Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good sources of news and commentry

To avoid becoming brainwashed into a political view, or at least complacent about it, it can be useful to seriously browse alternative viewpoints. In this post I will give a few fascinating sources of articles from perspectives usually missed in the most mainstream Irish and British media.

The National Interest
This is an American magazine on foreign policy with a good mix of disagreeing views. National Interest often side-steps the usual partisian fights between Democrats and Republicans with serious examinations of international affairs. NI is published by the Nixon Center and was founded by neo-conservative Irving Kristol in 1985, despite which their tone now is often realist rather than neo-conservative. That is, writers often question the ready interventionism of neo-conservatives, calling instead for much more cautious uses of military power. There are lots of articles these days criticising American and allied intervention in Libya. As well as strictly foreign policy questions, National Interest also looks at loosely related ideas, like this intriguing article on records left by an American diplomat to 1920s Turkey, or this brilliant criticism of Sam Harris's anti-religious arguments.

Chronicles Magazine
This is one I've mentioned here before, a magazine for American paleoconservatists. These are pro-tradition Christians, opposed both to social democracy and to unprotected free trade. The paleoconservatives view left-wing calls for open borders and right-wing calls for global trade with antipathy. They oppose the constant militarism of neo-conservatives who want the US to intervene around the world, but also oppose feminism and homosexual rights. Like National Interest, Chronicles is presently busy with condemnations of the intervention in Libya. They also tackle social issues with blunt, confident conservatism that would appall most modern liberals. Not for everyone, which is why it is worth reading sometimes.

The Antiroom
This is a blog run by women in Ireland. Writing broadly (the most recent post is a recipe for Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes), The Antiroom contributors tend to come back to feminist issues. These are often in an Irish context, exploring the sexual inequalities in Irish politics, media and culture. They are often highly critical of the status quo, calling modern Ireland patriarchal. This feminism is mostly new to me and, since I disagree with lots of it, probably a useful perspective for me.

EconLog from the Library of Economics & Liberty
Strongly libertarian views on economics and politics. The writers are pro-capitalism and support liberal immigration policies. One argument proposed by EconLog is that poor countries should have charter cities: undeveloped regions assigned freedom from most of the nation's regulations. These free-trade regions would, they argue, attract commerce and inward migration. That is, EconLog economists view free market capitalism as the best cure for poverty.

Freakonomics Blog
Continuing on from the two Freakonomics books, the blog discusses odd and interesting ideas about society, often by applying economic principles to statistics. Some of these posts are pretty serious, some quirky observations of the authors, thrown open for readers to discuss.

The Nut Graph
A liberal Malaysian magazine that explores political and cultural issues there. Though some articles are based on Malaysian politics to the extent that makes them inaccessible to foreigners, others are more general. The Nut Graph looks often at the role of Islam in that Muslim-majority country, or at its high ethnic diversity.

Christian Science Monitor
Another worthwhile American publication, the Christian Science Monitor was founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, who also founded the Christian Science movement. Eddy's philosophical imprint remains in the publication's avoidance of sensationalism and fear-mongering. As early as 1883 Eddy wrote 'Looking over the newspapers of the day, one naturally reflects that it is dangerous to live, so loaded with disease seems the very air. These descriptions carry fears to many minds, to be depicted in some future time upon the body. A periodical of our own will counteract to some extent this public nuisance; for through our paper we shall be able to reach many homes with healing, purifying thought.'

Today it has lots of interesting and cool-tempered analysis, a decent read.


  1. Readers feel free to share other interesting sources of news and commentry :)

  2. I think The Weekly Standard provides interesting analysis from the American right.

  3. Cheers Dave, I'll check it out :)


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