November 19, 2008
As I pointed out yesterday, a major system crash took down The Liberty Papers, and my email with it.
We’re in the process of rebuilding The Liberty Papers (should take several days), and my email is now transferred to a new server which should also be much more stable, so my original email address is back to normal.
Through all of this, I’ve decided to transfer control of The Liberty Papers to another contributor. I won’t be stepping away from blogging there, but I simply don’t have the time, energy, or sysadmin expertise to continue to be the guy “running the show”.
With that, while I will continue to keep my main political blogging over there, I wonder constantly what to do with Unrepentant Individual. I think I may make some effort to keep things a little bit more fresh here, once I can get an idea of what to write about. College football has been a nightmare this year for my Boilermakers… Brewing and beer is always an option, and something I hope to explore more fully. I may go into some more humorous writing if I get some better ideas. And, as always, I’ve got a crazy little man at home who is always good for a laugh! Expect some video of him “Dancing With The Stars” shortly.
If anyone has particular topics or subjects that you’d like to hear more about, though, let me know and I’ll try to expand.
For now, here’s the little man on Halloween.
PS – There’s another Warbiany on the way, so life is getting a bit more crazy!
November 18, 2008
The site hosting The Liberty Papers has had a major crash, and I’m working to get that solved. For the next few days, it will likely be unavailable as I transfer to a new hosting provider.
With that, my email is hosted on the same site, and is also having problems. I am currently trying to set up a forwarder, but if you cannot get to me, try bwarbiany AT hotmail DOT com
Below The Beltway linked with Temporary Outage At The Liberty Papers
June 4, 2007
So much of blogging, particularly political blogging, is to find a way to vent. Venting, of course, implies that pressure builds up that needs to be released. When I lived here a few years ago, and had to deal with freeway traffic and live in Irvine, I always needed ways to vent. When I lived in Georgia, I had a lot less stress, but still didn’t have a release. In addition, at my job I’d listen to political talk radio, giving me plenty of fodder.
That didn’t make for a very happy person, but it led to some excellent blogging. It’s not to say I wasn’t a happy person, but getting a chance to rail against the system was a great way to relieve stress at the end of the day.
Things are changing, though… I live close enough to work that I don’t have to deal with SoCal freeway hell. I’m busy all day, and work in a cubicle, so I can’t listen to much radio. On the way home, since I live near the beach, I open the windows in the truck, crank the tunes, and relax as the air turns from warm Irvine air to cool beach breeze.
Normally, I’d still have some stress to work out. After all, my job involves dealing with customers who only call me when something is going wrong, and it’s my responsibility to make sure it gets fixed. Sometimes that means they’ve got a backlog of shipments and if we don’t fix their problem, they might lose thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars… And if that happens, the engineers I’m talking to might not have a job. They’re understandably worried. So I come home with some stress.
But then I go for a nice 2 mile walk to the beach with Guinness. Up and down hills, past a beautiful golf course, the St. Regis and Ritz Carlton resorts, eventually ending up at the beach, where I get to watch the sun falling out over the Pacific Ocean. I get back, have a wonderful dinner prepared by my wonderful wife, sit down, have a beer, and relax. The stress is gone.
How in the world can I come home and have something to blog about after that?
April 20, 2007
Last night I was listening to XM Radio online, Channel 47 (Ethel). This was while I was reading, so it was probably already well after midnight. I heard a little promo (they don’t have commercials, but they do occasionally have segues), and it took my attention away from the book.
Ethel Channel 47: Delightful tunes, even if you’re stoned.
All of a sudden the statist brainwashing I got in public schools kicked in… “Are they really allowed to say that?!” Then I realized it’s XM, but I was still surprised they had the cojones. Of course, then as I started to settle back into my lawless personality, I was pretty impressed… Even if they’re not allowed to say it, good for them! After all, when the FEC was considering regulating blogs under campaign finance rules, I pledged that regardless of what laws and regulations they imposed, I wouldn’t stop blogging. If they wanted to come after me, they could come after me.
But I thought about it a second… XM radio, along with the internet, and the rest of the “new media”, is a sign that they’re losing control. Not XM, of course, but the FCC and regulatory establishment. They can do all they want to punish Viacom for letting a breast be shown on national TV, and they can fine Howard Stern, and 15 years ago, that would have been enough to actually put a stop to a lot of that activity. But now, they’ve been outflanked, and people are getting used to having the ability to choose for themselves what to listen to and read.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous thing for the government to accept. And they’re not going to take it lying down. They’re going to try as hard as they can to get their regulatory hands into the new media. But I think the arguments they used back in the days when they were regulating TV and radio won’t work. People aren’t as willing to submit to the government as they once were. The regulators can’t claim that bandwidth is limited on the internet. And there are too many voices out here that are willing to be loud and fight.
So to answer my original question, “Did they just say that?!” Yeah they did, and what the hell are you going to do about it, bureaucrat?
April 5, 2007
One of the regular readers over at The Liberty Papers is doing a college paper on the similarities between bloggers & pamphleteers. He was looking for an expert to interview, and when he couldn’t find one, he contacted me. With his permission, I’m posting his questions and my answers below the fold.
1. What do you think are the biggest similarities between bloggers today and colonial pamphleteers?
I think the biggest similarity is that it opens communication to the masses. Journalist AJ Liebling once said that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. While the rise of pamphleteering brought the power of the press to the common man in the 1700’s, blogs have done so today. It is possible, either for free or for a small hosting fee, to provide your ideas to the world.
To understand the similarities between bloggers and pamphleteers, it is also important to understand what they are not. They are not typically authors of scholarly books. They are not typically professional journalists. They are ordinary people from all walks of life with ideas that they want to share, because they think those ideas are important.
The other important similarity is the dynamism involved. Just as it is expensive to write, print, and sell/market a book, it is very inexpensive to do any of these with pamphlets or blogs. Both cover ideas in a much more in-depth manner than a newspaper, but in a much quicker time to print than a book. While most of the mainstream world focuses on the “major” pamphlets and blogs (like Common Sense and Instapundit), though, the world of each was much wider than will remembered for posterity. One book you might want to see if your school’s library has is “Pamphlets Of The American Revolution”, by Bernard Bailyn. It’s was planned as a 4-volume set (although only one has gone to print) containing some of the most influential pamphlets of the time. But the very fact that you could fill 4 volumes simply with the influential pamphlets should clue you in to the idea that the world of pamphleteering filled a lot more space than those few pamphlets which made it into the history books. This is very similar to the world of blogs today. While there are some major blogs out there on the ‘net (a group which The Liberty Papers has unfortunately not yet cracked), there are countless multitudes below of people taking advantage of their ability to publish. Some are great, some are horrible, and most are in between, but they’re all out there in the marketplace of ideas, much like the pamphleteers were before us.
Last, it is important to point out a crucial difference between blogging and pamphleteering, which is due largely to the differences between modern and colonial times. The pamphleteers of the time were writing for readers with a much longer attention span than bloggers can get away with today. I just recently read Common Sense, and it’s a 50-page mini-book. Pamphleteers, of course, didn’t have to compete with driving kids going to soccer practice and what’s on the TV each night, and thus they could afford more room. The blogs of today are mostly short and to the point, and a treatise like Common Sense would likely go unnoticed and unread by today’s readers, much to our detriment.
2. It is said that George Washington read Paine’s “The Crisis” to American troops and it increased motivation for the cause of liberty. In your experience, have there been instances where blogging has helped to unite the American populace in such a way?
It is here that I don’t think blogs necessarily fill the same role as pamphlets. It is here, especially, where the nature of what we describe as the “blogosphere” as a collective entity becomes important. It is rare that individual bloggers write something so profound that it moves beyond a fairly small circle. However, because of the design of the blogosphere, it does have the ability to move a message around quite effectively. When the message itself is important enough, the blogosphere’s linked structure amplifies the message to the point where the American people cannot ignore it.
There have been numerous instances of the blogosphere driving the news cycle, particularly in politics. The most famous is the Dan Rather “fake, but accurate” Texas Air National Guard scandal. Before the world of blogs, such a scandal would have probably gone unnoticed until after the election, and may have even changed the outcome. Instead, a horde of bloggers pounced on the story, and Dan Rather was instantly discredited. Since then, as blogs have become even more widespread, their ability to influence the debate has become even more apparent. Blogs moved word and created debate about the Kelo decision that likely would have gotten unnoticed elsewhere. It was blogs who kept the pressure on when a local woman here in Atlanta, 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston, was killed in a drug raid. It may have been that pressure which resulted in indictments of the officers involved. The effect on politics has been even more profound, as bloggers combed over the public (and occasionally private) statements, histories, and policies of politicians in the 2006 midterm elections, and have already been pounding the pavement in the 2008 Presidential race.
There is a last point, and this is due as much to the nature of the internet in general than necessarily bloggers. The internet itself has allowed people to come together based on personal interests, based on ideology, etc. I can just as easily find fellow libertarians online as I can find fellow homebrewers. While it would be very difficult for me to find like-minded people in the offline world to debate and learn about libertarianism, it was very easy in the online world. Thus, I have access to ideas that a person of my age (28) would have taken another three decades to find without the internet. In this, I’m not alone. The internet has changed the way that information is transmitted, and the implications of that change are currently beyond our ability to foresee. Blogging itself is only 5 years old, and it’s already changing the political and social landscape. Imagine what it might do in another 5 or 10 years!
3. In what way do you think writing for The Liberty Papers and The Unrepentant Individual has made you like early American political writers?
I think the key point, as I see it, is that there are important things going on in the world, and like early American writers, I desire to be a participant in the debate, not a casual observer.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Founding Fathers is that they were normal men, on an uncertain course, who ended up doing quite extraordinary things. We idolize them as if they were were a picture of perfection, but when you learn about them, you see just how REAL they were. They had their petty squabbles, they had family disputes. To hear the stories of Ben Franklin’s heartbreak as he had to face the fact that he and his own son were taking different sides in the war for Independence, really hits home that these were ordinary men. Even more important, we look at history as if it were pre-ordained, as if these men knew that they would be victorious in the struggle for Independence. They knew nothing of the sort; they were taking on the world’s most powerful empire armed with nothing more than the force of their ideas and the force of their muskets. They didn’t know they would be victorious, they simply knew that the struggle was worth it either way.
Like them, I am an ordinary man. My education is not in political science or in liberal arts; I’m an engineer. I’ve got plenty of flaws, and I’m not sure whether what I’m doing is having an impact, and if I am, whether that impact will ultimately prove to be futile. There are some days when I think that America is slipping into tyranny and that there are only a tiny few of us who care, or even notice. There are other days when I think that perhaps facing the darkness will be the catalyst to turn America back towards light. I don’t know where the world will be in 5 years, 10 years, or beyond. What I know is that I will not sit idly by and let it all come to pass around me. I want to be a part of it. I may be only a small part, but I will be heard. I think that’s the same feeling those early American political writers had, and that’s what I identify with when I put myself in that place.
February 2, 2007
Hit & Run is reporting on John Edwards’ new blogger, Amanda Marcotte. Some of you remember Amanda as the raving feminist* from Pandagon. Well, it seems that one of the earliest things Amanda has done after the announcement of her new position is to go back and delete a post where she jumped to conclusions about the Duke rape case.
Perhaps she should look further back in her history, to the blog Mouse Words. Before she got picked up by Pandagon, she made a name for herself on that blog. Back in the day, I was a very new blogger, and adopted the resident libertarian position, debating her.
But for those of you “right-wingers” like me (I include libertarians in that group because to a leftist like Amanda, anyone who doesn’t agree is a right-winger), you should know something about her. She thinks that those of us on the right are either evil or stupid. I got into it with her on this post at Mouse Words, dealing with creationism and public schools. It was then that I realized she divides right-leaning individuals into one of two groups, and as I pointed out at the time, she thinks I’m in the wrong one.
Iâ€™ve realized that to the left, there are two types of right-wingers: the stupid, and the evil. The evil is a very small, powerful group. Their goal is to find ways to destroy the country in such a way that it shores up their power, and makes them the ruling elite of the country. The stupid group is everyone else that votes Republican. They are pawns, too dim to understand that they are being manipulated by their evil string-pullers.
Now, I tried to defend myself and my right-wing brethren, and mentioned that we are not trying to destroy America as we know it. We have honestly weighed the policies, and believe that the policies that we are supporting are in the long-term interests of our nation as a whole. My frank response got me this:
“Brad, I donâ€™t think you do. I think the people who want to be our evil overlords dump millions of dollars into right wing think tanks to come up with arguments that everyday folks think sound reasonable enough and then manufacture crisises so that everyday folks think that we have no choice but to implement the plans that the right wing think tanks come up with.”
Looks like I must have landed myself in the â€œstupidâ€ group. Which undoubtedly has me a little angry. I donâ€™t consider myself to be a slouch intellectually, and Iâ€™m enough of a skeptic to watch out when people are trying to exploit me. Despite my slight megalomania and delusions of grandeur, Iâ€™m not evil. The only explanation I have left is that they must be drugging my water.
This is the kind of mentality that we have to deal with from the left. Obviously our policies are absolutely atrocious, so to support them we must be evil or stupid.
So, if Amanda takes down her older old blog, remember one thing. If you don’t agree with her, she thinks you’re evil, or you’re stupid. And if the folks at Hit & Run are right, she really thinks you’re stupid, because she thinks she can just remove her previous words and they’ll go away. As they ask, hasn’t she ever heard of Google Cache or the Wayback Machine? And she thinks I’m the daft one?
* By “raving feminist”, I’m not saying she’s in favor of empowering women, which is a cause I’m fully in support of. I’m saying she’s the type who thinks that a penis is a weapon, and probably wouldn’t object to a policy of forced castration.
January 25, 2007
So I got some new hardware to rebuild my DVR. So I’ve got to relearn some of my linux stuff, as well as expand it to make this work.
And we’re moving The Liberty Papers to a new hosting service. So I need to figure out how to do that. Which isn’t as easy as I thought it might be. I’m nearly to the point where I’ll just pay someone to do it. It needs to happen ASAP, too, because we’re actually getting traffic over there and I don’t want downtime.
Oh, and I’ve got a friend coming into town this weekend, so we need to clean the house.
And— I almost forgot— I have a job.
Yeah. I’m about ready to pull my hair out today.
January 13, 2007
Many of you are familiar with Digg.com, a news aggregator site where the actions of the community of readers propel “worthy” stories ahead of the rest. Essentially, they’re designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, Digg has some inherent biases and a herd mentality that usually forces smaller blogs and news items, despite their worth, to be overlooked. That being said, I have submitted stories there, because free advertising doesn’t have to be incredibly effective to still be worthwhile.
Recently a new site devoted to the libertarian side of the internet has opened. Liberty Loop operates on the same sort of principle as Digg, but the content is mostly libertarian-oriented. It’s also a new site, so submitted stories are more able to rise to the top and be seen than on the larger sites, and based on it’s libertarian theme, the stories are likely to be seen by their true target audience. Check it out, I’ve been browsing a bit already and it looks like there’s some good content over there.
Hat Tip: Hit & Run
December 13, 2006
Could blogging be near the peak of its popularity? The technology gurus at Gartner Inc. believe so. One of the research company’s top 10 predictions for 2007 is that the number of bloggers will level off in the first half of next year at roughly 100 million worldwide.
The reason: Most people who would ever dabble with Web journals already have. Those who love it are committed to keeping it up, while others have gotten bored and moved on, said Daryl Plummer, chief Gartner fellow.
“A lot of people have been in and out of this thing,” Plummer said. “Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they’re put on stage and asked to say it.”
Finding things to say has never been a problem for me. My biggest problem has been finding people who will listen.
December 5, 2006
I now have an iPod nano, and I’m looking for links to worthwhile podcasts. I currently have QandO and Craft Beer Radio, but could use any suggestions… If you have anything that you particularly enjoy, drop a link in the comments.
November 24, 2006
I don’t have the time to devote to this idea, so I’m throwing it out there. If anyone decides to give it a shot, please let me know…
I was thinking after last year’s stupid media frenzy over the “War On Christmas”, of creating a satire blog just to see how easy it would be to get people into a lather. So here’s what I came up with this morning. You start a blog, devoting maybe 50-70% of your posts to outrage-laden tirades about how the ACLU is trying to take God out of the public square, highlighting businesses who say “Happy Holidays”, highlighting every attempt to turn “Christmas Break” into “Winter Vacation” in schools, highlighting every attempt to take down public nativity scenes, etc.
That much focus will give you credibility with the idiots. But it’s what you do with the other 30-50% that is key. Throw out posts about how Christmas carols like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” are taking away from the glory of Christmas by also highlighting New Year’s. I mean, really take it over the edge. Any time something encroaches on “Christmas”, highlight it as if it’s the end of the world. Phrases like “slippery slope” will come to good use here.
And to really hammer it home, sign every post with the pen name “Jesus Claus”.
This is one of those things that could work very well, because the people who get the joke will think it’s funny as hell, and the people who don’t get the joke won’t even know it’s a joke. You can probably get the entire conservative blogosphere in line with you, and the liberal blogosphere debating you, and a nice little subset of the population can laugh at both. So if anyone is willing to give it a try, I think you’ve got one month to see where it can lead.
The Liberty Papers»Blog Archive linked with “We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government
The Unrepentant Individual linked with “We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government
Secularists Tossing Around Bad Ideas | Help Save Christmas linked with Secularists Tossing Around Bad Ideas | Help Save Christmas
July 3, 2006
Congrats, Doug. I know the feeling of starting a blog, wondering how much one really has to say about anything, only to realize after a year how much is still unsaid. Keep writing, because you’re a daily read for more than a few folks, myself included.
June 7, 2006
Ahh, the advantages of plane travel: I finally get a chance to read in peace!
I just finished reading Glenn Reynolds’ (of Instapundit fame) An Army of Davids. The tagline, “How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths”, pretty well sums it up. Reynolds believes we’re at a turning point in world history, where technology has leveled the playing field, chopping down the natural advantages that the “Goliaths” have had for many years. If anything, Reynolds is a firm believer in the Adam Smith “invisible hand” theory, where millions of distributed individuals, working at what they love, bring about monumental changes. It’s not government that does so, unless they find ways to harness the power of those individuals.
If you’ve read me for any period of time, you will see that I’ve had some influence by the ideas Reynolds brings up this book, although since I rarely read Instapundit.com, he hasn’t been a primary source for me. I’ve posted here, here, and here about how I believe the current shift has moved away from government to the individual. I think I had found my way, through the blogosphere and my own introspection, to agreement with Reynolds on a number of subjects presented in the book.
As for the book itself? Well, how can I dislike a book whose opening line in the introduction is “About fifteen years ago, I started brewing my own beer”?! It was a very well-written look at the ways that individuals are gaining power in the world, with only a short look at blogs and the media. Moving along, he touches on subjects like the growing ability of workers to telecommute and the rise in entrepreneurial opportunity, the change in music recording and distribution brought about by the internet, and the ability of humans (both within the blogosphere and in the meatspace world) to act as a pack of individuals with a common goal– and not a herd being led. He goes on to point out how our media has grown and will continue to grow with the revival of the citizen-journalist, and how “horizontal information”, as he calls the greater inconnectedness of information in today’s society, changes the learning curve of humanity itself. Throughout this first section of the book, he gives real-world examples of trends he’s spotted in today’s world, and where and how he sees them impacting humanity in the short and long term.
When you get into the second section, he moves farther into true futurism, such as nanotechnology, life-extension, the colonization of space, and the Singularity. Through these chapters, his greatest theme, as far as I can see, is a simple one: “Hey folks, this stuff is coming. We’d better get used to the idea, so we can plan for it.” Reynolds doesn’t ask whether these advances will occur, he asks what we’re doing to help ensure that we know how to handle life when they arrive. In this section (with the exception of the space colonization chapter), he does tend to stray from his “Army of Davids” theme, though. He occasionally comes back, with discussions of how technologies such as nanotechnology might empower individuals, but it ceases to be a central theme here. Either way, it’s still an interesting read through these chapters, especially if you’re not already well versed in these areas.
The central theme of the book, of course, is truly a heartening idea to individuals. For a very long time, the dominating change in our world has been towards greater and greater centralization of power, whether it be in corporations, media, or government. Technology, however, has now reversed that trend. We are seeing every one of those areas returning power (though reluctantly) to individuals, as individuals find their voice to demand it. From the effects of blogs on media (i.e. Dan Rather) and politics (i.e. Porkbusters), to the effect of open-source on technology (i.e. Microsoft), loosely-connected groups of individuals, working for their own personal reasons, have acheived incredible accomplishments. He points out the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when– in the absence of government control– individual citizens simply organized on the fly and took care of what needed to be done. As the world becomes more complex, central control becomes less useful. With the march of technology, though, it becomes unnecessary even more quickly.
Reynolds uses the example of the creation of the internet as a global information warehouse, pointing out the naysayers– had they been asked 10 years ago if our current access to information was even possible– would never have thought it could occur. The argument of “it would take every librarian in the world decades to input all that information” doesn’t make sense when you have millions of individuals willing to do it for them, for free, simply because they find it interesting. Curiously, Reynolds doesn’t use the example of the open-source movement, which has the same nay-sayers. The open-source nay-sayers think that programmers would never work tirelessly to bring about major innovations in the software world. Yet openoffice.org exists, and provides a usable alternative to Microsoft. Did someone organize huge stockpiles of capital to make it happen? Nope, a million dedicated people who wanted to see it happen simply did it.
Overall, I consider it to be a great read. However, for those of you who are already evangelizing for the “Army of Davids” world, and who consider yourself a “futurist”, there isn’t a whole lot new here. Reynolds does craft it into a very readable and cohesive package, though, so it’s a great read regardless. If the preceding description doesn’t apply to you, though, buy it now! There are a heck of a lot of people who think the world is headed for some big changes, and Reynolds lays out a simple, readable, and entertaining description of what shape he (and I) think it will take.
The world is changing, and changing quickly. If there is truly an “Army of Davids”, consider me a self-ranked Lieutenant. Glenn Reynolds may just be one of our Generals. Thankfully, though, unlike the U.S. Army, the chain of command is nonexistent, and I don’t have to fear the UCMJ. I can go tell Gen. Reynolds to go pound sand if I like, and the best he can do is not link to me. Of course, knowing his sense of humor, he’s more likely to link to me with a derisive “Heh.”, defusing my suggestion of pounding sand pre-emptively. Either way, if Gen. Reynolds ever finds his way through Marietta, I’ll have a bottle of homebrew waiting
As for what convinced me to “serve” in the “Army of Davids”? To that, I can only say the same thing I’d expect to hear from my fellow warriors: I’m doing this to make me happy, and any benefit you receive is ancillary.
Liberty Corner linked with Carnival of Liberty XLIX
Below The Beltway linked with Around The `Sphere
May 21, 2006
As I previously mentioned, last night we did a libertarian-oriented blogger meetup here in Atlanta. It was originally suggested by Randall of Catallarchy, and we ended up having eight people show up. Three of us were active bloggers, but everyone was well up to speed on all the topics we ended up discussing.
It was odd, for me. We had a group that spanned from 3 anarchists, to a heavy objectivist, as well as general libertarians and (like me) classical liberals. I say it’s odd, because in the offline world, any group of people I’m around are invariably more statist than I am. Half or more of the group last night, though, envision a smaller state than I do (or none at all). Also odd was the way in which each of us interact with the State. One guy works with city government on eminent domain matters, another is a computer science guy who is in the process of obtaining secret clearance for government work. Invariably all of us knew someone who either worked for, or closely on concert with government, which shows you just how large the State really is…
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had originally thought I might stick around for two hours or so; it ended up being four. I rarely get a chance to have long discussions about politics with people who have a clue what they’re talking about, thus I ended up leaving the meeting feeling energized, even though it was 11:00 PM. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one, and doubly glad we didn’t end up getting arrested for sedition.
As an added bonus, we didn’t have a problem with the one worry about meeting people from the internet: nobody was a weirdo. (Either that, or we’re all sufficiently weird that we just thought each other were normal!)
May 18, 2006
We’ve already got a good crew of 5-6 people, and if anyone else is going to be in the area, feel free to join us. Let me know via email if you’re thinking about heading over, or just show up and look for the big funny-looking white guy. That would be me…
The Unrepentant Individual linked with Last Night’s Blogger Meetup…
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