Infrequently Asked Questions

Is "Sai" really your full name? How is it pronounced?

Yes, Sai is really my full, true, legal name; yes, it's on my driver's license and passport. It's pronounced thus. I am mononymous, and I prefer that you write my name without any title (I do not like being called "Mr. Sai").

My sign-name is (ASL) CAT initialized with S handshape.

If you're also mononymous, please join our Google group.

My birth name is different. I changed my name under the common law in about 2001, and obtained a court order in 2011. My birth name is private. I'm not comfortable with any mention of it, and you may not call me by it, any more than you may call a trans person by their former name. Please do me the courtesy of not including it in whatever you're writing.

If you're interested in name change law, I've compiled relevant case law and law review articles. (Mainly US based.)

Here's my Reddit IAMA about being mononymous, and my response about how mononymous people interact with forms that "require" two names. And coders, please don't get naming wrong when you're making your DB.

What are your preferred pronouns?

I request that you use gender neutral references for me. I don't particularly care how (I personally use "they", but "Sai", pronoun avoidance, GNPs, etc are all OK). Please don't put any title on my name, either (though "Mx." does make me giggle).

Where are you from? Where / when were you born?

People usually ask this to try to find out my cultural background. For that, the answer is "the internet". I have no strong affiliation with any physical place.

I am a US citizen and my accent is broadly Standard American English.

These happen to be extremely personal questions for me, and not well-defined, so I'm not going to answer them unless you're a close friend. And no, I'm not going to tell you why. Take the hint and don't ask further unless you have a very good reason.

Ack, you're twitching / can't speak! What should I do?

Relax and read this. It's happened before; I'm used to it. Make sure I have sugar, water, and comfort, and try understanding my ASL or mouthing (or worst case, writing). It's mostly not dangerous, just frustrating.

What languages do you speak?

English natively. Russian semi-natively, but I read slowly, can't write, and don't have fluent command of high-register speech. American Sign Language, French, & Spanish good enough to converse on most topics at nearly full speed. I can barely get by in Japanese; enough to write some haiku, but mostly forgotten. I've also studied Arabic and Mandarin, but unfortunately have forgotten almost all of it.

What's that glyph thingy?

It's my personal emblem. It started in Japanese class in high school. The core part is from 兄 ani ("older brother"); symbolically it's a big head on big legs. The rays around it represented the afro / air of brilliance that people back then thought I had. It was nothing more than a doodle until later, when I adopted it as a visual analogue of my handle (saizai).

It isn't, in fact, a Japanese (or Chinese) character; it's not even orthographically valid, as one never has upwards strokes like the top one. The closest you can say is that it's a mon, a personal symbol of arbitrary form that has nothing in particular to do with kanji other than accidental resemblance.

It's typically in light forest green because I just like the color.

Are you in a relationship?

Yes. My partner (since ~2007) and husband (since ~2023) is Alex Fink. He's very shiny.

I can date other people too so long as you're good at communicating etc., though to be honest right now I'm more interested in making good friends.

So you're gay?

No. I'm agender (gender: "no thanks"), skoliosexual (physically attracted primarily to non-binary / agendered people) and sapioromantic (emotionally attracted to smart people).

Who took that photo of you?

The head-in-hands photo was taken by Julia Wolf (@juliavixen), at 27C3.

The beret photo was taken by my friend Pax Gethen at an outdoor lasertag event.

Can I friend you on ____? Why didn't you friend me back?

If you want to friend me somewhere, go ahead. FWIW, I usually only friend people who are my friends in real life. But I'm happy to make new ones; that's what conversation is for, so ping me sometime for IM or tea.

Don't you moderate that thing?

I hypothetically moderate conlangs, conlangs, cognitive science, academic_empath (empirical), and empaths (woo). However, I haven't really touched 'em in years, so if you want to take over, let me know.

I'd like to get you a gift. What would you want?

Generally, if there's something that I know that I want and it's affordable to me, I've already gotten it. I also don't like tchochkes, generic / branded clothing, etc. However, I do have an Amazon wishlist for things I want and know exist commercially but are outside of my current worth-it price range.

I would like to have more art / decoration for my walls, gifts of personal significance or creation, and fancy / non-Western clothing. I'd rather enjoy having a POV radio-controlled multicopter stable enough for shooting GoPro video with significant battery/control range. If you know me well enough, you may also just know of something that I would enjoy having but don't realize exists.

There's also an Amazon wishlist for MYL C3, which primarily are things that help my legal education in ways that benefit Make Your Laws. Because MYL C3 is a 501(c)3, contributions to the latter are considered tax-deducible charitable donations in the US. (If you get MYL C3 something, please let me know if you want an official thank-you / confirmation of contribution letter for tax documentation purposes.)

Please note that for books, while I don't at all mind general wear, dogearing, etc., I really really don't like highlighting or writing on the pages. (It's borderline sacriligeous.)

What's your Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath number?

9 (3-3-3).

I'm googlestalking you. Where can I find out more?

Read this.

Amusing quotes

Is Saiïsm [something in Sai's idiolect] cognate with seism? Don Boozer
Hoho. I read that as se-ism, related to 'seity', 'selfhood', in which case I think yes, Saiïsm is related to seism and to suism (selfishness, prioritizing one's own goals and needs), so a kind of 'selfism' then, understood not as a kind of callousness or psychopathy, but rather as a product of being both independent-minded and sui generis, a species with a population of 1. And Rosta
[In response to Alex discussing how personal names work in UNLWS]
Hot-damn, the question of characterizing Sai is non-trivial. … It would seem as though, with feline grace, Sai diagonalizes along the set of all beings. Parker Glynn-Adey
I had an interesting experience the other day. I was around a cat and it wanted to be petted, and my immediate reaction was "wow, this cat is just like Sai". And then my mind was a little bit blown. Linda Brown Westrick