Activism Getting Shit Done

Maintenance supports change

Bookmarked The Year Ahead by Nora N. Khan (

What I’ve learned: their maintenance in crisis seems both a matter of “grit”, as much as a matter of great invention… Maintenance is the daily, unsexy work that’s needed for the radical to bloom. It is thinking-heavy work that doesn’t get labeled as intellectual. Maintenance allows for a practice of *thinking with,* and *thinking through,* to a way out… The work of maintenance is foundational to create new spaces to protect that rare idea, that tender practice, that thread of a thought that can so easily be lost.

Not sure how I feel about this argument but I’m intrigued.

Future Building

Embracing authoritarianism to keep power and quash change

Liked 44 thoughts about the future by Ben WerdmullerBen Werdmuller (

Two. I think the (re-)rise of authoritarianism and the increasing importance of the climate crisis are linked. It’s not an accident that Bolsonaro was in favor of felling the Amazon or that Trump had such a strong fossil fuels agenda. If a wealthy industry feels like it might be politically under threat, it’s going to do everything it can to change the politics and create a context where it is protected.

Eleven. In a world based on profiling, probabilistic prediction models, corpus-based decision-making, and near-ubiquitous surveillance, only people who don’t conform to the models anticipated by the people who built and designed the systems and therefore aren’t tracked as closely can really be free.

Emphasis mine.


Rethinking the way we publish science

Liked The dance of the naked emperors by Adam Mastroianni (Experimental History)

To recap, I argued in my last post that:

1. We’ve published science lots of different ways for a long time, and universal pre-publication peer review is both pretty new and historically strange.

2. That system doesn’t seem to accomplish the goals that it claims to or that we wish it would.

3. It’s worthwhile to try other things.

That’s also why I’m not worried about an onslaught of terrible papers—we’ve already got an onslaught of terrible papers.

Sick burn 😂

But seriously, it is not good for society or science when access to scientific research is limited to academics. This only reinforces the perceived division between academics and the public, and exacerbates anti-intellectualism. And, it is hardly helpful for scientists to be silo’d away from the public either — any insular group will miss out on the perspectives and wisdom of other groups of people with different backgrounds and experience. Shifting the expectation that papers should be readable by laypeople would encourage plainer language and force writers to clarify their explanations.

If science weren’t hidden behind expensive paywalls, people outside academia could draw on the latest research for decisions, and participate in conversations about science. Codesign is on the rise in community engagement and graphic design; improving access could enable communities to give input to projects and future research. Instead of researchers coming up with projects on their own, they could listen to the needs of the community to fill in gaps (for example, the gap in medical research for women).

Also learned a new concept, weak-link problem, from his referenced article The Rise and Fall of Peer Review:

Why did peer review seem so reasonable in the first place?

I think we had the wrong model of how science works. We treated science like it’s a weak-link problem where progress depends on the quality of our worst work. If you believe in weak-link science, you think it’s very important to stamp out untrue ideas—ideally, prevent them from being published in the first place. You don’t mind if you whack a few good ideas in the process, because it’s so important to bury the bad stuff.

But science is a strong-link problem: progress depends on the quality of our best work.

See also: Imagining a better way — for everything

Reflection The Internet Writing

Questions to guide what you write online to help shape the internet you want

Replied to Revisiting Remarkable Content to Consider Digital Ecology by Tara McMullinTara McMullin (

1) Do you create the kind of content you want to engage with online?
2) How much would you enjoy (or at least benefit from) an internet where everyone was creating the same kind of content as you are?

I like these questions and her framework of stewardship of the internet you want to see, which is what I feel participating in the IndieWeb now is about — I can be an ‘early’ adopter of technologies that allow people to interact with others from their website, to help show that it can be done and spread its use a little farther beyond tech folk.

The internet is not some towering behemoth, either. It’s something that we produce every single day. Every morning we wake up and re-create the internet. The more people wake up and decide to create something else, the more the internet becomes something else.

In response to her two guiding questions, I am actually pretty happy with what I’m posting online, and do like to read other people’s blogs. My philosophy to using is to be empathetic, enthusiastic, and helpful — to applaud people’s accomplishments, heart-eye their cat pics, and share my advice or opinion when it’s asked for — basically, being friendly 🤷‍♀️ I was mostly a lurker on Twitter and never really interacted using Twitter, so it’s been nice to hang out in an online space where I feel comfortable chiming in on anyone’s post.

I also like to read long articles informed by deep knowledge or research, and cultural critiques. This… isn’t necessarily the kind of essay I tend to write even on my blog 😉 I don’t have the confidence in my breadth of knowledge to feel comfortable writing anything that draws on a solid understanding of history or modern mainstream culture. But, I could consider writing more about my areas of expertise. When I had a day job, I wanted a separation between what I think about in my free time (i.e. blogging) and what I was paid to think about, so I have written very little about the environment online. This could be something to reconsider now I’m freelance.

Her prompt of considering “the writers, podcasters, and creators who excited me,” and looking for commonalities across their work seems useful.

Some of the writers whose online work really resonates with me are:

  • Anne Helen Peterson – journalist applying cultural critique to a wide range of social justice issues
  • Craig Mod – multi-talented writer deeply engaging with place and the physicality of experience
  • Oliver Burkeman – reflecting on the creative process with a no-nonsense yet kind approach
  • Ingrid Fetell Lee – centering joy and the pursuit of happiness through daily life and personal growth
  • David Cain – sharing personal experiences generalized to reflect on making life better and less stressful
  • Courtney Milan –  personal reflections universalized and translated into tea and fiction, drawing on determination and clear-eyed, action-driven hope about the future
  • Robin Sloan – channeling excitement and curiosity and playfulness, and building a sense of community and wonder
Future Building Political Commentary

We need our politicians to commit to change if we’re gonna get through climate change

Replied to Add Dedicated Bus Lanes for Every Route by Ryan DiRaimo (The Urbanist)

Paint is cheap. Results are bold. Carbon savings are forever.

Wild idea: Give EVERY bus their own lane
Any bus route currently on a road that has two or more lanes in each direction should immediately paint that far right lane red.

Hell yeah! Just GET. IT. DONE. All of our transit and pedestrian and bike improvements take forever to build but we’re still subsidizing the shit out of driving, making it seem cheaper than it really is to drive.

And a commitment like giving buses priority literally everywhere is what it takes to actually get people to change their behavior. You need to make the desirable behavior way more attractive than the default — which sometimes means also making the (socially and environmentally harmful) default activity less desirable.* Trade a moderate increase in traffic for a drastic increase in bus reliability and reduction in travel times. Reward people doing the right thing, instead of our current punishment (it takes me 20 minutes to drive to Seattle (without traffic) and 10 to park, compared to 40-60 minutes to bus, plus a 10 minute drive or 40 minute walk to the transit center (yay transit-less suburbs!).

Right now we enjoy personal externalities for driving, with society and the environment bearing the brunt of our choice to drive. I don’t think it unreasonable to make people internalize some of the drawbacks of that choice so they can make a truly informed decision while bearing responsibility for it.**

My city’s considering a $20/year car tab to pay for installing bike and sidewalk infrastructure in seven years — which will otherwise take THIRTY FUCKING YEARS to build at current funding levels. EXCUSE ME? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of my laughing. Or is that sobbing. You’re telling me that, in the midst of a climate crisis, you’re OK with our city remaining unsafe to walk and bike through till I’m retired? 🤣🤣🤣

Sometimes we need our leaders to just lead. See what needs to happen, have a vision, and acknowledge that you’re making everyone’s life better in the long run even if individuals will need to adapt to some changes.

I’d love to see a politician willing to only serve one term so they didn’t have to care about pissing people off. Because people hate change, but we need BIG change, NOW. Either we choose some changes to make ourselves — more than we want, faster than we want — or the changing climate will make us change, and that way ain’t gonna be fun for anyone 😳

* I live in the suburbs and I drive 🙋 I’d rather ride my bike but I don’t want to die. I’d rather take the bus but I don’t have time for it to take three times as long to get somewhere. We can’t *only* make things worse for drivers; we also need to invest in our transit system and bike infrastructure so it’s safe and convenient to make the right choice, not just inconvenient to keep making the wrong one.

** Likewise, society needs to make it easier for people to escape the poor choices they’ve locked themselves into. Building as much housing as fucking possible — affordable and comfortable housing (both for individuals and families) — can let people who currently live in the boonies move closer in and escape those carbon spewing commutes. Part of that means lifting restrictions on development, part is imposing more restrictions on what gets built so it’s not all luxury condos or cheapo junk with no soundproofing. ALSO we could incentivize telecommuting instead of forcing people to come back to the office 😠

Political Commentary Society

The shifting baseline of normal

Shifting baseline is a known phenomenon in ecology that’s led to / accompanied complacency with the collapse of the salmon population, for example. I didn’t really think people would adopt a new baseline for wildfires and drought and flooding but I guess I should have expected it 🤷‍♀️ People *really* hate making changes to their own life — and admitting when things aren’t working — and they’ll accept a *lot* before they’ll acknowledge the need for drastic change.

Activism Comics Environment

Conservation after collapse


Art and Design

A form’s platonic ideal

Liked Just a formality by Bobbie Johnson (

I like discovering the platonic ideal of a particular format…

I like the description mentioned from David Byrne here of music and formats tessellating each other as they changed and people’s tastes changed.

Lifestyle Personal Growth

Time for change?

Liked How Do I Know When It’s Time to Make a Change? by Katie Hawkins-Gaar (My Sweet Dumb Brain)

if you’re asking whether you should make a major life change then, yes, it’s probably time for a change.

One of my favorite tricks for transitioning from thinking to doing is to give myself a deadline. I learned this tip from my friend and former coworker, Kristen Hare … Kristen explained that she would pick a random date—usually three or six months from her current moment of unhappiness—and block off time on her calendar for reflection. During that date in the future, she makes a note to check in with herself. Am I still as unhappy as I was six months ago?

Personal Growth

Shedding Old Dreams and Lives

Liked It’s Okay to Outgrow the Life You Thought You Wanted by Rainesford Stauffer (Medium)

Growing out of things is spun as a given: Old clothes that no longer fit or feel like you, jobs or schools, phases of life, living situations, habits. Growth is part of the plan, the part those of us lucky enough to get to grow up, and continue growing, go through.
That doesn’t mean parts of growth aren’t brutal, and complicated. While the obvious versions of growth — new phases, new moves, new beginnings — get a lot of airtime, what pops up less often is the inverse: What happens when you step into the life you’ve worked for, and realize it no longer feels as fulfilling as you imagined it would?

Outgrowing came in all different versions: Perfect-on-paper relationships left. Graduate programs stopped in the middle. Moves made to return somewhere someone never thought they’d end up, or to escape a place they never imagined leaving. Side hustle plans left undone. None of these things — contrary to the common narrative — were giving up, or giving in, or abandoning wildest dreams. They were changing dreams; they were growth, a sort I rarely heard talked about openly.

[R]enegotiating what we want with ourselves shouldn’t be an inherent taboo, a signal that we’ve ventured off track or away from the plan.

Things ending doesn’t mean they were a failure all through.

Admitting something comfortable or hard earned isn’t working is challenging but valuable. Comes back to learning to listen to yourself.