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Rogers buys Shaw. How bad can the news get?

Three weeks ago it was announced that Rogers Communications Inc. is planning to buy Shaw Communications Inc. This is yet another example of the big communications and media companies in Canada giving the middle finger to the public, and doing what they want to maintain the oligopoly they hold over the aforementioned marketplaces. Study after study, year after year finds that Canadians pay the highest prices for cell phone usage in the world, and yet the federal government, who are supposed to regulate these companies, pays lip service to lower prices but never actually follow that up with action.

Shaw owns Freedom Mobile (to whom I refer as “Troublesome Mobile” given the absolute gong show I had transferring a number to them from Virgin, a number I actually had to abandon), and they are the only reason I only quite recently got a cell phone in Canada. Before 2019 I found it more convenient and cheaper to have a phone with an American provider and “roam” in Canada. I combined that with Sugar Mobile to have a Canadian phone number. It wasn’t exactly a great system, but having lived in Third World countries in the past I am used to “making a plan” to work around the inefficiencies of Third World governments and thinking. Welcome to Canada.

Ironically, Air Canada just cancelled their planned purchase of Air Transat. The reason? The European Commission wanted concessions from the newly enlarged airline, while the Canadian government had given the green light to the merger. Thank the gods for the EC, saving Canadians from ourselves.

There has been talk that the federal government could insist that Freedom Mobile and perhaps Shaw’s fledgling cell phone service, Shaw Mobile, be excluded from the deal, to do something to encourage the nascent development of competition in our mobile industry, but such a suggestion assumes that the Canadian federal government has the cojones to do so. (But speaking of Shaw Mobile, it looks to me a lot like Sugar Mobile, the company against which Rogers successfully waged a legal challenge to shut them down in 2017! That hypocrisy is a story for another day though.) While I would support the federal government doing something like that, it won’t be enough for other opponents of the deal, such as OpenMedia.

I can assure Brad Shaw and Edward Rogers though that, regardless of the action or lack thereof from the Canadian government, if the purchase and merger go ahead, the new company will lose a long-time customer of Internet connectivity, cable TV, and now cell/mobile service. The cell service will go back to the United States; Internet will probably go to one of the resellers (possibly even of Rogers, but we don’t have much choice), and if I can get my shit together we’ll “cut the cable” completely.


Updated, 2021-04-07: Add link to Troublesome Mobile.

Non-fungible tokens, and other news

So Jack Dorsey’s selling of his first tweet came to my attention recently. Huh. I’ve just loaded it in my browser (you can too, by clicking the link), without paying anyone $2.5 million, or whatever it’s up to today. I can take a screenshot of it, print it on paper or to PDF, put a laurel of gold leaves around it, save it to my hard drive … and never look at it again.

On the other hand, if I had a few hundred million dollars I might buy the Mona Lisa, hang it on my wall, and impress my friends.

Maybe I’m an old fuddy-duddy already, but I get the latter, but not the former. I do own art in various forms — paintings (originals, not prints), sculptures, books, photographs, etc. — but just because you can (theoretically) make something digital “artificially scarce” doesn’t mean a damned thing to me. If you buy Jack’s tweet, how is that better than the screenshot I just took? How does it make you better than me, or perhaps how does it just make you better? Or ultimately, how does it make the world better? That last question is a question that more people should ask themselves more often.

Bizarre organisational names

The domain humana.org came to my attention today. No particular reason. But the organisation’s full name on their extended validation certificate caught my eye. “The Fed. for Ass. conn. to the I…”. See for yourself.

Humana SSL certificate

Humana SSL certificate.

This is apparently short for “The Federation for Associations connected to the International Humana People to People Movement”. (There’s probably a single German word for that, which would make sense seeing as they’re in Switzerland.) The abbreviation “ass” for the long word “association” (or “assemblies” in the case of “Assemblies of God”, or “Ass. of God” as you see on signs all over parts of Africa) always gets my puerile mind’s attention!

Anyway, my point is more about the long and involved name rather than the connection I make to someone’s buttocks.

Vaccines in Canada

Justin Trudeau is still, laughably, sticking to his “every Canadian will be vaccinated by the end of September” dog-and-pony routine, while others involved have finally admitted that they “hope” to have all of us vaccinated by Canada Day, July 1st. (Hey, three days before the Americans!) I’ll believe it when I see it, as at this point both the Americans and the Canadians seem to be tossing numbers in the air like crazed jugglers, for the amusement of the crazed public watching them on TV.

Royal wankers

Seemingly everyone and their donkey are talking about Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey recently. To me that’s a very good reason not to talk about it, but here we go anyway.

First, if one was actually able to talk to the couple as real people, they’re probably decent human beings, don’t get me wrong.

However, they are two of the most privileged people in the entire fucking world. I don’t care that Markle is female and half black — two of the traits that apparently make you less privileged — but she is more privileged than I will ever be in my life. And yet she married into the British Royal Family and is … surprised (?!) … that her life is not turning out like the Disney version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”?! Give me a fucking break!

I have endless sympathy for Harry and what he lost when his mother was, essentially, murdered by the press, who are an extension of everyone who has ever bought a copy of a rag with lurid headlines. And I sure wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of their headlines and despicable behaviour, as Markle has been. However, she chose to be in that position. Yes, she did it for love, but some things aren’t worth love … or some love isn’t worth some things, however you want to regard it.

I don’t care if “The Firm” folds tomorrow and disappears. However, Harry and Markle are world class whiners who used up their fifteen minutes of fame long ago, and don’t deserve another second. I don’t care who apparently speculated on the hue of their first kid’s skin and their motivation; it is something to wonder about in a mixed-race union that produces children! It’s something that more than one cheating wife or girlfriend has had to be concerned about in the history of humanity! But their going on TV and complaining about how terrible their lives are — to the point of contemplating suicide — is an absolute joke. Other people have had to suffer far worse lives than those two, and someone should apprise them of that fact.

Out of range or no pwr at base: VTech cordless phone

VTech model CS6649-3 cordless phone and "digital answering system"

VTech model CS6649-3 cordless phone and “digital answering system”.

After a power failure, the cordless handsets on my VTech CS6649-3 cordless phone and “digital answering system” stopped working and displayed “Out of range or no pwr at base” on their screens. This system is at least ten years old, so I figured I’d be buying a new system. However, I did a web search and came across a couple of pages that didn’t quite help me solve my problem, but got me started.

The least helpful, of course, was the first result from VTech themselves: “What should I do if Out of range OR No pwr at base appears on my cordless handset?” I did briefly consider the possibility of third-party interference, but this seemed highly unlikely all of a sudden.

Further help was available at the following links:

The latter also led me to the video by Andrew Calvet, which is cut off suddenly at the end. (The “*7890#” code in this video works on my phone, but the “*331734#” code mentioned in other search results, including the two above, does not.) I got the same result as in the video, and then just hit “off/cancel” key several times to get back to the home screen. However, my screen still stated “Out of range or no pwr at base”, so I was no further ahead. So I decided to disconnect the battery, wait a few seconds, then reconnect it. (I needed to gently use pliers.) It then stated, “To register HS see manual”. Great. So I started to look for the physical manual, then remembered I had it saved on my computer.

I haven’t done a page-by-page comparison, but page 61 of this manual has the instructions “to register a handset”:

  1. Press and hold FIND HANDSET on the telephone base for about four seconds until the IN USE light turns on and it shows Registering…
  2. Press QUIET# on the handset. The handset shows Registering… Both the telephone base and cordless handset show Registered, and you hear a beep from the handset when the registration process completes. The registration process takes about 60 seconds.

I had to set the date and time the first time I did this on the first handset, but didn’t have to for the other two handsets. At the end of it all, all three remote handsets are working. The base was always working.

Not sure if just disconnecting and reconnecting the batteries in the handsets (and re-registering) would have done the trick; perhaps entering the “*7890#” code wasn’t actually a necessary part of the process.

Hope this helps you.

Response from my MP about slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

So two weeks after I wrote to my MP and MLA about the glacial roll-out and extraordinarily pathetic vaccination goal of the Canadian government, I heard back from my MP, Kenny Chiu. He is in Opposition, so really, his reply was just an agreement with my position. His assistant included a statement from Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner; except for the hyperbole about “overflowing morgues” and “lies”, it may be the only time she and I will ever be in agreement!

We’re still in a state of stasis in Canada, with vaccine delivery numbers abysmally low. Again, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think we all will or should be vaccinated by next week. But gimme a break, the goal of vaccinating all of us by a month after the summer ends, while the variants gather steam and India vaccinates eight Canadas, is just crazy talk. Unbelievably, Trudeau keeps harping on about that goal, as if it’s the best goal in the world! I keep coming back to the crux of the matter: What could possibly be more important, right now, today?!

No reply yet from my MLA, Kelly Greene (or, of course, Trudeau or Horgan), and at this late stage I’m not holding out much hope for one.


From: “Chiu, Kenny – M.P.” <Kenny.Chiu_AT_parl.gc.ca>
To: Craig Hartnett
Subject: RE: Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2021 19:58:33 +0000

Good afternoon, Mr. Hartnett,

Thank you for writing the office of Kenny Chiu, member of Parliament for Steveston-Richmond East.

As Canada did not receive any of the Pfizer vaccine this week, it has lead to significant delays and stoppages in Canada’s vaccine distribution.

A recent statement from vaccine manufacturer Pfizer indicated that some European countries may not be as hard hit by the delivery delays as Canada has experienced and will continue to experience.

Canada sits at just 1.44% of its population vaccinated, well behind the pace of other nations.

Our nation cannot secure jobs, we cannot secure our economic recovery, we cannot secure the future without vaccines. Conservatives are deeply frustrated by the government’s on-going failure to procure and deliver vaccines for Canadians.

As such, Canada’s Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to:

1. Tell Canadians what specific steps they are taking to make up this shortfall;
2. Tell Canadians honestly when they can reasonably expect to be vaccinated;
3. Disclose Canada’s precedence against other countries in the vaccine delivery schedules for the contracts they’ve signed; and
4. Deliver an emergency plan that gets vaccines to Canadians.

Please know MP Chiu is working with his colleagues to support Canadians and hold the government to account for their ongoing mismanagement of priorities during this pandemic.

I wish you and your family good health, please stay safe and continue follow all necessary guidelines to help restrict the spread of COVID-19. We can make it through this together.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Daviau
Parliamentary Assistant
Office of Kenny Chiu M.P.
Steveston—Richmond East
Shadow Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth

177 Confederation Bldg., House of Commons
Office | 613-992-1385
E-mail | Jennifer.jennekens-daviau.831@parl.gc.ca

P.S. I have included for your reference a recent statement delivered by our MP Michelle Rempel Garner on this topic. See below.

************************************

Canadians Need a Vaccine. Now.

CALGARY, AB – The Hon. Michelle Rempel Garner, Shadow Minister for Health, issued the following statement regarding the Liberal government’s failure to get vaccines for Canadians:

“Before Christmas, Justin Trudeau said Canadians would be at the front of the global line for a vaccine. This was clearly a lie.

“Canadian provinces are running out of vaccines and are pleading for the federal government to get more. Meanwhile, people in Israel are getting their vaccines ten times faster than Canadians. The United States is on track to vaccinate the equivalent of our population before most Canadians will get the chance. But Canada only has a federal Liberal government finger-pointing on who is responsible for a slow vaccine delivery roll-out and a severe lack of widespread rapid or at-home testing options.

“It doesn’t matter how many doses the federal Liberals supposedly ordered; the reality is that they’re not here now.

“Morgues are overflowing. People are under curfew. Outbreaks in long-term care homes continue. Small businesses are permanently shuttering. Suicides and domestic violence levels are skyrocketing. The pandemic has reached levels we’ve never seen before. It didn’t have to be this way.

“Canadians deserve better than sitting in lockdown, under curfew, civil liberties removed with COVID-19 case numbers skyrocketing, while refrigerator trucks are brought to morgues and provinces are waiting for more vaccines. The federal Liberals have had months to take the leadership role Canadians are counting on to get these things done.

“We are calling on Justin Trudeau to get provinces vaccines to deliver. Every day that we delay getting vaccines to vulnerable Canadians puts more Canadian lives at risk.”

Happy birthday Melissa!

Dear Melissa,

Hope you have a good birthday. Do I hear revving engines?! 😉

Love from, Uncle Craig

Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

This week I sent the following email to my Member of Parliament (MP, Kenny Chiu) and my Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA, Kelly Greene), copied to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of British Columbia. I’m not expecting a substantive — or any! — reply from any of them, to be frank. However, if I do I’ll update this post or make a new one.


From: Craig Hartnett
To: kenny.chiu_AT_parl.gc.ca, kelly.greene.mla_AT_leg.bc.ca
CC: pm_AT_pm.gc.ca, premier_AT_gov.bc.ca, letters_AT_nationalpost.com, sunletters_AT_vancouversun.com
Subject: Reasoning for slow roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine in Canada
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 21:09:28 -0800

Dear Mr. Chiu and Ms. Greene,

I write to both of you with respect to the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. From my point of view, it seems that (currently) acquisition is a Federal responsibility, and administration and deployment a Provincial one. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe my concern should be addressed to both levels of government.

Like the vast majority of Canadians, I (and to the best of my knowledge, my family and friends, to whom this email is blind-copied) have been following provincial health guidelines. I and we are not heroes for doing this, but we have trusted our health officials and interrupted our lives accordingly.

It is not a surprise to me that life did not “go back to normal” a week after the first vaccine was approved. I’m not that stupid. However, it shocks me to hear that India plans to vaccinate 300 million of its citizens by July, while Canada’s lofty goal is to vaccinate an eighth as many people (38 million) by September. (I do note that 300 million people is only about 22% of its population; I also note that both figures are just projections.) Israel — a much smaller country I do admit without the geographical and meteorological challenges of Canada — has already vaccinated one million people, about 11% of its population. (These Israeli numbers are already out of date; they have now vaccinated 25% of their population, over two million people!)

I’m not engaging in “vaccine nationalism” here, but these figures tell me that there is absolutely no sense of urgency on the part of Canadian governments to vaccinate our populace. On newscasts, doctors and other medical officials have told us that vaccination is a complicated, multi-step and time-consuming process, but if the danger was more clear and present, I suspect those bureaucratic obstacles could be cleared in short order.

If we can mount Federal elections across this vast country in a span of twelve hours, why the hell can’t we mount the same effort — with volunteers also carrying out complicated, multi-step tasks and record-keeping — to get our population vaccinated sooner? I’m not suggesting we can vaccinate the entire country in one day, and I realise that we have to wait our turn for supplies of vaccines, but the September time line seem utterly and ridiculously low, especially when compared with India’s goals.

What’s more important? Vaccinations, fewer deaths and a recovering economy, or paperwork and record-keeping?

Canadians are tired, and it shows in the numbers. We’re also tired of politicians over-promising and under-delivering. According to the CBC, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin has “conceded Canada’s vaccine supply will be rather ‘limited’ for the first three months of this year ….” This goes against all of the talk of prominent politicians, not the least of which is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! Sure, Mr. Trudeau has promised we’ll all be vaccinated by the end of September, but as shown above, two months before that date India will have vaccinated eight Canadas!

Canada needs more imagination and determination than we are currently showing. At the very least, the country should consider employing the military in the process, but there are other ideas out there too.

I believe that Canada needs to work overtime to pick up the pace. What are you doing to impress upon our Prime Minister and Premier that they’re not doing enough?

Yours sincerely,

Craig Hartnett

Richmond BC

Cc:

  • Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
  • Premier of British Columbia, The Honourable John Horgan
  • National Post, Editor
  • Vancouver Sun, Editor

Bcc:

  • Family and friends

Following this, I received this email from one of my correspondents:

The story all along has been that everyone would be vaccinated by September. Given that the approved vaccines require two doses one would infer that ‘vaccinated’ meant that everyone would have received two shots. Story has changed today — now it is that everyone will have received one shot by September. This country is run by a bunch of fucking retards. They turned down extra Moderna doses and that option has now gone and ordered more Pfizer doses. Well, we know where that went today. So Trudeau kept on about how many millions of doses they had contracts for but they don’t seem to be worth the paper they’re written on because fuck all is showing up. We are behind Slovenia for god’s sake (maybe that has something to do with Melania).

As for the twits who, with no medical background, keep on about extending the time between shots — they should all be fired and people with brains put in as replacements.

My reply:

I mocked Michelle Rempel — Conservative, attention-loving, blonde MP from Alberta — when she called Trudeau et al. “incompetent”, despite the fact that it was the Conservatives who let vaccine manufacturers close up shop here years ago, but maybe she was right!

I was blown away when Hillier speculated about extending the time between shots, and I told […] he sounded like trump! And then, to my surprise, “experts” all over government were agreeing with him! It’s a bloody joke!

Trudeau keeps going on about meeting the September promise, with no mention of how pathetic that goal is!

The American right is laughable

If their storming of Capitol Hill on Wednesday 6 January 2021 was their idea of a “revolution” — as one tearful insurrectionist put it to a videographer — they’re an absolute joke. A revolution has leaders and goals and lasts more than a couple of hours; that was just a disorganised mob getting their jollies and selfies for a few hours.

Note to self: If I ever need someone on my side in a revolution, don’t go into battle with American alt-righters, especially a “leader” who says he will walk with you, and then gets in his limousine and is driven off.


Updated, 2021-01-09: Added link to video of the revolutionary, “Elizabeth … from Knoxville, Tennessee.” “We’re stormin’ the Capitol, it’s a revolution!” OMG, she’s fucking hilarious!

Slow rate of COVID-19 vaccination in Canada

I am heartily amused by the fact that Justin Trudeau is “as frustrated” as the rest of us Canadians over the slow rate at which COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in Canada. Thanks Justin, but the difference between you and the rest of the great unwashed is that you can do something about your government’s lacklustre performance!

Meanwhile, “India plans to vaccinate some 300 million people between January and July“. That’s about eight times the population of Canada by two months sooner. These are projections, of course, but it shows you how low the Canadian government is aiming.

Now, I know that we’re reliant on foreign supplies of vaccines since the Conservative Party ran the drug companies out of Canada (someone needs to tell Michelle Rempel that when she hypocritically accuses Trudeau’s government of “incompetence”), but there just doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency. We’ve had vaccines for about a month now, and only a third of them have been injected. I heard one of the doctors explain on one newscast or another that we just don’t understand; it’s a multi-step, time-consuming process that requires consent and record keeping. Meanwhile, Israel (who I do recognise are a tiny country compared to Canada without the geographical and meteorological challenges of Canada) is racing ahead and putting the rest of the world to shame in terms of the percentage of their population they’ve vaccinated.

Here’s an idea: If we can run an election across the country in a twelve-hour period (that also requires multiple steps and record keeping), why can’t we use the same infrastructure to do the same with vaccines? I’m not suggesting that we’ll vaccinate all 40 million people in twelve hours, but we certainly won’t have vaccines sitting in fridges doing no bloody good!

COVID exhaustion

Apropos my last post, I happened across this image on Imgur yesterday:

COVID exhaustion.

COVID exhaustion

Aspects of our COVID exhaustion are due to the reality that many of us are carrying the weight of other’s [sic] irresponsibility.

Many go about their lives, unencumbered with any feeling of social responsibility, then feel justified in their carelessness, at least partially protected by the herculean [sic] efforts of others.

Not only are we carefully navigating a context foreign to us, sacrificially bearing a collective burden, we have to watch those efforts devalued by those who then pretend their carelessness is justified.

We’re holding a societal umbrella in a downpour; they’re laughing and pretending it’s not raining because they’re not wet. It’s exhausting.

(It’s difficult to find an undeniable source for this, as even this “source” is challenged by someone.)

If we all behaved like those others, this COVID-19 pandemic would probably look like the Black Death of the 1300s. Thankfully, as implied in the above quote, there are some of us who are relatively educated.

My search for a source also revealed this article: “We’re Exhausted From Bearing The Burden Of Others’ COVID-19 Irresponsibility” by Katie Cloyd. I mostly agree with Katie, but I’m just not as “sad”.

Further research led me to this article: “The Meltdown Crisis“. Apart from her racism, Tressie McMillan Cottom makes good points about how COVID has revealed to Westerners how “Cheap credit and cheap imports and cheap slave labor let us consume like we are rich when we are anything but.” Yup, couldn’t agree with that part more.

Back to Cloyd above though. It’s hilariously frustrating to me that the anti-maskers refer to those of us wearing masks as “sheeple”. What does that even mean? Who are the sheeple and who are not? If I have the same opinion on a topic as Bob, who is the sheep? Me, or Bob? If I have the same opinion on masks as Tedros Adhanom, the Director-General of the WHO, does that make me the sheep? (Presumably it doesn’t make him the sheep, as he’s never heard of me.) Is it possible that all of the anti-maskers are really the sheep of someone sitting at home in their basement who hates masks, perhaps the guy who started Qanon, or did they all spontaneously come up with the same thought at the same time? Who the hell knows, but it’s a bit ridiculous that a movement based on a bunch of people following someone else would call out people who subscribe to the same scientific theory as “sheeple”!

COVID-19: Confusion! Finger pointing! Blame!

You know, if there’s one word you hear in damn nearly every news broadcast about COVID-19 these days, it’s the word “confusion” or some variation of it. “People are confused,” the teleprompter reader whines! “The government’s rules are so confusing,” they go on. You know, part of me wants to shout at the TV screen and tell them the only people confused are journalists, not ordinary people. However, probably ordinary people are confused too, some of them because they want to be. It’s their hobby horse, and they’ll ride it until they die.

The bottom line though is pretty damn straightforward:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Don’t congregate in groups.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep your contacts down to an absolute minimum and minimise the amount of shopping and other business you need to do.
  • Don’t travel.

There’s absolutely nothing confusing about that.

If you’re in one part of the world and listening to health advice from another region or part of the world, then don’t! That’s why you’re confused! What the public health officer in Turkmenistan (where they apparently claim to have no COVID) says has nothing to do with what the public health officer in Buttfuck, Saskatchewan, has to say and what you should therefore do if that’s where you live!

Businesses

OK, where confusion may start to creep in is if you run a small business. Sure, do you run a gym with spin classes, or do you run some other business which can be run completely online? Or probably something in between? Do you have employees? How many locations? Can your employees work far apart? That, perhaps and to some degree, is where “confusion” can come in. However, if you’re an individual, the rules are not confusing, and perhaps you shouldn’t be patronising certain businesses. That’s not confusing.

But yes, a new disease is always confusing! It’s not the government’s fault it’s confusing; the government is just as confused, but at least they’re doing something! (This statement doesn’t apply if you’re an American. Read above about following the advice pertinent to your jurisdiction.) Don’t get on TV and whine about the government! Sure, talk about what a difficult position you’re in and wish that it was better, but if the government had a magic wand they’d wave it!

Medical face mask.

Medical face mask (ArtJane/Pixabay)

Masks

Masks work; does your brain? A mask is as much of an infringement on your rights — your supposedly god-given rights to do whatever the hell you please at any time and in any place — as requiring you to wear pants, or stop at red traffic lights. Wear a fucking mask when you’re around others outside of your home. It’s not fucking confusing.

It has occurred to me that people who don’t want to wear masks — the so-called anti-maskers — must never have played team sports in their lives. Whether it’s team sports or launching a new business with partners, employees and suppliers, all such activities require team spirit, doing something not just because it benefits you, but because it benefits the team. Wear a goddamned mask. Don’t be a fucking baby and shout at people because you don’t like wearing one, or physically attack people for the same asinine reason. The same applies to all of you who think you literally have the permission of one god or another to do as you please because he’s stronger than the government. If that’s what you believe, who the fuck do you think sent the COVID and where the fuck are his lightning bolts?! Contrary to beliefs among you tin-foil-hat wearers, not everything is a conspiracy by the government against you and your group!

And in the words of Premier Brian Pallister of Manitoba, “If you don’t think that COVID’s real … you’re an idiot.” (Or in the words of Francesco Aquilini, owner of the Vancouver Canucks, “Hey @VancouverSun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer.’ #wearamask“, in reaction to Mark Donnelly apparently planning to sing the national anthem for an anti-mask rally.)

Public health

Some people and even countries and provinces don’t seem to understand the concept of “public health”. It’s not about your health, it’s about everyone’s health, and how everyone being healthy contributes to your being healthy and able to do the things you want to do. All these idiots — including Canada’s Trump, Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta — going on about their individual freedoms being impaired — whether it’s being asked to wear a mask or not to have gatherings — don’t have a clue. In some places and cultures it’s acceptable to spit in public, but even the average idiot in a Western culture would turn their nose up at that and consider it rude. Guess what? That’s because you’ve been “brainwashed” by ancient public-health messages about spitting in public! If you can wrap your head around that, and understand how it means you have to “play ball” on the team to improve public health, then you may be catching on to what the rest of us have understood intuitively since time immemorial.

Hospitals.

Hospitals (Pixnio)

Hospitals

Yes, the hospitals keep claiming they’re going to be “overwhelmed”. And yet somehow, to the untrained eye, they seem to carry on as normal. That’s because they’re going above and beyond to ensure that you and your stubbed toe can get in, despite the fact that they’re overrun with COVID patients. Sure, they don’t all die, but a lot of them do, or come very close to it. Do you really know, in advance, how you’ll fare if you get it? And just because a hospital may not be 100% full, that doesn’t mean they’re not at capacity. A “bed” is not just a piece of furniture; it’s the nurses and doctors that come with it, and if a large number of nurses and doctors (and hospital janitors, etc.) are at home because they’re recovering from COVID, a “bed” might not be available because there aren’t the staff members to support it.

Oh, and by the way, you might think that COVID is a hoax, but meanwhile the hospitals are busy treating actual COVID patients. When you or your grandmother show up at the hospital with your heart attack, you’re going to find the nurses are a little too busy to take you. You may get triaged to the bottom of the list. So much for believing this was all a hoax and it wouldn’t affect you.

Why are the hospitals at capacity? Are they not well managed? The problem is that they are very well managed, but the management plan for the medical system can’t be run on the basis that there could be a pandemic tomorrow. In any given year there are so many broken legs, so many heart attacks and so on, and they’re managed around those numbers. Throw in a pandemic and those numbers are all thrown in the air. Everything changes. And it changes every day now as we learn more about the disease. That’s yet another reason the rules keep changing! It’s not because some hospital CEO wants to “confuse” your poor, fragile, confusable mind!

1+1=4.

Cumulative (1+1=4)

Cumulative measures

Masks are a great idea. However, they are only one idea, one layer of defence. Let’s just pick two layers of defence: masks and distancing. If you’re wearing a mask and are standing with your face right in my face, that’s not good; if you’re mask-less and standing two metres away, that’s not good either. What if you did a radical thing and combined both measures?! Now you’re getting the point. No credible person has suggested that just one measure alone is a silver bullet! It’s all about the cumulative effect of combining the measures!

Double standards for businesses

One area in which I support protests is the double standard in Ontario where small businesses are being closed but big competitors — Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, etc. — are allowed to remain open selling the same goods. Get together with friends and march on Queen’s Park — masked and distanced — and tell Premier Doug Ford that he is pandering to his friends running the big businesses if he doesn’t implement the same measures as have been implemented in Manitoba (I believe it is) where non-essential goods are cordoned off (and not for sale) in the big shops. Ford claims it’s too difficult for the big-box stores to do this; more whining, this time by the leader of a government!

Loopholes

Here’s one I love: “I’m not allowed to do X in this region, so I’ll just go to the neighbouring region and do it there.” Here, please take this dunce cap and go and sit in the corner for the rest of the pandemic … with your mask on.

Elders treated as superfluous

Certainly in Canada, it has become painfully obvious how little value is put on the lives of the elderly and others who are in long-term care. Either something should be done about this — it obviously hasn’t been, as we can see from the same shit happening in the second wave — or society should just be honest about what they do and don’t care about. “Logan’s Run“, anyone?

Apparently about a quarter of all Canadians in long-term care at the moment will have their last Christmas this year; think about that, “Mr./Mrs. I can’t possibly think about spending Christmas day just with my immediate family for once in my goddamned selfish life”.

Trevi Fountain.

Trevi Fountain (Thomas Wolf, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

Travel restrictions

Apparently something like 15% (can’t remember the exact number off the top of my head) of Canadians are planning to travel this Christmas. That’s close to six million idiots who can’t take a one-time (in their lifetimes) break. (In the United States this year’s Thanksgiving looked like any other, with everyone going somewhere else, but their idiocy explains why the American numbers are so fucking bad.) Hey, I’d love to have the Trevi Fountain to myself right now, but I’m not so fucking selfish that I would use my connections to do that. Whether you’re planning to go to Italy or planning to drive to Buttfuck, Saskatchewan, take a break this year! How hard can it be for you to do that? Some families won’t get to celebrate Christmas this year (or any year in the future) with a loved one because others were too selfish to stay the fuck home or put on a mask!

Lack of resilience

I received a Christmas letter from a friend recently with this comment:

And overall we have the very definite impression that Icelanders are coping with this whole situation rather better than the populations of many other countries — there’s almost no talk of people being “fed up”, “depressed”, etc. Perhaps being isolated on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic together with the cold and dark every winter helps people more easily cope with the restrictions imposed by the current pandemic.

This sums up what my thinking has been for some time. Modern people seem to be almost entirely composed of people who expect everything to be “easy” and everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Look, I realise that there are almost as many exceptions to rules as there are rules, but for the vast majority of us we’re the architects of our own demise. Grab a backbone and a mask, and do your part to keep our species alive to rape and pillage the Earth for a while longer.

Finally, as I said at the start, don’t take my advice if you don’t live where I live! Frankly, I think it’s good advice wherever you live on this planet, but you should modify it for where you live. In some places the advice might be over the top, and in others it’s not enough. In addition to a mask and a backbone, you need a brain!