Thursday, May 10, 2007

Five Blogs That Make Me Think

Last week Donna Bowman was so kind as to tag me for a "Thinking Blogger" award. Thanks! Even on something as inconsequential as this blog it is nice to receive some recognition for my efforts. I guess the nice thing about the Thinking Blogger award is that it doesn't necessarily mean, "I proclaim that this blogger thinks," which is kind of insulting to all the bloggers you don't tag, but, according to the original "Thinking Blogger" site, is supposed to be "this blog makes me think." Which I think is maybe less smug. Or maybe not.

Here's Donna's citation:
Adam Villani, Gentleman, has more going on at his little blogspot than anyone has a right to. Left-wing politics, consultantating, game shows, DIY rock and roll, and freaks of nature. If Adam's got a post up, prepare to lose twenty minutes following links to fascinating stuff.
Kind of an interesting collection of things to mention there. First, I sort of bristle at the term "Left-wing." I prefer to describe myself as a "liberal," though in certain aspects I'm fairly conservative, too; to me, those terms actually describe (in shorthand) political beliefs, whereas "left-wing" just kind of exists as an opposite to "right-wing," somebody for whom politics is about taking sides rather than trying to work towards some good. Perhaps it's splitting hairs, but characterizing people that way makes me think of the ugly side of politics.

Also, I think my views on specific issues are varied enough that I don't think the standard-bearers of the left wing would claim me. I'm against abortion, favor only a minimal amount of gun control, oppose economic protectionism, oppose affirmative action, oppose socialism, don't buy organic food, and think fighting against islamofascism is important. On the other hand, I favor the legalization of drugs, consider the protection of the environment very important, support gay marriage, support a good number of economic regulations within a capitalist framework, oppose limits on economic immigration, don't mind taxes if they're being spent well, favor free speech and other civil rights, and think George W. Bush's Presidency has, for several reasons, been an absolute travesty. But I'm interested less in taking sides than I am in hearing the reasoning behind people's positions.

Getting back to Donna's nomination of me, while they're definitely big parts of my life, I don't think I've written much here on the blog about my consulting work, game shows, or my semi-rock band. So here goes:
  • Consulting: I work as an urban and environmental planner for EDAW. I'm particularly excited about writing elements of the General Plan for the city I grew up in, Long Beach. We're really early in the process right now, and you can follow the process at this website; I'll be helping run several public meetings next month.
  • Game Shows: I beat Ben Stein on Win Ben Stein's Money and came close to defeating the mighty Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! I enjoy game shows and enjoy analyzing what makes them work or not work; I wrote some fairly extensive comments on the subject here and here.
  • DIY Rock: Yes, I am a percussionist/vocalist/songwriter in Stale Urine. We were most active while we were undergraduates at Caltech, but since then we've gotten together to record music every now and then; the impediment to music-making mostly being that the members live all across the country now. You can preview some tracks from our upcoming album here. That's me singing on "The Whiteness of the Whale" and playing the role of the innkeeper in "Horsell Common and the Heat Ray." I wrote the lyrics (well, adapted, in Horsell Common's case) for those two. Matches Made of Human Fingers is our most recent album.
Now, for my tagging of five bloggers who make me think. Some of these are public figures whom I don't know personally, and have a lot more readers than I do, so I'm just going to link to and notify them and hope they don't think I'm harassing them.
  1. How about sending one back to Donna herself? From small-town Conway, Arkansas, almost-daily poster Donna Bowman writes about theology, being a mom, and pop culture with equal deftness.
  2. He may hide behind a veneer of bizarre metaphors and have an indifferent relationship with the rules of spelling and grammar, but the incomparable Vern has some of the most insightful, entertaining reviews of movies on the web. His site isn't technically a blog, but it's close enough.
  3. I just recently started reading Matthew Yglesias's blog regularly. He's smart, posts several times a day, and is the rare political blogger who doesn't come off as an asshole.
  4. Mark Evanier writes in depth about comics and the entertainment industry from a personal perspective, and even owns up to being partially responsible for the creation of Scrappy-Doo.
  5. Victor Morton is a friend of mine who hasn't updated his blog in months, but when he does write, he writes at length with exceptional clarity. I disagree with a lot of Vic's politics, but he frequently presents arguments I haven't heard elsewhere and often develops his arguments better than the people I do agree with.
Read the above, all great bloggers who make me think!

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