This Week in the New Normal #55

Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.

1. Don’t mention the V-word

It’s been very cold in the UK this past week. Cold enough to give you a stroke, apparently…according to “experts”.

Yes, the experts are back and they’re predicting heart attacks and strokes again:

“Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly older people and those with pre-existing health conditions, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections,” said the UKHSA’s head of extreme events and health protection, Dr Agostinho Sousa.

That, or maybe because you weren’t given statins because of lockdown – anything but the V word.

For anyone keeping count, the following things might give you a heart attack in the near future: Undiagnosed aortic stenosis, smoking weed, Cold weather, hot weather, depression, anxiety, anti-vaxxers, Covid, long covid, climate change, high energy bills.

That’s why it was reported this week that heart attacks in Australia were up 17% over expected. Because, you know, hot weather, depression and high energy bills didn’t exist before 2023.

2. “If plants are so intelligent, should we stop eating them?”

At first glance, this piece in the Guardian seems like a joke – either the Guardian being uncharacteristically ironic, or a fake news story mocking the Graun’s endless wokery.

But it is neither. It is real and, honestly, a fair point. It’s an argument I’ve long made against the “veganism is more ethical” position.

Research says plants communicate, they experience chemical reactions to stress and danger you could loosely characterise as emotions, and they emit chemicals to warn other plants if there is a danger of being eaten.

Plants are alive, they don’t want to die. They don’t consider themselves disposable just because they don’t have eyes or make cute noises.

But it is the basic fact of existence on Earth that life needs life to live. Cows kill plants. Wolves kill cows. Wolves die, decompose and feed plants. The circle of life and all that.

Civilisation and education allow humans to treat those things we eat – plants or animals – with a little respect. Allowing them lives of relative comfort, and as painless a death as possible (Seriously, consider what’s worse – getting eaten alive by wolves or getting bolt-gunned in the brain).

…but the Guardian isn’t making the “life is life, all eating is killing” anti-vegan argument. It would NEVER make that argument. So what’s the article about? And indeed, what was the point of the BBC radio program which spawned said article?

Oh, that’s easy. It’s an early foray into the “all natural food is murder, eat vat-brewed paste and lab-grown meat” argument. Just wait and see.

3. “There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be Short”

Three weeks ago (I know it’s supposed to be “this week”, but I’m the editor) the NYT ran a guest essay proselytizing on the virtues of smallness.

Apparently small people need less food and water, pollute less, live longer and are generally better people because they don’t “get by” on being tall.

Though the tone appears to be light-hearted – even self-effacing – these are serious arguments. They are genuinely saying that people should be shorter to combat overpopulation (not real) and climate change (also not real).

I was originally just going to dump this at the end as a “look at this dumb headline” story, but the more I read it, the more it troubled me.

From the part where the author seems to think nobody does manual labour anymore:

It made sense to fawn over height when it facilitated survival. Ages ago, when the necessity of defending oneself cropped up daily, if not hourly, tall people could more easily protect their families and bring home some woolly rhino flank. Today, those who have the stamina to sit in an office chair all day bring home the plastic-wrapped meats.

To the part where anti-height campaigners are under-feeding their children to make sure they don’t get too big:

Arne Hendriks, a 6-foot-4-inch lecturer and artist, uses performance and exhibitions to encourage people to embrace fewer inches. He’s even restricted dairy from his sons’ diets and only allows them minimal sugar in an attempt to limit their growth, saving them from the ills of height.

That’s just…sick. Imagine literally trying to make your children miss their potential.(Although it’s interesting that suddenly dairy makes people big and strong…because the NYT pro-vegan crowd would usually dispute that).

Normalising malnutrition is the way forward, clearly.

BONUS: New angle of the week

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put a new spin on the “cashless society” plan this week. When asked about the out-of-control crime rate in her city she suggested people shouldn’t carry cash so they don’t get mugged:

Not a good look.

BONUS II: Painful propaganda of the week

Speaking of looks of the not-good variety, here’s Miss Ukraine’s entry to the Miss Universe pageant:

No words.

It’s not all bad…

Jacinda Ardern resigned…

That’s good, and not just because she’s really awful. While I admit not having to listen to her cloying speeches while she does her “I’m so sad” face will be a relief, it’s not just about that.

The reason it’s potentially good news, is the reason she’s chosen to dip – public anger. The “new normal” rollout has not gone as smoothly as desired or predicted, New Zealand was hit hard with the great reset stick, and many people are unhappy about it.

Now, it’s possible Jacinda is just off to greener pastures to spend her remaining years counting her silver, or she’s avoiding a looming scandal.

But perhaps, moving forward, supporting lockdowns and vaccine mandates will be a political taint people cannot remove. Wouldn’t that be nice?

In other good news, our friends at the Grauniad parody Twitter account are back after serving a two-year suspension. Please give them a follow to help them rebuild and get some much-need laughs in return.

Oh, and here’s a duck running a marathon…


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention climate change is making hikers disappear or China’s covid censorship.

They still really want you to eat bugs by the way. Like, a lot.

There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.


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