The following are the top 10 books for January – March 2013 as identified by the readers of Selfish Citizenship.
- The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope by John A. Allison
- American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964 by William Manchester
- The Head of Athena (The Cyrus Skeen Series) by Edward Cline
- Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Empire, 1767-1821. Vol. 1 by Robert V. Remini
- Truman and MacArthur: Policy, Politics, and the Hunger for Honor and Renown by Michael D. Pearlman
- Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson & His Time) by Dumas Malone
- Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea by C. Bradley Thompson
- Black & White World III by Cox & Forkum
- The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H. W. Brands
- The Aristotle Adventure: A Guide to the Greek, Arabic, & Latin Scholars Who Transmitted Aristotle’s Logic to the Renaissance by Burgess Laughlin
What are you reading? Tell us in a comment.
The top 10 posts on Selfish Citizenship for that period were:
- Obama Attacks Free Speech Again
- A Tale of Two Homeless Men
- Obama Using Accounting Cheat to Hide $761.5 Billion in Deficit Spending
- Obama Plans More Rapes (a satire)
- Obama is the Wiz, a Pretender President
- Question #6: Why is altruism bad?
- IRS’ 401k Early Withdrawal Penalties vs. Americans in Reality
- Chewing an Echo of What Passes for Thought on ObamaCare
- George Washington’s First State of the Union Address
- Dakota Meyer (Medal of Honor Recipient, Afghanistan) and the State of Our Military
The top 10 posts on Selfish Citizenship in 2012 were:
- Open Letter to Gary Johnson
- On Foreign Policy, American Founders vs. Ron Paul
- 6 Causes of India’s Mega-Blackout, Lessons for US
- Bipartisan Deal – Status Quo Continuing Resolution for FY 2013
- Top Three Reasons to Vote Obama for President
- Top Three Reasons to Vote Romney for President
- Angry Libertarians
- Cannibal Culture
- Not an Emergency, but a Suicide Attempt
- The Last Goode Democrat
I am trying something new using something old to attract some additional traffic to my new political blog.
I have an existing subscriber base on a YouTube channel, where I have not been active recently. So this morning, I created a 60 second video commercial for my political blog to upload to that existing YouTube channel.
The ad has three purposes:
- Try to convert some of those YouTube subscribers to the blog,
- Serve as a no additional cost commercial on YouTube for the blog by leveraging YouTube’s internal search and related videos traffic to attract new eyes, and
- Become a video element on the blog’s sidebar to increase conversions from referral and search traffic into subscribers.
From Mixergy, an interview podcast featuring lessons learned from successful entrepreneurs, I understand that YouTube videos are one of the most successful methods for attracting traffic that will convert. In addition, one of the ads often running at the beginning of Mixergy interviews touts the A/B tested benefit of video embedded on a site for increasing conversions.
I created it as a draft quality piece because something is better than nothing and I can polish after testing with the draft. For the script, I just took the content from my blog’s About page and abbreviated it down to identifying the problem and the solution plus a call to action.
While I would have liked to get the video down to 30 seconds, I am pleased enough with the 60 seconds run time given the length of my typical You Tube videos. For my narrated part, I had to speak at about twice my normal (aka slow) rate to get the commercial down to a minute.
Given that selfishness is part of the branding for the blog, the commercial starts with a short video of Obama saying “You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness.”
If you have tried something like this, what lessons learned do you have?
Search traffic to my new blog has NOT been happening. Yesterday, I was surprised when I started getting search hits from Bing and Yahoo on the term “FY 2013 Continuing Resolution”. This was exciting because: (1) I was seeing search referrals, (2) I had just posted the piece in the morning, and (3) I found that it had the #1 position for those terms on those search engines. Meanwhile, I was nowhere for those terms on Google.
While I think about search engine optimization (SEO) as something that I ought to think to do, I don’t really try to study the best practices and apply them when I edit, if I edit a post. But this difference in search position in Bing, Yahoo, and Google raised my curiosity, are headlines really much more important to Bing and Yahoo for search results? While Google is bigger, what if I did something small as a test to target these other search engines? I might actually get more search referrals just by putting a little more thought into my post titles; just as I had been testing with my posts to Reddit.
According to Adam Bauthues, I am actually seeing Bing credit the keywords in my post’s URL, which is auto generated by WordPress to match my headline.
Included in a post full of blog writing tips, Annabel Candy shared some specific ways to write better headlines, which really focus on the theme of making headlines more useful and informative for potential readers considering your post from a long list of other options…be explicit about your post’s value to them.
She also recommends breaking up a long post with subheading to make the post easier for readers to scan quickly and highlight the value available by reading all that text. I do recall a solicitation for SEO consulting services that shared the tip that such subheadings, using header tags in HTML, increase the visibility of our writing on search engines.
I have noticed that successful channels on YouTube often change the headline for their videos, which I assume is to increase visibility and attractiveness. Have you tried changing your headline on posts with disappointment traffic? If so, what did you find from your effort?
In doing an autopsy on my least successful posts in attracting traffic, I have tested them by gauging general interest for the topic using simple Google searches, or getting metrics for those ideas using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool. In addition to identifying alternative terms with better metrics, I have sometimes found that there was not much interest in those ideas. Do you perform any such testing either before or after you post? If so, what did you learn?
Personally, I am going to give a bit more thought to my post headlines and test the results. It is a small first step that is not too difficult to implement.
Starting a new blog focused on politics, I decided to try reddit as a source to kickstart some traffic. As reddit referrals are now 50% of my traffic, I think that the experiment has had a successful start, so let me share some of my lessons learned.
- Self-promoting blog content on reddit is easy and without significant friction.
- The reddit post title attracts the interest as that is what the users primarily will see, so experiment and test.
- Reddit’s system for voting and comments are used actively and provide insightful metrics when feedback is not being left on a new blog.
- Older evergreen blog posts that are not attracting traffic can be resurrected with a reddit post.
- Subreddits are great for doing segmentation testing as you can target specific communities and tailor titles to that community.
- Posting the same post to different subreddits on different days can keep posts active overtime and allow for easy differentiation of traffic from different subreddits for results tracking.
- Subreddits have their own personalities and can sometimes respond differently than their name would suggest.
- Controversy resulting from matching a post with a subreddit can help traffic to your site even if it is not helping your link karma. Highly recommended.
- Reddit offers a good opportunity to reach new potential readers from outside your usual circles of communication.
If you have not been using Reddit to promote your own blog content, using the above lessons learned, I have a suggestion for how to start with a test using the traffic stats already tracked for your blog.
- Start by picking seven of your posts that you think deserve more eyes. In doing so, do not ignore older posts that still have timely information.
- Brainstorm types of people that you think would be interested in each specific post.
- Use the search feature on reddit to find subreddits that are a community for those types of people.
- Throughout the week, submit links for your posts to various subreddits and track the results using your own blog’s traffic stats.
- At the end of the week, review your own lessons learned and plan how you could use reddit to promote your blog content.
You can check out reddit’s FAQ for how-to details.
If you try this experiment, please share your own lessons learned.
On this Independence Day, consider the virtue of independence in your own personal life.
“Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it—that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life—that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.” – “Galt’s Speech,” p. 128; via Lexicon.
In that context, including your life, and in light of the present conditions within the United States, listen again to The Declaration of Independence, and in particular the violations of individual rights committed by the English King.
Reposted from Selfish Citizenship
Now, that I can discuss Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent publication without the punctuation of salty expletives, I thought that I would share a few initial thoughts.
I’m not surprised that the individual mandate was ruled to be a tax as I recall that description of it going back before ObamaCare’s passage; however, I am shocked that it was viewed to be constitutional as a tax. Frankly, Roberts’ ill formed opinion has declared deuces wild with the Congress’ tax power.
I made a list of legislative obscenities that the ruling would permit under the doctrine of misnaming them a tax. After posting several to Facebook as a test, I found the following to get the most reaction, so I will repeat it:
“I observe that the House Republican reaction to the ObamaCare decision could be to impose a federal financial penalty on all single parents and call it a tax, while hailing federally mandated marriage as a cure to social ills. Justice Roberts and the four court libs would uphold this abuse of the tax power.”
This is not an arbitrary assertion as it is founded in Republican talking points about promoting two parent families as a cure to all sorts of social dysfunctions that increase social welfare costs for the government. Previously, Congress would authorize tax benefits for those that both paid taxes and lived congressionally approved lifestyles; now, Justice Roberts has rubberstamped the Congress punishing, without due process of law and other essential constitutional right guarantees, those who make life choices different than the preferences of the Congress-of-the-moment without regard to constitutional limits upon congressional powers.
Imagine what could be considered necessary and proper for the collection of this federally mandated marriage tax. For example, all single males could be required to provide DNA to the government to prove that they do not owe a tax for having unknowingly co-created the fatherless child of an unmarried mother.
While I could go on and on about specific legislative abominations violating individual rights through Chief Justice Roberts’ expansive view of the tax power, I don’t want to give the vile Republicans too many ideas; so, let me focus on key understandings that should limit Congress’ tax power.
Before the ruling, I had drafted some thoughts on voluntary government financing versus problems under the current federal tax system. The purpose of a tax is to raise revenue to pay for legitimate government expenses. In that context, Congress has already been abusing its tax power to, amongst other issues: (1) punish successful Americans for the crime of being financial successful, while depriving them of the constitutional rights of the accused, and (2) expanding the domain of the federal government beyond its specific constitutional limits as if the tax power gave the federal government general police powers to nudge individual behavior.
This opinion by Roberts’ affirmed those abuses, while explicitly endorsing without court scrutiny, an expanded use of punitive taxes to nudge Americans into compliance with majority opinion; for example: would a congressional afterlife insurance mandate upon atheists be subject to strict scrutiny or not according to Roberts, who apparently failed to think his opinion through? Roberts’ opinion is a total assault upon individual rights and President Thomas Jefferson’s view that the federal courts should protect individuals from government trampling upon their individual rights.
For those currently reflexively lambasting Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, they should consider the consequences if he had ruled correctly on the limits upon Congress’ tax power. There are many popular tax deductions and credits that would be correctly ruled unconstitutional as a dangerous expansion of the congressional policy domain. While I think that Chief Justice Roberts should have had the integrity to rule in favor of limited congressional authority, Roberts is probably aware that he is too much of an unprincipled coward to have done so. Ask yourself, do you have the integrity to impose limits upon transient majority opinion using tax policy to violate individual rights with a nudge?
Extra Point: Fictional future Congressman Eric Cartman has declared that “soulless Gingers should be penalized with a punitive federal tax,” if they fail to dye their red hair into compliance with the judgment of others. Chief Justice Roberts and the four liberal justices of the Supreme Court agree that this tax would be constitutional.
This year’s Republican nomination process was interesting, because the candidates who contested through the process represented distinct ideological perspectives. Thus, they are proxies for the relative strength of contesting ideas within the Republican Party.
The ability of candidates with these clear distinctions to maintain the contest as long as they did may be attributed to an increase in protection of free speech rights from the Citizens United decision (see post “Super PACs: Shedding the Bad Rap” by Ray La Raja on Riding the Tiger).
In order of their relative electoral strength, the candidates and their ideas were as follows:
Mitt Romney, the victor, is the standard bearer for pragmatic stewardship, which is the dominate ideology of the Republican Party.
Rick Santorum evangelized for the religion right. His electoral failure demonstrates the weakness of the theocrat faction. For all their huffing and puffing, they are a minority within the party.
Newt Gingrich’s government reform platform expressed the agenda of the neoconservatives. Republicans proclaimed him the candidate of ideas, and most Republicans don’t like ideas.
Ron Paul was followed by the ‘libertarians’. While I disagree that Ron Paul is an advocate for freedom and limited government, his mistaken and passionate supporters label him so. Based upon his supporters’ narrative, Paul’s showing demonstrates the electoral weakness of advocates of limited government within the Republican ranks.
A relevant mention is merited for Rick Perry, who championed the neoconfederates and was quickly booted from contention by the party of Lincoln.
Given the results on the primaries and caucuses, the Republicans have demonstrated themselves to be primarily a pragmatic party, not a conservative party. This supports my frequent contention that those that complain loudest about RINOs as not really Republicans, but they hope that they can pretend to be the dominate voice in the party without being challenged for their fraud.
Because pragmatists oppose principles on principles, Romney’s policies will be implanted in his mind by those who do express ideas. The changes brought into being during his potential Administration will be big government reforms from the neoconservatives, who will give empty promises that big government will be changed into better big government. Meanwhile, the religious right will be thrown sufficient policy concessions to keep them obedient within the Republican coalition. However, those that advocate limited government will be given rhetoric without implementing policies.
For an examination of the neoconservatives as the ideological bastard love children of Leon Trotsky and Plato, I recommend C. Bradley Thompson’s book Neoconservativism: An Obituary for an Idea.
Listening to a Mixergy’s interview with Gabriel Machuret of InternetNinja, his reference to the Time Doctor application caused me to reface the fact that I spend too much time unproductively on Facebook. I am not saying that Facebook is unproductive, because I find a lot of rich value in it. Yet, I had not been using it efficiently and effectively.
For me, the newsfeed is an unwieldy beast that hides more than it shows. Previously, I had tried organizing my friends into “circle like” lists, but that did not work for me as some list still hid more than they showed.
So the other night, I decided to take a decidedly selfish approach to organizing my list of friends based upon their individual value to me.
Repurposing the First Things First approach to tasks, I assigned each of my Facebook friends to one of four lists: A, B, C, and Newbies. When I assigned a friend to a list, I removed them from my newsfeed, so that I would eliminate duplication. For my convenience, I added each of these lists to by Favorites list on Facebook.
The A list contains friends from whom I did not want to miss a single post. Not only would these get more of my time, attention, and responses, but these were the ones that I wanted to hear from first.
The B list contains friends from whom it was import to me to see each day. While I would not want to miss any of their posts, in the context of everything else, I would be less diligent and timely than the A listers. I found that this resulted in a list of Facebook friends that I valued highly and wanted to consciously enhance our relationship.
The C list (yes, I think mainframe whenever I reference that) contains friends whom are more acquaintances…I know them, enjoy them, and could become closer to them if I find more value in our interactions. These include people I knew pre-Facebook (but would probably not be seeing without it), and individuals with whom I had some interaction and who I met through Facebook, YouTube, or other online interactions. It is a list of developing and yet unrealized opportunity.
The Newbies are individuals who invited me to Facebook friendship and with whom I shared important values, but I do not really interact with them. After segregating my friends, I found that the newsfeed had previously given these friends an oversized share of by attention. While I could simply unfriend them, I would then lose the value that I was finding with them. By being discriminating with them, I can also be discriminating with my time, attention, and priorities.
Experimenting with this for a few day, I have found: (1) I could focus on the posts that are more important to me, (2) I get through all of my friends’ posts without limiting it to a cursory effort, and (3) I could enjoy interacting on Facebook instead of reducing it to a slog.
If you would like to try this experiment for yourself, as you go through your regular newsfeed process, start assigning friends to the A, B, C, and Newbie lists, then remove them from your newsfeed. To do so within the newsfeed, (1) put your cursor over your friend’s name, (2) put your cursor within the popup over the “Friend” button, and (3) use the resulting list box to change list assignments. I expect that you will find that by being discriminating according to your values that you will be able to make your friends on Facebook the priority that they deserve to be.
In my life, there are been three suicides that have been personally meaningful to me. While each offered particular evidence and insights regarding life, in sum they communicated life lessons to be heeded.
First, when I was about 10, my close relative committed a suicide most heinous. In the moment, and with the aid of reflection and hindsight, my first experience with another’s death reflected poorly upon the philosophy of Christianity, and religion in general. By her own confession, a belief in a false alternate supernatural dimension caused her to destroy actual life in actual reality, because she held the erroneous premise of a better alternate reality on the other side of death. The revealed truths of her faith denied this abandoned wife of an adulterous husband the divorce needed to restart her life, and effectively made her guilty and punished for his sin. While she was destitute, indebted, and abandoned, the charitable institutions of her hypocritical congregation and faith turned their backs upon her and denied her aid, promised by their moral code, because of their contempt for her family’s prior good fortune.
This case sensitized me to the plight of abandoned, or otherwise abused, wives and children who require legal protections of their individual rights…which did not exist then as they do today.
In the second case, Argentine Dr. Rene Favaloro, who had performed the world’s first heart bypass operation in 1967, committed suicide during a collapse of the Argentine economy and the financial failure of his own clinic. Incensed by the suicide of a once tremendous achiever, I translated articles from Spanish to learn more about the cause of his death. For a full summary of my finding, see my YT video couplet on my autopsy of Dr. Favaloro, which has been surprisingly popular in Argentina. Cutting to the conclusion, I found that Favaloro was complicit in the economic collapse that led to his suicide, which was caused by his own altruism—literally otherism, or the moral doctrine of putting the welfare of strangers before that of yourself and those that you love. By Favaloro’s own confession, which was published in the American Heart Association’s cardiatric journal Circulation, it was his college that taught him the false altruistic ethical principles that led to his suicide and the economic collapse of his country.
From Dr. Favaloro’s suicide, I committed myself for my our selfish satisfaction to going back to school to finish my degree, to being more of an intellectual activist as a requirement of my life, and eventually to abandon my substantial contribution to financing higher education in the United States prior to our recent economic free fall.
The third case, which was particularly jarring to me, was the suicide of historian Iris Chang. Perhaps, you know her from her books The Thread of the Silkworm, The Rape of Nanking, and The Chinese in America. The abuse and death threats that she suffered from Japanese ultranationalists, over her exposing Japan’s WWII atrocities in China, demonstrated that she was a woman of admirable courage and integrity. Frankly, if you have not read The Rape of Nanking, you cannot appreciate this woman’s capacity for facing the brutal facts of reality, no matter how utterly horrific; but to suggest a small taste, I will point to her reporting the Japanese having organized and official competitions to determine which of their soldiers could chop off the most heads of defenseless Chinese civilians with a sword. Frankly, compared to the Japanese atrocities that she reported, the current crop of Muslim terrorists are pikers. Her last and unfinished project was interviewing the brutalized survivors of the Bataan death march.
Reportedly, she suffered from serious mental health issues at the time of her suicide; however, my takeaway from her experience was the need to break away from a continuous focus on evil so as to appreciate the good in life. At that time, of her death, I was already low from focusing on my study of incentive system within terrorist organizations (the topic of my thesis for a more effective counterterrorism strategy) and dealing with what I euphemistically called a “domestic terrorism” situation. Recognizing the danger of focusing too much on evil, the weekend after her death, I went to the Corcoran Gallery to see Daniel Chester French’s sculpture “Immortal Love” to get fuel for my soul; art as a selective representation of reality and experiencing one’s struggles successfully achieved before they have been actually realized in reality.
In total, what lessons do these three suicides contribute? Most importantly, life is a choice, and an affirmative one that I recommend to those NOT painfully suffering from irreversible terminal, or totally debilitating, illnesses. Secondarily, those that commit suicide have negative fallout on those at they care about that is less significant than the positive contributions made by their lives. Third, by choice, including the correction of false ideas, individuals, who see life as helpless, can change their lives for the better over time without death.
I choose life. If you are thinking about choosing your own death, please consider re-evaluation for your own selfish sake, including your selfish consideration for those whom you love. You have resources: friends and family who want to help, and who value you. This is the only life that you get and in this country even that which seems impossible in a dark moment may be resolved by your choice and conscious effort over time so that you can pursue your own purpose and achieve your values.
Finally, ideas and philosophy are critical in human life and adhering to false ones leads directly to death, so be introspective and conscious of the ideas/philosophies that you have chosen to guide your life.