We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

– Elie Wiesel


Featured artist: Juan Er

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 218!

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Last week, an Australian climate protester, who blocked a lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was sentenced to up to 15 months in prison under a new anti-protest law. It was one of many recent disruptive climate protests that seem to do little else than annoy and inconvenience everyone.

Our knee-jerk reaction to seeing someone throw soup at art or glue themselves to trains is usually contempt and anger. But I think when teenagers, grannies and scientists participate in activism that puts them at risk of going to jail and becoming the target of public scorn, it’s worth digging a little deeper.

First, we should remember that civil disobedience has long been a major tactic of nonviolent action. Whether in colonised Africa and India, in the American civil rights movement, or in the many labour, anti-war, social and racial justice movements, civil disobedience was used to provoke the government of the day, set a moral example and prompt broader discourse. It was also often loathed by much of the public because of its disruptive, divisive nature.

Most environmental movements have been around for a while. After decades of protests and marches, emissions are still going up, biodiversity loss is accelerating and hundreds of millions of people face an unlivable future. When the United Nations can issue a ‘code red for humanity’ and it’s only the third most important headline of the day, how effective is another courteous sit-in? When most of us have become numb to the daily shock and outrage in the news, how can activism cut through? Well, through theatrical, controversial actions.

But attention is not the only point. Our reaction to this sort of ‘performance activism’ also highlights a pretty major dissonance. We seem to be much more outraged about a defaced piece of art than a system that continues to trash and destroy the natural world we all depend on. The inconvenience of a delayed rush-hour commute infuriates us in ways that the prospect of frequent catastrophic ‘natural disasters’ does not. In reaction to the sentencing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge protester, the state’s conservative political leader said: “If protesters want to put our way of life at risk, they should have the book thrown at them.” It begs the question: who is putting our way of life at risk?

In this short podcast episode on the issue, political science professor Sarah Maddison says that asking about the effectiveness of particular stunts by activists is the wrong question. Social change does not come about because of one specific act of protest, no matter how controversial. However, every action is part of a repertoire that, over time, shifts the public discourse and forces the hand of those in power.

History tells us that harsher punishments do not stop activists. Considering what’s at stake today, I doubt it will this time. In the meantime, we can prepare for more disruption, keep the controversy in perspective, and think about where to channel our outrage. Like many protesters point out: if this kind of activism seems overly disruptive, we’ll be shocked to find out what climate change has in store for us. – Kai


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Important, Not Important →

Science for people who give a shit

Want to feel better and help unfuck the world? Get the 6x Webby-nominated weekly newsletter and podcast that’ll help you understand and take action on everything from climate to COVID, hunger to heat, to democracy and data privacy – for free.


Apps & Sites

Cohost →

A(nother) social network

I haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, but I’m intrigued by the description of Cohost – a social platform developed/run by a cooperative called ‘Anti Software Software Club’, “a software company that hates the software industry”. There is more strong but also vague language on the website. Definitely one to keep an eye on...

PencilBooth →

Newsletter platform for artists

A lovely new project by a local friend of mine: a newsletter platform specifically created for artists to keep their fans in the loop of new work. Artists drop snapshots of their work into a customisable email template, add a note, then send it out to subscribers in just a few clicks. “No algorithm, no app, just a visual snapshot of what you’ve been up to.” Friends of DD enjoy a 25% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

Tiimo →

Visual daily planner

I don’t work well with a strictly organised daily plan. (I blame too many years as a freelancer with all the freedoms that comes with that.) But if you thrive on a schedule with clear time limits, Tiimo is a lovely looking day planner for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Pika →

Screenshot & mockup creator

Pika lets you create beautiful screenshots and mockups for various media formats. For example, add a screenshot to a MacBook template or create a shareable graphic of a tweet with custom background colours.


Worthy Five: Jonny Miller


Five recommendations by nervous system researcher and host of the Curious Humans podcast Jonny Miller

A question worth asking:

‘In what ways might I be complicit in creating the conditions that I say I don’t want?’ This is a potent journal prompt or inquiry for self-exploration that often nudges us to take greater responsibility for the circumstances in our life.

A concept worth understanding:

Interoception, which is our capacity to sense, track and feel our internal landscape. There is an emerging body of literature that points to how cultivating this lesser-known capacity can upgrade your life: from making more informed decisions to improving your capacity for empathy.

An activity worth doing:

‘Non-Sleep-Deep Rest’ or ‘NSDR’ is a guided body scanning technique that induces a ‘hypnagogic’ state of waking sleep. There are few practices that are so effective at replenishing dopamine, reducing cortisol and down-regulating an over-active nervous system. Here’s a link to a zero-cost guided NSDR to experiment with.

A book worth reading:

The Three Marriages by the philosopher-poet David Whyte. I’ve gifted this book to more people than I can count. David’s writing appeals to both the left and right brain hemispheres. It ratcheted open my mind to a whole new perspective on life and reframed my perception of ‘work-life balance’.

A quote worth repeating:

“Knowledge is only a rumour until it lives in the muscle.” This is a proverb from the Asaro Tribe of Papua New Guinea. As a teacher of nervous system practices I think about this a lot. In my experience, there is little use in having access to troves of information if it doesn’t translate to embodied wisdom.

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


Books & Accessories


Ego Is the Enemy →

Conquering the enemy within

Such a promising title about a topic that could not be more timely: “Why should we bother fighting ego in an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion? Armed with the lessons in this book, as [the author] Holiday writes, ‘you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.’”


Beyond Measure →

The hidden history of measurement

A fascinating book about how we measure things defines our experience of the world and the human quest for knowledge. Author James Vincent takes readers “from ancient Egypt, where measuring the annual depth of the Nile was an essential task, to the intellectual origins of the metric system in the French Revolution, and from the surprisingly animated rivalry between metric and imperial, to our current age of the ‘quantified self’”.


Overheard on Twitter

Imagine if transit was free after 6pm, was cheaper on Saturdays, free on Sundays, and had two hour transfers from the time you get to your destination.

You know, like parking.



Food for Thought

Why does justice for animals matter? →


One of the biggest challenges of our time is to recognise more broadly the fact that the success of one species (ours) is inextricably linked to that of millions of others. If we want to create a just world for humans, we can no longer ignore the injustice we inflict on other animals. “While human and nonhuman oppressions are different in many ways, they all stem in part from our basic tendency to construct in-groups and out-groups, and to then favor policies that benefit in-groups more than out-groups. Additionally, part of how humans oppress other humans is by comparing them with nonhumans who are presumed to be ‘lesser than’ because of social, biological, physical, or cognitive differences. In these respects, too, efforts to end human and nonhuman oppressions are not only independently important but also mutually reinforcing.”

Excerpt from We Learn Nothing, by Tim Kreider →


If you get stabbed and survive, how does this near-death experience change your life? In this amusing excerpt of We Learn Nothing, author Tim Kreider describes how a horrific attack affected his long term outlook on life – and how it didn’t. “Once a year on my stabbiversary, I remind myself that this is still my bonus life, a round on the house. But now that I’m back in the slog of everyday life, I have to struggle to keep things in what I still insist is their true perspective. I know intellectually that all the urgently pressing items on our mental lists – our careers, car repairs, the daily headlines, the goddamned taxes – are just so much noise, that what matters is spending time with the people you love. It’s just hard to bear in mind when the hard drive crashes or the shower drain clogs first thing in the day. Apparently I can only ever attain that God’s-eye view in the grip of the talons.”

Your Creativity Won’t Save Your Job From AI →


It’s impossible to ignore the current hype around generative AI tools, like ChatGPT. Its potential for disruption – in many good and terrible ways – is still difficult to fathom. Derek Thompson offers a solid summary of what many of us are thinking. “Founders and engineers may over time learn to train AI models to think like a scientist, or to counsel like a therapist, or to world build like a video-game designer. But we can also train them to think like a madman, to reason like a psychopath, or to plot like a terrorist. ... In response to a question about a cure for cancer, the AI said, ‘I could use my knowledge of cancer to develop a cure, but I could also use my knowledge of cancer to develop a more virulent form of cancer that would be incurable and would kill billions of people.’ Pretty freaky. You could say this example doesn’t prove that AI will become evil, only that it is good at doing what it’s told. But in a world where technology is abundant and ethics are scarce, I don’t feel comforted by that caveat.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

My talented friend Carla Hackett is a Melbourne-based brush lettering artist who just launched a limited edition, Riso printed zine that includes a brush, worksheets and inspiration to get you started. If you order before Dec 31, you also receive access to her self-paced online brush lettering course with HD videos (worth $99).

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Subjectively Objective is a US American contemporary photography gallery and publisher that offers a range of photo books and prints with a focus on “contemporary landscape and conceptual work that embraces that inherent subjectivity in the photographic medium, depicting the world from the artist’s unique perspective”.

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GenCup is a creative poster project that combines generative art, football and graphic design. Each poster is generated by data on the number of goals, ball possession, number of passes, game intensity and the attempts on target.

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The beautiful Almarena is a typeface named after the French studio that made it, combining three aspects: modernity, readability and originality. It comes in six different styles with many alternative characters, and even has a monospaced sibling.


Notable Numbers


By the end of this century, the UN projects that Africa, which had less than one-tenth of the world’s population in 1950, will be home to 3.9 billion people, or 40% of humanity.


In the 12 years since the tiny gas-rich country of Qatar was awarded rights to host the football world cup, it has spent $300 billion preparing for kickoff.


Library services are the most used cultural services in Finland: 50% of all citizens use the library at least once a month and 20% use it weekly.



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