A Good Man

Imagine—let us give him a name—Joshua. We say he is a good man. To say so in general is to say that he supports and preserves life wherever it is found. This is the essence of good action, but action springs first and foremost from feelings and motives, and therefore let us begin there. We may well imagine that Joshua’s actions toward others flow from a sense of benevolence, even love. His actions generally exhibit kindness, or helping because of fellow feeling, particularly helping those who are in need and in danger. That makes some sense, I hope. After all, those who who have plenty and are safe do not need his help.

There is something, we might say, natural or earthy about him; he is the human embodiment of the same kindness found at least occasionally throughout the animal world. Decency to others just seems to come naturally to him. You have no doubt been delighted to meet kindness in people like Joshua; it is not altogether uncommon. When circumstances permit, he uses his time, his abilities, and his wealth to help others, especially those who cannot help themselves so well—particularly, of course, his immediate dependents. He does this without calculation: it is simply obvious to him that it is the right thing to do.

As a supporter of life itself, we might well imagine Joshua to be a man married with a wife and children, all of whom he loves deeply and supports. He knows from common experience that he cannot stray outside of marriage without ultimately destroying the chances of making a happy marriage, to say nothing of contracting diseases. Moreover, he keeps himself fit, not only because he has a healthy love of his own life, but also so he can live long and provide well for his wife and children. He also avoids excessive drinking and drugs, again because he knows that this can ruin his health and his ability to live well. There are various words for this latter cluster of virtues: temperance, moderation, self-control, even purity.

Now, we must not imagine Joshua to be living in an idealized utopia. He lives amidst the same viciousness that can be found throughout animal- and humankind alike. He is beset by all the selfish, hostile, and strange psychology of people, in a particular culture with particular beliefs, practices, and government—some good, some bad, some downright evil. Many of his virtues are a response to less-than-perfect situations he finds himself in.

For example, Joshua lives among predators of various kinds. As a champion of life, as it were, he is gentle and caring, not unnecessarily violent. A habit of violence would make him a danger to others and himself, after all. But he is also strong and adept at fighting when necessary, meaning he is an excellent protector; although he avoids fighting whenever he can, he refuses to let violent, unjust bullies take advantage of the weak. For this, he needs courage above all, as well as the discernment to judge those who deserve his protection and those who have earned his enmity. In choosing who, how, and when to fight, he needs wisdom, or good practical judgment. He is no fool.

Let us suppose that, fortunately, he lives in a time and place of relative peace, so he need not fight constantly. Still, of course, life for Joshua is not all roses. He also has personal conflicts, not just in protecting other individuals but on his own behalf. These might be conflicts over money or property or a woman or any of a number of other things. Now, if there is one thing that repeated human experience teaches us about conflict, particularly when it is between powerful people and especially heads of state, it is that conflict can become extremely destructive, not just of relationships, but of lives—even entire states—even civilizations. Again, mere observation of daily life as well as history teaches that skill in avoiding conflict, when unnecessary or unproductive, is one of the best ways to preserve life.

Practical wisdom (or to put it negatively, not being a fool), already mentioned, is one key element in such conflict avoidance. A second is justice: a devotion to treating others fairly, without giving anyone any undue advantage or disadvantage, reward or punishment. Justice is crucial because the animal kingdom (not just human beings) have an in-built notions of fairness. Joshua is deeply sensitive to that.

A third is humility. Humility is closely allied with justice and bears special mention. This implies, ultimately, that Joshua does not particularly weigh his own life and its advantages over those of others; rather, he takes the real value of others seriously, and he weighs the value of his own life appropriately, fairly, justly, as one among many. Such humility follows, with justice, from his being, at root, a preserver and defender of life, and of all human life particularly.

Consider a person who lacks humility but instead acts out of pride. To say so is just to say that such a person consistently places his own life and happiness above all others; he will find himself acting in ways that most of us will recognize as selfish, mean, calculating, vicious, and cruel.[1] Such people are almost universally hated, at least eventually. They rarely become heroes, who sacrifice themselves in war or emergency, who rescue those in peril, who go out of their way to help the needy. Typically, it is only those who acknowledge the essential dignity and equal value of all human beings that are capable of the conflict-avoiding virtues of justice and humility, which are so universally applauded.

And that, of course, is how our Joshua is. All acknowledge him to be a humble man. This does not mean he is pliant and docile—he is no “pushover.” But, as I said, he avoids needless, foolish conflict, and he genuinely loves and helps others, precisely because he sees his life as one among many, each of which has intrinsic, precious value. And this humble self-evaluation manifests itself in an attitude of ease with and support of children, women, the poor, the elderly, the foreigner, and the bereaved. He has no reason to elevate himself above others, so naturally he does not.

Now, Joshua is not perfect. He makes mistakes. He can even act viciously, cowardly, foolishly, proudly, and selfishly at times; he is human. But he knows that others are, if anything, even less perfect than he is. It is natural, to some extent, for us to harbor resentment for past wrongs. Joshua avoids doing so, because he knows it will lead only to worse and worse conflict. He practices forgiveness, because that truly is essential to being able to interact with others in a way that really supports them. He also begs forgiveness when he knows he is wrong; he is quick to apologize and to express remorse, seeing this as again essential to smooth interaction with fallible human beings.

I could, but will not, go on at much greater length about how various essential virtues, such as I have listed, ramify into greater and greater details as special cases arise. But I do want to add one virtue which might be described as a “covering” virtue, which goes under various names: integrity, honor, decency, and righteousness. As I said before, Joshua is no fool. He reflects on his actions, is reasonably well educated, and he is familiar with the wisdom of his place and time. He reflects, to some extent at least, on the very fact that he is a being subject to moral constraints. So he does not merely happen to practice good habits or virtues as I have stated; this is no accident. Rather, he quite deliberately chooses and cultivates principles. That he lives up to a moral code is a matter of righteous pride for him—this “pride,” of course, is decidedly not opposed to the humility he also practices. The opposite of this better sort of pride is not humility but a sense of his own abject worthlessness: simply, he could not live with himself if he were to do certain horrible things, and he knows this about himself. The word dignity, in one sense, conveys the same thing.

I invite you to consider all of these life-supporting virtues together. I say that nothing could be more natural than these virtues that characterize Joshua’s life. If you confess that you are somehow unfamiliar with them, then you thereby also confess that you are immature, or perhaps incredibly idiotic, or else monstrous, inhuman, and lacking a soul.

Now, without exactly constructing a moral theory, I want you to notice that these various virtues do as it were militate in favor of life. They create and preserve life. They also enhance life; they make it better. Moreover, practiced in concert with others, these principles have the power to create splendid civilizations—which bring even higher degrees of flourishing life. Some such cluster of life-affirming virtues has been essential to the development of civilization on all the habitable continents of the Earth, wherever civilizations have taken root, some wealthier and powerful and some less. But in all of them, by whatever degree mixed with other, vicious tendencies, decent behavior has been regarded by the wise as a key element of a flourishing civilization. This is famously true of Israel, Greece, and Rome, but also of various Chinese dynasties, India, Muslim societies, and African tribes. All can be interrogated as to their moral ideals, and similar notes can be found in all of them.

I say “similar note” advisedly, and grasping this is important if you are to avoid misunderstanding me. I am certainly not saying that there have been identical moral principles throughout the world and throughout history. Clearly there have not; there have been great differences, especially on the details. For example, the precise Judeo-Christian principle of humility is hard to find among the ancient Greeks; but the Greeks did speak of a vice of hubris, overweening pride, which would inevitably be punished, and they did sometimes celebrate a virtue of modesty, or avoiding shameful behavior, and generosity or beneficence was regarded as a key virtue. But again, the Judeo-Christian notion of self-effacing humility and putting others first was foreign in ancient Greece. Still, the Greeks did have some notion of humility, and like everyone, they would have admired Joshua.

Is Joshua unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition? Or to the West? Surely not. Surely you know this sort of person. And he is admired wherever he is from, and held up as a paragon of virtue in all cultures. He is the sort of man that good people everywhere celebrate.

Am I wrong?


Sanger News: Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020

While perhaps not the most momentous news of the day, possibly the most shocking is the news that a retired French pharmacy professor, Jean-Bernard Fourtillan, was removed from his home to a psychiatric hospital—for questioning the official Covid-19 narrative. This LifeSite News article aptly points out, "The systematic use of psychiatric hospitals in order to silence or punish political opponents became widespread under communism, having started shortly after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917. The method developed under Stalin and then expanded as opposition to the 'socialist paradise' came to be considered a sign of mental illness." Of course, the 42-year-old French president, Emmanuel Macron, is a massive globalist and an EU proponent, and he was a socialist until 2009.

Screenshot of Townhall Media video, Washington, D.C., December 12

The chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee opined that the Georgia Senate races are "very positive" at the moment.

There was a massive "Jericho" (as in, the city whose walls the Israelites knocked down with God's help) rally in D.C. It got a lot of play in conservative media. The President flew over it in the Marine One helicopter. Meanwhile, here is a massive thread of the inevitable clashes between some of the president's supporters, "Proud Boys," and Antifa. Police have been trying to keep the groups separate, using pepper spray a lot; there may have been a stabbing:

https://twitter.com/Julio_Rosas11/status/1337792357488619520

Last night, Sidney Powell made emergency filings in the Supreme Court for Georgia, Michigan, and Arizona; she claims her plaintiffs have standing, "raise constitutional issues and prove massive fraud." Fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath:

https://twitter.com/SidneyPowell1/status/1337597433283571712?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1337653024349687808%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es2_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.citizenfreepress.com%2Fbreaking%2Fsidney-powell-we-made-emergency-filings-tonight-to-scotus%2F

Still, the evidence for fraud seems to be overwhelming—so much that I make no effort at all to try to characterize it. Here's Powell giving a rundown from two days ago:

https://twitter.com/LouDobbs/status/1337168084541575171

Bear in mind that this is just one legal team, operating independently of the President's team, with a view into some of the election problems.

Silicon Valley giant Oracle are the latest to announce a relocation of its headquarters to Texas. They are only the latest of many. I personally know two "high net worth individuals" who have moved from California to Texas within the last seven years. Of course, matters are getting desperate indeed in California, with the homelessness, trash in the streets, brutal lockdowns, and crusading leftism, all in a state with outrageously high property values.

One of the deepest travesties of justice happened when the mainstream media tanked the story of Hunter Biden's possibly criminal China connections. Only now is the story beginning to be acknowledged—just in time for Kamala Harris to replace Joe Biden. Hunter Biden sent an email to the manager of his Washington, D.C. office building in September 2017 asking her to make keys for his “office mates” Joe Biden and Gongwen Dong, who he said was the “emissary” for the chairman of the Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC. Of course, the elder Biden didn't know anything about Hunter's business dealings. In other news, Hunter Biden was hit with a subpoena for foreign business records related to Ukrainian gas company Burisma, where the younger Biden was paid absurd amounts of money for, as near as anyone can tell, being closely related to the then-Vice President and "point man" on Ukraine. Well, isn't that special.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) urged Nancy Pelosi not to seat any of the Republicans who signed the amicus brief supporting a lawsuit in objection to the asserted election results. Not clear whether Pelosi can do this, or whether there is much chance of it happening.

One person was arrested for shooting another person when two "heavily armed groups" of protesters in Olympia confronted each other. Pray for peace. We do not need any more of this; we certainly do not need to encourage it. But there are several frightening signs that the country is inching ever closer to secession or civil war or both.

Apparently (if the tweet text is correct; not sure), a priest at a St. Anthony's Church in New Jersey said the 6 p.m. mass was disrupted by large crowds. Here you can hear the priest cursed by protesters on a smoke-filled street:

https://twitter.com/shanermurph/status/1337920622207307778

Pornhub is blocked by Visa and Mastercard, but you can still pay using cryptocurrencies. Pornhub is coming under severe and much-deserved fire for hosting rape videos, including videos of underage victims. But you can pay for such videos using Bitcoin, so...yay, Bitcoin...?

Mother, father, and two-year-old child were kicked off a United flight when the parents were unable to put a mask on the child. This is shocking by any standards. Why should this two-year-old have to wear a mask at all? I thought small children were generally exempt from having to wear masks. Apparently not.

https://twitter.com/elizfulop/status/1337608659187032066

Some psychiatrists have proposed giving the people we would call "social justice warriors" and "special snowflakes" a clinical diagnosis: the new personality disorder of "Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood" (TIV). Among those people would doubtless be those mortally wounded by the news that J.K. Rowling has received "heartbreaking letters" from people who regret trans surgeries. Apparently, the once reliably liberal Rowling has decided she needs to take a stand in favor of biologically-defined womanhood. For this she has, of course, become an apostate to the social justice left. Another apostate of the same liberal sort would be Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: she introduced a bill to ban biological males from women's sports. Good luck with that one, Rep. Gabbard.

Sorry for the YouTube link, but...this is a seriously great video introduction to how today's "capitalist" globalists can be regarded as "neoliberal Leninists" or as old-fashioned fascists...ultimately, as a kind of communist. I've thought so for a long time. Our globalist masters, as I said, are of the far left. So what does that mean? Good primer on the basic political concepts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98rnSbRRwlo&feature=emb_title


The Sanger Daily: Friday, Dec. 11, 2020

Oh, boy. The Supreme Court simply rejected the Texas lawsuit to throw out voting results in four states. Since there were no dissents, one has to assume that the case was correctly decided. The reason, apparently, was that Texas had no legal standing to file the claim. Very well. We have to assume it's true. Well, that's that.

Here is the order. The relevant language: "Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections." Two of the most conservative justices—Alito and Thomas—do make a statement there, which I reproduce in full:

In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction. See Arizona v. California, 589 U. S. _ (Feb. 24, 2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting). I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.

But what's this? Another Supreme Court case? Yes, a suit by Lin Wood against the Secretary of State of Georgia is actually on the Supreme Court docket. Not enough to change the outcome of the election, but this might provide essential support for extraordinary actions among the electors and in Congress. Here's the petition.

Also, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge Saturday. It's still not over. It ain't over till it's over.

So I'll agree with Tracy Beanz' pep talk. Good job, Ms. Beanz.

Meanwhile back in Texas, the Texas Republican Party chairman all but called for the state to secede from the Union immediately. Sadly, I am not joking. Picture this. The scene is Davos, 2019. "So the radicalization of the youth and the commanding heights of the society is complete. So what we do is, first we release a disease in China. We hype it to the skies and shut down society. Meanwhile, we create massive riots in the summer. We reveal that Biden is a horrible criminal, but plot twist...the evidence is hidden systematically by the media. This sends the right over the edge. Then we steal the election from Trump per long-standing practice and ramped-up plans. The evidence is overwhelming but the media denies it all and the useful idiots will, as per usual, buy it all! It's so great that generations of miseducation made them into morons! Then, with forced vaccination and more long-term civilization-killing lockdowns hanging over people's heads, with Democrats convinced that Trump is worse than Hitler and Republicans convinced that the country is falling apart (which, ha ha, it sure is), how could the Americans not break up their union? And you know what they themselves say: 'United we stand, divided we fall.' So then...they fall."

Nah, that's just crazy talk. I don't really think that. I'm not a crazy conspiracy theorist.

Calvary Church of San Jose, Calif., and its pastor were found in contempt after ignoring a court order to stop holding indoor worship services, and were fined $55,000, or $2,500 for every day the church held indoor services. "I respect the judge and I respect what the law says," McClure said. "But there's a bigger law. I have to get told, you follow God or you follow man. I have to follow what God's word says."

YouTube removed 8,000 channels for discussing the possibility of voter fraud, according to Alan Dershowitz, whom I don't trust as far as I can kick him (and that's not very far). The friend of Jeffrey Epstein proves slightly useful by being yet another person to dare YouTube to censor "The Dershow."

So, the Trump administration bought 100 million more doses of the Moderna (pharma company) vaccine, for a total of 200 million doses. Gee, that sure is good for Moderna and its shareholders, isn't it? Is it good for the American people? Well, let's just say that remains to be seen. "The Moderna vaccine was developed using mRNA technology," which apparently doesn't bother the Trump administration decisionmakers. The name of the vaccine is mRNA-1273. The FDA has not decided whether to recommend the vaccine yet.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein may have to step down soon due to senility. People are complaining that she's forgetting conversations. At least she may be booted from the Judiciary Committee. What is it with the Establishment and their superannuated politicians?

Confirming once again that, like the Nobel Peace Prize committee, Time is an irrelevant, ideological has-been, Biden and Harris are Time Magazine's "Persons of the Year." Who cares? The only reason to mention it is that people will be talking about it. But then, that's probably the main reason to apprise yourself of most of what passes for "news."

The media colluded, to borrow a word, to tank a story that, if properly disclosed, would have tanked Biden's chances. Therefore the story, rather than Biden, was tanked. "Their excuse? Pure speculation—now proven utterly baseless—that the story was the work of Russian propagandists." Yup. These people are shameless and without honor. We must sadly develop and support new media resources, as if they did not exist. Maybe the New York Post can stick around.

Like an idiotic undergraduate uneducated about matters of the First Amendment, this fool, the goddamned dean of Columbia Journalism School, Steve Coll is saying the First Amendment has been "weaponized" to disseminate "disinformation." God help us. This sort of thing really means we, the whole country, probably the whole world, are in for some serious pain.

Coca-Cola was tested positive for Covid-19. We wish the cola well and a speedy recovery. Coke can rest easy knowing that there is a 99+% recovery rate. Of course, it's the <1% death rate that warrants shutting down society for months at a time and instituting what amounts to a global totalitarian regime. Totally worth it.

In other news, Wikipedia has completed its transformation into its stupider, more radically left-wing little brother, the (Ir)RationalWiki.

The best place to watch Paul Joseph Watson's latest, "Modernity 4," may be Bitchute:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/w_ewUvSNT3w/


Evening News, Dec. 10, 2020

#CivilWar was trending on Twitter this morning. Apparently, Rush Limbaugh was talking about the unfortunate possibility of a civil war, while Tim Pool explained why this was not entirely crazy talk.

Look at it this way. Suppose the Supremes take the case and rule in favor of Trump and the Republicans. You know the mainstream media will, barring some (to me) unforeseen circumstance, color it as an enormous miscarriage of justice. It will go far beyond riots. Last summer the MSM and Democratic politicians merely winked at, and subtly encouraged, the riots. But they refuse to let Trump win. They know that, if he does, he's coming after the Bidens, all the people in bed with China, and more. While they still hold power in about half the states and and half the Congress, as well as the "commanding heights" of Establishment culture, they refuse to let this happen. But they'll be desperate. And they know their rank and file really and truly believe that Trump is the Devil, worse than Hitler, who will just usher in a new fascist state (because, you know, he's already started, or something); they've been told that so often, anyway. So secession happens, and President Trump gets the military out to stop it. War.

Suppose to the contrary that the Supremes don't take the case, or rule in favor of Biden and the Democrats. Well, what do you think will happen then? The Republican leadership and rank and file have seen more than enough evidence that (1) Covid-19 was hyped and started in China, (2) China was allowed to spy on and influence U.S. policy for decades, (3) the Bidens were in bed with China (and Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, and more), not to mention (4) there is some very heavy unfinished business regarding Anthony Wiener's hard drive and the Clinton Foundation. On top of all that, we have stunning amounts of evidence that (5) the Democrats systematically stole the election. The Republicans cannot allow this group of criminals to ruin the country. One way or another, Trump and his loyalists deny Democrats the right to take over. The Democrats fight back. War.

Not being a political scientist or historian, I have no idea of how plausible all this is. But it sure is worrisome to me. If it happens, I suspect we will all be looking back at now-current events and wondering if the war was not carefully orchestrated—so many previously unlikely (or unknown) events have come together in 2020 to make it possible.

If you want to find products to buy that do not come from China, try ProductFrom.com or ChinaNever.com. If you're looking for computer stuff, NewEgg.com includes "shipping from" information and links to manufacturer sites, so it's easier to find out which brands are Chinese.

Pennsylvania House leaders have filed a brief to support Texas...in its lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania (among others).

A third Muslim country, Morocco, has agreed to normalize relationship with Israel. Not news you can easily learn from the MSM, I imagine. The notion that Jared Kushner, of all people, might have brought this about must be galling. Good. Of course, if Biden takes power, one can easily imagine his people destroying the agreement immediately, somehow, just for spite.

This morning, Trump tweeted that "a coup is taking place in front of our eyes":

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1337042714924380166

I'm afraid that is how it looks to me, too, considering the shocking breadth and depth of evidence that the election was stolen by dishonest Democrats as well as anti-Trump Establishment Republicans. And that is to say nothing of the profoundly unfair—incredibly undemocratic—way this election was conducted by virtually all involved elements of society. The fact that the American people who are still glued to MSM sources know fairly little about this situation is just incredible and dystopian.

In a dramatic statement that has gotten a lot of play, a Dr. Pierre Kory testified that an established and fairly cheap drug, Invermectin, "basically obliterates transmission of this virus." In other news of inconvenient doctors, Dr. Kary Mullis, the Nobel prize winning inventor of PCR tests, said "Fauci doesn't understand medicine, he's an administrator" and "he has an agenda." Note, Dr. Mullis is now dead. He said this some years ago, long before Covid-19.

Liberal talking heads want you "held accountable" as "the enemy" for voting for Trump. Chris Cuomo wants Trump voters to lose "way more than this election." Court jester Olbermann calls for Trump supporters to go to prison.

https://twitter.com/newsbusters/status/1337102027910836226

But civil war? That's crazy talk.

Well, I am sure there was other news. I have to limit myself. Other things to do!

CORRECTION of this morning's news: Rep. Eric Swalwell has not been removed yet from the House Intelligence Committee. As of the evening of December 10, he and Nancy Pelosi were being strongly pressured by Republicans to exclude him from the committee, however. How he might remain on the committee when the Republicans on the same committee, at least, have no faith whatsoever in his loyalty, and when the Republicans are in the minority, should be interesting to watch.


December 10, 2020

I am thinking of making a news and commentary blog rather than spending any significant time commenting on Twitter. To explore that idea, which I would execute over the holidays rather than take much work time, I thought I would make a brief sample post. So here goes. (Let me know what you think in the comments below.)

Boy, have I ever picked a doozy of a day to report about. I mean, there is a lot of huge news.

Surely one of the biggest stories is that Eric Swalwell was supposedly removed from the House Intel Committee. CORRECTION: He has not been removed yet. As of the evening of December 10, he and Nancy Pelosi were being strongly pressured by Republicans to exclude him from the committee. That is, of course (the story broke big three days ago), because he was "involved in an effort by a reported spy"—the colorfully named, now infamous, Fang Fang—"to gather info for China." So says Kevin McCarthy, anyway. This is significant because the House is Democrat-run, meaning even the current radical and deeply compromised batch of Democrats cannot defend this person, who increasingly looks to be a traitor. And no doubt there are many more, considering that Prof. Di Dongsheng admitted that the Chinese Communists have been influencing American politicians through Wall Street for decades.

In news closer to home, the Chinese fangs were sunk deep into the mayor of an unnamed "obscure city"—in Ohio. Boy, this girl gets around.

Wait, so...ol' Fang Fang was actually drawing salary and travel expenses from the Democratic Party?

What have we here?

Apparently, it's news that some guy named Larry Sanger announced a boycott of YouTube. (Direct link to the Revolver front page, which is surprisingly difficult to find if you don't know it's called "Revolver News".)

A deeply disturbing sign of the times is that family doctor Jereth Kok was investigated and suspended from medical practice for sharing Christian beliefs. Yes, really. What sort of beliefs? Just "about abortion, about sexuality and so-called 'LGBT' issues, and that whole issue of doctors performing so-called 'gender transitions'." Got that? In Australia—hence, in many places in the West—you may not speak publicly about such issues if you have the wrong views. Much more, highly interesting background in an interview. I wish Dr. Kok all the best and I strongly suspect that the Lord will reward him. We should all seek to emulate Dr. Kok and not self-censor at all. Continue to speak out, if anything, more loudly and persistently, because they will definitely win if we allow ourselves to be silenced by the New Censors.

If you can believe this, the FBI has finally changed its story about Seth Rich. The FBI now admits that it has thousands of pages of documents of Seth Rich, and it also has custody of his laptop. Gee, OK. It's "just another story" today.

It seems Pres. Trump has tapped Sen. Ted Cruz to argue the Texas lawsuit before the Supreme Court. Not sure the president is in a position to hire people for that particular job, but maybe.

Eighteen states that have joined Texas in its lawsuit against the four swing states that ran their elections unconstitutionally. "On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court ordered the defendant states to reply by 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10." Cautiously optimistic that, with this amount of support and considering both the importance and the strength of the case against the violators, the Supremes will actually take up the case.

It was announced, through the "Biden Harris Transition" team, that Hunter Biden's taxes are being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's office in Delaware.

Have I missed any big stories du jour that I should have included above? Please share them below.


The Era of Centralized Social Media Is Over

For too long, we have made what has amounted to a Faustian bargain. If you post your comments, your pictures, your videos, your essays, your reviews—your content—on Big Tech's enormous centralized platforms, then Big Tech will give you free hosting, an audience if you compete well, and some content development tools. It seemed fair. At least, that is how they encourage you to think about this bargain.

But we have now awakened—only half-awakened, most of us—to the real costs of the arrangement. They are higher than we thought.

We donate much more than temporary use of our content. Since content hosting has grown more complex and your audience is built into their product, and especially since it is difficult if not impossible to move most of our content and audience to other platforms easily, we have also effectively donated control, if not ownership, over our content and our audience.

But we also donate ourselves. We donate our valuable attention. We donate our freedom and autonomy, when the corporations decide what we may or may not upload or view, and whether others may or may not view our contributions. We donate our good name, our public support, for the very medium we use. We rent out our very minds when we open ourselves to manipulation by the controllers of these platforms. By our participation, we endorse this treatment as legitimate, no matter what indefensible things these corporations do.

There is also another thing we receive—another important part of the Faustian bargain—that is worth dwelling on. We receive a shot at popularity. We get a chance at an audience, at "friends" and "followers," who "like" what we produce, who amplify our voices. Who doesn't want friends and followers liking and amplifying us? And so we are hooked.

Is this exchange really worth it? Really?

We have been assuming that it is. I say it is objectively speaking a terrible arrangement that benefits them and mostly harms us, or most of us. Why do we agree to it, in that case? Because "they" have control over our social lives. We will be lost without the audience, the attention! And because the threat of that loss is so terrifying that most people will put up with increasingly obnoxious treatment as "the price you gotta pay." It seems like a good example of the Stockholm syndrome.

I think the exchange is not worth it. I will not speak for you. But I can say confidently that it is not true of me. Since, last year, I declared that what I really wanted was decentralized social media, I have felt rather dirty as I used Twitter and YouTube. I admit it—I made excuses myself. "This is the only way I can get my voice out there effectively," I told myself. Of course, I knew it was not true. I could write for publication. I could use my blog. "I'd be abandoning my peeps!" But nah. Nobody needs me there very much, and if they love me that much they can always come to the blog. "I would be giving up the fight (on Twitter) for freedom and justice!" I'm not Superman, and if my voice is really needed, I can probably fight more effectively on my blog and for publication.

All of those things strike me as being excuses because I liked the attention. The real bargain, and what makes the bargain demonic (so to speak), is that it involves receiving the attention of others, which merely feeds our ego, in exchange for something much more valuable: control over us by people we despise. When you get down to it, most of us are slaves to their system in exchange for the main thing we are after: evanescent, ultimately unimportant narcissistic pleasure. Is that what you really want and need?

It took this latest outrage by YouTube, threatening to delete any video that talks about the 2020 election fraud, to make me rethink my attitude toward contributing in any way to the Silicon Valley monsters.

So I am going to stop using my Twitter and YouTube accounts. I am not entirely sure what I will do with them. As to Twitter, I might keep it operational but just use it as a way to promote this blog and nothing more. I might completely shut down my YouTube channel. I am fairly sure I will be moving all my YouTube videos to my Bitchute channel (the move has already started), but whether it will be their final destination, I am not sure. I really want to support fully decentralized networks, so that I can have total control, right here in my own web space, of everything I want to put out there. Wouldn't that be nice? Is it really too much to ask?

In any event, I am highly motivated right now to leave the Big Tech monsters behind. I am exiting their Faustian bargain. I am 100% committed to owning and controlling my own content and audience in the future. I have talked a lot about this, but it is finally time to make the last, necessary, hard changes to make it real.


Geeks: Give the Gift of Computer Security!

Christmas is coming, and that means you could be giving your non-geeky loved ones the gift of...computer security and privacy. And just think, you might be the only person grandma knows who can fix her up. What a special present! "But, give the gift of computer security?" you ask. "How?" Read on.

It has been almost two years since I started seriously locking down my cyber-life. Now, if you have geek privilege, you have rare and valuable skills that enable you to keep your data safe and private and to get your voice out there without fear of censorship. But most of us doubt our ability to do this. Most of us feel trapped. If I tell them, "get your own domain and host your own email," they say to themselves, "Yeah right, that'll happen. I have no idea where to begin!" And this is not at all an irrational reaction. Some of them are probably right: they do not know where to begin. Depending on the job, they might make a bunch of bad choices or just mess everything up.

If you are a geek, you might be inclined to say, "Not my problem. It's good to be a geek!" But wait. You know the technically clueless people are talking about here? Your nontechnical parent, grandparent, sibling, or friend. On the one hand, you say you care about privacy; you do OK in that quarter. On the other hand, here are people with appalling digital hygiene habits. If you really care about privacy, then should you not care about their privacy? Why not help them out?

Example: Helping my Mom Set Up a Password Manager

My elderly mother had a significant birthday recently. For a gift, I did something I really should have done for her, and maybe others in my family, a long time ago: I installed a password manager for her.

If you are a geek, you must know about password managers. In fact, you must hand in your geek card if you do not use one on the regular. But whatever. The point is that you know the way grandma handles her passwords is completely messed up. She probably uses the same password for everything, or she took the advice of the Best Buy sales jerk who told her to write in L33tspeak, or something. Seriously, my mom was doing that.

My mom had her passwords spread across many scraps of paper as well as a badly-used iCloud/Safari/Apple Keychain system, a half-done, lame security system that Apple gives to everyone that stays within their ecosystem. She did not understand how to use the Apple system properly. Its method for generating secure passwords is not obvious, all her passwords were easily accessible via her computer password, and they were stored in iCloud—and besides, frankly, I just do not trust Apple.

So here is what I did for her birthday present:

  1. I installed Enpass (and paid for a lifetime subscription, ~$50) on her computer. I did the same on her phone and tablet.
  2. I tried transferring her passwords automatically using Apple's export function. Just as you might expect from one of these evil Silicon Valley corporations, Apple totally screwed the feature up; as far as I could tell, it just does not work. (I couldn't get the "export" function to get ungreyed-out. I'm sure it was all for my mom's security and safety...) It turned out not to matter, though, because literally most of her passwords were wrong.
  3. So I transferred her passwords by hand, one by one, trying each one out. She only had about 40, so that was rather time consuming, but nothing like what mine would have been: I have 614 accounts according to my password manager software. Mine are nicely organized and stored, though, so no worries. For Mom, generally, I did this: I would go to a website, try logging in with the credentials stored in Mom's Apple Keychain, and discover half the time that they did not work. Then I would use her email address to do a password reset, then generate a new, secure password with Enpass, and fill it in. (Actually, good password managers at least partially automate this process, as Enpass does.) This is gruntwork that Mom would not do. She lacks the patience or the know-how. So it's your job, geek. Do it.
  4. Then, of course, I needed to give Mom access to the passwords on her phone and tablet. For that, I could have used some sort of password vault cloud storage service (like Dashlane, just for example, has). But that strikes me as insecure. So I flexed my geek muscles and created a new WebDAV folder repository for Mom, in her own folder on my NAS (this is an always-on, personal server, explained here). Of course, she has to trust me, but fortunately, she does. This functionality—the ability to save passwords to my own server via a secure protocol, rather than to some corporation's supposedly encrypted database—is one of the main reasons I went with Enpass and did not insist on the big open source password manager, Bitwarden. Last I saw, Bitwarden did not support WebDAV. I think KeePass supports WebDAV but last I checked, KeePass just did not have very good autofill functionality, which is essential. Anyway, I made sure that all her devices were properly connected to the NAS. Now she can update the password repo from whatever device she likes, and they're all updated at the same time and kept in sync (via the NAS).
  5. I also of course gave her several lessons on how to use the new tech, and promised her prompt tech support if she had any trouble with it going forward.

My trusty NAS. Isn't she pretty?

Of course, my mom could not have done anything like this on her own. You know that, I know that, and she knows that. Not only is there no shame in helping her, I got to thinking: Isn't it my responsibility to help out my old ma with this? Of course it is. Who else would do it? It's your job, geek!

Probably, you, too, have family members who need help locking down their passwords. They won't do it themselves. So whose job is it? Yours.

Other Ways to Help the Folks

Of course, there are many other things you could do, for unique birthday or holiday gifts or just because you're kind. Like what?

  1. Help them register a domain name.
  2. Help them set up a blog on the domain name.
  3. Help them set up email hosting, and transfer their old email, under their own domain name (or, if not that, then at least some more secure service than Gmail).
  4. Install Linux for them and teach them the basics. This will take longer and is riskier, perhaps. You can always start with dual-booting. Of course, you should back up stuff, and know what you're doing, before you take risks with your family's important stuff.
  5. Teach them how and when to use a VPN (cafes, airports, and hotels, mainly), and help them pick one out and install it (the last bit is really easy).
  6. Show them how to use Brave and DuckDuckGo...or your other preferred alternatives to Chrome and Google Search.
  7. Install a NAS for them, and move all their stuff off of Dropbox or external hard drives or whatever they are using. Again, this is quite a time commitment (I haven't done this for my family...but I've invited them to use my NAS if they want).

Any one of these would make a great Christmas present. They're especially good for young geeks who can't afford to buy nice presents. This skilled labor is worth more than many nice presents!

Heck, you could even show them how to buy crypto. I did that a couple years ago. Not sure I would recommend that, but...you could.

There are other things you could help others with...and yourself, for that matter...as regards locking down your cyber-life. Be a good geek! Do it!


In Memoriam: Charles Boone, Philanthropist Responsible for Reading Bear and WatchKnowLearn

This day before Thanksgiving, I sit to write about a man I am thankful for. I celebrate the contributions to online knowledge of Memphis-area philanthropist Charles Boone. Now that he has passed away—August 28, 2020, at the age of 85—I feel privileged to be able to share something he asked me to keep private, until after he died.

In particular, Charles was the mysterious benefactor behind WatchKnowLearn and Reading Bear. When I was working for him, he lived alone with his dogs on a nice estate in a big house, two ponds (one stocked), and lots of woods in Lakeland, a distant suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. When I first met him, he was around 71 and already bragging about how he had outlived everyone in his family. Charles was a remarkably open and nice guy, although he could sometimes be a tightwad, as I have found many rich folks are. The first time I met him, he said he'd take me to lunch. I thought we were going to some restaurant, maybe a nice one. He took me to the local Costco and we ate a bunch of free samples. Maybe it was a test. I think I passed, if so. He was very unpretentious that way. He was very easy to like. I remember driving hither and yon, including out to the state capital once to lobby someone, and discussing the projects and much else, besides. I don't think he really had a mean bone in his body.

Our association began in 2007, when I was still working hard on Citizendium. He said he wanted someone to organize an "American Idol for teachers." He said he wanted to hire the guy who started Wikipedia. I told him I didn't have time for another project, but I asked him to help support Citizendium. He agreed to, but asked me to consult a bit for his project. Over the next year, he asked me to do more and more, which is one of the main reasons I was doing less and less on Citizendium throughout 2008. By late 2008 I was working more or less full time developing a new project. He invited me to come live in the Memphis area, but it wasn't necessary, and my wife and I had already settled in the Columbus area. I ended up worked for him at a distance for something like five years.

The new project wasn't an American Idol for teachers. I persuaded Charles to let me organize a directory of the best educational videos online, reasoning that there was already plenty of great stuff online, it just needed to be made more findable. It was called WatchKnow—later, under new management and after I started working on Reading Bear, renamed WatchKnowLearn. It launched in 2009 and remained in active development until 2011 or so. It quickly gained tens of thousands of videos in a large directory of videos, in a format that teachers say they found very useful. It was (and is) 100% free of charge to everyone, and ad-free. That's because Charles paid for it.

In 2010, I showed Charles a video I had made of my toddler son reading. He was amazed and said he wanted me to make a digital version of the program I had used to teach my son to read. So he hired a new CEO for WatchKnowLearn and I switched to start developing Reading Bear, which I did for two years. I began by doing background research, among other things writing this free book. Then I dove into the project, which was hard work, designing the software and working closely with the developers, making the word lists, collecting the pictures and videos (after arranging to get them donated by an early exec of Shutterstock), and then actually producing 50 presentations. Every separate sound of all 1,200 words and corresponding sentences had to be matched, by hand, so that the right part of the words were being highlighted while the audio was heard. Truly it was a labor of love. But I hear that many kids as well as ESL students used it to learn to read. My second son was one of the first beta-testers; he was using it as I was still making it, when he was a baby. Like his big brother, he was reading picture books by age two and chapter books by age three. Anyway, Reading Bear got many good reviews and helped a lot of people learn to read English. Charles paid for that and he rightly took pride in it.

By late 2012, Charles had gotten married, again, he was passing ownership to a third party (who, sadly, haven't done much with them since; they're 100% out of my hands). So Charles' interests took him elsewhere for half a dozen years. Both projects were finished, and Charles wasn't ready to develop them any further. I moved on to other projects.

Interestingly, it was just last summer, 2020, when we got back in touch for the first time in a while. He said he wanted to get back into developing a new project. Would I be interested in developing that old "American Idol for teachers idea" for him—for real this time? I was consulting at the time, so it was easy for me to say yes (although I have since moved on to full time starting the Knowledge Standards Foundation). We even said, sometime in early August, that we would negotiate a salary and get started very soon. But then I stopped hearing from him. A few weeks passed, I got worried, and I contacted a mutual acquaintance, who told me the bad news. Apparently, Charles had passed away just a couple days after our last call. It warms my heart to know that he was wanting to develop more free educational content projects until the very end.

The "American Idol for teachers" idea, by the way, is a very good one. It would not just be another Khan Academy. We would do a search, probably in the form of an actual competition with cash prizes and an employment contract, for the very best K-12 teachers. Then we would work with the teachers and professional videographers and produce professional videos covering the entire K-12 curriculum, complete with supplementary material like lesson plans and worksheets, and make it all available online for free. The result would be something like TheGreatCoursesPlus.com, but for kids, and absolutely free.

Someone ought to do that project. It always amazes me that so many philanthropic dollars are spent on education, and so few are spent on actual content that students can learn from. What a waste. Listen, education philanthropists—what the world needs are boatloads of high-quality free educational material. That really is of great benefit to the world. There still isn't enough really good free educational stuff. Yes, even still. Not enough people understand this. Charles understood it, though.

Charles had other philanthropic activities as well. He used to talk about how he bought expensive smart boards (interactive displays for education) for classrooms in poor areas that couldn't afford them. He had other projects, too. I'm sure he didn't tell me about all of them.

Charles wasn't perfect, as he himself admitted early and often. He was a Christian man who cared deeply about improving the lives of poor kids, especially around the very poor Mississippi Delta region. He was unassuming and, for religious and other reasons, asked me not to publicize his name until after he was dead. Since he has passed away, I feel happy to be able to share about his work. RIP, Charles.


How to Solve Email

Universal problem, circa 2000: you move around from school to school, job to job, Internet provider to Internet provider. They all give you email addresses, which of course constantly change. What a headache. If you're over 30 or so, you remember having to tell people regularly about how your email address has changed. Annoying.

The 2010 solution was oh-so-clever: use some giant, professional email service like Yahoo!, but soon it was Gmail. For a number of years, Gmail dominated email services because, as everybody seemed to say, it just had the best design. But then, around 2011, stories started appearing that Google was spying on your email. That is still happening; they let other companies read your mail, too. Are you happy about that? Of course not.

So in 2020, we have a new set of problems—and a new (but old) solution. Yes, we expect the same email to be the available on different devices, as we did in 2000. Yes, we expect a more-or-less permanent email address and email clients that are super-easy to use, as we did in 2010. But today we also expect to be in control. We expect not to have to compromise on privacy or (shudder) on basic freedom of speech in our own private communications. It is absolutely frightening that we must now actually consider the possibility that even that basic freedom might be under threat.

In response to these worries, naturally, a lot of people have left Gmail and other Big Tech mail services. I did, and I never looked back.

The 2020 solution: buy your own domain, and pay for hosting. Owning your own, permanent domain is not as hard as you might think. You just have to pay a small annual fee for your own domain ($10-15/year) and mail hosting (could be $12/year, more typically $30/year, and up). And since your correspondents' mail to you can be read by Big Tech if you are on Gmail (and a few others), you really owe it to them to leave.

By the way, you might say, "But I love Gmail. No other app is as good!" That might have been true in 2010. It is no longer true today. There are loads of great email apps with fast search and loads of great features.

"But...host my own email? How?" Glad you asked.

(By the way, I have no financial connection to anyone doing business on this stuff. This is my 100% uninfluenced, honest, and considered opinion.)

STEP ONE: Buy your own domain name for email. Mine is sanger.io. This can be the domain not just for you personally, but for your whole family, even your extended family.

If YourLastName.com is unavailable (try searching on something like NameCheap.com), try something other than ".com" (that is a "top level domain" or TLD). People in nonprofits might like ".org". Geeks (maybe especially crypto geeks) might like ".io" or ".net". There are a zillion TLDs (.xyz, .me, .news, etc.) available today. I rather like my family's domain, sanger.io, which registered almost two years ago now. My email address is my first name @sanger.io. Pretty cool and easy for people to remember.

Another option is to add "mail", "net", "post" to your name. Like, I could buy sangermail.com if I wanted; it is available.

Buying a domain name is easy. You can do it through many, many different services. I would avoid GoDaddy. I use NameCheap, but there are many others that I am sure are excellent. Shop around.

STEP TWO: Choose a mail hosting provider. In other words, if you own MyLastName.com now, you need to pay a company to receive and store your email (at your new domain!) and make it available to you. I have already written about this. There is quite a bit of cheap email hosting out there to be had, and that would help you (a) have a personalized, permanent email address, and (b) escape Big Tech. But if you also want to (c) guarantee your privacy, then you need your email encrypted, and for that you will have to pay a premium, it looks like (the price is €6.25/mo/user on Protonmail, $5.99/mo/user on Hushmail, but you might find cheaper ones). I expect the cost of encrypted email hosting will come down further; prices have certainly come down since I was last shopping for this a couple years ago.

STEP THREE: Set up your new hosting, and actually make the move. You do not have to be a geek to set it up. Your hosting provider should be able to do most if not all of the set-up for you, if you have trouble. I mean, they are making money from hosting you, so they make it pretty easy. Just remember to follow instructions carefully and you will be fine. If it gets very complex and technical, just have the hosting company do it for you. If they will not, other hosts will; you can check in advance. This is how I set up my hosting and made the switch, but your experience may be different. Hosts do have different instructions, so pay attention to what they say, or you might have trouble with mail delivery. Make sure that your mail will not go into your friend's spam folder; your mail hosting company should be experts at setting this up for you, with all the SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records and whatnot. You should not have to set it up for yourself; that piece of the puzzle really is complicated, so they will do it for you.

Exporting email from Gmail (and other email hosts) to your new service is a common sort of task, and it is not that hard. You can do it. Many hosts will help with this too, and might even have automated tools for doing it. You do not have to import your mail at all, by the way. You can just leave it all there, on Gmail, and tell people to use your new address.

Of course, you will have to go to all your accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, etc., etc.) and give them your new address. This might sound like a pain, but when I did it, I found it to be remarkably pleasurable. "Another company that will not be sending me mail at my hated old Gmail address! Instead I am telling them to use my new, permanent, personalized address!" It really gives you a feeling of being in control of your destiny.

You still have the freedom to do this. Use it!

This is another installment in my series on how I’m locking down my cyber-life.


My new book is launched in paperback: Here are some quotes

I am announcing that my book is now available on Amazon in paperback. Please show your appreciation for this blog (and my other attempts to enlighten the world) by buying it!

Here: Essays on Free Knowledge: The Origins of Wikipedia and the New Politics of Knowledge, Sanger Press (my own imprint), ISBN 978-1-7357954-1-6. 12 essays. 270 pages. $18.75 for the paperback. The ebook version is best purchased on Gumroad ($9.95), but it is now available on Amazon as well (same price). I will make an audiobook version if there is much demand. So far about four people have requested an audiobook version. If the number of requests goes over ten, I guess I will make an audiobook.

Wikipedia celebrates its 20th anniversary in January, but as I explain in this collection of essays, it began by organizing a decentralized, global community to catalog their knowledge neutrally, with minimal rules. The results were amazing, sparking debates about whether amateurs really could declare "what we all know" and whether all this free knowledge could replace memorization. A decade later, as control of knowledge has become more centralized and closed, I ask: should we decentralize knowledge once again, and if so, how?

What do you get? In addition to front and end matter (including a full index), these twelve essays, which I include with some perhaps representative quotes:

The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir

The focus on the encyclopedia provided the task and the open content license provided a natural motivation: people work hard if they believe they are teaching the world stuff. Openness and ease of editing made it easy for new people to join in and get to work. Collaboration helped move work forward quickly and efficiently, and posting unedited drafts made collaboration possible. The fact that we started with a core of good people from Nupedia meant that the project could develop a functional, cooperative community. Neutrality made it easy for people to work together with relatively little conflict. Finally, the Google effect provided a steady supply of “fresh blood”—who in turn supplied increasing amounts of content.

Two Early Articles about Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s content is useful, and so people are starting to link to it. Google and other search engines have already discovered Wikipedia and the daily traffic they send to the project produces a steady stream of new readers and participants. The greater the number of Wikipedia articles, the greater the number of links to them, and therefore the higher the rankings and numbers of listings on Google. As they say, “the rich get richer.” So it is far from inconceivable that the rate of article-production will actually increase over the coming years—in fact, this seems rather likely.

But why all this activity and interest? Surely that is puzzling. Wiki software must be the most promiscuous form of publishing there is—Wikipedia will take anything from anybody. So how is it possible that so many otherwise upstanding intellectuals love Wikipedia (some, secretly) and spend so much time on it? Why are we not writing for academic journals, or something?

Wikipedia's Original Neutrality Policy

Wikipedia has an important policy: roughly stated, you should write articles without bias, representing all views fairly. This is easily misunderstood. The policy does not assume that it is possible to write an article from just one point of view, which would be the one neutral (unbiased, “objective”) point of view. The Wikipedia policy is that we should fairly represent all sides of a dispute, and not make an article state, imply, or insinuate that any one side is correct.

Why Neutrality?

To ... put it metaphorically, neutrality does not give us a free ride. It throws us into the issues and requires us to swim through them under our own power. This can be difficult and frightening (thus Kant’s injunction, sapere aude) but it also makes us feel empowered to decide for ourselves. Neutrality supports us both intellectually and emotionally in the act of exercising autonomous judgment by presenting us with all the options and providing us the tools to judge among them for ourselves. ...

When you write with bias, you are treating your readers as your pawns, as mere means to your ends. You are not treating them as autonomous agents, capable of making up their own minds rationally. You are not respecting their dignity.

Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism

There is a deeper problem—I, at least, think so—which explains both of the above-elaborated problems. Namely, as a community, Wikipedia lacks the habit or tradition of respect for expertise. As a community, far from being elitist (which would, in this context, mean excluding the unwashed masses), it is anti-elitist (which, in this context, means that expertise is not accorded any special respect, and snubs and disrespect of expertise are tolerated).

How the Internet Is Changing What (We Think) We Know

[T]he superabundance of information makes knowledge more difficult. ... [F]or all the terabytes upon terabytes of information on the Internet, society does not employ many more (and possibly fewer) editors than it had before the advent of the Internet. When you go to post something on a blog or a web forum, there is no one called an editor who decides to “publish” your comment. The Internet is less a publishing operation than a giant conversation. But most of us still take in most of what we read fairly passively. Now, there is no doubt that what has been called the “read-write web” encourages active engagement with others online, and helps us overcome our passivity. This is one of the decidedly positive things about the Internet, I think: it gets people to understand that they can actively engage with what they read. We understand now more than ever that we can and should read critically. The problem, however, is that, without the services of editors, we need our critical faculties to be engaged and very fine-tuned. While the Internet conversation has made it necessary for us to read critically, still, without the services of editors, there is far more garbage out there than our critical faculties can handle. We end up absorbing a lot of nonsense passively: we cannot help it.

Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge

[T]he public deserves a seat at the table it did not have throughout most of history. Wikipedia’s tremendous usefulness shows the wisdom of that policy. Still, it is no exaggeration to say that epistemic egalitarianism, as illustrated especially by Wikipedia, places Truth in the service of Equality. Ultimately, at the bottom of the debate, the deep modern commitment to specialization is in an epic struggle with an equally deep modern commitment to egalitarianism. It is Truth versus Equality, and as much as I love Equality, if it comes down to choosing, I am on the side of Truth.

Individual Knowledge in the Internet Age

The educational proposals and predictions of the Internet boosters described above point to a profoundly illiberal future. I fear that if we take their advice, in the place of a creative society with a reasonably deep well of liberally educated critical thinkers, we will have a society of drones, enculturated by hive minds, who are able to work together online but who are largely innocent of the texts and habits of study that encourage deep and independent thought. We will be bound by the prejudices of our “digital tribe,” ripe for manipulation by whoever has the firmest grip on our dialogue. I see all too much evidence that we are moving headlong in that direction. Indeed, I fear this is already happening. I honestly hope that I prove to be an alarmist, but I am a realist reporting on my observations. I wish the news were better.

Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism?

The more that people have these various [anti-intellectual] attitudes, the more bad stuff is going to result, I think. The more that a person really takes seriously that there is no point in reading the classics, the less likely he will actually take a class in Greek history or early modern philosophy. Repeat that on a mass scale, and the world becomes—no doubt already has become—a significantly poorer place, as a result of the widespread lack of analytical tools and conceptual understanding. We can imagine a world in which the humanities are studied by only a small handful of people, because we already live in that world; just imagine the number of people all but vanishing.

But is this not just a problem for geekdom? Does it really matter that much if geeks are anti-intellectuals? The question is whether the trend will move on to the population at large. One does not speak of “geek chic” these days for nothing. The digital world is the vanguard, and attitudes and behaviors that were once found mostly among the geeks of yesteryear are now mainstream. Geek anti-intellectualism is another example.

Introducing the Encyclosphere

A few thousand people work regularly on Wikipedia. But what if millions more—orders of magnitude more—wrote encyclopedia articles and rated them, as part of a completely decentralized knowledge network, with no individual, group, corporation, or government in charge of the whole? That is surely possible. There are surely that many people who, if given the freedom to do so, would be highly motivated to volunteer their time to add to the world’s largest collection of knowledge.

We could create a knowledge commons, defined by neutral, open, technical standards and protocols: a network that decentralizes encyclopedias, exactly as the Blogosphere has done for blogs.

Declaration of Digital Independence

We declare that we have unalienable digital rights, rights that define how information that we individually own may or may not be treated by others, and that among these rights are free speech, privacy, and security. Since the proprietary, centralized architecture of the Internet at present has induced most of us to abandon these rights, however reluctantly or cynically, we ought to demand a new system that respects them properly.

The Future of the Free Internet

Even more fundamentally, what the decline of Wikipedia and social media have in common is the concentration—the centralization—of authority on the Internet. This centralization of Internet authority has many and terrible consequences. It turns out that placing so much power in the hands of Internet executives undermines us, our relationships, our minds, even our sanity, and ultimately our politics. Who knew this would happen, even ten years ago? Some open source software stalwarts foresaw some of it. But as to the general public, they had little notion, perhaps beyond a vague inkling. It is all too plain now.

Buy it!