Wisdom lies in correctly discerning where we are free to mold reality to our desires and where we must accept the unaltered with tranquility.

– Seneca

Featured artist: OniriKage

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 292!

Jun 11 2024 | Link to this issue

After four wonderful days in the Netherlands, with Leiden being our surprise favourite – a charming miniature Amsterdam – we’re now on the final leg of our train journey to my hometown of Saarbrücken in southwest Germany.

Aside from driving through the Scottish Highlands by car, we’ve relied exclusively on trains for our entire trip. This included two overnight sleeper trains from London to Glasgow and back to London from Edinburgh, then the Eurostar to Lille in France.

Despite delays and minor complications, I remain in awe of the extensive train network that intricately weaves across the continent and beyond. Each city we visited unveiled centuries of bloody territorial disputes that shaped their history and architecture. Today, we don’t even notice when the train crosses a border, a reality that seems lost on many and feels especially poignant during a weekend marked by unsettling and disheartening European election results.

Living in Australia, where we don’t have a national train network but a neglected patchwork of rusty tracks, I struggle to empathise with my German friends and family who invariably complain about their public transport system.

I’m writing this with relatively stable wi-fi on a train travelling at nearly 250 km/h. A couple of weeks ago, we were on a high-speed train below the Atlantic Ocean! So when the German couple in front of us angrily grumbles about the train being twenty minutes late, I want to stand up and shout, “Look at this incredible marvel of engineering! Why do you take it for granted?”

It’s emblematic of the broader sentiment in Europe today, as reflected in the election results. Comparatively, everything is amazing, yet nobody is happy. Yes, this bureaucratic behemoth we created can be messy and imperfect, but the very fact that it exists at all is nothing short of a miracle. Just like this whisper-quiet, internet-connected, border-crossing high-speed train. – Kai


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Voilà →

Calmly helps you navigate your daily tasks

“Love at first sight”, that’s how some of our users describe their experience with Voilà – a versatile and context-aware personal assistant designed to streamline your work and help you improve your writing, draft emails, summarise, brainstorm and research.


Apps & Sites

Ahead →

EQ trainer

Ahead describes itself as a “personalised pocket coach that provides bite-sized, science-driven tools to boost emotional intelligence”. Dubbed ‘the Duolingo for EQ’, the mobile app wants to help you understand your emotional triggers through daily exercises and lessons. Friends of DD enjoy a 10% discount on yearly subscriptions. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

Translatium →

Translation app

If your work requires you to switch between multiple languages, Translatium provides a pay-once desktop app for Mac, Windows and Linux that translates over 100 languages with example sentences, synonyms, relevant words and pronunciation.

Max Focus →

Page preview plug-in

A browser plug-in that lets you long-click/hover/shortcut on any link and see a preview of that page in a pop-up. Particularly handy: switch that preview to ‘reader mode’ to extract just the text – great for scanning articles. Max Focus also supports Youtube previews and is heavily customisable.

Sky Guide →

Stargazing companion

This iOS app helps you explore the night sky with location-filtered events, like solar eclipses, planetary alignments, meteor showers and more. Easily identify stars and planets. A time travel feature lets you jump to the future to compose the perfect moon photo or go back and witness history’s greatest comets – no internet connection required.


Worthy Five: Laura Hall

Five recommendations by travel writer and Scandiphile Laura Hall

A concept worth understanding:

Scenius, which I think of as the power of community in creativity. None of us are successful on our own: who you surround yourself with matters, both in how they lift you and how you lift them.

A question worth asking:

‘What is success to you?’ It’s a deep and philosophical one, but take the time to tackle it and you’ll uncover your values and the right direction to plot for the course of your life. Chasing someone else’s ideas of success will never make you satisfied.

A book worth reading:

A Woman In The Polar Night by Christiane Ritter is a mesmerising memoir of a 1930s housewife who goes to Svalbard for a year to help her husband. I particularly loved her descriptions of the skies and the strange Arctic fever travellers in that part of the world can get. I think I have it too.

A podcast worth listening to:

Real Life Survival Stories – bombastic tales of incredible adventures gone wrong, where people survive bear attacks, falling down crevasses and wilderness misadventures against the odds. I find it weirdly fascinating and humbling at the same time.

A quote worth repeating:

‘The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.’ by Karen Blixen, writing as Isak Dinesen. Not a day goes by when this phrase by Denmark’s foremost writer doesn’t feel true to me. I’ve had it hung on my wall for over a decade.

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


Books & Accessories

Designing Tomorrow →

Planetary strategies for long-term impact

How can you create positive impact inside your organisation? Designing Tomorrow is a strategic design toolbox that teaches you “how to embrace planetary perspectives and think long-term, even in a profit-driven world. Discover how to make mindful decisions, transform your design practices, and influence company strategies to leave a positive impact for future generations.”

BOOX Palma →

Android eBook reader

Another ‘calm’ consumption device that I came across thanks to Craig Mod’s not completely unbiased review here. A less neglected, more user-friendly alternative to the Kindle that runs on Android and therefore gives access to a range of apps. This makes the Palma a kind of eBook reader/basic smartphone hybrid (no phone features though). I like the compact format. It’s more portable than last week’s Daylight but with a more typical e-Ink screen made for consumption, not creation.


Overheard on Mastodon

My new burger restaurant concept is inspired by modern software. The options for mayo are ‘yes’ and ‘maybe later’, and if you pick maybe later, the chef stands at your table with a squeezy bottle, threatening to add mayo to your burger when you least expect it.

@[email protected]


Food for Thought

Speaking of Nature →


The wonderful Robin Kimmerer with an essay on the importance of using language that recognises the personhood and interconnectedness of all living beings, challenging the dominant perspective of human exceptionalism that objectifies nature. “The language that my [Indigenous] grandfather was forbidden to speak is composed primarily of verbs, ways to describe the vital beingness of the world. Both nouns and verbs come in two forms, the animate and the inanimate. You hear a blue jay with a different verb than you hear an airplane, distinguishing that which possesses the quality of life from that which is merely an object. Birds, bugs, and berries are spoken of with the same respectful grammar as humans are, as if we were all members of the same family. Because we are. There is no it for nature. Living beings are referred to as subjects.”

The Meaning of ‘Terrorism,’ According to the United States →


This piece will challenge your understanding of how we apply the ‘terrorism’ label to individuals and organisations, showing how much our perception of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ is based on geopolitical and economic interests forced upon us. “The national security think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, based in Washington, D.C., analyzed ideologically motivated acts of violence and defined domestic terrorism as “the deliberate use – or threat – of violence by non-state actors in order to achieve political goals and create a broad psychological impact” (emphasis mine). The point is clear: states, specifically our state and our allies, are exempt from the definition of terrorism and therefore have a legitimate monopoly on the use of violence.”

Let’s track hundreds of teens into adulthood using this huge dataset. →


A short video by the Pudding that visualises the results of a study that tracked hundreds of teenagers into adulthood to see how their childhood experiences impacted their lives. Unsurprisingly, adverse childhood experiences were found to have long-term effects on health, relationships and financial security. The study highlights the importance of support and opportunities for young people so they can continue to thrive later in life.


Aesthetically Pleasing

100 for the Ocean assembles some of the world’s most accomplished photographers and provides rare access to their works at an affordable price. 100% of the profits of the prints available are used to “help showcase and spotlight underfunded and under-represented ocean NGOs”.

Portuguese artist Vanessa Barragão uses fabric to explore fragile forms of ocean ecosystems, highlighting the alarming degradation of the world’s coral reefs. (via)

Matt Adnate is a talented Australian artist known for his giant, hyper-realistic murals, covering sides of highrise buildings and many other urban structures. “His murals often feature monumental portraits of indigenous individuals shining a spotlight on their culture, heritage, and struggles. He aims to amplify their voices, drawing attention to the significance of land rights and cultural preservation.”

Koning is a so-called ‘high-contrast’ sans serif family with a modern twist. The Display version features lightly curved lines that give text a dynamic, elegant appearance. A Text version is to follow soon.


Notable Numbers


Sony Music is reportedly in talks to buy the music catalogue of the rock band Queen, a deal which could potentially total $1 billion.


A quarter of all webpages that existed at one point between 2013 and 2023 are no longer accessible. For older content, this trend is even starker. Some 38% of webpages that existed in 2013 are not available today.


The US Air Force tracks more than 25,000 pieces of space junk larger than 10 centimeters – about the size of a bagel – weighing together some 9,000 metric tons. This dangerous trash zips around Earth at speeds of roughly 10 kilometers per second, or more than 22,000 miles per hour.



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