October 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interestingly, there’s a comparable example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 16, 2020

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October 12, 2020

Food, water, oxygen. Those three things have something in common… which is, none of them are a big deal… until you don’t have access to them. Then, depending on how much time has elapsed, they all become a big deal. That is how it is with things we take for granted.

In the case of these three things, roughly speaking, three minutes without oxygen will kill you. Three days without water might too… and the same goes for three weeks without food.

These things we take for granted… we should think about more often than once a year… certainly, on the tail-end of this three-day (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, pandemic notwithstanding, we really have a lot for which to be grateful.

Most people reading this are living in a country that is most certainly (as it is ranked, year after year) in the top-three in the world with respect to quality of life. And of the cities in this great country, let’s agree Vancouver easily hits that top-three list as well.

There’s no deep political message today; I guess I could write about the original Thanksgiving, and its ultimate implications. Certainly, the associated Columbus Day (which is today in the U.S.) requires a deep look and an intensive re-write, a process already in the works.

But let’s keep it simple… the sentiment of being grateful for what you have; that’s word-wide and eternal. If you’re sitting around a table doing the turkey thing tonight, or did it yesterday, or even if you don’t do it at all, it’s at least a good day to ask someone (and yourself) – name three things for which you’re grateful.

I always have a tough time answering that question. Not because I can’t think of anything, but because I have too many things I’d equally rank and can’t decide what to prioritize. It’s a dilemma I identify as “a good problem to have”. And if you’re reading this, you automatically share in that part of the same problem/dilemma. As bad as things may seem these days, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

We have plenty to appreciate. We have plenty to acknowledge. And we have plenty to celebrate. With that in mind, I think I’ll go have a slice of pumpkin pie. Maybe two. Actually, given all of the above… yes… three it is. However you choose to celebrate it — Happy Thanksgiving!

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October 3, 2020

Sometimes, I write these posts in the morning… sometimes, at the last minute… a few times, the day before. I get the impression I’m going to have to back off trying to be too current, because the news changes almost as fast as I can type… and by the time you’re reading this, it could be largely out of date. In any event, I’m writing this earlier in the day and it might be longer than usual to make up for the fact that I won’t have much time tomorrow… so let’s pack two day’s worth of thoughts into one…

First thing… on this side of the 49th… Ontario increased its C19 death numbers significantly… 111 deaths in two days… but no, it’s not so dire. The vast majority of those were re-classifications from deaths earlier in the year.

South of the border… in the news, and changing by the minute, is the remarkable irony of the White House event which was intended to be the grand introduction of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee… but could turn out to be the very reason why Judge Amy Coney Barrett doesn’t ascend to the Supreme Court… that being that there may not be sufficient votes in person to achieve confirmation… because too many Republican senators will be sick and/or quarantining.

I’ve never been to a White House event, but I can only imagine it’s the sort of get-together that involves exotic teas and tiered platters with egg and cucumber sandwiches (no crust, of course), yummy pastries, scones, whipped butter, jam… you get the idea. The poshest of the posh. Side-note, that really made me hungry – any recommendations for local fancy tea places?

Anyway, that particular event will not go down in history for the fine food that was served, nor for the fine China upon which it was presented. Instead, it will be forever known as the Covid-19 Super-Spreader event that changed the course of American history.

It’s only been a few days, but now we’re getting a very accurate account of how fast this virus spreads when it’s in our midst and not taken seriously. Those Republicans, scoffing at the notion of wearing a mask — lest they be ridiculed by their Fearless Leader – may have screwed themselves out of contention. Their reckless, holier-than-thou attitude was evidenced at the “debate” where the entire Trump entourage, having entered the seating area all wearing masks as required, dramatically and contemptuously removed them in unison, with appropriate contemptible smirks to go along with their heroic acts of independence and freedom.

At the White House ceremony, same thing… most guests arrived in masks, but many removed them. There are hundreds of pictures and videos showing what went on. If you zoom up really, really close, like 150,000,000x, you can see the C19 virus balls flying all around, out of this mouth, into that nostril, and so on.

At this very moment, around noon, here’s the known infection roster:

Hope Hicks
Donald Trump
Melania Trump
Senator Mike Lee
Senator Thom Tillis
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel
Advisor Kellyanne Conway
Advisor Chris Christie
Campaign manager Bill Stepien
Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins
3 White House reporters
Conflicting numbers re White House staffers… one or more

Another senator that wasn’t there, Ron Johnson, has also tested positive.

AG William Barr, who was there too — and was recorded having a long, close conversation with Kellyanne Conway — hasn’t tested positive and is refusing to quarantine. By the time he tests positive, we’ll have a good idea who he’s likely infected as well.

And, for what it’s worth, NBC correspondent Garrett Haake tweeted this: “Tillis and Lee are both on Judiciary. I stuck my head into their hearing midweek and basically none of the senators were masked. The staffers around the edge of the large conference room were.”

Obviously, all of the senators in that meeting should be isolating for two weeks… but we all know that’s not happening. Add to that… Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is demanding all senators show up by Monday, Oct. 19th so things can move along. He needs them in person to have the required quorum.

Good luck, Mitch… and, might I add… I remember very well a different Monday, Oct. 19th… back in 1987. That was Black Monday, when the stock market crashed and burned and sent the financial world into a tailspin.

The only thing that might crash and burn this Oct. 19th is Mitch McConnell’s dream of installing a new Supreme Court Justice. As you may recall, Mitch McConnell was the one responsible for blocking Obama from installing a new Justice seven months before the end of his term, saying, at the time, “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'" Notwithstanding the remarkable and blatant hypocrisy with respect to what’s going on now, you know what… Karma’s a bitch, Mitch.

Finally, on top of all of that, there are conflicting messages coming out of the White House and Walter Reed hospital… Trump is good, Trump is not so good, Trump is breathing fine, Trump is on oxygen, he’ll be going home soon, the next 48 hours are critical, he’s responding well, we’re not sure how well he’s responding. You can throw this paragraph away, because it’s entirely meaningless, other than to punctuate with some clarity one of two possibilities… nobody really knows what’s going on… or they don’t really want us to know.

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October 2, 2020

Given the way he conducts himself in public, it’s surprising it took this long for Donald Trump to test positive. It should’ve happened months ago, but rumour has it that when no one’s looking, he’s a lot more careful. There are those quotes from Bob Woodward that would lead one to believe Trump clearly understood the severity and risks of C19 long ago. Of course, it’s not his outward-facing message… even recently mocking Joe Biden and his big mask… but behind closed doors, he’s been terrified of getting it… as well he should be, since he’s in that high-risk category, for a few reasons, not the least of which are his age, obesity and heart disease.

His people would like you to think he has a 0.0002% chance of dying from it, but the truth is not so favourable. Given the demographic within which he falls, mitigated by the fact that he’s got the most sophisticated medical care at his disposal… and given what’s been learned with respect to treatment… his resolved-case survival rate is probably around 95%, which means a 1 in 20 chance of dying from this. Also concerning is how many important and influential people he’s been around, with his usual wanton recklessness. More than 20 for sure, so within the next couple of weeks, don’t be too surprised at the news of a concerning hospitalization or two.

For now, we wait and see… there are of course a lot of obvious questions… but it’s not really worth wandering down the paths of speculation. What if Biden also got it? What if Trump dies a week before the election? A week after? What if he’s alive but incapacitated but lucid enough to refuse to transfer power? What if he’s really sick and then Pence gets sick? What if this, what if that. There are actually answers to all of the way-out-there possibilities, but all of them would be challenged… in the courts and on the streets.

In any event, it’s a volatile situation that can change by the minute. As I’m writing this, the president is being rushed to the Walter Reed Medical Centre… a trip he’d usually make via a 30-minute drive… but today, it’s a 4-minute helicopter ride.

Up to this moment, nobody is saying much… he was fatigued, he has a cough… he woke up with a fever… so, out of an abundance of caution, etc, etc. He looked and sounded ok on a brief Twitter video, and also seemed fine walking to the helicopter, but, on the flipside, they’ve got him on a fancy IV cocktail of experimental drugs (not yet approved for the public), being used to try to stimulate an immune response. You wouldn’t typically do that, unless… unless what. Who knows… there’s a lot we don’t know because they’re not saying much.

How long will he be in the hospital? We’re told, a few days. If things get worse, longer. And there’s a 5% chance that it will be for the rest of his life.

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September 27, 2020

Once a year, me and several million like-minded people fast – no food or water – for about 24 hours. For everyone, it’s a different experience… but one thing in common… for all, it’s a period of deep introspection.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to Google Yom Kippur.

This Jewish Day of Atonement always comes exactly 10 days after the Jewish New Year (Happy 5781!). Since it’s based on the Hebrew calendar, which is made up exclusively of 28-day months (it always lines up with the moon), these holidays move around with respect to our conventional calendar. In fact, it’s especially nice to have a New Year’s a few months before the end of December… it gives you a second shot at those new year’s resolutions that maybe didn’t stick.

Next year, Yom Kippur will fall mid-September. The year after that, early October. You never know what day of the week you’re going to get. Like all Jewish holidays, it starts the evening before the actual day… which means tonight, in a couple of hours (sunset) – and lasts till tomorrow’s sunset. As I mentioned, for that period of time… it’s a complete fast, which includes switching off all non-critical electronics as well… in an effort to truly disconnect. Accordingly, tomorrow’s update with all the new numbers will have to wait till after sunset… which will be sometime after 7pm.

In the meantime, I’ll be lost in thought… and with no interruptions and with no food or water to balance out the brain chemistry, I’m looking forward to seeing what I come up with. You may be reading about it for weeks.

For all my peeps doing the same, Gmar Chatima Tovah – and may you have an easy fast. See you on the other side.

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By |2020-10-08T01:08:40-07:00September 27th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , |15 Comments

September 23, 2020

I spent a wonderful, relaxing day yesterday (once again, thank you for all the good wishes) – soaking in the good weather, and feeling deeply appreciative of many things. Certainly, a big part of that is having the privilege to ride out this pandemic here in Canada. The colossal difference that thin line running along the 49th parallel makes; it has never been more evident.

I am, in all sincerity, hoping The United States of America can hold it together. So much has already been written about the GOP’s hypocrisy with respect to the Supreme Court; how they’ve done a clean (actually, couldn’t be dirtier) 180 with respect to filling a vacancy during an election year. They denied Obama the opportunity in 2016, but they will jam down everyone’s throat their candidate in a matter of months. And all of it, both 4 years ago and today, beautifully described and justified in a gleaming, shiny steaming coat of bullshit.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a card-carrying Marxist or a fanatic right-wing fascist. Most people are neither, and find themselves in the moderate in-between. But all of you should be horrified at how your country, you know – the one with life, LIBERTY and the pursuit of happiness – is being ripped away from you… a process that started years ago but really caught its footing in the last four. It began to quickly accelerate right around the time the president figured out he could just make it all up as he goes along, jam “truth” down people’s throats, and make them swallow it, either by persistently sticking to it, or by just ignoring the backlash and moving on to the next thing… all the while being cheered by his adoring crowd.

Accountability is at an all-time low, scraping along the bottom of credibility. If anyone is deserving of a dying wish – after all she did, to benefit the greater good – it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And her dying wish was to not be replaced before the next election. It’s more than unfortunate that she won’t be granted that. On the flipside, voter registration surged after her passing. Perhaps enough people are realizing that unless they do something, it’ll get done to them… and it won’t be pretty. But to flip it back again, Donald Trump has made it very clear he won’t accept the election result if he loses. He’s vowed to fight it to the Supreme Court. You know, the one whose balance of power he’ll have installed a few days earlier. The answer to the question, “Could it get any uglier?” is no. No, it couldn’t.

Add to that volatile mix this morning’s announcement with respect to Breonna Taylor. After 6 months of wondering what would happen to the three police officers who shot an innocent woman to death while she slept, we have an answer. For two of them, nothing. For one of them, two charges for negligently discharging a weapon. And, to be specific, discharging it into a neighbouring apartment. With respect to what happened in Breonna Taylor’s apartment, nothing. Zero accountability. I’m sure by the time I post this, the rioting will already have begun. There’s only so much gleaming, shiny steaming bullshit people can take.

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September 15, 2020

A bit of an interruption to pandemic news and personal anecdotes… because I wanted to touch on a story that’s a big deal around here.

The first thing I thought, when I heard that Mountain Equipment Co-op was being bought out by Kingswood Capital… was, wow, great, awesome… terrific and unexpected news… that the legendary Joe Segal and his crew would be taking it over… finally, it’ll be in good hands.

Joe Segal is indeed nothing short of a legend in this town… businessman, builder, community leader, philanthropist. A well-deserving recipient of both the Order of B.C. and the Order of Canada. And, to be honest, his business ingenuity might have been what could’ve saved MEC… but, unfortunately, it’s not Joe Segal’s Kingswood Capital that’s taking over… it’s a different one, an American private investment firm… and that’s not great news. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

At best, they will simply strip the company down to a form that makes money, and what might have been left (not much) at the heart and soul of MEC will be gone, and it will now just become another big-box retailer. And, at worst, they’ll just shut it all down and redevelop the significant real-estate assets they’ve now acquired. They’re promising to keep at least 17 stores open and 75% of the workforce. We shall see. Sounds good on paper, and those are good quotes to fall back on next year when they shut it all down anyway and say “We tried, but couldn’t survive the effects of the pandemic…” or whatever other excuse.

MEC will become a SFU Segal School of Business case-study on how to run a gloriously successful business into the ground, through awful mismanagement. There’s far too much to get into here, but it’s a long list of bad decisions, and it’s no surprise to anyone who’s been following MEC’s (mis)fortunes over the years. There has been a grassroots movement to remove the presiding board, for years.

Now that they’ve screwed it up completely, this is really the only course of action. They sold because they’re bleeding money and out of options. When he was young, Joe Segal lost his entire life’s saved-up fortune of $3,000 in one night of poker. He managed to dig himself out of that hole… but the close to $100M needed for these guys who don’t know (and haven’t known, for years) what they’re doing – is too much to ask.

It’s this, or bankruptcy and liquidation. And at least this gives it a tiny chance of saving what was once there.

I remember the first day I walked into that impressive place… I remember giving them my $5 and signing up and feeling like I was part of something. I didn’t even know what a co-op was until that day.

More importantly, I remember the last time I was there… and it’s also pretty telling with respect to how things had changed. It had already turned that corner… from co-operative, to… not. I’d gone in to get some hiking boots, and here’s what happened when I approached a salesperson on that elevated shoe area:

“Hi there… I’m looking for some hiking boots.”

“What sort of hiking will you be doing?”

“Hmm… nothing too crazy… like something good enough for the Grouse Grind.”

“Pfffft…. that’s not a hike.”

Heh… I chuckle about it, thinking about it now. But back then (this was more than 20 years ago), it pissed me off.

“Ohhhhh…. sorry. OK, well, if I were a self-righteous prick such as yourself, whose idea of what a hike is differs so much from the common man, what might I be looking for?”

He rolled his eyes and walked away. And I walked out of MEC and haven’t been back since. That was one small step (out the door) for a man. And this recent business decision is one giant leap for mankind… in an unfortunate but necessary direction.

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September 11, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 3, 2020

When I was a kid, I loved playing with radio-control planes. It took a while to build them, but it was always worth it to see them take off and fly around. Not a single plane survived, but that’s ok… the crashes were inevitable. Then, I’d salvage the electronics (batteries, servos) and just build them into the next model. For me, and the way I flew those things, that was just part of it.

What wasn’t inevitable was how I lost a couple of helicopters… those, I didn’t build. But I did try to figure out how far away I could fly them before the radio control lost contact.

When you think about it, there’s really no good way to figure that out… it works, it works, it works, it doesn’t work. Oh. Then you watch it drift off into the distance. Modern drones will fly back to their home point, but not these old cheap plastic things. They landed on some distant rooftop or tree, never to be seen again.

What was I thinking? I was a kid, so don’t judge too harshly… flirting with that edge of possibility was part of the fun.

Similarly, Dr. Henry and Minister Dix gave one of their comprehensive updates today; lots to digest, but the summary of it is that things are pretty good… and that, as usual, it’s entirely up to us with respect to how things go from here.

On the “it could go this way or it could go that way” projections, we’re right at the edge. It’s actually flirting with that “out of control” tipping point much the same as the anchor brakes I talked about yesterday… and much the same as the helicopters mentioned above. Perhaps the range is 500 feet… and at 490 feet away, it’s flying perfect under control. And then it ever-so-gently drifts out to 510 feet and I give it a little right-turn nudge on the stick but nothing happens… and now I give it full-right, full-left, oh shit, up, down, engine off… etc etc, no response… and I watch it drift away, till it’s nothing but a little dot in the sky, lost forever.

If you look at the epidemiological (thank you auto-correct/spell-check) modelling, there are always these various lines… in this case (slide 20 on today’s presentation, available on the BCCDC website), you can see the effects going forward with respect to infectious contact percentages. At 50%, things go down. At 70%, they rise sharply. At 80%, they blow out of control. Floating around 60%, which is roughly where they’re at, they’re growing, but not crazily. And if we can nudge it down to 50%, we’d be in great shape. And all it takes is for the vast majority of us to follow the guidelines which we’re all very familiar with by now. And if you’re not, especially since a few (work spaces and schools) have been updated, brush up on it… on what’s ok and what isn’t.

Model helicopters, boat anchors, pandemics… what on earth do those three things have in common? They all have a tipping point, and the tipping point is entirely under the control of the single human (model helicopter), small group of humans (controlling dropping the anchor) or general population (pandemic control) – upon whom the outcome relies. It’s up to me, it’s up to us… and it’s up to all of us.

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September 2, 2020

If you’ve been around long enough and/or know something about hockey and/or Olympic history, you’re probably familiar with “The Miracle on Ice”. It happened back in 1980, at the Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games, where the Americans won the gold medal.

It all took place in the midst of the Cold War. The Soviet Union showed up with a veteran team of experienced superstars, who’d been crushing their opposition for years. They’d won the last 4 Olympic gold medals, and hadn’t lost an Olympic match in that entire time.

The Americans, on the other hand, showed up with a group of very young (average age 21) college players with zero NHL experience. A bunch of excellent amateur players… but way out of their league.

To make a long story short, in one of the most epic David vs. Goliath moments ever, the Americans defeated the Soviets and won the gold medal… but if you’re not too familiar with it all, you may not realize that when the U.S. beat the U.S.S.R., that wasn’t the game that won them the medal. They still had one more game to go, against Finland… and the winner of that game would win it all.

U.S. coach Herb Brooks (played by Karl Malden in the made-for-TV movie) was well-known as an excellent motivator, but he had his work cut out for him. After the mental and physical exhaustion from beating the Soviets, they had to dig down and find it all again, one final time.

Needless to say, Finland was no pushover. They were playing for the gold too, and it was Finland that had the lead, 2-1, going into the final period. The entirety of what Herb Brooks told his players during that 2nd-intermission break isn’t known… but the last thing he said to them was this:

“If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your f#@%ing graves.”

Then, he stormed out of the locker room… but, not quite. He stopped at the door, paused, turned around… and solemnly said, “Your f#@%ing graves.” Then he walked out.

Perhaps that was the differentiator. Who knows. Great coaches, great techniques, great ideas, great execution. The Americans scored 3 goals in the 3rd period, and the rest is history.

On a more recent but less important similar event, the Canucks, last night – facing playoff elimination and playing with a playoff-rookie goaltender… managed to get it done. A gutsy and well-earned victory. Who knows what head coach Travis Green said to them… and/or how relevant it was… but it worked out well. A very good team with a very good leader.

On the flipside of all that… the L.A. Kings, two weeks before the end of a disappointing 2015 season (having won 2 of the last 3 Stanley Cups, but now about to miss the playoffs…) locked their coach out of the dressing room. They’d had enough of Darryl Sutter… and by the time Darryl had managed to find a rink attendant to open the door, he was greeted by three garbage cans and an empty room. It wasn’t too long before he was fired.

On a much, much larger scale… like, a national scale… what happens when the team loses confidence in their leader? Usually, they vote him out. Unlike hockey, there’s no General Manager or President of Operations or Ownership Group to pull the trigger. In a democracy, it’s assumed that when the majority tells you it’s time to go, you go.

If you’re actually doing a great job, a tremendous job, a beautiful job, people tell you it’s the greatest job being done that they’ve ever seen… well then, they’ll simply vote to keep you around. And if they tell you they’ve had enough… it’s time to go.

I’ve never heard of a hockey coach refusing to leave after being fired. On the flipside, history is unfortunately full of elected leaders who weren’t happy being defeated and decided it was time for a “different approach” to stay in power. There are different versions of what that can look like, and none of them are pretty. And I sure hope I’m speaking purely hypothetically with respect to the near future.

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