January 20, 2021

I remember exactly how I felt four years ago, watching Donald Trump’s inauguration, and listening to his speech. A sense of foreboding. Disbelief. Fear of the unknown. That this guy is going to guide the U.S. to some dark places, and he may well take Canada and much of the rest of the world with him. Barack Obama was probably having similar thoughts when he penned his outgoing letter to Trump. In it, he wrote, “… we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”

In Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, there is a song called “Goodbye Blue Sky” – and if you watch the video of the song (taken from the movie), it conveys it well… you only need to watch the first 30 seconds… where things go from sunny and happy and hopeful… to darkness. The symbolism is not subtle; it’s blunt, like a sledgehammer to the gut. Trump did indeed take many things in the wrong direction, but at least he didn’t take the planet down with him. He left his country in tatters, from which it’ll certainly rebuild… and now, at least, it can begin. There was a big sigh of relief when noon EST came and went. It’s done.

Biden’s inaugural speech was the polar opposite of what was spoken four years ago; he preached unity, understanding, dignity, tolerance, respect. He faced-up to the challenges ahead. He alluded to the mess he inherits. We shall see. Talk is cheap, and his actions will speak louder than his words… but in my opinion, he offers for the U.S. something that’s been sorely lacking for the last four years… leadership.

I’d never intended to write so much about Donald Trump, but I started writing this blog exclusively because of the pandemic, and what became glaringly obvious very quickly was his brutal mishandling of it… and, along with that, his brutal mishanding of so much else.

I was asked this morning… come on, name at least a few good things Trump did in power. Sure, there are a few… he didn’t start any wars, and the middle east is on a potential path to a more lasting peace. Those who support his policies would argue that the reshaping of the federal judiciary is an achievement. Same with his tax reform. Space Force sounds like a joke, but it actually isn’t. But ultimately, whatever could be called a positive achievement is far overshadowed by the negative. There’s one other achievement, and it’s hard to label it positive or negative; his raging divisiveness served to rip off a huge, ratty band-aid that had been hiding a wound that’s been festering in the country since its inception… the deep, ugly gash of inequality. A lot of issues have been brought to light, and a lot of people (myself among them) are now far more familiar with systemic issues that have been plaguing American society for years. Decades. Centuries.

By now, you’re probably pretty sick and tired of hearing about Trump. It was engaging before he was elected, interesting early-on in his presidency… but grew tiring, repetitive and frustrating as time went on. Four years was more than enough. Four hundred thousand Covid deaths (not all – but certainly a significant amount, his fault). While we’re keeping score… 22,000 lies… about 15 per day of his presidency. 150 rounds of golf (one every 10 days). 127 days at Mar-a-Lago. Two impeachments. Two popular-vote losses. I can’t attach a number to the lawsuits that await him, but they will deservedly hound him for the rest of his life. It’s sad that his brainless followers will be the ones footing the legal bills, but the thought that he and perhaps some family members may be facing prison time… there are some sleepless nights ahead. I’m sure Mar-a-Lago has 24-hour room service; one burnt-to-a-crisp steak with ketchup coming right up, sir.

I’m looking forward to writing about other things. Trump mattered when he could actually do something: Mandate a federal mask policy. Set an example. Say something meaningful to his 70 million Twitter followers. He didn’t do any of that, and now he can’t. Now he’s just a two-time loser… silenced, and facing an unknown future… but now his problems (and lack of ability in solving them) are largely his issue; not his country’s, not this country’s… and, certainly… not mine. Moving on.

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January 17, 2021

Once in a while, the trunk of your car fills up with enough crap that it’s time to clean it all out. I usually grab a big garbage bag and dig in. Whatever is garbage goes straight into the bag. Whatever shouldn’t remain in the trunk finds its way to the floor of the garage, and eventually finds its way to where it needs to go. And the rest remains in the trunk, where it belongs. And if there wasn’t enough garbage to justify throwing the bag away, the bag itself also winds up in the trunk… for further use in the future.

Many years ago, I drove to Seattle. Then I came home, and the border guard, bored I suppose – or maybe I looked guiltier than usual – made me get out and pop the trunk.

“What’s this?”

“It’s garbage.”

“You can’t bring American garbage into Canada!”

Fair point… but I explained…

“It’s not American garbage… it’s Canadian. That bag has been in my trunk all weekend.”

“You took your garbage for a ride in the U.S.?”

I suppose I did. Not on purpose, but whatever. Who cares.

Well, he cared. Fine, confiscate it.

“I don’t want your garbage!”

Fine, I’ll throw it away. Where’s the nearest…

“You can’t throw it away here!”

What an odd stalemate. Eventually, he let me go. With my garbage.

I was reminded of this episode because something else (which I’ll get to shortly) reminded me of the opposite… the time we were returning from Seattle after a long weekend. When you do that, be prepared to wait… the border waits are brutal on those Monday nights. But this time, traffic just kept flowing… how odd. Tons of volume, but we never stopped… just slowly crawled toward the border… where all the lanes were open, and there were border guards just waving people through. Go, don’t stop, welcome home, have a nice evening. This was pre-9/11, but still. Wow.

On one hand, I was happy to not have to wait. On the other hand, two things bothered me. One was… well, you know how there are people who keep every receipt, meticulously add up what they spent, who spent it, what it was, how much it was, both in US and Canadian dollars? I’m one of those people. I was ready to answer any question the agent would ask. All that work for nothing. Annoying, but not as important as point two… which was, what a joke. What a mockery of all the times so many people have been stopped for no reason, been given the third degree for no reason, searched for nothing. And now, all the cigarettes and booze and full gas tanks and maybe drugs and guns all flowing into Canada… because I guess they were too understaffed that day, or too tired of dealing with the monotony… or were just realizing none of them would get to go home till 6am with so much traffic to handle. Sure, some stuff will get through. Whatever.

The rules that those people enforce exist for a reason, and when they decide to ignore them, as briefly as it might be, they compromise the integrity of the entire thing. What is the point? What was ever the point?

On that note, we have a rule in place at the moment. If you’re flying into Canada, you have to prove you’re C19-free. Take a test and show the test results at check-in… or you’re not getting on the plane. Very straightforward, and it applies to everyone.

Except, for some reason, not everyone. Like, not Haiti. Why not Haiti? Since the start of the year, flights from everywhere else have had this requirement. And the answer is simple: Haiti, nobody’s example of a first-world country, doesn’t have their shit together when it comes to testing. So rather than just say “No”, we, being the polite Canadians we are, say “Don’t worry about it.”

As a result, two flights from Haiti that arrived in Montreal (Jan 10th and 13th) were so infested with C19 that the post-flight alert that went out to the passengers was not the typical “rows 6 to 10 may have had an exposure”; it was “all rows”. Basically, if you were on either of those planes, you came in contact with someone who was found to be infected.

I had little sympathy for that guy from Kelowna who got stuck in Lake Tahoe, having decided his ski trip was “essential”. He got stuck when the regulations kicked in, and had no way to get a quick test… so he was stuck for three or five days. Cry me a river.

But… had he decided to go waterskiing in Haiti instead, no worries.

The issue isn’t so much with the haphazard rules that seem to appear and rule our lives; borders have always been hit and miss. When you head into the U.S. (and/or come back home), the experience will be greatly defined by what border agent you get, and what sort of day they’re having. That’s just an accepted part of it. Sometimes they’re harsh with the rules. Sometimes they couldn’t care less.

But in the middle of a raging pandemic… whether it’s a self-entitled skier from the interior, or a bunch of tourists in London… and/or pretty-much everyone else… what is the point if it doesn’t apply to everyone?

“Hey, teacher, I didn’t feel like studying for the test today. I mean, I realize everyone else is prepared. I’m just not. Is it ok if I just don’t write it?”

“Oh, of course. I’ll just give you a pass”.

That’s not how it works… we don’t live in a “everyone is equal but some people are more equal than others” society. At least, we’re not supposed to… but stuff like this causes a lot grumbling; a lot of well-justified grumbling. If politicians are going to make rules, make them so that they apply to everyone… and enforce them. Or don’t make them at all.

And/or have a very eloquent staffer ready to write some poetic excuses to the families of people who died of C19 as a direct result of those flights.

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By |2021-01-19T13:05:22-08:00January 17th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , , |8 Comments

January 13, 2021

I can’t wait till the end of the week… and I don’t mean Friday, a couple of days from now… I mean a full week… because, by this point a week from now, Donald Trump will no longer be president. Perhaps, having overthrown the United States of America, he’ll be The Emperor of the newly-crowned nation of Trumperica… or, perhaps, he’ll be in the process of being mug-shotted, fingerprinted and thrown into a jail cell.

Those are two very different outcomes, and neither are too likely… but, as we’ve learned from recent events, nothing is impossible. That being said, if I had to bet on either alternative, I’d go with the latter.

It must be gut-wrenchingly difficult for some staunch Republicans (not Trump supporters, just Republicans) to see what a tattered mess they’re a part of. Those that get it, and the associated implications, have been jumping ship as fast as they can; even with no lifeboat below them, they’ll toss their fortunes into the icy waters and hope for the best… because staying on this boat now is a quick journey to the depths of the ocean… from which there is no return. Hopefully they can somehow get back to shore and start the process of rebuilding. But first, they have to survive.

And by the way, I’m talking about regular people, your run-of-the-mill American who’s finally coming to terms with what they helped create. I’m certainly not talking about the 197 House Republicans who voted earlier today to *not* impeach Donald Trump. To be sure, the vote passed, 232-197 – an excellent outcome, because now it goes to trial, and even if he gets tossed after he officially leaves office (which is what would happen, because it won’t go to the senate before at least next week), he will lose every privilege granted to former presidents. No old-president’s club, no secret service detail, no Trump 2024 and no pension. That’ll need a two-thirds majority, which is certainly not guaranteed… and I shake my head… even after all of this, after their guy led the charge to overthrow the government – the very political system they’re a part of – 197 of them are still behind him. Add those 197 names to what needs purging from the American political system.

And, it’s not just political… Trump and his organization are being abandoned. The City of New York is cancelling its contracts. Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank will no longer do business with him. His online credit card processor Stripe has dropped him. Shopify had been operating some online stores for the organization but have dropped him. The 2022 PGA Championship won’t be played at a Trump course, as had been previously scheduled. The list goes on and the list will grow. Good.

Unlike every other president in the history of the U.S., this one deservedly leaves power with a lot less than what he entered with… and a very uncertain future. If it were just bankruptcy he were facing, he might be able to claw his way out of it, now armed with his army of tens of millions of brainwashed devotees who’d do anything for their near-mythical cult leader. Ten bucks a month times tens of millions of people should keep the doors open for a while. But it’s not just that.

After the Watergate scandal, president Richard Nixon resigned… but subsequent president Gerald Ford pardoned him. That pardon cost Gerald Ford the re-election, an election he narrowly lost to Jimmy Carter. Enough people were pissed off about it; “you shouldn’t let him get away with it”… and that lesson has hopefully been learned. All of this “we have to come together as a nation” and “we need to move on” and “it’s a huge distraction while we have far more important things to worry about…”

No… that is totally wrong. The most important thing now, by far, is setting an example for the future. Every single person that was responsible or was a part of this insurrection should face the maximum that the law can throw at them. It’s remarkable what we’re hearing now about how much of an “inside job” this was… how actual leading Republicans not only knew what was going on, and not only were encouraging it, but may actually have had a leading role in planning it. As time goes on, we’re hearing more and more details about what went down, and how much worse it could actually have been. A bunch of misguided hooligans breaking into a sacred building and suddenly realizing “oh shit, what are we doing” is a lot different than calmly walking in there with guns and handcuffs, ready to take hostages. There should be no little slaps on the wrist for the Cruz’s and Hawley’s of the world; they need to fully face the consequences of their actions, and those consequences need to be significant.

You’ll recall the Stanley Cup Riots of 2011 here; it’s disputed how many actual ringleaders there were (at most a few hundred) and how many people (tens of thousands) just got caught up in the moment. There’s a big difference between looting The Bay because suddenly everyone around you is doing it… and having shown up there with a knapsack full of matches, rags, gasoline and bottles, ready to cause some real damage. Both are very wrong, completely unacceptable, and need to be prosecuted (and kudos to the VPD who spent years meticulously tracking down every single identifiable participant that they could). Not everyone went to jail, but everyone who could be identified was held accountable for their actions.

Similarly, down south… even though there’s a difference between an explanation and an excuse, every single one of them needs to be made an example of… so that future generations understand, at least in the U.S. with its first amendment and rights of free speech; go ahead and say whatever you want… but if you actually start trying to mess with the infrastructure that’s been in place since 1789, you will pay the steepest price possible. There’s no explaining or excusing or pardoning… treason.

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By |2021-01-13T17:02:39-08:00January 13th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

January 9, 2021

There will be a slight delay in posting the pretty numbers and graphs… I haven’t been near a computer all day. This post comes courtesy of my iPhone. And the place-holder video explains why… we took the dog up to Mt. Seymour to wander in the snow a bit… so if you’re here for just the data, come back at 6pm… (EDIT: numbers and graphs are up… but the dog video stays ????) and if you’re here to read what I have to say, let’s go back to yesterday for a bit…

Like I’ve said before, I enjoy being wrong… it gives me an opportunity to learn something.

Certainly, when you post an opinion, it’s up for discussion… I’ve had a lot of contrarian opinions over the last several months when it came to my attitude towards Trump. It was much more fervent at the beginning; I’d post something negative about him, and the comments section would erupt with ugliness… as would my Inbox. I used to answer all of them, but I stopped when I learned to distinguish the difference between someone with genuine points worthy of discussion… as opposed to rabid pro-Trumpers that we’re all too familiar with now. But unless you were one of those foaming-at-the-mouth types, I’m always happy to share my thoughts.

It was a pleasant surprise yesterday to be wrong, but not be slammed by crazy people. On the contrary, the rational intelligent information provided to me by professionals, researchers, more-informed people; what a refreshing change. I’m happy to pass along what I’ve learned in 24 hours; some of it is in the comments from yesterday’s post, others came from calls and texts and emails… from people more familiar with the topic than myself.

The topic-du-hier was the vaccine, but, more specifically, the timing between the two required shots. I went off applying my experimental and empirical knowledge, and mapped it onto a subject that maybe doesn’t apply. Like I said yesterday, I’ve built IKEA furniture without reading the manual; the wooden pegs go in these holes, the round rotating fastening things obviously go in those big holes, the metal things they attach to go in these smaller holes; it’s not rocket science but nevertheless, if you do a step wrong, there’s a lot of rewinding. You may as well read the manual. Also, as per yesterday, I’ve actually landed an Airbus 320 that was way too heavy on an icy runway… and didn’t slide off the end. This was in an Air Canada Flight Simulator, not real… but the co-pilot/flight instructor next to me was saying… you’ll see why this is a bad idea.

So… as it turns out, my assumption that stretching the time between jabs being bad is… not entirely correct… it’s not a simple question of right and wrong. There’s certainly a gray area, and it looks like this…

On one side, you have Pfizer and the FDA… both of which have significant potential liability if they’re wrong. Accordingly, they can’t recommend something and stand behind it on just a whim. There’re both quite adamant: Stick to the script.

On the flipside, you have a couple of things that might make you see things differently… one are the logical conclusions based on the vast experience that exists in the field. While this vaccine is new, vaccines in general certainly aren’t… and there’s behavior around them that in this case can be assumed to be no different. The other is the frightening pace at which the pandemic is accelerating, especially in the U.S.

It’s that latter point that might be the tipping point; the staggering difference it makes getting as many first doses into people as possible. The immunity that one shot provides — enough to prevent a serious outcome (if not prevent infection entirely) means worrying about the second dose later. To that point, there’s plenty of evidence that delaying it a week does nothing to lower the efficacy… and stretching even further might have little detrimental effect. And, further to that… there’s always time in the future to fix that, once everyone has had their first shot and possibly-ill-timed second shot. Perhaps come back for a third if it’s found you really need it.

I’d certainly still prefer to do this on the prescribed and tested schedule, but now certainly understand the merits of stretching it out… which summarizes to hundreds of thousands of potential hospitalizations and deaths prevented.

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January 7, 2021

Kool-Aid has gotten a bad rap over the years. “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has become synonymous with believing in something crazy. It was over 900 people who died by suicide… many of them children, fed cyanide-laced Kool-Aid by their parents… parents who poisoned their own kids before taking their own lives. Over 300 kids.

This was all thanks to Jim Jones, a charismatic cult leader who’d rather die, and take everyone down with him… instead of facing the music. There’s obviously a lot wrong with this picture… that one man could convince so many people to die for his cause.

The first thing that’s wrong is the Kool-Aid itself. It wasn’t actually poisoned Kool-Aid that they all drank; it was Flavor Aid. No big deal, what’s the difference, who cares… well, I’m sure the marketing department at Kraft-Heinz would beg to differ. It’s impressive the good-will that Kool-Aid must have had before that massacre that they would choose to keep the name instead of just re-branding the flavoured juice crystals. Oh, yeah.

Kool-Aid aside, just how deep down the well do you need to be to go along something like that? The aforementioned Jonestown massacre of 1978 is the most well-known, but cult mass suicides happen… well, not “all the time”, but they’re perhaps more common than you might believe.

There was the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in 1997, where 39 people in California killed themselves because their cult leader, Marshall Applewhite, had convinced them that a UFO was lurking behind the Hale-Bopp comet that was heading towards earth, and that “leaving the human world” was the only way to hitch a ride on it. Accordingly, Applewhite provided some poisoned applesauce for the group…who put on identical black tracksuits and matching Nikes (they got a good deal on the bulk purchase), poisoned themselves, and waited for their ride to another planet. One of those was the brother of Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek… but that’s about as close to a spacecraft as they got.

There was the Order of the Solar Temple suicides, led by charismatic leaders Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret… where are total of 74 people killed themselves to “escape the world to a higher dimension”. They were from Switzerland, Canada and France.

In March of 2000, there was “Judgement Day” for a cult in Uganda who believed it was time for the end of the world. It’s unclear how many were suicides and how many were murdered, but the death toll was close to 800.

This list goes on, but the summary above is a good indication that if you have a charismatic leader with a group of well-indoctrinated fervent followers, they will do anything. And if they’re willing to kill themselves, certainly storming the Capitol is not much of an ask. Certainly not after the 4-year build-up that it took to get to that point.

At first, it’s just the typical cult indoctrination… you’re with us, or you’re against us. We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys. We’re the truth, they’re the fake news. Exaggerate, polarize, fictionalize… you’ll recall, it all started on day one. It actually started on hour one… less than one hour after the inauguration in 2017, with White House Spokesman Sean Spicer pleading to the bewildered world to believe him when he told you that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. And off we went, with more divisiveness and Charlottesville-type scenarios along the way, paving a road to a point that really has no destination. At some point, there’s nowhere left to go. Time to pay the piper… but the lead piper will be holed up somewhere, possibly in Florida or possibly not in the U.S. because, especially after yesterday, he may be facing an arrest warrant.

Now what? A good question with many possible answers… but to answer the question of “How could this happen?” – how about, honestly acknowledging, how could it not? Where else was this headed? How is what’s playing out now not exactly what should’ve been expected with four years of trying to pry this country apart? Shocking? Sure. Surprising? Not in the least.

The worse is gets, the more people jump off the cult bandwagon… but, jeez… it took this long? This is what it took? This was your breaking point? This is certainly really bad, but what about what came before? His misogynistic statements before he was even president weren’t enough? His embracing of white supremacists? His complete mishandling of this pandemic? His calling Biden a pedophile? His continual lies? This is a very long list, for those who’ve been paying attention. Every week of this “presidency”, many people were asking the question, “How low can he go?” because as difficult as it was to imagine how he’d do it, he always did. One notch lower, much to the horror of most people, but to the delight or indifference of others. It took this long for you to get it? It took this long for Twitter and Facebook to figure out what giving this guy a platform might do?

Much of that latter group is now diving to the exits. Sure, welcome aboard… welcome to the lifeboats many have been clinging to for four years… but, for some of them… not so fast. There is a long list of Republicans who sided with yesterday’s violence, at least in that they propagated the charade of the stolen election and objected to the certification and all that. Their names should not be forgotten… many of them thinking only for themselves, thinking this would further their political ambitions while actually all violating their oaths of office. I can’t wait to see Senator Josh Hawley try to throw his name into the 2024 election ring. I can’t wait to see him eviscerated by both sides of the aisle for what he’s done. Call it what you want; I’ll call it treason.

“I didn’t vote for this”
“This isn’t America”

You’ll hear that a lot in the future, but here’s some news for a lot of you… yeah, you did vote for him… and yes, just maybe… this IS America. It always has been, with an undercurrent of ugliness that was surfaced and normalized by a cult leader who understood that all along.

Some 74,000,000 people voted for him, but I’m sure in 20 years you won’t find many who’ll admit to it. Here we are after four years… what would’ve happened in another four? The question doesn’t need answering because if Trump had been re-elected, that would’ve been the last American election for many years… perhaps ever.

Good riddance to this cult leader. It’s less than two weeks, but I hope they 25th-amendment his ass out of there sooner and completely wreck whatever legacy might have been left for the completely brainwashed that are still clinging.

And, might I end with that… if, after all of this, you’re still supporting him, thinking he’s the good guy, the victim, etc… then you are indeed beyond salvation by normal means, and I’d suggest you drag yourself (or have yourself dragged) to the nearest cult-deprogramming facility.

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By |2021-01-07T17:03:28-08:00January 7th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , , , , , , |14 Comments

December 27, 2020

Here’s another word you may not have heard of… though it’s been very relevant this year, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The word is: Agnorant

Interestingly, the word has been around for a while… more than ten years. Somehow, I never heard it till recently… though I’ve been dealing with what it describes for a lot longer than that. We all have.

“Agnorant” is simply a combination of Arrogant and Ignorant… and wow, are there many examples, especially these days… and the primary topic-du-jour is vaccines, where, magically, thousands of people who’ve researched it (if research means sitting on the toilet scrolling through curated, nonsensical content) have decided they know more than real experts, and will happily and arrogantly shove down your throats the results of said research.

“Did you know the vaccine has mercury in it? Mercury is toxic… why would you knowingly inject yourself with something toxic?”

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, but just for fun, and especially if someone says that to you, here is the response:

“The mercury found in vaccines is in a compound called Thimerosal. Actually, the mercury component of that is itself a compound call ethylmercury… which the body has no problem eliminating quickly and efficiently. Unlike the mercury in fish, the accumulation of which can certainly be toxic, it’s not a concern in this case.

“But it still has mercury in it.”

“And table salt has Sodium, which on its own will kill you. And it has Chlorine, which on its own will kill you. But as a compound of Sodium Chloride, it’s salt. That’s the beauty of chemistry; they characteristics of elements change significantly when you combine them.”

“Yeah, that’s what they want you to think. That it’s safe, but I know it’s not. I read this whole thing about how Bill Gates is making billions off this vaccine. You’re just a brainwashed sheeple like the rest of them.”

“Sure. Also, the Covid-19 vaccines don’t have Thimerosal in them.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

If you’re reading this carefully, perhaps you caught the moment where it turned the corner from rational discussion to all-out conspiracy nonsense. But either way, the Agnorance is there.

The comments sections below many of these posts have some excellent Agnorant content… but then again, and all comments sections these days can say the same.

It’s been written… “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – actually, the poem by Alexander Pope begins like this:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring”

In other words, either know what you’re talking about, or shut the hell up.

Oops… sorry. That probably came across a little bit… agnorant.

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December 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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December 19, 2020

When I was in high school, we had a coach who employed a very unique form of punishment. When you screwed up, everyone had to run a lap around the field. And when I say field, it was actually four rugby fields… roughly a 600-metre jog for everyone. Well, almost everyone… you, the perpetrator, did not run. Just everyone else.

In fact, the first time that happened to me, I wanted to run too. I didn’t want everyone else even angrier at me. But no, that was the point.

“Sir, I’d like to run the lap as well.”

“No, Kemeny… you stand here with me and enjoy the consequences of your actions.”

The only thing missing was him providing some hot chocolate while I got to watch my friends and teammates being punished for my transgression. Just to really hammer home the point.

I mention this, because it’s interesting to note that collective punishment of this sort, where the said collective (friends, family, acquaintances, teammates, etc) is targeted, is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. It is literally a war crime.

If wearing the wrong jersey to rugby practice is so serious a crime that it warrants a punishment so severe that it’d require an international court to sort out, what do you do with a significant number of Republicans trying to overthrow the U.S. government?

The end-game of this election is starting to look like a horror-version of whack-a-mole… where there’s no cheap prize at the end, but that’s irrelevant… because the game never seems to end. You could argue it’s been going on for four years, but it’s certainly been going on since the election. After 46 days, those are some pretty tired arms. With still 32 days to go.

Every day, some nonsensical mole makes an appearance, and it’s swiftly whacked back into the hole by evidence, lack of evidence, a court ruling… or just plain common sense. And yet, the moles persist. The most recent mole to get whacked was Mitch McConnell, but that wasn’t enough. Now come some Republicans who literally want to overthrow democracy. Martial Law, and the whole thing.

Far beyond just cutting through the bullshit of Trump trying to pre-emptively pardon himself and his family, maybe it’s time for Joe Biden to make a much stronger statement. Number one, anyone who gets pardoned with some sort of cobbled-together Frankenpardon shouldn’t feel too safe. Those pardons will be rescinded within hours of the new administration, chopped up into little bits, just like the parts that came together to form this attempted monstrosity of legality.

And number two, anyone from this point forward trying to actively mess with the very foundation upon which American Democracy is based… will be charged. I don’t know if “attempted treason” is “a thing”, but it should be. Even if Biden gets tossed after four years, there needs to be something in place to prevent this derailing nonsense in the future… that those who instigate this sort of thing have some real consequences to face, not just running some laps in the dark, pouring rain.

But this is what the president is focusing on. This is what he’s re-Tweeting… while every single day, the new cases and deaths pile up. While some rogue nation, still not sure if it’s China or Russia, digitally broke in and stole everything. While a Covid relief bill still hasn’t wound its way through the process.

Allow me to quote Joe Biden: “C’mon, man.”

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By |2020-12-19T17:03:13-08:00December 19th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |3 Comments

November 26, 2020

So at some point in the not-too-distant future, a person says to their robot… “Please go to the grocery store and get two steaks. And if they have eggs, get a dozen.” And the robot goes to the store, and comes back with… a dozen steaks.

This is a popular joke among computer programmers, because they’re the ones who get it right away. Indeed, computers are only as good as what you put into them, and the programming error that would lead to the twelve steaks is a common one. With computers, you need to be specific. You can’t make assumptions. If told to get steaks, it will get steaks. Computers aren’t smart enough to read into the obvious subtext that the human brain picks up instantly… and this is why the errors in the B.C. data that came to light yesterday can only be blamed on human error. Officially labelled “an IT error”, it’s more colloquially known as a “B.C.K. error” – Between Chair and Keyboard. Another common computer saying: Garbage In, Garbage Out. I’m thinking there may be someone looking for a job.

We don’t need to single out the health authority that messed up… but if you’re curious, their name sort of rhymes with “laser stealth”. Or “blazer wealth”. Given that it’s actually the provincial health region with the most cases, screw-ups there could make a difference to where we think things are at. Did it?

The ultimate changes are reflected in today’s numbers; all corrections have been applied, and I’m assuming with today’s data, we’re back on track. If you want to compare, you can flip back to yesterday’s post and see what changed. Side-note, if you’re looking at yesterday’s post, feel free to have a look at the comments, especially near the bottom…

Anyway, after it all shakes out, the end result isn’t too different. The provincial case count is 271 more than had previously been thought, a discrepancy of less than one percent. The interesting thing is how it got there… undercounts *and* overcounts. I could understand if there was data missing every day… or, double-counted, so bigger-than-expected numbers here and there. But both? That’s just… really bad.

The 271 isn’t a big deal, but what might have made a difference would’ve been the “shape” of the numbers. We’d all thought we had this massive day of 941 new cases. That never happened. That day only had 706. The “big” day was Nov 21st, with 835. Except, of course, this is changing by the day… and you can ignore all of that, because, unfortunately, the B.C. record for number of new cases was set… today, at 887. And don’t expect it to last too long.
What as I was saying about the “shape” of cases was simply this: Let’s say there were 5,000 new cases over the last 5 days. There’s a big difference… if those 5 days looked like 300, 489, 797, 1299, 2115… vs. 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000, 1000. Or, of course, 2115, 1299, 797, 489, 300. Those are three very different stories being told.

As it turns out, if anything, the corrected numbers served to “flatten” the look a bit. But again, not materially relevant.

At the end of the day, these graphs, charts, and ultimate analysis are only as good as what goes into it. As per above, Garbage In, Garbage Out.

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November 6, 2020

To follow-up briefly on yesterday’s poker analogy… we’re at the point where Joe Biden went all-in, and Donald Trump, hesitatingly, called… so Joe flipped over his cards; what’s colloquially known as “the nuts” — the unbeatable hand, because there’s nothing left to deal that can change anything. Trump is drawing dead, and can only helplessly watch the hand play out.

Normally, a player in Trump’s position would realize he’s beaten, flip over his cards, and watch the chips get dragged over to the other side of the table. But, of course, Trump is trying to bluff an unbluffable hand. Perhaps at some point, his fans cheering him from behind will be able to convince him to just face the fact that he lost, and move on. But it’s doubtful. Many of them continue to cheer him on blindly.

Notwithstanding that this may end up being a bigger victory for Biden than was originally thought a few days ago, there are a lot of posts from people wondering how it’s possible that a misogynist racist narcissist whose policies have further divided a country the desperately needs unity – not to mention his abhorrent handling and messaging of this pandemic – could have received so many votes? There are many takes on it, but it boils down this…

First of all, some simple math… rough numbers, some 144 million people voted. Of those, there is an unshakable core of Republicans who’ll vote that way no matter who the candidate. How big is that core? It depends how you measure it. Here’s a rough breakdown of Trump voters:

American Preservationists (20%)
Staunch Conservatives (31%)
Anti-elites (19%)
Free Marketers (25%)
Disengaged (5%)

Within that breakdown, there are probably 40% who won’t be swayed, no matter what. And 40% of 144 million is around 57 million… so really, perhaps it’s only 13 million who “really” voted for Trump… and the vast majority of those are white men, and it must be noted that the urban voter turnout is what probably made the difference. The People Of Colour… Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous peoples… they showed up. In person, waiting hours to vote… or mailing it in… however they did it, they showed up. It’s no surprise that even in many Republican states, the big cities are hubs of blue votes.

On the flipside, the rural areas, many of them populated by people with very different priorities… Immigration, jobs, terrorism, the economy, national debt. Who cares if the leader is a jerk? These are the things that matter to me, end of story. My house and my job and my gun… mean more to me than whatever is going on elsewhere. Any by the way, for many people who’ve never left their own state, let alone country… “elsewhere” is everywhere else that’s not within driving distance. They couldn’t care less what’s going on in Portland or Kenosha.

While Biden got more votes than any presidential candidate ever, in second place is Donald Trump. His seventy million votes is what Obama got in 2008 when he crushed (365 to 173) John McCain. It should be noted that four years ago, when Trump beat Hilary, it was 304 to 227. And this was viewed as a huge victory, a demographic shift, a fundamental realignment, etc. It’s looking like Biden will wind up with almost identical numbers. So while it’s not a Blue Wave many hoped for, let’s not discount the inherent statement being made: No more Trump – spoken quite loudly.

The voting system may need a bit of thought, but there are no easy answers. It’s hard to fix it when there’s no agreement with respect to what’s broken. One thing about the electoral college system is that without it, given how fractured the country is, you might not see a Republican president elected again for a very long time. Biden is ahead by 4 million votes, but Hilary was ahead by 3 million and lost. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by half a million and lost. In 1960, JFK crushed Richard Nixon 303-219… but won the popular vote by a ridiculously small margin, like 100,000 votes.

The sad truth is as that the chasm gets wider, like the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the popular vote gap between Democrats and Republicans will widen… and that will, at least for the foreseeable future, be reflected in the left-leaning popular vote. Biden has his work cut out for him; he’s inheriting a mess on every level. I hope he, and the excellent people with whom I hope he surrounds himself, are up to the task.

A final, unrelated note… when I started writing these daily thoughts 235 days ago, it was supposed to be exclusively a daily update of C19 numbers and perhaps a paragraph with respect to where things are. It started to turn political when my daily research of what was going on south of here went from surprise, to incredulity, to anger, and all of it directly pointed at Donald Trump.

With him on his way out, and hoping Biden and his administration start taking things seriously, the daily bashing of American politics will be far less frequent. We have more important things to worry about. Here in B.C., almost 600 new cases in the last 24 hours… and I unfortunately know one of those people. Also, more than 600 in Alberta. And in Ontario and Quebec, more than 1,000 each.

The U.S. has its stuff to fix… they quietly reached 10,000,000 cases while all of this has been going on… but here, north of the turmoil, we have ours.

HK COVID-19 Daily Report - Graph for Nov 6, 2020

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