My first five years as a blogger

Today is the fifth anniversary of my starting this web log.

I’m grateful to my good friend David Damico for pointing out that it’s possible to do a blog on a web host such as WordPress without paying any money and without any particular knowledge of computers and the Internet.  If not for him, I might not ever have started a blog.  If I had known what he told me earlier, I might have started this blog years ago.

blogID-10088265When I retired from newspaper work, people asked me if I planned to continue writing.  My answer was that I did not intend to write anything in the future that somebody else had the power to change.  For many years my only writing, aside from articles for newsletters of organizations I belong to, consisted of e-mails to my circle of friends.

I still send an e-mail at least once a month commenting on books I’ve read recently.  I post on my blog about the more noteworthy of those books.

My blog is a perfect means of self-expression, from my standpoint.  I can write as much or as little as I please, although I find myself almost always spending on time on my posts than I originally intended.

I had hoped and expected, when I started my blog, that it would be a means of generating discussion and comments among my circle of friends.  In fact, the majority of my friends seldom or never read it.  But I’m compensated by being brought in contact with a circle of acquaintances in distant states and even foreign countries whom I’d never have met otherwise.

Since Jan. 20, 2010, I’ve made 3,049 posts which have elicited a total of 2,440 comments and been viewed a total of 601,009 times (not counting today).   The most views I ever got in a day was 2,199 on Election Day in 2014.

On a web site called URLmetrics, I’m ranked, as of early last year, number 2,201,006 among U.S. blogs in daily visitors and number 4,066,146 in daily views.  I don’t know whether that is good or bad.

blagofaireSource: xkcd.

Just as when I worked on the newspapers, the articles and posts on which I work the hardest are seldom the ones that get the most attention.  Here are my top 10 posts in terms of views.

10.  Islamic architecture in the Twin Towers  (5,361 views)

Minoru Yamasaki, the architect who designed the Twin Towers, was the favorite architect of the Saudi royal family and incorporated a number of features of traditional Islamic architecture in the Twin Towers.

9.  Religion and IQ: country comparisons (5,893)

This was a compilation of data that indicates a negative correlation of average IQ and the degree of religious commitment in different nations.  This comes under the heading of “interesting if true.”  I’m not sure I should have posted it.

8.  Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments (6,576)

The famous rationalist philosopher published two sets of personal Ten Commandments during his lifetime, one for everyone and one for teachers.

7.  Witch hunts and child sexual abuse (6,860)

This post was inspired by a friend of mine who was falsely accused of child sexual abuse, exhausted his savings and had to sell his house to pay legal fees, and yet never went to trial.  The prosecutor evidently hoped to force a plea bargain in which my friend would plead guilty.  Fortunately he received help from his friends and was able to continue the case until charges were dropped.

6.  Pennsylvania and the electoral college (6,869).

This was about a proposal by Republican state legislators to allocate Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to the winners in each of the state’s congressional districts, plus two state-wide.  Because of gerrymandering, this probably would have given a majority of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to Republicans even when a Democrat won a majority statewide.

5.  Bin Ladens build the world’s tallest skyscraper (7,001).

Osama bin Laden is famous for destroying tall buildings, but his family in Saudi Arabia owns a construction business that is famous for constructing them.  As of mid-2012, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which their firm built, was the world’s tallest building.  It is twice as high as the Empire State Building.

4.  Is Islam a religion of peace? (7,104)

Islam was founded by armed warriors.  Unlike Christianity and Buddhism, there is no pacifist element in Islam.  But I pointed traditional Muslim teachings are opposed to terrorism and atrocities, and nor do authoritative Muslim leaders justify terrorism today.

3.  The debate over Asian sweatshops (22,783)

I argued that the United States should not necessarily cut off trade with Asian countries that employ sweatshop labor, but should work with labor unions and international agencies to raise labor standards.  Unfortunately the most clicked-on link in the post was one that justified sweatshop labor and opposed labor standards.

2.  The geography of American religion (26,576)

This is a collection of maps, which I lifted from the web site of a missionary college, showing the strength of the major American religious sects, and also of religion in general, on a county-by-county basis.  I’m glad I did, because the information is no longer available on the original site.

1.  Nonviolent resistance to Hitler? (44,535)

I wrote this as an offhand comment, pointing out that massive defiance, as advocated by Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Gene Sharp, is an effective tactic against an oppressor who wants to enslave you, but not from an enemy who wants to kill you.  Thus nonviolent resistance worked, to a limited extent, when practiced by Norwegians, Danes and even Germans against the Nazi regime.  But it never would have worked for Jews, Poles and others marked for extermination.

blogxkcd-2-jan-2015-editedI’ve listed some of the posts that give me the most satisfaction and which I think are the most relevant under my Selected Past Posts menu on the right.

Anybody who likes my web log would probably like all or most of the blogs I listed on my Blogs I Like Page and most of the articles on the Links menu to the right.

Most of Links items are sent by friends, including Steve Badrich, Hal Bauer, Daniel Brandt, Mike Connelly, Bill Elwell, Oidin Imamkhodjaeva, Joyce Mummert Ireland, Don Montana and Anne Tanner, plus two e-mail pen pals I’ve never met in person, Jack Clontz and Bill Harvey.

Bill Harvey is so prolific in sending links and comments that he ought to start his own blog.

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4 Responses to “My first five years as a blogger”

  1. M Kanji Says:

    Congratulations Phil. You are certainly more read than you realise…

    Your blog email is the first thing I read the moment it arrives, and most times it gets forwarded to family members (if deemed appropriate to them).

    Your point of view is extremely important to all of us because (I for instance – am unable to fully express myself – can think it, but am rubbish at verbalising/putting it down on paper), we all need a voice. Yours is sheer magic. I live in the UK, and truly sympathise with what’s going on in America, here, and the world over. It saddens me that humanity are losing itself “for a fistful of dollars” to quote that very famous movie.

    It’s doubtful your friends do not read your blog, I think it’s a case of just passively believing there’s a mutual understanding between you – you see, I cannot even write what am trying to tell you – but hope you understand me.

    I always wondered who is wordpress? Anyhow, please do not stop voicing your views (unless of course it is to your detriment [ill health], in which case, we would bid you good health, otherwise we praise your bravado and sincerity to your soul.

    A great admirer of yours…. Millie Kanji xx

    Sent from my iPad


    • philebersole Says:

      I’m more pleased than I can say that you find my writing of interest.

      My health is good, thank you, and I enjoy as much financial security as a middle class person can have these days—which is more than many people I know can say, and is not due to any special merit of my own.

      When I made the comment about my friends, I was not complaining nor (consciously) fishing for compliments. I have many good friends, with whom I converse frequently, who are interested in what I have to say, but never look at my web log.

      I myself am not on Facebook and so never look at my friends’ Facebook pages. I know this hurts their feelings, but I have to set limits on what I devote time and attention to.

      I have other friends who don’t spend nearly as much time reading as I do, but, unlike me, spend many hours on cold street corners doing peace vigils or at public hearings protesting the latest environmental outrage.

      It may be that what they do is more valuable in the total scheme of things than what I do. I do what is in me to do, and so do they. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them.

      What blogging has done for me is put me in contact with kindred spirits, who live far from me, that I have never met face-to-face and probably never will.

      WordPress is a free web hosting service, like Blogger, Typepad and others. It will provide you with a free Internet site for a web log, and instructions on the (very simple) procedures to set it up and get it going.

      The hosting services are businesses. They make their money by putting advertisements on the blogs and by charging fees for enhancements to the blogs. I’m highly pleased with WordPress, but I’m sure there are other services just as good.


  2. Bill Harvey Says:

    I’m so grateful you took the plunge, Phil. Keep ’em coming!



  3. prayerwarriorpsychicnot Says:

    Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.


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