Curt notice about our sudden return

Halp! My old friend and colleague Curt Hopkins needs a hand conquering The Big C. Donate, share, support. The world needs its poets! Here is the direct link to the fundraiser.

The Cryptosphere

We were enjoying our comfortable semi-retirement in the Age of Covidia, in the Sleepiest National Capital in the Entire World, kittens, as a kept blogger supported by the World’s Hottest Prime Minister, when all of a sudden something happened to jar us suddenly, and most unpleasantly, awake. And into action.

Longtime readers, poetry buffs, and befuddled sysadmins alike will recall our regular versical news commentary column Numbers, written by the lovely and talented Curt Hopkins of Oregon and San Francisco.

Numbers is a weekly news commentary column in poetical form by Curt Hopkins. “Numbers” is an historic term for poetry, and also alludes to the numbers in programming.

Curt, it seems, needs our help. And because we are firmly #TeamCurt around these parts (I mean, how could you not be; the man’s a tie knot nerd and a gifted poet!) we are asking you to join…

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Frankenstein's Bloody Terror poster

Frankenstein’s Covid Briefing Bingo

Three in one week, kittens! Three Covid briefings in a single week! For fans of the bingo, this is great news; for fans of public health and individual well-being, not so great news.

Covid-19 is definitely a case of “no news is good news,” at least in countries where the government is not in the Fake News business every day, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything it stands for. Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in that country to be President?

Yet again, we should listen to Linus. And Descartes.

Meanwhile, in the US:

Sorry, where was I?

Right, I was about to explain that I’m pre-blogging some of this in order to make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow at 11:30am precisely, whereupon we will all sit around waiting for five or ten minutes like usual. And that today’s episode is brought to you by the Paul Naschy classic Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, the foundational Wolf Man movie, which you must admit has a schlock-o-riffic trailer, to say nothing of the poster.

The face that launched a million silver bullets

We got bored, kittens. Bored, and angry. And you wouldn’t like us when we are bored and angry. People were sharing our cards around without giving credit to your ever-so-humble-and-forgiving blogger, and you know what that does to us. But instead of bothering you, we simply sulked around the house all day annoying the roommate, huffing loudly, and updating the briefing bingo cards so that they all contain an active hyperlink to this very blog. Just try and share those around Slack without crediting the source NOW!

Ahem. Where was I? Other than arbitrarily using the glamorous second-person plural, the Eva Gabor of pronouns? About to tell you a long, involved joke about a screenwriter with writer’s block and an elf who comes to his rescue and what happens when the elf asks for credit, because writers are super touchy about credit, but sorry, where was I?

Oh right, about to post the game cards:

And all the previous bingo episodes are on the Briefing Bingo Category page. Earlier ones have the content in the comments section, because we were trying something new, okay? Not every experiment has to work out, OKAY?

Whew. Can you tell it’s been 12 hours since I had a coffee?

Our cast of characters for today are:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (so posh he has TWO Twitter accounts)
  • Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough
  • Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam
  • Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Howard Njoo (either a non- or a stealth-tweeter)
  • And President of the Queen’s Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic Leblanc

And here they are:

At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement and provides an update on the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. He is joined by federal ministers Carla Qualtrough (employment, workforce development and disability inclusion) and Dominic LeBlanc (intergovernmental affairs), as well as Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s chief public health officer) and Dr. Howard Njoo (the deputy chief public health officer).

Okay, let’s do this!

Before everyone arrives you can mark off “someone appears by video screen.” You can mark it off twice, in fact. And also “Starts more than ten minutes late” which is on the sixth generation card if I recall.

And we’re off. I think that’s enough French to tick the “Starts in French”.

Good lord, 1500 cases diagnosed in Ontario, 5000 new cases in Canada. Trudeau says we could be facing 6500 new cases per day in Ontario by mid-December, which is staggering. People, stay the fuck home. Doug Ford, listen to your big buddy.

On a superficial note, tick off your “blue suit” box and “Pushes responsibility to provinces” box. And “Vaccine”. I’m gonna HAVE to put “bend the curve” on the next bingo card. We are apparently no longer “flattening” it. “Bend the curve” sounds like the title of a surfing movie; I bet Trudeau came up with it.

Oh, there’s your “Names Biden” square, is it not? I was not paying close attention because I just remembered my coffee is sitting in the kitchen. Do I have a “Now more than ever” square? If so, mark it.

Everyone’s favourite square, “Finds a new way to give Canadians money”, is active now. And “foreshadows an announcement to be made by someone who is named”, the most awkwardly-named square.

Here is the PM’s post about the details:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the details of an investment of $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) with provinces and territories. This investment will help Canadians in underrepresented groups and those in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – such as construction, transportation, and hospitality – quickly access supports to re-enter the workforce. It could include skills training, on-the-job training, employer-sponsored training, financial assistance and benefits, employment counselling and services, and job opportunities. This funding is in addition to the $3.4 billion provided to provinces and territories in 2020-21 under the WDAs and Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs).

Helping Canadians develop the skills they need to find good jobs

Ah, there’s “Flatten the curve” which sounds practically retro in these days of bending it. And “Flu shot” and “app”. Trudeau is all, “for the love of god, people, don’t just download the app, USE IT!”.

I like how Qualtrough has kid’s art on the wall. Tick your “Someone wears glasses” box. Money for training got my attention, for sure. $1.5 billion for job training will certainly make a big difference. Now we’re on to Dr Tam.

55,000 are being tested daily with a roughly 6% positive result. I’ll come back and insert further specifics in a bit. Gotta go grab my coffee.

Yay for Twitter:

Full summary of today’s federal Covid-19 situation is on this page

And yes, this is your fault people: family gatherings, birthday parties, social occasions are how it is spreading and why it’s spiking now. “Layering our protection practices is the best protection.” And mark your “three C’s” square. Dr. Tam hands it over to Dr. Njoo and I dash out to the kitchen to get my coffee.

First question is about gun violence and where’s the long-promised federal money for gun violence prevention. Trudeau avoids answering the specific question and gives a “we continue to fight gun violence and will introduce new legislation.” Second is about how or IF the feds and the premiers are working together, specifically Doug Ford and the federal government; this is your “is the bromance over?” question. Tick the “Bromance” box.

“From the beginning” square active. Next card should have “Whatever it takes, as long as it takes”. And mark your “Throat malfunction” square; is it time for another swabbing, perhaps?

Mark your “Sign language interpreters swapped out” again. Trudeau is now stressing that the federal government can help, but there can be a point where they can no longer, if the rate spikes too much, enough to swamp healthcare. Thus, it’s imperative to flatten or bend or squash or nuke the curve.

Nothing I like better than lag time on the computer that means an entire paragraph is hanging in the ether while the Archons read it, but mere humans cannot. Mark your technical difficulties square.

And there’s “Drinks water”. And I should have a square for “Trudeau fails to translate the answer into the other official language.”

Question about the meeting of the PM and Premiers: why was it not mentioned on the readout. Trudeau says he’s been talking about it for months (implied, weren’t you paying attention?) And mark “PPE” and “From the very beginning” squares.

Question about dirty spy tricks by the Chinese government. Trudeau gives concerned face and talks about “coercive diplomacy”. Mark your “Two Michaels” square. Oooh, mentions the Uighurs. Didn’t think we’d get that. And yeah, I need a square for “Rule of law” because these people are neoliberals after all; it’s gonna be a perennial. I admit, I’m rather proud I could spell “Uighurs” without having to look it up. Yay, my 2/3rds of a degree is paying off!

Nice question about “do the different rising numbers mean different provinces are doing better or worse at dealing with the pandemic” which, duh. Trudeau reiterates the federal government is there to “support” provinces, businesses, citizens. And says provinces need to bring in rules about gatherings and behaviours, best practices, which is the strongest statement yet really. Again he says that we just need to take responsibility; it can’t JUST be up to individuals, but it is significantly up to individuals.

The pressure is clearly on the premiers now to answer to the public for what they have or have not done with the federal money. And Trudeau will always push responsibility to the provinces. He’s all “I can lead that horse to water, but drinking is up to them.”

[editor’s note: “horticulture” joke goes here]

“What we do in the coming days or weeks will determine what we get to do at Christmas.” Mark your “shout out to religious holiday” square. Did you know Trudeau is a Christmas baby? I have a friend who was born on Christmas, and she’s always been annoyed that she’s the one person who’s never had a free meal from Denny’s. And her family cheaps out, only giving her one set of presents rather than two; do you think Trudeau’s ever had a free meal from Denny’s for his birthday?

“Are you satisfied with what the provinces are doing with the federal support money?” Today is “ask questions that make the federal government look good and the provinces look like money-squandering yokels” day.

“We will continue” needs to be a square. Mark your “Mask” and “Maple leaf accessory” squares. And Trudeau is out.

“Winter is coming” should have been a square, oh well. Dr Tam is talking about how challenging it is for individuals to resist the urge to connect face to face with their friends and family. Winter means people will be indoors, air will be recirculated.

And there’s your “Stupid gotcha question” and Dr. Tam’s response is basically “This is how science works.” And “We answered this previously, but we’ll be happy to forward you the references if you want.”

If there was a drug that made you impassive in the face of hostile stupidity to a Dr Tam level, I would take it.

Now a question about how measles is spiking around the world, a good reminder that Dr. Tam is not just in charge of the Covid response. She says we haven’t seen a spike here, and reiterates that vaccinations are important. Follow-up question about home testing kits for Covid, and mark your “rapid testing” square. Dr. Tam says that tests are only of use after you get sick, and she’d rather focus on the prevention. “It is not a substitution for the other measures. I think we should look at everything, but right now it’s not an option that’s available.”

Question about why, given the negative outlook, the PM is talking about the possibility of people getting together for Christmas. Dr. Tam says “you can have a fun safe holiday connection if you do it safely.” and is VERY doubtful we can have a regular Christmas. “No one is advocating parties,” she says.

Holy shit, that reminds me: my Christmas ghost story anthology was supposed to have been out last month, but I can’t even finish it because of the Covid closures.

“Do you still trust the Ontario government to make these kinds of decisions?” oooh that’s the most pointed question I’ve ever heard at one of these briefings. Dr Njoo says “Our job is to look at the science and give our advice and recommendations to our political masters, and I’m sure that’s what is happening on the provincial level.”

I was wondering if Minister Leblanc would get to speak. Seems a waste to have him sitting there, not even giving a speechette/blurb. But now he gets one. My French is not good enough to follow it, but YAY thanks to random internet connections on gossip sites, I now have my very own French tutor! Bilingualism shall be mine again!

Mark the “rapid tests” square. Dr. Tam says that the country has deployed 3.8 million but doesn’t have the provincial breakouts off the top of her head.

Q: “Can you be more vivid about the consequences of 10,000 cases a day?” Even The Roommate has to laugh out loud at that. Um. Wow. Dr Tam responds we’re at close to 5000 a day now, we’re scaling back on routine surgery, concerned about ICU resources. Healthcare workers are already exhausted. She and Dr Njoo say, “Just look at Europe.” Nobody wants to be Northern Italy in the spring of 2020, for sure.

All of those things, of course, are provincial political responsibilities, not federal medical ones

Dammit, I’ve got as square for “Hockey” but but not one for “Basketball” despite it having been invented a few miles away. Question is about the Raptors being clear they want to play games at home. Dr. Tam says Dr. Njoo is the sports expert, hands the question off to him saying, “The ball is in your court” which gets an audible laugh, which, also, should be a square. I better get working on the Seventh Generation square.

And we’re done.

ninja raincoaster card

what did you do today, raincoaster?

Well, this blog post for a start. And almost an end, too.

So, you know what today is, right? Today is March 302nd, 2020.

Thought it would be interesting, saddening, infuriating, frustrating, and ultimately boring (in other words, Peak 2020) to do another of these, in order to compare them with the entries from back when I, and most of you, had actual lives.

Set the alarm for 10:30 in order to watch the Remembrance Day Ceremony, on YouTube, not IRL, because the government has asked us not to show up in person. This is probably (fingers crossed) my last November in Ottawa, so I was looking forward to being there for it, but it’s not worth literally risking my life. so nevermind. There’s the crowd down there, sure, but there’s also two buses and a train between here and there; before the big change to OCTranspo, it was just one bus straight downtown, but OH WELL. I’m not risking three contagion tanks each way for anything less than a Major Occasion.

Anyway, got woken up at 6 by noise both Roommate-ian and external in origin. Rolled over, looked at the alarm, and realized The Roommate would be in charge of the tv by the time the ceremony was going to go live, and so I wouldn’t be able to watch it anyway, so I turned off the alarm and gave up. House rules: if The Roommate is home, conscious, and able to reach the remote before I am, the tv stays on the programs of his choosing until he either leaves the building (he leaves the programs running even when he leaves, no I don’t know why, not gonna ask) or loses consciousness. One of the reasons I’m looking for an affordable alternative: if you know anything in Ottawa or anywhere in BC south of Armstrong, hmu.

So, that was kinda sad. I still haven’t seen it, and I’d like to. And if I’d been able to get downtown, I could have given out free hugs at the Qidiot camp, hoping to pass along whatever bug I’ve had that’s given me a fever for eight straight weeks. I think infecting a Nazi is a great way to celebrate Remembrance Day.

Went back to sleep and slept deeply, woke up at 2:15pm when The Roommate left and the dog scratched at my door to be let in. I let him in, got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, gathered up some skincare supplies, and went downstairs.

Queued up some YouTube DIY videos and skincare vids to warm up to the day while brewing and consuming my coffee. Dermaplaned my face, which a year ago I never thought I’d be doing; it’s essentially shaving one’s entire face with a scalpel. It removes not just the peach fuzz, but also the dead, dried cells on the surface of the skin, but you do have to be careful because it’s an actual scalpel; you’ll cut your face if you’re sloppy. I managed it with only one scare, but no blood. Anyhoodle, I tried it once and was gobsmacked at how smooth it made my face and how it let the serums and other treatments go so much farther. And today I used Buffet with Copper Peptides and then Rose Hip Oil, covered it with a silicone mask for fifteen minutes till it had been absorbed, then put my retinol Neutrogena moisturizer on and was good to go.

Been on rather a Skincare Journey over the past two years: dermarolling was the first experiment. Loved the results of that! “Puncture your face with hundreds of tiny holes, it’ll be fine!” is not something that parses, but it does actually work. Collagen Induction Therapy they call it, and it simply works. Minorly painful, but worth it, particularly since you shouldn’t do it more than once a week.

Since then I’ve gotten:

  • a skin scraper (not worth the money IMHO, does pretty much nothing)
  • a knockoff Foreo which I adore (nobody needs a $200 appliance to wash their face, but for $30, it’s a very soothing massager for the face which does seem to de-puff things a bit)
  • a freckle/cauterizing pen which is so painful I’m scared to use it even though I’m sick of these dark marks and skin tags on my neck
  • A Faustina IPL machine which works to reduce hair and fight redness and dark marks, and I’m impressed with this one although you have to keep doing it weekly or biweekly
  • a knockoff NuFace, which I’m on the fence about. It’s much stronger than the real NuFace, which should make it more effective, if much less comfortable. I’m moderating the strength by letting the aloe vera gel dry out a bit before using it

I have been letting the skincare slide recently, because The Roommate has been home from work for three bloody weeks. Who takes three weeks off work to just sit on their ass in the living room watching loud tv? WITHOUT GIVING THEIR ROOMMATE A HEADS UP? Ugh. I prefer doing my skincare treatments sitting in my favourite chair, rather than standing in the semi-clean bathroom under lights that buzz and spark. Anyway, he’s back at work now and there are two whole hours of light between the time he leaves and the time the sun goes down, so I’m going to have to use it to the utmost.

So, where was I? Oh yes, rudely awoken, gave up on Remembrance Day, conked out till the afternoon, went downstairs, made coffee, did skincare and watched Christmas DIY instructionals on YouTube while drinking coffee.

Made breakfast/dunch which was a whole wheat wrap with cauli rice, chicken breast, red pepper, and celery, with mustard and bbq sauce. Couldn’t be arsed to take a picture because I’m banned from Instagram BUT I’M OVER THAT.

Checked email and didn’t have a couple that I was expecting. Checked Twitter, and asked a friend for a connection to a local professor. I’m considering going back to school to finish my long-forgotten degree, and this prof is apparently working on something very, very interesting and right up my alley. We shall see.

ninja raincoaster card
ninja raincoaster card

Farted around on the internet, which takes much less time now that I’m banned from both Facebook AND Instagram, and Gawker is dead (RIP).

Justin Trudeau "Because it's 2015."
Justin Trudeau “Because it’s raincoaster.”

Applied for my second CRB benefits: Prime Minister Zoolander is keeping me in better style than any man I’ve ever known. No wonder I almost feel guilty calling him that!


Noticed the sun was setting, so took the dog out for a walk probably for the last time without the need for a jacket. Poor guy, he used to be able to do ten kilometers without turning a hair, but these days 2000 steps is as big a walk as he can normally handle. We got some nice pix of the sunset though, which I will probably upload here later, had some nice socially distanced chat, and eyeballed and got eyeballed by several silver foxes, also out with their dogs. Or their Roommate’s dogs. I didn’t ask.

Came back and, because I’m crepuscular, it was time to do some work. First order of business was, get all the dirty laundry off of the bedroom floor and on to the living room floor, where I sorted it. Didn’t start laundry right then because was waiting for the hydro rates to go down at 7.

Checked the job listings and updated the resume for journalism, worked on a cover letter for a local publication. I had to do a lot of research first, because I’d never seen this particular magazine, but it’s not distributed in this end of Buttfuck Suburbia; turns out it’s been around for ten years. Their YouTube channel has a whopping 19 subscribers; pretty sure I could bring some big change in their social media, and my cover letter said as much. Sent in the application and for once didn’t forget to attach my resume. Spotted a damn typo, of course, but then I spotted a few in their ad.

Walked the dog or rather ran/walked the dog at 11 just when The Roommate was expected home, so we got a solid 30 minutes of 1:30 running, 30 walking. Remembered to do my stretches when I got back, too! But still flaked on the yoga, as it’s more of a wakeup routine but I can’t do it till almost 3 when The Roommate leaves for work.

Then it was Midnight Snack time, which was a big salad with some more chicken on it, carrots, celery, red pepper, and tomatillo salsa with goat cheese. God, goat cheese is always worth the money.

I think I overworked the dog today so I gave him one of his old gabapentins to help him sleep and not feel pain. If he’s gimpy tomorrow I’ll sneak him another one as soon as I can.

Still had a low blood sugar headache a couple of hours later, so had half a wrap with lettuce, some goat cheese, and red salsa. Now I’m watching Trinny Takeover videos and waiting for my laundry to be done. As soon as the next load is folded I’ll call it a night.

The new cleaner comes around noon, which means The Roommate has been frantically straightening up all week. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Lucy sez: fuck around and find out

The Beast and the Covid Briefing Bingo

I thought it was better this way than The Covid Briefing Bingo and the Magic Sword: YMMV

So, here we are again, a scant 25.5 hours after the last briefing.

Panta Rhei

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Today’s briefing is named after the rare Paul Naschy movie that I have yet to see, The Beast and the Magic Sword. And my day began at 6am, when I got a calendar reminder for a book launch occurring at the same time as the briefing, so that’s great. Hopefully I can watch the Zoom later.

And then continued, after a short, fitful doze, with a phonecall from some rando in Bangladesh. I don’t know anyone in Bangladesh, so I’m choosing to believe this was a call from the office of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, concerned lest I sleep through another Covid briefing. They’re big Covid Briefing Bingo fans in Bangladesh, you know. So I gave up and got up.

And in universe-upending news, I can’t find the CPAC livestream, so today we’re going with the CBC video instead. Practicing my French will have to wait. Good thing the coffee’s ready; this is way too much disruption to handle in one morning.

Play one card or play them all to win fabulous, completely imaginary prizes:

And here’s our video, which starts late, as usual.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet ministers give an update on Canada’s PPE, testing and vaccines. Chief Public Health Officer of Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo will be in attendance. To read more:

Oh, and soooper, I have internet problems, so this should go well. Mercury is OUT of retrograde, isn’t it? Even in Nepean?

Okay, we’ve got “rapid tests” and “Pushes responsibility to provinces” and “Grey suit” and “Poppy” so far. I’ll pop back in and do a summary of the contents later, when my internet stops fucking with me. Okay, I’m back and doing that now. Trudeau begins the briefing by stressing that reducing the spread of the pandemic is up to each of us. The federal government can and will do only so much, but it won’t interfere with what individual provinces are doing, although he HEAVILY IMPLIES you should be way more cautious than certain provinces are being. On which note, there’s this rather horrifying update:

GM is an American company, as is Pfizer, so that does NOT give you “Names specific Canadian company”. No squares for you!

And the new money for veterans is “Finds a new way to give Canadians money” as well as “Foreshadows an announcement to be made later”. And a reminder that this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies will be online, if they happen at all. I’ll never forget being in the Cambie pub and watching the parade go by. Everyone in that dive, including the people who were well past the point of standing by that time in the morning, stood up and raised their beers to the soldiers passing by.

And now it’s already “later” because here we are at the announcement by Minister MacAulay. Everybody theoretically supports veterans, but now it’s time for shit to get real. Here are some details from the Veteran’s site.

Non-profit and charitable Veterans organizations are experiencing a critical loss of charitable and fundraising revenues as a direct result of COVID-19, and are at risk of not being able to maintain their operations.

Veterans organizations play a critical role in the lives and well-being of Veterans and their families, as well as the communities in which they are located. They support homeless and disabled Veterans and play a crucial role in helping the Department fulfill its mandate. The Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund provides grants to non-profit and registered charitable organizations that support Veterans and their families. The grants will help organizations with operational costs and financial shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If your organization is facing significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for funding.

Veterans Organizations Emergency Fund

And there’s your “PPE” square. Like eight times, along with “Vaccine”. And “Rapid test” which we had earlier as well. The next briefing card is going to be dry af, because it will be all “Logistics” and “Shovel-ready” and suchlike.

We also have “Audio issues” throughout the video. And now we’re on to Dr. Tam and the statistics, average daily case count is over 3,000. Soooooooper. People, if you really can’t live without spending time with other people, maybe try harder to keep them alive!

That positive rate is half what it was last week Nope I misread. It’s up, and twice the average since the start of the pandemic.

There’s your “Three C’s” square. “Nobody knows layering like Canadians in Winter,” says Dr. Tam and this is just objectively true. And now mark your “My aunt calls during the briefing” square.

Reading between the lines (and my reading comprehension is iffy even ON the lines themselves, but hey-ho, everybody’s a pundit these days; Thanks, Twitter!) it seems like the federal government is saying,

“Look, we’ve done all we can do for you people without hurting our chances in the next election. Your premiers aren’t going to save, you, CLEARLY. They think the economy is better off with more dead Canadians. Some of them appear to be absolutely stone-cold batshit insane, in fact, so this is on you. Stay home. Mask up. For the love of god, stop killing off people just so you don’t have to eat a fucking third-rate cheeseburger by yourself.”

I may be paraphrasing a bit.

Oh right, here’s what he actually said:

With rising cases of COVID-19 here at home, there’s added pressure on all orders of government to keep people safe and to protect jobs.

But I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressure not to shut down businesses or slow down our economy.

I understand that worry, but let me tell you: that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business and the economy damaged even more.

Beating COVID is the only way to protect our economy.

Prime Minister’s remarks on the COVID-19 situation and support for Veterans

And all of these references to Remembrance Day count as “Shout-out to non-religious holiday” although if you’re in a military family you’re allowed to tick off the “Religious holiday” square too. Because OBVIOUS REASONS that’s why.

Woohoo, Dr. Njoo gives us “Button Down Oxford” so mark that one off. I’m unreasonably excited for this, because I’ve been locked down with The Roommate and his endless television reruns for the past eight thousand months, and am starved for entertainment.

Good questions from @LeDevoir about why, if we can release people from immigration detention centres during the pandemic, why can’t we do it all the time. And it gets a “Covid makes things hard, we’re focused on the pandemic” response. Which I’m definitely going to use the next time the Roommate asks why I haven’t washed the dishes.

This whole briefing is one big “Pushes responsibility to provinces” really. It’s like Trudeau is passive-aggressively using the briefing to avoid having a Hard Conversation with his buddy Doug Ford.

And there we have “Sign language interpreter is swapped out”. The next bingo card should have “Challenges” on it, for sure. Maybe “Do the right thing” too.

And there you go, “Drinks water” square. Trudeau reassures the reporter and the citizens that invoking the Emergency Act is not a family tradition. Well, that’s a relief. I already had “Stock up for emergency lockdown” in my calendar for 2050; I wonder which Trudeau will be Hereditary Prime Minister then.

There’s “From the very beginning” and “Avoids mentioning Trump” when asked if he had any “unfinished business with the current President”. Which we all know he has plenty. And “Mentions Biden by name” which looks like it’ll be a regular in the briefing.

Meanwhile, in the US, the fascists just fucking went ahead and did it:

And Minister Anand “Mentions reporter by name” so mark that square. And yes, mark “Someone appears via video”.

And there’s your “Shades Harper” square. Love that one.

The Ratanzi case is god’s gift to the Tories, but it caught them so much by surprise that they haven’t had the chance to take advantage of it. Yet. They’ve put all their hopes in the “Scandal” basket rather than the “Issues” basket.

And now we have the “Gesticulates” square in spades. And the reporter tries to nail Trudeau down to comment on Alberta and Ontario, which he completely ignores in favour of national generalizations.

“From the very beginning” is now active. But come on, there needs to be a national mental health solution. Not “oh, there are lots of charities, try them”. And Trudeau is out, and yes, “Camera follows Trudeau out even though someone else is speaking.”

Dr. Tam gets a question which relates to my interests directly: what does science tell us about transmission aboard airliners. She says they have not received a report of transmission aboard an airliner at this point, which is better than I thought.

On a less serious note, Dr. Tam gives you your “Florals” square for her top. It’s hard to see behind the sign, but it’s definitely a floral print. On a more serious note, Dr. Tam and Minister Ananad are pretty excellent at explaining the challenges to dealing with the pandemic from a logistical and scientific perspective.

And thats’s a wrap. I’ll be back later to review the video and add what I missed, so check back in a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, in the US.

Assignment Terror

Assignment Covid-19 Briefing Bingo

Once again, Linus knows his shit.

Yes, I’m late. After all these months of limbo I actually forgot how to set an alarm properly, and set it for tomorrow instead of today, so I slept right through the announcement this morning. Which was at 10am: who’s awake at 10am, I ask you? Civil servants and medical personnel and the kids who work the drive-thru, that’s about it these days. And sad, lonely bus drivers with 80 empty seats and no one to talk to. No one.

Ahem. That’s A Mood, isn’t it? Anyway, we’re here now, so we’re doing this.

Play one card or play them all to win fabulous, completely imaginary prizes:

Today’s bingo is named after Assignment Terror, probably the second-worst Paul Naschy monster movie. And here’s your CPAC video.

On Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement and responds to questions from reporters. He is joined by federal ministers Navdeep Bains (innovation, science and industry), Catherine McKenna (infrastructure), Maryam Monsef (women and gender equality and rural economic development), and Pablo Rodriguez (the government House leader). The Prime Minister announces that the federal government will invest 1.75 billion dollars to connect under-served areas to high-speed Internet by 2026. This is additional funding of $750 million to the $1 billion originally announced in the 2019 budget. Justin Trudeau also comments on his congratulatory message to U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden following the latter’s election win. The Prime Minister discusses the news that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech may be 90 % effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. He states that this vaccine should be available in the first three months of 2021,and that it would first be given to priority populations.

Dang, I can’t tell on these screens whether that’s a blue suit or a grey one. I’m in a generous mood, so if you have one marked but not the other, mark the one you don’t have. If you don’t have either, take a look and let me know what colour you think it is in the comments.

“Shovel-ready” is a good option for the next card.

I do not have ANY squares relating to the internet, nor any “Shows hope for the United States” because who saw that coming, but it’s an interesting briefing anyway. Trudeau sends congratulations to Biden and Harris and the United States, mentions the message of inclusion and diversity inherent in the election of Kamala Harris.

And then a discussion of the importance of the internet which, here we all are, aren’t we? Well, the few who are not soon will be, with the expansion of high-speed internet to isolated areas. My friends in Keremeos had to wait six months for a connection at all, and in Tofino I figured our best bet was satellite, with a startup cost of $1500. This low orbit satellite program sounds very interesting. The $1.75 billion broadband fund will make a huge difference.

And excellent news on the vaccine front:

Pfizer says an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators. The vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered.


Other than the suit colour, of course the first square active is your “Wears mask” square. Mark your “Maple Leaf accessory” square, your “Someone appears by video” and “Begins in English”. And right away, “App.” And “Biden mentioned by name” which is on the sixth generation card. “A specific Canadian business is mentioned” as well. Oooh, and “Avoids mentioning Trump by name”.

And “Someone is wearing glasses”. As a glasses-wearer, I’m glad to see it. #BringingGlassesBack And poppies all over the place, mark that square too.

Oooh, Justin Ling did not come to play. I like that reporter. He’s got a very pointed question about the human rights violations in the federal solitary confinement system. He’s got all the details: the system has not changed, and it is incompatible with the changes proposed. The response is equal parts deft and mealy-mouthed, and 100% meaningless.

“The Two Michaels” square is active thanks to CTV’s reporter. Trudeau gives the same lecture about China’s bullying and punitive imprisonment that he gives every time.

I like that Trudeau refers to “The current US president” and “The American government” and absolutely will not say the man’s name. “Ozymandias” square would be active, if it existed.

And “Drinks water” square is active. And “swaps out sign language interpreters” so that’s apparently not a lunch-related thing. Is it an exhausting physical activity? I can’t imagine it’s that much more tiring than simply being Italian and engaging in conversation, but what do I know? Can anyone with expertise weigh in on this?

Oh yeah, we have a “Facial hair” square. So obviously that one’s active. He said “Pardon” but it was in French, and I only have a square for “Sorry” in English, so I’m going to be a hardass and say no, you don’t get that one this time.

And there we have “Concerned Priest Hand Clasp” and “Gesticulates”. Again, just thumb gesticulation, but it counts.

Reporter asks Trudeau if he is not personally responsible for the atrocities occurring in long term care homes, which come the fuck on! That gets us a placid “Pushes responsibility to provinces”. Definitely mark your “stupid gotcha question” square, for that and this:

Another question about Trump, and another response that does not mention him by name. These questions just let Trudeau stare deeply into the camera and murmur “My job is to protect Canadians” and the camera just swoons. Honestly, he should tip the reporters for that question every time. Reporters could use the occasional fifty bucks.

I said Fifty. Times are tough, my dude. Newsboy caps don’t buy themselves, you know.

And there we go, “donc.” God, I love that word. Trudeau is out, but for once the camera does not follow him out.

Minister Bains says “competition” will keep the price of the high speed internet down. Of course, it hasn’t done that so far; at one time Canada had the most affordable broadband in the world, but now it’s one of the most expensive places. So this $1.75 billion is going to go to Canadian and foreign companies, but it’s NOT going to help individuals afford the internet. And the whole “rely on capitalism to do the best for you all” is bullshit; if capitalism worked this way, we would not need the government at all.

Probably the last square you get “Reiterates the border will stay closed.” I wonder if that fiberoptic loop in Yellowknife will EVER get used; it was installed years ago, but the local internet company didn’t want it competing with them, so they simply refused to connect it to the internet, and the government just went “Yeah, okay, I guess.” And it lies there still, unused. Perhaps it will never be used.

Interesting. I was not aware of the $10 a month internet plan. And of course there are still freenets around: apparently there are over 300 people in Ottawa still on dialup. I learned that at digital democracy day which, ironically, was only advertised online, ie it was designed so that it could not reach ANY of the people it was designed to help. Nonetheless it was considered to be a great success and there was a very nice afterparty at Shopify.

And that’s a wrap. And A Mood. See you next time.