Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

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Blogroll update

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Last October, I added “eigentümlich frei” to my blogroll. Today, I am removing it again.

As I wrote in the linked-to text, I had concerns that “it appears to not be an entirely free-of-charge site”. Indeed, I have visited roughly once a week since then, and have typically lost half or more of the pages opened to a request for money—and typically those most interesting seeming. Today, I opened seven pages, of which all but one required payment. Paywalling can be legitimate and I do not object to the use of this business model;, however, for me to actively recommend paywalled contents, the value would have to be far greater. To this I note that the non-paywalled* contents is almost always re-published from other sources, which makes it fairer that the readers go to the original sources instead.

*The same might or might not apply to the paywalled. For obvious reasons, I cannot speak with authority on this point.

Other negatives include a comparatively slow stream of new content, an unfortunate start page, which makes it hard to get at new content fast, and comments limited to (paying) subscribers. Comments, however, are often a great help in understanding a text in a greater perspective, in seeing the pros-and-cons, and in gaining insight into the overall opinions on a topic. This the more so, the more dissenting the comment is, and even subscribers will be limited as readers, as the proportion of dissenters is likely to be far smaller among subscribers than overall. The restriction is also odd in light of an alleged pro-“free speech” stance.

As to the single non-paywalled page of this week’s reading attempts: It deals with worthy topics around “Wahrheit und Tabu” (“Truth and Taboo”), a recent suggestion to remove the word “Rasse” (“race”) from the German constitution, the Orwellian malpractice of trying to manipulate the people through language, whether this would be likely to succeed, whatnot. However, it does so with a very low information-to-noise ratio and mostly through rehashing what has been said many, many times by many, many others.* Those who already agree will gain little or nothing from reading it, those who might be convinced will likely not get even half-way through,** and those disagreeing on such issues will tend to be unmovable and likely to stop reading even earlier. As such, the value is extremely limited. To me, at least, this week’s visit was a pointless waste of time.

*Looking at the more abstract parts. The recent suggestion to change the constitution, e.g., is an understandably rarer topic.

**But I acknowledge that I should not throw the first stone as far as, at least, length is concerned.

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July 1, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Blogroll update

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Michelle Malkin is a relatively new contributor on UNZ.

Some of her writings have been sufficiently good that I had already contemplated adding her to my blogroll. In light of her recent ban from Twitter (as I mentioned earlier today), I will do so as an act of anti-censorship solidarity. This especially as UNZ, as a whole, has already been affected by similar recent attacks, as discussed in a recent text on misguided anti-“fake news” measures.

Her main page has been added to my temporary blogroll. It can be found under https://www.unz.com/author/michelle-malkin/.

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June 5, 2020 at 10:58 am

Blogroll update

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A significant contributor to alternate and uncensored viewpoints on e.g. world events is UNZ, a platform for free expression of opinion, and I originally intended to include it on my blogroll. Unfortunately, the quality of contents is too varying, and there are a number of both contributors and commenters moving more in the area of “conspiracy theory” than “alternate viewpoint” (even in a generous estimate), including large amounts of the-Jews-are-to-blame-for-X, and others clearly on the Left (or both). This is, obviously, perfectly in order for this type of platform (free speech must be free for everyone—not just those with the “correct” opinions), but it holds me back from an outright blogroll entry. This in part because such an entry could be misinterpreted, especially by a casual visitor, as an endorsement of opinions that I do not endorse; in part because it could prove a waste of the readers’ time.

I would, however, strongly recommend one* particular contributor: James Thompson, whose writings on intelligence and related topics was my accidental original** entry point. For those looking for the true*** scientific opinion on e.g. IQ tests, variation in cognitive abilities, etc., he is a very good source.

*Which is not to say that he is the only quality contributor, let alone that none of the others would be worthy reads to get a different point of view (cf. excursion).

**To some approximation: I have visited this site before, as it has occasionally popped up among search results, but until one visit, a few months ago, I had always just read the text found and then moved on.

***As opposed to what e.g. politicians, journalists, and, regrettably, many social scientists like to claim.

I had originally planned a longer discussion going into a bit more detail on a few of his texts, but my recent cut-down-on-blogging policy has changed that intention (aided by the time gone by, which would force an extensive re-reading). Among the links that I kept, however, a few honorable mentions without detail:

The Ethics of Taboo Genetics, which includes a discussion of the problems with PC intrusions on scientific work and debate.

The 7 Tribes of Intellect, which gives his characterization of the rough abilities of various intelligence groups.

Group IQ Doesn’t Exist, with the apt sub-heading “Smart groups are (simply) groups of smart people.”, well matching my own experiences and skepticism towards group work.

Excursion on guilt by association and related problems:
One reason for my not “blogrolling” UNZ whole-sale overlaps with the problem of guilt by association. Of course, here we have a further problem with censorship, intolerance of opinion, etc.: those with sane-but-unpopular opinions are often forced to seek out forums where they necessarily mix with debaters who have insane-but-unpopular opinions. As a consequence, they become vulnerable to guilt by association. (Of course, this can take more subtle shapes, often in combination with circular reasoning, e.g. that researchers x, y, and z are condemned as racist. How do we know that they are racists? They have received money from the racist Pioneer Fund. How do we now that the Pioneer Fund is racist? It gives money to racist researchers like x, y, and z…)

Excursion on the importance of alternate view-points:
I strongly believe that exposure to alternate view-points (and an open mind towards them) is vital to both intellectual growth and the development of a sound world-view. This includes those that we believe to be wrong. This is a recurring theme both with blogroll entries and in my own writings, as with e.g. [1], [2], [3].

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January 22, 2020 at 5:19 am

Blogroll update

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I recently stumbled over the German site https://ef-magazin.de/ or “eigentümlich frei”, and have read several entries that match my own opinions or provide perspective/information that would be valuable to large parts of the population on, at least, a “food for thought” basis.

These include:

A text on misinformation about nuclear power that distort the public opinion. Indeed, one of the greatest paradoxes in current politics, in my opinion, is how the German “Green” party is now reaping the political benefits of a climate crisis that has been severely worsened through the irrational hatred of nuclear power that this party (and many of its international peers) has. For thirty or forty years, this issue has been the likely single greatest item on the “Green” agenda, driving up the use of fossil fuels much further than would have been necessary.

A suggestion to rework the financing of public service TV in light of recent British suggestions. Indeed, for more than twenty years, I have viewed the variations of the “everyone must pay” systems used in both my adopted Germany and my native Sweden as grossly unethical, distortive to fair competition, and bringing very little value in light of the disputable quality of public service. This the more so after the Internet has made much of the original motivations redundant, e.g. through the great availability of free news.

Reporting on hateful Leftist students who grossly unethically and anti-democratically try to silence a lecturer with the “wrong” political opinions, in the same style so often reported from the U.S., e.g. by Minding the Campus. If in doubt, they are not only infringing on the lecturer’s right to freedom of speech and opinion, but also on the fundamental right of other students to form their own opinions—and not to just be force fed the official Leftist truth. This case is particularly perfidious: The victim is a professor* who attempted to hold a lecture on macroeconomics. The rejection stems from his being a member of the “wrong” party and seems unrelated to the actual lecture. In effect, his ability to perform in his profession is now being limited because of his political activity.

*“Hochschullehrer”: Literally, “university teacher”, which could conceivably imply something different than a professor, but I do not want to get bogged down with research and translations.

This site is put on the temporary blogroll. For the time being, I do not use the permanent for two reasons: Firstly, it appears to not be an entirely free-of-charge site. Secondly, the tone of writing is not always as neutral and factual as I would prefer. (In all fairness, it still does better than most Leftist sites and slips in tone usually have a far better reason than among the Left.)

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October 20, 2019 at 9:00 am

Sabbatical over, going pro

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With the end of July, I am officially terminating my sabbatical to become a professional author of fiction. If and when I will be a good, published, and/or money-earning author—that is yet to be seen.

As for now, I have a number of ideas for books and short-stories, one of which I have been planning in my head for some time. While the planning stage is not yet finished, I will gradually start to generate text—should I make a mess of it, well, Rome was not built in a day and even Steinbeck’s first effort was poor. (Cf. a footnote in an older text.)

The road to this point, has been long: I have casually toyed with the idea since I was a teenager, possibly even earlier, and I fell in love with one particular book-idea at some point in the winter 2017/2018. This idea first made me consider writing books seriously (but I will save it for a time when my skills have improved considerably). During my sabbatical, starting in April 2018, I have grown the conviction that I need to go professional to have a reasonable chance at achieving something, as well as spent considerable time improving my understanding of fiction, writing, what it might take, etc.—including through a more active/conscious reading of fiction, reading about fiction, experimenting with small test stories, and writing about related topics (cf. a number of earlier texts).

I am a few months behind plan for three reasons: a shyness in pulling the trigger, great problems with finding an official source of information on the bureaucracy side,* and the disturbances through renovation works in my house that have made work hard and often forced me to spend a significant portion of the day outside my apartment (cf. several earlier texts; the last period has, knock on wood, been considerably better).

*Including options for health insurance, whom I need to tell about my plans, and similar. I have a text in planning to discuss this in more detail. Short story: plausible sounding information source A insists that I should ask implausible source B who points to source C, who ignores my specific questions in favor of a few PDF files that I had already downloaded and read on my own.

My other writings will likely be scaled back a fair bit as a consequence,* and I will likely focus on the neglected “Sweden visits” texts in the short term.

*Especially compared with this July, which has set a record—partially, because I wanted to get a few texts out of the way.

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July 31, 2019 at 12:51 am

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Follow-up IV: WordPress and more post-by-email distortions

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And yet another distortion by WordPress: I had put a portion of the previous text in an HTML PRE-tag, to ensure that it was displayed in a certain manner (specifically, to keep formatting from a third-party).

What happens? WordPress presumes to move the closing tag to (almost) immediately after the opening tag, leaving the text incorrectly formatted.

I can only re-iterate that what WordPress does here is utterly inexcusable.

See a disclaimer for more information and links to older texts.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 10, 2019 at 10:45 am

Follow-up III: WordPress and more post-by-email distortions

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I have repeatedly written about WordPress and how it distorts texts posted by email in a user hostile and unethical manner (e.g. in [1], [2], [3]).

Now, I have to add another complaint:

In a text from earlier today, I referenced several web-sites. I deliberately did so without linking and mentioning just the name, e.g. “www.conrad.de”—no link or “http(s):” present. (Should you see one, it is a distortion by WordPress; however, in the past, things within quotes have been left alone.)

Nevertheless the published version appears with full links, including a spurious “http:” at the beginning of the display text of every single instance.

In addition to the general issues already discussed, I note that (a) it is not a given that “http” is a safe choice and “https” would be better in the clear majority of cases;* (b) it must be possible to discuss server (or domain) names without actually linking to them; (c) not everything that looks like a server (or domain) name actually is one and not all servers are necessarily present on the web, which could lead to grossly misleading linking; (d) not linking can be a deliberate choice that is nullified by this idiocy. Notably, considering the odd court decisions that have taken place over the years, a situation could conceivably even occur, where this added link to an address makes someone legally liable in a different manner from merely mentioning the website. Other reasons not to actually link can be related to e.g. search-engine rankings.

*But not always, implying that there is no good choice, and giving a further argument to leave them alone.

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March 26, 2019 at 10:01 pm

Follow-up: WordPress and more post-by-email distortions

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Looking at the actual results of the WordPress-spelling issue just mentioned, it seems that all-but-one occurrence of “Wordpress” were indeed turned into “WordPress”—the one that actually was in quotation marks.

This has the advantage that it does allow discussions of spelling and correct quoting of others statements; however, it does so at the cost of an inconsistent behavior, and a behavior that is highly unpredictable. To boot, it does not resolve the overall problem. The correct solution is and remains to keep all occurrences the way that the blogger actually wrote them.

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January 7, 2019 at 10:53 pm

WordPress and more post-by-email distortions

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I have already written about how WordPress distorts quotation marks in “post by email” texts, and why this is idiotic. However, these are not the only artificial problems caused by WordPress. For instance, I have long noticed that line-breaks are often added or removed compared to the display of my HTML original, e.g. in the list entries in my recent blogroll update. Looking at the actual HTML code, I can see that WordPress has simply removed closing paragraph-tags (p) before a closing-listentry tag (li), which is very poor style. Not only does the result indisputably display differently* in my browser, but good code does not rely on implicit closures of that kind.

*Unlike in my original, very preliminary observations, when I first experimented with post-by-email. Then, I had mainly (or exclusively?) seen a removal of tags around the asterisks that I use for footnotes, which indeed did not seem to affect display. (At least in my browser and with the fonts used—there is always a risk that the situation is different in other circumstances.)

Another issue is that I write “Wordpress” (as I attempt here; let us see whether it is changed) with a small “p”, but that this somehow always turns out as “WordPress” (with a capital “P”). WordPress might have its own preferred spelling, but it has no right to impose it on me, especially since the word could conceivably refer to something else in some context (possibly, within a book by Jasper Fforde?). Certainly, there are a few* people who disapprove strongly of such unconventional casing, and imposing something that it disapproves of in such a manner would be doubly unethical—with strong parallels to a recent text on distortion of literary works. Or what about a text (e.g. this one) discussing the spelling, which is now unable to quote the word in variant forms? Or what about an attempt to quote something that someone else said, which simply did not use the preferred-by-Wordpress spelling?

*I am not one of them, but I have sufficiently strong opinions in other areas that I can sympathize and put myself in their shoes in this scenario.

Moreover: What guarantees do we have that no more insidious changes take place (or later will take place)? What if someone decides that words like “nigger” and “fuck” are to be auto-censored*, that all spelling be converted to U.S. conventions to suit the broadest spectrum of readers, or that all occurrences of “he” be automatically replaced by “they” to ensure PC conformity? Also note that there is no notification whatsoever as to what changes have been made, which leaves the blogger the choice between blind trust and entirely disproportionate checks and/or manual corrections.

*In the context of forums, such auto-censorship is relatively common, and often applied in an utterly idiotic manner. For instance, words like “analyst” can be turned into “****yst”, because the filters do not differ between a stand-alone “anal” and “anal” as part of a larger word with an entirely different meaning. (The question aside, whether “anal” is worthy of censorship in any context.) On the other hand, they are typically foiled by variations like “f*ck” or “F-U-C-K”, the censorship of which would be much less unreasonable (but still disputable!) than a plain-text “anal”.

This is all the more annoying, since one of the reasons that I use post-by-email is to avoid the extreme fuck-ups that WordPress causes through its GUI*.

*Cf. e.g. the current state of a text dealing with “Google’s ideological echo chamber”, where a post-by-email malfunction forced me to correct the text in the GUI—with very weird layout results. (Actually, this might be yet another example of consistent idiocy: I used the HR-tag, which has over-time been redefined from meaning “horizontal ruler” to “general content separator”. Because my original posting attempt was cut off exactly where the HR-tag was, I suspect that WordPress has imposed an even further going private semantic of “end of post”, which would yet again be an inexcusable meddling contrary to reasonable assumptions. However, I have made no further experiments with said tag in conjuncture with WordPress.)

The only reasonable solution is to respect the actual words and code of the blogger.

Disclaimer:
In order to avoid additional complications through possible WordPress interference, some of the above formulations are less explicit than they would be in another context, e.g. in that I speak of “paragraph-tags (p)” where I would normally have included an explicit tag example.

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January 7, 2019 at 10:31 pm

Blogroll update (much delayed)

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It has been a very, very long time since I updated my blogrolls—or even visited most of the linked-to pages.

To improve matters, I have just added three new links and removed a number of others. Note that the “temporary” section is reduced to one entry, due to the excessive time since the last update. (Normally, it would be fixed at three. Cf. my blogroll policy.)

Links that currently appear to be defunct are prefixed with a “#”. They might or might not work at some later time, from some different geographic area, or similar, but do not bet on it…

New:

  1. Minding the Campus deals extensively with problems on U.S. college campuses (and similar settings), notably in areas like freedom of speech and opinion, due process, and damaging PC excesses. Seeing that higher education is an enormously important topic and that the current course is disastrous, this site is one of the most important around.

    Recurring readers might recognize the name from repeated prior mentions.

    (English blogroll)

  2. Academic Rights Watch is a similar site with a focus on my native Sweden (in Swedish, despite the English name). Much of the same applies, but there are some thematic differences resulting from the different Swedish situation and/or different priorities in detail. (The former includes a more homogeneous population, a system that does not involve U.S.-style campuses, and a less intrusive-upon-the-students mentality of the colleges/universities.)

    (Swedish blogroll)

  3. educationrealist writes about practical experiences from teaching U.S. high-school students in a highly informative manner. I have a half-finished draft of a longer discussion that will be published in the near future.

    (Temporary blogroll)

Replaced:

  1. #My own old OpenDiary seems to be defunct. (Without my having been notified…)

    I have changed the link to point to a (complete or near complete) backup on my main web-site.

Removed:

  1. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education currently, in an unethical and visitor-hostile act, blocks access to content with a request that visitors join a mailing list. To boot, the usability of the web-site has otherwise been reduced considerably since the original addition; to boot, the interested reader will find much more information on Minding the Campus.

    (However, the foundation appears to still play an important part as freedom-of-speech and whatnot activists.)

  2. #Feminismus oder Gleichbehandlung leads to a browser-error page.
  3. #Call for a more sensible take on prostitution (German) leads to a server-error page.

    This site was also part of my temporary blogroll, and ripe for removal.

  4. #Länger Einkaufen in Bayern leads to a server-error page (and might have been hi-jacked by some type of squatter, porn site, or whatnot).

    This site was also part of my temporary blogroll, and ripe for removal.

  5. Human Stupidity was part of my temporary blogroll, and ripe for removal.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 5, 2019 at 12:19 am