Dear Good Cause, piss off.



Dear Good Cause,

Just a friendly note to let you know…

  • When you put me on a mailing list because I signed ONE petition or used your interface to send ONE letter…
  • When I can’t use your interface without getting put on a mailing list…
  • When you spam me with multiple messages a week…
  • When the content of those emails is so broad that it doesn’t relate in any way to the issue I was originally interested in…
  • When every message is personal and URGENTURGENTURGENT!!!!!!!!!! And you can SAVE THE WORLD! And MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

That’s when I start deleting every message without reading them.

Because there are differences between using new media technologies to connect people and using them to bombard them.

Because when there’s this many URGENT MESSAGES, the deluge becomes indistinguishable from spam.

Because while these issues are important, there’s more to working for social justice than signing online petitions, and your automated letter and petition signing system seems to me to mostly be a way of making myself feel good about how wonderful I am for caring while providing an excuse for not doing anything more substantive.

Not at all fondly,

A former subscriber

From the world pool: November 22, 2014


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Lots of stuff this week—enjoy.


Karl Stefanovic’s sexism experiment: Today presenter wears same suit for a year. (via @KameronHurley)

Some issues won’t die, and for good reason. How Ferguson showed us the truth about police: whiteboard animation by Molly Crabapple.

In case you thought prisons were all about crime: “In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs. …The debate centers around an expansive state program to have inmates fight wildfires. California is one of several states that employs prison labor to fight wildfires. And it has the largest such program, as the state’s wildfire problem rapidly expands arguably because of climate change. By employing prison inmates who are paid less than $2 per day, the state saves some $1 billion, according to a recent BuzzFeed feature of the practice.” California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor. (via @nkjemisin)

Eek! Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of (via

Not all games fit your stereotypes.That Dragon, Cancer: a Kickstarter project  “We created That Dragon, Cancer to tell the story of our son Joel and his 4-year fight against cancer. Our desire is to craft an adventure game that is poetic, playful, full of imagination and of hope. This is how we choose to honor him and his memory.”

10 Moments Black People In The Workplace Know Too Well (via Ashley Ford @iSmashFizzle)

For those wondering why so many women think catcalling is such a scary big deal, when you know, it’s really just a compliment.

Re Uber and other “cottage” industries: “…as we welcome new participants to the disruptive impact of the internet-based sharing economy, we must keep one eye on the future to make sure that we don’t build an economy based on exploitation.”

On making a living from art… an interesting pairing of articles:

Ask Polly: How Do I Make a Living As an Artist? “The bad thing about high capitalism is that we have a twisted idea about the differences between things that sell and things that don’t sell, winners and losers, masterful brands and flaccid brands. And we think of ourselves in those terms, too. This crass world holds a pretty twisted view of what it means to create something without being widely acknowledged for it.”


An Open Letter to Oprah: “To achieve the life you want, avoid situations that devalue your worth. Like when Oprah’s “The Life You Want” tour, with its tickets priced up to $999, asks you to perform for free.”

In the news

Obituary: Leslie Feinberg. “She was a pioneer in trans and lesbian issues, workers rights, and intersectionality long before anyone could define the phrase.”


Society’s Sandbox: Informal economies are the world’s biggest — and most overlooked — design research opportunity


The Secret Life of Passwords. A fascinating article about how people use passwords as memory boxes. (NYT paywall may stop you from reading it if you’re over their limit.)

Just for fun

Baby owl cuteness fix.

I tend to ignore emojis, so I only recently noticed that this one existed. Oral history of the poop emoji (via @ChrisBoese)

Quotes of the week

Every once in a while I read something, some turn of phrase, that makes me stop dead. This week there were two.

“I’m glad I know; I wish there were less to know. I feel I am running out of space but can’t see where I end anymore.Rahawa Haile (via Ashley Ford @iSmashFizzle)

“Every morning, I try to break my heart. I crush it gently between my fingers until it can fit in the palm of my hand.” —Roxane Gay

Just cool

Oh my: Imperial Tortoise Beetle, from Brazil.


Interesting mud. Really.


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hole in dirt with sunken pebble

When it’s this cold for this long, you start seeing holes in the dirt, with things lurking in their depths.

What’s in the holes? Pebbles.

This is what the soil is like underneath:

muddy dirt with frost crystals in it

These crystals are called needle ice, and have lifted a layer of dirt right up. The overall structure is quite fragile and the swollen frozen ground will collapse when you step on it.

Either the pebbles warmed up in the sun faster than the surrounding frozen soil, and sank into it, or they were too heavy for the needle ice to lift. I’m not sure which explanation applies (maybe it’s both of them).

The depth of the frost heaves created by needle ice can be quite significant: here’s a chunk with three sections built on top of each other.

ice needles

This makes cold-weather trail cycling quite interesting, I must say.

But someone likes all this frosty stuff!

dog rolling on frosty moss

Nothing like a roll on frosty moss to get the blood flowing!

From the world pool: November 15, 2014


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Get Cracking, by B Fister (via @satifice): “Don’t bother me! If I don’t polish the shiny faster than others I’ll be outshone and I can’t let that happen. —This seems entirely connected to the ways technology – that magical time-saving, tree-saving, empowering thing – has turned into a vast shopping and advertising desire-machine that has ballooned the amount of shiny surfaces we have to polish, the amount of stuff we create, the increasing demand to attract attention to our stuff so that it can be consumed. And it takes the joy out of everything.”


Africa, Uncolonized: a Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent. Fascinating for anyone interested in maps and what they show.

Archiving for Activists: a list of resources on how to archive and preserve collections of papers, ephemera and collectibles. (via @satifice)

Stanford researcher explores the truths behind myths of ancient Amazons 

Just for fun

Best sentence of the week, from Why I Didn’t See the David (and other methodologies of heartbreak: “You can try to pretend you don’t want something, but you can’t actually stop wanting it without spraining an obscure internal ligament.”

Just cool

The earliest known Arabic short stories in the world have just been translated into English for the first time.

TOMORROW’S THOUGHTS TODAY is a London-based think tank exploring the consequences of fantastic, speculative and imaginary urbanisms. Borrowing from the techniques of fiction, film and futures we deploy design speculations as an imaginative tools to help us explore the implications and consequences of emerging trends, technologies and ecological conditions. We travel far and wide, collecting weak signals and unearthing trends to be exaggerated into possible futures. We imagine alternative worlds as a means to understand our own world in new ways. TTT is developing the ‘think tank’ as a legitimate model for an architectural practice, a practice not built on buildings as endpoints but on speculations and research as products in themselves. This site is organized as an open sketchbook of our current themes and design projects an ever-expanding repository of our collective research.”

The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on annual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Join the Division as each year we navigate a different global cross section and map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures.”

Whoa. Aerial Burton 3D display projects images into mid-air.

Just beautiful. Astronaut – A journey to space (via @dynamicsymmetry)


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