Saturday, March 05, 2011

Three Blogworthy Notes

Does anyone besides me really read blogs anymore? Or has Facebook and Twitter defeated them entirely, and the fact they still seem like going concerns to my eyes is only evidence of how completely I remain cocooned in this shell I constructed, circa 2005? (I mean, I still use and update my blogroll for heaven's sake.) Well, anyway, whatever the truth of the matter, here are three developments in the blogosphere that in different ways have excited and intrigued me, so check them out.

The inestimable Jacob T. Levy has branched out, for the first time, I think, since he departed The Volokh Conspiracy years and years ago. The libertarian Volokh gang used to drive me batty, but I still read them, populist and communitarian and socialist though I am, because Jacob was blogging there, and his occasional and usually brilliant observations on politics, philosophy, and academia made it worth it. He apparently will now be contributing occasionally to a new blog, Bleeding Heart Libertarians. From the first few posts, it looks to be an effort to mostly talk political theory, but perhaps also talk about the events of the day, from what they're calling a "neoclassical liberal" perspective--in other words, a libertarianism which, for different reasons, supports welfare state-type policies. I'll be interested to see where they, and Jacob in particular, take it.

My old and dear and occasionally crazy socialist friend Matt Stannard has, over the past year or two, joined with other progressives of many different sorts to create a worthy contribution to the left side of the blogosphere, Shared Sacrifice, which hosted guest editorials, podcasts, and its own Blogtalk radio program. That site has now been superseded by the much more impressive, and much more user friendly, Political Context. I love the look of it, and I figure it'll be an important resource for me and others on the left, whatever the frequency of my agreeing (or disagreeing) with what I read there. (Full disclosure requires I acknowledge that I've already posted there once, and probably will be again in the future, perhaps regularly.)

Finally, another old friend of mine, a Dallas resident who prefers to maintain his online anonymity, has embarked on a massive project on his food blog, The author, a fellow I've known for twenty years, is one of the most particular, exacting, thoughtful, and thorough people I've ever known; when looks into something, he looks into it exhaustively. If you're a foodie, and especially a chocophile, you may be aware of the saga of NōKA Chocolate, an extremely expensive (and pretentious) chocolate manufacturer which DallasFood basically took apart (read about the saga here). My friend isn't planning any kind of food vendetta right now, but he has embarked upon a huge, sprawling series, filled with close historical research and some excellent art and videos, aiming to tell the whole story of the Italian (actually Turinese) chocolate, gianduia. I knew basically nothing about this delicacy before, and I'm learning more, and getting hungrier, every week. (He's even helped me pronounce it.) Absolutely worth checking out.


The Modesto Kid said...

No, I'm in that c-2005 blogging cocoon with you. Don't update my blogroll much any more though.

Jacob T. Levy said...

1) You're too kind.

2) I still read blogs, albeit mainly in google reader rather than clicking on my blogroll. I also update my blogroll. But facebook and twitter have certainly taken a lot of wind out of blogginsg's sails.

3) I've had one other extended experiment in group blogging: Open University at, now defunct. That group was too disparate and never really gelled; I think this group is cohesive enough to generate a blog-voice.

Russell Arben Fox said...

Modesto, I'm glad I'm not alone. (Of course, I know I'm not really; the blogosphere as it emerged/was-constructed from 2003-2007 or thereabouts is too huge to simply be abandoned all at once. But I am occasionally struck by a sense of datedness...which I don't really mind, I guess, but still.)


1) Not at all; it's much deserved.

2) Truthfully, I use Google reader far more than my blogroll as well. But I'm really surprised (and, I guess, gratified) to hear you actually maintain your blogroll; I genuinely wonder sometimes if the time I take to do so isn't another one of my many borderline OCD traits.

3) That's right! I remember Open University. That was...2006 or 2007 or so? Too bad it didn't work out, but then I seem to recall that, for a time, there were several of high-profile efforts to imitate what Crooked Timber has managed to achieve. Wasn't there one left-leaning group blog that claimed a lot of big names on its masthead--Rorty, Appiah, and others? I can't even remember what it was called. Obviously didn't last long.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Left2Right. An important object lesson in how you can get a bad blog out of great writers.

Russell Arben Fox said...

That was it. And it's still on the webs, too. The internet will never let anything die.

matt said...

I resent the implication that I am only occasionally crazy. To designate one as even partially sane in contemporary society is to paint them as complicit. I am stark raving mad. For example, I don't like the taste of peanut butter, I think the souls of aborted babies get another chance, and the voices of seemingly chaste, pure-hearted female Christian and Mormon pop singers make me feel quite randy.

Russell Arben Fox said...


I am stark raving mad.

Mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore!

I don't like the taste of peanut butter

You're a damn Frenchman, then.

I think the souls of aborted babies get another chance

Well, that would be the just thing.

the voices of seemingly chaste, pure-hearted female Christian and Mormon pop singers make me feel quite randy

For you, then.

matt said...

Thanks. I would go back even further to find the REAL schlocky Amy stuff though--

That's what I'm talkin' about baby.

Lee said...

Count me in the still-reading-blogs camp. Twitter has its uses, but it's hardly a replacement for the off-the-cuff, medium-to-long-form writing that blogs specialize in. (I think to the extent Twitter has replaced blogs, it's often to the detriment of thought and conversation.) And I don't like it when people use FB as an ersatz blogging platform; why would I want to inflict my rants and ruminations on my friends? I prefer to inflict them on the public at large!

Hector said...

Re: I think the souls of aborted babies get another chance,

There's some fascinating speculation in the early (second-century, IIRC) Christian literature about what happens to the souls of aborted babies, infanticides, and other children who die before the age of reason (or the age of baptism, it's not always clear). The mystical vision entitled 'The Apocalypse of Peter', which was written around AD 100 and was viewed as canonical scripture by many early Christians, goes into some detail about the topic, and Clement of Alexandria offers his own thought on the matter. In brief, what both Pseudo-Peter and Clement seemed to think was that aborted babies are neither damned, nor are they immediately and automatically saved, but rather experience some sort of alternate life in which they can become capable of growing up and making free choice the same way that we would. A 'second chance', in other words.

There's a very interesting piece from First Things in late 2009 that touches on the topic (and I'd recommend reading the Apocalypse of Peter as well, though it's not for the squeamish and can be very graphic).

FTR, I also hate peanut butter, and I'm not even a big fan of peanuts nowadays (I ate more than enough for the rest of my life during my two and a half years in Africa- peanuts are a staple all across the continent).

Hector said...

Correction, read 'inspired scripture' for 'canonical'.....obviously there was no 'canon', per se, prior to the fourth century.