July 1, 2021

The eclectic collection of friends and people and organizations I associate with has never been made more apparent than sifting through today’s emails. It’s officially Canada Day, of course, and I’m wishing you all a very happy holiday… in whatever way you wish to celebrate and/or recognize it – and of course, for many people, it’s no celebration at all… right up there with Columbus Day and all of its implications, as we all well-know from the emerging dreadful news that’s nowhere near subsiding.

I have emails yelling “Don’t let them take Canada Day away from us!!” and I have emails calmly explaining things, in great detail, from the point of view of many Indigenous Peoples from across the country, eloquently stating why there’s nothing at all to cheer.

The rest are somewhere in between – as am I.

But before I talk about Canada, let’s talk about Chile a bit – a country many of you possibly barely knew even existed nor cared about… but if you’ve been reading these posts for a while, you’ve seen that name pop up several times. And while I still have my little soap-box to stand upon for a few more days, here’s one last crack at it.

Here is a brief summary of Chile, the country where I was born and where I still have plenty of friends, family and business associates… a place that was one of the very few in the world accepting Jewish refugees during and after WWII. The boat that sailed west with the few members of my family who had enough foresight to get the hell out of Czechoslovakia in 1938 (among them my maternal grandparents) crossed the Atlantic Ocean and attempted to dock in numerous places, among them Halifax. This was during the reign of Canada’s 10th PM, William Lyon Mackenzie King… who, when asked how many Jewish refugees he thought Canada should admit, replied “None is too many”. The ship sailed south, but the U.S. wasn’t open to it either. The ship then crossed the Panama Canal and kept sailing south, now on the Pacific side… until finally Ecuador allowed everyone off the boat… provided they didn’t stay.

But Chile said, yeah… come on down… and welcomed numerous Jewish refugees with open arms. And these are not the sort of war-torn starving desert-dwelling-type refugees you imagine from TV and movies… these were well-educated doctors, lawyers, businessmen, accountants, engineers, etc… whose subsequent involvement in the country helped grow it to be the leading economy of Latin America.

But, times change. Politics evolve. Moods swing. Demographics shift. A recent article voted Santiago, Chile as the number-one antisemitic city in the world… a city with close to 500,000 Palestinians… close to 10% of the population… compared with less than 20,000 Jews (0.4%). And… a very leftist antisemitic presidential candidate – who, if polls are correct – could easily win the election later this year.

This candidate has brought out all of the usual antisemitic rhetoric and has promised to rid the country of Jews. Needless to say, the Jews are becoming increasingly worried. Public displays of antisemitism, violence and vandalism are being seen in record numbers. And if he wins – as the old adage goes – when you lose the support of the government… Run.

If the shit really hits the fan, where will they go?

Well, one very logical place is Canada… among one of the very best places in the world to be Jewish these days. In fact, it’s one of the best places in the world to be *anything* these days.

Indeed, especially for those who are young and haven’t experienced the world outside the bubble that is Canada, it’s hard to relate to how it feels and looks when a country completely derails. We almost got a first-hand look at it on January 6th… and from the sounds of it, things might look very different right now down south if those armed protesters had simply zigged instead of zagged… and wound up face to face with Nancy Pelosi or Mike Pence. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. And it hasn’t happened (yet) in Chile. But it could. It could happen anywhere.

But, these days, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon in Canada. We read with horror at the emerging evidence of our past, but here’s the thing; this is a great country. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any country, great or not, that doesn’t have a significant stain in its history. Chile was good for Jews for a while; that may change. Chile has never been good to its Indigenous population. The Spanish showed up a few hundred years ago, conquered them… and they have remained conquered ever since. Yes, they are screaming for their rights, land, restitution and acknowledgment… but they, like many other Indigenous populations around the world, face a steep uphill. Unlike in Canada, where there are still lots of big problems… in the past and in the future… but they are being acknowledged and they will hopefully be dealt with adequately… sooner than later.

Canada, for the moment, is also a great place for Jews. Antisemitism is on the rise, but still… there is full government support. I don’t judge Canada on the words or actions of William Lyon Mackenzie King. I judge it on what it is today… Canada, which, for the moment, faces a historical trauma that’s been known for decades but rarely spoken about till now… a history that needs to be heard, acknowledged and made right. Great countries deal with it. And that’s what we’re doing.

So yeah, the celebration may be understandably muted this year, but let’s not forget that there’s also a future, not just a past. And if we can learn from the past (and there’s plenty to learn) and use it for a better future for all of us – Indigenous, White, Black, Jewish and whoever else… remember… you’re very fortunate to be Canadian… which in itself is certainly something to celebrate.

June 15, 2021

I managed to get out to the racetrack last night, for the first time in ages. It was wonderful to see many familiar faces, many of whom are reading this (Hi again!)

My horses didn’t win (a second and two thirds), but, regardless, just being there was a win. A huge win.

On a similar note, I look at the graph on the bottom left… the inter-provincial vaccination rates, which is some ways has turned into a two-horse race; Quebec out in front and B.C. trying to catch up… and never quite getting there. But again, there are no losers in this race… only different rates of winning.

And… on that note… in the global vaccine horse race, check out the next two graphs. As of this moment, when it comes to “at least one vaccination”, Canada is number one in the world. And if this were a music chart, we’d be number one with a bullet.

Just a month ago, we were behind the U.S, Israel, the U.K. and Chile. And… we are now ahead of all of them. The steepness of the angle with which that thick red line cuts through all of them is impressive. Let’s hope we don’t chart like a one-hit wonder that starts tailing off, never to be heard from again.

That being said, the graph on the right tells an important story; the darker colour means fully vaccinated. Above that is the single-dose crowd. By that measure, we’re still far behind… but…

… as per below, you can see the rate at which we caught up and continue to run. It’s impressive, and there is, from everything I can tell, no letting up. Recent numbers in Canada have implied that the anti-vax crowd has shrunk… and that the sum of “hesitant to no way” is now below 10%. All of this while we’re vaccinating 450,000 arms a day, whether it’s first or second dose. More than one out of 100 people is getting one shot or another… every single day.

The staggeringly impressive drop-offs in case numbers is indicative of a strategy that seems to be paying off… what’s better, give a single dose to 100 people, or fully vaccinate 50 and leave the other 50 un-jabbed. Clearly, from what we’re seeing – and as much as some might disagree with messing with the science – it would appear the former strategy, the one Canada adopted a while back… was the way to go. “Lots of people who may get a little sick” is a lot better than “some people who won’t get sick, coupled with others who definitely will.”

I think the analysis, in hindsight, will show that single-vaccine people infect far less people than those with no vaccination… so illness (serious or not aside), the more people are jabbed, partially or not, the quicker this all goes away. We’re in the home stretch.

June 3, 2021

Do you remember learning about convex vs. concave? Which is which? If you have trouble remembering, and are frustrated, go punch a piece of sheet metal… see that indentation? How the sheet is now “CAVEd” in? There you go… conCAVE when it goes in, conVEX when it comes out… like the VEXed expression on the face of the guy on the other side of that sheet, wondering why you did that.

Now that we’re clear on that, let’s look at this new colourful graph I’ve thrown in today… the one on the bottomright. You’ll notice it has three convex lines, a thicker blue one that’s a bit of both, and only one concave one – the thick red Canada line.

Much like the Canada line that runs from downtown to the airport, this one also took a while… and was expensive in its own way… but well worth it in the long run.

This particular Canada line tells a few interesting stories. The first thing that pops out is how ridiculously steep it is in recent months, compared to the others. That’s what happens with a lot of pent-up demand; in fact, you have to wonder if the fact it took so long to hit 5th-gear with our rollout is now contributing to its continuing momentum. Would we have wanted it so badly if it were so easy to get…? Brilliant psychological trick, if that’s what they pulled on us. Either way, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The best thing it indicates – exactly what the others don’t – is that we’ve not yet reached the end of the “low-hanging fruit”. We’re still injecting as much of the stuff as is made available, but let’s not fool ourselves; we’re going to plateau at some point, and we will start to look like that thick blue American line… concave to start as demand outweighed supply… followed by that flattening… which is also evident in the three other countries I threw in there; Israel, the UK and Chile. Those three were the world leaders in vaccinations… but once the fanfare wore off and the low-hanging fruit was picked… now it gets more difficult. In the last two months, we’ve gone from 14% to 59%. Israel has gone from 61% to 63%. It’s not difficult to see where the momentum is. Those three countries have entered the post-low-hanging-fruit phase and are entering the vaccine-hesitant phase.

To be clear, nobody is getting to 100%… even here. There’s a solid 10% to 15% of ardent anti-vaxxers in Canada who’d rather get Covid-19 than admit they’re wrong, and nothing will change their mind… so forget about them. That number is higher in other places, and inter-mingles with the vaccine hesitant crowd. Looking at that graph, you’d have to assume a global number of around 65% “yes for sure” vs a sliding scale of 35% that ranges from “yeah, soon, eventually, I will probably…” to “never”.

While it’s impossible to know exactly who any of these lines will eventually shape out, there’s no doubt that Canada will go crashing into first place if current trends continue. Assuming the vast majority of people who get that first does eventually get the second one as well, while it took us a while to get there, we may end up in better shape than anyone else. Doesn’t matter through which sort of lens you use to look at that – convex/concave… whatever… it’s looking good.

May 18, 2021

There are plenty of different racing styles when it comes to horses, but as the far extremes go, it’s like this:

On one ends of the spectrum are horses that have only one gear… the “GO” gear. Most jockeys are unable to control these horses’ pace, so there’s no sense in trying; it only frustrates the horse… and uses up their energy anyway. So… they let the horse floor it, and the horse sprints to the front… and you hope there’s enough gas in the tank (ie. stamina) to hold that lead to the end.

On the far other end of the spectrum are horses who are in no hurry. They’ll start slow, sit dead last, and at some point, hopefully, find another gear or three to make a late run for it.

The latter ones are the most nerve-wracking… whether you own/train/groom the horse… or just bet a few bucks on it, seeing it dead last by half a mile is never a relaxing experience. I can think of many examples of horses coming from out of nowhere, but perhaps the best example is the 2009 Kentucky Derby; that’s worth a look on YouTube if you’ve never seen it. The winner, Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, was so far out of it, you can barely see him in most of the video. At one point, the announcer loses track of the fact that there’s yet another horse behind the one he thought was last. What happens next is quite remarkable. Look for the #8 horse with the pink saddle cloth.

Similarly, Canada, in the horse race of vaccination, was a good 40 lengths behind the leaders, taking its time while everyone sprinted off towards the finish line. But recently, Canada, like Mine That Bird at the quarter pole, managed to find a gear nobody was expecting.

In the next day or two, as per the numbers and pictures below, Canada will have, per capita, more first injections into people than the U.S… and we’re blowing by other countries at the same pace Mine That Bird reeled-in his competition.

Recently, Canada, on a daily basis, is averaging vaccinating around 0.9% of its population. The U.S. never really got above 0.7%, and now they’re averaging around 0.2%… and today, they barely managed 0.1%. It’s like one horse, in top gear, screaming down the lane… and the other one, out of gas, easing back… out of contention. Up ahead, the jockey on Canada (I guess that’s all of us, collectively) can see some other front-runners starting to tire… Chile, Hungary, the U.K. We’re going to pass them all.

That being said, a win here is not finishing ahead of anyone; a win here is everyone hitting the line together, sooner than later… and there are two issues that conspire to prevent that: supply and demand, often at odds with each other.

In Canada, we have lots of both, and the politicians weren’t lying; the infrastructure to deliver everything we can get our hands on is in place, and it’s working very well. We’re taking full advantage of it. Until recently, I thought my 17-year-old daughter wouldn’t be vaccinated for another few months. It’ll actually be in another few… hours.

How long will this momentum last? When you assume infinite supply, it all comes down to demand… and that’s the wall the U.S. has hit. Everyone who wants a vaccine has had every opportunity to get one, so now it’s a trickle of people, not the full-on stampede we’re experiencing here.

The real win, for any particular country, province, state, region, whatever… is to surpass the threshold of herd immunity. The U.S., by virtue of vaccinations alone, will not get there. At least 25% of Americans have flatly stated they refuse to be vaccinated. Unless they change their mind, their theoretical best-case scenario is 75%.

Will Canada? It remains to be seen. Our “No way I’m getting vaccinated!!” number is 9%… while 88% of Canadians have said they will or already have. If we don’t “run out of horse”, at the current pace, we’ll be hitting that threshold by mid-June. In fact, at the current pace, we’d theoretically hit 100% by mid-July.

It’ll be interesting to see at what point that line flattens out. Anything north of 80% would be huge… and I wouldn’t bet on it exceeding 85%… but then again, I didn’t bet on Mine That Bird either, so who knows; once in a while, those long-shots pay off… and if this particular horse comes in, it doesn’t matter who you bet on… we all win.

May 5, 2021

Yogi Berra was hall-of-fame baseball player with numerous World Series wins and All-Star honours… but he’s just as well-known for some great sayings. One of his most famous Yogisms: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Indeed, there seem to be a repeating cycle around the world; different places and at different times, but it’s the same pattern:

1. Things get bad
2. Restrictions are imposed
3. Things get better
4. Restrictions are lifted too soon
5. Go back to 1

But now there are entries that fit in-between all of those lines…

1.5 vaccines
2.5 vaccines
3.5 vaccines
4.5 vaccines

What effect do they have? Well… there’s some good/bad déjà vu there too. Chile and Israel are among two of the better vaccinated places on earth, but headed in diametrically opposite directions. In both cases, feeling the invincibility of vaccines, they opened things up and things got careless. One of those countries has figured it out; the other, not so much.

Add to this whole thing… the Seychelle Islands… where, per capita, it’s the most vaccinated nation on earth. But they’re seeing a surge in cases, and are now having to impose restrictions… again. Two weeks of no school and cancelled sporting events.

The Seychelles have a population close to 100,000. More than 60% are fully vaccinated. The problem is that they rely almost entirely on tourism, and, rest assured, 60% of those incoming tourists are not vaccinated.

Here’s a rule that needs to be remembered with respect to herd immunity: Even if you achieve it, it needs to be maintained. You don’t just reach it and throw the doors open and forget everything it took to get there… or you will quickly find yourself back to square one.

Closer to home, our provincial neighbours to the east are in lockdown mode. Better late than never, but guess what would’ve helped avoid this in the first place… yeah, a little more patience would’ve helped.

All of that being said… vaccines. At the end of the of the day, vaccines work… and they work very well. In places where a little patience has helped them take hold properly, the numbers are very encouraging. In the U.K., where 52% of people have had at least one dose, cases are down 96% from the recent high in January. In Israel, where 60% of people have had at least one dose, new cases are down 99% and things are, indeed… relatively back to normal.

There’s a lot to learn from how these success stories did it… as Yogi once said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

But, of course, there’s the most famous thing Yogi Berra ever said: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

April 19, 2021

The “Presidency” of Augusto Pinochet in Chile lasted until early 1990. But you can’t really call him a President, because the Republic of Chile never actually democratically elected him into power.

So… in other words, when I was living there in 1987/1988, life under a military dictatorship was in full swing. It meant that a lot of the civil liberties we take for granted here in Canada simply didn’t exist. But other things, that we do take for granted *not* to exist… did. Such as… checkpoints.

Whenever you run into a checkpoint here… 99.9% of the time it’s to sniff out DUIs. The checkpoints are strategically placed so that if you find yourself heading into one, there’s no escape. Just over the hill on the Granville St. bridge, southbound – heading out of downtown on a Saturday night – is a good example.

And as you approach it, you will feel one of two things. If you’ve been drinking, dread. Fear. A complete freakout. And now you get to pay the steep price for making the poor decisions that put you in this situation.

Or, you haven’t been drinking, and you feel a mix of relief and indignation. Relief that you get to have a brief and friendly chat with the cop before you’re on your merry way… and a bit of indignation. How *dare* they stomp on my civil rights. Who do they think they are. I should be free to drive wherever I want. This is a free country. I should be able to do whatever I want.

We’ve been hearing a lot of those sentences recently, in a very different context… but these two different contexts will be merging a bit on the near future, much to the horror of civil libertarians.

Living under a military dictatorship kept you on edge. Every single time I went through one of those checkpoints… and, might I add, they not only popped-up unexpectedly, but many were semi-permanent. Imagine a checkpoint in the middle of the Lion’s Gate Bridge. In both directions… License and registration and insurance, please. Why isn’t this car in your name. Why are you going downtown. Who do you know on the north shore. How often do you travel this route.

That would be a permanent checkpoint… a little hut in the middle of the bridge, manned by a solider 24/7. Except it wasn’t 24/7… just to mess with you, sometimes the hut was empty and you could just go through. Just to mess you with and keep you on edge.

But usually, it was manned… so, you’d jump through the hoops; you let them execute their little power trip, you acquiesce to their bullshit. And unless you’re actually up to no good, you’re unlikely to have a problem. I was asked a lot of stupid questions… “Where’d you get that car radio?” “Canada? Is that one of those little states way up north?” but it was never more than a few questions before “Have a nice day”.

I’ve been back to Chile many times post-1990, and all of those checkpoints are gone… but the little huts are still there. And I drive by them now and think… what was the point of that. Seriously, what was the point.

Well, the point was that they wanted to keep you in fear. They wanted to constantly remind you… don’t forget who’s in charge. We control you. Don’t, for a minute, think you’re free.

It took a radical change in government to get rid of that but, rest assured, the right-wing military junta of Augusto Pinochet had zero in common with today’s NDP government of John Horgan… something to remember when people start screaming about today’s announcements… that for several weeks, travel restrictions… where you simply shouldn’t leave your local area. And you may run into a checkpoint. It’s temporary and it makes sense, but, oh boy… here comes the screaming and yelling from the freedom/liberty crowd.

I don’t expect to get pulled over at any checkpoint because I don’t expect to be transiting from home any time soon… but in a warped way, I’d look forward to it… because I wouldn’t be able to not compare it to my experiences from 30 years ago… the difference between slowly pulling up to a young, potentially itchy-trigger-fingered solider armed with a loaded semi-automatic weapon… and some VPD or RCMP cop whose only job in this context is to try to keep people safe. I’d look at today’s checkpoint and realize that the cop is on my side, that this is temporary, that this is necessary… and resign myself to the fact that we put ourselves in this situation.

It’s more serious than many people realize, but that’s counteracted by the measures already in place which *are* having a positive effect… and warmer weather, and vaccines. The outcome of this collision course is approaching… do we go the Israel route or the Ontario route in the near future?

Well, let’s look at the Chile route. Way ahead on vaccinations, and fully locked up… because they took that freedom and abused the hell out of it and things went from being under control to totally messed up. That’s what can happen. That’s what might happen here if strict and sudden measures weren’t put in place. So ironic that checkpoints in Chile might have prevented their full-on lockdown.

Around here… may I say… temporary. Can I repeat… temporary. As in – what we need to do today, so that we don’t all have to be doing this forever. I’m pretty sure we can do this for just a few short weeks.

I sure hope so. Otherwise, it won’t be short and it won’t be weeks.

April 15, 2021

In answering a lot of “Ask me next year” questions, I can’t help but touch upon a topic I wrote a lot about last year… but haven’t touched recently.

Just my opinion, but the U.S. has gotten itself into quite a pickle. If you’re a typical, normal, right-leaning American who usually votes Republican because, above all, you favour their economic policies, you’re not facing a great situation. You want the Republican party, but you don’t want the racist misogynist narcissist that presently leads it. Your former president is as unhinged as ever, and that will never change… just get worse. From his point of view, you’re with him or you’re against him. His VP, Mike Pence, stuck with him through high and low, but that didn’t stop Trump from sending him to the lions on January 6th.

Mitch McConnell made his own deal with the devil… one he’s very much regretting. True to form, now that he and Trump are on the outs, he’s facing his own version of getting kicked to the curb. A few nights ago, Trump called McConnell a “stone cold loser” and a “dumb son of a bitch”. That honeymoon is certainly over.

The problem is that the populist Trump has a huge crowd of support and, as we’ve all learned, a significant percentage of that crowd is unshakable. And if Trump dumps the GOP and goes Independent, he will take most of those people with him, and those people, at present, make up half of the Republican voting base. In that scenario, if the GOP votes were to be split in half, there’s a reasonable chance the next election might be a 50-state sweep for the Democrats, a scenario no Republican wants to contemplate. Third-party candidates appear all the time, but rarely have a significant impact. One has never swung an American election one way or the other… but Trump certainly would. Sweep or not, the election wouldn’t be close, and it wouldn’t be a reflection of what the majority necessarily want… a scenario that’s actually not so uncommon.

Municipally, left-leaning Kennedy Stewart is the mayor of Vancouver… elected in 2018, having beaten the NPA’s Ken Sim by only 1,000 votes… something like 50,000 votes to 49,000 votes. Wai Young, who’s further to the right than Ken Sim, got close to 12,000 votes… the vast majority of which would’ve gone to Ken Sim.

Provincially, we saw it here in 1996 when the right-wing split-vote brought in a Glen Clark NDP government with only 39% percent of the popular vote.

Chile similarly saw it in 1970 when Salvador Allende won that election with only 37% percent of the popular vote, the right-wing having split the other 63%.

The U.S. could be next… so, for the moment, the GOP is stuck with Trump… and their bigger problem is that with cult populists, it doesn’t necessarily go away when the head guy goes away. We’re living it here, where the ghost of Pierre Trudeau lives on in Justin. In the U.S., there can potentially be 8 years of Don Jr. followed by 8 years of Ivanka followed by 8 years of Eric. By then, Barron will be over 40 and it can be his turn. Don’t think this isn’t exactly what they’re try to do.

Indeed, now that the cult of Trump is well-entrenched in the Republican party, those who don’t like it find themselves in quite a conundrum… because, perhaps, there’s no way out. But that’s what happens when you dance with the devil. Sometimes you wind up in a mortal embrace. And then you get burned.

April 1, 2021

There is fire and there is ice. Fire might be ignoring this virus entirely, and watching an entire society, its economy and its people, crash and burn. Ice, on the other hand, would be freezing everything… cold, hard lockdowns until the virus is extinguished, for as long as it takes. Several months at least. And extinguished along with it, the entire economy… of now healthy — but starving and broke — people.

Neither is a palatable alternative, so we’re stuck navigating a mix of the two… an endless ocean of lukewarm water… where we float around with no destination in sight, hoping to eventually find a shore where we can disembark from this brutal journey.

That being said, actions aside, the *messaging* can’t be lukewarm. It can’t get a little warmer or a little colder. It needs to be decisive, and, around here, it’s not. The result of it is irresponsible parties in Big White… and Whistler… and Surrey weddings… and Yaletown Penthouses. The list goes on.

The lukewarm messaging, along with the lukewarm weather and the lukewarm vaccine rollout has led to this lukewarm attitude… and it’s not good.

I haven’t talked about Chile in a while, so here’s an update: They are the most vaccinated country in the Americas. Their one-jab percentage is 36% (The U.S. is 30%; we’re at 14%). Awesome, right? They must all be out in the streets, partying it up, having a great time, right? Yeah… no. They are, as of today, on a full-on lockdown. Like, full-on… for two weeks.

How did that happen? Many reasons, but a lukewarm attitude to following restrictions is a big part of it. Easing here, easing there. For a while, things were bad. Then they locked it down hard. Then things got better… then they started easing restrictions… then they started making exceptions. The following people are allowed out… caregivers, pharmacy visitors, cab drivers… whatever… the list slowly grew till fully some 5 million people out of the population of 19 million were legally out and about, ostensibly during a lockdown. Not a big deal, because that was when vaccinations were ramping up, and the variants hadn’t arrived. And suddenly, very quickly, with everyone already living like things were back to normal, it’s all gone to hell.

While it’s possible this level of vaccination and nonchalance might have kept up with the original virus, it’s no match for the far-more contagious variants. Accordingly, 5 steps forward has led to 10 steps back. New cases have risen dramatically, and hospitals are near capacity. ICUs are overflowing… and so are the morgues. There can’t be a worse indicator than when the emergency overflow morgues start showing up.

I’ll be honest… I’m not impressed with our lukewarm provincial messaging. Things are kind of good one day, not so good other days. Wishy and washy. Ninety percent of Covid fines are unpaid and, given what we’ve seen with respect to organization around all of this, unlikely to ever be collected. And they are insignificant slaps on the wrist anyway, considering the potential implications. It bothers me greatly that people behave that way, and it bothers me that many do so because they’re just following an example they see all around them. Please don’t do this; please don’t do that. It’s perhaps the biggest downside of being a Canadian during all of this; our inherent politeness doesn’t seem able to impose a degree of harshness that’s truly needed. Give me fire or give me ice. We’re not getting anywhere anytime soon, floating around aimlessly in this vastness of lukewarm water.

But there is some good news… my mom got vaccinated today!

March 13, 2021

There’s a lot to be said with meeting someone in person, looking them in the eye, giving them a firm handshake and knowing that you’re not leaving the room till you get what you want. Obviously, a lot more can be achieved in person than online.

As introverted as I may be, I miss those in-person meetings… in the same way I miss being able to properly hang up a phone. A real phone. At the end of an unpleasant conversation, there was nothing more satisfying than slamming the receiver down onto the cradle. Those Bell phones were made of nuclear-war-resilient plastic. Unbreakable. My uncle in Chile a few times lost his temper on whatever was on the other side of the call and flung his phone out of a second-story office window. The cord ripped away, but the phones always survived. Clicking the [Leave Meeting] on Zoom angrily is a far cry indeed.

Speaking of Chile and doing business, specifically the sort of business that has them pretty close to the top of the list of vaccinations… perhaps my post a few days ago seemed to allude to the fact that perhaps there was some sort of funny business that may have occurred when those Chileans flew out for those in-person meetings and got those vaccine agreements. A little nudge, a little bribe, a little kick-back. I didn’t mean to imply that; I meant to state it unequivocally. Of course that’s what happened. I don’t have any proof of it, of course, and what does it matter… it’s just my opinion. But I also understand what greases the wheels… what gets slow-moving government bureaucracy going in a hurry. What jumps the queue. What gets it done.

My first experience with government corruption occurred when I was quite young… 12 or 13. I had a friend who lived nearby, and his dad put up a basketball hoop in the back lane, hung up over the garage door. The lane was flat and paved… and it was great. We were out there for hours the first week… playing one-on-one and every variation of P-I-G and H-O-R-S-E you can imagine. One day, the neighbour’s wife came out to see what was causing all this racket. The next day, her husband came out to have a look… watched us play a bit… didn’t say much, just went back inside. Oh, did I mention that guy was an Alderman for the city of Vancouver?

Two days later, when we got there after school, there were two freshly-laid speed bumps in the lane, perfectly placed and wide enough to completely destroy our basketball court. It still smelled of freshly-poured tar. Not a single other speed bump in any back lane for 10 blocks around. And not like there were ever any speeding cars there to begin with. What the hell. Is this how things work?

Needless to say, we weren’t happy. Our version of petty revenge lasted years. That guy ran in two subsequent elections, and every time an election sign (with his name, of course) popped up in front of his house, we’d replace it with three different ones from various opposition parties. We’d have to venture deep into East Van in the middle of the night to collect all of the colourful alternatives. Totally worth it.

Ok, where was I… yeah, governments. I think it’s no big surprise to learn that there’s corruption at every level. Screwing up a couple of kids’ fun just because you don’t like the sound of a basketball is a small example. Bribing officials, peddling influence, making big promises, forgiving crimes, throwing huge money at certain people and, ultimately, lying… were things Abraham Lincoln did to push through his Emancipation Proclamation and ban slavery in the U.S.

Ah, didn’t see that coming, did you… yes, indeed… sometimes, that corruption is for the greater good… and for those crimes that today would’ve gotten Lincoln jailed for life, he’s instead considered the greatest president in history. Quite a fine line, isn’t it. I don’t know what those Chileans did, and I don’t care, and certainly, the well-vaccinated populace of Chile doesn’t care either.

If you want to argue that Canada should be above that sort of thing, name me a Prime Minister and we can discuss his corruption scandal. Chretien’s helicopters, Mulroney’s Airbuses, Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin. Closer to home, Glen Clark’s deck/casino, Harcourt’s BingoGate and Vander Zalm’s Fantasy Gardens.

Government corruption has been around forever, and it’s never going away. At the very least, they could put it to use for the greater good… not just individual gain.

Lincoln? Awesome. Chile? Same. The rest of my examples? Brutal.

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March 12, 2021

Our last dose of local numbers until Monday, and, as usual, they tell a mixed message… hospitalizations up by 11, ICU cases down by 1. Case numbers rose by 648, the largest one-day jump since Janurary 7th. But also, nobody died of C19 in the last 24 hours… which hasn’t happened since November 5th. As per yesterday’s post, it depends how you look at it. You’ll find disagreement with respect to what it means.

On the other hand, it’s rare for Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, the NDP… pretty much everyone… to all agree on something… but there’s a topic that keeps coming up twice a year, and I have never heard anyone speak in favour of it. Everyone is opposed to it, yet it’s still around… and all of the aforementioned have the power to once and for all to deal with it, but for some reason simply haven’t.

Wouldn’t we all be a lot better off without the constant, biannual Daylight Savings nonsense? Pick one or the other and just leave it there… and by the way, the right answer is to leave it ON – when we move our clocks forward tomorrow, that is the setting they should stay on… forever.

Are you getting up at 4:30am to spread manure on the fields? Me neither. What a load of crap. But what’s ironic is that, unlike what we’ve all been hearing forever, it was not the farmers that wanted DST… they initially opposed it. Saskatchewan is effectively all farms, and they’ve never been a part of this nonsense.

DST was created during WWI as an effort to conserve fuel. In fact, it was the Germans who came up with it… and much of the world involved in WWI went along with it, the U.S. and Canada included. And although most of North America and Europe still does the clock flipping, the rest of the world has abandoned it… or never did it in the first place.

Studies have repeatedly shown that when you stop screwing around with the clocks twice a year, there are reductions in crime, depression, childhood obesity, energy consumption and car accidents. Economic activity goes up… and, might I suggest, the next 6 months will be wonderful with the extra hour of afternoon sunshine… but, after that, just in time for Winter comes the flip back, and 5pm darkness… wouldn’t every single economy benefit from that one extra hour? No more flipping back. Nobody is getting up early to go have breakfast on a patio somewhere at 6:30am… but all the pubs and restaurants would love an extra hour of “afternoon/evening crowd.”

Like I said, nobody likes DST. The issue seems to be that unless everyone decides this in unison, it’s problematic. I take it for granted that L.A. is the same time as us, and that Toronto and New York are three hours ahead. I don’t ever want to have to devote a single brain cell to that calculation. It’s already annoying enough for places that flip the opposite direction, and now, at different times. Sometimes Chile is 3 hours ahead… sometimes they’re 5 hours ahead. On paper, they’re supposed to be 4 hours ahead but it’s rarely the case because both places are haphazardly moving their clocks back and forth.

Enough already. It’s time for a change. Or not, I guess.

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