down on, is this: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”

To put it in different terms, what he’s saying is this: “We have been lying for a while, knowing full-well that the messaging and actions we’ve put out are not going to work, and never would have, especially given the polarized electorate we have today… so, we chose to lie, and paint a rosy picture… long enough to get re-relected. We know a lot of people will die as a result – deaths that could have been avoided. But, it’s more important to us to get re-elected, and if enough people are sold on the idea that we’ll have a vaccine sooner than later, we should be ok. And one day, we will… so… ”

The extension of this polarization will yield two camps of future thought; I’ve summarized one of them. The summary for the other school of thought is more simple: they will claim Trump and his administration should all be charged and tried for Crimes Against Humanity. They will have a good point.

Closer to home, the vaccine isn’t a hoax around here either… and we have numbers to prove it. The weekend update was nothing short of ugly. New measures will be put in place limiting crowd sizes, as we slowly slide backwards and see higher and higher numbers.

We’re certainly on the upswing…. but how far up will it go? I won’t attempt to predict the future, but looking at the numbers and graphs, you might be tempted to think that Quebec is flattening out their curve… and they’re perhaps three weeks ahead of us… so is it fair to think we are in for three more weeks of frightening growth before it flattens out? Depends how well we mitigate that risk. As usual, it’s up to us.

Three weeks from now is just after the Remembrance Day Weekend… hopefully that weekend update isn’t as startling as this one.


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October 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Trudeau suddenly went nuts and invaded those islands? It would be a very weird situation for us, but also for our allies, especially the U.S. and the U.K…. both of which are always on our side, but both of which also completely (and justifiably) would respect the sovereignty of France.

Interestingly, there’s a comparable example.

On April 2nd, 1982, General Leopoldo Galtieri, the leader of Argentina (and last of their military dictators) invaded the Falkland Islands.

Lots of similarities… Search-and-Replace: Trudeau becomes Galtieri, Canada becomes Argentina. France becomes England. St.P & M. become the Falkland Islands, which have been under British Rule since 1833. Interestingly, the U.S. becomes Chile; we’ll get to that.

A brief history of Argentina… leading up to Galtieri, there had been a few other military dictators, the first of which had overthrown the democratic government of Isabel Perón… widow of Juan Perón – whose second wife was the famous Evita (Madonna… “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina…”). Those military dictators slowly eroded the country into a compete mess of economic crisis and civil unrest and violence against those who opposed them. Galtieri, who was disliked by the people more and more as each day went by, decided he needed to show everyone who’s boss, how he was a powerful leader, how he’s got things well-under control. A conquest of those islands… and he’d be a national hero forever.

So… he invaded the Falkland Islands, claiming them “back” for Argentina. As an interesting side-note, similar to how when the Democrats say Zig, the Republicans will say Zag, or pretty-much anywhere where you have strong, opposing political parties ready to criticize anything… when Margaret Thatcher’s right-wing government instantly protested the invasion and began arming the response, the left-wing opposition party in England was a bit torn… between their ideology of being against war… coupled with their distaste for Margaret Thatcher… as opposed to simple patriotism. They stammered incoherently for a few days, going back and forth.

You know, when your country gets invaded, you defend yourself… political ideologies aside. If you don’t like war, it means you don’t throw the first punch. But if punches are going to fly, be sure you’re prepared to throw the last one. Anyway, that led to that memorable headline, “British Left Waffles on Falklands.”

Long story short, Galtieri led his country into a disastrous, unwinnable war by invading those islands… a war which cost the lives of hundreds of young Argentinian men, barely trained and barely armed. It took the British a few days to show up, but they showed up angry and ready to take back what was theirs. And take it back they did. They also suffered some losses, but not as bad as the Argentinians. Understandably, everyone on the planet disagreed with the Argentinian position, including their neighbour Chile… who allied themselves with Britain and cooperated fully, allowing their airports and military bases to be used as staging and refueling areas. Chile turned out to be an integral part of helping the Brits end the invasion quickly. The strange parallel would be the U.S. aligning themselves with France, helping them take back the islands from Canada. I wonder how many minutes that war would last.

From a personal point of view, the whole Falklands thing was strange – it was the first time I had a completely relatable view of a big conflict… very clearly from both, opposing sides.

On one hand, I was in grade 8, at a very British school, where many of the teachers were British themselves. They were adamantly opposed to this ridiculous invasion, and made their views known. Everybody (including me) was in agreement. What a useless, stupid war. Hopefully, it’d be over quickly.

On the flipside, my older cousins in Chile were of the age where if they’d been in neighbouring Argentina, they and their friends might have been drafted to go and fight. I knew a lot of people down there in that age group. It would have been like the grade 12s in my school going off to fight for one side… and, on the other side, it could’ve been my cousins and their friends, or at least guys whose personas and attitudes and everything else – I could easily relate to. Happy-go-lucky Latin Americans guys… suddenly thrown into a war because their leader needed some quick wins; some better approval ratings; some better numbers. No time for debates or town-hall meetings… let’s make a real statement.

The whole ugly episode wrapped up in about 10 weeks, but there were (and still are) some ridiculously short-sighted Argentinean patriots who think it was the right move. The vast majority would disagree with that… and if there was any Argentinian positive out of all of it, it’s that it not only took down Galtieri… but it took down the whole right-wing fascist military-dictatorship infrastructure that had supported him and his predecessors. From the failed war emerged democracy. And a final footnote… in 1994, Argentina adopted a new constitution. In it, they declared the Falkland Islands an Argentine Province. Some people just can’t let it go. The official British response was, “LOL”.

What may be relatable about the whole thing is this; there was a leader who was nearing the end of his tenure… something that doesn’t necessarily happen with military dictatorships. Many of those guys hang in there for decades, because their iron-fisted rule keeps them there. As long as the country is doing ok, it works.
But when it’s all going downhill, and people are calling for your head… well, what do you expect from a military leader… fight or flight? Galtieri knew the implications of leaving power, and they all came to pass. He knew what he’d done. He knew his track record leading up that last gasp. He knew that if he had to one day face the music, it wouldn’t go well for him… and, indeed… the rest of his life was no bed of roses. Arrests, prison, disgrace, legal fights, stripped of everything.

That is what faces Donald Trump, so it should come as no surprise that he’ll do anything to prevent it… and/or at least try everything he can to punt the ball 4 years down the field. The U.S. won’t be invading anyone as a distraction anytime soon, fortunately, but what’s going on is its own version of “last gasp”… an effort that started years ago, and will hopefully end on January 20th… 2021, not 2025.

October 16, 2020

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