Why do you read us? Here’s why we write.

Summary: Since November 2007 readers of the FM website have made 5.6 million page views on our 3,000+ posts, to which people have made 37,000 comments. The FM website has become an extensively cross-indexed machine on which one can find information and forecasts on a wide range of political and geopolitical subjects (see the right-side menu bar). It’s time to ask “why bother?”

Listening

The FM website contains a wide range of content. Much of this is journalism, in-depth investigation of topics lightly or poorly covered by the news media. That includes large subjects such as climate change, events such as this year’s Ebola and the 2009 Swine Flu epidemics, and narrow stories such as the 2010 Raymond Davis affair and last year’s fear of a super monster El Nino. We also do analysis of large-scale trends, such as our mad foreign empire — and its associated wars — and the 3rd industrial revolution now beginning.

But the FM website differs from other informational websites, which usually have a fixed political perspective but no obvious goal.

Consider Naked Capitalism. It provides a daily list of links to interesting stories plus articles giving long-form analysis. But what’s their goal? The About Page says N.C. is “an effort to promote critical thinking.” Since it provides a carefully filtered diet of information comfortable to Leftists, I doubt that it does so.

I’ve read N.C. daily for years (imo it’s a must-read). My best guess is that it provides entertainment for American’s version of the outer party, middle-rank functionaries in our corporate, government, non-profit, and academic bureaucracies. We read it and feel informed, giving us a feeling of vicarious participants. That’s an oxymoron, as we ‘re powerless participants. We have become subjects, not citizens.

Forecasting

Here you’ll find information and insights that challenge both Left and Right (see both sides squeal in the comments), with the goal of encouraging readers to participate in our politics — at any level, in any way — and help us regain control of America (20% of our readers are outside the US). Most posts end with some kind of exhortation or message. Fifty posts (so far) discuss ways to organize and help reform America; although these get few hits (after all, our disinterest in working our political machinery is our greatest problem).

Learn about the FM website’s politics here.

We’ve done very well if evaluated by the accuracy of our journalism and predictions: see the correct ones and the misses. We’ve done poorly as measured by the growth in our audience: our peak year was 2009 with 2,900/day (1.1 million total), and we’re doing 2,800/day now — publishing twice a day. Perhaps we should write the posts differently.  Should we add humor or sex? Make them shorter or more dramatic?

We’ve done badly as measured by our impact: I doubt we’ve influenced many people — and perhaps influenced none.

My guess about major weakness is that we don’t belong to any of America’s tribes, and so have no natural audience. Americans run like trains on rails (trains for the Left, the Right, Greens, the religious, the Libertarians, the techies, etc). Here we hold up large signs for the people on the trains to read. It’s not an effective mode of communication.

Complaints, Comments, and complements

Please tell us in the comments how you think we’re doing. What do you like? Dislike? Your suggestions for improvements in our content are especially valuable (there’s little we can do about the software). Also, if you like our work, consider hitting the tip jar (on the right-side menu bar).

For More Information about the FM website

40 thoughts on “Why do you read us? Here’s why we write.

  1. My guess is pretty much the same as yours regarding the apparent lack of views. I think America has become much more polarized over the last 6 years. And most folks are only interested in confirming their beliefs. Examining them, honestly, can be painful. So my guess is that at one time or another folks have seen something they disagree with and just never returned, never mind the 6 prior things they agreed with.
    Myself? I appreciate that I am led to new information. And that there are at least a few people who are open minded enough to examine and discuss the issues, without name calling.

    I also appreciate the archives, and links. Quite helpful when I am playing devils advocate with either the right or the left.
    Keep up the good work.

    Hopefully we can find enough like minded folks to create some change. Both politically and policy wise.

    1. Doug,

      “So my guess is that at one time or another folks have seen something they disagree with and just never returned”

      We can see this process at work on Twitter. A large fraction of people do not want to see information that challenges their beliefs. When I send a tweet about politics — Left or Right — I see an immediate flurry of “unfollows”. This happens even in response to tweets about news and facts (without opinions or analysis).

      We see this in different form in comments, when people give rebuttals by saying that’s from {someone on the other side} and therefore a priori incorrect. It’s from Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, so wrong. It’s from an MIT physist who has theories I dislike, and so he’s wrong. Etc, etc.

  2. Just speaking for myself, since you changed to the twice-a-day format, your writing has become more incisive, your examination of subjects more in-depth, and your general discussion more pointed and focused. Since the move to the 2-per-day format you’ve done an excellent job of assembling a “big picture” view of America using individual stories like stones in a mosaic.
    Alas, that “big picture” view proves a rude shock to Americans accustomed to hearing the mainstream media sing their praises.
    My guess as to why you’re not more popular is that you refuse to flatter and coddle your audience. If you were to assure readers that they, the American people, are the greatest people in the greatest nation on earth®, the wisest and most wonderful society in history™, the apex of civilization and the flower of humanity©, you’d undoubtedly get a million hits per day. Pundits would lavish praise upon you and Nobel laureates would rink toasts to your wisdom.
    But when you describe America’s policies as “mad” and “daft,” this raises uncomfortable questions. How can a wise and noble and peerlessly magnificent American people consistently vote for crazy policies? The only reasonable answer is that the peerlessly magnificent American people might not be so peerless or so magnificent.
    In short, you’re not going along with the mainstream American political and news-media message. Namely, that all is for the best in this best of all possible American worlds in 2015, and all we need is some slight tinkering around the edges of our unpseakably marvelous American military and health-care and economic system (the greatest in the world™ and the most magnificent in history©!) to make everything hunky-dory, peachy-keen and absolutely perfect.

  3. I am from Pakistan and read the FM web page on almost a daily basis; I read to make sense of many of the things that you write about.
    All nations tend to be Panglossian in their self portrayal & that is where the threat to diversity comes from. If states are Panglossian then that would make their narratives as truisms and circular. Your website allows me to better encapsulate what happens around in the US and its influence around the world.

  4. FM, I find most of your articles to be of great use but not in the way you intend.

    As you could derive from my pen name, I have very little use for the standard effluvia of the mainstream media and wander the outer ranges of political and scientific thought in this country, always looking for the way forward. I engage conversations with people who can teach me new things and show me new viewpoints. I’ve been conversing with you for a long time and have still not finished learning new things.

    Like you, I have found the increasingly frequent misuse of science and facts in the public discourse to be a cause for considerable alarm but very few agree with me. Basing policy or widely held public values on bad science or obviously flawed theories is both extremely dangerous and increasingly common. Coming here and getting a dose of well-researched articles and well-considered opinions is like finding a small but very clean oasis in the middle of an increasingly harsh desert.

    I know your goals (you state them in the banner that I glance at every time I read an article) and I admire your conviction and purpose but I think the war for America’s soul has been lost before it has been begun. The Second Republic is dead and the American Empire (which still wears the Republic’s clothes and thinks of itself as the republic but is not) has taken its place. All we lack is for Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon or Augustus to take his rightful place at the head of the state and we inch closer to that moment every day.

    So why continue this work? Because, as you have noted, we live in a time of wonders (which is somewhat worse than the Chinese curse about interesting times). The purpose for which you built this website may have been lost, but that does not mean that it cannot be adapted to new purposes. The way back is closed to us, the walls of current events press upon us, and the way forward is shrouded in mystery and possibilities; some quite dark and some more hopeful.

    I have said many times that this blog should be required reading for leaders and I think it is; for tomorrow’s leaders. The American Empire had the power to destroy the Republic from within but it lacks just about everything needed to lead our people effectively into the future. Its shadowy leaders were united in their dislike for the Republic and its complex web of restrictions on their power, but they are divided about what is best for this country’s future.

    The majority of the Empire’s leaders seem to think that the amazing power of this country shields them from the damage they do here and overseas. And it will, for a time. But they squander opportunities at every turn, they throw away lives and our reputation, and they grind down everything that made this country what it was 50 years ago. They are increasingly disconnected from reality, making more and more forceful blows, trying to shape reality to their will, but that is madness. This is a classic example of the “Tactics of Mistake” and reality WILL have the final say when our leaders make the final critical error in judgment and tip us over the edge.

    Somebody needs to pick up the pieces when that moment comes and forge the Third Republic. These new leaders need to understand the mistakes in the design of the Second Republic and learn how the Empire overcame the Republic. They need to know the people of the 21st century and find better ways to connect them to the state; to make this a better government of the people, by the people, and for the people. They need the wisdom and balance in this world that the founding fathers had and lead our people to it.

    This website cannot do all of those things by itself but it is an excellent starting point.

    1. Pluto,

      “the Second Republic is dead and the American Empire”

      Please read “Forecast: Death of the American Constitution” posted on 4 July 2006. It’s the most important of the 3,000 on this website. Conclusion:

      Our Constitution is just an idea inherited from the founders. We created it, and its death will give us the experience to do better with the next version.

      We are America. We are strong because of our ability to act together, to produce and follow leaders. We are strong due to our openness to other cultures and ability to assimilate their best aspects. We are strong due to our ability to adapt to new circumstances, to roll with defeat and carry on.

      We will be what we want to be. The coming years will reveal what that is.

    2. Pluto
      A very penetrating comment, I like your analysis. But how will one get the leaders with the sensitivity required to lead a militaristic society, that believes in using force & robotic weapons to keep the world at bay. Such an approach has led to chaos in many countries that has lead the US in the continuous use of its legions to clear the consequence of previous mistaken policies (Iraq, Libya leading to creation of ISIS). Perhaps peace lies in nurturing traditional societies the world over that lead to creation of greater social cohesion.

    3. Khalid,

      “But how will one get the leaders with the sensitivity required to lead a militaristic society”

      I think that’s an unrealistic expectation. Germany was fortunate to get Bismarck, someone reluctant to make full use of its military machinery. That was a fluke, and the next generation were more typical of the leaders it was likely to produce. And so it is for America.

      Hence my long-standing recommendation that reform in America starts with us, not with hopes for better leaders.

  5. What do you call science’s laughable 99% certainty? 34 years of ZERO climate action but Biden says it’s as proven as gravity. This was liberalism’s Iraq War!

    1. Meme,

      I don’t understand your comment. How is this relevant to this post? What are you attempting to say.

      “What do you call science’s laughable 99% certainty?”

      The consensus is stated by the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I: “It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.” Several studies have verified that this is the consensus (see Climate scientists speak to us. What is their consensus opinion?). It’s a statement about the past, supported by a large body of research. Of course, that does not guarantee that it’s correct.

      “34 years of ZERO climate action”
      There has been little or no warming of the atmosphere since roughly 1998-2000 (depending on the dataset used). There was rapid warming in the previous 14 years, so that statement is incorrect (if that’s what you mean by “action”).

      “but Biden says it’s as proven as gravity.”

      If you get your information about science from politicians, then you’re going to hear a lot of very weird stuff.

  6. FM,
    As times go by it is the wealthy oligarchy in US and elsewhere who dominate policy making. Does independent policy making occur in the US or are particularistic policies adopted to satisfy rich contributors to party funds. Secondly, how much independence does an ordinary citizen really have when he is manipulated by clever advertisement & lobbying?
    I really doubt whether we will see policies laid out for the general good. As return to capital increase we are headed towards a fragmentation of society composed of the very rich and the general population that can be classified as poor.

    1. Khalid,

      “how much independence does an ordinary citizen really have when he is manipulated by clever advertisement & lobbying?”

      I don’t know what you mean by “lobbying” the ordinary citizen, but we are manipulated by advertising to some degree. But to a large degree that’s a choice. To believe that we’re puppets of Madison Avenue not only is analytically false (it’s one of the most studied social science questions, for obvious reasons) but if true would negate the premise of democracy.

      “As times go by it is the wealthy oligarchy in US and elsewhere who dominate policy making.”

      The political machinery bequeathed us by the Founders remains idle but powerful. This is not a police state, with rigged elections and limitations on speech. That the oligarchy dominates policy making is a choice, with that power given them by our passivity and apathy. It’s our choice.

      To frame the issue as you do is surrender. Voluntary surrender, dressed up to make it look inevitable. It is the most common view expressed in these discussions, which is of course why the Republic is in such peril.

      I really doubt whether we will see policies laid out for the general good. As return to capital increase we are headed towards a fragmentation of society composed of the very rich and the general population that can be classified as poor.

  7. FM,
    By ‘lobbying’ I mean the strangle-hold of big money and corporate interests through election funding and special interest lobbying. Although, I agree that democracy remains meaningful yet it is to be seen whether the space for it is not circumvented by exclusion of the poor and the colored. For the latter I refer to the recent indictment of Ferguson police by the Justice Deptt – I wonder if democracy will become the preserve of the WASP only in the future?

    1. Khalid,

      “By ‘lobbying’ I mean the strangle-hold of big money and corporate interests through election funding and special interest lobbying.”

      That’s not a definition of lobbying, but it’s a useful one — describing an exercise of influence beyond advertising that has no common name!

      “the space for it is not circumvented by exclusion of the poor and the colored.”

      We have to be clear what is happening. American democracy has seldom given space to the poor and the colored. Including them would be progress. The regression we’re seeing is to lows below our average, to lows seldom seen in American (on a national level) — and perhaps beyond.

      The Founders were clear that self-government was a “right” but neither free nor a gift. Like most of the other things in life it has to be fought for in each new generation. We’re not doing so. In the comments on the FM website we see why.

  8. FM,
    I wonder if you didn’t have more readers in 2009 than presently because many people saw a way forward in 2009 and wanted ideas. A lot of common people had put in the work required under the old republican rules to ‘reignite the spirit of a nation gone cold,’ only to discover in the course of that year and the few following that no such thing was going to happen.

    I work in politics and it is only beginning to become clear to me now how very dead the Republic is, and how hydra-headed the Empire has become. I guess that makes me a slow learner, without question in part owing to residual tribalism. I came here because of the recent series of essays on reforming the military. Having slowly recognized the signal interference caused by the chaff thrown in the air by the leadership of my tribe, it is now more difficult to piss me off than it was a few years ago with information that doesn’t confirm my biases.

    I think a lot of people on the left are still in a depression, slowly realizing that Obama really is just another professional striver and that the Republicans and Dixiecrats had very little to do with his utter failure to do anything better than put a bipartisan sheen on the destruction of the Republic and its Constitution.
    TS

    1. Thaddeus,

      About Obama. I do not believe that Obama’s personal characteristics made much different. His administration was shaped by structural forces. Their effect was visible in the Clinton Administration (e.g., deregulation of the banks), more strongly in the Obama administration, and will be stronger yet in the Hillary Administration. I described this process after the 2012 elections. The GOP has moved to the Right. The Democratic Party has moved to Right to occupy the center-right space vacated. That seemed a logical trade, abandoning their core constituency to gain the far larger center. It hasn’t worked well for them.

      See these posts explaining:

      As for the larger audience in 2009, there’s a story there. I can explain if anyone is interested.

  9. I have been a reader for the last couple of years, the appeal of your blog to me is exactly the fact that it achieves balance by eschewing philosophical biases. Opinions are taken, much of the time on a case by case basis.

    More importantly there is a genuine effort to avoid the propaganda that passes for journalism and analysis these days.

    We do live is a really interesting bubble where the ultimate narcissism of the left and right are being supplanted by the most perverted of all narcissisms — that of the self. The shortest line between a metaphysical entry point of the navel and an exit is……

    Also to be applauded is the blog’s consistent efforts at rigor of thought and fact, long since vanished elsewhere. Sadly, the lack of traction is in it’s own perverse way, a compliment. Nuff said

  10. Dear Editor: (Can’t find a way to nest a reply to the reply to my comment)

    I think we are going to disagree on the structural nature of Obama’s non-performance. The last time the Wall Street speculators crashed the world economy, Roosevelt ran on a platform of austerity. But he didn’t keep to his promise. He used the emergency to force a repair of a broken system. This approach was available to Obama and Wall Street expected it. Obama never tried. He had a brief window to steer the Democratic Party in a different direction and attack the economic royalists, but he used it to demonstrate his utter fealty to a broken system. Since then, he has been trapped, but it is a trap of his own devise.

    TS

    1. Thaddeus,

      I don’t believe you understand what I said. I don’t disagree with what you said, but rather that you attribute this outcome to Obama’s personal characteristics. IMO it’s structural, and almost certainly would have occurred if Hillary had won in 2008. In fact, given Hillary’s advisers in 2008 (and today) I cannot imagine why you would believe otherwise — since they’re mostly the same people who de-regulated the system (the initial steps setting up the crash).

      I suspect that if Hillary wins you will have another lesson in the structural basis of these trends.

    2. Maybe we are disagreeing on the meaning of “structural.” To me “structural” as you are using it means inevitable; zero degrees of freedom of agency; the unterbau determining everything that happens in the oberbau.

      I assert that although there were and are powerful structural constraints in American society and the Democratic Party, Obama had the freedom to do something about Wall Street and chose not to use it. Roosevelt had similar (although not the same) structural constraints with some degree of freedom and did choose to break free from them. The fact that Hillary would have chosen the same or a similar course as Obama did does not change that for me. She was a known entity, which is why she lost the nomination: Democratic primary voters knew what she was likely to do and rejected it. Obama was not, which is a major reason why he won the nomination and election.

      By the way, in my opinion, Obama not having used his narrow chance at freedom has narrowed any chance at democratic-republican reform to a near nullity.

    3. Thaddeus,

      (1) “Obama had the freedom to do something about Wall Street and chose not to use it. Roosevelt had similar (although not the same) structural constraints with some degree of freedom and did choose to break free from them.”

      That’s missing the point. Obama was selected to do certain things, and did them. If he might have made the choice you prefer, he would not have been nominated by the Democratic Party. That’s how structural or institutional forces work. Comparing 2008 with 1932 is a bit off. The Great Depression was a global event threatening to destabilize the developed nations (and did so in several).

      2008 was not remotely of the same magnitude. A more accurate comparison is the economic and financial events of 1929 vs 2008. Those were similar, but events diverged afterwards. The western governments did almost everything wrong in 1929-1932, but — having learned — did things much better in 2008-2010, hence no depression. As I frequently wrote in 2010-2013, successful first aid reduced the pressure for deeper treatment. “Perhaps the least expected result is that the stimulus programs greatly reduced pressure for substantial reforms. We had the Great Recession but no New Deal.

      (2) “To me “structural” as you are using it means inevitable; zero degrees of freedom of agency; the unterbau determining everything that happens in the oberbau.”

      (a) Definition of “structural”: “of or relating to the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of a complex whole.” As contrasted with “personal” factors, relating to the specific individual who holds the office. I said that the same outcome would probably have occurred if Hillary won in 2008 because the overall structure of the Democratic Party and the Washington DC culture (or institutions) were geared to bank-friendly — more broadly, to 1%-friendly — policies.

      (b) As for “structural as you using it means inevitable”, that’s the exact opposite of what I believe — and have said so many times on the FM website.

      “Nothing is written.”
      — Lawrence of Arabia, in the 1962 film.

      “Choice. The problem is choice.”
      ―-Neo in “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003).

  11. FM,

    In January 2009, Obama already had the nomination and the election. Like FDR, he had made the right promises to the right people during the nomination and election processes in order to succeed. But so what? Those processes were complete and institutional leverage – both within and beyond the Democratic Party – over what Obama did and said were temporarily low. Democrats in Congress were awed by his mandate and would have gone along if he had pushed for serious reform. I was there running one of those offices. Wall Street expected it and was braced for it. Voters expected it and voted for it. He had two years to bring about sufficient change to get a renewed and strengthened mandate from the voters to defy institutional pressures which would again become extremely important at the next election.

    Call the choice to reward Wall Street rather than reform it, and the choices of Wall Street insiders Geithner and Summers rather than campaign adviser Robert Reich to help set policy “structural” if you wish. Perhaps it is easy to say now that the world economy wasn’t threatened in 2008-2009 as it was in 1929-1932. That was not clear at the time, and I’m not certain it was true. There was considerable institutional pressure – the practical application of structural constraint – on Obama as there had been on FDR to make choices that favored the favored few, but the choices were his. Obama chose to keep his promises to the bankers. FDR did not. It seems clear to me that Obama’s choice to knuckle under to, and FDR’s to defy, the bankers were based upon the personal characteristics and choices of each man. If those personal characteristics and choices are “structural” in your mind, that’s OK with me.

    TS

  12. I enjoy the articles and perspective that you bring daily, thank you.

    I live in the southern tip of African and this gives me a unique perspective from which I view the US. You view a society that is losing its fervour, a nation that has grown cold in spirit. Bickering politicians, corrupt officials and one sided press. You mourn the loss of military success and the industrial military complex’s hold over the purse strings.

    From my perspective much of what you write about is very relevant and hits the nail on the head but when you live in a “civilised’’ country like South Africa and you can see the theft of public funds where crony bribery and outright wastage of resources while the poor starve you realise that the problems you face are the same as the ones that confront us. It is merely a matter of scale and intensity.

    Africa today is the US tomorrow unless you do something about it. Recognising the problem is half the story. Being able to look at the root cause behind the problem is the next challenge and that is not being addressed in your articles. The US was made great by men that had nothing but willpower, morality and ethics. Africa has more resources than it needs, the Arabs are sitting on a bucket full of oil but moral depravity and an absence of the will to work bind them both to the wheel of warfare and corruption. The begging bowl is constantly thrust at the US and they doff the cap to democracy but decade after decade nothing gets done. We laugh when Obama does a tour round the Middle East spreading democracy because we know that in his wake chaos follows. If he preaches democracy in Libya, Syria, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia war will follow him.

    At the heart of the problem in Africa, the Middle East is a lack of moral integrity and fortitude, ethics and will. You are addressing the start of the rot in the USA.

    Uncomfortable as it is you are going to have to recognise that there is a connection between Christianity and particularly protestant puritan Christian values and the ascendency of the US.

    Political correctness forces the avoidance of many issues but the essence of the problem remains the same and the longer the fundamentals are left unaddressed the worse it gets. ‘Bitching’ about the climate and the partisan pork barrelling politicians will get a load off your chest but… You want to ‘re-ignite the spirit of the nation grown cold’: Deal with the core, the fundamental in the spirit because the physical follows the spirit and out of the spirit flows the moral, ethical and the will to change. From this will flow a desire for the good of the nation denying greed and lies resulting in self-serving petty partisan politics. Logical?

  13. There are a number of things unique to the website, such as:
    1) an adult discussion about global warming/ climate change.
    2) the deceleration of true innovation in science and engineering.
    3) the evolution of the Empire (before it was commonly referred to as such).
    4) long-term demographics
    5) emphasis on not giving up- most of the constitutional machinery is still there.

  14. It’s been commented on before but I’ll re-emphasize: you make readers uncomfortable. They’re much happier watching SportsCenter and Dancing With The Stars.

    The Government-1% Complex has done a fine job of convincing the citizens that it’s a waste of time to try to participate in politics, which baffles and bores them, as evidenced by their demanding candidates address “the issues,” as if that were actually the criterion that they base their voting decisions on (if they bothered to vote). In the meantime, they seem to be fine with politicians at all levels of government picking their pockets of a combined 45% of income and giving it to well-heeled co-conspirators (after taking a generous cut, of course).

    Shush, stop waking them up!

    BTW, I’d like to see more articles on immigration, lawful and unlawful. That’ll really rile things up.

    1. ArmsMerchant,

      I have an offer to write an investment newsletter. I told them that right now I have mostly questions, and most of what I write tells readers that what they “know” is false — and that uncertainty rules. I was told, correctly, that this is box office poison.

      People want to hear that events have meaning and can be understood. Telling them neither is true at present is unacceptable.

  15. Just recently discovered your blog (either from Rivero’s What Really Happened or Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism links to), and I like the variety of topics. The links are helpful. But a lot of times, your writing is too sparse. There is not enough of a writer’s view there. There is no there there. I’m frequently left saying “Where’s the rest [of your article]?” after reading one of your articles. This is in contrast to the overly long film criticisms you share on your sight. Those film critiques are so long that they often lose their focus and devolve into ennui. I seldom finish reading any of your shares regarding film criticism, though they do start out promisingly.

    Add more of yourself to your writing. Your point of view. I wonder why you don’t, but I have an idea….

    1. Stephen,

      Great questions! Nobody has asked these before. If you have a moment, please explain what more you’d like to see. Now for the background, that might explain…

      “a lot of times your writing is too sparse.”

      Think of these posts as chapters in a book, or episodes in a 1930s Hollywood serial (e.g., Buck Rogers). They run about 1,000 words (very long by web standards; the average dwell time of a visitor is ~2 minutes), but each gives only a dot of analysis given the complexity of the topics covered. So each topic is covered in pieces. Often formally in a series of posts, with the other chapters listed. And always other posts on this topic are shown in the For More Information section.

      “There is not enough of a writer’s view there.”

      As mentioned in this post, the FM website is didactic — structured around a series of forecasts, with a single message for readers. That’s its point of view. Everything either supports that or is excess baggage. The FM website is an engine, not a medium of self-expression.

      Re: film reviews

      Locke Peterseim writes like he writes (I’m no Hemingway, & so not one to criticize). We’re lucky to have him! I’ve long wanted to broaden the audience with some reviews of American culture. I know too little to do this, and “consume” too little film and music for a weekly review (I bought Taylor Swift’s “1989”, my first new music in months. Review: it’s great!).

    2. Since you read Naked Capitalism you know that their average word content is 3 times yours. That’s because not the average reader reads them. Just as with you. We’re not average interenet readers. We dwell. So should you. In your writings. Write more.

      As for the film critic: write less. I’m a film editor. In every review of his I’ve read I’d cut the last act out entirely. So the last fourth: the part were he, every time, goes off in still another direction. More focus.

    3. Stephen,

      I greatly appreciate your feedback. It’s always good to see how reads see the FM operation! You might be correct about these things. I’d need to know more about the stats at Naked Capitalism before drawing comparative conclusions. A few details.

      (1) NK has 4 articles posted: lengths of 1,000 words, 1,600 , 2,000, and 2,200 words. So ours at 1,000 – 1,500 (ex LP’s reviews) are not grossly smaller.

      (2) The NK links pages get immense volume. This morning NK posted 49 links. We’ve gotton 800 referrals from one of those. That’s big (perspective: a link from The Instapundit would generate thousands). But what traffic do their articles get? They’re long, and mostly written for a specialized audience. My guess is that they get a fraction of the hits of the morning links page. Long specialized articles like those when posted here — with our smaller audience — would get ~300 hits (vs the 1,000 1st week of a typical post); not worth the effort to write.

      (3) The short dwell numbers are similar to those of other other websites that have Sitemeters posted (NK doesn’t). That supports my impression from reading comments (37 thousand to date): only a fraction of readers read the full post when it’s over ~500 words. I suspect they read the opening, then accelerate as they read — quickly starting to skim until the conclusion.

      I wonder how much most people can absorb in one reading, especially with the non-consensus content served here. My guess is *not much.* Also, longer articles would be fewer articles (we’re doing 2x per day because I’m currently unemployed, setting up a consulting shop).

      All of those suggest that feeding our message in 1,000 word blocks — as done by authors from Dickens to Robert Heinlein — is the best way to go.

      P.S.: I have no influence on Locke Peterseim. Seven years as an editor has taught me to avoid advice to writers unless vital (Don’t get us sued!) or they ask for advice. They never ask.

    4. When I worked for a small college newspaper, my editor told me to limit my pieces to no more than 300 words. She was right, as are you. People don’t dwell on long articles, especially on the internet. And I am no different when it comes to NC articles: depending on the writer’s style & the topic, I’ll read along for a bit and then start skipping down or scanning down. Guess it’s the nature of the internet (reading from screens) and the nature of human beings (easily distracted).

      Thanks for your replies. I can see you have thoroughly researched the stats. However, you asked for comment, and I gave you a “gut feeling” reply: often when I read FB (Fabius Maximus), I am left wanting more than just well-researched links or linkbacks to previous pieces on FB. Not sure if what I miss is more info or more opinion. Just is.

      Keep up the good work.

    5. Stephen,

      I greatly appreciate your detailed comments! This level of feedback is rare, and valuable.

      When you would like more detail, do you find the For More Information section useful? It’s a lot of work to provide, and I wonder if it’s used much.

    6. Since my impression is that there is too little written, your links are a compelling invitation to find more detail. However, the nature of blog writing and blog architecture can sometimes make your voluminous links somewhat of a wild goose chase.

      I like wild goose chases most of the time: I learn new things all the time when going off the track I had started on. I can sincerely say that some of my forays into your links has opened my mind (e.g., the countervailing scientific narrative on climate instability).

      Your site is an interesting experiment for the mind: not so dramatic, so not so compelling, but just original enough to subvert whatever it is that mind might be thinking. Carry on.

    7. Stephen,

      That’s useful to know. I’ll need to think about the FMI structure; it shouldn’t be a wild goose chase. It would be better to integrate these links into the article, but time usually precludes this (these take too many hours to write as it is).

      That’s an interesting observation about “drama”. I’d like this to be dramatic, but prioritize accuracy (usually the enemy of drama). There have been some dramatic moments — such as my summer and fall coverage of the crash (ahead of the pack). More often we debunk the current drama — as in the posts about the Ebola hysteria.

      The core focus of this post is about the great dramatic stories of our time: our mad wars, the death of the Republic, the end of the post-WWII era, the rise of women over men, climate change. Your comment suggests that I’m writing about these wrong, not adequately highlighting the scale and power of these trends reshaping our world. They’re like glaciers approaching. They tower over our little buildings, but move so slowly we think they’re mountains.

Leave a Reply