Sounds familiar?

Madmen then led an easy wandering existence. The towns drove them outside their limits; they were allowed to wander in the open countryside, when not entrusted to a group of merchants and pilgrims. The custom was especially frequent in Germany; in Nuremberg, in the first half of the fifteenth century, the presence of 63 madmen had been registered; 3 1 were driven away; in, the fifty years that followed, there are records of 2 I more obligatory departures; and these are only the madmen arrested by the municipal authorities. Frequently they were handed over to boatmen: in Frankfort, in 1399, seamen were instructed to rid the city of a madman who walked about the streets naked; in the first years of the fifteenth century, a criminal madman was expelled in the same manner from Mainz. Sometimes the sailors disembarked these bothersome passengers sooner than they had promised; witness a blacksmith of Frankfort twice expelled and twice returning be;.. fore being taken to Kreuznach for good. Often the cities of Europe must have seen these “ships of fools” approaching their harbors.

It happened that certain madmen were publicly whipped, and in the course of a kind of a game they were chased in a mock race and driven out of the city with quarterstaff blows. So many signs that the expulsion of madmen had become one of a number of ritual exiles.

The madman’s voyage is at once a rigorous division and an absolute Passage. In one sense, it simply develops, across a half-real, half-imaginary geography, the madman’s liminal position on the horizon of medieval concern-a position symbolized and made real at the same time by the madman’s privilege of being confined within the city gates: his exclusion must enclose him; if he cannot and must not have another prison than the threshold itself, he is kept at the point of passage. He is put in the interior of the exterior, and inversely. A highly symbolic position, which will doubtless remain his until our own day, if we are willing to admit that what was formerly a visible fortress of order has now become the castle of our conscience.

Michel Foucault – Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason


Stumbled across this movie review. Totally missed it due to that social distancing, risk aversion, or is it a sort of sensation that Wittgenstein described as: “Often I feel that there is something in me like a lump which, were it to melt, would let me cry or I would then find the right words (or perhaps even a melody). But this some- thing (is it the heart?) in my case feels like leather & cannot melt. Or is it only that I am too much a coward to let the temperature rise sufficiently?

Here is Peter Webster with “A review of yet another tasteless but very expensive sub-blockbuster.” Get popcorn, it gets wacky.

“This latest production by an industry famous for its mind-numbing extravaganzas is – at best – a decidedly B-flick-quality wanabee sci-fi tale. Second-rate by virtue of a plot featuring extreme nonsensicality and a vapid, humorless screenplay, but fear-inducing and death-producing nonetheless, it cannot therefore be classed as merely a never-to-be-cult-status C-flick. The reader will see that my review of the movie is decidedly more imaginative and artistic than the film itself:

“The Jab” is featured from the very opening scenes as something everybody needs or be at risk of nobody seems quite sure what. All The Authorities constantly tell the citizenry that its benefits outweigh the risks, but none will make actual solid claims of what the benefits are apart from “maybe you won’t get as sick”. Compared to what?, the movie-goer will surely ask. And surely no one has a clue as to what risks are entailed since The Jab has not been rigorously tested. “Rigorously”? From what is presented, it seems that even the word “tested” is an overstatement. But things get weird quickly when The Jab is revealed to have incredible powers to induce its receivees to dispel all doubt, throw caution to the wind and ignore all counter-argument to become true believers in what is then claimed to be a civilization-rescuing medicine that is obviously mostly placebo**.

This might be the only suspenseful plot point of the whole film: Jabbed friends and foe alike start to react with furious indignation merely when it is suggested to them to consider alternative ideas. Families, and entire societies are ripped apart into warring camps, at first merely wars of insult and outrageous accusation, but soon evolving into roaming vigilante scenes with all the usual mayhem and destruction. And all of this mostly by suggestion, given the majority of Jabs might well be blank doses? Talk about weak plots! …”

You must be really sick not to read the full post.

“Former global schmoozer” mourns death of Davos’ WEF

Excerpt from FT Alphaville Opinion piece ‘Davos is dead, and the coronavirus killed it‘:

Many of us are coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know how to decorrelate greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth and that the phrase green growth is, for now and the foreseeable future, an oxymoron. In a world where about 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the 10 per cent wealthiest humans — those of us who earned not millions but $38,000 or more in 2015 — the climate crisis is fundamentally an inequality crisis.

Read the whole from a “former global schmoozer” about the shindig here (FTA is free, just sign up).

With Apologies To Baron Macaulay

Foto: dpa/Uli Deck


Then out spake prim Steph Habarth,
Of unelected lore.
The Oracle of Karlsruh:
“To every persyn upon this earth
Butthurt cometh soon or late.
And how can we do better
When facing vaccine fear,
Than shut down basic rights,
And stop refusers reach?”

With inspiration from Popehat.

Vaclav Smil: “Governments will not make adequate provisions for the next pandemic”

Vaclav Smil is here. Yes, this man and this. Excerpt from “History and Risk“:

PERHAPS THE MOST obvious consequence of the latest pandemic is to expose the delusionary nature of recent claims concerning the human mastery of life. The entire lineup of near-miraculous advances has been exposed as irrelevant, and the notion of Homo deus boldly charting the destiny of a godlike species has imploded. What benefits have we derived from the Singularity? How useful are those endlessly touted, all-encompassing powers of artificial intelligence? Have our abilities to engineer organisms at will or rapidly produce objects by 3D printing contributed to preventing, moderating, or managing the COVID-19 pandemic? Where are the powers and decisive contributions of the entire high-tech, Silicon Valley world? What difference do these technologies make for doctors in New York City or Milan when they need ordinary rubber gloves, and when 92% of their global supply comes from Malaysia, Thailand, and China? The only solid promise is the development of a vaccine. Having it within 18 months would be historic, but, by then, the pandemic may well have spent itself. The best we can do is to imitate the residents of Italian medieval towns: stay away from others, stay inside for 40 days, quaranta giorni.

He ends somber.

Governments will not make adequate provisions for the next pandemic; companies will keep putting profits above security; people will resume their mindless, endless flying and cruising; and, in places where such foods are sought-after delicacies, buyers will continue to eat any imaginable kind of wild animals thus ensuring that sooner, rather than later, one of the animal viruses will jump again to people and start a new pandemic. Some Homo deus!

Full post here.