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Posts for April 2, 2020

Wear a Mask! And Celebrate Your Immune System

Yesterday’s XKCD “Pathogen Resistance” turns things round and shows the current crisis from the point of view of the virus. It is genius. And even has a Watchmen reference in the mouseover text.1

But more importantly, and unrelated: it turns out that wearing a mask — any kind, even just a scarf– will help to reduce the spread of the virus. This is contrary to what we were told initially, but it makes complete sense even without technical analysis. Anything coming between someone else’s droplets and your lungs, or your droplets and someone else’s lungs, is better than nothing coming between them.

It’s like wearing a cycling helmet: I’ve always thought that something between my head and the ground, should I come off, is better than nothing.

And there are designs online for making masks out of any old cloth. I feel #blessed that my daughter has an A-level in textiles and a sewing machine.

On the question of masks, though, something has been confusing me since this all started. And to an extent, before that, really, when I’d occasionally see people out and about wearing what appeared to be a hospital-style mask. Which is, where did people get such things? How did they come to have what looked like professional medical supplies in their private possession? Aren’t these things controlled?

Clearly not, for the last one. And I wondered why? Why did people have them? Now, that seems like a foolish question. And it ignores the cultural differences, whereby in parts of Asia it’s considered rude not to wear a mask if you are sick. Makes sense, though I always wonder how horrible it is if you sneeze while wearing one.


  1. “We’re not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.” 

The Big Short, 2015 - ★★½

You might come out of this film with a better understanding of the events that led to the 2008 financial crisis — or you might not. More likely, I think, you’ll sort-of understand it while you’re watching, but be none the wiser when it’s all over.

The question of what happened is explained, but not the one of how it was allowed to happen.

But i think the problem with this as a movie is that it tries to dramatise the events, using versions of some of the real people involved as characters; but it doesn’t go far enough in that. We don’t see anything of their lives outside of their financial dealings, so it fails to humanise them sufficiently. As characters, I ended up just finding them tiresome.

To really help us to understand the whole thing, it would need to be a documentary, and that would have been harder to sell. So by not quite being enough of one thing or the other, it fails at both.

See in Letterboxd