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The courts are asleep. Not all of them, everywhere, but [edit: ALMOST] all the ones I know of in Canada are just snoring their way through this pandemic.

What is the issue? As a part of combating COVID, the infringement of various civil rights of the people -- whether formally enumerated as in Canada (S.2) or the USA (Bill of Rights), or 'unwritten' in some other places. Freedom of movement, free assembly, pursuit of livelihood and others are all clear normal rights that governments have unilaterally curtailed.

OK, there is apparently some sort of emergency going on. Fine. But what are the limits on these emergency powers? If you're on Team Lockdown, you better take a close look in the mirror and ask what is the most you could accept. Even you must have a limit. But what would hold governments to that limit?

In normal times, sure, it could be public pressure. Press. Elections. Heck, statutes and legislation. But over the last 11 months, government after government has eschewed such obstruction and just went Police Powers Executive on us. I have heard not one such government leader declare limits of their own powers. Not one government leader bothers offer specific scientific justification for any particular measure - just obey the Experts.

So what's left, in case politicians and public health people go berserk? What could impose SOME limit? Public protest? OK maybe, but even that has been outlawed in many locations. There's police discretion - surely our Boys in Blue would not enforce absurd rules. Alas, we're repeatedly disappointed. There's the possibility of more ... vigorous ... resistance, but let's not go there. This leaves ... the courts. Ah yes, the courts, whose job it is normally to settle constitutional questions, balancing rights, rolling back bad law. Where are the courts?!?!

In the States, it took a few months, but people got sick of differential treatment of religious facilities, or of different types of schools, or of pure executive actions, and went to court. Several cases went to state or federal Supreme Court level, and the people have won some of their liberties back. (See below for some examples.)

In Canada, so far, nothing definitive. Everything is slow as molasses. People issued municipal police tickets for violating the mandates-du-jour have challenged them, but not gotten court dates within Months. It's as though by slow-rolling these cases, courts can hope they become moot. Our Rulers will certainly relax their grip on our rights before too long, right? Right? While the public seems to have few organized lobbyists and only very few political parties who speak up for these rights, at least some cases are being filed by individuals. Finally. They better get expedited attention. This is important. Support the JCCF!

Please help me assemble/keep this initial list of pandemic-related court cases. I would be most grateful.

jurisdictiontimecase partiessituation
Canada, Ontario2020-12The Bay vs. Ontariototal deference to gov't
Canada, AlbertaongoingJCCF and churchesinterim injunction rejected, case still alive
Canada, Manitobaongoingchurchesinjunction rejected, case still alive
Canada, OntariostartedAdam Skelly (BBQ guy), constitutional challengesstarted
Portugal2020-11german citizens challenging PCR-based quarantine success
USA, Nevada2021-01Churches vs. lockdownssuccess
USA, NY2020-11NY churches vs. CuomoSCOTUS success
USA, NY2021-01NY restaurantsNY Supreme Court injunction granted
Canada, Ontario2021-01North X Fitness, constitutional challengegov't backs down partly
Germany2021-01fine for birthday celebrationacquitted
Belgium2020+Mask mandate - fine challengesuccess on procedural grounds
Canada, Quebec2020-12Montreal entrepreneursjust started
Canada, Ontario2020-07 (?!)Vaccine Choice Canada (Galati) vs. lockdownsno movement ?
Canada, Saskatchewan2021-01Rebel News vs. political meeting prohibitionjust started
Canada, Quebec2021-02Synagogues wanting expanded limitssuccess
Netherlands2021-02Dutch night time curfew challengedsuccessful - no wait - reconsidering?!?
Canada, BC2021-02BC to force churches to closecourt refuses government injunction

P.S. I worked on this blog post for many minutes, and then the Sun just blurted it out.

Posted Mon Jan 11 00:02:40 2021 Tags:

Why take photographs? Back in the prehistoric times, when cameras were big and film was scarce, people had to be picky. It's so easy now that everyone does it, and why not. Pose, snap, save, share, repeat.

And yet, why? Here is the expert-approved Complete list of possible reasons.

Proof of life. Saying "I was here!" to the universe. Stand in front of landmark, hand camera to stranger or selfie stick. Click. Keep.

Friends/family contact. Saying "wish you were here!". Click. Share.

Art. Saying "wish you could see this my way!" Hack the minds of the viewers with clever beautiful compositions. Click. Sell?

Diary. Saying "This happened to me" to myself. Click. Keep. Review.

As for me --- I do it for love. Whenever I am permitted to leave my work cave, I love most of what happens to or around me. Little things, big things. People being goofy, people being beautiful, people being alive. Heck, dead things too. So many moments can be cherished again with the aid of a reminder. So many emotions can be fanned when reliving a memory, or when imagining the event from someone else's photo. I take photos because I want to save the moment of love for later. Or --- if I don't know the persons well --- it's because someone surely knows and loves them vicariously.

For better or for worse, this means I take a lot of pictures. Over time, people around me get used to it, even if they were shy or just roll their eyes. But consider this: I have had four acquaintances or friends pass away in the last few years. I have seen many kids grow up near mine. Sooner or later, their friends & family want to feel the history again. Those that have asked, have appreciated a search of my photos of their loved ones -- and those that haven't asked yet, well, what are you waiting for?

But you don't need someone else. Perhaps you, dear reader, will start taking photography with a little more forward-looking passion. Life is short, and our memories frail. If you love something, record it. You or someone else will thank you.

Posted Thu Dec 31 16:29:52 2020

My countless fans know that your humble scribe can be un-humble at times, maybe even a tad competitive, if the cause is right. Same as everyone! Does everyone voluntarily back down, when stakes are low and friendly? You bet. We're ordinary, you and I.

Here is one fun instance from two short years ago, where backing down can win after all. I was helping out at a week-long Scout camp not too far from here. Lots of kids, lots of fun, etc. etc., not unusual in Scouting.

One of the side activities was a silent auction for Scouting-related paraphernalia. Anyone at camp may make a bid - kids or adults. It can be unfair in the sense that real money is being bid, and few kids can match the Financial wherewithal of a grown-up. But the bidding is not super serious and the amounts rarely get high. Crests are one kind of knickknack that Scouts like to trade / collect, and one part of one set hit my eye in this fine day in 2018 July.

The bidding for this package of crests started at $10 and passed $60 before too long. There might have been some inter-subcamp rivalry in there too, as a few of us bid repeatedly. Time was running out, and as a generous de-escalation, I let the Other subcamp folks win the thing.

I wandered back the final morning. As luck would have it, I ran into the winners. This handsome couple had a real Thing going for wolves, which is not unusual in Scouting. They took a real shining to the yellow/black wolf silhouette crests in the collection, which was why they kept bidding. As for me, I was only after one of the smaller bits. When I told them this, they immediately gave it to me and posed for a photo.

What a pair of nice folks, which is not unusual in Scouting! We all came away happy.

Posted Sat Dec 26 20:38:59 2020

Your scribe's family is a frequent amazon customer. Frequent enough that most of the people in the house have our amazon account credentials in their web browser (ree!!!!), and use it to check on order status. Occasionally they place orders too. As the main account holder, I then get an email. When I see a sudden expenditure, I play the good husbander-of-resources I am. I immediately observe, orient, and decide to take no action other than the occasional little scream.

The latest family hobby is to place orders from the next room, with no warning whatever.

They place an order, and start a clock. When I get the email, read it, and scream, they stop the clock. They bet how long it'll take from order-placement to scream.

They compliment me when it's on the order of seconds (amazon email to our house is fast).

They pity me when it's half a minute.

They laugh at me when it's four minutes.

And I get to pay for all this. Send help, friends, and comfort food.

Posted Mon Oct 19 18:10:18 2020 Tags:

They did it again, the last time. Previously. Previously. Previously. Youtube link available on request.

Posted Mon Jun 8 13:01:37 2020 Tags:

They did it again, a little later than usual, weather was great! Previously. Previously.

Posted Mon May 18 17:17:45 2020

Please be aware that if you are unfortunate enough to wear eyeglasses in our province of Ontario - one of the couple of million people - do not break your glasses, and under no circumstances let your eyes age or change enough that your old eyeglasses stop working well.

Why? Naturally, for our own safety. Our provincial government has mandated that "non-essential" medical procedures be suspended. Optometrists have been instructed to interpret this as a mandate not to see any patients "unless you're going blind" (direct quote from one such Professional I just talked with).

Without an optometrist, you can't get a prescription. Without a prescription, you can't get new glasses. Without new glasses, you may not be able to work --- or drive safely.

Too bad, our betters in Public Health have spoken.

Posted Mon May 4 17:01:59 2020

Thanks everybody for coming! Thanks Michelle Ruby for the lovely writeup in the Brantford Expositor!

Posted Thu Apr 30 13:08:25 2020 Tags:

Thanks everyone for coming!

See here for the SECOND show, Wed. May 2! See here for the THIRD show, Wed. May 20! See here for the FINAL show, Sat. June 13!

Posted Sun Apr 19 18:16:14 2020 Tags:

I lied. I am unable to be dispassionate. What follows is a bit of passionate analysis and some predictions. Spoiler: I'm conditionally optimistic.

Governments

We have two enemies: the virus, and poor government. I am sure government folks mean well. But god, how many ways can things be pooched?

Open borders

Come on, it is elementary. Permitting ongoing international travel, putting practically no screening & quarantine enforcement on incoming travelers ensures a steady flow of bugs. It turns the native population's efforts & sacrifices into a tragic farce. That Ontario or Toronto level security/medical agencies didn't check, track, or detain every incoming person at Toronto Pearson is an abdication of their duty, even if it should have been federal jurisdiction.

Masks

How much longer do we have to hear the charade that healthy people should not wear masks? It is eminently clear - and well proven in medical literature - that even crappy masks do at least some good in blocking droplets/goo from nearby people. Remember, there exist asymptomatic carriers - maybe 25% of the total, maybe more. Yesterday, our provincial CMoH finally admitted on camera that the reason he's not mandating long-term-care staff to mask up right now is in order to protect the stocks of PPE for hospitals. They are needed (tons of old people & staff are sick & dying in these facilities) and they help. You can't buy them, sadly, so let's all make some! These are NYT's plans, there are many others.

Lockdowns

All the "flattening the curve" stuff is well-intended of course. A rapid epidemic that kills 2% of the entire population - especially the old & sick - is tough to imagine. Any alternative is worth considering ...... but the rate at which the "flatten the curve" meme went mainstream is still a wonder. People are led to believe that a lockdown ("suppression") is a well-understood thing: as though if we just did it for a few weeks, things would be fine and the virus would be gone. But that's just not true. People still have to circulate (to pass food and enforce laws and all kinds of things), and they are a vector for infection. And see above about open borders. The virus would just not burn out.

So maybe we need it longer. How do we know? Do your leaders state the exit conditions for your lockdown? Every jurisdiction I know of that has gone into lockdown has failed to state a plan or criterion for lifting the lockdown. And justly so: without timely appearance of a magic treatment, the immediate aftermath of releasing a lockdown is: a brand new epidemic. Without broad immunity, without a vaccine, without good treatments, and without some other serious suppression technique (universal testing, enforced quarantines for the sick, ...), the population is just as vulnerable at the end of the lockdown as at the beginning. And in fact, it's worse, because by then the economy has been damaged too. So yeah, lockdowns without stated exit conditions are a sign of failure. Read this and this and this and this and this.

Essential Services

All the jurisdictions that lock people down permit some businesses to operate, like grocery stores, etc. Some pretend to designate a logical & sufficient set of businesses as "essential", forgetting that every product from something as mundane as a pencil has an unbeliveably broad and deep supply chain. No government bureaucrat has any idea about EVERYTHING that goes into a single desired product or service. People who mess with the supply chain imperil eventually everyone.

But Ontario did something smart: they designated a basic set of essential businesses AND added that any other business that supplies, supports, services an essential business is itself an essential business. This makes for a large set of "essentials" but is far more right and sustainable than a jurisdiction that allows food manufacturing, but neglects to permit paper & metalworking needed to create the cans to package that food, or the tire services for the trucks that carry it, or ... on and on and on! Read this if you imagine you or anyone could centrally plan a supply chain.

Transparency

Information - even unpleasant, embarrassing, or scary information - must flow. Models must be open to scrutiny. The press must practice Journalism(tm) rather than propaganda - if they still know how. Patient privacy should be suspended, so people can help contact-trace. Otherwise, the people's trust in their institutions will become brittle and break. And you don't want breakdowns during a disaster.

Pessimism

If governments don't wisen up ... keep throttling their own people ... turn people against people via snitch lines ... not realize that the infrastructure/economy that keeps us alive requires our actual work, not just sitting at home waiting for money-printer dollars ... chain reaction infrastructure failure would nuke food / sanitary / law&order systems ... cities would become hell. If we're still in lockdowns after 3 months, I'd become seriously concerned about these outcomes and prep like hell to defend my family & friends.

Optimism

All that said, I am optimistic.

I place the odds at 75% that a miracle cure will in fact pop up soon. I see too many second-hand reports of the #TrumpPills and similar concoctions working to believe they are all flukes. The left will be heartbroken at Trump's certain gloating in the aftermath, but tough, the world will have dodged a bullet. If our casualty rates go way down, then we can all get back to work immediately, and the V-shaped recovery in business (and the stock market) will be incredible.

Furthermore, I place the odds at 50% that some nations deliberately or accidentally go the "herd immunity" route through this epidemic -- get it over with, quickly. They will show the rest of the world that it is not THAT bad. Heck, we may see it with organizations such military units or police forces, where sick members just cannot be put into idle-quarantine in significant numbers. In this case too, I expect the lockdowns to be wound quite a way down, maybe with some halfway protection measures (mandatory public masks) in place AND tacitly accepting defeat of curve-flattening. No V recovery in this case, but still better than an indefinite lockdown & mayhem.

And when it's over, let's repatriate all that industry we foolishly sent to China, or at least anything with a plausible national security angle. Nationalism will reign awhile. Good, we have had too much of the opposite. In the mean time, let's stay skeptical of government and experts. Let't not be too harsh on each other daring to set foot on some green space or meeting friends. We will muddle through. Good luck to us all.

Posted Thu Apr 2 00:04:01 2020 Tags:

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