I'd like to talk about a blogger I've been reading lately, but I'm trying to figure out what my angle is.
This isn't a recommendation exactly - recently the blogger in question confessed to having been accused in conversation of running a "neofascist hate blog".
This is not an incredibly far fetched description of his opinions and topic selection. Kinda.
It's very strange to feel ... ambiguous ... about the writer in question since ambiguity is definitely not one of his flaws. I guess this is a warning (or at least a recommendation prefaced by a warning) about someone I've been reading lately.
Let me start by enumerating a few of his flaws. First he is verbose. Now I have been accused at times (particularly in technical writing) of going on and on. Let me assure you that while I have my flaws in this regard he is much worse! If brevity is the soul of wit he may be the stupidest blogger you'll ever read. In fact I view him as the alternate trek version of Instapundit - similarly spending 24 hours a day blogging but instead of posting 30 times a day he posts once a week. Please don't read him if you aren't willing to wade through lengthy essays!
Secondly he is impolitic. He swears. He expresses opinions in crass ways and expresses opinions that are
heresy against universalism not often heard in polite society. Please don't read him if you are at all uncomfortable with considering opposing viewpoints. This is at a more profound level than whether one is a Democrat or Republican. I'm talking about accusing democracy of being responsible for the 20th century uptick in genocide. I'm talking about publicly noticing that Richard Dawkins is a deeply religious (albeit non-theistic) person who pretends (or really believes himself) to be against all religion. I mean the guy even caps on such foundational institutions as Penguin Books, NPR and Starbucks, for Peet's sake! Don't read him if you have blood pressure problems when people refuse to concede your obvious rightness in argumentation.
Thirdly he is often obscure. I consider myself to be well read in addition to reasonably conversant within my field of technical expertise. This guy is also conversant in issues of computer science but also has posted on economics, literature and philosophy in ways that go right over my head. Do you hate it when people make historical references you don't get? Use their own conceptual vocabulary? You're going to hate this guy!
Still reading huh. Well the blog in question is called Unqualified Reservations. And if you must investigate you might read his latest post on poetry. I laughed so hard I cried reading it to the metawife. But don't say I didn't warn you! Also if you want a deeper taste you might start in on his five part How Dawkins Got Pwned series. And if you're technically inclined you might like his utter condemnation of the University system and his follow up post on what's wrong with CS research. But don't come complaining to me about him...
Oh yeah, so why do I read this guy at all?
Perhaps you've heard a bit of the controversy about the upcoming Golden Compass movie? It's based on a book whose author, Philip Pullman, is allegedly evangelistically anti-religious, the trilogy of Books (the Golden Compass being the first) are supposedly anti-christian and Pullman has said some very unkind things about C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. It was with great interest than that I read the interview with Pullman containing tidbits like:
Interviewer: What sort of response to your books have you been perceiving from Christians? ...
Pullman: ... Christians at the other end, what you might call the thoughtful liberal end of the spectrum, have on the contrary been very welcoming. Many of my most interesting letters have been from, many of my most interesting conversations have been with Christians both Protestant and Catholic. They can see that I take these big questions seriously, and that the morality - the values that the book as a whole upholds and champions - is something on which we can all fully agree.
Interviewer: A number of commentators have argued that, while your books are critical of Christianity etc., they nevertheless reflect Christian virtues ...
Pullman: My answer to that would be that I was brought up in the Church of England, and whereas I'm an atheist, I'm certainly a Church of England atheist, and for the matter of that a 1662 Book of Common Prayer atheist...
Reading UR (particularly the Dawkins series) has made such exchanges not only intelligible to me, but highly hilarious. Your mileage may vary...