@debcha@mastodon.social
@debcha@mastodon.social avatar

debcha

@debcha@mastodon.social

Researcher and educator with abiding interests in metacognition, embodiment, and materiality. Author of HOW INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS: INSIDE THE SYSTEMS THAT SHAPE OUR WORLD, out on Riverhead, October 2023 and Torva (UK), November 2023. Professor at a tiny engineering college. She/they.

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waldoj, to random
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Heat pumps and induction ranges are two strong examples of products that are better environmentally and better products than their gas/oil competitors, for almost everybody. (EVs will get there, but they’re not there yet.)

Because carbon emissions are free, it’s important that low-emission new products be clearly better than the polluting status quo. It’s a high bar, it’s not fair, but I’m glad we have heat pumps and induction ranges as a model.

debcha,
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@waldoj Not quite the same but very closely related, and now nearly invisible because the transition was so successful: LEDs over incandescent lightbulbs.

debcha,
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@waldoj [Also as a woman whose single-car household is an urban apartment, you are correct about EVs; it’s why I still have an ICE car (as well as a subway pass and a Surly Cross Check).]

debcha,
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@waldoj Yeah — EVs are great to actually drive — I like them better than ICEs, with quick acceleration and regenerative braking — but it turns out that the infrastructural systems that underpin personal mobility are inherently collective WHO KNEW

debcha,
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@maxfenton @waldoj I am hoping to jump straight to an EV for my next car (if I have a next car) but otherwise it would be this.

debcha,
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@jessamyn @waldoj Yeah, I also know eg theatre people who have very specific opinions about light, and I certainly expect LEDs to get better on many axes, but they are already kind of amazing, including enabling new kinds of lighting, and it’s early days yet.

rose_alibi, to random
@rose_alibi@post.lurk.org avatar

i love that tweet about going into battle with only the things tattooed on you bc i have a whole gd animal army (real, fantastical, and extinct), werner herzog, a lightning storm, a B52 bomber, and the concept of death

debcha,
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@rose_alibi I was like — okay, neurons, a protein fragment, leaves, a flower, a poster…hmm.

Also a number of planes.

And, uh, a volcano.

debcha, to random
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The US Mission in India just put out this four-minute year-in-review video starring Ambassador Eric Garcetti (former LA mayor) that must be one of the single best pieces of US government social media I've ever seen -- it's charming, funny, and informative.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T_hP0_446I

debcha,
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@jessamyn The biggest thing, of course, was actually starting to seriously address the visa issue -- it was a disaster, to put it mildly.

waldoj, to random
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Last week, at an IRL gathering of my organization, a team activity involved a competitive trivia-off—two people go head-to-head on presenting each other with trivial facts, and whoever can go on the longest wins.

This...this is not the right activity for a gathering of nerds. I can and will provide interesting facts pretty much endlessly, given the opportunity. Eventually we had to call it off and rock-paper-scissors it.

debcha,
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@waldoj My friend @clive and I have conversations that are to infodumps as sneakernetting a U-Haul full of terabyte hard drives is to broadband, because we are both professionals.

debcha, to random
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I keep pointing indivdual friends at this great piece so I should probably just share it widely.

@jarrettfuller on the independence of building with simple, enduring tools. In this case a website:

“I like to think of HTML and CSS like the 2x4 in construction: When the nail gun replaced the hammer or the power drill replaced the screwdriver, they changed the context, speed, and process of building a home—but the 2x4 is still the most stable structure.”

https://www.untappedjournal.com/issues/issue-11/jarrett-fuller-building-with-simple-tools-longevity

jessamyn, to random
@jessamyn@glammr.us avatar

I have friends in my town of various ages and we'll sometimes swap food or give people leftovers from events to bring home.

One generalization I can make is that all my younger (30-ish) friends and all my older (70-ish) friends will always return food storage containers and NONE of my approximately-my-age friends will do that. They all know we all have too many and the food is just a pretext for getting rid of some of the containers.

debcha,
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@jessamyn I do have plastic and Pyrex food storage containers, but since nowadays all takeout seems to come in nominally disposable but actually sturdy plastic with good lids, I am very happy to put those to use to give food away and definitely don’t expect them back.

[But I would definitely return any containers that are primarily intended for storing (rather than simply delivering) food.]

its_a_mit, to random
debcha,
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@its_a_mit this is wonderful, thank you for thinking of me and for sharing!

platypus, to random
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@debcha an exciting moment as I progress in your book—one of my sabbatical plans is to take a trip to the NY reservoir system and doing some hiking around there!

They don’t relate directly to my work at all, but I’ve been fascinated by the scale and by having read about their construction as background for a role-playing game scenario once created.

debcha,
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@platypus oh wonderful! And in case it’s not on your radar, Lucy Sante’s recent book NINETEEN RESERVOIRS seems RTYI.

debcha, to random
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It’s May Day, so I am listening to Jóhann Jóhansson’s astonishing soundtrack for THE MINERS’ HYMNS.

https://johannjohannsson.com/discography/miners-hymns/

debcha, to random
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I am exceedingly proud that my book HOW INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS: INSIDE THE SYSTEMS THAT SHAPE OUR WORLD, has been longlisted for the Massachusetts Book Award for Non-Fiction! Just look at that company, my goodness!

https://www.massbook.org/mass-book-awards

debcha,
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@TeamMidwest Oh my goodness, thank you!

debcha,
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@wynkenhimself thank you!

debcha,
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@kfitz thanks!

debcha,
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@beep thanks, frond!

waldoj, to random
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I made a new Mastodon bot, called "I Hope This Email Finds You.” Twice a day it proposes a novel way to conclude that sentence. (It uses phrases from Google Books that include the phrase “finds you.”) I've been having fun reading these, so I turned it into a bot because you, too, might have fun reading them. https://botsin.space/@thisemailfindsyou/112295528875440987

debcha,
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@jessamyn @waldoj If it makes you feel better, I’m the weirdo follower who knows exactly what this and was probably publishing in the same or closely allied journals at the time: https://botsin.space/@thisemailfindsyou/112295447171916868

bluegreenandfree, to Engineering

About a third of the way into the brilliant HOW INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS by @debcha and I appreciate the wonder at energy storage, a subject in which I've been lucky to make a career.

Also very much appreciate her eloquent debunking of the desirability of off grid living. At first the independence sounds like freedom, but in reality it's just doing more work by yourself. (And only so long as your tech functions!) True freedom is what we build together.

debcha,
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@bluegreenandfree Thank you! [And re: energy storage: I feel like I have a lot of conversations that are eg ‘but lithium!’ and I keep saying, “we need to store energy, and there an infinite number of ways to do that — electricity in batteries is just one possibility” Especially when we are talking longer-term energy storage.]

debcha, to random
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My day was improved by meeting this fearless urban bun when I walked out my front door at dawn today (we are both crepuscular).

ldodds, to random
@ldodds@mastodon.me.uk avatar

There's a lot to enjoy in @debcha "How Infrastructure Works". But I particularly enjoyed the details about the Dinorwig Power Station. The UK's largest battery. Had never heard of it before!

Here's an article she wrote about it for the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/nov/02/beauty-of-infrastructure-electric-mountain-dinorwig-power-station-north-wales

debcha,
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@ldodds @edsu Thank you both! And yes. It’s easy to be very focused on needing batteries to store electricity (and then be discouraged by eg the geopolitics of lithium), rather than considering the nearly infinite number of ways in which we can store energy (each of which works well in different places and for different purposes).

waldoj, to random
@waldoj@mastodon.social avatar

I'm getting a good laugh out of this question on my kid's math homework. There are layers of absurdity here. But are they intentional? 🤷‍♂️

debcha,
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@waldoj [I can’t “like” this but I see it, and I’m sorry — glad your kid has you as a parent, at least]

debcha,
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@waldoj Yeah, a friend once observed* that one of my fundamental ways of interacting in the world is generating and testing hypotheses, and the most basic is ‘does this new-to-me info make sense?’ [ie does it fit the observed data? does it fit in with other things? is it internally consistent?’] It serves me well, tbqh.

*it was both obvious and unsurprising once he said it, but it had never occurred to me before then, precisely because it’s a fundamental way in which I interact with the world

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