United we would stand, but divided we shall fall

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, gave a speech (11 minutes) at the UN on Friday.  It's quite a barn-burner!  “The system is broken,” he said.  “Not just because of COVID-19,” but due to “our collective inability over the past decades to make the tough decisions and sacrifices needed to fight Climate Change and save future generations.”  He had nothing nice to say about the International Monetary Fund, nor the World Bank.

Starting at 5:10, where his voice gets louder and more strident, he also blamed countries like Iran, Russia, China, and the US, the “regimes that think might makes right” and those where “no one has any rights at all”.  Isn't it pleasant to have a national leader who isn't embarrassing?  But at 9:04 he refers to “the four corners of the planet” which implies that the Earth is both flat and square.  Trudeau is apparently switching back and forth between English and French during his speech, making extra work for the poor translator.

In other UN news, Armenia and Azerbaijan are two former Soviet republics who are now at war.  At issue: an unproductive piece of land the size of Delaware that is inside Azerbaijan but filled with ethnic Armenians.  This is the same piece of land and same belligerents as in the 1918-1920 wars; nothing has changed in a century.  Principal exports of the region: mulberry vodka, hydroelectric power, mined copper and gold.  Total value of all exports: $200,000 per year, or about $1 per resident.

In other other news, my IP address has apparently been banned from LiveJournal.  Ooh, those Russians!

Plague update

Yep, there's still a plague going around.  People are continuing to die from it.  Let's check our charts once again:

Waterloo, Ontario

Well, it sure looks like a second wave for Italy, beginning around August 20 or so.  Here in Waterloo, things seem to have started getting worse on September 9th, although of course that's just a reflection of events that happened to people a week earlier.

Statistics for my township are no longer being published, it seems.  Per-town statistics are now provided, but not for my town because we've had less than six cases (total so far, out of 5,600 residents) so that info could be personally identifiable.  Over the summer, people had walked around my town without masks and talked to each other's faces like there was no disaster in progress.  For the largest town in the township, 67% larger than mine, there have been ten total COVID-19 cases.  Recently I visited a grocery store in that town; the people there seem to care more now about maintaining the 2-metre distance and the nose-to-chin coverage than previously, perhaps because the province is now recording over 300 new cases per day (previously they were happy when the number went below 200).

I dropped my car off yesterday at the auto mechanic's and am waiting for the call to go pick it up.  I came into some money recently and had thought I would buy a newer one.  But used-car prices are way up!  For $8,000 I could get a car that might not be any better than what I've got (which has over 250,000 km on it).  Last year I didn't fix the air conditioning because the cost was ¼ of what I had paid for the car — but now that repair price is only ⅛ of what a replacement car would cost.  Wifey and I had thought that we would buy a replacement car with working A/C and then go back to work.  But now that it’s fall and we don't need the A/C so much, let's just get the car fixed up a bit (replace leaking transmission pan, stuck fuel-tank release lever, wonky gear-shift lever) and go back to work with the one we have.  This is starting to seem like not such a good idea now that the second wave has started.  When we stopped working in March, there were only 5 cases per day in Waterloo Region.  Infection rates got back down to 5 over the summer, but yesterday there were 10 newly-confirmed sick people.

Meanwhile, CERB is ending on September 27th.  The Parliament will reconvene on September 23rd to announce the replacement policy, which will apparently require that people at least try to work in order to get those handouts.  So we'll have to see how next month goes.


Rural signs

There are many farms in my township.  Quite a few have these “genetically-modified corn” warning signs, but I didn’t see any of those today.
Here is a sign that I did see today.  It is an advertisement for ProRich seeds.  Considering the ProRich product line, I’m guessing that this field is planted with alfalfa.
Finally, I present to you the signs that moved me to write:
WTF?  Who are these signs for?  People who can read words like “toothpaste” and “ethanol” from a moving vehicle but who don't know what cornstalks look like? I note that this cornfield is across the street from a country grocer that serves many city-slicker tourists (and might be owned by the same family).  This could just be the usual farmer's lament “I bet you city folks probably don't even know what food really looks like, do you?”  Or maybe it was for some school field trip?  For immigrants who’ve never seen corn before?  And why are the signs a stark black and white?

You might notice at the bottom of the nearer sign there seems to be a logo and maybe the manufacturer’s name for this sign, but I didn’t get out of my car to look at it and the photo isn’t clear enough to make out.

The 2020 Bulwar-Lytton Writing Contest

•  As sheriff, I had handled most of the Dwarf gang, having shot Sleepy, Bashful and Sneezy, strung up Grumpy and Dopey and disemboweled Happy, but Doc, since you got away, I’m sending Happy’s entrails to you, until we meet again.

•  Dorothy and Toto got kicked out of Kansas just before that group had several hits back in the day but at least Toto achieved some success with his band, while poor Dorothy, penniless and insane, lived under a bridge, prostituting herself and screaming about rainbows.

•  Gasping for breath as she lay in the dew-laden lakeside grass, Rifka Lieberman's chest heaved with rising passion as Saul Cohen approached with the inhaler she had left behind at the assisted living facility.

•  The rain fell in buckets as I walked the cobbled streets of Old Town, although I supposed, if rain really came in buckets one might land on my head and knock me unconscious so I’d much prefer raining cats and dogs because I’m quite fond of cats, but better still if were hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement as I’m rather peckish.

For further amusement, see the complete list of winners.

Someone is wrong on the Internet... and it's Google!

This monstrosity to the left is what I get when I visit news.google.ca.  They say they’re getting it from weather.com.  It is all kinds of wrong, except for the numbers.  I shall enumerate:

⒜  I am not in New Hamburg, although that town (pop. 9,000) is not far from me.

⒝  It is not “sunny” here.  The sun set several hours ago.

⒞  The moon is not yellow.

⒟  The moon’s phase is not last-quarter as shown.  We just had a new moon yesterday, so today it’s a 1.7% waxing crescent.

⒠  The “stars” would have to be lighthouses on the moon in order to appear where shown.  ’Cause the moon she is round, like the Earth, you know?  The unlit part of the moon blocks the light from any stars behind it.

⒡  To be extra obnoxious, Google animates the impossible stars, having them wink into existence many milliseconds after the moon.  Perhaps this is some sort of inside joke among the eggheaded Googlers?

⒢  Although Google refers to this infoblock as “your weather” rather than “your weather forecast”, I expect this thing to be a forecast of the future.  The figure of 23 ℃ represents this past afternoon’s high and is not a forecast.

⒣  “Today” is over.  The forecast should be for “Tonight”.

This rant has been brought to you by the letters aⓐₐ through hⓗₕ and the number 13⑬⒀⒔  No punctuation mark has agreed to admit in public to its 🙓 sponsorship 🙑 of this show.


Update to my COVID-19 research

It’s been about a month since my last report.  How have things changed?  Here are updated versions of the two epi-curves:

Waterloo, OntarioItaly

Well, Italy looks to be just about done.  In fact, one doctor said on May 31ˢᵗ that “the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy” because the people testing ‘positive’ today have much lower viral loads than those from a month or two ago.  The government told him to shut up and stop confusing Italians.

Meanwhile, in Waterloo on June 1ˢᵗ, there was another uptick in the slope of the dark-blue curve.  There does not seem to be any “first wave” that is ending.  The nursing-home ‘outbreak’ looks to be over but the spread in the broader ‘community’ continues linearly.  (I don’t know where those vertical grey lines are coming from — my browser or their CMS?)

Once again I have written down some numbers every day for a week:

DateTotalNewLTC/RHage 50‒59age 80+Active
May 291,105 562718822691
May 301,108 1(Sunday reports discontinued)
May 311,113 5628189226154
June 11,13010646192226167
June 21,138 6650193227171
June 31,142 3659193228166
June 41,152 7663193228110
June 51,16513663193228115

The government has decided to stop issuing reports on Sundays.  This isn’t the first time they’ve had a period where they decided to issue fewer than 7 reports per week.  The ‘Total’ and ‘New’ values can be pulled from the epi-curves, but the other numbers are inaccessible for non-report days.  The ‘(prev)’ row is just a copy from my previous report.

Some obvious good news is that the weekly increase in the ‘Total’ is now half of what it was, as is the average daily increase in the non-LTC ‘New’ cases.  This is especially notable because the province recently relaxed their regulations: you can now get tested even if you have no symptoms and are not a healthcare worker.  The case-count increase for my age-group is only ⅕ of what it was, while the increase for the over-80 people is down to ⅙.

The bits of bad news are data-quality issues.  The increase in ‘Total’ is +60, while the ‘New’ non-LTC cases add up to 50 and the LTC figure increased by +38.  Wait, shouldn't the ‘Total’ have increased by 88?

The newly-sick seem to be mostly young people and over half of them work in LTC homes, but the percentage of ever-sick people who are healthcare workers (not shown above but available here) has spent most of the pandemic hovering around 30% but has recently fallen to 25%, implying that a whole bunch of non-healthcare people recently got sick — so where are they in my table?  Most other public-health units report 10%-15% healthcare workers among their sick; I do not know of any explanation for why so many healthcare workers in Waterloo are afflicted.

I’m not sure what is going on with the Active value for May 29ᵗʰ, which seems to be an outlier.  Unfortunately it is based on daily ‘Recovered’ and ‘Deceased’ values that I did not save and can no longer re-check.  If we ignore that entry, then Active decreased by 39 over five days, which would be an improvement over my previous report rather than getting worse as shown in the table.

Meanwhile, Premier Ford has extended all emergency orders until June 19ᵗʰ, including the prohibition on groups larger than five people.  Restaurant dining rooms remain closed, which means restaurant delivery drivers are still needed for the emergency.  The SkipTheDishes app still shows large numbers of available open shifts; in pre-Pandemic times the open shifts were few and snapped up within seconds.  It’s dinnertime right now so UberEats is offering a $1.50 “surge” bonus per order — but their regular rates are still 30% lower than when I started working for them.  Neither of these companies feels the need to offer anything that could be called "hazard pay".  My daughter continues to insist that neither of her older/chronically-ill parents may enter a store and she will do all the shopping while I sit in the car.

So I am tentatively concluding that I should continue to not work for maybe another two weeks.


Provincial politics of COVID-19

Premier Doug Ford has gotten into a bit of trouble lately.  Although in general I think his handling of the crisis has been exemplary, he has refused to release a detailed list of "hotspots" that Ontarians should avoid because that would "stigmatize" the people living in those spots.  Well, yesterday the news dam broke and we found out where the hotspots are: they are all in the Greater Toronto Area!  Now we know why Ford didn't want to release this data.

Doug Ford has always treated the premiership job like it's "Toronto city councillor on steroids".  He's supposed to be ruling the entire province, but there's only one city he mainly cares about.  So now the entire province stays on lock-down just so the people of Toronto won't have to feel bad that they still need to.

This article seems to disagree with the previous one slightly.  It contains the unsourced sentence "As of Wednesday, Peel, York, Ottawa, Durham, Waterloo and Windsor-Essex County followed Toronto as regions with the greatest number of COVID cases."  So Waterloo ranks 6th worst among the 34 Public Health Units.  The previous article didn't mention Waterloo in its table of the top eight PHUs, sorted by case-count since May 10 (and no reason was given for that odd choice of cutoff date).  Wikipedia says that Waterloo Region has the 7th largest population among the 49 census regions in Ontario.

An additional wrinkle: in June 2019 the Ford government eliminated the Ontario "Local Health Integration Network" (which was previously responsible for distributing money to hospitals).  This was necessary in order to fire 416 people and avoid filling an additional 409 vacant positions — and to save $350 million a year on statisticians, senior physicians, and other useless people.  Some governments (such as Alberta and the US feds) have gotten into trouble for making cuts to healthcare administration just before a pandemic hit.  This factoid is just sort of hanging behind those two newspaper articles linked above, without ever being mentioned.  Also not mentioned: Joe Cressy, one of the two "critics" quoted for the second article, is a member of the NDP which is the Official Opposition to Ford's Progressive Conservative Party — so Cressy is obligated to find fault with the premier in any way he can.

p.s. For those of you in Michigan, I realize that "the dam broke" is not a pleasant metaphor right now.  Please consider moving to Canada, where we do a much better job of maintaining our infrastructure and we do not suspend all government regulations during an election year.

The storm has abated

The skies have cleared up.  The crimp on daily activity has been removed.  I am of course *not* talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather the blight upon the automatic cross-posting feature here at DreamWidth.  Back on May 12 I asserted that the post I made that day *will* (someday) be cross-posted.  Today I made a trivial change to that entry at DreamWidth and — behold! — it is now cross-posted to LiveJournal, thus making my words retroactively correct, two weeks later.

However, a side-effect of this is that my May 12th post no longer acts as a proof that my name isn't Engelbert Humperdinck.  It remains true that my name isn't that, but now the post no longer proves it.  (This is a logic joke.)


It only took 50 hours, but my post from Monday is now up on LiveJournal, sneakily back-dated in the timeline as if it had been cross-posted when written.  The notification of cross-posting was dated 4:00:49pm.

It's been 27 hours since my test post; still no cross-post of that.  Come on, Russkies!