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.