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Public Health has failed us all

Posted  June 28, 2020  by  Anonymous

Over the last week, I have come to understand that the COVID 19 pandemic will be known as the worst North American public health failure ever. 

Here’s why:

Remember five months ago, way back in February, when COVID cases first began showing up in North America?  
That is also when doctors in Europe, who were already dealing with dozens of cases, started reporting that, unlike other recent viruses,  transmission of COVID 19 appeared to be happening from people who didn’t know they were sick and who did not display any symptoms.
It is impossible to find and quarantine such people, because nobody knows who they are. They themselves don’t even know they are carrying the virus.
The only way that someone without symptoms can be stopped from transmitting a respiratory infection is for everyone to wear a mask, so that the infected people are prevented from spraying infectious droplets every time they speak, cough, sneeze, etc. 
So if, back in February, we had all been told to wear homemade masks whenever we were out and about (like many people already do in Asia, by the way) this simple act would have protected the friends and families and coworkers and clients of the hundreds of people across North America who were already infected but didn’t know it – the dentists, the doctors, the choir members, the conference attendees, the nursing home staff, the teachers, the social workers, the waitresses, etc etc
And thus, COVID 19 virus would not have infected hundreds of thousands.  And thousands of the people who died would have lived instead.

But what happened when, back in February, European doctors started reporting that symptom-less people were infectious? 
Well, nothing.
Faced with these early reports of symptom-less transmission, public health authorities like the World Health Organization, and the CDC and Canada Public Health did not leap into action. 

They squabbled. They denied the evidence. They quibbled about terminology. The New York Times report goes on:
Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. 
Leading health agencies including the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms. 
The two-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries and, perhaps most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures. 
The resistance to emerging evidence was one part of the world’s sluggish response to the virus. It is impossible to calculate the human toll of that delay, but models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. 
Countries like Singapore and Australia, which used testing and contact-tracing and moved swiftly to quarantine seemingly healthy travelers, fared far better than those that did not.
And another thing happened too, at the same time. 
Even without a lot of evidence, even without contract tracing and quarantining travelers and other government measures, there was one crucial step that everyone could have taken without any government program at all – wearing a homemade mask. 
It seems like at least some of those who work in public health in North America also believed that the situation with COVID 19 was so urgent that wearing masks couldn’t hurt and might help.  
But they decided not tell us. 
While public health officials hesitated, some doctors acted. At a conference in Seattle in mid-February, Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University professor, said his research suggested that Covid-19’s rapid spread could only be explained if there were infectious patients with unremarkable symptoms or no symptoms at all. 
In the audience that day was Steven Chu, the Nobel-winning physicist and former U.S. energy secretary. “If left to its own devices, this disease will spread through the whole population,” he remembers Professor Shaman warning. 
 Afterward, Dr. Chu began insisting that healthy colleagues at his Stanford University laboratory wear masks. 
Doctors in Cambridge, England, concluded that asymptomatic transmission was a big source of infection and advised local health workers and patients to wear masks, well before the British government acknowledged the risk of silent spreaders.
But back in February, there wasn’t enough PPE to go around and all the medical masks we had were desperately needed by medical staff. 
So Public Health authorities had a choice — they could have been truthful, and told us that masks might help but the general public had to use homemade masks to save the medical ones for the health profession. 
But this message was too complicated and people were already hoarding toilet paper, and homemade masks might “give us a false sense of security” because we’re all just so stupid that we wouldn’t stay home anymore and besides, we likely wouldn’t wear then correctly anyway. So it was just so much easier to us not to bother with masks at all, that they weren’t necessary for anyone who wasn’t already sick.  

The American authorities, faced with a shortage, actively discouraged the public from buying masks. “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams tweeted on Feb. 29.

Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!

They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!
https://t.co/UxZRwxxKL9

— U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) February 29, 2020

In other words, they lied to us.
And the politicians those public health authorities were advising — the governors and premiers and presidents and prime ministers – ended up passing on those lies because they didn’t know any better.  
So now here we are in June.
And now the public health authorities say, “Oopsie!!  Hey, you guys, we tell you now that you really should wear masks after all, because everyone would be just so much safer.”
Only its too late. Hundreds of thousands have already died. And millions are confused by the changing stories and the untruths and the squabbling and now they don’t believe anything that public health authorities are telling them. And the people who own stores and manage events and work in offices and teach in schools are just as confused. So they don’t know whether to require masks or not.
Back during the Spanish Flu, public health failed because they just didn’t know how to organize public health administration and do the scientific studies and analyze policy options and communicate widely with the public.
Now, we have all that. We have a huge public health infrastructure with thousands of experts worldwide whose whole purpose in life is to keep people safe. 
But in North America, they failed us.

“Why doesn’t the public trust us” sob the people who sold a cynical lie about masks being innefective to the press

— Kurt, myself today (@Freidland2) June 28, 2020

So first they didn’t recognize the truth, and then they didn’t trust us enough to tell us the truth when we needed it.  

[CDC head] Azar also pushed back on the idea that the new surge in cases is a result of reopening the country too fast, arguing, “That’s not so much about what the law says on the reopening than what our behaviors are within that. If we act irresponsibly, if we don’t social distance, if we don’t use face coverings … we’re going to see spread of disease.”

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Saturday Stories: Peer Review, #Masks4All, Talking To Kids, And The Public Health Of Protests

Posted  June 27, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Simine Vazire, in Wired, on the failings of scientific peer review

Kimberly A. Prather, Chia C. Wang, and Robert T. Schooley, in Science, on how to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV2 (tl;dr – wear a mask)

Kate Julian, in The Atlantic, on how to talk to kids about the sad, scary, and unjust issues permeating society today.

Tara Haelle, in Forbes, on why public health experts support Black lives matter protests.

Photo By Mike Shaheen – https://www.flickr.com/photos/63015897@N02/49979513917/, CC BY 2.0, Link

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Sports will be back, sort of

Posted  June 25, 2020  by  Anonymous

I think the realities of getting back to sports are becoming clearer as we begin to understand that Corona Virus is not going away any time soon.

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

Dogging.#LifeCommentary #LiveCommentary pic.twitter.com/05A64OcSKP

— Twittbr3 (@Twittbr3) June 18, 2020

1500mm Heat#LifeCommentary #LiveCommentary pic.twitter.com/fmsIWfcfAK

— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) April 14, 2020

Sooty looking for a clean sweep in the Regional Common Gymnastics pic.twitter.com/ycInWuMVTH

— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) June 15, 2020

Commentators have been turning their hands (and socks) to absolutely anything lately! pic.twitter.com/xj86k27LUI

— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) June 14, 2020

Some sports are slower. More about the strategy. pic.twitter.com/JMBaGJ1tSd

— Andrew Cotter (@MrAndrewCotter) April 9, 2020

International 4×4 Pushchair Formation Final. Live. #LifeCommentary #LiveCommentary pic.twitter.com/BGGh01m1k1

— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) March 17, 2020

LIVE SPORT!

Today’s episode is based largely on me chasing our dog Yogi round the garden. Enjoy! 😂

Chin up people; hope you have a good weekend. 🐶😊#lifecommentary #goodboy #youbaddog pic.twitter.com/kvcgoYSr3N

— Andrew Coley (@Andrew_Coley) March 20, 2020

It was an honour to be asked to appear on this year’s unique USA @ESPYS show on @espn.

Among some incredibly poignant films, I helped provide a spot of levity as @mPinoe introduced my take on the likes of @rogerfederer @serenawilliams @lindseyvonn and @SebToots in lockdown. 🎙 pic.twitter.com/Jo1bptLV5z

— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) June 23, 2020

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Funny stuff

Posted  June 21, 2020  by  Anonymous

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

My spouse is “attending” a virtual conference for the next few days. To help simulate the real thing, I’ll set out a picked-over tray of mini-muffins, soggy cut fruit, and some weak coffee, and then whisk them away just as he approaches the table.

— Erin Conwell (@erconwell) June 19, 2020

Had a bit more #LifeCommentary fun with my friend’s dog, Sooty. He’s fabulously bonkers. https://t.co/iLwRCv76xZ

— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) June 15, 2020

This talented pupper doing an amazing obstacle run pic.twitter.com/3l4bYkgp0e

— Back To Nature (@backt0nature) June 20, 2020

Even bears have their Felix Ungers. https://t.co/36E68JPeMJ

— Neil (@NPSusa) June 20, 2020

pic.twitter.com/SZ2u5dRVlT

— Fátima Ma. Alvarado.💙💛🇻🇦🇳🇮📿 (@Falvarado1974) June 19, 2020

This is quite possibly the greatest commercial I’ve ever seen… pic.twitter.com/t3oxiJrUr3

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) June 17, 2020

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Saturday Stories: COVID And Kids With Disabilities, Racist Statues, COVID Death Mysteries, And Virus Hunters

Posted  June 20, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Hallie Levine, in The New York Times, on how children with disabilities are being left behind while the rest of country slowly reopens.

James Stout, in Popular Mechanics, explains how to use science to topple a racist statue.

Joel Achenbach,  Karin Brulliard and Ariana Eunjung Cha, in The Washington Post, on what we do and don’t understand about who lives and dies with COVID. 

Maryn McKenna, in Smithsonian Magazine, on some of the world’s foremost virus hunters.

Photo By Quidster4040 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0, Link

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Trump is unwell

Posted  June 14, 2020  by  Anonymous

After yesterday’s West Point debacle – the water glass, the inability to say “McArthur”, the ramp, the tweet ABOUT the ramp – #TrumpIsUnwell is trending this morning on twitter. 

Along with all the jokes, there is this:

The media’s failure to meaningfully cover Trump’s cognitive and physical decline after obsessing about Hillary’s health is evidence of open misogyny at this point.

— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) June 14, 2020

Personally, I believe that Trump has a minor stroke last November – remember the fast and unscheduled “tour” of Walter Reed? – and he still has impairments on his right side. 

 On a lighter note, #ObamaDay is also trending twitter:

You’d think Republicans would be more worried about protecting the Constitution.

It’s the only thing preventing Barack Obama from being president again.#ObamaDayJune14th

— Middle Age Riot (@middleageriot) June 14, 2020

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Saturday Stories: COVID files

Posted  June 13, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr. Stephan Kamholz – Chair of Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, died of COVID19 on June 11th, 2020. May his memory be a blessing 

Sharon Begley and Helen Branswell, in STAT, spoke with 11 epidemiologists to explore what we need to ensure such that we don’t screw up dealing with COVID’s inevitable second wave.

Tomas Pueyo, in Medium, on whether we should all be striving to respond more like Sweden?

Jonathan Corum and Carl Zimmer, in The New York Times, with a coronavirus vaccine tracker.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, in The New York Times, moderates a discussion about whether or not a coronavirus vaccine can be produced in record time

Rachel R. Hardeman, Eduardo M. Medina, and Rhea W. Boyd, in The New England Journal of Medicine, discuss stolen breaths and racial inequities in medicine.

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Saturday Stories: Some Anti-Racism Resources #BlackLivesMatter

Posted  June 6, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
May his memory be a blessing

Corrine Shutak, in Medium, with 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.

A non-bylined Google Doc of anti-racism resources for white people.

Quakelabs’ collection of Canadian specific anti-racist resource.

Farrah Penn, in Buzzfeed, with 23 Phenomenal Young Adult Books By Black Authors From The First Half Of 2020

The University of Toronto’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity with their collection of recent stories and resources on anti-racism.

@antisocialbritt, on Twitter, with her thread of children’s books that discuss racism.

@bronze_bae, on Twitter, with her thread of young adult books that discuss racism.

Photo By Lorie Shaull – https://www.flickr.com/photos/number7cloud/49959004213/, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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We are the world

Posted  June 6, 2020  by  Anonymous

Saskatoon BLM

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

So now I am wondering if our shared COVID-19 pandemic experience has changed us in ways we could not have predicted.

For the first time in history, all of the peoples of the world shared the same experience – a two-month shutdown that was virtually unique in our human experience. 

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

I’ve been watching politics closely for a long time, and I’ve never seen any entity get its ass kicked as badly in a PR/political battle as the country’s metro police are right now.

Only rival is the Catholic Church, and both relied on their wide popularity for their power.

— Martin Longman (@BooMan23) June 5, 2020

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Journalists under attack

Posted  June 1, 2020  by  Anonymous

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

Posted  May 30, 2020  by  Anonymous

Dear Bob and Doug,

Please take off, eh!

Yours,@CAFinUS pic.twitter.com/gu48YsfBYj

— Canadian Forces in 🇺🇸 (@CAFinUS) May 30, 2020

Not sure if anyone in the States will appreciate this but it’s AWESOME the #LaunchAmerica astronauts are BOB & DOUG 👊🤘#Canada

Icons in Canada from SCTV fame !! 🇨🇦🌏🪐🌙🚀🛰@Astro_Doug #Nasa #SpaceX

Take Off !! Eh. #LiftOff #TakeOff pic.twitter.com/nyZc6i39yi

— Kevin Smith (@Global_Smith) May 28, 2020


Dear SpaceX,

Can you launch Trump into space instead?

Asking for America.

Thanks!#LaunchAmerica #SpaceLaunchLIVE #SpaceX Cape Canaveral International Space Station #LaunchDay #TrumpMeltdown #HadEnough #TwitterFactCheck #spacexlaunch #CarolynGombell Bob & Doug Challenger pic.twitter.com/3aPDEbN0TP

— Steve Rustad (@SteveRustad1) May 27, 2020


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Saturday Stories: This Week’s COVID Selections

Posted  May 30, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr. Earline Austin, 63 yo NYC Physician, died on 4/3. Originally from Guyana, she lived in Fresh Meadows and was affiliated with Staten Island University Hospital. Attended Ross University for Medical School. May her memory be a blessing

Emily Chung, in the CBC, with everything you need to know to understand R-naught values.

Andy Larsen, in the Salt Lake City Tribune, with a breakdown of different locations and events and what we know of their risks in terms of spreading COVID.

Kimberly A. Prather, Chia C. Wang, and Robert T. Schooley, in Science, on how if you want life to return to some remote semblance of before’s normal, if you’re not already doing so, you need to start wearing a damn mask

Clayton Dalton, in The New Yorker, on what we lose when we become numb to mass death.

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Say goodbye to choirs for a while

Posted  May 26, 2020  by  Anonymous

When I grew up, of course we were all in the Children’s Choir at church, and every school grade had its own choir every year to perform at the school Christmas concert. Its how I learned all my carols and Christmas songs
Of course its been years now since I was in a choir, but I do remember once, about 40 years ago, when I participated with hundreds of others in a Sing-Along Messiah at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria —  what a great experience that was.
Now we are finding out that the recent COVID research says choirs are a prime mode of virus transmission:

It may be the single most famous outbreak in the U.S.: the Skagit County, Wash., choir practice.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled the results of its contact tracing. The choir met every Tuesday evening until March 10. At that last meeting, 61 members were present and chairs were arranged close together in six rows of 20 with many empty chairs. They practiced for 40 minutes together, for 50 minutes separated into two smaller groups, and then for 45 minutes sang together again. There was a 15-minute break between the second and third session for oranges and cookies, but many didn’t eat.  No one reported physical contact between members and most everyone left immediately after practice. Hand sanitizer was distributed. But, in the end, 53 of the 61 contracted the coronavirus. Three were hospitalized, two died.
This seems to happen repeatedly. The Amsterdam Mixed Choir gave a performance March 8; 102 out of 130 singers tested positive. Fifty members of the Berlin Cathedral Choir tested positive as well.

I’ll bet it has something to do with the act of singing – maybe the forceful expelling of breath from deep in the lungs spreads the virus droplets further. Who knows? 
Whatever the reason, I think singing together in public is likely not going to be happening anymore, not until a vaccine is available.
So I guess there are going to be no more Choir!Choir!Choir! experiences:

This may be the way choirs will sing together now:

Even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir did an online Sing-Along Messiah this Easter.
But for one last time, here’s the real thing:

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Saturday Stories: The COVID files

Posted  May 23, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr.Sudheer Singh Chauhan, Internal Medicine Physician and Associate Program Director IM Residency Program at Jamaica Hospital, New York, died of COVID19 on May 19th. May his memory be a blessing
Kai Kupferschmidt, in Science, on why only some people are COVID super spreaders 
Natalie Kofler and Françoise Baylis, in Nature, on the perils, pitfalls, and disparities of “immunity passports”. 
And if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, here’s a segment I did with CTV’s The Social on the very real impact these scary times has on our physical and mental well being
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Thinking about the future of Canadian food

Posted  May 23, 2020  by  Anonymous
CNN has a big story tonight about the future of the US food supply – with more questions than answers:

“We don’t know what the food-service sector will look like,” said Jaime Chamberlain, a fresh-produce importer based in Nogales, Arizona. When the pandemic largely shut down the US in mid-March, “I lost about 96 percent of my food-service contracts from one day to the next. That is an incredible hit to my business.”
Now, Chamberlain asks, “Are people going to go back to cruise lines? Will they go to a restaurant that seats 100 people? Will that restaurant be able to operate with the same amount of seating? Maybe there’ll be no more conventions for 1,000 people… I think people are going to be very reluctant.”
Burkett, speaking by phone from his Mississippi farm, shares those and other worries, and not just on his own account.“As a farmer, the dilemma I’ve got right now, is we don’t have a market. I’ve got crops going to be there to harvest, and I don’t know if we’ll have someone to sell to or not.” In a few weeks, Burkett said he will have more than 120,000 ears of sweet corn to harvest — all meant to go to restaurants that may or may not need them. “My biggest fear is the fear of how long this is going to last. I have to decide now what I’m going to plant in the fall. I’ve got to order seeds, get the ground ready,” Burkett said. He’s decided, for example, to go ahead and plant seedless watermelons, so they’ll be ready to sell this fall to the New Orleans school system — and he’ll have to hope the schools are open.

Canada is going to be having similar problems, because nobody knows what is going to happen.

COVID19 has upended the world, and given Trump’s mismanagement in America, which will bleed over into Canada too, we are going to be on our own for a long time, I think.

For us here in the west, the main issue I think is going to be food — growing it, and importing it.  The food production and distribution and processing chains are in shambles and its going to get worse.
Yes, we are planting a garden this spring after years of not bothering. And yes, we have arranged for weekly vegetable deliveries from the local market garden. And yes, I am hoarding jars so I can freeze and can vegetables and fruit for the first time in a long time. And yes, we know a guy who knows a guy who can get us a side of beef the next time they are culling their herd.
But its not going to be enough.
Especially if the meat plants keep on having to close down because the virus is running rampant through their facilities.  Wait till it gets into the fish plants, and into the fruit and vegetable processing lines.
Has anybody yet figured out the safest ways to seed, fertilize, harvest, and process our Canadian crops this summer?  Will we also have to figure out how to get our Saskatchewan grain to flour mills in Ontario, and move BC apples to the food processors in Quebec, instead of following the usual north-south shipping lanes, selling our food south while eating food imported from the US? 
And hey, funny thing, hoocouldanoode? – but maybe it would have been a good thing to keep the Canadian Wheat Board around for just such an emergency, because the Canadian government could tell them what to do and they sorta had to do it – unlike the grain companies who will happily make a pile of money shipping all our grain production to China or wherever even if Canadians need the bread.
Our remaining other marketing boards might well turn out to be useful for the next few years, too – we will need the eggs, and the milk.
Basically, in the long term, I think Canada will have to get more self-sufficient, both in terms of what we produce, and how we sell it.  It won’t be as “efficient” as the globalized food production and distribution system our food producers have spent the last 50 years developing. But at least in a Canada-focused national system, Canadians would be the first in line.
But its going to be a painful time while we sort it out.
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#ObamaGreat

Posted  May 17, 2020  by  Anonymous

Here are Obama’s two addresses tonight to the HBCU and high school 2020 graduating classes. 

#ObamaGreat and #ObamaWasBetterAtEverything are now trending around the world. 

Congratulations to the HBCU Class of 2020! Michelle and I are so proud of you. As you set out to change the world, we’ll be the wind at your back. Can’t wait to see what you achieve. https://t.co/PCsjkJJTXi

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 16, 2020

Congrats to the high school Class of 2020, as well as to the teachers, coaches, and most of all, parents and family who’ve guided you along the way. Thanks for letting me be part of your big day! pic.twitter.com/RjYvHs2BhC

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 17, 2020

And here is what people think about the guy America has got instead:

— Eleven Films (@Eleven_Films) May 16, 2020

The contrast is enough to break your heart.

I’m all for a Space Force if we use it to launch every fucking member of this criminal administration straight the fuck into the sun

— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) May 15, 2020


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Saturday Stories: This week in COVID19

Posted  May 16, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, UK RN, 28 years old, died from COVID April 12th. May her memory be a blessing.  

Peter Piot, one of the scientists who discovered Ebola, in Science, with his thoughts on COVID, both as an expert and as a survivor.

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Lost years

Posted  May 12, 2020  by  Anonymous

Well, I think we have all realized now there is not going to be any “normal” anymore. 

The hysterical “reopen, damn it!” marches across the continent were a cry of despair against the inevitable, but now I think the truth is sinking in.

There is going to be a new Depression across North America. 
Here’s a thread about what we are facing:

Because they’re competing with the other shop across the street, they cut prices to keep their share of the market. And they often operate while servicing debt. Most businesses need to keep all of the balls in the air just to survive. That time is over.

— Paul Doroshenko, Q.C. (@PaulDoroshenko) May 11, 2020

The entrepreneurs have no capital. Their capital is gone. They can’t start new businesses. A handful will survive but with drastically reduced ability to invest. They will suffer in survival mode.
So will there be any jobs?

— Paul Doroshenko, Q.C. (@PaulDoroshenko) May 11, 2020

In 25 years the businesses on the street will be completely different. Many of those once apparently solid companies will fail within the next 12 months. Expect nothing but grim news.
If you have a job, cherish it. If you have a secure government job, keep it.

— Paul Doroshenko, Q.C. (@PaulDoroshenko) May 11, 2020

We must (this is an imperative) pick ourselves up and keep going. We owe that to ourselves, our families and our fellow occupant of planet earth.
Hold on. Stay strong. Better days will come and they’re worth living for.

— Paul Doroshenko, Q.C. (@PaulDoroshenko) May 11, 2020


Trump’s mismanagement – his ignorance about testing, plus his inept and corrupt support programs –will result in successive waves of Covid outbreaks across the US all summer and fall, each one killing thousands more. Everyone will just try to stay home as much as possible, so the US economy will continue to decline. Meanwhile the US government will bankrupt itself as it fights a losing battle to try to shore up the stock markets, the only economic measure Trump thinks is important.
In nine months, Biden will take over, but by then it will be too late for the thousands of businesses and bars and restaurants that will go bankrupt by next fall, after a few miserable months of trying to reopen. The companies that survive will be the ones that continue to have their employees work from home. So the downtown office towers will be empty and the owners of commercial real estate will be going bankrupt too, not to mention everyone from window washers to the people who water office plants.  Farmers across the US will  be watching their restaurant markets disappear, and they won’t be able to find immigrant workers to pick their crops. 
Canada’s economy won’t crash as badly, I don’t think — our more effective and better run federal support programs will cushion the blow a little better for us – but still, its not going to be pretty. The US border won’t be reopening for a long time yet, and our biggest trading partner won’t be buying nearly as much as they used to. Tourism will be a disaster, our oil and gas industries are in free fall, and we don’t know who will be buying all our agricultural exports anymore either.
If we can avoid another Great Depression, we will be lucky, I think. 
Back in 1973, journalist Barry Broadfood published Ten Lost Years – he interviewed hundreds of people about their experiences during the Great Depression and put it all into a book, and for many Canadians, it was the first time we had ever really heard about what happened to ordinary people in Canada during the 1930s, that awful time.
I have been thinking about that book a lot lately.
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Cast your bread upon the waters

Posted  May 10, 2020  by  Anonymous

Ecclesiastes 11 1
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.

150 years ago, the Choctaw people collected what was then a grand sum of $170 to send to the people of Ireland, who were starving because of the Potato Famine.  CNN reports that the Choctaw understood starvation because they had experienced it themselves on the Trail of Tears.
Now Irish Times reporter Naomi O’Leary is returning the favour:

Native Americans raised a huge amount in famine relief for Ireland at a time when they had very little. It’s time for is to come through for them now. https://t.co/ONl9UXmwdH

— Naomi O’Leary (@NaomiOhReally) May 2, 2020


Half a million dollars has been raised in Ireland. This isn’t the only time that Ireland and the American indigenous people have connected.

The act of kindness was never forgotten, and the solidarity between the Irish and Native Americans has continued over the years.
In 1992, 22 Irish men and women walked the Trail of Tears to raise money for famine relief efforts in Somalia, according to Bunbury. They raised $170,000 — $1,000 for each dollar the Choctaw gave in 1847. A Choctaw citizen reciprocated by leading a famine walk in Ireland seven years later.
In 2017, the town of Midleton in Ireland unveiled a sculpture commemorating the Choctaw’s 1847 gift. In 2018, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced a scholarship program for Choctaw people to study in Ireland while he was visiting the tribal nation in Oklahoma.
The GoFundMe donations are just the latest example of the longstanding relationship. As one Irish donor on the fundraising page wrote:
“You helped us in our darkest hour. Honoured to return the kindness. Ireland remembers, with thanks.”

It reminded me of the Nova Scotia Christmas Tree that is send each year to Boston in gratitude for the help that came from Boston after the Halifax explosion:

100 years ago today, the Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia killing 1000 people. Boston immediately sent doctors & medical supplies to assist in relief efforts – this is why Nova Scotia sends Boston a Christmas tree every year. https://t.co/HYHi6xbqm3 pic.twitter.com/MdhQa3r4Zg

— BostonTweet (@BostonTweet) December 6, 2017


People will never forget those who helped when they needed it the most.

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Saturday Stories: The COVID Roundup

Posted  May 9, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr. Bredy Pierre-Louis, Family Physician, Brooklyn, Died From COVID19. May his memory be a blessing

Caitlin Flanagan, in The Atlantic, on having stage IV colon cancer during the time of COVID19 (if you only read one piece this week, make it this one)

Orac, in Respectful Insolence, discusses Plandemic.

Tomas Pueyo, in Medium, on testing and contact tracing.

Ed Yong, in The Atlantic, covers whether or not we should be currently worried about coronavirus mutations

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Fiddling while America burns

Posted  May 5, 2020  by  Anonymous

People in the United States are realizing that Trump and his administration have spent the last two months tweeting and twiddling their thumbs.

Silly. The plan is to pretend that the problem had been solved (because it’s been a while and staying at home is boring) and start opening up the country. What could go wrong?

— Your Friend & Sabre ⚔️ (@xiphodaimon) May 4, 2020

And why did they expect anything different?
Trump is utterly incompetent at everything, and the only people he hires are people who won’t show him up. So of course he is clueless now and so is everyone else around him. 
If America survives this, it will be because of its governors, who are rapidly forming their own regional associations. But they don’t have the authority to deficit spend so we are going to be stuck for the next 9 months watching the US economy implode, until Biden can take over. It isn’t going to be pleasant.
Still, its a tricky go, isn’t it?  I’m uncertain about our future is, too, but I do have some confidence that the Trudeau government and most of the provinces are on the same page. Though Saskatchewan is reporting new cases, the Maritimes are doing better.
Vox had a big article today comparing Canada and the US:

The American response has become infected by partisan politics and shot through with federal incompetence. Meanwhile, Canada’s policies have been efficiently implemented with support from leaders across the political spectrum. The comparison is a case study in how a dysfunctional political system can quite literally cost lives.
The Canadian approach has not been perfect. Its death rate is currently much higher than best-in-class performers like Germany and South Korea; Canadian officials have fallen down, in particular, when it comes to long-term senior care and the indigenous population. But given the interdependence between these two large neighboring economies, Canadians are not only vulnerable as a result of their own government’s choices but also because of their southern neighbors’ failures.
“The biggest public health threat to Canada right now is importing cases from the United States,” says Steven Hoffman, a political scientist who studies global health at York University.

Yes, its going to be a long time before that border reopens.
I am beginning to worry seriously about Canadian food supplies — so much of our food is from vegetable and fruit growers in the US, and further south too, and these all depend on an established and predictable supply chain where crops get planted, harvested, processed and transported in an orderly progression.  Canada can produce its own flour and beef and apples, but not oranges. Or bananas.

“Let me tell you about the olden days, children.  Why, there used to be a time when we could get bananas any time we went to the store.  Any time at all!”

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FREE Help From My New Venture For Ontarians With Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes Or Prediabetes But Stranded By COVID19

Posted  May 4, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Are you an Ontario resident recently diagnosed with either type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes where COVID19 has prevented you from receiving comprehensive support to help manage and understand your new condition? If so, my new venture may can help, and better still, for FREE. Built initially to support weight management, Constant Health, our new digital behavioural intervention, is being re-positioned to help people with newly diagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes who in turn have been left stranded by COVID19.

Constant Health’s iOS app (note, this opportunity is currently only available for those with iPhones or iPads as the Android app is still in development), will provide you with 12 weeks of private and secure (PHIPA compliant) access to both a Mayo clinic certified health coach as well as a registered dietitian who together, by way of text messaging and video chats, will work collaboratively with you on your diet and lifestyle to help improve your blood sugar control and teach you about your new condition.

Constant Health’s technology includes a robust, open-ended collaborative goal setting engine, a built-in food diary, a searchable and filterable database of millions of the web’s most popular recipe sites, along with a proprietary real-time dashboard which will allow our team to applaud and encourage your success as well as to help troubleshoot your struggles.

As with my office’s practice (the Bariatric Medical Institute), Constant Health’s services aren’t limited to any particular dietary strategy, but instead work with you on whatever approach you feel would best suit your life and preferences. From low-fat, to keto, to vegan and everything in between Constant Health can help.

Rest assured, there are no strings whatsoever. Currently, thanks to an unrestricted grant from Novo Nordisk, we have a limited number of spots available to freely offer and plainly, we are not currently accepting paid patients. However due to provincial medical licensing regulations for both MDs and RDs, and the need for physician screening, we can currently only extend this offer to Ontarians.

If you’re interested, live in Ontario, and have an iPhone, simply fill out this quick survey and if eligible, our office will contact you to book a consultation with me so that I can explore your medical history and have a peek at your lab results for us to mutually determine if the program is for you.

        
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Saturday Stories: This Week in #COVID19

Posted  May 2, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Arlene Reid, 51, mother of 5 and PSW in Ontario working in LTC, died from COVID19 on April 27th. May her memory be a blessing.

Gid MK, in Medium, with his meta-analysis of reported infection fatality rates for COVID19

Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee, in Inside, on the out of control “science” of this pandemic.

Joss Fong, in Vox, with a great explainer on how to understand that graph of all the countries’ COVID cases you keep seeing. 

Ed Yong, in The Atlantic, with a spectacular guide on how to make sense of the all over the place that is COVID19.

Caitlin Flanagan, in The Atlantic, with the 2020 commencement speech you’re never hear (but you should so read).

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Yes, its about time

Posted  May 2, 2020  by  Anonymous
I was computerless for the last week+ so I didn’t post, but here I am again.
And I am so glad that Trudeau is banning assault rifles in Canada. I agree with @Dred_Tory:

Dear people who are pissed that AR-15s are set to be banned:

No one gives a shit.#ar15

— Sir Francis (@Dred_Tory) April 30, 2020

Here’s some funny stuff to end the week:

I must’ve watched this 50 times and I’ll probably watch it 50 more. pic.twitter.com/S7GjgMlH7j

— ѕυzу (@suzy_swears) April 28, 2020

Seals are just dogs of the sea pic.twitter.com/PcSz3mJQKe

— What’s Underwater (@UnderwaterVids) April 26, 2020

This is the best weather forecast in the history of television news pic.twitter.com/LhmoJDCkbZ

— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) April 30, 2020

— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) May 1, 2020

And a little Jann Arden to finish things off:

This could be the most Canadian-COVID19 tweet ever. 🇨🇦 https://t.co/t64WghKHCi

— Jeffrey Luscombe (@JeffreyLuscombe) April 27, 2020


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Saving lives

Posted  April 25, 2020  by  Anonymous

Once we recognise that this is a major event in human history, it can actually help gain some perspective. And as Cuomo said “What we have done has saved lives” pic.twitter.com/cZFbE9HTlX

— Helen Jenkins (@jenkinshelen) April 25, 2020

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Laugh and the world laughs with you

Posted  April 18, 2020  by  Anonymous

Joe Biden could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot Donald Trump and I would still vote for him

— doug wiser (@MyBigRedTruck) April 18, 2020

If you could pick one person to curse Donald Trump out on live television in that press room for one minute straight, right to his face, who would it be? I think I would go with Samuel L. Jackson.

— Jason Overstreet (@JasonOverstreet) April 8, 2020

What do ya bet if trump ever used an interpreter for the deaf they’d fuck up and get him a mime?

— George Carlin’s Ghost (@OldFuckGCG) April 16, 2020

My best friend sent me this. I can’t stop laughing. It’s spot on 😂 pic.twitter.com/ecTo5MtcaV

— Emmet Kelly (@EmmetSeanKelly) April 11, 2020

Americans dumbest criminal. pic.twitter.com/T39kWEomxw

— Only in America (@Crazzyintheusa) April 15, 2020

Most pointless colouring picture ever. pic.twitter.com/OFcQzoVUab

— You Have One Job, Stay Indoors (@_youhadonejob1) April 15, 2020


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Saturday Stories: This Week’s Worthwhile COVID19 Reads Roundup

Posted  April 18, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr. Huy-Hao Dao, 44,,who worked at Quebec’s Montérégie-Centre Integrated Health and Social Services Centre in Longueuil and sadly the first Canadian physician to die of COVID19, may his memory be a blessing.

Roxanne Khamsi, in Nature, on the incredible challenges we’ll face producing and distributing a SARS-CoV2 vaccine if/when we find one.

Michael Specter, in The New Yorker, with a profile of America’s real doctor – Anthony Fauci

Apoorva Mandavilli and Katie Thomas, in The New York Times, discuss what serology tests are, and whether they’ll help us all get back to work.

Ed Yong, in The Atlantic, on our pandemic summer and how the only way out is through.

Maggie Koerth, in FiveThirtyEight, on COVID’s destruction of our medical supply chains and how it’s not impossible the entire world’s supply of medical grade glass (used for vaccine vials for instance) has already been pre-purchased.

Terrie Laplante-Beauchamp, in the Globe and Mail, with her must-read 3 day diary of her experiences volunteering as an orderly in a Montreal based long-term care facility hit hard by COVID19.

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Stages of Grief

Posted  April 18, 2020  by  Anonymous

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
These are the stages of grief and I’ve been through them all since the COVID19 lockdown began. I think everyone else has going through them too.

Denial – how can this be happening? WTF is this? Isn’t there some easier way?
Anger – don’t they realize what they are doing to us and to the economy? Its so terrible for so many people.
Bargaining – well, maybe it won’t last too long if everybody acts the right way.
Depression – how awful this is, and its going on FOREVER!!!
Acceptance – it is what it is. Nothing we can do except to get through it.

Though I must admit, I still feel anger:

What shocks me about #COVID19 is the economic disaster. I never realized we might have no way to control a disease except to close everything down, worldwide, and keep it closed for weeks or months. People starving, businesses bankrupt, economies ruined, lives devastated.

— Cathie from Canada 🇨🇦 (@CathieCanada) April 14, 2020


The economic hit from this is going to be so hard, and last so long, and hurt so many innocent blameless people.
But every time I start to feel sorry for myself and for all of us, I remember that whatever I am going through, it is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to what others are dealing with.
I don’t think our society will ever be able to repay doctors and nurses for what they are doing for all of us, risking death every day to save as many as they can.
There was one tweet in particular, from a pediatric surgical fellow and single mother in New York, that made me just cry.

My babies are too young to read this now. And they’d barely recognize me in my gear. But if they lose me to COVID I want them to know Mommy tried really hard to do her job. #GetMePPE #NYC pic.twitter.com/OMew5G7mjK

— Cornelia Griggs (@CorneliaLG) March 29, 2020


I hope she will be OK.
I hope someday her children will be able to honour her for what she is doing.

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Saturday Story: Only One, Because For First Time in 15 Years, I Accidentally Deleted The Rest

Posted  April 11, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff
Dr. Doug Bass, may his memory be a blessing, the first physician in NYC to die from COVID9

Sorry to those who enjoy these reads, but by accident, deleted the lot of them save one

Dhruv Khullar, in The New Yorker, on his work as a physician in NYC during the time of COVID19, and adrenaline, duty and fear.

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How I spent my summer vacation

Posted  April 10, 2020  by  Anonymous

Here’s the tweet of the week month:

Today is 3 wks in quarantine w/o sugar. Walking 3 miles a day, no meat, dairy or flour! I feel great! No alcohol & vegan diet! A 2 hr home workout everyday. Lost 14 lbs & gained muscle mass! I have no idea whose tweet this is but I’m proud of them so I decided to copy & paste it!

— Alison 🇨🇦🇿🇦 (@AckAlison) April 10, 2020


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Strange Days Indeed

Posted  April 4, 2020  by  Anonymous

I wonder if John Lennon ever realized how prophetic his words would be:Nobody told me there’d be days like theseStrange days indeed.I never understood how a pandemic would destroy the world economy.  Millions of people out of work. Millions w…

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Friday Funfest

Posted  April 3, 2020  by  Anonymous

The COVID-19 news is so depressing, beaten only by the economic news, which is absolutely awful. So here’s something a little more lighter-hearted, on a cold Friday. 

This is Toby he is now working from home… pic.twitter.com/RB6na9bUsT

— Stuart Antony (@STU_ACTOR) March 31, 2020

A true friend is someone who helps you in good & bad times, no matter what. pic.twitter.com/6UW6JNEhl1

— Land of cuteness (@landpsychology) April 3, 2020

How the livestock keep warm in Russia. pic.twitter.com/qlh8s8JuUB

— 🇷🇺Only In Russia 🇷🇺 (@CrazyinRussia) April 3, 2020

— Engineering (@engineeringvids) April 2, 2020

Sandra the orangutang started washing her hands because she saw all the zookeepers doing it repeatedly during the COVID-19 crisis.

Wash your hands.
Be more like Sandra.🌎❤️🧼🌎 pic.twitter.com/t8TTizDGeD

— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) April 1, 2020

Grizzly bear casually fixing a fallen safety cone as they walk down the road pic.twitter.com/c4klDbdGOJ

— Nature is Lit🔥 (@NaturelsLit) April 1, 2020

— Animal Life (@animalIife) March 14, 2020

And this thread wins the award for the funniest tweet of the week:

I think I just got a group of goats in Llandudno arrested.

Let me explain… first, I saw this from inside a dark pub (the one I live in currently). I thought I was seeing things. So I took some video: pic.twitter.com/RtxYG6htLC

— Andrew Stuart (@AndrewStuart) March 27, 2020

So maybe next week will be better — well, we can always hope!
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Saturday Stories: Still Just Coronavirus Links – Guessing It Might Be This Way For A Little While At Least

Posted  March 21, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff

Gretchen Reynolds, in The New York Times, answers questions as to the safety of exercising in the face of COVID-19

Cornelia Griggs, in The New York Times,  a critical care physician in New York, explains why she needs you to know that the sky is falling.

Yascha Mounk, in The Atlantic, tries to explain why people aren’t staying home despite incredible risks and ramifications of not doing so.

Ashleigh Tuite and David Fisman, in The Globe and Mail, both infectious disease epidemiologists, with their thoughts on how we might slow the burn of the COVID-19 forest fire.

Aaron E. Carroll and Ashish Jha, in The Atlantic, with their thoughts on how we can beat this coronavirus.

Pam Belluck, in The New York Times, needs you to know that though children uniformly have much milder cases of COVID-19 than adults, some will become seriously ill.

Manny Fernandez, in The New York Times, with a sobering read on how the coronavirus will impact the already impoverished.

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MOTHER NATURE

Posted  March 18, 2020  by  Polar Bear

The year 2000 sure has been a wonderful this year. Whatever riled her up we will never know but  the daily events have been nothing less than specular. Record low temperatures and record high temperatures. Record snowfalls and record everything. I…

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Saturday Stories: #COVID19 #FlattenTheCurve #CancelEverything Edition

Posted  March 14, 2020  by  Yoni Freedhoff

7 views on why social distancing is so important right now and why we have to “cancel everything“. If you think that #COVID19 isn’t a big deal, do take the time to read these pieces to learn why you’re wrong (ordered solely by way of the order I happened to read them in).

Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott, in Vox.

Tomas Pueyo in Medium

Yascha Monk, in The Atlantic

Helen Branswell, in STAT

André Picard, in The Globe and Mail

Sharon Kirkey in The National Post

Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic

Also, here’s Wency Leung, in The Globe and Mail, on what you should do if you think you have COVID19, and here is the Toronto Star’s infographic on what self-isolation should look like if it’s determined that you’ve contracted the virus.

Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris / CC BY-SA

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Life In Scarborough: The Plague Journal, Day II

Posted  March 13, 2020  by  bigcitylib

Visited The Elsy (LCBO) today.  I notice that while they’re knifing each other over toilet paper at the Walmart across the parking lot, here everything is calm.  People believe that Water and wipes are essential, booze some kind of peripheral…

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Life In Scarborough: The Plague Journal, Day I

Posted  March 12, 2020  by  bigcitylib

This evening at the local Metro  I saw something resembling “panic buying”.  Not quite at that point. Nobody got violent.  More like the kind of lineups you see before the Superbowl or a long-weekend.  Except everyone, everyone, was…

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