Blogger head soup....

A simple statement issued yesterday by the "Reynolds-Althouse Axis" makes me feel incredibly liberated.

you don't have to blog about the news.

So said Ann Althouse, and at the risk of sounding like another axis minion, God bless her for saying it. While many of my posts originate with something I saw in the news, I try to use that as a starting point, and I try not to feel obligated to blather on about current events.

What the hell. This Althouse stuff is so powerfully enabling that I feel like taking it and running with it. Might even involve Coco....

She continues:

Anything might be bloggable. Something someone said, a TV show, a passing thought, a street scene, a new Supreme Court case ... and the news was just one more thing that had the potential to grab my attention. The thing I'm most likely to be criticized for, by commenters and other bloggers, is the failure to write about some particular subject. They tend to assume that the more important a news story is, the more I am obligated to write about it. So, for example, if I don't write about the treatment of the detainees or the war, that in itself constitutes a statement that I don't care or I think everything that is going on is just fine. But in fact, the failure to write may only mean that I respect the difficulty of the subject. Learning to put up with that criticism and not letting it drag me into obligatory blogging has been crucial to preserving the energy and fun of blogging.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I've had the same problem, but not as acutely, as I don't get as many commenters. And I like to think that my commenters are more tolerant of my eccentricities....

Especially YOU, the great, silent majority of my non-commenting commenters.

But people get angry with me from time to time, and some of it is simply because Glenn has been nice enough to link me, that breeds resentment, as I'm seen as a link-seeking sycophant. (Indeed, and even heh indeed, the latest email address of one of the most recent commenters to voice this objection was "" Not that I'd ever share commenters' email addresses, but I just sort of suspect that this wasn't a real email address.)

To answer this criticism in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, how might I plead to the accusation of being a Glenn Reynolds sycophant? While my inclination is to plead guilty, it's old news, and I stand convicted based on old evidence. Reading a post last week by Ed Driscoll (via Dr. Helen), I saw that my name still appears for all the world to see on an ages-old list of 200 Instapundit-inspired bloggers. It's pretty damning, isn't it? I liked InstaPundit so much that I put myself on the list when I was still blogging on blogspot (over 3 1/2 years ago). There's no way out of it. It's true. I was inspired then by InstaPundit, and years later, I still am.

Considering that an admission of being inspired by InstaPundit is damning proof of sycophancy in certain quarters, I probably should disclose this on a regular basis lest anyone accuse me of trying to cover it up!

I'm not sure what the logic is, but some people seem to think that if you like Glenn Reynolds and link to him, that this discredits whatever argument you might have made. It doesn't seem to matter that Glenn might not have done anything except provide a link to what someone else said -- often making it anyone's guess what he might actually think. What I've done more times than I can remember has been to start with a few words from Glenn Reynolds (or from a link he supplied) and then relate half the story of my life, along with what I might think happen to be the most glaring errors in human thinking and "ill defined code language" while kvetching and clucking over the fact that activists and bureaucratic control freaks who'd rule our lives refuse to follow the rules of logic!

Now, there's no rule that says anyone has to like Glenn Reynolds or agree with him. But if I happen to agree with him or link to stuff he's linked there are people who think that my happening to agree with him discredits what I've said -- as if I'd linked to WorldNetDaily with approval or something. It's as if my opinions do not matter -- all that matters is that I like Glenn Reynolds.

There are two problems with this approach. First, I don't hide the fact that I agree with Glenn Reynolds' general philosophy, nor have I ever made it a secret that he inspired me to start blogging. But when I write a long essay defending the "Reynolds Althouse Axis" with a photoshop spoof about the difficulties posed by the word "Christianist," whether I agree with Glenn is not only transparent, it's irrelevant. It's my argument that matters, the reasons why.

Saying that I'm a sycophant rebuts my reasoning about as effectively as charging Ann Althouse with being a "minion" -- or part of an "axis" -- rebuts hers.

Logically, even if I engaged in sycophancy, that would not make what I said wrong. Which leads to another problem with this argument. If it is applied fairly, what happens to Glenn Reynolds (or any other blogger) who links or agrees with me? Wouldn't that make him a sycophant? Some would argue that because there's a "power imbalance," that it would not, but I disagree, because word "sycophant" means "flatterer," and flattery is by definition insincere. (Plus, the powerful can and often do flatter the powerless.) Perhaps the argument is that I don't really mean it when I say I that I agree with Glenn Reynolds, and that my links are similarly insincere. The problem with that is that linking is not only one of the basic rules of courtesy in the blogosphere, but not linking can be considered plagiarism. So if I find and expand upon something Glenn linked and I credit him for it, I'm a sycophant, but if I write about it without linking him, I'm a crook?


Either way, heads will roll!

Which leads me back to the real issue in this post -- how to drag Coco into this, um, soup.


(Coco gets a head because she doesn't have to blog about the news, and she has no axis to grind. No, it's not a talking head, and it wouldn't matter anyway, because Coco won't listen.)

MORE: Speaking of recipes, here's Salvador Dali's depiction of the punishment Dante envisioned for flatterers in Hell:


To Hell with flattery, I always say....

posted by Eric on 12.11.06 at 09:06 AM


One week I got so many Instapundit links I was in the top 200 bloggers.

Those were the days.

Now I'm usually in the 1,000 to 2,000 range based on traffic.

Up from 3,000 to 4,000 in my first year.

Yes I'm a link whore.

I love it when people read my exalted commentary and words of wisdom. LOL

M. Simon   ·  December 11, 2006 5:23 PM

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