Don’t Lead With Your Love Rap 

You have to build up to that, kid.

Back in June, friend-of-the-site Chris D. linked me to a “Dear Abby” column wherein a 13-year-old letter writer wanted to share his “really cool love rap” with a fellow teen who hadn’t seen since in three years. He feared that the girl might now think she’s too good for him, because she’d had some success in Hollywood. I invite you to read the whole conversation, but the meat of Abby’s response is as follows:

Approach her by letting her know you think she’s doing a great job on those shows and commercials. Then tell her you wrote something just for her and share it with her. It’s a huge compliment and she should be appreciative. However, if she indicates that she thinks she’s “too good for you now,” it is very important you remember that because someone feels that way DOESN’T MAKE IT TRUE. (There’s a showbiz adage that’s as true today as it was when it was coined: “Be nice to people you meet on your way up. You’ll meet them on your way down.”)

Chris and I both agreed that this advice is, to put it charitably, very bad. It’s unclear from the initial letter how CRUSHING IN SAN DIEGO is even expecting to get in contact with the star in the making, but if he manages it, he should very much not share his love rap as an initial overture. Or even mention it. This girl hasn’t seen the boy in almost a quarter of her life, yet Abby’s pretty much suggesting that he toss a compliment her way and then launch into his love rap. No.

As was the style at the time, we asked ChatGPT for an answer to the same letter. Here’s the reply it gave:

First of all, it’s great that you’re reaching out for advice. Crushes can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, but remember that at your age, it’s important to focus on building friendships and getting to know people better. Here are a few suggestions on how to approach the situation with the eighth-grade girl you have a crush on:

Be confident: Confidence is attractive, and it’s important to believe in yourself. Even if she’s appeared on TV shows and commercials, remember that she’s just a person like you. Don’t assume she thinks she’s too good for you based on her achievements.

Start with a friendly approach: Since it has been a few years since you last saw her, it’s a good idea to approach her in a friendly manner. You could try striking up a conversation about a shared interest or a topic you both enjoy. This can help you reconnect and find common ground.

Take it slow: Rushing into a romantic gesture like sharing your love rap might not be the best approach at this stage. It’s better to get to know her again as a friend first. Building a solid foundation of friendship will give you a chance to understand each other better and determine if there’s a mutual connection.

Be yourself: It’s important to be genuine and true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or pretend to have interests you don’t actually have. Authenticity is key in any relationship, and being yourself will allow her to get to know the real you.

Share your talents gradually: While it’s great that you’ve written a love rap for her, it might be better to hold off on sharing it right away. Instead, focus on getting to know her better and finding opportunities to showcase your talents naturally. For example, if there’s a talent show or an event where you can perform, that could be a good chance to share your rap.

Remember, at your age, relationships are about learning and growing together. It’s essential to respect her feelings and boundaries, and to prioritize open communication. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or on her. Enjoy the process of getting to know each other again and see where it leads. Good luck!

This answer is really good! It includes solid advice to have confidence but to take things slow, and it’s age-appropriate as well. That said, it’s also somewhat long. Because “Dear Abby” is printed in dead tree newspapers, there may have been space-saving considerations in her reply. So, let’s even the playing field. Here’s a summarized version of ChatGPT’s advice, also as provided by ChatGPT:

Approach your crush with confidence, acknowledging her achievements but remembering she’s just a person. Start by reconnecting as friends, initiating conversations about shared interests. Take it slow and prioritize building a friendship before expressing romantic feelings. Be genuine, showcasing your true self, and gradually share your talents in natural settings. Focus on learning and growing together, respecting her boundaries, and enjoying the process without putting excessive pressure on yourself or her. Good luck!

I have only one complaint, that this version is less explicit in noting that sharing a love rap is a bad first move. Otherwise, it’s head and shoulders above what Abby offered.

Given all that, I was not in the least surprised to read that new research published in “Frontiers in Psychology” concludes that ChatGPT gives better advice than professional columnists.

Macks Are the Hot Fish 

Get in on the ground floor!

It’s been almost exactly a year since I wrote about FTX, after the company evaporated billions of dollars of customer money. Since that time, the company’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been convicted of fraud and money laundering. He now awaits sentencing, which may see him jailed for the rest of his life.

That’s pretty rough, but at least he can keep doing what he loves, using a non-standard currency to buy things.

What’s the Opposite of “Undefeated”? 

It’s all very exhausting and stupid.

A few years back, I was unfortunate enough to learn of the existence of the idiotic “sovereign citizen movement”. Wikipedia describes it as:

a loose group of litigants, anti-government activists, tax protesters, financial scammers, and conspiracy theorists based mainly in the United States. Sovereign citizens have their own pseudolegal belief system based on misinterpretations of common law and claim to not be subject to any government statutes, unless they consent to them

Every so often, I’ll read about a court case where a sovereign citizen attempted to avoid punishment by spouting a whole bunch of nonsense. I have never once seen it work. Most recently, this tactic failed for January 6 insurrectionist Taylor James Johnatakis, who was found guilty of multiple charges.

Somehow, the 100% failure rate of sovereign citizen gobbledygook doesn’t deter people. They may not be the sharpest crayons in the box.

Plex Has Sprung a Leak 

Defaults matter, and this feature should at least be opt-in, if it should exist at all.

Streaming service and media server app Plex has started mailing users a “week in review” email, which includes information on what other people the user knows have been watching. That’s not always something someone wants to share.

It’s the Most Email-Y Time of the Year

Parking officer Steve…GRABOWSKI

Though it is not #GivingTuesdayNow, it is Giving Tuesday, now, as I write this. That means we’re nearing the end of one of the most annoying weeks of the year, the one that includes the annual Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday-Giving Tuesday quadfecta.1

Though I received some teaser emails earlier, things kicked off in earnest for me on Thanksgiving morning, with a message from my Alliant credit card telling me “It’s Officially Gift Giving Season!”. Sure. Near as I can tell, this message was a reminder to…use my credit card to pay for purchases.

A credit card company email reminding me to use my credit card

To be clear, this card always pays me 2.5% cash back, on all purchases all year round. Aside from this inane email marketing aside, it’s actually a pretty great card, one which has given me thousands of dollars in rewards of the years. That’s why I use it whenever I can. I’m sure Alliant has some cardholders who don’t make use of their cards, but I’m not one of them, and sending me this reminder is just a waste of everyone’s time. At least it’s nicely personalized though, with my name appearing in all caps. I can feel the warmth.

Yesterday, in the early hours of Cyber Monday, I received an email from a charity I support with the subject “⏰ Last chance to make your early gift! ⏰”. Yes, at 8 AM on Monday, I only had 16 more hours to make an early Giving Tuesday gift. Alas, I missed out. Don’t worry though, because today, I can still make a regular Giving Tuesday gift. But if I drop the ball on that? Well, gosh, maybe on Wednesday, they’ll offer to let me make a late donation.

Shortly after sharing this “Last chance” email with my pal Amy Jane, she sent me this text: “Beat the Giving Tuesday rush, Amy!”. I told her I couldn’t decide if that was an actual email subject line, or if she had just invented an even more ridiculous idea. Behold:

A credit card company email reminding me to use my credit card

It is all too real. I don’t know if Amy acted fast to beat the donating rush. I hope so, because if not, they could be unable to handle a donation today. She could be turned away at the door, and that would just be embarrassing.

The obnoxious email frenzy at the start of the holiday shopping season does have one redeeming quality, though. It’s a great time to unsubscribe from that handful of lists which managed to add me in the past year.


  1. As far as I can tell, Sunday isn’t claimed. Yet. ↩︎

I’d Rather Have Flanders 

But perhaps we could hope for better.

Mike Johnson is an extreme Christian fundamentalist, and sadly, the current speaker of the House of Representatives. He also talks a lot like Ned Flanders.

Be Sure to Add That to the Résumé

Maybe they can just put the year, rather than exact dates.

It’s been a ridiculous week at OpenAI, makers of ChatGPT and perhaps the world’s most well-known artificial intelligence company. Last Friday, OpenAI’s then-and-now CEO Sam Altman was fired by OpenAI’s board for a failure to be “consistently candid in his communications with the board”. This was rather shocking, and set off a ridiculous chain of events, as well as a flurry of reporting. It all culminated with Altman returning as OpenAI’s CEO, and most of the company’s board being replaced.

This was widely covered as it unfolded, but if you missed it, the New York Times has a decent summary of the chaos.1 For my part, the thing I like best is that fact that three different people served as CEO of OpenAI in the span of less than a week.

The OpenAI CEO Lookup Table for November 2023

  • November 1 – November 17: Sam Altman

  • November 17 – November 19: Mira Murati

  • November 19 – November 22: Emmett Shear

  • November 22 – November 30: Sam Altman

Ideally, this table would include a minute-by-minute accounting, but those details are simply not available. In fact, even the dates are approximate, as there seems to be some disagreement over when exactly the tenures of Murati and Shear began and ended. I pity the poor payroll administrator who has to figure all of this out.

Also, please note that there are still almost seven days left in November. There’s easily time to cram in two, three, or even four more interim CEOs. Rest assured, updates to this post will be made as needed.


  1. Currently, there’s even a Wikipedia page devoted solely for the “Removal of Sam Altman from OpenAI”, but it’s nominated for deletion.↩︎

A Temporary Stay of Execution 

This is not as heroic as the headline implies.

When massive flooding inundated Vermont back in July, 120 turkeys were probably happy to be rescued. In November, however, things presumably look quite a bit different for them.

Making the Least Bad Decisions 

That really is a terrible personal brand.

Over at Wired, there’s a great interview with Del Harvey, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety. It provides a good look at what a difficult task it is to moderate a major social media platform. It also includes this amusing quip:

When your friend called you and told you about the Twitter job in 2008, why did she think you’d be right for it?

She said at the time, “I thought you might be a good fit for this because when I think about bad things on the internet, I think about you.” And I thought, “This is a terrible personal brand.”

After almost decade and a half, Harvey left Twitter (and tech entirely) in 2021. Since then, things have changed quite a bit, and not for the better. Most notably, Elon Musk bought Twitter (now officially known as “X formerly Twitter”), and gutted the trust and safety team. In a move absolutely everyone could possibly have seen coming, there’s been a dramatic rise in antisemitism and other bigotry on the platform.

For some time, I’ve had the notion that if it’s impossible to properly moderate a platform due to its size and scale, perhaps it shouldn’t exist at all. Like the thought that perhaps billionaires shouldn’t be permitted to exist, this idea isn’t fully fleshed out. But when we read about the difficulty of moderating Twitter, as well as countless horror stories from moderation teams for all sorts of social media, it seems reasonable to ask if more harm than good is being done by the very existence of these platforms.

On an unrelated but happier note, you can subscribe to Wired for $5 right now. I’m a sporadic Wired reader, but this article alone felt worth a couple bucks, which led me to pony up.

The Jail Wants to Be Fed 

They jumped ahead to the ending.

Down in St. Louis, a shuttered city jail is proving it’s still up to the task, after three trespassers managed to accidentally lock themselves in a cell. Eventually, they called 911, and my oh my would that be an embarrassing call to make. The story states “[p]olice helped free the men from a cell and then arrested them”, presumably transporting them to a different jail and placing them in a different cell. This is very dumb.