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(Image: National Park Service)

PEOPLE ARE AWFUL, PART 349

First up, the cognitive “science” behind why we feel some people are “creepy” is deeply flawed and doesn’t actually protect us from people who might harm us (on the other hand, using the word is a good way of calling out entitled behaviour by males, surely?).

The truly, extraordinarily dumb things people say on Facebook — a short history. Plus, there’s now a conspiracy theory for everything: meet the earthquake conspiracy theorists. (I’m a fully paid-up participant of most prominent conspiracies including the climate warming hoax, the Illuminati, the New World Order, fluoridation, the 9/11 false flag operation and flat earth/fake moon landing one, and I can tell you, I have never seen the earthquake controllers at the meetings.)

THE WEEK IN TRUMP

By common agreement, the Liar-In-Chief’s smear of former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying to congress was a spectacular own-goal that also enraged genuine conservatives. But why did he attack her when similar testimony from males went unchallenged? You can probably guess.

Just to confirm it, Trump has since attacked another woman — an aide to his own vice-president (if we’ve learnt nothing else from the Trump maladministration, it’s the difficulty of getting good help these days).

“At any given time, there are between forty-five thousand and sixty thousand U.S. service members in the region.” — How Trump is failing to end the “forever wars” and instead increasing the US presence in the Middle East.

COME COME, MR BOND…

You disappoint me — you derive as much fulfilment from the schematics of villains’ lairs as I do.

Never thought of this: how illegal street vendors improve urban safety. How the vast flood mitigation scheme to protect Venice ended up a byword for corruption, delay and blow-outs. Meanwhile, Jamie Mackay reports from his sodden ground-level flat (thankfully, the Arno has receded in Florence, but not before reaching alarmingly high on the Ponte Vecchio).

And you would never expect Alabama’s corrective services system to be at the forefront of innovation, but first-hand accounts reveal how utterly nightmarish it really is.

THE GENIUS OF CAPITALISM

  • “There are basically only five ways to accumulate a billion dollars, and none of them has to do with being successful in free-market capitalism.” — Robert Reich on getting superrich.
  • Wage theft isn’t just a problem in Australia: it’s costing the US and UK economies billions.
  • Legislation as copypasta: how corporations and lobby groups are using legislative templates to get the laws they want passed by US state governments.

PLESIOSAUR AND OTHER FALLS

A plesiosaur skull (Image: Wikimedia)

In what is surely a discarded scene from Malick’s Tree of Life, who would not be moved by the poignant, lyrical image of a vast plesiosaur carcass slowly, silently gliding to the ocean depths, being gnawed at by passers-by as it descends? Behold the story of the great plesiosaur ossuary.

We’ve touched on the new biography of Robert “I, Clavdivs” Graves before; LARB has a new review.

Was 1999 the best year in the history of film? Well maybe in the history of male film, argues Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

TRAVAILS OF THE NANNY STATE

In 2017, Oakland, California instituted a sugar tax, in line with the push from public health paternalists world wide. And the results are in — it didn’t do anything (as some of us explained years ago).

A growing proportion of British foreign aid isn’t being directed at health interventions that save lives but at researching paternalist programs to change drinking and and dietary habits of people in developing countries. Elsewhere, how the rise of the motor vehicle was the impetus for the spread of policing and endless regulation.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

  • The Erdogan regime is fighting a very dirty war against the Kurds.
  • Ageing in place? Soon one-third of Japanese will be over 65 and one third of Japan’s homes will be abandoned.
  • Here’s an environmental policy problem straight from the movies: a deeply toxic steel plant in southern Italy is killing the inhabitants who depend on it for their livelihoods. The Italian government has just revoked the company’s legal immunity and it is pulling out. What would you do?

FINALLY…

I’ve read a lot of articles on climate science, climate policy and climate politics over the decades. This piece by Hugh Riminton is one of the best articles on climate politics I’ve ever read: short, sharp and savage on why Australia needs to be taking action, turning the idiot fallacies of the denialists against them.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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