February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The symbol of the day is, of course, hearts. Big, red… and/or fluffy and/or chocolate-filled and/or arrow crossed – hearts. We all know what Valentine’s Day looks like.

Funny thing, symbols… how they come into existence and what they mean to people and how, sometimes, they get co-opeted for nefarious means and ruined forever.

There is an ancient Sanskrit symbol used to convey good wishes and well-being that was very popular until relatively recently. You could find it on Coca-Cola bottles. You could find it on bottles of Carlsberg. Even the Boy Scouts used it, and, in fact, the Girls’ Club of America named their magazine after it. Closer to home, many hockey teams named themselves after it and used it as their logo.

The pictures of those teams, though… are all in black and white because all of the above preceded World War II. At that point, the symbol was seized-upon by the Nazis, and the rest, as well as the symbol itself, is history. In common parlance, the swastika has been “canceled” and, unlike some celebrities who manage to claw their way back from permanent exile – for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger – the swastika Won’t Be Back.

For decades, especially after the aforementioned World War, the Canadian Flag has been a world-wide symbol of awesomeness. If you’ve ever backpacked through Europe, hopping from hostel to hostel, you’ll understand the warmth with which you’re received when they see that flag, especially in places like Holland.

Around here, Canadian flags being waved loudly in the streets has always been in celebration. If you’d told me a few months ago that there’d be huge screaming crowds waving flags and dancing in the streets in early February, I certainly would’ve assumed it was sports-related; perhaps because the Canadian women once again won Olympic gold… and/or the men… and/or our national soccer team qualified for the World Cup… that sort of thing. But then you throw in the swastikas and the violence and the “F🍁ck Trudeau” flags and, suddenly, it looks quite different.

I categorically refuse to allow what’s going on these days to tarnish the meaning of our flag and our Maple Leaf. I recognize that the symbolism and what’s behind it isn’t flawless; I certainly recognize that Canada Day is far from something to celebrate for some populations of Canada, but that’s our internally inward-facing problem to acknowledge and respect and make right. Nobody else’s.

So, back to the question… who exactly has seized upon the moment to tarnish our image, both inward and outward-facing, to suit their own particular agenda?

The big news a few hours go was that there was a data leak; that the spreadsheet of all of the truck convoy donors was stolen. Indeed, that happened… and I’ve managed to get a hold of it (don’t ask).

There’s a lot to learn from all that data, but here are the broad brushstrokes:

– around 90,000 individual donors totaling more than $8 million (USD)

– the majority of donors were American (58.8% US vs. 41.2% CA)

– the top donor, a donation of $90,000, came from an American billionaire who’s well known for backing Republican causes

– there were around 50 American donations of $1,000 or more, as opposed to around 150 Canadian donations of $1,000 or more

– the lower the donation amount, the more the quantity seems to skew towards Americans. Like, of donations over $10, there were 46,700 US vs. 35,100 CA. Of donations less than $10, Americans “outweighed” Canadians 5 to 1. In other words, there’s a relatively small group of Canadians who’ve seized upon this “seriously” and have thrown some bigger money at it. The majority of the rest of it comes from down south.

Who the hell are these thousands of Americans throwing $5 or $10 towards this? The answer is pretty obvious, but for those who don’t get it or don’t want to get it, I’ll spell it out for you… it’s the same mindset as the $90k guy at the top, who are interested in pushing their own agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic or freedom or whatever else. If you’ve ever wondered who’d ever come into Canada pushing agendas with respect to more guns, less abortions, even fewer vaccines and no masks – it’s these guys.

I’m well aware there are people reading this thinking hell yeah! That’s what we want!

Well… I’ll tell you what: If that’s what you want, go right ahead and do your part trying to vote it in. After all, this is a democracy… and if that’s what most people want, they’ll eventually vote it in and get it.

However, the last thing anyone around here should be welcoming is meddling from the outside. Americans, in general, are notorious for jumping borders and imposing their will. They’re our closest neighbour and biggest trading partner and ally, I know… but I’ve always been a big fan of the 49th parallel and what it’s managed, both physically and spiritually, to keep in and out. America has plenty to offer, but it should always be up to us what we take… because America is also well-known for, after imposing their will, washing their hands of it, walking away, and leaving a huge mess, having achieved whatever it was that they were after. Most countries for whom that’s happened might not have seen it coming. Here, it’s staring us in the headlights. Can we please not let that happen?

If you’re the sort of American that’s happy to share your Super Bowl commercials and commercialized Valentine’s Day, great! Thank you… those of us who want that will take it. I’ll admit to being a fan of at least one of those things.

But if you’re the sort of American who wants to shove their agenda down our throats for your personal benefit, and to hell with us and our symbols and our flags and whatever else we may hold dear… well, I do say this is the most respectful and polite and Canadian way I can: F🍁ck off.

February 9, 2022

It wasn’t so long ago that marijuana was illegal. Back then, smoking up in public could get you arrested. Not to mention possession, distribution, operating a little grow-op, and so on. There was an exception to all of that, though… and it occurred exactly once a year, on April 20th. On that day, 4/20, at precisely 4:20pm, a lot of people (far more than 420) would congregate on the lawn (yes, back when it was, appropriately, grass) of the Vancouver Art Gallery… and get high together.

Not everyone there partook; many were there just to be part of it because they agreed with the message, and/or had some role to play. There were cops, reporters, curious bystanders, merchants peddling their associated wares, confused tourists, and so on. The whole thing seems to have lost its edge once pot became legal, but in its day, there was plenty to celebrate for those who cared.

One thing that never happened was the whole thing getting out of hand, or hijacked for an ulterior motive. Maybe an arrest or two for some drunk idiot, but, for the most part, what else can you expect from a large group of stoners. It’s all mellow; it’s all good man. One big, eclectic group of people, all relatively on the same page. Indeed, you can tell a lot about a group of people by looking at not just them, but those who associate with them.

Which brings us to the events of recent days… events we’re not done with quite yet.

I find it sad – tragically sad – that the incredibly divisive left/right black/white right/wrong paradigm that’s been ripping apart the core of the U.S. since 2016 has managed to jump the 49th.

I’m saddened to see so many people whose opinions have made sense to me for two years have a strange course-correction when it comes to the truckers and protests… falling into that sinkhole where you stuck a toe in, then you went a bit deeper, and now it’s too late to remove yourself… but you’d rather get totally soaked and maybe even drown before you might admit you’re wrong.

So… let’s rewind a bit: A lot of us, and by a lot of us I mean everyone – is sick and tired of this pandemic. We all just want to go back to normal. Let’s not get into why we’re not there yet; let’s just agree we all want that to happen.

So… you hear there’s going to be a protest against what you imagine is the bad guy; sure. Go protest. It’s your privilege to do so. Then, when you get there, you realize perhaps there’s more going on here than you imagined.

Pause button for moment with respect to the makeup of that crowd; many of them are imported and jumping on the bandwagon. There’s no version of “Canada versus the virus” that needs to involve Confederate flags and Nazi symbolism, and yeah, I know also… those people don’t speak for you. I get that too… but here’s a concept for you: If you’re sitting at a table with 9 other people, and then a Nazi sits down… watch to see who gets up. Because if nobody does, now you’re sitting at a table with 11 Nazis. Yeah, yeah, I get it… they don’t speak for you. But here’s a concept for you; by not getting up from the table, you’re speaking for *them*. There was actively one; now there is passively many more.

Why exactly are a bunch of (mostly) unwanted people showing up to what ostensibly should be a peaceful Canadian rally? You’re just there to simply (and loudly) state you’re tired of mandates. So, what’s the big deal?

Let’s answer that question a little differently, for those saying that bandwagon-jumpers don’t count.

Let’s set aside for a moment the people desecrating the tomb of the unknown soldier… what’s the big deal… it’s just a couple of idiots. They don’t speak for us.

Let’s set aside the people draping crap on top of a statue of the greatest Canadian of them all, Terry Fox… what’s the big deal? And anyway, Terry Fox himself would probably be out here dancing with us, as Canadian as he was. Actually, he wouldn’t, because he lived the heroic final days of his life raising money for science – as we all know, scientific research to cure cancer. He embraced medical science till the day he died, and countless lives have been saved with research directly funded by his legacy. But let’s set that aside for a moment.

Let’s set aside the violence, the homophobic signs, and the blocked traffic, the relentless noise. Let’s set aside the intimidation of journalists, hotel managers, medical workers and baristas. Let’s set aside the people stealing from soup kitchens. Let’s set aside the guys who tried to set an apartment building on fire and blocked the exits.

Jeez… we’re excusing an awful lot of deplorable behaviour, eh. Oh well… all in the name of freedom.

Let’s get back to 4/20, and here’s a great question: Do you know what some other people celebrate on 4/20? It’s not just “get high” day… it also happens to be Hitler’s birthday. Countless white supremacist facist assholes love that day. And I’ve always wondered why they never take the opportunity to march to the “lawn” of the Art Gallery and let their presence be known. There’s a captive crowd there, partying it up… they’d fit right in and yell and scream and party alongside everyone else.

Except, of course, they wouldn’t. As stoned as all of those people may be, they’re West-coast easy-going love-your-neighbour type people who are pretty clear what they believe in, and they wouldn’t put up with it. As stoned as they are, they’d beat the ever-living shit out of those skinheads. The stoners would literally stone them.

And all of this is why I’m more than a little disturbed by what’s going on.

All of you who support these rallies… here’s a question for you: Once all the mandates are lifted and whatever else they purport to be protesting is no longer a fight, then what? What will you say to the ongoing disruption of life caused by a fringe who’s here with their own agenda, one that has absolutely nothing to do with yours?

The problem is that they’re using your well-intentioned cry for normality (and please, do not call it freedom; let’s not go there) – and using it to show themselves and each other and the alt-whatever fringe of society that hey, they all agree with us. They speak for us too. We’re welcome here.

They’re not welcome here; certainly not by me, and, I should hope, not by you either. There’s a very big difference between “We’re tired of the pandemic” and what we’ve seen recently… a shitstorm that’s not going to be going away any time soon.

It’s time to take a big step back and understand what’s actually going on here… and not allow ourselves to get dragged into some post-pandemic/pre-apocalpyptic nightmare of divisiveness that we seem to be imposing on each other… and which has absolutely nothing to do with our actual shared values that make up Canada – the actual and real True North Strong and Free.

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?

May 2, 2021

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

That’s perhaps the most famous opening line of any novel – “A Tale of Two Cities”.

Charles Dickens was talking about London and Paris… but today I’m going to write about a tale of two provinces… B.C. and Alberta… which these days are about as different as those two cities during the French Revolution. It’s interesting though… you read that paragraph, and you might find yourself relating it to present day. It fits.

Here at the 7-day daily new-case averages for the two provinces:

four weeks ago: AB 1,221 / BC 1,122
three weeks ago: AB 1,413 / BC 1,041
two weeks ago: AB 1,573 / BC 942
last week: AB 1,870 / BC 818

You don’t need to graph it to see the pattern, but I’ll describe what it looks like… it’s a big less-than sign (“ < ”) … where AB is going up and BC is going down. As usual, we don’t have weekend numbers here, so tomorrow we’ll get some idea where things are going… but it should be noted we’re entering the period of time where the effects of the latest set of restrictions should start becoming evident. I would expect things to follow this pattern of improvement… or, at least, be no worse. But that’s just here in B.C. There’s no large English-Channel-like body of water between these provinces… there’s barely a border… that you might miss if you’re going too fast and blink at the wrong time. And we’re certainly not at war. We want both sides to win. I hope they figure out and take the steps necessary to control things; it’s a tough spot to be in… and it’s a bumpy ride to the finish. But it’s not as bumpy as the end of that fine book, where the protagonist, Carton, is having some final thoughts as he heads towards the guillotine… “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” That’s a little extreme. Then again, he was about to go get his head cut off. If you wanted to map that closing line to the present day, let’s keep it simple… do, as usual, the right thing… and then get a good night’s sleep.

March 11, 2021

Like many things, it depends how you look at it… and that generally leads to a bit of disagreement.

I happened to be reading a news story about a cassette tape that a girl lost while on vacation in Spain. Twenty years later, she saw it in an art gallery, part of a “Sea of Artifacts” exhibit by an artist who’d been documenting plastic pollution and making art out of it.

The girl contacted the artist, and the tape was sent to a professional audio restorer who managed to extract all of the music from it – an eclectic collection ranging from Shaggy and Bob Marley to a bunch of Disney numbers.

So, what’s the story?

Is it about the variety in musical taste of some random 12-year old girl?

Is it about serendipity, synchronicity and the universe?

Is it about the resilience of cassettes? It’s impressive; lost at sea for 20 years, travelling 1,200 miles in rough, salty seas… and it’s still playable. The inventor of the cassette tape died recently (aged 94) – I’m sure he was impressed.

Is it about how plastic is so ridiculously indestructible that we really need to be aware of what we’re dumping into the ocean?

Like usual, it depends who you ask and it depends on their agenda. Today, on the one-year anniversary of the WHO declaring Covid-19 a global pandemic, I’m thinking back to all the news I’ve heard, read and written… the spins I’ve muddled through myself, trying to figure out what’s really going on.

Today, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a bit of relaxation in restrictions… outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed. Also, today, I should point out that our case numbers and ICU admissions are flat… or, keep going up, though not by rates that anyone would call alarming.

It’s been like this from the beginning; somewhat conflicting information that’s left up to interpretation. If you already know the agenda you’re trying to promote, you’ll be able to extract it from there.

I will keep it simple, and this is, as always, only my opinion… outdoor gatherings are probably fine, totally fine. They have been, for a while. Ten people sounds about right, officially, but what does that even mean… if you take over a football field, why not 100. The issue is don’t get too close to someone, and not for too long. You chances of inhaling a lethal viral dose of C19 are next to zero if you’re outdoors. But rules need to be defined, especially because the numbers are not going down… because as straightforward as the rules are, they’re generally not being followed by a significant number of people, and that plays into the math. If 95% of the people stick to the rules and 5% don’t, what can we expect? What if it’s 80/20? What if it’s 50/50?

Once you factor all of that into it, these haphazard-sounding decisions suddenly don’t feel so random or unexpected; they’re not. Like life, it’s all a calculated risk… and the path that’s evident now is one where the numbers don’t get worse, but stay flat or slide downward toward zero… while at the same time slowly and methodically reducing restrictions. It makes sense, though everyone will grab onto the story from different sides and pull in their direction… “numbers aren’t improving”, “see, why did we ever need restrictions”, “I told you it’s ok to get together outside”, “ICU cases keep rising”.

Here’s a generalized suggestion to every single person: Keep doing what you’re doing; we’re all headed in the right direction collectively… you do you, I’ll do me, and we will all eventually hit the finish line. Nobody knows what that percentage split is, but it doesn’t matter… whatever it is, it’s working for us now. If you’ve been sticking to the rules, keep doing so. If you haven’t, I’m sure you won’t start now. And hopefully, that’s all factored into this and it doesn’t matter.

No matter how you look at it, I’m sure we can agree on that.

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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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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 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 4, 2020

Yogi Berra liked to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over”. The more sophisticated version of the same saying is… “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”.

That not-so-PC saying is referring to Brünnhilde, — usually cast as plus-sized soprano — who, after 15 hours of opera (German composer Richard Wagner’s “The Ring”, a 4-part mini-series) has a 20-minute dramatic finale before finally (and spectacularly) burning to death. A somewhat appropriate finale for whatever happens next.

And a somewhat appropriate comparison in that Richard Wagner actually has a lot in common with Donald Trump… numerous affairs, horribly in debt, and terribly racist. Hitler was a big fan. Trump might be as well, though I don’t get the impression that the president gets out to many operas.

So no, it’s not over, though it’s trending against Trump at the moment, and, as expected, he is fiercely lashing out, trying to hold on to the presidency. It was interesting to hear the commentary on CNN late last night, just before Trump spoke, the CNN panelists speculating on what Trump might or might not say. Do you think he’d actually come and question the integrity of the election? Do you think he’d threaten lawsuits? And do you actually think he’d come out and claim victory?

Come on… after four years of this, how can you even discuss it? Of course Trump came out, and did exactly all of that… and even threw out that he’d get the Supreme Court involved.

You know what… I hope he does. I hope he tries, anyway… because one of two things would happen. The first, and by far the likeliest, is that the SCOTUS will tell him to go to hell. Go away with your frivolous nonsense. Every single vote will be counted, period. And that would be a powerful and appropriate send-off to the man who, for four years, tried to stack that court in his favour. Forget the right-wing conservative-leaning court he left in place; he doesn’t care about that. He cares about himself, and counted on these people to save him. And they won’t. Or, at least, they shouldn’t. It would be a final and decisive goodbye, even after the near-corrupt and very hypocritical installation of the latest associate justice.

Or… once again, Trump fools us all and gets the SCOTUS on his side; these jurists who have spent their entire lives upholding the constitution suddenly chucking it all away for Trump. This is exceedingly unlikely, but it’s what would have to happen to somehow declare all votes after midnight invalid in Wisconsin and/or Michigan, but keep counting in places he needs… like Arizona. Of course, none of it makes any sense, but in that scenario… you’d have a corrupt president propped-up by a corrupt court. You’d have a corrupt Executive Branch, propped-up by a corrupt Judicial Branch… which would render the Legislative Branch useless. And at that point, I would agree you’d have to tear-up the constitution, because the U.S. as we’ve all known it is done. Then you start from scratch, once you’ve figured out how to get rid of King Trump; it’d be a nasty civil war because, like it or not, the military would be on his side. Some of them, anyway.

By the way, don’t think this doesn’t happen… the citizens of Chile very recently voted – with an overwhelming majority of 78% — to tear-up their constitution and re-write it.

The thing is… the Chilean constitution they’re replacing was created in 1980 by a military dictator. The new one will be written by committee, pretty much like the American one was written (and has worked quite well ever since) 231 years ago.

Biden is close… but it ain’t over. I can assure you, if Biden loses, he will smile, wave, and fade into obscurity, a long political career done. If Trump loses, he will not go away so quietly… and that’s where things get ugly… but, for everyone’s sake, I would certainly hope that even the most ardent Trump supporters, and his fellow Republicans… Pence, McConnell, etc… would respect the democratic process and support the result, whatever it turns out to be, including shutting down their irrational leader. If he’s voted out, smile, wave, and go face the music that awaits you. The voting wasn’t corrupt. The process wasn’t compromised. The United States constitution isn’t the problem.

It might take a lot of people and a coordinated effort to execute another well-known saying:

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”

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October 29, 2020

An excellent scene in one of my favourite movies, “The Princess Bride” involves one guy continually using the word “inconceivable” … and another guy eventually saying to him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

But the word we’re going to discuss isn’t that one… the word of the day is “freedom”.

Americans seem to think they have a monopoly on “freedom”. Hey guys… up here – we’re free too, you know. In fact, of the 206 recognized sovereign nations, the vast majority are also free.

On the list of countries that are not so free, you’ll find places like China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela… places that are perpetually in the news, often for the wrong reasons, and that’s why perhaps we never hear about the rest of the world. Uruguay? Bulgaria? Mongolia? They all have their own problems to navigate, like any other sovereign nation… but their people are free, by whatever definition you want to apply. But perhaps since the U.S. isn’t meddling in their affairs, you never hear about them.

Somewhere along the line, the meaning of “freedom” has lost its way, especially by those who’ve never experienced the lack thereof. Anyone who’s been born and lived all their lives in the U.S. (and Canada), no matter how old they are, has never lived under a government that didn’t offer them freedom. Yet even today, more than half the world’s population lives without the basic freedoms we all take for granted.

It’s hard to put it in terms for people who’ve never experienced it, so let’s compare it to something relatable.

I’m old enough to remember well when smoking was ubiquitous. Ten-hour airplane flights so full of smoke you couldn’t even see the screen of the movie playing 20 rows ahead. Tiny no-smoking areas in restaurants, if any. Everyone smoked back then, whether directly or second-hand.

When smoking bans were proposed, there was a huge uprising… and the word freedom was thrown around a lot. It’s my right, it’s my freedom, all the bullshit arguments you can imagine. And it goes back to what I said yesterday; nobody wants to infringe on anyone’s rights. You want to smoke at home? As long as the smoke doesn’t bleed into someone else’s space, go right ahead. You want to smoke alone in the middle of nowhere, go right ahead. You want to smoke in a crowded boardroom because it relaxes you and helps you gather your thoughts? Too bad. Because what you feel you’re entitled to is not as important as other people’s health and comfort. Go outside.

Yes, you will be inconvenienced and perhaps feel offended… but everything about that situation is up to you. You are free to make those choices. And if you still want to scream about rights and freedoms, perhaps a little history lesson… or perhaps, just a present-day history lesson… of people who can’t leave where they are, can’t say what they want to say, aren’t free to participate in the religion or partnership they wish to pursue. *That* is a lack of freedom. Not you having to step outside to smoke where it doesn’t bother anyone else. There’s no issue of freedom there. That’s just part of living in a civilized society that’s decided that the harm inflicted by cigarette smoke is not something anyone has the right to impose on someone else.

Similarly, can we just cut the crap with masks and freedom? It’s not the end of your world to act responsibly for the benefit of us all. You’re not being deprived of some fundamental right, unless you feel that putting others at risk is something to which you’re entitled. This is temporary and this is necessary.

I’m well aware that there are people who’ll read this and still not get it, tossing aside the science and common sense. So just get this…. shut the hell up already with claiming someone is infringing on your rights. Nobody is making you wear a mask when it’s not called for. Smoke at home. Cough and sneeze at home to your heart’s content. But while there’s a virus going around that threatens us all, simply do your part. If you’re around other people, do what’s asked… or, just don’t be around other people.

See how easy that is? You *are* free – free to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s basic rights. I have the right not to inhale your cigarette smoke. I have the right not to inhale your Covid-19. I would hope for most people, this is pretty clear… though I’m also very clear that for a lot of people, this is… inconceivable.

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