This Week in the New Normal #70

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. Are they dialing back on the cashless society?

We’ve been covering the evolution of the planned “cashless society” for years, but recently it looks like the plan might be changing.

Public opion has always been, at best, divided on the cashless issue. Just a few days ago there was a protest against the cashless society in Bristol, and a recent petition, “Don’t Kill Cash” got 300,000 signatures in just a few days – but now there are signs of mainstream retreat on this issue too.

Last week the Express quoted Nigel Farage talking about banks limiting cash withdrawals in an attempt to “force” people to go cashless.

The very next day the Mail headlined “Backlash grows over banks’ push to turn Australia into a cashless society”

The reverse is coming from publications on both the left and right.

Last Sunday the Telegraph warned The clock is ticking to a cashless UK.

Then on Monday the Guardian published “Fears UK’s cashless society will leave more than just the vulnerable behind”

Earlier today Sir John Hayes MP gave an interview to his constituency’s local paper outlining all the ways going cashless would be bad.

Now, obviously, we’re not so reflexively contrarian we suddenly think going cashless is a great idea, but there’s questions to be answered here certainly.

Maybe they see conceding the continued use of cash as a fair price to pay (pun very much intended) to maintain the illusion the system works?

2. Former Covid chief takes job with Moderna

In a textbook example of quid pro quo corruption, Jonathan Van-Tam – England’s deputy chief medical officer during the “pandemic” – got a new job this week: Senior medical consultant for the mRNA vaccine manufacturer Moderna.

Van-Tam was a regular on British television during the height of the “Covid” crisis, forever spouting sporting metaphors to appeal to the public, and was also part of the UK’s “vaccine taskforce”. He was awarded a knighthood for his trouble.

Now, after spending three years promoting Covid fear and the need to get vaccinated, he’s got a job with a vaccine company…and everybody seems to be fine with it.

It’s not known exactly how much he’s being paid in his new role, but the smart money is on “a lot”, but since about three years of backpay is included I guess that’s fair enough.

Now, some of you might be wondering about future conflicts of interest. I mean what if JVT might use his government contacts to lobby on Moderna’s behalf? Or use privileged information to benefit his new employer?

But there’s nothing to worry about, according to the Financial Times:

The government has stipulated that, as part of his role at Moderna, Van-Tam is not allowed to lobby the Department of Health and Social Care or its executive agencies and is not allowed to have any involvement in bids relating to the health ministry or its executive agencies until March 2024, nor is he supposed to use privileged government information to further business interests.

See, he’s “not allowed to” and “not supposed to”. So that’s all fine.

Isn’t that a relief?

3. Movies rigging the box office

In South Korea, anti-corruption police have brought charges of fraud against major cinema chains, alleging that over 300 movies have been subject to “box office rigging” in the last 5 years alone.

“Box Office rigging” is the practice of claiming more tickets have been sold than actually have been – or studios and cinemas bulk-buying tickets themselves – in order to falsely claim box office success.

As Variety explains:

Exaggerating box office numbers can be a tactic used to make a film appear more successful than it really is. In the short term, the appearance that a film is doing well may increase audience interest in a title and cause exhibitors to program the movie in more theaters – thus turning fake success into real success.

This is interesting to me especially because, although this is South Korea, it’s a practice I’ve long suspected takes place in major Hollywood movies too, for several reasons.

Firstly, there’s the money angle. Variety’s explanation of this is broadly correct, but by talking in purely monetary terms they miss the interesting angle.

When you think about it, it’s a tactic actually more useful for propaganda purposes than advertising. A tool for promoting films that, for various reasons, can’t afford to fail.

A recent example would be the persistent rumours that Disney bought up Captain Marvel tickets when the film released in 2019, for the two-fold reason that the ultra-feminist message could not afford to lose face and that the Marvel franchise couldn’t afford a flop just months before Avengers Endgame came out.

Consider that, despite allegedly making 1.2 billion dollars at the box office, that movie’s main character had her role in Endgame greatly reduced in the final edit, and the planned sequel (now titled “The Marvels”) has been delayed half-a-dozen times. Very odd, considering she was supposed to replace Iron Man as the face of MCU.

That’s just one example.

For all sorts of narrative, political or messaging reasons, there will be films where it is more important they are perceived as successful than they are actually successful.

This all feeds into the inescapable idea that the entertainment industry is not actually a for-profit business any longer, but a marketing arm of the global elites run at a steady loss for propaganda purposes.

…but that’s a longer article for another time.

BONUS: Oops moment of the week

There was an embarrassing moment for Whitehouse Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre this week when she sent a tweet that was meant to be from Joe Biden through her own account…

Or, possibly, the intern tasked with running all the social media accounts used the wrong one.

Either way, nobody believes Joe Biden mans his own Twitter, of course, the man is barely alive, but it’s still funny when they slip up like that.

It’s not all bad…

Good news this week comes from London, where the newly declared “Ultra-Low Emission Zone” (ULEZ) has been greeted with protests-via-vandalism.

In the four months since the scheme began over 300 of the newly installed surveillance cameras have been either broken or stolen.

Become ungovernable.

Also, this from the Babylon Bee is too funny not to share…


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention Barcelona University making it mandatory to study climate change or the lab-grown meat companies lobbying for funding from the 2023 Farm Bill.

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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