Blogging, Boston, Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Education, Internet, Media, News, Opinion, Twitter

Confusing Twitter Feeds

No wonder folks are confused these days. While scrolling through my Twitter feed today as I sipped my morning coffee I was pleased to see the breaking news from BBC about Scotland ending almost all COVID restrictions. Phew … some good news to start the day. I know Scotland is a long way from Montreal, but this has just got to be a great step in the worldwide battle against the virus.

Yet, as I continued on my virtual way around the world, I came across some significantly less positive news. Like Scotland, Wuhan, China is a long way from where I live, but the news of an outbreak and government orders for mass testing put the skids to my Scotland-induced good mood. Regardless of the much debated origin of the Coronavirus, the fact that China is being so cautious was unsettling at best.

Then came something a little too close to home. News from Florida that the current wave is the worst yet. In three Tweets we have gone from relaxing restrictions in Europe to a major North American tourism location claiming its worst outbreak ever. What’s a feller to believe?

The sources of this information, the BBC and Boston Globe, are well established and respected media outlets. I can only imagine what the fringe (non-mainstream as I believe they call themselves) is saying. I prefer not to check out these sites lest a cookie be deposited on my PC that will one day come back to haunt me. Paranoid? Who? Me?

Of course the onus is on us, the public, to use our sensibility to discern what makes a good news source. They used to say that the great Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country. This was long before cable news outlets arose, and certainly well before the proliferation of information and misinformation on the Internet.

Why was Cronkite any more trustworthy than Huntley and Brinkley over on NBC? Were those guys making up stories from scratch? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.

I often pondered the notion of Cronkite’s trustworthiness. Not that I thought him to be anything less than honest in his newscasts, but I figured no one, on any of the three networks, would deliberately lie about news items. Why was Cronkite any more trustworthy than Huntley and Brinkley over on NBC? Were those guys making up stories from scratch? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.

But when the topic of the misinformation is potentially life threatening, it is incumbent upon readers to educate themselves from ‘trusted’ sources.

However, not only do we find ourselves with an essentially unlimited access to the publication of nonsense of all sorts on the Internet, we also find ourselves fighting a deadly pandemic. By all means, publish endless posts and articles about the flatness of the earth, the faked moon landing, and all the other conspiracy theories. But when the topic of the misinformation is potentially life threatening, it is incumbent upon readers to educate themselves from ‘trusted’ sources.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Education, Football, Genealogy, History, Montreal, News, Opinion, Sports

McGill University And Cancel Culture

Recently the administrative powers that be at McGill University succumbed to pressure from cancel culture adherents and removed a statue of founder James McGill from the main campus. James McGill was not only the university’s founder, but was, like many wealthy folks of his vintage, an owner of slaves.

Does removing the statue erase this egregious past? Of course not. Times change, what is clearly seen as an horrific practice today was commonplace at one time.

So by all means let’s try to make that past go away by cleansing the current day. If we could go back in time and cancel slavery I’d be the first in line, but of course we can’t.

So by all means let’s try to make that past go away by cleansing the current day. If we could go back in time and cancel slavery I’d be the first in line, but of course we can’t.

Now that the statue is gone, what’s next? The school has already caved to the cancellers by changing the men’s sports team name from Redmen (referring to the school’s colour, not a derogatory sobriquet for indigenous peoples) to Redbirds (I hope the St. Louis Cardinals don’t take offense). Some people have suggested actually changing the name of the university from McGill to something less offensive. Like removing the statue, changing the name won’t alter or erase the past.

And if having the James McGill statue on campus and, in fact, calling the school McGill is so heinous, then I have to assume that those attending said institution must be absolutely abominable people.

And if having the James McGill statue on campus and, in fact, calling the school McGill is so heinous, then I have to assume that those attending said institution must be absolutely abominable people. What kind of folks would do such a thing? Especially if, as is the case with most students, they are actually paying tuition to this contemptible institution of higher education to be there. Forget about the high quality education, the state-of-the-art facilities and faculty, and the high international ranking.

Perhaps it should be suggested that prospective employers reject outright McGill graduates, such as myself, for being in any way associated with the school, albeit two centuries later.

Perhaps it should be suggested that prospective employers reject outright McGill graduates, such as myself, for being in any way associated with the school, albeit two centuries later. Should other universities refuse McGill diploma holders from their faculties based on the founder’s slave ownership?

The attempted erasure of previous ills is a recipe for disaster. Simply because they can’t be erased, clocks cannot be turned back. Rather, the recognition of such despicable acts needs to be ingrained in the minds of current population. Indeed, maybe the most loathsome example of racism in the last 200 years was the Holocaust. Yet survivors and their families don’t try to erase the past, but use it to urge people to Never Forget.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Opinion, Westmount

Emergency Gathering In My Hometown

My hometown, in which I have resided all of my nearly 62 years, thinks of everything. Today as I strolled home from the supermarket I noticed a sign in the park. I was momentarily taken aback.

The sign indicated an ’emergency gathering point’. During this pandemic we have all been spending way too much time on our own. From COVID-19 confinement for those who have, or may have, the dreaded coronavirus, to voluntary avoidance of others, we have all gotten to know ourselves a whole lot better than perhaps we ever wanted to.

Evidently, when the time comes that one can take it no more, when they just absolutely must socialize, these gathering points have been made available

What a grand idea. Evidently, when the time comes that one can take it no more, when they just absolutely must socialize, these gathering points have been made available. While the one I passed today seemed empty, I suspect that should someone come to the end of their tether, they can meet with a person at one of these points.

No doubt standard COVID-19 precautions – masks, distancing – will be in effect, but if you’ve gone without bitching about the weather with another human, here’s your opportunity. If you just have to pass the time of day with someone, not to worry, these emergency gathering points will allow you to shoot the breeze about anything BUT Covid-19.

I imagine emergency gathering counsellors will be available to coach socially ham-fisted people on the finer points of social interaction

In addition, as we slowly start to ease back to normal, or something like it, these points will allow for a ‘toe in the water’ approach. An emergency point to try out your social skills before meeting up with friends and family. I imagine emergency gathering counsellors will be available to coach socially ham-fisted people on the finer points of social interaction.

Sadly, when I contacted the City Hall to make myself available to volunteer at one of these emergency points, it was made clear to me that these are standard ‘disaster protocol’, and have nothing to do with COVID-19 at all.

Oh well, maybe they don’t think of everything.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Montreal, Photography

10,000 Steps in Montreal

In an effort to combat COVID-19 confinement languor, I’ve been trying to get in a 10,000 step stroll most days. Today I went to downtown Montreal. Even with its scofflaw sidewalk cyclists and scooter users, its lack of parking spots, its sad ghost-town appearance, given the huge number of permanently closed businesses, it’s still a great place.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, History, Media, Montreal, News, Opinion, Quebec

Hooligans Besmirch Montreal Protests

People have always protested. To publicly express one’s objection to an issue, law, or decision is one of the most important elements of a democracy. Assuming it is done peacefully and in accordance with proper regulations. Even those who would protest said regulations – the securing of a permit being chief among them – must adhere to them prior to and during protesting.

It seems that public displays of protest are the bailiwick of youth. Not to imply older folks don’t take to the streets from time to time – just try to float a trial balloon about pension reductions and you’ll see who’s not too old to get their Ya-Yas out.

These demonstrators have not only protested the curfew, but have flouted it by commencing their gathering at 8:00 p.m.

In the sixties young people in their millions protested the US involvement in the Vietnam war. Of course they had a vested interest as it was their generation being shipped to the fighting.

During the last couple of nights, young people in Montreal chanting ‘freedom for youth‘ have made known their displeasure with government-imposed COVID19 restrictions. In particular the 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew has come under harsh criticism from many sides, not just the young.

These demonstrators have not only protested the curfew, but have flouted it by commencing their gathering at 8:00 p.m.

… on both evenings things turned out poorly, degenerating into waves of vandalism, looting, and destruction, reducing the cause to a mass of thugs and thieves.

But worse, whereas a peaceful (i.e. not violent; make all the noise you want) march would have made the protesters very valid point more than adequately, on both evenings things turned out poorly, degenerating into waves of vandalism, looting, and destruction, reducing the cause to a mass of thugs and thieves.

Those who hold a similar opinion regarding government imposed curfews have had their position sullied by these hooligans.

In addition, how could destroying and robbing businesses that have already suffered great COVID19 losses possibly strengthen your anti-curfew cause?

For anyone who wants to protest the curfew, the way to do so would be to obtain a proper permit, this allows the authorities to provide proper police protection, carry out the protest prior to 8:00 p.m.

If everyone chose to break laws with which they disagreed, we would soon deteriorate into chaos.

Canadian singer/songwriter Garnet Rogers wrote a ballad called Break The Law, the refrain includes the phrase ” Break the law…before the law breaks you”. It’s a great song, but it is just that, a song. If everyone chose to break laws with which they disagreed, we would soon deteriorate into chaos.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Media, News, Opinion

Waves: Good and Bad

The usual use of the word wave in popular culture has a positive twist to it. Harnessing the power of a big wave on a surf board. Or riding a wave of good luck. But when it comes to yet another wave of the Coronavirus, there is nothing positive about it. As if to emphasize the insidious nature of the virus, the third wave, which was always on the books, is more brutal than the preceding two.

Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It’s still rock and roll to me
– Billy Joel

Now that the first waves have killed-off many susceptible people – the elderly and those with compromised immune systems – the variant-driven third wave has taken aim at younger, healthier victims. If there is an upside to this third wave, it’s the administration of vaccines.

Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world
– Brian Wilson, Mike Love

But it is a race like never seen before. Governments, particularly mine in Canada, are struggling to get adequate vaccines, then get them poked into arms. The anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, flat-earth adherents would have you believe this rush to jab is all in keeping with the upcoming Great Reset. Some would liken the urgency to lemmings sprinting to the cliff’s edge, as people flock to have their dose, or doses, prior to the third wave getting its grip on them when what they are ‘really’ getting is a microchip so Bill Gates can control them.

New Wave

We’re having a Heat Wave,
A tropical Heat Wave
– Holland/Dozier/Holland

Meanwhile most of us have already voluntarily agreed to be trackable at all times by carrying a mobile phone with us. No need for a microchip in the arm when you’ve got one in your hand. If only they could figure out a way to distribute and administer the vaccine by way of cell phones, we’d have this thing licked in no time.

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Family, Humor, Montreal, Nostalgia

My Mother Knew How To Handle The Spread Of COVID

While there can be no doubt we are all experiencing a pandemic for the first time in our lives, we are also being pushed and pulled by various levels of government. I understand that there is no COVID-19 For Dummies, but can we just try to sing from the same song sheet?

With spring break on the horizon, and fears of wet T-shirt contests becoming super spreaders in Florida hotspots…

Last week, in a much ballyhooed statement on national television, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced severe travel restrictions. With spring break on the horizon, and fears of wet T-shirt contests becoming super spreaders in Florida hotspots, the PM invoked measures that involve quarantines for anyone flying into the four airports that will service international flights.

These quarantines will be in hotels and will be up to three days while awaiting test results. By the way, the cost will be up to the traveller. If you test negative, off you go home to finish the remainder of your 14-day quarantine. If positive you will complete your quarantine period in a government establishment.

As you can imagine, as soon as the travel ban was announced people were hard at finding loopholes in it. Instead of taking to heart the message that travel is not a good idea at this point, many were plotting to go south.

I wish they’d make up my mind for me

Meanwhile here in the Province of Quebec, the Premier recently made public the government’s intention to ease some of the strict confinement measures. Particularly in smaller, less populated areas. But even in Montreal retail stores will be allowed to reopen under strict rules.

On the one hand the Feds are finally doing something – well, sort of – that many have been asking for: namely, shutting down the border to air travel. While here in Quebec they would have us believe it is time to slowly reopen.

I wish they’d make up my mind for me

When I was growing up we lived across the street from a great park. Given this proximity our place became a depository for myriad baseball gloves, bats, and footballs. Often on a lovely summer evening, prior to going across the street to play in the city baseball league we would gather as a family for dinner.

… my mother, annoyed but not surprised by the interruption, would holler “Nobody’s coming in, nobody’s going out”

My parents, my two brothers and myself would settle down to eat before joining our buddies across the street. Not infrequently the doorbell would sound. As one of us got up and ran to the door to see what was up, who was looking for what piece of gear, my mother, annoyed but not surprised by the interruption, would holler “Nobody’s coming in, nobody’s going out”.

This is just one of the many occasions when my mother was clearly ahead of her time, as that should be the approach taken to curb the spread of the virus.

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Blogging, Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, News, Opinion, Politics, Royal Family

Why I Should Be Canada’s Next Governor General

The Canadian Governor General (GG), Julie Payette, has resigned amid a scandal that revolves around what has been called a toxic work environment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – and Ms Payette is, in fact, an actual rocket scientist and former astronaut – to realize that the position of GG is perhaps the most plum of all jobs.

According to the Government of Canada’s website:
The Governor General has important parliamentary responsibilities: Summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament. Setting out the government’s program by reading the Speech from the Throne. Giving Royal Assent, which makes acts of Parliament into law.

But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

This means the GG as the Queen’s representative in Canada, reads a Throne Speech at the opening of sessions of Parliament. Once a year or so the appointed GG sits before all the elected members and tells them what to do. But the best part is that he or she doesn’t even have to write the speech. The ruling party, who will oversee things, prepares that for the GG. All they have to do is show up and read the speech.

The GG also gives Royal Assent that – presto – makes an act of Parliament a real law. The skill required to carry out this noble undertaking is one rubber stamp.

When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

Many Canadians have said this position is no longer required. Not that they are against pomp and circumstance, but the GG comes at a price. An annual salary estimated to be $150,000 plus staff and housing. When a GG is replaced, they continue to receive that as a pension, and also have a few years worth of $100,000 expense account. Did I mention this is a plum position?

So you can understand why I am interested in being Canada’s next Governor General.

I find myself in a bit of a fix: at 61 years of age I am four years from pension, yet few employers will consider someone of my age. In essence, I could use the cash.

To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

Over the years many people have asked me if I work in radio because of my voice. I can read a speech as well as the next person. Particularly one I didn’t have to write. Bring on the Teleprompters and let’s get at it.

I used to be a Commissioner for Oaths, this necessitated my developing a sure hand with a rubber stamp. Push those passed acts of parliament along and I’ll have them signed and sealed in no time. To guarantee I won’t try to gum up the process, I promise to not even read the acts. Thump, thump, thump, and it’s off to the courts.

The Government website goes on to list some other, less formal, duties of the GG: Promoting a sense of identity, recognizing the achievements of outstanding Canadians, receiving foreign dignitaries, travelling overseas as the representative of Canada, hosting and taking part in official events.

A quick scan of those obligations gives you an idea of the real role of the GG – namely, party host. I’ve been at more parties than I can count. I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls. And I’m a big fan of parades.

I’m certain I can handle a few drunk dignitaries, shake hands with people who have achieved greatness, and cut ribbons at new shopping malls

Frankly, I think the GG job was designed with me in mind. A bit of officialdom over which I daren’t tread, and lots of glad-handing. All this and, to make it even more up my alley, they throw in a big house and several staff. A car and driver as well.

Prime Minister Trudeau, please feel free to contact me through this blog to arrange a time to discuss the opportunity. As you can see above, I have even accelerated the process by altering the official GG photo to include myself.

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Beer, Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Opinion

Pub Crawl vs Pub Walk

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a Pub Crawl as ‘a visit to several pubs, one after the other, having a drink or drinks at each one’. Other well-established dictionaries offer similar definitions. However, they all neglect to explain the crawl aspect as opposed to merely walking.

If you’re not crawling, you’re not doing it right!

Visiting several pubs, or bars, for a drink or two (three?) in each, if done properly, will seriously impair one’s ability to walk. Hence the notion of crawling.

If you’re not crawling, you’re not doing it right!

Or, perhaps you are mired in the middle of a pandemic that has, among many other restrictions, required pubs and bars to close. Yesterday, long before curfew, my wife and I went for a stroll down memory lane. We retraced our steps through downtown Montreal, now resembling a ghost town, and paid an extramural visit to several drinking spots.

For reasons explained above, no drink was taken, no crawling was involved. But maybe, just maybe, if we are all good, and adhere to the rigid restrictions of the confinement, one day soon we can once again meet up for a drink or two (three?)

Here’s to crawling!

For further bar related reading please check out: An Ode to Bars and Those Who Tend Them, Montreal Bars of the Eighties, A Short History of Montreal’s Anglo/Irish Pubs

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Canada, COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Health, Montreal, News

A Micro View of COVID’s Burden On Hospitals

In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 year-end holiday season, the COVID-19 statistics in Quebec continue to be at alarmingly high levels. Both the number of infections and the number of deaths attributed to the virus rise every day. It would appear more folks went a visitin’ during the festive season than are admitting it; scofflaw politicians aside.

In light of these rising numbers, the government has initiated a ‘shock therapy’ approach. As I recently wrote, this includes a serious lockdown and a curfew. There are many things to fear during a pandemic, not least of which is the burden on the health system. At the best of times, the system is close to bursting, throw in a couple of thousand COVID cases a day and it is not long before a rupture occurs.

This was the case in one institution, but if similar walkouts happened in other hospitals it is clear the system was hamstrung even before things turned dire.

My wife has a dear friend who works in a Montreal hospital as an x-ray technician. When the pandemic first hit, in the early spring of 2020, not wanting to have anything to do with it, several of her colleagues with compromised immune systems went on extended sick leave. This was the case in one institution, but if similar walkouts happened in other hospitals it is clear the system was hamstrung even before things turned dire.

As an example of the strain put on the whole system, one of the aspects of my wife’s friend’s job is to bring portable x-ray equipment to patients unable to be moved. Think of bringing the mountain to Mohammad if you will. If the patient shows signs of COVID-19 and is coughing, before taking the x-ray gear into the patient’s room, there is a process of suiting-up in what is essentially a hazmat outfit. 

The outfit requires two people to put on properly. The second person is responsible for checking that all is properly sealed, and ensuring that all steps are undertaken. The technician then, looking a bit like Bib the Michelin Man, goes about the business of x-raying.

During this time both she and her colleague, as well as the machine, are not available for other patients.

Once the x-rays are done, there is an extensive disinfecting process to be undertaken. This again requires two people. Not just the machine, which is almost dismantled and decontaminated, but she has to undergo a serious regime of discarding robes, gloves, masks, and then washing herself. A key role played by the second person is to make sure the technician washes her hands after each step: remove gloves, wash hands; remove robe, wash hands; remove face shield, wash hands, and so on. Bearing in mind that proper hand washing is a twenty second procedure, it is understandable how this takes anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes.

During this time both she and her colleague, as well as the machine, are not available for other patients.

That’s just one person in one hospital. If you extrapolate that to the entire health system, it is obvious why there is a fear of increasing numbers.

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