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.

November 27, 2020

If you haven’t already seen “The Queen’s Gambit”, you probably have a lot of people telling you that you should… and they’re right. It’s really, really good. You probably know that it’s about chess, but, like chess itself, it’s about a lot more.

The basics of chess are easy to learn; anyone can learn how the pieces move in less than 10 minutes. But then you spend a lifetime trying to move them well. I’m happy that series came into this household… I only wish it’d been at the start of this pandemic. There would’ve been a lot more quality screen time in those early days.

It was funny… a few nights ago, to hear my son yell for me… “Dad! Help!” – I ran over there… what, is the room on fire? No… he was on chess.com, playing against some guy in Russia, and found himself in a precarious position, not quite sure what to do because he thought he was about to lose his queen. That’s quality father/son time right there, ganging up to beat some Russian in chess. Right on.

I get the impression that Donald Trump wouldn’t be a very good chess player, and here’s why I think that: Chess requires you to think a few moves ahead, and if you can’t do that, you have zero chance of success. Just like in life, if you lead it in such a way that’s entirely reactionary – stimulus/response, stimulus/response… you’re going to have a tough go of it. That lifestyle works well for single-celled organisms, but our real world is a lot more complicated than a paramecium needing to navigate a petri dish. And in chess, if every time you move a piece it gets taken… and then you stare at the board wondering how that could’ve happened… well, you’re doing it wrong.

The stimulus/response pattern of the soon-to-be-former-president is something I guess we’ve gotten used to over the last four years, but now that he’s on his way out, it’s a little more pathetic than it used to be.

Actually, at the start, it was far from pathetic; it was frightening, with real-world consequences.

Early in the presidency, Trump was watching TV and saw something… and then Tweeted about how the new Air Force One is too expensive, and “Cancel Order!” There’s a lot of misinformation in that Tweet to begin with, but the immediate response was a sharp drop in Boeing’s stock price. It recovered quickly when people realized the president didn’t know what he was talking about, but the damage was done, and it was a good indication that this guy shoots from the hip and doesn’t really consider the implications. Much bigger and broader shooting from the hip was his unilateral and unexpected Muslim travel ban. Never mind that it violated the first amendment, the fifth amendment, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act… who cares. You can see Trump, with his infallible logic… Muslim = Terrorist, Terrorist = Bad, Banning Bad is good… what’s the problem? No need to consider the consequences. We all remember the chaos that resulted, and how much effort it took to resolve it.

But these days, with only 53 days, 15 hours and 57 minutes (but who’s counting) left in his presidency, his shooting from the hip holds little clout. Now, it’s the same old baseless nonsense, and none of it is surprising to hear. I honestly thought he might have some surprises waiting in the wings, but… nothing. Like an awful chess player, he telegraphed ahead everything he had planned. He called the election a fraud before it even took place, threatened he had lawyers in place ready to challenge it, and, as a result, everyone was ready for it. He served up exactly what was expected.

Of course, there was no wide-spread fraud, and the “superstar” team of lawyers who were happy to say “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to him in person, and who were happy to take his money… most of them bailed before making complete fools of themselves. Those that stuck it out longer faced serious admonition from judges who were not happy to see their court’s time wasted with this nonsense, especially when the stakes were so high. Vague handwaving and unfounded, grandiose statements don’t work well in a court of law. Case after case was thrown out, some of them angrily.

At a recent press conference, Donald Trump was repeatedly asked if he was going to concede. His long-winded answers of irrelevant bullshit and false claims were exactly what we’ve grown accustomed to. He never answered the question, which of course, in itself, is the answer.

If this were a chess match, he’d be the king, pretty much left all alone. All that’s left of his colour is the king itself… and a few pawns. The other side has more than it needs… the queen, a rook or two, a knight or two. A bishop. Perhaps a few pawns. Perhaps 80 million pawns. Whatever.

In 53 days, 15 hours and 57 minutes, his Tweets will go from presidential and influential… to those from just another right-wing conspiracy-theory-believing nut-job. Right now, he could be Tweeting about how maybe masks aren’t such a bad idea. How maybe a little social distancing wouldn’t hurt. Will he do that? Of course not.

And during that time, more than 5 million Americans will become infected with C19, and more than 100,000 will die. And, after all of that, Donald Trump, the former president, will have the rest of his life to think about what he did, what he didn’t do, and what a mess he left behind. Maybe he can think about it while he’s sitting in prison, where he belongs… and where there isn’t much else to do.

Well, I guess he could always take up chess.

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November 23, 2020

One might be a fluke, but two implies some consistency… and three pretty-much says, “lock” – and that is where we’re at with respect to vaccines.

Another announcement this morning from yet another vaccine manufacturer, this one from AstraZeneca, showing an average efficacy of 70%, but going up to 90%, depending on the dosage. Regulators from the FDA and Europe will be having a look at it soon.

From a timeline point of view, the two frontrunners, Pfizer and Moderna… may have their vaccines hitting the streets in the last two weeks of December, assuming the present timeline and FDA approval (set to be discussed Dec. 10th). Pfizer expects to make 50 million doses by the end of the year (and up to 1.3 billion next year). Moderna will have 20 million doses ready this year. Who will get it first? Mostly Americans, I would expect… and, honestly, they need it.

That great American Founding Father Patrick Henry proclaimed, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” back in 1775. Americans, known for wanting it all, are taking those words to heart… potentially changing the “or” to an “and”.

Over the weekend, over 3 million people passed through security checkpoints in American airports. Something like one in 111 Americans travelled on a plane in the last 48 hours, the majority on their way home for Thanksgiving, where they will mingle in close quarters for several hours if not days… before boarding those same planes and heading back to wherever.

The timing with “vaccines vs. the virus” will be interesting… and will be the grand crescendo of 2020. In fact, let’s call it for a specific day – Dec 20th, 2020, precisely one month before Donald Trump exits, stage left. On that day, many places in the U.S. will be facing a catastrophic and unmanageable surge in cases, with hospitals completely overwhelmed. And right alongside that, there will be the knowledge that the vaccine is out there, and “How the hell do I get my hands on it?!”

The amusing-if-it-weren’t-so-tragic part of it will be the conspiracy spin… from those people who for the better part of a year have been claiming it’s a hoax and it’s all bullshit… who will now be screaming that only the elite have access to it and how come we don’t all get it, like, *now*, and it’s my right to have a vaccine… my *constitutional* right as part of the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Clearly a vaccine fits into that. Like, you know, I don’t want a vaccine, I don’t need a vaccine, vaccines are for crowd control, vaccines are to murder us, Bill Gates, 5G, etc, etc… *BUT*, even so, if I want a vaccine, I should be able to get one. OK.

Keep your seatbelts securely fastened… the roller-coaster has just begun that big downhill. This is the part where you can put your hands up in the air and scream… or just hold on for dear life. Like I keep saying, there’s a finish line… but it’s going to be a wild ride getting there.

Graph for November 23, 2020

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November 20, 2020

In hindsight, there was plenty to learn from Donald Trump’s nomination of the first (of his three) Supreme Court Justices. Before Barrett and Kavanaugh, there was Gorsuch.

This was very early into his presidency, and the announcement was to be like no other. Trump wanted a full-on reality-TV moment. Had he had his way, it would’ve been like a Bachelor/Bachelorette-like Rose Ceremony – held in the White House Rose Garden, of course – where Trump would’ve had his three finalists standing there, and with some great drama – heck, perhaps even by handing them a Rose – revealed to the world his choice. One of the other two, Tom Hardiman, was actually on his way to Washington for the “ceremony” until an insider reached out and told him something like, “Dude, bail… this is bullshit.”

Trump still made the best of it. He had Gorsuch and his wife hidden away, in a hallway. Trump made it all about himself, as usual, and after his magnanimous speech, finally had Tom Gorsuch, and his wife, emerge… to the thunderous applause so that he, Trump, could take credit for his awesome selection. “What is going on?”, asked some people. “This is going to be fun!”, said some others.

The astonishing reality show is exactly two months away from cancellation. Many of the actors have already moved on, some trying to distance themselves from the negative reviews, to find new shows. Some are holding on, hoping for a sequel. They will soon be bitterly disappointed. Nobody is picking this up for another 4-year run.

The problem, of course, is that the star of the show doesn’t want to go away, and it’d be funny were it not so tragic. His pathetic attempts of “They love me! They really love me!” aren’t going to take him anywhere.

Yet – and this is where it gets very serious – every single hour that goes by, with this petulant child-actor’s attitude of “If I lose, we all lose”, people are dying. The studio needs to reconfigure for the next 4 seasons, but they can’t, because the soon-to-be-former star won’t hand over the keys. He just makes lame and baseless excuses. How appropriate it was for Giuliani to be holding that almost-final press conference in the parking lot of a Four Seasons. Not the elegant hotel, of course, but the kind of Four Seasons operation the specializes in shoveling manure, exactly what his BFF/client has been doing for four long seasons.

It’s far too late to restore the tarnished image in which Trump has enveloped himself, but like any good show or series, some people just remember the end. The last 10 minutes of the last episode. And here we are, and Trump could actually make a difference. With now literally nothing else left to lose as president, he could at least leave it with a bit of a swan song… and invoke a federal mask policy. It would upset a lot of his core. It would also save tens of thousands of lives. It’s sad – tragic – that he won’t.

Closer to home, we *do* have a new mask policy, and whether you agree with it or not, how about you just do it? We can discuss it next year, whether it was as right as I said or as wrong as you said… because we both agree we’d like to get to next year, and we’d also like everyone around us, especially those we care deeply about, to get there as well. Yes, you might be young and healthy, and maybe this won’t affect you… notwithstanding a recent death here in BC was an otherwise-healthy man in his 30s… he and some co-workers tested positive. The co-workers all had mild symptoms, but the unfortunate victim got it much worse… and the point is, that even if you think you’re immortal, you have friends and family who are older, immunocompromised and/or simply as unlucky as that guy whose friends, family and co-workers still can’t believe it.

Outbreaks can happen anywhere, but the serious ones we hear about are care homes, which of course are populated with the people who are at highest risk… and it’s within those walls that infections can spread like wildfire. Tabor Home, a long-term care facility in Abbotsford had 4 cases (two staff, two residents) two weeks ago. Today, it’s over 100. How did that happen…?

There are more of you out there than you think… that have this virus. Eighty percent of you will never even know it… yet, for a while, you were just as infectious as anyone else… and somewhere along the line… while not wearing a mask and/or being too close to someone else, you passed it along… and so on and so on. Breaking those chains of transmissions is what it’s all about, and far more of us are potential links in that chain… that inevitably end at someone who is unable to fight it off. Once it enters an environment like a care-home, it hits hard.

If you think wearing a mask or not getting together socially or not travelling isn’t to your benefit, think about others… because your irresponsibility could literally kill someone else. Think about them… some elderly resident of a care home… whose life is worth far more than your irresponsible little maskless get-together. The get-together can wait. That elderly resident is also waiting… for a hug from their grand-daughter. Do your part to make sure that eventually happens.

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