Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Reciprocity

I don't have a blogroll here, as should be apparent. Part of the reason is that, when I first designed this site, I purposefully wanted it to be as bare as possible--maybe for style reasons, or maybe just to make it different from so many other blogs which have links galore stretching for miles down their sidebars. The other reason is that I'm somewhat obsessive-compulsive about ordering my working environments, and that includes my electronic ones. I have a collection of links on my home page that I'm always tinkering with, to make sure it reflects sites that I actually visit as opposed to inactive ones or ones I've long since lost interest in. Yes, I know, everyone updates their blogroll occassionally, but I fiddle with my links practically every week, and I simply didn't want to feel obliged to go into Blogger and mess with the code on an equally regular basis. (That's also partly why there are no comments on this blog: it would only be one more thing I would feel driven to obsessively fine-tune and oversee. And my e-mail is just right there on your left, after all.) Hence, a very simple and spare blog.

That being said, I've received some nice links, referrals and comments over the last month of so (perhaps not coincidentally, while I've been writing posts that have been somewhat more personal than usual). So I thought it might be nice to note, just this once, some of the blogs I read regularly, and whose presence on the web I very much appreciate. Since I am, as the blurb at the top left puts it, primarily interested in political and philosophical matters (at least insofar as my blog writings go), many of my regular blog stops are predictable: Tacitus, Joshua Micah Marshall, Daniel Drezner, Eric Alterman, Andrew Sullivan (yes, I read them both: I'm fair and balanced), Matthew Yglesias, Oxblog, and so forth. But there are at least a few other regular stops of mine which fall outside these parameters that deserve particular note. I'm sure they are all read by more people than this blog is; still, they deserve a link.

Laura at Apartment 11D. Laura's musings on life in New York City, with small children, with diminishing academic expectations but with excitment for the future, are unfailingly funny, insightful, intelligent and sharp. More importantly, her fundamental decency always comes through. I'm unclear as to why her blogroll associates me with Bill Murray as opposed to with the Coen brothers, but I'm not one to talk.

Noah Millman at Gideon's Blog. In many ways, he's my ideal blogger. He almost never posts unless he really has something to say, and then he'll say it at length, with all ambiguities examined and very few stones left unturned. Discussions of politics, yes, but also morality, religion, fatherhood, Judaism, and many other topics. If you're interested in substantive food for thought, Noah never fails.

Timothy Burke at Easily Distracted. Timothy is very much cut from the same cloth as Noah: sometimes weeks will go by with no posts, and then he'll come forward with a brilliant little essay on class politics, or fantasy literature, or movies and gaming culture, or academia. Worth waiting for.

Speaking of academia, of course I read Invisible Adjunct. There is no other blog dedicated to academic matters that I read as regularly as I read hers. Why? Because she's can think and write about the nonsense of the academic--and the non-academic--world with both a sharp theoretical knife and grounded, humane common sense: a rare combination. She's the best example I can think of an academic who is really working through their vocation, with humor and curiosity and strong opinions. Also she's Canadian, which is almost always a plus.

The only thing better then being Canadian is being a bitter, conflicted Canadian, which is why Innocents Abroad is a great read. I can really get into a lot of the heavily theoretical posts here; while I generally don't share the conservative outlook of the blog's authors, they unapologetically employ the canon of political philosophy to make sense of matters both esoteric and banal, and I like that very much. They provide a rare, vaguely Straussian, Euro-American perspective which I've learned a lot from. And when Colin May uses his learning to diagnose what he sees as the maladies of his fellow Canucks...well, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy it.

A very different, but equally rare and important, Euro-American perspective is provided by the many authors over at A Fistful of Euros. As someone interested in language and politics, I particularly look forward to Scott Martens contributions.

Amy Sullivan at Political Aims. Amy diligently uses every opportunity she can find to state over and over again her very important point (insofar as American politics is concerned): that there is such a thing a "Christian left," that social justice issues are not incompatible with American Christianity, etc. Other bloggers make this point, but not with anything like Amy's determination. I sometimes doubt the coherence of her worldview, but I always learn something from her posts.

John Holbo and Belle Waring. They live in Singapore; Belle is expecting a baby (their second). Read John for the philosophy and cultural criticism; read Belle for the recipes. It's all good.

Anything else? Oh yes, Crescat Sententia. They basically just blog about sex and libertarianism, but it's entertaining, and undergraduates are allowed their obsessions, after all.