After 11 1/2 months of social distancing, maybe what you find most boring is…yourself.

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Finding ways to stay healthy and connected during COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone. We know that it’s been particularly challenging for the elderly, people who already suffer from depression, and for the individuals (often children) who are in unsafe home environments. People who have lost their jobs are scared. Healthcare workers and teachers are working in a constant state of chaos and emergency.

The families and friends of the half-million victims in the United States alone are mourning. Their tragedy is immediate and raw. …

Christine Granville and the daring rescue that made her a legend of the French Resistance during WWII

Image of five people in France. The dark-haired woman in a blouse and skirt in front is Christine Granville
Image of five people in France. The dark-haired woman in a blouse and skirt in front is Christine Granville
Photo Credit: Imperial War Museum

James Bond might have been a hero on the pages of novels and on the silver screen, but outside of Hollywood, it was women who often did the most dangerous, the most difficult, and the riskiest spy work. Women spies of WWII were highly-trained agents who were often even more effective than their male counterparts. As one recruiter, Selwyn Jepson, put it:

“In my view, women were very much better than men for the work. Women, as you know, have a far great capacity for cool and lonely courage than men. Men usually want a mate with them.”

One of…

Question 1: Do You Think Joe Biden Is Sexy?

A cranky owl in a tree.
A cranky owl in a tree.
Image Credit:

A fundamental rule of the universe is that old age happens overnight. One day you are young and can handily stay up past eleven, the next you have nose hair and don’t understand the plot of any Avengers movie and you think a Kardashian is a meal delivery service.

All old people are different, of course, so one can’t generalize about them as a group. But it is a fact that all old people are marked by one universal trait: They no longer care who hears them fart.

Here are six…

The Victorian obsession with murderous wives tells us something fascinating about what they feared most: Women.

Image of two Victorian statuettes. A female in a full-skirted gown is standing and listening to a seated male violinist.
Image of two Victorian statuettes. A female in a full-skirted gown is standing and listening to a seated male violinist.

Poison has long been a blunt instrument for murder, but beginning in the nineteenth century, men became obsessed with the idea that their wives were trying to poison them. The fact that a murderous wife was relatively uncommon didn’t matter at all.

Even in the midst of the poison panic — when dozens of women were accused and put on trial — the chance that any husband would be murdered by his wife was really quite small. It was far more likely that a wife would end up abused or dead at the hands of her husband, but such stories…

How to decide between self-publishing and mainstream publishing

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Self-publishing is a perfectly fine method for getting your work in front of readers, and it can be an effective way to resist traditional publishing (and everything that comes along with that).

But writers sometimes falsely believe that self-publishing will lead to traditional publishing. Sure, it happens. But very rarely, if ever, is a project going to meet criteria for both self-publishing and traditional publishing. That’s like mixing up chocolate chip cookie dough and then deciding that you’ll just use it to make a souffle.

I’m going to risk offending a lot of folks here, but I firmly believe that…

How to be a better deep reader

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Writing takes a lot of time and energy — both of which are in short supply for most of us. It can be tempting to spend all your limited time on writing and forget about reading.

But the hard truth is that the more you read, the better you’ll write. Stephen King has famously argued that writers who don’t make time to read, don’t have what it takes to write. I’m shocked how often I hear aspiring writers say that they don’t read, either because they don’t have time or because they simply don’t like to read. …

How achievement-addicts can break the addiction

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

My first real job was as a cashier at my neighborhood Kmart. I stood on a little rubber mat for hours at a time and mindlessly slid products over a scanner until someone told me it was time to take a break in the windowless, smoke-filled breakroom. Fifteen minutes later I would be back at the register, thanking each customer for shopping at Kmart. I would stand for so many hours in cheap shoes that I would need corrective surgery on both feet almost twenty years after I quit.

I answered to three managers, all men, who were always addressed…

It’s time to deprogram yourself and exit

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

If you clicked on this article, then I bet you are a lot like me (and thousands of other readers): We’re eager to use our time wisely, manage our attention, and reach the nirvana of ultimate productivity. We’re productivity nerds, and we’ve got a solution for every time or energy management problem you can throw at us. We don’t always practice what we preach, but we definitely know what everyone should do to maximize our professional and personal lives.

But for many of us, I think it’s fair to say we’ve crossed the valley of self-help and arrived on the…

Three ways to foster deep thinking and improve your writing

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Let’s try a quick experiment: Juggle plates while reading a novel while doing jumping jacks. I’ll wait.

Can you do it? Probably not. In fact, you probably didn’t even try. It’s just as likely that you also can’t work on a thorny problem, answer email, text your sister, and check Twitter for updates. But you probably do that on a daily basis. Most of us do. And it’s disastrously bad for our focus, our productivity, and our thinking. We simply can’t think well when we are distracted.

If we can’t think well, we won’t write well. Good writing requires making…

If we want to preserve the concept of reality, we have to fight for it.

Photo by Hugh Han on Unsplash

Here’s the bad news: The battle for our attention is over. We lost. The attention economy won. We are no match for technologies that have been designed to keep us in a constant state of endless distraction.

Distraction isn’t going away, and we aren’t getting any better at managing it. If anything, we’re getting worse because we are simply adapting to living in a state of constant cognitive chaos where our thinking is regularly and relentlessly compromised.

Thinking while distracted makes us bad decision-makers, but it also does something to us that may be far worse and have far bigger…

Christine Seifert, PhD

Christine Seifert is a professor, writer, and reader. She is philosophically opposed to pep rallies.

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