The masks we've worn

Francesca Magnani wrote about her ongoing photo project, documenting people wearing masks and the reasons behind them (besides the pandemic of course):

With a background in classics and anthropology I have long been interested in issues of identity and self-representation and in how people live and manage everyday challenges. As a street photographer I have followed with curiosity how people cope with the pandemic, dealing with the unknown. I was here on September 11 and during Sandy’s aftermath, and last March I saw in people’s expressions and movement their anguish, their incredulity, and confusion that matched my own. I walked around different New York neighborhoods every day and noticed the progression in more and more people starting to wear their feelings on pieces of decorated cloth.

[…] This small object has become a symbol of this time. Some images from the series have recently been acquired by the Smithsonian Museum as part of the first set of multiple pandemic-related digital acquisitions. Two COVID-19 related photographs are part of New York Responds: The First Six Months at the Museum of the City of New York, and one (May 10) mask was part of the #ICPconcerned group show.

Donate to the TLF Freelance Emergency Fund

My dear friend Keidra is the co-founder of The Learned Fangirl and they have an emergency fund for freelancers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More info:

As a small indie publisher, The Learned Fangirl has always been committed to uplifting the voices of writers from marginalized groups.

The COVID-19 outbreak has made times especially difficult for freelance writers. Many have not been paid for outstanding invoices or no longer have work coming in for pay. We want to help in any way we can to support rent, food, utilities, and other needs.

In partnership with our nonprofit fiscal sponsor Independent Arts & Media, The Learned Fangirl has created the TLF Freelance Emergency Fund to support freelance culture writers who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Our priority is arts and culture writers who self-identify as being from a marginalized identity (ex. person of color, Indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ)

As the fund is running low at the moment, I urge you to donate if you’re in a position to do so as freelance writing is hard at the best of times. It would help a lot of writers from marginalised groups continue working and give us the best cultural pieces we’ve ever written.

Donate to the TLF Freelance Emergency Fund today.

Places I want to go when it's safe

A plane wing above clouds in the sky

COVID-19 has ruined a lot of things and while people are still travelling for their own reasons, holidays shouldn’t be one of them. And so I’m staying home until it’s safe to travel for that reason.

But when I can, I hope to visit these 5 cities at some point.

Lisbon, Portugal

I visited Lisbon for the first time in 2017 for my birthday and it was a revelation. I’ve never felt so comfortable in a new city in my life. The food was awesome, the architecture was breathtaking, and it cleansed my soul. I returned in 2018 but I’ve not been back since (I went to Nice to spend time with my parents for my 30th birthday).

It’s my mission to go back as soon as it’s safe and legal to fly.

Nice, France

It helps that my parents live there now but before that, I’d visited with my parents on holiday a few times, and my then-partner in 2015. Another Mediterranean city, it’s gorgeous in the summer, lovely food again, and more great architecture as well as a cool modern art museum featuring works by the likes of Yves Klein.

Leeds, UK

I was born in Bradford but never really spent time in Leeds besides the carnival as a kid. In my adult years, I’ve been a few times and it’s a really nice city. My last visit was last year for a solo Valentine’s vacay and my hotel was kind enough to do this:

Shout out Clayton Hotel. I will be back soon!

Chicago, USA

Last visit: July 2012. I went to see friends and, prior to Lisbon, it was my favourite city in the world. It still holds a place in my heart and I hope once it’s safe in all aspects of the word, I would like to go back and see my friends.

Tokyo, Japan

This is the only city on the list I’ve never visited but it’s on the proverbial bucket list. Besides experiencing the culture, trying the food, and taking lots of photos, I want all the Pokémon things and all the Game Boy things. And some vinyl. I’ll probably need £1000–£2000 spending money and an extra suitcase and I’m not joking.

Related: Photography by Liam Wong in Tokyo and Japan travel tips for first timers

(Un)productivity or death?

dinos and comics is “a comic about depressed dinosaurs who find hope in each other”. I follow the Twitter account and find their comics light-hearted and amusing.

Today’s comic was particularly clever with the white dinosaur giving Rainbow T-Rex the mantras of capitalism (productivity or death), COVID (unproductivity or death), and the government (simply death).

Sounds about right.

For previous entries, follow @dinoman_j on Twitter and dinosandcomics on Instagram.

Talking loud and spreadin' COVID

a person shouting

Language Log found a 2019 science paper that offers a different angle on airborne transmission of COVID-19.

Titled “Aerosol emission and superemission during human speech increase with voice loudness”, the paper comments on sneezing and coughing having a traditionally emphasised role in the airborne spread but speech is just as bad, if not worse when speech gets louder.

Nonetheless, it has long been known that normal speech also yields large quantities of particles that are too small to see by eye, but are large enough to carry a variety of communicable respiratory pathogens. Here we show that the rate of particle emission during normal human speech is positively correlated with the loudness (amplitude) of vocalization, ranging from approximately 1 to 50 particles per second (0.06 to 3 particles per cm³) for low to high amplitudes, regardless of the language spoken (English, Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic).

So don’t shout and bawl, but if you must, wear a mask while you do it.

Nancy is not a fan of virtual schooling

A Nancy comic about virtual schooling

Today’s Nancy comic was very much “classic Nancy”. Kids in the US have gone back to school and while some of them are conducting class in person, other schools are doing them virtually.

In this comic, Nancy and her two classmates were asked to answer a question from their teacher but none of them wanted to. The teacher reminded them that if nobody answered, she’d call someone at random and that’s when Nancy’s quick thinking kicked in.

If you missed our other Nancy features, you can read about her mother’s meta to-do list and a puzzling comic from a few weeks ago.

P.S. Stay safe out there and keep social distancing.

Dom Griffin's Guide To Quarantine Movie Binging

Dom Griffin's Guide To Quarantine Movie Binging

I don’t like movie critics.

In fact, I’m not a fan of any kind of critic. It isn’t because they have differing opinions from mine—I’m grown enough to accept not everyone likes the stuff I do— but the unnecessarily verbose language and a strong belief in their own sauce are off-putting. But Dom Griffin is one of my favourite exceptions.

If you don’t know, Dom is a film critic who runs The Armchair Auteur, a video project that covers weekly reviews, old and new, rants and video essays about film and film-adjacent pop culture. I’ve known him for quite a few years and his critiques have piqued my interest in films I never would have considered otherwise.

For this video, Dom gives his beginner’s guide to movie binging during quarantine. I managed 60 films in 2019 which is more than I expected but Dom was out here watching 611 last year (according to Letterboxd). How did he do it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

But one tip he gives early on is: watch shorter films, particularly around the 90–100 minute mark. It sounds obvious but it makes sense if you want to run through a larger quantity of movies. You’re also more likely to finish it even if you’re not 100% into it. Nobody wants to commit to a 4-hour movie and realise it sucks halfway in. That’s 2 hours you can’t get back.

For more helpful tips, stream Dom’s guide below and please subscribe to his channel.

The Beginner's Guide To Quarantine Movie Binging

The Toilet Paper Calculator

Toilet roll that says it's the end of the roll as we know it

The hoarding of toilet paper seems to have died down, at least in comparison to March. But for those who didn’t panic buy multipacks of the stuff, you might want to economise when you get some. Enter the Toilet Paper Calculator.

Created by Nathan Yau, the Toilet Paper Calculator takes four inputs based on:

  • How many people live in your home
  • How many times each person wipes per day
  • How many sheets they use per wipe
  • How many sheets per roll of your toilet paper of choice

Are these personal questions? Hell yeah. But do they really need to be asked? Hell yeah; this is your money and the environment we’re talking about. The toilet paper calculator is there to help you get no more toilet roll than you actually need and stop those repeat offenders who use big wads for one wipe.

But if this sounds like TMI (tedious mathematical information), you could try one of Nathan’s mentioned alternatives to toilet paper including:

  • Bidet — a common bathroom installation in mainland Europe
  • Rags or old socks — “Wash after each use.”
  • Leaves — “Probably bigger ones are better. I cannot speak from experience.”
  • Some other water source — “Use a squirt bottle or spray bottle.”

I don’t recommend you use leaves for the sake of your health and your pipes. If all else fails, use your hand, wash it for 40 seconds, and don’t tell anyone. We already know too much about people who don’t wash their legs in the shower. Another good reason for social distancing I suppose.

How should you social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A crowd of people - something to avoid during social distancing

I’ve tried to avoid writing about COVID-19 because there are bigger and better publications doing it (and doing it better than I ever could). But I wanted to share something I found interesting for me and could be for you.

By now, you’ll have heard of the term “social distancing”. It relates to the reduction of social interaction in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That means things like not congregating in crowded public spaces (eg. coffee shops, book stores, shopping malls, city centres) and avoiding public transport but only if you can. Many people still have to work and aren’t in a position to avoid such environments so it’s pointless to tell them to cut that out when there isn’t an alternative (stupid capitalism).

How Should You Social Distance? l FiveThirtyEight

Above is a video made by FiveThirtyEight which gives an answer to the question “what does ‘social distancing’ mean?”. FiveThirtyEight’s Senior Science Writer, Maggie Koerth gave her views on social distancing and what she has been doing.

I have a son and I’ve struggled with what to do when I’ve not had him as we don’t live together. The video reassured me and confirmed some of the things I was already doing were correct (not being around loads of people, basically).

And it’s something we should all do. So if you’re reading, and you don’t have to be out and about… stay in.