The trolley problem though experiment of ethics in coronavirus times:

“Outtakes” from interviews by David Hoffman on the streets of New York in the late 70s when he was doing a documentary on the coming of the information age.

Christopher Nehring at Deutsche Welle writes about the surge in conspiracy theories and rumours that circulate during pandemics such as the current coronavirus:

These, and other conspiracy theories, however, rely on arguments that are never weighted in evidence. The conspiracies tend to emerge in the early stages of a pandemic — when little is known about a pathogen’s origin and spread.

The digital revolution, meanwhile, has amplified the dissemination of rumors and disinformation. Online posts are shared much quicker on social media and through messenger apps than any medical or health authority can refute them. The digital age has allowed conspiracy theories to go viral.

From the A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto (Eric Hughes, 1993):

“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. … We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy … We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. … Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and … we’re going to write it.”

Self-described cypherpunk Harry Halpin talks with Coindesk about his company’s (Nym Technologies) vision for privacy solutions at the network level a world where privacy is gradually being eroded. His vision of why we need privacy in order to be able to change the world is inspiring.

In an article by Standpoint Magazine Joseph Rachman uses insights from author Umberto Eco to understand the rise of new far right movements. I found the following quote interesting because it describes how the far right now also uses the “Semiological Guerrilla Warfare” tactics that Eco proposed.

Today’s far Right is also counter-cultural, setting itself against existing institutions, seeing the media, universities, courts and parliaments as lost causes or compromised. Far-Right supporters form networks on social media where news is reinterpreted into evidence of the conspiracy they ‘know’ exists. They also show impressive sensitivity to the media’s weaknesses. When the far Right claim, semi-ironically, common symbols such as the OK sign and the Facebook “trash dove” as their own, they garner media attention and force liberals to worry about previously innocuous signs.

Read the full article here.

Een interessant essay van Eva Meijer, postdoctoraal onderzoeker aan de Universiteit Wageningen over de huidige coronavirus pandemie. In haar eesay schrijft ze over hoe deze biologische processen verworven zijn met hoe we sociaal en politiek om gaan met dit virus.

Om te begrijpen dat we als mensen deel uitmaken van allerlei voorspelbare en onvoorspelbare processen in plaats van daarover te kunnen heersen, om voorzichtiger om te gaan met die kwetsbare sterke planeet waar we allemaal door een wonderbaarlijk toeval op terecht gekomen zijn, om nieuwe vormen van samenleven te ontwikkelen en nieuwe vormen van kennis, die niet het nut van de grote bedrijven dienen, maar dat van de regenwormen, de kunst, de Noordzee, en de mensen.

Het volledige essay hier.

Helen Lewis writes at The Atlantic magazine about how “Pandemics affect men and women differently”.

The coronavirus crisis will be global and long-lasting, economic as well as medical. However, it also offers an opportunity. This could be the first outbreak where gender and sex differences are recorded, and taken into account by researchers and policy makers. For too long, politicians have assumed that child care and elderly care can be “soaked up” by private citizens—mostly women—effectively providing a huge subsidy to the paid economy. This pandemic should remind us of the true scale of that distortion.

A quote from the Freakonomics podcast “How the Supermarket Helped America Win the Cold War”:

[Peter Timmer]: I used to ask my class, I’m talking 1985, “Where is the world’s largest supercomputer?” And the correct answer was, “It’s at the Pentagon.” Okay. “Where is the world’s second largest supercomputer?” Bentonville, Ark. Home of Walmart. They used that computer to track every single item on every single Walmart shelf. That information technology is what revolutionized food marketing. And it was pretty much invented by Walmart.

The episode is terrific if you are interested in the history of food production, the creation of supermarkets and the use of science and technology to create an abundance of food.

Paul Elie writes at The New Yorker on the uses of metaphors in relation the the Covid-19 virus. Based on the work of Susan Sontag he reminds us to be careful on our use of language when thinking and writing about the virus. He also makes an interesting point on how we use metaphors for illness for phenomena in society:

Rather than applying societal metaphors to illness, we’ve applied illness metaphors to society, stripping them of their malign associations in the process. It may be that our fondness for virus as metaphor has made it difficult for us to see viruses as potentially dangerous, even lethal, biological phenomena. In turn, our disinclination to see viruses as literal may have kept us from insisting on and observing the standards and practices that would prevent their spread. Enthralled with virus as metaphor and the terms associated with it—spread, growth, reach, connectedness—we ceased to be vigilant. Jetting around the world, we stopped washing our hands.

The Washington Post published a video that shows “How Fox News has shifted its coronavirus rhetoric”.

For weeks, some of Fox News’s most popular hosts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, characterizing it as a conspiracy by media organizations and Democrats to undermine President Trump.

In all, it has been a complicated dance for a network whose hosts are among Trump’s most ardent boosters and defenders — an increasingly challenging position to take as the crisis grew in magnitude. Trump, meanwhile, has long looked to Fox News and its personalities for guidance and approval, a dynamic that may have been pivotal this week after host Tucker Carlson reportedly visited with the president in person to urge him to take the coronavirus seriously.

DW Documentary made available the fantastic documentary “Soyalism”. I can recommend it if you are interested in the otherwise hidden and dark side of industrial food production. See the full documentary here. Or watch it on Youtube.

Industrial agriculture is increasingly dominating the world market. It’s forcing small farmers to quit and taking over vast swathes of land. This documentary shows how destructive the lucrative agribusiness is.