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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

October 5, 2007

“simply the best” blawgs?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:40 am

Along with the great honor of appearing on the “Simply the Best” top-ten list posted Wednesday by the Editor of Blawg Review (October 3, 2007), and then — with humble surprise and gratitude — on the list proffered yesterday at Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites (see “La Meme Chose: Simply the Best,” October 4, 2007), comes the cognate duty of compiling my own Simply the Best Top Ten list of “blawgs” (law-related weblogs).

Like Bob Ambrogi (who “truly hate[s] these things”), and most humans with taste and politesse, I find being tagged to join in a self-revelatory blogisphere “meme” event highly annoying, painful, and intrusive. (And, don’t even get me started on the affiliated affectation of using some frenchified meme nomenclature and expecting others to repeat it.) Thus, I let my crabby but attention-starved alter ego Prof. Yabut handle our weird tag duties last year, and procrastinated even more than usual with the Book shtick Stick back in 2005.

Purporting to choose the “best blawgs” is especially difficult and misleading because (very much like choosing the “best” poem in a haiku contest), what you’re really doing is revealing your particular preferences and predilections (“favorites and friends”?), and — unless you happen to be Ed at Blawg Reivew or Bob Ambrogi, who regularly peruse hundreds of weblogs — demonstrating the very limited scope of your normal blawg-surfing habits.

…………………….. honest! But, choosing a top-ten list of law-related weblogs (or, in fact, any category of weblogs) is particularly difficult and near-impossible for me for one very crucial reason: I do not read ten (or perhaps even 6 or 8) blawgs regularly, if by “regularly” you mean almost daily, or perhaps weekly or fortnightly.  Unless I gave such regular, diligent attention to any particular weblog, I would not feel I could fairly recommend it as among “the best,” because consistent quality and ample quantity are prerequisites, in my opinion, for inclusion on such a list.

losing the contest
I discover
the lord’s mum won

……… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

You may now be asking yourself, “has that skeptic Giacalone become a scoffblawg or blawgagnostic , who’s lost faith in the value of reading law-related weblogs?” My emphatic answer is “No!” Nevertheless, whether it’s due to my aging body and brain (with its peridementia), adult-onset Attention Deficit Disorder, amazingly slow reading and writing output, or my constant, fickle companion CFS, I have a very big blawg-related choice to make over and over:

I can be an avid consumer of the best law-related weblogs or an aspiring/perspiring producer of one very good blawg. I simply do not have the energy, stamina or time to do both.

And, yes, that is a pity. Because there continue to be scores (and scores) of fine blawgs out there (new and old) that my curious mind would love to explore regularly; and there are informative or interesting blawgers who my gregarious and mischievous self (and alter egos) would love to visit and commune with (or tweak) frequently. However, if I’m going to make f/k/a an ongoing enterprise that meets my own quality and quantity standards, I must resist the temptation every day to peek at those weblogs — because I never can read just one post or click just one link.

the best chestnut!
the best!

do your best, Spring
make a decent effort…
snow at the gate

……… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

Gone, therefore, are the days when I got up and wondered what Evan, Martin, George the Fool, Monica, Young Mike, or Ernie, had to say that morning and then headed for their weblogs. I still wonder, and I miss the cyber-camaraderie of the old days, but my visits are rare treats rather than the daily rituals they once were.

As a result, my “best blawg” list can at best be viewed as the list of weblogs that I visit frequently in order to find ideas for f/k/a posts and blurbs (which tend toward legal ethics, consumer and cultural issues), or to feel that I have at least a minimal notion of “what’s happening” in the blawgiverse. Naturally, they are weblogs that consistently meet those needs with the excellent content and style that keep me coming back for more. They are:

  • Legal Blog Watch — brought to us by through the efforts of Carolyn Elefant and Robert Ambrogi. They give accurate and comprehensive summaries of the most interesting and important issues and news in the blawgisphere.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy, which has intelligent and diverse discussion (and comments that often add value); as I’ve said before, “it’s the weblog I would hope to write when I grow up” (if I could learn to play in a group).
  •, which always uncovers and catalogs cases of interest and — despite a different ideological bent — shares my skepticism about much that goes on in our so-called justice system and legal profession.
  • The floating weekly “blog carnival” edition of Blawg Review, which I always count on to pick out obvious or hidden gems from law-related weblogs (hopefully, without thematic excess or off-point host self-absorption)
  • The Legal Profession Blog, where Alan Chidress, Mike Frisch and Jeff Lipshaw cover the legal ethics beat, and more than satisfy my urge to know what those shady lawyers are up to, and the many ways self-regulation is letting our profession and our clients down.

Those are really the only blawgs I consistently check more than once a week. In addition, here are the law-related weblogs I seek out when feeling a special need or in a particular mood:

  • When I have the urge for something scandalous or silly, I always turn to David Lat’s spanking-good Above the Law.
  • When I want to know whether something important has happened (or happened yet) in our appellate courts, the only website I need is Howard Bashman’s How Appealing.
  • For cutting edge thinking about the economics and management of law firms, it’s Bruce MacEwen’s Adam Smith Esq.
  • When the topic is the lawyer brain or soul, I check out Idealawg, by Stephanie West Allen.
  • When I’m wondering whether journalists are getting a legal story right, I check out Mark Obbie’s LawBeat.

  • For consumer regulation news, there’s Public Citizen’s Consumer Law & Policy Blog (although I do not believe that plaintiff’s lawyers are the only ones fighting for the consumer and seeking justice; and I really wish someone there would respond to this challenge of mine)
  • For news, background and fore-thought: on solo practice, I go to Carolyn Elefant at My Shingle; on mediation and alternative dispute resolution, it’s Diane Levin’s Online Guide to Mediation; on the intersection of law and library science, it’s the group weblog Out of the Jungle;
  • For snarky fun at the expense of the legal establishment, with a British accent, it’s the anonymously-penned BabyBarista.

Those are the blawgs that best suit my needs as the proprietor of f/k/a and the nurturer of my own satisfaction, wellbeing and sanity.

I’m sure you will find more excellent law-related weblogs by following this Simply the Best Blawgs meme, and seeing which sites have been nominated by other “chosen” webloggers. Ed at Blawg Review has links to their lists at the foot of his original post.

update (Oct. 6, 2007): With all of her favorite blawgs already “chosen” in this Simply the Best meme, MyShingle‘s Carolyn Elefant used her forum at Legal Blog Watch to present a useful mutation on the theme. In “Posts That Rocked the Blawg World — Formerly, the Meme Chose” (Oct. 5, 2007), she decided to “identify a handful of posts or blog features that, in my view, rocked the blawg world with their innovation, passion or honesty.” Except to thank Carolyn for including our magnum opus “the Graying Bar: let’s not forget the ethics” (March 20, 2007), we are going to let you discover her blawg-rocker list yourself, by clicking this link. While there, you’ll also be able to seen why Legal Blog Watch is on our very short regular-read list.

When I’m in need of haiku that inspire reflection on a particular theme, I always turn to the search box of David Lanoue’s unsurpassed Kobayashi Issa website. Here are some of Issa’s poems that just might relate to the above commentary:

my chrysanthemum
faces the direction
she chooses

the first and best
of Shitaya Ward…
plum blossoms

the best New Year’s
her pink cheeks

beaming smiles
in the best of moods…
two stars

the war lord
has pull…
chrysanthemum contest

used to losing
I’m peaceful, calm…
mum contest

the fart contest
begins at once…
winter quilt

……………………….… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


  1. David,

    I haven’t yet done my list and I’m going to have to do it “with a twist” since many of the blogs I’d have mentioned have already been duly noted. But as one of your earliest readers, I just wanted to let you know that of all of those, I am so happy to see you and your blog get the recognition that you deserve for your intelligent, well researched and impassioned postings. Your blog is truly the conscience of the blogosphere.


    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — October 5, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  2. Talk about blushing! These generous words mean a lot coming from you, Carolyn. (Of course, I prefer to think of myself as a lowly nudge, rather than something as lofty as a conscience.) Often, as you know, your voice is about the only other one speaking out on my pet issues, and I appreciate your efforts very much.

    Comment by David Giacalone — October 5, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  3. David, I never expected to see my blog appear on your list. Thank you kindly for the honor.

    Your blog is the well that I continually go to draw intellectual and spiritual nourishment. Through the lens of your sharp vision, I see the law and the legal profession in wholly new ways. You challenge us all to think afresh about our work, and you never shrink back from the hard questions. Your courage, your wit, and your talent for expression are an inspiration to anyone who blogs. Moreover, your collegiality is a tremendous gift to people like me. You are a wise mentor and role model to so many.

    Thank you for the extraordinary work that you do with this blog. And thank you for so generously including my blog here in this post.

    Best wishes,

    Comment by Diane Levin — October 7, 2007 @ 1:47 pm

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