April 14, 2022

There was a time, in the increasingly-distant past, where I actually imagined this pandemic ending in the blink of an eye… literally instantly. A simple declaration – Hey, it’s all good! – and that would be the end of it. Imagine Tinkerbell flying around in relative darkness, among the shadows… where everything is some gloomy shade of gray. Then, with a simple tap of her tiny magic wand — and a little puff of pixie dust — it all transforms into beautiful colours… and the sun comes out and the sky is blue and the birds are singing and we all live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, life isn’t a fairy tale… and there’s no little fairy to rescue us like that. Indeed, it’s more like a bigger ferry… like the Queen of Esquimalt, when it’s going to dock in Schwartz Bay and suddenly it starts groaning and slowly turning 180 degrees because the cars are all pointing the wrong way. And everyone on board also starts groaning. Oh no, this is going to take forever! We’re going be late for our Tea At The Empress™!

Somewhere between the fairy and the ferry lies our reality; it’s not instant, and it’s a slow turn… but, eventually, we get there. We’re in the midst of that turn right now, but unfortunately, it’s very foggy and we can’t really see how far we’ve gone… nor how far we have to go.

This sort of reminds me about the whole pot ordeal of recent decades. For a long time, it was totally illegal. Today, it’s totally legal. Do you remember the many years of ambiguity? Hey, that guy is standing in the street smoking a joint. Is that legal? Can he do that? Well, maybe he can if he’s not selling it. Really? Who knows? Who cares?

It’s the “who cares” that’s a bit of an issue these days, because while a lot of people do indeed not care anymore, many still do. Also, there are some loud and credible voices stating in no uncertain terms: Hey, this isn’t over. Far from it…. while, at the same time, there are equally loud voices carrying a message that raises some eyebrows: Yeah, it’s over… if for no other reason than we’ve had enough and we’re not doing this anymore. Anyway, look at the numbers. What’s the big deal? Life goes on.

Who do you believe? Who do you want to believe? Every single day, you can choose what you want to believe and there will be a credible source to back you. Today, a Russian warship sank. The Russians say a fire accidentally broke out and detonated some ammunition. The Ukrainians say they hit it with a missile.

Like “Where are we at?” and like getting reliable news out of Ukraine/Russia, the pandemic analysis has also gotten murkier. Attached are numbers and graphs as best as I can do these days, which isn’t much because reliable data is few and far between. Most of it (what’s in italics) is extrapolated. I’ve done away entirely with the vaccination data because, as important as it as and as transfixed as I was every day watching the vaccination percentages creep upwards… now, the numbers are meaningless. From that aspect, we’ve done all we can. Anyone who wants a shot or two or three can get one almost immediately.

In summary, numbers are up, but just a little up. In BC, hospitalizations are close to where they were a month ago, but they’d dipped two weeks ago. ICU numbers continue to drop. In Ontario and Quebec, they’re in the midst of a sixth wave… and of course, what Toronto and Montreal dictate must apply to the rest of the country… so I guess we are too. But while hospitalizations are up, ICU numbers aren’t growing appreciably; in fact, down slightly. Everything is a lot better than it was at the start of the year, but arguably, headed in the wrong direction.

It’s all ambigious and uneasy and, to some extent, ends up being what you want it to be… which, for the present day, is probably as good as it’s going to get. It takes a while to turn the ferry around because if you don’t do it right… like, too quickly, you end up with a big mess on board and lots of complaints. Do it too slowly and there will also be complaints. Hey man, we have reservations, you know?

Well… I’m pretty sure… that if you’re going to be paying $89 per person for Tea At The Empress™, they’ll hold the reservation for you, even if you’re going to be a bit late. And, don’t worry… the ferry will get turned around, docked, and you’ll get there… eventually. Yes, you wish a little magic wand could get you there instantly. I also wish it could get us all there instantly, too… wherever that ultimate “there” is.

But, again, life isn’t a fairy tale. More like a ferry tale, I guess.

March 17, 2022

There’s no way I was going to let today go by without posting something… because today is St. Patrick’s Day, the two-year anniversary of when I started writing about the pandemic.

Facebook is kind enough to remind me of that, so I’m attaching that original post below this one, as well as the one-year anniversary post from last year. It’s funny looking back at these, for two very-different reasons.

The one from two years ago is ridiculously naïve, and, in hindsight, why wouldn’t it be? Nobody back then knew what was going on at all. This was all new to us, and we all quickly got used to seeing graphs with various curves… and our attempts to bend them. This post preceded all of that, but alluded to what the short-term future was all about. “Just three weeks”, etc. Ah, the good old days.

Last year’s post was exactly a year later, and we all had a pretty clear idea of exactly where things were at. But it was also naïve… me talking about how the end of all of this is just around the corner. Well, it felt that way… vaccines in our midst and diminishing numbers. Here comes summer!

So, it’s with trepidation that I try to predict anything this time. Last year, we’d heard of the Delta variant, but nobody seemed too worried about it as the vaccines would handle it just as effectively. Omicron was months away from existing. We were more worried about China than Russia. How things change.

Depending where you are and who you believe, your opinion on the pandemic is bounded by two possibilities: One, it’s over and no longer a big deal… if it ever was one. Or two, it’s very much not over… and we might find ourselves right back at square one if we’re not careful.

If option 1 is zero and option 2 is 100, my personal opinion is that we’re at a 28… and, optimistically, dropping. I think we’re really not going to know until much later in the year. If winter and a new variant once again conspire to arrive at the same time, there will be another wave… and, along with it, a lot of discussion as to whether this wave is part of an endemic future or a pandemic present for, yet again, one more go-around.

I could sit here and speculate some more, but there’s not much point. My brain is elsewhere… specifically, Cancún, as per the attached picture. No graphs, no charts, no numbers. But it does have beauty and serenity and a bit of green to honour the day.

A few minutes after the picture you see was taken, I was in it somewhere… and for what’s left of this trip, I’m trying to keep my brain somewhat disengaged.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Happy Two-Year Anniversary — I raise my green-infused tequila shot to you… served by a mask-wearing waiter, but surrounded by mask-less people partying like there’s no tomorrow. That — in itself — is probably just as good a summary as to where we’re at.

Salúd!

February 26, 2022

There’s no doubt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau handled the recent “trucker convoy” debacle poorly. In hindsight, there’s a lot he could’ve done better… beginning with taking it seriously at the outset, instead of contemptuously dismissing it like it’s an annoying fly that’ll eventually find a window and make its way out.

No… by the time the fly had bounced off all of the closed windows numerous times… by the time the shit had really hit the fan, there weren’t too many options left. He chose one that’ll be discussed for years, or at least, until the next election… arguably, too harsh – who knows, though it will probably cost him that next election – but in the end, things have mostly gotten cleaned up. Hard to tell, because, of course, the world’s attention is focused elsewhere.

That Canadian State of Emergency lasted 9 days, during which time we heard every version of the Trudeau-hatred spectrum. The lefties call him Hitler-esque. The righties call him Castreau. There are a lot of confused people out there, but that never stops anyone from following the usual formula: Pick the worst, most evil leader/president/PM/king/dictator, whatever… compare your present enemy to that guy, and then somehow endeavour to draw parallels between the two. The lines will be jagged and nonsensical, but that doesn’t matter. The plethora of memes are testament to it… everyone has an opinion, and those opinions need to be heard… even if they make no sense whatsoever.

And one of those opinions being loudly chanted was how now, finally, as we can all see, Canada has become a true dictatorship. This is the beginning of the end. State of Emergency, War Measures Act, Martial Law… here it all comes, and it’s here for good. See what happens when you don’t fight for freedom? You get this.

Of course, that’s all bullshit. The State of Emergency was never going to last 5 minutes longer than it really needed to, and that turned out to be 9 days. Two hundred and sixteen hours. What’s 216 or so hours?

People typically walk around 5km/h. If you didn’t stop, you could walk over 1,000 km in that time. But, of course, you’d be stopping here and there; it’s not a sustainable pace. You’d also be slowed down depending on what you’re carrying. For example, if you’re fleeing your home in Kyiv and trying to get to the Polish border with only whatever you can carry on your back… if you could average 3.5 km/h, it’d take you almost exactly those 216 hours to cover the 750km to freedom.

Yeah, freedom. *Real freedom*. Not the “This isn’t freedom if I’m forced to wear a mask while I wait for my venti half-caff triple ristretto with caramel drizzle” nonsense.

Startling how an actual, real dictator can really bring things into focus, eh?

Putin is undoubtedly the scariest of type of dictator there is. You can see it in his eyes; a soulless stare that balances a lot of both sociopathy and intelligence. He’s been waiting for this moment for a long time, a time in place and history he’s been working towards for years. Slow and steady wins the race. It would’ve been even easier for him, but the pandemic and Trump’s non-election of 2020 got in the way of his master plan. Yeah, the Trump you convoy-crowd love so much is the same Trump calling Putin a genius for his recent moves. There’s a zero-percent chance a Trump presidency would be sending troops to defend Ukraine… and when Biden made it clear he wouldn’t either, that’s all it took. So much for the “policemen of the world”.

What other superpower can help? What other superpower has nukes or armies that at least could make some threats? China and India support Russia in this, so that’s pretty much it. Putin got in there before Ukraine became part of NATO, and that’s no coincidence. It’s open for season for Putin, and if he’s successful in Ukraine, I’ll be surprised if he stops there.

It’s actually hard to figure out how the same party that Reagan led in jamming a cold-war victory down the USSR’s throat is the same party now staunchingly defending Trump, their leader. And that’s putting it a little harshly; there was a lot of “greater good” thinking that went into what Reagan and Gorbachev ultimately achieved in the 80s… a greater good that’s now eroding every hour. Did you know Gorbachev is still alive? I wonder what he thinks of all this. I’m guessing “bitterly disappointed” would be a good summary.

If you’re still deranged enough to think waving a Canadian flag and honking your horn and blocking traffic is doing anything for freedom, tell you what: Change that flag from red and white to blue and yellow. Flooding the streets with the cacophony we’ve seen recently makes a hell of a lot more sense if you’re waving a flag from a place that’s actually going through a struggle most of us should be lucky enough never to experience.

We haven’t heard any stories yet of anyone walking 750km to freedom, but that’s only because it’s only been a few days; they’re still walking. They’re still heading towards their freedom, one defiant and heavily-laden – both physically and politically — step at a time.

May 15, 2021

Let’s do some good news bad news…

The good news is that numbers all across the country are down. The bad news is that here in B.C., we don’t actually know… until Monday.

The good news is that today was spectacularly beautiful. I hope you took advantage of it. The bad news is I did… and went for a wonderful, long bike-ride… and right at the end of it, managed to gash my leg open. I’m now looking at it wondering if I should be headed to the ER for stiches instead of sitting here writing this. Ask me in a few hours…

The good news is that you’re exceedingly unlikely, given everything that’s happened and is now going on…. to die from Covid-19. The bad news is that, unfortunately, for a lot of people, it’s a little too late.

How many people? We’ve talked about it before, but let’s distill it down to the inarguable number: Excess deaths. Neither the concept nor the numbers are hard to grasp; if every year, x% of people typically die, and in one particular year it’s (x+y)%, you need to be able to assign a cause to y. A tsunami that kills 250,000 people is a good example. So is a war. And, of course, if there’s a global pandemic going on and you can’t find any other reasons, it’s a reasonable logical leap to assign y to the pandemic, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated.

How are global deaths looking with respect to excess deaths?

The official death toll of C19 is 3.4 million… but the vast majority of those explicitly documented stats come from first-world countries. We know that unfortunately, 4,000+ people a day are dying in India. But without a doubt, that’s an undercount. Russia’s C19 death count is officially less than 100,000… but for some reason, over 500,000 people have “inexplicably” died. With few exceptions, every country is in a “deficit” – and when you add it all up, the world needs to find a reason to explain somewhere between 7.1 and 12.7 million excess deaths.

That’s bad news, no matter how you look at it.

The good news is, as we can all hope and expect… is that that’s in the past… and that the future looks a lot better.

By |2021-05-15T17:06:35-07:00May 15th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , |9 Comments

March 10, 2021

There’s a lot to learn from looking at the list of countries who managed to secure significant doses of vaccine early in the game, because it begs a lot of questions. Why are they doing so well? Where did they get it from? Why did they get it and not us?

Starting at the top of the list and sorting by Doses… either by “population percentage with at least one dose” or simply “doses per 100 people” – the results are pretty much the same. There, it makes sense to remove the “big” names because the answer is obvious… those that are making the vaccines are using it for themselves as much as they can. The U.S., the U.K, China, Russia. Also remove from there places whose numbers are skewed because of low populations. The Maldives, the Seychelles… tiny populations, mostly vaccinated.

The top of the list now is of course Israel, who was on top of the list before anyone else was removed. They have a population of 9,000,000. They’ve administered 9,000,000 doses. They’re not all first doses, but most are. I saw a picture of a café in Tel Aviv yesterday… and outdoor patio, crowded, no masks, people having a blast. We’ll be there one day… but they’re there now.

How did Israel do it? A pretty sweet deal with Pfizer – one that worked out well for everyone. Lots of data, lots of healthy people. There are plenty of articles to read about how it all came about.

But who’s next on the list now? A terrific outlier to study, as far as I’m concerned.

Chile… and I’m interested because I was born there. Because I have friends and family there. Because I used to travel down there on an almost annual basis, and I know how things work; I know more about doing business with Chile than anyone would ever want to know… which led me to ask the relevant question… who’d they hustle and how’d they do it? Their population is about half of Canada. 22% of those people have had at least one dose. We’re at 5%.

May of 2020 was a bad month down there… 100,000 new infections and almost 1,000 deaths. That’s when they began taking their vaccine plan seriously. Their ministry of health set up meetings with 11 labs around the world, a number that went down to 5 as talks progressed. Internally, it was agreed that when the health regulators of those jurisdictions approved those vaccines, they’d be auto-approved in Chile. To lock in those supplies, meetings were scheduled *in person*. The Chileans flew out to numerous places, including Abu Dabi and the UAE, principal operational hubs for Pfizer and BioNTech. And this is where the Chilean way of business kicked in. I wasn’t in those rooms, but what I know is that those Chileans did not leave without firm deals to receive vaccine; letters of intent, confidentiality agreements… and, probably, agreements not so different from Israel – yes, for sure, we’ll give you the data… we’ll red-line vaccinations… whatever you need… just get us the stuff, AND, if *you* don’t comply with your end of it, there will be hell to pay, as enforced by whatever international laws apply.

I’m speculating a bit and drawing on my knowledge on how things work, and what sort of leverage (the only sort that could possibly be applied) might have worked… because it ultimately worked, and worked well. Very early in the game, Chile was already ahead. By September of last year, Chile was setting up clinical trials for Sinovac and Janssen. Some 3,000 Chileans happily volunteered between October and November. And, for doing so, Chile locked in a $14/dose cost of vaccine and top of the delivery schedule. Chile stuck to their end of it, and the manufacturers have stuck to theirs. Win-win.

Around here, we’re paying $35/dose, when we can get it. Yes, I know – we’ve all read the same news – we will get it all in due course, and just because we keep getting dropped down the list it doesn’t mean anything. Patience, etc. By the time our anger and head-shaking subsides, the pandemic will be over and we’ll have moved on and nobody will care. But allow me to put it in writing; our government let us down. Good intentions are not good enough. Intention to have enough vaccine in a timely manner. Intention to have an infrastructure for booking appointments. Getting up in front a podium and TV cameras isn’t worth anything if you don’t deliver. Nobody is interested in finger pointing and lame excuses, especially how it’s “out of our control”. Your job as our leaders is to find a way to put it into *your* control. Our control. Many governments around the world, with far less resources at their disposal, managed to navigate this process far better.

Ultimately, I’m familiar with the Canadian way of doing business too. The 300,000,000 doses we’ve procured – in the same way Seinfeld “procured” a car reservation in that famous episode – was done with lots of emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings. Whiteboards and PowerPoints. Lawyers and contracts and back-and-forth mark-ups, with nothing in there that could incur any liability. And with nothing to offer in return, very little teeth in those agreements. How can we be sure they’ll hold up their end? It doesn’t matter… and don’t worry about it because with all the “best efforts” language in there, we have zero recourse anyway. Let’s just hope for the best.

Chile started at the finish line. They simply asked, “What is the fastest way to get vaccines into the arms of our population?”… and assigned a group of intelligent resourceful people to just get it done. And they did. Pisco Sours all around. Salúd.

33 Likes, 3 Shares

January 30, 2021

If, off the top of your head, you had to guess which three countries in the world had the most cases per 1M of population, you would think about it, come up with three countries, and be completely wrong. It wouldn’t make sense not to include places like U.S, India, Russia, Brazil, U.K, Spain, Italy… etc… on that list of guesses… but again, with exception of the U.S. (which lands in 8th place), none of the others even make the top 10. In fact, with only Spain at number 18, none of the others make the top 20.

The list of the top three countries with the highest case counts on a per-capita basis are: Andorra, Gibraltar and Montenegro.

Wait, you say, those places are barely populated and that skews the numbers. That is correct. Andorra, top of the list, scores 128,000 per million of population who’ve tested positive. Close to 13% of the population. That’d be like Canada having close to 5 million cases (we’re at less than a million). But, of course, Andorra only has a population of 77,000. Only 100 people there have died of C19. Gibraltar has a population of 34,000. Same idea… and, for what it’s worth, both of them share a border with Spain, where, no doubt, all of their cases came from.

So what, you may be asking….

If you look at Europe as a sort of big country, and each individual country as a province, then some issues relevant to Canada come to light.

Like, with respect to vaccinations, guess where in this country we have the highest per-capita vaccination rates. Now you know it’s a bit of a trick question, so perhaps it’s harder to fool you… so if your guesses included places like the three northern territories, you’re correct. By far.

Vaccination rates for a few key provinces…

B.C.: 2.5%
Ontario: 2.2%
Quebec: 2.8%

Vaccination rates for the territories:
Northwest: 21.0%
Nunavut: 13.5%
Yukon: 15.4%

Some say that’s fair. Some say they should be distributing it more evenly. Some say more should be directed to the hotspots. And everyone is a little perturbed with last week’s news… at the start of the week, we heard how we were not getting what we were expecting from Pfizer… and at the end of the week, we heard how we were not getting what we were expecting from Moderna. Too bad. C’est dommage.

At what point could we conceivably start counting on ourselves for some vaccine? Some homegrown, domestically produced vaccine where we would be first in line?

The only viable possibility would indeed be home-“grown”, and that is Quebec-based Medicago’s tobacco-plant-based vaccine which recently wrapped up phase-2 clinical trials and is about to enter phase 3, involving 30,000 people in 11 countries. For what it’s worth, it’s off to a great start… 100% of people who received the vaccine developed significant antibody responses with no severe side effects. Like Moderna and Pfizer, this one also targets the spike protein, so there’s no real actual virus involved and therefore zero chance on getting sick with C19 from the vaccine. Side-effects – nothing bad so far, and we shall see what phase 3 reveals.

Unfortunately, the earliest we could hope to see this vaccine available to the public would be the second half of the year… but, certainly the government’s order of 76 million doses (and all the money that came with it) is helping push things along. But also, unfortunately, although they’ve been trying to get funding for years, we still don’t have the manufacturing capabilities in place. Medicago reps met with government officials no less than 24 times from 2017 to 2020 trying to find a way to fund the construction of just such a facility. The funding finally came through… in March of last year, when the “Oh shit” moment arrived. At least we’ll be all set for the next pandemic.

25 Likes, 1 Shares

January 19, 2021

OK Saksatchewanites/Saskatchabusihes/Saskatchawenians… you now have your hospitalizations graph… thank you to my friend Richard for providing that data in a usable form. But today, let’s talk about the opposite of that… the opposite of needing to go to the hospital is what’ll prevent the vast majority of us from doing so… and that is… vaccines. And there is news to report.

The headline I read screamed, “Thousands of Israelis Tested Positive for Coronavirus After First Vaccine Shot!!!!!” – the exclamation points are mine, but the rest is verbatim… and while that sounds like a disastrous claim, it’s not. If the headline is meant to grab everyone’s attention, it works… but, as usual, there’s more to the story. Let’s dig into the numbers a bit.

First of all, part of the reason Israel managed to get so much vaccine ahead of everyone else is that they were willing to be, in essence, a test-bed for what it would look like to distribute the vaccine through a first-world technologically-capable infrastructure and collect as much valid real-world data as possible… straight from the source. As previously written, many other places who’ve had vaccines long before Pfizer/Moderna came around (China, Russia) have been putting out numbers… which, for numerous and valid reasons, are met with skepticism. But here we have accurate data, so what does it tell us…

Some 12,400 Israelis tested positive after being vaccinated, and, among them, 69 who’d been vaccinated twice. That first number sounds big, but that’s out of 189,000 people – which amounts to 6.6% — an efficacy of 93.4% — which for any vaccine is off-the-charts successful, and is almost bang-on with the expectations of ~95%

Digging a little deeper into the numbers… 100,000 people were tested a week after getting the vaccine; 5,438 were found to be positive… a 5.4% infection rate. A different set of 67,000 people was tested in the 8-14 days-after period, and 5,585 tested positive… 8.3%.

People were also testing positive more than two weeks after getting the first dose, but in declining numbers as time went on. Immunity is meant to start ramping up in days 15 to 21, and that’s reflected in declining positivity numbers… especially after the second dose.

It should be noted that there are other relevant factors; the majority of those who’ve received vaccinations are over 60, and it’s well-understood that people’s immune systems erode as they get older. Flu shots, for example, are less than 60% effective in those 65 and older… as compared to 80% to 90% for those younger than that.

With the Pfizer vaccine, for what it’s worth, 102 employees at one particular medical center were tested a week after immunization. It was found that 100 of them had antibody levels 6 to 20 times higher than the previous week.

In summary, the vaccine works well. Very well. It’s not perfect, because 95 does not equal 100, and its effectiveness varies on numerous factors; some people are simply far more susceptible to infection, and age is one of those contributing factors. At the end of the day, the idea is to get to herd immunity, and that’s achieved when enough people are immune that they’ll protect those who aren’t – and, possibly, who can’t be. By far, the quickest way to get there is through vaccination.

That’s the plan currently being rolled out across the planet, with varying degrees of success; get the shot into as many people as possible, while carefully following the results to make sure they’re in-line with what’s expected. With Israel leading the charge and making available all the data… from what we can see so far… so far, so good.

40 Likes, 5 Shares

January 10, 2021

Like a petulant child that’s lost his TikTok and Instagram privileges, Donald Trump sits alone, unable to share his thoughts, dank memes or pictures of cute cats… with his friends. In his case, it’s Twitter and Facebook, but same idea. And for him, emptying the dishwasher or doing his homework… isn’t going to get it back.

As the presidency draws to a close, there are calls to remove him before the 20th… and there are very good reasons to have that happen. As we’ve learned, there is no bottom to this psycho, and one thing about psychotic narcissists that’s worth keeping in mind is that if, after everything, they’re going down, they’ll often take down as many people with them as they can. Recall, their usual M.O. is to elevate themselves at the expense of everyone else. Accordingly, when there’s no way to elevate, the only way to get the same effect is to bash everyone else down. It’s the whole “It’s not enough that I win; everyone else has to lose” thing. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours brighter, but some people don’t get it. They’d rather stick a firehose in your mouth if you’re drowning.

The Pandora’s Box unleashed by Trump will take a lot longer than 10 days to sort out, so does it matter if he’s in power during that time? Absolutely and emphatically, yes.

First of all, it’s important that he leave this presidency like he deserves; dishonourably. The stamp of disgrace needs to be all over it, if for no other reason than it boots him out of politics forever. Impeached or 25th’d out of there; it doesn’t matter. If it happens, he’s gone for good, though I assure you, no matter what, he’ll continue to insist he might run in 2024. Because that’s what’ll keep the grift afloat. The millions will roll in from his brainwashed cult followers. If he’s not booted before the 20th, the process still needs to continue to that conclusion. At least Trump can have something unique; not only the only president to ever lose two popular votes, but also the only one impeached twice.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if he’s left to stay for another 10 days? That’s an uneasy question because the far-fetched answer is as truly frightening as it gets. The age-old question of just how much power does a president have with respect to launching a nuclear strike is easily answered: All of it. And quickly.

By design, there’s very little in the way of him deciding launch nukes. At the heart of The Cold War, it was understood that if the U.S.S.R. launched nukes at America, there’d be 4 minutes before they hit. Four minutes to assess the situation and react. Conventionally, deciding who and what and when and where to strike would involve the president consulting top advisers, strategic command, military command, the secretary of defense, etc. In fact, the suggestion to do so usually originates from one of those; not the president himself. But there’s no time for any of that if a retaliatory strike is called for. When the order is given by the president, it goes direct; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House Chief of Staff, the secretary of defense, the vice-president… none of them are in that decision chain and none of them can legally stop it. The president flips open the nuclear football, that fancy briefcase that’s always nearby… he pulls out the authenticator (conventionally known as “the biscuit”), and he uses that to validate who he is to the duty officer at the National Military Command Center. Then he says something like “Launch Strike Package Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, and the duty officer, having received a valid order from the validated president, passes that order straight to the missile bases, submarines, bombers… whatever is called for. And the duty officer has to make a decision… launch the nukes, or be charged with mutiny or treason. Not a great position to be in for some kid from Nebraska who only joined the army to get his college paid for.

It’s understood that this is an archaic system and it needs to change; nowhere else in the world is this the case. Not even Russia. Even Putin doesn’t have this power; it has to be approved by his second.

All that being said, what would actually happen if Trump attempted it? There is a lot of history, on both sides, of almost launching the nukes. In all cases, an individual did their own sanity check and averted catastrophe. After the fact, it was found to have been a false alarm, due to mechanical error, technical error, human error, sunlight, miscommunication, lack of communication. There’s a long list of people who could arguably be charged with treason, but in reality, they’re all heroes.

There won’t be a pre-emptive strike on Russia, nor anyone else who could retaliate… but a limited attack on Iran? That’s far from impossible. In his present aggressive state of mind, angered and confused by what he considers to be betrayal… how about one final exclamation point for this presidency. Let’s show them all who’s really the boss.

He could do it, and it’d be hard to prevent him from attempting it. But it might not be so hard to deflect it. I sincerely hope the call has gone out to all of the relevant people; as unconstitutional as it might sound, ignore anything from Trump from now on when it comes to military decisions. Or, beyond that, I would sincerely hope there’s at least one free-thinking individual in the small chain between Trump’s insane brain and the big red button that would be willing to take the hit… possibly charged with treason or mutiny, but, more likely, called a hero and be pardoned by President Biden.

Or, here’s the best idea… get Trump the hell out of there. Now.

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December 21, 2020

We keep hearing about *the* vaccine, but of course, there’s more than one. Besides Pfizer, there’s Moderna… and we’ve all heard of some Chinese one and the Russian one which Putin gave his daughter but refuses to take himself.

Any others? Yes… plenty of others. This petal-to-the-metal race (locally) was won by Pfizer, if that’s how you want to look at it, and Moderna is set to come in second and Oxford-AstraZeneca will likely be third.

But really, there are multiple winners in this race… to win, you just have to cross the finish line. How many horses are in this race? Surprisingly… more than you might imagine. There were originally 90. Not all will finish the race, and while crossing the finish line counts, it’s probably a bit hollow if it happens in 5 years. However… the more, the merrier.

At present, Pfizer is approved and Moderna is approved for emergency use only (for the moment), but Canada is looking at it as we speak and it’s likely to get the green light within weeks. Beyond that, there are a few approved within China and Russia, but we’ll never see them here.

Beyond that, there are actually 18 different vaccines in phase-3 trials… most of them in the U.S and China, but other countries thrown into the mix and approaching the finish line are Japan, India and Australia. And Canada.

We don’t hear a lot about it, but we sure will if this gets beyond phase 3… Quebec-based Medicago, a private company, began their phase 2/3 trial on Nov 12th. In a somewhat eyebrow-raising arrangement, they’re being partially funded by cigarette maker Philip Morris. Medicago literally grows vaccines in plants – specifically, the Nicotiana Benthamiana plant, which is a wild species related to tobacco. The Canadian government has 76 million doses on order in case it all works out.

The fact you can grow vaccine inside tobacco raises some interesting possibilities, not the least of which is slanting the marketing towards “all natural” and “organic”. For all the anti-vaxxers with their “I don’t know what’s in it so I’m not putting it in my body!!!” crowd… notwithstanding I can assure you, you have no idea what’s in a McNugget but you’ll happily ingest that… but all that nonsense aside, hey… this vaccine grows out of the earth, in a plant that billions of people happily inhale into their lungs every day. The irony of that, given that this virus attacks your lungs…

You know, all of that is just one step away of creating a very unique vaccine delivery device… forget injections or suppositories or sublingual sugar cubes… how about…

“Hey dude, smoke up! This is some good shit!”

“Yeah man… whoah… where’d you get this?”

“Doctor B.”

“Who’s he? Never heard of him!”

“It’s a she… and don’t worry about it.”

“Awesome dude, can you hook me up with some more?”

“I can hook you up with one more; that’s all you need.”

“Whatever dude. Awesome.”

Vaccination rate… at least, in B.C….? 99.44%

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December 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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