Monday, July 25, 2011

Some of the Best and Worst Reporting on the Oslo Norway Massacres had an excellent conversation online between Michael B. Dougherty of The American Conservative and Michelle Goldman (distinctly liberal and feminist) of the Daily Beast and other venues.  It is at
These are just two earnest people grappling together over what to make of such an event and looking a bit shocked and grief-stricken.  One of the shocking things to these two was how coherently he wrote (though with a good bit of lifting of passages from other works).  He seemed nothing like the obviously insane shooter of Congress Rep. Giffords.  Dougherty (who admits he or his periodical are quoted by the apparent mass killer Breivik), says based of the first fragments he got of Breivik's saying or writing, he did not believe he was a "Christian Fundamentalist", and apparently Dougherty was right despite part of Breivik's manifesto indicating that part of his dream was a "Christian monoculture".  The two seemed to agree that, besides Muslims, he seemed obsessed with a sense of "emasculation" by the feminist culture.

Meanwhile,, which was founded "to provide content and analysis you can't get anywhere else on a daily basis" has next to nothing to say about the whole thing.  There only piece on it was titled  "Norway, with a substantial rate of gun ownership, is normally noted for non-violence".  Right, a hundred schoolchildren gunned down at camp provides such a nice segue to a reminder of their theories that the more guns, the less crime.  But the main theme of the article was "Well you can just bet that the liberals will be whining for gun control and more civility".  Better to make a preemptive strike on liberals reacting to what they haven't said yet.  Once you let them speak you then have to argue with real people rather than strawmen, which is always a pain in the ass.

I've been cruising a lot of new media lately, and intend to attempt some regular coverage and commentary.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"They All Do It (Distort the News)" "The New York Times is Notorious"

This is running through my head since I was listening to a conversation on the Radio.  The guest is discussing the Murdoch media, giving an example of a story that was spun in a ridiculous way to attack Gordon Brown (the last UK Prime Minister).

A woman called in sounding agitated saying (see title), and "If you know something about a story and read the NY Times coverage you just won't recognize it."  A question I'd have asked her is 'what is the objective source she's been reading that gives her some basis for saying the NY Times coverages is distorted?'  Granted, the NY Times is "notorious" in the sense that a large percentage (maybe around half, maybe more) incessantly says that the NY Times is notorious for distorting the news.  If so many people say it then that's a sort of notoriety by definition.  But we can be sure that nothing like that number of people actually reads the Times, much less reads the Times, and has access somehow to the raw facts making them qualified to make that judgement.

Obviously she is hearing a version of the news different from what is in the Times.  But on what basis does she have such confidence in her version?

On what basis does anyone have confidence in their version?

How do I know what I think I know?  I think my version of reality is fairly well grounded -- granted, I may be wrong about some pretty significant things, and I must always ask the question "How can I be more sure?  Or perhaps find my errors and discard them?"  To many people, the answer seems as simple as turning to their favorite news source and saying, "See, this is what's really happening so obviously you have it all wrong."

Does anyone have an answer?  I have a few. But I've had enough exposure to the the sources I think that woman listens to to know that counterarguments to everything I might say have been given to her and repeated over and over again.  No matter which side you are on, you might be able to see a valid way to get out of the mess, so I want to engage people with different versions of world political reality from mine.  Mostly what both sides are doing is name-calling.  Except some people are trying to discover what's really going on and report it.  I really believe there are a lot of people like that, but what's my basis for saying they're here rather than there?

Please do comment.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hayek vs Hayek vs Von Mises

Hayek was in my view not nuts enough, or at least The Road to Serfdom isn't (his views might have gotten more "fundamentalist" later). E.g. quoting The Road to Serfdom:
“The preservation of competition [is not] incompatible with an extensive system of social services — so long as the organization of these services is not designed in such a way as to make competition ineffective over wide fields.  ... There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision."