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From ABC News: "Russian President Vladimir Putin is being protected from coronavirus around the clock."

Posted March 19 by John Birmingham

In unrelated news: sudden unexplained rise in deaths from the common cold leave Moscow medicos baffled!

3 Responses to ‘From ABC News: "Russian President Vladimir Putin is being protected from coronavirus around the clock." ’

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted March 19
Oh?

Did they build a ring of fire around him? The Pope will be none too pleased that they stole the Catholic solution to plague.

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Dave W mutters...

Posted March 19
Moscow medicos are not baffled. In fact, there is no unexplained rise in deaths from the common cold. In fact, the common cold has always been the cause of this many deaths. And Putin cannot get the common cold. Or any other kind of cold. This fact is very well known.

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WA n'ker would have you know...

Posted March 19
Reminds one of "There are no ghosts in the Soviet Union "
Tovarich@

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Good luck to you all

Posted March 18 by John Birmingham

It's weird watching one of your books play out in real life. The last time I had this experience it was fun. The stage play of Falafel was running at the Bridge Hotel in Sydney and every now and then I would take an old flatmate through to see themselves on stage. Good times.
Now I read the news and see plotlines from my books being plagiarised by reality. Mostly Zero Day Code, of course. But bits and pieces from The Wave and The Dave trilogies too. The bits about things falling apart. We haven't got to the chapter in Zero Day where a free range militia shoots up the grocery store, but that's probably only a couple of weeks away in the US; once the supply chains start to break down. Once people can't get the money to pay for food.
This is what I've been thinking about recently. Money. The virus is bad and it's going to kill a lot of people, not all of them in their 80s and 90s. But the economic Holocaust is going to make the 1930s look like a pool party. With complimentary hookers and blow.
In Australia, hell, in most places that aren't America, we congratulate ourselves for our civilised workplace culture. Sick leave, annual leave, personal leave, and so on. But those things have limits. They usually tap out at about four weeks. What happens after that, because this thing is going to go on for months. The economy is a perpetual motion machine. It is never stopped before. We have no theories to explain what is about to happen. What's happening already. Nobel prize-winning economists are as clueless as talkback radio hosts. If I was plotting this out for a book however, and coincidentally I am, I would project forward to massive, massive job losses, bankruptcies, financial Armageddon. And then, Hobbesian violence.
Perhaps my view is skewed because I work in the arts and I look around me and I see people whose annual income has just evaporated. Mine has shrunk, but I still have options. Lots of people don't. And there are no boltholes. All of the shitty, low status, no future options in the gig economy are rapidly disappearing. Even Uber Eats and deliverroo are going to disappear because the café's and restaurants on which they feast like parasites are all going out of business.
Governments are talking about handing out money. Not much money, because they don't have much. Most of the world's wealth is hidden away in a PO Box in the Seychelles, or Bermuda or the Dutch Antilles, where a bunch of billionaires hid it to avoid paying tax. So maybe you'll get a cheque for $1000 in the next couple of weeks. And may be $2000 a couple of months after that. But then the well runs dry.
I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this. Nowhere, probably. I just needed to get off Twitter, and the never-ending shit show of my news apps.
I have plenty of things to be getting on with. Books mostly. So I suppose I should get back to it.
Good luck to you all. If anybody decides to put a raiding party together to go after Clive Palmer or the Walmart or Murdoch families, let me know.

33 Responses to ‘Good luck to you all’

Vovchara is gonna tell you...

Posted March 18
Good luck to you too mate.
I am thinking about grinding my Japanese kitchen knife down to more useful form, due to lack of firearms in Germany :D

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 19
Oh, I don't know. Gloom and doom Debbie Downer that I can be, we'll get through this. We've gotten through worse.

Per money, at the moment, those entitlements that people like to complain about (I know I am nominally right of center so stand by) are held by people that still have to buy food, supplies, services, and the like. In my household, all three of us get something (we EARNED THAT, by the fucking way, I especially earned mine).

We've been busy buying what we normally buy, groceries, fuel, services, and the like.

Further, we have multiple revenue streams, not just from the government. I have revenue that is secure until May at the earliest. Then it is just a matter of seeing if the pools open.

If they don't, worst case, I could always fall back to security work, better trained now thanks to my time in Aquatics than I ever was during the Uniguard era.

That, plus a massive influx of government spending means, I suspect, that the apocalypse probably isn't upon us yet.

Too early to be this gloomy.

Murphy
On the Outer Marches

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insomniac mutters...

Posted March 19
If there's any silver lining, it's that we might delay catastrophic global warming by a few years. This current crisis will be small fry compared to that. Hopefully the clear skies and things like clear water in Venice will give us the impetus to keep those going and be more responsible towards the environment.

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19
We could control that with some properly placed, controlled nuclear detonations. I have a few targets in mind.

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Naut reckons...

Posted March 19
I think it's interesting that we all assume worst case end game is anarchy.

The reality is that if things get too bad we could just go back to normal operations and a bunch of vulnerable people will die. It will have a hugely negative impact on society as a whole, but not the complete breakdown of civilisation.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted March 19
Wasn't the Economic Collapse, The Great Depression and World War II followed by some of the most progressive and social reformist changes the west had ever embraced - hopefully, that can happen sooner rather than later if we have to ditch the 'devil take the hindmost' attitude that seems to be at the heart of neo-liberalism/Riech wing ideology.

Drew swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
You'd hope that the by the end of this the world is going to be brought kicking and screaming to a universal basic income with huge wealth taxes to offset inflation.

A previously unthinkable change is now immediately and obviously thinkable.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted March 19
You post had a bit of the cadence of Edward R Murrow's I expected you to finish with "Good night and good light".

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted March 19
my apologies
"Good night and good luck"

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Halwes puts forth...

Posted March 19
We've got fishing gear and a freshwater creek running into an estuary. Seems the blackfellas really have had it right all this time ! As for social isolation, I'm a single, grouchy, old man. Social isolation is my preferred default position. To be honest though, the stock market runs on fear and greed and I'm starting to believe that that's what society runs on as well. "We'll all be rooned" said 'Anrahan.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted March 19
I want my fluffy dog pictures JB! I thought you were running this place as a new optimistic channel. : ) I was joking to some mates to see if they wanted to run a pool for how long it takes for people to start stockpiling petrol. I have to fill my jerrycan up tonight because i have to mow on the weekend - i do not want to start a stampede. It's coming though - we all know it is.

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted March 19
I'm feeling super-smart right now. Mrs W and I just invested in an EV, plugs right into a wall socket. Yes, yes, I know that the power might go off. But given that Oz runs only a few weeks of reserve of fossil fuel stuff and doesn't have any refineries, all the stockpiling in the world won't get you more than a few days worth of driving.

I'm betting that if this shit-show really gets going, the power will stay on longer than the petrol supply will last.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
We have refineries, there's one in Kwinana in WA...

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted March 20
My bad. I've definitely read that we simply don't hold best-practice reserves here in Oz.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted March 20
We definitely don't; we count the stuff in transit on ships as being part of the reserve, which just boggles the mind. How can it be part of the reserve if it's not IN THE COUNTRY?

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20
Ahhhh, so that's the situation. Yeah, so in that sense my original point does stand.

EVs for the win?

she_jedi mutters...

Posted March 21
Hell yeah, EVs will help save us

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted March 19
I’m going to skew more optimistically than most. The thing is, money is an artificial construct. A country like Australia technically can’t run out of money, the Reserve Bank can just keep ‘printing’ money as they see fit, which is what our American cousins did with quantitative easing during the GFC/Great Recession. Australia could go into complete lockdown, keeping open essential places like supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations, but otherwise shut down the economy and pay everyone, regardless of wealth or income, to stay home until the pandemic passes. Yes, this will drive the country’s debt levels into the stratosphere, but it’ll ensure that businesses and people don’t go bankrupt, and more importantly ensure that we strangle the pandemic. With interest rates now essentially at zero the government could borrow trillions at 0% for DECADES to prop up society and prevent the collapse and Hobbesian violence/decay curve.

Once a vaccine has been developed, we can reboot the economy and re-open everything. The productivity and demand boost we’ll get when lockdown is cancelled and we can all socialise safely again will start to pay down the national debt as company and income tax receipts start flowing; the important thing is that we’ll still have a working and productive population because we wouldn’t have lost 30% of it in the pandemic (how’s that ‘herd immunity’ theory going UK?). Australia’s national debt is sitting at around 27% of GDP, which is a historical high, but other countries are continuing to function at 150%+ debt levels (hello Japan and USA)!, so we have a lot of room to move, even if the AAA credit rating, another artificial construct, takes a hit (it will literally mean Australia pays a slightly higher interest rate on its borrowings, but we would’ve just borrowed at zero so...)

One of the interesting outcomes of the pandemic so far is the slow dawning realisation that we live in a society, not an economy, an uncomfortable realisation for the proponents of neoliberalism, who’ve been ignoring that inconvenient truth for 40 years. The economy exists to serve society, not the other way around. The side effects of this huge money printing binge might be an increase in inflation (at the moment a good thing, since we’re bordering on stagflation at the moment at well under the RBA’s 2 – 3% target range), and a collapse in asset prices, which will really only affect the billionaires hoarding all our assets anyway. The tide is about to go out on the obsession with small government and ‘efficiency dividends’, and the notion of a community driven fiscal policy will return (it was the norm after WW2, until Reagan and Thatcher shattered it in the 80s and replaced it with the exultation of the individual, which has led us to this happy place today).

So, in short, the outcome of the current crisis might be a re-ordering of the world to a more community focused, socialistic, one for all, all for one form of policy and politics, where the purpose of public policy is to actually serve the needs of its people rather than its ‘taxpayers’/rent seekers/corporate parasites. Less Venezuela, more Scandinavian utopia! Like I said, optimistic.

insomniac reckons...

Posted March 19
I agree with most of that. Instead of waiting for a vaccine for 12 to 18 months, we could test everybody asap much earlier than that, and round up and isolate anyone testing positive (and household members too I guess), and treat them until well and negative. Then practice social distancing until the vaccine gets here.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted March 19
Exactly! South Korea is leading the world in containing the virus because they're testing EVERYONE. They're managing 15000 tests a day!

Dirk mumbles...

Posted March 19
Though testing everyone is a good thing, there is a small side issue with that. You need a fluid for it to test, and over in the Netherlands we are running out of that stuff according to our local CDC.

We were also running low on facemasks, however with China restarting production on those the first fresh new batch of those has been airlifted in last night.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted March 20
i live in a rural very loose community - we had a thoughtful neighbour checking that no-one has needed to self isolate yet but he is collating a list of people who want to put their hand up to help if/when needed. I think i turned a corner this morning - the feeling of dread has lifted and i've moved back a few stages into Bemusement about the shopping supply thing. Still scratching my head trying to figure out what i'm going to do with all my pumpkins in the veg patch (there are a lot!). I have a few choice zucchinis growing into nice huge marrows - i want to make my grandfathers marrow rum recipe for my dad. He's getting on a bit . . 84 but still hale and hearty and compos mentis. I never met my grandad but heard a lot of stories about him. Tee totaller that would make 'rum' out of marrows to give away to people in merry ol england.

jl ducks in to say...

Posted March 20
Pumpkins are great ground cover, a source of roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin pies, of course. Plus hogs love them as feed, and you can cook them like squash at need, although it is a bit bland. Pumpkin soup, too. I use them as the "squash" leg of the Three Sisters Garden (corn, soup beans and squash), a traditional staple here in the US. Maybe expand the garden a bit this year. Plant only the proven stuff. Not a good year for experimenting.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20
Ohh yeah there is other stuff in there - i have this rotating chicken tractor thing going in my veg patch. Move the dome (4m diameter), plant behind, and eventually it comes full circle (6 pads) and the chickens eat what is left. With the massive drought here in Aus i was planting normally but not really succeeding just keeping things alive with my watering regime. Trying to keep wallabies, possums and kangaroos off them. Then it rained and hooboy - the pumpkin vines exploded. I didn't have the heart to contain them and let them grow to see how far it would go. Lol. A long way. Pumpkin soup is a staple (and storing has worked in the past) but i will have way too much - time to trade with the neighbours.

jl mumbles...

Posted March 20
Yeah, every year I have an amazing surplus of zucchini and cucumbers. Like you I keep chickens as well, no tractor, they have a large enclosure instead. I use their manure and household compost on the garden. Works well. Can't imagine keeping out wallabies and other exotic animals, dogs, deer and foxes are bad enough. Pumpkin vines are the best for a weed-free patch. They're pretty, too. I got lucky last year. My ancient roto-tiller died and I'm going into this season with a brand new machine. Honda engine, it should last for decades. Probably see some hard use this year.

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Drew ducks in to say...

Posted March 19
Something to think on JB. I heard on a podcast yesterday that Gina Rinehart personal wealth (13.8 billion USD) is larger than the stimulus packages that the government is putting together to save the country.

She, herself personally, could foot the 12 billion dollar stimulus...and STILL have a billion left over.

Eat the rich.

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted March 19
Yes good luck to you all! Stay healthy! Regarding fuel - my default transport is a motorcycle (car is for family purposes and lives in the garage mostly),,,but we have the world's supply of pushbikes here (many of which are worth more than my motorbike!), so at least Shank's Pony gets some relief.

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andrew swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
Well, the Spanish government just nationalised their private hospitals, so things _could_ swing in hopeful directions.

On the other hand, our leading lights in the US subtitled their presentation about on-line screening advice something like "new options for consumers", and had big-business CEOs on hand to make the presentation. So sure: as a consumer you can choose between a coronavirus test or a new car. It's up to you. Oh, and one of the testing equipment manufacturers has been sued for patent violation, with an embargo request. So that's working well.

Here in AUS, the "stimulus" package has been doled out colour-coded-spreadsheet style to businesses, who were asked very nicely not to spend it on new labour-reduction technologies or equipment, but instead use it to fund payrolls. Of course you can guess where that's going. Straight into those PO Boxes in the Bahamas that you mentioned.

On the positive side: you don't have to keep everything shut down until the cure is found, just until you've tracked down all of the actually infected. The new infection rate in Wuhan reached zero today, and my Chinese colleagues are heading back to their offices. They'll be wanting to buy more of our red wine and baby formula (or whatever it is that we sell them) before long.

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Dirk is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19
"never waste a good crisis".

I have to concur to the more positive tone in the comments. But we are not out of this minefield yet.

Sitrep: Here in the Netherlands, there is a defacto lockdown. Schools/Bars/Restaurants/Fitness and wellnesscentres are closed, retail is shutting down, and supermarkets had a spike in sales last Friday and Saturday. By scaling up the logistics train (with less deliveries to the restaurant sector - which do cater now in a take away fashion - there was spare trucking capacity available) stocks are being replenished. A 20 billion euro package has been fast tracked through parliament, to keep everybody afloat. That includes the arts, small business owners and small coffeeshops (those that sell coffee as well as our "local pot trading variety") and alike. And money isn't the issue: a government and a central bank can make more if needed.

A hopeful sign is that what I would call a "social reserve" is springing up. Like reservists in times of war, students, former nursing staff and in general everybody that now has time on their hands is reaching out to help. Simple things like grocery shopping for those that can't (including for medical staff), home schooling and virtual social contact.
The latter is due to having access to one of the better broadband and mobile networks in the world; so that will be a thing for other countries to implement. It has become a vital piece of infrastructure now, not only to watch 4K Netflix but also to communicate, shop and educate.

This also has side effects for the future. European air quality improves drastically at the moment. Traffic is less then 10% of normal and the populous is learning how to work from home. Sure a couple of blabbering 4 year olds or bank-hugging millennials don't improve productivity (and I thank the supreme being, I am not blessed/cursed with having either). But when schools and daycare centers reopen (and that is at least after April 6th, over here: my personal bet is that will be May though) some of the experience gained will be integrated in the normal way of things.

Weapon of choice here to combat the virus is like in the UK ‘herd immunity’. And that will entail we will suffer causalities. Nothing to be callus about (predictions are that worst case 40-100.000 will die of this in the Netherlands alone, which is about 75% of the body count we suffered during WW2 - including our share of the Holocaust). On a population of around 17 million that is brutal.

The alternative of locking down the complete country however isn't an option. First the time it would take: without a vaccin it would take 4-6 weeks at least and as soon as an infected person steps over the border, the whole shebang starts from square one, and the quarantine would have been useless. With a vaccin you will need to innoculate 4-8 million people as of yet not infected. And there we come to uncharted waters: how many people can you give a shot per day? Estimates range from about 250,000 - 300,000 per day maybe, half a million if you make it an industrial process. Can you employ robots to help? All unknowns.

Will this in the long run change things? Maybe and I hope so. A step back from a polarized, neo conservative, "make no prisoners" capitalist mentality to a more down to earth and social one, would be imho better for the world at large. Added in maybe a little self reliance, and self confidence, be it energy wise (solar, water wind etc) in food production and transport. But maybe also mentally: we are all in this boat together, and being a selfish bastard isn't the best thing for the whole group.


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jl would have you know...

Posted March 20
There are some really good comments on here. Thoughtful.

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted March 22
Vaya con dios, bitches!!!!

It'll work out, or it won't!

Murph

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Rob asserts...

Posted March 26
Both my kids have lost their jobs. A bit too quickly I think. Just tossed out the door because the pubs they were working at closed. One kid had to remind the owner that they still had to pay them out, and supply them with separation certificates. His boss just blinked and feigned ignorance.

On the other side , my wife is being exposed to an almighty nightmare as a nurse in an ED. She is stressed, and out of duty she is going to work. She doesn't want to deal with assholes yelling at her, or finding people have stolen all the facemasks and handwash.

Nurses aren't going to get a bonus for danger money or pay rises. As the hospitals are shuttered to virus cases only , doctors will be losing money as they are mostly (in private hospitals anyways) contractors, no surgeries no work.

Me on the other hand, I'm just thinking hey kids its okay, you can get the dole and sit back watch TV, pay your rent, eat cheese toasties, game on and listen to guitar laden punk rock and relive your Dad's formative years.

GenX was built for comfort not speed.

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted March 26
This is truly some bad ju-ju going on now, Rob. All the best.

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Respond to 'Good luck to you all'

Cease and desist

Posted March 16 by John Birmingham

Mr Zhao Lijian
Foreign Ministry Spokesman
People’s Republic of China

Dear Mr Zhao

We represent Mr John Birmingham, international super author. It has come to our attention that you, in your role as spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic, have recently published via the microblogging service hereinafter referred to as ‘Twitter’, numerous works of fiction, hereinafter referred to as ‘tweets’ suggesting the US military might have deliberately infected the People’s Republic with the novel coronavirus.
This is an unauthorised use of Mr Birmingham’s copyrighted works, ZERO DAY CODE and FAIL STATE published exclusively in audiobook form and available for purchase right now at all good audiobook retailers as long as they are Audible.
You neither asked for nor received permission from our client to use his tremendously exciting and strangely prescient novel as the basis for your tweets. The People’s Republic of China has infringed our client’s copyright under numerous international statutes and could be liable for statutory damages and a most ferocious snubbing at the next meeting of the Author’s Guild.
We demand that the People’s Republic immediately cease the use and distribution of all exciting end-of-the-world narratives which were sourced from Mr Birmingham’s well reviewed audiobook about a desperate and collapsing US military deploying weaponised viruses to the Chinese mainland. The consequences for non-compliance could be grave, not just for the People’s Republic, but for you personally, Mr Zhao. Many, many book reviewers who have displeased our client have come to regret their precipitate actions when they found themselves coming to a sticky end in later volumes of Mr Birmingham’s works.
If we have not received an apology indicating that you intend to meet our requirements by close of business today, we shall immediately commence proceedings to recover damages or at the very least a couple of five star reviews from you.
On a personal note, our client advises us that your story as published, while serviceable for a first draft, could benefit from some structural work and a more personalised antagonist than something as vague as ‘the US army’. He is wiling to offer you a ten percent discount on his fiction writing masterclass upon production of this letter and the offer code COVID-19.

Yours sincerely
Mr Birmingham’s very expensive lawyer.

7 Responses to ‘Cease and desist’

insomniac puts forth...

Posted March 16
You shouldn't be settling for anything less than a 6 star review

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jl ducks in to say...

Posted March 16
This. This pleases Conan. Not as much as bathing in the blood of Asroth the Sea Demon. But still very good.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted March 18
I've been sitting around with a smug smile on my face saying "ha. Birmo wrote about all this in his books. He's ahead of the curve, this is hilarious" . . . . . but i'm starting to change my point of view. In the shopocalypse there are seven stages: Bemusement, Ridicule, Anger, Disappointment, Sadness, Acceptance and Assimilation. Currently in Disappointment. Figuring by the time i hit Assimilation i'll need a piece of 2x4 with some nails in it just so i can get a tube of toothpaste to squeeze into my tea.

jl ducks in to say...

Posted March 18
bicycle chain and an entrenching tool.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted March 18
Steal some OAP's Seniors Card and go to the supermarket early in the morning. The oldies will be easier to push aside without having to resort to violence.

Dave W mutters...

Posted March 18
I hit acceptance and assimilation on the weekend. We're just in the demand-shock phase of this thing. I sincerely hope that we don't have to go through supply-shock where 10-20% of our logistics workforce is off sick or just in isolation. But if we do, then I think the real problems start and we'll be trying to work out where we put the defensive barricades up on the homestead to effectively keep out roaming looters.

FWIW- shortened star-picket for the win.

jason would have you know...

Posted March 18
i live in a multi cultural part of the world and the shelves are still full of a lot of food because the skippys don't know what it is.

I would also recommend fly spray as the weapon of choice for subduing the ravaging hoarders.

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Back home

Posted March 10 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I've been back in the country for a couple of weeks and working on a long post – "What I did on my holidays". Turns out mostly what I did was avoid catching the coronavirus. I was actually in Milan about a week before everything blew up. The city was crowded, busy, pumping. Even though the weather was cold, grey and drizzly. It's odd to imagine the streets empty and most of the businesses shuttered just a short time later.

And now of course the whole country is in lockdown. I imagine it won't be long before the rest of Europe is the same. And here too.

I've been pondering my current audiobook series – the Zero Day books – and wondering whether I should ramp up the background plague. Probably. On the other hand I'm also going to talk to Jason Lambright about doing a quick pandemic series. Something based on the reality of COVID 19, but fictional.

In the meantime I'm waiting for the hammer to fall. I have jujitsu tonight, and I don't think it'll be long before the health authorities shut us down. Gyms too. And bars, and restaurants, and public gatherings and the rest of it. A lot of businesses are going to go under in the next 3 to 6 months, and they're going to take a lot of people with them.

I think the virus will spread just as widely here as everywhere else, but it probably at a slower rate. Australia has an incredibly powerful Quarantine Act which hands a lot of the decision-making in these sorts of crises to medical professionals. Politicians get cut out of the loop. The Chief Medical Officers of the states and territories and the Commonwealth are teleconferencing a couple of times a week. Possibly every day. Managing the medical issues. It's up to the government to look after the economy.

(Spoiler: The economy is probably doomed.)

But the power given to the medicos means that all things being equal, the rate of infection will be slower here than it is in many other places, meaning that the health system can hopefully absorb the ever increasing number of patients.

For now, I'm just trying to get in as many gym visits as I can. I, er, put on a little bit of pastry and pasta weight while I was away.

11 Responses to ‘Back home’

Barnesm reckons...

Posted March 11
I have heard during a pandemic that one of the first things we run out of is books, so I urge everyone to go out and stock up on books perhaps an uncompleted trilogy about the end of the world might be a good idea.

At the media press-conferences, I wish they would just let the Medico's speak rather than having politicians mugs popping up and trying to parse the advice of the Chief Health Officers.

Though it has been worth it to see the expression on the medicos faces at the pressers when Donald Trump says something and they realise they will need to speak up afterwards and explain how wrong what he just said was.

Naut ducks in to say...

Posted March 11
And books can double as toilet paper if things get really desperate.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 11
How about a Kindle?

Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted March 12
Not sure I want to wipe my arse with a kindle....

Speaking of uncompleted series...one about a girl and a bloke travelling through time....or a superpowered anti hero fighting demons...perhaps an epic space opera with splodeyness etc.? No pressure of course!

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Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted March 11
I think this mob here in Oz have an ideological blind spot on the main issue - both in terms of how to avoid and how to mitigate- of a recession. They will do anything to avoid doing what Labor did in 2008, giving cash money directly to people through the welfare and tax systems. So they will call it economic stimulus and hand it to businesses.

I reckon that this will result in businesses banking it, handing it to shareholders and/or ensuring that their senior managers continue to be well remunerated. I strongly doubt that it will result in the maintenance of many jobs- which is the purpose of a stimulus package. Recessions hurt ordinary people- those who earn wages and salaries. Many of the people who lose their jobs in a recession will never be able to return to their preferred industry.

I also strongly doubt that the a lot of people in the current Government realise that some victims of a recession will never work again.

This might be slightly off topic, but I've wanted to get this off my chest for the past week or so.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 11
I think its a pretty good call. The millions of people forced into casual and gig work with no sick pay or leave benefits the last ten years has created a massive vulnerability in both economic and epidemiological terms. They can't afford to stop working for weeks at a time and their inability to take time off creates a huge population of potential carriers.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted March 16
i have a mate in the music industry - doing BOH work. Pretty much that whole area is screwed. He said gigs were put on for free during the whole bushfire crisis to help raise money and it was all done with no complaints (because they are human) but he is waiting to see what happens to that industry after this (he suspects SFA). He said he still has his van and can adapt to short term jobs if he is able but there are a lot of people that are going to have to queue up at centrelink.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted March 11
i need to panic buy a haircut - in serious need of one and i want to get in before they all shut down too. While i'm there i'll get a couple. : )

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted March 11
So you've been to Korea and now you've been to Italy. Is there a pattern emerging? Are you the superspreader?

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Quokka mutters...

Posted March 18
We've both had colds this week. The nasty type with aches, fevers, chills, which actually had me reaching for the panadol. We never get sick - my GP of 30 years used to roll his eyes when I rocked in for a maintenance check & say 'Get the hell out of my clinic and let me treat the sick people'. We did the sea & tree change a few years ago so my new GP probably thought the same thing when we walked in today, and all he could detect was lungs at 98% oxygenation and two mildly inflamed sore throats. The thing is, the man of the house works in health and they refused to test him unless he had the symptoms that the really sick people are getting, or unless we'd had contact with some from OS who is CV-19+. I know that the government are short on testing kits but they announced that they are expecting 97,000 this week. So my bugbear is this. I am horribly healthy. The virus is unpredictable but I have no risk factors and it's reasonable to assume that forty years worth of yoga and lentil dahl have put me in the category that may well only show mild symptoms of the kind you'd expect from seasonal flu. I have a health science degree and I had to do a unit on understanding data. Maths has never been my strong point but I know enough to understand that if you are only testing the sector of the community who fall into the high risk category - and have been in touch with someone from overseas - then this is what you call 'skewing' the results. It smacks of manipulating the data. One of my besties lives in Singapore - she says she can't exit the building without someone taking her temperature. She's back in the country and is stunned at how slack the response is, here. The thing is, if we'd been tested today, we'd have a result soon and we'd know if we had a negative result, to continue to be cautious. If we had a positive result we'd know to stay TF at home until given the all clear - and then we'd be out contributing to the economy again. Because I don't know - and won't know - I'm looking at the next six months of practicing caution and not doing stuff and not spending, and this won't be good for the local economy. It just seems like a no-brainer to test widely, as Singapore does. I've heard that only 1% of their tests return a CV-19+. But what that means is that the people have certainty and they have confidence in the government. My GP wouldn't meet my eyes today when he explained the government had set strict guidelines for who could be tested. He said that if it was up to him, he'd offer us both the test so that we had peace of mind. Probably we do have the bog standard bugs that circulate at this time of year, but if we can't test at the same level as Singapore, then the response isn't good enough.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 18
It probably won't help, but there is a shocking cold going around. Everyone in our house but me has had it.

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I have forgotten how money works

Posted January 30 by John Birmingham

I landed in Rome a day and a half ago and have been reacquainting myself with the city. Some things have changed. The Romans now obey the traffic signals, which is great. And some things haven’t. They still refuse to queue in an orderly fashion for anything.

One thing that’s changed about me; I’ve forgotten how to use cash. There’s no real contactless payment infrastructure here. Credit cards and eftpos, yes. But no PayPass as we’d recognise it.

Cash still rules. When I was last here it was Lire, which was awesome because you could feel like a millionaire for very little actual money. Now it’s the Euro, which is fine, because it makes everything seem cheap. (And of course somethings like pasta and wine are cheap). But I’ve found myself frequently standing with mouth agape and drool dropping slowly from my lower lip as I try to remember how the whole paper money thing works. Turns out it’s a minor life skill and it can quickly decay.

I’m very slow at counting notes. Even slower at recognising denominations. More than once I’ve just pushed a bunch of paper at the cashier with my apologies. The Romans, thankfully, are always happy to divest you of the appropriate amount.

I think.

8 Responses to ‘I have forgotten how money works’

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted January 30
Heading to Japan Saturday, very much a cash economy. I’m pretty reasonable at mental arithmetic but $1 AUD = 74 Yen is doing my head in.

Bangar mumbles...

Posted February 1
Easy cheat old school paper table, new school a note on your phone. Whatever works for you $A1 to 100 with local equivalence or local $ to $A. Yes you can use apps but this is available straight away without the net

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11
Arigato Bangar san. I’ve returned with both knees pointing the correct direction but calves which have applied For asylum. Quite an experience to be effectively illiterate in Europe even without local language you can work things out, in Japan, with 2 or even 3 alphabets, depending on how one counts, I had a hell of a time. This bus is going to squiggle house thing an 2 stripes with a dot, but not angry face rhomboid and tree, or is that just an add for disgusting peach cola?

Bangar puts forth...

Posted February 14
I've always thought Japan would be ... interesting to visit.

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jl ducks in to say...

Posted January 31
I remember Italy and the Lira. All those zeroes...

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted January 31
I wish we'd used more cash while in LA in November because the dodgy way you have to pay with a card in restaurants has lead to our cards being used elsewhere in attempted transactions. Luckily the bank's defence systems held up but you still have the inconvenience of cancelling old/getting new cards.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 31
Egypt is great for the many zeroes thing. When my tour group visited the pyramids and we were given the option to climb inside the Great Pyramid for 300 Egyptian pounds I was taken aback, and then did the conversion and realised it was about $25 Australian. Needless to say I paid happily. It absolutely murdered my thigh muscles but was a once in a lifetime experience.

It was a shock when we got to Jordan later in the trip and discovered that 1 Jordanian dollar was 2 Aussie dollars though!

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Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted February 5
Well JB, we made them Euro's color-coded, especially for you :D darkgreen is 5, red is 10, blue is 20, and orange is 50. The rest we don't use that much, but if you were to come by a stack of purple ones, you know where I live ... :D

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Deadline Psyche

Posted January 24 into Writing by John Birmingham

I’ve been on deadline for a couple of weeks now, hammering away at the keys, croaking into the dictation rig, all aimed at finishing THE SHATTERED SKIES, the second book in the Cruel Stars series, before I get on a flight to Rome on Monday.

No way am I finishing that book.

But that’s okay. I knew there was no chance I would ever finish it in time, because...

NARRATOR VOICE: The deadline was coming from inside his head!

Cue Wilhelm Scream.

The deadline wasn’t set by my publishers. I did it to myself to avoid coming back from Europe in mid Feb with a truly impossible job to do. So for the last three weeks I’ve been cranking on 4000 words a day, or trying to, simply to get into a position where I could finish the manuscript at a more leisurely 2000 words a day when I get home.

Mission accomplished. I should have about 75-80K words in the bank by Monday.

One thing I am gonna try while I'm away is writing a couple of pars, here and there, that aren't driving the plot - they're just nice writing. I had a look through my story plan, plucked out a couple of scenes that are mostly descriptive, and opened some documents in Bear, the rather nifty little writing app I have on my iPhone for stuff like this. Maybe I'll never open those documents again. But hopefully I will as an alternative to, say, mindlessly browsing a Twitter feed if I find myself with ten minutes to wait for a train, or an hour or two on that train.

Example. I have to describe a ring world called Cupertino.

It's a megastructure, a Culture Orbital, as designed by Apple, or what Apple becomes given 700 years. At the moment I have no idea what it's like other than it's very big and very nice. Rather than breaking flow on the action driven plot to spend an hour or so describing this thing, I'm just going to play with the idea like a prose poem over the next three weeks and see what I have at the end of it.

The idea is I can then just cut and paste the words into the manuscript when the time comes.

9 Responses to ‘Deadline Psyche’

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted January 24
That sounds like a delightful idea.
I admit my first thought was "why is the orbital named after a San Francisco fish stew?", and realised that's Cioppino. Duck Duck Go pointed out that Cupertino is a neighborhood in California.

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Dave W asserts...

Posted January 24
I used to do this kind of thing when I was working on my M.A., busy with work, on a real deadline for an essay. For the side points on the essay I'd use a bit of micro-spare time and pencil down whatever it was. I found it useful, even if I didn't use it, for getting those side points out of my head. Damn things could take up too much space in there.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted January 24
I'm intrigued by your strategy around side points. The number of times I've gone down a side point rabbit hole in an essay for uni and then had to backtrack out of it... I will try this on the next one and see if it helps keep this stuff out of my head :)

Dave W mumbles...

Posted January 24
Gulp- Results may vary!

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24
I certainly won't hold you responsible for my application of your technique and the results that follow!

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Matthew F. ducks in to say...

Posted January 24
I'd be interested in a little review of Bear if you have a few minutes and a mind to do it. I took a quick look at it but it's hard to get a sense of what it's like to use. There's a subscription mentioned - did you get that or is it available as a one-and-done purchase?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 24
I bought it outright, but I’ll check the sub model and write a quickie review. I do like it as a note taker.

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Vovchara has opinions thus...

Posted January 26
I have rather of topic question.
Why the hell are you traveling to Europe in February? Saying as someone who just spend freezing up my arse outside.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 27
I like winter food.

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