June 8, 2021

“What could possibly go wrong?” – famous quote, and not words that should be spoken out loud. It’s a rhetorical question, best left to your inner thoughts; when you speak it out loud, you’re daring the universe to answer: “Well… let me show you…”

In the midst of the optimism of re-opening and getting back to normal comes a curveball being thrown at the world… the Delta (formerly “Indian”) variant of C19.

To begin with, it’s undoubtedly more contagious than any predecessor. The original UK variant (now known as Alpha) is 50-100% more contagious than the original strain that dominated 2020. And Delta is 50% more contagious than Alpha. Let’s hope this frat-house-inspired naming convention never gets to Omega.

One positive is that, generally, the more contagious it is, the less harmful it is. That’s not for sure, yet… but quite likely, this strain isn’t going to cause disease any worse than the previous strains. It’s just that it’s much easier to catch. Indeed, all the little spikes we’re seeing in different places – little spikes for now, but we all know what that can grow into – are caused by upticks predominantly of the Delta variant.

So… vaccines… how much protection do they have against it?

To begin with… the vast majority of people who’ve become infected with Delta have had zero vaccinations.

With one dose – you’re not there yet; the one-shot effectiveness of Pfizer/Moderna/AstraZeneneca on Delta is only about 33%, compared to north of 60% for other variants. It’s the second dose that makes a huge difference in this case.

But, beyond that… in the U.K., only three people who’ve been fully vaccinated have been hospitalized as a result of Delta. Three people out of 40% fully-vaccinated people out of a population 66 million people equals one in 9 million.

So, there’s no guarantee you won’t catch it. You may well catch it and never know it. You may be exposed to it and never know it… or catch some mild symptoms. But the big takeaway: If you’re fully vaccinated, you have a one in 9 million chance of being hospitalized due to the Delta variant. Sure, those numbers will get worse… bit it’s a good starting point. The equivalent of throwing 9 dice onto the floor. As long as they don’t all land on the same number, you’re good.

While two doses of any vaccine will do the trick, we’re talking about the U.K. here… and when we talk about the U.K., we’re talking almost exclusively about AstraZeneca. Over there… whether it’s one or two doses, almost all are AZ.

Which leads me (and anyone who’s had the AstraZeneca vaccine) to one again ponder the dilemma of AZ or Pfizer for the second dose, especially factoring in timing. I had my AZ dose April 22nd. I think I’d be able to get AZ relatively soon; Pfizer, I’m not sure. And so… while I’ve been waiting patiently for Pfizer, now I’m wondering about the alternative. Maybe go right back to that little mom-and-pop pharmacy a few blocks away and get the AZ… and then, that’s it.

My decision will be based on what happens around here in the next week or two. I was always a proponent of “get whatever is offered to you”. I changed my mind, watching the data from the European studies (Spain/UK/Germany) implying mixing AZ with Pfizer yields better results. But I’m not against changing it back if the situation calls for it.

And that’s more than ok. There’s another famous quote… from the father of lateral thinking, Edward de Bono: “If you never change your mind, why have one?”

May 19, 2021

I am one of those Gen-Xers who jumped at the opportunity to get vaccinated ASAP, and got jabbed with the AstraZeneca 29 days ago. A lot of my peers have been asking me… do you regret it? And what are you going to do for your second dose?

To take a step back… at the time, a month ago, when the opportunity presented itself… knowing what I know today, would I have done it? I rhetorically ask this on behalf of the many people I’ve heard from, some with “vaccine regret”… who sadly say they’d have waited a few weeks if they’d known a Pfizer/Moderna possibility was on the near horizon… not sometime in August.

Given the misunderstanding with respect to what efficacy actually means, people have attached a 95 to Pfizer/Moderna and a 70 to AZ. They’ve also attached “blood clots / no blood clots” labels.

The PR mismanagement of AZ has been nothing short of spectacular, and I’ve written about it before. Without rehashing the awful messaging, I will summarize my thinking of it like this:

If AZ causes blood clots in exceedingly rare cases (and it might – but it might with the same frequency the other vaccines do too) – anyway, *if* they do (and notwithstanding catching Covid-19 elevates your risk of blood clots by 1000x), what are the chances?

Take 10 dice… throw them hard onto the floor and watch them bounce around. Now go look at them. Are they all the same? Bad luck if they are; you’re dead of blood clot. Otherwise, no worries. If you were to do nothing but throw dice for 10 hours a day, taking 10 seconds to pick them up and throw them again… after 20 years, you’d be at a 50/50 chance of having rolled that bad luck. At those odds, I’ll take a chance. For me, the blood clot thing didn’t enter the picture. What did… was the simple knowledge that armed with nothing but AZ vaccine, the U.K. has pretty-much beaten this thing; good enough for me.

Would I have waited a month for Pfizer/Moderna? No. Two weeks? No. A week? A day? Yeah… sure. Perhaps somewhere in there is a tipping point… but it wasn’t an option… and knowing what I know today, I’m happy that turned out to be the case; I’m exactly where I’d want to be.

Here in B.C., we’re being offered an option… get the second AZ jab, as per the successful U.K. model… or get a Pfizer for round two. For those who want that second AZ jab, it’ll be available a lot sooner than later, especially as the doses we have all dry up by the end of June, and there won’t be any more coming. If you want to be certain you’re fully vaccinated sooner than later, there’s your ticket, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Further to that, however… has been my personal intention to wait for the results of a U.K. study that’s following the AZ/Pfizer people… results coming soon, and before I’m due for any second jab. Similar studies are also ongoing in France and Germany.

But, in the meantime, a Spanish study following 600 people who did the AZ/Pfizer combo has come out, and here’s what it says:

The people who got AZ/Pfizer combo, compared to the double-dose AZ/AZ people, had IgG antibody levels 30 to 40 times higher. Also, the presence of neutralizing antibodies was 7 times higher. This is consistent with the anecdotal evidence so far; it’s what’s led to the studies, that this particular combination packs a particularly powerful punch. Also being investigated is what the ideal gap between jabs may be; and it’s looking like the answer is to be measured in months, not weeks. Also, in the study, less than 2% reported severe side-effects… and they were limited to headaches, muscle pain and general malaise. These are not symptoms one should consider serious. These are, in fact, the very reactions many of us got in the first place.

So, if you ask me what I’m going to do… I’m going to wait.

If there was no alternative, I wouldn’t hesitate in getting that second AZ jab… and I’d push it back to late June if possible. But a July or August Pfizer jab sounds even better… so that’ll be me.

Needless to say, I’m not a doctor… and any of the above shouldn’t be viewed as medical advice. And, given the results of the studies underway, this might change. But this is my opinion and my answer for today, to all of my fellow AstraZeneca’d Gen-Xers… wait a bit longer and Pfizer it up.

April 14, 2021

About as close to hell on earth as one could ever imagine was Auschwitz. A final destination for countless innocent people, murdered for no reason other than their religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or mental capacity. Most people know that part of it… but here’s something perhaps you didn’t know…

Most of the people arriving there didn’t know the fate that awaited them; they thought they were being resettled, and this was just a temporary stop. That’s what they were told. And they were told they could bring with them up to 100lbs of personal belongings.

As you might imagine, if you had to move on to a whole new life and could take only 100lbs of stuff with you, what would it be? Jewellery, watches, furs… your best clothes. Tools, medications, things for kids. Tinned food for the journey, alcohol… as many things of value as you could within the allowable limit.

Many of those people were murdered within hours of their arrival. What happened to all that stuff?

It wound up in an increasingly-growing and well-organized storage complex which ultimately occupied more than 30 buildings and “employed” more than 2,000 prisoners to sort through the stuff. For the prisoners who managed to get this work detail, it was the dream job. While they were tasked with organizing the goods for distribution for use in not only the camp, but all of Germany, they also would secretly procure what they could for themselves and their friends and family.

And what was it called, this large storage facility… this place of abundance and food and opportunity, smack in the middle of hell? It was called Kanada. Indeed, for all of these people caught in hell, the Kanada warehouses were named after this abstract distant place where nobody had ever been, but they could only dream… of freedom and abundance and wealth and opportunity. One of the very few who escaped Auschwitz (and wrote the report that blew the whistle on the whole operation) was Rudy Vrba, who made his way to Canada. To Vancouver, in fact, where he wound up at UBC, a professor of pharmacology.

We here in Canda take for granted what all of those people only dreamed of. This ever-lasting abundance of wealth and opportunity… but, more fundamentally, food and drinkable water… the latter of which literally falls from the sky. Sometimes endlessly.

Which is why it’s weird for us when all of this stuff we take for granted isn’t readily available. What do you mean you’re out of toilet paper? What, you don’t have a single bottle of hand sanitizer back there somewhere? How can you be out of masks? Many of those questions from last year have been replaced with a single one: Where’s my vaccine?

It’s odd for us here in Canada to be feeling that mindset. For many people, their entire life is a struggle to procure those basic necessities… but never here. And what makes it more odd is seeing the rest of the world having access to something we want, and being unable to get it.

The “out” we have here is that we know it’s coming; just be a bit patient… and that’s certainly the way it’s always been in Canada. Not so much in Kanada… which is why, while I grumble when I read the news that forty-nine percent of Republican men don’t want the vaccine or that forty percent of the U.S. military were offered it and refused it… well, that really sucks. But we’re in Canada, so… eventually, it’ll be ok. We have the privilege of hanging in there a little longer, not something everyone, presently of historically, has had. So we’ll take it.

January 26, 2021

There’s an episode of Star Trek:TNG where Captain Picard and the gang happen upon an odd planet… completely devoid of life, save for a small but picturesque patch of land where a peaceful, old couple (of humans) are living.

This guy (let’s call him Kevin) and his wife tell Picard that an alien race came by and wiped out everyone… except, for some unknown reason, them.

There’s far more to the story, but as it turns out, the alien who did the real wiping out was Kevin himself… who only looks human, but actually isn’t. Some aliens did come by and attack the colony… and Kevin’s wife was killed in the attack. Kevin, who’s actually a very powerful alien, took it upon himself to exact revenge by wiping out all of the aliens… and not just the ones that had attacked him, but he scoured the universe and found them all. Fifty billion aliens; the entire species wiped out. And now he was just trying to live his eternal life on this patch of land with a reconstructed illusion of his wife.

What do you do with a being that wipes out 50 billion others? Picard concludes that they, humans, are not qualified to be his judge… because there are no laws to fit the magnitude of the crime. Picard and The Enterprise leave, and he puts out the word to Starfleet; stay away from this planet. Leave Kevin alone. You really don’t want to piss him off.

Indeed, the punishment needs to fit the crime… and there are places in this world where that’s the case. Finland, for example… where in 2015, a successful businessman by the name of Reima Kuisla was caught doing 64MPH in a 50MPH zone… which translates to doing 103km/h in an 80 zone. That’s not even excessive speeding, and I’m sure more than one of you reading this today were on a highway today, where the limit is 80, and where you were exceeding 100. You’re lucky you didn’t get caught; that’s a $173 fine and 3 points.

Mr. Kuisla wasn’t so lucky… he got caught, and because of his Ten Million Dollar income, paid a fine of $80,000. To scale it down, that’s like someone making $50,000 a year being fined $400. Sounds about right… proportional fines, depending on the income of the perpetrator.

There are more extreme examples, but they seem to top out at… one million dollars. Yes, in 2010, a 37-year-old Swede had just taken possession of his new Mercedes SLS AMG in Germany and was driving it home. The cameras that clocked him only go up to 200km/h, which is what they captured… but the Swedish cops that caught up with him clocked him at close to 300km/h. He claimed he thought the speedometer of his new car was broken and that he was just putting it through its paces. Sure. That’ll be a million dollars, please.

Which brings us to a couple of local lowlifes, the ex-CEO and his actress-wife, whose actions have made them front-page news all over the world… and somewhat tarnished the view that all Canadians are thoughtful and polite.

It takes a lot of planning and a lot of disregard for others… to charter a plane, head to the middle of nowhere, lie repeatedly, and get into a vaccine line-up that’s supposed to be for, more than anyone else, indigenous elders. They lied about quarantining, they lied about why they were there, they lied about where they worked. And as soon as they got what they wanted, they high-tailed it out of here. Or, tried to… but that’s where piece-of-shit narcissists usually mess up. They’re so completely caught up in the ME ME ME of their existence that they forget everything and everyone else. Ten seconds after they got their vaccines, you can imagine hearing them saying to each other, “Let’s blow this popsicle stand”… and it was that urgent “straight to the airport” request that made people wonder… ok, who exactly are these people?

They were slapped with $500 fines, which is a joke… but, to some extent, like Picard… I’m not sure we have laws in place to punish this sort of thing appropriately. Like the Finnish businessman, the now-former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corp. made $10M last year. Is $80,000 an appropriate fine?

It’s a good start, but there needs to be more. A lot more. There are tens of millions of dollars to follow for that guy, thanks to stock options and the sale of the company… but it’s about a lot more than money. I’m not sure the answer is jail time; I think the answer is community service, and lots of it… and all of it in the community they affected.

Remote communities like Beaver Creek can probably use some help. Wash dishes at the restaurant. Mop up the airport. Or, actually, go work at that famous motel they don’t actually work at — and clean some rooms. Contribute back to the community, given that what you stole from them is difficult to pin a value on. Maybe consult with those indigenous elders from whom you stole the vaccine… and ask them what they need. And, might I suggest… you start with a series of apologies… to them, to their entire community, and to the countless others who deserve and need that vaccine ahead of you… but, like everyone else, are patiently waiting their turn.

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November 9, 2020

Tonight… November 9th, marks the 82nd anniversary of an event known as “Kristallnacht”. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a brief summary:

On the evening of November 9th, 1938, the mobs took to the streets in Nazi Germany. Jews were assaulted, beaten, and dragged from their homes… which were then ransacked. Over 7,000 Jewish businesses were looted and destroyed. Hundreds of Jews lost their lives, many by suicide. Over 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.

The word “Kristallnacht” literally means “Crystal Night”, named for the piles of broken glass left behind. Indeed, if you were to try to find a “kick-off’ event for the Holocaust that ultimately claimed the lives of 6,000,000 Jews, this was probably it.

The German police stood around and did nothing to stop it. German citizens not participating stood around, many of them horrified at what they were seeing… but also did nothing.

Historians have been writing about, discussing and analyzing this event (and what led up to it, and what came from it) for decades. And every year, it is commemorated… with events where those who were there talk about their experiences, what they witnessed, how it affected their lives. Every year there are fewer of them… but it is important to remember it, to never forget. Those events are happening tonight, like they do every year… except, this time, via Zoom.

I was at one of these events four years ago, and it was more sombering than usual. Donald Trump had been elected the previous evening, and for many people, it was hitting a little too close to home. Nobody knew what lay ahead. Those historians were nervous; they’d seen this before.

Four years later, here we are… and I can assure you, the tone of this piece would be far different had we seen a different election result. I am not saying another four years of Trump would have led to something like that, but if something like that were being led to, we were in the midst of what it would’ve looked like. I’m sure we can all agree that if Hitler had been “un-elected” four years into his term, Kristallnacht, and everything that came after it, almost certainly wouldn’t have happened.

As ridiculous as they looked, dancing in the streets of Charlottesville with their Tiki Torches purchased at the local Walmart, the brown-shirts-to-be are no joke. That’s the “stand down and stand by” crowd, ready to follow their leader. That “leader” is on his way out, and he’ll eventually leave… flailing, kicking and screaming, firing people indiscriminately… like his Secretary of Defense today. Who knows what else he’ll try to pull in the next 72 days, but 72 is a lot less than 1,533.

I feel very relieved to not have to keep writing these “what if” pieces, because they’re tough to write and fill me with dread. Or, at least, used to. It’s like in one fell swoop, problem gone. And maybe you vehemently disagree that things could ever have gotten so bad. Perhaps you’re right. But now, all the conversations become hypothetical, and that’s a truly wonderful thing. And, to be clear, the underlying problem isn’t gone… there’s plenty of healing and plenty of fixing that needs to happen… but all of that starts from the top, with a true leader.

November 9th. November 11th. These are times to look back and remember, and an important part of remembering is learning; learning from what went wrong… learning so that it doesn’t happen again.

And they’re also times to look forward. It’s a time for optimism, and certainly that’s helped by today’s announcement from Pfizer, and their continuing study whose preliminary results show a vaccine that’s up to 90% effective at preventing C19. Maybe this is the one. Maybe this is close to the one. Either way, it implies it’s a solvable problem and we’re far along the path. It’s an appropriately-timed light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel announcement.

People have been telling each other this for a long time, and I’ve said it here many times… but it bears repeating, especially today: “It’s going to be OK.”

COVID-10 Daily Report Graph for November 9, 2020

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August 13, 2020

There was an interesting battle going on during WWII, in the skies above England… and no, I’m not talking about the RAF vs. the Luftwaffe…

Back then, the British launched a very ambitious operation. They dropped thousands of homing pigeons behind enemy lines. The pigeons were in little crates, which, besides the bird, contained paper, and pen and a canister. Whoever found it was asked to fill out the questionnaire, roll it into the canister, attach it to the pigeon… and let it fly home, back to England, with the information. Sixteen thousand pigeons were dropped over France, Holland and Belgium. Something like 10% of them came back, many with useful information, detailing what life was like under German occupation, and indicating what they could about German troop movements. Some of these pigeons were so successful, over numerous trips, that they were decorated with medals. One directed a rescue crew to where a British bomber had ditched in the ocean. Another one saved more than 1,000 lives when it successfully delivered a message that a certain town had been re-captured by the British… a town that was about to be bombed.

The Germans quickly discovered this was happening, and started planting pigeons of their own, with a bit of a different questionnaire (and a pack of British cigarettes, to make it look legit), trying to sniff out local patriots to the allies.

Above and beyond that, the Germans had a little army of their own, trained Hawks and Falcons, whose job it was to take down the British pigeons. How has this not been made into a movie?

Our hero, the British pigeon, already battered and mangled, trying to fend off numerous attacks, struggling to get home… bleeding, missing the tip of one wing… suddenly spotted by a German Hawk… who, with his little goggles and leather helmet (emblazoned with a swastika) swoops down for the attack.. and just as he’s about to make contact, our hero pigeon crosses into British airspace where the hawk is instantly taken down by a sniper from MI14. Yes indeed, the British Secret Service set up a detachment, whose job it was to drive up and down the coast, monitoring bird activity and shooting down those killer German birds.

It’s an interesting little story, detailing one particular battle — amongst a sea of other battles — that constituted the Second World War. A small but important battle.

And that’s how it is with all battles, big or small. It’s not just one big fight. It’s lots of little ones, many of which we’ll never hear about… whether we’re fighting a World War, a virus, or an election… etc etc.

It’s something to consider for the near future, because lots of battles are heating up, and some of them, big and small, are going to get ugly. It’s important to consider their part in the bigger picture, not just the individual pieces… because in this era of self-serving propaganda and misinformation, many of these battles are, as they say… for the birds.

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July 24, 2020

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (rhymes with “peachy”) said a lot of interesting things in his life. You’ve certainly heard some of them, even if you don’t know their origin… things like:

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

“When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”

Less commonly known, here are a couple of other quotes:

“Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed.”

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

Those latter two quotes are pretty relevant these days, in light of the ever-widening wedge between reason and insanity.

Interestingly, Nietzsche also said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Here, Mr. Nietzsche and I may have to agree to disagree. Or perhaps he was thinking super-big-picture when he said that, as in when dealing with topics that don’t actually have factual basis. You can discuss things like the merits of democracies vs. benevolent dictatorships, thinking you have all the “facts”, and therefore your opinion, and only your opinion, is “correct”. I think that’s the sort of thing he had in mind, and with that, I don’t disagree. Philosophical “facts” are meant to be discussed and challenged.

But people who feel strongly about the “facts” that they’re defending will rarely change their minds, even when the facts are indisputable… and, for some reason, the less “factual” those facts really are, the more they’re stuck to those opinions. It’s like being right is a necessary part of their existence, and challenging that opinion is basically challenging that person’s right to exist. Go try have a rational discussion with a moon-landing-denier or flat-earther; I dare you. If someone is convinced that two plus two is anything other than four, you need to understand that mindset before challenging it. And in doing so, you might realize that you’re wasting your time.

Such is the mindset of the anti-vaxx, anti-mask, anti-lockdown crowd that’ll insist that “it’s a hoax”, “vaccines are poison”, “vaccines are crowd control”, “masks cause more damage than they prevent”, “things are going great”, “nothing to worry about” and so on. If you’re going to bother trying to engage in an intelligent conversation with any of that on the other side of it, you’ve been warned. I’m speaking from experience here.

A final quote from our friend Nietzsche:

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well, the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”

Agreed.

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Day 79 – June 3, 2020

They say you can tell a lot about a culture by how many different words they have for certain things. The classic example is the Inuit people, having 30 or 50 or even 100 different words to describe different types of snow. When something is important to you, potentially hazardous, a bit of detail is called for. It’s not always life-or-death… but the ability to be a little more descriptive than usual is always helpful.

It was amusing while reading about this topic to find that the English language has 40 different words for the word… “different”… like alternate, dissimilar, eclectic, mixes, varied… and so on. I also found that English has over 300 different words to describe… drunk.

Sometimes, something doesn’t need lots of different words… but just a single word that captures a lot of meaning. You can certainly learn a lot about other cultures as well, when they have certain words to describe something oddly specific… such as German, and their famous word “schadenfreude (n): pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune”

You know how sometimes, as a joke, you like to tap someone’s shoulder while standing behind their other shoulder? There’s a word in Indonesian for that: “mencolek”

You know the people who sit around coffee shops for hours on the laptops, using up the free WiFi and not really buying anything? The French have a word for them: “seigneur-terraces”

You know that feeling you get when your haircut is finished, and you sit there, looking at the mirror… in horror, because it’s nothing like what you were hoping for? The Japanese would call that “age-otori”. I suspect many of us will be feeling that in the coming days… I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying this full-on fro I’m presently sporting.

You know the feeling you get when you’re sitting on a barstool, and it starts to tip over backwards? Well, turns out there’s no word for that, but there should be. We’ve all felt that particular instant fear/horror/panic induced by that experience.

So, here’s a good word… and I remember the most powerful experience I’ve had of this emotion… Monday, March 1st, 2010… at around 9pm, I stood in the middle of the intersection of Burrard and Hastings. There was not a single car or person visible in any direction…. talk about eerie. If you’re wondering, it was the day after the Canada/U.S. gold-medal game; the day after the 2010 Olympics. It as all over and we were all Olympic’d out I guess. Downtown was a ghost town.

The word for that is: “kenopsia (n): The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.” This is something we’ve all felt at one point or another in the last couple of months… and if you’ve felt it… and/or if you’ve felt the emotion of my bar-stool example, I’m just here to state the obvious; you’re not alone. We’ve all felt it, but perhaps we didn’t have the word to describe it. Words are important. Being able to talk about it is important. And as recent events have shown us, even when we haven’t been vocal about it, we’re all capable of feeling the same thing. Let’s keep adding new words to our vocabulary… because we have a lot to discuss.

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Day 53 – May 8, 2020

There is a 26-minute video going around called “Plandemic”, ostensibly a first part of a longer movie that’ll be released eventually. This blog is not about reviewing movies, but if I ever run out of things to talk about, maybe I’ll switch to that. Until then, I’ll try to stay on topic… but once in a while there will be overlap, so here’s what I think.

This video is well-produced and professionally-filmed. It lays out its story using every known method for conveying sincerity. It tugs at our heartstrings and incites outrage. How dare they. The video spends the first 10 minutes doing nothing but creating a narrative around the subject of the film, Judy Mikovits, being an underdog, a victim, a scapegoat… one of us, up against “the man” or “the establishment” or even just “common sense” — whatever individual challenge you may have holding you back, you can relate. She can relate. Nobody has ever heard of this woman before, so it’s important to start there — who is this person? Well, she’s clearly calm and collected and well-spoken, meaning she’s intelligent, meaning we can trust her. Notwithstanding much of what’s used to get us there is nonsense, twisted, unproven or simply fiction… it’s laid out very convincingly, and we don’t even hear the word COVID-19 until all of that is well-established.

The twisted, unproven and/or fictional claims continue, and it’s actually a bit jarring to see someone stating one-sentence lies with such calm conviction. Perhaps we have Donald Trump to thank for that. The ability to stand in front of a global crowd, spout easily-disproven lies with a straight face, and stand behind them because you have a mass of people who want to believe it and will support it and, when ultimately confronted with the irrefutable truth, will just shrug it off and laugh; haha, got you, you mis-understood, that was out of context, just being sarcastic, just kidding, whatever. Or even worse… yeah, we know he’s lying but so what.

In the video, there are facts that are easily disprovable, but the lighting, sound-editing and pacing, coupled with her calm, measured voice. Wow, it’s convincing. The Medium is the Message — indeed, Marshall McLuhan coined that phrase back in 1964. The same guy who coined the term “global village”, his vision of a more connected world thanks to the emerging technologies taking things in that direction. He died in 1980, but if he could see this video, he would be proud of his visionary assumptions, which were on point… how when you craft the medium, the message becomes secondary. The message can be anything you want it to be.

Also proud would be Joseph Goebbels, chief architect of the propaganda machine that fuelled Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Goebbels wrote the book on propaganda, a playbook that has been used countless times since… and that’s what bothers me most about things like Plandemic. Like a virus with multiple paths to attachment, this video is spreading, and it’s contagious to many different sorts of immune-depressed people. Instead of old and diabetic and asthmatic, this one attaches to… well, let’s break it down a bit.

There’s the usual crowd of deniers, those who yell Zag before you’ve even finished yelling Zig. The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” crowd, and there are many of those “partnerships” emerging these days.

There’s the crowd who want to fit in with like-minded people, and this video caters to them very effectively by grouping together countless unrelated conspiracy theories, and throwing them into the mix. Whether Epstein killed himself or not is quite irrelevant to this present pandemic (or is it?!), but it’s thrown in there. Maybe you agree with that, and this intelligent video agrees with that, therefore everything else in the video, you must agree with. Maybe you don’t like wearing a mask, for your own personal reasons… it traps bacteria, making it more dangerous… or it doesn’t fit well or looks silly or infringes on your constitutional rights; whatever reason you have, and whatever reason the video has, you both agree. Therefore, etc etc.

And then there’s the crowd who like to believe celebrities, because obviously, if they’re good at acting or singing or throwing a football or sinking a 3-pointer from beyond the line, they must be experts on this as well. Anyone with a blue “verified” checkmark on Instagram — well, wow, expert. And as per the point above, if I agree with said celebrity, then I’m like that celebrity. Wow!

I happen to know a lot of people… friends, professional contacts, and even family — with that little blue checkmark. None of them are epidemiologists. None of them are promoting this crap. Most of them, some of whom have audiences in the many hundreds of thousands, have come to understand that with a big platform, one offered these days by the global village that McLuhan was talking about, comes responsibility. The man with the biggest platform on this planet is using it to promote bullshit, so why shouldn’t anyone else? Press conferences, speeches, Twitter. The presidency of the United States is the greatest soapbox of all, and once people have decided that if anything goes for that guy, anything goes for anyone. And that’s where we’re in big trouble.

And that’s why this video crosses-over from just being the usual fringe nonsense to actually being dangerous. This video will kill people. That couple that ingested the aquarium additive that contained chloroquine phosphate — the man died, and the woman told NBC News that she’d heard Donald Trump speaking repeatedly about chloroquine and put two and two together, hey, isn’t that the stuff we give the fish?

People will see this video, feel empowered by its dangerous nonsense and, more than ever, act in what they believe to be in their best self-interest… without realizing that they’re not only taking themselves down, but possibly others with them.

I don’t have a simple answer to this, so here’s a complicated answer: instead of dismissing everyone who’s promoting this video as stupid or crazy, do your part in intelligently trying to show them why it’s wrong, why it’s propaganda, why it’s false and why it’s dangerous. Certainly, there are people who don’t want to be convinced otherwise. There’s little you can do, other than avoid them in person until there’s a vaccine. But there is a big difference between stupidity and ignorance. One of them is fixable, and there’s no reason not to try. Like herd immunity, if enough people are educated enough to actually know and understand what’s going on — and act accordingly — perhaps we can reach beyond a tipping point of “herd knowledge”. There’s no vaccine for that one either, although it seems many people could use a good dose.

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Day 36 – April 21, 2020

The answer to the question…. “Where are you finding all this time to research and write?” — is every simple. All the time I spent driving, parking, walking… from meeting to meeting to lunch to meeting to meeting to whatever… well, when all of that travel can be measured in centimetres and the time it takes in seconds… here we are. These scribbles are the result of free time that never used to exist. Also, the length of many of these meetings now can quickly be trimmed… well, jeez darn it, looks like the WiFi is crapping out, gonna have to let you go, my people will call your people, yeah ok, bye.

I don’t do a lot of that… I’m too polite. That’s never really an option when it’s in person, but when you’re behind a screen and keyboard… it’s tempting. In any event, you can always check your brain out of a meeting, and that often happens when I’ve lost interest… which sometimes happens right off the bat. I listen to a lot of ideas and proposals, but certainly one way to get me to hang up my brain is to throw lots of buzzwords at me.

“Hey Horatio, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know you’re busy so I’ll get right to it. What our app intends to do is to disrupt the market, to shift the blockchain paradigm by leveraging existing synergies in the deep learning space and employing best practices to scale-up the mission-critical algorithms that’ll fuel the next generation of mobile.”

Dude, you’re a paragraph in, and you’ve already lost me.

And this is the same filter I’m using while trying to wade through the colossal amount of information with which we’re being bombarded these days. More than three buzzwords in one breath equals nonsense.

Self-serving, bias-conforming, buzzword-infested “reports” that magically wind up at the conclusion that perfectly aligns with the author’s intended audience, political beliefs, click-bait potential… whatever. If you want to believe that this virus was caused by reptilian aliens who’ve arrived on earth, and who’ve activated it with their nefarious 5G signals so as to expose Bill Gates’s agenda of GMO’ing vaccines because he’s just a pawn for big pharma who already have the vaccine because they’re in cahoots with the aforementioned aliens… yeah, I guess there’s not much I can say that’ll change your mind. That’s an extreme example of the crap that’s out there… but since it’s on a well-designed website with a very trustworthy-looking font… well, it might be true, right? Yeah… no… why don’t you just take that paradigm and shift it, if you know what I mean.

But once in a while, credible reports — from credible sources — arrive at similar conclusions, having started at very different points. And those are always interesting because they, unless they’re referencing each other, might offer some unbiased, independent… dare I say it… truth.

There’s this famous Stanford report that’s buzzing around these days… claiming that recently, while Santa Clara county had only 1,094 confirmed cases, antibody tests suggest that the number was somewhere between 48,000 and 81,000. The range of that number is wide enough that it makes one wonder about the inherent problems of the test sample. I have no idea, but that’s a pretty big error range. Nevertheless, let’s go with it and just pick the average… 48+81 = 129….. 129k ÷ 2 = 64,500…. and 64,500 ÷ 1,094 = 59x. If we apply a 59x factor here in B.C., that’s 59 x 1,724 cases… which is around 100,000… which is 2% of our population of 5,000,000.

Independently, the WHO have announced that they’ve found that 2% to 3% of the population they’ve tested has antibodies.

And independent of that, a study in the Netherlands of 7,000 blood donors found that 3% had antibodies.

Which brings up the discussion of one of the buzzwords-of-the-day: herd immunity.

Herd immunity is where enough people of a population are immune; immune enough that the infection will not spread within that group. The more infectious a disease, the higher that percentage has to be. For example, mumps is very contagious… Rø of 10 to 12, meaning every infected person will infect, on average, 10 to 12 others. Left unchecked, this would lead to 95% of the population getting infected. The other 5% inherit the benefit of the herd immunity that provides, because eventually there’s no one to catch it from. That herd-immunity threshold can only be reached via vaccination because allowing everyone to catch it is not an option. It’s a horrible disease, and these days, completely preventable.

For COVID-19, the Rø number is much lower… around 3, which implies a herd immunity percentage of around 70%. Which unfortunately, is well above the natural 2% to 3% that may be occurring.

Germany claims the “cases in the wild” number to be higher than that… a little over 10%. Better, but still far from what’s needed… which is a vaccine, which would launch that number into the high 90s and that would be the end of this pandemic.

Until that happens, the best thing to do is not catch this and/or give it to someone else.

BUT — and this is a big but, in two parts… IF you are already one of those 3% and IF having antibodies grants you immunity, then your individual life going forward does look a little different. For one thing, you can stop worrying about catching it.

There is no general agreement yet on how much immunity these antibodies confer, but some… for sure. What concentration you need in your blood, how long it lasts… all of that remains to be seen. I’m not sure who gets those antibody tests and when, but they’ll be arriving here in B.C….. soon. Sign me up.

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