23
Feb 20

Chess fallen queenChess is a game of extraordinary—sometimes infuriating— complexity.

Sixty-four squares, thirty-two pieces: it seems simple enough, on the surface.  But after just four moves, more than 288 billion different positions are possible.

To play the game well one must look seven or eight moves ahead, mentally mapping out the consequences of each possible move while weighing the potential responses and strategies of your opponent.  Placing a single piece in error can lead to disaster.

The best chess players—the grandmasters—craft opening moves with endgames already in mind.  Like top field generals, they hold the entire battlefield in their minds with perfect clarity.

Each piece on the chessboard plays a vital role.  But by far the most versatile piece, and hence the most critical to success, is the queen. (The king, technically the most important, exists only to be protected.)

Unlike chess, health care administration is not a game.  But like chess, it is extraordinarily, sometimes infuriatingly, complex—requiring careful deployment and coordination of numerous pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

18
Feb 20

Anarchy

Rail lines blocked.  A provincial legislature shut down.  The nation’s economy crippled.  Mob rule crowding out the rule of law.

Like many Canadians, I’m aghast at what is happening to our country.

Never have we been so fractured.

Never has our federation been at greater risk of coming apart.

Province is set against province, industry against industry, citizen against citizen.

Even before the current brouhaha over B.C.’s Coastal GasLink project, Canada was battling unprecedented division.

The cracks that appeared soon after Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister in 2015 have widened steadily into yawning chasms, notwithstanding Mr. Trudeau’s fulsome pledges of sunny ways and healing reconciliation.

Last October, inconceivably, Mr. Trudeau was rewarded for four years of dithering, divisive, corrupt non-leadership with a second term in office, thanks largely to the voters of the Greater Toronto area, aided by a hefty boost of political interference from Barack Obama and the Greta Thunberg propaganda machine.  (Maybe the GTA could become a country unto itself and let the rest of us get on properly with our business.  I dare to dream.)

Canadians are now reaping the full harvest of what Mr. Trudeau has sown.

Today—thanks to his incessant, inept, virtue-signaling twaddle—we have reached rock-bottom. Read the rest of this entry »

11
Feb 20

Pandemic

My father was a man of deep convictions.

He even sneezed with conviction.

He’d fumble in the hip pocket of his green work trousers—his face rapidly turning a deep shade of crimson—and produce a giant red handkerchief just in time to deliver an earsplitting “HUPSWAAAA!!!!!!!” into its depths.

I have a lasting memory of standing outside with my Dad one bright spring morning as one of his legendary eruptions frightened a long row of starlings—assembled neatly on the power line strung between our house and barn—skyward in chaotic disarray.

I’m every inch my father’s son.  Fifty percent of my DNA came from my mom—but as far as sneezing goes, all my talent comes from Dad. Read the rest of this entry »

1
Feb 20

Flu maskAlmost twelve thousand people infected.

More than 250 dead.

Once again, a new and dangerous virus has escaped its birthplace and begun to march inexorably around the globe.

At the epicenter this time: Wuhan, China, a sprawling metropolis of 11 million people.

It and at least 15 other Chinese cities—more than 60 million people—are on lock-down.

Two brand-new hospitals— frantically erected almost overnight to attend to the afflicted—will open next week in Wuhan.

Municipal leaders have ordained that all residents should wear masks in public; drones are being deployed to berate citizens who don’t comply.  Larger drones are fighting the virus by spraying disinfectant over villages and cities. Read the rest of this entry »

17
Jan 20

Weather 4Dear Climate,

I hate to bother you: I know you’re busy, what with all your “changing” and what not.   But this is important.

Folks talk about you incessantly these days.  Your ears must be burning, even if the planet is not.

We humans are in deep doo-doo because we’ve messed you up so badly, at least according to your best friends Greta, Al, Barack, Leonardo, David, AOC and Justin. (At least they claim to be your besties.  I doubt you pay them any attention as you quietly go about your business, but I’m just speculating).

According to the Saintly Seven we’re doomed either to drown in catastrophically rising seas or to fry to a crisp like overdone onion rings.  Whether we have eight years left, or twelve, or only five minutes, it’s Apocalypse Soon. Read the rest of this entry »

8
Jan 20

expertI wasn’t going to write about this.

I don’t know enough about it to offer anything close to a properly informed opinion.

But after wading through the umpteenth piece excoriating U.S. President Donald Trump for eliminating Quassem Soileimani - the murderous Iranian general who was second-in command to dictator Ayatollah Ali Khameini - I can’t suppress my irritation.

There aren’t enough armchairs on the planet to accommodate all the Monday morning quarterbacks that sprung up in the aftermath of Soilemani’s death - all of them “experts” on the political, sectarian quagmire of the Middle East, a region almost impossible to decipher.

Rarely have so many people claimed to know so much about something they can’t possibly know anything about. Read the rest of this entry »

4
Jan 20

poison ivy

Festive jingles brightened every nook and cranny of Calgary, it seemed, during the recent Yuletide stretch.

My house was no exception.

Practically vibrating with excitement and anticipation on Christmas Eve, my nine-year-old son belted out one carol after another.

His Christmas mix didn’t include restful, time-honoured melodies of yore. 911 Song, set to the tune of Jingle Bells, went something like this:

Dashing through the snow, on a pair of broken skis
Over the hills we go, crashing into trees!
The snow is turning red, I think I’m almost dead,
I woke up in the hospital with stitches in my head, oh!
9-1-1, 9-1-1, Santa Claus is dead!

That gem led on to a gleeful rendition of Deck the Halls With Poison Ivy, followed by Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, all delivered at 110 decibels.  A Silent Night was not in the cards, musically or literally.

My ears were still ringing as 2020, fresh and clear-eyed, took over from a worn-out 2019.

It struck me that Alberta’s pediatricians and family doctors might relate to poor old Grandma., seeing as they got run over by a health minister just before Christmas.  They were caught every bit as flat-footed as the old lady trampled by those reindeer.  After all, they’d had reason to feel secure: Premier Jason Kenney publicly guaranteed that his government would not cut access to care. Read the rest of this entry »

18
Dec 19

GuaranteeDecember 18, 2019

Attention:  Tyler Shandro, Alberta Minister of Health

 

Dear Minister Shandro,

I’ve writing to you today from my vantage point as a 15-year veteran of emergency medicine at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

When you were sworn in last spring as the new Minister of Health for Alberta, I was optimistic that this challenging and complex portfolio would be handled with skill and sensitivity.

You are an accomplished lawyer, not a physician.  But you are the scion of a medical family: I knew you would be endowed with insights beyond those displayed by many of your predecessors.

Hence I was dismayed by your ministry’s sudden broadside against doctors. Read the rest of this entry »

21
Nov 19

yesterday icon

Mere mention of the old Beatles classic sets my mental jukebox a-spinnin’:

Yesterday,

All my troubles seemed so far away

But now it seems as though they’re here to stay.

Oh, I believe… in yesterday...

Suddenly,

I'm not half the man I used to be

There's a shadow hanging over me

I keep it confined to my head, of course.  The last time I busted out in unbridled song all the small animals fled my neighbourhood and didn’t come back for weeks.

Yesterday is a meaningless ditty about shattered romance dreamt up whole-cloth by Paul McCartney one night in 1965,

For many, though, it’s an anthem for hard times. Read the rest of this entry »

15
Nov 19

 

Don Cherry

 

“Downtown Toronto, forget it. 

Downtown Toronto, nobody wears the poppy…

You people that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, love our milk and honey.

At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that.

These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.

These guys paid the biggest price.”

 

That’s not poetry, but vintage Coach’s Corner stuff on Hockey Night in Canada: another politically incorrect, non-hockey-related rant from 85-year-old Canadian icon Don “Grapes” Cherry.

This time it exploded like a bomb and ended his career. Read the rest of this entry »