May 1, 2021

Today is the Kentucky Derby, so while horse racing is on my mind, let me tell you about a certain match race.

A match race is quite simply a race between exactly two horses. Always very exciting, because they’re relatively rare. There’s usually between 5 and 20 horses in a race, not 2.

Mike Smith is a very-well-known hall-of-fame jockey. A tough, ragged and talented guy who’s ridden some of the best horses in the last 30 years.

Chantal Sutherland is a Canadian model, TV personality… and jockey. She’s been in in Sports Illustrated, Vogue, and has been one of People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People”.

Those two dated for a while. Then they broke up… and then someone decided they should do a match race – a Battle of The Exes. A winner-take-all sort of thing.

This was ten years ago, so who cares… except that it was one of our horses that was chosen to race. The track that hosted the event, Del Mar, picked two relatively-evenly-matched horses… got the OK from the owners/trainers (that was a very interesting phone call with our trainer, Carla Gaines…) and once the horses were picked, a coin was flipped to decide which jockey got which horse. Or vice-versa, I suppose.

As it turns out, Chantal got our horse “Parable” and Mike Smith got the other one, “Joker Face”… which added an extra layer of competition… American owner/jockey vs. Canadian owner/jockey

That was a fun weekend… we flew down for the race, participated in all the pomp and circumstance, had a great time… and, as you might expect when Canada goes up against the U.S., finished second.

In the race, Mike Smith controlled the pace beautifully. Forgetting how evenly the horses may have been matched, he really out-jockeyed Chantal. He went out in front, stayed exactly where he needed, kept her exactly where he wanted, and, as they say, had plenty of horse left to win easy.

But let’s talk about another match race that we’re all involved in…

When it comes to vaccinations, the U.S. got off to a terrific start… just like Mike on Joker Face, exactly where you’d expect them to be. Except… if this were a horse race, you’d now say they’re running out of horse. They’re fading. And here comes Canada, flying on the outside.

If you look at the two larger graphs below, you can see what I mean… the one on the left is a graph of what percentage of the population is being vaccinated every day. There was a time where it hit above 0.60% in the U.S., but they’re down to around 0.35% these days… and that number keeps dropping. In Canada, we’ve slowly been rising… and are pretty-much doubling our southern neighbours. We’re in the 0.70% neighbourhood, and have been out-performing the U.S. since around April 8th.

The graph on the right shows how the gap in vaccinated population is narrowing, and assuming things continue at this pace, the Canada horse will blow by the U.S. around May 26th… and will never look back. This extrapolation is relatively consistent with what the government is telling us… that 75% of adults will have had their first jab by mid-June. It looks like 80% by July 1st, according to how things are trending. And if this holds, the U.S. may have trouble breaking 60%… though this is all speculation and just numbers.

It’s speculation and numbers that just lost me a few bucks on the Kentucky Derby… but this other horse race is far more important… and I know where my money is.

April 26, 2021

I play around a lot with my 3D printer… it’s here, beside me, in my home office, and the little series of sounds it makes while operating is good background noise; it’s not distracting… on the contrary, it helps me focus. And, at the end of it, you end up with some interesting (and sometimes useful) object. I have an endless list of things I and the kids have designed and printed… and I’m fascinated with the technology. This printer is already three years old, and there have been upgrades to it… many of which I’ve printed myself. How’s that for innovation – instead of sending you a part, they just send you a 3d blueprint – then you print the thing yourself. So cool.

That being said, it’s still an evolving technology. Some of these prints take several hours… and sometimes, halfway through them, just when you think it’s all going well, one little thing goes wrong and the entire thing is ruined. We’re all familiar with that concept these days.

I’m looking forward, as the technology progresses, to being able to print things with better consistency, and with more and more detail… and with a greater variety of materials. This one only does plastic, but this is the same technology that’s printing metal. And food. And houses. And human organs… one day.

Soon, these things will be printing with the finest detail possible… atom by atom. What would I print with that?

The first thing I would print is the tiniest violin imaginable… suitable for playing the sympathetic music due to the likes of the soon-to-be-former owner of the Corduroy restaurant on Cornwall, Rebecca Matthews… and Alaska Republican state Senator Lora Reinbold.

These two have misunderstood something, and they’re beginning to pay the price for it. What they don’t understand is that nobody gives a crap about them, and long after the issues of the day have become non-issues, they will be left holding the bag for the misguided messages they were propagating.

After Rebecca Matthews loses her business license, liquor license and whatever court case the City of Vancouver throws at her, she’ll be wondering where all of her supporters have gone. Where are the people that were chanting “Get out!” to provincial health officials when she was illegally operating her restaurant? Where is the crowd that was chanting outside her restaurant yesterday, reminding everyone that social distancing and masks and vaccines are all useless? Where’s Mark Donnelly?

Restaurants in Vancouver are a fickle business. 70% of restaurants fail in the first year. 90% are gone by year 3. Where’d everyone go? To the next one… the new one… the latest and greatest. That’s where all those people will have gone, and her GoFundMe will be puzzlingly disappointing. But that’s what you get for being the voice of unreason.

Similarly, Senator Reinbold is one of these freedom-fighting anti-maskers who doesn’t want to wear a mask in an airport or on a plane. Accordingly, Alaska Airlines has banned her indefinitely… a significant issue when Alaska Airlines is the only airline that services her hometown of Juneau. As a result, what would have been a routine one-hour flight getting home for her turned into a 14-hour road-and-ferry adventure. And, for the foreseeable future, she’s somewhat stuck if she needs to get anywhere in a hurry. Now she’s whining about the monopoly of air transport to/from Juneau… an issue that, of course, was non-existent a few days ago. I actually hope she resolves that “issue”…. so that United and American and Delta and JetBlue and Southwest… can also all ban her.

One thing that’ll never be 3D printed is intelligence, and the ability to think big-picture. And that’s too bad… because, as per above, there are at least two people who’d benefit greatly from it.

January 10, 2021

Like a petulant child that’s lost his TikTok and Instagram privileges, Donald Trump sits alone, unable to share his thoughts, dank memes or pictures of cute cats… with his friends. In his case, it’s Twitter and Facebook, but same idea. And for him, emptying the dishwasher or doing his homework… isn’t going to get it back.

As the presidency draws to a close, there are calls to remove him before the 20th… and there are very good reasons to have that happen. As we’ve learned, there is no bottom to this psycho, and one thing about psychotic narcissists that’s worth keeping in mind is that if, after everything, they’re going down, they’ll often take down as many people with them as they can. Recall, their usual M.O. is to elevate themselves at the expense of everyone else. Accordingly, when there’s no way to elevate, the only way to get the same effect is to bash everyone else down. It’s the whole “It’s not enough that I win; everyone else has to lose” thing. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours brighter, but some people don’t get it. They’d rather stick a firehose in your mouth if you’re drowning.

The Pandora’s Box unleashed by Trump will take a lot longer than 10 days to sort out, so does it matter if he’s in power during that time? Absolutely and emphatically, yes.

First of all, it’s important that he leave this presidency like he deserves; dishonourably. The stamp of disgrace needs to be all over it, if for no other reason than it boots him out of politics forever. Impeached or 25th’d out of there; it doesn’t matter. If it happens, he’s gone for good, though I assure you, no matter what, he’ll continue to insist he might run in 2024. Because that’s what’ll keep the grift afloat. The millions will roll in from his brainwashed cult followers. If he’s not booted before the 20th, the process still needs to continue to that conclusion. At least Trump can have something unique; not only the only president to ever lose two popular votes, but also the only one impeached twice.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if he’s left to stay for another 10 days? That’s an uneasy question because the far-fetched answer is as truly frightening as it gets. The age-old question of just how much power does a president have with respect to launching a nuclear strike is easily answered: All of it. And quickly.

By design, there’s very little in the way of him deciding launch nukes. At the heart of The Cold War, it was understood that if the U.S.S.R. launched nukes at America, there’d be 4 minutes before they hit. Four minutes to assess the situation and react. Conventionally, deciding who and what and when and where to strike would involve the president consulting top advisers, strategic command, military command, the secretary of defense, etc. In fact, the suggestion to do so usually originates from one of those; not the president himself. But there’s no time for any of that if a retaliatory strike is called for. When the order is given by the president, it goes direct; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House Chief of Staff, the secretary of defense, the vice-president… none of them are in that decision chain and none of them can legally stop it. The president flips open the nuclear football, that fancy briefcase that’s always nearby… he pulls out the authenticator (conventionally known as “the biscuit”), and he uses that to validate who he is to the duty officer at the National Military Command Center. Then he says something like “Launch Strike Package Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, and the duty officer, having received a valid order from the validated president, passes that order straight to the missile bases, submarines, bombers… whatever is called for. And the duty officer has to make a decision… launch the nukes, or be charged with mutiny or treason. Not a great position to be in for some kid from Nebraska who only joined the army to get his college paid for.

It’s understood that this is an archaic system and it needs to change; nowhere else in the world is this the case. Not even Russia. Even Putin doesn’t have this power; it has to be approved by his second.

All that being said, what would actually happen if Trump attempted it? There is a lot of history, on both sides, of almost launching the nukes. In all cases, an individual did their own sanity check and averted catastrophe. After the fact, it was found to have been a false alarm, due to mechanical error, technical error, human error, sunlight, miscommunication, lack of communication. There’s a long list of people who could arguably be charged with treason, but in reality, they’re all heroes.

There won’t be a pre-emptive strike on Russia, nor anyone else who could retaliate… but a limited attack on Iran? That’s far from impossible. In his present aggressive state of mind, angered and confused by what he considers to be betrayal… how about one final exclamation point for this presidency. Let’s show them all who’s really the boss.

He could do it, and it’d be hard to prevent him from attempting it. But it might not be so hard to deflect it. I sincerely hope the call has gone out to all of the relevant people; as unconstitutional as it might sound, ignore anything from Trump from now on when it comes to military decisions. Or, beyond that, I would sincerely hope there’s at least one free-thinking individual in the small chain between Trump’s insane brain and the big red button that would be willing to take the hit… possibly charged with treason or mutiny, but, more likely, called a hero and be pardoned by President Biden.

Or, here’s the best idea… get Trump the hell out of there. Now.

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January 6, 2021

In April of ’86 (in this case, 1886), the city of Vancouver was established. A couple of months later, it all burned to the ground… but, they rebuilt it… better, this time… more brick, less wood… and here we are.

Eighty-six years later, a group of local businessmen set out to bring professional soccer to this city… and a couple of years later, in 1974, the Vancouver Whitecaps played their first game in the North American Soccer League. The highlight of that team came in 1979 when they won SoccerBowl, the NASL championship. Unfortunately, a few years later, the team (and the entire NASL actually), burned into bankruptcy.

In 1986, on its 100th birthday, Vancouver hosted the world… for a World’s Fair – Expo 86… which undoubtedly changed the landscape of the city forever. It was a big year for the city, and it was a big year for professional soccer. Like the city that itself had risen from the ashes, so did a team… the Vancouver 86ers, founded by 86 people who put up $500 each to get it all going.

It was an impressive team; they inherited plenty of Whitecaps firepower. Waiters, Valentine, Lenarduzzi to name a few… then, add to that the homegrown talents of Mobilio and Catliff…it was a great team right off the bat. Perhaps they were named after the 1886 founding/resurrection of the city. Perhaps they were named for the World’s Fair/100th anniversary. Or, perhaps they were named for the verb… to “86” someone means to eject, reject, discard or cancel them…. and the 86ers did plenty of that; that powerhouse team went on to win 4 straight league championships and finished at the top of the league 5 straight years. Their streak of 46 consecutive games without a loss is a North American professional sports record that stands to this day.

But the powerhouse 86ing I’m obviously going to discuss today is the one taking place south of the border. It was supposed to have been simple; eighty-six the Trump presidency by the established process that’s been in place for centuries. Instead, that ceremony was vocally, violently and frighteningly interrupted by a mob of domestic terrorists who overran the Capitol. They took over the floor of the senate where VP Mike Pence, moments earlier, was trying to do his part to certify the vote. They broke into Nancy Pelosi’s office and left a threatening note. Not since the War of 1812 has the Capitol been breached in this manner, when the Canadians did it (OK, the British…).

Well, what else can you expect. The president, that narcissistic psychopath, led the charge… of trying to 86 the very foundations of democracy. To 86 the very foundations of the United States. This was no little protest; this insurrection would’ve turned into a full-on coup, given the opportunity… the thing is, to successfully carry out a coup requires the support of the relevant armed forces. The police, the national guard, the army, the navy, the secret service, etc. There’s zero evidence to suggest support for this mob goes any further than those involved in their own self-delusion, and those aforementioned groups are doing their part to squash this. One could certainly argue they might have done it sooner and more violently had the mob had a different colour of skin, but at least they’re on the right side of the equation and the Capitol is once again secure.

Donald Trump doesn’t care… though I can tell you what’s really bothering him; his Twitter account got suspended and his last three Tweets were removed. For a narcissist to have their stage of tens of millions pulled out from under them; that’s severely traumatic. I can assure you, he’s screaming at everyone around him to get that fixed. Forget the riots and votes and election; get me my Twitter back. Now!

And, of course, he was nowhere near the actual violence. Like any good dictator… sitting far away, calling the shots from the safety of the White House. Most dictators know exactly what they’re doing, but I sincerely think Donald Trump is too mentally ill to actually get it. I don’t think he’s clear on just how much power his cult-like craziness holds on his brainwashed masses. It took his most trusted staffers begging to get him to release a statement or video, and even that was misguided. He told them the election was stolen. He told them to go home. He told them he loves them.

What a colossal, ugly mess he leaves behind. Two more weeks, and that’s it. Well, that two weeks could arguably get cut short if finally someone (collectively) has the guts to pull the trigger on the 25th amendment and forcefully remove him; he’s clearly unfit for office. The thing is, he’s been unfit for office for a long time, and nobody has done anything about it.

As I post this, the senate chamber is once again filling up so they can, as my father used to love to say, “Get on with it.”. They will resume counting and the vote will be certified tonight, and it’s one step closer to the inevitable conclusion that Trump can’t seem to understand. Biden’s inauguration and the security around it will be like nothing we’ve ever seen. But the entire country will indeed… get on with it. Two weeks.

Finally… appropriately… today, January 6th, 2021 – would have been my father’s 86th birthday. He was a big fan of this city, and he was a big fan of soccer… but he was an even bigger fan of watching violent, corrupt, demagogic world leaders getting 86’d out of existence. Happy Birthday, Dad.

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December 25, 2020

Some of you stuffed yourself full of turkey last night. Some, this afternoon. Some are about to.

Whatever your path to tryptophan overdose, that point when your brain reaches a state where you have to read something three times for it to sink in… ok, I won’t make you do that. Nothing too deep today, just a simple observation… starting with the fact that there are no new numbers to report today. It’s Christmas, of course, and no one is working. Well, curiously, not totally true. Some guy in New Brunswick showed up to work… to report one new case. And that’s all we know, across the entire country. Half the U.S. isn’t reporting either… so, no numbers there either… just annoying yellow boxes till I sort it all out over the next few days… and I’ll back-fill what I can… though who knows what that’ll look like as it’s also the weekend. By next Tuesday, we’ll see where we’re at, and a week after that, we’ll really start seeing where things stand.

But, for the moment, numbers don’t lie… and the graphs reflect that. West of Ontario, the significant efforts being made are making a notable difference. Like I said, we won’t know what it all looks like till the after-effects of the holidays pan out, but this at least is like… well, to put it in Canadian terms, heading into the third period with a one-goal lead. A month ago, at the start of the second period, we were down a few goals… nice comeback. It doesn’t mean we’ve won, but we’ve got some momentum. Let’s hope it carries through to the end of the game. It could be a scrappy third.

Happy turkey recovery! And there’s no hockey to watch, but a nap right about now sounds pretty good…

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December 18, 2020

Louis Armstrong was perhaps the greatest and most innovative trumpet players of all time, so it’s a bit ironic that he’s probably best known as a vocalist, for his timeless rendition of “What a Wonderful World”. Similarly, Wayne Gretzky, perhaps the greatest and most innovative hockey player of all time… might be more remembered for something he said; something that’s been repeated about five hundred million times, in every context imaginable: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.”

To some extent, that tired, hackneyed phrase has lost all meaning, having now become so ubiquitous and diluted.

But… it has its uses. For example, if you’re Dr. Bonnie Henry, by now you have some vision as to how things work… how the pandemic works, how hospitals work within its confines and, most importantly, how the general public seems to behave.

So… if I had to criticize Dr. Henry for anything, it would be for her failing to skate to where that particular puck was going to be on Halloween. It was becoming evident that things were about to break at the seams, and more should have been done.

On October 31st, B.C. was seeing about 350 new cases a day, and about two deaths a day. Then came the parties and the crowds and the “it’s no big deal, come on man, it’s Halloween!!” excuses.

Around 10 days after the numerous private parties and the overrunning of downtown, there was a sharp rise in daily case counts; they had doubled. But deaths hadn’t gone up, so everything was fine, right?

Ten days after that, there was a sharp rise in daily deaths… to levels we haven’t yet managed to recover from.

This isn’t rocket science, and this isn’t unpredictable… because it’s the exact same pattern we’ve seen several times. Where the puck has been, and, more importantly, where it’s going, has now become glaringly obvious.

From the “this is why we can’t have nice things” point of view, Dr. Henry has imposed measures over the holidays that seem harsh. It’s unfortunate she didn’t impose them before Halloween, because there’s a chance this would be a far more normal holiday season if she had. As it is, these measures are now necessary, but probably not sufficient. Without enforcement to back them up, these orders are merely good suggestions, and many people are planning to ignore them entirely. This has always been an issue of education, and many people simply don’t get it. Accordingly, we will see the consequences of these actions in the next 6 weeks.

If I had to predict it, the sharp rise in infections will all take place starting tonight and lasting till New Year’s Eve. That will start appearing as a rise in daily new cases during the week between Christmas and NYE. The deaths resulting from those new cases will peak heading into the second week of January, but the last of those new cases won’t have “kicked in” until two weeks after NYE… which means those deaths won’t hit the books till the end of the month.

So there you have the prediction… new cases will keep rising till mid-January, and then start to tail off. Daily death numbers will start dropping off in late January. If the question is “When will all this be over..?”, I can’t tell you the end of the end, but the beginning of the end…? February. When things start improving in February, I would expect them to continue to improve to the end. Between vaccines and summer, there won’t be a third wave… just a slow and steady path to the end of this nightmare.

At the end of a long shift, Dr. Bonny just fired the puck into the corner. She’s skating to the bench to catch her breath. In the meantime, for all of us still on the ice… where should we go? To where she shot the puck from? To where the puck is now…?

I think to myself… we should skate to where the puck is going to be. And I think to myself… there’s an end to this game… hopefully soon. And also, all together now…. I think to myself… what a wonderful world…

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December 7, 2020

Numbers day here in B.C., which brings everything up to date… and not surprisingly, there are no big surprises. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the weekend numbers added up to… 2020.

Everything is proceeding with clockwork consistency… which means, around here, a continual case growth of 1.9% — a rate at which cases would double in about 37 days, which would be January 13th… which coincidentally is about two weeks after New Year’s, and three weeks after Christmas. Also not surprising is that Dr. Henry extended all present orders until January 8th… because, the fact is, they’re helping.

The collision course of this latest effort – these recent orders, which are making a difference — will run straight into the holiday season, and your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen. As we’ve learned, this virus doesn’t usually transmit from 10 people giving it to 10 others. It’s more like one person giving it to 20. That’s why the usual family holiday gatherings can be so risky. One contagious person ends up being patient zero of their own, exponential outbreak.

The vaccine news is good, but requires a reality check. The good news is that the first 250,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be arriving in Canada next week. Since it’s a two-shot vaccine, that’ll be good for 125,000 people. The vaccine will be distributed on a pro-rata basis, which should mean B.C. will get around 34,000 doses… good enough for 17,000 people. Obviously, that’s not enough to change anything; it’ll be months before enough people have had it where it could make a tangible difference.

In fact, if you were to get the vaccine tomorrow, what would change in your life? If you’re following the orders, your chances of getting the virus were slim, and now they would go down to pretty-much nil. But gatherings are still banned, things are still closed/postponed/cancelled, and you would still be wearing a mask.

We’re nearing the end, but we’re still at the beginning of the end. At least it’s in sight; remember, not so long ago, the hardest part of this was not knowing how long it could possibly go on… I likened it to preferring a prison sentence of known length; lock me up for 5 years, with a definite date when I get to walk free. I’d prefer that to being locked up, and having someone every day tell me either it’s time to go home… or not. There’s great comfort in certainty, and with certainty I can tell you – as fuzzy as it is presently – that’s a finish line on the horizon.

Also, with respect to the finish line of former Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly’s career… shoutout to Mark Donnelly, the sportswriter from Northern England who covers Sunderland AFC and who knew little about hockey or Vancouver… until his phone blew up over the weekend, over which he received over 1,000 messages on Twitter, both public and private, both praising him and insulting him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know our anthem and can’t sing (or skate), so he won’t be filling-in any time soon… but he does wear a mask, and advocates for their use. Cheers, mate.

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December 6, 2020

A brief footnote about yesterday and former Canucks-anthem-singer Mark Donnelly; the video of him on the steps of the Art Gallery is online. He makes a 10-minute rambling speech before singing, and to be honest, it’s kind of sad. He makes some good points, he makes some bad points, he makes some confused points, he spews some well-debunked conspiracy nonsense… like jeez, man… use that nice voice for something useful; this is pretty bad. At one point he criticizes the Canucks for their decision, at another he hopes he’ll get a call from them so they can talk about it. Near the end he yells, “Go Canucks Go!”; the crowd is so confused, they’re not sure whether to cheer or jeer. Fortunately, he eventually just shuts up and sings.

On a much larger scale of confused messaging, the president of the United States is in Georgia, speaking out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously. One side is encouraging Republicans to get out there and vote in what’s looking like a very tight senate runoff election. The other side is still screaming about how the federal election was a fraud and can’t be trusted and was rigged. If you’re a Georgian Republican, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do. Or even think. The president called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger an “enemy of the people” and called Governor Brian Kemp a “moron” and a “nut job”. Very presidential. Only 44 more days.

Setting aside the wise words offered to us by a former anthem-singer, and a former reality star/soon-to-be-former president, let’s reflect on the reality of the day… record numbers everywhere, in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and, unfortunately, deaths. The U.S. has over 100,000 patients hospitalized and is seeing around 2,700 deaths daily. Canada’s numbers are much lower… we’re approaching 2,000 hospitalizations, and the daily national death toll is averaging around 90… but what they have in common is that those numbers are all rising consistently.

Tomorrow we’ll get B.C. numbers and have a better idea where we’re at… but here are some good guesses: Canada will be up 1.7%, B.C. will be up 2.0%, Alberta will be up 2.9%… this isn’t rocket science; going across the table of numbers, you can see where I’m getting this from. It’s very consistent. It’s almost impressive how consistent Ontario has been; eight straight days of exactly 1.5% growth. There’s a finish line, but we have a long way to go. Where we’re at, and these numbers… they’re nothing to sing about.

December 6, 2020

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December 5, 2020

Coincidentally, I wrote yesterday about the great leadership in the Vancouver Canucks’ past. Today, I’ll briefly write about the great leadership of the present. And I’m not (just) talking about present captain Bo Horvat.

In the last 24 hours, here’s what’s happened: Today, there will be an anti-mask rally. This one is being called the “B.C. Christmas Freedom Rally 2020”, and will take place, as usual, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery… the usual anti-mask, anti-vaxx, covid-is-a-hoax crowd. The guy who has been singing the national anthems at Canucks games for 20 years, Mark Donnelly, announced that he’s not only going to attend the event, but also perform there as well… and not just the national anthem.

The Canucks didn’t like that at all, and issued a statement distancing themselves from the event, from Donnelly, from the whole sordid mess. Shortly after that, they officially announced that Donnelly is no longer affiliated with the team. And shortly after that, Francesco Aquilini, the managing partner of the Canucks ownership group, confirmed it… and Tweeted out a message to the Vancouver Sun, asking them to modify their headline, and to now refer to the anthem singer as “former”.

This isn’t the first time Mark Donnelly has tripped up. First of all, there was that time, back in 2014, where he literally tripped up; trying to sing the anthem while skating, he tripped over the red carpet and went flying. You can find it on YouTube, with millions of views. It’s worth seeing. But… more to the point… Donnelly showed up on the Art Gallery steps in 2012, singing the anthem at an anti-abortion rally.

If you’re wondering why that’s any different, and why that didn’t cost him his job, it’s very simple… and goes to the heart of this misunderstood thing called “freedom”. That poor word has been badly mangled, especially due to the American takeover of it and what it’s supposed to mean.

To be clear, being asked to wear a mask is not an infringement on your human rights. And facing consequences for you what you do and/or say is not a violation of your rights with respect to freedom of speech. You won’t get thrown in jail for criticizing the government, but actions have consequences, and if your actions affect other people, you can expect to be held responsible. Donnelly showing up at an anti-abortion rally? It tells you something about the man, but freedom of religion is a right, and if that’s how you think, as vehemently as anyone may disagree with you (including your employer), there’s nothing offside about it. But… aligning yourself with people promoting behaviour that puts everyone at risk?

As you can imagine, the reply thread to Aquilini’s Tweet is a complete shitshow… ranging from strong support to total outrage. “I’ve been a Canucks fan for 30 years, but now I’m cancelling my season tickets and will never watch another game!!1!!!!1!!!”… LOL.

It’s a smart move by Aquilini… there is no doubt this is the first time the vast majority of Canucks fans have agreed with him. But beyond that, the messaging. If you’re a public figure and/or your reach is into the hundreds of thousands, you actually have a responsibility… because the message you put out there gets listened to by a lot of people. It applies to the Canucks and it applies to Mark Donnelly. Because, for the 10 millionth time, this is a pandemic, and people spread it from one to another, and masks prevent that from happening.

Donnelly canceled himself. The Canucks… yes, I understand the business aspect of it… the Canucks want to be able to fill that building as soon as possible. They want to sell you tickets. They want to sell you beer and hotdogs and nachos and bottled water and 50/50 tickets and parking and swag. They want to sell you the whole live experience, because that’s how they make money. They also want things back to normal. And, the Canucks understand that when those seats get filled, they don’t want to see 18,910 people booing the anthem singer. Time to move on, and there’s already a strong movement to hand the role to Marie Hui, a very logical and deserving successor.

Or… this will sound a little self-serving, but I have a bit of a connection to the anthem singing at Rogers Arena… because over the last 20 years, I’ve made many efforts to get local talent onto the ice to do it. It’s worked out a few times, but it’s an uphill process, if for no other reason than the countless number of people who’d love the opportunity. There’s a lot of talent in this town… why not have 45 different anthem singers every season? Let’s mix it up a bit. Maybe it’s one more tiny little positive change that can emerge from this pandemic… sounds good to me.

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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.

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