The simplest approach that could possibly work (in the short term)

Everybody should wear masks pretty much all the time, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. This is by far the most important thing.

The virus is respiratory. It has to be transported out of one person’s respiratory system and into another person’s respiratory system. The keys are breath and spit on side, mouth, nose, and lungs on the other. The mantra is respiration.

There are endless pathways for the virus. But almost all travel outbound from the mouth and nose and arrive into the mouth and nose. We cannot block all the other paths at sufficient depth and at a global scale. But we can block off the mouths and noses.

Masks are not perfect, of course. Of course. I’m not unaware and I’m not ignoring this. But masks do make a big difference.

Take this article:

It’s advocating against masks in a way that seems authoritative but is really fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Be afraid of FUD. You can never be sure about FUD. I’m skeptical about the value of FUD.

Maybe masks won’t work, but maybe they will. We have lots to gain and little to lose.

Virologists don’t seem to think masks will protect people from airborne viruses, mostly because there’s no evidence to prove they’re effective. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told NPR, “There really are no good, solid, reliable data.”

Science is good, but it’s absence is not a good argument to abandon common sense. Spit is the vector. Masks stop 90+% of spit from traveling.

Masks are often ill-fitting or too loose over the face, offer no real filter and leave eyes exposed. Since most viruses are airborne, this offers little protection. It

Entering via the eyes presents a long and difficult pathway to the respiratory system. Nose and mouth are where the air comes in.

“Ill-fitting or too loose” is half-assed science, suitable for half-ass science in response: virus particles aren’t determined secret agents trying to worm their way in. When stuff is in the way they get stuck like anything else. If some make it past, that probably doesn’t negate the benefit of stopping the rest. Perfection is the enemy of the good. Good is good.

It’s also fairly impractical to wear a mask for prolonged periods of time, so any potential benefits may be negated by the difficulty of use.

Let’s make masks that we can wear more. Let’s work on our habits. This is an approachable problem which we can tackle from the ground up.

While masks may offer an additional line of defense against certain illnesses, most experts agree the best way to prevent infection is good, old-fashioned handwashing.

Handwashing is a backline in defense in depth. There is spit in the air. It settles on a surface. You touch it. It gets onto your hands. You touch your face. The infection somehow makes its way to your mouth or nose. It goes down the windpipe instead of the esophagus. Ok, yes, this is a valid defense, but its weak as hell. Airborne breath and spit are the main attackers.

While masks may not be effective in protecting against airborne viruses, many experts believe they’re helpful in protecting against hand-to-mouth transmissions. That means they’ll protect against splashes from others’ coughs or sneezes. Masks will also likely reduce the chances of spreading infection from your hands coming in contact with your nose or mouth. According to the BBC, a New South Wales study conducted in 2016 showed that people touched their faces approximately 23 times per hour.

This is precisely my point.

Let’s consider the worst possible masks, a handkerchief tied over the face. The virus is much smaller than the gaps in the surface of the cloth and can easily pass through. Even so, if someone wearing a handkerchief sneezes, most of the liquid and vapor is caught. You can tell because the cloth becomes moist. Some corona escapes, but most stays put. On the receiving end of the sneeze, most of the virus lands on surfaces rather than being inhaled while airborne, and a person who gets corona on their hands can’t pick their nose, thereby inserting the virus into their respiratory system. They can’t put their finger inside their mouth. They can’t touch the skin of their face, and if they do touch their mask then they can put on a new mask more easily than they can wash their face with soap. And even the worst mask will catch some airborne particles.

There is a mask shortage, but that is an easy problem to solve. Very very easy. And in the meantime handkerchiefs are an improvement.

This is a method that can be done on a global scale. It is not feasible to have eight billion people stay home. They have to go out to make a living. Many have no home, or their home is too crowded to be safe. It is not feasible to stop touching our own faces – that is not going to happen.

Jails can do this: every inmate should wear a mask whenever they are awake. Daycares can do it: every kid can wear a mask all day. People on crowded buses can do it.

Just masks masks masks. Masks masks masks. Masks masks masks masks masks masks. Masks.

But is it possible? I don’t want to wear a mask while sitting alone at my desk, in my private workroom with the door closed. As simple as this is, can we do it?

What we can do to get started is sewing and evangelism. Let’s sew masks. Let’s have mask events where every person – including kids – is wearing a mask. Let’s post our cool personalized masks to Instagram.

The Trumpian plan to shift blame to China

Trump’s strategy for getting re-elected despite fucking up royally on the coronavirus is to blame the Chinese.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow at a rapid pace in the U.S., the White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” and creating a global pandemic, according to two U.S. officials and a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast. The cable, sent to State Department officials Friday, lays out in detail the circumstances on the ground in China, including data on coronavirus cases and deaths, the local business environment and transportation restrictions. But it also issues guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China.

President Oedipus

Will American voters blame the don for C19? He is the natural target from a mythological point of view.

To end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible.

Obviously, the don and his sycophants are making things much worse than necessary. But that’s not why they will be blamed. Voters will do it to satisfy a primal pattern. If there is no goat it is the king who must die.

Republicans need to find another target for the mob ASAP. China is their best candidate, hence the attempt to rebrand COVID 19 as the Chinese virus.

Update: racism is a powerful tool for scapegoating. The day after that bully tweet about the Chinese virus we have a blowup of “ku flu” coming from the trumpists.

This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.

Coronavirus Lockdown Day 1

Schools closed yesterday. The kids are excited about the takehome learning prepared by their teachers. This will pass.

I emailed a couple of playdate requests – to Lloyd’s dad for Liam, to Wyatt’s mom for Noah – and got no reply. They are wiser parents than me.

My wife Karen is getting organized to teach the kids at home.

I finished the I played Molly in the Wood on guitar for an improbably long time for such a brief scrap of a song.

If my family lived in the woods or on a desert island instead of a big city this would all make sense. I am trying to convince the kids we are living in Swiss Family Robinson.

C19 Tips

The cliches about avoiding the coronavirus, like washing your hands, just don’t address all the niche problems that come up. The article I Spent A Day In Coronavirus Awareness Mode. Epidemiologists, How Did I Do has info that I wanted to condense and summarize for my own benefit, and while I was doing that I thought I’d share.

Don’t be in close quarters with people, like eating at the salad bar, going to the movie theater and getting in a taxi or a rideshare.

If you have to be somewhere risky, like a hotel room where a person with coronavirus was staying, leave it empty for a few days. Coronavirus can live on surfaces for days.

Don’t bother breathing through a cloth, like your shirt, to protect yourself from airborne particles exhaled by others. An N95 respirator might work.

Don’t go to gathering places like the movies. Stay home or go out for a personal activity like a walk.

Instead of social transportation like rideshare or bus, bike or drive.

Wipe down high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and shared phones.

If you can’t avoid touching a shared object like a doorknob and you can’t wipe it down, touch it with a tissue or pen.

If you can’t wash your hands before eating, avoid touching the food. You could your muffin on the table and eat face-first, or you could find less silly methods like holding the packaging up to your mouth.

On Titan

You know how Superman would have been just a normal person on Krypton, but on Earth, he could fly? Titan’s gravity is much lower than Earth’s. At the same time the atmosphere is dense enough for wings to work.

Becoming airborne on Titan is much easier than on Earth, and people who could run fast enough to take off may even be able to fly like birds using nothing more than wingsuits.
You on Earth. Good luck, kid.
You on Titan. That’s more like it.

Gerontocracy meets the Gerondemic

Humans are predisposed to see events in narratives, whether or not it makes sense. Astrology has thrived for thousands of years without any basis in fact.

There is no factual relationship between the advanced age of the three remaining candidates (Sanders, Biden, and Trump) and the way that COVID-19 targets the old, but there is a narrative.

With an age of 70 years, seven months and seven days at his inauguration, Donald Trump is the oldest-ever first-term president of the United States. And should he succeed in his 2020 re-election bid, he’ll be closing in on his 75th birthday. The 2016 race for the White House was the greyest to date, with the Democrats fielding 69-year-old Hilary Clinton. And 2020 appears to be shaping up as more of an assisted walk, with former Vice-President Joe Biden, currently 76, and Bernie Sanders, age 77, leading the crowded Democratic field.

Anxiety in an aging Congress as coronavirus marches across U.S.:

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are becoming increasingly anxious about coronavirus, and there is growing pressure on leadership to take steps to protect lawmakers — even potentially recessing for a period of weeks — two Democratic congressional sources said Sunday.

Pareidolia (/pærɪˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. Pareidolia can be considered a subcategory of apophenia. Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, the Man in the Moon, the Moon rabbit, and other lunar pareidolia.

Kondoizing News Rage

Luis Villa has made changes to his social media patterns to adapt to the current madness:

I’m a political junkie, perhaps in some ways more now than ever. And yet, I’m posting very little about the 2020 election on Twitter. An old friend with similar political compulsions asked how I’m doing it. The answer is ironically too long for Twitter, so here goes.

Surviving 2020 on Twitter

I won’t quote all of the good stuff here. Go there.

For myself I have created a pseudonymous account on Twitter and moved all my political follows to it. When I want politics I switch.

This lets me compartmentalize. I can turn politics mode on or off.

Since I’m not reading politics in my main feed I’m also not writing about them there. This also lets me protect personal and business connections who don’t want my political tweets.

Via Luis I discovered a tool Marie Kondo your follows – Tokimeki Unfollow. And like him I have mainly unsubscribed from people I don’t know personally.

Dear Pink People

Dear White People, you are not so white.

Low melanin does not mean snowy skin. Your color is not alabaster. You are pink or rose.

This is not a white person

The RGB values of the actual color white are [255,255,255]. What are the colors in that skin image?

They vary from [245,223, 225] to [138,62,64]. At their lightest this person is off-white.

But even off-white is overstating the amount of whiteness in a White person. Here is a graph of the most common colors, sized by number of pixels (using

Looking at the color data in detail (same order as above):

% of imagecolor nametags
32.48%paper dollpale blossom chestnut doll eunry flare grayish mamma mia paper pink
20.80%rosy browncareys oriental rosy rosybrown tuscany brown pink
20.48%old roseold rose
16.88%cavern pinkas beauty bush candy cavern coral dust oyster storm sweet pink
9.36%copper rustcopper quickstep rust
0%whitenot the actual color of white people

Let’s look at those tags to see what they have in common from one swatch to the next. I’m looking…. Looking…. Um. The only words that reappear are rose and pink. Rose is in there twice, pink three times. So the choice is between rose and pink, and pink wins by a nose.

So, Dear Pink People,

You are not so white. I realize that pink is not as badass. Angels are white. Good guys’ cowboy hats are white. Pink is a girl color!

The truth is what it is. Own it.

In reply to Mr. Pink, the reason you are Mr. Pink is that you are pink.


A Pink Person