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We’re All Dancers Now - Mindful Movement Is Key to Social Distancing

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2020

I really liked How We Use Our Bodies to Navigate a Pandemic by NY Times dance critic Gia Kourlas on how many people struggle with the awareness of what their bodies are doing in public and that social distancing measures require a higher level of attentiveness to how we move and coordinate our movements with others.

In this time of confinement, we have been given one immeasurable gift — the freedom to go outside. In exchange, we must abide by a simple rule: Stay six feet away from others. As choreographic intentions go, that’s not remotely vague. Yet during my runs and walks in Brooklyn over the past few days, I’ve noticed that six feet doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody.

Spatial awareness, like coordination, isn’t a given. Watching the choices people make when they move in public, much less in this time of social distancing, can be shocking, from the much-bemoaned tourist who comes to a grinding halt in Times Square to the woman with a yoga mat knocking people aside to get her spot on the floor. (It’s OK; she’ll still feel good about bowing her head and saying namaste.)

Now the choreography of the streets has taken on higher stakes. It’s the difference between health and sickness, life and death. Inside we’re alone. Outside, a new alertness is in order, one that demands a deep connection to the position and movement of the body — or proprioception, sometimes referred to as the sixth sense.

NASA is reintroducing its 70s "worm" logo. It'll be displayed on the side of the Falcon 9 rocket that will take astronauts to the ISS.

Ching Ming Stories is encouraging families in the Chinese diaspora to observe the tradition of Ching Ming (remembering ancestors) virtually this year. Includes a discussion guide to help get you & your family started.

From a pair of Harvard professors of epidemiology/immunology: "Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic: We're just clambering into a life raft. Dry land is far away."

How South Korea Solved Its Face Mask Shortage. "Neighborhood pharmacists and government intervention were the secret weapons." Good government matters.

Sent out the latest @kottke newsletter last night: virtual travel, mask wearing advice, and baking bread w/ 4500-year-old yeast.

Data visualization of 30 years of the Hubble Space Telescope's discoveries

Stop Trying to Be Productive. "Staying inside and attending to basic needs is plenty."

Wimbledon has been cancelled due to COVID-19. First time since WWII. "There will be no professional tennis anywhere in the world until at least 13 July."

Interesting thread on how Fox News makes money and where they might be vulnerable (cable revenues & pandemic liability lawsuits)

Damon Lindelof is writing a serialized story for Nextdraft called Something, Something, Something Murder. "I heard them whispering... I heard them say murder and then the floorboard creaked and they stopped."

New!  An archive of the Quick Links. You can find them @kottke on Twitter too.

Samuel L. Jackson: “Stay the Fuck at Home!”

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2020

On Jimmy Kimmel the other night, F-bomb maestro Samuel L. Jackson read a new short story/poem by Adam Mansbach (author of Go the Fuck to Sleep) called Stay the Fuck at Home to promote safe behavior during the pandemic. You can skip to about 6:00 to hear the story:

The book isn’t available for sale, so Jackson, Kimmel, and Mansbach are asking people to donate to Feeding America.

How to Adapt to a Long-Term Crisis

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2020

From Dr. Aisha Ahmad, some advice for how to adapt to conditions of a long-term crisis like the pandemic we are currently facing. (This was written specifically for educators, but applies to anyone.) First, the necessary sobering bit (italics mine):

The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.

Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed.

I’ve had a few weeks to process the fact that this will never end, but seeing it stated like this, so matter-of-factly, is still shocking. Luckily, Ahmad spends the rest of the piece gently and generously advising us on how to handle this changed state of affairs.

Now more than ever, we must abandon the performative and embrace the authentic. Our essential mental shifts require humility and patience. Focus on real internal change. These human transformations will be honest, raw, ugly, hopeful, frustrated, beautiful, and divine. And they will be slower than keener academics are used to. Be slow. Let this distract you. Let it change how you think and how you see the world. Because the world is our work. And so, may this tragedy tear down all our faulty assumptions and give us the courage of bold new ideas.

In a Twitter thread, Ahmad shared some further thoughts on adapting to our new reality.

To start, know that your feelings today are not going to last all summer. It’s just a transition period. Right now, it feels like your whole world has been taken away, but that’s just because you haven’t hit your creative adaptation phase yet. Trust the process.

It’s upsetting when our expectations & plans are overturned. Give yourself a moment to grieve. But don’t let your grief trick you into thinking you’re going to suffer every day. That’s not happening. Your mind & body will adjust. Joy & freedom are still on the table.

And this was my favorite bit:

Second, embrace radical acceptance. Let go of expectations and control. What you did last month doesn’t serve you today. Let the world, today, teach you a new way to be happy, joyous, and free. If we live in denial, fear, or self-pity, we will miss the gift.

See also how to deal with our collective pandemic grief. (thx, meg)

Pandemic Travel Posters (Inviting You to Stay Home)

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 02, 2020

Pandemic Travel Posters

Pandemic Travel Posters

Jennifer Baer of the “Coronavirus Tourism Bureau” made some travel posters designed to get you interested in staying inside and exploring your own home during the pandemic. Posters are available for purchase.

Bong Joon-ho’s Extensive Storyboards for Parasite

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2020

Parasite Storyboards

Before he begins filming any of his movies, director Bong Joon-ho draws out storyboards for every single shot of every single scene of the film. From an interview with Bong in 2017:

I’m always very nervous in my everyday life and if I don’t prepare everything beforehand, I go crazy. That’s why I work very meticulously on the storyboards. If I ever go to a psych ward or a psychiatric hospital, they’ll diagnose me as someone who has a mental problem and they’ll tell me to stop working, but I still want to work. I have to draw storyboards.

For his Oscar-winning Parasite, Bong has collected the storyboards into a 304-page graphic novel due out in mid-May: Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards.

Drawn by Bong Joon Ho himself before the filming of the Palme d’Or Award-winning, Golden Globe(R)-nominated film, these illustrations, accompanied by every line of dialog, depict the film in its entirety. Director Bong has also provided a foreword which takes the reader even deeper into the creative process which gave rise to the stunning cinematic achievement of Parasite.

The book has already been released in Korea, and Through the Viewfinder did a 5-minute video comparison of the storyboards with the filmed scenes for the peach fuzz montage scene (and another video of the flood scene).

Amazing. That’s a whole lotta film school packed into five minutes of video.

Tracing Starling Murmurations Through the Sky

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2020

Back in November, Patrick Tanguay and I posted about Xavi Bou’s Ornitographies project, photographs of the paths traced by birds in the sky. Now Bou has released a video extension of the project, which shows the paths of starlings wheeling & swerving through the sky in huge groups called murmurations. Soothing soundtrack by Kristina Dutton. (via dunstan orchard)

Let’s Go for a Stroll Outside

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah Pavis (who has guest edited here in the past) shared some of her favorite YouTubers that post videos of themselves walking around as a way to ease our lack of mobility during the pandemic quarantine. (Remember walking around outside among other people? Ahh, those were the days…)

Most of these are of city walks, the kind of walking I miss most acutely.1 Some of the videos are narrated, but most contain just ambient city noise. You can find lots more walks, including those in more natural settings, by searching YouTube for “4K walks”, “binaural walks”, or similar terms.

See also Virtual Travel Photography in the Age of Pandemic.

  1. Here in Vermont, I feel very lucky that we have access to plentiful uncrowded outdoor spaces to exercise in. And our statewide shelter-in-place order allows people to leave the house for exercise (which is essential for many people’s physical and mental health).

Concatenation

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2020

Concatenation is a Rube Goldberg-esque video montage made up of cleverly arranged stock video footage. This is one of those things where I’m like, “ugh this is so good, why didn’t I think of this?” See also this clipart animation:

(via waxy)

Update: The music video for Cassius’ Go Up uses a similar technique of juxtaposing stock videos. (via @endquote)

Grocery Store Worker Offers Suggestions for Staying Safe While Shopping During the Pandemic

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2020

Rebecca Marquardt works at a grocery store and has some tips/suggestions/requests for grocery shoppers on how to keep themselves and grocery store employees healthy while shopping during the pandemic.

1. Make an organized shopping list so you can get in and out.
2. Stock up (DON’T hoard) so you don’t have to come in as often.
3. Go to the bathroom at home.
4. Sanitize your hands right before you enter the store.
4 1/2. Forgot when I filmed — wipe down the shopping cart/basket.
5. Touch only what you need to.
6. Maintain space between you, other customers, AND employees.
7. Ask if we’d like you to bag your own groceries.
8. Wash your reusable bags!
9. Sanitize your hands when you leave the store.

Are people serious with #3?! Jesus. I know it can be difficult to think of something as simple and ubiquitous as grocery shopping as requiring forethought, but these are not normal times. Make a plan and stick to it. The goal is to minimize your exposure (to keep yourself and workers safe) while getting necessary supplies. Marquardt’s list is really good, but I’d add a few more things based on common sense & policies I’ve seen at other stores:

1. Send only one person per family to do the shopping. And especially don’t bring your kids into the store.
2. Wear a mask.
3. Take only what you absolutely need into the store — no big purses or bags if you can help it. Use a paper shopping list; keep your phone in your pocket. Have your credit card out of your wallet and in a pocket for ease of use. All this minimizes the things you touch and need to potentially disinfect later.

Again, I know it feels completely idiotic to have to think about going to the store like you’re Serena Williams prepping for a Grand Slam final. It seems like an overreaction. But as Williams would probably be the first to tell you, preparation and careful execution of a plan are things that can help you feel more confident, comfortable, and in control about a potentially stressful event. We owe it to Marquardt and other store workers to keep them safe during all of this while they work to keep us fed and stocked with essentials. (via digg)

Chris Ware’s Moving Pandemic-Themed Cover for the New Yorker

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2020

Chris Ware Covid-19

This is Chris Ware’s illustration for the cover of this week’s New Yorker, the magazine’s annual Health Issue. The pandemic had to be the topic for the cover, and Ware’s daughter suggested that the specific theme focus on the families of the healthcare workers on the front lines of the crisis.

“As a procrastination tactic, I sometimes ask my fifteen-year-old daughter what the comic strip or drawing I’m working on should be about — not only because it gets me away from my drawing table but because, like most kids of her generation, she pays attention to the world. So, while sketching the cover of this Health Issue, I asked her.

“‘Make sure it’s about how most doctors have children and families of their own,’ she said.

“Good idea. And a personal one: one of her friend’s parents are both doctors; that friend, now distilled into a rectangular puddle of light on my daughter’s nightstand, reported that her mom had temporarily stopped going to work, pending the results of a COVID-19 test.

People Behave More Cooperatively During Disasters

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2020

I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a few weeks now, so I was glad to find this short but meaty Twitter thread by Dan Gardner about how people react in a crisis: they get more cooperative, not less.

Please remember: The idea that when disaster strikes people panic and social order collapses is very popular. It is also a myth. A huge research literature shows disaster makes people *more* pro-social. They cooperate. They support each other. They’re better than ever.

But the myth matters because it can lead people to take counterproductive actions and adopt policies. The simple truth is we are a fantastically social species and threats only fuel our instinct to pro-social behaviour.

Incidentally, this point is made, and is forgotten, after every disaster. Remember 9/11? Everyone was astonished that snarling, greedy, individualistic New Yorkers were suddenly behaving like selfless saints. No need for surprise. That’s humanity. That’s how we roll.

A reader suggested I check out Rebecca Solnit’s writing on the topic, and indeed she wrote an entire book in 2010 about this: A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. Solnit recently spoke to CBC Radio about her research.

I had learned by reading the oral histories of the 1906 earthquake, and by reading the wonderful disaster sociologists in a field that begins in part with Samuel Prince, looking at the Halifax Explosion in 1917 … that actually in disasters, most people are altruistic, brave, communitarian, generous and deeply creative in rescuing each other, creating the conditions for success of survival and often creating these little disaster utopias where everyone feels equal. Everyone feels like a participant.

It’s like a reset, when you turn the machine on and off and on again, that our basic default setting is generous and communitarian and altruistic. But what’s shocking is the incredible joy people often seem to have, when they describe that sense of purpose, connection, community agency they found. It speaks to how deeply we desire something we mostly don’t have in everyday life. That’s a kind of social, public love and power, above and beyond the private life.

I’ve put this 2016 episode of On Being with Solnit on my to-listen list.

The amazing thing about the 1989 earthquake — it was an earthquake as big as the kind that killed thousands of people in places like Turkey and Mexico City, and things like that. But partly, because we have good infrastructure, about 50 people died, a number of people lost their homes, everybody was shaken up. But what was so interesting for me was that people seemed to kind of love what was going on.

That same year in the aftermath of the election, she wrote an essay called How to Survive a Disaster.

I landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, shortly after a big hurricane tore up the city in October of 2003. The man in charge of taking me around told me about the hurricane-not the winds at more than a hundred miles an hour that tore up trees, roofs, telephone poles, not the seas that rose nearly ten feet, but the neighbors. He spoke of the few days when everything was disrupted and lit up with happiness as he did so. In his neighborhood all the people had come out of their houses to speak with each other, aid each other, to improvise a community kitchen, make sure the elders were okay, and spend time together, no longer strangers. “Everybody woke up the next morning and everything was different,” he mused. “There was no electricity, all the stores were closed, no one had access to media. The consequence was that everyone poured out into the street to bear witness. Not quite a street party, but everyone out at once-it was a sense of happiness to see everybody even though we didn’t know each other.” His joy struck me powerfully.

More reading material on this, via Gardner: Disaster Mythology and Fact: Hurricane Katrina and Social Attachment, Psychological disaster myths in the perception and management of mass emergencies, There Goes Hurricane Florence; Here Come the Disaster Myths, and 5 Most Common (and Most Dangerous) Disaster Myths.

Note: A version of this post first appeared in Noticing, the kottke.org newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Some Good News with John Krasinski

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 31, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, John Krasinski thought it would be worthwhile to pause and take note of some good news happening in the world in this new YouTube series. As Andy Baio noted, this hewed so closely to Ze Frank’s The Show that I kept expecting to hear him call viewers “speed racers” and ask us to make an Earth sandwich. Keep your eyes peeled for a small The Office reunion with a certain regional manager via Zoom.

Minimal Pics

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2020

Marcus Cederberg

Marcus Cederberg

Marcus Cederberg

I don’t know about you, but Marcus Cederberg’s minimalist photography has a soothing effect on me. Check out his Instagram for the newest stuff.

You Probably Should Be Wearing a Face Mask if You Can

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2020

Wear A Mask

Have you been wearing a face mask when going out in public recently? There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether they are effective in keeping people safe from COVID-19 infection, and it’s been really challenging to find good information. After reading several things over the past few days, I have concluded that wearing a mask in public is a helpful step I can take to help keep myself and others safe, with the important caveat that healthcare workers need access to masks before the rest of us (see below). In particular, I found this extensive review of the medical and scientific literature on mask & respirator use helpful, including why research on mask efficacy is so hard to do and speculation on why the CDC and WHO generally don’t recommend wearing them.

I was able to find one study like this outside of the health care setting. Some people with swine flu travelled on a plane from New York to China, and many fellow passengers got infected. Some researchers looked at whether passengers who wore masks throughout the flight stayed healthier. The answer was very much yes. They were able to track down 9 people who got sick on the flight and 32 who didn’t. 0% of the sick passengers wore masks, compared to 47% of the healthy passengers. Another way to look at that is that 0% of mask-wearers got sick, but 35% of non-wearers did. This was a significant difference, and of obvious applicability to the current question.

See also this review of relevant scientific literature, this NY Times piece, this Washington Post opinion piece by Jeremy Howard (who is on a Twitter mission to get everyone to wear masks):

When historians tally up the many missteps policymakers have made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the senseless and unscientific push for the general public to avoid wearing masks should be near the top.

The evidence not only fails to support the push, it also contradicts it. It can take a while for official recommendations to catch up with scientific thinking. In this case, such delays might be deadly and economically disastrous. It’s time to make masks a key part of our fight to contain, then defeat, this pandemic. Masks effective at “flattening the curve” can be made at home with nothing more than a T-shirt and a pair of scissors. We should all wear masks — store-bought or homemade — whenever we’re out in public.

At the height of the HIV crisis, authorities did not tell people to put away condoms. As fatalities from car crashes mounted, no one recommended avoiding seat belts. Yet in a global respiratory pandemic, people who should know better are discouraging Americans from using respiratory protection.

I have to admit that I have not been wearing a mask out in public — I’ve been to the grocery store only three times in the past two weeks, I go at off-hours, and it’s rural Vermont, so there’s not actually that many people about (e.g. compared to Manhattan). But I’m going to start wearing one in crowded places (like the grocery store) because doing so could a) safeguard others against my possible infection (because asymptomatic people can still be contagious), b) make it less likely for me to get infected, and c) provide a visible signal to others in my community to normalize mask wearing. As we’ve seen in epidemic simulations, relatively small measures can have outsize effects in limiting later infections & deaths, and face masks, even if a tiny bit effective, can have a real impact.

Crucially, the available research and mask advocates stress the importance of wearing masks properly and responsibly. Here are some guidelines I compiled about responsible mask usage:

So that’s what I’ve personally concluded from all my reading. I hope wearing masks can help keep us a little safer during all of this.

Update: From Ferris Jabr at Wired, It’s Time to Face Facts, America: Masks Work.

It is unequivocally true that masks must be prioritized for health care workers in any country suffering from a shortage of personal protective equipment. But the conflicting claims and guidelines regarding their use raise three questions of the utmost urgency: Do masks work? Should everyone wear them? And if there aren’t enough medical-grade masks for the general public, is it possible to make a viable substitute at home? Decades of scientific research, lessons from past pandemics, and common sense suggest the answer to all of these questions is yes.

Update: The Atlantic’s Ed Yong weighs in on masks:

In Asia, masks aren’t just shields. They’re also symbols. They’re an affirmation of civic-mindedness and conscientiousness, and such symbols might be important in other parts of the world too. If widely used, masks could signal that society is taking the pandemic threat seriously. They might reduce the stigma foisted on sick people, who would no longer feel ashamed or singled out for wearing one. They could offer reassurance to people who don’t have the privilege of isolating themselves at home, and must continue to work in public spaces. “My staff have also mentioned that having a mask reminds them not to touch their face or put a pen in their mouth,” Bourouiba noted.

He also writes about something I’ve been wondering about: is the virus airborne, what does that even mean, when will we know for sure, and how should that affect our behavior in the meantime?

These particles might not even have been infectious. “I think we’ll find that like many other viruses, [SARS-CoV-2] isn’t especially stable under outdoor conditions like sunlight or warm temperatures,” Santarpia said. “Don’t congregate in groups outside, but going for a walk, or sitting on your porch on a sunny day, are still great ideas.”

You could tie yourself in knots gaming out the various scenarios that might pose a risk outdoors, but Marr recommends a simple technique. “When I go out now, I imagine that everyone is smoking, and I pick my path to get the least exposure to that smoke,” she told me. If that’s the case, I asked her, is it irrational to hold your breath when another person walks past you and you don’t have enough space to move away? “It’s not irrational; I do that myself,” she said. “I don’t know if it makes a difference, but in theory it could. It’s like when you walk through a cigarette plume.”

And from the WHO, here’s a video on how to wear a mask properly.