This Week in the New Normal #82

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. Taylor Swift everywhere and always on message

Have you noticed how Taylor Swift has been EVERYWHERE for a while now?

Well, this week she totally accidentally wandered into the internet censorship debate, when AI-rendered pornographic images of her totally accidentally “went viral” online.

Within hours fans were forcing the “protect Taylor Swift” hashtag to trend, and then Twitter banned all searches for her on their platform.

Already the incident is prompting headlines like this

The Taylor Swift deepfakes show why we urgently need AI regulation

Or this…

Taylor Swift deepfakes spark calls in Congress for new legislation

I’m not going to explain the rhetorical mechanics of this entirely contrived situation. It’s too obvious.

2. Made-up clock tells imaginary time

Big news! The “experts” in charge of the Doomsday Clock – the completely imaginary clock which predicts total global collapse of civilisation – have announced it’s at 90 seconds to midnight:

The Doomsday Clock remains at 90 seconds to midnight, the experts predicting the likelihood of a global catastrophe have said. It comes after a year that saw conflict in Ukraine rage on and war in the Middle East flare up. Scientists say there is a “continuing unprecedented level of risk” from threats including war, the climate crisis and the “dramatic advance” of AI.

Yes, apparently the invisible clock “remains” at 11:58:30, having been originally set at that time by the “experts” in 2023.

It’s a slow news day when “imaginary clock hasn’t changed since last year” makes the headlines.

To be clear: The doomsday clock’s only use is as an indication of just how scared they want people to be.

However, this along with the news coming out of Iran and the bizarre conscription rumours circulating in a few countries might signal a major new narrative. More on this during the week.

3. Cashless and Staffless

UK supermarket chain is leading the charge against using money and having jobs this week, announcing that 82 of their 300 petrol station locations will be fully cashless by the end of the year. Over 150 of their petrol stations are already staffless.

According to an article in the Standard, ASDA is also trialling four-day work weeks.

The future of employment, everybody.

It’s not all bad…

The French farmers’ protest is growing, seemingly set on out-doing their German counterparts they have been dumping manure outside banks and MacDonalds, and are blocking the motorways outside Paris with over 800 tractors. Some are calling it a “siege”.

There also appears to be some push-back against lab-grown meat from France, Italy, Austria and 9 other EU countries.

And, if you missed our article earlier this week, CJ Hopkins was acquitted in his absurd show trial.


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention “the hottest January temperature on record” or the UK government’s latest pointless ban.

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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