Bookmarked How Masks Went From Don’t-Wear to Must-Have During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Wired)

Floridians were screaming at their city councils that their rules on wearing masks were part of a 5G/pedophilia conspiracy that involved “the devil’s laws.” A discredited documentary, widely spread on social media, wrongly claimed that masks actually made people sick, or cut off their air supply. Some anti-mask conservatives co-opted the rallying cry of the abortion rights movement—“my body, my choice”—to defend their anti-mask-ness. People who believe that the whole pandemic is some kind of left-wing hoax (it is not) declined to wear masks. Mask use somehow got tied up in the heady, conspiratorial brew of rugged individualism, 5G paranoia, and anti-vax sentiment. They became symbols of an insidious, freedom-sapping plot.

Megan Molteni and Adam Rogers dive into the world of masks and how there place in confronting the current pandemic has changed. The current hope is that mask wearing maybe enough to get RO under 1.

Based on the available evidence, his team estimates that near-universal mask wearing could cut transmission by as much as a third. Would that be enough to turn back the record-smashing tide of new cases breaking across large parts of the US? Probably, says Murray. It will depend on exactly how fast local outbreaks are growing. The reproduction number, or R0 (pronounced R-naught), is a measure of how many people one contagious person infects. If R0 is higher than 1, cases will grow exponentially. If it’s below 1, an outbreak will shrink. In places like Brazil, where a chaotic response and lack of social distancing measures has led to an R0 trending above 1.3, a mask mandate likely won’t be enough to bring cases under control. But Murray says the US still has a chance.

It is interesting to read this investigation alongside Maciej Ceglowski’s post. I think what stands out is that other than slight inconvenience, what is lost?

Liked The Pandemic’s Worst-Case Scenario Is Unfolding in Brazil

Brazil has nowhere near the medical resources to handle a second wave of cases—let alone the first, which is still expanding, spreading along bus routes and waterways deep into the interior. To make matters worse, July, August, and September are winter months in the southern hemisphere, potentially bringing an even faster uptick in infections. Researchers at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro estimate cases could reach 1.4 million before the end of June, bringing the death toll to almost 60,000. By mid-July, says the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Brazil will overtake the U.S. in per-capita fatalities.

Replied to Your coronavirus COVID-19 questions. Tell us what you want to know and we’ll find the answers
I received the following SMS message and was a little confused:

From the Chief Health Officer. COVID-19 teams doorknocking in your area. Stay safe. Get tested today. For more information

Is the answer to the current Coronavirus situation in Melbourne to test suburbs adjacent to those that have been put into lock down? Or is the government simply pinging a phone tower which would cover a range of suburbs and postcodes?

Bookmarked Revenge of the Suburbs (The Atlantic)

There was always comfort to be found in a big house on a plot of land that’s your own. The relief is even more soothing with a pandemic bearing down on you. And as the novel coronavirus graduates from acute terror to long-term malaise, urbanites are trapped in small apartments with little or no outdoor space, reliant on mass transit that now seems less like a public service and more like a rolling petri dish. Meanwhile, suburbanites have protected their families amid the solace of sprawling homes on large, private plots, separated from the neighbors, and reachable only by the safety of private cars. Sheltered from the virus in their many bedrooms, they sleep soundly, dreaming the American dream with new confidence.

Ian Bogost explains how the supposed defects of the suburban sprawl and rejection of mixed-use planning has all of the sudden become a positive.

The existing suburban McMansion might find a new life in the aftermath of the pandemic too. Although critics have deemed these homes aesthetically ghastly, inefficient, and extravagant, many families want the additional space of a suburban monstrosity to accommodate extended family, such as parents or grandparents. Multigenerational living might become even more common as the coronavirus threat and its economic consequences wear on. Colleges are still sorting out whether and how students will return to campus in the fall, and beyond. And recent graduates unable to find jobs, or unwilling to move to them, might return home for indeterminate periods of time. The exurban castle offers lots of space at an affordable price, thanks to its distance from the city.

Liked The ‘silver bullet’ for coronavirus might one day cure cancer. So how does it work? (ABC News)

Broadly speaking, there are three classes of vaccine and each has its own promises and drawbacks.

The old-school approach that can carry some risk.
The new-school approach that’s worked well before but still takes time we don’t have.
A silver bullet that’s cheap, could be produced quickly and could take us closer to a cure for cancer — but it’s never been used in humans before.

Liked I thought life was back to normal. Then a text message from a listener shut me up (

“Not everyone can afford to go out to eat. I now have to manage my kids’ disappointment when they want take away or to eat out and we can’t afford it.

Declining offers to go out to eat by making excuses because I’m embarrassed. I enjoyed ISO. It made me feel ok about not having money to spend.”

Bookmarked Taking a Long Term View During Turbulent Times (Tim Kastelle)

Here’s a talk I gave last week on some methods and benefits to thinking in the long term, even when there are urgent short term events taking up our attention.

Tim Kastelle talks about the current challenge for organisations. He said that we are living through the biggest case of confirmation bias, where if the world is going to change then it should obviously change my way. Kastelle explains that thinking is the fast and attention seeking, whereas what we need is thinking that is slow and taps into the power of change. This is captured by Jenny Odell in her book How to Do Nothing. One of the problems is that during a time of chaos, speed is more important than getting it right. However, more importantly, if you are not trying to change all the time, you cannot change on demand. This is why some organisations are are struggling.

The assumption that everything will just be the same as it always has been forever is the worst decision an organisation can make.

This is similar to a point made by Harold Jarche

Replied to Lessons of remote learning (a macgirl in a pc world)

It’s been a very interesting Term 2. We’ve settled into remote learning (as much as we can) and have built some routines around it. The exhaustion hasn’t shifted and the hours req…

Thank you for sharing your experience while teaching online Gill. It has helped me appreciate the classroom side, especially as I call schools to help them with things.

There has been a lot said about building back better and taking on some of the learnings, however the one thing that concerns me is that we take on some of those time consuming habits without recognising the additional work involved.

Listened ‘The way we get through this is together’: mutual aid under coronavirus | Rebecca Solnit from the Guardian

There is a long, rough road ahead. Without radical change, the way food, shelter, medical care and education are produced and distributed will be more unfair and more devastating than before. It seems likely that conservatives will argue for brutal austerity and libertarian abandonment of the most desperate, while the rest of us are going to have to argue for some form of post-capitalism that decouples meeting basic needs from wage labour – perhaps the kind of basic income that Spain is planning to introduce.

The devastating economic effect of the pandemic will make innovation essential, whether it is rethinking higher education or food distribution, or how to fund news media. The Green New Deal offers a model for how to move forward on jobs and leave fossil fuels behind as that sector founders and climate catastrophe looms. Protests in many fields – including nurses demanding PPE, and warehouse, delivery and food-service workers protesting against exploitative or unsafe working conditions – suggests that workers’ organisations may be gaining strength.

Bookmarked A Failure of the Imagination – COVID-19 and Catastrophe (LibrarianShipwreck)

“I have published these words in order to prevent them from becoming true. If we do not stubbornly keep in mind the strong probability of the disaster, and if we do not act accordingly, we will be …

Like Don Watson, the Librarian Shipwreck discusses the sense of optimisim that many are caught up in. This needs to be understood as being different to hope and the realisation that nothing is certain.

Optimism searches for, and finds, a silver lining in every funeral pyre and then fixates on that to the exclusion of the funeral pyre itself. It is confidence that “things will get better” based more deeply on a commitment to seeing the bright side than based on the actual state of the world. Hope, on the contrary, is not the belief that “things will get better” but the belief that “things can get better.” To be hopeful is not to be certain that things will improve, it is to refuse to accept that this is as good as it can get. If optimism says “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and pessimism retorts, “you’re right” – it is hope that responds to both by saying “a better world is possible.”

That doesn’t mean it will be easy to reach that better world, that doesn’t mean such a world can come into being without significant effort, and it also doesn’t mean that such a better world will ever actually come into being – but to hold onto hope is to remember that things do not have to be this way. However, to recognize that things do not have to be as bad as they are, you first need to be willing to fully consider how bad things are, and how much worse things can get.

Bookmarked Mining for gold…what have we discovered? And what now?

This week, students and teachers are beginning to return to school here in Australia.
return: “an act of coming or going back to a place or activity”
It’s a word I have been trying to avoid as I speak with my partner schools. Instead of thinking about it as a return to…let’s think about it…

Kath Murdoch reflects on some of the discoveries from the forced move online/offsite.  Some of her wonderings included:

  • What would happen if we offered learners the opportunity to create their timetables?
  • Can we team up to allow children to engage in independent inquiry (with one or two educators supporting them in the space) while others work with target groups across the day?
  • What if we met at the end of each day for a short, focussed reflection and thought about how we might adjust plans for tomorrow?
  • Can we build on our online experiences to use more ‘flipped’ models for home learning

Along with Riss Leung’s reflection, this provides a useful provocation for moving forward.

Personally speaking, it makes me wonder about some of the lengths that teachers and schools have gone to during the current pandemic and the danger of turning an exception into a habit. I agree that we need to ‘build back better‘ as Steven Kolber puts it, however we also need to identify what we take off the plate to sustain such change.

On another note, Murdoch speaks about the call to ‘go home’

I recall many years ago, listening to Allan Luke talk about how hard it can be to sustain change in schools. He described the ‘lure of home’ … the longing we have even unconsciously, to ‘go home’ to the safety and comfort of what we know. I can feel it in myself as I have ventured out into this new world of online workshops. There are days when I long for ‘home’ (which, ironically for me was NOT being at home!) and then other days when I am relishing the adventure, the discomfort and all I am learning.

This reminded me of what John Goh’s discussion of our tendency to go back to our ‘default’.

In Episode 7 of the TER Podcast on ‘Engagement’, John Goh spoke about the ‘default’ value that we all have as teachers. Formed during our training to become teachers, it lays the foundation for the way we teach. He suggested that the challenge is to make sure that we continually move away from that starting point.

Replied to Is It Just Me?

I work best when I am a creature of habit, when I follow set routines and focus on the task at hand. But right now I can’t find a rhythm. I set things up and follow the plan for 2-3 days then I’m doing something completely different. My systems are temporary. My plans are not realized. I set a goal, then I do tons of things related to that goal, but somehow avoid the work that needs to be done to meet that goal.

It’s not like I’m falling apart. It isn’t that I’m overwhelmed and struggling. On the contrary, things are going well right now in many ways… it’s just that my routines are out of sync. My habits are an effort. Is it just me, or are others feeling like they just can’t get into a good groove?

Definitely not just you David. As I touched upon in my newsletter:

Although I continued my sporadic reflections on space, I failed to find the time and mental space to bring together any extended thoughts and ideas.

Emily Baron Cadloff explains that the reason for our ‘fog’ is that our brains are working so hard in coping with the current crisis.

Nancy Sin, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, says that in stressful situations like this, there are physiological responses in our bodies. “Our stress hormones increase. We prepare to fight or flee,” said Sin. And as this pandemic continues and isolation drags on, “we’re having a lot of these physiological adaptations, each time we feel stressed, each time we feel worried. And over time, these repeated hits, physiologically and psychologically, can accumulate.”

That accumulation is called the allostatic load, essentially the damage on our bodies when they’re repeatedly exposed to stress. And while it feels like I’m doing nothing most days, my brain is still dealing with the anxiety and strain of this pandemic. I’m exhausted not because my body is working hard, but because my brain is.

Alternatively, James Hamblin questions whether everyone is depressed?

Feelings of numbness, powerlessness, and hopelessness are now so common as to verge on being considered normal. But what we are seeing is far less likely an actual increase in a disease of the brain than a series of circumstances that is drawing out a similar neurochemical mix. This poses a diagnostic conundrum. Millions of people exhibiting signs of depression now have to discern ennui from temporary grieving from a medical condition. Those at home Googling symptoms need to know when to seek medical care, and when it’s safe to simply try baking more bread. Clinicians, meanwhile, need to decide how best to treat people with new or worsening symptoms: to diagnose millions of people with depression, or to more aggressively treat the social circumstances at the core of so much suffering.

I remember when the idea of social isolation was mooted, people were listing all the things they could do with the extra time and space. The reality has been something vartly different. Instead it is a time to be grateful for health and safety.