Header change…

The previous header (a lady dressed as a popcorn box) was from carnival a few years ago in the Canary Islands. It seems a bit… frivolous now so I decided something more appropriate might be this…

The sign read (I think) “Exhibition of faith” and is advertising an Easter diorama in Malta (the picture was taken on a side street in Valletta a few years ago).

A bit bittersweet since I’m not sure when I’ll have enough faith to fly and share the breath of a bunch of strangers again….

 

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I’ve Looked at Plagues from Both Sides Now…

At various times over the last month or so coronavirus has seemed like a dark approaching storm blowing away all in its way, an overhyped media story, a temporary inconvenience that will soon be forgotten, a dark abyss that everyone is tumbling into, a massive socio-economic “reset” button, the tool of hidden powers to carry out some sinister agenda that I can barely guess at, an unavoidable inconvenience or some terrible lottery that everyone is forced to take part in. It seems like all of these things and more more or less all the time with different versions seeming more likely at different points in the day.

What actually happened, and what is happening now behind the scenes may never be fully known. What will happen moving forward after the crisis stage ends remains a vast unknown and consequences will likelyu take months or years to shake out.

 

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Never Enough Busywork…

Since classes were cancelled (beginning March 11) the administration both of the college and the university have been going berserk about making classes ‘zdalne’ (remote). Within the first week my department asked instructors what we’re doing and I answered (basically posting materials online and corresponding with students by email – the world does not need me making videos).

Then a flood of emails started arriving about various possibilities for posting materials and making video lecturers available and even managing to do real time lectures (like video conferencing I suppose).

The peak was yesterday when I had to give the same information I’d already given to my department to the faculty (wydziaƂ, more like a college at a US university) in three different formats…. and yet another format arrived this morning.

Some I’m spending less time in correspondence and more time in repeatedly giving nervous bureaucrats the same information in very slightly different formats….

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Not Enough Degrees of Separation

I had to change offices and realized I have to throw out a bunch of old student work I’d been letting pile up for years (there are good and dumb reasons for that). Due to EU privacy regulations anything with a name on it has to be destroyed rather than just chucked into the recycle bin.

As I was going through a stack and crossing out names, one seemed to ring a bell in a way that others didn’t. Then I took a second look and realized why. The name was the same as one of the most famous missing person cases (and possibly murder victim) in the country over the last 10 years.

She had attended a company party and was spotted on CCTV cameras near a bridge clearly intoxicated and in the company of a male co-worker at which point she disappeared.

The male co-worker was arrested and released a time or two and after her body was finally found in the river (after several months 12 kilometers from the bridge she was last seen at). He was eventually tried for murder but the story never added up. The timing was more or less impossible given later sightings of him on CCTV and there was never a convincing motive. There was briefly an idea that she had resisted his advances but it turned out that he was gay. He was acquitted though that verdict is still being examined and the case remains unsolved.

I wasn’t sure if this former student was the same person as the possible murder victim but a few minutes of internet checking convinced me that she was. She was in my classes for two academic years, but I don’t remember her at all. She was in a weekend program in a group of over 20 students and my classes only met ten times per academic year over five years ago and over two years before her untimely death.

But I’m still kind of freaked out…

 

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Manufacturing Joementum

From the outside, American political processes don’t appear anything like the way they appear from the inside. American politics is a bit like Tinkerbell, it needs the belief that everything is working to continue – but when you’re not immersed in the “the system is working” propaganda loop and just see the results it’s obvious that it’s deeply broken.

The current status of Joe Biden as democratic front runner might seem like the result of “what the voters want” within the US media cocoon but from Europe it looks the result of months of planned and coordinated action by the DNC, from the immolation of the Iowa caucus (to prevent Sanders from getting any momentum) to the maintenance of the Warren campaign long after it was clear it had no smallest chance of success to the precipitously timed resignations of Buttigieg and Klobuchar (and later Bloomberg) it looks more like an Oceans 11 plot than an organic political process.

Enjoy your sundowning barely functional and very unhealthy nominee Democrats, by this point it’s what you deserve.

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Strangers on a Strange Planet….

The process of finding the Democratic nominee for President of the US of A has been terribly frustrating. The candidates are mostly uninspiring (when not downright repulsive and/or evil). And the campaigns themselves (debates, everything else) have been infuriatingly irrelevant and pointless.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania: buttigieg robot

Candidate Xil’xi4t7 consulting with his supervisor before interacting with the hyou-manz

This is what alienation looks like in a political system. The candidates (with the partial exceptions of Sanders and Gabbard) are so removed and alienated from the rest of the population that they literally cannot think in terms of policies that benefit most citizens. They often seem like real extra-terrestrials masquerading in their new human costumes and trying to blend in. When asked about issues that they don’t understand (which is all of them) they access their incomplete data banks and go off on wild tangents in hilariously failed attempts at fraternizing with this weird species that they find simultaneously ridiculous and repellent.

Once you think of it in those terms it’s almost entertaining.

 

 

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Bad Bets

This is all absolutely true and hardly mentioned at all by anyone. The entire industrial world bet the house that economic engagement with China would turn the Chinese government into democrats and that making China the global economic linchpin for almost every industry on the planet would pay big dividends forever with no possible downside.

The Wuhan virus is not all that scary as viruses go but it’s absolutely existentially terrifying in economic terms as a significant slowdown of any length is liable to have really awful consequences for pretty much everyone. There were major problems with supplies of some medicines in Poland a few months ago because the existing pharmaceutical industry has largely been shut down and what’s left is dependent on Chinese ingredients.

Worse yet, if the virus burns itself out in the spring then I predict that no one will have learned anything and will just double down on depending on the good will and ongoing health (literal and metaphorical) of the Chinese economy. Even worse yet, the idiots that made these decisions will not suffer any consequences…. it’ll be the rest of us.

 

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