Lee wasn’t one of the founders of the Monkey Cage, but was close to being a founder – and was certainly our most prolific writer. He would have occasional fits of Stakhanovism where he would urge myself and John, who were nearby and easy to harangue, to greater posting zeal, but we could never keep up with him. Certainly, he started blogging here before I did – I remember that as compensation for my backend work setting up the blog (I wasn’t then a participant, but had put it up on my webspace), he and John bought me a sixpack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, which, while he couldn’t comment on himself (he was a teetotaller), he assured me his wife Carol approved as a drinking choice.
And when he did start blogging, he took to it naturally. This was partly due to his energy and in part to how he related to people and the world. People often think that good blogging involves the expression of your inner personality, but they’re quite wrong. It is less about personality than the creation of a consistent and interesting public persona. This was something which Lee was admirably suited for. He was in many ways a deeply private person – he rarely spoke about the serious stuff, and was especially reticent about his illness. However, he greatly enjoyed conversation and company, and was a fund of odd, interesting insights and anecdotes. He took particular delight in the silly, the incongruous, and the mildly scatological. All of this made him very good company – and good company in a way that translated well onto a web-page. I never knew what to expect from Lee’s posts, but I always knew they would be interesting, and very likely tell me things that I didn’t know, but was the happier for knowing.
It’s the sillier side of Lee’s blogging that sticks in my memory. He inaugurated our ‘frivolity’ category in November 2007 with a post about his “niece” Frida, a boxer. He warned us then that “I love dogs, and my “frivolity”-category posts will probably reflect that fact.” His future posts lived “”:https://themonkeycage.org/2009/06/i_love_dogs_and_i_love_bikes_s.html “up”:https://themonkeycage.org/2009/09/post_238.html “to”:https://themonkeycage.org/2007/12/readerindulgent_canine_post_1.html “this”:https://themonkeycage.org/2007/12/readerindulgent_canine_post_1.html “warning”:https://themonkeycage.org/2008/06/rip_charger.html (with cats, ferrets and an orangutan also making guest appearances). And cakes. And bikes. A back of the envelope listing and calculation suggests that Lee wrote slightly over 70% of the posts in our frivolity category. He once claimed that he was going on a frivolity hiatus
bq. Although “The Monkey Cage” is mainly a serious, even somber, political science blog, to the discomfiture of my fellow bloggers I sometimes try to lighten it up by posting about such frivolities as baseball, cake, cats, and dogs. In an attempt to protect the much-desired high tone of our collective enterprise, I have gone on the wagon with regard to cake, cat, and dog postings (though not baseball ones, for I recognize that baseball and political science are intrinsically intertwined).
but he wasn’t able to stick to it very long. Nor did we particularly want him too, despite his claims to the contrary – by lowering the tone a bit, he allowed “us to lower it occasionally too”:https://themonkeycage.org/2009/07/lee_sigelman_eat_your_heart_ou.html. When I saw him last, two weeks ago, I told him about a post I had just written on the use of underwear as a reward in experimental settings. In other circumstances, I would surely have passed it on to him to blog, as he would undoubtedly have found ways to make this story far lighter, funnier and more quirkily intelligent than I ever could.