Slate Star Codex And A Link Which No Longer Works

Sad record of note:  One of the deeper blogs on the web, Slate Star Codex, has been voluntarily deleted by its author.

Why?  As a professional with professional responsibilities, and while already receiving some trouble for his labors, the noble NY Times threat and promise of an expose apparently helped the decision.

I was planning on linking to a post over there on an AI model running only on Wallace Stevens poems and now it’s gone.  Here’s to hoping it’s not permanent as in forever.

A shame:

I’ve been treating my blog as a salvage operation, carrying the poems, songs, ideas and traditions most important to me, and my small contribution to our Republic, forwards.

It’s not much, but it’s something.  I tend to seek out people who disagree (including Slate Star Codex) as often as those who might agree.

My biases and two cents: Twitter LI (loudest ignorance) and LAB (loud activist bias) seem to be proceeding apace. I certainly don’t trust people curating that network to maintain a platform for broader and freer thought, though the design works well for cheap, easy access to a network and constantly updating information across that network (emergencies, weather, a media wire, condensed packets of information etc.)

As for the NY Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR etc, given how social change cool becomes radical chic, and radical chic ‘wokeness,’ and ‘wokeness’ narrow ideological conformity, it’s little surprise they’ve drifted as well.

From where I stand:  Tack your sail to normalizing the radical, and you tend to drift further away from tradition (joining individuals and groups who often ‘otherize’ anything religious, established and traditional and who unify their in-group by viewing such ideas as morally suspicious and potentially evil).  Utopias hang endlessly upon the horizon.  Making politics the thing-that-unites is placing a ridiculous weight upon political institutions.

The high liberal ideals and appeals to universal secular humanism don’t seem to be placating the desire for immediate and radical change, nor the meaning and purpose provided in some lives by ideological membership; the individual (S)elf increasingly left to make all of life’s meaning on his own.

Just as many universities, journals, publications and media outlets are going woke and failing to understand what scientists do (often displaying loyalty to ideological visions of (S)cience, Romanticized Nature and techo-bureaucratic utopianism), many publications also can’t resist the pressure of deploying gloriously useless art for the latest moral or political cause.

The problems of nature, human nature and legitimate authority are deeper than many realize.

As posted, someone’s going to be running our institutions and making rules out of a presumed universal and common sense set of assumptions:

Martin Gurri via Marginal Revolution: ‘Notes From A Nameless Conference:’

Gurri offered an interesting take on matters socio-cultural:

The dilemma is that this present is defined by a radical distrust of the institutions of industrial society, and of the elites that control them, and of their statements and descriptions of reality. The conference organizers got our predicament right. At every level of contemporary social and political life, we are stuck in the muck of a profound crisis of authority.

Hmmm…:

‘The senior people, largely white and male, seemed to believe that, in punishment for the sins of their fathers, trust had fractured along identity lines. Women today were thought to trust only women, for example. Muslims trusted Muslims, and no one else. Some archetypical essence of “woman” or “Muslim” made internal communications possible, and separated each group from the rest of the human race. It was, to be sure, a disaster of biblical proportions – the story of Babel told in the times of the tweet – and it left the men in charge desperate to put forward individuals of a different sex and skin coloration, to say the things they wanted to hear.

For younger elites, trust involves a sort of cosplay of historical conflicts. They put on elaborate rhetorical superhero costumes, and fight mock-epic battles with Nazis, fascists, “patriarchs,” slave-owners, George III, and the like. Because it’s only a game, no one gets seriously hurt – but nothing ever gets settled, either. Eventually, the young cosplayers must put away their costumes, take one last sip of Kombucha, and set off, seething with repressed virtue, to make money in the world as it really is.’

Roger Sandall from ‘Guardianship: The Utopia Of The New Class‘ finishes with:

One remembers Weber’s epitaph for the Protestant Ethic, as he contemplated a devitalised bourgeoisie spiritlessly tending the petrified mechanism their ancestors had raised. Adapted, without apology, it might also be used to depict that petrified Utopia of the New Ruling classes of the East.

Weber:

‘Rulers without honour, administrators without heart, priests without conviction, this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilisation never before achieved.’

Just thought I’d Throw This In There:

An interesting take from Slate Star Codex-‘The APA Meeting: A Photo-Essay:’

There’s a popular narrative that drug companies have stolen the soul of psychiatry. That they’ve reduced everything to chemical imbalances. The people who talk about this usually go on to argue that the true causes of mental illness are capitalism and racism. Have doctors forgotten that the real solution isn’t a pill, but structural change that challenges the systems of exploitation and domination that create suffering in the first place?

No. Nobody has forgotten that. Because the third thing you notice at the American Psychiatric Association meeting is that everyone is very, very woke.

This reminds me of a poem by Robert Pinsky, entitled ‘Essay On Psychiatrists’

V. Physical Comparison With Professors And Others

Pink and a bit soft-bodied, with a somewhat jazzy
Middle-class bathing suit and sandy sideburns, to me
He looked from the back like one more professor.

And from the front, too—the boyish, unformed carriage
Which foreigners always note in American men, combined
As in a professor with that liberal, quizzical,

Articulate gaze so unlike the more focused, more
Tolerant expression worn by a man of action (surgeon,
Salesman, athlete). On closer inspection was there,

Perhaps, a self-satisfied benign air, a too studied
Gentleness toward the child whose hand he held loosely?
Absurd to speculate; but then—the woman saw something

Maintaining a healthy skepticism:

Previous ‘elite’ links on this site, arriving at some yet predictable, unrealized truths: Via Marginal Revolution via American Affairs: ‘The Western Elite From A Chinese Perspective:’

Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility

Two Kinds Of Elite Cities in America?

There are people with careers writing about elites, becoming somewhat elite themselves, which haven’t fared too well

The Top Ten Reasons You Should Read This Post-Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Lazy Journalists Aren’t To Blame For Death Of Print’

Full piece here.

McArdle:

‘No, I don’t think that our problem is that our productivity as content producers isn’t growing fast enough; it’s that print media’s value as ad distributors is falling faster than their writing productivity is growing. Baumol’s cost disease may be a problem for other industries, but for print, the problem is simply that costs cannot fall fast enough to cope with the declining value of our ads.’

As Charlie Martin pointed out, a lot of this is really just a numbers game to capitalize and monetize new technology:

‘Does that mean there’s no market for news? Certainly not, any more than the fact that reality TV is ad supported means that there’s no market for reality TV. But when Google can sell a better targeted ad for 0.00001 the cost per targeted reader, the on-paper business model is not going to survive. People who want to do news are going to need to find a model that works.’

Outlets like Gawker and Buzzfeed are finding success, generating massive traffic, and can grow longer-form journalism should they choose.  Whatever you may think of their content, these sites have found ways to capitalize and monetize the latest trends, memes and opinion.   Advertisers follow eyeballs so the entire market can be affected.

Naturally, people working in media and/or working to have influence in media have always been dependent upon technology for their relevance, so they’d better stay competitive.  Obviously, news-gathering institutions have always relied on a certain amount of sensationalism and celebrity-worship.

Yet, who’s going to fund informed, experienced, sourced journalism that takes time and money to produce?

I find myself thinking more like a populist these days:  I’d rather pay for good journalism and acts of journalism myself than have a nationalized news outlet or a few congealed outlets at the top like the days of yore.  Quixotic?  Maybe, but the quality and kind of journalism we have can very much depend on how we vote with our dollars.

For what, if anything, are you willing to pay?

Would you pay every time you read a good piece?

Would you subscribe and then forget about it for a year, never quite getting around to canceling your subscription?

Interesting reads: Nieman Journalism Lab has a neat history.  Also, if you’re getting tired of virality: Viral Journalism And The Vally Of Ambiguity.

Here’s a photo of the First Amendment on the Newseum’s facade:

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

From The Atlantic: “Information May Want To Be Free. But Not Journalism”..Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? 

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’

Repost-From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

Full article here. (Once archived, it won’t be (F)ree)

Gladwell argues that “Free” is a kind of utopian vision, or at least as it appears in Chris Anderson’s new book:  “Free:  The Future of a Radical Price”   What’s being overlooked is the cost of actually gathering news and information, and the infrastructure required to do so:

“This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors—that if you change the fuel you change the whole system.”

Yet, aside from this utopianism, should we go so far as to have the law step in…protecting news-gathering organizations to some degree?

Gladwell finishes with:

“The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws”

It’s still up in the air.

See Also:  Walter Isaacson’s piece in Time a while back:  “How To Save Your Newspaper,” that is, if it isn’t already a shell of it’s former self.

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

From The Economist: ‘No News Isn’t Good News’Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

See Also On This Site: Posner makes the case for some legal copyright intervention: From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers? The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard