Best blog posts ever

by Henry Farrell on November 3, 2007

“Jim Henley”:, “Matthew Yglesias”:, “Brad DeLong”:, “Dan Drezner”:, and now “Scott Lemieux”: have various nominations for the Best Blogpost or Best 5 Blogposts ever. If (in a blatant act of ballot-box stuffing), we count posts that have been nominated by more than one of the above-gathered experts once for each time they have been nominated, we arrive at the startling conclusion that _50% of the bestest blogposts ever have been written by Crooked Timber contributors! ! !_ Of course, none of those posts was actually published _at_ Crooked Timber, a fact over which we will pass swiftly, and in silence. To even the odds a little, nominations are invited below for the 5 Best Blogposts Ever by Non-CTers. Please be specific – ‘everything by Fafblog’ does not count as a vote, whereas 5 individual links to 5 individual Fafblog posts does .

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my saddest blog post ever «
11.04.07 at 6:05 am



Mike Molloy 11.03.07 at 6:19 am

Some personal favorites.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Making Light – “Namarie Sue”

COMMENT: This was the first makinglight post i read, via a post at here Crooked Timber by Kieran on Neil Stevenson’s Crytonomicon that used the term “mary sue”, and linked to this post. First place I encountered “mary sue,” I think. Not that you should care about that; but that’s why I especially like this one among the many fine posts at Making Light.

Derek Lowe / In The Pipeline – “A Vaccine Against Putting On Weight?”

COMMENT: It’s hard to single out a particular DLowe post; I nominate this one as a good example of his usual high standards, featuring fine prose (messing with the immune system, as I like to say, is like the medieval attempts to summon demons from Hell) and a clear discussion, in layman’s terms, of a technical issue from the world of pharmaceuticals.

Fafnir / Fafblog – “How To Tell How Gay Your Gay Son Is”

COMMENT: This post had me at “If he is beaten mercilessly by the wolf while apologizing for its economic agenda, he is a Log Cabin Republican.” Also, runners up: every post by fafblog, except this one

Joe Posnanski / JoeBlog Pain …

COMMENT: More off the usual topics of this blog than my other choices, really, since local sports-blogging tends toward cricket, rugby and non american-football. But this post may have some more general interest; it is a very fine explanation of the experience of the fan of team that hasn’t had success in a long time.

Chad Orzel / Uncertain Principles (the pre-Scienceblogs version) – Testing String Theory

COMMENT: Orzel’s a terrific blogger in general; I especially like his stuff on scientists-in-the-lab and how-science-is-done; this is a noteworthy example of that.


Exile 11.03.07 at 6:24 am

Can I nominate myself? I am rather please with this post, it concerns my memories of that wonderful summer of 1976.

Thinking about Britain today, it seems to me as if a lot of folk live under a system of what I call internal colonialism. Clearly that situation needs to be redressed and the days of oderint dum metuant need to return.

For that to happen the failure of socialism needs to be considered, I suppose. Finally, just to make the five, let me offer a taste of anti-Popery and anti-Islam.



Pinko Punko 11.03.07 at 8:25 am

Since when did giblets play by the rules?

Ok, giblets vs. the sun.

“The monkey is deployed. The monkey is useless!”


Andrew C 11.03.07 at 8:35 am

Sadly, No! doing a magnificent takedown of the beltway insider echo-chamber that is “The Atlantic Monthly”
Fafblog provides an FAQ to the Iraq occupation

That’s only 2, but they are worth reading anyway. Especially Fafblog.


rea 11.03.07 at 9:33 am

The Platonic ideal of a blog post & comments:


Gdr 11.03.07 at 10:05 am

Giblets on the “ticking bomb” argument for torture: Would You, Could You, In A Box? “Giblets will of course regret this terrible violation of human rights and civil liberties, almost as much as he will regret enjoying it.”


sharon 11.03.07 at 10:26 am

Scott’s Morning.

Also, I second rea’s nomination.


MR. Bill 11.03.07 at 10:27 am
The only Billmon I can find it in comments here….


kid bitzer 11.03.07 at 2:18 pm

i think it’s a bit mary-sue-ish to include one of your own posts in this contest isn’t it?

i mean–it would be at least slightly more subtle to say the equivalent of “my five favorite novels are middlemarch, sense & sensibility, tristram shandy, bleakhouse, and the life of bitzer”.

it’s like spoofing the affinity-algorithm. “hmm…i liked sense & sensibility alright; maybe i should try this “life of bitzer”!”


mapantsula 11.03.07 at 2:49 pm

Personally, I thought the life of bitzer dragged a bit towards the end. Still, it was better than Middlemarch.


LizardBreath 11.03.07 at 3:10 pm

I’ve always liked Fafnir’s plan for getting us out of Iraq.

Then we will have specially trained troops sent out to each Iraqi home with cords attached to their backs and wait until sunrise and when all the Iraqi families start to wake up yawning and stretching and so on our troops jump out waving wiggly fingers and goin “It was allllll a dream… it was alllllll a dream!”

The wiggly fingers here are very crtical here and if not done correctly could spoil everything.


kid bitzer 11.03.07 at 3:16 pm

lb–you forgot to block-quote that last line (i could tell it wasn’t you because you would never misspell “critical”).

you wanna know something fucking depressing? that hilarious fafblog episode is from may 15, 2004. three and one half years ago.
and we still are bleeding, day after day, for no good reason at all.


baa 11.03.07 at 3:27 pm

Belle Waring on gay marriage. Great example of an author thoughtfully inhabiting a point of view she disagrees with. Not too common on the web, or anywhere.

Megan McCardle likewise on
on gay marriage and the marginal case.


Matt McIrvin 11.03.07 at 4:33 pm

Belle Waring’s original post on “schmibertarianism”, her “By the power of stipulation: I have the power!”, and John Holbo’s essay on “Dark Satanic Millian Conservatism” have got to be up there.

Also, TNH’s “Squick and squee”.


Andy Vance 11.03.07 at 4:48 pm

The Editors often get nominated for “Poker with Dick Cheney,” but Fractal self-similarity of the Wingnut Function is my favorite. I don’t mean “ha-ha” funny, but more like “I-have-just been-diagnosed-with-incureable-Ebola” funny.

Runner- is a post that begins,

I’m going “down the shore” today, so I’m asking you to answer a couple of questions in the comments while I’m lounging on Risden’s Beach in Point Pleasant: What will it take to militarize the United States? What will it take to militarize Western Europe?


Matt McIrvin 11.03.07 at 4:59 pm


jhe 11.03.07 at 8:25 pm

Fafblog’s 6/10 Changed Everything. “…a noose is just a suicide bomb with a very small blast radius” is just brilliant. Also another vote for John Roger’s Crazification Factor.


aa 11.03.07 at 9:02 pm

Wouldn’t it be much simpler to first agree on the top five Fafblog posts, and set them aside? I was strongly impressed by Alberto Gonzalez versus a baked potato but the wealth of material is daunting (Giblets’ moon statue, how to end the Iraq war with a very large rock, and on …)

Or to start with something really manageable, perhaps we could agree on the best five posts with the phrase “over which we will pass” in them. My personal ranking would be:

1. The present one.
2. Polish standard bidding
3. Legendary Outback Expedition
4. Hurricane Mitch
5. El Cortijo de Juan el Molinero

Quality in this division trails off rather quickly, with the final entry ravaged by age and neglect.

But with a slight liberalization of the criteria, we find Foucault.
(And hermeneutics! Yay!)

And it’s a real horse race after that.


Justin 11.03.07 at 9:10 pm

4 words:

Spongebob Squarepants Air Rifle.


Ken Houghton 11.03.07 at 10:14 pm

The Megan post referenced above is an argument against heterosexual marriage. (If your marriage would not happen if gay people can get married, then you’re making the correct decision in not getting married.)

Berube on Jamie and the Beatles is probably my favorite, based on my corrolary to the One-Minute MBA Rule: no one who has read it really needs a URL to remember it.


walt 11.04.07 at 12:41 am

By the rules of the post, Belle’s posts are excluded.


Lloyd Mintern 11.04.07 at 1:42 am

The American Fez, written daily by Stephenesque, has to be the most consistently clever and free-spirited blog around. A truly original voice.


bi 11.04.07 at 5:54 am

Why hasn’t anyone nominated Chris Clarke’s “How to Explain Things to Libertarians”? Anyway, I’m nominating it.

“The carefully designed questions display a subtle, nearly undetectable bias in favor of a Libertarian point of view:

Complete this sentence: ‘That government is best which…’
1) ‘…takes all the money out of my bank account.’
2) ‘…bludgeons cute little fluffy baby ducks to death.’
3) ‘…governs least.’
4) ‘…takes all the money out of my bank account and bludgeons cute little fluffy baby ducks to death.'”

Followed by Scott Robinson’s blog post on user interfaces

“I love reading Jakob Nielson. Not because he’s a self-proclaimed web guru. Rather, because his articles are almost invariably long and painful to read.”


kid bitzer 11.04.07 at 7:06 pm

i think we’re making an error here in not putting forward some billmon.

i can’t come up with any individual posts right off hand, but i remember thinking back when he and fafblog were posting, that the two of them were head and shoulders above the rest of the writers on the web.

only digby nowadays rivals billmon at his best–and that is very high praise.


John Emerson 11.05.07 at 12:37 am

Yeah, what happened to Billmon? My understanding is that he lost hope, which I fully understand.


almostinfamous 11.05.07 at 2:25 pm

Jon Schwarz ‘s Iron law of institutions is slightly useful, if not an actual physical law.


Tom Scudder 11.05.07 at 2:51 pm

I went looking at hitherby dragons posts (which of course are all stories), and figured this meditation on torture is maybe the best for a general audience.


Demosthenes 11.05.07 at 4:07 pm

I’d beat my own drum, but that’d be unseemly, and I personally think my best was when I was spanking Den Beste, and nobody should have Den Beste inflicted on them if they don’t have to.

So, instead, I’ll just ask if ANYBODY has archived Billmon? Because honestly, he’d walk away with all of these. I mean, digby’s awesome, but c’mon.

Well, almost all. Not the best post, though. The best post is right here. It was Jim Capozzola’s first piece on the media’s “alpha girls and beta girls” structure; how they act like a pack of teenage girls, obsessed over who is and isn’t “cool”. It laid down the real reason why Gore was savaged so severely, and why they gave the benefit of the doubt to Dubya. It’s also why Krugman caught so much flack; because he has a day job and doesn’t really care about whether or not the media think he’s cool, it’s the sort of “gamma girl” that drives the alphas absolutely crazy.

It is STILL relevant today, five years after it was written. It is about the single most important topic to most bloggers: the serious failings of the mass media. Nominating it would be a testament to a man who died needlessly this year for reasons that have everything to do with why any of us bother with this sort of nonsense. It has thoroughly informed discussion of the media subsequent to it. It’s also funny as hell, like most of Jim’s work.

So, yeah, the best post ever was “AL GORE AND THE ALPHA GIRLS: The Enduring Power of Cliques in a Post-High-School World”, by James Capozzola. Damn but do I miss him.


Tom Scudder 11.05.07 at 4:42 pm

<farber>googling “billmon archive” turns up this post and this site</farber>


Demosthenes 11.05.07 at 5:18 pm

Nice! Thanks.

Vote Jim.


The Navigator 11.05.07 at 6:15 pm

How on earth has there been no support for The Book of Hinderaker?

If I had to pick one classic by Slacktivist, I’d go with Reagan’s Bind.


Matt Weiner 11.05.07 at 9:55 pm

I went looking at hitherby dragons posts (which of course are all stories), and figured this meditation on torture is maybe the best for a general audience.


(I also like the story of six — about the renewal of the numbers — but it’s not so politically relevant, and I can’t find it.)


aretino 11.06.07 at 4:16 am

The Editors’ The Summer of War, particularly the antepenultimate paragraph. (I still hear Dennis Hopper’s voice when I read it.)


John Emerson 11.06.07 at 5:13 am

Second the Cappazzola / Gore post. And I miss the guy. Terribly sad.


Big Gav 11.06.07 at 11:06 am

Billmon lost hope ?

I think that was about right – though as I understand it he also wanted to spend more time with his family and there was a vague suggestion in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s tribute article that his career wasn’t being helped by his blogging activities.

I did see him pop up in the comments at Glenn Greenwald’s column a month or so ago, just saying “I don’t like to say I told you so, but I told you so” (on a post about the Democrats once again caving in on something or other).

Billmon was the best of all.

I’d nominate something like “If It Quacks Like a Duck” or “The Flight Forward” or perhaps the one where he called the inhabitants of Little Green Footballs “semen stained genocide freaks”…


Tom Scudder 11.06.07 at 5:13 pm

Six’s story is indeed brilliant.


Matt Weiner 11.06.07 at 10:01 pm

Thanks Tom! I have no idea why that wouldn’t come up on my searches.

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