February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The symbol of the day is, of course, hearts. Big, red… and/or fluffy and/or chocolate-filled and/or arrow crossed – hearts. We all know what Valentine’s Day looks like.

Funny thing, symbols… how they come into existence and what they mean to people and how, sometimes, they get co-opeted for nefarious means and ruined forever.

There is an ancient Sanskrit symbol used to convey good wishes and well-being that was very popular until relatively recently. You could find it on Coca-Cola bottles. You could find it on bottles of Carlsberg. Even the Boy Scouts used it, and, in fact, the Girls’ Club of America named their magazine after it. Closer to home, many hockey teams named themselves after it and used it as their logo.

The pictures of those teams, though… are all in black and white because all of the above preceded World War II. At that point, the symbol was seized-upon by the Nazis, and the rest, as well as the symbol itself, is history. In common parlance, the swastika has been “canceled” and, unlike some celebrities who manage to claw their way back from permanent exile – for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger – the swastika Won’t Be Back.

For decades, especially after the aforementioned World War, the Canadian Flag has been a world-wide symbol of awesomeness. If you’ve ever backpacked through Europe, hopping from hostel to hostel, you’ll understand the warmth with which you’re received when they see that flag, especially in places like Holland.

Around here, Canadian flags being waved loudly in the streets has always been in celebration. If you’d told me a few months ago that there’d be huge screaming crowds waving flags and dancing in the streets in early February, I certainly would’ve assumed it was sports-related; perhaps because the Canadian women once again won Olympic gold… and/or the men… and/or our national soccer team qualified for the World Cup… that sort of thing. But then you throw in the swastikas and the violence and the “F🍁ck Trudeau” flags and, suddenly, it looks quite different.

I categorically refuse to allow what’s going on these days to tarnish the meaning of our flag and our Maple Leaf. I recognize that the symbolism and what’s behind it isn’t flawless; I certainly recognize that Canada Day is far from something to celebrate for some populations of Canada, but that’s our internally inward-facing problem to acknowledge and respect and make right. Nobody else’s.

So, back to the question… who exactly has seized upon the moment to tarnish our image, both inward and outward-facing, to suit their own particular agenda?

The big news a few hours go was that there was a data leak; that the spreadsheet of all of the truck convoy donors was stolen. Indeed, that happened… and I’ve managed to get a hold of it (don’t ask).

There’s a lot to learn from all that data, but here are the broad brushstrokes:

– around 90,000 individual donors totaling more than $8 million (USD)

– the majority of donors were American (58.8% US vs. 41.2% CA)

– the top donor, a donation of $90,000, came from an American billionaire who’s well known for backing Republican causes

– there were around 50 American donations of $1,000 or more, as opposed to around 150 Canadian donations of $1,000 or more

– the lower the donation amount, the more the quantity seems to skew towards Americans. Like, of donations over $10, there were 46,700 US vs. 35,100 CA. Of donations less than $10, Americans “outweighed” Canadians 5 to 1. In other words, there’s a relatively small group of Canadians who’ve seized upon this “seriously” and have thrown some bigger money at it. The majority of the rest of it comes from down south.

Who the hell are these thousands of Americans throwing $5 or $10 towards this? The answer is pretty obvious, but for those who don’t get it or don’t want to get it, I’ll spell it out for you… it’s the same mindset as the $90k guy at the top, who are interested in pushing their own agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic or freedom or whatever else. If you’ve ever wondered who’d ever come into Canada pushing agendas with respect to more guns, less abortions, even fewer vaccines and no masks – it’s these guys.

I’m well aware there are people reading this thinking hell yeah! That’s what we want!

Well… I’ll tell you what: If that’s what you want, go right ahead and do your part trying to vote it in. After all, this is a democracy… and if that’s what most people want, they’ll eventually vote it in and get it.

However, the last thing anyone around here should be welcoming is meddling from the outside. Americans, in general, are notorious for jumping borders and imposing their will. They’re our closest neighbour and biggest trading partner and ally, I know… but I’ve always been a big fan of the 49th parallel and what it’s managed, both physically and spiritually, to keep in and out. America has plenty to offer, but it should always be up to us what we take… because America is also well-known for, after imposing their will, washing their hands of it, walking away, and leaving a huge mess, having achieved whatever it was that they were after. Most countries for whom that’s happened might not have seen it coming. Here, it’s staring us in the headlights. Can we please not let that happen?

If you’re the sort of American that’s happy to share your Super Bowl commercials and commercialized Valentine’s Day, great! Thank you… those of us who want that will take it. I’ll admit to being a fan of at least one of those things.

But if you’re the sort of American who wants to shove their agenda down our throats for your personal benefit, and to hell with us and our symbols and our flags and whatever else we may hold dear… well, I do say this is the most respectful and polite and Canadian way I can: F🍁ck off.

February 9, 2022

It wasn’t so long ago that marijuana was illegal. Back then, smoking up in public could get you arrested. Not to mention possession, distribution, operating a little grow-op, and so on. There was an exception to all of that, though… and it occurred exactly once a year, on April 20th. On that day, 4/20, at precisely 4:20pm, a lot of people (far more than 420) would congregate on the lawn (yes, back when it was, appropriately, grass) of the Vancouver Art Gallery… and get high together.

Not everyone there partook; many were there just to be part of it because they agreed with the message, and/or had some role to play. There were cops, reporters, curious bystanders, merchants peddling their associated wares, confused tourists, and so on. The whole thing seems to have lost its edge once pot became legal, but in its day, there was plenty to celebrate for those who cared.

One thing that never happened was the whole thing getting out of hand, or hijacked for an ulterior motive. Maybe an arrest or two for some drunk idiot, but, for the most part, what else can you expect from a large group of stoners. It’s all mellow; it’s all good man. One big, eclectic group of people, all relatively on the same page. Indeed, you can tell a lot about a group of people by looking at not just them, but those who associate with them.

Which brings us to the events of recent days… events we’re not done with quite yet.

I find it sad – tragically sad – that the incredibly divisive left/right black/white right/wrong paradigm that’s been ripping apart the core of the U.S. since 2016 has managed to jump the 49th.

I’m saddened to see so many people whose opinions have made sense to me for two years have a strange course-correction when it comes to the truckers and protests… falling into that sinkhole where you stuck a toe in, then you went a bit deeper, and now it’s too late to remove yourself… but you’d rather get totally soaked and maybe even drown before you might admit you’re wrong.

So… let’s rewind a bit: A lot of us, and by a lot of us I mean everyone – is sick and tired of this pandemic. We all just want to go back to normal. Let’s not get into why we’re not there yet; let’s just agree we all want that to happen.

So… you hear there’s going to be a protest against what you imagine is the bad guy; sure. Go protest. It’s your privilege to do so. Then, when you get there, you realize perhaps there’s more going on here than you imagined.

Pause button for moment with respect to the makeup of that crowd; many of them are imported and jumping on the bandwagon. There’s no version of “Canada versus the virus” that needs to involve Confederate flags and Nazi symbolism, and yeah, I know also… those people don’t speak for you. I get that too… but here’s a concept for you: If you’re sitting at a table with 9 other people, and then a Nazi sits down… watch to see who gets up. Because if nobody does, now you’re sitting at a table with 11 Nazis. Yeah, yeah, I get it… they don’t speak for you. But here’s a concept for you; by not getting up from the table, you’re speaking for *them*. There was actively one; now there is passively many more.

Why exactly are a bunch of (mostly) unwanted people showing up to what ostensibly should be a peaceful Canadian rally? You’re just there to simply (and loudly) state you’re tired of mandates. So, what’s the big deal?

Let’s answer that question a little differently, for those saying that bandwagon-jumpers don’t count.

Let’s set aside for a moment the people desecrating the tomb of the unknown soldier… what’s the big deal… it’s just a couple of idiots. They don’t speak for us.

Let’s set aside the people draping crap on top of a statue of the greatest Canadian of them all, Terry Fox… what’s the big deal? And anyway, Terry Fox himself would probably be out here dancing with us, as Canadian as he was. Actually, he wouldn’t, because he lived the heroic final days of his life raising money for science – as we all know, scientific research to cure cancer. He embraced medical science till the day he died, and countless lives have been saved with research directly funded by his legacy. But let’s set that aside for a moment.

Let’s set aside the violence, the homophobic signs, and the blocked traffic, the relentless noise. Let’s set aside the intimidation of journalists, hotel managers, medical workers and baristas. Let’s set aside the people stealing from soup kitchens. Let’s set aside the guys who tried to set an apartment building on fire and blocked the exits.

Jeez… we’re excusing an awful lot of deplorable behaviour, eh. Oh well… all in the name of freedom.

Let’s get back to 4/20, and here’s a great question: Do you know what some other people celebrate on 4/20? It’s not just “get high” day… it also happens to be Hitler’s birthday. Countless white supremacist facist assholes love that day. And I’ve always wondered why they never take the opportunity to march to the “lawn” of the Art Gallery and let their presence be known. There’s a captive crowd there, partying it up… they’d fit right in and yell and scream and party alongside everyone else.

Except, of course, they wouldn’t. As stoned as all of those people may be, they’re West-coast easy-going love-your-neighbour type people who are pretty clear what they believe in, and they wouldn’t put up with it. As stoned as they are, they’d beat the ever-living shit out of those skinheads. The stoners would literally stone them.

And all of this is why I’m more than a little disturbed by what’s going on.

All of you who support these rallies… here’s a question for you: Once all the mandates are lifted and whatever else they purport to be protesting is no longer a fight, then what? What will you say to the ongoing disruption of life caused by a fringe who’s here with their own agenda, one that has absolutely nothing to do with yours?

The problem is that they’re using your well-intentioned cry for normality (and please, do not call it freedom; let’s not go there) – and using it to show themselves and each other and the alt-whatever fringe of society that hey, they all agree with us. They speak for us too. We’re welcome here.

They’re not welcome here; certainly not by me, and, I should hope, not by you either. There’s a very big difference between “We’re tired of the pandemic” and what we’ve seen recently… a shitstorm that’s not going to be going away any time soon.

It’s time to take a big step back and understand what’s actually going on here… and not allow ourselves to get dragged into some post-pandemic/pre-apocalpyptic nightmare of divisiveness that we seem to be imposing on each other… and which has absolutely nothing to do with our actual shared values that make up Canada – the actual and real True North Strong and Free.

June 21, 2021

First things first… the contest! Congratulations to Shahar Ben Halevi! – whose guess of 231 was only two off the actual total of 229. Shoutout to Theresa Christina who guessed a few minutes later and was also only 2 off, but in the other direction, with her guess of 227. Shahar, let me know where you’d like it donated!

** EDIT ** Oops… ignore most of that last paragraph. Garry Saitz, congrats… 228 is closer to 229 than anything else. Shahar, I’m not going to pull a Steve Harvey here… we have two winners. Shahar, let me know. Garry… you too!

Secondly, to put to rest my decision-making with respect to dose two: My research, as I’ve written, has led me to think that, given the option, an mRNA vaccine for the second dose would be the way to go… if it was literally a choice, right at that moment. As it turns out, I wasn’t given the choice… I would’ve expected the pharmacy who gave me the AZ on Apr 22nd to have reached out by now, but they haven’t. The provincial system, however… the one I registered with ages ago – they did. And last week, booked me for an appointment for today. So… today I went, received my 2nd shot (Moderna) and, as far as I’m concerned, at least for now… that’s that. Almost exactly 15 months ago, I was writing pieces about how I expected vaccines would be available in 12 to 18 months. In hindsight, given my penchant for little contests, we could’ve held a pool where people guess, to the day, how long it would’ve been till vaccines show up. That would’ve been fun, and we could’ve raised a lot of money for charity. Oh well, a missed opportunity. Maybe next pandemic.

Finally… today, June 21st… often the longest day (ie most sunlight) of the year… the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer… has held, for the last 5 years, a more profound meaning. June 21st, 2016, was the day my dad passed away… and so now, every year, this particular day has a lot more meaning. It sometimes, appropriately, lands right on Father’s Day as well.

I wrote a lot about him five years ago… and, if you missed it the first time around, here you go:

Happy Summer everyone – it’s going to be a good one.

June 12, 2021

Heading into the weekend without anything too exciting to report… other than I ran into a virulent (haha!!) anti-mask / anti-vax bike mechanic. The way some people reason things out… it’s quite remarkable. I won’t bore you with the details of it… by now we’ve all had those sorts of discussions with someone… but my front brake needed attention halfway through my ride this morning, so I walk into a random bike shop…

“Hi… I’m sorry, I don’t have a mask… I wasn’t planning on…”

(the guy rips his own mask off)

“Yeah, don’t worry about it… these f’n things don’t do anything anyway”

I’ve wondered out loud before how it is that those two things go so well together. Does anybody know anyone who’s anti-mask but pro-vaccine? Or vice-versa? I’d be interested in listening to rational arguments, but have yet to hear one.

And this guy?

“I’d rather die from Covid than from the vaccine. You don’t know what they put in it.”

The human brain… how it functions, and the twisted logic it supplies to some people… it’s a real mystery.

Instead of pursuing the rest of that discussion… speaking of mysteries… here’s a good one for you to rattle around your brain…

A long time ago, there were three friends who went camping. After a few nights, they’d had enough… and decided to head home early, and spend the night in a motel somewhere. They packed up their stuff, hopped in the car, and drove off, planning to stop at the first motel that had room.

Unfortunately, it was a busy time of year and everything was booked. They passed an endless stream of “No Vacancy” signs… but eventually, there was one where the “No” wasn’t lit up. So they pulled in.

The guy at the front desk told them he only had one room left. They asked if it’d be ok for all three of them to share the room. Yeah, sure, no problem… it’ll be $30 for the room. Great, said the three guys… and each dug into his own pocket and pulled out $10. They each handed their $10 to him; he counted out the $30… all good… and then they got their keys and headed to the room.

A few minutes later, the guy at the counter remembered that there was a special deal going on… and that a room for 3 people was actually only $25. Being an honest person, he opened the cash drawer and pulled out five one-dollar bills…and instructed the janitor, who happened to be sweeping up the lobby, to deliver the $5 to the room.

The janitor, however, wasn’t so honest… and as he walked over to the room, thought to himself… how are 3 guys going to split $5 anyway? He decided to just give them three of the bills and keep two for himself.

So… he knocked on the door… one of the three guys answered… and the janitor handed him three of the $1 bills.

Cool, thought the guy… and took the three bills, and handed a dollar to each of his friends.

So… since each guy originally paid $10 and now got $1 back, you could say each guy paid $9 for the room. $9 x 3 = $27. The bellhop kept $2. That makes $29.

What happened to the other dollar?

It’s a mystery! – and if you know the answer, don’t just blurt it out in the comments… let some people scratch their heads a bit.

Hint: the anti-mask / anti-vax bike mechanic doesn’t have it.

June 1, 2021

We’ll get back to vaccines and pandemics and all of the related issues… tomorrow.

But tonight… the idea is to try to win $70 million in Lotto Max.

Figuring out lottery odds is pretty simple. Using factorial notation (where 4! = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1), when there are 49 numbers to choose from and you have to hit exactly the right 6 (like Lotto 6/49), the formula is ( 49! / (49-6)! x 6! ) – which is just under 14,000,000 to 1. When you add a 7th number in there, like for Lotto Max, the odds shoot up to over 80,000,000 to 1. So, they go from impossible to… impossible.

That being said, let’s take a crack at it; here’s what I did…

I wrote a little program that does a number of things:

– It reads in all of the historical draws (~4,000)

– It figures out how often every number (1-49) has come up in the last 10, 40, 100 and all-time draws

– It figures out, for each number, what other numbers are likeliest to come up together… based on those historical draws.

– It generates, and then scores, all 86,000,000 possible draws

That last step is a doozy… it generates every single potential draw of 7 numbers… from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 to 43,44,45,46,47,48,49… and then, based on the history, assigns a “likelihood” score to it.

If anyone is interested in the source code or results of any of this, feel free to ask. For all the geeks out there, I’m especially proud of my function that generates all of those draws… it’s a recursive function that’s only 7 lines long.

Anyway, I think I’ve sunk enough time into this… now I’m going to sink some money into it and, like last time, I’m happy to share $5 million of my jackpot winnings with all of you. If you want a piece of it, just like this post.

Apologies ahead of time if we don’t win and, either way, back to normal tomorrow.

Unless we win. Then… things will be far from normal.

By |2021-06-01T17:05:50-07:00June 1st, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , |20 Comments

May 29, 2021

OK… the bad news is we didn’t win 65 million dollars. The good news is that nobody else did either, so we get to take another crack at it… this time, with a few more days to grind through the numbers and some new ideas… which might lower the chances from one in 33 million to something a little more reasonable. To put that in context, your chances of getting a blood clot from a C19 vaccine are about 100x greater… and those chances are exceedingly remote already… to the extent that your chances of getting hit by lightning in your lifetime are 200x greater than a C19-vaccine blood clot. Yeah, you read that right. Still worried?

For those assuring me there’s no rational way to predict the lottery, you’re almost certainly right, but I don’t mind telling you what I’m trying to do here… which is to find some tangible edge, if it exists.

For example… let’s briefly talk about Roulette; the casino game where there’s a wheel, with the numbers 1 to 36 on it, as well as a zero, and often (in the American version), a double-zero. Except for the zeroes, half the numbers are red, the other half black. Half are even, half are odd. Half are 1-18, half are 19-36. If you bet a dollar on any of those, you’ll double your money if you’re right. But if you want to win the real money, you have to bet on numbers straight up… where a 37-1 chance pays 35-1.

Here’s an unusual talent of mine; if you give me any number on an American roulette wheel, I can instantly give you the three numbers to either side of it. Like, 32…? 5 7 11 17 20 22 32… and I can bet them all straight-up in about two seconds. I realize this is less impressive in writing; when this is all over, let’s head to the casino and I’ll show you how to win at roulette… maybe.

The maybe has to do with whether the wheel, at that moment, is truly random or not… and usually it is. But, once in a while, especially near the end of a long day, it may be a bit off. A bit of humidity is slowing down part of it, or maybe there’s some dust that’s accumulated on a particular spot, causing the ball to “bite”, right at that point. Whatever the reason, it may temporarily be not so random.

Conveniently, these days, there’s an electronic board showing you the last 20 numbers that have come up. It often looks like a completely random jumble of numbers; like, true randomness. But… if you know what you’re looking at… let’s say you see 22 11 32 7 5 17 as the last 6 numbers. As per above, you’d instantly know those numbers are all in a tight, specific section of the wheel… and so you sit down and you hammer that area of the weel — straight up. Often, it’s not so obvious… but if five of the last ten numbers are all on the same pie-slice of the wheel, it’s a big opportunity.

That is how I play Roulette, and that is how I’m trying to approach the lottery.

There are 49 ping-pong balls of equal weight that bounce around randomly, and then 7 are chosen. All things being equal, it’s totally random. But what if some of those balls are slightly heavier or lighter? What if, by the design of the way the balls are dropped in the tumbler, some generally stay closer to the hopper?

I’m sure everything is checked often, but let’s say recently a few balls picked up some dust… making them likelier (or less likely) to come up. Or some calibration is a little out of whack.

I really don’t know the mechanics of it, but I’m studying the frequency of numbers that have come up recently… and comparing it to, historically, whether these sorts of patterns emerge from time to time. It’s interesting to note that numbers that end in 1 seem to come up more often. A 31 on its own is one thing, but 1, 11, 21 and especially 31… have a degree of consistency that others don’t. Not sure how significant that is, and 4,000 draws out of a potential 33 million doesn’t make much of a dent in “the big picture”. But anyway, that’s what I’m doing… trying to figure out what numbers are likeliest to come up these days… and then coupling that with, historically, what numbers are likeliest to come up together with those likelier numbers… like, if I think 31 is going to come up, what else is likeliest to show up? With that, I’m generating sets of numbers… and that’s what I’ll… uhh… “invest”. Stay tuned…

May 28, 2021

What you read here is often thought up while I’m lost in thought, riding my bike… and today, I started by thinking about this crazy anti-vaxxer who decided to drive her car through a vaccination tent set-up in a parking lot in Tennessee. Fortunately, nobody was hurt… but there were plenty of near-misses. I was pondering from which angle to approach that – and there are many – and was specifically thinking about how some people are just assholes, plain and simple… and while having that illuminating thought, the following happened…

I was cycling on the seawall, near English Bay, heading west… somewhere between the Burrard Bridge and Cactus Club… it’s a nice stretch of road between BB and CC these days – a whole street lane dedicated for bikes. As such, there is plenty of room for two-way bike traffic… and what I saw was a guy on a bike, coming towards me. There was also a Canada Goose sitting on the street, right next to the curb. This guy had plenty of room to go by… enough room that he had to make an extra effort to stick out his right leg and kick the bird as he went by. This happened about 20 feet in front of me. The goose wasn’t seriously hurt… it just squawked and fluttered a bit. But I slammed on the brakes and yelled after him… I guess what one would call a declarative sentence – like “Have a nice day!” – except that’s not what I said. He barely slowed down and didn’t look back; just held up one solitary finger as he rode off into the distance. Seriously, what an asshole.

I resumed my ride now trying to figure out where the overlap of assholes might fit into what I have to say; what does a psycho-anti-vaxxer have in common with a guy who kicks an innocent bird for no reason?

The quick conclusion I came to is that I’ve already wasted enough time thinking about these pieces of crap… so we’ll leave it at that.

Moments later, I saw a sign that announced that tonight’s Lotto Max is up to $65 million… so I started thinking about how I might analyze previous draws, and try to use that to predict future ones. Turns out there’s 4,000 draws of historical data to analyze, and that’s what I’m doing right now… potentially far more rewarding than writing about assholes. With some intelligent analysis, I might reduce the odds of winning from a gazillion to one to just one in a zillion.

So… on that note… I’m going to get back to it now… still a few hours before the draw… wish me luck… and if you’ve read this far, tell you what… if I win $65 million dollars, I’ll take $5m of it and split it with everyone who likes this post.

May 13, 2021

The concept of social engineering usually has a sinister implication… like when someone calls you up and cleverly extracts your banking password. Less sinister is a charity calling you up and guilting you into donating… by craftily knowing which heartstrings to pluck. There’s a whole spectrum of social engineering, and anyone who’s ever parented a kid has engaged in it, possibly without even knowing it.

Getting a toddler to eat food they don’t want? Make it fun… the train going into the station, the plane going into the hangar… whatever. Weeeee zoom…. munch munch.

When the kid gets older, convince them it’s food they like. Eat along with them… ohhhh so yummy!! MmmMmMMm!!!

When they’re older than that, bribe them… ice cream after dinner if you finish your vegetables. Or blackmail; eat your vegetables or you’re grounded this weekend.

To the extent it’s getting someone to do something they otherwise might not want to… but end up doing so – and it’s their decision – that’s a successful implementation of social engineering.

On a separate note, if you’ve been reading what I’ve been writing for a while, then you’ve heard me talk about planning… and you’ve heard me talk about the strategy of starting at the finish line… and working backwards from there. Rather than defining a starting point, simply start at the end… as far away as it might be and as impossible as it may seem. Then plan the baby steps that aim in that direction.

And… perhaps you’ve also heard me say… that if a problem is too big to solve, break it in half. Solve the halves separately, and once you’ve done that… problem solved. And if the halves are too big to solve on their own, break them in half again. Break it down till you have a small piece you can solve.

So… putting all of that together… one finish line that’d be nice to reach (though likely impossible) is: everyone socially distances, everyone wears masks, everyone gets vaccinated.

That’s a big problem, and is easily broken into three distinct pieces… so, how do you solve them individually?

The answer might involve some social engineering, but… sometimes, incredibly, some problems solve themselves.

The anti-vaxx/anti-mask crowd has put the word out that vaccines are dangerous. They’re dangerous because people who’ve been vaccinated are “shedding certain proteins” onto the unvaccinated, and that can cause the defenceless unvaccinated people some serious health problems. Let’s be clear: they’re saying that it’s dangerous for an unvaccinated person to be near someone who’s vaccinated.

I’ve written about this baseless nonsense before, and destroyed the logic behind it into the tiny pieces of crap of which it consists. This is beyond stupid, and anyone who believes it should just… oh… wait a sec…

The anti-vaxx/anti-mask/anti-social-distance/anti-intelligence/anti-science crowd also says… the only way to protect yourself from these dangerous vaccine proteins is… socially distance and wear a mask.

Yes, you read that correctly… the anti-everything crowd… they’re not afraid of a virus that’s affected 160,000,000 people worldwide, killed between 3 and 10 million of them, and has caused tens of millions more some serious lingering or permanent health issues… no, that’s not the problem. The problem is the vaccines to neutralize all that. But the solution? Masks and social distance. Huh.

I guess perhaps if you ride the crazy train long enough, you end up at the same station where everyone else has already arrived.

You know what… great. Wonderful. All that social engineering? Not needed. Whatever works.

See that guy over there, respectfully standing a few metres away and wearing a mask? He might be a level-headed intelligent, informed person such as yourself. Or… he may be a stark, raving lunatic. Does it matter? Hell no. Welcome aboard, crazy-guy. We’re all in this together… and you just keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. We’ll both be ok. And, with that… two thirds of the problem is solved.

The final third… how do you get that guy to get vaccinated? That’s more difficult.

One of the simpler social-engineering tactics is already being thrown at it: Bribery. It works for some little kids and food… perhaps it works for some adults and vaccines.

Locally, homeless residents of the DTES have been offered $5 gift-cards… but that pales in comparison to the U.S… where you can get beer, pizza, train tickets, scholarships and, starting this week in Ohio… $1 million dollars. Yes, a random name will be pulled once a week for the next 5 weeks… and if the name pulled is someone who’s been vaccinated, they’ll receive one million dollars. Expensive… but, one would have to assume, effective.

Or… for the truly crazy… who’ll believe anything, and like propagating nonsensical conspiracies… how about this…

Put it out there that they’ve created a vaccine that prevents your skin from absorbing the evil C19-vaccine-shedded proteins! It’s really hard to get; they don’t want you knowing about it… but… I know a guy… and, hey… totally coincidental and ironic how that new secret vaccine comes in little vials that are identical to what you get from Pfizer or Moderna… and the side-effects are similar too… but no no no… it’s totally different. See the label? Totally different.

It’s worth a shot.

May 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 8, 2021

A tiny glimpse of visibility with respect to how our federal government presently operates – and why we happen to find ourselves behind the 8-ball with respect to vaccines – is evident in the mandate letter sent to Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on January 15th.

But, let’s go back a little further… actually, a lot further.

At a gala held at the National Arts Centre on April 14, 1972, when Trudeau was only a year old, visiting U.S. president Richard Nixon famously raised his glass: “I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada, to Justin Pierre Trudeau!”, he proclaimed. Nixon was also later caught on his White House tapes, famously deriding that three-day trip: “… wasting three days up there. That trip we needed like a hole in the head.”

Two little take-aways from that… one is that if the person presently holding the office of Prime Minister had a last name like Smith or Jones, he probably wouldn’t be PM. He has a unique last name and the genetics to go with it, and they’ve taken him right to the top. Perhaps it was assumed that what he lacked in qualifications might be made up magically, with that last name… or, with experience, having been immersed in that life as a child, right from day one.

There might be an element of truth to that; if Justin hung around daddy enough back then and asked lots of questions, he’d certainly have had a very privileged viewpoint as to how things work. The problem is that Pierre Elliot Trudeau, love or hate the guy, was a true statesman. Whether he destroyed the country or helped shape it to what it is today – let’s set that argument aside. Either way, he was a true leader… and I suspect if he were in power today, we’d have lots of vaccine at our disposal.

But that aspect of leadership is not learned; it’s a personality type that requires a level of understanding and big-picture thinking that either you have or you don’t.

Which leads to the second little take-away… that a lot of government bullshit is a complete waste of time, but it’s necessary for the optics. Nixon called it for what it was… three wasted days of fluff. A gala? Pat Nixon delivering a stuffed Snoopy to Pierre and Margaret’s little boy? All while Nixon was facing some serious problems back at home. Like, you know, a war he was losing on the other side of the world.

Back to present day, this letter, publicly available of course… and, its optics. It’s a real work of art… and reading it, the first thing that comes to mind is that whoever wrote it knew that this document was going to live forever, and therefore, every single word needs to be perfect. Every single word, well-thought-out. Nothing is missing. It mentions every political issue imaginable, many of them irrelevant to the pressing issue at hand.

Emissions reduction targets, Gender-based Analysis, intersectional lens, Indigenous people, Métis, Inuit, LGBTQ2, persons with disabilities, reconciliation, self-determination, Yes, of course they’re all important issues… but instead of 3 pages on tangential issues, all of which are affected by the pandemic, how about one sentence: “Every Canadian deserves equal access to vaccines, and your job is to get it.”

Completely lacking in that document are actual targets. Zero deliverables. That part of it is difficult to figure out, but that’s the important part of it… not just inclusive (and vague) hand-waving. If I’d had a shot at it, my letter would’ve been a lot shorter:

“Anita, please go find as much vaccine as you can, as quickly as possible. Don’t be ok with signed documents and promises unless those documents have some clout to them; we need hard numbers with respect to delivery schedules, and they should agree to severe repercussions and/or reparations if they fail to live up to their end of it. Don’t be afraid to overpay to secure that – we can afford it. Don’t hesitate to leverage whatever we may have to offer. Trees, water, electricity, whatever. Don’t be afraid to charter some planes and waste some fuel. We can handle the political fallout from dumping excess carbon emissions into the atmosphere. For now, at this moment, this is more important. Getting these vaccines quickly and reliably is all that matters. We are scaling up a national vaccine program like no one has ever seen, and we need the product to fill the pipeline. Vaccine inventory can not be allowed to be the weak link in this chain. We don’t need 10 doses per Canadian next year. We need one dose… now.”

But, no… instead, we get a nice big fluffy document with zero teeth. It, literally, looks good on paper. So does cheque for a million dollars… until you try to cash it, and it bounces.

That’s the thing; it can’t just look good. It needs to actually work. And that’s perhaps the destiny of that mandate letter. It’ll be printed off on a huge sheet of fancy parchment and signed with a big feather and framed for all posterity… so that all of the grandkids of Canadians who survived the great pandemic of 2019-2022 can one day tour the great halls of Parliament Hill and look at it. And, as they slowly walk by it, say something… like… “Huh.”

Go to Top