Credit goes to Politico for today’s headline of the day.
Large numbers of Tory MPs know that their job involves precious little beyond emitting low level growling noises at noon on Wednesdays to provide a sort of aural white noise masking effect for the blindingly obvious uselessness of the man they chose to be their leader.
— Tom Peck explains why the UK’s virtual parliament has been deemed a failure and MPs absolutely must return to their benches after June.
Funny how people only tend to have given their lives retrospectively, when it is too late for anyone to check whether they really wanted to give it in the first place. How the sacrifice always tends to be made on their behalf.
— Tom Peck on the absurdity of politicians hiding behind wartime cliches.
I guess Cummings is interested in behavioural science in the way I’m interested in Olympic figure skating. Which is to say, I like it, but I’m unbelievably, lethally shit at it.
You can tell things are getting bad when Belgium gets a government. This is, of course, only a temporary government — negotiations are still ongoing for the new federal government — but prime minister, Sophie Wilmès now has powers for six months to take measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic without requiring parliamentary approval.
The first thing this government did was to declare a declare a nation-wide shutdown as of noon today. Until 5th April, we are all expected to stay at home except for essential reasons, such as food shopping, or outdoor physical activities which can only be done with people living in the same house.
They are trying to avoid calling this a lockdown for fear of negative connotations. But that’s what this is.
Compared to yesterday, we’re not that much affected. I’m already working from home and Eve is still able to take the boys out in the afternoon in order to prevent us all going stir crazy. Because I am not walking to work at present, I have taken to taking a walk around town before I start working and again when I have finished. This is still allowed as long as I don’t talk to anyone.
In slightly more positive news, a citizens’ initiative has been launched aiming to bring together isolated people with volunteers available to gather and deliver essential shopping. The idea from Covid Solidarity is to make shopping list templates for printing out available to people who find themselves isolated.
Once completed, the list may be placed in a visible position in front of one’s house so that a neighbour can pick it up and set about making the necessary purchases.
The shopping is then deposited without physical contact, and reimbursement for purchases made is handled directly by the person lending assistance and the person being assisted, according to the procedure detailed on the site.
And two Dutch universities are looking into whether a vaccine for tuberculosis can be used to boost immune systems which may mean fewer and less severe infections.
The Belgium National Security Council met on Thursday to come up with new measures to address the public concern surrounding the coronavirus. They have come up with a number of measures that, essentially, amount to cancelling weekends and, bizarrely:
All classes at school will be suspended, but schools will be asked to provide care, especially for parents who are unable to look after their children during school hours. The Prime Minister has called for children not to be taken care of by grandparents.
In other words, schools will remain both open and closed until the end of the month.
According to Politico, this is the result of disagreement between Flemish and French-speaking politicians:
Whereas French-speaking politicians wanted to close down all schools in Belgium, as is now the case in France, Flemish politicians were more reluctant to do so, fearing an economic shock. A compromise was found by suspending all classes but not closing all schools.
After the press conference, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon stressed that schools are not shutting down completely. “Closing all schools would be a problem for people who work in the health sector or for parents whose children can only be cared for by grandparents. That is precisely the most vulnerable group. Parents who can’t find a solution for their children can still rely on schools.”
I am certainly sympathetic to the view that offloading kids onto grandparents — the most vulnerable group — for the best part of three weeks would be insane. But if schools are going to stay partly open, I don’t see the value in not keeping them fully open.
Then again, it probably shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that the country that gave us Magritte would also be the first country to invent Schrödinger’s School.
Both the UK and Ireland — which happen to be the only European nations with Trump golf courses — are exempt.
— The Register’s Matthew Hughes reporting on the Panicking President’s recently announced attempt to combat COVID-19 by issuing a travel ban against EU countries, something the WHO explicitly recommends against.
Do get your head round the fact that we live in a country where in the midst of our various shitshows, the prime minister was performing for coins mere feet from some guy who once offered to bring up one of his spare kids. Even if The Jeremy Kyle Show hadn’t been axed, this would be a scenario simply too trashy to air.
Sonya, Josephine, and the Tragic Re-Invention of the Telephone by I. S. Heynen is a powerful slice of dystopian fiction.
Chris Grey suggests that Brexit is going feral, and examines the consequences.
Denzil visits The Vlooyberg Tower near Tielt-Winge.
Ben Orlin asks What Makes a Great Teacher? With answers from four great teachers.
And another wolf has been sighted in Belgium. This time in Liège.
In Fortune’s Final Hand Adam-Troy Castro envisages a casino in which memories can be gambled and asks how much of you would still be you if your memories once belonged to someone else.
Renewable energy still has a long way to go. Wednesday was Belgium’s Grey Day, the day when notionally the country’s green electricity production is used up.
Klaus Sieg visits Sirplus, a chain of German supermarkets selling expired yogurt, mislabled jam and weird potatoes.
Chris Grey argues Brexiters need to stop campaigning and start governing.