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.
This is from the updated version of “My Moral Profile.”
I am an INTJ, and an especially strong I, T, and J. Here are my latest scores (02/16/17) on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), which is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The descriptive excerpts are from David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates’s Please Understand Me.
EXTRAVERSION 0 – INTROVERSION 10
The person who chooses people as a source of energy probably prefers extraversion, while the person who prefers solitude to recover energy may tend toward introversion.
SENSATION 8 – INTUITION 12
The person who has a natural preference for sensation probably describes himself first as practical, while the person who has a natural preference for intuition probably chooses to describe himself as innovative.
THINKING 20 – FEELING 0
Persons who choose the impersonal basis of choice are called the thinking types by Jung. Persons who choose the personal basis are called the feeling types…. The more extreme feeling types are a bit put off by rule-governed choice, regarding the act of being impersonal as almost inhuman. The more dedicated thinking types, on the other hand, sometimes look upon the emotion-laden decisions and choices as muddle-headed.
JUDGING 19 – PERCEIVING 1
Persons who choose closure over open options are likely to be the judging types. Persons preferring to keep things open and fluid are probably the perceiving types. The J is apt to report a sense of urgency until he has made a pending decision, and then he can be at rest once the decision has been made. The F person, in contrast, is more apt to experience resistance to making a decision, wishing that more data could be accumulated as the basis for the decision. As a result, when a P person makes a decision, he may have a feeling of uneasiness and restlessness, while the J person, in the same situation, may have a feeling of ease and satisfaction.
Js tend to establish deadlines and take them seriously, expecting others to do the same. Ps may tend more to look upon deadlines as mere alarm clocks which buzz at a given time, easily turned off or ignored while one catch an extra forty winks, almost as if the deadline were used more as a signal to start than to complete a project.
My original blog was Liberty Corner (March 2004 – July 2009). It began in 1997 as a pre-Blogspot home page, which linked to topical pages. Here’s how it looked on December 12, 1998 (courtesy of Wayback Machine), though the links don’t work:
Short Stuff offers quips and comments about national affairs (and affaires).
“A Sideways Glance” exposes the silly side of business, politics, and society in the late Twentieth Century. In A Sideways Glance, vol. 1 you’ll find:
A Sideways Glance, vol. 2 brings you:
Now appearing in A Sideways Glance, vol. 3:
Let Reason Reign: Conversations With Myself tackles science and truth, the nature of humankind, and other big questions:
In Brief consists of epigrams and observations on life, liberty, and the Constitution.
Restoring the Constitutional Contract explains the central purpose of the Constitution; its meaning for the respective powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens; and the ways in which we have drifted from that purpose and from the intended distribution of powers and rights.
A Restored Constitutional Contract offers a proposed Constitution that is faithful to the purpose of the original Constitution, and which restores the powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens to their proper balance.
A later incarnation went by the name Uncommon Sense, though I switched back to Liberty Corner when I began using Blogspot in March 2004. This is the latest archived version of Uncommon Sense, from July 21, 2001; the links work:
Politics and Government
With a Light Touch
Political Parlance a jaunty glossary that exposes the sham of political jargon and the shame of political icons
Short Stuff quips and comments about national affairs — and affaires
Who’s in Charge Here? secrets of the Pentagon
Whoppers lies our wannabe Presidents tell us
Cutting the Price of Pork there’s never a free lunch
Through a Crystal Ball Murkily political life after Clinton
Flunking Out of Electoral College the “disastrous” consequences of the College
Bill and Al’s Egregious Adventure a moral lesson about running for dog-catcher
The Trials of William Jefferson Whatsit a farce in three acts
A Serious Look at Government and the Constitution
Why Do We Have Government? where government fails, and where it is necessary
In Brief epigrams and observations on life, liberty, and the Constitution
Restoring the Constitutional Contract the purpose of the Constitution; its meaning for the respective powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens; and the ways in which we have drifted from that purpose and from the intended distribution of powers and rights
The Constitution and the Role of the Federal Government misperceptions about the federal government’s proper role in our affairs
Combatting Constitutional Cancer the cancer within the Constitution itself — namely, those Amendments that have caused great harm to the Republic — and the need for a constitutional convention to remove the cancer
A Restored Constitutional Contract a revised Constitution that is faithful to the purpose of the original, and which restores the powers and rights of the federal government, States, and citizens to their proper balance
Economics and Business
Tongue in Cheek
Busy-ness As Usual a satire on the socially conscious CEO
Biz-Buzz new-millennium business-speak
Ten Commandments of Bad Management how to emulate the point-haired boss
To Pay or Not to Pay Shakespeare on the Ides of April
The Economy Works, in Spite of Zany Economists the title says it all
|Society and Its Trappings
More Serious Matters
And a Few Laughs, to Boot
The Cocoon Age litigating womb-to-grave security
Justice in TV-land crime and punishment in prime time
Righting Wrongs by Wronging Rights zealots vs. the Bill of Rights
Don’t Blame Me the criminal as victim, from Brutus to Bill Clinton
Out with the Old, In with the Older a report card for America’s Twentieth Century
Thanks to Free Republic, a five-year-old post of mine attracted an inordinate number of visitors over the weekend. The post is “September 20, 2001: Hillary Clinton Signals the End of ‘Unity’.” Go and see it for yourself.
Some readers may notice that this blog has 39 more posts today than it had yesterday. There’s a simple explanation: In February I resumed blogging, but in a somewhat different style — shorter, less-data driven and research-heavy posts, and more humor.
And I chose a new venue for the new style. But it seems to be hard for a new blog to attract many readers. So I’ve imported the posts from the new blog to this one. And from now on I’ll blog here — but in my new style. (I will re-post at the new blog, for the benefit of its few followers.)
I am drawing on my best posts (see “A Summing Up“) to produce a series called Dispatches from the Fifth Circle. The first volume — Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies — is available at Amazon.com.
I’m working on the second volume — Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes — and hope to publish six more after that one.
I’m very pleased to announce the addition of a guest blogger — Libertarian Psychologist, a.k.a. L. P. — to the roster of Politics & Prosperity.
L. P.’s education and work as a researcher, writer, and former telework consultant span various branches of psychology. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and her M.A. in Psychology (with an emphasis in Industrial-Organizational Psychology) at California State University in Sacramento. Her exploratory nature also led her to study law, for a time, at McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific and, later, to undertake doctoral coursework in Social Psychology at University of Nevada in Reno. As a self-directed free-thinker however, she finds the most educational value in autodidactism (self-directed learning), and is also a devoted student at the “school of hard knocks.”
Upon leaving academia, she followed her interests in personality and evolutionary psychology as well as political science. She then discovered libertarianism and recognized the ills of an overreaching governmental system. In addressing the problems of statism, she will write on the following topics:
Politics & Prosperity has gained more than 2,000 posts, just like that. How? I imported all of the posts from my old Blogspot blogs: Liberty Corner, Liberty Corner II (the home of very long posts), and Americana, Etc. The posts from those blogs date back to March 2004. If you happen upon one of those posts and find a link that seems to point to another post at this blog, the link will take you to the original post at the Blogspot blog. I wasn’t about to edit some 2,000 posts to change Blogspot links to WordPress links.
Nevertheless, this blog now contains all of the blog posts that I’ve ever written, including a collection of 29 posts dated April 29, 2010. That’s when I published a facsimile of the original version of Liberty Corner, which I maintained as a “home page” in the pre-blog days of the late 1990s.