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July 31, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 329 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths, and an active case count of 6,008 (down slightly from Wednesday). The U.S. numbers remain apocalyptic; 1,465 deaths reported on Thursday alone. At the world level, the one-day COVID-19 death count was 6,998 on Thursday.

This is the world's new 'hockey stick' curve. The handle is getting longer every day.
July 31, 2020 World COVID-19 Active Cases and Deaths
(taken from worldometers.com)

Did a common enemy unite us in response?

No, COVID-19 made most nations revert to feudal mentalities and competing for resources and distorting information for their own benefit. Funding for world-based organizations was cut to divert to less effective state-based 'response' initiatives. In Canada, provinces competed to acquire PPE rather than collaborate with the national effort. Provincial systems generally proved inadequate to respond effectively early, or to protect the vulnerable in long-term care facilities - including staff.

What did seem to work was local, community-based initiatives which organized people and available resources at a human scale to respond. This is natural, if not inevitable, and our systems need to recognize this. Local first responders will always be first on scene for an emergency - even a pandemic or massive oil spill - because they're already in place and have a vested interest in protecting their families, friends and communities.

The problem this presents for addressing climate change is daunting. It's a global problem, where the benefits from misbehaviour don't align with the penalties for those actions. In the COVID-19 pandemic, those spreading the virus are not the same population that suffer the worst consequences from infection: death, long-haul recoveries, new long-term chronic health problems ...

Let's not forget family and friends of those directly affected, who have to provide support and mourn. When it comes to climate change, those who profited from creating massive increases in green house gas emissions and creating waste heat on our planet are not the ones suffering from life-threatening droughts, floods, crop failures, storm damage and forced to migrate from areas which can no longer support the same levels of human population. As a species, we can no longer support this 'tragedy of the commons' where extractive activities benefit a small number while disadvantaging the majority.

As we come out of the pandemic pause, we need to adopt an 'all of the above' approach to measures which will reduce GHG emissions, large generation of waste heat, and solar energy heat gain to slow the rate of global heating.

This news item from the last bastion of Fortress Fossil Fuel.
The latest issue of EIA's "Electric Power Monthly" (with data through May 31, 2020) reveals that solar and wind both showed continued, strong growth, expanding faster than all other energy sources.
(It's May data, despite typo in the sub-heading.)
Some other tidbits courtesy of Ken Bossong at Sun Day Campaign:
Renewables provided 22.3% of total electrical output - up from 20.2% a year earlier.
Net electrical generation by coal in May was 35.3% less than a year earlier while that by nuclear power dropped by 4.1%.
Those data points are not aberrations, they continue trend lines which have been evident for a few years now.

This item is indicative of the way the legacy energy industry works. This one just happens to have been exposed and made the news.
They Spent Millions to Protect Polluters. Then They Got Busted by the FBI.
If you cherish or fear for democracy, take 2 minutes to read this item.

What do you want your world to look like 'after'? Does it look like this?
Canada Flunks Climate Test with ‘Policy Full of Loopholes’ for Assessing New Projects

;-) When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 30, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 397 new COVID-19 cases, and 11 additional deaths. On Wednesday, the corresponding numbers were 476 and 5. The active cases count continues to rise, now at 6,088.

More parts of Ontario are moving to 'Stage 3' this week, which is the final reduction in restrictions under the existing health emergency orders. In my opinion, the focus on re-opening of schools seems to be missing a couple of components I think should be important. Where's the science and evidence which shows that moving children back and forth from home to new exposures multiple times a week is not going to lead to new outbreaks? Where is the data that says that putting children at additional risk for disease and death is for their benefit? Where are the evidence-based guidelines on what constitutes adequate measures for cleaning and distancing when we put 30 children back in a classroom?

Even if we believe children are less susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and spread it less, where is the consideration on impacts on teachers, assistants, custodial staff and other adults who are part of delivering in-school education? Do we really expect teachers to function well while wearing masks?

Why isn't community level COVID eradication a serious part of the discussion before we re-open schools? Where's the rollback plan for closing the schools again - at least temporarily - when outbreaks occur in the school population or surrounding community?

SARS-CoV-2 infection induces robust, neutralizing antibody responses that are stable for at least three months
(It's a pre-print. Who considers 3 months to be long-term immunity?)

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the pressures faced by women caregivers

Given the number of people who are 'recovered' from COVID-19, but have new long-term health conditions, we are going to be putting more demands on unpaid care givers in the years to come. Burn-out in this largely invisible group was bad before COVID-19, and it's going to get worse.

As we start to think about how to reconstruct how we operate long term health care facilities, and to a lesser extent, home and community based care provided by paid workers, it is critical that we also look to providing supports to the unpaid, home-based caregivers who could benefit from financial support, access to quality PPE, training on how to use it and provide care in the COVID world, emotional support, 'get-away' opportunities (which includes short-term care for their family member), etc.


I was going to stop raising news items about the massacre in Ontario LTCs, and my suspicion that it extended to other vulnerable individuals living outside institutions where it was easier to track the cases count. But now that it's clear the Ontario provincial government is going to sweep this under the rug and only pretend to carry out a real investigation about the fundamental issues of how our LTCs failed us, not so much.

Pandemic has added significantly to Canada's overall death toll: Ontario study
In Ontario, COVID-19 has been blamed for 2,763 deaths, 65 per cent in nursing homes
The coronavirus exposes the perils of profit in seniors’ housing

Get for-profits out of long-term care, unions say as they launch campaign.

Family reeling as senior dies of malnutrition, not COVID-19, inside long-term care home

Ford Government Given Failing Marks in Response to Recommendations on Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response in Joint
Open Letter from more than 200 Organizations Representing Almost 2 Million Ontarians

Study says LTC homes have huge staffing issues

Ontario Bill 175 Should Be Scrapped
Ford’s New Home Care Bill Will Compound the Pandemic Disaster

The COVID-19 connection was that pre-COVID staffing was inadequate, and when staff started getting sick, there was no plan for bringing in additional staff. Just like not issuing the PPE which is why some staff got sick, it was a cost-cutting measure, to increase profits for shareholders. Profiting from causing death doesn't seem very Canadian to me.

;-) “Why do they lock gas station bathrooms?
     Are they afraid someone will clean them?”
     - George Carlin

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 28, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Monday means catching up on weekend reporting. Yesterday, Canada reported 686 new COVID-19 cases, a marked jump (about double) the previously reported numbers for Saturday or Sunday, bringing the total to 8,901. 11 additional deaths. Active cases count continues to rise, now at 5,836.

U.S. official numbers pushed the number of confirmed cases above 4.4 million, and deaths now over 150,000.

World-wide, WHO numbers are almost 16.7 million and over 657,000 deaths. None of the U.S. or world trends are encouraging.

Now you know COVID-19 should be taken seriously. The U.S. major league baseball 'season' lasted 3 days before a game had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
Miami Marlins COVID-19 outbreak shows MLB's astonishing lack of foresight
If a bunch of billionaire team owners paying a bunch of millionaires to play games can't figure out how to prevent an infection outbreak affecting their revenue streams, what chance do mere mortals have?

Contract Tracing Apps

Usefulness, adoption rate are still questions as Canada launches beta test of COVID-19 app
If you are contemplating using a contact tracing app on a smart phone, I strongly encourage you to read the article. If you find it's 'too long, didn't read', in short, it's worse than I had expected. Just one taste for flavour:
"For example, Australia was one of the countries that developed an app, Lawfare notes but after a month failed to detect a single coronavirus case that manual trackers hadn’t already found."

One critical item for the success of a contact tracing app is whether people can and will use it. In Canada, it appears, the uptake rate will be pretty low. Even assuming people have a smart phone, and that it is sufficiently new and capable of supporting the app, user acceptance looks weak so far.
This poll says only 29% of Canadians would definitely or very likely download a contact tracing app provided by the government.
Public Opinion Research - COVID-19 Contact Tracing

As I understand it, 30% uptake would not be useful for contact tracing, per previous articles about contact tracing apps. Personally, I would prefer we put taxpayer money into PPE production capacity instead of Google and Apple.


Another Vaccine Tracker (from Regulatory Focus)

COVID Collateral Impacts

Mental health impact of coronavirus pandemic hits marginalized groups hardest

Facebook Disinformation Engine

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube scrub platforms of viral video making false coronavirus claims
But not before there were over 14,000,000 views on FB

If you’re not terrified about Facebook, you haven’t been paying attention

Anti-masking groups draw from anti-vaccination playbook to spread misinformation

;-) A turtle is crossing the road when he’s mugged by two snails.
     When the police show up, they ask him what happened. The shaken
     turtle replies, “I don’t know. It all happened so fast.”

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 27, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Saturday, Canada added 350 new COVID-19 cases, and 4 deaths.

Sunday, the additional cases count of 355 brought the running total to 113,911, while 5 additional deaths brought that toll to 8,890 for Canada. Active cases count has continued to rise to 5,6666.

The U.S. official count shows just short of 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 this morning, which is more likely a weekend reporting data blip than evidence that the U.S. daily death rate has dropped by 60% since Thursday.

Canada and U.S. Governments Continue Policy to Save the Oil 'Whales'

It's odd that allegedly 'free-market' enthusiasts like the U.S. and Canadian federal governments don't seem interested in listening to the markets regarding continued oil and gas exploration and production.

Here's a hint of what the 'markets' are saying:
Tracking the Growing Wave of Oil & Gas Bankruptcies in 2020
(If you are invested in a mutual funds or the equity or debt markets at all, you really want to look at the graphs in this article. 2008 is looking like the tame opening act by comparison.)

The Canadian Crude Index has been trading in the US$ 27-31 range for over a month, while the world economy is allegedly re-opening. WCS is trading in the US$31-35 range.

You would have to think that the CEO of Suncor, a giant vertically-integrated oil company based in Canada, would be seen as a credible speaker on behalf of the domestic oil industry.
Suncor CEO encouraged by Trans Mountain pipeline, less sure of Keystone XL's completion

When someone who stands on that platform is throwing shade on the need for another oil pipeline, that carries some heft. The fact that this is the very pipeline the Alberta government just tossed $7 billion dollars of taxpayer money at - to be spent mostly in the U.S. creating demand for U.S. steel and U.S. workers - makes me wonder if the UCP is reading the memos the bitumen industry is sending.

In the gambling world, a 'whale' is someone who makes big bets and generally (over time and by the averages) loses a lot of money to the 'house'. Today's oil whales are the big oil companies and the lenders who finance them, making bad bet after bad bet and losing millions and billions of dollars. (The oil whales of the 1800s were actual ocean-dwelling whales. They were hunted and harvested for whale oil, which was used for oil lamps. That practice largely came to an end when finding whales got harder, and kerosene became a product - cheaper and higher quality for oil lamps than whale oil. A more apt version of that for today is former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Yamani's statement in 2000, "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil.")

However, today's oil 'whales' aren't creating a product or enriching casinos. When they make a bad bet, they literally shrink the world economy by eliminating wealth. The better product to replace crude oil is already in place and growing - renewable energy from wind, solar and stored in biofuels, at lower cost than energy storage based on crude oil, and with a much lower environmental and climate change impact.

Oil was an amazing energy product; it largely wrote the advances of the 20th century in terms of military activity, the global economy and how our energy systems were built. When government subsidies to the industry are bigger than profits or taxes paid, it's time to move on.

'After' will be based on a different energy paradigm.

;-) If you ever see me smiling on a Monday, know
     that an alien has killed me and is wearing my skin as a disguise.
     (Or I won the lottery on the weekend ... nope, that wasn't it.)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 25, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

534 new COVID-19 cases reported in Canada on Friday, and 7 deaths. The active cases count rose to 5,452. To my knowledge, no health jurisdiction in Canada has reported having enough PPE for medical staff to use disposable disposable gear as intended by the manufacturer.

The U.S. may hit 150,000 dead from COVID-19 this weekend per official reports.

As we start another COVID-coloured summer weekend, this post is mostly a collection of ideas for 'after'. No particular connections other than being ways to build back better as we move forward. I fully accept that this will not be easy, and many governments are actively moving towards more centralized control and authoritarianism. As an example, with the recent slew of omnibus bills, Doug Ford has eliminated the value of the Ontario Legislature for the foreseeable future (Bill 195 - The Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Approach to COVID-19) Act, 2020). The National Post is not noted for criticizing 'Conservative' governments in Canada.
Opinion: Ontario's semi-emergency COVID-19 bill is an attack on our rights

I'm sure you can figure out the desired directions, if you value your rights and living on this planet as if we planned to stay here. (Really, do you have somewhere else to live?)

Canada’s National Emergency Stockpile System: time for a new long-term strategy

Pandemic creating potential for drug shortages that Canada isn't equipped to deal with

With flood threat increasing, is it time to retreat from living on the riskiest waterfront land?

Why cities are planting more 'food forests'

Breaking the Plastic Wave: Top Findings for Preventing Plastic Pollution

Scientists 'shocked' by high levels of microplastic pollution in London's Thames

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun

Energy majors 'spend 90%' on fossil fuels despite climate pledges

Facebook Employee Leaks Show Betrayal By Company Leadership
(Facebook: you are the product.)

Edmonton debuts fleet of new electric buses
(Irony alert - in 2009 Edmonton removed the last of its electric trolleybuses - I was there.
https://www.econogics.com/ev/Edmonton%20Trolleys.pdf )

;-) What do Saturday and Sunday have in common with the coronavirus?
     The weakened.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 24, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 432 new COVID-19 cases, and 4 additional deaths. Active case count continues to rise, now at 5,279.

Being 'recovered' doesn't mean the person is healthy.

'There are days when I worry this is never going to go away': Living with COVID-19 for the long haul.

‘It’s not a hoax,’ says B.C. doctor hospitalized 105 days with coronavirus

New case spikes are being associated with large indoor gatherings in Ottawa and other areas.

Party like it's 2020.


How close are we to a vaccine for COVID-19?


CBC has also created a database on deadly force database for Canada where deaths occurred at the hands of police. It's unfortunate that governments were not already compiling this information to support their own decision-making.

Data vs. Disinformation

When there is an irresponsible and dissembling government, a potent counter-force is an independent and responsible Fourth Estate - journalists. As the U.S. White House has trammeled on the CDC's past ability to provide solid data on the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the New York Times has now stepped up (along with others) to provide a better picture in specific niches. (It's good to seem some of the U.S. mainstream media on the national stage finally showing up for work after what feels like a 3-year hiatus from reality.)

Where the Virus Is Sending People to Hospitals
The map alone is worth a look.

Here's hoping Portland Oregon doesn't start a new outbreak due to federal vigilantes being brought in from around the U.S. to act as goon squads. This doesn't seem like a good way to combat the spread of COVID-19.


Montreal teen opens pop-up PPE store to help community during pandemic.

Face shields worn by hairdressers DON'T protect against Covid-19, health officials say.

Using COVID for Cover

Environmentalists say coronavirus fears have led to major setback on plastic pollution

Computer Security

Emotet-TrickBot malware duo is back infecting Windows machines.


How to Survive a Ransomware Attack Without Paying the Ransom.
(But, not getting hit with ransomware is still the preferred option. Install good protection on your computers and other devices, then treat anything that looks suspicious as an attack until proved otherwise. Remember, your friends' computers and email address lists can be hacked, so just because you recognize the email address doesn't make the email or attachments safe. Inform staff, friends and colleagues on how to avoid electronic attacks, too.)


If you're giving a passing thought to what a better 'after' might look like, take a lesson from some recent history.
Deepwater Horizon Still Plagues the Health of Children a Decade Later.

;-) Flattery will get you nowhere.
     That doesn't mean you have to stop trying.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 23, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 573 new COVID-19 cases, and just 4 additional deaths. On Wednesday, the corresponding numbers were 543 and 8. The active case count continues to rise, now at 5,228.

Coronavirus in Canada: These charts show how our fight to 'flatten the curve' is going

The change in reporting protocols in the U.S.is wreaking havoc in reporting. That data, and especially the former granularity, was key to making informed decisions on positioning testing and allocating resources. So, while the confirmed cases count is over 4 million and the reported deaths are over 146,000, these numbers are undoubtedly under-counts.

How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers (U.S.)

Using COVID-19 for Cover

Ford government’s COVID-19 economic recovery bill broke the law, auditor general says
Omnibus bills rammed through without real debate, not actually doing as advertised the the government. Sound familiar? Despite being billed as a post-COVID economic recovery package to create jobs, it does not actually speak to job creation or acknowledge we are not in a post-COVID period as Ontario's case numbers are moving up during the week this bill was passed into law. It does not provide additional funding for long-term health care, or personal protective equipment for health care workers or those returning to personal interaction jobs that go with 're-opening' the services ector. What the bill does do is remove a broad slate of environmental protection measures in support of the resource extraction industries and land developers. In reality, it eliminates the need for an environmental assessment for any project in Ontario forever into the future.

Gettng back to reality, this is what is really happening in long term health care in Ontario.
Long-term care staff shortages worse than ever according to survey

Face Masks and Shields

For health care workers who are re-using single-use N95 and procedural masks
MIT engineers designed an affordable, reusable face mask that's as effective as an N95 — take a look.

For the rest of us
Should I pull my mask down to my chin? An expert on what to do with your mask when eating.

Should you be wearing a face shield?

Moving Personal Protective Equipment Into the Community
Face Shields and Containment of COVID-19
"Face shields offer a number of advantages. While medical masks have limited durability and little potential for reprocessing, face shields can be reused indefinitely and are easily cleaned with soap and water, or common household disinfectants. They are comfortable to wear, protect the portals of viral entry, and reduce the potential for autoinoculation by preventing the wearer from touching their face. People wearing medical masks often have to remove them to communicate with others around them; this is not necessary with face shields. The use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing, but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception.
"Most important, face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough. Even after 30 minutes, the protective effect exceeded 80% and face shields blocked 68% of small particle aerosols, which are not thought to be a dominant mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. When the study was repeated at the currently recommended physical distancing distance of 6 feet, face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92%, similar to distancing alone, which reinforces the importance of physical distancing in preventing viral respiratory infections. Of note, no studies have evaluated the effects or potential benefits of face shields on source control, ie, containing a sneeze or cough, when worn by asymptomatic or symptomatic infected persons. However, with efficacy ranges of 68% to 96% for a single face shield, it is likely that adding source control would only improve efficacy, and studies should be completed quickly to evaluate this."

Silver Lining

Covid-19 Measures Have All but Wiped Out the Flu in the Southern Hemisphere
From Chile to South Africa to New Zealand, countries report far lower numbers of influenza cases, which could be good news for the U.S. and Europe


How anti-vaxxers could disrupt the cure for the COVID-19 pandemic
A COVID-19 vaccine will become the most valued resource on the planet, as governments try to get enough for their citizens. But it would all be for naught if they're unable to convince people to take it when the time comes.

Fact-check of viral climate misinformation quietly removed from Facebook


Protect your Android phone from malware: 4 signs you have it, and what to do.

Hackers Can Now Trick USB Chargers To Destroy Your Devices—This Is How It Works.

;-) A grasshopper sits down at a bar. The bartender says,
     "We have a drink named after you!"
       The grasshopper replies, "Who names a drink 'Steve?'"

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 21, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Monday (July 20), Canada reported 786 new cases, a considerable jump from the previous couple of weeks. This could partly be a weekend reporting effect, but it also fits the timing for upsurges related to re-openings in various provinces. While Ontario and Quebec continue to lower their new cases, the western provinces (Manitoba and west) are all showing increases. Reported additional deaths remained low at 6. The number of active cases rose fairly dramatically to 4,792 from the reset value on Friday of 4,141. There still is no reporting on numbers of people who have 'recovered' but have new long-term health impacts.


Why vaccines are less effective in the elderly, and what it means for COVID-19

You will continue to hear encouraging news on the vaccine front over the next few months. I certainly hope we find one or preferably more than one, effective vaccines. Vaccines do have varying degrees of effectiveness and side effects, so having a few to choose from for various populations (e.g. old vs young) could be beneficial. However, we don't have any yet, we probably won't in 2020, and it's still possible we won't develop one with long term immunization effects. So, for now, our best treatment is transmission suppression.

COVID-19 for Cover

You may be under the impression that the federal government is not providing a lot of money to bail out the Alberta oil (bitumen) industry as part of its record spending, mostly because the Alberta provincial government keeps complaining about it. You may also be under the impression that considerable money is going to renewable energy projects, to support the federal government's nominal targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions reductions. However, the folks at energypolicytracker.org say the data tells a different story.
They say the numbers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic are $5.93 per capita for green energy, and $315.46 per capita for fossil fuel energy. The ratio is 53:1 for continued support of air, water and soil degradation and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Long Term Care - Ontario

If you think there's going to be a real inquiry into the state of long term care homes in Ontario by the Ford government, you're going to be disappointed.

Premier Ford claimed, just after the Canadian military blew the whistle on what the encountered, that he had no prior knowledge of the conditions in the Ontario LTCs. Which made him unique in people who know anything about LTCs in Ontario. I had only a peripheral exposure to them in 2010, and the stories were already plentiful and well-known.

This story says that a number of Ontario families communicated their concerns to the Premier long before the military report.
Families Warned Doug Ford About Orchard Villa Care Home For Weeks Before Scathing Military Report.

CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario no longer supports the Ford government’s independent commission into LTC
Read the article. Here's a taste:
Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said the government should instead focus on increasing staffing and ensuring a six-month supply of personal protective equipment or PPE in homes, as the province prepares for a second wave of the novel coronavirus.
“Everything we need to know about this pandemic, what we did right and what we did wrong, we already know,” Ms. Grinspun, a health policy expert who has held the position since 1996, said in an interview.

Malware and Related

There's more and more, and on more devices.
How to Check Your Devices for Stalkerware
How to Know If You’ve Been Hacked, and What to Do About It

;-) I finally found a way to wear my mask incorrectly.
     I feel like the answer has been right under my nose this whole time.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 20, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Sunday, Canada reported 339 new cases, moving us past the 110,000 mark, and just 4 deaths. The active case count moved up to 4,435 after the definition change reset last Friday.

Worldwide the counts yesterday were 609,535 dead from COVID-19 and 14,670,027 cases. These numbers are undoubtedly low as undercounting is still suspected from many countries.

The key metric that will tell us if Canada is headed for a U.S.-style COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19 Collateral Impacts

June was the worst month for overdose deaths in B.C. history

Environmentalists say coronavirus fears have led to major setback on plastic pollution

Using COVID-19 for Cover

Legal groups launch court application over sharing of COVID-19 test data with police
Emergency order said to violate provincial, constitutional privacy protections


Depleted PPE supplies put B.C.'s readiness for pandemic in jeopardy: memo

InkSmith expands PPE production (adds procedural and cloth masks)
Current product line can be seen at: https://www.canadianshieldppe.ca/pages/buy-now-the-canadian-shield
Scroll down to find the procedural masks (which include versions tested to ASTM Levels 1 and 2) and cloth masks.

Standards for Cloth Face Masks
SAFETY FIRST New safety symbol that tells you if a face mask is effective (UK only)
The standard indicates only the degree to which the mask reduces outward transmission of particles, and does not speak to protection for the wearer.

For some of the most vulnerable, fashion isn't the selection criterion - it's availability and affordability.
City of Ottawa needs more than 15,000 cloth masks to cover residents in need

The best and worst face masks, ranked by their level of protection
Quality matters if you are going to wear a face mask.

Face masks: 20 key facts about wearing them safely
Type, washing frequency, duration of disposability: all you need to know about masks

The logic of face masks
Even governments which are mandating the use of non-certified cloth face masks acknowledge that they provide little to no protection from infection for the person wearing the mask. If your objective is to protect yourself from others spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus, you need a different solution (e.g., stay home, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands and face with soap after every encounter with other people ... do not use hand sanitizer on your face).

When you read the government directives, they invariably say cloth masks MAY reduce the spread of infection from the person wearing the mask to others. Which is only relevant if the person wearing the mask is infected and contagious. What studies have been done show that air jets escape around the edges of masks; up, down and to both sides.

The next leap of logic is that even if you don't have any symptoms, you may still be contagious, (pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic) so you should wear the cloth face mask, in case you are infected and asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic, even in areas where testing and numbers of new cases show the community spread factor is very low.

If you wear a cloth face mask (not an N95 respirator or fitted surgical mask) and wear eyeglasses, you may find the lenses fog up. This is because the warm humid air from your nose and mouth are being deflected upward to your eyes. Now, let's consider why you are wearing a mask. It's because you are contagious or are possibly contagious. So, blowing your exhalation into your eyes seems like a questionable move. Look into getting some goggles which cover your eyes (and glasses) and prevent air coming from below into your eyes.

Is it because North American health districts actually have no real science, data or evidence on the efficacy of non-certified cloth masks that we have social media to carry the 'information' load on using cloth face masks? Is that why the focus is on style over effectiveness?

;-) They said that a mask and gloves were enough to go to the store.
     They lied, everyone else has clothes on.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 19, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

The big COVID-19 cases news on Friday was that Quebec redefined what an 'active case' is, and dropped about 23,500 people from that classification - about 85% of the cases in Canada. If you can't control the outbreaks, change the data (in this case the data definition, which renders trending data used for decision support useless for a few weeks).

The new case numbers for the past 2 days are back about where we have been since about June 10.

On Saturday, Canada was just shy of 110,000 confirmed cases and at 8,848 deaths. Active cases at4,237, *restarting from Friday's new benchmark value reset*.

Given that several parts of Canada (north, maritimes) have effectively brought the COVID-19 pandemic to near zero in their areas of control, I continue to wonder why Ontario, Quebec and other provinces are so adamant that eradication is not a worthwhile goal?

Questionable data from U.S. HHS indicates about 75,000 and 63,000 new cases on Friday and Saturday (weekend reporting), and 946 and 813 deaths respectively. The totals are simply mind-boggling.


If you are troubled by the current misbehaviour of Facebook which has triggered the Stop Hate for Profit advertisers boycott, there is something you can do as well. Install an ad blocker on your web browser. An international advocacy organization recommends this ad blocking product - AdBlock. I don't know this tool, but I do use another ad blocker (uBlock).

Twitter security also proved to be less than first class in the past day or so.
Twitter reveals details about massive Bitcoin hack
Social media. Caveat emptor.

Russian hackers target Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine research, recovery efforts, cyber defence agency says
Vaccine hack was detected by spies who saw it coming

This is a U.S. story, with a focus on countering disinformation with truth and reality.
It’s Time to Tell a New Story About Coronavirus—Our Lives Depend on It
I think the question for the world now is, is there any audience for truth and reality? Or do the majority still prefer their echo chambers which prevent constructive dialog and references to facts?

Masks vs. Shields

‘They are ineffective’: Swiss cantonal doctor warns against face shields
‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields

It's an interesting data point. I'll point out a few cautions before getting too excited about this.

It's not a formal study. It's essentially anecdotal and based on a very small population sample, in a single location, and there is no indication of controlling for other variables. For example, the article states that a guest was infected, and was served by people wearing plastic visors (face shields), but it does not state if staff wearing masks also served this guest. (It could be masks were provided to staff who interact less with guests - because masks inhibit communication - and face shields were used by staff who interacted a lot with guests.)

The health system officials don't explain why an infected individual was staying in a hotel, and not in quarantine. Was the infected guest wearing a mask? Not mentioned in the articles, but an image in the second article shows a staff member wearing a visor and serving a guest not wearing a mask, and no mask apparent nearby.

Face masks and shields aren't supposed to be the first line of defence in suppressing the virus. (Remember self-isolation, physical distancing, testing, quarantine?)

If we take this finding and apply it broadly, it redefines how the virus is transmitted. That would be big news. It would mean that the eyes are not an entry point for the virus, and that masks ARE effective at protecting the wearer. That's completely contrary to all other messaging about cloth face masks I have seen from health officials which has consistently said for months that cloth face masks do NOT protect the wearer and MAY reduce virus transmission from the wearer to others.

For all that, I concluded quite a while ago that a face shield alone is not sufficient protection from transmission from infected people who don't keep up their end of the deal (no mask, inadequate mask, not worn properly, not cleaned regularly and properly ...)

On the curtains front, I have acquired another type of face shield to fit up with a curtain.

;-) I couldn't figure out why the baseball kept getting bigger.
     Then it hit me.
(baseball reference as Blue Jays won't be allowed to bring players from about 30 U.S. teams to Canada this summer due to quarantine rules.)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 17, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 435 new cases on Thursday, with 17 additional deaths.

8 Times More People In Vancouver Contracted COVID Than Confirmed Cases: Study
The study suggests community transmission was successfully suppressed.

Canada's higher COVID-19 death rate tied to better chronic disease control
Heart researchers say there's a surprising reason Canada has seen higher COVID-19 deaths than many countries with fewer health-care resources — more Canadians live longer with chronic disease, putting them at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.

Meili cries foul as pandemic resurges in Saskatchewan

U.S. is at approximately 3.7 million cases and 141,130 deaths. Daily new case counts continue to rise, and deaths - a lagging indicator - may be starting their acceleration. World-wide, almost 4 million cases and almost 600,000 deaths. Over 235,000 new cases yesterday.

Bacterial predator could help reduce COVID-19 deaths

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries

There appears to be increasing dissatisfaction in a growing number of countries with how governments have handled the pandemic - so far. We are going to see more post-event reviews, and they're already starting.

The Former Head of the CDC Has an Audacious Idea for Handling the Pandemic
“Why wasn’t CDC allowed to do what it could have done?”
(This news re: CDC was also interesting in the last 24 hours:
Clearly, the White House had a long-term plan for streamlining the reporting process when it decided to have COVID-19 data re-routed to HHS instead of CDC. Not.)


Antibody tests may help detect COVID-19 infection - if used at right time.


Big Pharma Exec Says Lawmakers Touting Vaccine By Year's End Doing ‘Grave Disservice’

Masks (yes, more)

I have been complaining that in Canada (or most of the western world), we are telling people to wear cloth face masks now, but have set no standards or recommendations or generally made them available to citizens with any certification of worthiness. I also see people still making the dubious association about better pandemic control and countries that have a tradition of wearing medical / air quality masks. Hong Kong has had mass protests in the streets with no physical distancing during the pandemic. As of yesterday, they reported a total of ten COVID-19 deaths, which is roughly 1 death per million residents, and 260 cases per million. (For comparison, Canada's corresponding numbers are 234 and 2,894, and the U.S. is at 426 and 11,160.)

Yes, people in Hong Kong are more likely to wear masks, but consider the masks they have - the CuMask+.
You might ask, What is CuMask+™?
"CuMask+™ is made of six layers of functional materials, two of which are specially made with small quantities of copper, capable of immobilising bacteria, common viruses and other harmful substances. Together with the multi-layer structure, the mask serves as an effective barrier to droplets. The ergonomic design of the mask also ensures a secure fit. The mask reaches the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2100 Level 1 standard in terms of particle filtration efficiency (PFE), bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) and resistance to penetration by synthetic blood, and is effective for 60 washes. After that, the mask can continue to be used by replacing the filter.
"The mask was developed by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles & Apparel with funding support from the Innovation and Technology Fund. The mask design is patented and was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2018."

The Hong Kong government hands them out for free to it's citizens. Notice any difference between this approach and Canadian PPE policy for ordinary citizens?

The Abenomask (Japan) seems a bit lame by comparison.

To my knowledge, the CuMask+ is not available in Canada. This appears to be similar, and is being sold from the U.S. (Los Angeles). https://www.coppermask.com/ Unsurprisingly, not cheap. Likely made in Korea. Other masks claiming to be copper-infused are appearing on the Web. I cannot make any claims about any of them.

These masks are available in Canada. From the website content, made in Canada, and it seems somebody gave some thought to what features would have value in a virus-suppression cloth face mask (like 3 different sizes because one-size-fits-none). I don't have personal experience with this mask, so proceed at your own discretion. (Thanks to a reader for letting me know about this one.)
3 Layer Organic & Hypoallergenic Face Masks

On the other hand, a couple of other readers have determined that another face mask - which includes an abbreviated plastic eye covering - is not a good solution. (https://ellebabe.com/products/hg0001-elbb1)
Eyeglasses fog up with first breath. The eye shield without wearing eyeglasses also fogs up. Comes in one size only (medium).

;-) What's the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?
     One is really heavy, the other's a little lighter.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 16, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 343 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and with 12 additional deaths moved past the 8,800 mark. The active cases count rose to 27,534. About 8% of the population have been tested, 3% of those test positive (remembering we get both false negatives and positives in the variety of test types used), and just over 8% of those with confirmed cases are fatal. About 2/3s recover, though that may be with new long term health conditions (e.g. reduced lung capacity, cognition impairment, stroke).

As governments move to 're-open', look to others that have moved quickly to see the consequences of doing so before the virus was locked down. There is no evidence that anyone gets long term immunity from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It's your life and future health, and those of the people around you, that are the bet here.

The U.S. exceeded 140,000 COVID-19 deaths yesterday, blew past 3,600,000 confirmed cases, and the rate of new cases is still accelerating (over 70,000 new cases yesterday).

Australia tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases top 10,000

Studies profile lung changes in asymptomatic COVID-19, viral loads in patient samples

Trump administration recommends the National Guard as an option to help hospitals report coronavirus data
If you can't control the pandemic, control the data and news instead.


U of T tests show Canadian-made mask deactivates 99% of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Mobile mask disinfection system launches in Hamilton.

Sterilisation renders N95 masks unusable

Face shields vs. face masks: Which is better?


There is no easy answer on this question. I will add a few points I think are important.
1) Studies show cloth face masks do not stop 100% of the exhaled droplets (and virus if present).
2) Studies show cloth face masks are even less effective if not worn properly, which is a function of matching size (person and mask) and education.
3) There are no standards for quality of cloth face masks. In some I have seen, I am concerned that fibres could come loose and be inhaled by the person wearing it.
4) Masks are even less effective on people with beards.
5) Tight-fitting masks make it harder for the wearer to breathe.
6) Masks impede effective communication. (there are more)

Dr. Etches says the mask is more effective than a shield because droplets can go out the sides and bottom of the face shield. In the forward direction, the shield is impermeable, the mask is not. The curtain I have designed for face shields addresses the leakage to the sides. Leakage at the bottom is less of an issue as the air flow is down and below the faces of others - just as we achieve from physical distancing. (You can dismiss my views as biased, but the points raised here are exactly the issues I considered when I came up with the idea for the shield curtains and tested out the prototypes for wearability. https://www.econogics.com/c4c/)

Face shields provide other advantages. They prevent people touching their face, the main path for transferring the virus and enabling infection. They protect the eyes. They're hard to wear incorrectly. (there are more)

At this point, when I enter a public place in Ottawa where a mask is required, I have one which I keep in a sealable bag and wear it for the minimum time possible to be compliant. I also wear my face shield and curtain, because that protects me from the others in the area who do not wear their mask correctly (no education, no effective enforcement).

For those who are also annoyed by the fogging of eyeglasses when wearing a mask, this advice.
How to stop glasses fogging up when you're wearing a face mask

Closing out today's posting with this YouTube video link on cloth face masks. I'm not a fan of the tone of the piece or the cherry-picking of the single point in a CDC video, but it does point to why people are distrustful of (U.S.) government authorities on topics related to COVID-19. (runs 16 minutes)

So, be skeptical (even of what I write - maybe especially what I write) and make your own decisions.

By the way, the CDC has rearranged its web pages related to cloth face coverings in the past few days. They now have more than seven papers cited at a new location, and some of those do relate to masks. They have also added links.
( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html, then scroll way down near the bottom)

While the CDC and other officials are being a bit cavalier with their language around the effectiveness of cloth face coverings (masks), implying high degree of effectiveness for non-certified cloth masks, the studies are more precise. In the most recent (this morning) version of the CDC guidance, it has toned down the rhetoric a bit:
"Cloth face coverings *may* help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others."
[emphasis added]

This is what one of the studies they list as a reference says (you can read the rest yourself):
"Results: The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask.
"Conclusion: Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection."
Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic?
(By the way, the CDC isn't keen on face shields, using language reminiscent of their view on using face masks by the public a couple of months ago. Stay tuned.)

;-) Here's one that didn't age well in the COVID era.
     It's always windy in a sports arena. All those fans.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 15, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 331 new COVID-19 cases, and 8 additional deaths. The active cases count was effectively flat at 27,518.

Maclean's has a recent piece on COVID-19 in Canada, with lots of graphs.

Remember, the lifting of restrictions in Ontario and Quebec is a calculated risk by those governments that we are suppressing virus transmission enough that the expected rise in new cases won't overwhelm the hospitals. I gather the thinking is that it's OK to lose a few citizens if you have millions. At an individual level, where the potential death represents 100%, perhaps the perspective is different. It is for me.

Again, there are plenty of undesired outcomes other than death from getting the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection. It's possible that the first trip wire to overwhelming 'the system' isn't the hospital emergency departments; it may be the contact tracers who are the first line of defence in slowing the spread once an outbreak is starting.

If you were thinking that summer is short, so you can relax a bit now and worry about this more in the fall, you might find this article a sobering antidote. The time to beat COVID-19 is now, despite your COVID fatigue.
Pandemic's perfect storm: Uptick in cases this winter may be more serious than the initial outbreak

Until there is a vaccine or effective treatment, we have suppression and containment.

The U.S. will likely hit 140,000 COVID-19 deaths today. That's close to the entire population of Prince Edward Island.

Note that in parts of the U.S., the new surge isn't hitting seniors as much as before; now over 50% of cases are in people age 40 and under.


Ont. company planning to manufacture up to 1 million N95 masks per week, province says
“Thanks to the incredible businesses like this one, Ontario will never ever again be left at the mercy of other countries and other leaders when it comes to vital PPE and medical equipment,” [Premier] Ford said.


'Maskne': Why your face is breaking out under your mask and how to stop it

You need to stop using one type of popular coronavirus face mask right away (valved).

Disinformation (probably)

White House tells hospitals to bypass CDC on COVID data reporting
Let's see, instead of sending daily data to the CDC as has been working for a few months now, as of today, the White House has ordered hospitals to send their daily reports to a new database administered directly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Cynics might think this out-of-the-blue announcement might be more related to the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. racing towards 140,000, rather than a routine administrative effort to 'streamline' reporting.


Fact check: are B.C.’s LNG ambitions compatible with its climate goals?

Looking forward to a future without factory farming

France’s Recent Order Liberalizing Retrofits Of Old ICE Vehicles Supercharges Phoenix Mobility’s Ambitions For Mass EV Conversions.

Poison ivy likely to become more abundant and more potent with climate change.

As permafrost thaws under intense heat, Russia's Siberia burns — again
While COVID hogs the headlines, possibly because reporters aren't welcome at the firelines this year, Canada also has plenty of forest fire activity happening. NRCan's Interactive map gives the picture (choose 'Active Fires' from the Overlays)
Pretty much in line with the predictions.
Above average forest fire season expected across Canada
The map in the article is illuminating. Nowhere in Canada shows a below average threat. Half the country is shown as 'well above average' threat.

City of Sydney (Australia) goes 100% renewable
The technology is ready and off-the-shelf. It saves money over the lifetime of ownership. But this sort of progress still faces a huge resource constraint: political will and courage.

;-) Some people think "icy" is the easiest word to spell.
     Come to think of it, I see why.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 14, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Monday, Canada reported 565 new cases, a considerable jump from the past week-and-a-half. The number of additional deaths remained low at 7, but it is a lagging indicator. The active cases count jumped by about 200 to 27,524.

"I want to be straight with you: there will be no return to the “old normal” for the foreseeable future."
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, July 13, 2020

How threatening is COVID-19 if it's airborne? | COVID-19 Ask an expert.
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1762857539891 (video runs about 8 minutes)

Herd immunity won’t save us from the coronavirus pandemic

How some OECD countries helped control COVID-19 in long-term care homes

Yesterday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced most of Ontario would be moving to 'Stage 3' of lifting COVID-19 emergency restrictions as of 12:01 a.m. on Friday (July 17).
Government Framework document for Stage 3 (July 13, 2020)
What I did not find in this document was any update on Ontario's contact tracing app (originally announced to be in place by last week), or the status of PPE inventories for medical facilities. The Framework does point to over 170 additional resources to review before reopening your business.
Medical officials are warning about not letting our guard down in spite of the lifting of restrictions later this week for most of the province.

For the 'who got it right' files ... as of July 11, Vietnam has 370 cases, and zero deaths.
Virus-free U.K. pilot, symbol of Vietnam's pandemic success, to return home


Health workers challenge Arruda's N95 mask order in court

Engineers Design a Reusable, Silicone Rubber Face Mask With an N95 Filter

There Are Now Accessories To Make Your Face Mask More Comfortable And Stylish.

Face shields don't qualify as face coverings under Brampton's mandatory mask bylaw

Contact Tracing Apps

Alberta privacy commissioner finds security concerns with province’s COVID app

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney accuses feds of getting in the way of fixing contact tracing app

If you don't want to hit the news headlines, releasing the story the day after Canada Day with minimal information helps.
Launch of COVID-19 contact tracing app in Ontario delayed

Using COVID for Cover

Alberta failed to flag N.W.T. about suspending oilsands monitoring despite agreement: emails.

Silver Linings

UK air pollution still down despite return to normal traffic – study.

Keeping the Record Straight

This isn't the time to let environmental protection and monitoring slip

;-) In the IT industry, we used to say nobody got fired for buying IBM.
     Seems to have worked out for Lenovo.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 13, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 221 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, and 14 additional deaths. On Sunday, it was 243 new cases and 10 additional deaths (weekend reporting). Active cases at 27,340, a slight drop from Friday.

Using COVID for Cover

The Pro-Privatization Shock Therapy of the UK’s Covid Response

For background, if you have not yet read Naomi Klein's book "Shock Doctrine", the pandemic pause may be a great opportunity to do so. Not a tome you're going to devour in a single sitting, but worth the time investment. Perhaps your local library is now sufficiently functional for you to borrow a copy. Or, in the name of supporting your local economy, purchase a copy from your local bookstore.

Doug Ford ready to cut environmental assessments (again) for 'economic recovery'
Fire, ready, aim. The hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic were not related to gravel pits. It's lovely that the Premier feels that clean air and clean lakes are a priority for his government, but governments show their commitment in their budgets. This government is not committing resources to clean air and clean lakes.


COVID-19: How to safely use a non-medical mask or face covering
Based on my highly unscientific poll conducted at a single grocery store Saturday in Ottawa, which REQUIRES the wearing of a cloth face mask covering the nose, mouth and chin, enforced by store staff on entry to the building, at least a 25% failure rate inside the store (based on looking at 20 people picked in sequence on encountering them in the store, not counting staff). I was not judging how loose masks were, so the failure rate was probably actually higher.

On Friday, July 10th, Minister Bains was at the former GM auto assembly plant in Oshawa to announce over 6,000 Canadian companies have now contacted the Government of Canada.

I am presenting this piece in the interests of displaying a range of opinions on cloth face masks. I agree with some of the points made, but not the entire text. I do agree that there are issues with the use of cloth face masks, and people should be aware of the risks and trade-offs with using thmm. I leave it to readers to reach their own specific conclusions.
Healthy People Should Not Wear Face Masks

Unlike the way many of us learned science in high school, it's not all cut, dried and immutable in 20-year-old paper textbooks. Science settles some questions, while research and debate continues in other areas. COVID-19 is a maelstrom collection of chaos as we pivot to try to understand the unknown and behaviours that challenge our sense of coronaviruses, how a specific disease manifests and spreads, and the consequences. That's not as tidy as non-scientists would like, but it's important for all to understand the process of science and why it's OK for best-available answers to change in weeks or days. What isn't OK is the hyping of some results over others based on a non-science agenda. From the science side, a little more care on communications would be beneficial, especially recognizing when the meaning of a word (e.g. airborne) is not exactly the same in medical science as it is in common usage.
The COVID-19 pandemic will cause trust in science to be irreparably harmed (Timothy Caulfield)

;-) Something really important must've happened on July 24th, 365 AD.
     All of the supermarkets near me say "24/7/365".

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 11, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Friday brought 321 new COVID-19 cases for Canada, and 10 deaths. At 27,466, the active case count is essentially unchanged, still higher than 2 days earlier.

All I'm going to say about the U.S. is 71,787 new cases in one day (yesterday), and that's likely an under-count. 849 deaths, which I think is going to look good compared to what is coming.


How Well Do Masks Work?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0zB904Mc (runs over 8 minutes)
So, a guy (Matthew Staymates) uses the pandemic pause to turn his garage into a small lab to do some science and share the results. How could I resist and not share this?
References for the video above:

National Geographic article on face masks
How to make masks that everyone will want to wear
National Geographic contacted engineers, physicists, psychologists, and fashion designers to find out the best tips for building better masks.

The great PPE panic: How the pandemic caught Canada with its stockpiles down

We aren't stocked with adequate PPE in Canada yet for medical and community health workers, and the non-medical essential workers, or the rest of us. It appears we are making progress on some specific items, but not universally. Until we are stocked and self-sufficient, we could face the same kind of overwhelming outbreaks and surges in cases as are being seen elsewhere in the world. For now, our best path forward remains suppressing virus transmission. And if that means a cautious, careful and measured re-opening of the services sector which is mindful of our constrained medical response capacity, I'm in favour.

That said, it is time to start ramping up more intense medical services outside the emergency departments and intensive care units to address the COVID collateral damage being done now. Where the case counts are low, this should present a minimal risk for individuals or the system. Obviously, if things go off the rails, we go back to higher degrees of local restrictions. Think of returning community activities to more desirable levels as the ultimate team event. And in team events, each participant is expected to do their part.

I recently received a face-shield from ETM Industries in Renfrew, and have now developed a first generation curtain for it. Expect a second-generation design for this one in days to come for easier installation and removal. Image at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/COVIDCurtain.htm .


You read it here first: a checkmark-shaped economic recovery. I have seen pundits writing about L-shaped and V-shaped recoveries, but I don't think they evoke the right image or mindset.

A checkmark shape acknowledges the hard, fast drop we witnessed in March and April. However, we are seeing the dire consequences from forcing a fast supposed recovery (V-shape) elsewhere, and it's not a good way to go. The L-shape doesn't really indicate a recovery at all.

We will increase economic activity in the future as we adjust to living with COVID-19 in our midst. Also, I like the association of the checkmark with a checklist; having a plan, a list of items to be covered, and an order to completing a multi-step activity.

953,000: The number of jobs added to the workforce last month as Canadian businesses slowly began reopening.
That number includes 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent in June after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

Given the number of jobs related to sectors that are not moving back to pre-COVID operations levels, and the number of businesses which were shuttered or evicted, that may indicate a reasonable step towards a stronger future economy.

I'm still seeing anecdotal reports of businesses saying they are having trouble finding new workers, and are blaming the CERB for this. Still, with this kind of job growth, including almost half-a-million part-time jobs created in one month, perhaps, it isn't the CERB that's the problem. Maybe it's the lack of jobs that pay enough to get above the poverty line. Or the amount of crap floating about pretending to be job postings. Here's an example. This is an actual job description for a mid-level position I have seen multiple times now.
"If you like wild growth and working with happy, enthusiastic over-achievers, you'll enjoy your career with us!"
That's it. That's the entire job description.
Or the 'positions' which have been listed for over 6 months, where the application deadline expired months ago.

I just realized the 're-open everything now' faction hasn't been championing Sweden for a few weeks. I wonder if this might be the reason.
Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale
"This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better."
Evidence and science vs. greed and myth-based ideology. It shouldn't be a tough choice.

While I, and others, have been arguing for more self-sufficiency in Canada for critical items as a lesson to be learned from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this next item seems to moving in the other direction. Surely, in modern Canadian society, clean electricity is a critical item.
B.C. power producers alarmed by plan to buy power from U.S.

;-) Q: What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle?
     A: A weekend.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 10, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

371 new COVID-19 cases in Canada yesterday, and 12 additional deaths. Active cases at 27,482, up 32 from the previous day.

Again, surviving a COVID-19 infection can bring adverse long-term health effects.
Brain problems linked to even mild coronavirus infections: study.

This map shows why it would be 'terrifying' to open Canada-U.S. border.

Pandemic accelerating, global peak still to come: WHO chief.

What's the Objective on COVID-19?

Eliminating COVID-19 cases in Canada will exact too heavy a toll on society, health experts say


9 face shields to help protect yourself this summer (U.S. article, U.S. prices)

If you use the pleated rectangular face masks, please view this video to learn how to make them more effective, especially for those who find commercially available masks are large.
(on TikTok, does not require an account, openly accessible - runs about 1 minute)


Health Canada issues warning over counterfeit N95 respirators.


Facebook (sigh)
Facebook met with civil rights groups after hundreds of companies joined ad boycott
Civil rights leaders organizing a major advertising boycott of Facebook said they remained unconvinced that the social network is taking enough action against hate speech and disinformation after meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives on Tuesday.
Zuckerberg Tells Facebook Employees He's Not Going To Change Policies In Response To Advertiser Boycott
Zuckerberg Tells Facebook Staff He Expects Advertisers to Return ‘Soon Enough’
Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions
Facebook takes down accounts tied to Roger Stone, others amid civil rights audit findings

As I have said before of social media, if you don't understand how you are paying for the product, you are the product.

If you are interested in learning more about the Stop Hate for Profit movement and the companies which have joined the advertising boycott, you can find the list here:


Bringing coal back
In a desperate economic moment, Alberta is abruptly reshaping a decades-old balance in the Rockies and Foothills, chasing opportunity in the volatile market of coal exports, at the risk of the very land that defines the province and its people.

COVID Deficit

Some commentators are decrying the expenditure of $343 billion dollars by the Canadian government save lives and keep the Canadian economy afloat since COVID-19. It's a big number. It's a big problem. It has avoided what I believe would be a bigger overall economic hit if we had allowed over a million Canadians to flounder into bankruptcy, taking many businesses and possibly a couple of banks with them. But let's break that big number down to human terms. If we viewed it as a mortgage with a 25-year amortization rate, spread across the population of Canada, what would that number be? $343 billion / (37 million people x 25 years x 365 days/year) is about $1 per day per person. I present that for perspective as the noise level goes up in days to come.

$343 billion is roughly the federal government operating expenditures for 2018-19 ($346 billion).

Calgary has a population around 1.2 million. The recent hail storm there is expected to cost insurers at least $1.2 billion. So the real costs will be more (small amounts of damage won't be claimed if they don't significantly exceed policy deductible amounts).
Calgary’s June hail storm will cost insurers at least $1.2 billion
That's $1,000 per person for a one-time event that lasted minutes.

The 2013 Calgary and Toronto floods cost insurers over $2.5 billion, both multi-day events.

;-) Is it Friday yet?
     Yes, back in sync. Just in time for 'the weekend', whatever that is.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 9, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Wednesday, Canada reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 additional deaths. Active cases count dropped slightly to 27,450.

Airborne Transmission

Controversy over airborne transmission of COVID-19 'a tempest in a teapot,' Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

Why Canadian health leaders are downplaying concerns about airborne COVID-19 microdroplets
I liked the comments from Dr. Isaac Bogoch:
In Bogoch's view, Canada has proven that the current precautions and restrictions have slowed the spread of the virus.
"We're using personal protective equipment to protect us from droplets and contact transmission of this virus… and when we use droplet precautions -- the right mask, the right gloves, right down to the right eye protection -- we were using it properly and we're not getting this infection," Bogoch explained.

This article on virus and droplet sizes (focus on N95 respirators) provides some background.
Fact check: No, N95 filters are not too large to stop COVID-19 particles

In short, the virus doesn't travel alone in air. Aerosol events outside the ICU are rare events. Canada has been wrestling the case counts down based on evidence that person-to-person transmission via droplets are the key path (which appears to be working), while 2-step transmission via surfaces also play a smaller role. Keep doing what we're doing (in most of Canada).

Transmission Via Surfaces

Expert says studies on risk of virus transmission through surfaces don't reflect real world.
Here are the key quotes for me:
Emanuel Goldman, Professor of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the New Jersey Medical School, wrote in a comment published in the scientific journal The Lancet last week, that he believes the risk of virus transmission through infected surfaces has been “exaggerated.” ...
“It’s not that the studies are wrong, it’s that they’re the wrong studies.”
My take-away, keep disinfecting shared surfaces regularly, but focus your efforts on avoiding person-to-person transmission via close exposure. 2-metre rule, impermeable barriers ...

Rules and Behaviour

As more jurisdictions in Canada (notably Ottawa and Toronto today) are requiring cloth face masks (Ottawa) or facial coverings (Toronto) to be worn in City and publicly accessible indoor spaces (e.g. stores), I'm concerned that there is no education on acceptable masks (or better) or how they should be used (proper donning, wearing, doffing, storing, cleaning ...).
For that matter, from my own observations, I suspect some folks could benefit from refresher training on proper hand washing, and how far 2 metres is.


Some prefer face shields to cloth masks. Experts are split on effectiveness.
There's a reasonable discussion in the article above, most of which is not new to readers here.
However, there is the first mention I have seen in mainstream media about the desire for protection against virus in the air which could reach the eyes or 'leak' to the face around the edges of a face shield. Which is why I started working on the addition to the face-shield (Curtains for COVID) several weeks ago. (More on that at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/, including getting the generic pattern to make your own. Progress continues.)

This headline overstates the text a bit, but the fundamental message is valuable.
Cloth face masks offer zero shield against virus, a study shows
(I have not tracked down the actual study yet, but will keep looking.)

;-) Is it Friday yet?
     I've lost track. Again.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 8, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 232 new cases on Tuesday, and 18 additional deaths. The active cases count dropped slightly to 27,573. Complacency and frustration are likely our new most potent issues in the near-term. It's worth noting that only a very small portion of Canadians have yet been infected, about 0.2%. That's good news in the sense that what we are doing to block transmission is largely effective. It also means that most of us are still vulnerable to infection. Remember also, there is no evidence yet of long-term immunity after being surviving a COVID-19 infection.

The world is on the cusp of 12 million cases, a quarter of which are in the U.S. Canada has a front-row seat to what doesn't work to curb transmission.

The COVID-19 death count in the U.S. has now passed 130,000. That is almost certainly an under-count. That's .04% of the total U.S. population. So far. The confirmed cases count is over 3,000,000. That's almost exactly 1% of the U.S. population. Those numbers cannot help but change the country once the reality sets in. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the U.S. is still in the 'first wave'.

However, the U.S. is not even the worst case. San Marino has a small population, but over 0.1% of them have died (so far) from COVID-19 - more than one in a thousand. About 2% have been infected; 1 in 50.


Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again (U.S.)
The headline is from the U.S., but PPE shortages are a global issue still.

COVID-19 and Climate Change

If you thought the COVID-19 pandemic pause was going to lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere, you will find this story disappointing.
Carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa reaches new record high at 417 ppm
If we want a survivable planet a few years from now, it appears we're going to have to do the necessary work and make the essential changes ourselves, not leave the job to the pandemic.

A huge factor in this is dramatically reducing our use of carbon fuels (oil, gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, propane). There is good news on this front.

Electric vehicles are already cheaper to own over their lifetime cost of ownership (LCO) than gasoline or diesel vehicles, due to lower maintenance and fuel costs. The electricity grids are getting greener as renewables are coming online and coal plants are being retired.

Keep an eye on fuel costs for those of you burning gasoline for ground transportation. Industry analysts are forecasting a spike in oil prices as economic activity ramps up. Disruptions in the oil sector may also lead to localized fuel shortages. Both of those will be used to justify higher gasoline prices.

Record debts come due for Canadian oilpatch after 5 years of crisis This year's price collapse has led Canadian producers to curtail output and scrap drilling plans
Interest rates are low, but the finances of the small and medium producers are weak now. The fundamental question is whether or not this is a short-term or long-term issue. If we're planning to survive climate change as a species, it has to be a short-term issue; the demand for fossil carbon fuels can't be allowed to recover in the long-term.

Fossil fuel pipeline operators are finally being held accountable by the courts in the U.S. (and to some extent, regulators in Canada), which will slow new pipeline builds, and encourage better maintenance.
[U.S.] Supreme Court deals major blow to Keystone XL project
Judge orders temporary shutdown of controversial Dakota Access Pipeline https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/business/dakota-access-pipeline-shutdown/index.html
Duke Energy, Dominion abandon the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2020/07/05/duke-energy-dominion-abandon-the-atlantic-coast-p.html
This one is confusing, because the 'Line 5 pipeline' is actually 2 pipes, an east leg and a west leg. So the shutdown was for both, but the order to restore flow was for only the western line.
Judge shuts down energy pipeline in Michigan’s Great Lakes
Michigan judge allows restart of disputed oil pipeline
N.L. oil and gas board acted unreasonably by extending offshore drilling licence, court rules
Global LNG terminal survey casts doubt on industry as ‘safe bet’

Making more energy efficient buildings and housing are already more cost effective than building to code minimum standards on an LCO basis. That message needs to be driven home to buyers over the focus on sticker price. Cost of ownership is not just the mortgage payment, it's also the energy bills and maintenance costs over the life of the structure. An extra $50 a month on the mortgage payments is a better than spending $75 more a month on heating and cooling bills.

Reducing natural gas use will have a significant impact on overall GHG emissions as we continue to learn that fugitive emissions are a bigger GHG source than previously believed. The shift from natural gas electricity generation to using daily storage and generation from renewables will reduce the demand for natural gas. That's why the oil and gas industry is promoting the hydrogen energy fantasy, as that's their last hope for enduring markets for methane (making hydrogen from cracking natural gas, which does not reduce GHG emissions).

;-) I had this strange dream the other night, July 7th to be exact.
     I was alone in this wide open field, and on this field was a
     large number seven. This confused me, and woke me up, I looked
     at the clock and sure enough it was seven o’clock. I thought
     this was strange but didn’t think too much into it, that was
     until I hailed a taxi and, of course it was number seven as well.
     I got to thinking, “how can I use this to my advantage?” So I
     went to the local horse track, and in the seventh race of the
     day, there was a horse named “Lucky Number Seven,” so I placed
     my bet and wouldn’t you know it ...
       He came in seventh.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 7, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

399 new COVID-19 cases reported in Canada yesterday, and 9 additional deaths. Active cases at 27,672, which is an increase over the previous day, and change in the direction of the trend which had been very gradually declining.

U.S. and world COVID-19 news and data continue to be depressing. Showing the numbers each day simply doesn't register the enormity or the on-going tragedy that the rates of new cases and deaths keep going up.

The government and health authorities have to balance the well-being of their citizens on multiple scales. Health is more than deaths. Short-term financial support carries long-term consequences. We do need an economy to provide us with essential goods, services and incomes for workers. That's been proved to be a difficult balancing act in good economic times without an active pandemic. Trying to get it right with incomplete information and crisis-level pressures to act, while having to keep an eye open to political consequences and needing the prescience to see what's coming next is simply impossible.

What is within your control is protecting yourself and those close to you via preventive measures. Yes, the COVID mantras, but also managing stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness and maintaining a healthy diet. A healthy diet is key to keeping a strong immune system, the second line of defence against COVID-19 (avoidance is the first line).

COVID Collateral Deaths and Reduced Health

Efforts to beat the coronavirus pandemic could cause over 1 million extra deaths from other diseases, experts warn

Facebook (sigh)

Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions
The company recently overruled its scientific fact-checking group, which had flagged information as misleading

A ‘mass experiment’ for the climate

Personally, I think this optimism is misplaced, and the dip in fossil fuel use was an aberration. Unless many of us take concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the spectrum, we'll just go back to business as usual on climate change as the economy 're-opens'. China's coal use has already jumped back up.
Which makes this news item curious, as it may indicate China is not meeting its GHG reductions targets.

'Silver bullets' are not going to eliminate COVID-19 in the short term, and we have over 30 years experience now proving they don't solve climate change. What works is massive numbers of small steps in the right direction.

Project Spotlight: Scotia Plaza's 40 King St. W. reaches new heights with first ZCB-Performance v2 certification

Audience Participation - Restoring Wild Waters & Safe Food to Eat
I'm connected to 2 entries related to protecting and restoring water on the planet in the Create the Future contest. Please visit these 2 links and read them. If you think they have merit, sign up and vote for both. Votes matter when we try to move these forward to find partners to make these into reality.



If you want a better 'after', that's a pretty minimal effort on your part.

;-) “Reality continues to ruin my life.”
     - Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 6, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 219 new cases on July 5, and 10 additional deaths (weekend reporting). 27,613 active cases. Dr. Theresa Tam indicated that 66% of those infected have recovered.

Ponder that for a moment. Our new cases numbers have been trending down to pretty low numbers for weeks now (certainly since early June). But 34% have not recovered. About 8% of those have died. So what's the status of the other 26%? As far as I know, Canadian health officials are not tracking that data, or at least are not reporting it.
26%. That's a staggering number.

The U.S. reported 44,530 new cases yesterday - weekend numbers - and there is good reason to believe there is systemic under-counting in a number of states. I am not looking forward to the new case and death counts over the next 3 weeks as the impact of July 4th gatherings becomes evident.

World-wide, the news isn't much better. The World Health Organization said its member nations reported more than 212,000 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day total and increase since the start of the pandemic.

Is the COVID-19 virus airborne?

I don't have the expertise or capacity to contribute to the conversation, but we need to be aware of the discussion. If the virus is airborne (per the medical definition), that has serious implications for how we implement measures to break the transmission path.
Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations

As I have said here before, we're still learning about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Data points to come.
1st glimpse of Canada's true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July from immunity testing
Take-away, we still need to increase our testing capacity.
First formal mention I have seen of a 'third wave'.

We don't have a vaccine, and we may never have one for SARS-CoV-2. I hope we do, but there is no guarantee. And a science-fiction story spread by elected leaders (U.S.) on how we can produce one on an accelerated schedule doesn't make it reality.

In my view, holding out the idea that an effective vaccine can be developed, tested and distributed within the next few months is a combination of offering false hope and disinformation.

Anybody looking at the recent new cases trends in Texas and Florida still thinking that the warm weather will be the end of COVID-19?

The truth can be uncomfortable. Believing in mythology can get you killed. Your choice.

;-) “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds.
     that I don't know the answer”.
     - Douglas Adams

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 5, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

226 new cases reported in Canada yesterday, and only 21 deaths (weekend day). After weeks of no new cases, PEI reported 3 new cases yesterday. These are not related to the re-opening of non-essential travel into toheprovince as part of the Atlantic Bubble, they were community spread from people already living there. Remember, COVID-19 is still out there, looking for its opportunities.


Cyber Security Today – Beware of these post office, bitcoin text scams

A bit on why disinformation thrives during the pandemic.
Why conspiracy theories soar in times of crises

Beating COVID-19

This aligns with something I suggested weeks - or was it months - ago. (Pandemic time, it's elastic.)
Weekly COVID-19 testing with household quarantine and contact tracing is feasible and would probably end the epidemic


I have been wanting to get seriously into the subject of 'after' for a couple of months now - yes, really months. Time flies during the pandemic. Actually, it's more about trying to keep up with the crazy news stories, some possible real progress, and conscious disinformation. There are limits to what people want to read in a day, and even on how much I can research, synthesize and write.

But as others are also now doing regular writing on COVID-19, a bit of serendipity. The Conversation has gathered up a series of articles about 'after', so having given them credit, here they are.

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: The power of everyday actions can bring about change

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Make telehealth the primary way we deliver health care

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Transform CERB into a basic annual income program

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Rethinking immigration can boost the economy

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Launch a fossil-free future

In a similar vein,
Pandemic stimulus could be a game changer for climate goals — if focus switches from fossil fuels, say some

The above not intended for reading at a single sitting. Come back later to pick up the links as you have time. There's a lot to unlearn before we can take a rational approach to building back better. Everything connects.

It all starts from these core elements:
1) Safe air to breathe
2) Safe water to drink
3) Safe food to eat
4) Safe soil to nurture food and other plants
5) Safe shelter from the elements and other dangers
6) Wild waters that can sustain marine life and land that can support flora and fauna
But the world is complicated.

Masks (the stories keep coming)

Cloth masks likely to become mandatory on Monday — details to come.

Face shields AND face masks now mandatory on Qatar Airways.

In case you thought wearing a mask or shield or both was a bit much, consider this approach for flying
Sana Javed lauds healthcare workers as she heads to airport in a hazmat suit.

;-) My wife and I just had a daughter and named her JuneJulyAugust.
     We call her Summer for short.
     (and in most of Canada, summers are short)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 4, 2020 - United States Independence Day


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On July 3rd, Canada reported 319 new cases of COVID-19, 21 additional deaths, and the active case count is 27,735. (The U.S. reported 54,904 new cases, 1,522,999 active cases and 616 deaths yesterday.)

Non-medical Cloth Masks

I expect some find it tiresome that I keep coming back to this topic. (Heck, I'm getting tired of coming back to this subject). But it's important. We need to get better at breaking the virus transmission pathways. Consistently. Effectively.

Non-medical masks are not a panacea. They bring a host of their own issues, some of which I have set out in earlier posts. The reason they keep coming up in the COVID conversation is because governments around the world have not managed to produce enough quality PPE for medical staff, so they can't offer that option to others. People decided to create solutions for themselves, and now government leaders are trying to get in front of that parade.

The headlines almost always use the simple word 'mask', not making a distinction between paper, plastic, fabric, factory-produced, home-made or other features which affect their utility and effectiveness. Seeing people out in public in recent days, and in recent video footage for news, makes it clear that many don't know how to properly wear a mask, which renders them useless. That's part of the over-confidence issue; a mask worn as a chin strap isn't helping anyone, but it might be aiding virus transmission (more face touching, more contaminated material). A mask is a physical barrier device, not a magical amulet.

The terminology should not be 'mask'. It should be face covering or face protection. In fact, in most of the materials I have read from health experts, the terminology is usually something like Dr. David Williams said on May 20.
"In certain situations such as transit where you cannot be assured that you'll be able to guarantee that two metre or six foot distance, and we are recommending, strongly recommending the use of [a] facial covering, non-medical, in that time so as to prevent any further transmission to others and to respect their space as well as your space in that regard," Williams said.
Note: The doctor never used the word 'mask'. The URL and news headline used only the word 'mask'.

Yes, 'protective face covering' is more than 4 characters long. But, in this case brevity is distorting the key message. We need to communicate that there is another option, which has definite advantages, and strong advantages for some individuals.

It's important because we're starting to shame people for not wearing 'masks', even though some people should not wear masks for medical reasons. In another part of my life, I argue repeatedly for 'performance-based' standards over 'prescriptive' standards. The former is about the desired result; the latter is about a specific and often arbitrary implementation. There are real downsides to prescriptive standards. A performance-based standard would say 'put a human on the moon'. The prescriptive standard might describe the size of slingshot to be used to accomplish that, and not allowing for any other technology to be used.

Our immediate objective is to break the transmission path for the virus. How we do it should be open to innovative approaches, as well as the tried-and-true: isolation; physical distancing; frequent hand washing with soap or using hand sanitizer; no face touching; cough and sneeze into your elbow; stationary physical barriers; and, where those aren't available, effective face coverings.

I'm still befuddled by what I perceive as mixed messaging on disposable masks. I see photo ops where government officials are handing out these plastic-wrapped masks (disposable packaging) for people to wear on public transit vehicles. These masks don't protect the wearer (don't cover eyes, don't fit tightly at the edges, and the one-size-fits-none means people wearing them touch their faces MORE. The implicit threat is that the wearer is contagious, or enough of them are to be a threat to the general population if we don't all wear masks.

I'm OK with that logic so far, even if it seems extreme compared to the statistical evidence in hand for most of Canada today. However, if the assumption is that an appreciable number of those disposable masks were contaminated by people who are contagious, why aren't we putting out bio-hazard containers to collect them, rather than just tossing them in with the regular trash (or just dropping them on the ground)? Who else is being exposed to the virus as a result of putting used masks into open trash containers or left to blow around?

Yesterday, I posted elsewhere about PEI making the shift from single use plastic bags to reusable bags ( https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/single-use-plastic-bag-ban-pei-1.5632650), including a quote to the effect the transition was made without fuss or bother - 'seamless' was the word. Can we not apply the same logic to protective face coverings? Which would include face shields (and yes, my enhancement on those - more on that at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/).

Today's last word on protective face coverings goes to Dr. Isaac Bogoch:
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1759842371794/ (1 minute, 32 second video)

;-) July 4th PSA: On one hand fireworks are a lot of fun.
     On the other hand I only have 2 fingers.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 3, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 501 new cases and 27 additional deaths. The active case count is at 27,783.

If you are looking to protect your computer against ransomware, I got notice this morning from Avast Anti-Virus that their RansomWare Shield is now part of their free offering. Not only is this protection for what is now the electronic lifeline for many of us, it uses the words Virus and Shield in the product and feature names. How could I resist? And like the COVID-19 virus, you should take reasonable precautions, and then not rely on them by acting as if they aren't in place. You don't want ransomware or a virus on your computer, just like you don't want to catch the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (I have no financial interest in Avast. I use their free anti-virus software.)

I have not had time to second-source this story, but Forbes is usually pretty good on this stuff.
Anonymous Hackers Target TikTok: ‘Delete This Chinese Spyware Now’

Still on the China / technology bad actors front, with a Canadian aspect
Did China Steal Canada's Edge in 5G From Nortel?

I'm really trying to avoid looking continuously at the on-going train wreck which is euphemistically called COVID-19 response in the U.S. And I really try to minimize the amount of that I bring here, because there's little I can contribute, and Canada has problems of its own still on getting through the pandemic and coming to an 'after' which benefits for harsh lessons being learned here and elsewhere. With that said, take the time to read this article.

‘We Are Not Even Beginning to Be Over This Pandemic’
CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat did something really radical. She told the truth about Covid-19 in the US.
(For background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5c3vx0ACv8&feature=youtu.be)

On Thursday, July 2, 2020, the U.S. reported 57,236 new cases of COVID-19. Looking at their stats from June 15 onwards, the rate appears to be not just increasing, but in the last week, accelerating.

We're still learning about this virus, and the associated 'infodemic'.
Canadian-led research casts doubt on accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests

Coronavirus Australia live updates: more than 10,000 in Victoria refuse testing as state records 66 new Covid-19 cases – as it happened

As the news out of the U.S. suggests we're going to need more PPE world-wide than anyone can supply, this could be useful.
Researchers Identify N95 Respirator Decontamination Method Using a Microwave

;-) WebMD is updating its server because of a virus.
     Well, they think it was a virus, but it could also be malaria,
     kidney failure, a heart murmur, gallstones, or possibly appendicitis.
     — Crystal Lowery

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 2, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Canada Day, this country reported just 67 new cases and 24 additional deaths. I suspect reporting was impacted by the national holiday.

Yesterday, being a slow news day, I announced my 'Curtains for COVID' idea had been accepted by the Create the Future competition, just beating the buzzer as the deadline for entries was yesterday.
I'm just going to repeat the URL for that here:

I think this could be a valued addition to our inventory for suppressing virus transmission. If you agree, I would appreciate help in building up the vote count for the idea.

Build Back Better

I lifted this phrase from the B.C.-based Dogwood Initiative. https://dogwoodbc.ca/
They're a community-based organization with a focus on democracy, energy and the environment. I like the words, cadence and alliteration of that phrase: Build Back Better. Words to aspire to.

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Launch a fossil-free future

I am seeing some progress - people are at least engaging in conversations about making a better future, in Canada and elsewhere. The crisis capitalists have long clung to the phase, never waste a crisis.

Perhaps, this time, those of us who want a survivable planet for our kids and grandkids can take control of the agenda. If so, it will be via initiatives big and small. Where you can, be open to the spectrum of possible ways forward. Call out the cases where government and industry are using COVID for cover to expand their unsustainable practices, environmental and financial.

Part of that effort will be blocking new unsustainable policies and undoing many that exist. There is a lot of talk about systemic racism in recent days. That's an important conversation, but so is systemic support for unsustainable practices.

UVic's oily governing boards lay bare fossil fuel's deep entrenchment in Canadian society

Ontario extends logging industry exemption from endangered species law

Something that is not sustainable is the U.S. discovering over 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day. For me, it's mind-boggling; I really can't wrap my head around those numbers. I can foresee this actually breaking that country's future, economically, politically, socially. Where we can, we need to do better.

Build back better. Make 'after' better than 'now'.

It's going to take some work. We're seeing the alternative south of the border. It will be worth the effort, for us, for our kids, and their kids. We're making decisions right now that are going to have very significant long-term consequences. Let's get those decisions as right as we can, recognizing we don't have complete information, but even more, we don't have the luxury of time to wait. 'Business as usual' is not a viable long-term option.

;-) What if climate change is a hoax, and we create a better world for nothing?
     Joel Pett's cartoon

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

July 1, 2020 - Canada Day


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

It's Canada Day! By coincidence, today I'm also revealing 'Curtains for COVID'. (more below)

Canada reported 286 new cases yesterday (June 30), and 25 additional deaths. The national death rate remains in the 8.2% to 8.3% range.

PPE News

N.L.-produced gowns, face shields get green light from Health Canada.
Operation Protect collects 1.25 million pieces of PPE for BC - BC News.

More on Masks

Thinking about wearing a face mask? Here's some data from the BCCDC.
Face mask construction, materials matter for containing coughing, sneezing droplets.

Better Protection for the Rest of Us

Regular readers know I have reservations about cloth masks, which are forcing themselves into mandatory status because we simply have not managed to provide quantities of non-medical PPE in quantity for those who want or need them. I have been working the issue, and as of yesterday, I have some news.

I have designed and built prototypes of what I think is a better solution: a face-shield with a wraparound fabric curtain. I call it 'Curtains for COVID'. The idea has now been accepted for the Create the Future contest. You can find the entry here:

Over the past 5 days, the U.S. has reported more than 40,000 new cases per day - each day! SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant G appears to be more contagious and infectious than previous versions.

If you think we need a better solution for personal protection against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, something affordable that we can easily make in Canada and potentially save lives, then sign up to participate in the Create the Future contest and vote for this entry. Then share with family, friends and colleagues.


Democracies must unite in disinformation fight, LeBlanc says

There does seem to be a move afoot from the grassroots, which is driving major and mid-size corporations to get out in front of the 'Stop Hate for Profit' movement. Even social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter are taking real, if minimal and cautious, steps towards balancing discussion by tagging or removing the most egregious violations of their long-standing but minimally enforced terms of use. Facebook continues to mouth platitudes about doing something vague at some undetermined date in the future. Presumably they need to receive stronger messaging to actually live up to their own published standards for content, but until then, profits rule.

If you do use Facebook, you can still have an impact. Two key things for you to do.

1) Wherever you see information you know is incorrect or obviously slanted, call it out. It takes a little courage the first time, but you might start a supporting avalanche will cause the platform owner to take notice. If you want a safer, more transparent Internet, you can't leave all the work to others.

2) Don't click on ANY ads on Facebook. If you're tempted by something, note it, open a different shopping app (Google search, eBay, Etsy, Wish - there's about a zillion others now) and buy it on that platform. I'll put in a plug for this one:
If you do your online shopping starting from that link, say to buy something like a book (say The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy - great, award-winning author [smile]), and make the purchase (say from !ndigo), then the organization gets a small contribution from WebGiv, at no additional cost to you (other than a few extra keystrokes).

If you stop making the advertising profitable for the advertisers on a specific platform, they'll notice. If you start creating friction for the disinformation trolls, it will slow them down (though this takes time).

By the way, this is EORC - The Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their workload and decreasing their usual donations funding base - like just about every other community health and services agency. Give the WebGiv application a try, and help them out. Make a better community and better Canada.

;-) What is a Canadian?
     A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt and
     Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine
     sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a
     Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car
     from an Italian movie… and then writes his Member of Parliament with
     a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do
     something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

For earlier entries, see earlier blog file.
For the current blog, see the Econogics Blog.

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