We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves.

– Marcel Proust


Featured artist: Ozcar Aguilar

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 216!

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In a recent episode of the Ezra Klein Show, Ezra talks to climate activist and writer Bill McKibben about how we turn the policy achievements of the climate movement into real world results. Now that a number of significant bills and policies have been passed by governments around the world, our attention must shift to execution: how do we retrain, retool, rebuild entire industries quickly enough so that the climate goals in those bills can actually be achieved?

The conversation shows just how big a task lies ahead of us. There are very few analogues for the scale and speed of industrial production required to achieve what is being proposed. McKibben compares it to the industrial mobilisation during WWII.

I have vague memories of older family members telling stories about how all-consuming that war was. There was hardly anybody whose job wasn’t directly or indirectly connected to war-related building or manufacturing. Viewed through this lens, McKibben makes a great observation:

“My guess is that the limiting factors are going to be, A, whether we can overcome the fossil fuel industry’s meddling, and, B, whether we can build out, above all, the ‘human capital’ that we need. I mean, the best estimate is that it’s going to take at least a million more electricians in the US. If you know a young person who wants to do something that’s going to help the world and wants to make a good living at the same time, tell them to go become an electrician.”

The fight for a liveable future for all is far from over, but we’re past the point of just imagining a new world. We now need to start building it, and that requires something akin to a war-time effort. Everybody has something to contribute. – Kai


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Gather →

Magnetic organisation that streamlines your desk

The new Gather Collection simplifies your desk by providing a home for all of your essential items. The magnetic system allows for complete flexibility so you can create your perfect setup. Gather is crafted from premium materials in Pennsylvania, USA.


Apps & Sites

Cubox →

Read-it-later app

I’ve been looking for a more powerful read-it-later alternative to Pocket and Cubox ticks a lot of boxes. It offers highlights, annotations, email-import and connects with a range of other tools. The only thing currently missing is browser extension support for Firefox.

Endel →

Personalised soundscapes

The Endel app claims that its customised ambient sounds can help you focus, relax and sleep. “Our patented technology creates soundscapes that adapt in real-time. It reacts to inputs like time of day, weather, heart rate, and location.”

Grace →

Privacy-first parental control for iOS

This is one for parents of kids entering the ‘screen age’: a freemium app with feature-rich parental controls for iPhone and iPad built on the Apple Screen Time API. For example: set a daily maximum screen time use or limit the amount of time allowed for just one specific app.

ProxiMovie →

Find similar movies

ProxiMovie is a large directory of movies and TV shows that lets you find similar movies/shows based on various criteria: type, plot, actors, even movie posters. You can also browse by themes, crew members, actors or country.


Worthy Five: Tobias Günther


Five recommendations by entrepreneur and meditation teacher Tobias Günther

A concept worth understanding:

‘Mood follows action!’ Often, I find myself ‘not in the mood’ to do something (e.g. some much-needed exercise or doing the dishes). But just as often, I’m surprised to find that my mood changes in a positive direction once I’ve started. Taking action has a powerful effect.

A question worth asking:

When we think about changing a habit, starting a new project, or taking on a new client, we often put ourselves under too much pressure. We feel like we must solve all the problems (ours, other people’s and the planet’s) at once. By asking ‘Does this give more to the world than it takes?’, we learn to be a little less hard on ourselves, while still striving for positive impact.

A video worth watching:

‘How to find a wonderful idea’ dives into the creative process behind the music videos of the band OK Go. If you’ve seen one of their videos before, you will want to know more... and if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat.

A podcast worth listening to:

The Knowledge Project amazes me again and again. First, because of the wide array of topics and guests on the show (which prevents me from getting lost in my personal entrepreneurship echo chamber). Second, because Shane Parrish manages to go below the surface with every one of his guests.

A quote worth repeating:

‘Is happiness an option, right now?’ In any moment, we have a choice: to follow unhappy thoughts and feed a bad mood; or let go and choose something else to focus on.

(Did you know? Friends of DD can respond to and engage with guest contributors like Tobias Günther in one click.)


Books & Accessories


The Edge of the Plain →

How borders shape our world

Many of us perceive country borders as fixed boundary, but history reminds us how fluid those imagined lines are and how their meaning shaped culture and land. “Borders are as old as human civilization, and focal points for today’s colliding forces of nationalism, climate change, globalization, and mass migration. The Edge of the Plain illuminates these lines of separation past and present, how we define them – and how they define us.”


Revolting Prostitutes →

The fight for sex workers’ rights

A great title for a book on an issue I admittedly do not know much about, other than that current laws in most countries are harming people that are already in vulnerable positions. “In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.”


Overheard on Twitter

Non-smokers should be allowed to go outside and scream for 5 minutes in lieu of a smoke break.



Food for Thought

The Age of Social Media Is Ending →


An excellent essay tracing the origins of the social web – from benevolent social networking to today’s toxic social media content machine. Ian Bogost sees the winds of algorithmic content flows changing, though. The question is: are we finally ready to accept that social media has very little to offer? “It’s seemingly as hard to give up on social media as it was to give up smoking en masse, like Americans did in the 20th century. Quitting that habit took decades of regulatory intervention, public-relations campaigning, social shaming, and aesthetic shifts. At a cultural level, we didn’t stop smoking just because the habit was unpleasant or uncool or even because it might kill us. We did so slowly and over time, by forcing social life to suffocate the practice. That process must now begin in earnest for social media.”

Busyness Decoded: How to Limit What You Say ‘Yes’ To →


Another great piece by Tara McMullin about the many factors – external and self-initiated – that contribute to our overwhelming feeling of busyness and stress. “The busier we are, the more likely we are to purchase the products and services that claim to make us less busy. Think home delivery services. We’re also more likely to buy products that claim to counteract the effects of busyness. Think the entire wellness industry. To that end, the busier we are, the more likely we are to use debt to finance some of our countermeasures.” The piece describes a great term I hadn’t heard about before: ‘complicit suffering’ – a concept that “acknowledges how we are harmed and disadvantaged by oppressive systems. But the concept also acknowledges the ways in which we make things worse for ourselves.” (I seriously don’t know how she produces so much good writing so frequently!)

The EV revolution is here. It’s happening on two wheels. →


For most Western folks, motorcycles are fun toys for sunny weekends. They’re usually not considered a serious mode of transport. For the world’s most populous countries and cities, however, the electrification of motorcycles has already ushered in a new era of urban transport that delivers quieter, healthier, safer and more accessible cities. “‘The physics is very simple: If I’m moving a 75 kilogram person in 1.5 tons of steel, glass, and rubber and you compare that to moving the same person on a 100 kilogram scooter?’ Eccarius said. ‘[That’s] less weight, less energy, and less infrastructure needed. Really, it’s a no brainer. You don’t have to have a Ph.D.’”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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While the ethics behind ‘nature retreats’ are questionable, you can’t deny that this ‘eco-house’ in the hills of Australia’s east coast is a stunning piece of architecture. With a very simple material palette, the Pepper Tree Passive House follows the energy-efficient German building design methodology of Passivhaus.

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These hyper-realistic acrylic paintings by artist Lisa Ericson remind us of the clash of ecosystems as our climate is rapidly changing and sea water levels are rising. (via)

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Kapitza is a design studio in East London founded by two sisters. Most of their work features colourful geometric shapes. I particularly like the recently released 2023 wall calendar, but the other artwork in their shop is lovely, too. Friends of DD enjoy a 10% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

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Kassi is a condensed typeface inspired by the scientific and mathematical world and is available in 2 styles: The classic version, simple and readable with a touch of originality, and the display version, more elegant and contrasting.


Notable Numbers


Last year, roughly 275 million electric motorcycles, tuk-tuks, mopeds, and scooters were in operation globally. Together, they are displacing the use of more than 1 million barrels of oil a day, more than all electric passenger vehicles, vans, trucks, and buses combined.


Data from Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, show that the vast majority of children in the UK own a smartphone by the age of eleven, with ownership rising from 44% at age nine to 91% at age eleven.


About a week ago, the human population crossed the 8 billion mark. It took over 200,000 years for humans to reach 1 billion but only 219 years more to reach 8 billion.



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