www.aldaily.com


I don't know about you, but I have to budget the time I spend on the internet. Between trying to make a living, stay married, raise a kid, feed the animals and take care of the manly as well as some of the womanly things around the house and garden, there is only so much time I can spend on this newfangled WWW. I'm sure that many of you, like me, are very discerning about what website you choose to bookmark. Bookmarking a site, to me, means that I'll be married to that site and, thus, forced to check on it every day from now until the end of time. Or, until I find one to replace it. After all, there is only so much room up there on that Mozilla toolbar. I'm not going into the little "arrow territory" with dropdowns for my addictions. They all have to fit, no matter how short of a header I have to give them. This site is now "e". You can see the madness to which I've succumbed.

I have to check the money every day. That takes up a few spaces. I have to check the weather. That's "w". I have to check the e/mail accounts. Of course, I have to check the catbox archives to see what users said about my mom overnight. The TV Guide has to be perused to see if there's a rerun of Seinfeld I haven't seen twice on the syndication networks. I must look at NetFlix to see what's on the way and what must be added to the list. Slow Wave and Homestar Runner have to have their own spot up there, even though they are only updated once a week, at best. It's a respect thing for those who are really doing what they should on this net: Making me laugh. I have to check my local newspaper, which is kinda funny when these guys whom the local paper hires to sit at card tables in the Kroger stores every so often try to sell me the daily paper. I say, "I get the paper every day. I just don't pay for it." It seems to piss them off, and that's satisfaction enough, especially since the advent of the Do Not Call listings. Most of the calls I got were from these bastards. I have to check National Review for the latest neocon spin on current events. Three hours of Rush Limbaugh sometimes "just isn't enough," if you know what I mean. Then I have to make sure to log onto the Drudge Report a few times a day. There's a site that has changed the world, eh? Yeah, like it or not, as they say in hell. Sort of like Limbaugh. You can hate him all you want, but he's making policy in this country and you aren't.

I often wondered why there wasn't a website that did what Drudge did except with the more academic side of things. When I actually found such a site, I told a few folks about it. One of the folks I told was Starke, a kid I really miss around here. He is the sort of young user a site like E2 should be cultivating, not pissing off. But what can you do? It's a wide wide world out here, isn't it? When I told Starke about the Arts and Letters Daily site, his reply was, "I told you about that site a year ago. You said you already had too much shit to read every day and didn't have time for it." I'm sure he's right. I'm sure I felt that way at the time. This winnowing down of what you do while the monitor is glaring at you can become overwhelming with all the alternatives, can't it?

Regardless, the Arts and Letters Daily site is now one I would not go a day without checking. I've tried my best to get the guys who run that site to put E2 in the sidebar, at least as a diversion, but so far have been unsuccessful. Maybe if one of you silver tongued devils would take that upon yourself as a Mission, it would get done and you could tell me about it how you did it so that I could make notes for future political negotiations.

Just as E2 works solely with internal links, A & L Daily works, like Drudge, with solely external links. The two guys who run the site are picking the best online articles they can find every day, and there are usually three new links posted daily: One in each of their three category headings. Those are

  • Articles of Note
  • New Books
  • Essays and Opinions

The link will consist of a pull quote from the article, and once you get used to the site, you will often be amazed at what the article is actually about when you have to get knee deep into it to find the pull quote. You will often find yourself reading about a topic in which you might have thought you have little or no interest. The front page will usually contain close to a hundred links in each of the three categories. One new link, as I said, is added in each category every day, and they don't take the weekend off. It's a 365-day job for the guys who run this place, and one can only admire their voracious reading appetites as well as their good taste and dedication.

The founder of the site is an American who lives now in Christchurch, New Zealand. His name is Denis Dutton. He did volunteer work for the Peace Corps in India in the 1960s but is now a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury. He edits the academic journal Philosophy and Literature, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press and is the author of several well-known articles on aesthetics. {UPDATE: Mr. Dutton passed away on December 28, 2010. The cause is listed as cancer.}

Dutton's partner is Tran Huu Dung whose day job is teaching economics to MBA students at Wright State University in Ohio. Dung has degrees in economics, physics, and engineering. He and Dutton live in a time zone differential with which you E2 users are probably familiar. One is on duty during the daylight hours on one side of the world and one is on duty the other.

The site went up September 30, 1998, which is around the time E2 began, I believe. In the beginning, it attracted around 300 total visitors. It is getting well over 100,000 hits a day at this time.

The site almost died not that long ago when it was considered part of the assets of the bankrupt publisher Lingua Franca and was to be auctioned off along with other assets on October 24, 2002. The site attracted the interest of several publishers and, bidding anonymously in bankruptcy court, it was acquired by US-based academic publishers of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dutton said it was not much of a hard sell because the folks over there were daily readers already. So, luckily, eighteen days after its lights went out, ALD was back in business and Dutton and Dung went to Washington to meet the publishers and each other face to face for the first time.

The guys say that their most loyal readership seems to be in England, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, but I think American web surfers are going to be more and more inclined to make this a bookmark on their browsers before too long.

Lately, you could have found articles about how Josef Stalin wanted to be a moviemaker and how he treated those during his reign who were. I can imagine riverrun's image of right and wrong being tweaked by this experience, had he been Stalin's film editor. You could have read about why there is something rather than nothing, but why folks would still argue even if this were not this case. You could have read about a short story which Nabakov might have stolen and turned into Lolita. The list is endless (unless you have an eternity of free time) and there is not usually a clunker in the bunch. I have not been able to find a political agenda whatsoever, and that satisfies me a great deal. You can find the radical left as well as the neocon right in abundance, if politics is your game. But most of the stuff is highbrow intellectual fare, and (as we all know) this is at least five levels above politics.

I would suggest you bookmark this site if you want to see what E2 could be if we really attracted the best writers on the planet to somehow write for us. For free.

Hey, it could happen.

I'd give aldaily.com a little more credit than some do for balance. They do cite good work on the left - and well crafted attacks on the right fairly often. But they lean a little into the academic wind, as it were, and that's fair enough.

They often want to cite exciting, different articles - often contrarian articles, and the academic light industry (a phrase of Robertson Davies' I believe) doesn't pour out a great deal of right-wing theory to be contradicted. (I plan to vote for the Green Party if you need to know a little about my own bias.)

Then again, maybe I'm being seduced by the delight these articles give me - it's a terrific site and a terrific service to humanity.

The same folks, I believe, also extended this franchise to scitechdaily.com and they prominently cite it at aldaily.com - but the format of scitechdaily.com has now been changed to distinguish it from aldaily.com

I also recommend scitechdaily.com - if you want to read about computational origami and how to cure mental illness with diet, as well as how ancient gardens were organized, it's the place.

A tip if you're just starting at aldaily.com - read the articles at the bottom first, because they'll drop off soonest. Yes, there is (or was) an archive but it's messy and very incomplete because many publishers prevent free access to many articles after some time passes.

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