May 2nd

Let’s talk a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Despite a great many reports of his death, Kim Jong Un seems to have shown up at a fertilizer plant – not in a bag, but in person. He walked, talked and did a fandango. He was surprised by a question about is his near-death experience – he said he hadn’t had one, but the person asking the question has not been seen since. These reports are unconfirmed as are most news items coming from North Korea.

President Trump has overridden his intelligence agencies who investigated an unproven and totally false claim that the COVID-19 virus originated in a laboratory in China – they found not a shred of evidence to support this nonsense Trump continues to spout. He is doing this for purely political reasons. He also wants the idea that the moon is made of cheese be investigated as well as the weird suggestion that pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza. He is relentlessly focused on strategic priorities on behalf of his bank account.

Trump’s newest White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, made clear in her first appearance at the podium that she would never lie to the press and then she told several porkies, misquoted official documents and twisted what Trump had actually said to mean something he could not possibly have said. She’s off to a flying start – but then she is seeking to appeal to an audience of one. She won’t last long – none of them do.

Alberta will begin to “open” its economic activities next week. You can have elective surgery while playing golf. May 14th you will be able to get a haircut while eating at a restaurant while your kids are in daycare. Universities and colleges can start to think about their classes, subject to regulations in place at the time. You can also go to bookstores and clothing stores. Schools, however, will not re-open this academic year. Several stores are taking your temperature as you enter – they should also do it at the cash desk when you have to pay. Given the Premiers interests, Catholic gay bars will be given a priority.

The Duchess of Sussex, aka as Ms. Woke, lost a procedural hearing related to her UK legal claim against Associated Newspapers (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday). Mr. Justice Warby dismissed several components of her case, which relates to the publication of a handwritten letter she wrote to her father in 2018 and a more general claim of a systematic persecution of her by the media. Warby basically suggested that this was a “trivial pursuit”, which might be the board game she and Harry now need to play while in lock-down in Malibu. The case will go onto a full hearing. Some good royal news: Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, just turned five and is already playing to the camera. She is emerging as a smart, vibrant young lady – just like her mum.

The post-COVID-19 attempt to discriminate against the elderly has begun. Several television production companies are banning older actors from the sets of their shows as they restart production. Ken Roache (88) is being written out of Coronation Street for now – a show he has been on since it began in 1066 just after the Battle of Hastings. Some airlines are also saying that they may not be willing to carry high risk passengers – i.e. those over 70 with underlying conditions. Age discrimination is a pernicious thing and, under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, illegal.

Justin Trudeau, with the much-reduced beard and more dark hair dye, has banned the sale of new assault weapons in Canada and requires all current owners to dispose of them or secure a special license or face criminal charges after 2022 – details not yet clear. Interestingly, the majority of Canadians (83%) support a ban. Our Kakistocratic Premier was furious of course – but then he is generally furious when a good thing happens that he had nothing to do with. We don’t need machine guns or assault weapons, tanks or ballistic missiles to hunt deer or Moose – we know how to hunt. We also know how to scare away predators – we play Barry Manilow CD’s and eat poutine.

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have now named their new son born on April 29th  – Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas, which comes as a great relief to many. His other children have, amongst their Christian names, some interesting ones – Apollo, Lettice, Peaches – many though that “Cream” or “Biggles” might be included in the most recent naming. Some recent names given to kids are weird – Pofirio, Calcifer, Evian, Suede, Beowulf and (my personal favourite) Any. One couple liked the old fashion names but couldn’t agree which one to use, so they called their daughter “Nan” – they said “she’d grow into it!”.

May 5th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Dame Vera Lynn – the sweetheart songstress of world War II – is now 103. She is an eternal optimist and still energized by the challenges of supporting others facing COVID-19. Like Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore (100), she is a symbol of hope and still looks like she is ready to sing again.

Several parts of the world are starting to function in the “new normal” . Restrictions on how many people can be in one place at a time (10), socially distanced restaurants and phased returns to schools in some parts of the world (but not Alberta). In various parts of the US, some states are returning to more of the old normal than the new – putting the needs of capitalism before the need to keep people safe and healthy. We can see capitalism in action big time. A US airline took $5.4 billion bailout and used it to lay off staff, buy more stock and pay down debt. Their actions are contrary to the terms of the bailout funds, which were intended to pay workers. It is no wonder that Warren Buffet has sold all of his $4 billion holdings in airlines companies.

Following on his spectacular claim in March that “people are dying who have never died before”, President Trump now says that “hundreds of governors” have contacted him to support his COVID-19 strategy. The US has fifty states.

In Kentucky, a customer walked into S J Food Mart in Lexington wearing a face mask with a hole cut in the front to expose her nose and mouth. When asked why she had cut the hole, the customer said “it makes it much easier to breathe”. She wins this week’s COVIDIOT of the week award.

Larry Kudlow, the sometime sober economic advisor to President Trump, suggested that the second half of 2020 could see the biggest rebound in the US economy in the history of the US and “the most profitable final quarter for companies in the history of the republic”. Not difficult to imagine, given that the US economy is the worst shape it has been in since the civil war. He is predicting a “V” shape recovery. Most economists, whether sober or not, are suggesting a “W” shaped recovery – modest gains, followed by a second round of the virus, followed by modest gains until a vaccine arrives and is widely available. A 2-3 year recession-depression. Get used to it.

In the UK – the international centre for age discrimination – the Secretary of State for Health wrote to all over 70 asking them to self-quarantine for 12 weeks (84 days – 45 or so days to go) when the lock-down began as if the virus begins its attack based on age. While many who have died have been elderly, in part this is due to a pre-existing condition (for profit elder care for one) and in  part because of the lack of appropriate facilities and resource for testing and treatment.  Ministers in the UK are discussing a plan for those over 70 to be required to self-isolate for a year or more because they are “clinically vulnerable”.  Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, is 79. There are over 9 million people in the UK over 70.

Prince Harry and Mrs. Woke (aka as the Duchess of Sussex) are publishing a memoir called Finding Freedom, which might be better names Living in Neverland. Rather than being an account of a wonderful privileged existence and a relentless pursuit of fame, it is more likely to be a revenge fairy tale. They need the money. They are rumoured to be spending US$13 million on their new home in LA. Maybe the book could be called Looking for a Proper Job .

The Daily Mail, a reliable source of strangeness, reports that Boris Johnson left his hospital bed at one point during his treatment to clap for health workers from the hospital window wearing only boxer shorts. Too much information.

May 11th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…..

Elon Musk and his partner Claire Elise Boucher (normally known as the singer Grimes) had a baby son which they have named X Æ A-12 Musk. Makes Boris Johnson’s choice of name for his son look normal. They ruled out Petulant One, since his dad has already earned this moniker. Wonder what the kid’s teachers will make of this name? What will his nickname be? (My money is on Malcolm, as in Malcolm X).

Jo Biden is leading Trump by just 3-4% in current polling. An Alsatian dog with three legs might do better. Trump is not losing ground amongst his base, which may come as a surprise to those of us who can read, think, walk and chew gum at the same time. His current focus: let people die so that my friends can continue to make money, does not seem to be losing him votes. I suspect Bernie would be doing a lot better and be much more visible. For Biden, now everything depends on who he picks as his running mate. Beyoncé may be a good plan!

Trump is also doing a lot of spinning. The virus task force is gone one day, back the next. The States need to be cautious about opening but can they do it a lot faster please. We’re going to lose up to 100,000 people (we’re already at 77,000+) but don’t worry – we’ve done a fantastic job of testing, but testing doesn’t matter. We’re at war with China, but China are our new best friends. It’s difficult to keep up with the spinning wheel of news.

Trump and Pence will not wear a face mask. They flout the social distancing and care rules all the time. Trump’s personal valet and Pence’s press secretary have both tested positive for COVID-19 as has Ivanka’s PA’s. Trump has other illnesses – he’s not just stupid, he has a psychological illness called narcissism – and Pence has a problem – he is sycophant with anal retentive tendencies.  The sickness permeates the White House and the entire executive branch.

The sickness of cronyism has shown itself in the US Department of Justice, which just withdrew all charges against self-admitted guilty man Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Advisor. So corrupt is this White House that the Vice President said on Saturday that he would welcome Michael Flynn back at the White House as part of the “team”. We can expect pardons for all involved in the Trump coup (Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and others except Michael Cohen). It is a coup, since the President is deliberately dismantling the infrastructure of government and displacing all the ethics and norms associated with good governance, despite questions about the legitimacy of his election.

In Britain there is a clear plan: go back to work and stay at home; go on holiday in France and stay at home; go for a mini-break but stay at home. It’s a mess. Borish Johnson says one thing and the health minister another. Everyone asks for clarity and what they are getting are passages from a Brian Rix farce.

In Alberta, Kakistocrat Premier Kenney threw a real hissy-fit when two Federal politicians claimed that oil is dead, and Alberta needs to realize it. He didn’t even rely on his $30 million a year war room to respond (where are they hiding with our money, by the way?) he blasted away on all cylinders, accusing his opponents of being “un-Canadian”. Oil and gas definitely is not dead, but it is changed as a sector forever and needs to pivot to a new place in manufactured goods, plastics as well as fuel. Alberta needs to stop seeing oil and gas as core to the economy (it has not been for some time) and Alberta needs to accelerate its work on diversification. Kenney needs some new ideas and needs to stop sounding more petulant than Trump on a bad hair day of Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, every day.

The King and Queen of Rock ‘n Roll, Little Richard, died on Saturday at age 87. Long Tall Sally, Good Golly Miss Molly and Tuti Fruiti were just two of his great hits. In 1984 he checked into a hotel and stayed for 22 years. Quite the lad, he was a legend and will now be greatly missed.

May 12th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…..

Not that long-ago Quebec passed a law demanding that those who wear traditional dress, especially the Hijab or Burka, should be required to remove them in public. But now, as the Beaverton points out, “going forward, people attending at hospitals will be given a mask that they must put on as soon as they enter. Those who wear religious face coverings like the Hijab will of course be required to uncover their face to access government services before covering their face with the mask in order to access government services”. Ce la vie.

Meghan and Harry have erected screens around their current accommodation in LA. The screens stop people looking in or provide mirrors for them to look at themselves constantly. No one is sure which. A fictional account of their “conscious uncoupling” from the Royal Family is also in the works. I would like to see Mrs. Brown play the Queen, Count Arthur Strong as Prince Charles, Olivia Coleman as Camilla, Kate Beckinsdale as Kate and David Beckham as William. The film will open at the Pizza Express in Woking. Relatives are already in place.

Two years ago, David Beckham had a hair transplant which cost $ALOT. Yesterday, he was seen shopping and almost bald. Maybe he was looking for a supersized Rogaine or a wig. Whatever he was looking for, it is doubtful it would put a smile on Victoria’s face.

US deaths from COVID-19 have now passed 82,700 or 27x the number of deaths on 9/11. President Trump is directly and without a scintilla of doubt responsible for some of these. Yet he blathers on like a pit bull on steroids or an octopus in heat. No one of any importance calls for his immediate resignation. They are relying on the soundness of mind of the American people in the ballot box on November 3rd. This is like relying on Elvis to show up at your kid’s birthday party or waiting for the crew of the Mary Celeste to appear on Where are They Now? COVID-19 is clearly endorsing Trump for a second term and is joining a Super-PAC to help him.

Wiejia Jiang and Kaitlan Collin are two smart White House reporters. On Monday they asked questions which upset the petulant upstart pretender, Donald Trump. He hmphed off the stage in a fit of anger. Like most adolescents, he will sulk under the sheets with a burger and fries. Someone needs to invoke the 25th amendment.

Churchill used the phrase “let’s keep buggering on!” throughout the second world war. Borish Johnson’s new version is “let’s keep muddling on and do whatever the last guy said is my current policy with respect to re-opening Britain”. A mess.  Boris is not managing this well. It is like being at a farce, yet it may lead to serious consequences. Germany has just closed parts of its opening-up down and other jurisdictions who should be closed are opening-up. Maybe Churchill was right all along.

On Monday’s and Friday’s Rachel Ray and her husband (lawyer and musician) John broadcast from their home in the Adirondack’s in Up State New York. He always looks like someone needs to take him aside, cut his hair and give him a wash. She is no real star without her team of producers and back up staff and a real audience. The pit bulldog looks as bored as many viewers must be. She has a limited repertoire of food she cooks and rarely steps outside of “standard fare”. She also has some twenty or thirty “standard lines” she uses repeatedly, some two or three times in every show. In contrast, Nadiya Hussain in the UK is full of energy, imagination and is naturally funny and talented. She also cooks interesting food – falafel from four tins of baked beans – and does so with a sense of genuine happiness. I’m with Nadiya.

The actor who played Costanza’s father on Seinfeld and who celebrated Festivus – Ben Stiller’s dad Jerry has died. He was 92. On Seinfeld he played a very loud, obnoxious and difficult man married to an ever-forbearing woman. He was very funny. Sad to see him go. He died of natural causes.

May 13th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Richard Morris (52) was due to take up his post as Britain’s ambassador to Fiji in July, went for a jog in Hampshire on Wednesday May 4th and has not been seen since. A former ambassador to Nepal, it was first  thought he may have been kidnapped. Now police are sure no third parties are involved. He is a very experienced marathon runner and the father of three. Mystery and sadness surround this disappearance.

Carnival Cruise Lines are almost fully booked for trips starting in August 2020 – demand far outstrips what it was for 2019. People seem willing to pay to get infected in a closed environment. Carnival will be touring a variety of ports in which there are excellent isolation facilities.

Donald Trump’s new show – Conspiracy! Is not going well. Its latest episode features the idea that former President Obama has been involved in a conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency by doing things like drawing attention to his idiocy and stupidity.  His previous episode – It’s All China’s Fault! – did not play well either. The first episode – Corona Virus is a Hoax!  – has been deleted. It is possible that this show will not be renewed for a second season.

Globally, a new show is starting to play out: Now We’re Open, Now We’re Not! China has backtracked on relaxing its strict social distancing rules in parts of the country (and is testing all 11 million in Wuhan) as has Lebanon and the Kolar district in India. Germany and South Korea, both of whom had relaxed some of their social distancing rules, are now reconsidering as deaths and cases spike. In the US, he official strategy is to claim that any new deaths which are due to the virus really occurred as a result of the victims supporting Obama, like Barry Manilow music or support the Boston Red Sox’s since COVID-19 has been “defeated”. Jared Kushner devised this plan.

In the UK, Canada and other parts of the world certain sporting activities – golf, fishing, shooting, tennis, bowls – are starting-up. Nudist leapfrog and indoor hang gliding are still forbidden and, hopefully, so are barhopping, nightclub bouncing and dwarf-tossing.

In Alberta, it may soon be ok to eat in restaurants with those you cohabit with and, according to health officials,  with members of “your cohort” as long as you maintain social distancing while eating. I don’t know any horts!

Prince Harry has complained to his friends (two dogs and a banana) that he has no meaningful life to lead in LA – no job, no structure, no real friends. He is missing his connection to the military in the UK – he was on active service for many years as Captain Wales. While being a father takes up some of his time, most of his time is spent doing as he is told. This means that there has been no change in his life since he realized as a child that he was a Prince and a member of the royal family.

May 15th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Bill Norrie has been alone at sea for just over three months and landed Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand from Victoria (Canada) via South Africa. He knew nothing about COVID-19 or the global lock-down. He asked two questions: “Has anyone shot that idiot Donald Trump yet?” and “where can I get some chicken?”. He now (technically) has to self-isolate for fourteen days but since the last person he saw helped him push his boat out three months ago (though he does claim to have seen a Mermaid or perhaps it was a porpoise), he’s been excused. After three days on land, he will start his journey back to Canada.

Sean Hannity, windbag and poseur and sometimes the real President of the United States, was caught saying something true this week: “people are dying to get back to work”. What he meant to say…

As if not to be outdone, President Trump said this week “we’d have very few cases [of COVID-19] id we didn’t do testing”. What he meant to say..

True conservative governments have very few ideas – some have none and most don’t really have a clue. They are also reliably guaranteed to leave more debt than they started out with, even in very normal times. One idea they have is austerity – small government, cutting key services, balancing budgets – is simply inappropriate for the present time. The other idea they have – business is good, government is bad – is also dead wrong, as a variety of case studies will show. The third idea – trickle-down economics – is proven to be wrong by forty years of data and many Nobel prize-winning economists. Alberta is about to discover the depths of the kakistocracy it elected just over a year ago – lions led by conservative donkeys. Given that the Alberta government no longer needs to secure legislation through a democratic process (see Bill 10) to do what it planned to do before COVID-19, Alberta is facing a wrecking ball. Get used to it. First up – firing health care workers. Just watch.

Anthony Fauci, the leading virologist in the US who has served six Presidents, has fallen foul of an anti-science / anti-truth President Trump. Fauci told the Senate that opening up the country too soon was a serious threat to health and the President dropped a stool (it’s has been tested – no signs of any humour). “It’s not an acceptable answer”, Trump said. Clearly, science is supposed to conform to his weird understanding of how the world should be.  Other wrong answers are “we are unlikely to find a vaccine quickly”; “the US has not tested more people per capita than any other nation”; and “the summer will not kill off COVID-19”;  or “drinking Lysol is not a good idea and nor are any of the suggestions Trump has floated as cures”. The list will grow.

The underlying Trump agenda is clear: let’s not put people’s health before making money – doing so would jeopardize my re-election. His big “ha-ha” moment came when he realized that dead people don’t vote (except in Philadelphia) and that many in his “base” were dying.  Anyone who contradicts him is spouting fake news, is a democrat or is about to be fired. Anyone caught telling the truth is likely to be charged with treason or sent to see Paul Manafort, who is now under house arrest, or made to listen to Billy Ray Cyrus. The world depends on Trump being re-elected – he knows it, we should all believe it. “I’d rather be in Philadelphia” it says on WC Field’s grave. Now we know why.

18th May

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Amongst the things cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19 –e.g.  the Olympics in Japan, Eurovision Song Contest (the most watch TV show in the world), the Chelsea Flower Show and the Edmonton Oilers winning the Stanley Cup (again) – one surprising cancellation is Octoberfest in Munich, cancelled for the first time since WWII. While it will be celebrated in many parts of the world (including Edmonton), it will not be held in Munich.

Another event that has had to shift online is the Dorset Knob Throwing contest. The knob-throwing event started in 2008 and now incorporates a food festival, knob darts, and games including knob and spoon racing and pinning the knob on the Cerne Abbas Giant. For those that don’t know, a Dorset Knob is a traditional biscuit. Each year, some 8,000 people attend this event. There’s not a lot to do in Dorset.

At a restaurant in Virginia – The Inn at Little Washington – the owner is maintaining the 50% of capacity rule by having mannequins placed at tables so that guests don’t feel they are eating in an empty space. To make it feel authentic, half of them are staged so that they are looking at a cell phone.

Trump is thrashing about looking for either a war, an economic miracle or a scandal to help his re-election campaign. Right now he is working on all three – talking about China as the new enemy, the big post-COVID bounce as a new economic miracle and a load of nonsense about “Obamagate” as the scandal (for which there is zero evidence and it being total nonsense). Meantime he continues to insist that the virus will go away when it gets warmer and that, “vaccine or no vaccine, America is back”. He forgot to add “in the dark ages”.

Speaking of “Obamagate” – the Trumpkin argues that Obama committed his “crimes” as President (i.e. none whatsoever), but Trump consistently argues that any action a President takes is immune from any form of prosecution. Ah well – consistency and complexity are not in Trump’s repertoire. Trump is talking “treason” just as everyone else is talking “idicocy”.

One in four Americans think the sun goes around the earth. Thirty four percent also reject Darwin’s theory of evolution, suggesting that modern humans have been on earth since Adam and Eve. And have been Trump supporters since the beginning of time.

Eric Trump in an interview on Fox TV (the station where news is made up, facts don’t matter and the audience is assumed to be those who think the sun goes round the earth, and Niagara Falls is turned on each morning at 5am and off again at 10pm) suggested that COVID-19 is a democratic party hoax that will magically disappear shortly after the November 3rd election. Just goes to show that branches do not fall far from the tree.

Andrew Scheer, still leader of our national Conservative Party and well-known cockwomble, proves himself yet again to be completely out of touch with the reality of the Canadian people. He wants COVID support cut for people so that they don’t “get used to being lazy”. He should know. He had promised, when he thought that he might become Prime Minister, to renounce his US citizenship but now that he on his way out, it has become known that he has no intention of doing so. The race to be leader of this flailing party is so excited that many can’t wait for the result. Some equally dull and bog-standard Tory will win and push ideas that aim to take Canada back to the 1960’s.

President Trump announced that the US Space Force (yes, that’s a thing) is working on “a super duper missile”. It will travel seventeen times faster than the current “just duper” missile developed by Obama. The President’s spokesperson on big things, Stormy Daniels, said “our President likes things that come quickly”.

British teachers are calling on the government to pause their plans to open schools on June 1st. The government is insistent that it is safe given the conditions they are using to social distance within classrooms, playgrounds and other areas as well as staggering attendance. Teachers know their kids and are sure that the kids will find it difficult after the first ten minutes. Teachers are not convinced that there are sufficient cleaning and PPE supplies or staff; they also note that not all teachers are in a position to return to work due to their own health. Parents who do not send their children to school can be fined. Watch this mess unfold. Makes Alberta’s decision not to even consider opening till the fall look smart.

21st May

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Cpt. Tom Moore has been Knighted by the Queen as “thank you” for his work in raising £39 million ($66.5 million) for NHS charities by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April. His full new title with by Captain Sir Thomas Moore – he is also an honorary colonel. He’s had quite the year. His song made #1 in the UK Top Ten and a documentary was aired about his service in WWII.

Trump is on drugs. No surprise there. What may be surprising is that he is taking a drug “to prevent COVID-19”- hydroxychloroquine – which not only has no proven value in doing so but has killed more people through its side effects than it helped. It is said Mike Pence is keeping a close eye on the dosage. It later emerged that the Trump family owns part of the company that manufactures this drug. He’s marketing a product he owns part of. He’s even gone as far as saying that a randomized control trial of the efficacy of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19 was deliberately designed to hurt his Presidency. We can clearly see another side effect of this drug: enhanced narcissism.

Another side effect of the drug is that it boosts stupidity. This can be seen clearly in Trump’s statement that the US COVID-19 numbers (1.54 million cases and 93,500+ deaths) represent a “badge of honor” – highest numbers in the world. No other country is even close. Quite. No one else is quite as incompetent.

To encourage and thank Canadian’s for their responses to lock-down and social distancing, the Snowbirds Air Aerobatics flight flew across the country, putting on shows in each major city. They were warmly welcomed – a sign that there was hope. Then one of the planes crashed in Kamloops, killing one (Capt. Jennifer Casey) and badly injuring another. Sadness and concern. Now there are questions about whether the Snowbirds should continue. Every major air force has a similar squadron. We should too. The pilots are some of the best in the world – they deserve the best equipment.

Cambridge University has made the bold decision not to resume face-to-face teaching until at least mid-2021. Many other higher education institutions are pursuing a similar line of thought – some looking to start in January 2021, but most keeping their options open. Many academics are unhappy with online teaching, since it exposes their lack of understanding of how students learn and moves them from being “sage on the stage” to being learning coaches and guides – something many of us realized back in 1994 when we began online learning. My colleague Professor Martin Weller suggests that, for those of us who pioneered online learning, it’s “groundhog-day” or “1999 all over again” – all the concerns and issues we heard then are being repeated now, as if nothing had happened since. It may be time to recognize that most who teach in higher education know little about instructional design, the neuropsychology of learning and designs for student engagement – teacher training is required.

One specific issue that gets raised a lot is cheating. Over half of the students who attend Cambridge University (a very traditional face to face place) admit to cheating, but only 5% are caught. Cheating was prevalent in the Ming-dynasty amongst those seeking to complete the Chinese civil service exams. Ironically, it is much easier to detect cheating online (be warned students!).

This month I lost two friends. One to cancer. One to a sudden and massive heart attack. Both will be missed. Both knew each other and worked together. Both left us too soon. One lived in Alberta, one in Ontario. RIP Ray and Jan.

May 25th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

On a tour of a Ford company facility that is building medical equipment where the wearing of masks is compulsory, President Trump (also known as the Covid Golf Champion) refused to wear a mask. Rather than refusing him admission, Ford executives let him in. No one is willing to confront a madman it seems. Trump said of Joe Biden that “he can’t remember what he did yesterday”. Sadly, we can all remember what Trump did yesterday, though we’d rather not have to.

Alberta’s Premier – Cockwomble Kenney – was hotly pursuing his anti-Trudeau rhetoric and actively engaged in a campaign to separate Alberta from Canada. He created a “fair deal” panel to investigate ways in which Alberta could “take back” power, authority and pensions from Ottawa. The panel reported just after Easter, but its report has quietly been shelved. Now the party in power in Alberta is applying to Ottawa for financial help to keep it from having to file for bankruptcy. Irony has no bounds. Indeed, the Premier now spends a part of each day asking Trudeau for help without acknowledging that Trudeau has done more for Alberta than Harper ever did and in less time.

Dominic Cummings and goings are the source of great controversy in the UK. Dominic is special advisor to Borish Johnson and, when his wife showed symptoms of COVID-19, he took off to Durham from London breaking several of the guidelines then in place regarding social distancing, non-essential travel and self-isolation. Not to be deterred he did it again. Borish is standing by him in the hope of getting his secret diaries back from Dominic’s special hiding place (somewhere near Durham). Apparently, they contain vital information – like the names of all of his children, not just a few.

China has had it with all this democracy “nonsense” and “silliness” in Hong Kong. Ripping up its 1997 agreement with the British Government, which led to the formal return of Hong Kong to China, and its understanding with the Hong Kong people, China announced its intention to impose new laws on Hong Kong last week. No more “one country, two systems: its now one President Xi Jinping and one law for all of China (unless Dominic Cummings visits).

At some point this week, COVID-19 deaths in the US will exceed 100,000 – it is the equivalent of 22 Iraq wars, 33 September 11 attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbours or the entire US military deaths from the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. Given the irresponsible behaviour of a great many citizens of the US (led by the Trump family, including Jared “I Know Nothing” Kushner and “I Wanna be Liked” Ivanka), a second wave of COVID-19 is both inevitable and likely to be considerably worse that the first. Canada intends to keep its US border closed until 2027 or beyond.

Jo Biden is on track for a landslide victory in the November 3rd election. But then so was Hilary in 2016 – she did in fact beat Trump by over 3 million votes. What matters is where these are and what happens in the electoral college. Mitch McConnell and the cult of Trump (which used to be a political party with policies – the GOP) is jerrymandering the election big time.

Some Canadian conservatives are running a campaign to get Stephen Harper to stand for the leadership of their party – the job is now up for grabs. He did such a good job of building up debt, creating inequality and impoverishing a great many people while being incapable of embracing policies that would support a place like Alberta he is seen as a hero. He also signed a deal with China that means we must compensate them if a law we introduce has economic consequences for China. The Tory strategy is to take Canada back to the 1960’s. Best of luck with that.

Alberta’s Minister of Energy – the not so smart Sonya Savage – said that it’s a great time to build a pipeline since COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings make protesting difficult. She could have added a great time to have a cheap wedding, a staycation or a very quiet 50th wedding anniversary (coming up soon). “Sensitive Sonya” as she is not known is to our energy industry what Stormy Daniels is to serious filmmaking.

May 28th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

President Trump, getting more desperate each day about the likelihood of losing in November (which increases his need for distractions), has been ruminating – which I understand can be painful, especially if it involves thinking (what my mother in law used to call “brain work”). His latest “rume” is to suggest that his loyal supporters might demand he serve more than two terms as President – something expressly disallowed under the constitution. As an aside he condemned the “enemy of the people” media for representing his administration as corrupt, inept and leading a failed state – they are merely reporting what they see and understand. So upset was he that he played some more golf against himself and lost.

He is also very upset that Twitter caught him telling porkies (took them a while). They advised that, following fact checking of some of his tweets about mail-in ballots and voter fraud, he was being untruthful. So upset is he that he intends to sign an executive order that will permit free speech (a.k.a. as conspiracy theories, lying and bullshit) to appear online without moderation. What we really need is a new social media platform just called “Today’s Lies” which he can make exclusive use of.

The Cummings and Goings saga in the UK has claimed a victim – a junior cabinet Minister resigned in high dudgeon, as only a Minister for Scotland (Douglas Ross) could. The police are now investigating Dominic Cummings behaviour and doctors have added a new feature to Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 symptoms list: “a failure to read the clear signs all around him”. Boris’s popularity has taken a big hit and thirty-one Tory MP’s are demanding Mr. Cummings resignation. Even Prince Andrew noticed the kafuffle, as he moved from the Pizza Express in Woking to a quiet room in Barnard Castle near Darlington.

A BC court has ruled that Men Wanzhou the Huawei executive slated for extradition to the US can be sent to the States on the grounds that the charges she faces there could also have been charges in Canada.  The judgement came as a surprise to some, but not to those who understand the law. This is bad news for two Canadian executives which China imprisoned in a tit-for-tat move.

Katherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, is said to be becoming increasingly annoyed with his sister and brother in-law the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Now that the Sussex’s have given up being royal, more work has fallen on Kate and William’s shoulders. She is said be “Zoomed out”, mentally tired after doing so much talking about mental health and has sore hands from all the clapping for essential workers she has had to do. She is also home-schooling three young children and her husband, who apparently is a bundle of fun but finds mathematics and science difficult. Her Master’s degree in Art History doesn’t really help. The palace later denied that she had complained saying she was just tired.

In order to deliberately reduce potential investments in Alberta oil and gas and to ensure we go against the tide of opinion in mature energy markets and make Alberta oil and gas a less attractive commodity, Alberta has decided to eliminate environmental monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic, but to keep liquor stores, hairdressers and body-rub shops open. This insightful thinking comes from the Kakistocracy or Jason Kenney, also known as a much heavier version of Jared Kushner or as Trump-lite.

29th May is National Biscuit Day in the UK. Everyone has to have a biscuit, whether they want one or not. There are also biscuit baking competitions, biscuit races, build a structure with biscuits competitions and (best of all) poems about biscuits: “There was a crumbly oatcake named Ted…”.

May 30th

His poll numbers going down the toilet, President Trump needs big distractions from his disastrous handling of the pandemic, which has now killed over 103,000 Americans with many more deaths to come – a significant portion due to his decision-making. In a week he has added to the already inflamed situation across America focused on the police and racism, signaled that the US will pull out of the Open Skies Treaty and the WHO, imposed new sanctions on China by treating Hong Kong no differently from mainland China and fired people who were investigating corruption and wrong doing in his administration. His rhetoric is getting more violent and his behaviour more erratic.

Twitter shrugged off the executive order signed by Donald Trump on Thursday, which seeks to change the US liability laws linked to social media by Presidential fiat. Given that the President has no authority to do so, the executive order was accompanied by a Fact-Check Warning: “This Order is Total Nonsense and About as Threatening as a Second-Hand Kipper”.

Indeed, Twitter cautioned users about another tweet from Trump – this one seemed to glorify violence in Minneapolis related to protests over the death of George Floyd. The country has erupted following his death in the hands of the police. The officer involved, who appeared to have deliberately prevented Mr. Floyd from breathing, had two letters of reprimand for excessive use of force on file and an additional twenty complaints before this incident. He together with three of his colleagues has been fired and the lead officer has been charged with 3rd degree murder. So smart is this police force that it managed to arrest  live on air a CNN reporting team for not moving when they were asked to. The State Governor has apologized. Greatest country on earth, eh?

Trump’s new Voice of the Blondes – his fourth Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany – has also taken up talking absolute nonsense – a skill she developed in her two-year audition for the role. She criticized Joe Biden for not wearing a mask in his home and for wearing one in public and continues to suggest that voter fraud is so widespread as to make the US election look like a joke. This despite the fact that she has mailed in her ballot as a Florida resident for eleven elections over the last fourteen years. Speaking to her audience of one, she also criticized Twitter for criticizing Trump and Facebook for not criticizing Trump and Tik-Tok for not caring about Trump. Listening to her is like listening to a talking dishwasher on a rinse-cycle.

Alberta’s kakistocracy has excelled itself in trying to return the Province to a past-time. The School Choice act will let parents educate children at home without any form of supervision, encourage the creation of more Charter schools and give parents some rights over US  Koch brothers sent money to them. Foreign influence over policy is something Kenney campaigned against.

The new tracing app being used in Britain to track the movements of people to see who meets whom collapsed under its own weight in less the five minutes on the day of its launch. The idea is that, if you meet someone diagnosed with COVID-19, you must self-isolate for fourteen days. If you meet someone singing a Barry Manilow song, you must self-isolate for six months. Goodness knows what happens if you are close to someone listening to Iggy Pop!

The Brexit negotiations on a trade deal are not going well – a no-deal exit looks increasingly likely. The key areas of dispute are fishing rights, stilton cheese, pork pies and Scotch. Britain wants EU use of its waters for fishing to be constrained and the EU wants to be able to make pork pies (tarte au porc), Stilton (fromage bleu) and Scotch (la grande boisson) – these will not be protected in the same way that Champagne and rillettes are in law. Key to these negotiations is Dominic Cummings, who will be at Barnard Castle having an eye test if you need him.