Inside Tom's Head - May 2022

08 Jun 2022

How’d it go?

It was a really wet May here in Western Washington, but somehow I didn’t really feel like I got rained on that much even though I rode my bike every day of the month for the Thurston County Bicycle Community Challenge. Of course, it could be that I just didn’t notice since I spent more of the month riding with my family than in past years. Riding with them was great, so maybe I didn’t notice a little extra weather. Now that our kid is old enough to go on longer rides with us, I can’t wait to do more family rides.

I should probably say something about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but I doubt that I’d change anyone’s mind. I would ask, however, that if you believe that gun rights are so important as to preclude even the discussion of any sort of gun control, that you spend some time examining that belief (generally I believe that the more strongly held any belief is, the more closely and critically we should examine it).

The other big topic right now is gas prices, but what I want to say on the subject would be more appropriate in its own post. For now, though, I’ll leave a couple of thoughts here. First, gas prices probably don’t work how you think they do (the linked video is hilarious and informative; “Tank Toppin’ Spank Juice” is the best nickname for gasoline that I’ve ever heard). Second, we don’t have a “high gas price” problem so much as we have a “lack of viable alternatives” or “lack of transportation freedom” problem.

At this point, I think that I have exceeded my italics budget for the month, so here are some links:

  • You may have heard of Mastodon, which is a social media platform that sounds less bad than facebook. Its central feature is that it is decentralized, which can lead to a bit of a learning curve as you figure out the metaphor. Personally, I’m not on it, and don’t have any plans of doing so at present (though it could be a good platform for a practical cycling club).
  • It looks like Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned (and for the record, this looks to be a bad idea). While I don’t doubt their willingness to go through with this, it could well be that we look back at this moment as an early step in the dissollution of the court, as some are already saying that it isn’t worth keeping around. Personally, I would love to see the court have term limits or consist of an ad hoc group that calls together a panel of justices from the federal courts to look at a given case.
  • I hope this isn’t a controversial position, but we need to take care of our dams (or remove them responsibly if we can’t or if they no longer serve a purpose).
  • Can’t disagree with this essay from Erik Twice about miniatures in board games. It’s easy to get miniatures wrong in a medium built entirely around abstraction. Even the most realistic and detailed games are still simplifications of reality, and the quality of a game is more about creating a stylized metaphor than a 1:1 representation of reality.
  • If you need to have large commercial trucks in a city, this is what they should look like.
  • I really like the idea of doctors prescribing walking to their patients.
  • Apparently Netflix will be having ads on lower tier streaming services in the near future. I’m honestly okay with this, so long as there is a tier at which you can opt out of the ads. Mostly. My kid has seen only a tiny fraction of the ads that I had seen at his age, and I can’t help but think that’s a good thing. It makes me sad to think that we might be going back to kids being absolutely saturated with advertising, especially if that is based on their parents’ income.
  • No substantive commentary on my part, just a touching story abotu using cycling to cope with challenging life events.
  • John Scalzi looks back at his Straight White Male essay ten years later. I have referenced that essay so many times, and I’m gald it’s still having an impact.
  • The deadly impact of urban streets that look like highways. This is by no means surprising, but I’m always a fan of confirming things that seem obvious with some good ‘ol data.
  • Some good thoughts from an MIT professor about which qualities dictate success and how to develop them. In particular, I appreciate that “quality of ideas” is only #3.


  • We finally got around to watching The Matrix Resurrections. I seriously enjoyed it. I want Reloaded and Revolutions to be edited down to a single movie now, since this feels like the ending that the trilogy deserved.
  • I finally finished reading This Is How You Lose The Time War. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it as much as many did.
  • I’ve been reading the Upside Down Magic series with my kid and am really liking it. It’s light and sweet and thoughtful, just what I want from kids books right now.
  • Reading a book about a pandemic in the middle of a pandemic is probably not for everyone, but How High We Go In The Dark was good. I’m curious to see how frequently my thoughts return to it, how deeply it touched me.
  • I read George Packer’s dissection of American culture Last Best Hope after hearing about it on a Strong Towns podcast. Looking at the United States through the lenses of narratives is really compelling, since on some level each of us is the stories we tell ourselves. In my opinion, the book fell apart at the end, when Packer started to get into where we go from here, since it felt insubstantial. However, I would still recommend the book, since thinking about the narratives that our neighbors are living in (and that we are living in ourselves) is a good way to build some understanding of where they are coming from and hopefully finding areas on which we can agree.
  • My 2022 playlist on Apple Music.
  • My board game plays for 2022.