Social Distancing And Age of Zoom — The Way We Live Now

Bits and bobs, as the English say, while we’re ‘on the road’ again.

Today, we ramble…we forget what we were talking about…we get distracted…

Our stay in the US has been enjoyable. We saw a few friends, a few colleagues and a few family members.

But mostly, we kept to ourselves, social distancing — which suits us…and which seems to be ‘The Way We Live Now’.

We’ve been here for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years, epiphany…we even had a snow holiday. The grandchildren came over to go sledding down the hill.

And we gathered in front of the kitchen fire for tea and hot chocolate…bouncing children on our knee…

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Age of Zoom

But what does a Hallmark granddad do in the age of Zoom?

So much of our lives — business and pleasure — now takes place via the internet…

A news report this week told us that Santa Fe, New Mexico, had become such a prized ‘Zoom land’ that the local people were being priced out of the real estate market there. Grandparents are moving in!

That may be true of a lot of places. But not where we’re going…

The US State Department says to ‘reconsider’ travel plans to Nicaragua. But we’re going anyway. We want to see what happens to a travel resort when nobody is travelling.

(For newer readers, every year, we like to spend some time at our holiday home in Rancho Santana, a resort and residential community in Nicaragua.)

But what about the people who aren’t traveling — families who want a good place to Zoom from?

A young friend framed our research:

I spend $40,000 a year to put my two girls in private schools in Baltimore. I can’t send them to public school because the schools in Baltimore are terrible.

And I live in Baltimore because my job is there. But I don’t go into the office anymore. The company wants me to “commute: via Zoom. I spend almost all day on it…

I could move to Rancho Santana…send my girls to the school on the ranch…keep working as usual and go surfing in the evening.

We’d save $40,000 a year on school fees. I can rent a house on the beach for less than that.

Hold that thought…we’ll find out what’s going on…and report back…


Meanwhile, news from Washington tells us that the feds are reloading. They shot the nation in the foot with their War on Terror…then in the head with their Wall Street bailout…and then in the heart with their ‘stimmy’ cheques for everyone. But so long as this economy still has a pulse, they’ll keep shooting.

Remember, as we said yesterday, the Big Story of the 21st century is the grand delusion offered by trillions of dollars of fake money…and the subsequent real world, real time butt-kicking Americans will get as a result.

We’re just in the early stages. But the story is developing as expected. Here’s Business Insider:

Senate Democrats on Tuesday took the first step to secure the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package, advancing a budget resolution in a maneuver that could allow them to approve it without any Republican support.

It was a 50-49 party-line vote. Every Democratic senator supported it, and all Republicans were united in their opposition. GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was absent.

“We’re not going to dilute, dither, or delay because the needs of the American people are just too great,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference before the vote. “Time is of the essence.”

Don’t ask any questions, in other words, just print.

But who could believe in such a miracle? That fake dollars, printed up by the Federal Reserve, could somehow transform themselves into new cars, new houses, vacations, gourmet meals, and memberships at the Mar-a-Lago country club?

And if this is true, why didn’t somebody think of it sooner?

Well, because it’s idiotic.

But just because it is stupid doesn’t mean it is unpopular. And there’s a line of research that helps explain why…

Outside brain

For many years, psychologists have warned that heavy use of digital media — Facebook, Twitter, etc — could make people dumber.

Now, there’s a French savant, whose name we forgot to memorise, who says that recent testing shows IQ levels are falling in many countries. This will be the first generation ever to test lower on standardised IQ tests than its parents, he says.

We thought this was impossible. Reading the news…watching the ‘insurrection’ at the Capitol…listening to the opinions of the ‘influencers’…and observing the leadership of the politicians — we figured IQs were already at some cyclical bottom. Sad to think that they may go lower still.

But a growing number of intelligence testers and psychologists believe that cell phones and iPads actually weaken the brain. One explanation: People just don’t have to think so hard anymore.

Every problem has a solution — just a click or a tap away. No need to figure it out yourself. No need to memorise facts, phone numbers, or directions. No need to do math.

All you have to do is learn to use your ‘outside brain’ — your enhanced, handheld telephone.

Cartoon education

We watched our grandson going to ‘school’ online yesterday. The teacher gamely tried to keep the children on the Zoom call focused on their schoolwork.

But it was almost impossible to hold a six-year-old’s attention over the internet. He only really paid attention when she put on an ‘educational’ video that looked more like entertainment — or indoctrination — than real education. It featured cartoon figures…and a storyline almost indistinguishable from other kids’ shows.

Whatever else may be said about the COVID-19 school shutdowns, it should be added that they have probably taken a few IQ points off the next generation.

The kids only do this for a couple hours a day,’ our daughter explained.

They’re supposed to go back to school physically later this month. The school requires masks, of course, and has the kids sitting at desks with plastic barriers between them.

Sounds like child abuse,’ we opined.


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Bill Bonner,
For The Rum Rebellion

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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries.

A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities.

Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally.

With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance.

Bill has been a weekly contributor to The Rum Rebellion.

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