If You’re Appy and You Know It Clap Your Hands [Dead Silence]

Cross-posted from my newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

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I’ve been making iOS apps since 2012, and the #1 piece of advice I give whenever someone asks me about building an app for their business is: don’t.

People think they need an app, but usually what they actually need is a website — sometimes a website that already exists. For instance, “I want to make an app that shows my restaurant’s menu.” -> That should be a website. “I want an app that lets me coordinate scheduling with my employees.” …


America’s Neverending War Over Bodily Autonomy

(Cross-posted from my newsletter. Subscribe to receive these stories directly to your inbox!)

Americans’ rights to their own bodies are, for some reason, perpetually up for debate.

Well, not all Americans — funnily enough, it never seems to be cis straight white men hearing their autonomy debated on the news and in Congress.

By far the most frequent of these debates centers around whether someone has a right to terminate a pregnancy — a condition that requires the constant use of their body and all its systems for the better part of a year…


Our Experiences Are Often Homonyms

(Cross-posted from my newsletter. Please subscribe!)

CONTENT WARNING: Discussions of sexual assault and abuse.

Like most people in their mid-thirties, I’ve had some bad dates.

“Do you think we can go to a sports bar?” she asked. “One with a TV. UConn’s in the playoffs.”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” I said, figuring she’d probably just check the score every so often. It was after all our first date and I figured she’d mostly be interested in talking and figuring out whether we connected.

Instead she spent the entire evening glancing at the screen, stopping mid-sentence whenever any exciting basketballery occurred, constantly apologizing for being so distracted. Our…


On Teeth and Toothlessness

(Cross-posted from my newsletter. Please subscribe!)

My sister had braces. I didn’t.

It’s not that my parents didn’t offer them to me, but my self-esteem was already so whisper-thin and fragile that I figured shoving a bunch of springs and wires into my apparently already un-kissable mouth would only make things worse. (This was in the 1990s, before the invention of invisible aligners.) Being a dumbass teenager, I never really considered the longer-term implications for my adult self-esteem of having teeth that looked like if Stonehenge got drunk.

I’ve never smiled with my teeth showing if I could help it. For photos…


How do you find something you lost

if you can’t even remember what it looked like?

Something that was once so familiar —

like the taste of your own tongue,

the veins in the backs of your eyes,

your own heartbeat —

reduced to a crude sketch on a “MISSING” flier

taped to the inside of your skull

in the hope that someone,

some memory of a person,

might recognize it and return it to you.

You hold a private vigil,

place a candle in the space it used to occupy,

but soon grow tired of seeing that empty shelf,


(Originally submitted to the Into the Black short story contest.)

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“Yo, Jimbo, wait up!” came a shout from down the office hall.

James slowed his pace, wrestling the frown from his mouth before turning around. “Hey, Mick.”

“You’re in a good mood,” said Mick, catching up to him. “Been smiling all day — you having an affair or something?”

James rolled his eyes. “It’s Ben’s birthday. Not that I have to… justify smiling.”

“Oh. Well, happy birthday to him. Guess my invite got lost or something.”

“It’s just family,” lied James. “Not a big event.”

Mick nodded. “My kids’ birthdays…


Conflated Magnitudes, the Fiction of Risk, and the Myth of Restraint’s Disincentive

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Let’s say I hired you to do a job for me eight hours a day for five days. Nothing unethical or shady, just some organizational work and decision-making of moderate complexity. The work would be somewhat stressful with meaningful stakes involved—if you made a bad choice, it could have lasting repercussions for dozens of people.

Here’s the catch: as payment, you would receive between $100 and $200, depending on the results of a random number generator.

Obviously you wouldn’t do it — at best that gives you $5 an hour, less than minimum wage.

[I]f you effectively factor out only…


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(PBS Nova)

Content Warning for discussion of sexual assault and fiery death.

In 1977, Floy Heck — age 70 — sat motionless in her seat aboard a smoldering 747 in the Canary Islands. Her plane, awaiting takeoff, had been struck by a landing Dutch KLM jet traveling at 160 miles per hour. Despite the cabin filling with smoke, she didn’t move — didn’t even think to move.

Pop culture frequently references the Psych 101 concept of “Fight or Flight” — when an organism is presented with a perceived threat, it will take one of two courses: attack that threat or run away…

Josh Crowley

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