Archive for the ‘Metablogging’ Category

For socialism and democracy

April 17th, 2018 98 comments

As I mentioned a while ago, in the years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve described my political perspective as “social-democratic”. In earlier years, I mostly used “democratic socialist”. My reason for the switch was that, in a market liberal/neoliberal era, the term “socialist” had become a statement of aspiration without any concrete meaning or any serious prospect of realisation. By contrast, “social democracy” represented the Keynesian welfare state I was defending against market liberal “reform”.

In the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, things have changed. Socialism still describes an aspiration, rather than a concrete political program, but an aspiration to a better society is what we need now as a positive response to the evident failure of neoliberalism.

On the other side of the ledger, nominally social democratic parties nearly all failed the test of the crisis, accepting to a greater or lesser degree to the politics of austerity. Some, like PASOK in Greece, have paid the price in full. Others, like Labor in Australia, are finally showing some spine. In practice, though, social democracy has come to stand, at best, for technocratic managerialism, and at worst for capitulation to the demands of financial capital.

So, I’ve changed the description of this blog’s perspective to socialist. I haven’t however, adopted the formulation “democratic socialist” which was used, in the 20th century, to emphasise a rejection of the Stalinist claim to have produced “actually existing socialism” in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. That’s no longer necessary.

As has been true for most of the history of the modern world, the only serious threat to democracy is now coming from the right. So, it’s important to defend democracy as well as advancing the case for socialism.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Welcome to mailing list subscribers

May 18th, 2017 12 comments

Here’s the letter I’ve sent to (I hope!) everyone who’s signed up for my mailing list.

Hi everyone,
I’ve now received more than 60 requests to join the mailing list, so I thought I would send a quick note to everyone thanking them for their requests and the kind words many of you have added. I’ll be checking for messages that bounce and I’ll also post on my blog and social media pages so that people who miss out can tell me about it.
My plan at this stage is to send the email once a week on Mondays. I’ll include links to blog posts and tweets, and I have a few other ideas to try out. I’m also open to suggestions, as long as they don’t involve too much work. If you have suggestions, go to my blog and post them there, once I’ve put this message up.
Best wishes

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Mailing list

May 14th, 2017 4 comments

At the suggestion of Hall Greenland, I’m planning to start a weekly email, with links to stuff I’ve written, and odd bits of news. If anyone would like to receive it, please email me at [email protected]

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Open thread

January 5th, 2017 12 comments

An open thread until I get around to posting again.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Second thoughts

August 6th, 2016 29 comments

In a recent post, here and on Crooked Timber, I remarked on the fact that hardly any self-described climate sceptics had revised their views in response to the recent years of record-breaking global temperatures. Defending his fellow “sceptics”, Crooked Timber commenter Cassander wrote

When’s the last time you changed your mind as a result of the evidence? It’s not something people do very often.

I’m tempted by the one-word response “Derp“. But the dangers of holding to a position regardless of the evidence are particularly severe for academics approaching emeritus age[1]. So, I gave the question a bit of thought.

Here are three issues on which I’ve changed my mind over different periods

* Central planning
* War and the use of violence in politics
* The best response to climate change
Read more…

Categories: Environment, Metablogging, World Events Tags:

Last of the Mohicans

July 18th, 2016 15 comments

I started this blog about 14 years ago in mid-2002, when the world of the Internet was young. On a whim, I thought I’d look at the Wayback Machine which archived the site (then hosted on Blogspot) in July 2002. Amazingly, some of the links still work, and some of the posts are still relevant today. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone on the blogroll is still going as an independent blogger. I’ve been a bit slow lately, but it looks as though I’m the last of my kind.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:


June 23rd, 2016 15 comments

A few updates on recent posts.

1. In my post on a better way of collecting fines, I linked to a paywalled article in the Australian Journal of Public Administration which I wrote with Bruce Chapman and others. Wiley (publishers of AJPA) got in touch and kindly arranged to make the article available free of charge. I had some trouble with the enhanced PDF version, but the basic one worked fine for me.

2. Hours after complaining about the conventional wisdom a Coalition win as a foregone conclusion I found a piece by Mark Kenny finally making the point that the evidence against this claim has been in plain view for weeks.

3. I was a bit disappointed by the discussion of my post on Labor and the Greens. Most of it consisted of arguments about the relative merits of the two parties, predominantly but not exclusively favoring the Greens (as I mostly do). The question for Greens supporters (and Labor supporters for that matter) is not whether their party is better but whether they regard the differences as being so great as to justify doing deals, implicit or otherwise, with the LNP. To my mind, at least, this would require identifying at least some major policy issues on which the LNP is preferable to the other left party.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Video autoplay: a question and an answer

December 5th, 2015 8 comments

Video autoplay, regularly described as one of the most hated features of the Internet, seems to be becoming more common. It’s unsurprising that sites should autoplay ads: that’s how they earn the money they need to serve. But news sites seem to have started autoplaying videos of inane commentary on the stories that they publish. Typically, they take a while to load, so I am usually halfway down the page when the computer starts blaring TV commentary.

Question: Why do news sites do this ? Surely it will just drive readers away, while people who want video will presumably go to sites that provide nothing else.
Answer: For the moment, at least I don’t care, since I have found a way to block them. At least for the moment, and at least for Flash, it seems to be working.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:


October 23rd, 2015 32 comments

Former Minister Eric Abetz was in the Oz the other day, complaining that

How often, for example, have I had to put up with the tag of ‘religious Right’ or ‘far Right’, whereas you hardly ever hear it of the ‘religious Left’ or the ‘irreligious Left’ or the ‘far Left’ or the ‘extreme Left’ when talking about the Australian Greens or vast elements of the Australian Labor Party,

That reminded me that I needed to update my testimonial list with one from Michael Stutchbury, then at the Oz. It’s appropriately placed on the far right of the page.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Second test of threading

February 16th, 2015 26 comments

OK, threading still doesn’t seem to work. See what you think of the other tweak (100 comments, first page shwon first)

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Monday Message Board (test of threading)

February 16th, 2015 79 comments

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m going to switch on threaded comments. If it works you can try it out here. I’m not sure what will happen to older posts.

Also, I’ve tweaked the settings to show 100 comments at a time, and to begin at the beginning, rather than showing the last page first.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Threaded comments?

February 15th, 2015 18 comments

Going through my settings in an attempt to block sockpuppet posts from a banned commenter (you know who you are, Mel!), I discovered that the WordPress setup now offers the option of threaded comments. Given the frequency of long debates between a handful of commenters, I think it’s an appealing choice, but I thought I would throw it open for discussion first.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Consequentialist arguments for deontological positions

December 31st, 2014 50 comments

Thinking about various interchanges on the Internetz, a great many have the frustrating property that, while they appear to be couched in consequentialist terms, some or all of the participants are defending claims that they actually hold for deontological reasons[^1]. For example, a follower of Pythagoras (who, apocryphally, forbade the eating of beans) might appear in a discussion about beans and claim that we shouldn’t eat beans because
* they cause flatulence
* bean production is environmentally destructive
* the bean industry is dominated by exploitative multinationals
The problem for someone seeking to counter these arguments is that, even if they are all refuted, the Pythagorean will not agree that it is OK to eat beans.
Read more…

Categories: Metablogging, Philosophy Tags:

My dear Mr Quiggan …

October 6th, 2014 42 comments

… so begins this comment on a recent thread. I don’t have to read any further to know that the subsequent comment will be both hostile and silly.[^1]

My surname is mis-spelt fairly often, reasonably enough in the case of people who’ve only heard it and have to guess at the unstressed vowel. But it happens surprisingly often when all that is needed is to transcribe the text in front of them.

Likewise, I occasionally get people addressing me as “Mr” because they feel the need for a title and choose the default.

Neither, by themselves guarantees hostility and stupidity. But in ten years of blogging, I’ve never seen an exception to the rule that together, they imply exactly that.

Is this just me? Do other bloggers and commenters find that particular forms of address predict the content of comments? And, if so, which ones?

Read more…

Categories: Metablogging Tags:


August 17th, 2014 9 comments

Over at Crooked Timber, Chris Bertram has just put up the 10000th post. Checking my own stats, I’ve put up over 5000 posts, and the site has had more than 150 000 comments (not counting spam). Go over to CT and say Hi!

Categories: Metablogging Tags:


June 6th, 2014 58 comments

I’m travelling, which explains the total absence of recent activity. I hope to resume posting soon, but probably on a limited basis for some time. In the meantime, please keep it civil and constructive.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Bahnisch is back!

May 14th, 2014 24 comments

I missed the memo, but Mark Bahnisch, formerly of Larvatus Prodeo is back, at the (much more sensibly named) New Social Democrat. Not posting often, but I still have a lot of reading to catch up on. This, on the Budget and the crisis of Australia’s political class, is superb.

Categories: Metablogging, Oz Politics Tags:

Farewell, again to Larvatus Prodeo

January 1st, 2014 83 comments

After returning for the election year, LP is closing once again. I’ll miss it. Blogs have transformed the media but, in the end, seemed to have been absorbed by more traditional forms. Feel free to contribute your thoughts on LP and the future, if any, of long-form blogs like this.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Back on air

December 29th, 2013 1 comment

I’ve had a great break. I plan to resume regular posting now, though I still have some work-related travel to come.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Back on air

September 12th, 2013 Comments off

My technical problems have vanished as mysteriously as they arrived. Thanks again to Jacques Chester who stands between me and the mixture of frustration and wonder that is WordPress. Jacques supports quite a few of the political blogs in Oz, with an admirable willingness to assist bloggers of all viewpoints.

Normal posting to resume soon. But, if you use Facebook, be sure to check out my Facebook Public Page, and share posts there if you do that kind of thing. I’m also on Twitter, with the highly creative handle @JohnQuiggin

Categories: Metablogging Tags:


September 9th, 2013 25 comments

Due to technical difficulties, there will be no more new posts until further notice. Please visit my Facebook public page for links to discussions of policy issues.

Categories: Metablogging, Site News Tags:

What I did on my holiday …

June 15th, 2013 8 comments

… from blogging.

I’ve been off-air for quite a while. First, I was travelling in Europe, mainly based in Paris, doing some joint work with colleagues there and attending conferences on decision theory. I made some good progress on my main project, on the role of unforeseen contingencies in financial crises, which hope will lead to some interesting posts in the future.

I got back a couple of weeks ago, with a week to spare before I went to the Cairns Adventure Festival, where I entered in the 70.3 (Half Ironman) event. I was the last person to finish within the stated cutoff time of 8 hours, though a few crossed the line after that. Still, I finished, which pleased me a lot given that two weeks in Paris would be suboptimal for training even if it hadn’t been wet and cold enough that I caught a nasty cold there.

That was a week ago, and I’ve been catching up on unfinished business, and planning a return to regular blogging. The state of Australian politics is so depressing that I plan to avoid the topic altogether[1], which will give me a chance to talk about some of the broader issues we face.

fn1. Let’s see if I can hold myself to this, or whether I get so annoyed I need to vent

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Off air

April 2nd, 2013 90 comments

I’ve been on holidays over Easter, and am now going completely offgrid for the rest of the week. So, no posting. Commenters, please observe extra courtesy while I’m away.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Learning from my mistakes

March 23rd, 2013 92 comments

If you engage in commentary for an extended time on any issue, but particularly on politics, you’re bound to get things wrong. In such cases, there are a few options. The most common is to double down, grasping at any straw that will justify your original claim. Another is to wait; the world is so changeable that a prediction that seemed laughably wrong at one time may turn out correct after all. But, mostly the best thing is to learn from your mistakes.

I’ve made a few mistakes, but the one that I’ve been picked up on most is my prediction, in 2007, that

The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.”

Of course, this wasn’t meant to be taken at face value. I went on immediately to say that

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

I thought the obvious solution was a merger, as in fact happened in Queensland not long afterwards. But my many friends in the Murdoch Press and the rightwing blogosphere have taken great delight in quoting the first sentence out of context. Given that the Liberals have yet to win their election, I followed the waiting strategy, waiting to see whether the turn of events (and the fact that my characterization of the Libs and Nats remains entirely accurate) might validate the prediction after all. But, after the events of the last week, I think it’s time to admit error.

What lessons should I learn from this?

First, never try to be cute on the Internetz, unless you’re a cat. I could have written a straight post suggesting a merger and it would long since have been forgotten. I knew perfectly well that Newscorp and its allies are shameless liars, and that their readers are utterly gullible (provided that what they are reading confirms their prejudices) and I handed them a stick to beat me with. I’ll avoid paradox in future.

Second, never underestimate the capacity of the Labor Party for suicidal stupidity. At the time I wrote the post, Labor seemed safe for two or more terms everywhere but NSW. Instead we saw
* WA Premier Carpenter revoke the ban on dealings with Brian Burke, leading to immediate disaster
* Privatisation campaigns in both NSW and Queensland
* The dumping of Nathan Rees (NSW Labor’s last hope) in favor of Tripodi-Obeid puppet Kristina Keneally
and, most disastrously of all,
* The coup against Kevin Rudd. The march of folly has continued to the very end, with a majority of the Parliamentary Party confirming, for the second time, that they would rather give Tony Abbott control of both houses of Parliament, and, in many cases, lose their own seats, than break with the failed leadership of Julia Gillard. The many (now former) Labor MPs in Queensland who marched straight over the electoral cliff with Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser seem to have set the pattern here

Categories: Metablogging, Oz Politics Tags:

Peace breaks out in Ozblogistan

March 17th, 2013 13 comments

Following our recent blowup, I’ve had a discussion with Sinclair Davidson at Catallaxy and we’ve agreed not to engage in personal attacks on each other[1]. I’m going to apply this to Catallaxy in general and the agreement includes comments as well as posts. I’ll leave Sinclair to implement this policy at Catallaxy, and I’m doing so here

The rules are
(1) No personal references to Catallaxy bloggers, except identifying them as the author of some piece I (or commenters) might want to respond to
(2) No general statements about Catallaxy as a blog.

I’d be willing to extend a similar non-aggression pact to Andrew Bolt and the anonymous producer of Cut-and-Paste, but without personal attacks, these blogs would have very little to publish.

I’m leaving comments open, but please remember that the policy applies as of now, so I’ll delete any discussion of Catallaxy.

fn1. I’d be willing to extend a similar agreement to Andrew Bolt but, without personal attacks, he would pretty much have to close his blog, so I can’t see that happening.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

LP is back

March 12th, 2013 7 comments

Ozblogistan has been up and down lately[1], which has distracted me from mentioning the return, for this election only, of the deservedly popular Larvatus Prodeo group blog.

fn1. Blogs are doing the same things now they did ten years ago, and have lost a fair bit of their traffic to FB and Twitter but despite spectacular reductions in storage and communications costs they seem less reliable now than then. How can this be?

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

GBS pwns IPA

March 11th, 2013 35 comments

Anyone who has been around the left of Australian (or UK) politics long enough will be aware of the Fabian Society. It’s a group that’s earnest in the way only an organization founded in the late 19th century can be. It produces carefully researched papers on topics like education funding and housing policy, invariably worthwhile, but rarely fiery.

The Society takes its name from a Roman general who achieved victory over the seemingly invincible Hannibal, by avoiding pitched battle and wearing his opponent down: the idea was that socialism should be achieved by gradual reform through democratic processes, rather than through the revolutionary approach advocated by Marxism. This gradual approach was symbolised by the adoption, as a logo, of a tortoise (or maybe turtle), drawn by Walter Crane, the leading illustrator of children’s books in the late 19th century, and a society member. And, after 100+ years, even the most optimistic Fabians would concede that, if anything, the tortoise exaggerates the pace of movement towards socialism.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, this resolutely gradualist approach, the Fabian Society has always loomed large in the demonology of the nuttier sections of the political right, appearing as some sort of cross between the Illuminati and the United Nations. Here for example is Rose Martin of the Mises Society, warning that the tortoise is now going at the pace of a freeway.

The Institute of Public Affairs is the leading Australian representative of this kind of wingnuttery[1] (although it manages to get taken seriously by surprisingly many) so it’s unsurprising to see the IPA’s Julie Novak muttering darkly at Catallaxy[2] about this “shadowy group” (she’s a bit puzzled that Julia Gillard openly declares her membership). What’s interesting is her claim, with illustration that “The logo of the Society, of a wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing, is all you need to know about how these people seek to achieve their objectives”

Huh? What happened to the tortoise? The answer it turns out, goes back to a joke played by George Bernard Shaw early in the 20th century

Read more…

One in a million, or ten

February 13th, 2013 16 comments

In a slightly unfortunate juxtaposition, LinkedIn sent me a breathless message “John congratulations! You have one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!”

immediately followed by the news that “linkedIn now has more than 200 million members”. Do the math

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Crossposts from CT

September 26th, 2012 Comments off

I’ll be putting up a bunch of posts (largely US-related) that went up on Crooked Timber while this blog was down. I won’t make explicit announcement of this unless people really want it.

Categories: Metablogging Tags:

Ten years after

June 7th, 2012 16 comments

Ten years ago, plus or minus a few days[1], I wrote my first ever blog post. There weren’t many blogs around then, and very few of those that were around have lasted long enough to celebrate a tenth birthday. In fact, I’m not sure if anyone on my original blogroll is still around (feel free to write and tell me that you’ve been blogging since 1992, and I’ve overlooked you).

Here’s my early reaction:

My blog is just about a week old, and I haven’t found the Internet this exciting since I discovered Usenet in the early 90s. Even setting up my website five years ago was not as good. Despite wildly varying ideological views, I’ve had a friendly welcome from bloggers across the board, and I’m already getting links and referrals (My return links will be up soon, I promise). It really seems as if blogs might deliver on the original promise of the Web – certainly the technology seems ideally suited for individuals and small groups, with no obvious way of scaling it up to corporate level. No doubt I’ll get jaded and disillusioned one day, but I hope it will be a long way in the future.

Camaraderie across ideological boundaries didn’t survive long. It was killed off mainly by the debate over the Iraq war. And, eventually, the corporates found a way to get in on the act, through Facebook, Twitter and media websites. although the content is still overwhelmingly supplied by individual users, rather than paid professionals. I’ve adapted to the new reality by putting posts on high-traffic media sites, but crossposting here.

Inevitably, I’m not as excited as I was in the bright dawn of blogging, and the most optimistic hopes for the medium have not been fulfilled but after ten years I’m still not jaded or badly disillusioned. For that, I have to thank my readers, especially my commenters, as well as the many fellow bloggers who’ve given me help and encouragement along the way.

Update Another ten-year veteran, Ken Parish, who dates his startup to April or May of 2002. Ken’s post reminds me that I forgot to thank various people who have helped me with hosting the site, including our current host, Jacques Chester and, way back when, Rob Corr. Thanks so much to Jacques, Rob and the various commercial and open source services I’ve sued at different times.

fn1. A series of blog moves and crash recoveries have scrambled the archives, so that I can no longer determin an exact starting date.

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