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(Image: Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz)

IS STUPIDITY THE REAL CONTAGION?

Read this and wonder whether conspiracy theories and rank public stupidity are making the United States ungovernable (then again, are Australians any better?). However, Trump has already wiped out his administration’s institutional capacity to respond to an epidemic. Apparently the wrong Trump showed up to deal with the virus, says one right-wing commentator.

The history of epidemics shows that politicians always seek to spin contagion. Debt hasn’t been a problem for a decade, but coronavirus might just change that. Nouriel Roubini says a global recession from coronavirus isn’t out of the question, but others are more optimistic the crisis will quickly pass. And speaking of conspiracy theories, how the far right is increasingly characterised by the most absurd theories.

STATECRAFT

Trump’s deal with the Taliban is anything but what it needs to be: a full military withdrawal. Speaking of world leaders, Narendra Modi has dragged Indian politics so far to the right that now even his opponents mimic his xenophobia. And now India’s Muslims are facing a growing danger of pogroms.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (AP/Sipa USA)

The two-state solution for Palestine is a dangerous myth espoused by liberal Zionists unwilling to confront reality. Over in Europe, competition policy is now moving to the centre of European Union politics and has left technocrats struggling to keep up.

Because of pressure from the Beijing dictatorship, Taiwan is barred from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and not even given information about the spread of coronavirus by WHO. But it is handling the epidemic far better than China. In Germany, historians have become embroiled in an attempt by the Hohenzollern family to cleanse their name of connections to Nazism.

LOCAL

Non-Indigenous Australians are “settlers”, so just deal with it.

Jane Cadzow has a fantastic account of the defence of Mogo Zoo during the bushfire catastrophe.

“What happens when your job is to be yourself? You never stop working.” When life becomes performance and performance is your job.

And confronting Australia’s hearing aid funding black hole.

STAT OF THE WEEK

From the South China Morning Post: around 10,000 domestic flights a day — or two-thirds of domestic capacity — were cancelled in China throughout February. Seats on three-hour flights between major centres now sell for as little as US$4.10.

WEALTH AND HELLNESS

Fighting back against the “colonization of the self by capitalist ideas of productivity and efficiency” or, how to do nothing, and why it’s important.

As an inveterate fast walker — I cannot stand dawdling — I offer this piece on pedestrian speed in New York with scepticism, at least until I, too, am reduced to the ranks of slow moving.

The ugliness of greatness — Martin McKenzie-Murray on Kobe Bryant and the misleading narratives we demand.

And why not try a completely fake social media network that gives you as much adulation as your ego needs — and trolls as well, if you want them?

THE MATHS OF BOMBING AND OTHER APPLICATIONS OF SCIENCE

The late Freeman Dyson explains his introduction to the maths of strategic bombing in World War II.

Did you know we know less than a fifth of the life found in the ocean depths (John Wyndham wrote a whole novel about not knowing what’s at the bottom of the ocean…).

Earthquakes cause tiny gravity waves — even by gravity wave standards, and that’s already tiny — which travel at the speed of light and can now be measured, should you wish to do so. Elsewhere in science, a new candidate for dark matter emerges (will it become d’star of d’show?).

And here’s an ethical issue I find a little disturbing: there’s considerable evidence that rats — yes, rats — are not merely intelligent, but laugh, co-operate and, most of all, empathise. Yet we continue to subject them to unlimited scientific testing in ways we no longer do with larger mammals.

FINALLY…

A tip for cat owners who haven’t got time to be sat on (and they say cats are the smart ones).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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