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« Liz and Dick and Eddie and Liz and ... | Main | Morning Routines »

March 21, 2006

Morning Coffee With Blogroll

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Umm. [Stretch.] AhhUhh. [Yawn.]

Torpor. Entropy. Sloth, even. It's setting in.

Eyelids closing ... slowly. Must ... resist ... temptation ... to ... sleep.

And I gotta ... come up with ... a subject for ... a blog post.


Coffee helped. What to do? What to do?

I know. I'll do the assignment editors hand out when everyone is totally out of inspiration -- write a list-column!!

Like the case of Automobile Magazine -- a publication whose subscription I'm increasingly willing to let lapse -- which just put out its 20th anniversary issue with 20-this and 20-that articles. Simple to research: just sit around the conference table and pitch ideas.

What's the easiest list-thingy I can come up with? Hmm. Why not the blogs I visit most weekdays?

My Daily Blogroll

  • Terry Teachout gets a peek because he's always interesting even when he's writing about stuff I don't care much about.

  • The Seattle Times is one of my windows on local events. I don't buy the paper so I scroll down the opening screen to catch the headlines and link to anything of interest. I usually check out the obituary link too.

  • The Drudge Report is my next stop. I'll scan the top several headline layers and then move on to the following habitual links:

  • Jewish World Review has handy links to syndicated columnists. I'll read any columns that appeal.

  • Weekly Standard gets a quick inspection for articles and reviews of interest.

  • The (London) Telegraph is my next stop, where I usually check the obits to see who's featured. They have really interesting obituaries, by the way. I used to link to Mark Steyn's columns, but he and the Telegraph (as well as the Speccie) have parted ways.

  • Then on to to see what they're featuring up on top. I almost never scroll down because life is too short.

  • Finally I see what's on the National Review Online home page and will link to selected pieces.
  • The American Spectator is next, but I'm likely to read only a couple articles a week there.

  • Instapundit is my next major launch-pad. After checking his items (and doing some linking) I'll use his blogroll for further delving:

  • The Corner from NRO (above) is my first stop. I have no idea why I link to it from Instapundit instead of the NRO homepage.

  • On to Hugh Hewitt. I'll read one or two of his posts and go to his blogroll:

  • The Belmont Club is my favorite military/strategy blog. Wretchard (Richard Fernandez) has a writing style that intrigues me. He's a guy worth BSing with over some beers. Too bad he lives in Australia.

  • Captain's Quarters by Ed Morrissey is prolific and solidly done. The guy has amazing general knowledge of matters political.

  • Powerline Blog, nexus for the Dan Rather blogswarm, is another must-read. The three bloggers are each lawyers who attended Dartmouth as undergrads, and I try not to hold that against them.
  • Tim Blair is in the Aussie news biz. He writes with a sharp word-processer and deals a lot about American topics besides his local Oz fare.

  • Jeff Goldstein has musings about politics and communication that are sometimes peppered with lit-school jargon. He also offers micro-dramas and just plain silly bits. Entertaining and informative.

  • Jeff Jarvis has lots of interesting things to say about the media but loses me when he gets on the topic of Howard Stern.

  • James Lileks just might be the best writer in blogdom. I do tend to skip the parts that chronicle quotidian doings, especially those about his daughter. (I too have a daughter, but the daughter bits bore me. Sorry.)

  • Jim Miller offers well-crafted thoughts on local and national politics from his Kirkland, WA perch.

  • Real Clear Politics has plenty of columnist/editorial links as well as prolific poll-result data. The latter seldom interest me until real campaigning begins.

  • Roger L. Simon is a reformed-leftie mystery novelist and screenwriter who offers thoughts on current events with a Dartmouth (again?!?) and Tinseltown twist. Hmm. Maybe I shoulda done Dartmouth rather than Dear Old Penn.

  • Arts & Letters Daily has three new links posted each day, and usually at least one is worth a read. The site has an excellent blogroll that includes [ahem] 2Blowhards.
  • Sound Politics is the place to go for group-blogging about Seattle-area politics.

  • Opinion Journal is the Wall Street Journal's Web Op-Ed page. I never miss James Taranto's "Best of the Web" production.


Yes those sites cited above are pretty much right-of-center, and you wonder what I do for "balance." For one thing, they often link to left-of-center sites and I'll sometimes click through to see what's up. The Corner also often offers long-ish quotations from leftie sites. And the Seattle Times is hardly right-wing.

I'm also free to check left-of-center sites on my own. Plus, most network TV and major newspapers (including WSJ news pages) come from left field. And recall that I spent five years in grad school classrooms taking Sociology. I also voted for the Democrat presidential candidate in four elections. So I know what the Left is about.

You might have noticed that I mentioned only two culture blogs, albeit very good ones. I need to do better here, though scanning the current-events blogroll above takes up an hour or two of my time daily and I have other obligations. So maybe I should cut back a bit on politics and events and beef up my Internet arts reading.

Michael has an arts blogroll here and Teachout has one on his blog. Still, Id like to know if you have any suggestions regarding favorite culture blogs that do not deal much with pop music, the TV scene, dance, poetry, short fiction and anything that has a significant academic odor to it? (I try to be a jack of some trades, but not all trades. Don't have the time.)



posted by Donald at March 21, 2006


I like The City Journal. Have you given them a look? Not really a blog but they stay fairly current for a quarterly magazine.

Posted by: al on March 21, 2006 10:34 PM

Here's a few blogs of interest:

The Head Heeb by Jonathan Edelstein is an excellent review of worldwide affairs, covering parts of the world such as the South Pacific that are usually ignored in the Mainstream Media. It also has balanced, non-doctrinaire coverage of Middle East issues.

Tom McMahon is a man from Wisconsin who offers slice-of-life observations. Some of his postings about his disabled son are are really thought-provoking.

Another slice-of-life blog is In the Aquarium, by Harriet from London. She writes in a way that makes it easy to think you're right there, seeing what she sees.

Art DeVany is a retired economics professor now living in Utah who is an expert on all sorts of fitness topics.

Posted by: Peter on March 21, 2006 10:45 PM

You don't read Steve Sailer?

Posted by: BBill on March 22, 2006 12:45 AM

Retired, right? Or a speed reader of superior skill? Or an understanding place of employment? Or is it just a daily need of 4 hours of sleep?

Or, some combo of all of the above?

I'm assuming you're a social kind of guy, so sequestering in the folds of a study and hunched over a computer isn't your cup of Joe.

Posted by: DarkoV on March 22, 2006 07:53 AM

Now, how about a blogroll for the rest of the blowhards? I am interested to see what everybody's web routines are.

Posted by: dobedobedo on March 22, 2006 09:51 AM

This is scary. Your blog-list is almost identical to mine, without the Seattle stuff. But I never miss Sailer.

Posted by: Robert Speirs on March 22, 2006 10:38 AM

The thing I don't understand is "the need for balance." If your world view has evolved to be right-of-center and the blogs you list provide intelligent support of that view why "balance" that view by going to the benighted blogs of the left? For what? Agita?

Posted by: ricpic on March 22, 2006 10:39 AM

I second ricpic.
Why would I disturb my morning sense of well-being and [cautious] hope for humanity by scrolling thru written proof of the opposite?

Also, even if I assume you have unlimited hours daily for blog surfing, it's kinda difficult to recommend culture-blogs for you which simultaneously NOT pop and NOT academic. And, the only artforms you seem not to have aversion to (from you list) are monumental sculpture and quilting...

Posted by: Tatyana on March 22, 2006 10:47 AM

Interestingly (or not), this here blog provides my daily supplement of "balance," as my blogroll is made up mostly of commie pinkos and pop culture pap.

Posted by: the patriarchy on March 22, 2006 11:43 AM

Steven Bodio and Reid Farmer on Querencia ( is a regular stop. One of the most charming spots for a stopover is, who features "Cat Friday" when she devotes the space to funny photos, short videos, animated cartoons, etc. -- all about cats. This has landed her in the NY Times. To keep up with genre writers I hit When I go to, I'm there for an hour.

Someday I'll find a blog that teaches me how to link and all that other stuff, but at least I can use a bookmark. I started a firestorm the other day among some longtime correspondents (friends since childhood) by innocently asking them why they never read my blogs. If I cut and paste them into emails, they rave on and on about how wonderful they are -- but they won't ever go to one of my three blogs. In emotional tirades they let me know that a blog is a public, self-indulgent, show-off thing that they disdain. Besides they can't remember how to find blogs. I was taken aback. To me it's simply a way to evade the publishing police and get my stuff out there.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on March 22, 2006 02:37 PM

I used to have a routine just like yours, Donald. Slowly I noticed that political blogs raise the blood pressure while lowering the IQ, so I pruned them back to just Instapundit and Blair. Then Instapundit started having one technogasm after another - singularity this, nanotech that - so I plonked his ass and now only read Blair. (I've noticed Blair is smarter than all of his commentors combined, so I plonked the goddamn commentors too! To plonk is to be free; to plonk is to grow wise.)

Result: IQ up, blood pressure down.

Now instead of politics I read humor and culture blogs. Starting with 2Blowhards, natch, and then:

You Can't Make It Up is Michelle Collins' very funny rants on animals in casts, dogs in kerchiefs, and Dakota Fanning.

Achewood is simply the greatest comic ever written by man, woman, or feline.

The Movie Blog is three guys who talk about new releases, including the best damn podcast on the internet. (The one this Monday about Snakes On A Plane was hysterical.)

The Anomalist reports strange stories about cryptozoology and ufology and ghostology and the like.

The Con-Crunchy Blog satirizes Dreher's mob, as we know.

Anthropology In The News discusses whatever archeologists are digging up lately.

Liberty And Culture does global events from an Ayn-Randian philosophical perspective.

Warrior Class Blog applies Sun Tzu's strategy lessons to issues in the news.

And the IMDB forums discuss movies, obviously; the only drawback being that half the posters seem to be twelve years old.

Posted by: Brian on March 22, 2006 03:12 PM

One more. The Ask Andy Clothes forum is about men's fashion. Great for getting in touch with your inner dandy.

Posted by: Brian on March 22, 2006 03:43 PM

Tatyana & Ricpic:

I think a case can be made for 'balance.' As the old anecdote goes:

One day a Jew sees a Jewish friend reading an antisemitic newspaper. He asks his friend how he could read such disgusting trash. His friend replies: "When I read the real newspaper, I see that Jews are poor, their businesses are struggling, many of them are sick and struggling, etc., etc. When I read the antisemitic newspaper, all I hear is how rich and powerful the Jews are; in fact, how we actually run the world. It cheers me up a bit."

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on March 22, 2006 04:23 PM

Yes, I'm with Friedrich on the need for some balance, although I've noticed that I can't start off the day with a perfect proportioned reading list. I've got to have a bit of sanity first!

I get my jolt of leftiness by reading Slate and Salon; Slate representing the still-coherent thoughts of people I can find some common ground with, and agree to disagree with on some other things. On the other hand, quite a few of Salon's writers are swishing their toes in the fever swamp; a few of them have gone right on in for a wade . . .

If you don't read some of this stuff, though, you just can't keep track of how the other half is thinking. I believe it's important to do so.

Oh, and might I mention that some of the funniest, most enjoyable writing around these days is found on sports blogs? Am I the only fan here? I particularly enjoy The Baseball Crank, who's also a quality political commentator.

Posted by: mr tall on March 22, 2006 08:41 PM

Sites like Instapundit, Wretchard, Powerline, etc. are people who I will never read and whose opinion I have zero interest in, because of their blindly ideological support for a foolish and irresponsible war that has done serious damage to my country. They sided with the interests of the Bush administration over the interests of America, and I find that unforgivable. On the other side, conservatives like Steve Sailer, a number of libertarians at the Cato Institute, and Pat Buchanan's crew at the American Conservative have risen greatly in my estimation over the last few years.

Here's my political blogroll: the single most thoughtful source for the "netroots" of the liberal movement, featuring the rising star Matthew Yglesias ( and the excellent political commentary of Mark Schmitt ( The two are currently debating whether Bush is the worst President in U.S. history -- I'd agree with Schmitt that he has been. Anyway, does a fine job of gathering good stuff from around the left blogsphere. One of the wittiest, pithiest writers on economics on the web (yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction). The site is willing to question political correctness, which is one of my prerequisites for interesting left-wing commentary. E.g. one of his co-bloggers has come out for nuclear power as a solution to global warming. (Beware the boring Sandwichman on this site though, not all co-bloggers are created equal). The funniest political site around, especially if you lean left. Like John Stewart, milks the sheer absurdity of the arguments coming out of our contemporary Bush-ist right for comic value. Not quite as good as it used to be, but still excellent. : great, thoughtful writing from the traditionalist, responsible right. If politics ever got sane in this country again I'd be on the opposite side from these guys on a lot of issues, but they're the kind of political opponents I'd like to have. : Had to pick a representative from the anti-war libertarian movement, people who actually understand that "war is the health of the state". But there are a lot of good young libertarians out there -- the crowd, Julian Sanchez over at Reason magazine (

But on the libertarian side right now, a special mention and big kudos to Radley Balko (, who is in the process of what might be the first successful attempt by the blogsphere to free a man from death row. Alternative journalism will have arrived when he's done that.

Also, in an indefinable category all his own: -- Steve Sailer needs no introduction around here, I imagine.

Posted by: MQ on March 22, 2006 08:41 PM

Hmmm. For some reason the links didn't come through. Sorry. You'll have to cut and paste the web addresses if you want to visit them. I have zero knowledge of HTML. Or perhaps it was the site censoring me for being such an unrepentant liberal :-).

Posted by: MQ on March 22, 2006 08:43 PM

mr tall: "Oh, and might I mention that some of the funniest, most enjoyable writing around these days is found on sports blogs?"

I've always thought that way about newspapers! All the best prose is on the sports page - character, conflict, color, suspense. It's the main reason I curse myself for not liking sports.

I know a few good boxing blogs: East Side Boxing and The Sweet Science.

Posted by: Brian on March 22, 2006 09:09 PM

I think the funniest, most entertaining sportswriter around is Bill Simmons at

He sneaks in a lot of pop culture stuff too. He writes like the really funny college friend you used to hang out and watch late-night TV with.

Posted by: MQ on March 22, 2006 09:14 PM

Yeah, I know I keep on posting, but I just noticed two bum links. Michelle Collins is here, and Achewood is here.

Achewood is currently in the middle of The Great Outdoor Fight; the story arc begins here.

Posted by: Brian on March 22, 2006 09:42 PM

Thanks for those links, Brian, and MQ is certainly right about Bill Simmons. He's consistently hilarious. Even though he's a rabid Boston-area fan, an affliction that's usually funny only in the satire of others, he overcomes this, and his partisanship becomes part of the charm. It's quite a tightrope, but he walks it well.

Another unlikely sportswriting genius is the Brookings Institute/TNR's Greg Easterbrook, who writes a weekly football column during the season. He used to be on ESPN, but was banished for making a fairly innocuous comment in one of his articles that could be construed as being anti-semitic. In a kind of alternate-universe preview of the whole jihad cartoon/free speech controversy, his existence was purged, Stalin-style, from the entire ESPN site in one day.

Oh, and Steve S is at his very best, I think, when writing about sports.

To get back on topic, though -- Simmons and Easterbook aren't 'first thing in the morning' writers because their pieces are usually too long and funny to rush through. I print them out and read them while I'm using the eliptical trainer or stair-stepper in the gym. Readings sports while working out just seems apposite!

Posted by: mr tall on March 23, 2006 12:07 AM

I started reading this one a few weeks ago, a little conservative, but the writing is good, several people post there, its on movies.

Posted by: pjw on March 23, 2006 01:13 AM

I have a couple of snarkey yet clever sites that I consider my dirty little secrets:
Go Fug Yourself
and The Comics Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Hank on March 23, 2006 10:39 AM

You've got to be kidding.

Posted by: gcochfran on March 23, 2006 11:39 AM

My top recommendation (off the top of my head) is Quiet Bubble. Actually, I would like to recommend my entire links page but Quiet Bubble is the one that immediately comes to mind as being compatible with you.

Rankinblog is another one that you might find interesting. He posts about culture and, occasionally, politics and other topics.

Posted by: Lynn S on March 24, 2006 10:16 AM

As someone who likewise feels he ought to have more balance in his personal blogroll, I'd reccommend Mickey Kaus. He's pretty short and to the point, so it wouldn't add too much to your daily routine. Plus, as Soxblog pointed out, the man is wicked smaht.

Maybe it's personal bias showing through, but I don't find many liberal blogs to be enjoyable reading experiences. Too dogmatic, plus the tone of the comments turns me off. I used to love Slashdot, but the sheer bile of the comments drove me away.

Most of the bloggers I like can be described as general interest bloggers, with politics being just one of those interests. Instapundit's techo enthusiasm would be a good illustration. I get turned off by Powerline, for example, because I get the impression that partisan politics is their biggest interest.

I guess the point where I get turned off by a lot of liberal bloggers is that it seems like "progressive politics" shades their views on everything. It would be awfully nice to find a general-interest left-of-center blogger who could write about interesting topics without the specter of every single post turning into a critique of the Bush administration.

Posted by: Zach on March 27, 2006 10:35 PM

Oh, Don... the Drudge Report??? The Weekly Standard???? The National Review????? Be careful, your reading habits can slowly poison you. I always figured that "blowhards" had strong, cranky opinions because they had standards and believed in quality. Could it be that they have really been crypto-fascists all this time?

Posted by: David on April 1, 2006 06:53 PM

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