Wednesday, December 23, 2020

My favorite Christmas videos

Here are some of my favorite "Christmas" videos, the ones I listen to every year around this time:

 This one is from one of the oddest Christmas specials ever:

 Here's my husband's favorite - it reminds him of his own trips home at Christmas time when he was a university student:  

And here's my own Christmas favorite - my mother always loved this song because she was in the Navy during World War 2 and she couldn't make the trip home to Saskatchewan from Halifax for Christmas. Its particularly apt this year, I think, for so many of us.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas commercials

Yeah, I know, but I just wasted an hour of my life watching a TV show that supposedly had the greatest Christmas commercials this year and they were all pretty awful. Here's some better ones.
  • My new favorite: This one is worth watching until the end: The hospital bracelet at the end tells the story:

    Sunday, November 29, 2020

    Dogs! Lots of dogs!

    For a delightful change of pace, here's some of the best dog videos now on the web:

    Monday, November 23, 2020

    The tweet of the year

    This is from September: Turned out to be pretty good advice.

    Monday, November 16, 2020

    Funny stuff

    Saturday, November 07, 2020

    Oh happy day

    And finally, this:

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    Of course its a matter of confidence

    Promoting the conceit that setting up a "corruption committee" to harass the Trudeau government isn't really an issue of confidence in the government is just silly.
    The Tories had initially billed the committee as one focused on “anti-corruption” in the context of probing the WE deal and other potentially questionable agreements. 
    While the Liberals say they agree a special pandemic spending committee could be set up, they argue the Conservative approach is overtly partisan and would just tie the government in knots. 
    Rodriguez has said giving the committee a specific “anti-corruption” focus implies an inherent lack of confidence in the government and that any vote in favour of probing government corruption would have to be interpreted as a lack of confidence in the government. 
     This is a gutsy play for the Liberals, if Canadians blame them for forcing an election right now rather than blaming the Conservatives and the NDP. But the Cons and the NDP don't really want to have to finance an election now. Not right now. 
    They want to wait until an opposition-led committee has uncovered some actual corruption or something that might be twisted into looking that way - like, say, some pandemic contract that actually benefited some Liberal supporter somehow. 
    O'Toole is doubtless absolutely convinced that there is corruption to be found -- because of course, if the roles were reversed, the very first people that a Conservative government would have been awarding no-bid contracts to would have been Conservative supporters.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2020


    Well, as a matter of fact I DO know what to do with a pencil and a cassette tape. 
    But we survived our family Thanksgiving at home regardless - wearing masks, distancing, limited cooking/food prep. At least we got together and it was so great to see everyone. 
    We have a smaller family - just seven of us now - so it wasn't a large gathering either. 
    Here's some fun for the week: And of course, it wouldn't be a blog post without something relating to the US election: I guess one of the things I am most thankful for is that I live in Canada.

    Monday, October 05, 2020

    just look on the sunny side of life

    Friday, September 25, 2020

    An Outstanding UN Speech from Trudeau

    Trudeau addressed the United Nations today and his speech was simply outstanding: Here are some excerpts of what he said: 
     “The world is in crisis, and not just because of the last few months. Not just because of COVID-19. But because of the last few decades. And because of us”, he said in a pre-recorded speech for the gathering. 
    Mr. Trudeau recalled that following war and economic collapse, previous generations established the UN, and international finance organizations in the mid-20th century, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, thus laying the foundations for a rules-based international order and shared global prosperity. 
    “Today, all those institutions no longer serve us well enough on what they were designed for – defending multilateralism and international law, protecting human rights and open markets”, he said. “That is what the crisis of COVID-19 has shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt. That things have to change. And not just on the world stage – but at home, too.” 
     Mr. Trudeau said governments do not do enough for their vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly and the homeless. They
     also are not going far enough to eliminate systemic injustice, be it racism, homophobia or sexism. 
     “In the difficulties of our citizens, we can see reflected the failure of the institutions of our world”, he said
     Although COVID-19 has pushed many countries to the brink, and generated a humanitarian crisis, Mr. Trudeau warned of the greater threat of climate change. He called for “a new way of thinking” on climate, inequality and health. “Too often, concerted action is blocked – the needs of our citizens are denied – as a result of gridlock at decision-making bodies”, he charged. 
     “And why? Because there are few consequences for countries that ignore international rules. For regimes that think might makes right. Few consequences for places where opposition figures are being poisoned while cyber tools and disinformation are being used to destabilize democracies. 
     “Few consequences when innocent citizens are arbitrarily detained and fundamental freedoms are repressed. When a plane of civilians is shot from the sky. When women’s rights are not treated as human rights. When no one has any rights at all.” 
    Prime Minister Trudeau urged countries to use the present moment to shift course and work together to achieve a better future for all people. “We must understand our opportunities and our responsibilities to take real action, together. To protect each other, to support each other”, he said. 
     “If we meet this moment, if we rise to this challenge, I know that, like our grandparents did 70 years ago, we will lay the foundations of a better world.”
    The CBC coverage of the speech also noted that Trudeau did call out Russia, China and Iran for their hostile actions over the last year, without naming names. Over at the Globe and Mail, Bob Fife grudgingly admited that it is difficult for Canada to initiate sanctions on its own toward China over issues like Hong Kong and the Muslim Uyghurs while Canadians remain imprisoned in China.

    But enough about solving the world's problems.  
    Time to get back to the insanity next door, where Trump just announced he has issued a Presidential Permit [BTW, there is no such thing] for a new train line from Alaska to the lower US, through Canada:

    Saturday, September 19, 2020

    Farewell to the United States

    Its difficult to realize that a governmental system that seemed to be so strong and healthy is actually so weak and brittle that the election of one man and the death of one woman could destroy it. 
     But that's the way I feel right now about the election of Donald Trump and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 
    The Republicans in the US Congress are absolutely delighted with both. 
    They will replace Ginsberg as fast as they can with the most far-right, anti-abortion, anti-government conservative they dare to nominate, trusting on the immense pressure from evangelicals, Fox News, and corporations to force Senators Collins and Romney to confirm this person. 
    And America can say goodbye to the Affordable Care Act, to pro-choice rights and LGBTq rights, to voting rights and civil rights, to unions and workplace protections, to the Environmental Protection Agency and to every other progressive initiative since Roosevelt. 
     And I mean Teddy, not Franklin. 
    It will be the beginning of a new dark age for the United States. 
    I am not sure whether the country can actually survive as a nation. 
    Certainly they will no longer be the "leader of the free world" -- Trump has already made sure of that all by himself -- but they used to be able to bring some moral pressure toward other nations when people's rights were being trashed, and this won't be happening now, not when states and corporations will now have license to trash the rights of their own people.
    I am worried also about Canada. Saw this tweet today:
    Yes, that seems to be the case.

    Friday, September 11, 2020

    Voting for delusion


    As I read this short piece at No More Mister Nice Guy, I felt increasingly horrified: 
    It's often said that Trump's approach to everything is "transactional." I think Trump's approach to reality is transactional. The truth is the truth when it serves his purposes. In those moments, Trump believes in reality. But in other moments, not only does he walk out to a podium and contradict reality, he does so without necessarily believing that he's lying. As I've said in the past, Trump doesn't believe in truth. There are (as we see them) facts, lies, and true and false interpretations of reality, but to Trump they're all equally valid. He'll use any of them to shape reality, and he'll believe whatever he's saying at the time, even if it contradicts what he said six hours ago. In part this is because, as Yastreblyansky says, he believes in the Power of Positive Thinking and therefore thinks confidence can shape reality. In part it's because it's important to him to be his audience's daddy, someone who dominates us the way his father dominated him.
    This is the man that millions of Americans voted for. And will vote for again. 
    I'm reading more stories now about Americans who don't believe COVID is actually real - they think its all a Democratic plot, and that millions of Americans are just getting the flu, and hundreds of thousands are dying of something they already had like heart disease. 
    I don't know what they think people are getting sick from in other countries around the world, but probably they aren't even aware that other countries actually exist.
    And I'm reading stories now about how people in small towns in Oregon and Washington and California think that Antifa, not campers or lightning, is the cause of the fires that are destroying their homes.

    Its absolutely crazy.

    Sunday, September 06, 2020


    Yes, I know in the overall scheme of things, the sinking of some of the boats in Trump's boating parade this weekend is pretty trivial. 
    But there's nothing like trivial to make Twitter come alive. 
    The hashtag of the event is #Dumkirk:

    Sunday, August 30, 2020

    End of August Doldrums

    What a strange week! 
    I've been trying to decide what to post here for this week, and haven't really got anything organized.
    Down South, the Republican Convention came in like a lamb and left like a lamb too, and nobody seems to really remember anything about it. 
    Hurricane Laura came and went too, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Two more hurricanes are on their way. Oh, great!
    More Black people were shot needlessly, and more protests are underway, and now Trump is talking about going to Wisconsin and nobody wants to see him there. I wonder if he ever gets embarrassed by how useless he is at any kind of leadership? 
    Following the example of the Kenosha shooter - who was just "helping the police" by killing two people and wounding a third - we are seeing more MAGA people driving their pickup trucks and waving their flags at the protests, and so more people are getting shot. This isn't going to end well. 
     As Twitter keeps mentioning, it's bizarre for Trump to be talking about how the protest violence is Biden's fault, when it is happening under Trump's watch. Of course, Trump never takes responsibility for anything so why would he ever take responsibility for the violence of his own supporters? 
    And here in Canada we have a new Conservative leader -- Erin (AKA Eric) is not making a good first impression as he refuses to confront the haters in his own party. You know, I seem to remember that it was Trudeau, who is supposedly just a whimpy drama teacher according to the Cons, who didn't hesitate to boot people out of the Liberal caucus for any accusation of misconduct, and who refused to let anyone run under the Liberal banner if they were not pro-choice, and who refused to give federal money for student employment to any organizations that preached against abortion. 
    O'Toole doesn't seem to realize that a leader who goes along with jerks and assholes because he doesn't want to offend anyone is not a leader that Canadians will respect or support. 
    And now school is getting underway, and it will be a disaster. Give it a week or two, for COVID to start passing between children and teachers and the families, infecting and killing across Canada. 
    COVID is the honey badger - it don't care
    Everybody basically KNOWS this is going to happen. But we all seem to be in some sort of mass-hypnosis fugue Tinker Bell state where we think if we just BELIEVE hard enough and WISH hard enough and HOPE hard enough then everything will be JUST FINE. 
    Yesterday the Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer said we have to change our "summer bubbles" when school starts -- basically, what he was saying in an incredibly convoluted and indirect way, is that Grandma and Grandpa have will have to stop seeing the grandkids once they go back to school.
    Oh, what a week!
    But then I watch this: and this Now I feel better.

    Saturday, August 22, 2020

    We've got a goddamn plan!

  • Chrystia Freeland is going to be a great Finance minister. 
    The first thing she will have to do it get a grip on the pro-Morneau leaks from her department. 
    Like the one this week about Trudeau Chief of Staff Katie Telford's husband Ron Silver phoning up to see if the Finance Department would change some part of the pandemic benefit programs to benefit his employer: At Routine Proceedings, Dale Smith writes
    For the past two weeks, as the leaks about Bill Morneau started coming out in advance of his departure, we also saw a number of warnings over social media about Liberals being their own worst enemies and that now was really not a good time for a civil war within the party. The fact that there were anonymous leaks to both VICE and the National Post about this incident shows that someone is suddenly awfully keen to talk, hoping to possibly embarrass PMO in some way, and considering that the leakers are showing how virtuous they were in standing up to Silver might make one assume that those leakers are loyalists of Morneau who are trying to, if not burnish his reputation, then certainly tarnish his detractors. I do wonder if this is a limited screw-you to Trudeau, because I haven’t yet seen camps loyal to Chrystia Freeland and Franรงois-Philippe Champagne forming and trying to oust Trudeau so that one of them can take over just yet. That said, this year has proven to be full of surprises, so we’ll see.
    I don't expect Freeland will have any difficulty with the Finance bureaucrats. Listen to her putting down David Akin for being annoyed on behalf of the opposition parties who are being forced to put up or shut up: The next thing Freeland will do is get to work on Trudeau's grand plan for Canada. I do believe there is an untold and unnoticed (by the WE-obsessed Canadian media) story of the Moreau resignation: Trudeau intends to use the COVID crisis to greatly improve Canada's social welfare system. Moreau wouldn't do it, but Freeland will. 
    I think the Morneau resignation, whether forced or not, provided an opportunity for Trudeau to make changes to Canada that he has long wanted to make -- I wondered if Morneau was resisting these changes, and THAT, as much as the WE issue, was why he had to leave. 
     Here's Trudeau using a reporter's question about government pandemic support to talk about his plans:

    Friday, August 14, 2020

    More funny stuff

    One of the things I love about Twitter is the funny people on it:

    Saturday, August 08, 2020

    School Daze

    I don't have any children or grandchildren in school these days, and thank heavens for small mercies. I think this mom has it right: The School Safe "plan" in Saskatchewan is based on wishful thinking: Parents aren't happy: Neither are doctors: I am concerned that the Sask Party seems to be reducing the whole School debate to a discussion of whether or not to make masks mandatory, while the Sask Medical Association is asking for a much broader look at school problems:  
    [SMA says]“Closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded spaces with many people, and close-contact settings with close-range conversations are not uncommon in schools and these realities need to be front and centre in back to school plans.” Education Minister Gord Wyant said Friday that, in response to the association’s concerns and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the province is looking at making masks mandatory. 
     And it is, of course, not just the schools themselves that are problematic. Its also the impact that COVID increases in schools would have on the rest of us.
    I spent four months staying away from people, stores, restaurants, everything. So will I have to go back to that kind of life if there is community COVID spread here again? Yes, I'm afraid so.

    Saturday, August 01, 2020

    August funny

    OK, its been one of those weeks, so here's some funny stuff:

    Saturday, July 25, 2020

    Button, button, who's got the button?

    Well, this is a little strange. 
    Today the Globe and Mail published a story about how Canada's pandemic early warning system within the Public Health Agency of Canada has been muzzled under the Harper Conservatives in 2014, and how the Liberals had said they would change this but then they never did. So as a result, the epidemiologists in the early warning system, called the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), were silenced just when Canada needed them the most.
    Other than not actually telling us which the individuals or offices are responsible for the muzzling, its an explosive article:
    Early detection is as much an art as it is a science. 
    The disease is hiding, but the signals are detectable. 
    Acting quickly can have a big impact on the outcome. With COVID-19, the signals began small, but grew louder. 
     “We all had enough warning,” she said. “We saw what happened in China, in Italy,” Dr. St. John agrees. “The signal was there,” he said. 
     However, few people outside GPHIN knew Canada’s early warning alert system had effectively stopped working, just when it was needed most. 
    When Ms. Thornton, the vice-president in charge of the alerts, appeared before a House of Commons committee in May to face questions about Canada’s handling of the pandemic, she was asked how the government had tracked the spread of the virus. 
     Ms. Thornton referenced GPHIN and the work it did. Though she made no mention that GPHIN had not issued a single alert in the previous 12 months. Nor did she mention that analysts had been assigned to other work, or that GPHIN had not sounded any further alarms on COVID-19 developments after the outbreak became known – even though the department’s own guidelines required as much.
    As far as the committee knew, Canada’s surveillance system had been operating as it always had. 
     It’s not easy to know the consequences of such decisions, but Mr. Garner, the former senior science adviser at Public Health, says he believes Canada’s early response to the outbreak – which has been criticized for being slow and disorganized – was a product of the many changes he saw made to the department. 
     Those changes helped move Public Health’s focus away from science, he said, which slowed down its ability to react effectively – and with maximum urgency. 
     “All of these things have tragically come home to roost,” Mr. Garner said. 
     “Not to be overdramatic, but Canadians have died because of this.” 
    A pretty damning indictment of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and of the Canadian government.
    But then I also found this: in April, the CBC published a story that said GPHIN had been undergoing a technical upgrade in 2019, and that's why it hadn't issued alerts about COVID19 until the end of December.
    CBC News has obtained a series of internal public health agency documents and slide-presentation decks — including one given by a senior epidemiologist from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) last November on the eve of a pandemic that has since killed tens of thousands and crippled the world economy. 
    The documents bring into sharper focus the kind of information key decision-makers had at their fingertips as the outbreak started in China and raise questions about how seriously global pandemic preparedness was being taken within the federal government. 
    The records show GPHIN was in the middle of a long-overdue technology upgrade as the virus was spreading. 
    Despite almost four years of work with the National Research Council of Canada, the early warning system was — as of last fall — still in need of "improvement in the geographical and time tagging algorithm," according to a Nov 12, 2019 presentation to a WHO conference in Seoul, South Korea by senior epidemiologist Florence Tanguay. 
    That algorithm is crucial to the system's ability to sort through as many as 7,000 online articles per day to spot disease outbreaks around the globe. 
    The network also was awaiting an "expansion to new data sources," such as social media feeds. 
    From its inception in the late 1990s, GPHIN had relied on news wire services and later local media articles posted online.
    So now I'm not sure what was going on in Canada last January and February.  
    Maybe GPHIN was issuing timely and accurate reports on the emerging virus but Public Health Canada was minimizing their analysis and not sending the reports up the ladder to government. 
    Or maybe because GPHIN was basing its alerts on wire services, its reports were no longer regarded as reliable enough for PHAC and government to count on.
    Either way, it does sound like somebody maybe dropped the ball, doesn't it?
    And I hope there might now be some attempt to figure out what really happened.

    Saturday, July 18, 2020

    Messenger of the gods

    The last time Comet NEOWISE was visible in our sky, Stonehenge had not yet been built.
    See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will downloadthe highest resolution version available.

    Comets used to be seen as messengers of the gods, sent to tell us something important. 
    This time, maybe its just "wear a mask and keep your distance!"

    Sunday, July 12, 2020

    How Canadian is this scandal, really?

    So I guess the Globe and Mail thinks we're supposed to be outraged now that prominent Canadians have raised money for an outstanding charity
    What a typically Canadian scandal this is. 
    I guess only non-entities like me are ever supposed to raise money for charities - over the years I have given a few bucks to the Saskatoon Food Bank and the Canadian Wildlife Federation, and I went door-to-door for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and for Diabetes Canada.  
    So as far as the Globe and Mail is concerned, that's OK as long as I never achieve any public prominence or get active in politics years after. 
    Because hey, how dare people like Katie Telford and Seamus O'Regan, back in 2010, years before they were involved in politics, volunteer to work on creating artworks in developing countries, to support a charity then called Free The Children which later morphed into WE Charity and then later still got money from the feds to run a gigantic volunteer effort to give Canadian university students some support during COVID summer. 
    Can't have that.  This corruption must be STOPPED I tell you! And The Globe and Mail is ON IT!
    I guess if I ever do become a cabinet minister or something, I'll have to make very very sure that I never never have anything to do with any decisions around funding for, say, the Heart and Stroke Foundation. After all, I could be charged with having an awful and corrupt conflict of interest, I guess.

    I would think that sometime next week, or maybe the week after, we will start seeing news stories with Conservatives and NDP expressing deep deep concern for the horrible situation of Canadian post-secondary students, with lots of hand wringing about what in the world they are going to do for money to pay tuition this fall. Somehow, its all going to be Trudeau's fault again of course. 
    Oh gag me with a spoon.
    Trudeau's Canada Student Service Grant idea was a good one, innovative and useful, another Trudeau success. 
    Oh, can't have that.  Not during a Conservative leadership campaign, when they were all just desperate to knock the Liberals off their perch at a time when Trudeau is so popular across Canada and around the world. It had to be trashed, and trashed it has been.
    Of course they had to trash an outstanding Canadian children's charity while they were at it, but can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
    So what can be done now? Well, nothing. I might be wrong but I think its too late to fix it this summer.  
    Trudeau should just expand CERB eligibility to anyone who intends to go to school in the fall.  Move the Student Service Grant funds into the CERB budget, and let students claim the benefit for July and August, and just be done with it.  I think they would each get about $4,000, which would be something.
    And he can urge them to volunteer somewhere, too. Maybe the service grant program can continue in the fall and winter, when government staff will have the time to run it.

    Ending this post on a more cheerful note, here's some funny:

    Saturday, July 04, 2020


    Trudeau's uplifting message on Canada Day: Biden's inspiring message on Independence Day: Here's another good one, from Arnold Schwarzenegger: And nothing in either of Trump's speeches is worth repeating. But here's a summary, in case you missed them both:

    Sunday, June 28, 2020

    Public Health has failed us all

    Over the last week, I have come to understand that the COVID 19 pandemic will be known as the worst North American public health failure ever. 
    Here's why:
    Remember five months ago, way back in February, when COVID cases first began showing up in North America?  
    That is also when doctors in Europe, who were already dealing with dozens of cases, started reporting that, unlike other recent viruses,  transmission of COVID 19 appeared to be happening from people who didn't know they were sick and who did not display any symptoms.
    It is impossible to find and quarantine such people, because nobody knows who they are. They themselves don't even know they are carrying the virus.
    The only way that someone without symptoms can be stopped from transmitting a respiratory infection is for everyone to wear a mask, so that the infected people are prevented from spraying infectious droplets every time they speak, cough, sneeze, etc. 
    So if, back in February, we had all been told to wear homemade masks whenever we were out and about (like many people already do in Asia, by the way) this simple act would have protected the friends and families and coworkers and clients of the hundreds of people across North America who were already infected but didn't know it - the dentists, the doctors, the choir members, the conference attendees, the nursing home staff, the teachers, the social workers, the waitresses, etc etc
    And thus, COVID 19 virus would not have infected hundreds of thousands.  And thousands of the people who died would have lived instead.
    But what happened when, back in February, European doctors started reporting that symptom-less people were infectious? 
    Well, nothing.
    Faced with these early reports of symptom-less transmission, public health authorities like the World Health Organization, and the CDC and Canada Public Health did not leap into action. 
    They squabbled. They denied the evidence. They quibbled about terminology. The New York Times report goes on:
    Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. 
    Leading health agencies including the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms. 
    The two-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries and, perhaps most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures. 
    The resistance to emerging evidence was one part of the world’s sluggish response to the virus. It is impossible to calculate the human toll of that delay, but models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. 
    Countries like Singapore and Australia, which used testing and contact-tracing and moved swiftly to quarantine seemingly healthy travelers, fared far better than those that did not.
    And another thing happened too, at the same time. 
    Even without a lot of evidence, even without contract tracing and quarantining travelers and other government measures, there was one crucial step that everyone could have taken without any government program at all - wearing a homemade mask. 
    It seems like at least some of those who work in public health in North America also believed that the situation with COVID 19 was so urgent that wearing masks couldn't hurt and might help.  
    But they decided not tell us. 
    While public health officials hesitated, some doctors acted. At a conference in Seattle in mid-February, Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University professor, said his research suggested that Covid-19’s rapid spread could only be explained if there were infectious patients with unremarkable symptoms or no symptoms at all. 
    In the audience that day was Steven Chu, the Nobel-winning physicist and former U.S. energy secretary. “If left to its own devices, this disease will spread through the whole population,” he remembers Professor Shaman warning. 
     Afterward, Dr. Chu began insisting that healthy colleagues at his Stanford University laboratory wear masks. 
    Doctors in Cambridge, England, concluded that asymptomatic transmission was a big source of infection and advised local health workers and patients to wear masks, well before the British government acknowledged the risk of silent spreaders.
    But back in February, there wasn't enough PPE to go around and all the medical masks we had were desperately needed by medical staff. 
    So Public Health authorities had a choice -- they could have been truthful, and told us that masks might help but the general public had to use homemade masks to save the medical ones for the health profession. 
    But this message was too complicated and people were already hoarding toilet paper, and homemade masks might "give us a false sense of security" because we're all just so stupid that we wouldn't stay home anymore and besides, we likely wouldn't wear then correctly anyway. So it was just so much easier to us not to bother with masks at all, that they weren't necessary for anyone who wasn't already sick.  
    The American authorities, faced with a shortage, actively discouraged the public from buying masks. “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams tweeted on Feb. 29.
    In other words, they lied to us.
    And the politicians those public health authorities were advising -- the governors and premiers and presidents and prime ministers - ended up passing on those lies because they didn't know any better.  
    So now here we are in June.
    And now the public health authorities say, "Oopsie!!  Hey, you guys, we tell you now that you really should wear masks after all, because everyone would be just so much safer."
    Only its too late. Hundreds of thousands have already died. And millions are confused by the changing stories and the untruths and the squabbling and now they don't believe anything that public health authorities are telling them. And the people who own stores and manage events and work in offices and teach in schools are just as confused. So they don't know whether to require masks or not.
    Back during the Spanish Flu, public health failed because they just didn't know how to organize public health administration and do the scientific studies and analyze policy options and communicate widely with the public.
    Now, we have all that. We have a huge public health infrastructure with thousands of experts worldwide whose whole purpose in life is to keep people safe. 
    But in North America, they failed us.
    So first they didn't recognize the truth, and then they didn't trust us enough to tell us the truth when we needed it.  
    [CDC head] Azar also pushed back on the idea that the new surge in cases is a result of reopening the country too fast, arguing, "That's not so much about what the law says on the reopening than what our behaviors are within that. If we act irresponsibly, if we don't social distance, if we don't use face coverings ... we're going to see spread of disease."

    Wednesday, June 24, 2020

    Sports will be back, sort of

    I think the realities of getting back to sports are becoming clearer as we begin to understand that Corona Virus is not going away any time soon.
    Yes, we are going to be able to play and watch sports again! 
    But no, we won't actually be able to watch the games in person -- though maybe eventually we can as long as absolutely everyone wears a mask absolutely all the time. And no shouting!
    Hmm -- would that even work? 
    Or would the silence just be too creepy, like those bizarre photos of a chamber orchestra playing to a theatre full of plants?  
    I've been watching the Ultimate Tennis Showdown and its fun to see a newer, quicker version of tennis, though its a little odd to hear the fake crowd noises after each shot. 
    Likely when sports do get going again, each sport will have to deal with continual interruptions as individual athletes come down with COVID-19 and stop playing until they are well again.
    There is one thing about the sports shutdown that I will miss -- the #LifeCommentaries on twitter, when sports announcers kept themselves busy by posting videos narrating ordinary life as sporting events:

    Sunday, June 21, 2020

    Funny stuff

    OK, here's some funny stuff I collected over the last while -- particularly enjoyed the last one:

    Sunday, June 14, 2020

    Trump is unwell

    After yesterday's West Point debacle - the water glass, the inability to say "McArthur", the ramp, the tweet ABOUT the ramp - #TrumpIsUnwell is trending this morning on twitter. 
    Along with all the jokes, there is this: Personally, I believe that Trump has a minor stroke last November - remember the fast and unscheduled "tour" of Walter Reed? - and he still has impairments on his right side. 
     On a lighter note, #ObamaDay is also trending twitter:

    Saturday, June 06, 2020

    We are the world

    Saskatoon BLM
    Its been quite a week, hasn't it? Even here in Saskatoon, the George Floyd rally on Thursday was attended by hundreds of people, all races and colours. 
    And its been like this all around the world. Yes, we have seen Black Lives Matter and police abuse protests before, but this time it feels different. I am amazed that protests about the Floyd homicide have been continuing day after day, and that they have spread so far, so fast.
    George Floyd protests break out around the world as anger grows ...  

    PHOTOS: Thousands demand justice at global Black Lives Matter ...

    So now I am wondering if our shared COVID-19 pandemic experience has changed us in ways we could not have predicted.
    For the first time in history, all of the peoples of the world shared the same experience - a two-month shutdown that was virtually unique in our human experience. 
    Yes, we were forced to be alone and isolated. We couldn't go out, we couldn't see our family and friends. But everyone around the world was, for the first time ever, dealing with the same emotions, the same fears, the same questions and concerns, the same depths of despair, the same glimmers of hope. 
    After this experience, I think the peoples of the world understand each other in a more profound way than we ever did before. 
    And perhaps this is why now millions of us are on the same side of these protests.  We get it.
    People are standing up in solidarity for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, in numbers I have never seen before  - generals are apologizing for ever working with Trump, sports leaders like Sydney Crosby are speaking up, Harry and Meghan are too, bike manufactures are suspending sales to police, corporations are making statements, even the NFL is apologizing for the way they treated Kaepernick.  
    Wow. Its truly remarkable. This is the way the world changes.

    Sunday, May 31, 2020

    Journalists under attack

    In his daily CNN newsletter, Brian Stelter gives a summary of some of the attacks made on journalists over the last few days in the George Lloyd protests across the US:

    [there have been a] shocking number of cases of reporters being assaulted and arrested while covering the unrest. This wasn't just a stray rubber bullet here or there -- it seemed, to a lot of people, like targeting of journalists, by both police and in some cases by unruly protesters.


    Bellingcat identified "at least 50 separate incidents where journalists have been attacked by law enforcement. In these examples journalists have been shot with rubber bullets, targeted with stun grenades, tear gassed, physically attacked, pepper sprayed and arrested."


     >> CBS' Michael George tweeted: "I've covered protests for 15 years across the US. This is the first time I’ve ever seen police actively and intentionally target the press with rubber bullets, tear gas, and arrests. Scenes reminiscent of China, Iran. We remain determined to show the country what’s happening here..."


     >> On Sunday morning I interviewed LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who described the moment when Minneapolis police fired rubber bullets Saturday night: "We were shouting 'press' and I was waving my notebook at them. They just kept following us and firing at us..."




    As Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik wrote in this column, "the question that remains is why we are seeing more physical attacks on the press than we did, say, in 2015 in the uprising in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray." Echoing what he said on CNN, Zurawik wrote, "There are a lot of reasons for the rise, but here's the one I think making the greatest difference: almost four years of the president of the United States demonizing the press, calling reporters 'enemies of the people' and 'scum,' and encouraging rallygoers at his events to intimidate them..."

    I am wondering if some police are also blaming the media for what is happening, in a "shoot the messenger" reaction -- maybe they have the idea that they could beat people up any time they wanted, if it weren't for cell phone cameras and reporters publicizing it when they do.
    The actual problem, of course, is that police are beating people up. 
    And journalists keep on reporting it when it happens.