Elon Musk ‘built by aliens’ shock. (Seen here with Cap’n Lucky Pick’n’mix aboard the Starship Free Enterprise,)
It’s always worse than you think
“Our data is (sic!) also trusted and used by the UK Government, Johns Hopkins CSSE, the Government of Thailand, the Government of Vietnam, the Government of Pakistan, Financial Times, The New York Times, Business Insider, BBC, and many others.”
The BogPo has relied for months on Covid data from the Worldometers website, which is presented clearly in realtime with simple graphs and updated fully at midnight, GMT, with a link back to the previous day’s numbers. Thus one can easily see when new cases in, say, the USA have topped 70 thousand in one day, and where every country’s place is in the league table of infections. (Sadly, the UK has slipped down to 12th place and may be about to lose its Number Three spot in the global death tolls.)
Clicking on a country, you can drill down further into the data, for instance see the headline numbers broken down by state or other administrative region; and there’s an alphabetical list of over 200 countries with links directly to their official sources, from where the numbers are derived. It’s all very impressive.
“Worldometers is cited as a source in over 10,000 published books and in more than 6,000 professional journal articles and was voted as one of the best free reference websites by the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world.”
But apparently that’s not good enough for The Guardian‘s opinion writers and columnists, or those of the Washington Post, and of many other publications and media outlets who – although they usually claim to be reliant on Johns Hopkins university’s published figures, which in turn are apparently derived from Worldometers, are invariably running between three and five thousand cases and many hundreds of deaths behind the curve, regardless of the time of the published dateline.
For some reason known only to himself, lockdownitis probably, your Old Uncle finds himself becoming infuriated when, for instance, a splash headline records that the numbers have just passed some significant milestone, another million or whatever, and claims that it has some political significance, when according to the Worldometers’ site it did so three days earlier, AND I KNEW ABOUT IT!
Or when an MSNBC host criticizing the Trump administration’s pathetic response to the coronavirus, tells us it has led to ‘130 thousand American deaths’, when the Worldometers number at that moment is running at a rather more shocking 142 thousand.
It somehow seems important to get these things right, Lord knows why.
4 Aug: Guardian ‘update’ – “US cases hit 4.7 million”. Worldometers table: USA 4,862,513.
Fun with Daddy’s car…
“Most cars weigh between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds (1,100 to 1,360 kilograms), but many will float for a period of time if they’re in as little as 12 inches (30 cm) of water. How is that possible? Let’s find out with this at-home activity from AccuWeather….” – website.
Give us Liberty AND give us Death
At least 20 thousand Germans. supposedly the most disciplined and serious people in Europe, marched through Berlin at the weekend to protest at the federal Government’s coronavirus measures, designed for their own protection. Their placards demanded freedom from tyranny.
The organizers, none of whom so far as we know was President Trump, insisted that 1.2 million had turned out, while 133 were arrested as pockets of sporadic violence broke out against the police, who were trying in vain to enforce masking and social distancing regulations. The Guardian reported:
“The demonstrators spanned a wide range of interest groups, from left to rightwing extremists, including members of the neo-Nazi NPD party and Reichsbürger or Citizens of the Reich – who reject the legitimacy of the German state – as well as followers of QAnon, the rightwing conspiracy theory group , members of the Querdenken or Lateral Thinkers movement, followers of the anti-Islam protest group Pegida, anti-vaxxers and self-declared esotericists. Some individuals said they were not affiliated to any group.”
Stolid, stable, now peaceable Germany is signing on once again with the crazies.
The perception that the British government has been taken over by rabid Brexiteers who have lost any sense of danger or social and economic responsibiity is enhanced by the latest analysis that the driving force behind Johnson’s nominally Conservative cabinet is a set of principles developed over 20 years ago by a tiny ‘sect’ of pseudo-intellectuals calling itself the Revolutionary Communist Party, whose revolutionary ideas have apparently now come to the fore.
Admittedly, there’s not a lot revolutionary about wanting to grab all the money for yourself and screw everyone else, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood, so we’ll press on.
Former leading members of the party have been receiving odd preferments. Ms Munira Murzi is head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, number two only to Dominic Cummings, who has recently been praised for his self-aggrandizing ideas by the American alt-right-nihilist and well-heeled contrarian, Steve Bannon. Johnson, it’s said, was in thrall to Mirza while Mayor of London, claiming that she is one of the five people who have had most influence on his life – clearly his mother isn’t among them; while the libertarian one-woman awkward squad, Claire Fox has just received a life peerage for doing absolutely fuck-all for the benefit of the nation.
“Despite its name”, writes political journalist Andy Becket in a thought-provoking Guardian Opinion, “most of its stances were not communist or revolutionary but contrarian: it supported free speech for racists, and nuclear power; it attacked environmentalism and the NHS.” RCP alumni hold important posts, write challenging articles in rightwing media, run well-funded thinktanks through which have come other Tory politicians, for instance Michael Gove at the Policy Exchange.
And now, like their own dirty underpants, they smell power.
So don’t look to Number Ten for echoes of Thatcherism; only for wacky ideas re-presenting the Tory party as the exciting home of social paradigm shifters bearing us all away to an unplanned future – somewhat at odds with the notion of, er… conserving anything.
Unlike the crude blend of well-armed dissent in the United States, occupying town halls – driven by dull-witted conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Confederate throwbacks to the Jim Crow era, survivalists, ‘Right-to-lifers’, demented shock-jocks and followers of so-called evangelical christianity, that has nothing whatever to do with the biblical teachings of Christ but argues instead that Trump has been sent directly from God to redeem them.
These boobies have taken to their hearts, beliefs in alien visitations, the Zionist program (mainly involving poor George Soros, who only ever tries to do good) for world domination and the ‘blood libel’, imagining that Jews, rather than Trump’s border Nazis, are stealing babies for sacrificial purposes, and mixed them with notions of Satanic possession, Democrat party cannibal pedophilia rings, the evils of vaccination and modern science, the approaching ice-age, the Rapture and God-knows what-else.
The obtuse contrarianism of their attitudes is being pointed up by their violent support of 2nd-amendment gun rights, that they fear losing more than life itself. The ‘right to bear arms’ was aimed squarely at resisting the power of an overweening government royally imposed from England. Trump, as overweening a royal personality as you can get, a man who believes he has the right to interfere in any part of the national life that momentarily diispleases him, or for electoral advantage, is busily establishing an autocracy deploying irregular forces on American streets to suppress dissent – and they love it!
Trump has given them something to live for.
Just as long as you don’t try to force them to take precautions against a pandemic many still believe is a hoax. In that case they will threaten to lynch you.
Yet they refuse to confront the real enemy staring them in the face: gangster capitalism, that has wiped out all hopes of economic progress for the vast majority, and is taking away the social supports and healthcare apparatus – however little – they depend on.
Your old Uncle is increasingly convinced that a kind of millennarian anarchy is taking hold, reminiscent of the many loony-fruit little tribal groups that sprang up at the end of the 19th century, especially in the world of the Arts; but magnified by social media. He’s been casting about online for evidence of earlier groups popping up, similarly attached to nutty ideas, defying both authority and orthodoxy in times of plague or famine. He feels sure they existed, but Google Search holds on to their secrets for now.
You’d think we’d be over that, but the Age of Enlightenment came under impossible pressure after the technological obscenities of the first and second world wars, the trauma of the nuclear standoff – humanity’s PTSD. With a newer, faster generation of nuclear weapons-lite that military men are reportedly contemplating as being more usable and a little less existentially threatening to the entire planet, the clock is standing at just 110 seconds to midnight.
If the nukes don’t getcha, the climate crisis is really hotting up. The odds that, even without an El Niño, 2020 will be the hottest year on record (since 2018) are stacking up as vast swathes of north America, the Middle East and northern India are posting temperatures many experts are telling us are not survivable, although so far they observably are, just about, for most people caught in them.
Wildly anomalous temperatures too have come to the Arctic; vast areas are burning again, including the Brazilian rainforest – while Australia is approaching its Spring season, two months away, with the risk that uncontrollable wildfires might once again kill another three billion members of non-human species that cannot escape. While the IPCC and the media continue to prate about holding the line below 1.5 degrees celsius, we’re already well past that, post-1750. Three degrees is perfectly attainable within the next two or three years.
As we are asked to breathe an atmosphere containing a higher concentration of CO2 than the world has known since before Mankind divagated from the apes, and since we know that high concentration of CO2 does cause cognitive decline, it’s no wonder the human mind and society are rapidly disintegrating.
As TS Eliot put it, we can only take so much reality.
The past is a different country
A tailpipe to the above, as an editor of History books I once had some dealings with a founder member of the RCP, prof. Frank Furedi. The editor of History Today, he’d pulled together 50 past articles for an omnibus to celebrate the half-centenary of the magazine. One of them intrigued me: I forget the author, it may have been AJP Taylor. It argued that the Nazis had supported the Zionist movement and even financed the building of factories in Palestine, to encourage Jews to emigrate from Germany.
Years later, poor old Ken Livingston was booted out of the Labour party for repeating this dreadful heresy.
“Russia has said the 33 – claimed to be members of the shadowy Wagner mercenary group – were only transiting via Belarus en route to Istanbul. And Russia insists they had no mission to interfere in the Belarus presidential election.”
Obviously on their way to Specsavers….
Tweet not for whom the bell trolls
Meanwhile, the Orange Nightmare has tweeted that one of his top “as seen on TV” medical advisors, Dr Deborah Birx, universally known as ‘scarf lady’, is “pathetic”, appeasing the Democrat party’s response to his failed leadership on coronavirus, after she warned that deaths could rise to 300 thousand by December unless people took a more responsible attitude.
Well, she is pathetic. Why doesn’t she just tell the tottering old tyrant where to stick his fucking job? It would do her no harm at all, ratings-wise. In the meantime, another of his top cabinet people has tested positive, I forget which – Acting National Security Advisor? Whatever. Take some hydroxy, you’ll be fine.
Tweet not for whom the bell trolls, Mad King Donald. It trolls for thee.
A family in Texas who took their young son for a test at a private drive-in facility after he started displaying possible symptoms of Covid-19 found that their insurance company had been billed $175 for the test and $1,784 for a doctor to check his temperature in the emergency room. When they examined the health facility’s terms they found they had been lucky: the upper limit for charging for testing had been set at $100 thousand. – Washington Post.
Mr Geoff Pugh, of Edmonton, North London, was “flabbergasted” to receive by post, a £90 parking fine, that he had incurred while queuing for 20 minutes with his family for a test in a local shopping center car park. The parking contractor explained apologetically that no-one had told them the area was being used for Covid testing that day.
Having threatened on grounds of data security to shutdown the Chinese-owned TikTok web platform beloved of millions of young Americans, massively depressing the share price, Trump instead decided to shakedown Microsoft to buyout the US-registered company. With negotiations at an advanced stage, he has tweeted out that he expects the US Treasury to get a substantial – but illegal – cut of the purchase price in order to speed regulatory approval.
He wanted credit, he said, for having thought of the idea. We have yet to hear what he imagines China is going to do with the personal data of millions of Taylor Swift fans.
Middle East: temperatures during the past week topped 53C, 128F in Iraq and Kuwait. In Yemen, however, heavy rain has continued to cause devastation. 111.8 mm of rain fell in Hodeidah governorate in 24 hours to 4 Aug. The heavy rain has caused flooding, buildings to collapse and dam failure. At least 20 fatalities have been reported in the last few days as a result. (Floodlist)
Afghanistan: “As many as 14 people died and 6 more injured in flash flooding after heavy rain in Nangarhar province, 02 Aug. Hundreds of homes were destroyed. Flooding was also reported in Parwan Province where homes and roads were damaged or destroyed in areas of the provincial capital, Charikar.” (Floodlist)
India: “Flooding in the state of Uttar Pradesh has worsened over the last few days, with over 300 villages affected. Heavy monsoon rainfall caused rivers to rise in mid July. Further heavy rain has fallen in river catchments since then, in particular in Nepal. As of 3 Aug. the Ghagra, Rapti and Ganges rivers were flowing above severe flood alert levels in 5 locations.” (Floodlist)
Sudan: “Floods have left at least 5 people dead and over 2,300 homes damaged or destroyed.” In Blue Nile province a dam gave way, destroying 1200 homes. “Flooding and heavy rainfall damaged around 1000 houses in the capital Khartoum and surrounding areas.” (Floodlist)
“There’s also been heavy flooding in North Darfur after 125mm of rain fell in 8 hours on 1 Aug. Dozens of homes have been damaged or severely destroyed in areas around Al-Laite.”
South Korea: “14 people have been killed and more than 1,000 forced from their homes as 42 consecutive days of rain, South Korea’s longest monsoon in seven years, triggered floods and landslides. The victims included 3 New Zealanders from the same family, who were found dead on 3 Aug. after a landslide hit holiday cottages in Gapyeong county, north-east of the city.” (Guardian)
Vietnam: as the world’s poster child for coronavirus response starts to struggle with a fresh outbreak originating in Danang, Floodlist reports, at least 2 people have died in flash flooding after heavy rainfall brought on by Tropical Storm Sinlaku.
“Meanwhile hundreds of homes have been flooded as the storm dumped heavy rainfall making its way over Laos and Thailand. The storm is expected to move towards Myanmar, where heavy monsoon rainfall has (already) affected thousands of people in recent days.”
USA: temperatures in California during the week hit 53C, 128F in Death Valley. Major wildfires have broken out. The Apple Fire was straddling Riverside and San Bernardino counties near Los Angeles, Sunday and consumed more than 23 sq miles of dry brush and timber, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. (AccuWeather) “In a Sunday evening update, officials said there were 2,266 personnel, 29 hand-crews, 9 helicopters, 260 engines and 11 water tenders fighting the fire. (CNN) 8,000 people are on evacuation watch.
“Isaias lashed the Bahamas as a Category 1 hurricane, making landfall around midday 01 Aug., before it approaches the Florida coast on Sunday and then eyes the southeastern U.S. coast early in the week.” AccuWeather. Up to 10-in rain can be expected.
Update: from New York Times, 5 Aug: “At least 2 people were killed after a tornado spawned by the tropical storm touched down in Bertie County, N.C. At least 12 people were hospitalized, and 3 were unaccounted for. In New York, a person was killed after a tree fell on a vehicle in Queens.” 3 million experienced power outages.
Behind Isaias, which had strengthened again to a Cat 1 hurricane before making landfall, 2 more tropical waves out of Africa are being given a small chance of developing. “The next names on the list of tropical storms for 2020 in the Atlantic are Josephine and Kyle.”
Europe: As the heatwave recedes southwards after baking Paris at 38C, 100F during the past week, Switzerland, southern Germany, western Austria and northern Italy can expect supercell storms, with severe winds, tornadoes, large hail and torrential/excessive rainfall with flash floods. (Severe-weather.eu)