Day 56 – Superspreading

Not much here today, but I did enjoy the back-to-basics lessons available in this Sciencemag article.

It’s all about how certain individuals and certain situations are more likely to spread the virus than others. And while we’re not 100% sure of the reason for some people spread more virus than others:

Some people shed far more virus, and for a longer period of time, than others, perhaps because of differences in their immune system or the distribution of virus receptors in their body. A 2019 study of healthy people showed some breathe out many more particles than others when they talk… People’s behaviour also plays a role. Having many social contacts or not washing your hands makes you more likely to pass on the virus.

…it’s very much a reason that the virus gets passed on more quickly in some situations. These people don’t know they’re doing it and they don’t have a big red flashing light above their heads, but with quotes like:

“Probably about 10% of cases lead to 80% of the spread”

…if you’re not wearing a mask while you’re out and about, you’re very much part of the problem.

Especially if you are exercising. Surprise, surprise, the more energetic your breathing, the more virus you expel. So runners are the ones who are more likely to be spewing clouds of virus out. So those runners who are “unable” to cover their faces while they run because “it’s not very comfy” are potentially putting a lot of other people at risk.

Nice. Thanks, you precious, selfish twats.

As I shared just yesterday, the Washington Post described three superspreading events as being one reason why Cape Town has so many cases of Covid-19 at the moment. So there’s so much local relevance here.

But perhaps my favourite “OMG, that’s so obvious” moment was the meat-packing plant connection. Meat-packing plants are the perfect place for respiratory viruses for two reasons:
Firstly, they are cool (temperature-wise, rather than in trendiness), meaning that virus particles remain intact – and infectious – for longer, and
Secondly, because the machinery in the plants is loud and so workers have to talk more loudly to be heard. Louder voice (shouting, singing, deep breathing, panting) means you’re more likely to expel virus.

Amazingly simple. Amazingly obvious.
I love that someone actually had the sense to take it back that far.

Anyway, like I said: good article.
Wear a mask. Be lekker.

Day 54 – Planet Parade

Let’s not mention the V-word today.

Instead: how about this? I spotted this on Twitter earlier and got in touch with amateur astronomer Grant Petersen to ask if I could share the image on here.

He said yes, and so… well… here is that image:

Amazing.

These were taken using a Celestron Nexstar 8″ SCT with a focal length of 2032mm and a focal ratio of F/10, and an Orion USB camera II.
And then arranged on a smartphone.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

I am blown away by this image (hence my asking if I could put it on here), but if there is one minor (hopefully constructive) criticism I might make, it’s that there is no image of Earth. And that really should surely be one of the easiest ones to get.
I’ve got several myself. And they are lot closer up than these.

Of course, ironically, getting a shot of Earth in the same vein as these images is a great deal more difficult than even shooting Neptune, which despite being quite a large planet…

…is also a ridiculous 4.5 billion kilometres away.

 

Photo credit: Grant Petersen

Day 28 – Brilliant Ben

Tonight’s Presidential address is when we will learn if the lockdown is going to be extended again. The smart money is on yes, but really, no-one has any idea. Possibly not even Cyril himself. In fact, the only thing we can all agree on is that tonight’s speech will kick off a customary n minutes late (because if he’s on time, it’s a sign that he’s been kidnapped and replaced by a lookalike.) (Hopefully a lookalike with a bit more of a spine, but that’s another story).

To kill the time before our parole is postponed, I have been reading Ben Trovato’s latest column. You know: the one in which the author’s birthday trip to Costa Rica has been cancelled and he’s blaming everyone he can think of.

As a chronicle of the lockdown in SA, it’s so, so good:

My suburb is tightly locked down. There are snitches and curtain-twitchers in every second house. Nobody dare leave their home for fear of being named and shamed on one or other neofascist community WhatsApp group. Five kilometres down the road, the streets of the township are as busy and festive as ever. Fair play to them. I’d break a lot more than lockdown laws if I had to live in those conditions.

Life is turning into a cross between Survivor and The Hunger Games. On Survivor the tribes compete in challenges to win immunity. Here, we can’t get immunity unless we are infected with Covid-19. And we can’t get infected unless someone who already has the virus sneezes into our open mouths. But sneezing has been banned. We are also not allowed to show our mouths in public. Smoking, drinking and gambling is forbidden and police are flogging people in the streets. I think it’s safe to say that the Islamic State has accomplished at least some of its goals.

That’s all I’m sharing. Go and look at the whole thing yourself if you want more (there is plenty to go around).

Now, let’s see what this evening brings…

Day 25 – The man who stares at goats

(with apologies to Grant Heslov et al.)

There are lots of online things happening to entertain you and your family during these difficult times, but none so far has topped this one for me.

It’s only a LIVE GOAT CAM!

Really:

 

Fairview‘s goats are a big draw for the Paarl wine farm, and visitors had been missing them. No longer though, because now there is GOATCAM and you can watch the goats at play on the famous tower, on the bridge and – in my experience this morning – hiding behind stuff for ages and ages when you need to get a screenshot for your blog post. All with an empty car park backdrop.

You may also spot Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) and occasionally – Delivery Trucks (Transportia cheesum).

It’s rather addictive. Have fun.

Passport pics

I like this. Passport photographs by photographer Max Siedentopf.

Those boring, officious, unsmiling pictures we all have to have. Full of rules, regulations and mundanity. Until Max got involved, that is:

Because the face in the little travel document doesn’t always have to tell you what’s going on out of frame.

A really novel idea and a properly creative extension of something we see everyday into a cool project.