First, a word of explanation for those unfamiliar with the term. "Bloggers" is short for Web loggers,
that is, people who keep personal Web logs, often called "blogs". Many of them use
Blogger software from Pyra Labs
which is free if you allow them to put a small ad at the top of your site. If you
prefer to avoid ads, you can pay the company a small yearly fee. Others use similar systems, like Moveable
Type from a husband and wife team
Still others create their sites with tools like Microsoft's Front Page. A few
hire professional Web designers to build their sites. There
are even a few Neanderthals, like myself, who, more out of habit than anything else,
create their sites using ordinary programming editors.
(For the curious, I first used Netscape's Composer to experiment with layout, then did some editing
with the venerable vi editor, found on every Unix or Unix descended system, and, for now, have
switched to Kate, a programming editor that comes with KDE, the most common Linux desk top.)
Bloggers do not create their sites for money, though many have "tip jars" for contributions.
If they review books, they may become an Amazon associate to get a small kickback for any
referrals. (I may do that myself, when I get the "Books" section created.) In general, though,
bloggers are amateurs, with the the advantages and disadvantages that amateurs have. They
create their blogs because they like doing it, and, if they stop enjoying it, they quit. In my
experience, as a group, they are remarkably helpful, and much better at acknowledging and correcting
errors than professional journalists.
They have already created one new term, "fisking", that may confuse the newcomer. Robert Fisk
is a British journalist, who has written some foolish and obnoxious pieces on the war on terror.
One described his beating by a mob in Pakistan, in which he excused his attackers. A number
of bloggers, then and since, have done sharp and detailed critiques of his columns, and, in a
play on the attack, described it as "fisking". Other
columnists have drawn similar critiques; Maureen Dowd, Molly Ivins, and Paul Krugman regularly
get "fisked" by bloggers.
They have also borrowed a term from the net, "troll". To "troll" is to post something
designed to attract attacks, or responses, or at least page visits. In the past,
according to Eric Raymond, in The New Hacker's Dictionary
, it meant to attract
attacks from "newbies", in order to embarrass them. It may still mean that to the posters at
, but for most bloggers, it now seems to
have the wider meaning.
Steven Den Beste is very seldom "clueless", though he uses that as the name of his
. The site is stylish, with a beautiful
astronomy picture in the banner. He comments on a wide variety of subjects, but is
most interesting when he applies his technological knowledge. He had some wonderfully
amusing, and informative entries on fights between dragons and modern war craft, after the
Reign of Fire
movie was released. Strangely, when I last looked (7/25), he
kept his links on a separate page.
offers commentary all across the
English speaking world, though most often, naturally, about Australia.
His writing has the, uh , vigorous and direct mode of expression one expects from Australians.
There's much on Australian politics here. Americans
will find both the differences and the similarities to our own politics
illuminating. He has very few links to other bloggers, but often cites them in his
Web designer and author Rebecca Blood
on my links list, partly to remind me that there are people out there who "actually
believe that stuff", to quote from an old Doonesbury cartoon. (Mike Doonesbury is
sitting on a wall watching Mark the radical spout off. At the end of Mark's harangue,
Mike expresses his surprise that Mark believes what he is saying.)
Ms. Blood apparently takes seriously some of the claims of environmental extremists;
it is important for those of us who are better informed (as I would say), or deluded
(as Ms. Blood might put it), to realize just how common these views are. It is
easy to acquire such views at fashionable and expensive colleges and
universities, and they are almost required for politicians across Lake
Washington, in Seattle. Most holding them do not seem to realize
that they are, in essence, religious views.
There are things I like about her site. She has much cultural
commentary, though for the most part I don't share her interests or tastes.
Her design is interesting and quirky, and probably appropriate for a personal site.
Most sites have a little too much contrast for my eyes and monitor; hers might look
better with more. Wonder if she uses a Mac?
says that he created his blog
so that he could "read, think, write, and opine", without having to bug his neighbor. If
his site is any indication, he can move next to me any day. His posts are nearly all
sharp, usually making a conservative comment, but sometimes making a point on culture or
raising an interesting question. Why, for instance, he asks, did pepper, rather than
so many other possible spices, get to be universally paired with salt on our tables?
He has a short list of links, most to other conservative bloggers. He has comments on his
site, but so far as I can tell, no email address.
Blair, Gibbons quotes, the Kennewick Man, memes, the Moroccan invasion of Spain,
nursing, and thongs, with
a deft and lighthearted touch. She also tends to some of the social niceties; her
posts include get well notes, happy birthdays, and thank yous, something I have learned
to respect as I've gotten older. She covers Portland
in the friendly contest to find the most foolish letters to the editor. Her neatly
organized site includes a
large number of links, though I must concede that I do not entirely understand her
writes intelligent and
civilized commentary from Britain. He's particularly good at dissecting errors in
some of the more fatuous arguments from leftists in Britain. And, I admire some
one who has both the honesty to admit he was wrong on a subject, and the realism to see that
the public in Britain is unlikely to agree with him, any time in the near future.
His site uses a font that is
notably easy to read; many others would do well to copy his choice.
is a former journalist, now
studying criminology. Unlike ninety per cent of journalists, she is a social
conservative. She is especially good in her critiques of articles from the New
York Times and other problematic sources. I find her descriptions of her home
in eastern Kentucky fascinating. Her site is one of the few with colored text that
I do not find difficult to read. She has a number of links to sites on the media,
along with a large set of links to other bloggers.
Solly Ezekiel is the Gedanken Pundit
I translate as the thought pundit. Is that right? He, like me, is a Seattle area
blogger; in fact, he's in the same 1st Congressional district, represented by Jay Inslee.
(Ezekiel voted for Inslee in the last election; I can't stand the man.) There's much
thoughtful comment on this site, especially on Israel and related subjects. Did you know that, even
with the deaths from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, that Israel is less violent than many
European countries? I didn't. His site has a nice clean design, with links to
useful sources, and to bloggers, sorted, I believe, by rank. It's an excellent place to
find information on Israel.
Live from the WTC
by "Jane Galt" delivers amusing and
insightful commentary on a variety of subjects, particularly economic issues. Her pen
name is chosen, I assume, as a play on Ayn Rand's hero, John Galt, but she has a sense of humor
and lack of pretension that I have not always found among followers of Ayn Rand. She has
degrees in both English and business; that she writes well on economic subjects is one of the
better arguments I have seen recently for the value of college degrees. In her hands,
economics is more the cheerful than the dismal science. She has two full sets of links,
one to other bloggers and one to traditional media.
site has commentary from
a member of the military, writing under a pen name. He lives in the Seattle area
and is engaged in a friendly contest with bloggers in Portland and San Francisco to find
the most foolish letter to the editor in their home newspapers. I can't recall whether he has
written about military subjects. He may feel it is inappropriate.
He has full set of links to other bloggers and a small set of links to the major media.
One oddity about the site: At least with the browser I use most often, Netscape 6.2 running
under Linux, the links in his text are invisible until I mouse over them.
The king of bloggers, judged by hit counts, is Instapundit and
. He has two great strengths. He is prolific, writing many comments each day,
and he is generous, providing links to many other sites. His productivity is impressive, but
his generosity may be more important. In providing links, he acts as a sort of
executive editor, picking out articles that should be given the reader's attention. Like
many executive editors, he is a bit of a cheerleader for the best work put out by his team.
You often sense considerable satisfaction when he finds another blogger doing work Professor
has the best coverage of education issues I
have found on any blog. As you can see from her site, she is also a professional journalist, who
has published a number of articles on the subject, and has a book coming out on a charter high
school. Her comments on other subjects are always thoughtful, and sometimes quite funny.
Her site is neat and easy to use, reminding me of those clean desks belonging to the truly organized.
For a time, she had a separate section of education blogs, and I am hoping that she will bring
that back, expanded, when she does her promised site redesign. Update: She's done just that,
after reading these comments, but probably not because of them
Charles Johnson has but a single football on his
, Little Green
Footballs. Other than that, there is very little to criticize. There is
much content here, especially on the Middle East. Johnson himself frequently does
original research and has dug up many interesting items. He is especially good
at finding outrageous statements from Palestinian spokesmen, of the kind that the
commercial networks never show, and that rarely make major American newspapers. He has links
to sites on web design, Macs, and bicycling, as well as the usual sets of links to news
organizations and other bloggers.
The Brothers Judd
are Orrin (mostly) and
Stephen (from time to time). Writing from New Hampshire, they provide a steady stream
of commentary from a doubly conservative viewpoint, both economically and socially. They
often provide views on social issues that contrast sharply with the many libertarians on the net.
They also review many books and movies, again from a conservative point of view.
It may not be apparent how to access the reviews;
just click on the BrosJudd link near the top of the left column. They provide a
few links to other bloggers.
If you want to be technical, Mickey Kaus
may no longer
be a blogger, since Slate now pays him for his column. Still, his column started out as a
personal Web site
and it retains that flavor. He's best on welfare reform and related issues, where his
expertise is obvious. One feature that did not (yet?) make it from his Web site to Slate is
desk, in which he suggested articles that need to be written. I liked it so much that I
copied it for my own site. (And may even give an assignment to Kaus, just for fun.)
is a medicinal chemist, working hard to
create the wonder drugs that may save your life in few years, though he would not be so immodest
as to put it just that way. I find his accounts of his research, and his discussions of
the pharmaceutical industry, fascinating. Some time ago he had an informative discussion
of chemical weapons in a series of posts. He puts up the usual disclaimer that his
employer would never choose him as a spokesman, but they could do far worse.
Most of the bloggers are here because I generally agree with them.
is here because I generally
disagree with him, and use him to check my own thinking. The name of his site
identifies, for me, its greatest weakness.
"Talking points", as I understand it, are the ideas the politician wants to get across in an
interview or speech. They almost always include partisan spin.
Often, in reading one his posts, I begin to wonder whether he entirely
believes what he is writing, or whether he is just presenting an argument he thinks will be
effective for the Democrats. Not all of his work gives me that impression.
He did an impressive article on Iraq for the neoliberal Washington Monthly. He also
did a bit of original detective work on Chandra Levy's disappearance.
He has few links to other sites. His site has a
strange, narrow design, wasting most of the screen, even at the lowest resolution.
is a practicing physician,
writing under the pseudonym, "Sydney Smith". Dr. Smith's site is a brisk, informative survey
of recent medical news. She often expands on the brief accounts in Associated Press stories
and similar sources, adding a depth missing from the originals. Dr. Smith has no sympathy for
political correctness or alternative medicine.
The man for statistics is Iain Murray
who, in real life, works for the Statistical Assessment Service, which helps news
organizations evaluate statistical claims. Though now working in Virginia, Murray is
a long time British Conservative activist,
and so, not surprisingly, his site has much on politics in Britain and soccer. Some of
his comments on those two subjects puzzle me, but it is good intellectual exercise
to try to make sense of them.
Lawyer Damian Penny
writes from Corner Brook,
Newfoundland. I like the name of his town, though I can't quite visualize a "corner
brook", and I have been impressed by his commentary for some time. As you would expect,
he has much to say on Canadian politics, with its comparisons and contrasts to
the politics here in the United States. Besides politics, he sometimes comments on auto racing
and the considerable beauty of his province. His site has a design that reminds me of some abstract
paintings from the 1950s, with big rectangular blocks of color. There is a substantial list
of links to both other bloggers and to more traditional sources. The bloggers are divided into
groups by location, except for the lawyers, who are, unintentionally I suppose, thus made trans-national.
Writer Bill Quick
is more prolific than
the "daily pundit" name would suggest, since, on most days, he puts up many posts.
In the friendly
contest to find the most foolish letters to the editor, he covers San Francisco.
He has lively discussions on his site, with a number of other bloggers regularly dropping
by. He has a full set of links and considerable information on his own writing on
the site. For a while, the text on the site would, sometimes, be clipped at the right, when
I was viewing it with Netscape 6.2, but I haven't seen that problem for some time.
Other than that, it is one of the most readable sites around.
, like me, is a fan of space
travel, and, unlike me, a fan of cryogenics, preserving frozen bodies for future revivals.
His site has links to both amateur space bloggers and professional sources on space policy.
He provides one very useful service to fellow bloggers, a traffic light that shows whether
the Blogger host is operating. Since it is out of service more than one would expect,
this is often helpful when you can't access a favorite blogger. One curious thing about his
site is his choice of a wide web page, 1280 pixels, I would guess, rather than the 1024 or 800 most
is cheerful, intelligent, and well-informed.
She writes interestingly about subjects as far apart as the Gallipoli campaign in World
War I, and Barbie dolls. Her light touch almost always makes me smile when I
visit her site.
almost makes a specialty of
combining characteristics the politically correct think can't be combined. He is a gay,
Catholic conservative, with AIDS, who once edited the liberal magazine,
The New Republic
and he is a European intellectual (British by birth, Irish by descent) who is more hawkish
than the Bush administration on
the war on terrorism. This remarkable combination means nearly every reader will find
something to disagree with; all will find much of interest.
Sullivan has been running a book club, in which readers discuss the same
book for a month. They had a fine discussion of Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist
which Lomborg himself joined several times. Recommended for anyone curious about what
Lomborg calls "the real state of the world".
The Volokh Conspiracy
is a triumph of substance over
style. It uses a simple format, but consistently has thoughtful and balanced entries.
The blog is the joint effort of law professor Eugene Volokh, his younger brother, law student
Sasha Volokh, Michelle Boardman, and "Juan Non-Volokh". Professor Volokh contributes most of
the entries, and brings both knowledge and clarity. For example, I am impressed by his neat
explanation of the relationship between money and free speech. (Briefly: No, campaign
contributions are not speech. Nonetheless, some monetary limits do infringe on First
Amendment rights if they make impossible or impractical for people to exercise those rights.)
I am almost as impressed by his consistent fairness. For example, though he is not a fan of Bill
Clinton, he wrote an solid critique of a Paul Greenberg column, which attacked a law review article by the
former president. (Greenberg is the Arkansas editor who gave Clinton the "Slick Willy"
nickname. Like many others, he simply can't take Clinton any more.)
is a classics teacher, writing under
the "Weevil" pseudonym, which he illustrates with two large bugs at the top of the
site. (Is the second weevil "Mrs. Weevil", by any chance?) He is the
blogger expert on Latin and Greek, as well as ancient history, generally. I find
him both informative and entertaining, though I do not always agree with his conclusions
about English. I don't always mind if an English word or expression is bad Latin
or Greek; he does. For instance, I think that using octopi, with its wonderful
sound, is fine in informal
writing—unless the readers are classics experts, of course. And, I think
that Slate's headline
writer was right to use "Krugman Errata Est", rather than the correct "Krugman Erravit".
The first is likely to be understood by the ordinary, educated reader, but the second
would not be. His site is one of the most elegant I have seen and has links to
journals and classics sites, as well as a full set of links to other bloggers.
combines humor with solid posts, especially
on anti-Semitism and the Middle East. Her Hulk solution for the Middle East combined both
in a single post, providing a fairer and more practical solution than anything the Guardian
has come up with. Her coverage of a disgraceful riot at San Francisco State University
was better than anything I saw in the major media. She writes well enough so that I
even find her posts on cats interesting. Her list of links is under "Portals".