Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

The one way educators still don't use digital submissions to help themselves

Digital homework submissions are a beautiful, but underutilized tool for educators.

While some aspects (such as TurnItIn) have been somewhat embraced, there's one other big way that having essays and papers turned in digitally will make things easier for educators and make it harder for students to slack off and cheat.

Word counts.

Don't give out assignments with page lengths, give out assignments with word counts.

For example, these two syllabi could, instead of listing the requirement of eight pages and fifteen pages, state that the papers must be 2,000 words and 3,800 words.  The calculation is approximately 250 words per double-spaced page.

Word count is an easy thing to check in a word processor, and it makes complaining about font sizes and margins and spacing all a moot point.  The point, after all, is to get the students able to write content about the topic; why waste your time (and theirs) with a very subjective and fudgeable metric?

Anyone can use mental aikido in thier relationships

It's possible - and sometimes necessary - to do a bit of mental aikido in order to facilitate the better options that are your ideals .

I use aikido as an analogy purposefully; it is a constructed martial art, can be translated as "the way of harmonious spirit", and is all about redirecting energy. In this case, you're redirecting your own mental energy, purposefully, and it requires mindfulness to do properly.

A simple example:  You find it easy to commit to taking care of someone else, but have a hard time taking care of your own needs. Upon reflection, you realize that in order to care for another, you must yourself be in good working order. You cannot take care of someone else without tending to your own needs. From there, you can use the mental motivation "taking care of another" in order to do self-care without it seeming greedy or self-indulgent.

This is the same strategy used with learning compersion (a skill you really want to have in a relationship). And like compersion, it sounds easy, but can be quite challenging in practice.

Framing it as mental aikido, though, reinforces that while this can be quite challenging, it's a learned skill. A skill you can learn. A skill that you will sometimes fail at while practicing, but a skill you can always improve at.

A Failure of WorldBuilding: How *The Conjuring* Doesn't Make Sense

It only took me three years to realize The Conjuring doesn't make sense.  I mean, I don't think it fulfills a fundamental role of genre, but the film's internal logic doesn't hold up.

Or, for that matter, any theologically-based story where the forces from Hell try to tempt and subvert (and take over) those who aren't Christian.

Think about this for a second.

Let's go with the idea that "spiritual warfare" exists, and that the forces of Hell are actively trying to recruit souls.

In the plot of The Conjuring, the "fault" of the Perron family (those attacked by the evil spirit) is that they're not religious enough, and that God is the answer.  I mean, the film writers confirmed this Christian message in an interview for the sequel.

But that doesn't make sense. Why would the forces of Hell mess with non-believers?   

It's wasting time.

In this movie-default idea of Christianity, literally the only people worth messing with are those who are "good" or "saved". The heathens, the people who aren't "saved" or believe the right kind of way are already screwed.  As the Hills said themselves:
"Conjuring 2" is a story told through the eyes of believers, whose strongest weapon is their faith in God. Our film allows believers and non-believers to travel their journey with them, and in some ways, maybe affect someone who is on the edge of faith, and somehow give them the strength they need.
The actions of the forces of evil in these stories literally lose them souls all the time.  Sure, some heathens die (they would eventually anyway), but the actions depicted in these stories (or in the IRL stories they're loosely based upon) would drive people towards the one way they could get out of evil's grasp.

The old bet between JHVH and a satan in the Book of Job is the only way this makes any kind of sense (though we're never told whether Job's wives or children are religious and good before they're summarily slaughtered for a celestial bet)... but again, that makes the random shenanigans in all these films simply counterproductive. Even in The Exorcist, even with the priest's questioning of their faith, the demon's actions seem to do little but provide moments for people to die for their faith (automatic sainthood!) or give them a proof of theology not seen since Thomas placed his fingers in a resurrected Yeshua's side.

But maybe that's the point. Maybe I'm seeing these films all wrong.  They're meant as a kind of theatrical "hell house"1 meant only to be scary to the non-believer and nothing but self-righteous back-patting for the believer.

1 If you wish to torment yourself with the live-action Jack Chick tract that is a "hell house", you can find some video here:

The One Big Difference A Lot Of People Are Missing - Are You?

Something to think about.

If the Nazis and their ilk go away, antifa goes back to whatever they do in their normal lives.


If the antifa and their like go away, the Nazis and white supremacists continue to push an agenda that cannot succeed without mass murder and the imposition of a full-blown police state.

You cannot claim that the two are morally equivalent without embracing, or at least tolerating, the Nazi agenda.

"Yes," you might say, "I hate both." That is a rational and defensible position. But if you pretend they're the same level of evil, you are not someone I want to be associated with.

The Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists want to murder millions of people based on nothing but who their parents are or how dark their skin might be.

Antifa wants to stop them.

If you are too stupid to see the difference, please remove yourself from my friends list.

And, if we associate offline, please let me know so I can avoid you like the multi-cellular
plague that you are.

Get the hell out of my universe.

- Paul Myers
(countersigned by me)

(The above is quoted with permission from Paul Myer's Facebook post in response to Trump's re-insistance that "both sides" are to blame for Charlottesville. If you're interested in selling online, Paul has a lot of good information at his website; I recommend his work and have been a subscriber to his newsletter for a long time.)

It's time to write with us again this weekend!

It's rough finding the time to write. Life intervenes... a lot. 

Then take just an hour to write with us this weekend!
Several of us have started our own, self-hosted, flash fiction challenge over at a website we're calling Obsidian Flash.  It's on a forum behind a password, so that anything you write and submit is considered unpublished.  Registration is quick, free, and pretty painless.

Seriously, this thing is the perfect thing for you to do if you think writing is hard (or finding time for writing is hard), and especially if you haven't been writing for a while.  It's also great if you have problems with getting past ideas that "you suck" (every first draft sucks, face it) or self-doubt.  Here's why:

1. Challenges like this are great for stimulating creativity.
2. You're supposed to write for an hour (ish); you can make that time.
3. You don't have the time to critique yourself.
4. You'll get helpful feedback from published authors and editors like myself, Donna Munro, Anton Cancre, and more.
5. We are friendly, despite all appearances to the contrary.  :)

The next challenge is scheduled for THIS weekend.  The prompt will go up this Friday (THAT'S TODAY, FOLKS) at 8pm EST.  Donna is our flashmaster!

Go sign up now at and we'll see you writing this weekend!

Here are the rules:

1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within 24 hours of the prompt being posted, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.  Typically the prompt is posted by 8pm EST on Friday, and stories are posted by 8pm EST on Saturday.

2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.

3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.

4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.  Typically this is within 24 hours of the end of the writing portion, or 8pm EST on Sunday.

5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and chooses the prompt(s) for the next contest.  Also, you get all the Internet Bragging Points you think you can get away with.

Don't wait - get going and register at right now and join us!