What's Going On: April 3, 2021

Summer travel and the Zola Twitter movie

This is a weekly-ish round-up of new scientific research, links, and more. Each issue breaks down as follows:

  1. “New research shows….”

  2. What your Very Online friends are talking about

  3. What I’m reading

  4. Link/tweet round-up

1. “New research shows….”

Last week I discussed the emerging research indicating that breastfed babies and toddlers are likely receiving some degree of immunity from the breastmilk from their lactating parent after that parent is vaccinated.

This week, more promising research indicates that the first of two shots from Moderna or Pfizer may provide 80% immunity in real-world situations (in other words, not just those created in a lab setting) and that vaccinated people may be less likely to spread the virus and are lower risks for travel (note that this statement was later walked back by the CDC since research is still in its early stages).

This is great news for the Biden deadline of the Fourth of July as a date by which most Americans can safely visit with their loved ones. Of course, this is also good news for the travel industry. My own father is an airline captain who has not flown customers for over a year now, having taken a leave of absence last April once the airlines offered it to the more senior workers given the lower demand for flights. Since my dad is in a high-risk group (over 60), he has only been to work for training and other FAA demands for the past 365+ days.

Not everyone has been so fortunate with furloughs or staffing issues. The cruise industry, in particular, has been rather crippled, and the employees of cruise lines have been in a tough situation as well. Many of the staff hail from less developed/poorer countries and are on long-term contracts that have isolated them in a unique way this past year, leading to many suicides.

Further, it’s unclear what families with young children are going to do about travel this summer. Moderna, Pfizer, and others have already begun trials for children as young as 6 months old (the age at which a child can receive their first flu vaccine), but these are unlikely to be approved until 2022. The consequences of keeping families locked down for any longer seem to outweigh the risks for most, but others remain concerned not just about their children catching Covid but of being prevented from returning to the U.S. with a positive PCR test the morning of their return (the New York Times provided a good article about this conundrum).

For now, the dilemma continues to be delayed as adults still work to secure their vaccinations. Both South Park and SNL have parodied the fact that older Baby Boomers and those in higher age brackets are back to almost normal lives (anecdotally, our local Golden Corral has been packed again since February). Popular evidence-based parenting blogger Emily Oster has come under fire for downplaying the concerns of parents with respect to traveling this summer (and for creatively and perhaps misleadingly using the data to support her argument). And 20-something singles across the country are calling for another “hot girl/boy summer” as the vaccines continue to be doled out.

Matt and I won’t be getting on a cruise anytime soon, but we’ll continue watching the research about the degree of protection Toddler H should be getting from his extended breastfeeding at 13 months old. And you’ll keep hearing about it from me here.

2. What your Very Online friends are talking about

Back in ye olden days of Twitter, it was difficult to create the now-very-popular “tweet threads” that take a deep dive into a topic or tell an engaging story. Nevertheless, people would still get creative with their character limit and turn the Twitter “micro-blog” concept into a straight-up blog format.

As confusing as this could be before Twitter introduced the threading functionality, people still went viral from their sagas. One of these threads was from Zola, a stripper who told an insane but tantalizing 148-tweet story about her trip to Florida with another stripper whom she met while working as a waitress. The story devolves into much more than a simple trip, with unexpected relationship chaos, prostitution, guns, and more.

Now, that Twitter thread has been turned into a feature film.

Naturally, this set the Twitter-sphere abuzz, as many of us long-haul tweeters remember first reading the story in bite-size pieces years ago. Thankfully, you can now read everything in a somewhat reader-friendly (but not family/work friendly!) format online.

Along with a Reddit comment that is allegedly being turned into a full-length movie called “Rome Sweet Rome,” in which today’s military vehicles are in use in ancient Rome, the Zola movie has given online creators more evidence that their next tweet could become their next paycheck.

3. What I’m reading

Sometimes I need a book I can pop in and out of without much commitment when Toddler H is really active. I usually have a few of those in rotation at a time. The one currently on my phone (which is great for naptime reading if the baby wants to be rocked) is The Language of Letting Go. Despite its name, it’s really useful for people in a variety of circumstances that have difficulty setting boundaries that protect themselves from other people’s emotional baggage or manipulation. As a recovering perfectionist/people-pleaser, these daily meditations can help me focus on being there for my friends and family without sacrificing my own emotional wellbeing.

The book follows the 12-step program style, which is a bit offputting for me as a reader (you can do a little Googling about issues with the program), but I acknowledge that the system has been very useful for many people getting out of unhealthy relationships, either with other people or substances. For this reason, I take what I need and leave the rest.

If you’re looking for some bite-sized personal development and you struggle with how to set boundaries for yourself without hurting other people, I’d recommend this book.

4. Link/tweet round-up

Thanks again for joining me this week; follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@mallierydzik) for more commentary.

What's going on: March 28, 2021

The vaccines and babies, Cinnamon Toast Shrimp, and more

This is the start of a weekly (ish) round-up of what’s going on in the world. I’ll be summing up some new research, explain something that’s happening in the “Very Online” world, tell you what I’m reading this week, and provide a few relevant links you may enjoy.

“New research shows….”

Good Covid vaccine news is coming out for parents and parents-to-be. A handful of preliminary studies have shown that breastfed babies and toddlers are receiving antibodies from vaccinated mothers (or other lactating people); further, people who are vaccinated while pregnant appear to be passing antibodies through the placenta/cord blood.

Clinical trials are ongoing for children aged 12 to 17, and some trials for even younger children, toddlers, and infants have begun as well. While the older group may have an approved vaccine as early as Fall 2021, the younger cohort is unlikely to have a vaccine until at least 2022. This makes the research on nursing babies/toddlers all the more prescient as parents decide whether to receive the vaccine themselves.

Personally, I have committed to extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding beyond 12 months) to pass on some protection to Toddler Rydzik once I’m vaccinated. That will make us feel more comfortable traveling this summer as more research confirms these findings (and determines the risk of exposure from non-vaccinated people in the wild). While I haven’t looked into it in detail, I also wonder if the research on pregnant people passing on some degree of immunity if they are vaccinated while pregnant will lead doctors to begin recommending a Covid booster vaccine to people in the second/third trimester, as is currently the best practice with the seasonal flu shot and TDaP vaccine since some degree of immunity is transferred to the child before they can be vaccinated after birth (a child must be a minimum of 6 months old for the flu shot, for example).

What your Very Online friends are into this week

A popular tweet format on Twitter is “imagine explaining X to your friends who aren’t on Twitter.” There is an entire world of news and viral activity that does not translate well offline. I thought it might be fun to tell people about some of these things once a week here.

This week’s “Twitter Main Character” was Cinnamon Toast Shrimp guy (CTS guy), who, curiously, has the topical seafood-adjacent last name of Karp.

CTS guy is a comedian, podcaster, and otherwise somewhat known person in certain circles. He is married to Topanga from the 90s TV show “Boy Meets World,” who also has the seafood-adjacent surname of Fishel.

Earlier this week, he posted a picture of shrimp tails (and, eventually, other items….) he claimed to have found in a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Normally, in circumstances like this, a brand’s social media manager will apologize publicly and ask the poster to direct message them with more details (for example, about the lot number of the box, where the box was purchased, and so on).

For some reason, the official Cinnamon Toast Crunch account decided to publicly state that they had determined that the shrimp tails were not, in fact, shrimp tails, but instead a conglomeration of sugar at the bottom of the bag.

This sent the internet into a tailspin that created more buzz than it would have had the brand just admitted this was a problem or taken the conversation offline.

The interesting twist, however, was that as the story picked up steam, CTS guy himself came under fire for allegedly being abusive to women in his past. Once these allegations arose, people became less interested in the story and the buzz died down.

And that’s the life cycle of Twitter fame. An interesting story arises that everyone wants to know more about, allegations about their past come out to haunt them, and you never get a satisfying conclusion to the story.

What I’m reading

I like to have a variety of fiction and non-fiction books in rotation at any one time to ensure I can’t get too bored with something.

One of the books I recently finished was BRINGING UP BÉBÉ: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.

Now, I’m not into a lot of “wow, Europeans have it all right and we have it all wrong!” takes, but I am very intrigued about how different cultures choose to parent. The fact that the author was a journalist living in France while having her children was the type of fish-out-of-water/travel memoir/parenting book mix that caught my attention.

While, like many people, I took what I needed from the book and left the rest, my favorite thing to come back to is the idea that at French daycares the children enjoy a full multi-course meal crafted by on-site chefs each day, including a cheese course with more sophisticated choices like brie or blue cheese.

As foodies, Matt and I took that as the go-ahead to keep feeding H the fancier foods we sometimes eat. The funniest thing is that sometimes he will ignore the standard mac ‘n cheese in favor of some fancier type of dish on his plate; other days, he subsists almost entirely on fruit and crackers. C’est un bébé.

Link round-up

My intention is normally to provide a link round-up here of interesting articles I’ve read; however, H is about to wake up from his nap, so I have to wrap this up if it’s going to get published.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mallie

Welcome to my world

Getting back online after burnout

It’s been a few years….

I burned out in academia from the overwhelming workload.

I burned out in the online business world from the overwhelming expectation to be “on” all the time.

For some reason, that always leads me to give up on writing and turn inward.

Not that the past few years have been unproductive. I’ve been working as a scientific/academic editor for ESL scientists working to publish their research in high-impact English academic journals. I have a toddler now. We’ve been locked in the house for a year.

As the light at the end of the Covid tunnel appears, I’m ready to open back up as well.

My intention is to write more regularly on my site again (mallierydzik.com) and to send out regular updates here.

Ideally I’ll be able to send out unique content here that summarizes the things I’ve been reading and thinking about recently.

In all things, I try to balance the right- and left-brained perspectives on the news and on life. I think that type of “gray,” middle-of-the-road thinking is underrepresented online right now, and I’d like to cut through the black-and-white thinking that dominates everything.

So join me here for science-guided perspectives to what’s happening in the world, and I’ll link you out to my site from time-to-time as I use the same brain (imagine!) to process what’s happening in my life.

Essays and evidence-based + empathetic perspectives on what's going on in the world

Welcome to Mallie’s Musings.

The world needs logic and empathy more than ever.

As a graduate-educated scientist and lifelong nerd, I bring an analytical approach to most things in life. Unlike some (but not all) of my contemporaries in STEM, I also share a deep appreciation for the humanities and embrace my work at the intersection of creativity and science.

Often out of necessity, the news is being presented as either a tug-at-the-heartstrings story or a data dump of numbers. Among other things, this dichotomy has often split readers into either emotionless robots who are on Team Science or feelings-focused Team Humanity.

Like many things, the truth, understanding, and lesson are somewhere in the middle.

Subscribe for my perspective on what’s going on in the world.

About Mallie

  • Former tornado chaser, published scientist, active writer/editor

  • Mother to a 2020 pandemic baby

  • Introvert with more ideas than close friends

  • “Spoonie” with chronic physical and mental health issues

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