Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Warning From The WHO

 I doubt there is anyone amongst us who doesn't wish this pandemic were over. The cost in lives, health and jobs has been unprecedented in modern times. Yet to think that the vaccines, remarkable achievements that they are, will end all of our Covid-19 troubles, is akin to wishful thinking, as the following video attests.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Looking At Ourselves In The Mirror

If you have access to the New York Times, there is a piece well-worth reading by Michael Benson. Entitled Watching Earth Burn. it includes photos of our planet taken from three weather satellites in geostationary orbit high above the Equator. These photos attest to the ravages of climate-change induced wild fires plaguing the world, although Benson does not ignore human-caused destruction, as in the ravages of the Amazonian rainforest where, thanks to 

the rapacious policies of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, predatory agricultural, logging and mining interests had set his country ablaze. By late September the already hellish 2019 escalation in deliberately set forest fires had been exceeded by 28 percent, with more than 44,000 outbreaks recorded in the Amazon and Pantanal this year.

The entire article makes for grim reading, and is a cogent reminder of just how late in the day it is for mitigating the worst of  the damage threatening the very existence of our species and countless others with whom we share the earth.

Yet the piece ends on a cautiously optimistic note:

If the war has started and we’re losing, what can we do about it? Or to put it another way, what would I like to see happen over the next year, even if I won’t yet be able to observe it directly from my Olympian perch among the satellites?

Actually, our response to the pandemic already suggests the way forward. Faced with an existential crisis of a scale not seen in living memory, we deployed the planet’s best minds, funded them well and turned them loose on the problem. They in turn were able to draw on a wealth of prior knowledge about how viruses infiltrate our bodies, and three decades of hard-won experience in learning about and finally creating RNA — purpose-built synthetic copies of a natural molecule integral to our genes — devised to prompt an immune response within our cells. This paid off spectacularly. And all this was accomplished in record time — months instead of the previous standard of a decade or more.

We need to follow this immediately with another sustained global effort. Imagine what human ingenuity could produce if unleashed in comparably coordinated, well-funded fashion on the climate crisis. The good news is that, as with the new RNA vaccines, we have significant prior research to draw on. It covers carbon-neutral power production, energy conservation strategies, carbon capture and sequestration, global reforestation and an intercontinental effort to build a high voltage, DC power network 40 percent more efficient than AC and thus able to compensate for the daily fluctuations in wind and solar power systems.

In short, we need an all-hands-on-deck fusion of the Manhattan Project and the Marshall Plan, only this time funded by all of the world’s major economies and led by the largest: the United States, the European Union and China.

Time is obviously short, but as I commented on Marie's blog entry about the existential threats we face, human beings seem much more able to respond to acute threats than long-term ones. If we cannoit change that propensity, there really is little basis for hope. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Masterful Takedown

 No one does it better than Chris Cuomo. 

Even if you only watch a couple of minutes of the above video, you will see that he has taken the true, full measure of Donald Trump.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Squeal Like A Pig

 One of our true national treasures, Linda McQuaig (why has she not received an Order of Canada?) recently wrote an article detailing the abysmal conditions under which pigs await slaughter. It is a piece that should make all of us cringe, whether or not we regularly eat pork:

Many people — meat-eaters included — object to the factory farm practice of confining pigs for virtually their entire lives to metal cages so small they can’t even turn around.

That’s why the Canadian pork industry, sensitive about its public image, decided to eliminate the practice — a move hailed by Canada’s Humane Society as “a watershed moment for farm animals in Canada.”

This led to a rare round of positive coverage for the beleaguered industry, with the media reporting that the move would please Canadian consumers and bring Canadian animal welfare practices in line with more advanced European standards.

All that happened back in 2014. Yet, six years later, millions of pigs in Canada continue to spend their lives locked in these narrow cages — because the ban doesn’t actually come into effect until 2024.Many people — meat-eaters included — object to the factory farm practice of confining pigs for virtually their entire lives to metal cages so small they can’t even turn around.

In fact, that leisurely 10-year phase-in period seems about to get longer. The pork industry has decided it needs more time and has indicated its desire to grant itself a further five-year extension.

How is this possible? In a word: self-regulation, a self-regulation that is aided and abetted by the Doug Ford government, which

just made it easier for the industry to shield its operations from public view, passing legislation last month aimed at cracking down on trespassing activists and journalists who often work undercover on industrial farms in order to take photos and videos.

Those videos have done a great deal to raise public awareness of the conditions under which our food makes its way to our table:

 One undercover video, aired last month on CTV’s national investigative program W5, included graphic footage of adult pigs being hit with heavy objects and baby pigs squealing and squirming in pain as workers cut off their tails and castrate them.

Lest we be inclined to think of animals as insensate beings, consider this:

As renowned anthropologist Jane Goodall notes: “Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear and pain.”

The intensity of animal emotions has been captured on videos of rescued farm animals experiencing their first taste of freedom. They run, romp and play — even enormous adult pigs — and certainly appear to be experiencing something akin to joy.

 Of course, any dog owner can confirm that animals feel emotions. And any dog owner would gasp at the thought of their dog trapped in a confining cage, 24 hours a day, unable to even turn around.

But the factory farm industry is counting on us not making the connection. And the best way to ensure that, as Doug Ford knows, is to prevent us from seeing photos of locked-up pigs looking every bit as sad and scared as our own dogs would be in those cages.

Whether we are vegetarians, vegans or regular or occasional consumers of animal flesh, it is incumbent upon all of us not only to be aware of the deplorable conditions under which our food is processed but also to demand much better both from the industry and the Doug Ford government.  



Sunday, December 20, 2020

Capturing A Certain Ethos

Be sure to click on the image so as to enlarge it:

 Unfortunately, the mentality depicted above is not confined to the United States.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Some Frank Talk


I readily admit to being intolerant of childish, narcissistic adults. And never have those defects of character been more evident than during our Covid-19 world crisis. People whining that they won't wear masks or maintain social distancing, that such stipulations are an assault of their personal freedom bespeak minds untutored and character unspeakably selfish.

It was therefore with some satisfaction that I read Vinay Menon's latest column, one devoted to a rant actor Tom Cruise engaged in as he rebuked two of his crew for not following protocols during work on his latest film. Audio of the rant has been leaked, but there is nothing that Cruise said that should offend anyone with a sense of social responsibility:

“We are the gold standard,” he says at the start of the clip, reportedly addressing 50 staffers at the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden. “They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of US! Because they believe in US and what we’re DOING!”

"I’m on the phone with every f---ing studio at night,” Cruise continues, the weight on his shoulders now crushing any hope of a PG-13 scolding. “Insurance companies! Producers! And they’re looking at us and using us to make their MOVIES. We are creating thousands of jobs, you MOTHERF---ERS!”

He ends by issuing an ultimatum: termination if this behaviour happens again.

There is more to Cruise's rebuke than I have included here, but the full measure of it wins Menon's full approval:

One of the most depressing tentacles of this global pandemic — and it has been a Kraken of misery — is the absolute ignorance of too many among us. If I had my druthers, I’d load every antimasker and anti-vaxxer on a rocket ship and shoot them to Venus. What these people really are is anti-other. Their brains are poisoned by misinformation. Their hearts are infected with an incurable selfishness.

To refuse to do the bare minimum to keep everyone else safe does not make you a freedom fighter — it makes you a public menace. Trying to frame COVID-19 as about personal liberty is like arguing you should be allowed to drink and drive or set random fires on your block.

In the early stages of this pandemic, I had the impression that most of us were on the same page regarding our collective responsibility to contain this deadly virus. However, as time has gone on, the fault lines that divide us have become increasingly apparent.

And that spells danger and greater deprivation for all of us.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

When You Think About It

... this makes perfect sense for the times we find ourselves in:

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Such Compelling Rhetoric

...requires no commentary on my part:

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Beware Mr. Covid

It has been several months since my last post. Originally I had anticipated but a short break,, but events conspired against me and I wound up in the hospital for several weeks. Although my hospitalization had nothing to do with Covid-19, the latter has been much on my mind, particularly owing to the fact that so many people, judging by the surging numbers, lack the maturity and character to do what is necessary to keep this dread disease at bay. 

 I was therefore not surprised at Alberta's effort to bring home the gravity of the situation by producing an ad that reveals what the government thinks of its child-like citizens:

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Short Note

Just to let regular readers know that I probably will not be posting much for a little while, as my time is required on a family matter (trying to get my brother into a seniors' residence).

Hope to be back soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

For Your Saturday Consideration

With apologies to anyone (well, almost anyone) who suffers from a reading disability, I enjoyed this, and hope you do too:

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Dismantling Of Democracy

I'm not writing much in the way of commentary these days, partly because other matters require my attention and partly because I feel almost anything I say may simply be stating the obvious, especially at it pertains to our benighted neighbours to the south. Nonetheless, when I see items that others might have missed, I like to post them on this blog.

The following is one such item; the story is essentially another in an ongoing series of efforts by Donald Trump and his enablers (in this case Louis DeJoy, the new Postmaster General) to disrupt and dismantle what is left of American democracy. The images are disturbing, the implications frightening.

Please start at about the 13:15 mark:

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Americans Do Love Their Snake Oil

Fortunately, people like Anderson Cooper have the real cure:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Know Your Limits

Having worn glasses since I was nine, I learned early in life about limitations. Being myopic meant having to accept that I could never become an airline pilot, play most contact sports (not that I was ever so inclined), be a 'cool-looking' guy, etc. Nonetheless, I managed to eke out a reasonably successful life within those parameters. A mark of maturity is accepting things you cannot change.

Since the advent of Covid-19, a new and apparently widespread affliction has emerged: the 'inability' to wear a mask to mitigate the spread of the disease. This has led to an array of problems, not the least of which is the accusation that 'sufferers' don't give a damn about their fellow citizens. And no amount of effort to convince them that they will not suffocate or become ill if they wear a mask seems to help.

I therefore have a modest proposal for such people. Like I did long ago, learn to live within your limitations:

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Bottom Line

While the emphasis thus far has been on the fact that wearing a mask protects others from contracting Covid-19, new research suggests that they are also effective in protecting the wearer.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine reports that there
are two likely reasons for the effectiveness of facial masks: The first—to prevent the spread of viral particles from asymptomatic individuals to others—has received a great deal of attention. However, the second theory—that reducing the inoculum of virus to which a mask-wearer is exposed will result in milder disease [italics added]...has received less attention and is the focus of our perspective which compiles virologic, epidemiologic and ecologic evidence.

Masks, depending on the material and design, filter out a majority of viral particles, but not all. The theory that exposure to a lower inoculum or dose of any virus (whether respiratory, gastrointestinal or sexually transmitted) can make subsequent illness far less likely to be severe... has been propounded for some time. Indeed, the concept of the 50% lethal dose (LD50), the virus dose at which 50% of exposed hosts die, determined via controlled experiments in which a range of exposure doses are administered to animals to calculate a dose-mortality curve, was first described in 1938. Other studies have examined the LD50—or the dose that leads to severe disease or death—for a variety of viruses in hosts or animal models.

The bottom line: Wear a mask.

Monday, August 10, 2020

When Pathological Liars Speak

Hold them to account.

Friday, August 7, 2020

O Brave New World

I have reached the point in my life where whatever optimism about the future I might have once held has given way to a searing, even corrosive pessimism. Looking at the world as it is would seem to preclude any other position.

And yet...

There are still those among us with vibrant visions of what could be, what is still possible even at this late date. It is perhaps best represented by what is known as the Green New Deal. One of its chief proponents in the United States is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasion Cortz who, along with Avi Lewis, scripted and narrated a short film of what could be, the idea being to use art to fire the imagination of people. Writes Naomi Klein:
Just as [Molly] Crabapple and I started mulling over the idea of a Green New Deal short film, The Intercept published a piece by Kate Aronoff that was set in the year 2043, after the Green New Deal had come to pass. It told the story of what life was like for a fictionalized “Gina,” who grew up in the world that Green New Deal policies created: “She had a relatively stable childhood. Her parents availed themselves of some of the year of paid family leave they were entitled to, and after that she was dropped off at a free child care program.” After free college, “she spent six months restoring wetlands and another six volunteering at a day care much like the one she had gone to.”

The piece struck a nerve with readers, in large part because it imagined a future tense that wasn’t some version of “Mad Max” warriors battling prowling bands of cannibal warlords. Crabapple and I decided that the film could do something similar to Aronoff’s piece, but this time from Ocasio-Cortez’s vantage point. It would show the world after the Green New Deal she was championing had become a reality.
The following is the film that seeks to dispel the pessimism so many of us feel about the future.

Should you be interested in becoming more informed about the possibilities, I recommend Jeremy Rifkin's book, The Green New Deal, which offers substantial detail on how this brave new world can be accomplished.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

On The Covidiot, Anti-Masker Cohort

Those who read this blog with any regularity will likely know that when it comes to those who refuse to don masks as their contribution to our collective safety, I have only withering contempt. It is a contempt fueled by the fact that almost no medical condition exists precluding the use of these simple but effective life-saving devices.

Recently, Christine Sismondo wrote about some of the factors fueling these covidiots:
... social and cultural psychologists like [Hilary] Bergsieker have found the greatest correlations to be related to the society and culture people live in.

“People in more collectivist societies may be more willing to adopt things like mask-wearing that maybe impinge on individual preference but are good for the collective, which is one explanation for why mask-wearing has become so normative in East Asian societies dating back at least to the SARS epidemic of 20 years ago,” she says. “People have been more willing to wear masks out of a sense of care for and connectedness to others versus the individualistic tradition of a lot of the western nations.

“The issue is whether you see society as just made up of disconnected individuals, each of whom maximizes his or her own self-interest and their own preferences, versus seeing people as fundamentally interconnected,” she explains.

The pandemic, however, should be a massive object lesson in the fallacy of libertarian-ish notions about disconnectedness and individualism. No matter how wealthy and privileged someone is, it is next to impossible to protect oneself entirely against a contagious disease. Just ask Louie Gohmert. Or Bolsonaro. Or Herman Cain. Oh no, wait. You can’t ask Cain. He asserted his right not to wear a mask at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., and didn’t live to tell about it.
Wise words, but I leave the final ones to this astute letter-writer, whose suggestion earns my unequivocal approval:
Psychology behind mask resistance isn’t new, Sismondo, Aug. 4

Christine Sismondo’s questioning of people’s psychology to discover what motivates them to resist following the rules is fascinating human-interest reporting.

But focusing on quirks of personality overlooks a more meaningful discussion of the social responsibility a dissenting individual owes to society.

Henry David Thoreau maintained convincingly that individuals should not permit governments to overrule their consciences. Those among us who don’t want to follow the safety rules — masking, distancing, testing and contact tracing — during this deadly pandemic don’t have to.

But then, just like Thoreau, they must isolate themselves from society. Thoreau stopped paying taxes to protest his government waging war and withdrew from society to live alone beside Walden Pond.

Those advocating civil obedience as their legal human right should exile themselves during this pandemic.

Tony D’Andrea, Toronto

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Too Quick On The Draw

Newly-released bodycam footage of the arrest of George Floyd reveals he was in a blind panic when officers drew guns on him. His revelation that he had been shot in the past suggests he was suffering from a form of post traumatic stress, which would explain his resistance to the officers' attempts to detain him.

The following is disturbing to watch, and one wonders what the outcome would have been had the police not been so quick to point their firearms at an unarmed man.

Begin at the 11:00 mark.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Some Days, I Truly Despair

Mendacity, the constant litany of lies that defines Donald Trump, is one thing, but when the Incompetent-In-Chief extols people who believe that illness is demon-caused and science is experimenting with hybrid human-alien DNA, the world has entered a whole new level of crazy.

Watch this video for context, then read about the viral video that Facebook, Twitter and You Tube have deleted due to the misinformation it conveys.

For Trump, the obvious allure of this group, which is called America's Frontline Doctors (whose website has suddenly disappeared), is their promotion of the now-discredited Covid-19 treatment, hydroxychloroquine, which he has so vigorously advocated for. The Incompetent-In-Chief's ego requires constant fluffing. However, there was some heavy baggage accompanying that extollment:
The video Trump shared Monday night showed a collection of doctors speaking in favor of treating COVID-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. The clip focused on the testimony of a woman named Stella Immanuel, who received a medical license in Texas last November, according to state records. The doctor did not return a request for comment.

Immanuel says she previously worked as a doctor in Nigeria and also calls herself a "Deliverance Minister" who is "God's battle axe and weapon of war." She has given sermons attacking progressive values and promoting conspiracy theories including, in her words, "the gay agenda, secular humanism, Illuminati and the demonic new world order." Another doctor shown in the video, a noted Trump supporter, called Immanuel a "warrior."

"You don't need a mask," Immanuel claimed in the video, contradicting the widely accepted medical advice that has been promoted even by the White House coronavirus task force and Trump himself. She repeatedly called studies questioning the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine "fake science."
But wait. As they say, there's more:
The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Immanuel has claimed in the past that some gynecological ailments are caused by people having sex in a dream-world with demons, with the demonic semen as the origins of the afflictions.

Immanuel has also claimed that doctors used alien DNA in medical treatments, and that lizard-like “reptilian” aliens are involved in the United States government. She thanked The Daily Beast on Tuesday for “summarizing” her work. “The Daily Beast did a great job summarizing our deliverance ministry and exposing incubus and succubus. Thank you daily beast. If you need deliverance from these spirits. Contact us,” she tweeted.
Years ago, Carl Sagan wrote The Demon-Haunted World, which in part discussed how to think skeptically and critically, explaining methods to help distinguish between ideas that are considered valid science and those that can be considered pseudoscience. A tough medicine for some, perhaps, but it would seem to be the cure for much of what ails those who lap up the twaddle dished out by the likes of Donald Trump and Stella Immanuel.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The World Judges Donald Trump's Covid-19 'Strategy'

The New York Times offers a report on how people around the world evaluate the response of "the greatest nation on earth" to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Coles Notes version: unlike many Americans, they are not taken in by Donald Trump's empty rhetoric and outright lies.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

From Beyond The Grave

It's been 12 years since George Carlin left us, yet the ensuing years have made him even more relevant than he was in his day. The following video uses his profanity-laced upbraiding of the system to good effect, I think you will agree.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Makes Sense To Me

I get the sense that Jonathan Pie is a tad vexed about government irresolution and people's stupidity when it comes to the wearing of masks:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Benighted Among Us

If you read this blog with any regularity, you may know that I hold in absolute, unmitigated contempt those who refuse to wear a mask. When hearing and reading about such people and their myriad of contrived (i.e., absurd) reasons for non-complance, I am almost tempted to believe that the world is experiencing two pandemics: Covid-19 and abject stupidity.

Apparently, I have the wrong attitude.

Charlie Warsel writes that e have to meet such people where they live:
As the Ebola epidemic raged in 2014, some West Africans resisted public health guidance. Some hid their symptoms or continued practicing burial rituals — like washing the bodies of their dead loved ones — despite the risk of infection. Others spread conspiracies claiming the virus was sent by Westerners or suggested it was all a hoax. In Conakry, Guinea’s capital city, an imam was arrested for violating his quarantine, and residents protested by not letting health officials check for fevers.

So the World Health Organization sent Cheikh Niang, a Senegalese medical anthropologist, and his team to figure out what was going on.

For six hours, Dr. Niang visited people in Conakry inside their homes. He wasn’t there to lecture. Residents asked him to write down their stories. When they finished, Dr. Niang finally spoke.

“I said, ‘I hear you,’” he told me recently over the phone from Senegal. “‘I want to and will help. But we still have an epidemic spreading and we need your help, too. We need to take your temperatures and we need to trace this virus.’ And they agreed. They trusted us.”
Trust, at a time when mistrust in science is rampant, becomes central to convincing people to follow health guidelines.

As does empathy. Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote an article in The Atlantic about men who don't wear masks in which
she acknowledged that masks don’t feel cool, can be obtrusive and block important body language signals, while still arguing emphatically for their importance. Dozens of non-mask wearers contacted her to thank her for the piece.

“These men were universally grateful to read something about anti-maskers that didn’t shame or demonize them,” she wrote. “It made them want to hear what else I had to say about why it might be worth wearing a mask.”
None of which I find especially compelling. Perhaps it is just my nature, but I prefer the facts over having to jolly people along. The kind of facts, for example, that are to be found in this very informative post on Northern Currents.

And the facts that are readily apparent in this report by Jeff Semple:

Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." Regrettably, the same must be said about the benighted who, some days, appear to be legion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Lincoln Project Strikes Again

I have to say I am quite enjoying the output of The Lincoln Project. As noted by Wikipedia, it
is an American political action committee formed in late 2019 by several prominent Republicans and former Republicans. The goal of the committee is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and defeat his supporters in the U.S. Senate. In April 2020, the committee announced their endorsement of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The Hill reports on their latest salvo, an ad that justifiably ridicules the Infant-in-Chief:
The ad begins with an image of the White House and the caption "Trumpfeld," which is modeled after the logo for "Seinfeld," along with music similar to the hit '90s sitcom's signature theme song.

The video plays a laugh track over several of Trump’s comments, including his repeated denial of several Fox News polls.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pretty Basic Stuff

But how much better off everyone would be if they just followed these basics:

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Another Disease Is Spreading

The affliction, manifesting in a steadfast refusal to wear a mask, appears to arise from a combination of idiocy, sociopathic indifference to public health, and just profound ignorance. And the fact that it is spreading in Canada (the Americans being a lost cause) pains me deeply. With our culture and history of concern for the collective, I expect better.

As discussed in an earlier post, there is almost no medical condition preventing a person from wearing a mask. That fact, however, has not stopped the proliferation of fake exemption cards that are being promoted on social media, all, of course, at the expense of public health during our current pandemic.
The cards in Canada are allegedly created by an “anti-lockdown group” that opposes mandatory mask bylaws.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is listed on the back of a card, claiming to give the holder an exemption from wearing a face mask.

“These are fake. The Commission has not and would not produce posters or cards claiming that the cardholder has an exemption from wearing a face mask in closed public places.

The card is also stamped with the Canadian Red Cross emblem, which did not approve its use.
The use of such cards brought a sharp rebuke from Ontario Premier Doug Ford:
“This isn’t the time to use fraudulent cards and to get away and be able to go into a store, don’t be a scammer. To say you can’t wear a mask and make up some fraudulent cards, it’s unacceptable. Everyone else is wearing a mask, wear a mask,” Ford said.
As well, medical opinion on the use of masks is unequivocal.
Are there any valid reasons not to wear a mask? One of the most abusive shoppers recently caught on camera was yelling about how masks make people sick. “It’s science,” he said, referring, we presume, to the “science” offered up on social media about Co2 building up in masks.

“This is nonsense,” says Dr. Ken Chapman, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. “There is no evidence whatsoever that wearing a mask will cause your carbon dioxide level to build up and certainly there’s no relationship between wearing a mask and damaging your immune system and other nonsense you read online.”

The Canadian Thoracic Society recently issued a statement similarly claiming there’s no evidence that wearing a mask will exacerbate an underlying lung condition.
Then there is Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail, a general practitioner in Dublin, Ireland, who made a video that even the most obtuse should be able to understand:

None of this, of course, will deter the true (dis)believers, those who maniacally worship at the altar of toxic egoism, junk science and bizarre conspiracy theories.

A pity, though, that Canadians aren't more resistant to such virulent, destructive ways.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Benighted Speak

There is a new report showing the continuing spread of Covid-19 in California. It seems that three counties, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange, have now surpassed Los Angeles county in per-capita case rates.

The idiocy on display in the following video helps explain why.

Friday, July 17, 2020

"This Is What National Decline Looks Like"

Take a couple of minutes to watch this searingly accurate assessment and indictment of the United States under Donald Trump. I did not hear a word with which I disagreed:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Just Wear A Mask

That is the message, simple and direct, delivered by CNN's Becky Anderson:

Somehow, I doubt her message will resonate with the unhinged who have emerged from their lairs during the pandemic. This recent delegation at a Palm Beach County hearing into masks should provide more than ample incentive to avoid the Sunshine State for the foreseeable future:

Lest we be complacent as Canadians, however, Emma Teitel writes:
Yes, Americans can be wacky. But so can we. In fact, we’ve got our own version of the God’s-wonderful-breathing-system brigade right here in Ontario. Last week, anti-mask protesters broke mandatory mask regulations when they rode the TTC barefaced, and this week reports emerged about anti-lockdown activists printing phoney official looking cards claiming to give people medical exemptions from wearing masks in public.

According to a survey by Policy Options, Canadians are not immune from believing conspiracy theories about the virus. From the think tank’s survey, “Almost one in 10 Canadians believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a way for billionaire Bill Gates to microchip people.”
She ends with this simple but powerful advice:
Stage 3 is days away. Now is not the time to be cocky, or bored. Now is the time to be vigilant. And though not much fun, a big part of being vigilant in a pandemic is listening to public health experts. Wear a mask where distancing isn’t possible.
Or to put it even more succinctly: Time for everyone to grow up a bit. Maybe this report from the CDC will help in the maturation process.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Sad Decline

I recently completed The Splendid and The Vile, a book by Erik Larson exploring the first year of Winston Churchill's prime ministership. He assumed the leadership in 1940, at which point Britain had already been at war with Germany for one year. With the U.S. following an isolationist policy, things did not look very hopeful for the island nation.

Despite facing fierce odds against their survival, and despite repeated and brutal air attacks by the Luftwaffe, both the population and its political leadership soldiered on, finding within themselves the character to resist despair and defeat. They truly were The Greatest Generation.

I do wonder whether that kind of national character is as much on display today as we battle Covid-19.

Ninety-three year-old Toronto Star letter-writer Syd Bosloy of Thornhill also wonders along similar lines:
I am 93 years old, but I have never seen anything like what is happening in America today. The U.S. is in a crisis. They are harbouring and ignoring those “covidiots,” who refuse to obey simple precautions such as wearing a mask. As a result, the U.S. is responsible for a quarter of all the world’s cases and deaths due to the pandemic. It’s indicative of what’s wrong with America. I believe it is because their citizens lack a sense of personal responsibility for the good of others, when you compare them with the British in London during the Second World War, for example. Is it because they have never had their country under sustained military attack or occupied during their lifetime? Are Americans satisfied with the “dog eat dog” attitude of their citizens, politicians and police?
Sadly, however, the kind of idiocy Mr. Bosly describes is not confined to the United States. We have our own special breed right at home:
A week after anti-mask groups rode the TTC without face coverings to protest against new city bylaws requiring them, the same groups are now making "exemption cards" that claim they are medically exempt from wearing face coverings.

CBC Toronto is not naming the groups, nor the people involved with them, so as to not publicize false information.

The Canadian Red Cross says the cards contain a version of the organization's emblem that is being used without permission.
Despite dire potential consequences, some are treating these fake cards as a joke:
Posts about the cards can be found on many social media platforms. In one such video, a man smiles and laughs while holding the card and saying, "Mandatory mask? Not with this."

The account that shared the video is run by a man and woman who are leading one of Toronto's anti-mask groups. It has also shared a host of debunked material and conspiracy theories in recent days.

In another online video shared by the same account, a man visits Toronto Western Hospital, where he is told by an employee he has to wear a mask to seek care. He responds that he has a medical condition, and shows the card. Later, he smiles at the camera and says "the card definitely helped."
Dave Watson is one person who isn't laughing.
"It's a load of crap," said Watson, who has cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes severe respiratory disease, making patients more susceptible to lung infections.

"If anyone couldn't wear one, it would be me."

Watson says that depending on the day, he is typically running at between 34 and 42 per cent lung capacity. Breathing can be tough, especially in high heat and humidity.

Still, he hasn't thought twice about wearing a mask in public.

"It makes sense to wear a mask, and for people to make these cards, it's pretty insulting," he said.

"I've done my part. The least you can do is do yours."
Increasingly, my patience wears thin with the idiots around me quite blithely endangering others. They represent some of the worst aspects of humanity and as a Canadian they make me feel deeply ashamed.

Time to start imposing severe sanctions.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

He Speaks For The Majority, I Suspect

That would be The Star's Patrick Corrigan:

Meanwhile The Star's editorial board offers some insights into why Canada has fared so, so much better in dealing with Covid-19 than the United States:
It’s a terrible thing for an old, dear friend to watch America — as a result of its wilful blindness, contempt for science and gross mishandling of the pandemic — descend to the status of a pariah state.

The Atlantic’s George Packer described in one searing paragraph recently just how pitiful the former promised land of the planet had become.

“When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills — a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public — had gone untreated for years.”

The crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational and collective, Packer said.

Instead, it got Donald Trump’s singular ignorance, delusion and pathological instinct to see everything, even matters of life and death, in political terms.
Canada is an entirely different story for a number of reasons:
Part values, part experience, part humility of people and their leadership, part consistency of government messaging.

At core, our national DNA favours the collective during a crisis that has demanded collective action, mutual sacrifice, looking out for the other rather than insistence on personal liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Many of the characteristics frequently cited as negatives in comparing Canada to the U.S. — our smaller size, our humility, our greater trust in government, our commitment to community and social services, no sense of our own mythic exceptionalism — have become assets in this crisis.
We have also shown ourselves capable of learning some hard lessons:
After SARS, Canada redesigned the federal-provincial relationship on public health and infectious diseases. Our public systems are more amenable to coherent reaction to widespread crisis than the private institutions in the U.S.
As well, not having the same level of poisonous political partisanship as does the U.S. also helped:
In Canada, unlike the United States, the partisan cudgels were put aside — mercifully avoiding the vexation of states forced to deal with what Washington wouldn’t, and governors putting political affiliation and loyalty to the president ahead of science and medical expertise.
As recent events have demonstrated, our leadership is far from perfect. But compared to the Americans, we do have things to be proud of as this first wave of Covid-19 wanes.

And, of course, we must keep that border closed for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

UPDATED: Utterly, Despicably Shameful

I'm not entirely sure why these things bother me so much, but I suspect it has a lot to do with my hope and expectation that Canadians are better than their American counterparts in dealing with Covid-19.

As you can see in the following ugly incident, which occurred at a Mississauga T&T Supermarket between an employee and a benighted fool, that is not always the case:

Perhaps the original poster of the video put it best:
"My heart was broken and tears shed ... When that guy shouted at him, he didn't know how to fight back, he kept saying 'I'm Canadian.' Obviously, Canada is his home! Where is our multiculturalism? Where are our national values?"

"Even PM Trudeau called grocery store employees heroes! Why are heroes treated like this? I don't understand."


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

UPDATED: Mask Madness

With increasing evidence that small, potentially infectious airborne particles of Covid-19 can remain in the air for hours, you would think that the use of masks in enclosed spaces would be one of the sanest and safest practices that people would readily and enthusiastically adopt.

Yet it remains a contentious issue for some, even in Canada.

You have likely heard of the hapless Letitia Montana, the Toronto woman who somehow thought she would garner sympathy and support by posting online her denial of service at a city hospital because she stoutly refused to obey the mask rule.

Rightfully, her misbegotten ploy backfired, earning her worldwide contempt from people like George Takei and model Chrissy Teigen:
“This is a new level of moronic and entitled,” actor George Takei tweeted.

“Proud of the healthcare workers who threw her out!,” tweeted model Chrissy Teigen.
Putting things into perspective, as I indicated in a recent post, it is my sense that the vast majority of Canadians are behaving responsibly during this pandemic. Nonetheless, this must be asked: What are we to do with those who are too selfish or benighted to act as responsible citizens in this pandemic?

The fact that this question even has to be posed irks me to no end and, quite honestly, does little to reduce my innate cynicism about our species. My own feeling is that simply refusing service to the selfish is the best response, but unfortunately, that does not address how to stop such individuals from spreading the virus.

The Toronto Star offers this from sexologist Jill McDevitt:
Scrolling through Instagram recently, she saw post after post raging against people not wearing masks. She found herself shaking her head. Public shaming didn’t make people practise safer sex, either, she said.

“We’ve already tried this with condoms, and it’s going to fail,” she said. “They might deserve to be shamed, I don’t know. But if we’re talking strategy, (shame) doesn’t work.”

While condoms in some form have been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t until HIV began to spread in the early 1980s that they became a matter of urgent public health policy, and advocates have learned a lot of lessons since then, she says.

The big one is that you can’t judge people into changing their behaviour, she said. “It’s going to make them feel more and more validated that people don’t understand whatever they feel is their particular reason why they don’t want to wear one or feel like they can’t wear one,” she said.
McDevitt also suggests some empathy is warranted here:
Much of the messaging has been “like, ‘Wear it and deal with it, otherwise, you’re rude and you don’t care about other people,’” McDevitt said. “But, can we acknowledge and have some empathy for the fact that this is not pleasant for people?” She notes that condom companies have made major strides in fit and comfort in recent decades, which has helped.
Peer pressure clearly has a role to play as well:
... a recent trip to the post office gave her hope.

Although the office had a sign encouraging everyone to wear masks, it wasn’t required. When McDevitt walked in, the lineup was a sea of masks. But while she was waiting a man entered without one.

“He’s standing there and more people come in line behind him wearing masks, and he finally says, ‘Can you hold my spot so I can go and get a mask on? I don’t want to be the only one with out one.’”
Were I more magnanimous of spirit, I probably could readily endorse all of the above advice. As it is now, I feel more like giving those mask-refusing ninnies a good slap across the face.

Guess I need to work on my anger issues, eh?

UPDATE: Apparently, Letitia Montana is still defiant. As a Canadian, this makes me feel deeply ashamed:

Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Much-Needed Perspective

I don't know about you, but I have always felt deeply uneasy about fervid professions of patriotism, especially the kind that Americans are given to. Their earnest hands over their hearts, their shedding of tears upon hearing the national anthem, their stout professions of "My country, right or wrong," have always made me wonder about their capacity for critical thinking, self-reflection and humility.

In the following, 'the greatest country in the world' gets a much-needed reality check from Colin Kapernick:

Friday, July 3, 2020

An Unwanted Visit, But Something Heartening Was Revealed

Since the pandemic began, my wife and I have been very cautious. Because she has an underlying lung condition, we limit our exposure to outside influences as much as possible. For example, I shop for groceries once every two weeks at the seniors' hour, and even that, when I first started, was nerve-wracking, especially fearful was I of the contagion I might inadvertently bring home to her. And quite honestly, as we learned more about the horrible ravages this virus can inflict, I have also worried about my own safety.

Our purchase of masks have gone a long way toward assuaging anxiety, and I shall return to their use in a moment. But first, I'd like to recount a trip we had to take yesterday to Toronto, a city about an hour from where we live, and a place I have never enjoyed visiting. My wife had to see her respirologist at Toronto Western Hospital for an appointment we thought had been cancelled. Getting ready for it took on an aura of military planning and precision.

Hand sanitizers: check

Masks: Check

A list of washrooms open to the public (because I would not e permitted into the hospital with her): check

Lunches: check

My initial plan was to find the nearby washroom, have lunch at the adjacent park, and then just read until her chest x-ray and appointment were over, which we anticipated would take over two hours. However, despite the heat, after having lunch I decided to go for a walk.

Now where we live, wearing a mask outside is unnecessary, as crowding is almost non-existent. But by the time I got to Kensington Market, I donned the mask because the area was fairly busy, and I wore it for the rest of my peregrinations, which saw me go as far as Queen Street West, well past Spadina. What I saw on my walk heartened me. The vast majority of people wore masks, even though it was quite hot and humid, but I think everyone felt that the moderate discomfort of wearing one was nothing to what it must be like to experience Covid-induced shortness of breath or intubation.

It made me proud as a Canadian to see so many acting responsibly.

Which brings me to the report below. While there is undoubtedly some wistful exaggeration in it, I think it captures the Canadian spirit and ethos rather well:

Quite unlike this nonsense, eh?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On Canada Day

On this day it is often difficult for us not to feel smug when we look at so much of the world beyond our borders. While such complacence is never a good idea, in her column today Susan Delacourt reminds us we have much to be thankful for, especially vis-à-vis the United States:
Happy Canada Day in the age of COVID-19 — the border between this country and the United States has never been this sharply defined, literally and politically. As many states in America are tumbling back into a resurgence of the virus, Canada and its health-care system are slowly emerging from the crisis in much better shape than our neighbour to the south.
The increasingly dire situation in Donald Trump's Amerika has prompted a turnabout in the thinking of Wendal Potter,
who used to work with the Cigna health-insurance firm, [and now says] he [is] sorry for all the lies he used to tell about Canada’s health-care system and pointed to the COVID-19 response in our two countries as proof of which one was better.

Potter’s Twitter thread confessed that big money was spent in his business “to push the idea that Canada’s single-payer system was awful & the U.S. system much better.” Now, however, he said it’s clear “it was a lie & the nations’ COVID responses prove it.”

Potter has now posted a video as well, called One Pandemic, Two Countries, which plainly states: “When it comes to keeping people safe from COVID, Canada has the United States beat by a long shot.”
Here is that video, and Happy Canada Day, everyone:

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Ugly American

Probably first coined in a 1958 novel, The Ugly American is a term that, unfortunately, has clear and immediate relevance:
The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world.

Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.

“They’ve got access to most of the drug supply [of remdesivir], so there’s nothing for Europe,” said Dr Andrew Hill, senior visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.
That this rapacious and selfish ethos should come to the fore now is really not surprising. While doubtlessly quite happy to exploit an ethnocentric orientation that seems to define so many Americans, the Infant-in-Chief is reacting in a typically craven manner to some unpleasant truths that may cost him his re-election:
The deal was announced as it became clear that the pandemic in the US is spiralling out of control. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading public health expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Senate the US was sliding backwards.

“We are going in the wrong direction,” said Fauci. Last week the US saw a new daily record of 40,000 new coronavirus cases in one day. “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around,” he said. He could not provide an estimated death toll, but said: “It is going to be very disturbing, I guarantee you that.”
Even though he has proven by his abysmally inept handling of the pandemic to be quite willing to sacrifice his fellow Americans, I doubt that Donald Trump, even in his most delusional state, believes that kind of statistic will serve him well during his campaign.

Hence, a reappearance of The Ugly American in full selfish splendour who, if Trump's disciples remain true to form, will be lustily cheered.

Not a sentiment, I suspect, that will be shared by those with a conscience and a recognition of their obligation to the larger world, i.e., real human beings.

Monday, June 29, 2020

To John Wayne Fans Everywhere

Apparently, the screen hero had the proverbial feet of clay. There is no context that can justify these indefensible views, expressed in a 1971 Playboy interview:

H/t Brian Karem

Sunday, June 28, 2020

UPDATED: With Age Comes Wisdom

But clearly, only for some:

UPDATE: Trump tweeted out the above video, despite the 'white power" proclamation at its beginning. He later withdrew it, claiming he hadn't heard the offending phrase.

Hmm, about as believable as his Sgt. Shultz-like assertion that he 'knew nothing' about Russia offering the Taliban a bounty on the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan, eh?

Friday, June 26, 2020

UPDATED:Theirs Is Not To Reason

Owen's blog post today discusses how the world sees the United States as a nation to be shunned, one of the reasons being its entirely inept handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly, its refusal to confront this peril in a responsible, mature manner means that its citizens have become a deadly threat to other countries. My hope is that our country keeps our border closed to them indefinitely.

Last night, NBC Nightly News devoted the first six minutes to the surge of cases in various states. To say the least, the situation is dire. That was followed, as you will see at the 5:50 mark below, by a report on how the wearing of masks, an effective method of reducing transmission of the virus, is still a highly contentious, highly politicized matter in the Benighted States of America.

UPDATE: If this unmasked woman were infected, I wonder how far her viral droplets would travel, given her highly agitated state:

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

An Alternate Reality

With a pathological liar as its president, it probably does not come as a shock that many Americans live in an alternate reality. Promoted and cultivated endlessly by Donald Trump, their master, and spread wide by pernicious social media and house organs like Fox 'News' and One American News Network, it is a version of things that until recently would have been deemed credible only to the uneducated, cognitively challenged, or the completely unhinged. Sadly, many more appear to be regularly drinking from these poisoned waters.

Bruce Anderson writes:
Knowledge of the world seems to be deteriorating in America, abetted by a president—ignorant of the world himself—whose formula for political success depends on more people becoming less informed.
Despite all that has been responsibly reported about Russian interference, Trumpian malfeasance and his daily record of gross incompetence, a recent Abacus poll yielded some disheartening results:
If Trump loses, most Republican voters say they will believe the election was rigged. If he tries to stay in office after losing, they wouldn’t want the military to enforce the election results. In other words, their trust in or need for him is so powerful they don’t stop to think what sort of precedent it would set to leave the country in a state of impasse.

As many Americans think Russia is America’s best friend as think France, Italy or Germany is. This despite America having spent decades in a military alliance with France, Italy and Germany to protect against Russian military ambition, despite proven Russian use of cyberwarfare to disrupt American social peace and elections.
It would appear that those polled have little insight into their country's relations with the rest of the world:
Under Trump’s time in office, Republicans are four times more likely to say relations with Canada have improved (41 per cent), than think they have worsened (8 per cent). This is mindless partisanship—the facts of the last few years were almost constant tension around NAFTA, dairy subsidies, steel and aluminum tariffs, the idea of Canada as a security risk, the G7 Charlevoix summit friction. But for Republican voters everything seems to be going swimmingly.

Less than 12 per cent of Republican voters think U.S. relations have soured with Great Britain, France or Germany. This despite almost constant friction in these relationships, on topics from trade to NATO to climate change to refugee and immigration policy. Trump has by all accounts a terrible relationship with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. He was on bad terms with U.K. Conservative Prime Minister Teresa May and launched scathing attacks on London’s Mayor.
In a time when the world sees the U.S. for what it has become, 80 per cent of Republicans think Trump has made America greater.

Canada has good reason to worry about living next door to an unhinged giant:
Half of Republican voters would go along with abandoning NORAD, roughly a third would support building a wall and putting troops along the Canadian border. Happily, most Americans are against invading Canada to get at our resources. But stop and think about the fact that only 56 per cent of Americans strongly oppose the idea.
As children, almost all of us indulged in fantasies of one kind or another. It now appears that many Americans have entered a second, much darker childhood.

Let us not be in any hurry to reopen our borders to such a diseased nation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Just In Case The Blood Of The Lamb Doesn't Protect You

... these pastors have a backup plan:
Dream City Church, the north Phoenix megachurch set to host a Donald Trump rally on June 23, claims it has solved the pandemic problem in its auditorium, making it safe for anyone who wants to attend.

In a video posted on Sunday, Senior Pastor Luke Barnett and Chief Operations Officer Brendon Zastrow announce happily that the church has installed a new air-purification system that kills 99.9 percent of the coronavirus. The technology, they say, was developed by members of the church.

Despite their evangelical fervour for this technology, caution is clearly warranted. Consider first what the fine print of Clean Air EXP, the company behind this marvel, says:
"COVID-19 REPORT: Lab tests confirm that CleanAir EXP eliminates 99.9% of coronavirus from the air in less than 10 minutes.*"

The footnote states, "* Biosafety lab analysis performed on active coronavirus 229E test surrogate."

Coronavirus 229E is one of the viruses responsible for the common cold that's often used in virus studies.

But even if the technology can eliminate the surrogate virus in 10 minutes, such studies are done in controlled laboratory settings. They don’t necessarily apply to something like the interior of a megachurch. How much air a system can process in a set time would play a role. Clean Air EXP's website states that its home system takes a few hours to purify the air: "Most homes see a 90% reduction of particulates and contaminants within 4 hours, and 99.8% reduction in 6 hours or less."

A larger, commercial system can purify more air than a home unit, presumably. But it's hard to see how 99 percent of COVID-19 could be eliminated from the church auditorium before people arrive. Also, saying attendees would be "safe and protected" when they come to the rally overstates the ability of any air-purifying system to prevent transmission by infected people in a crowd.
Faith, it has been said, can move mountains. As of this writing, it remains to be seen if faith in an unproven technology can conquer Covid-19.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Unified Theory Of ....

I'll leave you to supply the appropriate term to reflect this gentleman's 'insights':

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Boogie On Down To The Rally Tonight

I do believe this young lady captures a certain reality and ethos quite effectively:

Not sure if the youngsters below would agree, but they do validate the above, don't you think?

Friday, June 19, 2020

They Indict Themselves

A wealth of words, many of them scathing and acrimonious, have been written about Donald Trump and those who continue to support him; I have nothing to add except an indisputable observation: one of the ties that bind them is their refusal/inability to confront reality.

That fact is on full display in this short video about some disciples eagerly awaiting their master's upcoming Tulsa rally:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Heroes No More

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? Things like corporate greed, for example.

The public was much heartened when grocery store magnates granted pay boosts to front-line line workers as an acknowledgement of the risks they were facing during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, that corporate 'largess' has now ended.
Despite soaring first-quarter profits ... Loblaw Companies Ltd. president Sarah Davis said stores and distribution centres are experiencing a “new normal,” now that COVID-related safeguards have been in place for several months.

“With this stability and with economies reopening we have decided the time is right to transition out of our temporary pay premium,” Davis said in the note.
The Metro, Sobeys and Walmart chains are following suit in this retrenchment, a retrenchment that seems especially cruel given that Covid-19 is by no means conquered, and an effective treatment continues to elude the world. In other words, those same front-line workers lauded as heroes but a short time ago continue to be at risk as they perform their crucial work.

The Toronto Star expresses its disappointment in people like Galen Weston by reminding us of his words when he enacted the wage premium:
“Supermarkets and pharmacies are performing well ... And the leaders in our business wanted to make sure that a significant portion of that benefit would go straight into the pockets of the incredible people on the front line.”

Loblaw Companies Ltd. saw its first-quarter profits soar to $240 million, compared to $198 million in the same quarter last year. No doubt expenses have increased because of COVID-19 safeguards, but it’s hard to fathom how these stores are no longer benefiting financially, as Loblaw claims.
Star readers also weigh in on this shameful reversal. Herb Alexander of Thornhill writes:
Galen Weston is quoted as saying now “is the right time to end the temporary pay premium we introduced at the beginning of the pandemic.”

I wonder which information source led Weston to this conclusion. I just checked; COVID will be not be ending soon.

So it seems this is not the time to be pulling money out of the pocket of his staff, who continue to make him richer by working on the front lines in his stores.

Weston, said to be the scion of the third-richest family in Canada, is quoted as saying he “would support any government effort to establish a living wage.”

This tells me two things about Galen Weston: First, he concedes that he is currently not paying a living wage. Second, he will only pay a living wage if government forces him to.
And Wesley Turner of St. Catharines, Ont. offers this:
Major grocery chains Metro, Loblaws and Walmart, in the early days of the pandemic, awarded their hard-pressed employees an extra $2 per hour to continue working in what were dangerous conditions.

Their work inevitably exposed them to many possible sources of infection from COVID-19, and workers who had to use public transportation faced even more sources of infection.

They were frequently described as “heroes” for maintaining an essential service, providing food and other necessities to all.

So have they ceased to be “heroes?” Has the danger of catching COVID-19 ended? Are all safe to travel and work in grocery stores?

It would seem so in the eyes of their employers who can now lower labour costs and gain more profits. It looks like this increase in wages was no more than a gesture, motivated not by generosity, but by fear that employees would not come to work at the risk of their lives.

That danger remains and so should the wage increase. Indeed, a permanent wage increase would show that those companies really do value their “heroic” employees.
The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has offered many moments when the best of human nature has shone forth. However, the actions of Galen Weston and his fellow-travellers are also a stark reminder that only rarely do the better angels of our nature prevail in the corporate world.