Sunday round-up – 13th June 2021

I left out the “people behaving as assholes” commentaries this weekend. There are far too many to choose from. The failure to take mental health seriously over decades, and the negative impacts of sequestration as part of Covid-19, have left a lot of marginally adjusted and poorly-socialized people with significant temperament and anger management issues. Until societies start taking mental health a lot more seriously, while still making people accountable for their own actions, this problem will continue to build.

  1. The G7 Summit

The annual public strutting of the G7 leaders has completed in Cornwall. As is usual at these kinds of events, disagreements behind closed doors are papered over with bright-fluffy-bunny press releases and fine-sounding statements of…well, some kind of intent to eventually think about getting around to possibly doing something at an unspecified future date about an urgent issue. Like Global Warming. Nothing significant, you understand.

However, the interaction dynamics between the participants can be seen via images and videos. Which is more interesting for observers when much of what is actually being said between the leaders is not visible, and is heavily filtered for public consumption.

The good news for the UK was that Boris Johnson scored a meeting prior to the start of the summit with President Biden. As normal, both men attempted to play down private disagreements, and portray a position of agreement on key issues. However there is a big difference between a statement like “we agree on the need to solve the Northern Ireland problem” (which is the equivalent of saying “we both agreed that water is wet”) and actually agreeing on how it should be solved. Everything that has emerged from the G7 shows that Biden told Johnson that he needs to solve the problem without pissing off the EU or the United States. When one government sends another government a formal diplomatic warning, that indicates a clear disagreement on something fundamental.

Right now, the UK government’s entire public strategy appears to revolve around bellicose statements challenging the need to even obey the new deals signed with the EU. Johnson and other government leaders, including the juvenile and scientifically illiterate leader of the DUP, Edwin Poots, seem to be trapped in a rhetoric hole of their own making. This bellicose table-thumping threatening made for some uncomfortable meetings, and torpedoed the original idea of the summit being a launch-pad for a New Global Britain (whatever that cute-sounding marketing phrase might mean).

2. The Addiction model of misinformation

Nick Carmody explains why the entire “Trump won” and QAnon cult follower groupings are probably an addictive behavior based on a combination of fear induction, and dopamine highs caused by further feeding of misinformation to confirm existing biases.

Because it is fundamentally an addiction, treating interactions as an opportunity for discussion and debate is almost certainly a waste of everybody’s time. The smartest people in the room may be the ones that walked away from interaction with friends and family members when they realized this.

3. Covid-19 

I am concerned that there will be a further wave of Covid-19 infection, which will proportionately impact the Southern states, due to the low overall levels of Covid-19 vaccination in many of those states. There is a clear correlation right now between political ideology and willingness to be vaccinated. States that have a majority of Democrat-voting progressive voters have significantly higher vaccination rates than states dominated by Republicans. 

The new variant of Covid, B.1.617,  is being referred to as the India variant.  I don’t think that name is racist, it simply reflects where the first contagion was identified, unlike the persistent GOP and anti-vaccine activist messaging of Covi19 as the “China virus”. When you read the comments of people using that name, it is almost always accompanied by allegations that Covid was manufactured and released by China. As far as I can tell, nobody is alleging that India or anybody connected to India released B.1.617.

B.1.617 is clearly more transmissible than prior variants, so if there are insufficient vaccinated people in a community, and/or there are insufficient precautions being taken by people to minimize the chance of infection, that new variant may soon dominate new cases and contagion, and a new wave may happen and force the return of rules that nobody really wants, like travel restrictions and indoor gatherings and entertainment venue restrictions.

4. Goodbye to Texas (soon) – a 2 year plan

After the mendacious and contemptuously undemocratic attempt by the GOP in Texas to ram through a blatantly unconstitutional and fascistic voting management bill, I have determined that we need to leave Texas sooner rather than later.

I am setting a 2 year target for us to be living somewhere else. The “somewhere else” is not yet determined. It could be California, where Mary’s family is from, or Costa Rica, or Hawaii.

Europe is out of the picture, because the UK leaving the EU left us with no ability to live in Europe in any EU country in retirement without paying penal healthcare costs. I am certainly not going to return to the UK, after numerous recent demonstrations that England is now dominated by nativism, xenophobia and a wish to return to the Days Of Empire. The UK failed Civics 101 starting 11 years ago when they failed to vote for proportional representation. They failed it 3 more times, once when they voted Leave, and twice in General Elections. I cannot trust, in aggregate, the electorate in England. In aggregate, they are making bad decisions and enabling politicians who have no respect for the democratic process.

My family in the UK will have to get used to us, in all probability, living further away than before. But since, as far as I can tell, they probably voted for Brexit, they actually have to own the outcome, and this is part of the outcome. We wanted to move to the Azores, but that is not going to happen.

 

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