Jun. 15, 2020

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We welcome your comments – editor@nanaimonet.com

 

May. 30, 2020

This mundane daily way of life we're stuck in during the virus pandemic brings flashbacks of the  long, hard winters some of us used to endure on the Prairies, ending up with cabin fever and going stir crazy from being stuck in seclusion for days, weeks and even months because of the weather.

Some people used to escape to Hawaii in the middle of winter for a short break from the prison-like lockup.

I worked at newspapers during that time and we often consulted medical specialists to enquire about the phenomenon of winter isolation. Yes, it does exist, they told us. Our personalities change for the worse when we are kept out of our regular routines for extended periods.

We’re experiencing something akin to that with the virus pandemic and its ongoing isolation which appears to be having a similar impact on everyone today. Impatience is growing, temper fuses are getting shorter the longer we remain boxed in. Even on social media many people are casting aside usual manners, courtesy and tolerance and getting bull nasty.

Seniors in care homes and their families are getting frustrated at being kept apart. The same applies to long-term hospital patients who can not interact with family members, who complain that it is leading to mental health issues. Or the opposite can happen from too much close contact with our loved ones. Haven House is experiencing an increase in calls.

We are living with a strange set of rules where the boundaries are not spelled out, often eeming to be made up on the fly. One day cloth masks are absolutely useless, and then masks are indispensable. On top of that, the majority of citizens are refusing to protect themselves or others, claiming their rights are being violated. No respect for the feelings of others.

It’s not difficult to understand the people who wonder why some retailers can remain open for business while others can’t, or why drive-in theatres are restricted in the number of people who can sit in their cars and watch a movie outdoors. People cannot go to work because their businesses are shut down through no fault of their own, and they are locked into the seclusion totally helpless, not being able to do anything about their situation.

Who would have thought that finally getting a haircut or to going to a restaurant would be that big an event to look forward to. Those who try to social distance get frustrated by those who merrily shoulder their way through the crowds.

Adding to the frustration is the constant change in conclusions expounded by those making the rules. Some of the things we were warned about as cast-in-stone truths only weeks ago are being revised almost day to day, confirming that the experts did not have enough facts because they had never dealt with this particular virus before.

It’s little wonder that fewer and fewer people have confidence in the experts, they just want to be set free. Many are no longer buying into the bill of goods they feel they are being sold.

We can’t all hop on a plane and wing off to Hawaii, so best wishes to all our shut-ins as we muster along in our claustrophobic cabins while going stir crazy.

 

May. 25, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has reduced the world’s carbon footprint. But hold the phone, don’t break out the champagne, it won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. That’s the word from climate scientists. 

CO2 emissions have dropped 17 per cent daily compared to this time last year, but scientists caution against the temptation to inflate the significance of a few weeks or months of reduced human activity, at least when it comes to climate change.

A projection for 2020 shows the reduction in emissions to be four- to seven-per-cent smaller this year than in 2019. Even at a seven-per-cent reduction, emissions for 2020 will be roughly the same as 2011, says one of the authors of this study.

After a world's worth of cancelled vacations, eliminated work commutes, shuttered business and virtually extinguished social lives, how is that possible?

The pandemic has led to a temporary drop in emissions related to things like personal transportation, other carbon-intensive practices continue, from supplying homes with electricity, to manufacturing and transporting goods.

If the scenario of a seven-per-cent annual reduction in CO2 emissions were repeated year-over-year for a decade, it would put the world on track for keeping warming to the Paris Agreement's most ambitious target of 1.5 degrees. But experts say that's not the trajectory they expect post-pandemic, as the economy and society re-open.

"We can't just shut down the economy, throw people out of work, have everybody stay in their  homes,” concludes one of the authors of the report.

May. 23, 2020

The extended shutdown of parts of our society has meant the curbing of some of our rights – like dining out, public gatherings, sporting events, even the way we go shopping.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has revealed her direction for businesses to collect and store contact information for dine-in patrons at restaurants, bars and cafes for 30 days in case of an outbreak. It’s not your cell phone that’s been tracking you, health officials have been using credit cards and loyalty programs to track people who may have been exposed to the Covid virus. 

Now officials are talking about taking it one step further to check in on our private lives. Spying on citizens without their knowledge is a step too far.

It may seem harmless, but the province is testing contact tracing apps on your cell phone. The federal government is going in th same direction, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expects to make a recommendation for a nationwide app for all Canadians in the near future. Shades of George Orwell and Big Brother.

The bigger question has to be where do you draw the line? Little losses of rights, like little droplets, can quickly become a flood until we realize we’re drowning.

No matter how noble the cause, her assurances that such information would not be accessed unless it's absolutely necessary, did little to assuage concerns. She said health officials have used many different things to connect with people in those types of settings, accessing credit card or loyalty card information from grocery stores when there have been outbreaks in the past.

I beg your pardon. And it was news to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which was not aware of incidents of people being told that they’ve been traced through grocery loyalty cards. 

Dr. Henry insists this is another measure to try to improve efficiency and the ability to contact people and give them health information that might be of value to them and to their families.

When someone is confirmed to have the virus, health officials start contact tracing, asking the patient for a list of where they’ve been and whom they’ve had close contact with to notify them of their possible exposure and ask them if they have any symptoms. In close work environments, like recent outbreaks at poultry plants, even asymptomatic people have been tested if they’ve been in close contact.

It's one thing to ask for voluntary contact information at a restaurant, it’s quite another thing to do it in what can be seen by many as a sneaky way of intruding into our lives without our knowledge. It’s called spying.

LETTER To the Editor:

Hasn’t this train long since left the station?

As we use Facebook and related social media in various large and small applications for our communication we are silently surrendering all our opinions, likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, what we like and don’t like, what we buy, what we sell and to whom, where we go in both verbal and WiFi terms, and a host of information about us which we could never reproduce even for ourselves. Google, Microsoft, and the other big internet data providers harvest, process, interrelate and sell this information to corporations and governments for their purposes. A very good business it is.

If anyone wants to know more about this hidden business, take a look at one of Shoshana Zuboff's interviews on YouTube or read her book: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power.

Ron Bolin

 

May. 8, 2020

There’s still the same amount of money in Canada but it’s not circulating through the economy. Millions of people are not getting paycheques as the Covid pandemic continues its vicious grip on our country.

Yes, there’s still the same amount of money, only now it’s under the control of government which is handing it out in piecemeal fashion to interest groups which appear to be the flavour of the day. And when government hands it out it is borrowed from us and has to be repaid in the form of taxes, some way or another. You have to pay back your own money. Well, children and grandchildren will be signing those cheques.

The government is a middleman in the current process. We need to get back to a robust economy benefitting everyone

It’s a little like a living heart – if it doesn’t have the proper circulation that heart will surely die. In the same way, money has to flow from investors, to business owners, to employees, to buyers and sellers who recirculate it back up the chain in a continuous flow.

It would be easy to launch into a long and boring analysis of how economics works, but the bottom line is that money does more good in the hands of working people than in the hands of government.

We welcome your comments - editor@nanaimonet.com