Department of Design

Curated by Timoni West.

Primarily focused on product design, technology, cognitive psychology, and the brain. Also—pretty pictures, sometimes moving.


Posts about politics
July 22nd, 2014
There are a few areas where cyclists are more likely to break the law, most notably running red lights, though this is almost never a contributing factor in collisions (I suspect it’s because cyclists who run reds do so cautiously, since…well…they don’t want to die). The likely conclusion is that people riding bikes don’t break more laws or fewer laws than when they drive cars, but they do break different laws. Given that most cyclists are also drivers, it’s reasonable to think the levels of lawlessness would be consistent.
July 21st, 2014
Generally, it’s not the people at the working level you need to worry about. It’s the senior officials, it’s the policymakers who are shielded from accountability, who are shielded from oversight and who are allowed to make decisions that affect all of our lives without any public input, any public debate, or any electoral consequences because their decisions and the consequences of the decisions are never known.
September 24th, 2013
Some Twitter users, acclimated to the original privacy of Facebook, which previously limited the reach of interactions to a circle of “friends,” seem not to realize how public its succinct cousin can be. Thus, during events like the Miss America competition, President Obama’s Inauguration, the George Zimmerman trial, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, tweeters with less than peaceable sentiments—incredulous that the Miss America title went to someone who may not have been descended from a Mayflower settler, for instance—very publicly share their feelings online, and then find themselves surprised to be quoted by a wide range of Web sites, from Jezebel to the Huffington Post to the New York Times.
September 13th, 2013
See, I don’t look at Dickinson and think, “Oh, poor Business Insider for hiring a stealth asshole”; I think, “Who hired this asshole? A bunch of assholes?” I am skeptical that someone so proudly, publicly bigoted didn’t wave his bigot flag occasionally at the office. And looking at how quickly Business Insider got a statement out the door about Dickinson leaving the company, it doesn’t seem like there was a lot of angst about losing the CTO.

Our tech industry breeds bigots -

Close to my reaction. You don’t have to hire jerks.

March 21st, 2013

…I’ve had a bit of trouble wrapping my head around what it is a UX Designer actually does for some time now, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion; a User Experience Designer doesn’t do anything special. They’re just a designer.

…A great designer should have a solid understanding of the psychological effects of their designs on top of all the typographic, colour, and layout techniques they use on a daily basis. Each decision in those categories will have an effect on the overall user experience, and we should be conscious of those effects. User experience is not something that should be considered separately from any design processes, let alone given a separate job description or department. User experience design is just design. Whether you’re designing a static mockup for a website, or considering the psychological effect of a particular user flow, you’re designing.

November 6th, 2012
July 11th, 2011

I get it now. Poor people are annoyed by their more poor relatives.

The central tension for the Tea Party grass roots isn’t between the Big Brother state and the freedom-loving individual, or between inefficient government spending and effective free markets. Instead, Ms. Skocpol and her fellow investigators argue that “Tea Partiers judge entitlement programs not in terms of abstract free-market orthodoxy, but according to the perceived deservingness of recipients.” The fundamental distinction for them is not state vs. individual, it is the division of the United States into “workers” vs. “people who don’t work.”

…This is a revolt of the grandparents’ generation — at least the conservative grandparents — and they are worried the feckless youth are taking over the country and emptying the state’s coffers. These young “freeloaders” include the Tea Partiers’ own relatives. “Charles” told the researchers, “My grandson, he’s 14 and he asked, ‘Why should I work, why can’t I just get free money?”’ “Nancy” complained about a nephew who had “been on welfare his whole life.”

— “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” Theda Skocpol, Vanessa Williamson and John Coggin

Reading this article has shed some light on one of the great mysteries of my life: why are my poor farm country Midwestern relatives Republican?

The study's conclusions makes sense. My grandparents are Republican, and rarely took government aid for any length of time, aside from Medicare/Medicaid (which, it's mentioned, is looked at by Tea Partiers as 'earned benefits that belong to hard-working Americans as surely as do their homes and private savings').

But my parents and their siblings, while inheriting their parents’ political views, often went on welfare, and received food stamps, commodities and farm subsidies for years at a time. It wasn’t quite a lifestyle, but government aid was definitely considered a reliable choice.

My generation of cousins and siblings is is even worse: some have routinely been on welfare for years. I have at least four cousins and a sister who have never, in their twenty-something lives, held down regular jobs. Almost all have two children or more. They all have no idea why they’re Republicans; they don’t think about it much, but when pressed, will usually cite gun rights, abortion, or Big Government—nothing to do with economics.

They’re incredibly poor, and I don’t envy them; welfare doesn’t give you a cushy life. But it does stave off desperation, and both the grandparents and I can’t help but wonder if desperation wouldn’t be an excellent motivation from time to time.



December 11th, 2009
If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.


Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt answering CNBS’s question, “People are treating Google like their most trusted friend… should they be?” Why are you people not shitstorming about this.

Because it makes perfect sense. What should I be shitstorming about: the part where he was right or the part where he was also right?

October 7th, 2009
October 6th, 2009

via cherith, via templesmith, via sampagan:

One really big photo about Christianity and the US’s founding father’s true opinions on it

Nice to see a bit of context (even super-lightly-aliased context).

September 9th, 2009
Obama: Claims of death panels are a ‘lie’ (AP) – 1 hour ago

It pissed me off that he said this.  Calling it “a lie” implies that it is in the realm of things that could possibly ever be true, and that it just happens, simply, to not be true. This is NOT EVEN not-true.  IT IS FROM THE OUTER SPACE OF A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE WHERE INSTEAD OF ATOMS EVERYTHING IS MADE UP OF STUPID. —misseffieb

Nicely put. It’s always obnoxious when the press starts repeating a crazypills idea.

June 18th, 2009
Quit apologizing and never call me anything but Elizabeth again. Also, make sure you correct anyone who attempts to call me by any other name but Elizabeth. Are we clear on this? Like I said, it’s a hot button for me.

[ Part of an email thread from Liz ELIZABETH, from No name-calling - Shenanigans , in

The whole email exchange made me laugh out loud, because I knew folks like this in DC—it seems classic beltway.

But you know, being a PA on the Hill is one of the worst jobs I’ve ever heard about.* The average candidate is way over-educated, bright, ambitious, seriously underpaid** and constantly on the clock, dealing with a high-pressure boss who may be, in fact, elected to public office but also may also be totally crazy***. It’s certainly not sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen, but I can see where one might snap over a nickname for nineteen emails.***

*I got the sordid details on a daily basis from a friend who held that very job. She spoke fluent French, had a double major, meditated every day and lasted about a year.

**Like less than $25,000 a year.

***Like said friend’s boss, a California rep. Take The Nanny Diaries and combine it with the DSM IV and you’ve got her boss.

****Not really, with a name like Timoni, which always has to be spelled out, and is constantly mispronounced, but then, I’ve never been a PA on the Hill either. You know why? Because I’d probably start doing that kind of shit.

November 21st, 2008

[ Robert F. Kennedy and his campaign staff, via LIFE, hosted by Google ]

They look cool.