Selling out for 100 bucks?

Maybe I have done it wrong all these years. People are starting to throw money around at me now, to wit:

Hi,

My name is Bethany from (a company), the content delivery wing of (a larger company), a UK-based Internet Advertising Consultancy. I came across monoblogue.us recently and would like to inquire if we could write an article for your site.

The proposed content shall be exclusive to you. It would also include a brief citation to one of our clients, and for this, we would be happy to send $100 through PayPal as a thank you for your time.

If this is something that interests you or if you wish to see a sample of our work, please get in contact.

Still trying to chase me down on my way out the door.

So let me get this straight, Bethany. You hired some writer who’s probably not very proficient in the Queen’s English for a quarter and paid him (or her) to write an article with a link to some site that’s probably the end result of one of the seven deadly sins just to have me place it here for my dozen readers a day. Yeah, that’s a good business practice. No wonder these internet startups burn through wads of cash.

I sometimes wonder, though, if anyone ekes out a living like this. There’s no shortage of content out there and if someone was really getting paid $100 an article to post whatever dreck came their way, they would be living pretty well. So somehow I don’t think there’s $100 there, or, that’s the introductory price that comes down for whatever reason. (Sort of like the payouts did when the Examiner website was still around since that was an unsustainable model, too. When it first started the most successful could almost make a living, by the end no one was profiting, least of all people like me.)

But this is one reason that, the more I do Substack, the more I like it. Sure, right now I’m a very small-time operator who gives away his wordage for free. But there are people who do fairly well at it and I think I have a couple niche ideas that might buy me lunch once a week once I monetize it.

That’s the reason I’m going there. Losing these people who want me to post their questionable dreck is just a bonus, so to you Bethany the answer is “no, thanks.”

Not done with me yet

Even as I slowly walk out the door, those people who try and tell me what to do continue to pester me. Case in point, from a recent e-mail:

Dear business owner of monoblogue.us,

How is it possible that your website is having so many errors? Yes, most of the people share their anger and frustration once they get my email.

Now, I will show you the number of broken links, pages that returned 4XX status code upon request, images with no ALT text, pages with no meta description tag, not having an unique meta description, having too long title, etc., found in your monoblogue.us.

I have a large professional team who can fix all the above issues immediately at an affordable price. I guarantee you will see a drastic change in your Google search ranking once these are fixed.

If this is something you are interested in, then allow me to send you a no obligation audit report.

Best Regards,

Kris Macri

Guess what, Kris? You can show me whatever you want, and I couldn’t care less.

I’m sure that, over nearly 17 years, I have plenty of broken links (like the years of photos I lost) and whatever other gobbledygook you were talking about, but that comes with the territory. I write to impress readers, not Google searches.

So thanks to your “large professional team” in some Indian basement somewhere, but no thanks.

Now here’s where they tell me I can make some REAL money:

Hello monoblogue.us Team,

We would like to begin by congratulating you on maintaining a fantastic website. You are doing a great job.

We are contacting you on behalf of Blog Management, a platform that has helped process orders for more than 10,000+ publishers and website owners.

Currently, we are working with more than 47+ SEO and Digital Marketing Agencies that might be interested in placing guest posting and link-building orders on your website.

If you are interested in publishing high-quality guest posts and working with some of the best brands and agencies in the world, please respond to this email with-

Guest Posting Price & Text link insertions price

Do you accept Grey Niches- CBD, Crypto, Adult, Gambling Links?

Are there any Content Guidelines that you follow?

Thanks for your consideration,

Thanks & Regards,

Parama.

Some content mill.

Something tells me those “gray niches” are where the real coin is.

And then we have one more. This guy is persistent.

Hello ,

I see your website www.monoblogue.us and its impressive. I wonder if advertising options like guest post, ad content are available on your site?

What’s the price if we want to advertise on your site?

Note : Article must not be any mark as sponsored or advertise or like that and we can only pay by paypal.

Cheers                                                                                                  
andrew robbin

Making my website less impressive one blockquote at a time.

I think my IQ dropped two points when I read that one, Mr. English is my third language.

When I get these posts it makes me wonder just who is out there making a living on these things. Having been there once myself (“you’re doing it for the ExpOsURe!”) and knowing people are lucky if they get a penny every hundred words from these content mills, I’m half tempted to turn my website over to these guys and cash out. But my name would still be associated with it, so I’ll let them wait until the domain becomes available. (Or maybe I’ll buy a new domain just for funsies, sort of like making a mythical portfolio of the “pumpin’ and dumpin'” stocks I did once upon a time and see what kind of depressing dreck I get. Domain names aren’t that expensive. By the way, in rereading that junk fax post I remembered it had one of the best comment sections I ever had. I hit a whale of a niche that week.)

Why not? Maybe it will give me something to write about on my Substack and net me twenty bucks.

The slow walk away

This is a very difficult post to write, but write it I must.

We’re not to the end of monoblogue quite yet, but I can see it now from here. After I reread my last post, I took a deep breath, began thinking about it, and said to myself, “it’s time. My heart just isn’t in this political game anymore.”

Perhaps it was the idea that I actually linked to something I wrote nine years ago on the very subject in another state, but regardless this website has become more of a chore than a pleasure and when that happens maybe it’s time to move on. I couldn’t bear to be without it six years ago when I resigned from the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, even when I said back then, “I can see the iceberg as I’m standing on the deck of the Titanic but no one hears my warnings.”

So I tried to take another road with two lanes, which led me to writing my Rise and Fall book. It’s hard for me to believe that, three years ago this month, I was doing my reading at Pemberton Coffeehouse and embarking on a five-month, twenty-stop DIY radio tour of the nation to promote the book. Certainly it was an experience. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then and so have I. Right now, I couldn’t say if I had another book in me or not. But I think I’ve written some good stuff here, too – problem is I think it’s being ignored in our headlong rush toward tyranny and debauchery.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what I’m going to do now. I have a light-hearted post in mind that should be up next, but I think all I’m going to have left to do here is finish out the season for Shorebird of the Month, select a Shorebird of the Year, and do my picks and pans. I’m also going to do one final edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for 2021-22 – and it looks to be a doozy. The website is paid for through the first of November, and I think I’ll pay for it one more year for archival purposes. (It’s not an expensive hobby, but there are places I can average 100 readers a week for free, like social media.) But I think I’m just going to go ahead and broom the 2022 election widget since I’m not seeing that many races here in Sussex County and the candidates can promote themselves. It’s yet another chore to maintain and I don’t feel like it anymore.

I’ve always intended for writing to be my retirement, and in some ways I have succeeded: I have the paying job writing for The Patriot Post and maybe stepping away from the blog is what I need to write book number 3 – Lord knows I haven’t had much success or inspiration since Rise and Fall with all this going on. I’m really not going away, either – I’m just going to let someone else handle the back end of trying to keep a website up, constantly worrying in the back of my mind about being hacked again, and being pestered to upgrade WordPress on a daily basis. On Tuesday I set up a Substack account, so that’s where my musings and rants will go. I’m going to try and set up a twice-a-week schedule for my subscribers on a variety of subjects.

By the time I finish this endeavor, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I should have just about 5,300 posts over 17 years. It’s amazing because the only place I have worked longer than this blog is for the aforementioned Patriot Post, which I began writing for in 2003 while I was still living in Ohio.

But there is a season for everything, and I believe the time has come to make a change. Thank you for being there, and for understanding.

A blogging return

Back when I was part of a small but thriving Salisbury blogging community, one of the sites I enjoyed reading was called The Gunpowder Chronicle.

I say “Salisbury” based on where Tim Patterson grew up, not where he lived at the time he wrote the blog, up in northern Baltimore County (the “Hereford Zone”) in the basin of the Gunpowder River. But he often wrote about Salisbury affairs, and it was worthwhile reading for the three years or so that he regularly did the blog – it sort of faded from the limelight around 2010, although this internet archive shows he last posted in 2013.

So I was a little surprised to see on social media that The Gunpowder Chronicle was reborn in a different venue, Substack. Reading the initial post: yeah, he’s the same guy. (I originally typed “sane” – Freudian slip?) If I see a couple more posts in the next week I’ll place him back on the blog list he once occupied with his version 1.0 (check out this old view and see what I used to contend with.)

It also got me to thinking, though: is Substack the modern-day upscale version of Blogger? I hadn’t really heard of the site until Erick Erickson started his own Substack (after The Resurgent was bought out) but the difference is that many of those on Substack have a subscription base that pays $5 – 10 a month to read their work. (Erickson is one who I subscribe to, for the low end of the scale.) I also realized that I’m subscribed to a publication that in the process of moving, AND Magazine. They’re dropping their domained website to go to Substack because they’re worried about censorship.

So I got on the social media horn to welcome Tim back and asked why the change?

“Substack is committed to freedom of speech. I cannot say the same thing about Google/Blogspot,” he said, adding, “A secondary reason is I think the Substack model shows more promise going forward.” The former is indeed a valid concern, as Patterson also stated, “I am really unhappy with what Google has done with YouTube in terms of banning/cancelling/demonetizing people.”

On the other hand, that secondary reason does have potential for some – there weren’t many of us who properly monetized our sites when blogs were the thing, though, which is why we still have our day jobs. Longtime readers may recall I’ve had some advertisers and sponsors along the way, but they basically made my website a break-even enterprise at best. So I don’t hold out a lot of hope on that one.

All this got me to thinking, though: is it time to make a change, or expand?

In looking into Substack, it appears they deal with WordPress blogs; however, I only have a WordPress base while monoblogue is my domain. Said domain, though, is on at least its third server owner since I began with midPhase back in 2005 – they were bought out by someone who in turn was the little fish swallowed up by some other company that I believe operates out of the UK. I would love to be with a local entity but there’s not one I am aware of that would handle my site. Obviously I worry a little that my “barely left of militia” worldview may not comport with ownership but I don’t have the wherewithal to be my own server.

One answer may be to begin a Substack for the political but retain some of my features here, such as my news stories, Shorebird of the Week, its tracker, and the SotW Hall of Fame. Nothing imminent – right now it falls in my “something to pray about” file – but in this era it’s not a bad idea to have options.

In the meantime I think I’m one of Tim’s initial subscribers. Give him a look and maybe you will be too.

2021: a monoblogue year in review

As two weeks to stop the spread drags ever closer to two years, it’s time once again to review where I’ve been during the year.

My first post in January had perhaps the best first line of a year and perhaps the worst prediction. I began by saying, “From all appearances, January 6 may be a momentous day in our nation’s history, and grassroots supporters of Donald Trump will either be elated or despondent at day’s end.” But then I made the prediction, “Given that the 6th (a Wednesday) is a regular workday for D.C. and everyone else, I wouldn’t expect a major six-figure crowd there as there was for previous pro-Trump rallies.” Okay then. Upon further review, though, I still think it’s true that “if there really was an insurrection you would have had hot and cold bleeding politicians.” In that month I also had a rare guest opinion regarding Kamala Harris and shared my thoughts on becoming the loyal opposition.

What a way to begin the year, huh? I also started the second hundred of odds and ends, threw shade on my erstwhile professional organization, looked at the Gamestop stock phenomenon and asked what is truth?

It may have come out in February, when I reviewed my pleasing predictions. I also had to inform you of a new local grift as well as deal with another waste of energy and – believe it or not – more odds and ends. But the month gave those of us on the Right the sads because we lost our truth detector, a legend who finally repaid the talent he had been loaned.

I began my March by pondering the prospect of Trump fatigue, talking about some misdirection, then getting into local impact races. I then took a first look at how our state stacks up political district-wise before concluding with (you guessed it) even more odds and ends.

There was more of a Delaware focus in April as I looked at the changing of the guard in state political advocacy groups and attended one of the newbies’ local meetings, which had a heavy Second Amendment influence thanks to its location. That came in handy for a supportive 2A solution my member of Congress would never adopt, even though she should.

Then again, if Delmarva were a state she would possibly have company in Congress. I reprised a post I did in 2017 based on this cycle’s results and found we were still a purple region. Yet I found time to discuss infrastructure, too, and got myself back into practice for both the resumption of the Shorebirds season and a pictures and text post for the first time in over two years, well before the CCP virus hit us!

I began May with treatises on government dependence and fear before turning my attention to competing endorsements and disappointing results of the state’s school board elections. To make it a trifecta, our state also advanced a terrible idea – but what else is new? One thing new was a radio host with a radical thought I expanded on.

Part of my June docket had to do with the aforementioned radio host, who got some competition that ended an era in talk radio. But I brought back two things in the month: the odds and ends you breathlessly waited two months for and the Shorebirds of the Month I very, very impatiently longed to do for nearly two years.

But we also had to deal with it being pride month and with the avalanche of fake facts, for which I passed along some advice. I also talked about really fixing our Senate and announced someone wanted to fix the House – or at least represent us better – yet again, for the third straight election.

July began with a whimper and not a bang thanks to the Delaware General Assembly closing up shop a bit early, but I still did an accounting on them for this session. I also had some ideas to build up the state’s manufacturing base that led, of course, to more odds and ends. Yet after I discussed how not to be an aspiring writer, I foreshadowed an August post by discussing an upcoming event on Critical Race Theory, which eventually led off our eighth month.

It was a mellow sort of month as I looked at true lies from the opposition, dealt with a #TBT-style correction, and discussed growth in a post-growth town. I even got to do a brief rebuttal to a TEA Party critic because I put up one of my favorite post titles about beggars and hangers-on, too.

A long-neglected division of my site got a two-part update in September, but that wasn’t all. I took an updated look at the new 9/11 two decades later then, in the wake of California governor Gavin Newsom, I fantasized about the idea of a John Carney recall. And while I shockingly did more odds and ends, I had fun looking at my carbon offset and began wrapping up my Shorebirds coverage by detailing the final day and announcing my Shorebird of the Year at month’s end.

Former Trump administration official and Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson visited a local church to begin October, where we heard he was a pretty good brain surgeon, too. (A brain surgeon starting a new political organization, that is.) And once I got through my picks and pans as a Shorebird fan, I opined about a visit to the land of another potential Oval Office candidate, Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Once we returned home, there were rumblings of a pending electoral bloodbath in 2022 that had the far-left opposition worried. And before I closed the month with another edition of odds and ends I talked a lot about Patriots for Delaware, promoting and covering their Unify Delaware Festival and preliminary report on the 2020 election and voter integrity in the state. I even got one more post in November out of them thanks to the long-awaited return of Weekend of local rock.

Earlier in the month, though, we had a bellwether offyear election with (mostly) pleasing results, but the election in Delmar, Maryland was a broom that swept clean. I also began a look at redistricting I would follow on after my Thanksgiving message and Black Friday tradition.

As always, December began with my anniversary post, a sweet sixteen celebration this year. It was once again quickly followed by another tradition: the induction of a new class into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. I then pivoted quickly into a pair of thought pieces spurred by comments by the chair of the Delaware Libertarian Party before embarking on a three part series on the state’s legislative redistricting. Then I did one last odds and ends for the year before turning my scattered sights to the Pandora’s box of China, criticism of our Congressperson from her left (not much room there), a look at renewable energy, and the annual Christmas message.

That’s where I left it for another year. After a few days away I’m ready to start 2022 strong.

Digging out of the archives

This could have been saved for the next odds and ends post, but instead I decided it was a nice post for a slow time of year anyway. And, believe it or not, the information is actually useful for my blogging purposes.

This was the e-mail I received a few days ago. I couldn’t quote the whole thing because WordPress is funny about blockquoting lists, so judicious editing was applied:

Hello Michael,

I trust you and your loved ones are healthy and safe at this most unusual time.

I’m writing because you cited (a website, not the one he’s pitching for) here on Monoblogue.

(snip to excise list)

You can learn more (at a site, which I will get to.)

Do you think Monoblogue readers would find our guide helpful? If so, would you please insert a link for your readers? 

Either way, thank you for your consideration, Michael.

Best wishes,

Joel

Yes, another e-mail beseeching me to do something I may or probably don’t feel like doing. This guy was lucky.

Joel almost blew it when he laid it on oh-so-thick:

PS. (our site) was recently featured on Huffington Post & CNBC, and it’d make my day to see it on Monoblogue, too 😉

Yes, that’s his postscript.

Besides the fact that I’m being mentioned in the same breath as Huffington Post and CNBC, the reason I had to laugh was the post he cited. It’s a piece I wrote a decade ago during the 2012 presidential campaign as one of my endorsement selection posts. While this isn’t a #TBT, just for the fun of it here is what I wrote at the time about the eventual GOP nominee:

Mitt Romney shrewdly addresses energy independence in his “job creation” category. But terms like “government must be a partner,” “facilitate,” and “address market failures” don’t convince he wants a conservative, small-government solution. We see what kind of “partner” government has become, and it’s not government’s job to interfere with the market. And believing climate change is caused by mankind is a nonstarter. I’m deducting three points.

“For President 2012: Energy independence,” July 10, 2011.

At the time I was torn between endorsing Michele Bachmann and the late, great Herman Cain. Anyway, if Joel Foster is reading this, and despite the fact I appreciate his patronage of my site, I have to think he needs a hobby.

Yet in all this dross there was a little bit of gold. Joel wrote me on behalf of commodity.com, which is a little bit like another site I feature here called ammo.com – they sell a product or service, but also feature lots of reading material in their blog. And the story he pitched has an angle that concerns Delaware, thus succeeding in piquing my interest.

In it, I learned that certain states use more renewable energy than others. In fact, ultra-liberal Vermont should be proud of themselves because they receive 99.9% of their electricity from renewables. Now, before you imagine the charming fall landscape of Vermont littered with solar panels and wind turbines, it’s worth mentioning that hydroelectric generation is also counted as renewable and that’s where they receive most of that 99.9%. In fact, that’s the source for the top six states on the list, with seventh-place Iowa checking in with 59.4%, predominantly from wind. (I actually posted on situations that helped create this wind energy figure several winters ago.)

On the other hand, guess which state is at the very bottom of the list? Yep, that would be the First State, with a measly 2.5% of electricity created by renewables and the fifth-slowest growth rate in the last five years. Expressed in megawatt hours, Delaware produces the least by a factor of four behind the second-lowest generator (Rhode Island) and less than one-tenth that of the 48th ranked state in terms of production, Connecticut. Like a lot of states at the bottom, our leading contributor is biomass. (And the geniuses in Dover think they can get to some figure like 40 percent by 2035 or whenever? Dream on.)

A look at each leading source is interesting. Six states, including Delaware, have biomass as their leading renewable source, while 18 states are listed as hydroelectric, seven as solar thermal and photovoltaic, and the remaining 19 as wind. If you looked at it on a map, the Midwest is pronounced wind country, and hydroelectric rules the northwest, northeast, and Tennessee River valley. Meanwhile, solar rules the southwest and Florida but surprisingly picks off a few other states along the Atlantic coast, including New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Before I summarize the information at hand, I have a comment about the commodity.com blogsite. Unfortunately, while the blogging content on ammo.com comes primarily from a single, talented writer who works with a pro-liberty mindset like mine, a lot of what goes on commodity.com is writeups based on lists like the one I cite – a list of states and ranks in a particular area of interest, expanded to a paragraph or so on the top ten or fifteen states, including the list at the end. It’s the sort of work for which a content mill gives the article author a few dollars if he or she is lucky. (Or, even worse, they do it for “exposure.” That and five bucks will get you five bucks.) In looking at their author list, they seem to be a collection of small-time writers who may have other day jobs, or perhaps wish they did. It’s like paint-by-numbers for the written word.

As for Delaware, I guess it’s our lot to be at the bottom of the renewable list. We have too much cloudiness and haze during the year to be consistent solar producers and not enough steady wind onshore for wind energy. (Offshore wind has to be mindful of shipping lanes into Delaware Bay.) Unless we can make wattage out of chicken poop, we are basically stuck where we are – and that’s okay, because all those sources cited as renewable come in an arbitrary and capricious manner. (Hydroelectric is probably closest to reliable unless we have a severe drought.) I wouldn’t mind them doing the seismic exploration off the Delaware shore to site a couple test wells for oil or natural gas, but that’s not going to happen with our shortsighted state government insisting we depend more and more on unreliable sources of electricity. We can also see if there’s anything to having natural gas in the Delmarva Basin below us, but the anti-fracking zealots won’t allow that either.

Finally, one other interesting tidbit: at the end of the e-mail I found out this is a Delaware-based company – at least legally, since the address cited is that of Registered Agents Legal Services, LLC. It’s in an otherwise non-descript office building in the suburban area of Wilmington. Chances are their energy isn’t coming from a renewable source.

Reaching sweet sixteen

It’s gotten to the point where every year I have no idea how I did it and am amazed and thankful I’ve gotten through another one, but here we are – monoblogue’s sweet sixteenth birthday has arrived! Last Thursday I counted all my blessings for Thanksgiving, but one other one is this website because it’s enabled me to have a touchstone through the years, a journal of more than just thoughts and opinions but also occasionally of breaking news and first-hand coverage of events that may have slipped through the cracks otherwise.

And it’s a journal with a lot of entries – according to the back end of my site, where such things are accounted for, this is post number 5,225. I’m not sure if that counts or not my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame post I have publishing tomorrow but is already completed; regardless, that’s a lot of posts and words to be put up by one person who doesn’t write for too much of his living.

It’s quite apparent how my site evolved from occasional look at the political scene to daily news and commentary until I saved myself from perhaps being consumed by the monster five years ago and took the steps back from both the daily grind and the political world within about a month of each other. I kinda like where I have it now, although along the way I lost about 2/3 of my readership or more. I was looking at this the other night to document this and found that, back in 2014, I had over 70,000 visitors to this site. After the 2016 shift away from daily posts, that number dwindled to a point where 2019 featured less than 1/10 that number, averaging only about 120 visitors a week. Since I haven’t really stepped up my writing pace that much, the increase back over 30,000 this year makes me wonder if it’s counting bots and crawlers incorrectly or not – regardless, I always say that even if I have one reader who I inform or (even better) inspire to act to preserve our liberty, then I did my job.

My site’s been around long enough to make me realize it is sort of a dinosaur – you don’t see many long-form blogs anymore. As an example, a couple weeks ago I told you the story about Karen Wells, who was a blogger before she got into local politics in her town. Ousted as mayor in the most recent election, she put up a social media post revealing her intention to return to blogging along with a screenshot of her former blog from 2009 and its links – out of perhaps 15 blogs there, there are only two still operating that I’m aware of and mine is one of the two. You could say I’m a survivor and I suppose at this point I’m a lifer: I have no face for video and don’t think I can converse for a podcast in such a way to make it interesting. I like this format where I can choose my words carefully and easily edit out the mistakes before (and even sometimes after) publishing.

Another thing I have noticed over the years is that I have several different audiences. There are readers of mine who don’t care a whit about my politics, but can’t wait to see who my Shorebirds of the Month will be and speculate about who will be the next member of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. By the same token, back when I had a lot of Weekend of Local Rock posts and album reviews I had a handful who followed my site just for that stuff. Of course, I also have my “stick to the politics!” crowd, too, as that was (and is still) the bread and butter of my site. While I’m sure it didn’t do wonders for my readership because I didn’t pick a specialty, I can say that I would have never made it sixteen years any other way. The burnout on particular subjects and lack of quality writing on my part was the reason I stopped doing this daily.

So, while in past years I’ve set a number of lofty goals for myself that were (in looking back) probably unrealistic – wealth? I will likely make far more in a month as a staff writer for The Patriot Post than I’ll ever get in the tip jar here – the only real goal I have this year is to try and keep writing good stuff on an occasional basis. I still plan on doing Shorebirds of the Month for next season and will definitely keep my ear to the ground on Delaware’s political races and General Assembly. (Thanks to compiling last session’s votes, I already have a head start on the monoblogue Accountability Project for next year.) If I think about it and have the time, though, I do want to keep working on repairing the old posts where needed because the photos were missing or they were old Examiner posts that are no longer on their site. As I say, don’t let good writing go to waste and that’s part of my legacy here.

So I’m going to close this little state of the blog address by once again thanking all my readers – near or far, every time I post or just one visit to read an obscure tale – because I couldn’t have enjoyed this nearly as much without you. Remember, I only have to impact one to be a success in my eyes so everything else is gravy in that regard.

Additional developments

Last week I promised you I was going to dig into Delaware’s redistricting? Well, I have all these piles of dirt around me and yet there’s still more gold in them thar hills, so that is a series I may begin in December since this is the time of year I take care of other blog business: the annual Thanksgiving post (if I don’t decide to use a prior version), my anniversary post on December 1, and the induction post for my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2021. (I may push that back a week to December 9, depending how the others and the updating of that page go – updating it takes longer and longer as the roster of members increases each season. Because of that, the SotWHoF will likely go dark for a bit as I start this maintenance this coming weekend.) Usually I try to do this sort of housekeeping last, but then I noticed I’d been away a week and I don’t like to leave y’all hanging too long.

One thing that happened in the interim was the local election in Delmar, Maryland. It would have normally been a boring ballot in a small town except for them having the whole controversy about the on-duty killing of Delmar Police Cpl. Keith Heacook this past April. Once things calmed down a bit, that incident sparked an allegedly well-funded slate of challengers in the town election as neither of the two incumbent commissioners opted to run again; meanwhile, incumbent Mayor Karen Wells drew her own opponent as she decided to seek another term. Last Tuesday the new broom swept clean as the reformer slate won all three positions. (They were assured of winning one commission seat as just three ran for the two slots, but the slate outperformed.) So Wells, who had been Mayor since now-Delegate Carl Anderton resigned the position to represent the town in Annapolis after the 2014 election, was ousted after six-plus years in office.

While it’s a peripherally Delaware story only because of Delmar being “the town too big for one state,” the other reason I brought it up was that Wells was a blogger before she moved into public office 12 years ago. I used to link to her sites, the most recent being Off The Cuff, a site for which she apparently turned the keys over to someone else when she became an elected official. I welcome her back to the game because she’s going to provide both insight and oversight to her erstwhile constituents in Delmar.

It was rather funny as well because on social media she shared a screen shot of Off The Cuff from 2009, with a list of blogs that were “good” and “bad,” with the “bad” one being Salisbury News. I think out of the fifteen or so sites listed, mine and Salisbury News are the last two survivors. (And I’m the last one with the original author.) Maybe I’m the glutton for punishment, but it would be nice to have some of the old gang back. I miss those days of blogging.

Quick fix, simmering realizations…

Every so often I get blog feedback, and generally when I mention it I like to poke fun at it. But in this case it brought back a memory that, upon reading, could really have been written in August 2021 just as easily as it was in May of 2017.

In this case, the feedback was from an outfit that must like to check my links and suggests that I prune dead links and redirect them through their site. I appreciated their advice, but instead I found an archived link for what I needed.

But it gave me the opportunity to do a throwback Thursday on Sunday the other night when I wrote this piece. At that point in life 4 1/2 years ago I was still skeptical of a Trump administration that was just starting out while I was then working a job and a half. And it was this passage that stopped me cold:

I’m no economic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I would suspect having GDP growth exceed inflation is good, but having government spending (which is a component of GDP) increase more quickly than either is a bad sign. If you take away the government spending component the question is whether GDP growth is still ahead of inflation. Maybe it’s not.

But who profits from that? I will grant there is certain government spending that adds value: if someone in the federal DOT had the gumption to have an interstate highway built between here and I-95 by Wilmington, not only would the money create local construction jobs on Delmarva but the greater ease in access to and from points north like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia would be good for local tourism and industry by making it easier to get here and transport there.

On the other hand, simple wealth transfers from rich to poor (welfare, Medicaid) and young to old (Social Security, Medicare) don’t add much in the way of value except in the sense that their care and feeding keeps a few thousand paper-pushers employed. But they are not creating value as their wages are extracted from those dollars others earn with work that adds value like mining, manufacturing, services like architecture and construction, and so forth. (Did I mention that I’m once again a registered architect in Maryland?)

So if you know this and I know this, why is the system remaining as is? I believe more and more that there is a group of well-connected people and entities who make their fortunes by gaming the system. Instead of government being a neutral arbitrator, they seem to be putting their thumb on the scale to favor those who now participate in an ever-widening vicious cycle of dependency and rent-seeking. To me, things should be fair for everyone with equal treatment in the eyes of the law but greed and lack of respect for one’s fellow man has changed the Golden Rule to “he who has the gold, rules.”

“About my hiatus,” May 5, 2017.

And remember, I wrote this before anyone outside of a Wuhan lab had ever heard of the virus that became the CCP virus and its fourteen variants that seem to come out whenever the news is bad for the Democrats. It was a pandemic where the rich, led by Walmart and Amazon, got richer and the middle-class got pretty much wiped out by unemployment and seeing their businesses die, or both. Remind me again who determined which businesses were deemed “essential” and which were forced to close? And this doesn’t even consider stimulus packages 1-48, which have added trillions to our deficit and debt.

(Side note: I was on a roll back then with my thoughts, because the next piece just nailed health insurance. I even called Andy Harris’s margin of victory eighteen months ahead of time. I really need to write like that more often!)

So, “Ella Miller,” if you are a real person (and I’m guessing by the search engines that you are sending these out under a pseudonym), I want to thank you for bringing the dead link to my attention so I could be reminded of just how consistent I’ve been politically and how I sometimes have the spider sense working just right.

How not to be an aspiring writer

Every so often I have to feature one of these articles where either it’s people trying to tell me how to run my website or people trying to use what I built to advance their careers. This one is the latter, and I’m going to feature two recent e-mails I received. I’m not going to change the names because I suspect they are fake anyway.

Here’s e-mail number one, from Jacob Fowler. He wants to give me six months of pro bono work.

Hi there,

I’m Jacob Fowler – a freelance writer from Sydney. But I am also dealing with an issue I was hoping I could grab your advice on.

See, I’m trying to become a full-time freelance writer. It’s all I want to do with my life.

But here’s the catch…I can’t get work without experience. And I can’t get experience without work!!!!

To break free of this paradox I want to create quality, original and 100% FREE articles for your website.

Why? This way I build a portfolio and move towards my goals. More importantly for you – you get more site visitors, engagement from your audience, and improved Google rankings.

Are you happy to hear my 3 article ideas?

No pressure to say yes. No obligations to accept. Just a chance to hear what I could help you with.

Let me know

Kind regards,

Jacob Fowler

The first e-mail I received from Down Under.

In rereading this, I have an idea: start your own blog.

I have plenty of ideas already, and unfortunately my previous two regular guest columnists didn’t work out in the long run – although I would welcome them back with open arms, they seem to have moved on with life.

I remember back a decade ago when the internet was still sort of a new thing and many thousands, perhaps millions, of bloggers saw what happened to some of the initial pioneers and said, “I’d love to get in on some of that money.” Seeing the vast amount of potential content out there, certain entities began to whisper that, while they couldn’t pay people right away, working for them would “create valuable exposure” when all it did was make someone at the top wealthy – meanwhile, those who began working and managed to scratch out a bit of a living at first saw their paychecks melt away thanks to the competition of “real” outlets who already had paid writers (many of whom were eventually downsized out of a job, too.) It was always an excuse of, “well, our ad revenue didn’t meet expectations, so we have to cut back the pittance you’re already making by reducing the already-microscopic CPM payout.”

Anymore it seems to be all about marketing rather than talent, and Jacob, my friend, you have marketed up the wrong tree. And by the way, you don’t discuss what happens after six months – am I stuck buying six more articles from you at full retail price because I got ten for a penny? (People who grew up pre-1990 will get the reference, I’m sure. But it will go over Jacob’s head.)

Now let me introduce you to Natalie James.

Hi there,

I’m Natalie – a freelance ghostwriter, which means I write articles for businesses to use on their websites.

I’m reaching out to you because I’d like to write for gmail.com. You’re probably thinking, “what’s the catch?”. Well I do get something out of it.

If you let me create free articles for your site you get an SEO boost, more site traffic, and a way for your site visitors to engage with your business and hopefully drive more sales.

In return, I get to build a portfolio that will help me kickstart a full-time writing career.

You won’t need to pay me. And I won’t ever ask for money. Just a chance to do what I love – which is write.

Please shoot me an email if you’re interested in hearing more.

Kind regards,

Natalie James

This was the second e-mail. Notice how they sound similar?

I believe I laughed when I saw the part about writing for gmail.com. Natalie – if, indeed, that is your real name – let me give you free advice: proofreading is your friend.

But let’s look a little deeper into this. If Natalie really is writing articles for businesses to use on their websites, wouldn’t you think she would have pointed out some of them? I’ve applied for and acquired a number of writing jobs over the years and, to a company or website, they have asked me for samples of my work. Free or not, I don’t believe writing for my small-time website that may get 10,000 readers a year is going to do a lot to boost your portfolio.

If you really get something out of writing for free, I’m going to give you the same advice I gave Jacob: start a blog. I believe Blogspot is still around; or you can work through WordPress.com.

This site is a labor of love for me, and as such it’s not something that pays the bills. A rattle of the tip jar happens about as frequently as an earthquake around here, which is why my PayPal account is dry as a bone. (That and I stopped doing record reviews and actively seeking ads.)

Natalie told me this would be a win-win, and perhaps it was: she got a little free advice and I got some content that hopefully held the reader’s interest for a little over 900 words, my part being about 650 of them. I wish both her and Jacob luck, because they’re going to need it.

The avalanche of “fake facts”

Being a blogger of long standing, I’m quite aware of where I fall in the news ecosystem. Since my site doesn’t exist to be a news aggregation site like some others I’m familiar with, I’m not the place for news – my niche is in the opinion genre. However, I do make occasional forays into first-person reporting when I go to events which create news or promote interests that I believe should be shared for the public’s good – not as many as I once did, say, ten to twelve years ago, but there have been a few over the last couple years.

However, in working for The Patriot Post (and later, writing Rise and Fall) I learned the value of checking and verifying sources. I found out that there are some writers on the Left who still practice the craft of reasonable journalism and some on the Right who are totally partisan rah-rah hacks that deal in rumor and innuendo that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Naturally, we could switch the political sides and find examples there, too – the point is that we shouldn’t go out and live in an information silo regardless of how tempting that might be.

(My advice to people like that: unplug social media for a week or two and bring your life back to balance. There’s this Good Book a lot of people have that is worth reading in the interim.)

As most of my readers know, I came across iVoterGuide several years ago and helped them evaluate Maryland candidates in 2018. We went through a lot of factual information in grading these hopefuls on their political philosophy, so they are a pretty good guide to what they called Five Ways to Spot Fake “Facts.” Alas, it was only an e-mail and not a link so you’ll have to trust me on this long blockquote. All emphasis is in original.

*****

As someone who seeks to be accurately informed, how can you protect yourself from believing and spreading false information? And how can you consistently spot the truth amidst an abundance of error?

At iVoterGuide, this is something we think about all the time. So I wanted to share with you five practical tools our team uses to spot fake “facts.” You can use these in evaluating the flood of information and misinformation flowing into your life every day:

  1. Recognize the difference between original sources vs. news or commentary. News reports, “fact checks”, editorials, and statements made by an individual are interpretations of an original source. For example, a certain law may be described as either “suppressing voting rights” or “protecting against voter fraud”. How are the words influencing your perspective?
  2. Check original sources, if possible. These are sources referenced by the news article, commentary, or individual. In the example above, reading the original source (the law itself) will tell you what the law actually accomplishes. And if you can’t conveniently get the original, just remember you are working off of someone’s interpretation.
  3. Check and compare multiple sources of information. Contrast an individual’s statement on social media to a news report on the same subject. Compare news sources with differing perspectives. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
  4. Ask probing questions, even from sources you personally trust. For example: 
  • What makes this person/source an authority on the subject/issue?
  • What are their sources? Are they quoting eyewitness accounts, original source documents, or simply another news agency?
  • Does the evidence justify their statements? (This is very important when the author makes assumptions about a person’s motives or character.)
  • Are they accountable to anyone for their accuracy? (For example, a news reporter must comply with the journalistic standards of their news agency, in contrast to an independent blogger. However, it’s worth asking if the news agency is itself a reliable watchdog these days.)
  • Am I being presented with the whole picture/video/story? Has anything been edited out? Is a quote being taken out of context?
  • When was this written? Is the information up to date? Is it still too early to confidently know the details?
  1. Be mindful of your emotions. Even if the story or statement confirms your beliefs, it deserves an accuracy check before sharing. In opinion pieces, fundraising emails, or social media posts, both the Left and the Right can succumb to exaggerating facts in order to spur action. In addition, our fast-paced culture breeds impulsive decisions. Intentionally avoiding a reaction based in anger or fear, however, can greatly protect your integrity.

With a personal commitment to integrity and accountability to truth, you can avoid spreading falsehood and, most rewarding, discover the truth. In our present culture, those who know and spread truth are like welcome beacons of light to other truth seekers—and lighthouses to keep unwary citizens from dangerous rocks of deception.

*****

As I noted above, my little news niche comes from first-person reporting – generally in my “pictures and text” posts like my recent coverage of Patriots for Delaware or Mt. Hermon Plow Days. If there’s any gatekeeping, it comes from which photos I select or which quotes I use. Obviously I have a narrative I want to pass along in my reporting, although it’s generally dictated by the information I gather – unfortunately, sometimes I miss the best line in the remarks or the photo doesn’t come out.

But there are a lot of times that I’m the only one who bothered to cover the event, so unless you have some other first-person narrative you’re stuck with mine and it becomes the historical record, for whatever that’s worth. Still, I try to pass all the aspects of this five-part test above, and there’s a reason for that.

Many years ago, when I began this long excursion in writing, I told myself that I wasn’t going to write anything that would make me lose sleep over what I said. So I don’t get into gossip, and if that lost me a couple readers along the way, well, they probably weren’t going to stick around long anyhow. I just do the best I can with the talents I have, and I’m just thankful for all those thousands who have stopped by over the years.

Regardless, there’s some advice here to take to heart.

Odds and ends number 104

Back again for more dollops of bloggy goodness as we wrap up the unofficial kickoff to summer. As always, these are items meriting anything from a couple sentences to a handful of paragraphs but fall short of their own blog post.

Rethinking the way we react

This is the subject of a short essay I received in my e-mail from Delaware state Rep. Bryan Shupe, who also does the Delaware Live news website. One thing that stuck out at me is that he seldom leaves comments on social media, noting:

This rethinking of my own reactions to social media has led me to rethink the way I interact with family, friends, and individuals in my community in person. Instead of proactively searching for opportunities to “spill tea”, like the comments section of a social media post, I look for ways to introduce positive things going on in our local community. I listen to what my neighbors enjoy doing and connect them with resources to help others.

“Rethinking the way we react,” Bryan Shupe, March 29, 2021.

I don’t leave a ton of comments on social media such as what I think Bryan is talking about, but when I do they tend to be lengthy. It’s hard to tiptoe on a line between making a point and being argumentative, especially when the opposition leaves or repeats tired talking points that exist more as conventional biased wisdom than reality.

But I look at social media as a way to advance my larger point as well as enhance whatever brand I have (since much of it is based on my writing.) Yet I have fun with it as well – after all, how much can you enjoy life if you’re serious all the time?

A strategic fade to the background

Back in April I discussed the rise of the Patriots for Delaware and what was happening to the 9/12 Delaware Patriots. At that point, the latter group was considering its options given an impending change in leadership.

Earlier this month I received an e-mail update which read:

We recently met to discuss the future of the organization and by majority vote, we support continuing this organization while supporting other fine groups such as “Patriots for Delaware“, “Delaware Gun Rights“, DSSA, TWAW Southern Delaware on Facebook, First State IOTC and many other conservative/constitutional groups.

“Happy Mothers Day” e-mail, 9/12 Delaware Patriots, May 9, 2021. Corrected from original to add TWAW link.

Reading on, they revealed that the twice-monthly meetings would remain on hold for the time being, “but periodic gatherings will be announced as they are planned.” However, I haven’t heard of any yet – no surprise since it’s only been a few weeks. I imagine they will be following the groups they mention around the state.

Taking up the slack in some respect, the Patriots for Delaware are restarting what was about a weekly gathering later this month after a short hiatus of their own. I bring this up because I saw they were planning another visit to Range Time on June 22nd and I may have to do double duty that night by checking that out and writing my weekly piece for The Patriot Post.

Defending the TEA Party

To be honest, this is more of an academic point than anything, but there are others like me who try to set the biased historians straight (sometimes by writing their own version.) One of them is Michael Johns, an original TEA Party leader who keeps his Twitter nice and sharp on defense, including this one.

Just because there was a narrative set by the mainstream media doesn’t mean they have the truth. If anything, there is more racism in the little finger of Critical Race Theory c. 2021 than there ever was in entire body of the TEA Party c. 2009-10.

From what I found in two-plus years of research and writing Rise and Fall – plus a decade of living it – the TEA Party couldn’t care less if their followers were white, black, brown, yellow, red, or purple with green polka dots. Their goals were simple: limited government with minimal taxation, and those who try to inject racism into the conversation are out-and-out frauds. So I have to give a shout out to Michael for sharing that with me!

Paging Captain Obvious

You know I usually like me some Bobby Jindal and Erick Erickson. I’m going to get to the latter in due course, but Jindal does better than most in summing up the point that Joe Biden isn’t the moderate people claimed he was. Indeed, he was a Trojan Horse.

Yet, the sad part (and this peripherally relates to the TEA Party section above, too) is Jindal wrote this before we learned that the GOP has lost a key argument.

(Biden) has adopted a lower public profile, contrasting himself with Trump’s outsized presence, and enjoys a favorably disposed media. Given those factors, Biden is using his political capital to advance a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. While there is strong bipartisan support for investments in roads, ports, and bridges, the president has expanded the definition of infrastructure to include Medicaid and Community Development Block Grants, child-care facilities, public schools, community colleges, workforce training, and pro-union restrictions on employer activities. As Rahm Emanuel famously said in 2008, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

“Biden’s Trojan Horse,” Bobby Jindal, National Review, May 5, 2021.

I say that because, instead of using non-governmental means to encourage states to spend the money on their own infrastructure needs, the GOP is countering with a $928 billion infrastructure package of their own – never mind the trillions in debt we already owe. It’s infuriating to be reminded that neither side really cares about limited government anymore. And it’s no wonder why most speak of the TEA Party in the past tense.

Some advice on pro-life arguments

This doesn’t require a lot of comment, but it is important in engaging an audience. The group Created Equal has released a pair of videos that illustrate how a typical argument goes, and how best to counter the objections put up by those who believe abortion is necessary because “life is hard.”

One piece of advice to take to heart:

When people are hateful toward us, we remind ourselves that they don’t really know us at all. Had they encountered us shopping at Wal-Mart, they wouldn’t have treated us so poorly. The difference is during outreach they can’t ignore our faith in God and conviction against abortion. This is what they hate. Remembering this, we don’t have to get personally offended. It’s not about us, after all.

One Truth Will Help You Keep Your Cool,” Created Equal e-mail, April 27, 2021.

This actually goes in well with the social media commentary above. People seem to have a lot more bravado and a lot less tact when they hide behind a keyboard. I try not to write or say anything online that I would regret in real life, although political opinions shouldn’t count in that regard. Not that I’m going to apologize for what I believe, but it seems these days too many people have thin skin.

A batch of tough love

It’s been a couple months now since this came out (just before Easter) but I’ve kept this piece by Erick Erickson around because it is a good reminder of just how blessed we are to be in America compared to other places around the world.

Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.

What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty eight years ago, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.

“The World is Team Barabbas,” Erick Erickson, April 1, 2021.

But more importantly, Erickson makes the case that Christians are going to be perceived as wrong-headed in their support for morality based on the Biblical admonitions, correctly saying, “The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin.” The world equates loving the sinner with accepting the sin, and Christians shouldn’t go there even though it may create an awkward situation – especially this month.

I think that once I get a side hustle payment this month I’ll invest in his enterprise with a subscription. You should too.

Whose high standard?

In the category of “bloggers and blogging,” every so often I get a solicitation like this “sponsored content enquiry”:

Hello

Our editorial team are currently writing content on behalf of a major industry-leading client seeking to grow their digital presence via quality channels that offer a valuable resource to their audience. 

Your website monoblogue.us offers the high standard we are pursuing on behalf of our client and we would appreciate the opportunity to create a piece of sponsored content for your readership. 

Our content is created to a high standard, and in a way that will genuinely resonate with relevant audiences. We will include images and citations in order to ensure that the content offers genuine value to your site, and a natural fit for readers of monoblogue.us. 

If you are interested in publishing sponsored content on websites or blogs owned by your company, then please send us more details pertaining to:

(batches of crap I barely understand)

We look forward to your response.

Some media company that connects to over 20,000 blogs – or so they say.

Really, you’re not looking forward to my response.

When I think of outlets like this, I think of those people who put the annoying ads on websites like “One Cup Before 10 a.m. Burns Belly Fat Like Crazy – No Exercise Needed.” I realize people have to pay the bills, but over the fifteen-plus years of doing this hobby/obsession I’ve come to realize that, since blogging isn’t going to make me independently wealthy, the least I can do is not lose any sleep over it. And “sponsored content” that I don’t write isn’t the way to do that.

(Now if someone wanted to sponsor my “Shorebird of the Month” posts, like the one that comes out Thursday, that’s a different matter.)

But I’m really not interested in having a forum for someone whose first language isn’t English and can bear being paid a nickel for a thousand word column on some arcane subject of their choosing to write for my site. I’ve only had two other co-writers (by my invitation) and they were both well-versed, fascinating people.

So I think I’ll pass on the offer. Feel free to rattle the tip jar if you have funding to give me.

Programming note

I look forward to doing Shorebird of the Month – this may be one of the toughest pairs of decisions I’ve had since adopting the monthly format four years ago. But the winners will be deserving ones.

After that, my June docket is clear although I’m sure something will strike my fancy. This just cleared about 2 1/2 months of deadwood out of my e-mail so I’m happy about that.