April 29th, 2015

Possibly Glenn Fleishman's best article ever

How did I miss this? Well, I'm glad I found it now.


"PUAs are nearly exclusively men focused on soliciting women for the purposes of sex without resorting to payment. The PUA world applies algorithms, testing and feedback, and gamification to human interaction, turning women into not just sexual objects but essentially treating that cisgendered biological configuration as a Turing-complete machine in which specifying the right sequence of inputs results in access to specific ports and protocols."

Wow. Just. Wow.

_Mini Habits_, Stephen Guise

I got this via Kindle Unlimited, but I then bought a copy for my High Priestess to check out and get back to me with her opinion. I'll update this post when I hear back from her. In the mean time, I think this might be the second non-fiction I bought through Kindle Unlimited that I straight up enjoyed and can recommend (_Personal Kanban_ was the other one, and there are some common threads between the two books).

Subtitled: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

The idea of Mini Habits is as the title would suggest. Most "good" habits (he does not directly tackle getting rid of habits, altho he discusses displacement strategies and points to Allen Carr's EasyWay for smoking cessation) that one might contemplate starting involve a large ask at the beginning: a half hour of exercise, possibly involving getting into a car and driving to a gym, reading a book, writing a thousand words would be typical examples in his schema. With Mini Habits, Guise advocates "minifying" the ask, to something so stupidly simple, it is laughable (that's actually the metric for being sure you made it small enough). So, in his schema, a _single_ pushup, rather than a half hour workout; reading two pages of a book; writing 50 words. Guise has done two things from GTD in this approach: he has identified something that you have to do to accomplish the task/goal/habit (what is the next thing to do) and he has reduced it to the 2 minutes or less rule, where David Allen would say, just do it if you are in the place where it needs to be done, rather than put it on a list and manage it there. From a GTD perspective, "mini" or "stupidly small" is great.

Guise, like many of the habit promoters that eventually turn up on LifeHacker in one form or another, is a big believer in daily habits, altho he is okay with non-daily habits (example: 3x a week strength training). I agree with him that non-daily habits tend to take a little longer to "stick".

As for triggering or scheduling the mini habit, Guise suggests not, other than making sure you get it done by the end of the day (and acknowledging that he wrote 50 words, read two pages and did a single push up while in bad about to go to sleep on at least some occasions). He asserts (and I am inclined to agree) that over time, these mini habits will grow triggers earlier in the day, particularly since he is emphatic on celebrating the win once you do your habits for the day. If you want to do more pushups, read more pages, write more words, fine, but he is emphatic that you shouldn't grow the requirement. In this, he does the Very Best Job I've Seen Yet at making sure that a daily routine continues to work not just on _good_ days, but even on your worst days (we're all going to ignore unconscious and in the hospital days, since those are, hopefully, fairly rare in the target audience of this book).

Essentially, Guise has designed an easily communicated system for levering out of a depressed hole of inactivity. It is also one of the best systems I've seen for enabling people who once had good habits to "restart" them. Almost everyone who once ate very healthfully, exercised regularly at a high level, etc. finds the return process difficult, because they cannot imagine returning at the level they left at (they'd have to throw out everything in the house and buy entirely new food that is not currently appealing to them, they'd never be able to lift that much weight, run that far, etc.) and have great difficulty imagining returning at a different level. Guise just says come in so low, that you cannot possibly fail. Make it so the ask is laughably small.

It's brilliant.

The book is short and a quick read. Inevitably, there is a certain repetitiveness, altho for the most part, the repetition is there so that Guise can explain the same idea from numerous perspectives (it is not poorly edited purposelessness, that is). Guise's strategy is well aligned with mine, with the exception that Guise has a focus on every day habits, and I do not.

My own personal problem with habits is exactly the automaticity/insensitivity to environment which Guise, Rubin and other habit advocates are aiming for. I'm constantly trying to get my own automatic do-the-same-thing-the-same-way-every-time to be less routine and more in tune with the current environment. There's some sort of lesson here, altho I'm not at all sure what it might be.

In any event, if you wish you did something more consistently (you want better habits), but find other approaches to establishing better habits to be daunting, I have a hard time imagining how this approach could go wrong. And even if you _don't_ find other strategies daunting, I think this is a really good approach. Also, the parenthetical remarks in the book are hilarious (in a good, intentional way).

_Garden of Lies_, Amanda Quick SPOILERS

I haven't been blogging the dozens of JAK/Quick/etc. books I've been (re)reading over the last few months. But this one is new, so I figured I'll mention it.

SPOILERS! RUN AWAY or Hubbard will stab stab stab you

Ursula Kern (don't you just love these names) used to be someone else, but after being the co-respondent/attempted rape victim of the husband in a high profile divorce case -- she was working as a paid companion to the wife, who was more or less setting her up for this role -- she changed her name and started a secretarial/typewriting agency for women (historical romance novel, Victorian London). Now one of her friends and employees has supposedly suicided, but left behind odd things for Ursula to find that lead her to believe it may have been murder. Ursula attempts to take a break from her own current assignment cataloging artifacts found by a gentleman-archaeologist, Slater Roxton and asks for advice from him on the way out the door. Roxton decides to help her out on the case since he cannot dissuade her from investigating despite the risk (so, basically the usual plot). Roxton's backstory has some mystery martial arts and time stuck on an island after nearly being killed as an ancient temple self-destructed around him. He has put together a tile labyrinth in his basement. His father is dead. His mother (dad's mistress) is alive, as are his father's second wife and his step-siblings. Roxton is managing the money for the heirs, so he's got a lot of attention from the press.

Unsurprisingly, Ursula's identity is uncovered by none other than Gilbert Otford, late and later again of the Flying Intelligencer, so he actually gets some on page time (his articles appear in other Quick novels set in the same time and place). Obvs, the friend _was_ murdered and there's a complex, trans-atlantic drug, blackmailing and prostitution scheme that has to be dismantled. If you read JAK/Quick, a lot of this is familiar material (right down to the unemployed theater people working as domestics in Roxton's household, just like Desdemona's theater family in a JAK novel). If this is the kind of thing you like, well, here it is. If you find this all somewhat confusing, just move along.

predictive text on iphone

You know how when you're typing a message on iOS or wherever, it shows you what maybe you meant to type? That thing drives me nuts when I'm rescheduling my Dutch lesson and trying to do it in Dutch and I don't remember to change the keyboard so it keeps trying to change my perfectly good Dutch words into totally ridiculous English words. Worse, when I -do- remember to switch keyboards, I don't remember to switch back, with the expected results.

Anyway. That wasn't what I was going to say. What I was going to say was, that predictive text is extremely useful for my autistic son. He can carry on a texting conversation quite successfully with only minimal assistance, and he surely could not manage to spell all those words that quickly on his own.