That’s all, folks.
But don’t go away empty-handed. See “Favorite Posts“. It’s a gateway to several weeks, months, or years of good reading.
That’s all, folks.
But don’t go away empty-handed. See “Favorite Posts“. It’s a gateway to several weeks, months, or years of good reading.
Readership of this blog is at an all-time low.
It’s mainly my fault I suppose, because I’ve been unable (and sometimes unwilling) to post for long stretches of time. Out of sight out of mind.
I have also failed to deliver fresh content, preferring instead to rehash themes that are especially important to me. I should say theme: the left’s unremitting and increasingly successful attempt to eradicate liberty in the United States.
What would Jimmy Durante have me do? Stay or go? Slog on despite minuscule numbers of visitors and page views, or fold my tent and steal silently away?
Durante didn’t come to a conclusion, as far as I can tell. Nor, if he had done so, should it guide me in this quandary, which is my own to resolve.
I have a post in the pipeline. I will finish it, publish it, and then decide what to do with this blog.
Here. I have added a few dozen new entries since the previous update.
As in April 2010, following the passage of the Unaffordable Care Act, I have emerged from my slough of despond, which descended upon me as “wokeness” ran riotous across the land earlier this year. There is nothing like adversity to call forth my combative nature.
Trump may not finally prevail, the Senate may yet turn Blue, and the Harris-Biden administration (if it comes to pass) will commit heinous offenses against liberty. All the more reason for the defenders of liberty to speak out loudly, clearly, and without fear.
Nothing that I say here will have any effect on the downward spiral of the United States into an anti-libertarian oligarchy, controlled by an academic-media-information technology-regulatory complex that is intent on the suppression of straight, white persons of European descent who aren’t members of the complex, and anyone (regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin) who dissents from the party line du jour.
The oligarchs themselves will do everything in their considerable power to control the narrative and keep their followers in line by using the contemporary equivalent of bread and circuses (tawdry entertainment; sensational, biased “news”; transfers of income and wealth; further erosion of the institutions that inculcate and enforce traditional morality; etc.).
You can read what I have said about such matters (e.g., here) — and much more — by consulting the list of categories and the tag cloud in the sidebar, and by reading selections from my (very long and semi-organized) list of favorite posts. I will say no more, having said more than enough, to no avail, in a blogging career that spans more than twenty years.
But, as an inveterate analyst, I will continue to produce statistical charts and tables that probe such matters as the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Trump’s polling, the outlook for election 2020, climate data, economic indicators, and the ideological direction of the Supreme Court. So, from now on, I will publish posts on subjects that lend themselves to statistical treatment — without commentary. (Well, I may throw in an occasional bit of barbed humor.)
I will report, you may decide — or despair — as you wish.
A recent post at Policy of Truth by its proprietor, Irfan Khawaja, prompted me to compile a list of all of the posts that I have written about some of the blog posts and bloggers at Bleeding Heart Libertarians. Though Khawaja and I disagree about a lot, I believe that we agree about the fatuousness of bleeding-heart libertarianism. (BTW, Khawaja’s flaming valedictory, on a different subject, is worth a read.)
Here’s the bibliography, arranged chronologically from March 9, 2011, to September 11, 2014:
The Meaning of Liberty
Peter Presumes to Preach
Positive Liberty vs. Liberty
More Social Justice
On Self-Ownership and Desert
The Killing of bin Laden and His Ilk
In Defense of Subjectivism
The Folly of Pacifism, Again
What Is Libertarianism?
Why Stop at the Death Penalty?
What Is Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism?
The Morality of Occupying Public Property
The Equal-Protection Scam and Same-Sex Marriage
Liberty, Negative Rights, and Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding-Heart Libertarians = Left-Statists
Enough with the Bleeding Hearts Already
Not Guilty of Libertarian Purism
Obama’s Big Lie
Bleeding-Heart Libertarians = Left-Statists (Redux)
Egoism and Altruism
A Case for Redistribution Not Made
I have finally updated and restored my blogroll, which you will find by scrolling down the sidebar. It includes links to all of the blogs and sites that I read regularly.
I have returned from Realities, where I set up shop in April 2019. I had hoped that the change of venue would result in short, punchy posts. And that’s the way I started, but it’s not in my nature to say a little bit when there’s a lot to be said. So here I am again.
I’ve brought back with me all of the posts that I published at Realities from April 2, 2019, through August 5, 2019. They’re reproduced here, bearing the same dates as they had at Realities. If you didn’t read them there, now’s your chance to catch up.
In case you haven’t noticed the list in the right sidebar, I have converted several classic posts to pages, for ease of access. Some have new names; many combine several posts on the same subject:
… of Facebook. Today I set up a special Facebook page (here) to publicize the posts at this blog.
In addition, I ordered a “boost” for one of my recent posts, which is decidedly negative about leftism (as all of my political posts are). It’s not as incendiary as this one, but it’s hot enough to singe any leftist who gets too close to it.
I’m now waiting to see if FB declines my order to boost the post and/or blocks the page on which my posts appear. Stay tuned.
I received a notification this morning that Facebook has approved my promotion. That’s a step in the right direction. Next question: What will Facebook do to my page if (more likely when) it is flagged as objectionable by some readers?
The “boost” resulted in some additional traffic, but not enough to make it worth my while to pay for more. The good news, so far, is that there’s been no backlash from Facebook or its users. I guess this blog is just too insignificant and non-inflammatory.
I started blogging at WordPress in September 2009. Viewership built gradually and reached a satisfying level in late 2010. It continued at that level until November 2012.
But in the wake of the dispiriting election of 2012, I posted infrequently from November 2012 until June 2013. Coincidentally (or not), page views dropped to almost zero, and rebuilt slowly. But viewership never returned to the level attained before November 2012.
What do I make of this?
Is it an old lesson re-learned? If you want to build readership and hold onto your readers, don’t take a vacation from blogging. Blog often. Visibility to search engines depends more on quantity than on quality.
Does it also help to blog on a variety of topics? I suspect that this blog has lost some readership because my focus is narrow.
Or, given my outspoken and unrelenting opposition to Obama and the regulatory-welfare state, was this blog targeted for “throttling” by Google’s algorithms?
UPDATE: Another possibility. With the rise of Facebook and Twitter, blogs are less popular than they were several years ago.
Monica Showalter of American Thinker writes:
The Daily Caller reports that Google has taken to throwing shade on almost exclusively conservative websites through its search engine mechanism, using a sort of ‘fact-checking’ system to discredit certain news providers so that no one will want to click on them….
According to the Daily Caller:
When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a section titled “Reviewed Claims.”
Vox, and other left-wing outlets and blogs like Gizmodo, are not given the same fact-check treatment.
The Daily Caller has a photo of what it is talking about on its story here.
It seems downright suicidal for the company to be doing this, given that it’s been caught repeatedly under this kind of fire, there’s a hostile Republican Congress out there, and there’s lots of talk of breaking up the monolith under anti-trust laws….
I had a look myself at the supposed phenomenon described by the Caller … and found nothing there. I stripped off my name from the Google search to make sure the system wasn’t manipulating results … and still, on doing a search of Daily Caller, and other conservative sites, I found nothing there. I tried nutbag sites such as Occupy Democrats and Daily Stormer, and still found nothing there….
I doubt the Daily Caller’s reportage was wrong in this case. What may have happened is that Google’s bigs got wind of the Daily Caller’s story and ordered the staff leftists to cut it out immediately, ending the dubious practice of ‘fact-checking’ and the disguised censorship that practice can and has become. Or, there may be other versions of Google in other parts of the country or out there by other criteria that I can’t see.
Politics & Prosperity is a small fish in the vast sea of internet reportage and opinioneering. But I often use Google to find posts in which I’ve written about a particular subject. And Google usually comes up with useful results, so it’s evident that Google has thoroughly indexed P&P, and undoubtedly has flagged it as a conservative site.
What do I make of this? Not much. Google’s behavior toward this blog seems even-handed, but I can’t draw a conclusion about its treatment of conservative sites based on a single datum.
That said, on the evidence of its prevailing ethos and treatment of conservative employees, Google has long since violated its mottoes “Don’t be evil” and (later) “Do the right thing”. Google’s de facto mottoes are “Be evil” and “Do the left thing”.
Should Google be regulated or broken up, as some conservatives urge? I am loath to recommend such action. Google, like Microsoft and many others before it (e.g., the Big Three American auto-makers) will be tamed by market forces. I hope.
My blogroll in the sidebar includes all of the several dozen blogs that I follow through NewsBlur, which is the best RSS reader I’ve found to date. I follow many of the blogs because they report on and opine about politics from a conservative angle — a refreshing change of pace from the port-side slants of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
But there are many other blogs that I follow because of their originality, incisiveness, sparkling prose, humor, and libertarian-conservative positions (not mutually exclusive traits). Here are some of my favorites, by category:
Americana and Humor
The bluebird of bitterness has a magic touch when it comes to finding and packaging funny, touching, and zany material from around the internet. The bob was an indispensable source of comic relief during the runup to the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012, but the elimination of political coverage after 2012 (though lamented by me) has given the bob more space for outright funny and nostalgic material.
Dr. Spencer, a bona fide climate scientist, acknowledges a relationship between CO2 and temperature, but is properly skeptical about the effect of CO2 and warmists’ emphasis on CO2 to the exclusion of other factors (like the drunk who searches for his missing car keys under a street lamp because that’s where the light is).
WUWT, founded and moderated by meteorologist Anthony Watts, offers a range of data-laden posts by Watts and several guest bloggers. WUWT‘s feistiness sometimes extends to internecine squabbles, which is a refreshing change from the monolithic pose adopted by the band of warmist zealots.
It’s hard to turn around on the web without running into an economics blog. There are some big names (among economists) out there competing for eyeballs. A less well-known name is that of Arnold Kling, who flies solo at askblog. Kling, who seems to consider himself a libertarian, comes across more often than not as a conservative. He is rightly scornful of mathematical economics, rightly skeptical about economists’ understanding of how the economy actually functions, and just plain right in his understanding of the sociological and psychological factors that influence economic activity. He delivers his insights moderately, but not without the force of conviction.
Quillette is my e-zine of choice. I don’t always agree with the views expressed by the varied cast of writers who deliver analyses and opinions on a broad range of topics. But the pieces at Quillette are generally lucid and provocative. It’s like reading The New York Times Magazine without having to constantly filter out the left-wing-propaganda.
If the fire-hose of web-bits emitted by Instatpundit is too intense for you (as it is for me), try Dyspepsia Generation and The Right Coast. The former offering comes from
“Tim of Angle ” ( a.k.a. Timothy D’Angle, I believe see first comment), the latter from University of San Diego lawprof Tom Smith. Both serve up an engaging mixture of political, economic, and cultural samplings from around the web, seasoned with their own humorous and biting commentary, and issued at a digestible rate. In a just world, the traffic count for both sites would exceed that of Instapundit, with its relatively bland commentary. Spread the word.
The Volokh Conspiracy may be the oldest law blog, or nearly so. It deserves its longevity and immense following because of its literate, authoritative, commentary on a wide range of legal, political, social, and economic issues. (An admixture of science, math, and other subjects adds to its sparkle.) The dominant theme is constitutional law, and the prevailing stance is libertarian to conservative (i.e., originalist).
My go-to guy for realistic (i.e., conservative) insights into the human condition is Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels in real life). His pieces appear in various places, but he’s a regular at Taki’s Magazine. (The link is to Dalrymple’s column; the rest of Taki’s Magazine is a very mixed bag.) Dalrymple/Daniels is a retired English prison doctor and psychiatrist. His observations about the debilitating effects of the welfare state are unerringly correct and delivered with sardonic humour, as are his observations about the vicissitudes of life in general.
Philosophy and Religion
Bill Vallicella is a professional philosopher, and a rare conservative member of the tribe. At his blog, Maverick Philosopher, he writes on a broad range of topics, and spares no one in his insistence on rigorous logic, sound evidence, and clarity of expression. His range includes philosophy, of course, but he gives much of his attention to politics. The left is squarely in his sights, and he scores hit after hit.
The author of Imlac’s Journal chooses to remain anonymous, which is no mark against him in this age of leftist witch-hunting. His range is broad, but given mainly to literature and philosophy. His style is erudite and meditative, rather than combative, and all the more refreshing for it.
This is the introduction to “Freespace and Me”, one of the pages listed at the top of this blog. It gives a place of prominence to two subjects about which I’ve often blogged: “natural rights” (the quotation marks connote their fictional status) and the connection between race and intelligence.
Late in 2004, I was asked by Timothy Sandefur to guest-blog for a week at Freespace. By combing the archives of Mr. Sandefur’s blog and using The Wayback Machine, I have reconstructed that week and its sequel, in which Sandefur and I continue an exchange that began during my guest-blogging stint. I reproduce the entire sequence of posts here.
Some of my posts are culled from my old blog, Liberty Corner, where I had cross-posted from Freespace, My name appears as Fritz at the bottom of those posts because I was using it as my handle when I culled the posts.
The attentive and determined reader who slogs through the posts reproduced here will note that Sandefur didn’t thank me for guest-blogging at Freespace. It is my view that Sandefur regretted having asked me to guest-blog because of my less-than-pure view of rights — which I take to be social constructs, not timeless entities — and my candid and accurate (but negative) take on the relative intelligence of blacks. For more on that, see “Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action“, “Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications“, “Evolution and Race“, ““Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ“, “The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality“, “Let’s Have That “Conversation” about Race“, “Non-Judgmentalism as Leftist Condescension“, “Affirmative Action Comes Home to Roost“, “The IQ of Nations“, “Race and Social Engineering“, “More about Intelligence“, “Leftist Condescension“, “Who’s Obsessing, Professor McWhorter?“, and “Racism on Parade“.
Among the posts reproduced below are some early ones in a prolonged exchange between Sandefur and me on the question of “natural rights”. I answered him definitively in “Evolution, Human Nature, and ‘Natural Rights’“, and he never responded, as far as I am able to tell. He has addressed “natural rights” only once since I wrote “Evolution…”, but persists in error; thus:
Of course, philosophy probably knows no more complicated word than “natural,” but when used in the context of rights, the word is meant to signify that rights are not merely conventional—they are not privileges accorded to people by the state. Instead, their origin is in something real about them: in the objective characteristics of human beings qua human beings. I know of no better word for that than “natural.” Rand contends that “[t]he source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity, A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by nature for his proper survival…. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.” (Emphasis altered).
To understand the error –a common one among doctrinaire leftists, who justify all kinds of coercion and theft in the name of “natural rights” — read “Evolution, Human Nature, and ‘Natural Rights’“, “The Futile Search for Natural Rights’“, “Natural Law, Natural Rights, and the Real World“, and “Natural Law and Natural Rights Revisited“.
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My version of Windows 10 was subjected recently to the Creators Update, whatever that is. Its marvelous effects are entirely invisible to me, which is good. But at the end of the update, I was urged to use a new version of the Microsoft Edge browser. Well, it was more than an urging. The thing popped onto my screen at the end of the update, as if I had ordered it. But I hadn’t, so I closed it.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I did a bit of research and found that the new Edge is supposed to be faster than other browsers. I tried it, and it does seem faster. But I quickly abandoned it and removed it from my taskbar.
What went wrong? Unlike Firefox, which I’m still able to customize to match my browsing preferences, Edge is simple-minded (like the software engineers who designed it):
Extensions are almost non-existent. Of the several Firefox extensions that I use, Edge offers only Adblock Plus.
Some functions that are handled by Firefox extensions (e.g., find in page) must be accessed in Edge by going to a drop-down menu. But the functions must be reactivated every time Edge is re-opened. There’s no session-to-session memory of chosen functions.
One of the great Firefox extensions is Classic Theme Restorer, which enables me to have a menu bar, which is a hell of a lot easier to use than clicking on Edge’s single drop-down menu and searching through it in vain for the functions that I want to perform. Edge’s idea of functionality is to require the user to memorize a long list of keyboard shortcuts.
Classic Theme Restorer also allows me to position tabs just above the image area for web pages, which is where they belong. (Try it, you’ll like it.)
Thanks to Classic Theme Restorer, I am also able to have icons for the following useful functions in my tool bar and menu bar: change zoom, open new window, open last closed tab, show history, open the download list, subscribe to a site’s RSS feed, and adjust Adblock Plus settings. Some of those are extension-based functions that Edge doesn’t offer. Some others are available to masochists who like to memorize and use keyboard shortcuts instead of simply clicking on icons.
Zoom, which Firefox offers in 10-percent increments, is available only in 25-percent increments with Edge. As a result, the type on most Edge pages is either uncomfortably small or uncomfortably large. How wonderful is that?
I could dredge up more examples if I wanted to waste more of my time, but I’ll close with this observation: Edge plays badly with WordPress. Examples:
It’s not possible to copy text from a web page and paste it into WordPress’s visual editor by using the standard right-click operations. How does one paste in Edge? Using a keyboard shortcut, of course.
Worse than that, pasting web-page material into WordPress’s visual editor creates a mess; all kinds of extraneous coding appears and a lot of punctuation (e.g., dashes, quotations marks, apostrophes) is displayed as garbage. It’s possible to paste copied text into the HTML editor, but that results in the loss of embedded links.
To top it off, Edge just can’t keep up with WordPress’s background operations; the visual editor often stalls or goes blank.
Edge is aptly named. It’s at the trailing edge of browser technology. Microsoft strikes (out), again.
Excerpts of recent correspondence.
Robots, and their functional equivalents in specialized AI systems, can either replace people or make people more productive. I suspect that the latter has been true in the realm of medicine — so far, at least. But I have seen reportage of robotic units that are beginning to perform routine, low-level work in hospitals. So, as usual, the first people to be replaced will be those with rudimentary skills, not highly specialized training. Will it go on from there? Maybe, but the crystal ball is as cloudy as an old-time London fog.
In any event, I don’t believe that automation is inherently a job-killer. The real job-killer consists of government programs that subsidize non-work — early retirement under Social Security, food stamps and other forms of welfare, etc. Automation has been in progress for eons, and with a vengeance since the second industrial revolution. But, on balance, it hasn’t killed jobs. It just pushes people toward new and different jobs that fit the skills they have to offer. I expect nothing different in the future, barring government programs aimed at subsidizing the “victims” of technological displacement.
* * *
It’s civil war by other means (so far): David Wasserman, “Purple America Has All but Disappeared” (The New York Times, March 8, 2017).
* * *
I know that most of what I write (even the non-political stuff) has a combative edge, and that I’m therefore unlikely to persuade people who disagree with me. I do it my way for two reasons. First, I’m too old to change my ways, and I’m not going to try. Second, in a world that’s seemingly dominated by left-wing ideas, it’s just plain fun to attack them. If what I write happens to help someone else fight the war on leftism — or if it happens to make a young person re-think a mindless commitment to leftism — that’s a plus.
* * *
I am pessimistic about the likelihood of cultural renewal in America. The populace is too deeply saturated with left-wing propaganda, which is injected from kindergarten through graduate school, with constant reinforcement via the media and popular culture. There are broad swaths of people — especially in low-income brackets — whose lives revolve around mindless escape from the mundane via drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, etc. Broad swaths of the educated classes have abandoned erudition and contemplation and taken up gadgets and entertainment.
The only hope for conservatives is to build their own “bubbles,” like those of effete liberals, and live within them. Even that will prove difficult as long as government (especially the Supreme Court) persists in storming the ramparts in the name of “equality” and “self-creation.”
* * *
I correlated Austin’s average temperatures in February and August. Here are the correlation coefficients for following periods:
1854-2016 = 0.001
1875-2016 = -0.007
1900-2016 = 0.178
1925-2016 = 0.161
1950-2016 = 0.191
1975-2016 = 0.126
Of these correlations, only the one for 1900-2016 is statistically significant at the 0.05 level (less than a 5-percent chance of a random relationship). The correlations for 1925-2016 and 1950-2016 are fairly robust, and almost significant at the 0.05 level. The relationship for 1975-2016 is statistically insignificant. I conclude that there’s a positive relationship between February and August temperatures, but weak one. A warm winter doesn’t necessarily presage an extra-hot summer in Austin.