Articles of Interest, August 2018

5 or 6 of the most interesting things I’ve read in August. Doesn’t necessarily mean that these things were published in August, that’s just when I happened to read them for the first time.

The Missing Middle of Biking

There are short-term bike share and full bike ownership options, but nothing in between to bridge the gap between price accessibility and overall usefulness, especially in smaller places where bike share is harder to come by. Today, I’ll introduce a system of bike rental that could solve this problem.

I’m glad that there are people thinking about this. I’m from a comfortably middle class family, but if I didn’t already have a bike, I would definitely struggle to justify buying one with all my student debt and expenses. I can’t imagine how much worse it could be for those who are actually struggling.

This is going to be a really dorky post, but I’d like talk about why the far right has been able to use memes so effectively while the left has not.

There is a large demographic with a repressed hatred for Muslims, but there is no demographic with a repressed love for Stalin or “socialist states.”

I absolutely love anything that talks about how memes shape political discourse and I feel like there definitely could be more of it, my collection is growing way too slowly. If you see any in the wild please forward it to me thanks!!!!


What is the right dose of melatonin?

0.3 mg.

“But my local drugstore sells 10 mg pills! When I asked if they had anything lower, they looked through their stockroom and were eventually able to find 3 mg pills! And you’re saying the correct dose is a third of a milligram?!”

Yes. Most existing melatonin tablets are around ten to thirty times the correct dose.

I’ve been using melatonin wrong my entire life. Scott digs through journals and explains the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry to tell me why. The writer of this blog is not a sleep specialist, but he did go to medical school and is a practising psychiatrist. I would trust his opinion more than I would the average internet blogger when it comes to medical stuff.

If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer

So there’s a huge responsibility here: unless you’re sourcing your vegan products specifically from organic, “no-dig” systems, you are actively participating in the destruction of soil biota, promoting a system that deprives other species, including small mammals, birds and reptiles, of the conditions for life, and significantly contributing to climate change.

Our ecology evolved with large herbivores – with free-roaming herds of aurochs (the ancestral cow), tarpan (the original horse), elk, bear, bison, red deer, roe deer, wild boar and millions of beavers. They are species whose interactions with the environment sustain and promote life. Using herbivores as part of the farming cycle can go a long way towards making agriculture sustainable.

I like this article and I think it says a lot of interesting and true things about how byzantine eating green could be. I’m not sure there’s anything actionable on my end because I don’t live near the farm of the author of this piece. I’m worried that I might like this piece as much as I do because it gives me an excuse to not stop eating meat.

Do Men Enter Bathtubs on Hands and Knees So Their Balls Hit the Water Last?

“I just feel like the balls are basically in the middle of the X, Y, and Z axes of the body and there’s no way to make them go anywhere last. Head, torso, balls, legs. No matter how you dunk a body in water the balls can’t be the last in.”

I don’t remember the last time a piece had me laughing for so long that I almost died of asphyxiation. As soon as you think you familiarised yourself with the style and can handle the rest of the article, the article throws something new at you. Sometimes, that something new is bright green and very dangly. Please read this piece.

Articles of Interest, July 2018

I’m going to start doing a thing where after a month ends I’ll do a retrospective of five or six articles that I saved in my Evernote account during that month. Because sometimes I read some cool stuff, and because I think I should be averaging more than like 2 blog posts a year 🙁

So without further ado:

The only way we’re ever going to solve homelessness is by giving free housing to homeless people.

We live in a society that treats housing like something you have to “earn” by proving yourself worthy of it, and that toxic thinking has put us in a position where we’re literally willing to spend more money to have people sleeping in the streets.

I feel really sad that sometimes the most “rational” solution is one that doesn’t look nice politically, and therefore will never be implemented as well as it could be. This is kind of similar to prison reform – the fact that all politicians want to look “tough on crime” means that we will never be reducing violence in our communities as well as we can be.

With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism + some further discussion

A common-place [saying] in these kinds of communities is something like, “If somebody less privileged comes to you to say that what you are doing is hurting them, you need to shut up and listen.”

But I have continuously noticed the times when this doesn’t happen. I think I first started to become conscious of it a few years back, when Chris Rock gave that interview where he said he wouldn’t do comedy on college campuses anymore because it was just too oppressive and stressful.

Not once, not one single time, did I hear anybody say, “Wow, this very politically aware, politically experienced black man is saying that the communities we are building are systematically excluding him and people like him. As allies, we should take this criticism very seriously.”

Instead, I heard people pretty much universally going, “God, I can’t believe Chris Rock inexplicably became an idiot. Thank goodness other comedians are putting this dummy in his place.”

A more modern, pertinent example maybe: in episode 2 of Riverdale when Veronica, a white girl who is literally a millionaire heiress, calls the black son of a teacher privileged 😐

The original article is very long, but if you’re someone involved in social justice communities I would say that it’s a pretty important read. The discussion I think also raises some interesting points. Reading the anecdote about Chris Rock made me realise that I was That Type of SJW. I wouldn’t have corrected course without it.

Our homes don’t need formal spaces

These spaces aren’t really designed for entertaining. They’re designed for impressing others. And not just impressing others: After all, it’s general politeness to compliment a host on their home no matter how impressive it is. The real goal, deeply embedded in these oversized, over-elaborate houses, is not for guests to say, “Oh wow, this is nice,” but to make them think, “Oh wow, this is nicer than what I have and now I feel jealous and insecure.” In true American irony, these giant “social” spaces (and McMansions in general) are birthed from a deeply antisocial sentiment: making others feel small.

Check out this sick graphic from the study linked as well:


I gotta say, this is pretty close to how activity at my parents’ house looks like. Also, this kind of looks like the layout to their home. I should maybe do more reading into classic/standard house layouts.

Philosophy Bro – Peter Singer’s Drowning Child Argument

Like, let’s say I’m on my way to a bitchin’ party and I’m looking fly as shit and I smell good because you already know, and I’ve got a 30-rack of Natty because I’ll be goddamned if I show up empty-handed to the house I’m about to burn down. Once I get over this bridge, and turn the corner I’ve arrived and so has the party. Except I hear a bunch of splashing and I look over the bridge into the river and – fuck me – there’s a kid flailing around and calling for help, like he’s drowning for some reason instead of handling his shit like an adult.

Yeah I just discovered philosophy bro and I gotta say he’s doing god’s work. I think that a lot of good can come from making philosophy accessible to people at all levels of education, and philosophy bro makes it fun and engaging besides. If you have the time I highly recommend browsing around his site.

This twitter thread about the internet that I grew up with + the article it references

I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing “kill” directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.

that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people

that’s how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought

anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us – mediocre white teens – needed to be killed. It’s still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.

I think a large part of growing up, and getting a good education, is realizing that the culture around you as a kid was shit. It doesn’t stop you from loving and missing it. The person I am today was shaped by the internet of the 00s. An internet where anyone can be a mediocre white teen, even small Chinese girls. 

On Ethnoburbia

I’m writing my term paper on (so, reading a lot about) the Canadian ethnoburb – a relatively new subtype of suburb populated by newer, wealthier Asian immigrants.

I spent most of my life living in Don Mills and Scarborough, two very prominent Torontonian examples.

I’m reading about the ethnic shift in areas near Chinatown that my parents used to rent a basement in. When I still wrote my journals in Chinese as a very small girl.

I remember that even once we moved out from Chinatown, my parents would bus in on the weekends to buy groceries, since they were much cheaper there and it had selections of Chinese vegetables that weren’t available outside it.

I remember the first time a Chinese supermarket opened near where we lived, how much more convenient our lives got.

I’m reading about a place that our family used to go to for takeout a lot before it shut down. It’s located in the first Chinese shopping centre outside of Chinatown, and it’s a block away from where my parents still live. One that sparked massive protest by the then-mostly-white residents of Scarborough. It’s now mostly empty. (We still go to the dim-sum place next door though, pretty much every time I head back to Toronto. It’s really good.)

My parents tell me stories about the struggles they first faced here, and now I see them reflected in my textbooks. And suddenly it’s like I realize another facet to this whole personal-being-political thing.