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You May Be Early, but You're Not Wrong: A Covid Reading List

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bluebec
2 days ago
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The secret society of projectionists keeping celluloid films alive

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bluebec
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Long COVID: How clusters of symptoms have emerged and changed over the pandemic

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Since the first COVID "long haulers" were reported in 2020, millions of people have experienced long COVID.

While long COVID has no strict definition, it's generally used to describe an illness following a SARS-CoV-2 infection with symptoms that last at least two to three months.

It can manifest as a whole suite of symptoms ranging from body aches and pains to brain fog, and these can substantially vary between people, says Lou Irving, respiratory physician and head of the Royal Melbourne Hospital's post-COVID clinic.

"We now have … over 600 cases and they really help us understand that there's a wide range of presentations."

But under that broad "long COVID" umbrella, clusters of symptoms have emerged, and as the pandemic's worn on, those symptoms have shifted.

Senior respiratory physiotherapist Janet Bondarenko has been working in Melbourne's Alfred Hospital post-COVID clinic since its doors opened two years ago.

Early on, most people referred to the post-COVID clinic had been severely sick and many hospitalised.

"We saw a lot of breathlessness in people, and they could only manage walking a few metres at a time," Ms Bondarenko says.

"Then we started to see memory and concentration issues."

And while she still sees these symptoms in patients now, she also sees more people with heart-related symptoms.

"If they're going from sitting to standing, their heart rate will jump and they'll get palpitations, chest pains, things like that," Ms Bondarenko says.

This is an example of what's known as "autonomic dysfunction", where a part of our nervous system that controls things like blood pressure doesn't work properly.

If a person's blood pressure drops, their heart has to work harder and pump faster to compensate and keep blood moving around the body.

This, in turn, produces symptoms such as dizziness and extreme fatigue.

"What's interesting is people now often present with breathlessness, but it's not breathlessness caused by the respiratory disorder," Ms Bondarenko says.

"It's breathlessness from fatigue and from this autonomic dysfunction."

Jason Kovacic, a cardiologist at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, says it's still the case that a very sick person is more likely to develop long COVID, but now people with an extremely mild case can end up in a bad way.

"I have a couple of notable patients who just can't nail down when they had COVID, but they came to the clinic or to the ER with a full hand of long COVID symptoms," Professor Kovacic says.

"They're dizzy, lightheaded, fatigued, and short of breath, and they get to see me because they've got a resting heart rate of 120 and a blood pressure of 90 over 60."

First, Professor Kovacic runs tests to rule out other causes of low blood pressure and fast heart rate, such as myocarditis.

"But this group of people tend to have a normal heart that's beating fast with low blood pressure and palpitations and, understandably, a lot of anxiety as well."

Why the shift in symptoms?

Just as different variants (and subvariants) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have wreaked various levels of havoc on our body, it appears they impart different lingering after-effects too.

"Different strains of the virus are interacting with immune systems differently and triggering different events," Professor Kovacic says.

"The likelihood of getting long COVID was probably double with Delta than what it is with Omicron.

"I think that really speaks to this interaction of what the specific strain of the virus is doing, and how that interacts with the immune system of each person."

Exactly why long COVID develops in some people and not others is still a mystery, but our genetics likely plays a role, as does our history of previous conditions.

Some studies suggest COVID-19 infection can reactivate the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever and is linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.

"They're not the same conditions, but there are parallels between chronic fatigue and long COVID, and some of the immune dysfunction that's related to glandular fever is very similar to what happens with long COVID," Professor Kovacic says.

Professor Irving suspects researchers will eventually discover subtypes of sorts within the broader "long COVID" cohort.

"I think we'll find there are groups where the virus can activate autoimmune responses, in some people it can activate autonomic responses, and in others it can bring out mental health issues."

While vaccination may lower our risk of developing long COVID, the only surefire way is to not get infected with COVID-19 in the first place.

Management and recovery

The goal for post-COVID clinics is to get people back to their usual activities while managing symptoms.

Treatment depends on each person's symptoms, but recovery typically involves plenty of rest to start, then taking lots of short breaks as activity slowly builds.

Exercise rehab can be helpful too, Ms Bondarenko says, but not for everyone.

"There's two different clusters: some people respond well to exercise but for other people, it could potentially make them worse."

Some people with severe symptoms such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, a condition where most of your blood remains in your lower body when you stand up, can benefit from medications.

But recovering from long COVID takes time, and for most, that's between six and 12 months, Ms Bondarenko says.

"Often the concentration and brain fog is quite highly linked with fatigue, so once the fatigue starts to get better, all those other symptoms tend to resolve as well.

"But it does get better with time, and most people get better."

Professor Irving agrees.

"Common roadblocks are frustration, doing too much too soon, which can set you back, and financial worries, because not everyone can afford to take time off.

"But from experience, everybody gets better — it just takes time."

What do you want to know about COVID-19? Have you been affected by the pandemic? Tell us your story.

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DexX
3 days ago
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Scary shit...
Melbourne, Australia
bluebec
3 days ago
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I don't buy the "everyone gets better in time" line at the end, but the rest of this is interesting, as is the ongoing linkage of glandular fever to CFS, long-covid, and MS
Melbourne
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Industrial Designer's Side Gig is 3D-Printing Hard-to-Find Replacement Ikea Parts

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Let's say you own Ikea's discontinued Tobo unit, which features sliding glass doors.

And let's say you lose or break one of these four funky-looking, complicated components:

That little plastic gewgaw is what holds the sliding doors in place at the top. Without it you're screwed. The product is discontinued, so Ikea doesn't support it anymore. Time to throw the whole thing out, right?

Thankfully, no. "In my free time, I like helping people by making 3D printed replacements for their broken Ikea parts," writes L.A.-based industrial designer Peter Szucs.

Szucs has already created files for dozens of parts...

...and is actively taking requests for more (you can contact him at the link above). To see what he's already got ready-to-print, check out his Shapeways store, Replacement Parts for Ikea Products.




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bluebec
3 days ago
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Profound grief for a pet is normal – how to help yourself or a friend weather the loss of a beloved family member

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It’s been three weeks since my partner and I lost our beloved 14.5-year-old dog, Kivi Tarro. It’s impossible to describe what Kivi meant to us, or put words to how his death has affected us.

As I am still working through what life without Kivi means, there’s perhaps no better time to examine how grief impacts those who have lost an animal. This is also what a new review of scientific literature, published today, explores.

The review aims to give counsellors perspective into how to help people grieving the death of a pet. The authors highlight that the bond between humans and animals can be extremely similar to that between two humans, and so the loss can be just as profound.

There is a tendency, however, for society to invalidate that grief. This can leave people isolated and feeling ashamed or unable to express their grief, which can increase the intensity of grief and inhibit resolution.

The authors’ advice for counsellors is to step away from their own biases and acknowledge that the human-animal bond can be deep and complex. Indeed, in some cases, animals have taken on roles of emotional and social support usually reserved for fellow humans.

As we come to better understand grief associated with the loss of an animal, more specific guidelines for counselling may occur. For now, it’s important to recognise that the loss of an animal can be every bit as painful as the loss of a human, and the grief experienced is similar.

Here I outline a few ways to help you weather their death, and to help a grieving friend.

Losing a pet hurts

Anyone who has loved an animal companion knows losing a pet hurts. Every relationship we forge with an animal is unique, and they become tightly woven into our existence.

To lose such a friend is not just to have sudden hole where they used to be. There are constant reminders of time spent together, threads in the tapestry of daily life left ragged and loose.

Everywhere we go with our other two dogs evokes memories of Kivi. So too do daily routines that frequently include our dogs.

Grief is an emotion associated with a sense of loss, a feeling of emptiness when something important to us is gone. It is considered normal to grieve the loss of a relative or close human friend. But as the review notes, there are many kinds of grief, some especially relevant to pet owners.

Kivi’s decline was slow and we experienced ambiguous loss and anticipatory grief as we were forced to cross off one previously loved activity after another that he could no longer do with us as he aged.

We agonised over his quality of life and second-guessed ourselves, as we knew the time was coming and feared making the decision too early or too late. This process can lead many pet owners to experience responsibility grief, where they may feel guilt for not having done enough to extend the time they had with their pet.


Read more: Is your dog happy? Ten common misconceptions about dog behaviour


Disenfranchised grief is where a person experiences a significant loss, but society does not acknowledge it as valid and worthy of social support. Society may view pets as “just an animal”, and therefore not a worthy or appropriate cause of grief.

This can make people feel ashamed or guilty for the effect losing a companion animal has on them, and strive to conceal it or move on without resolving it.

How to weather the loss of your animal friend

Grief is a very personal journey and no one can tell you how you should or shouldn’t experience it. Here are some things to remember:

  • embrace the grief. I found peace in accepting that I would be heartbroken and letting myself exist in that place

  • grieve in whatever way comes naturally, for as long as it feels right to. Everybody grieves differently and it takes as long as it takes, whether that be weeks or years

  • seek support from your social network. The review emphasises the importance of social support. If friends or relatives don’t seem to understand, reach out to other animal lovers. Perhaps seek out an animal bereavement group online

  • find ways to honour your pet’s memory. The review suggests writing a letter to them and a letter from them back to you. Or you could create something that expresses your feelings for them, hold a memorial, or perform a ceremony or ritual

  • mind your other animals. Some animals barely seem to notice when their housemate disappears while others may show signs of grieving themselves, such as reduced eating or increased fearfulness. Their distress is real as well, and you should speak to your veterinarian if it persists for more than a few days or is extreme.

Our two younger dogs did not look for Kivi at all and we were glad we hadn’t included them when we said goodbye to him. Our distress would have affected them more than Kivi’s passing

  • seek professional help if you are struggling. This IS grief, and professional psychologists and counsellors are trained to help.

How to support someone grieving their pet

If you have a friend or relative who has recently lost an animal, here are some tips for being a positive and helpful presence:

  • acknowledge and validate their pain and grief. You don’t have to understand it to believe in it

  • sharing your own experiences of loss can show people you understand, but it may also make someone feel more isolated because their experiences are different. Step carefully and keep the focus on them

  • send a card, a gift or a message. I did not have the emotional bandwidth to respond to all of the heartfelt messages I received when Kivi died, but I appreciated every one of them. It meant a lot to know my grief was recognised and my social circle knew I was heartbroken. I particularly appreciated other people sharing their memories of Kivi

  • maintain your support without judgement. It takes some people years to recover from such a loss, and that’s okay. Society may have expectations for how long grief of an animal should take, but the review points to research that shows the stronger the bond between a human and an animal, the more intense their grief at losing it.


Read more: Losing a loved one can change you forever, but grief doesn't have to be the end of your relationship with them


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bluebec
5 days ago
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@Dril speaks on Musk and Twitter

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With over 1.7 million followers, Dril, known for his absurdist humor, is the type of influencer who could only emerge on an app like Twitter.

Dril started his account in September 2008, just two years after Twitter launched, and as the platform grew, so did his impact. He became the face of what’s often referred to as “weird Twitter,” a broad and amorphous coalition of comedy accounts. Now, for many Twitter users, he serves as a kind of canary in the coal mine. “If dril leaves twitter nothing will be left,” one user tweeted. “If @dril leaves Twitter, Twitter’s basically dead even if it doesn’t actually die,” another said.

For Dril, the chaos of Musk’s ownership has been entertaining, and he plans to see it through. “Elon, he invented the Hyperloop,” Dril said in a rare interview, referring to Musk’s vision of high-speed underground transport, which has not yet been built. “I think Twitter will be just like that. It’s a work in progress, he’s building it from the ground up. He’s gonna make it nicer, and they’re going to use freedom of speech to cut down on bull---- in daily life. I think it’s gonna be a beautiful thing at the end of the day.”

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To those trying to predict Twitter’s fate, there’s probably no one more representative of a certain part of Twitter than Dril. His posts have become meme formats and copypasta; in one tweet he even appeared to predict the end of Twitter in 2022. Academics have dissected and analyzed his tweets. The A.V. Club, an online publication devoted to pop culture, declared Dril “the patron saint of the internet itself” and “a rare rallying point and muse for everyone, regardless of affiliation or creed.”

Dril is a symbol of what a lot of people loved about Twitter, pre-Musk. His account is strange and absurd, often profane, and he’s the type of creator unlikely to thrive elsewhere.

Twitter user Nick Farruggia recently painstakingly catalogued every one of Dril’s posts. “Refuse to lose the tweets from the best poster ever... here it is: every @dril tweet in chronological order, up & free forever,” he recently tweeted.

As Musk seeks to bend Twitter to his vision, Dril is an example of the sort of power center that he’ll be unable to budge: established, popular and indifferent.

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“Dril and Elon are on opposite sides of the spectrum, when it comes to internet-based language,” said Jamie Cohen, assistant professor of media studies at CUNY Queens College, who once taught a class on weird Twitter. “Dril is a community member, he was born of the internet, Elon merely adopted it. If Elon wants to succeed and make this thing work, the person he has to win over the most is Dril and his community.”

“Dril’s tweets are a baseline foundational text for Twitter, they are part of the structure of Twitter,” said Alex Turvy, a PhD researcher at Tulane University studying memes and digital culture. “He is the godfather of Twitter, and his tweets are a shared reference we can all call on when talking to people online. He’s part of Twitter’s cultural memory.”

When reached by phone, Dril agreed to chat about the new era for a platform he helped define, provided The Washington Post refer to him only by his Twitter handle, because of privacy concerns. It’s the kind of interview that should be read with a firm understanding of Dril’s role as comedic entertainer, not to be taken too seriously.

The ups and downs of Twitter

So far, Dril said, he’s enjoying the spectacle of Musk’s takeover. “Elon seems like one of the classic comedic showmen,” he said. “Everything he does is a comedic bit. He’s always trying to get a laugh, that’s why he makes all his cars suicidal. Just watching everything burn, it’s entertaining, that’s for sure.”

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One thing he’s noticed since the Musk takeover is that his posts have not been spreading as far as they used to. On Friday, Musk declared that “negative/hate tweets” will be “deboosted & demonetized,” effectively thwarting their ability to spread in a practice known as shadowbanning.

Dril said the negative post ban was already affecting his account. “It’s wild what they’re doing to me,” he said. “My freedom of speech has been eradicated.” He expressed frustration with the lack of clarity on what constitutes a negative post. “Say a Tesla ran into my son and killed him,” he said, referring to one of Musk’s other businesses. “Maybe I think that it’s fine, it’s not negative that a Tesla ran into my son and killed him. That’s fine, because it’s a work in progress.” Musk cannot know if a Tesla running over his son was actually very positive, Dril explained, and so it should not be ranked as a negative tweet.

Still, he added, “Maybe I was just negative from the start, maybe I have a negative attitude.”

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Dril said he’d be willing to work at Twitter himself if Musk asked. “I think it would be my duty to answer the call,” Dril said. “I would absolutely do it. I would be his dog, I would follow his every order like a disgusting dog. I would beg for his mercy and I would learn to code if it pleased him.”

While other users scramble to join Twitter replacements and find alternative ways to connect with friends online, Dril said he was unable to find an app that fulfilled his needs as well. He has set up official Dril accounts on Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube, but posts very infrequently. He also has his own website and a Patreon for fans willing to pay a few dollars a month to support him.

The more emergent apps confuse him. “I’d like to know what these apps are, because none of the apps I’ve used are good,” he said. “They ask you for pictures of your son, your father. They’re unusable basically. They have Russian pop-up ads and malware. I’m not planning on leaving Twitter anytime soon.”

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Mastodon, the much talked about refuge for people fleeing Twitter, is too complicated, he says. “What server do I join?,” he said, referring to Mastodon’s many choices of servers. “The good post server or the bad post server? I don’t know. There’s no guide, there’s no little blue bird you can click on for help.”

TikTok is out of the question because, “I have a reprehensible visage that does not allow me to use any video-based apps,” he said.

Substack worries him. “With Substack, it’s right there in the name,” he said. “You’re submitting. If you sign up for that, you’re being submissive to the cabal of internet content.”

One platform he’s open to exploring is the metaverse, a concept recently championed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Dril said the possibility of engaging with people in the metaverse while not wearing pants was appealing to him. “I will be the guy there, and I’ll win whatever game Zuckerberg is trying to create,” he said.

Dril is also open to accepting deals from smaller platforms that might pay him to post. “If any of the apps were good or were run by people with more than three or four brain cells to rub together, they’d recognize the potential of my posts and offer me five or six hundred dollars to be the ambassador of their new platform, and I’d bring all my followers with me,” he said. “I think they’d all be on board no matter how ... unusable the platform is. If any potential Twitter replacers are out there reading this, I’d love for you to give me your money.”

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He is disappointed that he seemingly wouldn’t be able to monetize negative posts under Musk’s regime.

“It’d be nice to get a little something in the mail every once in a while for all the content that I put my blood on the line for,” he said, “but you know, Elon is saying, ‘I’m going to demonetize you if you have a nasty attitude.’ Sometimes I need to have a nasty attitude to keep myself safe in this world. The show Westworld, that’s what it’s like out there.”

“I used to be able to post without being threatened,” he said, “now I’m basically under the barrel of a gun 24/7 because people are constantly saying, ‘this joke was better when you said it in 2014.’ I hope Elon cuts down on that sort of thing, because that’s just barbaric what people are saying to me.”

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While Musk’s proposed verification system, where any user can pay $8 a month for a blue check mark, has been linked with the spread of misinformation, Dril isn’t concerned. “Folks like me, we know the truth when we hear it,” he said. “It strikes you in the heart. You feel it in your stomach. When someone’s lying, you can see them sweating. They look very disheveled and rat-like.” But $8 is too hefty for him personally, so he said he will never pay for a check mark.

He appreciates that Elon is using his personal Twitter account as the de facto comms channel for news about the company. “The reason it works so well,” Dril said, “is if Elon wants to accuse some random guy of being a pedophile, he’s just allowed to do that. ... Everything is a streamlined approach with Elon, you don’t want bureaucratic red tape blocking the news cameras, you just want the straight guff from the man himself.”

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A low point for Dril was when Musk himself stole one of his posts about being drafted into a skeleton war and claimed it as his own. “He posted the tweet verbatim and cropped my name completely out of it,” Dril said. “His girlfriend Grimes, she condones this sort of behavior. He’s stealing my posts and not even paying me. He’s threatening to demonetize me when he’s already capitalizing on my content, and I’m not getting a cent.”

If Twitter’s infrastructure does fail and the platform goes down for good, Dril said he’s at peace with it.

“I think it’ll be like a cleansing fire,” he said. “It’ll burn down the house that I grew up in, and, with it, all the memories will be gone. I can start from a clean slate, tabula rasa. From there, I can try again and hopefully make an account that’s actually good.”

Taylor Lorenz is a columnist at The Washington Post covering technology and online culture. Before joining The Post, she was a technology reporter for the New York Times' business section. She was also previously a technology reporter at the Atlantic and the Daily Beast. Twitter
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bluebec
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acdha
6 days ago
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The Onion is done
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