About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.

Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 4/Conclusion)

Continued from part 3.

It’s too late to change people’s attitudes about masking for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yes, some individuals will change their mind. But most people’s minds have been made up, and won’t change over the next few months.

So why bother persuading people to take a more positive outlook towards masks? Because this won’t be the last airborne pandemic. Now is the time to do the slow, slow work of changing public sentiments about masking so that the next pandemic will disable and kill fewer people.

The way masking has spread during this pandemic, alas, has seared negative connotations into people’s minds. Yes, the political polarization is bad, and it presses people who otherwise would wear masks to go maskless because they don’t want to ‘make a political statement.’ But it goes deeper than that. We’ve impressed upon ourselves that masks = deadly pandemic which causes mass upheaval.

Even if people understand that the purpose of masking is to protect people from pathogens, that emotional link will make them recoil from masks. Emotion overwhelms thought when we make decisions.

I have a confession to make: these negative feelings are why I refuse to wear surgical masks.

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2.

One thing which makes “Toulouse” such an awesome music video is that it’s open to multiple interpretations.

Interpretation 1: People resist the music at first, but the rhythm is too infectious, and the number of cool people who get it exponentially increase

Interpretation 2: Creepy people in masks harass and assault strangers. They force them to put on masks. Then they turn into creeps themselves and harass and assault even more strangers.

Interpretation 3: This is all a dream.

Interpretation 4: It’s not a dream, the protagonist just thinks so because the truth is too much for him to handle.

The Guy Fawkes mask has a centuries-long history in England. It represents a menace to society, which must be burned. Guy Fawkes masks gained new meaning when Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V Is for Vendetta dystopian comic books featured them. If society is evil, and Guy Fawkes is a menace to society, then maybe Guy Fawkes masks are good?

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

According to The Book of Northern Qi, Martial Prince of Lan Ling Changgong (蘭陵武王長恭) had a beautiful appearance and voice, so he wore a mask in battle to scare his enemies. This mask was not shameful; The Book of Northern Qi praises him for being a fierce military commander. Nor does the book shame him for looking ‘soft’ and beautiful (as far as I can tell, I suck at Classical Chinese so I might be missing nuances; the words used to describe him supposedly suggest he has an androgynous look.) So we have someone who is physically beautiful, and this is good, and he covers his beauty with a mask, which is also good. He’s been part of Chinese culture for over a thousand years, and his story also spread to Japan. And possibly other East Asian cultures.

All the connotations of the Prince of Lan Ling wearing a mask are good. He wasn’t hiding anything bad; beautiful faces are good. He also did nothing bad by putting on the mask; scaring the shit out of enemies was also good. Nothing about this cost him respect.

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Guy Fawkes vs. The Prince of Lanling: How a Silly Search for Music Videos Explained Why People Reject Masks (Part 1)

Writing this was supposed to be fun, not give me an Awful Realization.

I didn’t expect putting together a music video post to make me at long last understand why so many people reject masks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still pro-mask. Unless masks give you medical problems, keep wearing them around people outside your household.

Still, having this switch finally flipped in my head is odd. For over a year, I’ve been scratching my head: why are people so powerfully opposed to having cloth over their face? It’s not really about politics, since every political group in the United States has its share of passionate anti-maskers, and international news articles suggest that this is also true in other countries. It’s about something deeper than politics, something so deep it appears in pop music.

I also saw how we can counter mask resistance, but the solution is difficult.

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Are Big Legs a Sign That You Have a Serious (and Seriously Misunderstood) Disease?

People make weird assumptions about my big legs.

Nobody has ever said that my legs are beautiful. That’s fine. I don’t need beautiful legs. Nobody has said my legs are ugly either. People have suggested that my legs are unfeminine. Fine, when I want to look feminine, I wear dresses/skirts with hemlines below my knees.

When people see my legs, especially my calves, they assume I’m a buff muscle-builder. This is false. I’ve never consciously tried to build large muscles. Yes, I’ve done a fair bit of hiking, but people told me I had ‘hiker legs’ before I started hiking. People find it a little odd that I, as a woman, have calf muscles which many men aspire to. Heck, some men have expressed envy over my legs, as in they wish they had legs like mine.

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I Never Expected Readers to React So Strongly to a Left-Handed Protagonist

The protagonist of the novel I’m revising is left-handed.

Me? I’m right-handed. According to various online quizzes which measure your place on the left-handed-to-right-handed spectrum, I’m an extreme righty. Because right-handedness is assumed in most circumstances, I only think about it when my right hand is injured. Or when I’m writing a left-handed character.

All of my beta readers had significant reactions to my protagonist’s left-handedness. I understand why my lefty beta reader reacted (and I’m relieved that he didn’t have any objections). What surprised me was that all my righty beta readers also reacted strongly.

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Breaking Out of My Comfort Bubble: How to Write About Asexuality and Aromanticism for Allos?

A few days ago Prism & Pen published my essay, “Are Aces Doomed to Just Be Tokens in LGBTQ+ Spaces?” (That’s the anti-paywall link; it will give you access to the story even if you aren’t a paying Medium member.)

Submitting this essay left me feel nervous beyond the typical nerves of submitting to a publication for the first time. First, entering an unfamiliar LGBTQ+ space as anything other than a mere ally gives me trepidation. My personal experience is that most LGBT spaces aren’t intended for aces or aros. Some of this is based on experiences over a decade ago, when LGBT organizers were far more unaware of asexuality. On the other hand, the small minority of LGBT people who are hostile towards aces and aros are more vocal today than ten years ago. If an LGBT space doesn’t clearly accept aces and aros in a way that’s easy for outsiders to see, my assumption is that it’s not a space intended to include aces or aros.

On top of all that, my piece included some criticism of something a Prism & Pen editor said. Criticizing the editor who chooses whether your essay gets published is a risky move. However, James Finn has shown before that he cares about showcasing a variety of views and not just works which confirm his own opinions, which is why I thought my piece still had a chance of getting accepted. And he accepted it for publication. This increases my trust in him as someone who values discussion among multiple viewpoints.

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This Time, I’m Asking You to Try My Email Newsletter

I binged book reviews and analyzed them before I thought of sharing them. Even if my book review binge email newsletter had zero subscribers, I’d continue doing it. I also don’t want to annoy people by pressuring them to sign up for my newsletter. That’s why I haven’t tried hard to promote it.

However, this month, ConvertKit has a challenge to increase subscribers as much as possible. Thus, I’m going to try harder than before to get more subscribers. I won’t do anything unethical (such as sign up people without permission) or even anything which feels too pushy to me, but putting my toes outside my comfort zone will, at a minimum, teach me something.

Because of the challenge, I put together a new landing page using some of ConvertKit’s advice. I’m curious how it will compare to my original landing page, which is still live. The original landing page is upfront, whereas the new landing page uses more ‘salesy’ language. I’m curious which approach works better.

I also created a guide to how I analyze the book reviews as an ‘opt-in incentive.’ Originally, I didn’t want to use a ‘bribe’ to get people to subscribe because my thinking was, the digests should be the reward for signing up, thus anyone who didn’t want the weekly emails shouldn’t subscribe. However, new subscribers might need an orientation to understand what I’m doing, and that orientation could be the ‘incentive.’

By making a bigger push, I may annoy some people. On the other hand, if someone who otherwise wouldn’t have signed up benefits from the emails more than they expected, that justifies pushing for subscribers. I can’t find the right balance between ‘push people to sign up so hard I annoy them’ and ‘be so timid about promotion than the people who would like these emails never sign up’ without trial and error, and some of that error WILL fall on the side of annoying people. If I annoy you by being pushy, please give me constructive feedback so I can better calibrate this balance.

Because of the challenge, instead of saying ‘here’s this newsletter if you’re interested,’ I’m asking you to sign up on one of the landing pages I linked above. If you don’t like it, unsubscribe. I know this email newsletter won’t be for everyone, and I’ll have no hard feelings if you unsubscribe. But, if you have any interest in books, please try it. Also, please share it with anyone you believe might be interested.

I appreciate feedback. Which landing page do you prefer? What’s your advice for attracting subscribers? How can I improve my email broadcasts?

Your Cloth and Surgical Masks Leak. Does This Thingy I Bought on eBay Fix the Problem?

My badger seal

I love my cloth masks. They have no leakage around my cheeks or chin. However, like all masks, they leak around my nose when I don’t use nose wire. And nose wires are so uncomfortable I rarely wear them.

Research on mask effectiveness at preventing covid, whether it’s how much they prevent infected wearers from spreading it to others or how much they protect wearers from getting infected in the first place, is all over the place. There are too many variables, and masks do not lend themselves to careful RCTs. However, though it’s difficult to figure out the degree of effectiveness, masks clearly prevent wearers from spreading covid to a useful degree, and also provide some (possibly small) protection to the wearers.

One thing which comes through clearly in the research I’ve seen is that masks work much better when they don’t leak. One study (I couldn’t find it again, sorry) showed that nose leakage is less bad than cheek leakage or chin leakage, but that study might be wrong, and all research shows that zero leakage offers the best protection.

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