Imagining a better way — for everything

Liked Things could be better by Adam Mastroianni (Experimental History)

Eight studies reveal a (possibly universal) bias in human imagination

The paper you just read could never be published in a scientific journal. The studies themselves are just as good as the ones Ethan and I have published in fancy journals, but writing about science this way is verboten.

For instance, in a journal you’re not allowed to say things like “we don’t know why this happens.” You’re not allowed to admit that you forgot why you ran a study.

Even in the world of science, where “wrong” answers are as useful as “right,” people want to look like they are smart and got it right first try.

And for writing, people conflate complex with quality, when in fact simpler communication can be more challenging to write because it cannot rely on an audience’s knowledge of jargon or the field and must fully explain everything from assumptions to method to reasoning to the implications of the results.

Love the radical approach to self-publishing scientific research — I’m curious how he feels about the quantity and quality of commentary he got on this compared to articles in a journal.

Because paywalling science really sucks. Limiting access to institutions deprives the public of access to humanity’s realm of knowledge, while excluding anyone but experts from participating in science (when let’s be real a lot of science is very MacGuyver/DIY-y in its tangibles — like the ecological research I worked on involved 5 gallon buckets buried in the dirt with damp sponges at the bottom and kiddie soccer cones binder clipped to tubes of wire fencing). Could democratizing research help with anti-intellectualism?

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 Society

A Magic Wand

Replied to We’re on the cusp of another revolution by Ray (

💬 Replied to Will “good enough” AI beat human artists? — Tracy Durnell → “I’d say AI is not good enough yet for most use cases, but it will get

I love this way of thinking about the new AI art tools: magic. I am excited to see how people without art training use them, plus how artists will use renderings as tools (to iterate ideas quickly, to storyboard, to create mood / conceptual art, etc.). There’s a lot of good that can come from tools like this, and they seem like fun!

I’m just wary of the impact of tools like this in our corporatist society that values people only for the paid work they produce, and doesn’t support providing a social safety net. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become much more sympathetic to the Luddites, whose skilled labor had given them a good lifestyle since they were paid by the piece and could work as much or little as they wanted; mechanized looms stole their power and lifestyle by replacing skilled work with drudge work in poor conditions for low pay. Mechanized weaving made cloth more affordable and more widely available, so I can’t say it was a bad tool, but we’re still suffering the social fallout from the way mechanization was used and who controlled it. I still hope as a society we can work through some of these issues and grow into a culture where a cool new tool doesn’t spell possible financial disaster for a whole profession.

Romance Society Writing

Romance and Apocalypse

Watched Kit Rocha Dance with the Devil Virtual Event from

Tune in to our Live Stream Virtual Event with Kit Rocha to celebrate their third Mercenary Librarians novel, Dance with the Devil. They will be in conversation with Alyssa Cole and Courtney Milan to chat about all things romance!

  • Community after the apocalypse — tool libraries, community gardens
  • It’s about not waiting for permission, but seeing what is needed and doing something that will help — like these authors organized Romancing the Vote to raise money for Fair Fight in like 12 hours
  • Hope isn’t lame — why are we all so scared we’ll be made fun of for thinking something good might happen?
  • Preppers have no long-term plan — need community, can’t just stay in your commune
  • Historical fiction actually isn’t that much more research than other genres
  • A lot of dystopias never actually consider food production and logistics — food (especially tasty food) becomes leverage / power
  • Our current food systems and supply lines are not resilient — need to grow a variety of crops as a community because no one has room to grow enough of everything
  • Interesting when writing mirrors real life — writing dystopia during dystopia sucks 😂 — Alyssa was getting dx’d with ADHD at the same time (unintentionally) she was writing A Duke by Default with an ADHD lead
  • Themes arise organically during writing… maybe before you’re ready to process a problem but getting started will work their way into the book
Environment Political Commentary

This climate bill is a huge fucking deal

Watched The Biggest Deal in Climate History Almost Didn’t Happen from YouTube

The thing about this bill is that it’s going to keep having a huge impact on the country for many many years and, mostly, we will not even notice. That’s wha…

It’s still not enough money, but it’ll help a lot. And more than just the money, simply taking big action against climate change could help the psychological problem that no one feels like they can do anything and there’s no hope. There are things individuals and cities and counties and states can do, we just need to start doing them NOW. There is hope, as long as we quit dragging our feet.

Also some other cool benefits added in for healthcare and taxes.

Activism Political Commentary Society

The news is a drag

Liked I have a secret. I hid it for years. by Amanda Ripley (Unraveled)

Even when things get better, when Covid cases plummet, when Congress actually acts, when a police department get reformed, when greenhouse gases get cut… the framing of the news doesn’t change. It remains the same: Vibrating with anxiety, reflexively disappointed, rarely delighted.

It’s like that friend you have — who always sees the worst in everything. You go out for coffee and feel empty afterward. Finally, you stop going.

I like this comparison — that the news is that person who’s always a drag.

So what would be better? In the essay, I make the case for routinely and systematically reporting out Hope, Agency and Dignity in every story.

Hope and agency for sure; right now the news feels disempowering and hope-draining — and that it’s intended to! The publisher’s goal is the clickbait headline, which often preys on your fears or manipulates you through your sense of identity — but in being so endlessly negative they support the fascists who want you to give up on social justice because there’s no hope, they back the corporations who want you to give up on climate change because there’s no hope, and they further divisions by turning you against the outgroup — whoever isn’t like you.

We need to see signs of agency and hope so we will risk action even when the stakes are high — especially when those in danger are someone unlike us.

See also: don’t read the news

Activism Future Building Political Commentary

The duty of hope

Liked Even at the End of the World, There’s Still a Duty of Hope by Maria Farrell (Medium)

That all sound hopeless and unstoppable, but it’s just what they want you to think. We need to act urgently, fix what we can, and set fire to the rest. We need to figure out how to achieve deep, structural change without the bloody costs of revolution. We need to squeeze democracy through the eye of that needle, and we’ve got a couple decades at most to do it.

The duty of hope means despair is unethical.

Personal Growth

There is No Yet

Quoted Our stutter by Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

Stuttering doesn’t just belong to the person who stutters — it’s something we share.

There is no yet. As somebody who is constantly imagining the worst, that stopped me dead in my tracks. You could write a whole book with those words: There is no yet.

— Austin Kleon