Recommended website: The Usual Error

(The Usual Error is a book. But it's freely available on a website, so I have no problem listing this as a recommendation of a website!)

The Usual Error is a book about how to communicate well! I know the authors have good ideas about that, because the book itself is an example of good communication. If you like my writing style on this website, you will probably like the book, because there are a lot of similarities between its style and mine.

I do have one qualm about it: Not everything it says is true for everybody, and it doesn't always do a good job of being aware of that. If you keep that in mind, it's a very good read.

The e-book is available here.

– Eli

Recommended website: Riot Nrrd

Image: A panel of a comic. Some interesting people stand around; one says, 'So, do you like, gender and stuff?'

That's a panel from Riot Nrrd, a wonderful webcomic.

I think Riot Nrrd was one of the things that helped inspire me to make this website when I did. If you read it, you'll certainly notice some similarities between its style of talking about social issues and mine. (Heck, the first strip opens with one of the characters ranting about portrayals of minority characters in popular media!) I'd say it's a great example of how a highly accessible1 (and enjoyable) format like a serial webcomic can be used to promote good ideas about gender and stuff.

(You might also guess that its drawing style inspired the style I used in People Are Wrong Sometimes, but then you'd be wrong, since I hadn't found Riot Nrrd when I wrote that. But I would totally have been inspired by it if I had!)

Oh and also, it's hilarious!

I recommend Riot Nrrd without reservation. The first page is here. At the time of this writing, it's about 120 pages long, so it's a relatively quick read compared to the 1000+ page webcomics that you can find elsewhere on the Internet.

– Eli

  1. Not perfectly, of course. You can't read a webcomic if you're blind, for instance. But most humans find it easy to take information from visual images, and a prudent webcomic author will provide a text transcript for those who are vision-impaired. back

Recommended website: Fugitivus

So, there's a blog. A feminist blog. On the Internet. And it's really good. If you like feminism, you should probably read it. If you dislike feminism, you should definitely read it.

Its name is Fugitivus.

The writing at Fugitivus informs a lot of the way I think about interpersonal abuse. Which means it informs a lot of the way I think about how people interact with each other in general, because I think there's a lot of subtle abusive behaviors in almost every interaction between two or more people. (For that matter, there's a lot of subtle abusive behaviors in most people's interactions with themselves.) A year and a half ago, I read essentially the entire blog archive, and it has seriously changed how I think about other humans, especially in relation to gender (it is a feminist blog, after all). Harriet J, the author, has good ideas, and ze is a really, really good writer.1

I recommend Fugitivus without reservation. However, since it contains a lot of discussion about rape and abuse, you might not want to read it at a time when you're going to need to feel good about the world in the near future.

Fugitivus is at (surprise!) UPDATE: is dead now. An older version of the blog, with most of the posts still visible, still exists at The “Top Posts” in the right sidebar are a good place to start.

– Eli

  1. For me, at least. Different kinds of writing appeal to different people, and it would be foolish to say that there's a single standard for “good writing”. That said, there are a lot of things I think Harriet J does well – ze gets to the point, has a clear flow from idea to idea... but instead of writing you an extensive footnote about these nuances, I invite you to just go and read zir blog. back

Happy Tau Day!

(This post assumes a certain amount of knowledge about math.)

I think it's really cheesy to do something on June 28 just because the decimal expansion of τ begins “6.28...”, but well, I might as well do it today as any day.

If you've studied mathematics in the modern world, you've probably run into a number called pi, or π, which represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. That's weird and confusing, because pretty much every other mathematical concept about circles is based on the radius of the circle, not its diameter. The diameter is exactly twice the radius, so lots of formulas involving π end up referring to the quantity 2π.

This is pretty silly, becuase the “2” in “2π” doesn't really mean anything. It's just a correction factor to make up for the fact that the number we're calling “π” is exactly half of what the natural value for the circle constant is. That leads to confusing things like the fact that rotating by π radians is a half-rotation, not a full rotation... and if you want to rotate by three-quarters of a circle, you have to rotate by 3π/2, which is completely confusing.

So, a lot of mathematicians, including myself, are now using a new name for the quantity “2π” – namely, tau, or τ. Its value is approximately 6.283185307..., hence the cheesy date of June (the sixth month) 28.

More information at

– Eli

Recommended website: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

I had to take a break from my coding and blogging for the last few days because of a hurting thumb. It still hurts somewhat, but I've become proficient at typing without using that thumb. In the meantime, I spent my two-day break reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, a work of fan fiction based on the Harry Potter series.

(The rest of this post will assume general knowledge of the plot of Harry Potter, but does not contain spoilers.)

The TV Tropes Wiki describes Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (abbreviated HP:MoR) as “an Alternate Universe story, where Petunia married a scientist.” Instead of being completely awestruck by the wizarding world after [...]

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