Category Archives: Relationships

My sister in law Denise Gets a New iPad


My sister in law Denise, pictured here, just got a new iPad for her birthday. Sorry for the photo quality. It was taken at a restaurant and looked better on my daughter’s iPhone screen. If I find a better one, I’ll post it.

Over the last several years, we’ve gotten a Windows 7 laptop and an iPad for Denise, on my recommendation. The PC was just too complex for her to use and her parents refuse to learn current technology, so it’s been a source of frustration for her. The iPad generally allows her to use it without too much trouble and we can often troubleshoot any issues over the phone. She cannot read or process much complexity so the fixed, simple, and symbolic UI of the iPad is pretty ideal for her. She likes to type simple letters to people using words and other patterns she’s memorized or written down.

Denise has an iPad 2 with 16 GB of storage and she wanted a new device for her birthday. I suggested that we all get her a new iPad Air with 32 GB and a keyboard case, so she can have the impression she’s using a laptop. She loved the idea. Her other family members bought the iPad and I just need to find her a good keyboard case. This new device should be easier on her eyes due to the excellent screen and the extra storage will allow us to load it with soap operas and other content she likes so she can enjoy it whenever she wants.

Before anyone asks, I’ve thought about trying an Android tablet with Denise, but this is one case where Android is sub-optimal. She loves to see me use my Nexus devices, but the complexity of Android would cause her grief and you can only hide so much of it. I develop for, use, and recommend Android devices for many people, but for someone who just wants a device with a rich ecosystem and a straightforward symbolic user interface that presents one simple path to accomplishing any given task, iOS is the best there is.

I recommend iOS devices as much as Android because many people just want stuff to work and they’re happy to live within the confines of the Apple system to get that. This preference is a matter of personality and priorities rather than intelligence. If you want the freedom to choose from a wide range of options for every major use case, then Android is your best bet for a mobile device. For the rest, there’s iOS.

How To Really Be Available To Someone Who’s Grieving

When we encounter disaster or profound sadness, most of us feel awkward and perhaps a little afraid because we’re reminded of our own mortality and that of our loved ones. We often really want to help, but it’s hard to express ourselves so that the one suffering feels able to take advantage of our offer.

We often say something along the lines of “Let me know if you need anything”, which is easy to say because it fulfills our need to appear helpful without fully committing to longer term engagement in the unpleasantness of our fellow’s suffering. We know this is a soft commitment and the sufferer does too. This article has a guide to what to say and do If we really want to help.

Why is masturbation more shocking than sex?


This piece is about female masturbation. I agree with its premise and conclusions. Self-pleasuring is still taboo to some as an “unnatural” or at least lesser act. For those with a theistic teleology, there is the question of what purpose such an act serves, and when it involves a woman using her body for her own pleasure, this question is even more prominent.

As author Clark-Flory notes, women are still seen primarily as sexual objects, not subjects. Women are symbols of sexual servitude, who exchange sex for something they need: love or at least a partner’s loyalty. For many people (I’m not sure where all these people live, but they apparently exist), it’s strange or off-putting to see women as active rather than passive sexual beings, out for their own pleasure and sexual satisfaction rather than merely to fulfill someone else’s.

Finally, author Clark-Flory notes a current underlying all of modern civilization, and an idea that I share based on experience of the world:

“After all, we’re supposed to be the gatekeepers holding humanity together — and if we’re not at our post, then who is?”

Indeed, women are seen, and have been for a long time, as the gatekeepers of morality and the bearers of tradition, the ones who intervene to provide an empathic and merciful counterpoint to the anti-social and often violent tendencies of men. I think men need to pick up the ball on this and stop relying on women to be the humane part of human culture. But I realize we have a long way to go to make this reality.

On Public Sharing of Sexuality

I posted a short story today about my 17 year old daughter and her boyfriend getting caught having sex by my 12 year old son Joshua. I shared this with my extended circles on Google Plus, partly because it’s funny and (to me) heartwarming, and partly because I think it’s helpful to post these stories to remind people that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human and not something to be ashamed of.

One of my closer friends on Google Plus commented that she approved of the story. I thanked her for her comment and told her I appreciate it. I rarely post this kind of thing and when I do, I wonder whether I’m oversharing. After thinking it through, I usually end up sharing it to extended circles because part of being fully human is sharing life experiences with others. It helps remind us that we all need to be loved and accepted first, and that fulfilling this need enables us to take on higher goals, like loving others and making life better for all. We all face the same major choices in life and certain aspects of growing up are universal, at least in a free society.

Human sexuality in particular has been oppressed for millennia by being considered shameful or an “animal urge” to keep secret. I find that ridiculous as well as counterproductive, and ultimately the most harmful to the least powerful, who end up having to obey these rules or suffer greatly. These least powerful include most women and anyone whose sexuality doesn’t fit the rules the powerful put in place.
We see this fight playing out very publicly now in the extreme right’s attempts to restore biblical era constraints and consequences on women and homosexuals. The regressives will lose this war and their views will eventually become extinct, and humanity will be much better without them.

It gives my wife and I joy to see our children, and their friends, view our home as a sanctuary where they can let down their guard and be themselves. We hope they go on to create their own sanctuaries where their own children and others can be themselves, confident that they will be accepted.

Mark Twain On Cats

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”


Mark Twain was a known lover of cats. This is a common trait of geniuses. Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Albert Schweitzer, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, … the list is long and distinguished.

There are fundamental differences between cats and dogs that explain why some of us love them so. A dog consists primarily of unconditional love and absurdity, in equal measure. His life is devoted to pleasing you and earning your company. He will often reward even the meanest person with loyalty and devotion. A cat consists of grace, cool self interest, and independence. A cat’s respect and love must be earned and maintained, which makes a cat very like an emotionally healthy human.

Ideally, a person will love both cats and dogs, but among those with a strong preference for one or the other species, there are definite tendencies. Those who desire control over others and want to feel superior tend toward dogs, while those who prefer to treat all as equals and prefer to earn the respect of all, even the non-humans among us, prefer cats. This is a generalization, and like all generalizations is not to be relied on too heavily, but I’ve found it quite accurate in practice.

A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl

I found this letter more than a little soppy, but I mostly agree with its author.

A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl

It’s critically important to teach your daughter that she is a full human being and has inherent worth independent of any man, and that it’s her responsibility to complete herself and maintain that completeness with and without a man in her life. If she is able to do that, the right kind of men, and there are plenty, will be interested in her and desire to be with her.

On the original G+ thread for this post, one commenter and father noted that treating your daughter as a princess is setting them up for failure. I agree 100% on treating your daughter as an equal. I can’t stand the “princess” idea. It’s just setting a girl up for disappointment as a woman.

Our goal as parents is to consider our children as less experienced, less developed versions of adults, and to guide them in developing the qualities they will need to live good lives as adults. We do this best by simulating the adult world on a small scale in our home, making the standards for success clear but tempering their inevitable failures (and consequences) as part of the process of growing up. I tell all my kids this and I remind my 16 year old daughter of this frequently. She’s less than two years away from being fully responsible for herself and it’s our job to make sure she can fly on her own once she leaves the nest. For most kids, there will be bumps in the road of early adulthood, but with the right preparation, they can avoid those that are fatal to their lives or careers.


Personal Pronouns Used In Communications Predictive of Relationship Quality and Outcome

From the article:

The constructs of We-ness and Separateness have long been of interest to social psychologists and marital researchers because the formation of a close romantic relationship involves a partial transformation of identity – a shift from being two separate individuals into being a couple.

This is not surprising but it’s certainly interesting and a good technique to use in evaluating your own and others’ relationships.

The same analysis can be used in examining cor­po­rate CEOs’ annual let­ters to share­hold­ers as input to company performance predictions. This makes sense once you consider that companies with egomaniacs as CEOs tend to do poorly. Laura Rit­ten­house makes a living practicing this type of analysis.