Feb 242016
 

thecaldera_by_rationalparadox-itunesBecause projects seem to multiply over time, I am now part of a new podcast on Rationality! It’s a conversational podcast for people familiar with Less Wrong/SSC and the new Rationalist movement, but who don’t consider themselves Black-Belt Bayesians.

I expect the few first episodes to be a bit rough, but give it a listen if you’re interested. We’ll be smoothing out the rough edges and getting better as we figure out how to drive this thing. :)

Home or iTunes

Feb 082016
 

Cant Believe its NotUntil today the whole “spirit animal” thing seemed bizarre to me. Just one more thing kids these days do that I don’t get. Then I read “Crystal Society” (by Max Harms) and OMG!!!!! FACE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL!! I finally get what that term means, and it’s perfect! :D
The book applies Society of Mind theory to AI development. The story uses social manipulation/interaction as the primary plot drivers and conflict-resolution mechanisms!
It’s $5 on Amazon, or free online here.
(I would recommend just skipping the prologue entirely though. But that’s just me, others like it.)

I’ve found a fascinating new blog – The First Principle – a blog for commentary on the political landscape from the perspective of those engaged in the business of changing public policy.

Ayn Rand’s Firefly. “Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not rescue your sister from torture school. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without rescuing her from torture school.”

It turns out that cultural technology is so basic to my idea of human-ness that a group of humans without the most fundamental technology (the concept of numbers) literally feel like aliens to me. I didn’t realize that before. But very rarely do I read about alien species in science fiction that feel as alien as this group.

Dammit! Who’s been revealing all our secrets??

Wow, technology really does get a lot better. A small 2009 car demolishes a 1959 Chevy in a crash test. Hilarious in several places due to sheer understatement.

A fun flash fic. Altho, also accurately depicts factory farming (if briefly) so, don’t read if that’ll ruin your day.
“This is kind of going to be a weird question,” I said, “but are you a Buddhist god?”
“Hindu, actually,” said Mahaksuryana, “but I’m not offended. I like the Buddhists. They’re pretty chill.”

A guy was illegally demoted for supporting a candidate – supporting a candidate is projected 1st Amendment speech. BUT! He wasn’t actually supporting the candidate, he was just getting a sign for his sick mom. The argument is that since he wasn’t “exercising his rights” (he didn’t actually support the candidate) his demotion was entirely legal.
So if his boss had been right in his assumptions about what the employee was doing, the demotion would have been illegal. Fortunately he was wrong, so it’s all kosher? The Supreme Court will weigh in. I’m ready to be disappointed.

We like our disasters in black and white,” but a combination of arrogance and incompetence caused the Flint water tragedy. And despite his disclaimer at the top, this is not long at all. Under 1500 words.

How Well the Economy is Doing Depends on Your Party, and $1
“The paper by Mr. Bullock, Alan S. Gerber, Seth J. Hill and Gregory A. Huber found that offering a $1 payment for a correct response and a 33-cent payment for an answer of “Don’t know” eliminated the entire partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans on questions about the economy.”

“Yes, people are less deluded about objective conditions than we imagined, but that also implies that peoples’ belief about objective conditions matters less for how they vote than we thought,” he said. “We’ve always thought that how people vote depended a lot on the state of the economy and the state of war. But maybe those objective realities matter less than we thought.”

While I thought the new Star Wars movie was boring, I am against people being dicks about popular things just to be dicks. The recent HuffPo article was horseshit, and this is a great breakdown of why, and response.
“As some of you may be able to see, the ‘plot holes’ outlined in the Huffington Post‘s article are not plot holes at all. They’re simply things to which the reviewer willingly turned a blind eye due to the fact that he went in with a prepossessed notion of what he was going to write. His notion was so strong in fact, that he was able to completely overlook clear and obvious parts of the movie in order to back up the ‘facts’ of his dumb-shit, preconceived article. ”

What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2016, if Corporate Dragons Weren’t Devouring our Cultural Myths.

I note that this is exactly what I want to hear, and therefore I should be extra-doubtful. But here’s a quick summary of Jacobs on the importance of cities in economies, making the argument that the primary unit of economic development is the city.
“Empires are built by cities; but they inevitably siphon off the wealth of their cities in these unproductive ways, till stagnation and decline set in.”

An anti-aging startup hopes to elude the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and death at the same time. I’ve already started on my first year’s supply. I’ll let y’all know how it’s going every decade or so. :) Also the SciAm take here.

Anyone into Ponies – give Steven Universe a try. It’s *really* good, and it builds!

Alexander Wales tackles the impossible task of writing an exciting short story about project management. Success!
Instruments of Destruction” – Admiral Tian Jerjerrod tackles the impossible task of building the second Death Star.

I finally listened to Hamilton after absolutely everyone was raving about how great it was. I gotta stop coming to these things late. It is FANTASTIC. If you haven’t reached the critical mass of jumping in yet, consider me one more vote towards doing so.

In a society where the real laws aren’t the same as the pretend laws, and it’s impossible to unilaterally obey the pretend laws, what do you do when you have to explicitly program robots about the speed limit?
“One approach is to teach the vehicles when it’s OK to break the rules, such as crossing a double yellow line to avoid a bicyclist or road workers.
“It’s a sticky area,” Schoettle said. “If you program them to not follow the law, how much do you let them break the law?””

Are Americans losing faith in democracy?

Hey, you want nonprofits to act more like businesses? Then treat us like businesses. “For some reason, it’s OK to invest millions into Google Glass, or the Amazon phone, or the various buy-outs of smaller companies, or whatever, only for them to fail, lose a ton of money, and then chalk it up as a normal part of business. And yet, society invests much smaller amounts to solve complex entrenched social problems, expects miracles, and gets disappointed when we don’t meet outcomes. It’s going to take a while, and significant resources, and the acceptance of failure if we have any hope of solving serious issues like homelessness and human trafficking.”

The radicalization of Luke Skywalker – a Jedi’s path to jihad

I didn’t know this until I was in my late 20s. Because American Sex Ed is really just Reproduction & STI Ed, which DOES NOT CUT IT.
“Physically speaking, virginity doesn’t exist. It’s just something we made up to be mean to women.”

“Trump did not bring his supporters into the GOP. They were already there. … The GOP’s problem is that Trump is the distillation of every political strategy they’ve honed over the last several decades, and particularly ramped up over the last two. … the race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigots he’s currently energizing will still be there if and when he goes.”

OMGOMGOMG! NBC Boss on ‘Xena’ Reboot: “We’re Looking for a Writer” Can I do it? I’LL SO DO IT!

UHF Microwave Gun, made from a standard microwave oven. This makes me miss cyberpunk.

Dec 012015
 

Cats are AssholesIf you want to say Thank You, don’t say Sorry

The Beggar CEO and Sucker Culture “We wear our unpaid, uncompensated overtime as a badge of honor. We sleep less, brag about our caffeine intake, and are available for calls and emails 18 hours per day. We measure our importance by how many half hour slots during the day are double or triple booked, and we perversely consider it honorable to do this for free.”

Beyond Gun Control
In 2012, 90 people were killed in mass shootings. Nearly 6,000 black men were murdered with guns.
Ceasefire dropped youth homicides by 63 percent in the two years after it was launched
assessment from a White House staffer: There was no political will in the country to address inner-city violence.
“These are men who do not trust the police to keep them safe, so “they take matters into their own hands,” It’s long-running feuds, Crandall said, that drive most murders in Oakland.
Men involved in these conflicts may want a safer life, but it’s hard for them to put their guns down. “The challenge is that there is no graceful way to bow out of the game,”

The media has no idea how to deal with Donald Trump’s constant lying – “this dynamic is generally why liars and conspiracy theorists aren’t allowed on respectable news programs.”

Fast-Talking High-Trousers! I love the way that accent sounds (or sounded, I guess) Why Do People In Old Movies Talk Weird?

Hardball Questions For The Next Debate includes a very convincing narrative relating how Bush’s grandfather stole a holy relic from the defeated Nazi government at the end of WWII and used it gain political power(!) (In the question to Rubio)

The Modern Workplace Is Designed To Make You Sick. My fellow office workers know what he’s talking about.

How Facebook is Stealing Billions of Views >< I know, I know – we’re not the customer, we’re the product. But outright theft is really a step beyond the pale.

Jim’s rule of buts – Reverse your but. For serious guys. “what follows ‘but’ always dominates what precedes it. Compare, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but what you said made me really angry.” and “What you said made me really angry, but I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

If you have Facebook M, you have a free, human personal assistant. I can’t imagine Facebook will be subsidizing free assistants for all of us for very long… what’s the end-game here?

Hang The Jedi
“when Anakin Skywalker turns to mass murder – he isn’t even so much as censured, let alone removed from the Council and brought to justice.”
“The Jedi only seem to protest chattel slavery of humans when it inconveniences them personally, and themselves casually keep mechanical sentients … that can be sold, destroyed, or even mind-wiped at the whim of their owners.”

(and if the payload delivered in the last paragraph of the article interests you, I highly recommend the related links:
The Hobbit: How the ‘clomping foot of nerdism’ destroyed Tolkien’s dream – and the fantasy genre
&
very afraid (Worldbuilding is dull) )

Over Half the Student Body of One Colorado High School Facing Felony Charges. For sexting. Thank god they broke up that crime ring. What other crimes can you be both the victim and the perpetrator?

MLP vs Your Civics Textbook
“My Little Pony Friendship is Magic presents a bitterly cynical portrayal of democratic elections. Pip is a silent pawn of the organized minority special interest group, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They control every aspect of his election, handle his marketing and stir up support among the rationally ignorant and ideologically motivated electorate.”
“Pip did what politicians do best: smile and wave. He kept his mouth shut and presumed not to know anything about actual electioneering.”

According to Alex Irvine on Twitter, Ted Chaing has a new anthology coming out from Knopf! According to google “Ted Chiang’s second collection, gathering together seven stories and one novella…” and the rest is behind a paywall. I’m wondering how many will be new! /excited

Just in case anyone missed it when it went around – Best Star Wars theory since “you need to die in front of Luke to get a ghost body”. Jar Jar Binks was a trained Force user, knowing Sith collaborator, and will play a central role in The Force Awakens. Trolling level = Epic
How Do You Paint 10,000 Paintings a Month?
“A painter with rows and rows of the same half-finished canvasses scooped up paint and went down the row. He painted an identical brushstroke on each painting, and then repeated the process. One brushstroke at a time, the paintings made their way toward completion.”
“the painters did not have set hours, and they did not clock in and out every day. In most cases, the owners let the painters fulfill orders on their own and, after checking the quality, paid the artists per painting.”
“Although painters will work together, assembly-line-style, to meet large orders, Wong writes that these situations are “intermittent.” The norm is for painters to work individually.”

“Republicans in Congress has given Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) – the head of the House science committee – authority to demand any document he wants for whatever reason.
He uses this power to create huge financial and logistical burdens on any scientist who reports conclusions he does not like – demanding years of emails and document not only from them but from anybody they may talk to.”

Trolley problem answers measured in relation to how drunk the subject is. Either “drunk people are emotionally steeled rationalists who are willing to do whatever it takes to save lives” or “drunk people are more willing to “just go with it” when a random graduate student asks them to participate in a thought experiment about killing people.” :D

I know I just linked to it a few days back, but: Over the past few years I’ve come to accept that News, like Politics, is primarily about keeping the American middle-class entertained and has little to do with the Public Good. This article confirms my biases, so I will share it.
“there turns out to be a huge market for thoughtless inflammatory contrarianism, and much less of one for anything reflective or nuanced.”
“the real problem is that these blossomings of controversy are (1) manufactured for consumption and (2) totally disconnected from any kind of meaningful action in the real world. As to point (1), it’s odd that I can get paid to think of ways to poke the internet hornets’ nest, because if I can get a bunch of people to shout about a thing, a company makes money.”
“Clickbait gets clicks. I click on it. I mean, I would have read my own article, even if I would have been bored by it and then fumed about how petty and humorless the author was.”
“It’s not that editors are bad gatekeepers, then. In fact, I’m astonished by how perceptive they are. They know exactly what succeeds.”
“there’s something brain-deadening about “current” affairs, because remaining current precludes getting in-depth background knowledge. The more time you spend trying to “stay informed,” the less informed you actually become compared with someone who doesn’t stay informed but goes and learns things.”

“Human beings are not in general Colour-blind.  The law is not Colour-blind.  It makes a difference not only what bits you have, but where they came from.”
Huge bonus points for making something understandable by extensive reference to Paranoia.
“The US Naval Observatory Web site provides information on that site about when the Sun rises and sets and so on… but they also provide it under a disclaimer saying that this information is not suitable for use in court. If you need to know when the Sun rose or set for use in a court case, then you need an expert witness – because you don’t actually just need the bits that say when the Sun rose. You need those bits to be Coloured with the Colour that allows them to be admissible in court, and the USNO doesn’t provide that.”

From Jai, who blogs rarely because he only posts when it’s perfect: Foes Without Faces.
“The enemy is out there. The enemy does not know love, or hope, or anything of what it is to be human. The enemy does not mourn its countless victims.”
“The “Mayhem” series has won over 80 advertising awards, Since launching in mid-2010, Allstate’s stock has more than doubled.”
“The US spends $16.6 billion on counterterrorism efforts every year. Terrorism, in turn, kills fewer than 10 people in the US most years. That comes out to about a bit over five million dollars per life saved. What makes us so much more determined to fight terrorism than traffic accidents?”
“Enemies are fun.”

Chivalry Isn’t Dead, You Just Don’t Know What the Fuck it is.
“See, the word “chivalry” comes from the French word “chevalier,” which comes from “cheval,” which means “horse.” Chivalry is literally just “rules for if you have a horse.” This was an important set of rules to have in chivalry times. Horses were the Blackhawk Helicopters of the Middle Ages; if you had a horse, you could absolutely kill anybody who didn’t have a horse and nobody was going to say a god damn thing. The only thing stopping you was chivalry.”

New Yorkers have the smallest carbon footprints in the United States: less than 30 percent of the national average
If everyone in the sprawling suburban wastelands would move into compact housing in urban centers, just imagine how much land could be returned to nature to preserve wildlife, grow forests, etc.

UC Berkeley – where if you do your job too well and you make the old guard look bad, they fire you.

“Instead of trying to figure out what his child was learning, Herrmann did what so many parents do these days: He complained about something he doesn’t understand.
The problem with the method people like Herrmann learned is that it didn’t work when the math got harder.
Instead, Herrmann wasted everyone’s time by writing a useless check and putting it on Facebook.
Because, to people like him, ignorance is hilarious.”

Oct 222015
 

I keep seeing excitement about the new Star Wars, and I can forgive it from my younger friends, who weren’t around for Phantom Menace. But no one over the age of 30 has any excuse, IMHO. Do we, as a species, never learn??

Oct 142015
 

October is a very busy month for me at work. I’m working long hours, and don’t have much time on my breaks for typing. Hopefully in a week or two I can go back to more regular posting.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of interesting news – a gun store was held liable for illegally selling a gun! It’s sad that I’m excited by this, it shouldn’t be such a rarity. Anyway, from here:

The store was accused of encouraging an illegal straw purchase of the gun used in the crime. A straw purchase is when a gun is purchased in someone else’s name for another person who legally cannot own a gun.

Eighteen-year-old Julius Burton paid a 21-year-old friend $40 to come with him and buy a gun at the store. Surveillance video from 2009 showed Burton pointing to the Taurus semiautomatic he wanted and said, “That’s the one that I want.”

This was just a couple days after someone commented on my old Take Responsibility For Your Death Machine post. Coincidence?

(Yes. But still neat for me. I hope the 21-year-old faces consequences too.)

Sep 302015
 

surpriseThis is really ridiculously sweet. Mom surprises her trans teenager with her first dose of hormones.

I was saddened to discover that Beaver Anus is only a miniscule fraction of food flavoring in the US. :( I apologize to anyone who I told otherwise. It made a great story.

Wil Wheaton on why he supports a video game voice-actors strike. I didn’t even know there was a dispute.
“Our employers want to be able to fine the union $50,000-$100,000 if your franchised agent doesn’t send you out on certain auditions […] If my agent doesn’t submit me for something, for whatever reason, that’s between my agent and me. Maybe I don’t want to work for a certain studio, so my agent doesn’t submit me for their projects. Maybe I don’t want to work with a certain director, or another performer or whatever I feel like because I’m a sentient human being who makes his own decisions.”

The best of computer-generated headlines, as voted by users. Uniformly hilarious, like reading the best Onion headlines.

Turns out “Bossa Nova” is an actual word. And that Chevy Nova was an actual type of car. ‪#‎TMNT1990‬

YES!!! Why Winning the Dancing Baby Lawsuit Is a Big Deal For the Internet No more mass takedowns issued by bots.
“The key part of Lenz’s legal case revolved around Universal’s blanket issuance of a DMCA notice, without first even considering if Lenz’s use constituted fair use — something that’s required under the DMCA.
Currently, big rights-holders like Universal and the RIAA use algorithms to generate DMCA takedowns — basically, they have computers trawling YouTube and Google, looking for video clips that violate their intellectual property, and send DMCA notices to whoever’s hosting the video.
But in doing so, they aren’t first considering if use of the material constitutes ‘fair use’, like a parody (or a baby dancing to said work).”

Someone needs to make Cat Valente’s suggestion a reality.
“Oooh, what if the awards were ACTUALLY for story? Like…aspects of story?
Best Ending
Best Twist
Best Worldbuilding
Best Villain
Best Action Scene
Best Romantic Scene
Best Death Scene
Best Dramatic Speech
Best Protagonist
Best Climax
Best Battle Sequence”

Trek v DavisNext Gen was the Best Trek

A fantastic episode of 99P!
[Lawns are] essentially a moral commons. It’s not your lawn, it’s the whole community’s lawn, and you’re responsible for this part.
YES! This is what you sign up for if you have a lawn! Don’t like it? Can’t hack it? Don’t get a lawn! (and I say this as a hater of lawns)

Scott Alexander’s Theses on Trump
“the establishment hates him. […] in signaling terms, what they’re unintentionally saying is “Moderates hate this guy! He’s too politically incorrect to win over Democrats! Only vote for him if you’re a real Republican.” And Republicans are eating it up.”

Streaming Music is Ripping You Off (and what you can do about it)  “One band made an album of completely silent tracks and told their “fans” to play the blank album on repeat while they slept. If a subscriber did as instructed the band earned $195 in royalties from that single subscriber in just one month. But if each subscriber only pays $10 in subscription fees, then where did the other $185 come from?
It came from people like you.”

Why People Want To Die  “The way to convert deathists isn’t to argue with them, but to get them interested in something. Twist them the way you’re twisted.”

If I get a call from a polling place, I know who I’m telling them I’ll be voting for.

The CDC is finally weighing in, stating that early school start times are a health hazard. It’s a start!

Now being a chicken owner, it suddenly seems a much bigger deal that Gaston eats 5 dozen eggs a day. 60 eggs a day likely is the entire output of 120-150 chickens! Which means A) Being Gaston is expensive. And B) Since Gaston can afford to be Gaston, he could probably provide a pretty decent life for Belle.
Although, admittedly, not nearly the same level as the local nobility.

Aug 062015
 

astronaught terror

CIVIC MYTHOLOGY – The neat part is, everything under this tag is true, it just uses poetic language.
“Canonically, the United States of America once possessed a unique artifact known as the Demon Core, but it was consumed in the process of summoning a miniature star”

The new Deadpool trailer looks fun. But why in god’s name would you put a joke that’s *older than I am* in the TRAILER? It sends the message that your writers are lazy, which is not a message you want to send in the trailer! (I’m referring to the  “Wearing a red shirt to hide your blood, then making a crack about wearing brown pants, to imply someone is shitting their pants in fear” crack. I can’t say for sure the joke’s been around since the invention of red dye, but I know it was a classic before I was born. And yes, it’s a good joke, especially the first time you hear it. But why would you show off lack of originality in a trailer?)

While we’re talking about movies, I fully expect the Sad/Rabid Puppies to nominate Pixels for a Hugo next year.

An amazingly stupid motion is filed (“prosecutors filed a motion asking the court to order a defense attorney to stop calling them “the government” “), and the defense attorney hits them with an awesome rebuttal.

Yes I know I’m years behind the times, but I just found out how much fun the Crash Course in World History series is.

Huzzah for Amnesty International, coming out for legalization of sex work!

In depressing news, mass incarceration has caused more crime than it’s prevented. Some judges are harsher than others, but the judge you get is luck of the draw. So it’s possible to track people who commit the same crime but get difference sentences and see how the length of the sentence affects the likelihood of future criminal activity. Turns out, longer sentences increase the odds of re-offending.
“each year in prison increases the odds that a prisoner would reoffend by 5.6% a quarter. Even people who went to prison for lesser crimes wound up committing more serious offenses subsequently, the more time they spent in prison. His conclusion: Any benefit from taking criminals out of the general population is more than off-set by the increase in crime from turning small offenders into career criminals.”

Fascinating episode of Rationally Speaking. Ian Morris on, “Why the West rules — for now“. Similar vein to Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel”
“Geography drives development, but development changes what geography means … as geography changes its meanings, the parts of the world that are most developed keeps moving around.”

How John Green came to believe he’d written something he never had.

A hero of the people! Time Warner Cable owes $229,500 to woman it would not stop calling.

“Breathe in strength, breathe out bullshit”

Why Special Effects Peaked in the 90s

Stupid Dinosaur Movies. “Hollywood has a neat little racket going these days: making mega-budget tent-pole action movies that so saturate the public consciousness with advertisements and brand recognition that they’re treated like major cultural events, but which are also so deliberately immaterial that anyone who criticizes them looks like an uptight buzzkill.”

Not only did teenagers not invent STI-detecting color-changing condoms, it was a straight-up stupid idea even in concept. It would do a great job of getting condom use to drop drastically and further stigmatize already over-stigmatized infections. The entire popularity of that report was just sex-shaming glee.

How long can a con man with no soccer talent whatsoever play soccer at the professional level before anybody catches on? 20 years.

Ginny being amazing again

Very well London. You win. You are the coolest city. Masked vigilante in London is being called The Bromley Batman.
(altho seriously, black pants and shirt + a bandanna is NOT a batman costume!)

Jul 142015
 

sucking at somethingA number of times people have asked me for some podcasting tips when they’ve decided to give this podcasting thing a shot. It just happened again, and I’ve decided to compile all my beginner advice into a post I can easily point to, rather than having to retype everything each time.

I will not be repeating the things that are already found on How To Podcast pages. Please follow their advice on setting up a WordPress Site, creating an RSS feed, and registering with iTunes. It’s much better than what I could give, and probably more up-to-date.

I will repeat a few things I said at my “Voicing A Character” page though, since that one is kinda hidden unless you’ve wanted to voice a character for HPMoR.

First, I want to reinforce anything you’ve read that advises you to create your RSS Feed through Google FeedBurner rather than using whoever your site host is. DO THIS. You will very likely want (or need) to switch hosts one day. This will make your life sooooo much easier when you do, with very little extra effort right now. I learned this the hard way.

For publishing, I use PowerPress from BluBrry. Simple and free, which is what I want.

Second, if you plan on doing more than a dozen episodes, it’s worth it to shell out the money for a mid-grade microphone. They make a hell of a difference. I use an Audio Technica 2020, with a USB converter.

Cheap hardware essentials that I didn’t realize were essentials until later: A microphone stand, so you don’t have to hold the mic and it stays a constant distance from your mouth. A sheet-music stand to hold my source material, so I don’t have to hold it in my hands and have the paper rustle in the mic. A pop-filter, to prevent the worst of those annoying pops and cracks.

I’m less sure of the spider-mount. I’ve found it helps just enough to justify the cost if you’ll be doing this for a long time. Some come with a pop-filter integrated, which helps defray the cost.

Minimize all background sound, these mics will pick up everything. Refrigerators, HVAC, even loud computer fans. Be aware of noise you can’t control, a truck driving by outside can be picked up. You’ll have to wait until it’s gone and then redo that sentence. Likewise, take a full breath when you reach the end of a page before flipping it.

Echo is the devil! It’s a stealthy degrader of audio quality that you don’t notice when you record, it’s hard to eliminate IRL, and it’s almost literally impossible to eliminate via software in post (some of the extremely high-end audio software claims to be able to get rid of some echo).

The best fix is recording in a closet. All those hanging clothes do *wonders* to absorb sound. Put egg-crate foam on the wall opposite you to nullify echo from that direction. For real. If your living quarters were to be picked up and shaken by vigorously by a giant, you should emerge unscathed.

For software, do your recording and editing in Audacity. It’s free, and plenty powerful for anyone who isn’t an industry professional. Save every now and then while you’re recording. Keep the raw file when you’re done, and do all your post-production work in a renamed copy, in case you screw something up real bad.

First thing you do before you start anything else in post-production is to run a Noise Reduction on the entire thing. It’ll make every type of editing easier, as the background hiss will be reduced.

The BIGGEST THING I WISH I KNEW FROM THE START is this: Whenever making edits in Audacity, always “jump to zero” after selecting the section you want but before doing ANYTHING ELSE. The hotkey for this is “z”. It’s the *best thing ever*!! Seriously, hit Z anytime you highlight any amount of track for any reason, or are about to paste something in. Make it a habit. Find yourself accidentally hitting Z after selecting text to copy out of an email or webpage, because you have such entrenched muscle-memory of “Releasing Mouse Button After Selection -> tap Z.” It’ll put a stop to so many of your post-production pops/clicks.

In terms of technique:

Modulate your breathing. That’ll save you a ton of post-production work. Plan when you will breath before hand, make sure it’s only at natural breaks in a sentence, like commas and periods.

Beware of throat phlegm, do your best to keep it clear, unless that’s the sound you’re going for. You’ll eventually figure out what works best for you to accomplish that.

When you flub a word and have to redo it, go back AT LEAST a few words. You need to get a nice flow and find natural breaks in speaking to splice the lines together, and in practice these very rarely occur between words. They’re more common between vowels and hard consonants. Best practice is to go back to the last natural pause – either a period or a comma – and continue from there. I always do so, and it’s invaluable.

Don’t be afraid to do a few takes if something doesn’t feel right and cut out all but the best one.

You’ll probably read too fast. Most people do. You should probably slow down.

Don’t worry about over-acting. That’s almost impossible when you only have your voice to convey emotion, rather than face, body, etc. It’s far more likely that you’re being too flat than that you’re overacting.

But the biggest piece of advice – realize that you will get better. And the only way to get better is to keep doing this. So don’t give up! You’ll never learn how to walk if you’re unwilling to wobble around like a flibbity-jibbit for a few months, figuring out how these “leg” things work. :)