There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.

– Mr Rogers


Featured artist: Mick Champayne

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 223!

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Having sent out hundreds of newsletter issues, one topic stands out that is guaranteed to evoke strong reactions and generous use of the unsubscribe link: veganism. Despite the fact that plant-based lifestyles have found their way into mainstream discourse, the V word is certain to trigger the fiercest pro or con responses.

With this in mind, I’m sharing a provocative (?) essay that connects two very ideologically weighted issues: the feminist and the animal liberation movements. If you’re easily triggered by ‘annoying vegans’ that lecture from the moral high ground, you may want to skip this one (although the essay speaks about those too). If you feel empathetic to either or both causes, this piece may provide a new perspective on reproductive rights in both a human and non-human context.

Our Animals, Ourselves is not an easy read. The authors Astra and Sunaura Taylor go into the cruel details of factory farming – in particular the violent industrialised process of breeding farm animals – to draw connections to women’s struggle for control over their own reproductive system.

“The genteel phrase ‘animal husbandry’ is thus surprisingly apt when one recognizes the sexual, reproductive, and economic exploitation animals are forced to endure. Marriage, after all, emerged as both a patriarchal system and a way of transferring property – land, livestock, wealth, and women. A ‘husband’ was a ‘master’ who had a right to do with his possessions what he willed, a power dynamic that still holds when a husband’s partners and property are unconsenting creatures. Yet somehow consumers of all political persuasions still believe that animals ‘give’ us meat, milk, and eggs, and that the relationship between domesticated animal and farmer is natural, and can be justified when built around care and love.”

Admittedly, at times I struggled to see the connections/conclusions as clearly as the authors. Nevertheless, I found the essay to be an interesting lens through which to view and connect human and non-human justice movements. Of course – and I feel a bit silly saying this – you can also disagree with the premise of this piece and still walk away with some valuable insights into what motivates feminists or vegans or indeed vegan feminists. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Rocumentaries →

Documentary directory

A simple site that lists over 294 great documentaries (and adding more regularly) from various sources, including some free ones (e.g. YouTube) and some on streaming services like Netflix.

Ivory →

iPhone mastodon client

The talented two-person team at Tapbots, who brought us the popular Twitter client Tweetbot and was cut off from the Twitter API practically over night, is now working on a similarly elegant client for Mastodon, called Ivory.

Paprika →

Another recipe manager

Every time I share a recipe manager app, I receive suggestions for more. This week it’s Paprika: collect your recipes, make meal plans, create grocery lists. It comes with apps for all platforms and syncs via the cloud.

Literature Clock →

Time in quotes

A fun, whimsical project that shows the current time using time quotes found in random pieces of literature.


Worthy Five: Dr Lauren Pearson


Five recommendations by feminist sustainable transport researcher Dr Lauren Pearson

A concept worth understanding:

I don’t think this has a name, so I’m going to call it ‘designing for potential’. When we are thinking about designing spaces for increasing bike riding, we can’t just ask cyclists. There is a huge group of people who want to ride a bike, but aren’t because their environments aren’t built for their needs. To make bike riding an everyday, accessible form of transport, we need to include them. This applies well beyond design for cycling.

A book worth reading:

The self-titled autobiography by Uncle Jack Charles, a Boon Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta man who passed recently, was one for the records. I listened to it while driving across the Nullabor – a seriously long stretch of road across the middle of Australia. Even though it was just me in the car, I never once felt alone listening to his story. Uncle Jack taught me the human side of intersectionality in racism and homophobia, and I think he could teach you, too.

A recipe worth trying:

I dish I first experienced when visiting my partner’s family in Turkey last year: Mucver, or Turkish Zucchini fritters. We make a few changes: add sumac, Maras chilli and feta to the fritter mix, then make a garlic yoghurt with dried mint and parsley, topped with butter cooked on the stove with Maras chilli.

An activity worth doing:

In the South West corner of Australia, there is a 1000km walking trail called the Bibbulmun. I cannot express how beautiful every step of this journey is – from ducking under drooping branches of ancient Karri trees, to drifting to sleep to the whistle of wind through Sheoak needles, to witnessing the vastness and outright aggression of the coast in Albany (Kinjarling).

A piece of advice worth passing on:

Towards the end of my PhD, I was having a pretty tough time and was just about to give it up. I can’t remember who said it, but someone told me that if I didn’t enjoy a challenge, I wouldn’t be doing it. This completely changed my mindset, and since then whenever I encounter difficult situations in my work, I remember how bored I would be without the challenge. This is what I love.

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


Books & Accessories


The Urge →

Our history of addiction

I dare say that all of our lives are affected by addiction. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly; some more than others. But the story of addiction has persistently reflected broader questions of what it means to be human and care for one another. “An authoritative, illuminating, and deeply humane history of addiction – a phenomenon that remains baffling and deeply misunderstood despite having touched countless lives – by an addiction psychiatrist striving to understand his own family and himself.”


Copywrong to Copywriter →

A practical guide to copywriting

I’ve had the pleasure to briefly work with Tait Ischia. He’s wicked smart. I absolutely loved reading this book when I first came across it several years ago. It’s great to see that the book – finally – got picked up by global publishers and is now available in other countries, including the US. “If you feel like you’ve got the wrong tone of voice, don’t understand the ins-and-outs of grammar, or just don’t feel confident writing about yourself without sounding like an idiot, read this book.”


Overheard on Twitter

God please give me the confidence of a 25 year old life coach.



Food for Thought

Our Animals, Ourselves →


This piece connects the feminist and animal liberation movements and offers details about industrialised breeding that may be quite upsetting if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of factory farming. “Narratives of emotional attachment are central to our myths about our consumption of animal products, just as they are to our myths about marriage and the home. Feel-good stories told to children, and clung to by countless adults, imply that animals painlessly and instinctually bestow meat, milk, and eggs on farmers in return for care and protection, conjuring a semblance of a fair exchange. While there are no doubt farmers who care for and even love their animals, love is not an apolitical feeling, particularly when the one who is loved is a commodity.”

Waste Not, Want Not →


What an interesting read (especially for engineering geeks) about an issue we generally try to avoid talking about: “When we grow our food in location A, but eat and excrete it in location B, we create what scientists call ‘the metabolic rift’.” In other words, what happens to the stuff we flush down our toilets, and can it be reused safely to grow more food?

Two ways to think about decline →


I don’t read many pieces about the state of tech, but this short analysis about the ‘decline’ of Big Tech by Tim Carmody offers a valuable perspective on the massive round of layoffs and nosediving stock values. “What happens when engineers stop thinking of their interests as fundamentally aligned with the companies' owners and management, and develop their own class consciousness? Tech companies are not pursuing automation purely out of intellectual interest; they are trying to solve looming labor problems that can no longer be ignored.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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This is a lovingly restored 1930s bungalow in Sydney’s inner west, transformed into a sustainable family home with solar panels, plenty of recycled materials, and a productive vegetable garden.

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Melbourne local Anton Thomas is on a mission to map out the world’s wildlife in beautiful, pencil-drawn detail. Prints of Australasia and North America are available via his shop. Friends of DD enjoy a 15% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

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Between Lines is a gorgeously animated short film (about 2 minutes) “created by an all-women team that speaks to the scarring experience of schoolgirl bullying – and the recovery that follows. The narrative follows a young woman’s journey as she navigates isolation, exclusion and anxiety. Out of trauma, blooms a sense of healing and connection.”

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Dark Matter is distinct in its geometric construction and conveys an elegant sense of modernity/futurism. Great for display use.


Notable Numbers


A 2019 study from the Danish Road Directorate shows that less than 5% of cyclists break traffic laws while riding, yet 66% of motorists do so when driving.


China’s population started shrinking in 2022 for the first time in six decades. China had 1.41 billion people at the end of last year – 850,000 fewer than the end of 2021.


The American Cancer Society reports that cancer fatalities are down 33 percent from 1991, amounting to 3.8 million deaths avoided. There has also been a 65 percent drop in cervical cancer for young women due to vaccinations.



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