This Week in the New Normal #89

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. “Biometric Payments Will Keep You Safe”

There’s a big push on the biometric payment issue at the moment, with numerous platforms and outlets talking them up as the next big thing.

This piece in TechRadar from April 29th is the best example, claiming that PayPal is “battling the beast” of online fraud, and that biometric payment systems using fingerprints and face scans will help keep us all safe from hucksters, charlatans and Nigerian Princes:

The biometric verification system not only enhances security but also makes it user friendly. The traditional approaches to authentication, with their repeated entering of passwords, attempts to remember some kind of passwords, or secret questions, are rather cumbersome and slow. Biometrics suggest a seamless alternative. A quick touch of a glance at a camera secures access to your account—this adds up to great convenience in login time with high efficiency customers prefer, without compromising security.

So, go ahead and let Google/PayPal/whoever scan your face and retinas and fingerprints and record your voice patterns.

After all, it’s not like there’s advanced AI technology out there that could use your face and voice scans to create fake videos of you.

2. De Santis’ Lab-Grown Meat Ban

Florida Governor Ron De Santis signed a ban on lab-grown meat in his state this week, claiming it will protect the beef industry.

The real reason is to steer the conversation. By associating reluctance to eat “cell cultivated meat” products with prominent right-wingers they turn it into a partisan issue.

This way they are encouraging the young liberal set to embrace the “food transition” as a way of “owning and trolling right-wing chuds”, while simultaneously making left-leaning types who are reticent to “eat ze bugs” afraid of speaking up for fear of being associated with MAGA hats.

(Just wait for the “I ate lab-grown meat and it was better than the real thing” reviews to appear in Vox or the HuffPo and the like.)

Then, sometime down the line, a prominent right-winger will claim “lab-grown meat causes AIDs” or something equally asinine, and totally discredit any-and-all resistance to the fake food revolution.

3. Gaza Protests and Celebrity Arrests

Student protests against the ongoing bombing of Gaza by the IDF have been raging across US college campuses for weeks now, with increasing ferocity. They have inevitably been accused of anti-Semitism.

At the same time, counter-protests from dude bro types made the news as well, this time for being potentially racist towards black people,

It’s all so wonderfully divisive. And has allowed the US Senate to further criminalize free speech by “expanding the definition of anti-Semitism”.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested at one such protest, this was totally an organic thing that happened, and not even slightly a contrived event to increase her pro-peace bona fides before the election in November.

BONUS: Cringe of the week

Here is actor Mark Hamill chairing the White House press briefing on “Star Wars Day” (May 4th), during which he calls Biden “Joebi Won Kenobi”.

If this isn’t the lamest thing to happen this year come January 1st 2025, then somebody had a very bad summer.

RIP Bernard Hill 1944-2024

British actor Bernard Hill died yesterday, he was 79. A long and storied career on stage and screen, with highlights including Boys From the Black Stuff and I, Claudius, he will forever be remembered for his performance as King Theoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

A personal favourite, he will be missed.


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention Canada trying to have their cake and eat it by claiming “foreign interference impacted our election” but also that “it didn’t change who won”.

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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