My blogroll — which for me just means “regularly visited sites, some of whom are actually not blogs, plus the WordPress.com link to honor my kind hosts” — was a bit out of date so I added a few items, all places where I’ve lurked for a long time and still do.
I’m a very good lurker since I seldom think up anything topical and original to say; it’s a gift of Finland. For Finns the amount of people when thoughts and words flow most freely and daringly is not two — it’s one.
Or that’s my excuse anyway.
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I’ll try to say a few words about each link below. As I am, again in typically Finnish fashion, very bad in saying good things, and even worse in the hyperbolic American-style adulation these links deserve (and often receive), I will now issue a blanket statement: all the links below are to awesome sites.
Blogroll newcomers (though none are new acquaintances to me) are in bold.
- Bad Astronomy — Phil Plait’s blog. Astronomy, space science stuff, skepticism, and hitting certain wackaloons — such as paraeidolists, moon hoaxers and anti-vaccinationists — over the head with the scathing shovel of his mind whenever there is cause.
- Daylight Atheism — Ebonmuse’s blog about atheism, with an adjacent “static” site, Ebon Musings. Both are among the most forceful and beautiful expressions of the subject I’ve read.
- Geologic Podcast — George Hrab’s podcast. The best podcast I’ve found so far; I don’t have high hopes of finding a better one. It’s — uh, I guess unusual humor, news commentary and slices of life. Except much, much better than what you probably imagine by that description. If ever the words of a nameless internet hobo (me) have moved you, move now and go listen to Mr. Hrab.
- Greta Christina’s blog — One of those blogs that make me feel somehow perversely proud that I share at least one characteristic with the writer — atheism, namely. Like Ebonmuse above, she writes not only forcefully, but beautifully.
- Halfway There — Zeno’s blog; atheism and math teaching. I could make a sly remark about how it is nice to read the thoughts of another mathematically oriented person, but that is unnecessary; Halfway There is a well-written, thoughtful blog, period.
A little break. I just have to mention that writing these descriptions is rather awkward — I’m not used to praising so many in so quick a succession. Makes me feel like a priest in some thousand-god Hindu temple. Then again, it would be weird should I clutter my ‘roll with mediocrities — ah well.
- JREF — James Randi Educational Foundation, another tireless fighter in the ceaseless war against mankind’s primal gullibility. (And surely you know ‘skeptic’ is the opposite of ‘gullible’?)
- Pharyngula — PZ Myers’s blog, with incredible amounts of traffic, staggering thousands of comments, and an equally prodigious output of posts. The place for the latest about atheism, anti-creationism and general clear-thinking science-mindedness. (Also daily theist vivisections. The comments can get a bit heated.)
- Piled Higher and Deeper — Jorge Cham’s webcomic about graduate students. It is not as made up as you might think.
- Richard Dawkins.net — The website of Richard Dawkins Foundation; the subtitle “A clear-thinking oasis” describes it pretty well. Enough videos and collated articles to keep one happily bloated for a long while. (And by “bloated” I mean “both entertained and educated”.)
- Rumic World — The best Rumiko Takahashi fansite I know. (A-ha! Thought this was going to be another atheist site, huh? Didn’t you? No! No sirree! I have interests outside atheism and skepticism, you know! Like, y’know, naked women. And Rumiko Takahashi.) If this identification rings no bells, may I suggest going to your local bookshop and ordering the first volume of Ranma 1/2? Only a few dollars or euros, and quite possibly a start for a long, expensive, and hugely enjoyable addiction. (Dang. This always happens when I try to recommend something.)
- Skeptoid — Brian Dunning’s podcast. Ten minutes of skeptical goodness about one chosen subject every week. Dunning’s better than any book of ghosts or unexplained tales I’ve ever read — he not only tells the mysterious tale, but also looks at it carefully, skeptically, and offers an explanation for it; and I can’t think of a single occasion when the (probable) explanation was any less intriguing than the initial mystery.
- Subnormality — A webcomic. Smart, funny and unusual. (Those are pretty much the three words that, in my opinion, should be enough to send anyone scampering for the target, but if that’s not enough, imagine an “extra” in front of each. And, keeping to a certain theme in these here links, there’s one piece about An Atheist Apocalypse.)
- The Amateur Scientist — A blog and a podcast about science- and lunacy-related things. Very funny. (Sorry. After all these items, my ability to think up unique words of praise is getting strained. Really, it’s a good podcast. Though a bit embarrassing when it’s coming out of your earphones and you try to stare at the cereal aisle at the local supermarket and avoid maniacal laughter while the podcast co-host duck is suffering grievous and hilarious bodily harm — that was episode 43, and around the words “Thou shalt not pass!”)
- Whatever — John Scalzi’s blog. He’s both an ancient of the web-diary world and a successful science fiction writer. And a very funny guy. (I said I was running out of praise juice. Too many links to describe. Ugh.) If you want to know, Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula and Whatever are the only three blogs I check every day — because I know they will deliver something worth reading.
- WordPress.com — My lovely host-organism… eh, host-mechanism. I’ve wandered from one blog to another, reading them and looking at all the incidentals and commenting mechanisms and such, but I haven’t seen one that would have looked better than this choice o’mine. Pretty, smart, versatile, agile, with no irritating quirks — hey, WordPress has all the qualities a good girlfriend should have. (Well, except that WordPress can’t give you — wait, what’s this button?)
- xkcd — Randall Munroe’s webcomic. The best webcomic I know of. I’m willing to hazard a guess that it’s the best webcomic there is; and why stop with webcomics? One of the best comic strips I know. Right up there with Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. (325: “Instead of office chair package contained bobcat. Would not buy again.”; also, after reading a bit, try hovering the mouse above it.)
In addition to these additions, I removed Perry Bible Fellowship (doesn’t update no more, though the archive is stellar), Engrish (I don’t go there that much anymore) and WordPress.org (uh, the .com link should be enough to show my gratitude; besides, long blog-and-whatever-rolls are inelegant).
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As there are a few podcasts on the roll, I take the chance to mention a few of my opinions about those: If one wants to retain me as a listener, no endless repetition of what is ahead. No endless hur-huring and snarky backslapping among the hosts; that might amuse them, but just irritates me — if I want to listen to pointless laughter, I’ll go to a bar and sit there nursing a Coke. No promos except in the end, where one can skip them; I don’t long for commercial breaks as long as this little thing called a “pause button” exists. No endless, aimless jawing, hello-ing and whatcha-happening-ing. And, by the empty heavens above, if that is in any way possible, please, pretty please, no commercials.
If one wants to hear three podcasts that, in my opinion and a bit limited experience, are smooth and nice listening by their format and construction (and, of course, by their content), Skeptoid, Geologic Podcast and J.C. Hutchins‘s 7th Son podcast novels (specifically, the “chatterbox edition” or the “version with a frame story” as I think of it) are where the quality’s at.