I'm trying to get my mind around a Conservative government announcing this a few minutes ago:
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced the government will pay the wages of British workers to keep them in jobs as the coronavirus outbreak escalates.
In an unprecedented step, Sunak said the state would pay grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers kept on by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month, just above the median income.
“We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs,” he said. “It’s on all of us.”
Sunak said there would be no limit on the funding available to pay people’s wages.
The government is also deferring the next quarter of VAT payments, which is the equivalent of injecting another £30bn into the economy and is designed to help companies stay afloat.
(Another thing that I just learned: Sterling has dropped 12% against the dollar in the past week, hitting £1 = $1.1641 a few minutes ago.)
Closer to home:
And finally, Mother Jones asks "How do you know if you're living through the death of an empire?"
President Trump claims he knew COVID-19 was a pandemic all along, even though he had a strangely ineffective way of showing it.
Finally, and not related even a little to COVID-19, Olga Khazan writes in the Atlantic about "the perks of being a weirdo."
Illinois governor JB Pritzker has closed all bars and restaurants (except for carry-out and delivery) from the close of business tonight until March 30th:
“There are no easy decisions left to make as we address this unprecedented crisis,” Pritzker said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. “Every choice now is hard, and it comes with real consequences for our residents. But as your governor I cannot let the gravity of these choices prevent us from taking the actions that the science and the experts say will keep people safe.”
Effective end of business Monday, bars and restaurants will be closed to dine-in customers, with options of delivery, drive-thru and pickup through March 30, the governor said. The state is working with bars and restaurants across the state to ensure they can keep kitchens safe enough to continue home food delivery.
The closure of bars and restaurants goes a step further than an earlier announcement by Chicago officials that the city would limit any establishments that serve liquor to 100 people, or half their regular capacity.
This quite obviously suspends the Brews & Choos project, at least until April. Fortunately I've already written the next four posts and I've got a fifth one ready to go. I'll just space them out a little bit more. So after tomorrow's post, expect to see a new one every three days instead of every two.
We just sent this out:
After much deliberation, and in consultation with Music Director Stephen Alltop, the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, and both of our concert venues, we have decided to cancel our concert at St Luke’s scheduled for this Saturday March 14th.
The ESO has agreed that tickets to Saturday’s performance will be honored on Sunday at 3pm at the Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church performance. If you bought a ticket through our online system for Saturday’s performance and provided an email address, we will also be in contact with you directly.
The health of our members, our audience, and our communities is our first priority. We will continue to monitor this situation, and abide by requests from CDC and other government entities. Tonight and on Sunday, we will have hand sanitizer available throughout ECRC, and church staff and ushers will be wearing gloves on Sunday.
Thank you for your support of the Apollo Chorus of Chicago during this difficult time.
Let me just say that the board meeting we had a couple of hours ago had surprisingly little acrimony.
I wrote three versions of the release, one for our members, one for the community at large, and one for our ticketholders. It's been a busy afternoon. And we're still rehearsing tonight for Sunday's performance, just with more hand sanitizer than usual.
I spent an hour trying (unsuccessfully) to track down a monitor to replace the one that sparked, popped, and went black on me this morning. That's going to set me back $150 for a replacement, which isn't so bad, considering.
Less personally, the following also happened in the last 24 hours:
I don't have a virus, by the way. I'm just working from home because the rest of my team are also out of the office.
Just a housekeeping note: my post on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the 7,000th since this blog relaunched in 2005. (It was the 7,196th since the proto-blog began in 1998.)
Thanks for reading.
My 25-year-old co-worker: "Yeah, I'm not much of a 'true believer.'"
Me: Well, I'm a believer. I couldn't leave her if I tried.
Me: Sorry, just a bit of Monkee business on a Friday afternoon. I just grabbed the Mike and twisted what you said with a lot of Tork.
Me: You look like you're going to slip me a Mickey and send me down to Davy Jones.
Him: WTF are you talking about?
Me: You have no idea who the Monkees are, do you.
Him: Primates with tails?
Me: (headdesk) (headdesk) (headdesk)
Punzun Ltd.™, an Illinois corporation doing business as Inner Drive Technology™, turned 20 years old today. I actually dreamed up the name in my high-school algebra class on 20 March 1985, so the concept is almost (gulp!) 35 years old.
It's kind of cool having a corporation that could be in its second year of college if it were human.
(If you don't understand the name, say it out loud. Note that "Ltd." is an abbreviation for "Limited.")
Author John Scalzi (The Old Man's War, Android's Dream, the Interdependency Trilogy) posted this morning a summary of his political beliefs. I agree completely with everything he said:
1. The president is the worst president of my lifetime, who is ignorant, bigoted, incurious, corrupt, has almost certainly engaged in criminal conduct before and after he was in office, is either a complicit or unwitting tool for the Russian government and its goals, never should have been in a position to become president, and now that he is president, should be removed from the office, whether through a Senate trial or simply by losing the popular (again) and electoral vote later this year.
2. Per the previous, the president amply deserved to be impeached by the House of Representatives, and amply deserves to be removed from the office he holds by the Senate. That he will not be removed, and that the vote for removal will not be anywhere near to close, is proof that the current iteration of the Republican party is complicit in the president’s criminality and has become little better than a criminal enterprise in itself.
It's nice to find new reasons to admire someone I already admired.
Unlike Scalzi, I post so often about politics that I doubt any readers have questions for me. That said, later this week, I'll post a list of the media outlets I get my news and opinion from and financially support.
I mailed in my passport renewal application on the 7th and got both my new passport and my passport card yesterday. I still haven't gotten my old passport back, but that's OK for now.
Two weeks and $200, start to finish, without using Express Mail. Nice job, guys.