I really enjoy the column or website whose focus is to recommend links to online essays and articles. I refer to them as “aggregators” (which is the correct term when it comes to websites . . . I’m not sure it’s used to describe columns . . . no matter).
The biggest aggregator of all time was The Drudge Report. I don’t know why he went off the reservation last year. Some say he simply loathes Trump; others says he simply reverted to his Jewish liberal roots; others say he sold the site and didn’t tell anybody (either because he’s always been secretive or that was part of the deal). Either way, Drudge is dead . . . or severely crippled. Or a dick. Pick your metaphor.
The best aggregator of essays was Arts & Letters Daily. It’s still pretty good, but The Chronicle of Higher Education bought it in 2002 and it started the inexorable drift to the Left. Unlike Drudge, A&L provides a short synopsis.
If you subscribe to Medium, the editors send out a weekly roundup of recommended Medium articles. It’s one of the better e-newsletters I receive, but whereas Arts & Letters Daily drifted to the Left in the early 2000s, Medium plunged in head-first last year. Its front page often reads like an AOC Tribute page without the balance and moderation, though it does seem to have veered back to a bit more moderation lately. Its aggregator newsletter is neat because it’s an essay unto itself, with recommended links fueling the narrative.
Despite nearly 25 years of looking, I’ve never found the perfect aggregator. I want something with a lot of links, with limited politics, a philosophical bent, and a strong dose of whimsy.
Enter “The Water Dipper.”
A long-time TDE reader from the great state of Montana sent it to me this weekend, with a note, “I assume you already read this.” Alas, I don’t, and it’s from Front Porch Republic, which published one of my essays last year, promotes a worldview (agrarianism) that I love and live (even if I find it a bit romantic (if not quixotic)), and holds a slot in my “Most Frequented” browser bookmarks.
Anyway, “The Water Dipper” is now firmly on my radar. Even though the regular columnist is taking a short hiatus, it’s going to keep going and deserves a lot of social media mentions, recommendations to friends, and incoming links.
Excerpts from the past two columns:
“Meet the Appalachian Apple Hunter Who Rescued 1,000 ‘Lost’ Varieties.” Eric J. Wallace describes Tom Brown’s careful work finding and cultivating endangered apple varieties: “To date, he has reclaimed about 1,200 varieties, and his two-acre orchard, Heritage Apples, contains 700 of the rarest. Most haven’t been sold commercially for a century or more; some were cloned from the last known trees of their kind.”
“A Middle Class Rebellion Against Progressives Is Gaining Steam.” Joel Kotkin warns that a progressive agenda remains deeply unpopular and unlikely to address people’s real needs: “None of this is to suggest that minorities will vote for Republicans en masse in the near future, particularly if the party cannot transcend its embarrassing Trump worship. But the growing chasm between what people want and what Biden is offering could prove a potentially immense challenge that could undermine future Democratic gains.”
“A Barber in the House.” Bill Kauffman describes his friendship with Barber Conable and the process of editing his journals. The book is coming out soon from the UP of Kansas: The Congressional Journal of Barber B. Conable Jr. As Kauffman concludes, “his journal, like the sterling example of his life, is evidence that character and wisdom are not necessarily incompatible with service in Congress.”