Category Archives: uncategorized

Book recommendation: Utopia for Realists, by Rutger Bregman

The cover of Utopia for Realists

I love reading books that explicitly encourage us to stretch our imaginations. You don’t have to be an optimist to think that the way we organize the world and live our lives isn’t the best possible way. People with very different views can often agree that things, in general, could be better.

And Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-hour Workweek pushes us to consider the possibilities for significant positive change at the social level by reflecting on some changes we’ve already made (and some opportunities that we missed out on). It is a welcome change of pace for me to see someone looking to the future with some excitement, and I’m betting that I wouldn’t be alone in feeling that.

One of the things I liked most about this book is how it brings to our attention various historical events that aren’t as well-known as they probably deserve to be. The author has clearly done his research, but the writing is still quite accessible and conversational. It would be an especially good starting place for folks who haven’t previously given much thought to the specific policies he advocates (universal basic income, shorter workweeks, and open borders).

Game recommendation: Baba Is You

I’m not a big fan of competition, so I’ve never been much of a game player. But recently, I’ve decided to try branching out a bit to explore some collaborative and one-person games. (I already spend lots of time looking at my computer screen, so I have to really want to play a game to make increasing my screen time worth it.)

Enter Baba Is You (available on many different platforms), which stretches your logic brain muscles, since it involves changing the rules while you play in order to make winning possible!

In each level of this simple, 2D game, the protagonist is determined by the initial text on the screen (hence, “Baba Is You”). You can move different objects and words around obstacles and into various configurations, and you can even change the identity of who is “you.” What it takes to complete a level is determined by the phrase “x Is Win.” And since you can take as much time as you like and undo any fatal move, the game allows you to focus all your attention on solving the puzzles, rather than stressing out, which is right up my alley.

Regular game players are better positioned to give more nuanced descriptions of both the game and what makes it unique – here is one more detailed review that does a good job of capturing lots of the things I like about it.

Going to the Pacific APA?

During the Pacific APA business meeting on Thursday, April 14th, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., a fellow Philosopher for Sustainability will be introducing a resolution supporting the APA 2+1 campaign.

Since I can’t be there in person, I’m encouraging everyone who can to attend and vote for the resolution. This is a great opportunity to help significantly reduce climate-damaging emissions without expending much time or effort!

We would be so grateful to have your support. In the meantime, I would be happy to field any questions or concerns about the campaign or the other work that our group is doing.

And for folks who can’t go to the meeting and vote, you could always sign our online petition instead, if you haven’t already!

Defense Against Disinformation

Thanks to the Union of Concerned Scientists for the opportunity to attend their two-day “Defense Against Disinformation: Strategic Communication for Advocates” online training!

Poster saying “Stand up for Science: Union of Concerned Scientists”

There was a lot to learn from the presentation and dedicated time to practice putting it into action, so I can see the training being useful both for folks who have already thought a lot about communicating across difference, and also for those who are new to that sort of thing.

So if you have the chance to take the training in the future, I would recommend it!

Ripping off the Band-Aid …

At the end of February, I had fun presenting some of my research about climate ethics at conferences in Atlanta and in Chicago. And I was looking forward to writing a post about those conferences …

And then in early March, COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works. Surprise! I got busy adjusting to online teaching, trying to support my students in a really challenging time, not getting to swim regularly anymore, processing my heightened emotions regarding all sorts of vulnerable people, trying to figure out how best to use my resources in a changing world, and on and on and on.

Every so often, I would imagine myself coming up with something really great to post here. But what kind of “great” was even the right one to aim for? Something clever? Useful? Inspiring? Thought-provoking? Motivating? Cathartic? Darkly humorous? And if I could, for a moment, settle on one of those, how was I to meet that standard in such momentous times?

So I didn’t write here for a while, which is not so unusual for me. But this time, it was because I was letting the hope of perfection prevent me from taking any steps toward my goal. And given all the times I’ve advised students not to do that, I decided to just post something, to just get my first post of the coronavirus era over and done with. The new, replacement hope is that by posting this, I’ll get over the mental hurdle and pave the way for more posts in the future.

(Probably book reviews.)

Early & Absentee Voting Guide

Being a voter is important to me, and in fact, I can’t wait to vote in this fall’s election. Today I learned that I don’t have to wait as long as I thought! NPR put out a Complete Guide to Early & Absentee Voting on their website, and I learned that in Indiana, I can vote in person as early as October 12!

I’ve never voted early before, but since I’m volunteering to drive folks who need rides to the polls on Election Day, I’m thinking it might be good to vote early myself so that I’ve got the whole day available to help others who need help to get to their polling places.

If you need to know your state’s voter registration deadline, how to vote absentee in your state, or anything else like that, check out the guide at the link above to find what you need (and more).

First Day of School!

There is nothing quite like the first day of school. I often wonder what it must be like for people who “outgrow” the academic calendar and don’t get to have the predictable cycle of the academic year anymore.

On this first day teaching at Ball State, I’m looking forward to settling in to the routines of the classroom and getting to know my students after a very a busy summer. I gave a couple of presentations, moved nearly a thousand miles, and spent a month in Seattle working in the beautiful Suzzallo library and seeing old friends (while, of course, eating in all my favorite restaurants there).  And those are just a few of the bigger things! I also tried out a sensory deprivation tank, sampled a Culver’s concrete for the first time, and bought a shiny red bicycle.

To all the other students and teachers out there, merry new school year!



Bill McKibben

This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be able to see (and hear!) Bill McKibben receive the 2014 Sarah Josepha Hale Award in Newport, NH. This award is given annually to distinguished writers, and the list of past winners is pretty amazing.

I really enjoyed hearing McKibben speak eloquently about his own love of the beautiful New England landscape and how it, combined with his work as a scientist, inspired him to begin doing the climate change activism that makes him such an important figure in these times. If you aren’t familiar with his work, I recommend that you check out

When I drove up to the Dartmouth library to check out some books the next day, reflecting on his words helped me to appreciate the terrific fall color even more, and it encouraged me to renew my own commitment to environmental activism. So thanks to everyone who put together such a lovely event!