Getting Into Penturning

Woodturning is the craft of spinning wood on a lathe and using tools and abrasives to shape it into a finished product. Penturning is a subset of this focused specifically on creating handmade pens with a lathe. Before I purchased my first material, I did a lot of research and price comparing online to make sure I got all of the requisite components at the best price. Also, in the process of watching others work (primarily on YouTube), I picked up some best practices and identified some ancillary pieces of equipment that would make life easier and result in less waste. Due to my remote location, it will likely be much easier and cheaper for others to acquire the equipment and materials necessary to pursue this hobby.

Garden Path Sentences and Paraprosdokians

Two of my favorite linguistic devices are the garden path sentence and the paraprosdokian. You’ve likely encountered these many times in the past, even if you didn’t know how they were categorized. They are both sentences that cause the reader to reconsider information as the sentence is being read. For garden path sentences, this is a result of the reader parsing a sentence incorrectly, and for a paraprosdokian, the sentence is introduced in a manner to intentionally set the reader up for an unexpected conclusion.

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What about…?

You’ve written a thoughtful post or comment speaking against a particular policy or practice. You’ve done your best to contribute meaningfully to the discussion by avoiding logical fallacies and substantiating claims with evidence. Then someone responds…

I didn’t see you crowing on about this issue/policy when [other politician] did it!

If you frequently wade through the rhetorical sewer that is a thread of internet comments, you know this kind of response is all too common. Instead of engaging with the issue constructively or providing a reasoned rebuttal, they have instead chosen to insinuate that you are a hypocrite. This lazy response is called whataboutism, and it has its history as a state propaganda technique employed by the Soviet Union.

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The Quest for the Unbiased Source

Merriam-Webster defines bias as “a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.” We should look for media outlets that don’t do this then, right? I would argue that the presence of bias should not immediately render a media outlet as unacceptable. We, as readers, should be able to recognize bias when we see it and analyze how it may be affecting how we interpret the facts of a story. We must train our eyes to see the hallmarks of questionable journalism and avoid sources that lean too heavily on bad practices.

Enter AdFontesMedia, publisher of the Media Bias Chart, which has published version 5.0 of its interactive chart as of this writing. Their research seeks to organize media outlets in a coordinate plane based on two factors, political bias and overall source reliability. The political bias measure follows a traditional left/right continuum, and source reliability seeks to quantify the difference between straight fact reporting and the various levels of analysis and commentary that can stem from it.

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Beware of Dubious Science


When it comes to medical science and health, be extra careful about the sources you share from, who is attaching their name to the articles, and what research they are linking to. There is a dangerous habit of media outlets of all sizes taking the results of a very preliminary study and making wildly exaggerated claims about how the possible benefits.

10 things to watch out for when interpreting research

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver did a great breakdown of how wild headlines can get when cherry-picking from research back in 2016. This focuses mostly on major mainstream media outlets not to mention the barrage of small, pseudo-anonymous “health” websites sharing dubious information with little substantiation.

It’s not enough to have sources to support your claims; they must be good sources. Good science is that which is overwhelmingly supported by scientists throughout the field of study. Good science is not a single study, conclusion, or data point that happens to support a preconceived idea.

The greater challenge is to be truly open-minded to changing or modifying our practices or beliefs when presented with new, substantiated information. Appeals to antiquity or tradition are NOT good reasons for continuing to practice or believe something, particularly in the fields of science, especially when those long-held practices were formed in the absence of newer, more relevant information.

Is Your Source CRAAP?

Is your source CRAAP? The CRAAP test was designed by librarians at CSU Chico to examine a source of information. It looks at the areas of Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose as a means of separating the good from the bad.

Sharing a picture with words on it on Facebook because you agree with it fails this test. That is most often when one fails to examine accuracy and purpose. Sure, perhaps you’re very upset that Pepsi didn’t include the words “under God” in┬áthe Pledge on its packaging, but that doesn’t change the reality that it never happened. Who created that deliberately misleading image with incorrect information? Why?

Just as it is important that credible news have an author’s name attached to show that a reputation is linked to the accuracy of the information within, we all also have reputations being formed by the types of information we attach our name to when we share it. Make sure you attach your name to information that won’t damage your credibility.

A Year of Commercial Flying

Kotzebue in the winter

I live in a remote village in Alaska that is only accessible by air. I suppose you could get here by boat, but that would be both costly and dangerous. I live in a hub village that gets passenger jet service twice daily from Alaska Airlines. Living in a hub presents the fewest possible barriers to traveling out. Boeing 737s can take off and land safely in a broader range of wind and visibility conditions than the smaller aircraft that serve the outlying villages. Extreme weather results in long delays and cancellations. Mechanical issues can do the same.

My first year here, I flew on commercial aircraft more than I had the prior 30 years of my life. As I have become more involved in my union and taken on other leadership roles, this has unlocked meetings, conferences, and training opportunities that require air travel. I even occasionally manage to just go for no other purpose than to get out of town and shop where my dollars go much further. Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned how to streamline all aspects of the traveling process that I have any control over. I’ve also learned how to have a more comfortable flying experience which is the part of traveling that often contains the most variables. Being able to travel frequently has been very much a privilege. I’m writing about my experiences not to boast but to inform.

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Some pens I made this year

Archer Vocabulary: jingoist


I won’t go off on a Ferris Bueller-esque rant about -isms in society today. I also won’t rant about people unnecessarily adding -esque to proper nouns. Having removed myself almost entirely from the realm of mainstream political news, I tend to encounter words like this less often than before.


Season 3 – Episode 6 “The Limited”
The ISIS gang is transporting Nova Scotian separatist, Kenny Bilko, back to Canada to curry favor with the RCMP. The unusual setting of a train and the general incompetence of the ISIS staff drives much of the plot. The action culminates on the roof of the train where Archer and Bilko discuss how fighting on the roof of a train is a ridiculous plot device.

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Paper or plastic?


I carry cash. I always have. As a member of the last generation to grow up before the widespread existence of cell phones, I learned to always have at least a little cash on hand, if not only in case of an emergency.

Overall, people carry very little cash. A May 2014 survey by Bankrate showed that more than two-thirds of adults carry less than $50 in cash at any given time. Nine percent of respondents reported carrying no cash at all.

Of course, there are benefits to using alternatives to cash. When cash is stolen, it’s gone. Using cash may be more time consuming in certain situations. Cash doesn’t earn cool perks like airline miles or a meager percentage rebate.

People are still using it, otherwise we wouldn’t keep printing it in newer, more colorful designs. In 2012, more than $358 billion (face value) of currency was printed, roughly 90% of which replaced damaged, out-of-circulation money.

So what are the benefits of using cash? Data from Intuit shows that 55% of small businesses do not accept credit card, though that number will continue to fall as it becomes even easier to accept cards through mobile point-of-sale systems like Square. Currently though, 45% of small business, some of which you may want to patronize, may not accept a card. Businesses (and those working in tipped professions) may prefer cash as it is easier to keep off the proverbial books. Keep in mind: during a power, phone, or internet outage, a business may be unable to process card transactions.

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