Monday, October 15, 2007

Awwww ... And It's Not Even Valentine's Day

Well, those of you who read my blog regularly will notice that I’ve given BlogRush the BlogBrush. The two-week experiment is done. As of this moment, I’m no longer a shill for Christians and other superstition-mongers. And — hooray! — I don’t have to say “widget” any more.

Now that the Jesus-jumpers have bounded off my pages, I thought it was high time to throw in a few out-of-the-blue plugs for some folks in the Atheosphere.

I read quite a few atheist blogs. But there are only a few that I keep going back to, again and again and again. The writers of these blogs are people who have come alive in my mind, who, even though I’ve never met them personally, I feel that I know in some way. I’d enjoy inviting them into my home for drinks and dinner. They’re people who, if the theists are correct, I could see hanging out with through an eternity of hell.

The following catalog is definitely not complete. I know I’ll be kicking myself as soon as I publish for leaving out someone I really like. I’ll make it up to them later, I promise. For now, these are the ten bloggers (maybe eleven, as you’ll see), listed in alphabetical order by the names of their blogs, that I’d most want to break open an expensive bottle of wine with. I’m well aware, by the way, that some of them would prefer beer.

A Load of Bright
I really dislike most blogs that spend a lot of time philosophizing. But tobe’s is different. It’s often exhilarating watching him think through a philosophical problem, and sharing his step-by-step process with us readers, inviting us along for the mental ride. Plus he’s a damn good writer, who knows how to turn a phrase just so. I suspect he crafts many of his little essays with great care, and it shows; they stand up well to repeated readings. That's about the most complimentary thing I can think of to say to a fellow writer, and tobe deserves it.

A Whore in the Temple of Reason
Sacred slut’s is visually the most stylish blog, bar none, that I've seen. But the content is great, too, full of nice, nasty zingers. She recently wrote a line that still has me laughing two weeks later. In response to the zillions of conflicting interpretations of Christianity, she said: ... when the Son of God comes to Earth to tell all humankind something, it ought to be pretty damned fucking clear what the message is. Pow, right to the point! See why I love reading her blog?

Atheist Revolution
I’ll say it right up front: I read vjack for purely selfish reasons. I don’t think there’s another blogger whose posts I’ve more frequently felt compelled to jump off from, expand upon, disagree with, or otherwise link to than his. If that weren’t reason enough to hang around his site, I’m impressed with how hard the guy works to create a sense of a nonbeliever community. If such a community exists — and I think it does — it’s in no small part due to his efforts. Thanks, vjack.

Deep Thoughts
Let’s get this out of the way: Mojoey sucks at spelling. But, oddly, that’s one of the things I like most about his blog. It always seems as if it’s written lightning fast, in the heat of passion. Fuck spelling. For powerful pissed-off-edness, you can’t beat him. He’s the Avenging non-Angel going after criminal religious leaders; no transgressor escapes his commentary. Of course, Mojoey is also the man responsible for the Atheist Blogroll, no mean feat, for which we all owe him a debt of gratitude. But I’d be devouring his blog under any circumstances. That long parade of fiendish priests and pastors is impossible to resist.

Evolutionary Middleman
I enjoy reading John’s posts so much because he puts on no airs whatsoever; I always feel as if he’s just sitting around, having a conversation that I’m encouraged to join. His words are so natural, never forced, never padded. In the recent past, he joked self-deprecatingly about his writing abilities, but he’s full of shit. Just look at the paragraph up there at the top of his blog; it’s a perfect and succinct preview of what you’ll find below. John is also one of the most fervent supporters around of lifetime learning. Once, when he ran a long string of recommended science books, he ended by saying: I'm not suggesting my reading ideas are the best. If you don't care for science or even any non-fiction, then get a couple of good works of fiction. Just read. Television is ruining us. Revolt by Reading! That would be great stuff if only he weren't such a poor writer, eh?

I don’t have much to say about Babs, only that she’s the funniest blogger in the Atheosphere. On rare occasions when she gets serious and shares a piece of her personal life, she can be tremendously moving, because, wow, can she write. But, as I said, she’s usually merely the funniest blogger in the Atheosphere.

Friendly Atheist
I’ll be honest. Sometimes Hemant is too damn friendly for my grumpy taste. But he’s the clearing-house for everything going on in the atheist world. If you’re not reading his blog, you’re just not getting all the godless news. And anyone who has a skeptical cause that needs championing can count on him all the way. If we atheists ever come up with our own version of “We Are the World,” Hemant’s will be the loudest voice. Oh, and just so you don’t get the wrong idea: sometimes the guy can be pretty sarcastic. I like that in a person.

Spanish Inquisitor
You didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition, did you? Well, actually, if you read my blog, you probably did. I think SI has one of the finest minds in the Atheosphere, and his writing is always entertaining and stimulating. I leave comments, even if they’re just snide one-liners, more often on John’s blog than on any others. That’s because his posts grab you by the lapels (if you’re a guy; if you’re a woman I don’t know what they grab you by) and insist on a response. His is often the first site I check when I hit the Internet running.

Why Don’t You Blog?
I have a confession to make about this blog: I’m not 100% certain that TW and heather are two separate people. If we did have dinner, I wouldn’t know whether to set two places or just one for somebody with a split personality. In any case, WDYB is the site I visit to learn what’s happening in the Brit atheist world. The writing is sharp and witty, whichever one of them/her/him is doing it. I also love that sometimes heather’s topics come surprisingly from way out in left field. (Like the report on the woman who claimed that she could use the power of her mind to make people piss themselves, or the rant about good and bad starchy foods.) I’d love to raise a pint with him/her/them, although I'd have to apologize in advance about the carbohydrates.

You Made Me Say It
In a way, it’s appropriate that PhillyChief’s blog comes last because it’s the newest one on my list. Just a little more than two months ago, I was flattered to get an email from him, telling me that he enjoyed reading my blog, and that if I was interested in taking a quick look, he’d just that day started one of his own. Little did I know that his site would become one of my favorites. Among the things I like most about it is what's stated very clearly in the blog’s title: Philly just has to say it, whatever it happens to be that day. There’s always a sense of urgency there. There are no filler posts, no random musings. He reminds me of Howard Beale in Network: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Of course, Philly writes it; he doesn't yell it out the window. At least I think he doesn't.

If I were able to gather all these characters together at one long areligious table, I’d want to find an extra chair for Sarge. He doesn’t have his own blog, but he comments frequently on mine and on almost every other one that I read regularly. He’s an inveterate story-teller; no matter what the topic, Sarge has a personal yarn to spin. It’s people like Sarge, non-bloggers in a bloggy world, who make us realize that we’re reaching out beyond just the incestuous inter-linking Atheosphere crowd. Pour that guy another glass.

OK, folks, the love-letter is over. Take your candy and flowers and get the hell out of here.


John Evo said...

First of all, all of the blogs you mentioned (that I have heard of) are blogs I also would list as personal favorites. (How was THAT sentence as an example of my fine writing ability?) Further, I agreed with all of your REASONS for liking those blogs (and Sarge gets honorable inclusion for me as well).

Second, thanks for posting this, because I have never even heard of several of these and your evaluation is valued by me; so I'll definitely check out each of them.

Third, thanks for the kind words, but (gosh, gee) I really suck and don't deserve it. The only thing you said that I agree with is - "he's full of shit". You should have, at least, taken me out of alphabetical order and dropped me down below Sarge. You know?

Finally, I guess my only desent would be the fact that you left off a few blogs that I've seen you post at, that I personally think are excellent. But, I'll leave YOU to kick yourself on that!

John Evo said...


"I guess my only dissent would be"

for those interested in life-long learning.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Ok, John, so you proved him wrong. Did you have to go and do that?

That makes everything he's said subject to suspicion and skepticism. I mean, just look at what he wrote about me. I can't trust anything he says now. :)

Reason's Whore said...

Yeah, and did you see what he wrote about me? Me, nasty? I don't know what you're talking about.

Thanks for the link Exterminator! Most of these are faves of mine as well, and I'm looking forward to checking out the others.

Hemant said...

I'm thrilled to be on the list :) Thanks, buddy.

PhillyChief said...

Thanks, buddy. I always love a plug. I'll have to visit some of the blogs you listed that I don't know. If you like them, it's a good bet I'll like them I think.

When I first wrote the Exterminator, he gave me some tips for getting exposure and very politely explained to me that with just one post he couldn't justify plugging my blog. I honestly felt like a douche because I was worried that he might have thought I was writing him simply to get exposure and that my solicitation for a critique was disingenuous. I was relieved after I had shared this with him when he told me he didn't think that at all.

I checked out his blog because of the interview on Dogma Free America. At that time I felt a lot of what I was seeing online was quite tight assed. His seemed noticeably different and I got into a lot of his postings. I'm an artist and it's very common to interact online in cg communities and get critiques so I felt writing the Exterminator for a critique wasn't out of the ordinary. Perhaps it was, and you writers are a different kind of animal.

The Exterminator said...

Philly, you said:
I'm an artist and it's very common to interact online in cg communities and get critiques so I felt writing the Exterminator for a critique wasn't out of the ordinary. Perhaps it was, and you writers are a different kind of animal.

I've actually found that the online writers I read -- and please let me draw the distinction between writers and people who merely key words onto the screen -- are quite forthcoming with info and criticism.

Because blogging is kind of a spontaneous activity, and doesn't represent "finished work" in the sense of, say, a magazine article or a book, we don't tend to exchange ideas beforehand about our writing. We just throw out our posts and expose them to criticism. Which, when we're lucky, we get -- in the form of comments.

I also think that many bloggers are concerned merely with content and never think about style, a situation which certainly doesn't exist in the visual/graphics community. One of the reasons that I like the blogs listed above is that they each have a style, although I'm not sure that all of their creators are aware of that. If the ten bloggers (OK: eleven) I listed were asked to write a post on such-and-such, there would be eleven completely different reading experiences floating through the ether the next day.

On the other hand, we don't tend to comment very often, if at all, on simple mechanics. Notice that John-Evo subtly corrected my posted phrase "lifetime learning" to "life-long learning." His is, of course, better: it's more precise, and rolls off the tongue more interestingly. But I don't think that he, or any of us -- well, maybe I'll except myself, because I'm kind of a grammar Nazi -- would say to another blogger, "why don't you phrase it this way?"

In the visual/graphics community, though, that kind of give-and-take happens often. ("Hey, that purple background is too intense. You need to screen it down a shade or two.") But to be blunt: I've never heard of one graphic artist critiquing another's work with quite the vehemence that we routinely use to challenge one another's ideas.

PhillyChief said...

One major difference I would say exists when comparing most visual art I see and the writings of bloggers is the art is almost devoid of meaning and is merely an exercise of technique. Good technique exists in blog writing, but it's more of a bonus than a necessity.

I haven't seen anyone comment on a person's technique in writing so far unless it was a snip about spelling. I think this is because the message of the post demands too much attention and also, as you say, "bloggers are concerned merely with content and never think about style".

Another thing about blogs is, and the Exterminator is the best example of this, there's little or no concern with visual appearance. Rarely there's an image that goes with the posts. I can't help but have an image with each post and sometimes I spend more time tracking down or creating an image than I do the writing. Be it something funny or very moving (I'm quite proud of my choice of Rockwell's Freedom of Speech for my In or Out post) I think an image is very important. I can see how some hardcore bloggers may see that as gimmicky or distracting, but if the post is strong and the image perfectly captures the post then I think it's a powerful combo. Incidentally, I wanted to be a book cover illustrator when I first started so I'm naturally biased.

The Exterminator said...

Philly, you said:
Another thing about blogs is, and the Exterminator is the best example of this, there's little or no concern with visual appearance.

You don't know how right you are. My wife complains about my visual appearance every time we go out to dinner. "You're not wearing THAT, are you?"

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Ha! I just point to the closet and resignedly say "OK, tell me what I'm wearing."

Back on point, there's something about the topic we generally rant about that requires a certain seriousness, so when we receive criticism, it's almost always constructive, not destructive. One can't take offense at constructive criticism.

What I like about your blog, Ex, is that you make serious points with humor, razor sharp wit, and a bit of subtle irreverence (well, not always that subtle). Generally, you strike a bulls eye more often than not with that style of writing.

The Exterminator said...

Thanks a lot for the compliment. I'll keep "razor sharp wit" ready for the next time my wife makes fun of my outfit.

"You're not wearing THAT, are you?"
"Yes, it's the only thing I have that matches my razor-sharp wit."
"Oh, and here I thought those holes in your shirt were just cigar burns."

Nope, unfortunately, that's not gonna work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind words. I've found that most people, if they think about it, have good stories.

A young lady I met during a civil air patrol function said that I'd had adventures, she never had such a thing. She went home to Utah, talked about her three weeks which included riding herd on fifty teenagers, driving in the Washington Baltimore area in rush hour traffic (on one occasion driving the wrong way on a four lane road) and some of the other things. We had contact later, and she said people said, "Boy! You really had an adventure!" She said it sure hadn't seemed like one at the time. Well, that's life.

Keep telling it like it is, I love it. Some of the most intelligent people I've ever run across are here.

Babs Gladhand said...

Do I get some kind of award? 'Cause I loves me some awards. In fact, I think if you could have my name engraved on a statue of the virgin Mary or something, that'd be way cool. But it has to be an ultra-tacky plastic Mary. And it has to be pink. And her eyes have to light up. Or, no...I want them to shoot laser beams. How cool would that be?

Am I asking too much? I am, aren't I.

Seriously though, I have to say that it makes me feel pretty damn good to know that there's at least one person out there who finds my rambling to be amusing.

Thank you very much for the linkage and the sweet words.

The Exterminator said...

Your award is in the mail. You'll recognize it as soon as you see the box, which is marked: "Self-wetting Malibu Mary, pink. Caution: Laser-beam eyes not suitable for Fundamentalists." If you don't receive it within ten business days, you probably should question your letter carrier and/or local religious zealot.

John Evo said...

Exterminator said: "Notice that John-Evo subtly corrected my posted phrase "lifetime learning" to "life-long learning." His is, of course, better: it's more precise, and rolls off the tongue more interestingly"

You give me way too much credit, my friend. You need not look so deep for the meaning. I think that's the way I worded it in an earlier post, didn't even think about exactly how you had it, and just repeated myself.

And I would never correct you - stylistically at least!

John Evo said...

Philly Chief: "(I'm quite proud of my choice of Rockwell's Freedom of Speech for my In or Out post)"

What? You aren't going to point to Stewie barfing as a great choice?

Mojoey said...

Oh man, you made me laugh so hard. I refer to myself as a spelltard for good reason. Even with a super duper spellchecker running, I manage to mangle a few words in every post. My only excuse is that I never really learned how to spell. I went to school in the late 60s and 70s. At the time I was selected for a special phonics spelling program. It resulted in the development of a gigantic vocabulary of words that I know the meaning of but have no idea how to spell.

I’m glad you like my blog. My choices are very much in line with yours.

Anonymous said...

Am embarrassed to read this so late after you wrote it and confused to find that at least one of us at Whats Don't You has been subsumed into one blog persona. Please don't make me have an identity crisis.
Thanks a lot for the mention. I love your blog. Those of the other blogs that I know well are all pretty much favourites. There must be a community of taste here somewhere.
Some of your posts are beyond brilliant. The atheist themed breakfast cereal, the characterisation of atheist blogs, the student posts. They all made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

In a similar vein to Heather, I have to apologise for missing this post when it first came out but last Monday seems to have been a non-day as far as both Heather and I were concerned.

Sadly, I can't do much to separate the idea we are the same person with this comment, as I agree with pretty much everything she said. The list you put together was an excellent collection of very good blogs - there are some missed off (IMHO of course) such as Nullifidian's blog, but you pretty much identified the blogs I visit as often as possible.

Keep up the good work, keep writing posts which keep us enthralled and entertained. I will try to find some way of proving Heather and I are different people (we dont even live in the same country any more...) :-)

JP said...

What a gem of a post. As one who is an old blogger but new to the free-thinking community, I have my hands full of blogs to scope out.

Appreciate this.....

It's about time I found some good blogs to add to the blogroll.

nullifidian said...

Some excellent choices there TE, I'm going to have to agree! :-)