September 30, 2015

Diversions: September

A selection of essays, articles, and blog posts that inspired me this month.

In many parts of this continent—heck, even in the heavily-populated urban areas like Toronto—there is a constant and conscious war on pedestrianism being fouth. It looks like pedestrians are losing. Here are some great articles that look at the decline of walking, and why this decline is a huge problem for all of us:

We are just a few weeks away from the Canadian election, and it’s no secret that over the past decade, this country has lost its way. We’ve been noticing it here for a while, but now our regression is being noticed by so many people around the world. Hopefully, a new regime after this election will work on fixing what we’ve become and turn us back into who we want to be:

Why Is Everyone Succeeding Except Me?
Here’s the honest truth: I’ve been struggling with self-esteem and the idea of life progress” recently. While I’m usually pretty good at not comparing myself to others, I haven’t been so good at not comparing my current self to some kind of idealized self that I project in my mind. I need to do a better job of reminding myself that who I am, what I’ve done, and where I am is okay: that I can always strive to be better, but that doesn’t make me bad, right now.

Life’s stories
Part of the reason I started this website was to help me process the things that happen in my life through narrative, to understand how the stories I tell about life shape the life I live. This article looks at the science that shows that story-telling and narrative are what make human life fulfilling.

The Terror of the Archive
“The terror of the personal, digital archive is not that it reveals some awful act from the past, some old self that no longer stands for us, but that it reminds us that who we are is in fact a repetition, a cycle, a circular relation of multiple selves to multiple injuries.”

Syria’s Climate-Fueled Conflict
We don’t always think of how climate change affects global politics; this comic on how climate change and drought was one of the major factors in the current conflict and chaos in Syria is enlightening but depressing.

Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.
One of the reasons I love working in digital public policy is that I get to work with really smart people who have incredible technical and technological skills, ideas, and drive, and help them understand the machinery of government so that they can make sustainable, impactful change.

The New Rules of Oyster Eating
All of these new rules seem like the same old rules I learned when I first started getting into oysters, but the writing is good, the illustrations are fun, and now I feel like eating seafood. Also, the best rule is the thirteenth one: eat them naked.

Space Jam’ Forever: The Website That Wouldn’t Die
I remember accessing the website when the movie first came out; I was more obsessed with the soundtrack than the film, but the website was a fount of knowledge on all things associated with the movie. Impressive that it’s still up in its original form.

The Meaning of Serena Williams
One day, we’re going to look back at Serena Williams and realize she was one of the greatest athletes to ever live (not female athlete, but athlete of any sex or gender) and that society’s subconscious racism never really appreciated her in the moment.

Locked Tight
It saddens me that our online discourse has grown so scathing and horrible that we are sidelining the voices that we need to speak louder.

In Defense of Small Talk
The outcry against small talk baffles me; before exploring the depths of someone’s psyche, we must learn to navigate the surface. Small talk lets us explore that surface, hopefully leading to much more.

An iPhone Journal To Improve Your Mood
Cognitive-behavioral therapy changed my life for the better. So glad that designers are taking on these important projects and making CBT available to those that need it but can’t necessarily afford the expensive therapy.

Want to build trust with employees? Stop policing their social media
A lot of the work I’ve been doing at my new job is to explore how we can build trust back into the employee-employer relationship, and how that trust can create more engaged, open, effective employees.

The Death of Thought
This is relatable: I spend so much of my day having information pushed at me, yet I spend almost no time to actually process it. Doing so would require a pause in the flow of information. And I’m afraid of what I might miss.”

What it’s like when you’re not the object of desire
In almost every one of my past relationships, it was clear that my partner didn’t find me objectively, physically attractive; they were always with me because of some other attraction. This article is a good encapsulation of what it’s like to be unattractive but yet attractive at the same time.

John Boehner Exits, Donald Trump Storms On
I didn’t agree with a lot of Boehner’s stances on policy, but I did respect him for his willingness to focus on good governance and work with congress to actually get things done, instead of the grandstanding being done by so many people in congress right now.

Color Palettes
I was lucky to grow up in an ethnically-mixed neighborhood, but know of many friends in other schools whose smartness, when coupled with their race, was seen as a threat to the teachers and administrators who were supposed to nurture them.

Patients the losers in doctor dispute
As someone who is marrying a doctor and that makes more than she does (and trust me, I don’t make much), the blanket idea that doctors are overpaid” is ridiculous. We need system reform, rather than spending cuts, if we want to save money on healthcare while still keeping up quality of care.

Systems Thinking for Kids
A lot of the work I do these days involves systems thinking, but I sometimes worry about how to talk about my work to people who haven’t been immersed in the systems design world. If we can articulate systems thinking to children, maybe we can then do a better job of articulating it to those that need to understand it but don’t have a frame of reference just yet.