Matters of Life and Death: An Undead President and a Lonely Bird

With an approval rating of 9%, Brazilian President Michel Temer may be politically lifeless, but he is not actually dead. This last detail, however, has been lost on Brazil’s state pension fund, which stopped paying out Temer’s dole late last year, citing lack of proof that he is actually alive. All Brazilians are required to appear yearly, in person, to take a test — Temer didn’t do it.


In a macabre irony, Temer is currently trying to pass tough reforms to precisely the bloated pension system that thinks he is no longer among us, but it doesn’t look like he has the votes to do so. So, to recap: the Brazilian president is alive, but the reform of the pension system that thinks he is dead is probably dead.

Meanwhile a story from New Zealand, where a bird that lived alone on a remote island among concrete replicas of his own species has passed away after years of unrequited courtship. The bird, Nigel, was so enamored of the concrete fakes — which were set up to lure more birds like him to the island — that even when living members of his own species finally showed up, he ignored them.

The winning take here comes from my fellow Signalista Kevin Allison: “I can’t help but think that this is actually a metaphor for social media.”

To pull you out of that abyss of techno-existential despair, here are some….

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