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Sunday
Sep042016

Examining public anger and certainty in the Brock Turner case and sentencing

This article is about the public reaction to and perception of the Brock Turner sexual assault case and sentencing.

I will say upfront that this piece is not meant to be a defense of Brock Turner. I believe it’s probable that Turner did several immoral and criminal things on the night in question. My point with this article is to merely question the certainty and the anger that many people had about the case and sentencing. Because this piece is about perceptions and opinions, and not the case itself, I believe that these points will hold up well regardless of details that come out about the case later (for instance, when the court transcript is made public).

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Saturday
Jul022016

My mysterious muscle pain and weakness

This is a post about some recent health issues I’ve been having. I currently am quite confident I have CIDP: chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy. I am not certain of this, but I am confident. [update: I have been told I don't have CIDP by a neurologist] It fits all my symptoms (including some unusual ones, like pain caused by pressure on the body). And it is also known for being hard to diagnose; this fits all the common medical tests I’ve had thus far being normal. And it’s known for being rare and fairly unknown: this helps explains why no doctors have brought it up as a possibility to me. I am seeing a neurologist next week, so hopefully I’ll get some more answers soon. 

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Wednesday
Jun082016

Thoughts on Elon Musk's confidence that we're living in a computer simulation

I heard Elon Musk confidently proclaim the odds were “billions to one” that we are not living in a computer simulation.

I’ve heard the simulation idea a lot of times and it makes sense. Basically boils down to the idea that, assuming future civilizations create simulations of worlds, then there are, in the long run, many more simulations than there are actual worlds. It does make sense mathematically if you assume simulations are equivalent to worlds in every way. But I don’t think that necessarily follows and I don’t see any reason to have such confidence in the odds being that astronomically in favor of us being in a simulation.

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Thursday
Feb122015

How much does being “out-of-stock” on Amazon affect book sales?

I’ve been using LightningSource since I self-published my first book in early 2012. In the first year, my book sold well and it was consistently listed as ‘available’ on Amazon. Because it was print-on-demand and drop-shipped directly from Ingram/LightningSource when Amazon customers ordered it, it makes sense that it would be listed continuously as Available. Sometimes it would say ‘2 left’ or something, but this seemed like a sales tactic on Amazon’s part because as soon as that number went down to 0 it would say it was Available again.

That changed at some point about 2 years ago. I (and other small publishers) noticed that books were being regularly shown as ‘temporarily out-of-stock’. It’s assumed that this is a tactic by Amazon to essentially “punish” small print-on-demand publishers who are not using Amazon’s CreateSpace. Because being out-of-stock hurts sales, it’s assumed this is a way to strong-arm small publishers to use CreateSpace.

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Saturday
May312014

Learning about self-publishing non-fiction, instructional books  

Since publishing my book, Reading Poker Tells, in April of 2012, I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing. When I first started out researching this stuff, in 2011, I had no idea about publishing; I didn’t know how books got made, I didn’t know how the relatively new process of print-on-demand worked, I didn’t know what a reseller discount was. I learned as I went. All I knew was that I wanted to self-publish my book and I figured I’d eventually learn everything I needed to know.

My main motivation for self-publishing was that I wanted to make the most money possible. I have no doubt that I could have found a publisher if I’d tried, but I thought the type of book I was writing—a non-fiction, how-to book with a built-in niche audience that could easily find the book online—was the perfect book to self-publish. (This is compared to fiction, which obviously is a bigger challenge to find an audience for.) I had faith in my book and thought, through word of mouth and online search results, it would sell well with little marketing expenditures on my part. Instead of a publisher keeping the large majority of the profit, I’d keep it. Typical publishing deals give anywhere from 10% to 20% of gross book sales to an author; by self-publishing, focused on online sales, I keep around 60%.

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