Alyson McClaran / Reuters

Here’s an easy proposition for you — for the next 3.5 minutes [1], take a break from being a human in the middle of some of the most interesting times the world has ever seen.

Rather than a person full of thoughts, feelings, and fears, be a water molecule instead.

You exist. Your composition is a tastefully restrained 3 atoms — two hydrogens, and an oxygen. For a molecule, you have something pretty special going on, what with your high level of electrical polarity and the ability it gives you to get into some pretty epic hydrogen bonding shenanigans with…


Siena, Italy — Photo by Author

Part of the “How to Live in Interesting Times” Series

Using sophisticated, scientific dating methods (i.e. looking at social media post histories), experts (i.e. me) hypothesize that the first viral video our subject (i.e. also me) saw of people singing from their homes during a COVID-19 lockdown was this clip from Siena, Italy. Initial viewing is estimated to have occurred over a Month-Eon ago, sometime in the mid-March2020 Epoch.

Accounts of this moment remain incomplete due to the well-documented, worldwide failures in individual memory formation which occurred during this period as a result of that being when literally everything started…


‘Interesting Times’ (pt.1)

Putting the “Punk” in Punctuated Equilibrium

As massively engrossing as the disintegration of our own previously stable realities and predictable futures might be, scholarly work on “unsettled times” hasn’t concerned itself overly much with how terrible it usually is to be a person living through one. Instead, the research and theory has focused more on the association of such periods with a particular type of social change dynamic, sometimes described as “punctuated equilibrium”. This concept, borrowed from paleontology and biological evolutionary theory, refers to a pattern in which a system is characterized by a long-term, stable order…


“Interesting” Times (Pt. 1)

To my loved ones’ great annoyance, I’ve developed a stress-induced quirk of pretending to have an over-the-top ego about peculiar, minor things. Not sure where this “weird flex, but ok” coping mechanism came from, but I’m guessing it probably has something to do with being an academic for the past decade.

It’s recently reached new extremes over the past month in the face of, you know, the apocalypse that is definitely happening right now. Specifically, I’ve started excessively bragging about how on-trend I am given that way back in December 2019 (aka The Before Times), I

Lynette Shaw, PhD

Wayward social scientist, talking about some cool rocks she picked up while out on a non-random walk thru Complex Systems. www.lynetteashaw.com

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