Best Valentine’s Therapy: Predictive Text Advice For Your Special Day

In January, I asked Botnik to provide the median New Year’s resolutions by uploading twenty of the top articles for “new year’s resolutions” and allowing the system to generate predictive-text advice.

That advice was so classically helpful, I figured we could all use the same help deciding how to spoil our loved ones this Valentine’s Day.

I uploaded the text of the top 20 Google search results for “best valentine’s day ideas” to Botnik. Here’s what it recommends.

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Best Valentine’s Therapy

“Here’s what you can enjoy with your cheesy selves” this Valentine’s Day, says Botnik.

Sing at your favorite people.

Whoever your favorite people are, find them and sing at them.

“Singing classic music can really take a moment to the opera,” says Botnik. “Don’t romantic for all night, or you could probably order dessert.”

Volunteer the weekend to spend time thinking of flowers.

Volunteering is a great way to spread the love, and what’s more traditional on Valentine’s Day than flowers? If springing for a bouquet of roses is outside your budget, consider changing up your approach this year by volunteering to think of flowers instead of actually buying them.

When you volunteer, Botnik recommends couples “get stuck dancing together. Forever is definitely around the corner, but only with beer samples.”

Recreate a local nonprofit but with chocolate.

As part of your Valentine’s volunteering, consider recreating a local nonprofit in the most romantic and popular of all Valentine’s Day foods: chocolate!

“Chocolate tasting adventures are guaranteed to make Valentine’s exciting,” says Botnik. “Nonprofts everywhere tend to get stuck without cliches.”

Have affordable sex.

Sex is a great way to increase your intimacy on the most romantic holiday of the year, but blowing your budget on one night of fun will leave you feeling strung out the rest of the year.

Instead, says Botnik, “save on pricey service fees with some blissful thing. Planned outings are sure to make up for your significant confusion.”

Find tickets for two at your local waterkeeper.

Most people associate trips to the local waterkeeper with Arbor Day festivities. Surprisingly, Valentine’s Day is a great time to switch up your routine and buy tickets from this beloved hometown institution.

“Your waterkeeper will fall for your partner every year, so you can enjoy some dueling without their personality introducing fees,” says Botnik. “Don’t forget to try the salsa.”

Give some homemade spaghetti to a deluxe man.

If you’re short on cash, love to cook, or both, don’t overlook the romantic value of a home-cooked meal. However, it’s important to share that meal with the right person. Only a deluxe man (or woman) deserves your work on this special day.

“A deluxe man, with creative wine and tapas, skewers online copies of your ex,” says Botnik.

Challenge yourselves to celebrate your strong plans.

Your plans with your loved one, whatever they may be, are strong – so strong, in fact, that it can be tough to tame them. Remember that it’s important to celebrate your strong plans, even as you’re attempting to rope them into submission on the old prairie.

If you’re concerned that your plans are too strong, says Botnik, “tarot cards are likely to celebrate your chemistry.”

Show your first love that they are meant to eat your entree.

Remember that first person on whom you had a total crush? This Valentine’s Day, enjoy a “blast from the past” by finding this person and showing them that they are totally meant to eat your entree.

Naturally, some people are hesitant to call up their first love. But Botnik says not to worry: “Your first love letters definitely deserve plenty of time to think. Cook your inner wishlist and reminisce about ghosts.”

Reread ideas for couples while watching crappy movies alone.

Expecting to be alone this Valentine’s Day? You don’t have to spend the day in a fulfilling activity or relationship with yourself. Instead, reread lists of ideas that only work for couples on February 14, while you watch the worst movies you can find.

“Bad treats are meant for singles to eat,” says Botnik. “I like your favorite people when they adore neither of these.”

Visit your spouse at another burlesque show.

If staying at home just isn’t for you, take matters into your own hands this Valentine’s Day by surprising your spouse at whatever burlesque show they decided to attend instead of spending the night with you.

“Sexy prizes for couples are always ready,” says Botnik, cautioning that not all couples will benefit from this risky idea: “You have to start with creative holiday cake.”

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22 Answers to 22 Questions: On Novel Writing, Surviving as a Freelancer, and More

My Quora inbox is facing a bit of a crisis right now.

Like any moderately-active Quoran, I get a lot of answer requests. Some of them are really good questions I spend time and thought answering. Some can be answered in a sentence or less. Some just make no sense at all.

Also, like any moderately-active Quoran, I don’t answer every request I get. I tend to delete the utterly nonsensical ones and let most of the others simply sit there, either because they don’t instantly inspire me and/or because I feel like answering with just a few words is a waste of everyone’s time but answering with more words is a waste of my time.

Here’s my method of clearing both my A2A backlog and my conscience: I’m going to answer the backlog here.

22 answers to 22 questions_on novel writing, surviving as a freelancer, and more

Has anyone ever paid for a course/program in making a living as a freelance writer? Do they work or is it a scam?

I’ve never paid for a course, just a few books. I particularly recommend The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman.

I’m sure some courses are helpful. I’m equally sure some are scams.

What are the best freelancing opportunities for someone with an active mind and a lot of time on their hands?

Research-heavy writing worked for me. If you’re trying to kill time, anything time-bound like creating/editing/rendering music and video will probably fit the bill as well.

What is the best advice for a new freelance editor?

(Note: I’ve stopped answering this question on Quora because my advice is literally always the same for every freelancer.)

Do not quit your day job until you can live comfortably off 50 percent or less of your gross pay from freelancing. You need to put at least 50 percent, ideally 60-70 percent, of that pay into savings immediately and pretend it does not exist except when you need to pay your taxes.

Is experience or talent the key to writing really well?

Yes, but mostly the first one.

What observable characteristic screams “I can tell you a good story”?

Visible scars.

Why is the new trend for entrepreneurs and any type of freelancers to sell a course via their site?

To make money, you need to provide value in some way. Sharing your own knowledge in a convenient, packaged fashion for people who want to know what you know is an easy way to provide value.

Why don’t commercially/non-commercially successful writers or seasoned writers host more workshops, especially since the writing industry is growing?

(Yes, this question and the previous one appeared back to back.)

Probably because they’re busy writing and/or they don’t want to teach. Teaching a workshop takes work.

To progress professionally as a content writer should I go into marketing?

It depends on what you mean by “go into marketing.” You need an understanding of online marketing principles and tools in order to progress as a content writer. There’s no getting around it.

You don’t, however, need to go take marketing classes unless you have some independent passion for marketing. The stuff you need to know to be an outstanding content writer you can largely learn by doing and by reading the Internets, which is where the vast majority of the good info on online marketing lives.

Where did you get your first idea for a story?

Watching my parents yell at other drivers when I was five or six.

Has there ever been a good part three of something?

Return of the Jedi.

Can we think of a better word than “content” to describe what we create?

In private, I call mine “repackaged knowledge,” which is far more honest but not what anyone wants to admit they’re buying.

Realistically, though, “content” is exactly what content creators create. We populate websites and blogs so that they feel useful and relevant, but the underlying goal is always to get someone to buy something else.

How should I address my main character, by the first or by the last name?

If you’re using a point of view that gets inside the character’s head, use whatever they call themselves. Otherwise, use what other characters call them.

Do you agree with the controversial opinion that Copywriters should never use adjectives?

Without adjectives, we’d never know that Frosted Flakes are “great,” KFC is “finger-lickin’ good,” Subway is “Fresh,” that diamonds are “forever,” that Google’s goal is not to be “evil,” or that Rice Krispies make a sound when you pour milk on them.

I mean, you do you, but that sounds boring as heck.

How many principles of composition are in Strunk’s book The Elements of Style?

It’s been a good twenty years since I last read The Elements of Style, but I recall there being zero principles of composition in it and a whole lot of advice on style.

How do you make a likeable story/series?

  1. Give me someone to care about.
  2. Give me something I care whether or not they succeed at it.
  3. Show me what happens on the way to their success or failure.

What was it like starting your career with a liberal arts degree?

It was fine. I got paid enough to cover all my rent and bills with some left over for savings and the work wasn’t too difficult.

The recession blew that all out of the water, of course, but back in the day I had no trouble at all.

Do you feel as though your creative writing ability has peaked at some point and gradually began to decline, or continued to progress throughout your career as an author?

My inner troll thinks we’ve never had a jot of creative writing ability in our lives, we never will have any, and that writing books is a hilarious joke.

I ignore it.

What is the craziest way you have overcome writers’ block?

Outlining.

What are the pros and cons of an online juris doctor (law) degree?

Pros: Not having to cram into a lecture room with 90 other people and no air conditioning/sporadic heat. Not having a law professor stare you down while you try to figure out how to admit you didn’t do the reading.

Cons: You’ll be in no way prepared for the actual practice of law, which frequently involves being crammed cheek by jowl with other people, uncomfortable waiting in uncomfortable rooms, and being stared down by intimidating people who know the law much better than you ever will.

Is Infowars one giant scam?

Worse. Scams only take your money. Infowars takes your dignity.

Why does a freelancer never earns the same respect as earned by a full timer?

Because we live in a society where we’re taught not only to accept our ownership by the capitalist class, but to pride ourselves on which of the capitalists owns us at any given time. Freelancers prefer to be owned by multiple capitalists, concurrently or consecutively, which makes them suspicious.

What is the funniest thing you’ve ever written?

Definitely not this blog post.

What I’m Reading: St. Lucia Day Edition

Folks of a certain age will remember St. Lucia Day as “that thing Kirsten got to dress up as in Kirsten’s Surprise.” Like so many holidays at this time of year, it involves feeding people and questionable uses of candles.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading during various seasonal Festivals of Lights.

Learning and Creativity

To Learn, Students Need to DO Something,” Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagogy

“Every day, for the most part, information is delivered to them in some really basic way—usually PowerPoint—and the kids copy down what the teacher tells them to from the slides. Then they have some sort of worksheet where they’re basically regurgitating what was on those slides. After this cycle repeats four or five times, they have some kind of test. And that’s it.

This is not good. If we want our students to actually learn the facts and concepts and ideas we’re trying to teach them, they have to experience those things in some way that rises above abstract words on paper. They have to process them. Manipulate them.

To really learn in a way that will stick, they have to DO something.”

How Exercise Reprograms the Brain,” Ashley Yeager, The Scientist

“Researchers have long recognized that exercise sharpens certain cognitive skills. Indeed, Maejima and his colleagues have found that regular physical activity improves mice’s ability to distinguish new objects from ones they’ve seen before. Over the past 20 years, researchers have begun to get at the root of these benefits, with studies pointing to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, development of new neurons, and infiltration of blood vessels into the brain. Now, Maejima and others are starting to home in on the epigenetic mechanisms that drive the neurological changes brought on by physical activity.”

Laziness Does Not Exist,” Devon Price

“I’m a social psychologist, so I’m interested primarily in the situational and contextual factors that drive human behavior. When you’re seeking to predict or explain a person’s actions, looking at the social norms, and the person’s context, is usually a pretty safe bet. Situational constraints typically predict behavior far better than personality, intelligence, or other individual-level traits.

So when I see a student failing to complete assignments, missing deadlines, or not delivering results in other aspects of their life, I’m moved to ask: what are the situational factors holding this student back? What needs are currently not being met? And, when it comes to behavioral “laziness”, I’m especially moved to ask: what are the barriers to action that I can’t see?”

No More ‘Struggle Porn,’” Nat Eliason

“Entrepreneurs devour this message like doughnuts at a WeWork because most of them are failing. I think Vaynerchuk would want them to hear “If I work hard at the right thing I can succeed,” but the message is easily misinterpreted as “if I’m struggling, I’m doing the right thing.”

I call this “struggle porn”: a masochistic obsession with pushing yourself harder, listening to people tell you to work harder, and broadcasting how hard you’re working.

Current Events

Why Did Fans Flee LiveJournal, and Where Will They Go After Tumblr?“, Heather Schwedel, Slate

“For as long as there’s been an internet, fans have used it to connect with like-minded fans, first through fledgling services like Usenet and email lists, and more recently, on sites like Tumblr and the fan fiction hub Archive of Our Own. … So how do they know when it’s time to vacate one platform and decamp for a new one? Earlier this month, Casey Fiesler, an information science professor at the University of Colorado–Boulder (and Slate contributor), posted her initial findings from a survey she conducted on the popularity of different fan platforms over time. Fiesler, who is working with graduate student Brianna Dym to synthesize the data for an academic paper, spoke to Slate about fandom migration patterns, whether anybody still uses LiveJournal, and where fans might be going next. ”

Do Not Let Tumblr Frame Their Adult Content Ban as ‘Positive,’” Miri, Brute Reason

“The disingenuity of Tumblr’s statement starts very early on, when they describe their position on posting child porn: “Let’s first be unequivocal about something that should not be confused with today’s policy change: posting anything that is harmful to minors, including child pornography, is abhorrent and has no place in our community.”

That’s nice, but if you don’t want this policy change to be “confused” with banning child pornography, you might try not instituting it in response to getting criticized for allowing child pornography.”

Gifting Holiday Joy

The 100 Best Pens, As Tested By Strategist Editors,” Karen Ioria Adelson and Lauren Ro, The Strategist

“We consulted a panel of experts, picked through personal favorites, and mined our own pen coverage to determine the top contenders. Then we called in and tested dozens upon dozens of gels, rollerballs, felt-tips, ballpoints, and fountain pens, and put them to the test. The resulting list is a ranking of the top 100 pens, according to Strategist editors and writers.

One note: A lot of what makes one pen better than another is completely subjective.”

Girl Scout Badge Nostalgia: Computer Fun (1990)

The main reason I collect Girl Scout handbooks isn’t their value (which is often negligible). It’s the nostalgia factor.

It’s also the fact that, while some of the content is timeless, other parts of the books aged faster than girls do.

Today’s example: “Computer Fun,” one of the badges included in Girl Scout Badges and Signs (1990).
Girl Scout Badge Nostalgia

Back in Ye Early 1990s, when this badge appeared in Girl Scout Badges and Signs and also back when I earned it, badges were organized into five “Worlds,” indicated by color: The World of Well-Being (Red), the World of People (Blue), the World of Today and Tomorrow (Orange), the World of the Arts (Purple), and the World of the Out-of-Doors (Yellow).

The World to which a badge belonged was indicated by the color of its border: Computer Fun, being from the World of Today and Tomorrow (which focused mostly on the sciences), had an orange border.

Badges were also graded by difficulty for Juniors and Cadettes: badges with a green background were comparatively easier to earn, and were for Juniors only. Badges with a tan background were comparatively harder to earn, and could be earned by either Juniors or Cadettes. Computer Fun was one of the “hard” ones.

Ironically, I suspect it’d still be one of the hard ones today, but not for the reasons it was hard in 1994.

Here’s the first page of badge requirements:

Page 101 of Girl Scout Badges and Signs, 1990. The first of two pages detailing requirements for the

The instructions, “Complete Six Activities,” were pretty standard for badges. Occasionally there were one or two mandatory activities, but generally speaking, we got to pick from 6-10 options.

This page contains Activity 1:

  1. Find computers being used for at least ten different purposes. To do this, look through books, newspapers, or magazines, watch television, or go in person. Share what you have found with your troop members.

Today, I suspect most girls could pull this one off without leaving their own room. In Ye Fabled Land of 1990, however, this one actually did take some research. A few lucky folks actually had computers in their own house. For most kids, though, computers were a newfangled thing we were all told not to bother with, for they would surely blow over.

Ahem.

Anyway, here are the rest of the requirements:

filename-1(2)-page-001

(This page is from my former troop leader’s copy of Girl Scout Badges and Signs, which is why it has her signature and our names in it. On most of the others, she marked which activities we’d done, so I’m uncertain why they’re not marked here.)

Activity 2:

2. Spend at least two hours learning something new from a computer, either by taking computer-assisted instruction at a school or learning center or by using a computer educational toy.

Today, I’m pretty sure every kindergartener who signs up for Daisies has completed this one. In my day, though, there was an excellent chance that most or all of the girls in one’s troop hadn’t used a computer for two hours in their entire lives.

3. Help put on a demonstration of computer toys and games for your troop.

Time Traveling Troop Leader: “Okay, everybody get out your phones.”

Us, in 1990: “What?”

…In 1990, my home phone was still rotary dial. Touch tone service didn’t reach our part of the U.S. till I was in high school. Portable phones were attached to a battery the size of a small briefcase, so no one used them unless they had to.

4. Visit a business, bank, or other place that uses a computer to solve problems.

  • See the computer in action and find out some of the things for which it is used.
  • Find out what language the computer users, how information is put into the computer, and how information comes out.
  • Learn how to use an automatic banking machine.

When I was a kid, ATMs were magic. I’m not kidding. I spent a large part of my childhood thinking there was a person on the other side of the wall who just sat there and handled transactions all day. When free-standing ATMs became a thing, I was very confused.

That said, I’d like to send some of my high school students to do the first two. We’ve reached the flip side of the coin: Computers were brand new for my generation, but today, they’re so ubiquitous that students often don’t realize what software platforms do or how they’re coded.

5. Invite someone who works with computers to talk to your troop or group. Find out what she/he does with the computer, what training was necessary, and what other people are involved in keeping the computer working properly. or Interview four different people and find out how computers affect their lives.

Ah yes, the old “talk to other humans” activity. Some version of this activity appears in every single badge. And I hated then all.

6. Visit a computer store. Compare different kinds of personal computers. Ask someone to explain the basic options available to the average buyer. Decide which one you would buy.

Honestly? I’d have kids do this today. Knowing how to read computer specs has saved me from making laughably bad purchases on a dozen different occasions.

7. Read a computer magazine. Make a list of the types of information that can be found in the magazine and how this would help you use computers.

Magazines stopped being the best source of this information 15 years ago. Unfortunately, now it’s even harder to find, since The Rise of the End-User has somehow meant that we’re all supposed to just know this stuff even though that’s literally the opposite of what “end-user” means.

8. Learn how to do some basic computer operations. Demonstrate your ability to do the following:

  • Format a disc.
  • Insert a software program.
  • Create a file.
  • Print stored information.
  • Save something you have created.

“Disc.”

Is there even an equivalent to formatting floppies today? I think “backing up our files to the cloud” might be the closest most of us get on a daily basis. For the kiddos in the audience: Yes, we used to format floppy disks all the time. It was the only way to reuse them, and because they only held 1.44 MB (you read that right), we needed a lot of them.

Anyway, my dad had an Apple IIGS, so I learned to do all of this much sooner than many of my peers. When Windows 3.1 came along and all my friends were going “WHOA NO WAI LOOK AT THIS,” I was going, “that’s literally just AppleWorks only less ugly.”

Then Clippy appeared. $#*(#& Clippy.

9. Play an electronic computer game at least five different times. Keep a record of how you do. What skills are needed? How can you improve?

or

Be a computer games reviewer. Play at least three different video games and write a brief review of your opinions of each. Include in your review: comments on the objective of the game, the skills required, the eye appeal and the quality of the graphics, the interest level, and the educational value.

…Let me show you what computer games looked like at the time this book was published.

prince-of-persia

Prince of Persia, 1989. I had a similar game for the Apple IIGs, Dark Castle, whose graphics absolutely blew my mind at the time.

indesdx

EGATrek, 1992. This is your readout as captain of the Federation starship USS Lexington. Oh yeah, I’m feeling very 24th century right about now.

indexaaa

And the crowning achievement of early 1990s computer games, Castle Wolfenstein 3D. This game literally changed how we thought about video games: it was the first one to let us move in three dimensions…more or less.

Stare good and hard at Wolfenstein for a while. I’m serious. Imagine a world where these graphics are incredible. They are blowing your mind. You have never seen anything so photorealistic on a computer screen. Ever.

Yes, I just typed “photorealistic” with a straight face.

Castle Wolfenstein 3D really did blow our minds when it came out. Even EGATrek was enough fun that I’ve gone searching for emulators from time to time over the years. But the technology keeps moving further than we realize: in 1994, the year my fellow troop members and I completed “Computer Fun,” these were amazing graphics.

Today, they’re “retro.” Kitschy, even. There are five year olds doing better work on Scratch.

I have no idea what the updated computer badges look like for Girl Scouts today. I imagine they cover an updated set of the same basic skills.

I do think girls would be hard-pressed today to complete the 1990 version. For one thing, where would they find floppy disks?

Introducing My Favorite Candidate: Vote Pippa

As we all sit around waiting for the polls to close and the midterm election results to come in, allow me to introduce you to my favorite candidate in this year’s race:

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Pippa is young. Some say she is too inexperienced to hold public office. Others point out that she is a cat.

It’s true that Pippa is young. And a cat. But her platform offers hope to millions of Americans. Just look at her positions on:

The Economy

Enact a 7-day nap week. Emphasize America’s skills in the lap-creation industry.

Civic Duty

Make “Feed Pippa” day a national holiday. Also, make every day “Feed Pippa” day.

Border Security

Any border wall must include a door, which is to be left open at all times. If the door is closed, a concierge must be assigned to it 24/7 in order to open it for anyone who wants to go in. Or out. Or in. No, out. Wait, let’s just stand in the middle for a while.

Healthcare

Make it easy and affordable for Americans to see their vet, especially for cases of flea infestation. Americans will not, however, be required to like their vet.

Welfare

Institute universal basic snuggling.

Drug Policy

Legalize catnip for cats ages 3 months and older. Tax sales of catnip and use the funds to pay for education. Humans need training for the most in-demand jobs of today, such as opening cat food cans.

Trade

Create a fair, organized system for other countries to shower us with gifts, mostly in the form of tuna, catnip mice, and that really nice kind of hairbrush.

Join me in helping a young cat realize her dream of napping on the Speaker’s podium. Vote Pippa 2018!

What I’m Reading: Election Eve Edition

Two things I’m looking forward to after tomorrow:

  • Raking leaves in my front yard without having to talk to canvassers,
  • Getting only bills in the mail.

I’m not sure how many glossy, four-color trees died to warn me that The Liberals(TM) are about to give us healthcare, fix our roads, or return us to a sensible immigration policy, but for some reason, those are all the flyers we’ve received this election cycle. RIP, trees.

Here are several articles that have crossed my radar in the past week. They make far better reading than campaign flyers.

What I'm Reading_Election EveEdition

Current Events

U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See The Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It,” Janet Reitman, The New York Times Magazine

“Aside from the few white nationalists who had been identified by the media or on Twitter, Stout had no clue who most of these people were, and neither, it seemed, did anyone else in law enforcement….

This is like a Bermuda Triangle of intelligence, Stout thought, incredulous. He reached out to their state partners. ‘So you’re telling us that there’s nothing? No names we can plug into the automatic license-plate readers? No players with a propensity for violence? No one you have in the system? Nothing?'”

Twilight of the Racist Uncles: How Facebook Is Melting the Minds of Our Elders,” Ed Burmila, The Baffler

“If you are under the age of fifty, the odds are that you have at least one older person in your life who has gone down this road in the last few years. If you are white, I am certain of it. Lamenting our older relatives’ journey down the rabbit hole of right-wing paranoia and vituperation feels, at times, like my generation’s version of having the big talk about putting Nana in a nursing home. ‘Losing a parent’ has dual meanings for us after 2016. We’re dealing with the loss of people who are very much alive—but who have become such chaotic stews of anger, persecution complexes, racism, and half-assed conspiracy theories that they can no longer hold a normal conversation.”

Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” Masha Gessen, The New York Review

“But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now.”

 

Writing

How to Write Consent In Romance Novels,” Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic

“Guillory says one of the best compliments she received about The Wedding Date was that the book could serve as a model for young people who want to better understand romantic boundaries. A friend from law school read the book with her book club, which comprised several mothers of young children. ‘One of the women told me that she wanted her little girl, when she got old enough, to read my book to know what consent was and how a man should treat her,’ Guillory said of the meeting, which she Skyped into. ‘It just really made me feel emotional, because I want girls to grow up thinking that they deserve to be heard, that their voices matter, that men should listen to them by default.'”

Writing Sex Scenes With Less Cissexism, Pt 2: Story Level Trans-Exclusion,” xanwest, Kink Praxis

Trans-exclusion breaks into two core things, that are often intertwined:

  1. Refusal to respect or acknowledge the gender of trans and/or non-binary people
  2. Not letting trans and/or non-binary people into the room (particularly gendered spaces)

What do each of these look like at the story level? I have three examples for each, along with discussion of how each can impact sex scenes.”

How to Write Full-Time in the 21st Century,” Lance Ng, Medium

“Commercial writing is a very unscalable way to make money. It’s not like selling products or services because you have to do it yourself and you only get paid once (most of the time). The only way to increase your income is to raise your prices. But what would justify it? Especially in an era where rates are falling for the written word. If you want to make a living out of writing, you have to rethink your value proposition today to survive tomorrow.”

Nightmare Fuel

Are You Living in a Simulation?“, Nick Bostrom

“This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.  It follows that the transhumanist dogma that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.”

(See also: this Vox video for an overview, or Brian Dunning‘s take on Skeptoid for some perspective.)


Elect me mayor of your heart: buy me a coffee or share this post on social media.

An Update on My Crabs

If you were reading my author blog last spring, you may remember that about six months ago, I kicked a serious case of the crabs. And the bucket they rode in on.

bucket-blue-crabs-52661

How has my life changed since I divorced myself from the toxic sectors of the autistic activism community?

In short: It’s great.

My anxiety levels dropped precipitously after I banned and blocked about two dozen people, and they’ve stayed down. I’ve been able to take on more challenging work. I’ve completed several projects I never thought I’d actually get done. I’ve had much more interesting, in-depth conversations with researchers who aren’t constantly trying to pull their fellow crabs off the rim of the bucket.

Oh, and sales of my book…actually increased.

In short, I can absolutely recommend walking away from people who are dragging you down. If you need a sign, this is it: Life is better without crabs.