Ephemera LXXIX: Nothing will stop the funk

A typhoon named “Pelosi” [Ryan Broderick at Garbage Day]

Taiwanese social media is not taking the visit by Nancy Pelosi, and concomitant threat of annihilation by China, seriously. The island nation is frequently threatened by typhoons, and memes are tracking Pelosi as if she were an oncoming storm.

Taiwan has been threatened with obliteration by China for 80 years. They just don’t think about it anymore.


… one Taiwanese celebrity unexpectedly found herself the target of angry Chinese social media users. Singer Hebe Tien from the girl group S.H.E. was accused of being pro-Taiwan because she shared an Instagram story of her eating pasta.

The Facebook post reads: “Hebe shared a photo on social media of her smiling and eating pasta. Pelosi has Italian ancestry and now Chinese social media users are accusing her of ‘getting carried away,’ ‘narcissism,’ and ‘pro-Taiwanese independence’. She probably never though this would happen from eating pasta.”

Poor Hebe probably never thought sharing a photo of her enjoying her lunch would ignite the fury of so many Chinese social media users, who proceeded to flood her Instagram. But she probably also should have known that pasta is Italian, and Pelosi has Italian ancestry, and therefore, eating pasta ahead of Pelosi’s trip most definitely means that she is pro-Taiwanese independence, right?

Um, I guess? Eating pasta on Instagram -> pro-Italian-food -> Nancy Pelosi is Italian-American -> pro-Taiwanese independence seems like a very long walk. But I’m not Chinese either. I’m an American who grew up in New York, where there were so many Italian-Americans that I don’t even notice Italian-Americanness. And pasta just seems like regular food to me, without any ethnic connotation.

Also: Didn’t Marco Polo introduce pasta to Italy … from China?

Edinburgh Fringe Vs. TikTok’s Algorithm

Garbage Day’s Ryan Broderick is at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, where the marketing is old-school and analog, not algorithmic and social.

Fringe is all about being here, on the ground. It’s like sleep-away camp for adults, basically, or a deranged and boozy boarding school. There’s no algorithm other than word of mouth, plus good old-fashioned PR strategies like paying for fast-talking women to talk you up (fast) to as many journalists and bloggers as they possibly can. (I’ve barely looked at my Twitter feed in days, which is insane, but honestly feels great.)

Then there’s the way that flyering, the analog act of hiring people to hand out bits of cardstock with your face and show information on it to shove forcefully at passersby, still reigns supreme at the Fringe. It seems bizarrely old school, but it kind of just shows the bones of how everything else in the world still actually functions on a more covert level. As Choire Sicha remarked in his review of the Fancy Feast cat-food-for-humans restaurant experience, “People who work in marketing make a lot of money because it actually works.” That’s certainly the case during the Fringe, when thousands of acts are competing for the same diminishing bit of column space. PR is vital. And having to fight for relevance in the deranged Thunderdome that is Edinburgh during the Fringe might not make you a better comedian or performer, but I do get the sense that in any case it’s far less demoralizing than doing endless battle with an impersonal algorithm.

William Gallagher: “I don’t know why I’m uncomfortable admitting any of this, but I am and yet I’m going to tell you anyway. Maybe it would help me if you keep in mind that this was thirty years ago and that like most people working for the BBC, I was less than well off at the time.” Couched in the past

The Right’s New Bogeyman [Kaitlyn Tiffany / The Atlantic] Like antifa, Jane’s Revenge, supposedly a pro-choice terrorist group, is almost entirely imaginary.

Dark Brandon is fandom culture [Max Read] Here in 2022, we’re seeing some of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most successful people in the world behaving on Twitter and other social media like a bunch of fannish trolls on 1996 message boards. “Insofar, and so long as, American politics is treated by politicians, journalists, and news consumers as an entertainment product, consumed and discussed online, it will grow fandoms like any other entertainment product.”

jwz: “Amazon’s propaganda campaign to normalize surveillance is about to hit a higher gear: a new show featuring videos taken from Ring surveillance cameras.”

Your Local Epidemiologist, Katelyn Jetelina, critiques the CDC’s latest Covid guidance, and finds it wanting.

This changes nothing for me and my family. We will continue to ride the waves based on transmission in the community. There are three reasons I do this:

  1. I just don’t want to get sick. (I just don’t have the time with two toddlers running around and a career.)

  2. I don’t want to get long COVID-19. Many of my friends have it, and it is debilitating and absolutely nasty. To me, the risk to adults is still high enough for action.

  3. Protect the most vulnerable around me, like grandparents.

This does not mean that I constantly worry. It also doesn’t mean I make perfect decisions. But it does mean that I integrate pandemic tools in my life to reduce risk. For example, my entire family is up to date on vaccines, including my little ones under 5. I still wear a mask in public indoor spaces. If I forget a mask and the store isn’t busy, I don’t turn around. If it’s Costco on a Saturday, though, I turn around and grab my mask. I still wear a mask at the airport. My toddlers do not wear masks at daycare, but we encourage it if traveling on public transit. If they were older, I would encourage it at schools fully knowing that they would probably take it off with friends. I think that’s okay. I’m going to a wedding this weekend and will not wear a mask, but we are antigen testing. We also continue to take antigen tests before seeing grandparents. My girls absolutely hate it, but it’s nothing a lollipop can’t fix.

As I’ve written before, we are in a very strange phase of the pandemic: somewhere between endemic and a full blown emergency. If you’re confused on what to do, know that we are all confused and just trying to do our best. Give yourself and others grace through this time.

I’m essentially following the same rules as Jetelina. Indeed, I’m a little more cautious than she is. I don’t have grandparents or little kids to worry about.

I got Covid about two weeks ago. It was, as they say, just a bad cold. I was down for about two and a half days, mostly recovered by day 4 — still feeling weak and congested, but well enough to return to work and do about a third of my usual exercise routine. This week, I was 97% recovered, but still congested, sleeping a lot, and still feeling fatigue in late afternoon. Even now, I’m still a little congested.

Julie got Covid about the same time as me. She’s recovering a little slower, but recovering.

But you know what? Saying it was “just a bad cold” is misleading, because being down for 2-3 days with a bad cold sucks. You should do what you can to avoid that!

And Long Covid is Russian roulette. Your chances of getting hit with it increases every time you get reinfected, and it seems like neither vaccines nor previous infections protect you from reinfection.

The People’s CDC is far more harsh than Jetelina: “The federal government is so committed to convincing people that the pandemic is over that they’d rather let thousands of us die or develop long COVID every week than issue meaningful guidance, reinstitute mask mandates, or bring back any form of pandemic financial assistance.”

I get that maybe mandates are a failed strategy, but we need trustworthy authorities telling us what we should be doing. Like: “Y’all can do what you want, but you’re crazy if you eat in a restaurant.” Or, “It’s moderately safe now—go about your life normally but wear a mask in indoor public spaces.”

Brand of the Werewolf by Kenneth Robeson (Bantam, 1965)

Leonard Nimoy, guest starring on William Shatner’s TV show “TJ Hooker,” 1983

Blue Bolt Weird Tales #116_December 1952_L.B. Cole cover art

Frankenstein #3_July_Aug 1946_Dick Briefer cover art

“Kirk is looking like please don’t sing, please don’t sing, please don’t sing.”


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