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Me. Woodward Park, Fresno, CA. January 2016.

One of my favorites pics of me.
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What you leave out

I just wrote a piece yesterday about date rape . I debated whether or not to add a footnote saying something like "Yes, I KNOW not all date rape is a case of miscommunication and alcohol-fueled confusion. Some people are just rapists, full stop." I ultimately chose to not do that. The piece includes passages about men intentionally getting women drunk to take advantage of them. The piece includes statements that clearly indicate doing so is rape. No matter how carefully I say it, no piece of writing will ever be immune to bad people intentionally twisting my words so they can try to tell you "I am not really a rapist. I was just confused and didn't understand that her screaming NO 27 times and clawing at my eyes meant I was raping her. I just thought she liked rough sex!" People who do bad things intentionally don't usually fess up the minute they are caught red-handed and go "You got me. I'm just a bad person and I just like hurting people and g

How Journalism Pieces Work

In journalism, your title is supposed to be the briefest possible summary of the main point of the story. Your first paragraph is supposed to be a repeat of that with additional information and then the rest of it should again reinforce the idea but continue to elaborate. The idea behind that is that if all you read is the headline, you should have the most important piece of information in the article. Reading the headline should serve a useful purpose to help keep you informed of the news even if you don't read further. The first paragraph is supposed to encapsulate the story and, again, give you something useful that wasn't in the headline even if you read no further. Journalistic pieces are supposed to be written such that you can stop at any point because they are front-loaded: The most essential information is given first and additional writing beyond that is supposed to elaborate and fill out your understanding of the topic. These days, it's very well understoo

Writing on the Internet

Many years ago, I read an anecdote somewhere about an American working in an Asian country who was extremely frustrated with communication challenges. One day, he felt he was finally getting somewhere and said "I think we are thinking along parallel lines." To his surprise and pleasure, his Asian colleague agreed with that assessment. When it again became apparent at a later date that they remained at an impasse, he referenced that conversation and his colleague said "Parallel lines never meet." The internet is probably the most extremely diverse community that has ever existed and this extreme diversity compounds a lot of problems. Learning to write well for things posted to the internet has proven to be more challenging than I expected. I think the extreme diversity of the audience is a factor there. It makes it very challenging for saying something clearly in a way that will not be very wildly misinterpreted by a great many people and to add to the fun the

Allegedly

Some portion of the freelance writing I have done has been for lawyers. One of the challenging details about legal-related writing is that you need to be very persnickety about some things for legal reasons -- as in there can be serious real world consequences if you don't write very carefully. One of those details that you need to be picky about is that you cannot say "(Person) did X thing." You have to qualify everything and say things like "(Person) was charged with X thing" and "(Person) allegedly did X thing." It has to be strictly factual and if you are an American lawyer, it has to respect American law, such as abiding by the assumption of innocent until proven guilty. And it doesn't matter how offensive you find the crime, if they haven't yet been found guilty in a court of law, you cannot write in a way that implicitly or explicitly suggests they are. Even if they have been convicted, a best practice is to state that they were c

Tsundere

According to Wikipedia , Tsundere is a Japanese term for a character development process that depicts a character with a personality who is initially polarized warm/soft, cold, temperamental, hotheaded (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time. I didn't learn this term from Wikipedia. I learned it from some folks I know who are very into Japanese media, like anime, one of whom told me once "I have no idea why Wikipedia says that. That's not how it gets used." Before I explain what I understand the term to mean, let's take a slight detour into the land of Columbo. The following scene is one that gets fully explained later in this episode but only partially explained in this clip. Not only does the guy know she gets car sick, which is why she prefers the front seat, he switched the sugar bowl and the artificial sweetener bowl to put her preference closer to her. I saw absolutely no significance in that detail t

First Drafts Almost Always Suck

Yesterday, I wrote a short post about Eating Cleaner. The first draft had a completely different title -- Eating Less Meat -- and I was having enormous difficulty trying to write it. One of the things that makes my first drafts suck is they often contain a brain dump of a lot of my fears of what could go sideways. So instead of making my point -- in this case about a simple rule of thumb for eating cleaner, which is to eat less meat (and dairy) -- I get bogged down in trying to figure out how to address a raftload of boogeymen, in this case about political stuff related to veganism, essentially. Years ago, I read the book Diet for a Small Planet . It's an excellent book about vegetarianism but only about half of it is recipes. The first half makes a strong case for why and how first-world bad habits, including meat-centered diets, foster starvation elsewhere. It's been a lot of years since I read it but my recollection is that there are a number of things that go on root

Paring down some things

I've recently taken several of my blogs offline. As is often the case, I don't yet know exactly why that is or where I am going from here. My health is better than it's been and my thinking is clearer. One valid interpretation: I need to consolidate my writing onto fewer blogs and spread myself less thin and I have a clearer idea of where I am going with this stuff. Several of the blogs I took offline were health related blogs. One valid interpretation: I've tried various approaches to writing about the topic and found that some approaches simply don't work. Another valid interpretation: Writing about health topics is a waste of my time. It's more downside than up and something I would kind of like to abandon. Some months ago, I rewatched The Saint . It has a plot similar to Chain Reaction -- someone invents clean, unlimited energy and people want to prevent it from being given away for free -- only the inventor is a woman with a serious health defect