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THINGS TO COME

Without a vaccine, it’s unlikely the current disruption caused by social distancing will stop any time soon. It may become part of our lives for years to come.

Meanwhile, dozens of experts reflect on what long-term changes they expect as a result of the crisis. Also, how the crisis will expedite the Amazonification of the planet. And, no, not in a good way.

How to design stimulus: some lessons from the financial crisis. And what might happen if health workers get too sick to work.

GENERAL REFLECTIONS

For all of us in Britain who were born after or cannot remember the second world war — which is to say everyone under about 80 — the biggest break we’ve ever experienced in the pattern of our lives now looms. — On the secret excitement of the apocalypse.

The brilliant Scott Ludlam, whose absence from politics leaves a hole still gaping and vast three years later, offers some thoughts on the crisis.

China generously exonerates Dr Li Wenliang — warms your heart, doesn’t it?

“It is a testament to how thoroughly militarized our way of thinking has become that many of us can’t conceive of significant collection action or social solidarity except in the context of war,” writes Daniel Larison in The American Conservative.

NEVER WASTE A GOOD CRISIS

Viktor Orban — who has blamed foreigners for bringing coronavirus to Hungary — seizes on the crisis as an excuse to give himself unlimited power.

How to look like you’re paying attention when you’ve left the room.

More on how the virus is exactly what surveillance companies have been waiting for to peddle their junk.

Meet the scumbag copyright trolls trying to cash in on the crisis by patenting phrases related to COVID-19. In a similar spirit, US companies are using the crisis to evade regulatory requirements entirely unrelated to the virus.

Plus, how Fox News began peddling conspiracy theories about the virus, and Lachlan Murdoch did nothing to stop it even as elderly Americans began dying.

Spending a lot of time in Zoom meetings? Here’s how to fake your participation (thanks, kids).

NON-VIRAL CONTENT

The tragedy of Mad Mike Hughes: have-nothings who gamble their lives for our cheap thrills and YouTube laughs. The long career and horrible life of Joe Biden. The United States is still killing civilians in counter-“terrorist” airstrikes.

Jan Morris, nearing the end of a remarkable life, reflects on the banalities of life an a nonagenarian and dementia carer. A new, flawed history shows the key role of the United States in Central America’s ferocious gang wars.

What happens when there’s a gender imbalance in populations? Men and women take on the sexual stereotypes of the other gender. The Dead Sea Fakes: The Museum of the Bible owns 16 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Except, they’re all forgeries. And a relative of the “X is caused by neoliberalism” take: the “Y is Late Capitalism” essay.

HOME ENTERTAINMENT

It’s important to watch plague movies during a plague, says a New Republic writer. But what to watch? Beyond the dissection of Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion (“Should I call someone?” “Call everyone.”) you really have to broaden the genre out to apocalypse films more generally, whether contagion-derived or not.

There’s John Hillcoat’s wonderful adaptation of The Road, Alfonso Cuarón’s superb Children of Men (P. D. James’ source novel is pretty good too), Dawn of the Dead (Romero or Snyder — I love both), and Susanne Bier’s unsettling Bird Box is a recent addition to the top tier of the genre.

And The Thing is really an end-of-the-world film, since if it gets out it will destroy all life on Earth (does Kurt really offer Keith David petrol at the end????). And if you want something really cheering to watch instead of all this depressing fare? Threads will get you laughing.

For readers, there’s Camus’ The Plague (bonus points if you can read it in French), and pretty much anything by Ballard, but I’d go for The Drought. Avoid Stephen King’s overlong The Stand (great apocalypse story ruined by the whole Randall Flagg thing) and opt for McCarthy’s The Road.

Or there’s Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, while Coulson Whitehead’s Zone One is a cracker. Gamers will already likely have played the best apocalypse game, The Last Of Us, but you only have to wait til May 29 for the sequel. If we’re allowed out then.

Meanwhile, “a litmus test for a melancholy, suicidal humanity haunted by a death wish.” French intellectual Bernard Henri-Lévy loses it over the virus.

FINALLY…

Nothing, really. It’s a dreadful time. Stay well, and don’t forget to use your time at home to bathe your pets.

Peter Fray

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