Featured image source

It’s all getting a bit much really isn’t it? These are testing times and the whole situation is enough to turn one to drink, but enough with the spoilers. In that spirit, we’re going to try to incorporate some more ‘On the Lighter Side’ type news so nobody tops themselves by drinking hand sanitizer (next week’s coronavirus advice from the White House).

This week a group of 24 Dutch teenagers on a school trip to the Caribbean to learn nautical skills aboard the world’s largest topsail schooner (why did I never have a school trip to the Caribbean?!) returned home. By sailing said boat across the Atlantic! The Wylde Swan is a 100 year old ship measuring some 43m (141ft) tall and 63m (206ft) long, she started life as a steam powered German herring ship and was relaunched as a topsail schooner in 2010. To quote the trip’s director: “You look at the difficult options and then you realize you’re sitting on an ocean in a sailing vessel.”

Meanwhile, a man in the UK has built a full scale, 30ft long railway in his back garden. As if  tracks, a signal and a movable railway carriage weren’t enough, he revealed that he’s in ongoing negotiations (with his wife) to build an additional 45ft. That will actually make it 75ft longer than what has been built of HS2 so far.

The World

The Commonwealth of Common Sense

As demonstrated by NZ and Canada; hanging pictures of the Queen around public offices rather than an insane orange reality-tv star (and serial sexual predator – all 23 public allegations against Trump have their own wikipedia page for crying out loud) might actually have an impact on the psychology and competency of your government, who would have thunk it? 

Anyhow, while watched over by a Big Lizzy of loving grace, sensible decisions are often made with regards to military grade firepower being kept off the streets and out of schools. Just as New Zealand instantiated some basically sensible restrictions on the civilian procurement of hardcore death machines, Canada are banning ‘Assault’ rifles following their deadliest mass shooting on record when 22 people were killed in Nova Scotia. Some 1,500 models will stop being legally sold and an armistice will apply to about 100,000 such guns currently in circulation; those holding them will face criminal sanctions if they aren’t turned over to authorities by April 2022. 

Predictably, ‘gun rights’ activists will call this a knee jerk reaction which threatens our 3dums intolerably… sure, it’s knee-jerk in the same way that removing your leg from a swamp might be after an alligator puts your foot in it’s mouth. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

Side note on the pictures of the queen thing (and the apparent benevolence by osmosis/voodoo): in addition to places like embassies often hanging a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth, there was a time in Australia where a legal loophole was exploited on the basis that citizens were legally entitled to a picture of their monarch. Which led to young Aussies trolling their representatives by writing them politely demanding their complimentary monarch portrait. For obvious reasons the authorities changes the rules, as is often prudent as times and behaviours change… 

The Groundhog Day of UAP

If you feel like you saw this recently, it’s because you did. In 2019 the U.S. navy confirmed that footage of weird flying blips on computer screens was actually from their systems. The content was originally released by To The Stars Academy, founded by (you guessed it) Blink-182’s Tom DeLongue! That’s right, this Tom DeLongue. 

Politico ran a piece in April of last year about how the U.S. navy was adapting policy to start formally collecting data on perceived unidentified aircraft. This story then did the rounds again in September of 2019. Some of the footage is from 2004 and the New York Times looked into this all in detail in December of 2017. 

All the while, the government uses the thoughtful language of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena which the press willfully misinterpret as being synonymous with UFOs. The government has not conceded that there are objects or that such (presumably nonexistent) objects fly. 

To clarify, phenomena are to objects in the external world as:

  • Beliefs are to facts 
  • Thoughts are to things
  • Dreams are to Reality
  • Imaginary weasels are to weasels
  • Perception of things are to actual things 
  • Experience is to reality.
  • Fox News is to reality. 
  • Hallucinating the Grim Reaper is to actually seeing this dude dressed as the grim reaper on a Beach in Florida giving an amazingly cognizant commentary 

It’s very possible to experience the phenomena of believing that the U.S. response to COVID19 has been a success (as this psychotic little twerp demonstrated last week), how this belief maps to reality is another story. The government has acknowledged that there are objects that people have perceived which appear to have some kind of aerial quality to them. Which is obviously a far-cry from saying ‘that there’s an alien’.

The US

Musking the Truth

Elon Musk is a bit of an arse?! Never! It’s not as if he called a volunteer diver a ‘pedo’, got caught out by the SEC for ‘misinforming investors’ via Twitter, or more recently, was accused of ‘spreading misinformation’ regarding ventilators. Well Elon has now taken to tweeting in a rather Trumpian manner regarding the state of lockdown in the US; you can infer from his tweet “FREE AMERICA NOW” that he probably disagrees, or perhaps it was “The coronavirus panic is dumb” that gave it away. For a chap that is by all accounts pretty smart he certainly seems to struggle to articulate his point. Either way, his March assertion that there would be “close to zero” new cases by the end of April has aged poorly. 

Musk seems to be desperate to reopen mainly on the basis that Covid-19 is going to hurt production and sales of Teslas. 

I wrote that on Thursday morning, then naturally Musk just has to wade in and make shit weirder. First he wiped $14Bn from the valuation of Tesla simply by tweeting “Tesla stock price too high imo”, followed by: “I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.” presumably to help him pay off the inevitable SEC settlement for manipulating share prices again.

If $14 billion seems like a ludicrous quantity of money to evaporate via the silly things people type out on Twitter, it’s worth remembering that this figure is the result of a metric – which arguably has little bearing on reality – called Market Capitalization (or Market Cap); no this is not a trendy type of roofing on a physical covered market where people buy and sell grain, goats, clothing etc. (you know, actual things), that would be ridiculous… Instead, it’s the number you get if you multiply all of the shares in a company by their current market price. Since the market price of a share is affected by every purchase or sale, the value of the company (as indicated by Market Cap) is constantly changing; and questionably, it is reflected as the product of the most recent transaction’s share price (multiplied by the number of shares in existence), so the relatively small number of folks trading impact the whole system. 

Around 32 million TSLA shares were transacted on May 1st, at prices between $683 and $772. So there was something between ~$22 billion (21,856,000,000) and ~$24 billion (24,704,000,000) worth of TSLA stock traded globally yesterday. 

The impact on the market value of a TSLA stock was ~%10 by the end of the day. The figures you’re seeing above represent high and low values throughout the day. The only people who realized cash gains or losses are those who actually bought or sold shares; for those people, the difference in aggregate is no larger than $2.848 billion (24.704 billion – 21.856 billion). So this is why the $14 billion headline is a little bit of a fiction.Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that an institution like Medicine Sans Frontier spends approximately $1.6 billion annually. While the World Wildlife Fund spends a meager $308 million annually. So the end result of Musk’s Friday tweet-storm is roughly the same cost as bankrolling MSF for a year and the WWF for 4 years.

Stupid Like a Fox

President Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton appears to have dropped a bit of a bollock when it comes to the release of his upcoming book: “The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir”. Bolton was more than a little cagey when he dodged testifying to Congress or the Senate during the Ukraine investigation, allegedly to avoid giving away details in his book which would be newsworthy, and saving them for publication time. 

Unfortunately, this has somewhat backfired; it’s standard procedure in the US for anybody with access to classified information to have to undergo a ‘pre-publication review’ with any government agency that chooses, during which they can censor any details deemed overly juicy. Having left the White House on bad terms with el Presidente, aforementioned agencies are applying the black sharpie liberally. Had he, however, testified, these matters would have become public domain and his booked would have been published intact and on-time.

Uncle Joe

Joe Biden has publicly acknowledged a sexual assault allegation which has been dogging him for months. Joe starts off the interview on the ‘Morning Joe’ show croaking and coughing as he unequivocally denies the accusations. The NYT dove into this weeks ago and found no former Senate office members able to corroborate Reade’s allegation – which jives with the ‘no witnesses’ element of the whole thing. They also weren’t able to find a record of a complaint which Reade claims to have recorded with the Senate. 

Biden has also requested the Secretary of the Senate scour the official records for any complaint from Reade. The whole thing begs some questions: if someone gets sexually assaulted in the senate and they file a complaint, who determines when or if this is made public? In any case, there seems to be an oversight problem here.

The discussion has also got off track since “journalists” started asking Biden to make his Senatorial papers public… hold on, as distinct from the records held by the Senate, what are Senator’s Papers and Archives? They are the ‘records created and maintained within a senator’s office’ and they are the senator’s property. Joe Biden donated his, as is customary,  to the University of Delaware since they hold a wealth of information relevant to historians and other academics regarding things like: political science, public theory, local history etc. 

It really does seem quite disingenuous, or just willfully ignorant, from established “professionals” in the press to take the conversation to this place. The papers are about Joe’s Office and owned by Joe; hardly the appropriate place to log a sexual assault allegation, right? Also, Biden donated the papers to the University of Delaware, so asking Biden to make them public is a little inappropriate. 

Biden also showed his age here, again. At 77 he’s struggling to keep ahead of the messaging, despite an amazingly experienced and competent team. Biden said the papers won’t be made public yet because they’ll be used as ‘political fodder’ – for god sake Joe! Just say it’s typical procedure, because it is! Don’t incriminate yourself or leave room for speculation, if you can avoid it.

The UK

The Sun Never Sets on British Testing

Last week we wrote pretty extensively on the disastrous mess that is the state of the UK’s Coronavirus testing, particularly the difference between ‘capacity’ and reality, and why Deloitte shouldn’t be allowed near it at all. 

Well it hasn’t exactly improved. News surfaced that one London trust has gone as far as “actively discouraging” its staff from using the testing centres because they “have no faith they would get the result”. Those complaints relate to a testing site at Wembley, run jointly by the aforementioned Deloitte and Sodexo, the services company who were found in 2013 to have held a UK prisoner in conditions that “[appear] to amount to torture”.

Meanwhile, we keenly watched as we approached that notorious end of April target of “testing 100,000 people a day” (and the wording there is key). In the days leading up to the last days of the month, we were tens of thousands off, no great surprise. And then on the 1st May, Glorious Comrade Leader of the Health Secretariat Hancock revealed we had exceeded the target and hit a magnificent 122,000! Thanks presumably to the auspicious stars that Glorious and Immortal Leader Johnson’s nth child was born under (for n, pick a number, any number, between 5 and 10 depending on which newspaper you read). 

“Ha! That’ll show the cynical bastards who didn’t get behind our wonderful government!” the Gammons chorused. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, but which of those labels is more appropriate I’ll leave up to you. We actually ‘tested’ 73,000 people, the rest being multiple tests on the same people. And of those 73,000 people we ‘tested’ 39,000 were kits that were ‘mailed out’, so not in fact tested. The numbers here appear to be deliberately obfuscated but by my reckoning we actually tested 34,000 people plus however many will be returned and tested from those mailed out (on the basis of previous days it will be about a third), so let’s be generous and call it 54,000, but not 100,000.

The key has been to change the way tests are counted from counting how many are analysed to counting how many are booked or sent out. The government official in charge of counting, Professor John Newton, advised: “That’s the way…we were advised to count them by officials.” When challenged, Matt Hancock claimed: “It’s not something I recognise.”, much like when Boris is shown one of his children.

For high quality lockdown entertainment, head over to anywhere this is discussed on Twitter, where you’ll find many die-hard (and they are currently literally dying hard) Conservative supporters having ‘Leave Britney alone’ moments over the whole situation.

Walking Out on Logic

PPE (probably the only sort of PP Donald Trump doesn’t like) is the other story the British government just can’t get to go away. The government has insisted throughout this crisis that there is enough PPE, even trying to shift blame onto healthcare workers for not using it properly. After any evidence of stocks has failed to appear, a BBC investigation has shown that the UK has totally failed to stockpile crucial items.

The Government’s defence is that it stockpiled on the basis of a flu pandemic. Apparently, items such as: protective gowns, face visors, test swabs, and body bags, aren’t necessary for that sort of pandemic.NHS workers across five London hospitals went so far as to walk out in protest this week, which has received remarkably little attention outside of Twitter.

The Internet

From Quarantine to Rehab

It will probably come as no surprise that week after week of lockdown is turning people to booze. Retail sales of alcohol are up 25-55% as the concept of Zoom happy-hour and putting back five G&Ts on a Tuesday night becomes the norm. We should probably, all, collectively, keep an eye on that.

Revisionist Distory

(Yes I was struggling with that pun, perhaps ‘The Butt of Disney’s Joke’?) Following on from the painstaking removal of every visible anus from the movie Cats, Disney has been taking an axe to other movies as they are released onto their new streaming platform Disney+. Some changes probably won’t be missed, like the removal of racist lyrics from Aladdin, more questionable though is the extension to Darryl Hannah’s hair in the movie Splash, so that instead of just about covering her bottom, it appears as some sort of “hairy skirt”.

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, get in touch with the authors Will Marshall and Alistair Simmonds on Twitter and let us know what you did and didn’t like.

Success! You're on the list.