Jun 122022
 
 June 12, 2022  Posted by at 1:21 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Evelyn De Morgan Night and Sleep 1878

 

 

Yes, yes, I know, high time for another update on the Monastiraki kitchen you have been so wonderfully, gracefully supporting for 7 years now (I first got here in June 2015). First of all, we are doing great, the level of commitment of the crew is unprecedented, very happy with that, it’s rare. I remember in 2015 there were 51 NGOs “helping” the refugees on Lesbos, for millions of EU funded euros, but the Monastiraki kitchen is something entirely different. Give your time, your money, your love. We want no official status, no subsidies, no CEO who makes a ton of money, we just do it.

BUT: see, if you have “just” your family to feed, you’ll be scared seeing prices for food and energy rise. When you feed 500 people, it’s a whole different story. And a much scarier one. Because I realize that there is no way prices will not rise much more. Rising energy prices -which have yet to be reflected in store prices- guarantee that, and so does the slim edge on which many people here already live. We will go from feeding 500 people to 600-700?!, and the food for every one of them will cost 40-50% more than it did before. That is our future.

 

I saw this report a few days ago on RT (so no link, RT’s only on my phone in Greece), and scary as it looks, it still downplays matters a lot -because it’s based on “official” numbers”. Inflation at 11%? Well, not in my supermarket, it’s more like prices have almost doubled. But look at the energy costs that even official numbers cite:

Inflation in Greece surged to 11.3% year-on-year in May from 10.2% recorded in the previous month, according to the latest data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). According to ELSTAT, natural gas prices saw an annual surge of 172.7%, while electricity bills increased 80.2% and expenses for heating oil grew by 65.1%. The cost of housing reportedly soared 35% year-on-year, transportation prices were up 18.8%, while prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages jumped by 12.1%.

Foods included in the ‘household basket’ saw the biggest price increases with oil and fat rising by 23.2% and dairy by 14.1%. Prices for meat, bread and cereal, and vegetables increased by 13.8%, 13.4%, and 13%, respectively. Meanwhile, prices for fresh fruit grew by 10.8%. Coffee and tea, juice and other beverages, and sweets saw price hikes of 6.3%, 5.6%, and 4.7%, respectively. The price of fish rose 4.1%, while that of alcohol saw an increase of 2.1%.

Greece’s annual EU-harmonized inflation also saw a sharp rise to 10.5% in May from 9.1% in April, further squeezing disposable incomes. EU-harmonized inflation is an index of components used across the EU to measure inflation in a consistent way.

The reality of food prices is a much more grim. In my last article on the kitchen, Dec ’21, I said prices were up 35% from a year ago. Since then, beautiful Filothei -who does the shopping- says this is what happened to prices for our staples:

• Mince meat + 37%
• Pasta + 38%
• Cheese +50%
• Tomato paste +27%
• Vegetables + 50%
• Plates: the aluminum ones we used are up over 100%, we -hope we- found a cheaper plastic solution, but still +40%

 

 

On top of that, there are the energy prices. If and when electricity is up 80%, and heating oil 65%, it doesn’t take much brain capacity to figure out that an already battered population is in for a world of trouble. So for us, not only are prices rising, so will -and is- our client base. Double whammy. Already 500 meals instead of 250. Already our new reality, and there is no end in sight. The influence of rising energy costs on food prices will take another 6 months or so to seep through. That is not included in today’s prices! But it will be. And there is no guarantee any government can control any of it, let alone the Greek one. I must admit it scares me at times. At this point we even must worry also about the Monastiraki kitchen crew members; are they alright? Do they have a place to live, food to eat?

 

Here’s the money we have spent from your donations since my last Monastiraki kitchen article on December 12:

• Dec 21 €400 plates, €50 spices
• Dec 28 €1,500 checks supermarket
• Mar 2 2022 €109.20 table (old one was broken, must be foldable, easy to transport)
• Mar 22 2022 €400 plates
• April 12 €320 olive oil, 3×19 liters tins, 1 free , excellent quality organic oil – From the nuns in the convent that also owns our home base, which we can use for free. We have an agreement that we will fix it up, but that would cost €5000 or so, and with prices rising as they do, even if we had the money, we couldn’t spend it on that. Which means we still have no fridge, no safe storage for food (mice, insects). Double edged sword.-
• Water : We made a deal with a store to buy 100 bottles of cold water for €30 every week (18 weeks=€540). Summers here are hot, it’s simply needed. No running water on the square, no fridge, got to be practical.
• June 7 €1500 checks supermarket

 

 

I asked Filothei why €1,000 in supermarket checks we bought in September lasted 3 months, and €1,500 from December lasted 5 months. As prices rose 30% or more. Her reply, basically, is that we went though much of our storage supply. That doesn’t appear to me to be the way to go if you already know things will only get more expensive. Storage should be full, even if we have to store the pasta under our beds. Filothei thinks it will take €450-€550 to replenish the storage, we’ll do that ASAP. So the €1,500 we spent on checks last week is really only €1,000. Important details.

 

 

Also, I should never forget the local people who support the kitchen. There is a baker who sends over enough bread for everyone. Another baker sends over tons of fantastic sweets, luxurious pies etc., every week (€100 each time?). They wish to remain anonymous. And there are many like them. The store where we get the water sends over food for vegetarians, to name one example. Plus, of course, most vegetables come from Filothei’s organic garden (how big does a garden have to be before you call it a farm?!). It’s a brilliant operation, and I’m proud to be part of it.

We are a lucky kitchen. Because of all these people, and because of you. Thank you. I’ll end with the usual play:

 

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also end up at the kitchen).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month (not all from my readers). I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Jan 032022
 


Albert Bierstadt Storm in the Mountains c1870

 

 

In my first article of the year, I must thank everyone who has followed us, and read us, and commented, especially those of you who have made donations both to the Automatic Earth, and to the Monastiraki kitchen for the homeless in Athens, Greece. Both don’t reach millions of people, but the thousands we do connect with, we reach them well. Every reader who learns something is a win, and every homeless person who gets a good meal, well, that’s obvious.

Thank you so much. You are the ones who make this happen.

 

 

If I say that 2020 was the year of the virus, and 2021 the year of the vaccine, most people would probably agree. But 2021 was so much more than that; it was also the year of propaganda, media capture and narrative control at levels beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Even if many -most- people haven’t experienced it that way.

And that has likely had more negative impact on us than the vaccine itself. A close call perhaps, I know. The good thing that has come out of this is that so much of it has been exposed. Much of the underlying tendencies towards authoritarianism, and disregard for truth, and blind desire for profit, for a Great Reset, population control, abandonment of freedoms and human rights, it’s all there now for us to see.

We need to act upon that exposure. Get rid of Fauci, Walensky, Pfizer, CDC, and their peers across the planet, of the WHO, of all health “experts” that receive income from/via Pfizer et al (which is the vast majority), put a halt to the influence of money (Bill Gates) on health policy. A society, a country, need to be their own boss over their own fundamental policies. And that means paying for it ourselves.

And not have policies easily changed by a group of politicians and unelected officials (“experts”) who happen to have grabbed power at a particular point in time. A society needs roots, and ours have been uprooted. From principles, from laws, from rights. This will not be easy, we already gave them a 2 year advantage, but if we don’t use this time when the spotlights are directed at them, we will lose even much more than we have already lost. We’ve let them play their games, virtually uncontested, and we cannot afford that.

This appears to culminate in Twitter’s handling of Joe Rogan and Robert Malone recently, and that’s fine, Twitter is not big enough to tackle Rogan, while CNN and MSNBC audiences are drops in the ocean compared to Joe’s. They bit off one too big for them to chew.

But that’s just the US, and that’s just one podcaster, one voice. The control virus that has come with the corona virus has delved much deeper into the world’s various societies. Just yesterday, we saw video from my country of birth, Holland, where police set attack dogs on peaceful elderly protesters, and say what you will, but that country is neither free nor a democracy. That claim is 100% obsolete.

That it is accepted regardless gives credence, and a lot, to Matthias Desmet and his “Mass Formation Syndrome” theories, but we should not really need his analysis, useful as it may be, to figure out what is going on. All we need to do is take a step back and wonder what the hell is going on. To ponder how we saw our societies 2+ years ago, how we ourselves would have seen these recent developments in the light of back then. We can’t have forgotten all of it?!

 

 

That Anthony Fauci is still in his job is absolutely insane. He became head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), 40 years ago, he’s 81, older than Joe Biden. He’s been building ties to Big Pharma, especially Pfizer, all that time, in the shadows, the best place for such deals.

He was in his position when Pfizer received the biggest criminal fine in US corporate history in 2012, of $2.3 billion, for lying and cheating and more. Now, a few years later, Fauci works with Pfizer and the rest of Big Pharma, and makes their owners billionaires and their shareholders very rich. He is the very last person who should have been in his where he is, both 2 years ago and now.

Fauci is not the best doctor in the US, he’s just the best connected to the pharma industry. That guarantees Americans the worst deal they could get, not the best. And of course anyone else at the upper echelons of the NIAID, CDC, FDA, they need to go too. Fauci et al put them there.

In the US and elsewhere, any politician, individual or through their party or otherwise, and any health experts, individual or through their organization or company, who have received funds from Big Pharma or Bill Gates, should be discarded, put out by the curb. We should be able to figure this out, because it’s NOW that they stand exposed. Perhaps not TO Covid, but certainly BY Covid.

It’s the only way we can cleanse the system. Which is needed if we want to survive, with our health, our conscience, and our freedoms and rights. We have let an enormous amount of mold, rot, grow at the pillars of our societies, and we should be glad we can see it now, because this allows us to exterminate it.

We cannot allow Pfizer to gain even more influence over our health systems. Which will be a very hard fight, because our politicians and experts handed them $100s of billions, which they are using as we speak to buy more politicians and lobbyists and influence, and profit.

You can’t stop this by voting for another party. Pfizer probably has more lobbyists on K Street than all of Big Oil put together. And they have them in party and every every country that matters, in every strategic position that matters, and they will soon have many more. No, you must cut their entire voice out of the politics and health care of your society. Yes, very difficult, sure. But today, you can at least see them. For a short time. That won’t last.

 

 

Along with all that the World Economic Forum, and their Great Reset, it will have to go. They don’t do anyone any good but themselves. A big club that we ain’t in. Which reminds me:

The Automatic Earth has shifted a lot towards Covid over the past 2 years, and surely many readers are not 100% happy with that. But the financial world is still captive to central banks that won’t allow price discovery, which makes “markets” just fake pantomimes that former investors get rich in while the poor suffer.

While the climate issue has been captured by the likes of COP 26, a toy for the rich who want to make you pay to “go green”, in accordance with Davos and the WEF. I feel sorry for the well-meaning people who expect anything from that set-up. Nobody who owes their money or their power to fossil fuels will voluntarily give up either, but they will make you fork over for windmills and solar cells whose energy dynamics you don’t actually understand.

Just like with Covid, if you want to free yourselves from the narrative, you will have to open your eyes and go to battle. An untested vaccine won’t set you free, and neither will an electric car. Those two are just things you are being sold by the narrative.

But believe you me, the no. 1 issue today is the vaccines. We need to stop those, before all of our children grow up with timebombs in their bodies. Every jab means more spike proteins, and boosters are worse because they come after your immune system has learned, and prepared for, how to attack those proteins, who by then may be in every organ in your body. And attack them it will, because they are toxic agents.

I don’t want to tell people to get a vaccine or not, but I do want to tell them to be very careful, to get informed well, and only then give their consent, if they decide to get jabbed. It’s just that you have to be confident that your immune system is strong enough to defend you from the effects of the vaccine, and that’s the opposite of what 99% of people understand is happening to them.

So, 2020 year of the virus, 2021 year of the vaccine, and 2022 year of the adverse effects of the vaccines?! And/or a grand awakening?

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Dec 122021
 
 December 12, 2021  Posted by at 2:25 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Giovanni Bellini The Feast of the Gods c1514 (completed by his disciple, Titian, 1529)

 

 

Yes, it’s high time again for an update on the Monastiraki kitchen, which the Automatic Earth has been – in various iterations- supporting since June 2015. One issue I have is that the main activity of the kitchen, cooking food, is the same all the time, so how do you write an interesting story about it several times a year, for 6,5 years now?

Let’s see how far we get this time. The kitchen runs more than ever, it is thriving, and expanding too. One thing that stood out this year was the wildfires that hit near Athens in 2021 in the first half of August. The Monastiraki kitchen was very active in the fall-out of those fires, in several different locations around the city.

A lot of food needed to be prepared, not only for the direct victims, people who lost their homes etc., but also for the firemen- and women who came from all over Europe to help fight the fires. The Greek government doesn’t appear to be very adept at tackling the logistics such an event brings along, so it relies on charity movements to fill in for it.

There were a number of groups, not just our kitchen, involved, the Love Van/ Scouts Of New Eritrea/ 4×4 Ekalis, and even our old friend Konstantinos and O Allos Anthropos. Together they were preparing 10,000 meals per day, plus salads and fruits, and cooking 16 hours a day. It looked something like this (I think I count 8 pots running simultaneously):

 

 

That photo was taken on the large island of Evia, northeast of Athens, 180 km long and 50 km wide at its widest point, which sustained enormous damage from the fires. It will take many years, perhaps decades, to recover.

Cooking on Evia also looked something like this. In Filothei’s own words: “After 16 hours cooking non stop, the gypsy was with out shoes, like that”.

 


 

That photo is a nice lead-in to my next topic. Look at the size of that pot. We have since bought a much bigger one, because we had to. The old 100 liter pot was simply not big enough anymore, the law of supply and demand. It took a while to find one at a good price, for a few months the best deal we could find was €700. But eventually we got one for €175. It lacks a protective layer above the bottom, but I understand that is not strictly necessary (bit more cleaning).

Turned out the guy we bought it from knew about the kitchen, and was very happy to help; he delivered it personally, gave us a lid for free, all good. If you compare the size of the pot in Filothei’s barefoot photo above with this next one, you get an idea of how big that thing is.

 

 

We went from a 100 liter pot to a 220 liter one, from 200+ meals tot 440+ meals per cooking. We still use the smaller one as well, of course, if the need is there. Two weeks ago, for instance, the kitchen made 641 meals in one cooking. Part of that was for a “sister-kitchen” in the port city of Piraeus, where there are also a lot of homeless people.

Piraeus is not only a very large commercial port, it is also home to all the ferries that service the Greek islands, and therefore a major tourism hub. And of course the authorities don’t want the tourists to see the homeless, so they have a hard life out there.

The pots side by side look like this, to give you another comparison:

 

 

And yes, it must obviously be thoroughly cleaned after each cooking:

 

 

Just as obviously, making 2-3 times more food is also going to cost a lot more. In summer, most of the vegetables will come from Filothei’s massive garden, but right now, that is a lot less. On top of that, prices at the supermarket for vegetables as well as the staples we buy there with the checks I purchase with your donations, pasta, canned tomatoes, meat, cheese, we checked it vs a year ago, are up by about 35% overall. So are the plates we use. Sign of the times.

We still have some money left from donations, thanks mainly to Ms. Barefoot Penny-Pincher, but I will still appeal to your Christmas spirit, so we can start 2022 in good spirits too.

In other words, the Monastiraki kitchen is thriving like never before, and your help will be needed to let it continue to do that. We expect to ultimately double the output to at least 400 meals twice a week, and if the Greek government insists on taking away €100 a month from everyone over 60 who has not been vaxxed, while a pension is €730 monthly, who knows how much more we will need to do?

I haven’t talked at all about the Covid restrictions and mandates that are being implemented here all the time, but they are pretty strict, and as always, it is guaranteed that a society’s weakest members, the homeless, will in the end bear the brunt of them.

I’m not going to vent my own view on the entire situation, either here abroad, we do that enough every day, but this is an aspect I think we should all keep in mind: the main victims of any such event are always the same: the children, the elderly and the poorest. And in the case of Covid, that risks remaining hidden by the complaints of everyone else, because everyone feels like a victim.

 

 

One more thing: at some point in spring, the crew wanted to make me a T-shirt, like they made for themselves, the ones you can see in some of the photos, and here:

 

 

And I said: why don’t we make T-shirts for all the homeless clients too? They have more use for it than I do, and the visibility is good. The idea died because Ms. Penny-Pincher thought it was too expensive at €4 a piece, but I will make sure it is revived at some point. Make 200 for the homeless, and 200 to sell on the Automatic Earth site, with revenue going to the kitchen. Sounds pretty good. It must be organized, and I’m not going to be the one packaging and sending them, but we’ll find a solution for that.

 

 

Merry Christmas to you all from everyone at the Monastiraki kitchen -there’s often about 20 of them-. And once again: we couldn’t do it without you. I’ll end with the same bit I did last time, the donation details.

 

 

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also end up at the kitchen).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Mar 262021
 


Filothei Skitzi Strapping girl 2021

 

 

Yesterday was Greece’s version of Independence Day, in their case the day the War of Independence from the Ottoman empire started in 1821. Unfortunately, it was so brutally cold -for Greece, that is, at 0ºC- that festivities were “dampened”. Moreover, due to Covid restrictions, people were barred from attending the traditional military parade (due to 1821, and having Turkey as a neighbor, many Greeks still love having an army) in the streets of Athens.

The only ones “allowed” to watch the parade were now the likes of Prince Charles and his horse wife, plus some ambassadors etc. While after almost 5 months of severe lockdown, and spring on the horizon, people really needed some relief in the form of a party. And a national party works best for that. Oh well, spring will come soon, and then soon after that, 39.9ºC. That’s where the weather service always seems to stop counting. It’s like the Y2K bug. A running gag.

I was re-reading the last things I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen, November and December 2020, just to get back in the spirit, and to find things that I have already talked about, so as not to repeat myself. Cooking food is not the most exciting activity in the world by itself, to write about, or to film, as I always notice when I happenstance upon some TV cooking show.

 

What’s interesting about the social kitchen we run here is all the stories around it, not the cooking itself. I -and you, my readers- have been supporting this initiative for almost 6 years already, imagine that!. Many things have happened, many things have changed along the way, and wouldn’t you know, in the hardest time of all, the lockdowns that take everyone’s breath and life away, being involved in “the kitchen” -as we call it- feels better than ever.

It’s not just that the homeless need us more than ever before, though that is undoubtedly true, it’s also that the volunteers who work in the kitchen get even more of a sense of pride and self-worth from doing something that really changes human lives. Don’t underestimate the loss of pride, of having a goal in life, there are so many facets to this, of not being able to do your job for 5 months. And then to be able to contribute to helping the neediest people in your society, it gains a whole new meaning.

After a year of lockdowns, off and on, societies that have lived through them will irreparably change, even if the people that live in them, will not recognize that now. Most people still think of a return to “normal”. There will be no such thing. Once governments stop propping up businesses and workers financially, which they will have to, there will be a flood of unemployment and business closures. We will need a new “paradigm”, but that will take time.

Greece depends on tourism and hospitality to a much larger extent than most economies. And tourism won’t come back to former heights, this year or next. The virus is not gone, and vaccinating everyone will not solve the issue. Not that politicians and “experts” won’t pretend it will. Greece will win back some part of its tourism industry, but that risks bringing more virus into the country. And tourists, like the British, will be told not to come, by their own governments. Some “repair”, but far short of full.

So once the bars and restaurants open here, they are going to start firing people. The government is well aware of this, and talks about 100s of 1000s of job losses. This will happen everywhere, but in an economy so dependent on hospitality, much more. Summer will feel sort of okay, but after that, we will have many more clients in the Monastiraki kitchen. It’s as clear as day.

 

 

 

Filothei and I went to purchase €1,000 more in supermarket checks, from your donations, on Tuesday. She managed to spread the first €1,000 worth out over 3 months. Me, I like that she is aware of value, respect etc., but I also say sometimes that it’s alright to spend some money. For her, it‘s about every penny, every comma. But that has disadvantages as well: she spends so much time trying to get the best deal on everything that at some point I am sure that her time could be spent in a better way. And that people will understand that.

Example: the kitchen needs plates. We had a donation, 2 years ago, from a company that makes them, of 21,000 plates (they were misprints). We want, in industry terms, “bio-boxes”. As in, not plastic, but paper/cardboard. Those plates are now gone, and we need more. But these things are expensive, and Filothei thinks all donations should go to buying food. I agree, but at the same time, a social kitchen must do what it should do. I personally think some company should donate them to us, and they can put their logo on it, and feel good about supporting us, but in lockdown, no companies make any money. And we still need the plates.

We will buy maybe 6,000 of them soon, and pay maybe €600 for that, and yes, it’s not food, but it’s necessary. In these times, you can look at these companies’ websites, and their products, but most “bio-boxes” are for sandwiches, not hot meals. Yeah, entirely new issues for me too 😉 And all the companies are closed too, so it’s very hard to go check them out. That’s when you realize how crazy these times really are.

 

Other things we did this winter: we bought an umbrella. I told you the place where the cooking takes place is a little stone yard, with no roof. I also said we would pay the €200 for the umbrella with €100 from donations and I would pay the rest. And then it took 40 days, 30 phone calls, and people from the kitchen going there themselves, to finally get it. Welcome to the lockdown economy .

 

 

But isn’t it beautiful? It covers almost the entire yard. Yeah, again, it’s money not spent on food, but it’s needed nonetheless. It has been on several occasions already, and it will be there for years to come. Money well spent.

 

 

Another thing I bought is more facemasks, I paid for those myself, not from your donations. I don’t like the mandates for them much, with people wearing masks outside in the street, that doesn’t make much sense. But for the kitchen, with people working close together, and later handing out the food to the homeless, it does. Risk assessment. Only, wear the best ones then, why wouldn’t you? Why wear a sock on your face when you can get actual protection? These are FFP3 masks, in US terms that would be N95+, they have extra strips inside to connect them to your face, and their active ingredient is activated carbon, not salt. Why not do it well if you do it anyway?

 

 

Oh wait, that’s true, Filothei last week made 60 kilos (!) of lemon marmalade (which probably took 70 kilos of sugar) to hand out, because “the homeless need sugar and salt when it’s cold outside”.

 

 

We are up to 2 cookings a week at Monastiraki now, plus another one at Piraeus that depends on our staples to a large extent. And we’re not going to stop, or halt, or pause. Yes, the summer weather will relieve the pressure somewhat on the “immediate front”, but we need to look ahead too. The economic troubles won’t go away, and neither will the virus. And the people to be first hurt by that are always the same, the poorest, and their legions are growing. And that’s why we do what we do. This team is unbeatable. Despite all the police threats of fines and prison and what not, people always show up for “work”, and the food always gets delivered.

And we do it with love. Lots of it.

 

I’ll leave you with the same last paragraphs I’ve used the past few times when I wrote about the Monastiraki kitchen. You know how this works.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also went to the kitchen this winter).

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.

I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Dec 282020
 


Eugene Delacroix Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi 1826

 

 

A little personal thank you note from the Automatic Earth is in order. 2020 has been an annus horribilis across the world, but we have been blessed with lots of attention and comments, as well as great support from our readers throughout the year, both for the Automatic Earth itself and for the Monastiraki social kitchen in Athens. Problem is, I have so many people to say thank you to.

We started covering the coronavirus early on, in January, and never looked back. Many people got their first exposure to the virus through us (pun very much intended). What developed throughout 2020 was not just a solid reader-base, but also a maturing comments section, that taught me as much as it did readers.

Thank you for that. The comments from medical professionals and others became a strong part of the entire story. And it was by no means a one-sided thing; opinions were always all over the place, as they should be.

That’s the big problem in my view that we face these days: our media have become one-dimensional, the exact opposite of what they should be. This became clear through the Trump era, and the incessant hammering of one actor vs the deafening silence about all others in the same theater and on the same stage.

 

And we see that again today: try, if you can, to find in the MSM a critical opinion about lockdowns, or facemasks, or about the newly-fangled vaccines. It’s very hard if not impossible. This one-dimensionality hides behind “the science”. Which is something that doesn’t really exist, as we know because scientists in different countries contradict each other, as do those in the same country, and scientists even often contradict themselves.

If you want people to “follow the science”, you need to convince them that this is the right thing to do. You can’t just force them to do it. Or, rather, you can try that for a short period of time, and then they will come after you. People don’t live their lives in one dimension; they can’t.

Are facemasks useful? Sure, in crowded indoor spaces. But outdoors? I have yet to see the first evidence of that, and I do read an awful lot. Let’s inject some nuance here: if there is a risk of 1 in 100,000 that someone gets infected outdoors, it that worth forcing 99,999 people to put facemasks on? Or would you rather ask them to wear those where it demonstrably matters?

Are lockdowns useful? Sure, but they can only ever be emergency measures, short and “sweet”. Because they risk destroying entire economies and societies. Lockdowns should only be used when there are no other measures available anymore.

But we haven’t exhausted the scope of all other measures, not at all. There are no governments promoting the large scale use of vitamin D, or the proper use of hydroxychloroquine, and Chris Martenson even sees his videos about ivermectin banned from YouTube. As all three substances show great promise in preventing infections, and/or limiting the consequences of being infected.

We’ve been reduced to one-dimensional lives. By now, politicians and “scientists” would rather see everyone be infected, and then “cured” by a vaccine, then not get infected in the first place. In one dimension, the world easily gets turned upside down. You just wouldn’t be able to see it, because you need three dimensions to recognize what “upside down” looks like.

 

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines may work very well, but we don’t know, because we haven’t researched that. Which, if you want to “follow the science”, is a very strange thing to do. Of course we would all like the virus to be gone, but ignoring the science doesn’t look like the way to achieve that. And that’s what we’re doing: we’re not following the science, we’re ignoring it where that fits our purposes.

We don’t know if the Pfizer vaccine protects you from being infected, we don’t know if it keeps you from infecting others, but we do know governments and airlines are talking about requiring evidence that you’ve received a dose. But for what purpose, then, exactly? Just to let all the MPs and CEOs people claim they did what they could?

-Too- many people have lost their jobs and their businesses without any country seriously having tried to stop people from becoming infected through the use of vit. D, HCQ, ivermectin. Many of these jobs and businesses will never come back. Is this worth it? Maybe if we could say we tried everything we could, but we obviously haven’t.

We sold our souls to the “science” and then to the vaccine. Which are two very very different things.

If there’s ever been a time to ask questions, it must be now. About lockdowns, facemasks and viruses, about people, communities, societies, economies. That we are being pressured into not asking those questions, makes them even more necessary.

 

Anyway, those are all issues and questions that will need to be addressed in 2021, we’ve run out of 2020 time. It’s just that it wouldn’t have been necessary; we could easily have done much if not most of it this year. But we have become information-poor, and by design to boot. Which is the opposite of what the Automatic Earth wants to be and do. We want to present all the information, and that without paywalls or things like that.

There are too many of those already, and their main effect is to restrict information at a time when people arguably need more of it. Our model of increasingly relying on donations has worked out alright in 2020, and we hope the same will be true in the new year. Thank you again so kindly for making that possible.

 

A last word, again, about the Monastiraki kitchen: when you see things get harder for yourself, as so many have, it should be a natural reflex to wonder how they are for those less fortunate, because it’s a safe bet they will be hit even harder. It took me way too long to learn that. The team at the kitchen have that down: give, give, and never take. Enormous thanks to all of them.

That you allow me to support them is an honor, and a great responsibility which I take very seriously, both to those who donate and those who receive. Thank you, all of you.

One day when you’re old, and you ask yourself what has been the most important thing you did in your life, the answer will have to be what you did for other people. That is both the only possible outcome, and it’s also at the same time the very thing that is threatened most by the incessant lockdowns and facemask mandates. People need people.

Have a great 2021, stick with the Automatic Earth, and stick with each other.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

Nov 202020
 
 November 20, 2020  Posted by at 8:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Georgia O’Keeffe Red poppy No. VI 1928

 

 

High time for another update about our support for what is now called the “Self-managed Social Kitchen Monastiraki” here in Athens (Athina). It’s again been a while, because for a long time so many things were uncertain and up in the air. I guess that is inevitable when the entire world lives through insecure times, and the homeless as always are more affected by such things than anyone else.

For the first half of the year, I wasn’t even here, I spent the first lockdown period in Holland, because I thought Greece would be more affected than it, but I was very wrong. Greece had it down then. It’s only now, 3-4 months after they opened their borders to tourism again, that things go wrong.

But the country needs revenue from tourism, it cannot keep its borders closed forever. There’s a lesson in there somewhere about what I wrote earlier, that “after 10 months, we can’t keep treating COVID as the only problem in town. That’s myopic. We need a bigger picture”.

Athens went into another full lockdown recently, and the city is devoid of life. Which will kill off another large part of the “mom-and-pop” businesses that make it function and kept it vibrant. There’s exactly two Starbucks in Athens, to name an example, one McDonald’s and one KFC, and I think they should be very proud of that. Monoculture kills life itself, both in farming and in city streets.

And countless people working in the “mom-and-pop” businesses, and in the tourist- and hospitality industries, no longer have jobs. They get some financial support, but not enough to pay all their bills. So what do they do? They go see each other indoors, where the infection risk is higher.

Still, here we are. And we have to deal with it. Back in March, the Monastiraki kitchen did that too. A lockdown doesn’t make the homeless any less hungry or needy, it makes them more so. And the boys and girls responded to that under ever more difficult circumstances. When cooking in the street was no longer viable, they devised a way to cook in a private space nearby and ride out the food to Monastiraki Square, on a cart.

 

 

Problem with that is it costs a lot more time and money, because every meal has to be individually packaged, and you now in COVID time need sanitizer and gloves and tons of bags, and facemasks. I bought a whole bunch of N95 masks for everyone a few weeks ago, because there are real risks when working close together, and then handing out the meals to the clients. I want to keep these people as safe as possible.

 

Then this summer, there was another issue. The kitchen had returned to cooking on the square, but in early August was told by municipal police that there were anonymous complaints about them “taking up public space”, and they couldn’t come back. All attempts since to find out what exactly was going on have landed nowhere. At one point some official promised he would come with a solution, only to never be heard from again.

And so, certainly with the new lockdown in place, the decision was made to keep cooking in the private place, and rolling out the food to the square. People are good at adapting. But there remains an underlying threat of the kitchen volunteers being arrested, a threat that was actually made in early August. For feeding people in need. Some world.

 

And this is a good moment to introduce Filothei, the lady and girl who is the driving force behind the kitchen now. Which she will deny, because it’s all about everyone else, not her, and because she insists she’s only 17. I began to wonder about the kitchen’s finances when I got back to Athens in June 2020, I thought they’d badly need more of the Automatic Earth funds, but they were in no hurry.

Meet Filothei 😉

 

 

Digging further, I realized we only provided some 10-15% of the funding. So where did the rest come from? It took some questioning, but sure enough, a large part of the answer is: from Filothei herself. And while that is supersweet, it also makes for a vulnerable situation. And then, of course, she got hurt a month ago when a piece of a mirror fell into (yes, into) her arm and she hasn’t been able to work her job as a physiotherapist for handicapped people since.

By the way, Filothei also has a large organic garden, which provides most of the vegetables for most of the year. For 200 meals every week! Automatic Earth readers’ donations are typically used to buy the staples, pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes etc.

We decided to run a trial on November 16, when Filothei went to the supermarket with some of the €1,000 in coupons she still had left from what I bought in early July(!), without using anything still in stock, to see the cost for one run of 200 meals, and it showed a total of €242 (in current exchange rates, close to $300 US). While “my” coupons have paid for some €20 per week. We were both surprised at the numbers.

 

 

And no, €242 for 200 meals is not much, it’s less than €1.15 per person. While the NGO’s and charities funded by governments and the EU claim costs of €5-€10 per meal. But you still have to have the €242 every week. And it shouldn’t come from one sweetheart of a girl, or from me, or any other individual person. That’s not how you run a social kitchen operation long term.

Moreover, because of the COVID situation, other people who used to provide some funds, no longer can, because out of 30 of them “affiliated” with the kitchen, only 3 now still have jobs. When it rains, it pours.

 

 

So on November 16 we did the shopping trial, and the next day I went along for the whole cooking process, about 4 hours. November 17 is the day Greece commemorates its then military junta violently putting down a student protest at the Polytechnic university compound in 1973, and the government tightened its lockdown measures even more, fearing protests, which meant many who usually help in the kitchen were afraid to come in, fearing a €300 fine.

As did I, but hey, hard as it is to understand the details of the lockdown measures when you don’t speak the language, if others take the risk, who am I not to? There was police in full riot gear everywhere, and at the end of the day, around 7.30 pm, we had meals left. That never happens. Some of the guys later went into side streets, where the homeless were hiding from the police, and handed out dozens more meals.

 

But of course things ain’t all bad. Filothei told me yesterday about a group of people, organized in the “Love Van”, which is an organization made up of Greek athletes, that reached out to her to ask what she needs, and now promised to bring 160 winter coats and 160 sleeping bags next week to the kitchen. That’s such a grand gesture. Coat: $100 a piece, sleeping bag $100 a piece?!

 

 

Not everything is bad. And no matter how bad it gets, we will somehow make it through this. Hey, the shortest day of the year is only one month away, and after that things can only get better. But you already know what I’m going to say next: please help me, help us, help the people that need your help most.

Put the Automatic Earth, and the Monastiraki kitchen, in your Christmas donations list in 2020, and contribute to a real effort to help real people beset by real problems. These are mostly not people with drug- or alcohol problems, they are people who lost their jobs or businesses and their homes, through no fault of their own. That was true when I first got here in Spring 2015, and it’s even more so now, because COVID has killed off so many ways to carve out at least a minimum existence.

 

 

Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them, especially for Christmas-.

I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.

But I cannot do this on my own right now. To get through the winter in one piece, the Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,000 per month. I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. In earlier times, 2016-2017, we had way more than that with Konstantinos, but both Filothei and I decided a few years back, independently from each other, that we didn’t want to work with him anymore.

So let’s see where we can get today, shall we? I want to write the perfect article with the perfect plea, but there is of course no such thing. Therefore, I will be back in a few weeks time with a reminder -and updates-, hoping that y’all have gotten the message.

I love all you people so much, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier.

Love you. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Turns out, the same Filothei is quite the photographer too:

Filothei Photography

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.

 

May 312020
 


Monastiraki Square deserted due to lockdown, Athens, Greece 2020

 

Well, actually, there is no Automatic Earth in Athens right now. But we’re working on it. And I have had a hard time finishing articles recently for some reason. It may be because it’s virustime, and it’s certainly because of the lockdown. People are social animals, and I am no exception. Living alone and working alone makes it more extreme.

Not that I have changed my mind on lockdowns; they are the only option to tame the virus under the circumstances. Still, a lockdown must be executed properly, to make it “as close to impossible as possible” for the virus to jump to new hosts, and that has only been done in very few places, either because politicians and “experts” don’t understand how and why, or they find it too inconvenient. But enough about that for the moment, even as today’s new global cases top 130,000 in yet another new record.

 

In mid-December I went from Athens to Holland, where I still rent a small apartment though I’ve been spending most of my time in Athens. I thought I’d stay a few months in the Lowlands, do some of the everyday -or every year- stuff that needs doing, taxes, medical things etc., and return to Athens in spring.

I had a ticket back to Athens from Holland on April 1, which I had bought early February, when things still seemed somewhat normal. But as the date approached, of course, we moved ever further away from normal. If I had booked a few weeks earlier, things might have worked out, but Greece implemented a very strict lockdown, so it wouldn’t have been much fun.

I could change the ticket for free until two weeks before departure, after which the cost for changing it would be close to the original ticket price. So I changed it. By then, there was a two-week mandatory full quarantine in place for new arrivals in Greece. Not very tempting, but more importantly I was thinking I didn’t want to become a burden on the Greek healthcare system.

Which according to some has shrunk by 75% (imagine that) due to EU-mandated austerity. I was thinking the odds of Greece and the Greek system being overwhelmed were much higher than that it would happen in Holland. Boy, was I wrong. The irony is that it is exactly this that made Greece adopt the strict lockdown measures it did, as early as it did, and faring so much better because of it.

For 2 months, until 2 weeks ago, everyone who was out in the street had to carry a piece of paper detailing why they were out (try that in the US!). The only valid reasons to be out were shopping for food or medicine. All stores other than supermarkets and pharmacies were closed anyway. Greece was early and strict. They didn’t feel they had a choice.

And even if so much of the healthcare system has been bulldozed, the core is still very strong, that is a major factor. The professionals (experts) running the system and advising the government are of a very high caliber, which is more than one can say of many other countries.

 

 

 

 

In Holland, it’s been a very different story. It was late to the game, and when it did decide on a lockdown, it called it an “intelligent” lockdown. Like Dutch people are smarter than others. Which, of course, people like to hear. Most stores have remained open (though not public transport), there was no mass testing, only people with obvious symptoms were tested, and the Dutch version of the CDC still maintains today that face masks don’t actually work (i.e. we are more intelligent than 4.5 billion Asians).

Like in many other countries, the lack of testing and masks really only had one reason behind it, and it wasn’t that they would not work, or that anyone believed they didn’t, it was that they didn’t have any. And then when a government says they’re not needed, the pace at which they are purchased abroad or can be produced domestically slows down too, even with all the high tech industries in the country. That way you sort of boil in your own fat.

We’re 5 months into the pandemic, and only now can one get tested without already being on the verge of death [Update May 31: still no test available without symptoms, asymptomatic carriers be damned. Should I fake symptoms?]. And only now are masks obligatory in public transport. This means the virus has become pretty much embedded, though perhaps not yet endemic, in the population.

It’s a giant gamble with the lives of your citizens when you try to hide your failure to acquire the necessary tools and implement the needed procedures, behind stories about how well “we” are really doing. The kind of gamble that politicians should at the very least by forced to quit for, but that is not going to happen.

But, more irony, they’re real popular. People buy the narrative that “this is the best we could have done”, and hang on to their lips every day for a shred of good news. That happens in many countries, of course, and, yes, it has a function: if you want to do a lockdown, above all you need a sense of unity. That it is used to hide lies and failures is almost an afterthought.

I don’t try to point out to people here -the few I see- anymore that their government has done a terrible job; they all watch the same news, and they’ve all bought the same “we’re in this together” kool-aid. Which, again, does serve a purpose, but it’s also very false. Here are the latest numbers from Worldometer:


Holland:
17.3 million people,
46,257 cases of COVID19, and
5,951 deaths.


Greece:
10.7 million people,
2,915 cases and
175 deaths.

I don’t even have to do the percentages, do I? The “successful” and “intelligent” Holland not only, 5 months in, still has an “official” worse “deaths per million population” rate than the US(!), the Dutch numbers also invariably come with the official addition that “real” numbers of both cases and deaths are much higher due to the lack of testing.

Almost as if they’re proud of it. As if it’s a waste of time to try and keep track of how and where the virus is spreading in your society, something you won’t ever know if you only test and count people who are already in hospital or dead.

 

High time for a more uplifting story. In early March, as Greece lockdown measures took hold one by one, almost all of the social kitchens were quickly shut down. But not the people the Automatic Earth has been supporting for 5 years running with your kind help. “Our” crew changed strategy as cooking in the street was no longer an option, and started preparing meals in a central place, only to drive down and hand them out fully ready in the familiar places near Monastiraki square and the Piraeus port.

And because so many other social kitchens had closed and the homeless still needed to eat (always the first to bear the brunt, no exception this time), they made -and make- a lot more meals as well than they were used to doing, and worked 4 days instead of 2, preparing some 700 meals every week.

It’s not just many more meals, but every meal takes much more time and energy to prepare than usual; each has to be packaged separately, because of course fears were that the homeless would be most susceptible to the virus. In short, they’ve all been working their behinds off. Everyone talks about heroes, and these people are mine. Let me show you with a few pictures:

Here’s Monastiraki square, deserted (with the Acropolis on top of the mountain):

 

 

Some of the crew preparing meals in the central place:

 

 

And posing (that’s Tassos doing his finest Greek Zorro):

 

 

Then there’s of course -some of- Da Boyz:

 

 

The usual hot meal in the big pot:

 

 

But lots of other things too, all individually wrapped:

 

 

Which then end up in these crates before they’re loaded into cars to be distributed.

 

 

I love this picture, these are some of the things served on Greek Easter, April 19, because the homeless, too, should celebrate:

 

 

And then the packages are handed to the people in central Athens:

 

 

And at the port of Piraeus:

 

 

Greece, like other countries, is slowly easing its lockdown, first the stores opened, last week it was terraces at bars and restaurants, and next week it will be the inside of these places too.

“The Crew” is not yet back to cooking in the streets, that will take a bit more time. I’ve been keeping in close touch with them, and it’s high time to replenish the supermarket “checks” I last arranged for in December. First thing I’ll do when I get there. Been offering it all the time, a bank transfer might have worked, but so far they manage.

Air traffic is resuming as well, bit by bit. When I changed my ticket in mid-March, I had no idea what would be realistic, and picked June 16 “out of a hat”. Not a bad guess, it turns out. June 16 became 17, and 2 days ago the Greeks said Holland is a risk country, so no flights before July, but this morning they changed that again, to mandatory testing at the airport followed by a night in a designated hotel; it now looks as if this might actually happen. Then again, 17 days is an eternity in virustime of course.

And in the process I’ll get tested, something I can’t get done in Holland. I’ve been holed up in an area of Holland with very few infections, but I’ll still have to do the train-airport-plane routine to get to Athens, all places where the danger of being infected is -relatively- high. Holland is a country the size of a postage stamp, and it still today averages more new cases than Greece has had total deaths.

 

As always when I write about the Automatic Earth in Athens project, I ask you to support it. There are still a few hundred dollars left, but I want to buy at least €1000 worth of supermarket checks, so the crew can fill their by now empty pantries and cupboards and do something extra for the clients, who haven’t had an easy time.

The way it goes is simple and identical to how we’ve always done this: you can donate through our Paypal widget at the top left corner of the site. Any donations that end in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the crew, other amounts go to the Automatic Earth, which also badly needs support, and which you can of course also support via Patreon, see top right corner of the site.

I am honored and proud to be associated with these people, and proud of the bonds we have forged since 2015, and I think you should be too. Together, we support the most vulnerable people, homeless and refugees, in a city still overflowing with vulnerable people (with many more added because of the virus), and we do it through a crew that doesn’t cease to amaze with their selflessness.

I don’t remember if I ever mentioned this, but a few years ago I was talking to a guy who did a project on Lesbos, maybe still does, and we were saying: many years from now, when looking back on your life, what will you be most proud of? We both concluded that this would certainly among the top in the list: supporting the weakest members of society. But I can’t do it without your help, which has been amazing all this time, and which I hope will continue in the same way that I am determined to continue to support this wonderful little shimmer of light.

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the interaction.

Thank you.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.