Slate argues that evidence does not actually support the need for filtering backcountry stream water: hand washing, not microfiltering, is the key to avoiding gut mayhem. Maybe I didn’t need to spend $120 last year on that Platypus GravityWorks? I’m not going to throw it away, but I may get much more selective about where I use it. The most exciting corollary of the Slate argument is that I can resume a ritual of childhood hikes that I loved and have missed ever since the purification craze swept the backcountry: kneeling down on a springy Cascadian streambank, lowering my lips to the water, and drinking my fill, unmediated by Nalgene.


Kate Raworth of Doughnut Economics sums up the old (but still dominant) neoliberal worldview and the new worldview we need to survive in the twenty-first century. Are we homo economicus—greedy, competitive, only seeking more money at any cost—or can we work together to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet?

I like the Star Wars movies, but something always bothers me: the Bad Guys basically have a big flashing neon sign that says “Bad Guys,” so much so that you can hardly even discern their intentions, other than to be Bad. But, as Javert in Les Miserables eventually discovers, that’s not really how the world works (he thought Jean Valjean was the Bad Guy because he committeed a crime, but it turns out Valjean was also a pretty Good Guy). I was interested in this historical perspective that previous cultural stories from the Iliad to the Brothers Grimm were just stories, not epic moral battles between Good and Evil. The Good Guy/Bad Guy paradigm came about to promote nationalism. Maybe the tellers of tales about Good Guys aren’t such Good Guys after all.

Google discovered: teams thrive on trust.

If you know anyone who wonders why “Grace” didn’t just call a cab when things got uncomfortable on her date with Aziz Ansari, have them read this.


My metamorphosis into a beady-eyed paranoid Luddite continues apace. In this week’s installment: 


Living in Seattle and looking for ways to intentionally celebrate Black History Month? Check out The Stranger’s list of 36 Black History Month events. 

This is heartbreaking to say, but I’m not entirely surprised by the latest news about sexual assault on college campuses: the National Council on Disability found that 1 in 3 disabled college women are sexually assaulted, and a fraternity at Cornell was holding a “pig roast” sex competition between new members to see who could sleep with the most women. The fraternity chapter has since been put on probation, which hardly seems like a sentence worthy of the crime.

  • Look to the Super Bowl for a recent example that riot behavior is only considered dangerous when the people rioting are people of color. 

    I recently finished Just Kids by the multi-talented artist Patti Smith, which chronicles her rise to fame through the New York art scene in the late 60’s and early 70’s. More important, the book is a tribute to her relationship with the late photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, who pioneered the use of erotic imagery in photography. With brutal honesty and clarity she tells the story of her and Robert’s unique—and definitely unconventional—partnership, from being broke and struggling artists to Robert’s premature death from AIDS in 1989. I finished the novel in tears from the beauty of it all. (Her book M Train is equally engrossing.)