’An unsolved mystery such as the Dyatlov Pass incident would no doubt rile up truthers in the United States, but the Russian obsession with the incident is above and beyond American internet-forum debates on Area 51 and the chupacabra. Whereas U.S. conspiracy theories often develop on the fringes of public life—a line that has admittedly been blurred in the Donald Trump era—conspiracy-mongering is mainstream in Russia, a country in which 57 percent of the population believes the Apollo moon landings were a hoax.…’
Thanks to Kottke for pointing to Mark O’Connell’s take on the experience of the wilderness solo, spending 24 or more hours essentially doing nothing alone in the woods:
‘When you’re actually in it, the reality of the solo is, at least at first, one of total boredom. I cannot stress enough how little there is to do when you have confined yourself to the inside of a small circle of stones and sticks in a forest. But it is an instructive kind of boredom, insofar as boredom is the raw and unmediated experience of time. It is considered best practice not to have a watch, and to turn off your phone and keep it somewhere in the bottom of a bag so as to avoid the temptation to constantly check how long you’ve been out and how long you have left. And as you become untethered from your accustomed orientation in time — from always knowing what time it is, how long you have to do the thing you’re doing, when you have to stop doing it to do the next thing — you begin to glimpse a new perspective on the anxiety that arises from that orientation. Because this anxiety, which amounts to a sort of cost-benefit analysis of every passing moment, is a quintessentially modern predicament.…’
’“This trial,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), “may be seen as a vindication of those very dangerous ideas that foreign interference can be accepted… that the president can do anything as long as his motives are to re-elect himself, and he thinks it’s in the public interest.”…’
’The World Health Organization met today and declared the coronavirus from Wuhan (2019-nCoV) a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC.
This does not mean that we’re all going to die, or that the disease is out of control. Rather, it means that the virus is crossing international borders in a way that requires countries to work together to prevent the situation from getting any worse.…’
The reality is that the woven-cloth surgical masks provide minimal protection from environmental viruses anyway. (Surgeons use them to protect patients from their mouth-borne germs, not the other way around.) But the masks’ actual prophylactic utility is, in a way, secondary to other reasons they’re being worn, which is why they’re likely to become more common in the future—even among non-Asians….
The bottom line is that in East Asia, the predilection toward using face-coverings to prevent exposure to bad air is something that predates the germ theory of disease, and extends into the very foundations of East Asian culture. In recent years, however, mask-wearing has become rooted in new and increasingly postmodern rationales…
Studies have found that among many young Japanese, masks have evolved into social firewalls; perfectly healthy teens now wear them, along with audio headsets, to signal a lack of desire to communicate with those around them. This is particularly true for young women seeking to avoid harassment on public transit, who also appreciate the relative anonymity the masks provide.
’Masks are even becoming an element of East Asian style: In Japan, surgical masks bearing chic designs or the images of cute licensed characters can be purchased in every corner drugstore, while last month at China Fashion Week, designer Yin Peng unveiled a line of “smog couture” clothese paired with a variety of masks, from Vader-esque ventilators to whole-head riot-gear rebreathers.…’