People want good work

Replied to People Won’t Work! | #225 by Paul Millerd (Boundless by Paul Millerd)

So much work writing and conversation about work is filtered through the moral industrial lens of being a “good worker.” It’s as if our sole purpose on this Earth is to serve the GDP gods. But this ignores the messy reality of being a human in the year 2023 and more importantly, ignores that being a good worker does not mean that you will be blessed with good work.

To have lots of good work you can spend your time on, you need to weed out the wrong work and learn to trust that good work will eventually emerge in the space that you create.

At my last job, I created so much work for myself. I basically assigned myself a secondary outreach position because it was work I wanted to do. I volunteered for, no, sought out projects in other departments that sounded fun, like designing interpretive signs for parks. I initiated and built relationships with community organizations of my own volition, not because anyone asked me to; I partnered with the local technical college and sat in on evening classes to help mentor environmental creative work. I volunteered for committee jobs and responsibilities, I started up events that hadn’t existed before, I managed projects that needed to happen because no one else wanted to, I invented and led new programs, I coordinated across silos because no one else was doing it.

Lol, all that and I still couldn’t get a raise 🙃 Why did I bust my ass for so long? Probably because a lot of it was good work. But man, no wonder I burned out!

It never occurred to me I could simply… work to rule. Only do what I was instructed, what was expected. That I didn’t need to fill every moment of every workday. That I didn’t have to always be adding something new, that I could just do the same as always. That there could even be value in leaving space during the day.

Political Commentary

We’re due for a new political party

Replied to Millennials Will Not Age Into Voting Like Boomers by an author (Intelligencer)

Older millennial voters have grown a bit more conservative as they’ve aged. But the generations voting behavior and social values remain distinctively leftwing, which is a threat to the conservative movement’s future.

Like has happened several times in American history, I think we’re due in the next 10 years for the creation / rise of a new political party: Democrats can become the centrist / right party, and a new progressive party can reflect the views of Millennials and Gen Z, while the Republican party implodes from cultural irrelevance and a lack of coherent policy. (Assuming they don’t take over and block everyone but white men from voting. But eventually the old people will die (not retire apparently 🙄) and open up seats for younger politicians.)

Personally, I have gotten way more liberal since high school (and I was active in protesting the Iraq invasion) as I’ve learned more about progressive ideas and racism — I don’t expect that trend to reverse as I age. This seems to be true of my friends too.

Activism History Science

The colonial stink of museums

Replied to America’s Museums Fail to Return Native American Human Remains by an author (

The remains of more than 100,000 Native Americans are held by prestigious U.S. institutions, despite a 1990 law meant to return them to tribal nations. Here’s how the ancestors were stolen — and how tribes are working to get them back.

Something is very, very wrong with museums.

It’s despicable enough to steal the cultural heritage of people whose homes your nation has colonized, and it’s another altogether to refuse to return human fucking remains.

How colonialist to claim that an institution is the most appropriate place for human remains simply because there isn’t a written record of heritage — to dismiss oral histories as evidence. How unethical and vile to use that excuse to keep people’s ancestors as “specimens” to study. How paternalistic to claim that a museum can better caretake people’s remains than any tribe who would honor the person once embodied.


Read Something Wild & Wonderful

Read Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly

Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail begins with a single snake. And it is angling for the hot stranger who seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Lex is prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he isn’t prepared for is Ben Caravalho. But somehow—on a 2,500-mile trail—Alexei keeps running into the outgoing and charismatic hiker with golden-brown eyes, again and again. It might be coincidence. Then again, maybe there’s a reason the trail keeps bringing them together . . .

Ben has made his fair share of bad decisions, and almost all of them involved beautiful men. And yet there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that Ben can’t just walk away from. Surely a bad decision can’t be this cute and smart. And there are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life. But when their plans for the future are turned upside down, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.

I liked their dynamic together. Alexei’s interest in birds was a nice element. I enjoyed the brusque side character Ruby.

At their split, I didn’t think the second “reason” was necessary for Ben’s choice. I thought the epistolary segment worked well. This didn’t end how I expected, but I thought the ending worked. I think it would have been beneficial for Ben to have a little more of a *moment* of realization, but probably slow dawning is more realistic 😉 What he did for Alexei at the end was cute and was convincing that he’d begun his path of change.

As a backpacker who’s read and watched a lot about through-hiking, but hasn’t done anything longer than two weeks, this felt pretty true to my experiences and reflects what I’ve read. I appreciated that the author showed hikers of all stripes, reflecting the greater diversity of people enjoying the outdoors today.

Mild spoiler below the cut.


Weeknotes: May 27-June 2, 2023

We saw a coyote chilling in our backyard last weekend!

Stuff I did:

  • 13.25 hours of business development
  • Submitted my statement of qualifications! Except I forgot to include a form promising I haven’t bribed the government, so they may disqualify my proposal 😭
  • 4.75 hours of writing
  • Took Monday off work, wrote instead 😉
  • 3 hours consulting
  • Troubleshot a dishwasher error message 😑🦾
  • Weeded for an hour over two days
  • Baked dreamy cream scones and apple crisp
  • Joined three new Discord servers (for self-published writers and local urbanism)
Lifestyle Personal Growth

How often do you deny yourself?

Quoted Joyletter by Ingrid Fetell Lee (School of Joy)

How often do decline your body’s invitation to pleasure?

I like this prompt, from this week’s Joyletter. One thing my husband does that I don’t is, when he wants something, he just goes and gets it. I dither over whether or not I need a cookie, or give myself reasons why I shouldn’t make an extra stop on my way home, or add something to my Pinterest wishlist, then never get it. It’s a balance: I don’t need a cookie every time I want one, and I don’t need to buy every piece of art that strikes my fancy — but maybe sometimes I should get it. I don’t treat myself often enough.

Political Commentary

Free speech distortion, cancel culture confusion

Speech or Cancel Culture At Boston University? by Ken White (The Popehat Review)

But are labor protests cancel culture now? Is not paying writers a form of controversial expression that we ought to hear out and react to with refined and well-moderated debate? Is the entire history of the American labor movement’s raucousness a history of woke censorship?


Or is that all cynical partisan bullshit, a way to delegitimize certain (usually left-leaning) political views while pretending to be noble and pro-free-speech?

I also think it’s notably obtuse for the president to act as though these students should have no say in their graduation ceremony. Inviting an anti-labor CEO in the midst of a writer’s strike is an implicit endorsement of his tactics, rubbing the graduating students’ noses in their university’s political stance, showing that they care more about the prestige of their speakers than their students’ opinions. To be forced to listen to some anti-union slimer would certainly ruin my graduation day — a day of celebration and achievement tarnished by someone who disrespects the value of work or creativity.

(via Dan the Clam Man)

Technology Work

A proposal for generative AI standards from Neil Clarke

Replied to AI statement by Neil Clarke (

I’ve complained that various publishing industry groups have been slow to respond to recent developments in AI, like LLMs. Over the last week, I’ve been tinkering with a series of “belief” statements that other industry folks could sign onto.

We believe that governments should craft meaningful legislation that both protects the rights of individuals, promotes the promise of this technology, and specifies consequences for those who seek to abuse it.

We believe that governments should be seeking advice on this legislation from a considerably wider range of people than just those who profit from this technology.


Another thing I’m scared of happening is that EULAs will essentially require consent for the material you create with a product to be used as training data. I’m particularly concerned about Microsoft as creator of the largest office software suite and heavy investor in very expensive to operate generative AI — to justify a ten billion dollar spend, they’re going to want everyone using it all the time. I’m scared that future personal versions of Word (probably not enterprise, to protect corporations) will require agreement that anything you write in it will be used to train its AI tools — that they’ll bill it as necessary data so they can provide users with ‘quality generative tools.’

Microsoft has lost a vast amount of respect from me lately, and not just with my husband getting laid off — the way they approached the layoffs was poor and the way they’re treating the remaining staff is disrespectful; they’re throwing fortunes into generative AI and investing in fucking fusion while telling staff they won’t get raises and bonus budgets are down, and breaking their promises by continuing layoffs past the date they’d given staff. Not enough people left the company on their own, so they’re trying to drive away more: no severance to pay that way 🤷‍♀️ And if employees stay because there’s a glut of tech talent right now thanks to the widespread industry layoffs, well, that’s just market conditions — how could poor poor Microsoft possibly afford to offer their employees raises with inflation like this? 🥾🤑

By going all-in on generative AI, basically Microsoft is telling me:

  1. They want to fire as many of their own staff as possible, as soon as possible
  2. They want to make it easier for other companies using their software to fire as many staff as possible
  3. They dgasf about diversity, inclusion, or anything of that nature given the bias baked into generative AI through the current maximum vacuum then filter out the most blatant racism and bias approach
  4. They also dgaf about the environment or climate change because AI is a massive water hog and energy suck (hence the fusion hail mary) — and the bottom is falling out of the shitty carbon offsets industry

See also:

Wage stagnation vs corporate profit

Mining intellectual value

Activism Getting Shit Done

If you ever doubt a single person can make a difference…

Bookmarked ‘Only 11 People’ Responsible for Majority of ‘Book Ban’ Requests?…,‘Only 11 People’ Responsible for Majority of ‘Book Ban’ Requests? by Kim LaCapria (

A May 2023 PEN America analysis of “book ban” requests found that most were filed by just eleven people.

… just think of the dozen people who have single-handedly gotten hundreds of books banned across the US! 🙃

One person can do a lot of harm as the squeaky wheel. How can you be a squeaky wheel for good?

See also:

Unite Against Book Bans

The Rights of children

Oppression against public opinion

The tactic of destroying the meaning of words


Nudging people towards overlooked books with inspired recommendations

Liked How to Decide which Books to Recomend? by Sara Jakša (Blog of Sara Jakša)

But that also means, that if they are not willing to provide the context, I can decide to recommend whatever I want.

One good thing would be, if I could recommend the books, that are not normally read by other people.

It’s so hard to recommend books to people who haven’t read much and don’t know what they like! I love Sara’s perspective to see it as an opportunity to recommend less-read books outside of the usual titles you’d find on a booklist, or that “everyone” has read. And really, isn’t that what people are looking for — a book they can love, a story that really resonated with someone else? Book lists are a shortcut to taste, but have traditionally not been good at including titles written by women, queer folk, and people of color — so that’s another opportunity to point people to more diverse authors than the standard bestseller list too 🙂

(Like Sara, I would usually also recommend Uprooted 😉 My less popular readalike might be Swordheart by T. Kingfisher.)