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Turns out if you ignore the end of the world it goes away

Posted March 24 by John Birmingham

Like everyone, I've had a bit of trouble concentrating recently. You know, lots of stuff happening. I've been trying to wrap up the first draft of The Shattered Skies and I'll admit, it's been tough. I was cruising through this manuscript, cranking three or four thousand words a day without breaking a sweat, and then all of a sudden I wasn't.

Instead I was obsessively checking newsfeeds, obsessively hunting stores for pasta and rice, obsessively refreshing my Twitter and Facebook feeds. None of it was helping me focus on work. It was all pretty goddamn stressful, if you want the truth of it. Not just the end of the world, but the way it was interfering with my deadline.

So yesterday I took some time out. I dipped into my copy of a pre-release book I've been sent, The Organised Writer, by Antony Johnston. You may know Antony, you may not. But you would know his work. He's prolific.

This is one of his...

I promised him I'd look at an early copy of his new book and give him a cover quote if I liked it. I did like what I initially read, but then, you know… The end of the world got in the way.

By happy coincidence I put down The Organised Writer just before the most useful chapter, so when I returned to it yesterday it was like a cool drink of water in the desert; a discussion of how important it is to keep your mind clear at the start of the day.

I have not been doing this of late because, you know, the end of the world and everything.

This morning then, I took Antony's advice and cut myself off from all distraction. You might think that's something I do every day, but not like this. I refused to read the news, to check my email, to listen to the radio in the car, to play a podcast, to do anything that might suck me into the vortex that the whole world is currently disappearing down.

It was a merciful release. It's just after 5 o'clock now and I first checked today's news about half an hour ago. I stopped after a couple of minutes. It was super fucking stressful. Because of course it was. Nothing is getting better. It's only going to get worse for a considerable time yet.

The information I needed, I mostly already have. Stay the fuck home. Wash your damn hands. I'm not going to apply for any of the relief packages of programs the government is putting together so I don't need to stick my head into the cyclonic howling shit show of their massive incompetence – which is a relief, really.

There is likewise nothing to be gained from social media. In many ways it's less horrific than normal, because people are making an effort to pull together. That's nice. But going there means diving deep into the end of the world again. And frankly, I'm over it.

So I worked on my book, I'm writing this blog post, I'll write another one, and now I'm going to go check my email.

If you are feeling desperate, anxious, whatever, I suggest you try take a break from the news yourself.

I will provide appropriately distracting content on the morrow.

11 Responses to ‘Turns out if you ignore the end of the world it goes away’

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24
I can save you a lot of time regarding the news.

1. Cases will still be doubling every 3 to 3.5 days (and I think it's accelerating)
2. Scott Morrison (and the whole government) will still be shit
3. Communication will still be poor
4. Muppets will still be muppets

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted March 24
I found last week was a roller coaster in exactly the way you described. I'm incredibly fortunate to not normally suffer from anxiety but last week was hugely stressful and anxious. This week I've been better simply because my employer gave us a clear plan about working from home. I'm new in this role so still on probation, and I found myself fretting about whether we'd shut the offices down and go on unpaid leave etc. Being a single income household that was a stressful prospect.

But your suggestion about going dark on the news is a great one; I start working from home tomorrow and I'm going to implement this for the day and see how my concentration and stress levels go :)

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Dirk asserts...

Posted March 24
In 1978 a band called The Sweet released a song called "Love is like Oxygen". Yes Burgers I am that old. You probably know it too. It you don't it's this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRgWvvkSvfk

At the moment you can swap out news intake for oxygen as well - please keep breathing though. I check out the news at the moment once a day the old fashioned way: the eight o clock news bulletin on tv. If in the meantime shit is going down, I will get push message on my phone, so when an asteroid is dropping down on us, split pea soup and salted herring are banned or something similar happens I am warned.

As JB said: we all now know the drill. Let's all keep sane and KBO ... Keep buggering on Burgers, KBO.

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jl is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24
There is a trick to dealing with extreme stress. Focus on exactly one thing.

This can be something very simple, like putting on your boots. It can be something very complex, such as a large-scale operation with a lot of people involved. If simple, one action completes a discrete task. If complex, break it down to separate simple tasks. One action completes a discrete and necessary part of the total equation. Give yourself a realistic daily goal, execute the simple tasks. Build in appropriate time; i.e. if you think something will take x amount of hours, plan for 2x. Anything involving other people that is time sensitive allow at least 3x.

It all starts, however, with putting on your boots and taking the first step. Finally, never be afraid to pull people in or to delegate sub-tasks. It will make for a stronger final product.

Last thought? My bud Howard says when you think you can't go another step, just make that next step no matter what. One step adds up to a thousand. This is the guy who went through the Q-Course with a gunshot wound in his thigh.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted March 24
I bounce between anger and fear.
Anger because smart people have been warning about this for decades. Decades. Our society is almost purpose built for catastrophic pandemic.
Also we are one misfolded protein, or a slight change in a lipid later from Project Blue.
Fear because La Bobette is an ICU nurse, Show quality grand-daughter is under 2 and my Mum is 79. And we are governed by dyspeptic arse-monkeys on meth.

NBlob reckons...

Posted March 24
Lipid *layer*

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Spanner mutters...

Posted March 25
Adapting to working from home is weird. MrsS is working at the other end of the house working and Mr19 is working doing IT help desk from his room.

At work I’m extroverted and do a lot work face to face. The isolation is difficult.

For a while we all had our doors shut to concentrate. Now they are all open. The sounds of office conversations as we all make phone calls give a veneer of normality.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted March 25
I've been too busy fighting with the fucking abortion of an LMS called Blackboard in order to "teach" (what a fucking lark!) online.

So, what is going on?

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Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30
Good advice mate. It's easier for us in the bush to turn the world off than you I reckon. I've been listening to the Melbourne Ska Orchestra instead of switching the news on. What a great group of uplifting musicians they are. Nikki Bomba for PM ! One funny aspect of this whole thing. A lifelong Yolngu mate, Barayuwa, and I were having coffee and discussing the edict that all Aborigines should go back to the homelands to wait this out. Barayuwa said " 50 years ago they told us not to set up outstation communities, then they tried to starve us out of the outstaions calling them cultural museums etc and now thay are telling us to go back there". Can't blame Yolngu for being terrified and confused. Chronic illness and overcrowding in urban centres will be fatal to many. The World Health organisation website is the only one that should be counted on for information in my opinion. Some of my mates on farcebook have been coming out with the most ridiculous theories that I've ever heard and once chinese whispers have taken off then ridiculous becomes farcical. I have dusted off my copy of The Plague by Albert Camus to see what might be still up the sleeves of "the authorities". My concern is that this issue will accelerate the world's slide in to authoritarianism as the preferred form of government.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted April 1
OT.
just occurred to me.
I never thought we’d see a limit or boundary of the influence of Clubs NSW.
Closing the pokies is possibly the most interesting thing of this Fed Gov’s Covid19 actions.

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted April 2
Obviously they could have just moved the pokies so that there were further apart from each other.

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Home cookin'

Posted March 23 by John Birmingham

I suppose we're lucky. We've always cooked at home. It's not always easy, of course. Especially not during the working week when you've got four people coming and going from all directions. I'll admit, I'm not above just buying a hot chicken and tearing it apart to throw between some bread rolls. But hunkering down at home will mean cooking more at home. I can already see that from the number of pots of leftovers piling up in our downstairs fridge and freezer.
There's a big container of Bolognese sauce, of course. But there's always a big container of Bolognese sauce, somewhere. Another pot of leftover beef bourginon. Ham and vegetable soup. And sundry curries, here and there.
Jane cooked a very nice recipe from the New York Times the other day, baked shrimp with tomato and feta. (They call it shrimp, and it's their recipe.)

I would never have thought to put seafood with feta, but it worked and it worked well. Tonight we're looking at an oxtail ragout, which I think we got from a Karen Martini cookbook. It went into the slow cooker yesterday, came off the heat last night, and sat in the fridge which allowed the excess fat to rise and harden overnight. I skimmed that off this morning and returned the stew to a low heat. We make this all the time, usually with mashed potatoes on the first night, and pasta or gnocchi on the second.


One thing I'm going to get into over the next couple of weeks, possibly months, is cooking with beans. I don't often do it, but you can get a lot of eating out of one pot of chili beans and bacon.
One thing I'm not going to be doing? Baking breads and cake. I have no skills at all. Thankfully, Jane does.

27 Responses to ‘Home cookin'’

Leftarc mutters...

Posted March 23
I have a deep love for my slow cooker, which will be getting a workout over the next few weeks. That, and my wood fired oven has me ready for all sorts of culinary adventures.
However, never underestimate a bacon and egg sandwich with HP sauce.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23
I never do.

jl puts forth...

Posted March 23
Its been forever since I had HP sauce. Lovely stuff. A bit tough to find here.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 23
Ah! DM me (somehow) an address. I'll send some.

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jl has opinions thus...

Posted March 23
Wow, you guys go all out, that looks amazing. Much simpler fare around here, but I'm really looking forward to the summer vegetables. Especially young Indian corn on the cob. So colorful and tasty.

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23
We too are mostly home cookers. What we are finding being at home all the time is that we are eating healthier than ever, and managing to shed a few pounds in the process.
I guess we'll get to being a bit more fancy at some point such as mincing some chuck, and making pasta from scratch.
I might make something to last a couple of days. The go-to is a pork scotch fillet slow cooked in a fantastic bbq-like sauce using smoked paprika.

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jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23
Might get into some traditional favorites this summer. Something I've been meaning to do for a while is to go catch some smallmouth bass and have a lock-down friendly cookout. Fry up the fish over the fire, eat it with potatoes and corn roasted in the coals. Simple, all that's needed is a little butter.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 23
That sounds amazing.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted March 24
I do most of the home cooking here as well. Luckily it is the time of year for saffron milkcaps from my secret spot, great in strog/spag/with bacon etc, after all the rain my stinging nettle patch rebounded and the veg patch is cranking. The stinging nettle is surprisingly tasty and versatile - made some pasta last week with it (to get that bright green look and different taste). I usually mix some up and freeze it in batches. Might get some salmon out tonight and bake them with a topping of that. Shops are slowly getting back to normal (still not there and a hive of dirty virus carriers) but i'm lucky i live rural and have facebook (boo hiss spit) - but i only use it for contacting businesses not for the socials. Have a lot of producers around that don't have markets to sell at - all the meats (grass fed beef, free range pork, goats (made for a great curry last week), sheep and the hilariously named The salami guy who makes a frigging great truffle salami). Also a couple of backyard mini producers like Farmer Dougs gourmet potatoes - that old dude sells at markets and i'm trying to arrange sending him money via electronic trf and him leaving me a box out the front of his gate for pickup - i get fantastic product and he gets rid of his sudden stockpile.

jl reckons...

Posted March 24
Locally produced is the best. And the nettle- regarded by many as a weed, but versatile. My mother-in-law dries it for tea.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24
I'm trying to buy meat and vege from small businesses around here rather than from the supermarket. The latter will survive. I want the former to also survive this.

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24
I'll never get hungry enough to eat oxtail.

My battalion messhall in Korea has a day a week dedicated to that sort of thing.

I made it a point to ride my bike to someone else's messhall.

Sometimes starvation is preferable.

Murphy
On the Outer Marches

FormerlyKnownAsSimon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24
haha - i used to say "peasant food" but with the proliferation of cooking shows all those cheap cuts are now expensive.

Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted March 24
Murph, you just haven't had it cooked right. Nothing better on a cold winters night, or just stuff it in a pie. Make it into a deluxe shepherd pie.....

Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted March 24
And everyone knows Army cooks are tradies at heart, just fitters and turners in any life.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 26
Oh, the cooks of 122nd Signal Battalion were passionate about their art. I was just as passionate about not eating it after the first dose.

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Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted March 24
Situation normal here - I typically do most of the cooking, especially the protein part. Herself is an awesome prepper and dishpig. But I have dusted off the mix master and dough hooks as well as the sausage and the pasta attachment on it. I have a freezer full of chicken stock so that on tonight as chicken, noodle and veg soup. Last night was roast rump cap with rice and asian greens. Tomorrow night will be the aforementioned pasta. That is if the whole WFH thing doesn't get in the way. Microsoft Teams has a lot to answer for.

Dave W would have you know...

Posted March 24
Microsoft Teams- true dat, Brother.

I just had an hour of death by video conference.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 24
Brother Pork Chop!
I think of you most mornings on the way to work as I pass the lake of Weybas. Must catch up for a refreshing beverage before the end of the world.
If you are friends with any of these reprobates on the book of Face DM them to point you my way.

Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted March 25
Sounds like a plan, let me see....

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted March 24
"cooking with beans" which is isolation could give rise to issues. "Ham and vegetable soup" is that just an upmarket description of pea and ham soup? or are other vegetables included?

Those dishes and descriptions do sound good, heading into cooler weather does allow me to use the slow cooker a lot more.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted March 24
Cooking with beans. Or we could call it "pasta e fagioli" and it sounds a hell of a lot more appetising.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24
No, pea and ham soup is different, and to be honest I prefer it. But I am not the Power in the Kitchen.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 24
Looks like this is gonna be a tasty apocalypse.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted March 24
Hey - if an archaeological dig down the track is going to go through the contents of my gut i want to make sure they say the words "going on the contents of this males last meal he was an important person in human society with a rich varied diet..."

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24
I found a marked down slab of cheap forequarter lamb chops on Saturday, I thought the time of that had passed. I turned them into highly adequate lamb & veg pies Sunday night, a big one for us a small one for home bound mum. No leftovers, no complaints. As good as it gets.

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted March 25
Is there a link for the recipe of that ox tail ragout?

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Home gym

Posted March 20 by John Birmingham

I rebuilt my home gym yesterday, which is a fancy way of saying I cleaned up under the house. It was getting pretty dusty down there and my little friends the possums weren't helping much either. It did take about two hours to get everything swept up, dusted out, wiped down and ready to rock. But I was having trouble concentrating on my writing – no surprise there – and rather than give into frustration I decided I'd achieve something in the world of real things. With no idea when I'll get back to a real gym and trainer, this seemed a good investment of my time.

I'm luckier than most people, however, because I've got a pretty good set up at home, one that's worked for me well in the past. Like most old Queenslanders there's a lot of space under our house, more than enough room for me to have a weights bench, a running machine and a heavy bag hanging from the rafters. There's even room for kicking drills. My weight plates and bars are old and gnarly, but so am I, so that's no biggie.

It's been about a week or so since I last stepped onto the mat for jujitsu, and it could be months before I get back to training. I can start to feel the endorphin withdrawal in my muscles. I can also feel frustration turning to something uglier, exacerbated by the same fears that everyone has at the moment.

I know from defeating my last bout of depression that exercise is the best therapy for me. If you end up in lockdown at home I'd recommend it for you to; even if you live in a tiny apartment and it means downloading an app like the 100 Push-up Challenge, cos that's all you have room for. It all helps.

I've got some other things I'm thinking of doing, like hosting a weekly cocktail hour on Zoom, or maybe restarting the book club. I might do some live readings online somewhere.

But today I'm just going to lift some weights and hit the bag. Hard.

17 Responses to ‘Home gym’

Naut mumbles...

Posted March 20
Movement is life for many of us, so good to see you taking steps to keep your body moving.

I am hoping that if we go into a full lockdown they don't ban cycling outdoors. That is going to be critical to my mental health!

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20
They'd have to go the full French route for that. I think we'll all be in lockdown within a fortnight, but probably not to that extent. Australian cities are much more open than European ones.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted March 20
Well done that man!

Naut, my missus went and bought a Kickr indoor cycling trainer for the reason you describe...until then she continues to ride outdoors. Might have to use it myself! Waiting to see if pools are shutting...luckily the beach is just down the road.

Dave W reckons...

Posted March 20
I went the indoor cycling trainer route last winter, following a muscle tear. Physio recommended it. It's fantastic, to the point that I (a) barely ride outdoors anymore, dodging cars isn't fun and (b) bore everyone I know by talking about it incessantly.

I use zwift as the trainer software and I highly recommend.

Naut mutters...

Posted March 23
I would love a kickr, but those things cost a fortune!
My local Sat group ride has migrated onto Zwift

Dave W would have you know...

Posted March 23
They do cost a bit, plus the monthly subscription. The fact that the physio 'prescribed' it smoothed the financial path in the W household.

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Peter Bradley puts forth...

Posted March 20
It is obvious to all of us who have ever exercised regularly that your performance not only at the physical tasks but the mental tasks lifts with regular exercise. It is also obvious it is easier many days to sit in front of a screen with a glass of wine in our hand. Getting that balalnce right is a task of Sisyphos.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 20
Testify, wine brother.

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Leftarc is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20
We are about to go into lockdown, and people are working from home next week. In my case, it's if my boss falls over, and I am ready and healthy to step into his boots.
Will be pumping up the bike tires this weekend (along with getting the vege patch back to production status). It would be nice to have a funny, insightful and balanced podcast to listen to.....

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted March 20
Good the hear you are putting in place what you need to survive mentally. Take care and though I know you will, at this time be kind.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted March 20
Well, I lifted those weights. I hit that bag. Couldn't find my gloves so I had to go 'empty hand' on the bag and be careful not to break anything. The weights were a pleasant surprise. My year of training with Darren has given me a lot more strength than many years of training by myself ever did.
I cooled down with some tonfa drills. The tonfa is an old peasants weapon that became the basis for the riot batons cops started using about 30 years ago.
I chose this as my grading weapon for black belt a few months back and have been promising I'd find time to start mastering the basics. (And I mean the actual basics. Like how to swing one without hitting myself in the face). It was nice to have time to do some of that today. And I only hit myself three or four times. Maybe five.

Matthew F. asserts...

Posted March 22
If you would care to put a camera in your workout area, I for one would be prepared to double my Patreon pledge in return for a monthly "JB hits himself with a tonfa" video montage.

(Autocorrect wants that to be "with a Tonga" which I will accept as an alternative.)

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jl mumbles...

Posted March 20
Yeah, I've spent a large chunk of my life in lousy little outposts with bad circumstances. What we always did was worked out a ton. Sound body, sound mind. You don't need fancy gear; it sounds like your humble set-up is a few notches above the minimum set-up, John. Amazing what you can do in a small space with hardly anything. Ammo cans full of sand, doing calisthenics with weights, the possibilities are limited only by one's imagination.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted March 21
Going away for Christmas and New Year meant skipping Pilates for a couple of weeks, and suddenly it’s the middle of March and I haven’t gone back and DEAR GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE??

Mind you I started a new job mid January after that trip so that didn’t help with getting my routine back in place. This post has given me the metaphorical kick up the pants I needed, especially as we’ve a lockdown looming. Western Australia has finally had two suspected cases of community transmission this week, after getting to 50 odd cases with people coming home from overseas with infections. It’s beginning :(

jl would have you know...

Posted March 21
Lucky you, She Jedi.

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tqft has opinions thus...

Posted March 23
It's council kerbside cleanup time and we are cleaning the garage up too.

But I might be radical and not hoist the exercise bike but actually use it

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Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted March 24
Yep, after just joining a gym 3 weeks ago, now I am shut out. Was going so well too. So, like you JB, I have dusted off the home set up, cleaned some rust of the bars and will look at sewing the bag back on to its hanging straps after the boys broke it by swinging off it-muppets. And try not to eat too much.

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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 is gonna tell you...

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 asserts...

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 reckons...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 reckons...

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 puts forth...

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 would have you know...

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 asserts...

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 mumbles...

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

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Halwes ducks in to say...

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 reckons...

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 ducks in to say...

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 would have you know...

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

Dave W is gonna tell you...

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

she_jedi ducks in to say...

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 asserts...

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 puts forth...

Posted March 21
Hell yeah, EVs will help save us

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

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 has opinions thus...

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 has opinions thus...

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 asserts...

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 ducks in to say...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 would have you know...

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 mumbles...

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 mumbles...

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 is gonna tell you...

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

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

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

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

Murph

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Rob mumbles...

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 mutters...

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

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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 asserts...

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

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jl has opinions thus...

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 puts forth...

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 reckons...

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 mumbles...

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 reckons...

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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