My New Rules

Well, I guess it should be obvious that I have not totally given up blogging.  I thank everyone for the nice emails and the nice comments.

However, I am going to try some new rules for the next month, less on my blogging and more on how I engage with the news.

  1. No more Twitter.  For those of you who use Twitter as a news aggregator, my posts will still appear on twitter and from time to time I will post things there that fit on twitter better than in a full blog post.  But I am not going to read my feed, and I am really not going to engage with things in my feed.  Everyone is trying to piss me off, and worse, a few times they have been successful and I have posted juvenile retorts that I later regretted.  I am going to keep a Civ 6 game on my computer and every time I am even tempted to open twitter I will play a couple of turns of Civ 6, worrying instead how to keep Gandhi from nuking me again.  Ironically, I just today ticked over 1000 followers on Twitter, so thanks very much for the support, but if you tweet at me over the next month I won't see it.
  2. Paring down my RSS feed.  I have read partisan political blogs on both sides of the aisle for years.  In fact it has been a point of pride that I read from both sides.  But these folks are all crazy, all the more so because they waste so many electrons arguing their side is sane and the other is crazy.  Everyone on these blogs is trying to just make me angry or afraid.  I am not going to play.  I can get angry and afraid all by myself.  All the political blogs are going out the window for the next month.  The more polemical climate blogs are going out.  Anyone who uses the words "Comey" or "Russia" or "Impeach" or "Benghazi"  in two out of three posts is gone.  Unfortunately, this means, at least for this month, that I cast off Instapundit as well, which is hard for me because Professor Reynolds really gave me my first traffic and helped promote my book.
  3. I have been reading the same stuff for years.  Over time I need to find some like-minded folks interested in discussing policy while still capable of assuming that folks who disagree with them may actually be people of good will.  But I don't want to spend my time in full wonk mode either.  I will call Megan McArdle my benchmark of what I am looking for, and I am accepting recommendations for folks Left and Right of her to read.  Kevin Drum for example on the Left was pretty good on this dimension when his guys were in office but he is much more in team politics mode now (Mother Jones banning me didn't help, particularly since they banned me for referring to the "NRA" in a comment -- particularly funny since I was referring to FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act and not to the much-hated-by-progressives National Rifle Association).

My wife never reads my blog and probably is not too in touch with my existential blogging angst of late, but out of the blue the other day she suggested it would be fun to set up a salon where we could bring together folks across the political spectrum to have discussions of issues of the day.  I thought this was a great idea and have been thinking about how to pull this off.  Unlike what seems to be fashionable today, we actually have friends across the political spectrum -- something that has been easy considering one of our families consists of Massachusetts Progressives (from Antioch, no less!) one is of Texas Conservatives (with oil company executives, no less!).  Our families always got along great but I worry that a few of my friends my be at each others' throats if we have them talking politics in the same room.  So we have to figure out how to discuss policy, not politics.

  • Chris Bickford

    I find Slate Star Codex interesting to read, but it's not explicitly political all the time.

    http://slatestarcodex.com/

  • The_Big_W

    Not sure that an insurance company would sell you a policy to insure your "Discuss Politics Salon" business in this day and age.... 😉

  • The_Big_W

    Slatestar's "Cost Disease" post is the favorite post of any blog I have read over the the past few years.

  • kidmugsy

    A friend was at a lunch recently that was spoiled by one guest banging on and on about the awful Mr Trump and the dreadful Mr Pence. And this was in England. As I like to say, American habits spread worldwide. But only the bad ones.

  • Solomon Foster

    Really? I thought that one was kind of weak.

    "I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup", on the other hand, is sheer brilliance.

  • The_Big_W

    Yeah, that's a good one too. It loses a bit at the end when he realizes he may not really be "in" with liberals. "Cost Disease" does a real good job of spelling out how out of control spending is... and how nearly impossible it will be to get that genie back in the bottle.

  • Kevin

    I always thought a radio or podcast with a Liberal, Libertarian, and a Conservative would be entertaining and probably educational.

  • BobLouGlob

    Congratulations on quitting Twitter. Like many others, I thought it was terrific when I began and used it constantly. However, like you, I began resorting to juvenile retorts to trolls and it became tiring. I finally quit and it is truly freeing. Social media was a great idea that got abused by too many people, and I now wish it would all just go away.

  • Solomon Foster

    Just skimmed over the "CONSIDERATIONS ON COST DISEASE" article again and I think I remember what I found so frustrating about it. He completely misses what I would have thought would be the standard market economist's explanation: the most troubling four of the five areas he talks about are all places where for most consumers there is a strong disconnect between the people paying and the people receiving the service. (Housing is the exception, but it's seen by far the least increase in prices. Presumably there's a separate explanation for it.)

    If a college said, "Hey, we can upgrade the electrical engineering building to have a beautiful atrium but it will cost you $500", virtually no one would be in favor of it. But make it your parents who are paying, or your scholarship source, or just a tiny amount added to your insane student loan that you have no real conception of paying off? Sure, why the hell not? Just like the anxious mom with a mildly sick child is surely more likely to take him to urgent care if she pays $10 and the insurance company pays $90 than if she's paying the entire $100.

    The thing that's really scary about missing this explanation is that a standard left-wing solution to these issues seems to be "It should be free!" Which of course is just making the disconnect between the one who pays and the one who gets the service even bigger...

  • StillAnOptimist

    A salon could work (if everyone does have an open mind and willing to question their own assumptions/check their ego at the door!) - I was part of a local group that used to meet/discuss issues - I was asked to talk about "energy" - and I praised fossil fuels for how it has impacted lives all over the world - gas prices then were quite high and people started talking about how it will soon become $5/gallon and so on - and I ventured a bet - Said "In one year from today, prices will be LOWER than what it is it today" - tried to see if anyone would bet with me - NO ONE did (!) ...(I have told the Simon/Ehrlich story many times) - and said that when prices are high for a product that everyone uses and demand seems stable, amazing things can happen - frackers were working feverishly to improve the technology - and they did - crashed the OPEC/cartel - and prices started falling ... The group was simply unwilling to accept or see how through the years humans have always innovated around problems - and when there is something intractable we can trace it to Government regulations/rent seeking by powerful groups/people and nothing to do with economics/power of the market - but yea, a salon could indeed work to enlighten everyone (if they are willing to be enlightened!)

  • Mondak

    Twitter is cancer. Good choice.

    Very glad you are going to stick around. Love the voice of reason.

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  • drobviousso

    Good on you on Rule 1. I quite twitter around the time that punching "nazis" became a thing, and I've not looked back.

    Around the same time, I started a reading group with myself and three friends that are all Vulcans (http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2016/07/21/the-three-species-of-democratic-citizens-according-to-jason-brennan/) There's me (a classic liberal), a government-working technocrat, a big-tech working moderate leftist, and a anarchosocialist. Its been much, much more than reading twitter, and I feel a lot better about myself and my social circle when I'm done.

    Unlike your salon, we only talk about things after they've cooled off a bit. We assign a reading for the month, and then get together for a video chat to discuss it. Last month was the Obama's Red Line and foreign policy in general.

  • J K Brown

    It is important to keep the root meaning of Twitter in context

    Twit - To vex by bringing to notice, or reminding of, a fault,
    defect, misfortune, or the like; to revile; to reproach; to
    upbraid; to taunt; as, he twitted his friend of falsehood.
    [1913 Webster]

    If you keep that in mind, you can twit, but protect against being twitted.

  • johnmoore

    Do a salon in PHX, and I'd love to come. I live 1 mile from your office.

  • obloodyhell

    CapX. Right-leaning brits
    https://capx.co/us/

    Bill Whittle on the right.

    You might also check out Chicago Boyz. They're almost an aggregate site.
    http://chicagoboyz.net/