Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging

A hard to close blog / Follow-up: Closing down this blog (extraordinary post)

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While this blog remains closed in principle, I have to add another type of exception: unusually relevant follow-ups.

Of these, I have two in the pipeline that I intend to publish today or tomorrow, depending on what time allows.

Unlike with an earlier exception and the current text, I will not mark further exceptions with “(extraordinary post)”, as this is clear from context and as the phrase could be misunderstood to imply some other type of “extraordinary”.

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October 25, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Closing down this blog

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I have decided to (almost entirely) close down this blog, effective immediately. The decision has two motivations:

Firstly, blogging is currently a hard-to-shake distraction at a time when I cannot really afford a distraction, between my professional writing and a number of other tasks that I have to perform. This especially as there are limits not only on my time and energy, but also on my fingers. which are currently in need of some recuperation. (Note that an official “closing the blog” declaration will be harder to violate than an informal promise to my self.)

Secondly, WordPress is a shitty platform on a number of counts, including usability and traffic (cf. a number of prior posts), while the mere ability to publish here reduces my incentives to fix my real website. I hope that the incentives will shift sufficiently that I do get around to it, after which I will be much better off.

At some point between today and eternity, I will likely publish on my website again. When the time comes, I will post an update. Following that, I might or might not post occasional updates on texts published there (especially, when it comes to my backlog and future texts that I have already mentioned that I wanted or intended to write.)

I will leave the comment function on for the time being, but beware that I might only moderate comments irregularly or with great delay. (Not that there have been many comments in recent times.)

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August 28, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Blogroll update

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Earlier today, I encountered the Philadelphia Statement. The website is atrociously poorly designed and the contents are thin (possibly, because it is a new site; possibly, because it is strongly focused on the “statement”, cf. below).

In today’s world of censorship and intolerance of opinions, it and its many signatories make a valuable contribution by taking a firm stances for free speech. The document is well worth reading in full and is so compactly written that it is hard to cherry-pick instead of just quoting the entire document. However, in an attempt at such cherry-picking:

Freedom of expression is in crisis. Truly open discourse—the debates, exchange of ideas, and arguments on which the health and flourishing of a democratic republic crucially depend—is increasingly rare. Ideologues demonize opponents to block debates on important issues and to silence people with whom they disagree.

Our liberty and our happiness depend upon the maintenance of a public culture in which freedom and civility coexist—where people can disagree robustly, even fiercely, yet treat each other as human beings—and, indeed, as fellow citizens—not mortal enemies.

A society that lacks comity and allows people to be shamed or intimidated into self-censorship of their ideas and considered judgments will not survive for long.

The American tradition of freedom of expression […] trains us to think critically, to defend our ideas, and, at the same time, to be considerate of others whose creeds and convictions differ from our own.

Common decency and free speech are being dismantled through the stigmatizing practice of blacklisting ideological opponents, which has taken on the conspicuous form of “hate” labeling. […] Even mainstream ideas are marginalized as “hate speech.”

These policies [against hate-speech, e.g. in U.S. colleges] and regulations assume that we as citizens are unable to think for ourselves and to make independent judgments. Instead of teaching us to engage, they foster conformism (“groupthink”) and train us to respond to intellectual challenges with one or another form of censorship.

If we seek to change our country’s* trajectory; [etc.] then we must renounce ideological blacklisting and recommit ourselves to steadfastly defending freedom of speech and passionately promoting robust civil discourse.

*I.e. the U.S.’s. A flaw with this statement, albeit an understandable one, is the focus on the U.S. while the problem is present in a good many other countries, including my native Sweden and adopted Germany.

It is added to my temporary blogroll for now.

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August 16, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Disappointing August/ Follow-up: Blogging, records, and new-beats-good

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As predicted, July turned out to be the second best month in a good long while. (The prediction was not astonishing, as it took place on the 31st of the same month.)

However, I just checked my statistics since then, and developments have been very disappointing and well in line with my “new beats good” claim:

The 1st of August had a somewhat average number of hits, the 2nd was well below average, and the following three days* have each scored 1 (!) hit. While that poor days are not unheard of for me (when I have not posted something new), three in a row is disastrous. I doubt that even the dreaded December of 2019 saw that happen.

*Including today, with roughly four hours still to go and a fair chance that this text will cause some hits.

Three days in a row without a new post, following a strong-by-my-standards month, gave me 1 (!) hit on the 3rd and another two days without a new post gave me 1 (!) each on the 4th and 5th.

There might, obviously, be other reasons involved, e.g. some type of search-engine block in the wake of my linking to American Renaissance and UNZ last week or some type of error with the statistics, but the most likely explanation is simply that “new beats good”.

As an aside, my not-updated-in-years website still had more hits than my WordPress presence the last time* that I checked. While the problem of “new beats good” appears to hold fairly generally, it might well be worse on WordPress than elsewhere—yet another reason to get off this shitty platform.

*Probably at some point last year.

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August 5, 2020 at 8:26 pm

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Record posts / Follow-up: Blogging, records, and new-beats-good

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As a brief follow-up to today’s text on blogging and records:

I just, out of curiosity, had a look at my WordPress post-statistics, and was a little puzzled/disappointed* by what I found. The current record post, On language change, prescriptive and descriptive grammar, and related issues, is one of the more well-written and valuable (to the right reader), but has never been spectacular in success. It has just racked up a view here and there over almost ten years, while flying under my own radar. While language topics have been recurring, they are normally of secondary importance. (The post is a positive, however, in as far as it shows that new does not always beat good.)

*Possibly, I should not be, as I have dealt with this topic before.

However, it is about to be overtaken, leading with just a few views over Stay away from Clevvermail—my complaint as a disgruntled Clevvermail customer. It is a fairly poor and valueless post, and I am almost annoyed at its success in just two-and-half years. (But this success has not flown under the radar.)

Only in place three, we find a post that really matches the main contents of this blog, that I have myself extensively linked to, and which is politically important: The “77 cents on the dollar” fraud.

Place four, a known oddity, is Doubt: A parable—a movie review, of all things. (It was fairly popular in my early days, but rarely sees hits today. Possibly, because the movie has grown old and unwatched?)

Place five goes to a text on Price segmentation. This too has flown under my radar. The contents are not necessarily bad, but they are a little “Economics 101” and something that, arguably, should be taught on the high-school level. If someone has to learn this from me, it is a little depressing.

Finally, in place six we find “The Male Privilege Checklist” debunked. This is a topic close to my heart and of societal and political importance, but the text is two sentences pointing to my website, where the actual text is published. This sixth-ranked page, in it self, is next to useless and likely to have disappointed all these visitors if they found it through a search—they would have been much better off landing directly at the full text.

Of these six texts, three are from 2010, two from 2011, and one from 2018. While older texts have, obviously, had longer to gather views and while my visitor numbers were higher back then, this is still a little depressing. (In particular, as the 2018 text is the Clevvermail one.)

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July 31, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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Blogging, records, and new-beats-good

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As I should focus on my books,* I try not to spend too much time blogging. This July has still seen a record 26 posts (this one included), to narrowly beat last July’s 25.** Moreover, the two month sum over June and July is another record with 41 to the 40 of last years June and July. How did this come about?

*In addition to (still) polishing the first, I have written minor parts of the second and try to plan out a reasonable overall structure in advance (unlike with the more improvised first book).

**After that, there is a fairly sharp drop to 21 for November 2017 as the only other month with more than 20 posts.

Firstly, as I wrote at the beginning of the month (regarding my book writing):

The last few weeks, I have been a little troubled to get work done again. This in part, because I needed a breather; in part, due to the current “interesting times” (note my increased blogging); in part, because the construction work is here again.

This has caused a bit of a vicious circle, as my blogging has taken time from my book writing, significant chunks of time have disappeared on various necessary correspondence and other tasks (e.g. taxes), and the reduced time spent on my books have made it harder to get back to them. Conversely, some of the blog posts have caused further posts to make clarifications, cover related topics, or similar.

Here, there might be a valuable lesson: That writing feeds writing and that it is important to deliberately feed the writing that has priority.

Secondly, for some reason, I find it easier to blog during construction noise than to do other types of writing. I am as yet uncertain why.

Thirdly, at some point, I saw that both my post count and my visitor numbers where heading towards a record level for “all time” resp. a good few years, which motivated me to deliberately post more. (Partially, see below, with an eye on testing the new-trumps-good principle in blogging. Cf. at least [1], [2], [3].) To be more specific, my thoughts on post count went through a chain of “just a few more posts and I will hit 20 for the third time”, “just two more posts and I will have my second highest post count ever”, and “just four more posts to get the record—and I have days left to do it”.

The post record I do reach with this post—and this post is motivated exactly by getting that one extra entry to break the tie. The visitor record will probably remain with last year’s July, but this month’s numbers will almost certainly be the second highest since 2013.*

*There is some small residual uncertainty depending on today’s numbers. I had considerably larger visitor numbers in 2010 and 2011, and some months of 2012 and 2013, for reasons discussed in [1]. This is OK, there is much that I could do to drive traffic here that I deliberately forego.

This brings me to new-trumps-good: The two months with the highest number of visitors since 2013 are the ones with the highest post count—yet another indication. Unfortunately, comparing months more in detail is tricky, because there is a lot of individual fluctuation. For instance, if a single user simply runs through most of the “archive” this will give an artificial boost to that month, and my overall numbers are sufficiently low that this will be very noticeable. For instance, there appear to be some seasonal trends, like that darn December—and, yes, these two top months are both Julys, which might have played in. (But there is no obvious “July high” in the way that there is an obvious “December low”.)

Speaking of December, last year’s December remains the low-point of the last few years, despite this year having several months with a low post count, so December appears to beat new-beats-good. There was a close call in February, but February had two days less to build traffic. Of course, February also saw all of 8 posts to 14 for December.

As to the August that begins tomorrow, there will likely be far fewer posts: I feel satiated, blogging-wise, I really need to get back to my books, and the construction works, knock-on-wood, appear to be over.

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July 31, 2020 at 7:45 am

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Blogroll update

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A recurring theme in my writings has been the benefit of exposing oneself to different opinions and arguments, especially in this time of deliberate attempts by e.g. journalists and some politicians to narrow the information flow to what they consider the acceptable, where anything not agreeing with the Official Truth is condemned as “fake news”, censored, or otherwise disadvantaged. (Cf. e.g. [1]. [2]).

Indeed, more than ten years ago, concerning one of my first blogroll entries, I wrote:

Here Fria Nyheter* plays an interesting role as a news medium which is not bound by political correctness and official truths, but instead often focuses on the spots that the normal newspapers gloss over. I do not always agree with or identify with what it says, but I feel that it could become a very valuable counter-weight to the newspapers—and would like to give a small help in doing so.

*A now defunct (?) Swedish blog/news medium.

I regularly encounter sources of information that I would like to recommend on this basis, i.e. sources where I might only agree with some of what is written, but where the overall is still valuable through exposing the reader to a diversity of opinion*, information that might have been glossed over**, censored, or distorted in regular media, unconventional perspectives, and/or writing that simply digs deeper*** into issues than media tends to do. So far, I have usually been kept back from doing so by the fear that my (semi-)endorsement will be misunderstood.

*Something far more valuable than diversity of ethnicity.

**Not necessarily with malicious intent: there is only so much space in e.g. a newspaper. (But see the next footnote.)

***The simple truth is that much of the problems in today’s world go back to too shallow knowledge, e.g. that historical perspectives are lacking, that motivations and extenuating circumstances are not known, that raw data and claims cannot be interpreted through lack of context, that too little is known to make reasonable comparisons, …

Consider UNZ as a specific example: At the time of writing, I have two individual blogs from the overall UNZ site (Michelle Malkin and James Thompson) present on my blogroll, but I have (so far) chosen not to add UNZ as a whole, despite some other individual blogs being very worthwhile and despite UNZ as a whole being worthwhile—my endorsement is limited by much of the contents being poorly written or poorly argued, and by the many opinions that I do not agree with in the slightest, as with the many anti-Semitic posts and comments.*

*To this note that UNZ is a free speech site, which does not have an overriding theme or “editorial slant”. Opinions are by individual posters and commenters, and the overall spectrum is very wide and not restricted to e.g. “Right only” or “Left only”. Among these posters and commenters there happen to be a few anti-Semites or, on the outside, anti-Zionists.

A particular complication is that the way that a blogroll (as implemented by WordPress, my platform at the time of writing) works, where a visitor merely sees a list of links that are then typically taken to be endorsed on an opinion level.

To work around this, I am adding a separate page, tentatively called “Forbidden readings”,* linked to from the blogroll. Here I will run an additional blogroll, where such valuable-but-problematic sources can find a space and still carry a disclaimer. For this first “release”, there will only be two entries, the aforementioned UNZ and American Renaissance.

*The name is partially chosen too reflect a problem with the debate, namely that certain types of readings are widely considered forbidden, that certain topics are considered untouchable, that even contemplating certain ideas can cause calls of “Racist!” or “Sexist!”, etc. (Which will overlap strongly with the original and, likely, future contents.) However, another partial reason is the (populist) hope of increasing the number of visitors who actually open the page: the rest of the blogroll is present on every page, while this portion is only visible on this particular page, and if the page is not opened, the links will not be seen at all.

The latter is a broadly a “race realist” site, which incorporates contents from many sources on related developments and thoughts. It can play a particular valuable roll at the moment, where the U.S., and large parts of the “West” in general, is taking severe damage under the dual problems of the long disproved “tabula rasa”/“nurture only” claims and the “Whites are evil oppressors and racists” narrative.

In a minor related update, Michelle Malkin, is moved from the temporary to the permanent English blogroll. Since the original addition, I have had the time to look into at least some of her (very extensive) earlier works. While I do not agree with everything that she writes, especially looking at her earlier years, I find a lot of value in her writings—and not just because of their relevance to the disastrous times that we live in.

As an aside, I have since also come to realize that she was considerably better known than I originally assumed.

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July 29, 2020 at 11:49 am

Pseudonyms in writing and my own choices

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Earlier today, I visited “educationrealist” (Ed) and found a post on issues on my own mind: Will the Rising Tide of Nuttiness Come My Way?.

This especially with regard to the sub-topic of anonymous or pseudonymous writing and potential backlashes in light of today’s utterly insane climate.

Firstly, is there a risk that my attempted literary career will be ruined because my political writings will automatically cause too large groups to consider my literary works “evil”, regardless of actual contents and literary merit?* That I will not just risk rejection by publishers or low sales because my writing does not measure up or is not sufficiently commercial,** but that I face the additional burden of having the “wrong” political opinions or having at least attempted to apply reason and objectivity where emotion and subjectivity is mandated? Of claiming that free speech must apply to everyone in order to be free speech? Of calling “bullshit” on Feminists and the PC crowd when they do use bullshit arguments?***

*Note the controversies around even Peter Handke, last year’s winner of the Nobel Literature Prize and one of the most highly regarded “serious” German-language authors for decades, whose personal opinions where not kosher enough to many complainers, who saw it as a scandal that someone like he could even be nominated. (While Bob Dylan was accepted with open arms …)

**The simple truth is that few aspiring authors meet with any major success.

***Which is very often the case. See a great number of older texts.

If I had not already decided to use a pseudonym, this alone would be reason for me to do so. But: Even that is not likely to help, as keeping an identity secret for the duration is hard or impossible. (If with the upside that no-one is likely to search me out unless I have already become successful. Then again, an intolerant publisher or editor might disapprove a lot earlier.)

Secondly, what might come of my political writings, per se? I have so far published under my own name (and will likely continue to do so) and have yet to experience any known trouble, but with the ever worsening climate, who knows what will happen in the future? As Ed writes:

I am quite afraid of being outed as Ed and then fired and cancelled and probably stripped of a pension. Hell, maybe not even outed as Ed—the wrong person could learn I voted for Trump, and it’s game over.

My situation is not as potentially dire (and I would not go as far as saying “afraid”), as my pension is guaranteed* by the government, as I live in Germany, where things have yet to progress as far, and as I am self-employed (be it as an author or as an IT consultant). However, my writings might be an obstacle should I ever seek regular employment again. Other risks, like someone attempting to hack my accounts are certainly conceivable (and apply to e.g. Ed, too). What if my writings are blacklisted by Google? (If they are not already, then it might well just be because I am too small a fish.) What if someone outs me with a photo, locally, and I am refused service here and there?**

*Other concerns, like a too small payout due to under-financing of the overall system, are present. It is, after all, a Leftist scheme :-)

**Not (yet?) a concern in Germany, but something like that could easily happen e.g. on a current U.S. college campus.

Moreover, while things are not as bad in Germany, they are growing worse and worse, including hysteria over (real or alleged) “extreme Right” groups* and constant complaints about “Rechtsruck”**. The border between what is classified as “extreme Right” and “Right” is being increasingly blurred, and even a moderate “Right” or Conservative position stands the risk of being condemned with a blanket “Right; ergo, evil”. The criteria for condemnation/inclusion seem to grow laxer, and I suspect that it is only a matter of time before the Left will begin to apply “extreme Right” to e.g. anyone who uses public*** violence, where a violent attitude becomes an ipso facto proof of being “extreme Right” (which would, incidentally, give the Left a good excuse to disassociate it self from e.g the Antifa or the “autonomous” Left, should the need arise). It is possible that I am overly pessimistic on this point, but it is hard not to be pessimistic in light of the U.S. situation and the disastrous developments over there, and this type of Orwellian control of terminology and tolkningsföreträde has been an ever recurring theme on the Left during my adult life.

*Defined almost exclusively based on anti-immigration or nationalist positions, and with no regard for positions on other issues.

**Roughly, “shift to the Right”—a fairly generic complaint directed at any trend towards a position not on the Left, even despite the disturbingly strong (old) Leftist take on society that dominates much of German discourse and government efforts. German politics needs to be shifted away from the Left.

***For want of a better word: Here I intend e.g. political violence, riots, soccer hooliganism, etc., but exclude e.g. robberies and physical altercations of a private nature.

Then we have the question of time and importance: The comments discuss Slate Star Codex/Scott Alexander*, including the claim by one Mark Roulo that:

*Who stopped his, apparently, massive blogging and deleted his blog due to threats that his full identity would be leaked by the New York Times. (Also note other recent concerns about the NYT.) “Scott Alexander” appears to be a part of his true name, which reduces the search space very considerably and, with other freely provided information, cannot have made him that hard to identify. (Even alternate routes like hacking or inquiries to his ISP aside.) His blog appears to have been right up my alley, but, unfortunately, I only found out about it when it was too late, and I must go by reputation.

But his popularity grew slowly and at the beginning the NYT would not have cared about him. Today they do, but there wasn’t a clear line that he crossed to become interesting.

So he didn’t self-censor and then a publisher with a large audience became interested in him. Ooops. But in some sense only ooops in hindsight. Who would have guessed five years ago that the NYT would want to write a piece on his blog AND insist on publishing his name as part of the piece?

Well, my own visitor numbers are small these days (and have never been truly notable), but who knows what could happen in the future, e.g. if some post goes viral or I do have success as an author. Indeed, note the recent controversy over J. K. Rowling for statements that are trivial PC-violations compared to some of mine—imagine if the NYT found out that Rowling had written texts like mine? The scandal … Similarly, who knew that the negative trends would continue* in such a horrendous manner when I (or Scott Alexander) began to publish thoughts on the Internet, and who knew in 1980 what claims made then, and then perfectly acceptable, would be met with cries of “racism”, “sexism”, and whatnot today?

*With hindsight, it might not be that surprising, but when I began my own activities, I was expecting the opposite, as I saw a counter-movement gathering momentum, that more and more people protested against Feminist nonsense in Sweden, that alternative views were gaining at least some traction in broader circles and might gain a sufficient presence in media that the propaganda web would collapse. (That “a lie repeated often enough is taken to be true” only holds when the actual truth is sufficiently suppressed.)

If I had begun my writings today, I might well have chosen a more anonymous road. As Ed says (in the context of the attitude “that there’s no real excuse for the cowardice of a pseudonym”).

The idea that I should* post under my own name is….insulting in its grotesque stupidity. Who the hell do you people think you are, I say as respectfully as possible, to Philippe to Jonah Goldberg to Tim Carney to Charles Murray to all the other people who think the eggnuts trolling them on twitter are the same as eight years of blogging and tweeting under the same identity.

*In my case, substitute “should be obligated”.

Of course, to this I note recurring demands in Germany that e.g. bloggers should be not just morally obligated to reveal their true identities, but actually be so by law, e.g. to make it easier to pursue “hate speech” from the “far Right”.

Excursion on my original motivations for a pseudonym:
Almost paradoxically, in light of the above, my original motivation was that I wanted to keep my privacy, even should I meet with an unexpected amount of success. (Whereas the above deals with fears that publishing under my own name would make success impossible.) While I want for my books to be read and for some money to flow in, I do not want to be someone of public interest, see a blog flooded with visitors (who visit just because I am famous), have people from my past read my books and draw incorrect* conclusions about me, etc.

*A book is almost invariably colored by who the author is, but it is quite hard for the reader to see the difference between where the author writes of himself, where he merely uses own experiences and characteristics as input, where he writes with next to no self-connection, and where he might even deliberately reverse himself.

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July 21, 2020 at 1:21 pm

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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