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    • During the course of my Japanese studies, I’ve come across a couple of interesting videos about why Japanese people wear masks. The nut of it is they don’t want to get sick and they see it as a common courtesy to others. Wearing a mask is really common for them and it’s no big deal. I’m not saying Americans have to embrace masks to the same degree as the Japanese, but when you consider how willing Japanese people are to wear masks in non-pandemic times, one does have to wonder why Americans, or at least some Americans, are so resistant to wearing masks in the middle of a pandemic. It’s an easy thing to do and if it really does help, why not just put one on? The obvious answer is that Americans are too individualistic and unwilling to think about the greater good of society. Is there more to this or is America going down the drain in part because of its hyper-individualistic mindset? 

    • I think the concept of "greater good" is pretty much dead in the United States.

      Months ago I was walking the dog in the park and two groups of joggers were running opposite directions. Once they had passed each other I overheard one woman from the group running in my direction getting upset and saying "nothing is ever going to get better if you don't give people space!" because the other group didn't move off the path. But neither did she.

      Everyone wants everyone else to do what's right, so they don't have to be inconvenienced on an individual level. We all know what we should be doing to get through this, but so many people are expecting progress without putting in the effort.

      You want the playgrounds to open up? Stop playing at them. You want to use basketball courts again? Stop tearing down the hoop blockers and wait for the situation to get better. You want to move into the next phase? Wear a mask, you idiot.

    • I was reading an article that said that pollution was one of the reasons that mask wearing became ubiquitous in East Asian countries after World War 2. When I was in Bangkok in the 2000s, the traffic cops wore masks their entire shift due to the exhaust fumes.

      Another cause for mask use may be the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine:

      “So why has the mask-wearing trend primarily been limited to East Asian nations?

      “The underlying reason could be philosophical: All three countries have been broadly influenced by Taoism and the health precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which breath and breathing are seen as a central element in good health. “‘Qi’ is a central concept in Chinese cosmology—and thereby physiology—generally having to do with energy and vapor,” explains Michelle M. Ching, a board certified practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine based in Los Angeles. “Qi has numerous meanings in Chinese including ‘air’ [kong qi], ‘atmosphere’ [qi fen], ‘odor’ [qi wei], which is perhaps another reason masks are so necessary in China!, ‘strength’ [li qi] and ‘pathogen’ [xie qi]. When bodily qi is depleted, or its movement deranged, pain and disease develop.  So breathing is critical in order to maintain good qi in the body.”

      “Meanwhile, the intake of “feng,” or noxious wind, is considered the most potent and common of TCM’s “Six External Causes” of disease. “Think about wind,” says Ching. “It can blow open doors, blow cool air off a body of water to the land surrounding it, or fire from one part of the forest to another. The door analogy relates to TCM’s understanding of how exposure to wind can weaken our body’s defenses.”(Perhaps as a permutation of these ideas, East Asia has numerous ancillary superstitions about air and wind, the most notable of which is a deathly fear of sleeping in rooms with running electric fans, a belief that has its epicenter in Korea, where “fan death” phobia remains rampant even today.)

      Further Reading


    • Very interesting! Thanks for sharing! Yeah, pollution has certainly played a role. I didn’t really think of the Taoist angle, but that makes sense.

    • Yep. Nobody wants to make the necessary sacrifices. Btw, I don’t think all these lockdowns by America and shutting down businesses is necessary. We just gotta get everyone on board with wearing a mask. That’s the key.

    • My spouse showed me that video a couple days ago - and I must confess, in 40 years of mask wearing I never really thought that I had laxity between the mask edge and my cheeks, but the physician in the video certainly did demonstrate laxity.

      I wonder if some of the issue is a one size mask for faces of significantly varying sizes.

      The trick she presents seems simple enough and seems reasonably effective - BUT - I think in less dextrous hands it MIGHT result in tearing or damaging the mask. The reason I have this concern is I recently was removing a mask made by an over seas vendor, very carefully, and found just pulling the elastic from around my ear, I rendered a tear in the edge of the mask, between the elastics - this was not a violent, or hard pull, but a very gentle one, but nonetheless, the edge of the mask was torn for about an inch, effectively reducing its utility almost 100%. Remember, I wore surgical masks for almost 40 years, so I do have some previous experience at successfully removing masks without tearing them.

      In an ideal world, we would all be using these masks as single use items ( like in surgical suites ) - but in todays pandemic coated world, I suspect many folks are reusing their masks several times - and when one re-uses their mask they greatly increase the likelihood they will contaminate their hands with any virus trapped by the masks filtration.

      I think if one's mask is too loose between the two ends of the elastics, like the physician's in the video you linked, tying the elastics together AND tucking the fold inside the mask, as she demonstrated may be quite helpful, but I would suggest that folks be very careful and pay close attention, especially if their hands are much larger and less dextrous than hers...

      And I do think, some masks being provided today are significantly more fragile than was typical of routine hospital provided sugical masks in years before this pandemic.


    • Interesting to see the dramatic diff of our neighbor's curve to the north as compared to ours. Here's a little video on how they did it. Spoilers: no mask controversy, respect for the virus, no politicising it.

    • What’s the consequence in California if I go into a store without a mask? Do I get fined $500 or go to jail? It feels like there’s no real enforcement to back up edicts like this:

    • I don’t think there are any threats of fines or jail, but service can be refused. I can’t order at Subway unless I have a mask. Seems more than reasonable to me.

    • Where was that article published? The owner apparently strongly desires to fail in business.

      Can you imagine a patient's reaction when told that their surgeon didn't want to scrub up or wear gloves before doing their surgery, because they thought it might dry the skin on their hands too much??????

      Brings to mind a comment I saw recently - "I know you have an opinion! Do you have any evidence??"