Archive for ‘blogosphere’

March 20, 2009

Bloggerithmetic

Word problem for the Doubting Padwans of Fu:

Ergo, ceteris paribus:

  • At the current rate of traffic (including relevant calculations for likely rates of increase/decrease), what will be The Other McCain’s final daily visitors total for March 20, 2009?
  • Also at the current rate of traffic (including relevant calculations for likely rates of increase/decrease), what will be The Other McCain’s final monthly visitors total for March 2009?
  • As of 12:01 a.m., Saturday, March 21 (making relevant calculations based on weekly traffic), what will be The Other McCain’s “Average Per Day”?
  • Estimate, to the nearest date, when The Other McCain will exceed 2 million cumulative vistors.

Deadline for eligible entries (either on your own blog or in the comment field) is 10 p.m. ET tonight. This may be on your mid-term exam. No gambling permitted. Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards.

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February 9, 2009

Internet civility, an oxymoron?

John Hawkins does have a point:

That sort of compartmentalization is one of the reasons politics has become so ferociously partisan. On the Internet, people have broken up into small, like-minded groups where they have minimal contact with people who disagree with them. As a result, there is little pressure to show respect for the opinions of people who see the world differently — since those people are, for the most part, not present. It means that facts that run contrary to their ideology will tend to be viewed with suspicion at best and will be totally ignored at worst, thereby creating groupthink on a titanic scale.

Yes, but also no. The Internet is a medium and, as Marshall McLuhan taught us, the medium is the message. Television has been a far more powerful contributor to the decline of civility and the loss of the sense of civic duty. The rise of the 100-plus-channel cable environment has made it easier to “drop out” of mainstream society, to spend all your leisure hours watching sports or whatever specialty programming suits your taste. And considering what is now “mainstream” — the worthless dreck of network programming — this is an understandable instinct.

TV destroys civility because TV watching absorbs time that educated people once filled with reading. Furthermore, by its very nature as a primarily visual medium, TV celebrates the superficial. This is as true of TV news as of any episode of “Oprah” or “American Idol.” Give credit to Fox News impressario Roger Ailes for the brilliant insight of finding glamorous anchorettes like Laurie Dhue. If we’re going to tune in for an hour of war, murder, celebrity gossip and political intrigue, why not let a hottie be our hostess?

One of McLuhan’s students, Neil Postman, wrote a great book about the culture-killing phenomenon of TV, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, and it’s a book I wish everyone would read. Postman was a man of the Left, politically, but he cared deeply about how the image-based medium of television, when consumed in large quantities, rendered people incapable of engaging effectively with the text-based medium of writing. Another great book addressing the same basic issue is The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, by Sven Birkerts.

All this is far afield from the question of how the Internet — and especially the blogosphere — contributes to the loss of civility. But the blogosphere is still, for the most part, a text-based environment. Literacy and civility generally coexist, and I think the savagery that sometimes erupts among bloggers is due in large part to the influence of TV on the discourse.

When does TV ever explain, in a dispassionate way, the fundamental facts of economics? If you understand how markets work, and if you understand the inherent limitations of the alternatives to a market-based economy, then the entire class-envy rationale of the Democratic Party’s economic agenda becomes absurd.

I refuse to apologize for “incivility” toward dangerous ignorance, which is why I was so curt in dismissing Rod Dreher’s Crunchy Cons. How does a man, describing himself as a “conservative,” reach a mature age without apparently ever having read Mises or Hayek? The Road to Serfdom is less than 300 pages, and I don’t think it took me more than a weekend to finish the first time through. Socialism is a bit over 500 pages, and might take longer.

Yet in 10 days, I believe, you could read through both books, and any intelligent, decent person would finish that experience wholly persuaded of the case these great Austrian economists make: Socialism doesn’t work, it is ultimately destructive of both liberty and prosperity, and even a liberal democratic government attempting to implement socialist ideas will tend toward increasingly undemocratic and illiberal governance.

If I am contemptuous of the intellectual laziness of “conservatives” who can’t be bothered to read economics — hello, Governor Huckabee! — why should I be less contemptuous of liberals who are equally ignorant if not more so? And what about Paul Krugman, who can’t even plead ignorance, but whose advocacy of welfare state socialism must be attributed to evil?

We are right, and they are wrong. We do not merely “disagree with them.” We advocate liberty, and they are enemies of liberty. The socialists aim to destroy all opposition, to deprive us of our liberty, and to immerse our nation in hopeless poverty. Some support socialism due to their ignorance, while others are simply evil. We can hope to educate the ignorant, but what shall we do with the evil?

Am I engaged in “groupthink on a titanic scale”? Were Mises and Hayek likewise engaged? When it comes to the basic truths of economics, “the opinions of people who see the world differently” — i.e., people whose opinions are rooted in ignorance, falsehood and error — ought not be respected, and indeed ought to be disrespected loudly and often. If we would resolve to be less tolerant of these economic ignoramuses, perhaps we might shame them into actually learning something.

The evil, of course, are another matter.

UPDATE: Fear & Loathing in Georgetown comments:

The conservatives he refers to are Dreher’s Crunchy Cons and, as mentioned in the quotation above, the evangelical types. I agree wholeheartedly that they should read their economics, but that might miss something more fundamental. The Crunchy Cons and the evangelicals to an even larger extent pursue politics for their own therapeutic purposes. They want the government to ban, discourage, encourage, promote behaviors because that’s what makes them feel better about themselves. The economics aren’t particularly relevant to accomplishing that.

I am myself an evangelical, but like James Madison (who was educated at Princetown under the Presbyterian tutelage of Witherspoon) my views on faith are heavily Calvinistic. That translates, politically, into a distrust of power and a skeptical view toward “progress.” Men are not more virtuous today than they were 50 years ago, nor will men 50 years from now be any better. Original sin is a constant, and which is more likely over the next 50 years, enlightenment or decadence?

“Progress”? We’ve made progress down the road to hell. We appear to be gaining momentum as we go, and the young do not even notice the acceleration.

However, the failure to learn economics is not exclusively a problem of “crunchies” or evangelicals. Crazy Cousin John confessed his own economic ignorance, and many who rallied to the colors after 9/11 — the patriotic hawkish types — share that ignorance.

I consider economics of the Austrian school completely compatible with Christian faith. What did the Good Samaritan do to deserve Christ’s praise? He gave personal and direct assistance to the waylaid traveler, from his own resources. He did not circulate a petition or stage a protest march or enact legislation on behalf of waylaid travelers in general; the Good Samaritan’s mercy was self-sufficient and independent.

Much of this noise you hear about “social justice” from evangelicals nowadays is nothing more than Pharisaical do-gooderism. If you want to help the poor, help the poor; nothing prevents you from doing so. But if you’re waiting for me to praise you for collecting a six-figure salary as head of a 501(c) operation — as if being the president of a non-profit makes you Mother Teresa — you will be waiting a very long time.

UPDATE II: Linked at The Week. Thanks, you %@#&ing @$$holes.

September 6, 2008

Second-guessing Palin’s pregnancy

All caveats on this chart criticizing Sarah Palin’s decision to fly home and have her fifth baby in “a podunk hospital outside Wasilla.”

This was linked by a “progressive” blogger who cites it as evidence of Palin’s flawed “judgment.” I remind you that, if it were up to the “judgment” of progressives, the pregnancy would have ended in abortion. I’m sure we’re all so touched by progressive concern for the well-being of baby Trig.

It was Palin’s fifth child. As a father of six, I can tell you that women who’ve been through a few childbirths become rather adept at judging the progress of labor. My wife used to work in the obstetric ward of a hospital. Any ob veteran will tell you that first-time mothers are notorious for false alarms or arriving at the hospital too early and then wallowing in labor for 36 hours, whereas more experienced moms are much better at waiting until the labor is well-advanced before going to the hospital.

There is not a scintilla of evidence that Trig was harmed because Palin returned home for the birth, and the continuing repetition of this bogus meme by the leftosphere is disgusting.

July 29, 2008

Liberal love for Bob Novak

Dramatic readings from the Leftosphere:

(Via Johnny Dollar.) Think Progress:

Vulgarity, bigotry, atrocious lies, and name calling are what they’re about, and ALL THEY’RE ABOUT! So, yes, let’s be gracious, but let’s also not forget that our battle is against soulless, mindless vermin, without a shred of compassion or human decency…

The Prince of Darkness is really a great book, considering it was written by soulless, mindless vermin.