Thursday night.

I think the meme-stonk saga is officially over. Today, Gamestop crashed by 42%, and then fell by 8% on top of that in the afterhours, down at $49 a share. When I first saw it, on Friday 1/22, it closed at $65: it’s come full circle. It’s been less than two weeks, and so much changed in that short timeframe… On the r/wallstreetbets subreddit, people are starting to post the suicide hotline number more and more often as their fellow redditors write that they’ve lost everything. Some had invested their entire bank accounts, or their entire retirement fund, or even took out a loan specifically to get rich quick on Gamestop. It’s terrifying.

I still think a huge share of the blame belongs to Robinhood: if that shoddy trading platform had been more stable, they wouldn’t have run out of funds, and wouldn’t have triggered a massive selloff exactly a week ago when they literally disabled the “buy” button. At the same time, though… Most of this Gamestop saga took place in the US. When your government sends out a single $2,000 check in April 2020, and then refuses to do anything else and finally, ever so graciously, sends a $600 check in January, what else is there left to do but jump at a desperate “get rich quick” scheme promoted in the news? By starving its own people, the United States had ensured that some perfect storm, some tulip mania – call it whatever you want – would eventually take place. Gamestop just happened to be the spark that started the inevitable wildfire. And unless more aid is coming, there will be more desperate financial shenanigans to come. Even those mythical responsible citizens who had saved six months of living expenses would’ve gone broke by now if they’d lost their jobs in March.

When you have almost nothing left, you’re game for anything.

The gloom and doom on wallstreetbets (that is, when they’re not encouraging each other with increasingly wilder what-if scenarios) reminds me of the subreddit for oil and gas workers a year ago, when oil futures became negative for the first time ever. They literally couldn’t pay people to take oil off their hands, and a whole lot of folks in that sector lost everything. That was the only other time I saw a suicide hotline number being shared around. None of this had to happen. All of this was avoidable.

In other news… Today is February 4th. If not for the pandemic, today would’ve been the day I would’ve received my Canadian permanent residency. The final application was submitted exactly six months ago, and that’s their standard processing period. Because of the pandemic, they’ve probably got a huge backlog of cases and applications to process. Like many other things right now, this also got delayed… It’s unclear whether I’ll get my PR weeks or months from now. Presumably soon. I have a hunch that it’ll happen later this month, so I suppose we’ll see. There’s absolutely nothing I can do to affect the outcome or speed them up, so it’s more wu wei – action through inaction, a beautiful Taoist concept.

I got some mighty good news at work, or at least I was told there’s a 98% chance the mighty good prediction will pan out. I should know (and be able to share) more in the next few weeks. Here and now, I’ve decided to celebrate with an unscheduled Tim Hortons lunch. It’s laughable that with all the death and self-induced gambling bankruptcies and military coups around the world, my biggest fear was when I realized I’d dropped my credit card and rushed back to pick it up. (It was still there.) That just highlights once more how insulated and, well, privileged my life is.

In covid news, there’s a video that’s going viral. (No terrible pun intended.) It shows a grocery store in Florida, with dozens of customers and cashiers who are mostly maskless, chatting and laughing up close as if the pandemic had never happened. A lot of the customers in that video are elderly. Before the plague, it would’ve been a perfectly unremarkable video: now, it looks horrifying – or at the very least anxiety-inducing. The store’s owner had posted a sign at the entrance that said people without masks will be assumed to have a valid medical condition and will not be questioned – or forced to mask up. The store’s owner also said the pandemic is “hogwash” and shared a lot of other bizarre views when he got interviewed. Promoting your business by luring anti-maskers and helping spread the virus (after you charge them for their purchase, that is) is a very unusual business model. This being Florida, I doubt the local authorities will do anything about it – but just like always, I’d love it if I’m proven wrong. (But if there are no consequences, how many other store owners around the world will get inspired to do the same?)

Good night, y’all.