The Joker in the Hole

The corona event rolls on and the synchronicities just keeping piling up. For those of us with an eye to symbolism, this week has provided yet more grist for the Jungian mill. Of course, it had to happen here in Melbourne, Australia’s home of corona and the city with the world record for the longest lockdown. Hooray for us, we’ve spent almost 300 days of the last two years locked in our houses pursuing the grand prize of covid 0. But, as the saying goes: play silly games, win silly prizes. In the last few weeks, cases are through the roof here and we’re now up to 20k a day. It was not always so.

This time last year, we seemed to have won the battle. Covid had been “eliminated” and we enjoyed a normal summer free of masks, QR codes, vaccine mandates and segregation based on private medical decisions. Life was good. Our Premier, Dan Andrews, was on medical leave having fallen down a set of stairs and injured his back. In 2020, he had been the arch-Devouring Mother during our second lockdown castigating citizens for bad behaviour and gaslighting the public on a daily basis all while desperately trying to avoid the blame for his government’s obvious incompetence at causing Melbourne to be the only place in Australia to be locked down. His absence from public life at that time was as if the spiritual clouds had cleared and we enjoyed a sunny summer in both a meteorological and a psychic sense.

Fast forward to today: Mr Andrews is again on holiday, this time by choice. In the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, covid zero is a distant memory. The Australian authorities have changed tack and now decided to pull the band aid off and allow the inevitable to happen. Mr Andrews’ holiday comes at a politically convenient time for him because it means that he doesn’t have to get up in front of the press and explain why we apparently don’t care about covid anymore after locking down the state for two years. He has built his entire political capital in that time by pandering to the True Believers. But they are not happy. They weren’t happy even before this week. The lines to get PCR tested are absurdly long. There are stories of people camping overnight to get tested because the test centres keep closing in the middle of the day due to lack of capacity. This is, of course, just the latest example of government ineptitude but this time it is directly affecting the True Believers, many of whom are catching covid and realising that the vaccines don’t do what they were supposed to. This was always going to happen, of course. Australia is currently going through the necessary metamorphosis that will lead to whatever comes next. In the process, however, lots of people are really angry, especially here in Melbourne.

It was into this psychic morass that Novak Djokovic waded in the last few days as he tried to travel here for the upcoming Australian Open.

Tennis is the only sport I follow, so this whole thing is a bit of a personal synchronicity and I can speak with some confidence on the subject. Djokovic is clearly the best player the game has ever seen and he is one grand slam victory away from making that official. He is also, to use a typically Australian phrase, a top bloke and, to take the matter a little bit further into the dangerous realm of gender politics, a real man. As a real man, he says what needs to be said even when it is unpopular to say it. He is a man who can speak truth to power and he has been doing that his whole career. Despite being the greatest player on tour, he has not been the crowd favourite. Federer and Nadal hold that title. In Federer’s case this is understandable. Djokovic may be the best player ever but Federer is surely the most beautiful. He is the very Platonic form of a tennis player. If the ancient Greeks played tennis, it would have been Federer they carved into stone, not Djokovic. To switch metaphors, Federer is the Lamborghini of tennis players. He looks great but has a habit of faltering under pressure and has mostly been outplayed by the grit and determination of both Nadal and Djokovic when they hit their peak. Djokovic, like Nadal, is a muscle car. He doesn’t look as good but he gets to the finish line quicker.

But there’s clearly something happening in the popularity stakes that goes beyond the aesthetics of the game of tennis. Djokovic has a nasty habit of saying things that are politically incorrect while Federer and Nadal are very much conformists. Overnight, Nadal towed the party line when asked to comment about Djokovic’s problems with Australian immigration. He said that we should trust the medical professionals and that the vaccines are the thing that will bring the pandemic to an end. He said this despite the fact that he caught covid just a month ago thus proving the point that should be blindingly obvious by now that the vaccines do not prevent infection and therefore cannot bring the pandemic to an end. Nadal is saying what people want to hear and possibly he also believes it. In any case, he is the poster boy for all those people, including those who are fully vaccinated and yet still catching covid, who don’t want to acknowledge the truth. Meanwhile, Djokovic, whether he wanted to or not, represents the truth that people don’t want to hear: the vaccines are a failure; everything we did in the last two years was for nothing; it doesn’t make any difference if you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated. Bill Hicks once made the point that we don’t have a very good history of dealing with people who tell the truth: Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, the list goes on. Add Djokovic to it. He’s now sitting in jail.

The details of how it happened are still not clear. It looks to me like bureaucratic bungling combined with cheap politicking. The Victorian Government knew it had to allow Djokovic to play or risk having the Australian Open taken off it. It responded in the time-honoured way of governments who need to allow something to happen but can’t be seen to condone it: it created an obfuscatory bureaucratic process according to which Djokovic was granted a “medical exemption”. But it’s the federal government that is responsible for border control. Either through bureaucratic bungling or political interference, the feds decided Djokovic couldn’t get in. No doubt we’ll get the full story in the next days.

As with the rest of corona, however, the facts are irrelevant. The Djokovic saga cannot be just a random sequence of things that led to an outcome. The probabilities are impossible. What are the odds that this would happen in Melbourne, the home of the world’s longest corona lockdown? Why is the State Premier, the arch Devouring Mother, on holiday when it happens? Why is it happening right when we are in the middle of a mass outbreak of covid despite the fact that the population is more than 90% vaccinated? Why is it happening in Australia where we are among the worst countries in the world for discarding human rights in the last two years? It’s all too synchronous. More importantly, the symbolism matches up too perfectly.

So, let’s put our Jungian hats on and do a lightning tour through the symbolism of the Djokovic saga.

The Park Hotel

At time of writing, Djokovic is being kept at the Park Hotel in Melbourne while his legal appeal is being heard. Other residents at the Park Hotel are “illegal” refugees who have been there for – get this – 9 years. The hotel has become a permanent protest site for those objecting to Australia’s treatment of refugees and now the world’s number one tennis player is living amongst them. Australia’s treatment of refugees is in direct contravention of the humans rights charter just as our government’s response to corona has contravened human rights. You simply couldn’t find a better place to highlight that fact than the Park Hotel.

But there’s more. The Park Hotel was also one our “quarantine hotels” in the last two years and the site of major outbreaks of covid due to the incompetence of the state government. If you wanted to highlight that fact, you couldn’t do better than house the world’s number one tennis player there.

The Park Hotel is therefore the perfect symbol for the Australian government’s abuse of human rights not just of foreign citizens but our own citizens. It is also the perfect symbol for the Victorian government’s incompetence and corruption. And Djokovic is now staying at the Park Hotel because of the incompetence and corruption of both state and federal governments. Him being there is a symbol not just of our incompetence but our callous indifference to human rights that, until corona, was directed toward foreigners but during corona has been directed towards our own citizens. How you treat “the other” is how you also treat yourself. Jung would agree. So would Jesus and we’ll get to that shortly.

 Globalism

The free movement of peoples is one of the founding principles of globalism and specifically neo-liberal globalism. Of course, as the refugees at the Park Hotel can attest, it was always the free movement of “approved people” and with corona the list of “approved people” is getting shorter. Whatever the moral arguments here, there is a significant question of logistics. We now have special visa categories, special exemption categories, special tribunals to adjudicate special cases etc etc. The whole thing is a bureaucratic nightmare and an economic disaster. You can’t run an international tennis tournament this way and you can’t run globalism this way. Either governments get rid of the stupid rules or they will suffer the economic consequences. Australia is going to suffer consequences from the Djokovic saga as our international reputation again gets tarnished.

It’s also noteworthy that this is now a major diplomatic rift between Australia and Serbia. I doubt that matters too much to either country because I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot of commerce that goes on there. But eventually this kind of rift will spread to more important relationships. That’s what happens when the old rules break down. We can expect to see more of this in the years and decades ahead as countries get into disputes because the rules are no longer clear. It’s not hard to see that that pathway ends in the reappearance of one of the other four horsemen. The Australian government was unable to prevent a diplomatic incident in this case where the only thing that rests on it is a tennis tournament. What happens when governments are unable to prevent diplomatic incidents about things that are really important?

The Rebellious Children

Add Djokovic to the list with Jordan Peterson and others who are now spiritual leaders of the rebellious children. Note that the qualities are the same: the willingness to speak uncomfortable truths, the moral backbone to stand for what you believe in and suffer personal consequences etc. Whatever happens from here, Djokovic wins on the symbolic front against the anonymous, amorphous blob which is the powers that be hiding behind stupid bureaucratic rules powered by hysterical emotional energy. Meanwhile, Djokovic’s father gave a great speech saying exactly that.

As a side note, I was a bit of heavy metal tragic in my teen years and one of my favourite bands was Anthrax who have a song called One Man Stands. The lyrics could not be more fitting for the Djokovic saga – https://genius.com/Anthrax-one-man-stands-lyrics

Away in a manger

The world’s greatest tennis player, a rich and powerful man, but more importantly a man of moral conviction, is now staying in a hotel with a group of powerless and probably stateless refugees. The whole thing has a bit of the symbolism of Jesus about it. Djokovic is a member of the Orthodox church and actively involved in charitable foundations. As has been widely publicised, he donated money to Australia after the bushfires of 2019.

Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister went on twitter yesterday and said “rules are rules” in relation to the Djokovic case; the exact excuse given by Pontius Pilate.

The Shadow of corona

Corona was supposed to be a victory for science and progress. It has failed but, in true Jungian fashion, its proponents are not admitting failure but projecting the shadow of that failure onto the unvaccintated. Djokovic is now the symbolic representation of the unvaccinated and the True Believers are projecting their shadow onto him.

The Joker

Djokovic’s nickname is The Joker. The Joker has a range of symbolic meanings. Here’s just a handful.

  • In almost all card games where The Joker is used, The Joker is the most valuable card and trumps all other cards.
  • The Joker corresponds to The Fool in tarot and signifies among other things both the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
  • The Joker character relates to the Trickster archetype which symbolises, among other things the bridge to the unconscious. Thus, The Joker often symbolises mental illness/imbalance eg. The Joker in Batman. Mass psychosis anyone?
  • The Joker also relates to dionysian activities like dancing and having fun. Singing and dancing was banned over the weekend in NSW. Meanwhile, the Serbian fans of Djokovic have been singing and dancing out the front of The Park Hotel the last few days. Djokovic was also famously “caught” dancing in a nightclub in Serbia during the corona hysteria of 2020.

The Joker vs Karen

I only realised this once Djokovic had won his court case and I’ve been laughing about it ever since.

The court case was against the Home Affairs minister whose first name is none other than KAREN (Andrews).

Karen is the name which has emerged in popular culture in recent years to capture The Devouring Mother phenomenon. Although, not one hundred percent synonymous, your average Karen is a Devouring Mother (Caregiver archetype in shadow form).

So, we have Novak (no-vaxx) Djokovic (The Joker) beating Karen (The Devouring Mother) in court.

As the saying goes: you couldn’t make it up.

Melbourne as sporting capital

Melbourne prides itself on being “sports mad” and the “sporting capital of Australia”. In jailing the world’s number one player who has won the Australian Open 9 times, we act in the complete opposite way to the story we tell ourselves. If things go bad from here, it is not impossible that Melbourne will have the Australian Open taken away for somewhere more civilised. As my grandmother used to say, that’s called cutting your nose to spite your face.

The Djokovic saga is another addition to the long list of symbolic inversions we have seen during corona where we have behaved in exactly the opposite way to what we thought we were. Some of the more important symbolic inversions we have seen are the notion that children must be sacrificed to protect the elderly (child vaccinations, lockdowns etc), so-called liberal democracies behaving in a way that is indistinguishable from totalitarian dictatorships, the switch from globalisation to a hyper localisation. Melbourne as “sports capital” jailing one of the world’s great sportsmen is a trivial addition to the list but still noteworthy.

Revelation of the true self

But the previous is point is also part of a larger socio-psychological revelation that corona has unleashed. We may have been “all in this together” at the start but that is no longer the case. Each nation is now on its own journey and the journey no longer has anything to do with a virus but is a spiritual journey.

Earlier, I referenced the Australian Prime Minister’s tweet in which he also made reference to Australia’s “strong border policies”. He’s right. It’s those same border policies that have seen refugees locked in the Park Hotel for 9 years. It’s by those same border policies that we have seen fit to abrogate our human rights obligations. But the subtext in Morrison’s tweet is an appeal to the one true bedrock of Australian politics and culture: xenophobia. There is a federal election this year and Mr Morrison is banking on doing what his predecessor, John Howard, did and trying to cash in on the latent xenophobia that exists in our culture. It’s very Australian, although not the Australia that we like to present to the world. Nevertheless, we are presenting it to the world. Corona has revealed what we really are, the ugly underbelly of our nation.

It has, of course, done the same for many other countries. That’s why Europe is currently reverting back to authoritarianism. It’s why corona in the US has primarily been about corruption and economic racketeering. Here in Australia, we were slowly inching back to the pragmatism which dominated our political culture prior to corona. Things were actually looking good for a couple of weeks and then the Djokovic thing blew up. Once again, I can’t help but feel that there is a symbolic calling here. “The Gods” just won’t leave us alone here in Melbourne. We seem to be being called to confront our own demons. It’s simply too weird and unlikely that Djokovic would be at the Park Hotel of all places, in Melbourne of all places. Melbourne has manifested the shadow more vociferously than almost any other place in the last two years and it seems that the universe is determined to hold up a mirror in which we see ourselves as if demanding that we acknowledge what we really are.

The start of 2022

This leads onto the final point I want to make which is the timing. Did this have to happen in the first week of 2022? Could it be that this is what is portended for the new year? That we must face our shadow, not just Australia but every country. That we must also face the shadow of the whole corona debacle and admit that it is a failure. I admit this seems incredibly unlikely but so is the fact that the world’s best tennis player is currently under arrest in the supposedly civilised country of Australia. So is everything else that has happened in the last two years. If it does happen, if we can start to face our shadow, it could be a good year.

57 thoughts on “The Joker in the Hole”

  1. G’day mate,
    great post. It certainly looks like everything is forcing us to confront our shadow. Two questions:
    1) I can see how an individual can do that, but a whole society? How can that be done. I guess Germany did it after the second world war, but there were strong external forces. People will first have to admit to themselves that they behaved like complete idiots for 2 years.
    2) what will happen if we keep failing at the task? Because I think this is a very likely outcome. Will things just keep getting worse until the pain forces us to do it? This could still be a long way off.
    Either way, things will stay interesting.

  2. Roland – yeah, they say history is written by the victors but we’re all losers in this case which is what makes it so fascinating. Maybe everybody will just try and forget it ever happened. I could see that working and, in fact, that’s what happened with all past plagues. The real ones, that is.

    There’s a double meaning in Novak too because vaccine is derived from the latin for cow and Novak is no herd animal.

  3. Aha! Now they want to deport a Czech tennis player, too, on the some grounds. (Her name is Renata Voráčová. I’d never heard of her, but that’s beside the point.) Apparently, she was COVID-positive a month ago, she was granted a medical exemption based on that, she was allowed into Australia, and then this happened with Novak, and so they decided to hunt down everyone else in a similar position, too.

    This is terrible for Australia, but fingers crossed for CZ! With any luck, people will be pissed, making it a bit more awkward for politicians to pass ever more repressive measures. We’ll see. Anyway, the more mess Covidians get themselves into, the better.

  4. Simon, do you happen to know what the rules are for athletes who got a “wrong” injection, such as Sputnik or one of the Chinese ones? Those aren’t approved in Australia, as far as I know. So, how does it work?

    The thing is, in pretty much all of Europe, a COVID infection (confirmed by a PCR test) counts the same as gene therapy for the purposes of COVID passes. So, if every country has its own rules, that means that athletes who are in perfect compliance with the COVID rules in their own countries cannot travel to major tournaments in other countries. That creates a bit of an awkward situation, bureaucratically speaking. It makes it hard to organize major international tournaments of any kind. I wonder how major sports organizations (such as the ATP/WTA or FIFA) will react. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if Australian Open paid an astronomical fine or even lost its accreditation. It would make life a bit more difficult for Covidians.

  5. Chris – excellent question. I don’t know the answer. As Roland mentioned, I think the closest you get is losing a war because at that point there’s no ambiguity about the matter. I’d say Trump/Brexit were invitations to face the shadow but all that happened was that people lost their minds. That’s also happened with corona and they’re trying to blame the unvaccinated but I don’t see how that can work. Is it times like these in which a new religion in born? Again, that seems an impossible idea at the moment but maybe that’s why most religions feature miracles.

    Irena – This is exactly how they have been running corona for the last two years. One stupid decision leads to several other stupid decisions to try and make the first one seem legitimate. Now they’re doing it in front of the eyes of the world. Last time I checked, Australia made a lot of money from tourism and immigration. It’s hard to think of worse advertising for either of those. Note sure about the other vaccines but I thought they had all been approved by the WHO which I assumed meant they had to be accepted by other countries. Haven’t all kinds of tennis and sporting events been happening in recent months without any trouble? Seems that Australia is the only country having this problem which doesn’t surprise me as paranoia about the border/xenophobia has been rife in this country ever since it was founded.

  6. ” Is it times like these in which a new religion in born”
    I’ve been wondering about that too. Spengler’s second religiosity. I’m also wondering if that new religion might be based on transhumanism.
    No proof, just a gut feeling. Society seems to have decided to take the worst possible turn at any crossroad and you can’t do much worse than transhumanism.

  7. @Irena it is important here to understand that Australia is true democracy. The Insanity is not imposed from the top onto an unwilling population as was the case in eastern europe.
    It is pushed from the population onto the leaders. Some of them are quite unhappy with the situation, but are powerless as the people actually demand harder measures.
    This country has not been taken over by a totalitarian gang, it has simply gone insane.
    At least here in QLD.
    Simon is probably right that the only way out is to confront our shadow. I just can’t see how that can happen here short of a collapse. Self deception is second nature to aussies. And who needs soul searching when there’s beer in the fridge and footy on the telly.

  8. Roland – I could see transhumanism among the PMC. Get your monthly “vaccine” shot and your PCR test. Better get the microchip implant as well to make it easy to manage. The problem as I see it is that the economy is breaking down so badly I doubt they’ll be able to make it happen logistically. Maybe just for the 1%. What will the rest of the population turn to?

    Good point about corona madness coming from the ground up here. Seems very likely that the federal government tried to make an example of Djokovic because Scott Morrison thinks it will win him votes at the next election. There is no leadership at all in this country. Not real leadership. Instead we get a combination of pandering to the mob and tyrannical tinpot dictatorship.

  9. @Roland

    Yes, good point about democracy. Alas, Australia has (collectively) gone batshit crazy. If only it were only Australia! But the good news is that Oz has flattened the curve along the y-axis, which may help people snap out of the psychosis. Maybe.

    And I guess the politicians are just making it up as they go. I think they originally had every intention of letting Djokovic play. But then the collective went nuts, and here we are now. We’ll see how this develops. I hope the Australian Open pays a massive fine at the very least.

  10. Maybe not actual transhumanism but a transhumanism with all the flesh removed and just symbolism and ritual left. Like what the catholic church is to the actual teachings of christ.
    Maybe transhumanism as a seed for a new religion.

    @Irena i believe a good old solid full force slap in the face would do the job. Like WWII did for Germany.
    If the situation is not resolved otherwise, that slap will ensue in one form or another. So in the long term, the madness is self terminating. It is the midterm i am not sure about.

  11. Roland – I could see that. One example would be your idea of injecting saline instead of “vaccines”. That would fulfil the symbolism of the vaccine without the nasty side effects or the need to actually produce a vaccine. Transhumanism as the religion of progress for a world where progress is finished.

  12. @Simon

    I’m pretty sure that unless you got one of the EU approved injections, you count as unvaxxed in the EU. (Well, I know that Hungary approved Sputnik, and maybe – I’m not sure – also the Chinese shots. But that’s just Hungary.) But it appears that exceptions are made for major sporting events. How do you organize a major tournament if you ban athletes from something like half the world because the “right” injections aren’t available to them in their countries?

  13. Irena – sounds like it’d be easier (and probably safer for a young athlete) to just catch covid and rely on natural immunity. Except in Australia, of course, where we don’t believe in that.

  14. Simon: “sounds like it’d be easier (and probably safer for a young athlete) to just catch covid and rely on natural immunity”

    Well, yes, but bureaucratically, you’re only “recovered” for six months.

  15. Yup. So, you pay your tax in the form of a positive test result or a booster. Whatever else it is, corona is the greatest extortion racket in history.

  16. It seems that there is so much shadow projection going on here in Australia, that we may just cool the planet enough to avoid the ‘climate catastrophe’.
    PS, can you please send some of that rain our way? 2mm is a ‘rain event’ here…
    Pss drowning in zucchini, beans, tomatoes and Quail eggs 😉

  17. Helen – hah, could have done with a little less rain here, to be honest. As usual, Melbourne can’t decide what it wants to be. We had Adelaide-like weather in December and now appear to have swapped to Sydney weather for January. How do you irrigate your veggies given that you get basically no rain over summer?

  18. Re: transhumanism

    By now, you’ve probably read about Sotomayor’s how-are-humans-different-from-machines gaffe. Or maybe it’s not a gaffe(?). Maybe she’s a transhumanist agent on the court. The US Supreme Court, that is (she’s one of the judges). The court is supposed to rule on Brandon’s gene therapy mandate.

  19. Pretty sure that’s precisely how those people think. It explains a lot about the last two years. As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head.

  20. Great summary of the situation.

    In the tradition of that everlasting USA meme, is it time for us to start our own Victorian meme for our Premier? Just an updated Christian name. “BranDan”

    I would not want to encourage him by beginning with “Let’s Go….”.

  21. Meanwhile in Israel, the COVID test bureaucracy is collapsing. Huge lines at test stations, pharmacies ran out of home kits. Maybe if they will finally be forced to test less, thins whole thing will fade from public memory?

    I hope Novak Djokovic will be released soon, in Israel the COVID hotels sound like a nightmare from testimonies I have heard.

  22. Kelvin – hah! I like that. And just like bran, Andrews is good for the digestion (aka – he gives you the shits).

    Bakbook – I wonder if there’s a global shortage of tests? Seem to be running out everywhere.

  23. Ok, Djokovic won his court case. But I just realised that the first name of the Home Affairs minister who he beat in court is, get this, KAREN!!!

  24. Some more fun facts on the symbolism of The Joker:

    In almost all card games where The Joker is used, The Joker is the most valuable card.

    The Joker corresponds to The Fool in tarot and signifies both the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

    The Joker character relates to the Trickster archetype which symbolises, among other things the bridge to the unconscious. Thus, The Joker often symbolises mental illness/imbalance eg. The Joker in Batman. Mass psychosis anyone?

    The Joker also relates to dionysian activities like dancing and having fun. Singing and dancing was banned over the weekend in NSW. Meanwhile, the Serbian fans of Djokovic have been singing and dancing out the front of The Park Hotel the last few days. Djokovic was also famously “caught” dancing in a nightclub in Serbia during the corona hysteria of 2020.

  25. Okay, so the Serbian media reports that Novak won his court case, but the authorities arrested him again anyway, and he’s about to be deported. What??

  26. Irena – I watched the judge’s decision and the lawyer for the government said they reserved the right to cancel his visa anyway which apparently some other minister has the power to do. So, it is still possible that he gets deported but I haven’t seen any confirmation that it’s happening.

  27. Meanwhile, fully vaccinated Australian player, Nick Kyrgios, has tested positive for covid and might miss the Aus Open. Could this story get any more absurd.

  28. The only rational explanation is that Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Franz Kafka have successfully staged a coup, arrested God and are writing the script now.
    I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

  29. Alright. Since nominative determinism seems to be the order of the day, let’s have a look at the name of the Minister who can still decide to deport Djokovic: Alex Hawke.

    Alex is short for Alexander and is from the Greek where it means “man’s defender” or “warrior”.

    Hawk(e) is of course a bird. Birds have always been symbolic of the spiritual given that they defy gravity. They are symbols of divinity, courage and accomplishment. The hawk was the symbol for the sun in ancient Egypt. Sun is logos; the masculine principle.

    From these considerations, we can predict that Alex Hawke will not cancel Djokovic’s visa.

  30. Massive shortage of test kits here in the UK too (and strong rumours/media trial balloons that the government will end free rapid test kits for everyone and keep them only for people like hospital staff).

    Imposing even a nominal charge for previously free testing – it has more than doubled from a 2021 average of 800k a day tests to 1.5-2m after Omicron became a thing – will do wonders for the case/infection numbers..

  31. RPC – how’s the supermarket shelves looking there? Quite a few bare here. It’s almost literally a question at the moment of whether we would prefer to eat or get tested for a cold virus.

  32. We are almost completely online for grocery shopping so I rarely visit supermarkets but from what I remember the shelves seemed fine. In terms of online shopping it’s not too bad. It’s a bit patchy – random things can be out of stock (particular flavours of jam etc), but you can sometimes order them from other sources. Staples not really affected.

    What *is* a lot harder though is getting delivery slots (especially now that the temporary workers taken on for the Christmas period have stopped working) – the labour shortage is real. Although you just have to walk around any commercial/hospitality area and see the Help Wanted signs in a huge number of windows to see that.

    We had the big thing with shortages of petrol and truck drivers a couple months ago and it was big news and then just kind of vanished, as did the queues at petrol station forecourts, so I don’t know what to make of that – whether itw as a real and temporary issue or some kind of co-ordinated media attack on the government or what.

    On the whole it’s not too bad really, in England (Scotland and Wales are closer to continental Europe, but if England continues as is they will be shamed into changing course – it already looks like Scottish and Welsh *home* games in the Six Nations rugby will be moved to England because of COVID restrictions in Scotland/Wales and that has to be incredibly embarrassing to Scottish and Welsh politicians even though they are restrictions-happy – they would probably have been in full lockdown over Omicron if the Treasury in London hadn’t refused to pay for it, but they have a lot more restrictions than England).

    It’s cold and grim and wet like January always is, and nightlife is pretty dead and most people haven’t returned to the office because of the optional “guidance” to work from home. But looking at continental Europe and Australia etc, it could be a lot worse. There’s at least a reasonable semblance of normal life here – no vaccine passports (except for 500+ person events and they may scrap that next month), everything is open and functional, people are getting on with their lives. Masks are required (only in shops and public transport, not bars/restaurants), but large numbers of people don’t wear it and nobody cares, at least in London – I am told they are much more fussy in Scotland and a bit more in other cities.

    All the scientists who were predicting skyrocketing death tolls from Omicron and calling for a full lockdown pre-Christmas are looking pretty stupid right now and questions are actually being asked in Parliament about why the models used to scare people about Omicron included Omicron’s higher infectiousness but assumed it would also be as deadly as Delta (despite evidence from South Africa to the contrary).

    Most importantly, the modellers can’t escape this one with their usual excuse that “it would have been much worse if our recommendations hadn’t been followed and restrictions had not been imposed” – that only works when restrictions *were* imposed, because then there is no counterfactual to compare. But for once, the government held its nerve and didn’t impose a lockdown or significant restrictions over Christmas, and not only has the sky not fallen in, cases are dropping (on record numbers of tests), AND Scotland and Wales with much more restrictions are in exactly the same place. I believe there were some big protests in continental Europe over the weekend and even the people there are beginning to ask why England is doing fine with (relatively) minimal restrictions.

    We have to thank whoever released the 1.5 year old incriminating videos just before Christmas of the Prime Minister and his immediate team at Downing Street blatantly breaching their own lockdown rules and partying not once, but multiple times during the first and hardest lockdown in May 2020 when everyone was genuinely scared. After that Boris had limited moral authority to impose restrictions and cancelling Christmas a second year running.

    On top of that, almost 1/3 of the Tory party rebelled against even the relatively mild pre-Christmas restrictions (especially the vaccine passports) and that scared the PM a lot. He got the vote through with Opposition support (the Labour party has been unflinching in support of restrictions for two years now – usually saying “We will support this but the government could be doing more”) but the Labour party will not help him if there’s an internal leadership challenge.

    We have to much to thank the recalcitrant Libertarian cranky-old-man wing of the Tory party – these are the same backbenchers who kept the government honest on Brexit and made sure we didn’t get some fake out “Brexit in Name Only” type of deal. In psychological terms, what Matthias Desmet talks about, these are the guys at the heart of Westminster making sure the collective hysteria does not take complete hold and popping the Westminster bubble from within Parliament where they are much harder to ignore than some fringe cranks on blogs or Twitter..

    I think someone was commenting here or on JMG’s blog about how the crisis is forcing countries back to their fundamental nature, and while that kind of thing is impossible to verify, it does seem suggestive that England (especially) is going back to old core values that traditionally include a much more laissez faire attitude by government and willingness to leave people alone and live their lives. I am thinking of many examples – how the UK is the only country in the EU not to have ID cards (not sure about Ireland) – they were passed and then abandoned about 15 years ago. I was reading a good book about different kinds of fraud and it mentioned that even in the 1800s, England was a favourite destination of people on the run from Germany and elsewhere because unlike other European countries you could just walk in and start living there and there was no passport required and no requirement for the police to register you or check on you. And even further back there’s the famous story of Queen Elizabeth I refusing to persecute her Catholic subjects, and so on.

    It’s not all perfect – everyone still believes in the vaccines and is demonizing the unvaccinated and politicians are routinely lying about the numbers of unvaccinated in hospital and there are still plenty of restrictions (that weren’t there in November) etc – but we can at least mostly live our lives here.

  33. RPC – thanks for the update. That’s good to hear. I don’t know what governments in Europe are trying to achieve. The Omicron numbers are an absolute blessing. You couldn’t ask for better and yet they persist with crazy mandates. As bad as it looks from outside, and the Djokovic thing is making it look even worse, things have changed in most states of Australia now and we seem headed in the same direction as England. The government now seems to be trying to break the hysteria rather than feeding it. Given the current rates of infection, most of the population will have caught the virus within a few months and that should, in theory, reduce the fear of the unknown about it. Fingers crossed.

  34. Simon: “I don’t know what governments in Europe are trying to achieve. The Omicron numbers are an absolute blessing. You couldn’t ask for better and yet they persist with crazy mandates.”

    Yeah, well, that’s because they’re nuts. Omicron is a blessing: Robert Malone said it seemed very much like a live attenuated vaccine for COVID. Indeed. If I were the queen of the world, I’d organize Omicron parties (with attendance entirely voluntary, of course, but with the young and healthy strongly encouraged to attend) and spread immunity in the population that way.

    One problem is that bureaucracies have an enormous amount of built-in inertia, and so they always act on outdated data. Another is that some of these hot shot epidemiologists et al really, truly love bossing other people around. They emphatically do NOT want you to go back to your normal life, i.e. a life in which they and their dictates are irrelevant.

  35. Irena – It’s like I pointed out in this post, every country is on its own path now. What’s happening in Australia now with cases exploding is exactly, to a letter, the same thing that happened in Israel and Iceland 6 months ago. Anybody could see it coming and yet the authorities here seemed caught out by it. Reason and logic is completely out the window now and what is being revealed is, for want of a better word, character. I wouldn’t be surprise to see Europe and Canada lock down again next winter while life if completely back to normal in the US. Thankfully, Australia seems to following our anglosphere mates (with the exception of Canada but maybe the French influence is showing through there. Quebec looks like an absolute nuthouse at the moment).

  36. @RPC thanks for that. Good to see that sanity slowly returns at least in some places. This gives me hope for Australia. Maybe we inherited a bit of that British spirit. I am certainly glad that I left my native Germany a long time ago.

    @irena Actually we have these covid parties here in queensland. They are called “Testing stations”. People who for some unfathomable reason need to know if they test positive queue for hours. Some of these people actually have flu symptoms that would normally keep them in bed for a few days until they are no longer infectious. A great way to share the love.
    A collegue just called in sick and said he’ll get tested. He’ll stand in line feeling miserable for a few hours, infect about 100 others, then in a few days, when the symptoms have subsided, the test results will tell him what it was he just got over. He is actually quite a smart bloke with a university degree. Pure genius.
    And we got the very popular poker games. Some of them big events with up to several hundred people. Every day of the week in lots of venues. Even if one assumes that the masks work, you still have to handle the cards and the chips.
    Maybe a sufficiently advanced form of stupidity is indistinguishable from wisdom.
    Unfortunately for me as an unvaxxed the opportunities to catch covid are rather limited these days. But that’s fair enough. They warned us that we unvaxxed would miss out on a lot of things….

  37. @Roland

    Re: testing

    Look, I had flu-like symptoms twice last fall: once in September and once in October. I did a self-test a couple of times in September: negative. Then a PCR test, just in case. Negative. In October, again, self-test. Negative. A few hours later: positive!! The next day: positive PCR test! (I only waited minutes for my PCR test, though.)

    Now, why did I bother, you ask? Obvious: because you get a piece of paper that offers you bureaucratic protection for six months if you test positive. Duh.

    I was actually quite sick with what I imagine was Delta. People who catch Omicron are lucky. Which is why parties are needed. However, the ones you describe only work if you wait indoors. If the line is outdoors, then you just get to be miserable. Oh, well.

    BTW, here’s Jordan Peterson:

    https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jordan-peterson-open-the-damn-country-back-up-before-canadians-wreck-something-we-cant-fix

    He’s only stating the obvious, but maybe it’ll make a difference…

  38. @Irena, here a positive test means exactly SFA. It does not give you any special privileges. Only double vaxxed are fully human here. Probably will be upgraded to triple vaxxed soon.

  39. So, the saga continues. Looks like Novak didn’t respect quarantine in Serbia and even travelled to Spain after his positive test, and then lied about the trip to Spain on his Australian visa application. At least that’s what the media reports.

    My guess? His positive PCR test was fake, and it was issued to him by Serbia retroactively so that he could compete at the Australian Open. He didn’t respect quarantine because he wasn’t actually in quarantine (and the fake PCR test came *after* his breach of non-quarantine). The trip to Spain was legal (because he wasn’t actually in quarantine), but then retroactively, he was. Oopsie.

    Anyway, the rules are ridiculous, but if what I wrote above is more or less correct, Novak’s in trouble.

  40. The full on demonising of Novak whilst not giving credence to natural immunity is very reminiscent of the demonising of Lindy Chamberlain whilst not giving credence to the dingo – seems very Australian

  41. Irena – we’ll see. It has, of course, been pointed out many times that the rules don’t apply to the rich and powerful. That’s true of life in general and especially of corona. Just ask Boris Johnson.

    Craig – that’s an interesting parallel. We’re going to see that side of Australia on fully display if Djokovic gets on court and it’s not going to be pretty.

  42. It remains interesting. Not a good development though. If this turns out to be true it might deepen the Australian madness.
    This could have been the slap in the face we needed.

  43. A lot depends on Djokovic. Assuming he makes it to the finals, he’s got the perfect platform to create a very positive message. He’ll have to do it without responding to the negativity of the crowd, but he’s had to put up with that his whole career so he’s had lots of practice.

    “It’s 2022 and the fate of Australia rests in the hands of a Serbian tennis player”.

    Sounds like the opening line of a Terry Pratchett novel.

  44. Definitely some Pratchett in there. Or maybe even Asterix. I am a big fan of either. That doesnt mean that I ever wanted to live on the discworld or in an imaginary Gaul in 50BC populated by people with noses even larger than mine.
    But I was thinking more along the lines, that if it can be shown that Djokovic has broken the rules, it will mean he is seen as the bad guy. Hence Australian officials are the good guys. This in turn means the rules we have are fully justified.
    Of course this makes no sense whatsoever on a logical level, but it follows the thought pattern established in the last two years.

  45. The funny thing is that, if the PCR test was indeed fake, he could just as easily have gotten a fake gene therapy certificate, and none of this would have happened to him. He wouldn’t even have needed to say anything about it. “It’s personal medical information.” And then the media could just guess.

    Hmm. I wonder what really happened. Maybe someone in Serbia told him at the last possible moment “Hey, Novak, we can arrange for a fake positive PCR test, and then you get to travel to Australia.” And he just agreed. Perhaps it would’ve been too late for a fake gene therapy certificate (since it’s for two shots). Who knows?

    If the positive test *wasn’t* fake, then I’m really surprised he travelled to Spain. That just seems really strange. Assuming he really did travel to Spain. Again – who knows?

    As for his breach of quarantine in Serbia – meh. It’s Serbia. They can slap him with a 300 EUR fine or whatever and make him promise never to do it again, and problem solved.

  46. Roland – I think most Australians have already decided that’s true. Djokovic has a chance to change their mind.

    Irena – countries bend the rules all the time for these kinds of things and tennis players and other celebrities would be used to that and expect it. For example, Nadal tested positive for covid on Dec 20 2021 and then arrived in Australia on December 31, 2021. They let him in even though the rules state that you have to wait 14 days after a positive test. Nobody in the MSM cares about that because Nadal is a good boy and is part of the club.

  47. Irena – he blasphemed against the state religion. Fundamentalist countries like Australia take such matters very seriously.

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