(Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

LOVE IN A TIME OF DOLOUR, EH?

So the virus will do what no one else has been able to — end the presidency of Trump? Well, not so fast. Trump is always more resilient than the pundits claim. But what happens when the virus reached America’s vast army of homeless people?

The virus won’t kill globalisation, but transform it, says one optimistic globalist (I wrote a thinkpiece on the impact on globalisation a couple of weeks ago and, honestly, I wish I hadn’t — it’s like, hey Thomas Friedman’s calling from 1999 and wants his lame “world is flat” nonsense back {also, this truly dreadful piece}).

What’s quantitative easing? A guide for the moderately easily confused. Noticed suddenly everyone’s an expert on herd immunity? Philip Ball explores the division among experts about the issue in the UK.

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The virus creates cracks in the Iranian regime — is it time for some viral diplomacy to end the cycle of tension with Tehran? A letter from the deserted streets of Milan. More haunting photos of a world in lockdown.

And a Soviet citizen offers a guide to consumerism amid shortages.

ART OF GLASS

Glass is, as any scientist will tell you, deeply, if not unfathomably, weird. A particular kind of glass that will take longer than the history of the universe to form might, however, shed some light (ugh… sorry) on its mysteries.

There used to be a canard that the glass used in mediaeval cathedral windows had slowly flowed to the bottom in the intervening centuries, when, in fact, centuries are the tiniest fraction of the time needed for glass to “flow”.

Stained glass window
(Image: Unsplash/Thai Ch. Hamelin)

A long read on what restoration scientists are learning in, above and under the partial ruins of Notre Dame in Paris. While we’re on cathedrals, ever wondered about their maths? If the equations are too much, try this history of cathedral fails. Still too much effort? Enjoy these wonderful cathedral photos.

SHE STANDS TWELVE FEET ABOVE THE FLOOD SHE STARES ALONE ACROSS THE WATER

Is there an epidemic of loneliness? What’s driving it, and how does it relate to individualism and the diminution of communitarianism? Not convinced by this piece but it raises some good questions. Loneliness when we’re social distancing — a how-not-to-guide. And another take: the whys and wherefores of loneliness in the internet age.

Suddenly everyone is using Zoom to connect up, meet, and continue courses. So be careful to adjust your settings so it can’t be hijacked. Plus, why human societies need hierarchies whether we like them or not.

Anger, trust and future-facing struggle: Martha C. Nussbaum on the role of feminist fury. In March 1950, an all-Jewish and African-American college basketball team from New York thrashed a team of bigots. Subsequent scandals will never change that magical night.

UN-FUNDED BLACK HELICOPTERS PILOTED BY FREEMASONS SPRAYING CHEMTRAILS OF TINY BITS OF FLUORIDE…

If you have read my books — and if not, take advantage of the virus crisis to do so — you might have noticed I have a fondness for conspiracy theories. Umberto Eco did, too, as this excellent piece discusses (and if you’re stuck at home Italian-style, what better way to pass the time than reading Foucault’s Pendulum, which, remarkably, seems to get better with age?).

The wonderful people at snopes.com have collected all the coronavirus conspiracy theories together in one spot. This piece explains not merely how to spot an actual conspiracy versus conspiracy theories but also points out that conspiracy theorists are rubbish at spotting real conspiracies — in fact, they don’t like talking about real ones. But please don’t mock conspiracy theories — it just reinforces them (so, like, WTF are you supposed to do?).

CAPITALISM (MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF VIRUS)

France just fined Apple US$1.2 billion. Here’s why.

Since 2015, Americans have spent more at restaurants than at supermarkets. That now leaves an entire industry on the verge of being wiped out by the virus. But it’s not all gloom: Amazon is planning to hire 100,000 workers to cope with demand.

Even right-wing economists in the US who bitterly opposed stimulus 12 years ago now say go hard and go early. Socialism in action: Walmart is “a planned economy on the scale of the USSR in the middle of the Cold War”. And, in 2007, a software glitch introduced an epidemic into the online video game World of Warcraft. The response of players provides a model for real human responses to contagions.

FINALLY…

As the weather takes on an increasingly autumnal feel, it’s time for videos of dogs jumping into piles of leaves. Stay safe and well until next time.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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