Month: July 2017

Peter Singer Ethics Talk

Oh, you again!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway —

Last night, I went to Peter Singer On What Really Matters, presented by The School of Life. I’ve always been interested in ethics but I’ve been kinda overwhelmed/unexcited about the prospect of seriously learning more about ethics and philosophies, ethicists and philosophers. But the time has come, the walrus said, to go to an ethics event. (Come on, dude. Just go. It’s only 2 hours. How boring could it be!)

And —

It was such a good night. It wasn’t boring at all. That probably sounds incredibly naive and ill-informed to some people who know the basics (or more!) about ethics/philosophies/Peter Singer, but I just didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t seen his TED talk, etc.

The host introduced Peter Singer and the event format: 7 topics, 10 minutes each, with a countdown clock on the stage. Singer, in turn, introduced each of the topics by asking a question – an ethical conundrum – to get the audience thinking. Then for the remainder of the 10 minutes, audience members could ask further questions, or share comments and opinions, by nabbing one of the roving microphones. Singer then responded to the audience’s thoughts.

Topics included Justice, Rights, Freedom, and The Survival of Intelligent Life on Earth.

I was concerned that my personal philosophies/ethics would clash with Singer’s and I’d find the event somewhat difficult to experience, because I’d read he was a utilitarian philosopher and I’d had to Google what that meant, and from Wikipedia, I had the wrong idea about it. Fortunately, in his opening statements, Singer addressed this common misunderstanding! – and I saw we were more on the same page than I’d originally thought.

He talked about/promoted opinions and calls-to-action that I feel strongly about – like Effective Altruism; and how it’s reprehensible for us to stand by and do nothing while people are living in (and dying from) extreme poverty; and how it’s incredibly important to do something (donate) about extreme poverty, even though:
a) climate change could soon mess up the world, and
b) if you save the lives of those (mostly children) who would have died from extreme poverty, then you are also likely sentencing them to a life of great poverty and hardship.

He also talked about The Life You Can Save (his website that helps you choose how to effectively donate), and 80,000 Hours (encouraging/helping people to choose better careers), which I hadn’t heard of.

I really appreciated the event, the audience, and The School of Life for putting it on (and for existing – I’ve enjoyed several TSOL events now). I’m adding Peter Singer’s books to my Kindle. Maybe I’ll get.a little better informed after all this time.



Before I began two weeks of holidays, I thought: At least, for the first week, I won’t think about making anything. I can start thinking about making again in the second week if I want to, but I really need to give myself one whole week without any self-pressure, without any “work.”

Then we entered the first week of holidaying and – do you get this? – I felt completely exhausted. Pooped. Going to bed early. Taking day naps. It was like I’d been running on (not adrenaline – routine? robotic routine?) empty and finally let myself crash, restore, reset.

I think that happens every single year when I have a holiday! And every time I remember: Oh yeah, in the first week I’m so tired, I just crash. And I’m still living with my everyday low-level of constant worry. And it’s not until one week has passed that I become fully aware of that low-level of constant worry, and then I can work on letting it go. And I can truly relax in that second week. Oh yeah. Duh.

I have zero need to worry. ZERO. There is nothing that I might desire for happiness that I can’t afford to buy. Like, if I would only be totes happy if I had a different haircut. Or a personal trainer. Or daily home-delivered meals. Or classes in something. Or gold jewellery. Or the ability to self-publish a book. Or a 10-day getaway/retreat just for myself. Whatever it might be. My family is in (relatively) good health and spirits. I should be totes happy and carefree.

But my low-level constant worry is about my future. About what my work will be, one day. When the kids are in school. I want my work to be more meaningful (to me) than it was. If I’m going to do something for 40 hours a week…! Of course, I could do a Cheryl Strayed and do menial jobs just to pay the bills, then my Real Work is doing something else, something creative. I think I’m being daft worrying about the future in this particular scenario. Anything could happen in the next few years – bam, we might get a UBI. I might develop a deep appreciation for capitalism and consumerism. The world might go up in flames. No, but really. I think sometimes it’s good to be a bit worried about something in one’s future, to get your butt into gear and make sure the future’s good, but I think I’m being a bit daft with this one.

I need to let go of this worry, somehow.


Speaking of worry – over the years, I keep coming back to the idea of tithing. The world is insanely unfair and my donations are paltry compared to what I live on.

Some people leave their loved ones, seek out a better wage, and then send some of that wage back home, to help their families.

One of these days we’ll all realise we don’t want anyone to suffer (instead of other people’s suffering being a little problem that is swept under the rug again and again and again and again and again and forever) and we will all send money back home. One of these days.

July Updates

I have been thinking about:

1. When I’m in a bad mood, it’s because I don’t like myself. (If someone else’s behaviour is irritating me and I like my own behaviour and everything is right in my world, it won’t affect my mood.)

2. When everything is good, it’s because I like myself.

3. I am a binge doer, which means I will burn out on whatever I’m doing. So if I want to consistently and regularly do something (like reading books), I need to force myself to only do that thing a little bit each day. For example, if I read a few pages of a book every day, then I stay interested in it. But if I keep reading because I want to know what happens next, I binge-read, then feel like I’ve lost a huge chunk of time to books, and then I feel like taking a break from books for a week (which becomes two then three then nineteen).

4. My problem with meditation is that I get ideas and to-dos when I’m meditating, but I can’t write them down, which short-circuits my brain. Freehand writing as a meditation allows me to write down those things (and put a symbol at the start of the line, so I can easily come back to them later) and then move on straight away.

5. There is a “look trap” for women, in life. // When I was out of uni, first jobs, I wore what I felt most comfortable in, because I didn’t feel like that made any difference to what ideas I had, or what work I did, or what I could do. A few years in, when I was frustrated that I couldn’t be more involved in the decision-making of projects, I was told that I didn’t dress appropriately for those kinds of roles – I had to stay behind the scenes, with other people making the decisions. This bogus rule did not affect the men, of course. They were able to wear hoodies, jeans and sneakers for any role. // As time went on, I got suckered into this “look trap.” If I wore heels and so on, surely I would be seen as a different kind of person, therefore I would/could be that kind of person? // As time went on, I became more the look and less the doing. // Until, I think, it can get to a point where you are an adult woman and you are spending more time on the look than on doing (what are you making? what are you enjoying? what are you doing with your time, with your life? how much time on your hair? how much time on your skincare? how much time on your nails? how much time on your makeup? how much time on your waxing? how much time choosing your outfits? how much time choosing new clothes? how much time caring for your clothes? how much time on your accessories?). (See also: 1, 2, 3.)

6. I keep coming back to this thought, but I don’t really know how to talk about it – I used to listen to a podcast by two men, and gradually, over the course of many episodes, it really got to me: one of these men, who I had previously respected and enjoyed listening to, rarely (if ever) mentioned women on the show. And a few times, he mentioned his wife, only in the context of her being the mother of his child. And then, one day, I was listening to the podcast, and he was talking about his wife nagging him for a moment, and then he stopped, and said something like: “Listen to me, women, don’t nag your husbands. Just don’t.” And… that was it. There was something so sexist about his comment, so… unenlightened. I couldn’t listen to the podcast anymore. I’ll try to explain why, in a really unsophisticated way, because it’s been taking me too long to try and figure out how to explain it otherwise:
– The first time this man decided to acknowledge me/women as part of his audience, he acknowledges us only in our role as partners of men – in our domestic lives – in an insulting, negative and profoundly condescending way.
And then, this is the more complicated part – my thoughts in regards to his instruction about nagging:
– Women are raised to be helpers. “Little Lucy, can you possibly hand me that cloth?” – and maybe, little Lucy has already been raised to enjoy more passive activities, so she’s right there to ask. Little Davy is running around, so he can’t be asked for a cloth.
– This is reinforced thousands of times, and perfected. Until mostly, only the girl is asked. She is proving to be so helpful. She feels good about being good. And the requests are built upon: “Lucy, can you squeeze out the cloth properly after you use it.” ––> “Lucy, can you wipe down the sink properly after you’ve washed something.” Davy hears these things much less. Other actions and behaviours are being reinforced for Davy.
– I am not sure how to comment about this next part exactly, but: the mum does more work for Davy. Davy, in return, learns to expect this. They have a different dynamic. If young adult Lucy is cooking dinner for the family, she wouldn’t think to ask her mum, who’s in the kitchen, to check on the food in the oven. She would think, subconsciously, “Who am I to ask my mum to do a task for me that I can easily do myself, in one minute?” Young adult Davy has a different dynamic. He asks for favours. He doesn’t wipe down the benches. His mum thinks, “Oh well, after all, he did just cook the family dinner! I can wipe down the benches.”
– This is reinforced thousands of times. At work, the office manager calls out, “Can anyone do me a favour and do a coffee run for the next meeting? I have a doctor’s appointment, I’ll just be an hour.” Lucy has lived her life being praised when she helps. The request hardly even registers with Davy.
– Until, eventually, Davy is living with his wife, Meg. And Meg lives with the mental load. And then they have kids, and the mental load gets so much bigger. And they’ve been living together for a while now, and there are some things that Davy does… never closes cupboards, never wrings out the cloth, never wipes down surfaces, never puts clothes away after wearing them, never puts the bathroom items (deodorant, etc) back In the cupboard… And Meg carefully chooses which behaviour is, objectively, very reasonable to want to change, and says, without any passive-aggression or aggression: “Hey Davy. If you don’t wring out the cloth, it gets gross and full of bacteria and stinks. Can you wring it out after you use it?” (What she doesn’t say is: “And then it creates more work for me. I have to put it in Napisan and put it through the wash.”) Davy says “OK,” but doesn’t really change his behaviour, because the request hardly registers with him, and he’s been doing it that way so long.
– So another day, Meg is sitting down to dinner with Davy, and says: “I would like to know if you think you can change your behaviour in regards to wringing out the cloth, because I really hate how it gets all disgusting and smells so bad. I came in the other day and thought the lid was off the compost bin, was walking all around the kitchen trying to figure out the stench – the cloth had been used to wipe up food yesterday, and hadn’t been rinsed or squeezed out, so it was festering and gross. If you don’t think you can change your behaviour, tell me now, so I can figure out some other way to use cloths – maybe we have to just use paper towels or something.” And Davy really feels like he’s being criticised now, and he says, annoyed, “We don’t need to use paper towels. OK..”
– But not much changes.
– So Meg has to: a) say, “Davy, you are an adult, act like one. Rinse out the damn cloth and then wring it out. This is ridiculous.” (an approach I have seen from someone-not-talking-about-anyone-in-particular-mum), b) say, “Please rinse and wring out the cloth, Davy,” c) have the same conversation (as above) over and over again, and Davy says that he will change his behaviour but doesn’t, d) accept that nothing will change and that she has to keep doing more work, or e) figure out a different way to clean up, or f) say, “Davy, I’ll do the wiping. I’ll do the cleaning.”
– 3 options are nagging. Because the woman is asking the man to change his behaviour, and he isn’t changing it.
– 3 options are the woman changes her behaviour AND/OR does more work. That’s what it comes down to.
– So, just like the angle of sexual assault and sexual intimidation and sexual harassment being “She asked for it,” and “She needs to change her behaviour,” instead of “That man’s behaviour is horrific and he needs to stop and change his behaviour,” the angle of this domestic conflict is “She is nagging,” rather than “He is unwilling to change his behaviour in response to a very reasonable request.”
– Which reminds me of: The winners in history get to write the history books.

7. I went to the zoo with the kids. I think the thing that interested *them* the most was being in a new environment, and the butterfly house, and the fact that I gave them juice boxes and a tiny packet of jubes (both new experiences!). BUT oh my goodness, I have not seen wild (?) animals in so long, and I was amazed and entranced. The giraffe is crazy beautiful. I don’t think I ever felt that, as a kid. I want to go back especially to see the giraffes!

8. This interview with the ex-Fashion Director of UK Vogue is worth a read – Will I Get A Ticket? – I love the last paragraph. Particularly, “It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful.” (Yes!)

9. This wonderful post by Andre Torrez – Bonking with jelly beans.

10.  I did not get my half-day off this weekend. I was too sick yesterday to leave the house, and my partner was too sick today to mind the kids. By the end of Sunday (now), I felt trapped, chained to children/house. I was frustrated, my business work has hit a big snag, and little things my partner did (like putting.a white singlet on the baby, not putting on a bib, then feeding her blueberries) added up and up, until c.8pm, when there was a last straw, and after I put the baby to bed, I cried. I rarely cry. I think that’s the second time this year,* and that’s a lot, for me.

11. This talk by Anil Dash, Towards Humane Tech, is good. I think maybe I will not use Uber (or similar – Deliveroo, etc?) again.

12. This TED talk by OK Go, How to find a wonderful idea, is very good. My toddler often requests OK Go videos at “TV Time,” and the more I see them, the more I’m impressed.





* There were three other times, but they were when I got hit in the eye by my toddler, got hit in the mouth by my toddler, and jammed my fingers in a door. Ow.

Brand Design Exercise

The inspiring/fantastic designer Dani Hunt is about to launch a new part of her business, and as part of the launch, she’s invited a bunch of people to do a week-long branding exercise in a private Facebook group. (I think maybe quite a few cool things happen in private Facebook groups!)

It’s been a welcome tiny project, because after getting my last trial products out the door for customer feedback, I felt kinda cold-feety and bummed. But anything to do with design is like super-fun-play-time! for me, so day 1 (brand personality), day 2 (magical customer), day 3 (today – mood board) – have all been fun so far. I’m using this week to recharge, and will get back into products next week.

Here’s my mood board so far.



Oh boy, it looks really eclectic and weird. I had to furiously cull to get down to 20 images (it was supposed to be 10-20 images). You should see some of the other mood boards – they are amazing! People who just totally know their vibe, their colours, everything. I mean, look at this one and this one!

Every time I tried to cull an image, I ummed and aahed over it, because I pretty much love every colour there is (even for my business) and had way too many happy pictures that (I felt) added to the moooooooood.

But. There I am, finished up at 1.30am with 20 pics. That don’t look particularly themed or consistent. Oops. Onto tomorrow!