A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 12

16th November 2020

I am valiantly trying to stay awake. For the past week I’ve been sleeping only in fits for about 5hrs, then 4 and now 2. With sleep patterns disrupted it usally ends in a lumping migraine, which at about 3am I take painkillers for, loaded with caffeine. There is an obvious self-defeating cycle here.

So what to keep me up?

Wrote some more of The Book, sent off an extract to some agent, realising only after some tense mistakes and typos AAARGH. Typical, nothing’s ever really final.

Doing the rounds on the usual news fora helps. Some understated reportage on what is actually a milestone -the formation of the world’s largest free trade zone and economic block -RCEP (the snazzily dubbed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which takes in China, Japan, S Korea, ASEAN, Australia and NZ, or 30% of world population and GDP. Riveting news I know. India walked out in November over pesky border skirmishes, but is currently an ‘observer’ member, pissed at the party and refusing the canapés, for the time being.

All in all it may well lift the world out of the current recessional doldrums, and the rather bad case of sniffles stalking the land. They all did a really big Zoom sesh in their bedrooms, with blue curtains yesterday, marking a fat line drawn under a period of economic uncertainty that’s played out behind our screens the past few years, and behind the pandemic. The global elite I mean, we are all set to get richer, and probably more exploitative too.

s

This is due to the contrast with the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) that the Obama administration originally set up to pivot trade around the Pacific and away from China -straight into the US -but that Trump canceled in his first week to ‘protect American jobs’. It resoundingly appears he missed the memo that global trade isn’t a zero sum game. Missing quite the trick too in signing it to the economic dustbin without getting any major concessions from China to do so – a schoolkid or a dolphin could have foreseen that as a mistake. Well that must’ve been quite the knees-up in Beijing, after years of dread, global repositioning and sweaty nightmares clutching a teddy bear.

s

s

Trump’s supporters declare he has an IQ of 145, a scientific gauging based on er, their online votes, albeit anyone who’s ever known him spurts out their drink and laughs for a good 5 minutes, occasionally howling and slapping a thigh. Before buying everyone a round of bleach.

Stable genius my arse.

His whole trade war’s also been an utter failure, with the trade deficit higher than it’s ever been in history, and the extra costs and tariffs stumped by the US corporations. This is why China so wants the reign of Trump to continue despite the battling and immediate threats -as he’s utterly undermined in so short a span so much US influence that took decades to build -the UN, NATO, NAFTA, NTP, WTO, WHO, WHAT, WHERE, the Paris Accord, plus trade wars with besties Canada, Mexico and EU. Perhaps also why they’ve put off congratulating Biden and sending chocolates until yesterday, when it got too painfully awkward.

And the orange buffoon proves quite easy to outplay as he doesn’t see long term, then miscalibrates his own competence or performance (textbook Dunning-Kruger effect). Even North Korea easily sidesteps him with a few phonecalls about basketball. -He cripplingly panders to his own self aggrandisement and public perception, then replaces team experts every few months with sycophants and extremists, who have increasingly less of a clue and were never trained.

It’s quite the damning indictment of one’s ineptitude when your sworn enemy wants to keep you at the helm.

The unsaid thing is the Great Decoupling is a loss for America too. Even with China becoming no 1 (a scenario worse than death it seems in the ‘Murican mindset) it would have been a win-win still for the US. 1.4 billion more consumers to sell to more than doubles the entire Western or OECD market. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite the face. From Coke to Disney to tourism to coffee to cars to planes to wine to clothing to perfume to music to pizza to pills, American brands were deemed an automatic stamp of quality regardless of it (USA translates as Mei Guo in Mandarin, meaning ‘Beautiful Country’).

The fall from grace in the eyes of the Chinese consumer, that Apple or Walmart or Hollywood have recently seen, and who once dominated the market no matter what, has been a notable casualty. In short, the US that so excels at soft power will no longer be able to wield it. And the whole point that China was persuaded into the global economic system in the first place (Nixon, Carter and Europe instigating the detente and investing billions in Deng’s economic liberalisations) was they foresaw the huge potential of the world’s largest population one day buying their products, even from the ’70s.

It just seems to some they’d rather be far less rich than not be no 1, at all costs. And in the long run it will still benefit China, now becoming more self sufficient, ratcheting up its R&D and trade links to do so, making friends with its enemies and pivoting to its own vast domestic market to power it. -Whereby the scales have fallen from their consumers eyes that now realise that US products no longer have the cachet or quality, and instead fund their own even more. Overall making sure it can weather a global system without the US, rather than being intrinsically bilateral, and mutually influenced.


The same thing that happened to the ecosystem of the Chinese internet, social media and AI companies when the Great Firewall went up (a flowering of creativity, R&D and market share without the multinational domination), will be played out on every sector. It’s telling that the date they predicted China to overtake has in the past few years gone from 2040 to 2032 now to 2030 and getting earlier each time. By PPP (when currency fluctuations are taken into account) China already overtook in 2014 and is a quarter larger as the world’s biggest economy.

So now China wants to decouple. Biden and Xi have no choice but to stay the path, as who’s to say, four years down the line another American Hawk comes into power? China’s now in for the long run. Maybe that’s a good thing, or maybe we’ll just become one and the same despite:

The final point to make that all this trade with the US is only worth 2.4% of China’s GDP anyhoo. Don’t get me wrong China will be pissed losing points off its growth, but it’s a misconception to still think the West (particularly the US) is somehow bankrolling the country via cheap factory labour. China is now a majority services economy, its manufacturing is mainly domestic, dominated by hi-tech and robotised, and foreign trade is worth only 17% of GDP. -Of which the Japan-S Korea bloc is traditionally the largest partner, now followed by the EU.

Just don’t mention the war, or the Senkaku islands. Another bunch of oil exploration rights lonely outcrops China is intent on claiming thanks to ancient maps and the fact a Chinese penguin once lived there in 1495, or at least rested its flipper. And don’t, just don’t mention Tibet, Xinjiang, the Spratly’s, Doklam or Taiwan (aka Yiunouhu). Or modern ‘reeducation’ camps.

It appears increasingly state/ civilisation posturing is the order of the day; we are entering another age of empires, and this year marks the start. Where in the future a multipolar world between the US, China, EU, India, the Islamic Union, Africa, the Russosphere, ASEAN and LatAm look increasingly tetchy and islanded in one big dick measuring contest. Though trading through a globalised economy and a polite smile, like a Ryanair stewardess with dead eyes beseeching you to buy a sandwich. The underhand GOT style politicking will be legion.

Oops, okay bit of a diatribe. I need to stop talking about the glorious fucking motherland. Bradford’s burning down (it’s city centre comprised of a tire factory, an aquatics store, a curry house and a chippy), Cummings has left the building, finally, and BoJo has the lergy again. A new vaccine by Moderna has a 95% success rate (UK’s ordered 5 million), though Trump’s still too busy denying he lost the election to roll out a plan to use it. The US death toll is nearing a quarter of a million, the equivalent to 625 plane crashes this year, with 10 million infected.

Oh and Will Smith’s just cancelled the Fresh Prince of Bel Air reunion. Priorities, priorities.

Meanwhile there’s also a new war gearing up in Ethiopia, with a breakaway Tigray province -highly worrying in a country of 102 million and several major ethnic groups, united under an ancient empire. The main groups -Tigrayans, Amhara and Oromo are now jostling in increasing restlessness, with several Ethiopian airports bombed by separatists and government forces alike, and massacres reported in Tigray itself.

PM Abay Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for making lasting peace with Eritrea, another former breakaway. Now he’s bombing the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle. Hundreds have already died in the conflict and 25,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan, with thousands more to follow. Eritrea is also sending troops to help Ethiopia, and the conflict is in danger of spilling over and destabilising the entire Horn of Africa region: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia (each already in their own civil wars), and Djibouti, possibly even Kenya.

Ethiopia, an ancient kingdom (and empire in its own right) is Africa’s second most populous nation after Nigeria, and was until recently an economic success story, the capital Addis Abeba chosen as home to the Africa Forum, or the UN of the continent if you like. It was due to hold the Africa summit this year, for its stability, newfound peaceability and rocketing growth. How quickly that facade has fallen.

It is the last thing the world needs right now. 2020, what a year. It is as if everything is culminating, we’ve had one ginormous shitshow, we might as well set off a few pipebombs and pipelines since the fire’s burning. The geopolitical sabre rattling is growing deafening, and defining, perhaps given credence by the stress on our economies, resources and plain competition.

Oh and dominating the tabloids right now? Clinton Cards, currently shuttered up by lockdown, is complaining that supermarkets like Asda are still allowed to sell greeting cards.

Cmawn fuckers, cain’t we just all geddalong? We kinda need a big fuck off Kum By Yah session, perhaps an Olympics where everyone gets a medal, painfully overdue and canceled for another year. Maybe this is just what happens when we don’t get all rosy and nationalistic together every four years, uniting against a common foe -we just take chunks out of each other instead.

Right now, for me, I’m here to keep the eyes open.

This below, on a slightly jarring note, has been a very welcome respite. You know, if you want a break from disaster. It embodies a lot of the year so far, and what we’ve been sleepwalking into for a few years now:

Enjoy.

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year 2.0 Day 4

8th November 2020

It has come to pass. At 4.30pm yesterday CNN finally announced it would ‘project’ the winner of the US presidential race as Joe Robinette Biden Jnr, 46th President of the United States. Other networks followed shortly after, and Fox News finally caved last. Biden himself found out from his grandkids. It was his third attempt at the office, each try marred by personal tragedy such as the deaths of his wife and son -but it paid through in the end: at the age of 77 he’s the oldest US president yet, and the most popular with the highest amount of votes ever tallied, in his name.

s

WELL DONE AMERICA. Thank Fuck. Thank Pizza God. And well done Vice President Kamala Harris too, the highest office a woman has ever held in the country, and a person of colour on top (her father Jamaican and mother Indian). Beau, Doug Emhoff, will be America’s first Second Husband and the first Jewish person in that role. She becomes officially the most powerful woman in US history, though others point out the power behind the throne was often the wife, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and rumoured Hillary Clinton (back when her husband was busy adjusting uniform standards with his protein stains). CNN quipped that the Republicans and their channels will have to learn, ultimately, how to pronounce her name -‘Kommla’ not ‘Kamarla’.

Finally democracy can rehabilitate its own good name after four years in the wilderness, the bit where it went round shitting on everyone and starting fires.

The streets of every major US city celebrated, with CNN’s announcement igniting spontaneous rounds of applause, whooping (what else, where else), car honking and pan banging across the nation. A carnival atmosphere attempted social distancing (face masks, personal bubbles) but soon gave way to crowds marching and dancing in unison while waving banners, state and rainbow flags, the latter increasingly a symbol not just of LGBTQIA support but social diversity and unity.

The new Civil War has not come to pass, though counter protests also took hold, but rather muted given the majority of supporters were either too busy distancing themselves from the loser, watching in dazed silence at the news, or drinking themselves into clifftop oblivion. Trump was busy on a round of lone golf, having thrown in his Belgian lace hanky at the final hour, though he did find time later to continue the claim he’d been the true winner, and been robbed.

s

One can imagine The Great Orange Dolphin, swaddled now in silk comforters, a spherical mound beneath the bedcovers but for that cold glow of the phone light, watched by guards as Melania furtively, ecstatically packs her things, whispering febrile Slovene in the dark -the remaining staffers crumpled, heads in hands outside the door. Kayleigh McEnany, mascara dribbling, chain-smoking, calling faintly through the keyhole.

Her view is of a slashed painting of George Washington, golf club imbedded, lording over scattered copies of The Art of the Deal and DVDs of The Apprentice Season 3. Every curtain closed throughout the wing in utter silence, but for one torn and hanging by a thread, the other leading into the huge bundle of Versace bedding. A globe that opens out into a display for alcoholic beverages and discarded Big Macs burns surreally in the corner that no one is bothered or high ranking enough to put out.

And far, far away a loon calls into the night.

Trump looks unlikely to give up from cold dead hands, given that if he ever gets past first stage, he’ll be looking at a beckoning spell in prison, from his incalculable tax-dodging alone. Orange is the new black.

s

This is a turning point, a page to be flipped after so much domestic and geopolitical damage. A return to support for the Paris Accord that aims to stem greenhouse gases, to NATO and WHO, battling right now the worst crises since WWII. To a nation riven by racial, religious, generational, political and class divides, between the haves and have-nots, the 1 percenters and The Rest, the urban and rural, the north and South, east and west, natives and non-natives, Black and White and all in between. Diversity is strength in numbers, in duality and pluralism, not diremption trammeled into so many lines through political chicanery for the pathologically selfish and threatened. To climb the ladder then burn it behind you should never become cultural creed.

s

Okay, enough soapboxing, we’ll have much more of that in the next few days. The transition period is a whopping ten weeks, and inauguration in January by all counts. For the time being lets hope everyone settles down, puts away their hunting rifles and camo, and concentrate on the task at hand -not just political change but the giant viral cloud threatening the world in the greater scope of things.

Yes, that.

So, MINKS.

Cute little fuckers. Minks apparently are a new biohazard, spreading a fancy mutation that’ll be harder to vaccinate against. Outbreaks earlier in Spain and now Denmark have seen all their captive populations culled by the millions, and a global populace now wobbling about whether a zombie apocalypse might actually manifest, as we all secretly know it’s bound to happen one day (though the WHO did respond in saying it was entirely normal and expected to have differing zoonotic strains).

s

It remains to be seen whether our farming and hunting practices require a sea change, increasingly seen in the last new human viruses and global pandemics -SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, MERS, HIV, and Ebola. Due to the size of the human population now, 7.8 billion and counting, we should maybe all just go veggie -the risk is rising alongside every year we grow so exponentially, at 200,000 extra babies each day. The mountains more of meat we will need to feed those lives adds ever more risk -throughout history every time Man gets jiggy with Nature we correlate with a new round of infectious, incurable disease. Such as Bubonic Plague or Smallpox or Spanish Flu (that actually originated in a Kansas farmstead), coming from rats and livestock when we began farming then mass-farming, then industrial farming.

s

s

But then:

s

But then

s

But then

s

Ah, the dichotomy of individualism. We know we shouldn’t do it, we know it even kills other souls without mercy, yet we do it (sorry about that). Democracy or benevolent dictatorship? Anarchy or Facism? Shame culture or guilt culture? I decide, or we decide?

Our world is built on hierarchy, a form we like to think is about efficiency. We just haven’t worked out how the mad scramble to the top is meant to impose order, that the fact no matter where we are in that jungle we will always be in competition, between the winners and losers, and invariably the vast majority will always think themselves the latter. That life will not stop and take a breath (or at least a laboured final few, possibly via an ICU) unless that Hell Is Other People In Competition ever lets up.

s

Okay, like I said. I step down from the soapbox, and will myself rummage through the fridge, pausing then nibbling on pieces of packaged death, like any member of a guilt culture is wont to do. Because I’m worth it.

Anyhoo, for what it’s worth, nice one Mr Biden. You big baby squash your facey baby you x. I may now light a candle, and sway in the spirit of collective beatification. So please now, heal the world.

Make it a better place.

For you and for me and the en-tire human race. There are… people dying, if you care enough for the living, make a better place for you and for me.

Save it for our children ye-ah!

Yesterday

Tomorrow

A Journal of the Plague Year Day 71

Friday 29th May 2020

 

Okay after the uproarious events of the last few days I promised a day off. I mean, how much news can one get? Like a UV drip through every media, either ongoing outside distantly, or swept in full force through a screen.

Two stories have appeared just too delicious. One is the mass protests now occupying America, with over 20 cities seeing in reports of violence, looting and burning of buildings following the killing of George Floyd. CNN is currently holed up in its Atlanta offices with live coverage of a crowd attacking it’s very building, that it shares with a police precinct.

Some of the pictures emerging from ground zero in Minneapolis are horrifying, where two police precincts and several blocks have been burned out.

s

APTOPIX Minneapolis Police Death

All the largest cities, from NYC, to Chicago have seen ‘dozens’ of protests each, including freeway intersections in LA and Oakland, near San Francisco and 200 arrested in Houston alone. The White House at one point was put under lockdown as protests took outside it. By day the protesters appear peaceful albeit disruptive, by night it worsens.

s

s

US-POLITICS-POLICE-JUSTICE-RACE-DEMONSTRATION-RACISM

200 have been arrested in Houston alone

Minneapolis, now approaching its fourth night of riots, has called in the National Guard and imposed a curfew and state of emergency (as has Portland), a man has been shot dead in Detroit, though it’s still under investigation if this had to do with the protesting. In Lousiville ongoing protests merged with those for Breonna Taylor, an unarmed emergency medic shot 8x just days before, killed in her bed after it was mistakenly stormed in a drugs/money raid (the police were plain-clothed, burst in with a “no-knock warrant” and didn’t announce themselves -her boyfriend put out a warning shot, and the 911 transcript showed he still didn’t know they were police when he called for help). No drugs or drugs money was ever found at her flat, and the suspect they were looking for was found in an entirely different address.

The city also saw a night of violence, with 7 people shot and injured.

s

The 33 cities so far affected by mass protests (both peaceful and violent) are Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Bowling Green,  New Orleans, Lincoln, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Portland, Dallas, Houston, Columbus, Cincinnati, Canton, Richmond, Seattle, Milwaukee and Washington DC.

Early harrowing footage of a disabled woman in a wheelchair being assaulted (punched in the head and a fire extinguisher let off in her face) in a Target Store and doing the rounds across social media appears more than the snapshots used. On closer inspection the full videos show her trying to stab Black looters (and allowing White ones to pass, perhaps randomly perhaps because of race) beforehand, and a later one of her walking about. Mental illness surely?

 

The other storm appears to be Trump’s handling of the unfolding crisis. His Tweet to match ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts’ has been widely condemned that the President of the US is condoning the shooting of its citizens, not to mention the quote was taken from notorious Miami Police Chief Walter Headley who uttered it in a 1967 speech outlining his department’s efforts to “combat young hoodlums who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign.”

s

Twitter, hot on the heels of its earlier fact-check warning slapped on his latest falsehood, now hid the text due to inciting violence, another of its rules. As reminder, shooting looters is unconstitutional, even if they are dangerously dark-skinned and TV-holding, or even walking down the street, and despite the long tradition to do so following any disaster.

You literally couldn’t make it up. The Great Orange Dolphin has gone apoplectic; his lifeline to insults, power and obnoxiousness appears to be fighting him. He’s subsequently started the day with all barrels blazing, drawing a gunfight with China with a long list of accusations, from C-19 cover up to stealing tech, while attempting to align the ‘left wing forces’ as supporting them. His announcement of unprecedented action, including the suspension of special treatment for Hong Kong, will ratchet up the trade wars when the world needs it least, with China now waiting to take retaliation. It’s noted this very much looks like his reelection platform, piqueing a hatred of China, of C-19 and lockdown on top of the culmination of White American demographic embattlement. It marries with his announcement alongside that the US is fully leaving the World Health Organisation for claiming it in league with China to “mislead the world”, and withdrawing all funds at a time it needs it most.

Donald Trump

It appears he’s having a bad day. And some people just want to see the world burn.

Yesterday

Tomorrow