April 14, 2022

There was a time, in the increasingly-distant past, where I actually imagined this pandemic ending in the blink of an eye… literally instantly. A simple declaration – Hey, it’s all good! – and that would be the end of it. Imagine Tinkerbell flying around in relative darkness, among the shadows… where everything is some gloomy shade of gray. Then, with a simple tap of her tiny magic wand — and a little puff of pixie dust — it all transforms into beautiful colours… and the sun comes out and the sky is blue and the birds are singing and we all live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, life isn’t a fairy tale… and there’s no little fairy to rescue us like that. Indeed, it’s more like a bigger ferry… like the Queen of Esquimalt, when it’s going to dock in Schwartz Bay and suddenly it starts groaning and slowly turning 180 degrees because the cars are all pointing the wrong way. And everyone on board also starts groaning. Oh no, this is going to take forever! We’re going be late for our Tea At The Empress™!

Somewhere between the fairy and the ferry lies our reality; it’s not instant, and it’s a slow turn… but, eventually, we get there. We’re in the midst of that turn right now, but unfortunately, it’s very foggy and we can’t really see how far we’ve gone… nor how far we have to go.

This sort of reminds me about the whole pot ordeal of recent decades. For a long time, it was totally illegal. Today, it’s totally legal. Do you remember the many years of ambiguity? Hey, that guy is standing in the street smoking a joint. Is that legal? Can he do that? Well, maybe he can if he’s not selling it. Really? Who knows? Who cares?

It’s the “who cares” that’s a bit of an issue these days, because while a lot of people do indeed not care anymore, many still do. Also, there are some loud and credible voices stating in no uncertain terms: Hey, this isn’t over. Far from it…. while, at the same time, there are equally loud voices carrying a message that raises some eyebrows: Yeah, it’s over… if for no other reason than we’ve had enough and we’re not doing this anymore. Anyway, look at the numbers. What’s the big deal? Life goes on.

Who do you believe? Who do you want to believe? Every single day, you can choose what you want to believe and there will be a credible source to back you. Today, a Russian warship sank. The Russians say a fire accidentally broke out and detonated some ammunition. The Ukrainians say they hit it with a missile.

Like “Where are we at?” and like getting reliable news out of Ukraine/Russia, the pandemic analysis has also gotten murkier. Attached are numbers and graphs as best as I can do these days, which isn’t much because reliable data is few and far between. Most of it (what’s in italics) is extrapolated. I’ve done away entirely with the vaccination data because, as important as it as and as transfixed as I was every day watching the vaccination percentages creep upwards… now, the numbers are meaningless. From that aspect, we’ve done all we can. Anyone who wants a shot or two or three can get one almost immediately.

In summary, numbers are up, but just a little up. In BC, hospitalizations are close to where they were a month ago, but they’d dipped two weeks ago. ICU numbers continue to drop. In Ontario and Quebec, they’re in the midst of a sixth wave… and of course, what Toronto and Montreal dictate must apply to the rest of the country… so I guess we are too. But while hospitalizations are up, ICU numbers aren’t growing appreciably; in fact, down slightly. Everything is a lot better than it was at the start of the year, but arguably, headed in the wrong direction.

It’s all ambigious and uneasy and, to some extent, ends up being what you want it to be… which, for the present day, is probably as good as it’s going to get. It takes a while to turn the ferry around because if you don’t do it right… like, too quickly, you end up with a big mess on board and lots of complaints. Do it too slowly and there will also be complaints. Hey man, we have reservations, you know?

Well… I’m pretty sure… that if you’re going to be paying $89 per person for Tea At The Empress™, they’ll hold the reservation for you, even if you’re going to be a bit late. And, don’t worry… the ferry will get turned around, docked, and you’ll get there… eventually. Yes, you wish a little magic wand could get you there instantly. I also wish it could get us all there instantly, too… wherever that ultimate “there” is.

But, again, life isn’t a fairy tale. More like a ferry tale, I guess.

January 18, 2022

At the start of the pandemic, it became clear that John Horgan wanted no part in the decision-making. This was intelligent for two main reasons: First and foremost, let the experts do their thing. Secondly, if the shit hits the fan, he can point fingers at the experts who messed it all up.

As frustrated and pissed-off and as much finger pointing as there has been, history will be very kind to the province of BC, especially when compared to other similar and comparable jurisdictions. And, to be honest, love her or hate her, the decision-making that has come from the PHO hasn’t been perfect, nor has it necessarily been consistent, but it’s been far more good than bad… and, to the greater benefit of all of us, has been driven by science and not politics.

I know a lot of people take exception to that, but it’s because you’re only comparing the local apples to themselves. Look around at other provinces, states and countries and you can see the astonishing damage being done by politically-driven agendas. I can assure you, it was not John Horgan who picked up the phone and said, “Hey Bonnie… you gotta open up those gyms, eh…”

And really, there’s no better proof than this recent gym debacle. Over the last seventy-two hours, there have been near-riots with respect to the messaging that come out of the PHO. That’s what happens when you let real doctors talk, and not political spin-doctors. A politician would have worded things very differently.

So… gyms have been shut down for a while. And a few hours before they’re hopefully set to re-open, the message we get is that they’re to remain “closed indefinitely”. What the PHO.

Could that have been worded any better? That’s not the right question. More like, could that possibly have been worded any worse? No. It could not have been worded any worse. If you really want to piss of everyone as much as possible and perhaps instigate some civil unrest, just make it sound like gyms are closed forever.

Indefinitely – what does that word mean? Here’s the textbook definition: “for an unlimited or unspecified period of time”. You know, that’s a big difference… and we’re all very used to it meaning the former, especially these days. A business putting up a sign that says they’re closed indefinitely comes shortly before the “For Lease” sign appears. Of course, nobody meant to imply that gyms are closed for good… but, even so, the word has this ominous ring to it, like it’ll be months. The Coquihalla Highway, which was very recently “closed indefinitely” (and we all thought it would be several months), is today open to all traffic.

If the PHO had managed to word things a little more clearly, it would’ve been a very different last couple of days: “Hey guys, we’re reviewing where we’re at. Numbers are certainly growing, but, around here, modelling shows that while hospitalizations may still rise a bit, we’re perhaps past the worst of it and can consider opening some things. On that list, of course, are gyms… and this week we’ll have more to say. Rather than arbitrarily announcing another month of closures, give us a few days to figure it out. Until then, they remain closed… but hang tight”. Jeez… that would’ve been a lot better, eh?

The unfortunate part of it is that there’s a demographic that thinks this is in response to all of the complaining. Like a bunch of mask-less people working out in Metrotown is what swayed the Provincial Health Office’s policy. No, it wasn’t. But you’ll never convince them, because that’s also the demographic that fails to see the big picture. Like… none of them were wearing masks, because, for some reason, supporting businesses and their right to operate also means you don’t believe in masks. Makes sense, right? Of course not.

We are all in the same boat, and the waters are rough… but if you look at the horizon, you can see the other boats that are a week or two ahead of us… and while it looks pretty stormy up head for the next little bit, beyond that there’s a hint of sunshine, blue skies and calmer water. Hopefully those who enjoy rocking the boat don’t make us all seasick… and I don’t mean that from a “infecting us all with Covid because they don’t wear masks” point of view. I mean it more from the incessant “us vs. them”, black/white right/wrong polarizing that this pandemic has imposed on all of us. We’ve all had enough.

November 5, 2021

When I was a kid, I thought the little piggy that went to market was going shopping. I imagined the pig, walking upright, dressed nicely, wearing a little hat and pushing a shopping cart in the produce section, judiciously picking out the best cobs of corn. I also imagined that the little piggy that stayed home just didn’t want go shopping. Then there was the little piggy who was eating roast beef, so why would he want to go anywhere… and then the other little piggy who wasn’t hungry. And finally, the little piggy who cried “wee wee wee” all the way home; that didn’t quite add up, because I thought all of them (except the one that went shopping) were already home. But whatever.

Years later, I learned a pig “going to market” means something quite different, and when you read the innocent little nursery rhyme in that context, it all takes on a completely different meaning. The first little piggy is going to slaughter. The second little piggy isn’t quite ready to go to slaughter. The third little piggy needs to be fattened up a bit before it’s his turn. The fourth little piggy needs no more fattening up, and so we all know where he’ll be heading soon.

Distinguished literary scholars have (I suppose), for centuries (the original nursery rhyme is from 1760), been discussing the fifth little piggy. Did he escape from the market and run home, squealing with delight all the way home? Was he taken to market, not purchased, and is now squealing with relief that he gets to go back home, back to his friends… at least temporarily? Or perhaps he was purchased after all, and is now squealing in terror as he’s being taken to his new “home”. We may never know. The questions may linger for another few centuries, but it really doesn’t matter… because that’s totally not the point.

The point is… we learn something initially one way, and sometimes, in due course, as we learn more and new facts emerge, our understanding of what we originally thought gets completely transformed. It took me more than 40 years to understand what’s happening to those five little piggies… and now it’s something you yourself will think about when you’re counting and wiggling the toes of some nearby baby.

Similarly, as this pandemic has progressed, a lot of what we innocently thought we knew has changed dramatically as time has gone by. It bothers me greatly to see conclusions of scientific method and research turned right around… presented as evidence that those conducting the research don’t know what they’re doing. If science and understanding didn’t evolve, then there would be something to complain about, but the reality of the world is the exact opposite. We learn from new facts. We learn when we make mistakes. Nobody has ever been right “all along”.

Starting at the beginning of the pandemic, we were told that with handwashing and social distancing, we’d be ok. No need for masks. Dr. Henry said so. Dr. Fauci said so. They all said so… until the moment science realized that this is an airborne disease after all, and then… a very quick 180 on masks. Yes, indeed, after all… having now studied the matter more and seen more data… masks do make a difference. A big difference. Enclosed spaces? They weren’t talked about much, at least initially. They certainly are now. As the science, data and knowledge have evolved, so have the directives. It’s to be expected. Does this mean they didn’t know what they were talking about? Does it meant they don’t know what they’re talking about now? Of course not.

But sometimes, the science, data and knowledge evolve… and nothing changes, because the initial assumptions were perfectly correct in the first place… and such is the case with vaccinations.

While we’re in the midst of fine-tuning vaccinations… the length of time between doses, the benefits of mixing and matching, the necessity for a booster… this is all just rearranging the furniture and painting the walls… of a solidly-built brick house. The big bad Covid wolf may have been able to blow down the initial straw house and the subsequent house made of sticks, but here we have a rock-solid infrastructure… one in which we can all feel safe. Covid can huff and puff all it likes, but is it likely to kill us? Not by the hair on our chinny chin chins.

Yeah, I know… those three little pigs are very different from the five little ones on your toes, but here’s something worth mentioning: All three pigs in the latter story survive.

The first one, a wolf-denier, built a flimsy house out of straw. The second one was wolf-hesitant and made a bit more of an effort, but sticks aren’t good enough protection. The third little pig understood the big picture and what was at stake, and built his brick fortress… and when the big bad evil Covid wolf came around huffing and puffing and ultimately blowing down those first two houses, its occupants ran screaming to that brick house – whose pig welcomed them with open arms. Finally… a fairy tale with a happy ending, because the good guys survived… even though, initially, they weren’t really deserving. It’s very rare that life, circumstance (and/or fairy tales) reward the “wrong” ones. The whole idea is to learn a lesson. Shouldn’t those first two pigs have been eaten by the wolf? The five little piggies didn’t have a choice… they were all destined for slaughter.

But the three little pigs… they made choices, and the two that made poor choices almost paid with their lives. Yet… sometimes, real-life echoes the fairy tale. Guess what; it’s not too late. If you’re reading this and realizing you’re metaphorically and presently inhabiting a flimsy house, it’s an easy fix; while building a brick house takes effort, choosing to inhabit one doesn’t… it’s as easy as booking a vaccine appointment.

It’s unfortunately looking a lot like the big bad wolf is going to be around for a while, and you never know when or where he’s going to make an appearance with his huffing and puffing. In which house do you want to be when he shows up?

March 16, 2021

As I’ve said before, instead of “Do unto others…”, I much prefer the subtle but distinctly different: “Don’t do unto others… as you’d have them not do to you.” In other words, don’t impose your crap on others… unless you’d be happy with them doing the same.

So… for those who keep screaming about their human rights with respect to masks, perhaps it’d be easier to shift in your mind the mask to something like a big cigar. A huge cigar, just to make it a little more offensive… one of those gigantic Cohibas that Fidel Castro used to smoke.

Now, imagine you, flaunting your anti-mask awesomeness, sitting in Starbucks, glaring at anyone that gets close to you, let alone tries to address your masklessness. Now imagine me… I wander in with my gargantuan cigar, puffing away, and sit down right next to you. You start screaming at me to get the hell away from you. In fact, obviously, the entire coffee shop, customers and baristas alike, are all yelling at me… “WTF do you think you’re doing!”, “Get the hell out of here!”, “Hey, that’s Cuban, there’s an embargo, I’m going to have you arrested for treason!”

First of all, this is Canada… so Cuban cigars are available everywhere… and let’s at least agree on something: That’s hardly the issue.

The issue is, I’m invading your space (and everyone else’s) with this foul stench that you find indescribably awful, toxic and unhealthy. Fair enough, many people can’t stand cigar smoke, and why should I have the right to exhale it all over you. In fact, there are laws protecting your rights specifically because it’s known that not only is it unpleasant for many people, but it’s also a health hazard. Appropriately, it’s banned in public spaces and it’s banned in private places to, to the extent that the owner of said private space is entitled to make their own rules.

We all agree that in my own private space, I can do whatever I want. I can sit on my deck and smoke cigars all day long, and nobody can do anything about it… nor should they able to… and nobody should care, either. It’s my business and it’s not hurting you and it’s not being imposed upon you. And if I invite you over, you’re free to stay… and perhaps enjoy your own cigar… or you’re free to leave. Can we please agree that you’re not entitled to tell me to put out my $40 cigar? My house, my rules. Starbucks’ house, Starbucks’ rules. SkyTrain’s house, SkyTrain’s rules too.

There’s a remarkable 11-minute video of a woman on the SkyTrain who refuses to wear a mask and refuses to leave the train. A policeman, very calmly and politely tries to explain this to her, repeatedly… certainly with more patience than I would… but, even so, it escalates to her assaulting the officer and getting arrested.

I am certainly at the point where I understand the fact that someone who, these days, is still refusing to wear a mask… is someone who will never wear one. So… it’s pretty simple. You stay away from me, and I’ll stay away from you. I don’t have the right to tell you to put on a mask, you say… well, in my home, I do. In my place of business, I do. And I have the right to tell you to go away if you don’t want to play by my rules.
This is a pretty good comparison. The difference is that we can all see and smell cigar smoke… so it’s blatantly obvious when it’s headed in your direction. Not so with tiny virus balls, but the fact we can’t see them doesn’t mean they might not be there…and you have the right to be protected from it. It might help people to understand the concept that a mask requirement is a bit like a no-smoking sign. Just like you can’t expect to smoke somewhere, because you may be breathing something dangerous on people… these days, for now, you might be doing exactly that and not know it. Doesn’t everyone else also have the right to be just as protected as you are?

I think so… and I’m not just blowing smoke here.

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March 15, 2021

Beware the Ides of March… happy March 15th. Indeed, one day after Pi Day comes Die Day… at least, that was the case for Julius Caesar who, on this day 2,064 years ago, quickly realized that unfortunately, sometimes even your best and loyal friends can literally stab you in the back.

It’s good that politics, at least around here, have evolved beyond that. The House of Commons would be quite a different place if that were still an accepted method of resolving disputes.

One dispute that continues to make some waves has to do with the AstraZeneca vaccine… the opinion of which seems to widen with each passing hour. More people vehemently say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, yet more and more countries continue to “cancel” it.

I wrote about it yesterday, so let’s update this evolving story. In Europe, 17 million people have received the AZ vaccine. 37 of them developed blood clots. That is 0.00022% of the population. One in 460,000 people. The typical European rate is actually significantly higher than that. I wonder if this story can turn a 180, where suddenly people realize that the AZ vaccine significantly lowers the risk of blood clots. I’m not a doctor, of course… just looking at the numbers. But that’s what they imply.

This is a great example of politics versus medicine. The science, the data, the everything battle tested says it’s safe; more than safe. The politicians who need to cover their asses always like to play it safe, so once those dominoes start falling, “the optics” dictate you need to follow suit. If eleven countries have decided to suspend it “out of an abundance of caution” (and to hell with the data, such as that analyzed and reported by the World Health Organization), and you’re the leader of the 12th nation, what are you going to do? Even as the scientists tell you… it’s fine, it’s ok, here’s the data… yeah, you’re going to cave. This is high-school peer pressure on a global level. Look around; everyone is putting up their hand. What was the question? Who cares, follow along, don’t look like the idiot.

Unfortunately, as I wrote about and am now believing more strongly by the hour, this might have a profound effect on what C19 looks like in the coming weeks in Europe.

Around here, as much as there are people who’d like to jab a dagger in Trudeau’s back, I applaud his resoundingly unambiguous statement endorsing the AZ vaccine, and I applaud the reliance on the suggestions coming from Health Canada – not the obscure political PR analyst firms in Ottawa.

Sunny day here in B.C…. and we get an extra hour of it… and, nicely trending numbers over the weekend. All of that pointing in the right direction.

March 15, 2021 Graph

December 30, 2020

Completely unrelated to everything… just a random thought.

While stereotypes often exist for a reason – there’s usually some fundamental tiny grain of truth to them and/or some origin that can be pointed to – I don’t really understand this “Karen” meme.

The name Karen has now come to imply the proto-typical entitled white woman with an attitude… the “I’d like to speak to the manager” Karen or the call-the-cops-on-someone-Black-for-no-reason Karen or, more recently, Coronavirus Karen who proudly won’t wear a mask in public, is anti-vaxx, and might even cough on you if you get too close.

With respect to the Karens (and Karins) I’ve known throughout my life (I counted 9), all of them have been (and continue to be) kind, caring, empathic and thoughtful people. Like, exceptionally so. Statistically, at least one of those nine should be this stereotypical “Karen”… but no, not in my case. On the flip side, I know exactly 4 people with a different same name who are all, coincidentally, awful people – for their own, individual reasons. That’s also statistically off the charts.

This got me thinking, and I went off hunting for the origins of this whole Karen thing… but there’s no real answer; only speculation. It might be from a bit comedian Dane Cook did in 2005. It might be from a scene in “Mean Girls”. It might be from some Reddit thread where a guy continually complained about his ex-wife Karen, to the extent entire new SubReddits were created for the specific content.

Just like attaching “-gate” to something implies scandal… locally, we’ve had Bingogate, Ferrygate, Robogate, Tunagate… Chrétien had his Shawinigate… the world has created hundreds of -gates over the years… all spawned after Nixon’s Watergate scandal… now we have lots of different Karens.

There was an actual hurricane named Karen in 2019. There was an actual woman in Australia named Karen recorded trying to tear down her neighbour’s Aboriginal Flag. Other than that, it’s just a label:

Permit Karen who called police on her Black neighbours installing a patio.

Whitefish Karen, arrested after intentionally coughing on people after being told to wear a mask.

Kroger Karen, who stood in front of a Black woman’s car to block her from leaving a Detroit grocery store parking lot while she called police to report… that the woman’s child had stood on a shelf to take down an item too high to reach.

San Francisco Karen, who called the police to report a Filipino man stenciling “Black Lives Matter” on a retaining wall… on his own property.

Bunnings Karen, who threatened to sue the hardware store Bunnings for requiring her to wear a mask.

So prolific has the term become, it’s made its way to men as well; Donald Trump has been called the “Karen in Chief” and Elon Musk was labelled “Space Karen” after a stupid Tweet.

Endless Karens.

Back in July, Domino’s in Australia ran a campaign… offering free pizza to all the “nice Karens”. It went OK in Australia, but it faced backlash in New Zealand… where the campaign was pulled and Domino’s had to apologize. The campaign itself got “Karen’d”.

More recently, in October, San Francisco passed an act to prohibit the fabrication of racially-biased emergency reports. It was named the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act.

It looks like the whole Karen thing is here to stay… which is unfortunate, especially for all the people named Karen/Karin/Karyn/Caryn/Caren and whatever other spelling I may have missed. Shoutout to all of you… I’m sure you’re all awesome people.

Well… most of you. Unless you’re an actual Karen.

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December 27, 2020

Here’s another word you may not have heard of… though it’s been very relevant this year, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The word is: Agnorant

Interestingly, the word has been around for a while… more than ten years. Somehow, I never heard it till recently… though I’ve been dealing with what it describes for a lot longer than that. We all have.

“Agnorant” is simply a combination of Arrogant and Ignorant… and wow, are there many examples, especially these days… and the primary topic-du-jour is vaccines, where, magically, thousands of people who’ve researched it (if research means sitting on the toilet scrolling through curated, nonsensical content) have decided they know more than real experts, and will happily and arrogantly shove down your throats the results of said research.

“Did you know the vaccine has mercury in it? Mercury is toxic… why would you knowingly inject yourself with something toxic?”

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, but just for fun, and especially if someone says that to you, here is the response:

“The mercury found in vaccines is in a compound called Thimerosal. Actually, the mercury component of that is itself a compound call ethylmercury… which the body has no problem eliminating quickly and efficiently. Unlike the mercury in fish, the accumulation of which can certainly be toxic, it’s not a concern in this case.

“But it still has mercury in it.”

“And table salt has Sodium, which on its own will kill you. And it has Chlorine, which on its own will kill you. But as a compound of Sodium Chloride, it’s salt. That’s the beauty of chemistry; they characteristics of elements change significantly when you combine them.”

“Yeah, that’s what they want you to think. That it’s safe, but I know it’s not. I read this whole thing about how Bill Gates is making billions off this vaccine. You’re just a brainwashed sheeple like the rest of them.”

“Sure. Also, the Covid-19 vaccines don’t have Thimerosal in them.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

If you’re reading this carefully, perhaps you caught the moment where it turned the corner from rational discussion to all-out conspiracy nonsense. But either way, the Agnorance is there.

The comments sections below many of these posts have some excellent Agnorant content… but then again, and all comments sections these days can say the same.

It’s been written… “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – actually, the poem by Alexander Pope begins like this:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring”

In other words, either know what you’re talking about, or shut the hell up.

Oops… sorry. That probably came across a little bit… agnorant.

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December 4, 2020

On level 200 at Rogers Arena, here in Vancouver where the Canucks play hockey, you will find a restaurant called the “Captains Room” which accordingly pays homage to the great captains of the team over the years. There, you’ll find names and pictures of Canucks legends like Kurtenbach, Smyl, Linden & Naslund. Canucks fans are nodding.

One Canucks captain who you won’t find up there, nor any trace of his existence anywhere in the building… is arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the game. It certainly helped Mark Messier that he played in Edmonton alongside Gretzky, Kurri, Coffey and other legends, but you have to hand it to the guy… numerous records, and 6 Stanley Cups… and the only player to ever captain two different teams to Stanley Cup victories.

Unfortunately, neither one of those were the Vancouver Canucks. In fact, here in Vancouver, where Messier spent a few years near the twilight of his career, the name Messier is on the same level as a certain Dark Lord from the Harry Potter series; his name should never be mentioned. Canucks fans are still nodding.

It’s a long story why… but the gist of it is that there exist certain ultra-exclusive clubs, and even those who are entitled to be members aren’t always welcomed with open arms.

One very exclusive club that’s about to get a new member in 46 days is perhaps the most exclusive one in existence. It only has 4 members at present, soon to be 5.

Its newest member will be Donald J. Trump, who was born in June of 1946. You know who else was born in 1946, less than a month later? George W. Bush. That’s quite a coincidence. And you know who was born a month after that? William J. Clinton.

That’s a remarkable coincidence… and those three 74-year-olds make up three fifths of still-living (soon-to-be) former presidents. The other two are Jimmy Carter (96) and Barack Obama (59). The fireside chats that would accompany the Scotch and cigars in that club’s reading room… just imagine. Three of those guys could just as easily be high-school buddies.

While the members of that club get together occasionally — for very special events – like, you know, presidential inaugurations, it’s likely that its newest member won’t make many appearances. And that’s probably just fine with the rest of them. The present members set aside politics ages ago. They all get along famously, as do their spouses. A legendary friendship is that of Michelle Obama and George W. Bush…. said to have begun the first time those two met. Michelle approached George with an apology… saying sorry for something that her husband, then president, had said about him. “Oh, shush”, replied Bush.

But Donald and Melania… yeah, I don’t see it. In fact, as we speak, those former presidents have banded together, in essence, against Trump. They’re taking over the reigns of what a president should be messaging during a pandemic. They’re urging people to wear masks, and leading by example. They’re urging everyone to get vaccinated. They’ve offered to do so in front of a camera.

And Biden has already signaled that in his first 100 days, masks will be federally mandated. That’s unlikely to change the minds of the hardened anti-maskers, but at least it’s the right message, one with which four fifths of that club agree.

Once he’s out of office, and before he probably goes to prison, Trump will have plenty of free time to do what he does when he’s not Tweeting nonsense: Golf. Not sure with whom he’ll be golfing, but it won’t be those former presidents.

But here’s an idea… I understand Mark Messier is a really good golfer. Those two should go out for a round or two… they’d have plenty to discuss, not the least of which is how easy it can be to be disliked by so many people.

December 1, 2020

How exactly does one go from a normal, rational, thinking and functioning human being… to a brainwashed zombie? There are a couple of recent examples that make it pretty clear. One is a slow descent, taking you from thinking critically to believing nonsense… and the other is more a perpetual, blunt instrument that just seeks to reinforce your embedded beliefs.

The first example is an email that’s been floating around for a while. It was sent to me, for the first time, over the summer. It’s landed in my inbox a few times since, the most recent being last week. And every time I’ve seen it, it’s a little bit different.

The email is titled something like “The Wisdom of Dr. Bonnie Henry”, and begins with a brief biography of who she is and her qualifications. That’s all good. Then it has a long list of her “wisdom”, some of which are certainly things Dr. Henry might say…  but also, there are things which she certainly hasn’t said, even though they may be sensible.  And then… there are other things that she hasn’t said at all, and which are complete nonsense, and then, finally, outright mis-informational lies.

If you’re a little challenged in the critical-thinking department and/or read things a little too quickly, you might just fall for the whole thing… it’s very-well crafted. Like if numbers 11, 12 & 17 on the list all make perfect sense, certainly number 15 must as well.

The first time I quickly skimmed it, I didn’t actually catch on to the bullshit until I hit this gem: “Wearing a mask for long periods interferes with your breathing and oxygen levels. Wear it only in crowds.” I can assure you; that is not true. I can also assure you that Dr. Henry would never say that.

As is the case with these sorts of emails, some people like to add their own wisdom. Top 10 lists become top 12, then top 15. Someone else throws in some crap without noticing they’re using a different font. Yet another person decides to merge the email with paragraphs from another, which already has been hacked and butchered into a mess that looks more like a dog’s breakfast than a coherent, useful document.

In fact, the last version of this Dr. Henry email had attached to it an entirely new email, one that had originated in the U.K. This one had its own version of good ideas (good handwashing, social distancing) and then, tucked nicely into the middle of it, this:

“The pH for corona virus varies from 5.5 to 8.5. All we need to do, to beat corona virus, we need to take more of an alkaline foods that are above the above pH level of the Virus.

Some of which are:

*Lemon – 9.9pH* *Lime – 8.2pH* *Avocado – 15.6pH* *Garlic – 13.2pH* *Mango – 8.7pH* *Tangerine – 8.5pH* *Pineapple – 12.7pH* *Dandelion – 22.7pH* *Orange – 9.2pH*”

I’ve reproduced that paragraph of colossal horseshit exactly as it appeared.

The issue is that it appeared in the middle of a bunch of very reasonable things… and this is how it happens; someone you trust innocently forwards you an email without quite realizing it’s not a simple, trustable email from a simple, trustable source. It’s a Frankenstein of words, sentences and paragraphs… and the whole thing comes alive to destroy susceptible minds. And this is what many people are calling “research”.

The second example… well, I can’t talk about spewing colossal amounts of horseshit without mentioning Donald Trump… who was interviewed a few days ago on Fox News by Maria Bartiromo. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to Maria… perhaps Fox News is the end-of-the-journey cesspool for all journalists who’ve run out of integrity. I recall watching her 25 years ago on CNBC, where her success allowed her to be the first reporter ever allowed onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during trading hours. She also did tough, well-prepared interviews with the leading CEOs of the day.

But her “interview” with Trump was ridiculous. She fed into his delusions, his lies, his nonsense… right from the opening bell. Her very first question was this:

“Mr. President, you have said many times that this election was rigged, that there was much fraud, and the facts are on your side. Let’s start there. Please go through the facts. Characterize what took place.”

That’s all Trump needed to launch into his usual election-fraud tirade. Like his usual Twitter storm of falsehoods, but live. And Maria’s response was, “This is disgusting. And we cannot allow America’s election to be corrupted. We cannot.”

This is not news, of course. It’s propaganda, and it’s pandering to the crowd. But Maria Bartiromo used to be a trusted journalist. She’s interviewing the president. She’s doing so on a network that’s ostensibly news. And if someone 10 years ago had shown me that interview, I’d probably have believed every word. It has all the pieces necessary for crafting a convincing “truth”. And Fox News, of course, does come up with real news once in a while… reports that are undeniably true. When you mix all that together… yeah, if this is what’s been feeding your “facts” for four years, it’s probably a lost cause trying to convince you otherwise.

The echo chambers of the media… whether print, broadcast or social… are vast, with plenty of room… and they will welcome you with open arms… as they’ve done with tens of millions of people.

December 1, 2020


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November 29, 2020

As the Trump presidency slowly comes to a sputtering halt, one lingering question in the “Now what?” department has to do with the forthcoming legal entanglements in which the soon-to-be-former-president will find himself.

To begin with, there is the idea that he’d pardon himself, but that’s far from trivial.

First of all, there’s the question of whether he can actually do that. There isn’t agreement on that point, but it doesn’t matter. That pesky issue can be easily sidestepped… just resign a few hours before noon on January 20th, swear-in Mike Pence for what would be the shortest presidency in history, and have him do it.

But that doesn’t really address the salient issue of pardoning him… which is, of what? Both Trump and his diehard minions have been telling us for years… it’s all smoke… no fire here… move along. That being the case, there’d be nothing to pardon. To some extent, they’re right. You can’t preemptively pardon someone for crimes they haven’t committed, nor admitted to, nor been charged with. There’s no blanket pardon he can grant for the future… “Just in case…” – it doesn’t work that way. So… for any of this to work, Trump would have to admit to the crimes for which he’s seeking a pardon. It’s a magnificent Catch-22.

A lingering question over the last several years has been about just how feasible it actually is to indict a sitting president, and where might those cases go. It seems nobody wanted to test those waters, so it’s been a holding pattern for four years. There were rumours before the 2016 election of what was coming down the line… that, had Trump lost the election, new charges and allegations would’ve been forthcoming. All of that was put on hold.. except there has been an additional four years of opportunity to investigate.

For decades, Donald Trump was synonymous with New York. His real-estate projects, his towers, his skating rink, his reality show, his presence… everywhere. You may have noticed Trump has significantly soured on New York, and the same can be said vice-versa. Trump has made it clear he’ll be moving to Florida and that he’s done with New York. Donald Trump may be done with New York, but New York certainly isn’t done with him. Waiting in the wings, there may be both civil and criminal charges. Trump has been under investigation by both the Manhattan District Attorney and the New York State Attorney General. There are also the numerous allegations of sexual assault. There are lingering tax questions. From civic to state to federal… and from civil to criminal, Trump may be facing a wall of legal problems.

And, with all of that in mind, it’s important to note… presidents can only pardon federal crimes. Nothing at the state level and nothing at the civic level.
A lot of people want their day in court, and many of them will get their wish… in what order, who knows… but I suspect the afternoon of January 20th, 2021 will be a busy one for the filing clerks.

Traditionally, after the new president is sworn in, the former president gets a helicopter ride from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, and from there, one final ride in Air Force One… to wherever he wants to go. Right around the time a flurry of lawsuits are being filed, Trump will be boarding that plane. The flight plan will already have been filed, but you can always file more than one, just in case… and perhaps, right at that point, he’ll have a difficult decision to make. I wonder if he’ll have on him a little list of alternates… some welcoming places around the world that don’t have extradition treaties… maybe China? No. Russia? Nah. Qatar and the UAE are not unreasonable choices… you can live very well there if you have money.

Or, Georgia. The country… not the state.

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