All posts by bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.

The web at 30: Apple’s place in history | Jason Snell

It seems so pedestrian today, but in 1993 the web browser was a revelation. The internet back then, for the few of us who were on it, was basically a wash of text. Services like Gopher let you move around the internet with hyperlinks, but it was basically plain text and arrow keys and long menus of options.

Then all of a sudden, I’m sitting on my couch in an apartment at UC Berkeley and there are pictures coming up on the screen of my PowerBook 160. (They were in grayscale because the PowerBook’s screen didn’t support color, but still—they were pictures.) There were underlined hyperlinks you could click on to go to other pages. It was, even by the standards of a couple years later, unbelievably primitive—but also fundamentally recognizable as the web. The internet was never, ever the same.
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My favorite tech writer, Jason Snell, reflects on three decades of the internet.

Behold the Demon: Nietzsche as Destroyer ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In his mockingly titled autobiography and final published work, Ecce Homo (1886), Friedrich Nietzsche presented himself as the prophet of modernity. His father a Lutheran pastor, Nietzsche rejected all that he had inherited in terms of faith at age twelve and dedicated himself to destroying the morality and ethics of Judaism and Christianity. As any Catholic knows, especially during the Lenten season, “Ecce homo” comes from Pontius Pilate’s presentation of a brutalized, bloody, and tortured Jesus to the bloodthirsty crowds of Jerusalem. “Behold the man,” Pilate stated.

No one should underestimate Nietzsche’s own vision of himself with the title. Intellectually brutalized, bloodied, and tortured, the nineteenth-century philosopher presented himself—in his final and last words to a world he wanted to overthrow. Behold the man. To be more accurate, behold the demon. To be sure, the man could write, the man could think, and the man could tell a great story. But, he was also descending into madness, and it is difficult—even for those who love Nietzsche—to know if one should take him seriously or not in the autobiography. His hubris is so over the top at times, that even his greatest supporters cringe when trying to give this book context.
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Establishment hates Tucker Carlson, loves Max Boot

The outrage is always fake, always selectively applied, and always intended to destroy. It is never sincere. Apologizing only makes it worse, which is why it was heartening to hear Carlson insist he would never “express the usual ritual contrition” (an excellent choice of words).
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I’m not a Carlson fan. Indeed, I think he comes across as an ass, but Tom is dead right about the sudden outrage.

Our love affair with ebooks is over

There are a few reasons why ebook sales have been declining over the past four years. They doubled in price, when publishers gained control over pricing, instead of Amazon or Kobo charging their own. You cannot loan an ebook to a friend and cannot resell an ebook, once you have finished it. Lots of people have embraced Overdrive, and are borrowing ebooks from the public library. In 2018 65 different library systems each loaned out more than one million ebooks in the space of a year; one system, Harris County Public Library in Texas, loaned out more than two million ebooks.
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Why True Conservatism Means Anarchy | The American Conservative

First, let’s reflect on the nature of conservatism. Its master theoretician remains Russell Kirk, the founder of post-war American conservatism. I am fond of this Kirk quote: “The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.”

Thus conservatism is really a habit of mind or orientation of sentiment. It is a way of thinking about man, society, and the relationship between the two. It has much more to say about how we treat these topics than what we say about them. It would be wrong to conclude that any position can be conservative so long as it is theorized in the “right” way. But it nonetheless remains true that conservatism is primarily a modifier, an adjective. This is why the phrase “conservative liberal” need not be a contradiction in terms. In fact, many of the greatest thinkers in the conservative tradition—Acton, Tocqueville, even Burke himself—are best classified under this label.
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Conflicted But Redeemed: James Como’s Life of C.S Lewis ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Lewis was, as Dr. Como so correctly notes, always his own man, and his own forceful actions toward colleagues, friends, family, and students—tended to attract or repulse those around him, with little middle ground for neutrals. Those who loved him, loved him dearly. Those who despised, despised him just as dearly. Dr. Como brilliant explains Lewis’s playful and deep love of myth, his extraordinary charity (quite similar to that of Russell Kirk), his normalization of the genre of science fiction, his rather complex and sometimes downright bizarre relations with women, and his vast reading of every possible book. The latter, especially, matters to Lewis’s own writings, as many of his articles and books are really gothic autobiographical reflections of his readings (again, quite similar to that of Russell Kirk).
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