December 26, 2020

Happy Boxing Day! Now that you’ve unboxed the gifts and boxed up the Christmas, you can relax… and hopefully Santa was good to you. Hopefully you got something meaningful that’ll last a long time; some gift that keeps on giving.

You know what’s an excellent gift that keeps on giving? It occurred to me while running up and down McDonald Beach with the dog… that great dog-beach near the airport.

The people who run the airport, the Vancouver Airport Authority, have never stopped charging the Airport Improvement Fee.

To backtrack a bit… back in the early 90s, YVR realized that with the projected passenger loads expected in the future, the airport was woefully undersized. Vast improvements were needed to deal with the post Expo’86 crowds… and the ever-increasing traffic to-and-from Asia. And they needed to get the money from that somewhere, because, believe it or not, the airport gets no government money.

So, they implemented a simple AIF… a little user-fee tax sort of thing. If you were flying out of YVR, you paid $5 to destinations within B.C, $10 within Canada and $15 everywhere else. These little kiosks popped-up, and you’d line up and wait and buy a little ticket that’d be collected when you went through security. A bit of grumbling ensued by an annoyed public who felt they were once-again getting shafted and wasting time.

Not soon after, they finally figured out how to integrate the AIF into the cost of an airline ticket. No more separate line-ups… it was all transparent. And, oh, how the money rolled in. Twenty million passengers a year times an average of ten dollars each equals a lot. More than $2 billion dollars and counting.

Where’s the money going? Well, it’s gone towards building the best airport in North America ten years in a row. A few years ago, some governing body voted it the best airport in the world. The fact is, whether it’s the new terminal, the new runway, the new outlet mall or just the quiet little museum piece you get to walk through if you land at one of those distant E-gates – the trees and birds and canoe on the water thing – it seems to be money very-well spent.

The AIF was supposed to be temporary but so was income tax during WW2. So were those ugly power-towers on Boundary, north of 1st Ave.

Income tax will never go away. Neither will those towers. And probably, neither will the AIF, and I’m totally ok with that. And by the way, the AIF has changed. Now it’s $5 for travel within B.C. and $25 for everywhere else. I’m totally ok with that too.

I guess that’s not really a gift that keeps on giving; it’s not a gift if it’s being extracted from you… but let’s call it a worthwhile extraction that keeps on giving… there’s a good random thought re Boxing Day, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year… but not when air traffic is down 90%. Maybe next year there will be more excitement on Boxing Day than just taking things out (and putting things back in) boxes.

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November 15, 2020

On the evening of March 21st, 2006, the B.C. Ferry Queen of the North departed from Prince Rupert, headed for Port Hardy. There is a tremendous amount of controversy as to what happened that night… books have been written, court cases have been tried, people have been fired, and… policies have been changed.

That night, thanks to the gross negligence of the two people on the bridge of the vessel – the ship’s fourth officer and the Quartermaster (who may have been fighting, or may have been having sex – either way, completely distracted), the ship missed the timing of an important maneuver, hit an underwater ridge of rocks that tore open the hull, and sank. Were it not for the heroic efforts of the Gitka’a’ata people in Hartley Bay, things would’ve been far worse. They took to the water in every boat they had, and rescued everyone they could. Unfortunately, 2 out of the 101 people on board were trapped, and are presumed to have gone down with the ship; their bodies have never been found.

One outcome of this tragedy was the policy change that made it mandatory for all ferry passengers to leave their vehicles during travel, lest the ship should sink and you be trapped.

The unlikeliness of that happening is difficult to overstate. BC Ferries provided more than 160,000 trips last year, moving close to 22 million passengers. Multiply that by 10 or 20 or 50 years, it doesn’t really matter… all you’re doing is changing your chances of dying on a ferry from one in a million to one in a billion or trillion or zillion. Whatever.

This policy does not sit well with many people, and I’m one of them. If I want to sit in the comfort of my car for the journey… maybe I have a crying baby or two, finally asleep in their car seats. Maybe I have a dog who’s cozy in his spot. Maybe I just want to listen to my music, read my book, play on my phone… in peace, in my environment. Maybe I have a broken leg and don’t want to be hobbling all over the place. Over the decades, I’ve had many reasons. More recently, one of those reasons was, of course, this pandemic… and B.C. Ferries, initially, agreed. In fact, they flipped the rule 180 early in this pandemic. Stay in your car. Don’t you DARE come upstairs, unless it’s a dire emergency. Sounds good.

Now, they’ve flipped it back again, at perhaps the worst possible time… and they’re being surprisingly adamant – arguably militant – about it. I really don’t get it. Persistent vigilance of the vehicle decks. Threats of fines or bans.

Since everyone *has* to get out now, it’s very crowded upstairs. The elevators are slow. The staircases are cramped. The cafeteria is full of people eating. The seating area is full of mask-deniers making selfie-videos of themselves showing how awesome they are, flaunting their freedom and laughing at all the people around them who are wearing masks and trying to socially-distance in an impossible environment.

A few things need to change here in B.C.

  1. This ferry policy has to go. In the midst of this pandemic, I don’t think I need to spell it out. If someone from B.C. Ferries can explain to me how staying in my car is more dangerous or puts me more at risk than the potential C19 exposure, I’d like to hear the argument. And I’m speaking for the benefit of others as well. What if I’m contagious and don’t even know it? You’re making me put everyone else at higher risk.
  2. B.C. is the only province not publishing anything C19-related over the weekend. No press release, no numbers, no update, no nothing. Everywhere else, whether they have over 120,000 cases (Quebec) or less than 20 (Nunavut), they’re keeping the information flowing continually, seven days a week.
  3. Mask policy – it’s high time they are made mandatory everywhere here in B.C., period. “Strongly urged” is no longer sufficient. Enough of the “we’re polite and we’ll do the right thing” mantra, and enough of the “people so inclined will ignore the rules anyway”. Just because the province doesn’t feel it can enforce it, it doesn’t mean you and I can’t. I’d welcome the opportunity to tell some mask-denier who taunts me with “Why should I?” with some sort of clout. “Because it’s the law”. “Because it’s an order”. Too much wishy-washy going on here, and the stakes are too high. It’s pretty clear what we’re heading towards, so let’s get ahead of it a bit. If the time for a mandatory mask enforcement is coming anyway (and it certainly is, or, at least, certainly should be), let’s just get on with it now.

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October 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interestingly, there’s a comparable example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2020

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October 7, 2020

After the NTSB investigation into US Airways flight 1549 – the one that was so rudely interrupted by a flock of Canada Geese, and plunged into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 – the pilots were asked if they would’ve done anything differently. Notwithstanding the whole episode was one of heroic achievement (“The Miracle on the Hudson”)… nobody died, the movie (Tom Hanks) was made, and so on… still, it’s a question worth asking. First Officer Jeff Skiles had an answer: “I would’ve done it in July.”

Sure, if you’re going to plunge a plane into a river, the warmer summer waters are preferable to the icy winter alternative. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that choice.

Similarly, nobody chose the starting date for this pandemic… but if we’d had to have made that choice, chances are, around here, we would’ve picked almost exactly what we got; right at the start of spring, as the weather gets better, the air is warmer and the skies are bluer. We would’ve chosen that, because, at least, it’s a more gradual descent into the sort of unpleasantness that now awaits us.

There was never any chance of this going away by the end of the year; the “12 to 18 months” thing was an ambitious take, already factoring in the corner-cutting and fast-tracking that would otherwise take years… but, six-plus months into it, those estimates are looking pretty good. The unfortunate part of this is that it’s not going to go away “suddenly”. It’s not like the virus will one day sign a surrender to the allies and we’ll all be dancing in the streets. But, after all this time, much has been learned about treatment. In the coming new year, eventually, we’ll all have immunity. There will be vaccines… probably numerous ones, all landing at the same time. A few will get the big OK from Health Canada and over time we’ll all have access to them, and, slowly… things will head back to normal.

The point of all that is a crucial one – and one we all need to keep in mind, especially since we haven’t managed to get rid of daylight savings time yet – that soon, it will be dark and cold and depressing, and this holiday season, already a stressful time for anyone that’s not a kid, will be worse than usual. It’s easy to say, “Hang in there”; it’s harder to actually hang in there, and the mental health toll of this pandemic is becoming evident. But the crucial point is this – as hard as it is to believe it sometimes – and that is… that there *is* a finish line… that there *is* a normal world on the other side of it… and we *will* eventually get there.

Dr. Henry has etched into us a slogan that we’ll never forget… but there’s more to “be kind, be calm and be safe” than just being polite to the stressed-but-socially-distanced crowd at the supermarket; it’s just as much an inward-facing mantra that you deserve to hear and you deserve to live: Be kind to yourself. Stay calm. Do what you can to remain safe. That is all very much the starting point to coming out of this is one peace, because it’s not just a matter of healthy lungs. A healthy brain is part of it too. And remember, the way you’re feeling – some days ok, some days abject despair… you’re not alone. Someone nearby, someone you know… is feeling the same way.

Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to them. They’ll be happy to hear from you, and happy to share with you the same things you’re feeling. These are the people with whom one day you’ll be sitting in a crowded restaurant, laughing and rolling your eyes, and every sentence will begin with, “Remember when…” or “Remember how…”

Hang in there. We’ll get there.

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September 26, 2020

No numbers till Monday… though it’s worth sadly noting that by this time tomorrow, the world will have seen its one millionth C19 death. We have a long way to go with fixing things.

You know… “Fixing things” used to mean something positive… like, you have something, it broke, you fixed it… and now it’s good again.

The word’s more sinister implications… well, you have disgraced and disbarred former attorney Michael Cohen… Trump’s “fixer”… who fixed things like campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. Evidently, like cheap scotch tape, his illegal fixes were temporary, and fell apart when put to the test.

I have a particularly fond memory playing poker. A friend went to the washroom, and in the 60 seconds he was gone, we “fixed” the deck. By the end of the hand, he’d put every penny he had into the pot, and lost it all on the last card. He couldn’t believe it, and we couldn’t stop laughing at the emotional rollercoaster we put him through. All in good fun; he was incredibly relieved to hear it was all a set-up, and he hadn’t actually lost his entire net worth. I suspect most fixed poker hands don’t end so well.

When it comes to elections, history has seen plenty of fixes… and some are so blatant, they’re ridiculous.

The Liberian general election of 1927 is a good example. There were 15,000 registered voters. One candidate received 9,000 votes – pretty reasonable. The other candidate received 243,000 (that’s not a typo).

It’s interesting to note that until relatively recently, like the mid-19th century, when you voted, you made your vote public. The British colony of Victoria, ie Australia, adopted a secret voting system in 1856… where a generic paper ballot was produced by an independent third party. Before that, each campaign would produce their own ballot, on a piece of paper with their own colour. To vote, you’d drop your selected coloured ballot… into a glass bowl. Surrounding those glass bowls would be party operatives or even the candidates themselves… persuading, bribing and even threatening the voters. It took guts to vote because, as you might expect, it was frequently a violent undertaking.

Fortunately, neither the American nor Canadian upcoming elections will be people publicly dropping red of blue pieces of paper into large glass bowls, for all to see. That would be crazy.

Unfortunately, what will ultimately happen may be another sort of crazy. I’m not too worried about up here; we haven’t had a disputed election ever, and the closest thing to a scandal was that Conservative robo-call nonsense orchestrated by some junior staffer in 2011.

But south of the border… fasten your seatbelt. I don’t think any of us, in person, have ever seen what’s about to happen… and it’s already started. The president is already calling it crooked, and has made it clear he won’t accept the result if he loses.

Disputing the security of mail-in ballots, watching the USPS dismantle the infrastructure needed for a fair election, seeing how a top official in Philadelphia explained that up to 100,000 mail-in ballots might be invalidated due to a technicality (Pennsylvania is one of those key states that could, on its own, decide the election)… it’s all just beginning.

Just like a slow-moving train-wreck, it seems everyone is watching with morbid curiousity, unable to do anything to stop it. No matter what, it’ll be a big mess to clean up. Let’s just hope we can one day… fix it.

 

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September 19, 2020

For a while, I was putting in guesses for the weekend numbers… since neither B.C. nor Alberta publish anything until Monday. I was further extrapolating that to give a good guess for Canada overall.

I’ve stopped doing that, because as good as my guesses were (sometimes), it’s effectively false advertising and could lead to false assumptions, so what’s the point. Let’s wait 2 days; no big deal.

Unfortunately, false advertising is all around us. I actually fell for it… something popped up on my Facebook… a radio-controlled near-indestructible plane. Surprisingly inexpensive. Cool, that’ll be fun to play with over the summer. For my son, of course, not me…

What arrived was nothing like what was promised. A tiny, very cheap single-layer Styrofoam cut-out stencil of a plane… that barely flew. No radio control of course. Nothing at all like the pictures or video. And, for the price-point, not worth pursuing, not worth sending back, not worth complaining. They know; just enough to grab your money and run. Not enough for any consumer silly enough to fall for it… to care. Had I done the tiniest bit of research, like read the comments below the item, I’d have seen plenty of entries like “Don’t fall for it!!” and “This is a scam!!”. Oh well, lesson learned.

Indeed… as a result of falling for it, my FB feed is now flooded with offers. Some are, I must say, really cool. Most, if not all, are scams. I fell for it once, and FB has decided I’m a sucker and, accordingly, tries to sucker me in one more time. The latest one that almost got me was a self-solving Rubik’s Cube for $12.99. Wow, cool… except, upon reading the comments, I learned it was a useless, cheap knock-off cube that did nothing special… least of all, solve itself.

Somewhere along the line, slim credibility went to zero… probably right around the time accountability did the same thing. With zero repercussions to just “making shit up”, here we are. Advertisers, politicians, whatever. Say whatever you want… to sell whatever you’re dishing out.

"Caveat Emptor" — it's been around so long that "Buyer Beware" originated in Latin, back in the Roman era. You remember, that great Republic of centuries past, that indestructible centre-of-the-universe Empire that would last forever.

What's the relevancy of all this? Ask me in a few weeks.

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September 16, 2020

Today’s brief update will simply be about some simple numbers and some simple math.

Let’s say 100 people catch Covid-19… and struggle through it, till they’re either cured or dead… if 93 survived and 7 died, let’s write it down as 93/7. Looking around the world, here’s a brief sample of how that looks in different places:

United States: 95/5
China: 95/5
Canada: 93/7
Mexico: 87/13
Italy: 86/14

It’s annoying that some places have stopped publishing their recovery numbers. I’d be interested in throwing Sweden, U.K. and Spain into that mix to see how they compare.

The best ratios out there seem to come out, at best, 97/3.

If we just add up the entire planet — there have been almost exactly 30,000,000 cases – and the global ratio is 96/4.

The implication of that is that the true potential extent of this virus, should everyone on the planet get it, would mean a little over 300,000,000 deaths; simply 4% of the world’s 7.8 billion people.

Fortunately, there’s every reason to believe… through social practices and herd immunity (one way or the other), that nothing close to that will end up transpiring. But it’s always worthwhile to look at all the scenarios, and as far as the worst-case goes – there you have it.

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September 12, 2020

September 11th has been a relevant date in my life for a lot longer than 19 years… a sentiment you’ll hear from every Chilean.

Yesterday, you heard my 2001 version… and I was just a little kid, but here’s the 1973 version… events which have some relevance to today.

A bit of history…

In 1964, Eduardo Frei was elected president of Chile. He was the head of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), pretty comparable to today’s Canadian Liberals. He held power until the 1970 election, where it was expected that the CDP, who’d been running South America’s best economy, would be re-elected. Unfortunately for them… well, recall our provincial election of 1996 where Glen Clark and the NDP, with only 30-something percent of the popular vote, won the election — because the Reform Party managed to snag enough votes away from the Liberals to tilt things in that direction — the same thing happened in Chile, a split of the centrist/right-wing vote… except the beneficiary and winner of all that wasn’t a moderate/leftist NDP… it was a full-on Marxist socialist by the name of Salvador Allende.

Economically speaking, things for Chile did not go so well under Allende, and on 9/11, 1973, a CIA-backed coup, supported by the Chilean army, navy and police force… took over the country. Allende committed suicide in the midst of the presidential palace being bombed and overrun by the military. The constitution was suspended. The Republic of Chile, formerly a model democracy, was instantly transformed into a military dictatorship.

All of this was initially supported by the CDP, who expected once things settled down – perhaps a few months — there’d be a general election and things would get back to normal, right? Wrong.

One of military leaders, General Augusto Pinochet, decided he liked the view from the throne. Suddenly, he wasn’t General Pinochet… he was President Pinochet, and there he remained until 1990… and left only after he agreed to hold a plebiscite to let the people decide whether he should be allowed to stick around or not. They voted him out, but not before he embedded all sorts of immunity clauses into the new constitution to prevent new governments from coming after him for his numerous crimes, accumulated over his 17-year reign of terror. What’s the relevance here?

It’s a scenario that’s played out numerous times over history; a country is slipping backwards, the military steps in to restore order, ostensibly as a stop-gap measure until things settle down, and the country can go back to being what it’s supposed to be… except that fascist military dictatorships don’t just appear out of thin air. And, more importantly, they don't go away easily either.

Something for our neighbours to the south to consider, in the days ahead, and relating to what I wrote about yesterday… it’s far easier to break things than it is to fix them. It takes one day to break them. It takes decades to fix them. Given that Donald Trump contested an election he won, we can certainly expect, no matter what happens, that he won’t leave quietly. He’s already laying the groundwork for that.

Like Boris Yeltsin, standing on a tank… or George W. Bush, standing on a pile of rubble – the WTC remnants on 9/11 – at some point, Donald Trump will stand up… my guess would be on the newly-renovated White House Rose Garden… or maybe the hood of his Cadillac… and demand, “Who’s with me??”

And the correct answer should be…. <crickets>

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September 11, 2020

Monday, September 10th, 2001 had been a late night… Monday Night Football combined with Monday Night Poker. It was a good night for me… I won money at the tables, and I won money on the game, having bet on the Denver Broncos. I am always a big fan of betting Denver at home, because they live and breathe and play at more than 5,300 feet above sea level, and visiting teams are rarely conditioned for the thin air. Nearing the end of the game, the other teams are often tired and struggling. In my opinion, it’s a big reason why John Elway was always able to orchestrate his 4th-quarter heroics. In this case, it was the New York Giants (who live, train and play in East Rutherford, New Jersey, elevation… 3 feet above sea level). Accordingly, Denver won the game… a successful evening all around. I staggered home in the wee hours of the morning and collapsed in bed.

Of course, none of that matters at all, especially in light of what happened next. I was awakened just before 7am by a phone call from a friend.

“Turn on your TV.”
“What channel.”
“Any channel.”

Like so many with a similar story, I spent the day watching CNN, barely able to comprehend what I was seeing while frantically trying unsuccessfully to contact anyone and everyone I knew in New York. Eventually, everyone I knew was confirmed to be ok, but I found out years later that I had one friend caught in the middle of it… he was one of those guys who survived, but staggered out of there coated in white powder, debris directly from one of the falling towers, looking like a zombie from The Walking Dead. And he was, of course, one of the very lucky ones.

In hindsight, it’s easy to reflect on just how much changed that day. At the time, it felt like an enormous catastrophe, which it certainly was… but one from which everything would emerge and return to normal. It didn’t. It hasn’t.

Out of the endless things to learn from that day, near the top of the list, is this: Don’t ever acquiesce power to the government that you’re not willing to give away – forever. A lot of things got thrown into the world after 9/11, among them the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, and everything else wrapped up in the subsequent “protection” of the American people.

Wiretaps without warrants. Spying. Unlawful detention. Kidnapping. Torture. Constraints on Academic Freedom.

The Patriot Act, which was set to expire in 2005 (though most of it still lingers) was ostensibly put in place to protect people from terrorism. Whether it’s helped or not, what’s certain is how it has completely side-stepped the U.S. Constitution, and continues to do so.

Indefinite detention, warrantless searches… phone, email and financial record searches without consent and without a court order… these are all things that are here to stay in the great Democracy/Republic of the United States of America.

On the flipside, something that got a bit of coverage but should’ve been a much bigger story… was when in late March of this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed a bill to authorize emergency spending with respect to the emerging pandemic. He wanted $82 billion at his discretion, to put into the hands of soon-to-be struggling Canadians. "No problem", said every single opposition party. We get it. Go for it.

Bill C-13 showed up, ready for signature… which a little bonus clause thrown in by The Liberals, one that can only be described as an attempt at an enormous power grab. It would have granted the government the right to spend money, tax Canadians and purchase/hold any company’s shares… all of that without Parliamentary Approval… until 2022. It was an underhanded attempt to seize power/control, using the crisis as an excuse. Extended out to the worst of its ability, it’d empower the (minority) government to do anything it wished. That would certainly have transformed this country into a very different Canada than what we’re familiar with. Conservative, Green, NDP… whatever you are, whoever you support… I’m very proud of that group standing up and saying, “Hey… what is this crap!?”… and Bill C-13 ultimately passed, but with none of that frightening language as part of it.

And yet… the U.S. of today isn’t the one many of us have known from 20 years ago. If Osama Bin Laden’s intent was to damage America where it really hurts, it’s sad to say… he thoroughly succeeded… a deep, divisive cut that has yet to heal.

All of you red-baseball-cap-wearing Patriots screaming “FREEDOM!” to anyone who’ll listen might want to consider a real example of what freedom truly is. Of what a real, functioning government looks like. There’s a hell of lot more to freedom than waving a gun around and/or ripping your mask off in an act of “courageous” defiance.

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September 8, 2020

There was a time in late March/early April where, with a sense of dread, it seemed like a perpetual waiting game — with a rolling two-week incubation period thrown in, just to make things a little less predictable — where the numbers could do this, or the numbers might do that. Are we following the footsteps of Spain or Italy? Is this about to spiral out of control? Notwithstanding we’ve learned a lot in the last 6 months, we might be back to that original mindset. And, for what it’s worth, Spain is unfortunately suffering through a very significant second surge.

There’s no doubt numbers are going up nationwide, so now what…? Let’s talk about B.C… where triple-digit new-case numbers will likely become the norm for the forseeable future… and note, as important as new-case numbers may be, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are an important trailing indicator… and, for now, they’re relatively flat. As per above, though… that’s a question that gets answered in 5 to 14 days.

For now… in an effort to get ahead of things a bit, given people’s general inability to follow the rules (See? This is why we can’t have nice things)… all nightclubs and banquet halls are closed. Restaurants, pubs & bars are to close by 10pm, and to have everyone out by 11. What’s next? Two weeks is about the right window of time to evaluate where schools are at… because that’s all starting up now, and it brings a long list of question marks to the forefront.

Let’s remember… by definition, the period just before things get wildly out of control is the period of time when they *are* in control… which is where we are right now. Dr. Henry can only make strong suggestions; the rest is up to us.

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