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The Mascot: February 13, 2022

Museums, masks, and doomsday in this week’s Mascot.

By News

A wide-mouthed character tilts its head back and gobbles up a variety of news briefs and debris. Illustration by Jade Sheng.

Illustration by Jade Sheng.

SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program starts again

SAIC’s visiting artist series kicked off this week with a talk between artist Cameron Rowland and curator Richard Birkett. Rowland is a MacArthur Genius Fellow with collections at the Art Institute of Chicago; the MOMA; The Tate; and MoCA, Los Angeles; and his CV is heavy with similarly weighty institutions.

The irony — or perhaps genius — of his shows, is that he often uses the institution itself, a site of racial capitalism, to critique racial capitalism. If this sounds like a self-fulfilling feedback loop that’s because it is. As he and Birkett discussed at length during their talk, racial capitalism is full of feedback loops. 

You can read an in-depth recap of the lecture here, and check out the Visiting Artists Program schedule for this semester’s full line-up of talks. Next up is Trenton Doyle Hancock on Feb. 22.

Eight small figures drawn with wiggly black lines. Stand horizontally next to each other. Not recognizable creatures, but do have characteristics of known animals and humans.

Illustration by Michaela Chan.

Governor J.B. Pritzker to lift mask mandate by Feb. 28. Well, kind of, for some, not most, and there are exceptions.

On Feb. 9 Governor JB Pritzker announced that COVID-19 rates have decreased dramatically in Illinois over the past month — from roughly 45,000 cases in early January, to around 6,000 earlier this week, with hospitalizations down from 7,500 to 2,300 in that same period. If the numbers continue along this trend, “as we expect them to,” Gov. Pritzker said in is statement, “then on Monday, Feb. 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirement for the state of Illinois.” The exceptions are nursing and care facilities, public transit, hospitals, and schools. 

Now, taken on its own, the statement seems pretty straightforward. But in the alternate alternative new newer normal that is COVID times, nothing is as it seems. Let’s take the example of schools.

At the beginning of the school year, Gov. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring a number of COVID precautions throughout Illinois’ 850 school districts, including vaccines for teachers, testing protocols, and mandatory masking. Mask on.

On Feb. 4, 2022, Sangamon County Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow granted a restraining order from a downstate attorney, stating that the masking measures are “beyond the governor’s authority and deprive students of due process,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Mask off. 

Chicago Public Schools, however, issued a statement last week saying that they would not let the court’s ruling impact the safety agreement made with the Chicago Teachers Union last month, which implemented universal masking by staff and students. Mask on. 

In any case, the real winners of the Feb. 9 announcement are service industry workers: Restaurant hostesses, Starbucks baristas, and checkout clerks, will finally be relinquished of their tortured roles as unintended enforcers of the mask mandate. For now, anyway.

Eight small figures drawn with wiggly black lines. Stand horizontally next to each other. Not recognizable creatures, but do have characteristics of known animals and humans.

Google search data reveals everyone wants to be a notary

Speaking of the service industry, everyone is quitting. That’s not news. “The Great Resignation” as it’s being called is in full-effect, so some clever data journalists at Google decided to look into the flip side of that coin. If everyone’s leaving their job, where are they headed?

The first thing they report is that this trend is global. “How to leave your job” searches are up all over the world. The five countries with the highest number of quitters are the Philippines, South Africa, the U.K., Australia, and the U.S.A.

Within the U.S. the analysts looked at top phrases alongside a “how to become” search. The most widespread search is “how to become a notary.” It topped the list for Illinois and most of the Midwest, Southwest, and Southeast. 

Unsurprisingly, California and New York’s top searches are “how to become a real estate agent.” Meanwhile New Mexico and Montana, ever the contrarians, are hoping to become flight attendants and personal trainers, respectively. 

Eight small figures drawn with wiggly black lines. Stand horizontally next to each other. Not recognizable creatures, but do have characteristics of known animals and humans.

Condoms, hugs, and they/them pronouns at the 2022 Winter Olympics

For a country that usually makes American headlines for human rights abuses and censorship issues, the headlines around the Beijing Winter Olympics have been surprisingly … inclusive. 

Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble are the American figure skating pair poised to break barriers at the Olympics this year. LeDuc is the first non-binary competitor to compete, while Cain-Gribble has made her mark simply by not being teeny tiny and not wearing dresses. If those seem like pretty low barriers, well, they are. But this is a sport that just last year changed its women’s category to be called “women” instead of “ladies.”

Indisputably the best headline so far has been “Condoms available but hugs discouraged at Beijing Winter Olympics,” from CNN. Condoms have been part of the village package since they were handed out during the 1988 Seoul Olympics (at the time, to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS). The practice just seems a little bit baffling in a space where hugs and high-fives are out-of-bounds. According to the Olympic Committee, however, athletes and journalists are encouraged to take them home, rather than use them in Olympic village. Some souvenir. 

Little contour people. Drawn with black lines. Have human and animal characteristics but are unrecognizable as anything familiar.

Also of note

According to Axios Chicago, Streets and Sanitation is going to start collecting dibs on Friday. Time to tuck away that shredded wicker chair until next season, neighbor. Blame the 3,200 residents who called 311 to complain about it just last month, or blame the 40-50 degree highs we’re heading into this week. No one wants soggy dibs.

Speaking of 50 in February, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists released their 2022 report and have officially announced: the Doomsday Clock is 100 seconds to midnight.

Since we’re preparing for the end of the world and all, there’s no use investing in creature comforts like armchairs and beds anymore, so a bunch of euro companies have been cranking out cardboard furniture as an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to furnish your dorm. The next IKEA or just another dumpster fire? 

Feel free to send your thoughts, reactions, or any other ‘of notes’ to pyamas@saic.edu. ‘Til next Sunday!

Parker Yamasaki (MANAJ 2023) is the managing editor at F Newsmagazine. She is constantly looking for a sunnier place to sit.

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