II Samuel

We get a second book of Samuel, even though Samuel died halfway through the last one. We did see Samuel one time after his death as an especially pissed off ghost: does this second book indicate that he will keep turning up as an undead cranky old man? I hope so! But probably not.

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I Samuel

I was misled by the brevity of Ruth. I forgot how long and repetitive a Bible book typically is, and embarked on I Samuel with good spirits, before slowly realizing that it is longer and more tedious than the pandemic has been. I feel completely beaten down by it. It’s the one where we meet David. Let’s get into it! 

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Recent Reads

I read 70 books in 2020, not including a few books I read for work and one I abandoned part-way through (see below). Here’s the last batch, followed by a list of the ones I especially liked over the year (15). This was a typical year’s reading for me, as I’m an antisocial hermit and a big reader just in general, and so my lifestyle this year wasn’t really all that different than it is any other year (except that I didn’t travel or see family, and also I got pregnant).

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Ruth is a sudden and extreme departure from everything we have read until now. First of all, the Book is the story of a woman with a name. Second, in the very first chapter, we are introduced to three women all with names, none prostitutes, and are told of the closeness and loyalty of their relationships. It’s hard for me to express just how wildly unprepared for this tonal shift we are by anything that has come up in the Bible thus far. It is as if we have been reading XXX Big Jugs and Extreme Car Crashes magazine, and suddenly there is a long personal essay about raising an abandoned baby bird by hand. 

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When May I Masturbate at Work: A Guide For Men

Several weeks ago, Jeffrey Toobin was suspended from The New Yorker for masturbating on a Zoom call with his colleagues. He thought his camera was off. This was somewhat surprising, but much more surprising was the general reaction to this: men were horrified at what they felt was a massive overreaction to a situation that anyone could find themselves in. Their position is that everyone masturbates, and it wasn’t his intention for anyone to see him, and it was unfair to punish him for an accident. Furthermore, the new work-from-home movement is blurring the boundaries between work and home, and this is very confusing to men, who no longer know when and where they can masturbate. 

I myself have been working from home for eight years now for a fully distributed company. I spend many hours a day on Zoom calls with my colleagues, and I have never once masturbated while at work. I am therefore uniquely positioned to help with these new etiquette questions. Here are some FAQs about situations you might find yourself in. I hope this is helpful: 

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Ghost Story

In honor of the season, here’s a short story I wrote in response to a prompt for my writing group about a year ago. (It is not really a scary story. Well, maybe it is, a bit, but not because of the ghost.)

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The LORD was already half out the door in Joshua, but by Judges, he is only checking in on the Israelites every 40 years or so. They are still His people, technically, but His heart hasn’t been in it since Moses. He’s clearly spending the bulk of His time elsewhere and I’m curious on what, because the LORD is not the sort of deity to entertain himself with books or board games. If He’s not torturing an Israelite, He’s got some other chosen people on some other planet that he’s toying with. 

In this book, the Israelites repeatedly fall off the wagon and start worshipping pagan gods (as we always knew they would), at which point, the LORD gets angry and delivers them into the hands of their enemies. They are enslaved for many decades, and then a man among them prays to the LORD for deliverance, and He sends an angel or similar to help that man deliver the Israelites from bondage and then that man rules over them as a Judge for the rest of his lifetime and things are peaceful. Then, he dies, the Israelites go “a-whoring after other gods” (a-whoring we will go, hi ho!), and the whole cycle repeats. 

We’ll examine each Judge in turn, and then I shall rank them worst to best. 

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Black Lives Matter

I don’t really know whether I should post about this or not; it seems redundant to do so, as I’m sure no one needs me to tell them what’s going on or what to do about it. But it also feels not quite right not to say anything. So, I’ll just limit my comment on the matter to encouragement to my fellow white people to give money like we’re paying the reparations we all owe. If you’re not sure which fund to give to, this one splits your donation amongst a number of community bail funds, and this one splits it between a variety of orgs that combat police brutality (among other things). Get recurring with it if you’re flush.

Shutting your mouth and opening your wallet is always an excellent idea, but I think it’s an especially appropriate policy for white people to follow right at the moment.