Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blogpower Roundup --- An Eclectic Mix

Yes, the image is from one of the posts below
most of which did not have an image to use

After the very comprehensive roundups of recent weeks, this time you will find a more relaxed compilation of the random picks of the my butterfly mind, as I cruised through the Blogpower folder on my Bloglines feed during this past week. So in no particular order, with no rhyme nor reason whatsoever, may I present this and that from some of our members.

Deejay of Age is all in the Mind is gearing up for a Charity Run of 10km in October. Well it is actually a serious athletic club run but he's decided to raise some money for the British Heart Foundation in the process. You can donate via a widget in his sidebar if so inclined.

Ellee Seymour, as her elder son stands at the beginning of his university studies in Economics, wonders How useful is a degree today? Well there is no doubt in my mind that it is much more than useful. It's not too late to add your thoughts to the comment section.

Matt the Insomniac asks How influential is the TV we watch? in his post highlighting a Belgian study on the influence of medical shows on teenage viewers. Turning them into hypochondriacs? But he is not so sure the results are all due to television.

Calum Carr, in Stefan's story, looks back on an incident in his life which obviously still haunts him to some degree. Could he have done more to help Stefan? Should he have? At the time it also inspired him to write some poetry which he included with the story.

Odiyya (or Kori Brus) of the Conscious Earth, now back in Vancouver after extensive travels shares a slideshow of places he's been, things he's seen, in 8 months of photo highlights. Enjoy the show.

Did you know that Liz has gone to Canada for her vacation? She did mention it I think before she left, once or twice. Reporting in This is really me she tells us what she has been up to so far along with her plans for the near future. In case you missed it, Liz and I met for lunch in Vancouver earlier in the week, along with Leslie, another local blogger.

After a long two years or more of run-up the Presidential election in the USA is finally getting close and blogging on the topic has heated up, especially with the controversial choice of Sarah Palin for Republican Vice Presidential nominee. In fact the topic has drawn out Hell's Handmaiden from his hiatus as he writes on the topic in a flurry of posts. One which quite shocked me was his highlighting of some spurious election practices planned by certain Republicans in Let's steal an election.

A. Tory does not mince words on the topic of McCain's choice of running mate in Sarah Palin is a joke, why can't everyone see it? You'll get no disagreement from me there Mr Tory although some of your commenters took you to task and there was quite the debate in the comment section.

Even Crushed took up the US election topic as he supports Obama and explains why he thinks it's America's chance to usher in something new .

None of us can ignore the crises which shook the very core of the financial world this past week, causing a stock market meltdown followed by a surging rebound as the USA cobbled together a dubious rescue of AIG, the world's biggest insurance company. Cityunslicker followed the week's happenings. Among his posts, Learnings from a day of chaos in which he worries about the effects on UK banks, prior to the news of AIG's rescue.

While Sacherson in his turn worries about the ramifications of the AIG solution in Not the end, as long as you and I breathe, highlighting his frequent source Karl Denninger's announcement of the potential end of America's government. Take a look at Karl's rather interesting video.

The Pub Philosopher ponders about Morgan Stanley approaching the Chinese government for a bail-out in Banks ask for state aid - any state will do. Now doesn't that boggle the mind?

In On Dodgy Minicabs MJW, observing from the Hillside, tells a personalized story of a young foreign student having been ripped off by a Croydon minicab driver who absconded with his change of 45 pounds. What kind of first impression of the UK does that give to this young man?

Instead of his usual style of humourous posts Mutley has been in a more serious frame of mind lately. No more so than in When you know it is time for a divorce... Sadly for Mutley he knows whereof he speaks so I think you can trust him on this one. Of course it is from the man's point of view.

Devonshire Dumpling of No Clue has a stream of consciousness post in Bloody Sheep as during a bout of insomnia she finds that counting sheep is not the answer.

I really admire and secretly envy people who are have a way with words. So I am enjoying the blog of BP's newest member, David Hadley at a Tangled Rope, with his fragments of prose and poetry. A snippet which I found quite meaningful was Secret Places, some thoughts that will resonate with many of us.

On occasion Jams of the Poor Mouth highlights the work of an Iranean woman poet, Forough Farrokhzad, who sadly died forty years ago aged 32 and this week he posted another called To my sister. Just a taste but please read the whole of this very powerful poem.

Seek your rights, Sister,
from those who keep you weak,

from those whose myriad tricks and schemes
keep you seated in a corner of the house.

I would like to conclude with this post from Crushed, History -It's You, one of his best posts in my opinion. In it he talks about the generation gap, comparing his own history with that of his Irish grandmother and contrasting his own experiences with an unnamed twenty three year old. As progress advances ever more rapidly the generation gap becomes apparent with a much smaller difference in age.

Yes, well it was only going to be a short roundup, but like Topsy it just grew and grew.

Crossposted at Defending the Blog and at Nobody Important.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogpower roundup - interesting first impressions

Running around Blogpower for a roundup, I've taken just seconds to gain an impression of what's interesting at various sites this week. They say first impressions count, but it's always worth taking more time to get a better understanding of any person or place, so please explore these posts at your leisure.

It is hard to think of New York without immediately recalling the sights of 11th September 2001 and Devonshire Dumpling at NoClue marked the 7th anniversary by remembering the survivors and those who lost their lives - although she notes most people just treat the day as normal. Which is perhaps the best response to such terrorist attacks.

Theo Spark who might normally be judged for his eye for the female form, marked Thursday by one simple post.

Leaving Mutley to promote the male perspective on life – now what impression do these rules give? Well if women are from Venus, then Crushed by Ingsoc gives an impression of life on Mars in 3 parts.

Some female impressions of life this week include Gracchi's long look at Gone with the Wind summing up its appeal with the observation that a struggle impresses, Ruthie at Zaftig struggles with her impressions of an expected visitor and Braveheart gives a fascinating insight into a visit to the hammam.

Sally in Norfolk is sooo excited about picking up her new car two weeks earlier than initially promised by the dealer – let’s hope her first impressions last (and that she finds reasonably priced car insurance for her son).

Thunderdragon rages about the way in which some people increasingly jump to label others as paedophiles - in this case, on the basis of unsubstantiated, anonymous claims, which the "accused" must then seek to disprove. Matt Wardmann Wire terms the trend to accumulating such "evidence" as data rape.

Never trust a hippy is annoyed by lovey actresses who stereotype working class women on screen. Letter from a Tory berates Harriet Harman for a speech making stereotypical statements about background whilst ironically stereotyping the minister by noting she is the niece of the Countess of Longford and attended one of the country's most prestigious private schools.

Also on the topic of judging politicians Ordovicius comments on the pig and lipstick simile. The Tin Drummer has an interesting reflection on how politicians seek to convey impressions of themselves and their rivals, how this relates to blogging and mainstream media and the impact of all this on Gordon Brown. Mind you, Bel returns from a blogging break to find her impressions of UK politics haven’t changed much.

Norfolk blogger provides some free PR advice to Nick Clegg in respect of impressions the Lib Dem leader has given of schools in Sheffield. Bill Quango MP cleverly twisted the scientific news of the week at Cern into a dig on the scientific exploits of "Professor Brown". (Update: As a dodo has a great take on the end of the world)

Bearwatch offers instant advice on making investments - the way to make a fortune this week is to buy gold. We may need this expertise since Looking for a Voice tracks back how the taxpayer will pick up the tab in the XL travel firm’s collapse (as we will for the government's energy package too - as I noted).

Andrew Allison sticks up for junior doctors with a post that seems to prove bullying hospital consultants are more than just a stereotype. Ian at Question That reveals how breaking the law may depend on who you are, as climate protestors caught red-handed in the act of vandalism walked free from court.

Stereotypes of the paralympics might lie behind the media's shocking lack of coverage of the participants' success, so Question That offers much needed praise at a time when there's ongoing hype for the able-bodied Team GB athletes who are busy increasing their earning power as minor celebrities all over the mainstream media.

Media stereotyping of missing adults and children led to Ellee Seymour starting her marvellous focus on the topic last year and she continues this by highlighting reports of the hopeful finding of a young girl who disappeared in Italy four years ago.

Nobody important takes impressions of the term “grass widow” and explains its real and many meanings. Linguistic musings are offered by Welshcakes regarding impressions of evolving language, particularly when that involves English words encroaching into Italian.

Finally Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe and Liz at Finding life hard? marked their 2,000 blog posts this week - many congratulations to them both. And if you want to know what impressions your blog is creating, Café Grendel ponders the blog template, leaving Sally in Norfolk to reveal all with a wordle.

Round-up by Heather Yaxley of Greenbanana.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Blogpower Roundup: It's Raining, It's Pouring Edition

As the saying goes, if it weren't for the weather the British would be left with nothing to talk about. This is seldom more apparent than when the skies are grey and going outside leaves you soaking wet. Guthrum raises the subject of flood defences, while more prosaically Liz regrets going out without a coat.

Fortunately the saying isn't entirely true, or this would be a short roundup indeed. There is political polemic from a British libertarian perspective this week from The Last Ditch: Stop trying to make an omelette with a JCB! Until we stop imploring the state to 'do something', QUANGOs will never be uprooted (Pub Philosopher). Also on a related note, here is The Tin Drummer on why people with nothing to hide can still have everything to fear.

British party politics: Parliament may be on holiday, but the partisan bloggers are not. Norfolk Blogger finds some common ground between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. Mike Ion imagines giving this speech to the upcoming Labour conference. Andrew Allison makes a Tory pitch for UKIP supporters. Cornish Democrat takes a Toynbee-esque line on 'fuel poverty' with the help of a press release from the Celtic League. Mutley follows a similar line in a post simply entitled 'Poverty'. Bob Piper slams Charles Clarke, while Bel slams just about every other Labour MP. Letters From A Tory has the funniest political poster I've seen all year.

An Insomniac makes an argument for religious education in schools; Matt Wardman in defence of Carol Ann Duffy. Lady MacLeod discusses the arrival of Ramadan, as did Gordon Brown - Guthrum wasn't impressed! Heather Yaxley comments on a PR stunt that courted controversy and gained maximum publicity for Electronic Arts in London.

Blogging about the 'blogosphere' is something of an indulgence, but sometimes the temptation is irresistible. Iain Dale's lists always generate this type of post, exemplified by Miss Wagstaff's series covering every Welsh blog to have made the charts. Blogger feuds, too. Ian_QT called out serial feuder Tim Ireland this week, while Calum Carr hit out at Donal Blaney. Devonshire Dumpling has information for all of the bloggers using Sitemeter to track their stats. CityUnslicker discusses the entry into the browser market of Google's 'Chrome'; Grendel suggests that it might help you make better coffee (in a metaphorical kind of way)

One topic that will continue to dominate the political blogging world for another couple of months is the US Presidential Race. Although we Brits cannot influence it (not that this hasn't stopped some trying), The outcome undoubtedly have a great influence on the whole world. The Blogpower members are split fairly evenly between supporters of McCain (e.g. Theo Spark, who reproduces some Republican cartoons here) and Obama (e.g. Ordovicius). This week has seen the arrival on the scene of Sarah Palin, McCain's surprise VP pick. Hercules, Paulie and Colin Campbell give 3 very different perspectives on how she could shift the conversation surrounding the race. Sackerson comments on the responses of female commentators to Sarah Palin's arrival. Finally, US Democrat supporter Fake Consultant introduces the Sarah Palin drinking game.

The Paralympics started yesterday: the Thunder Dragon anticipates some tremendous sporting achievements and another great performance from Team GB. Newcastle United fans, on the other hand, anticipate a long, fraught season ahead after the departure of Kevin Keegan - Benedict comments on the reporting which may have contributed to the farcical events of last week at St James's Park. Welshcakes Limoncello describes her experience with an activity of a rather less prestigious kind: DIY. Chervil has a handy tip for urban gardeners, and MuseInMeltdown talks socks.

The picture at the head of this week's Roundup is one that will have all the Brits green with envy. It was provided by JMB's blog 'Nobody Important' - She was out walking in West Vancouver this week.

Blogpower's newest member David Hadley has an amusing satirical post on postmodernism. Crushed ponders the meaning of 'single'; Alex ponders the meaning of life, with the help of some TLAs (three-letter acronyms).

Finally, my choice for post of the week this time around is from the very last blog on the blogroll- that of Gracchii (at Westminster Wisdom) - who discusses a fascinating insight into the mind of a tyrant.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Member ---- A Tangled Rope

It gives me great pleasure to welcome David Hadley, of A Tangled Rope as our newest member of Blogpower. I know he has some links already to members of this group but if you are not familiar with his site please go over and explore and introduce yourself in the comment section.

His site has now been added to the blogroll and I am sure he will be displaying it along with the BP banner very shortly, as a fully fledged member. Could anyone displaying the html BP blogroll please make this addition to it?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blogpower Members and Iain Dale's Lists

I might live in the boondocks but even I know who Iain Dale is and how "important/influential" he is with his lists of top blogs and how secretly everyone is tickled pink to be on them. These lists have been coming down lately and I found that some of our Blogpower members have featured very prominently in some of these lists. I'm sure the rest of you will join me in congratulating the following members:

Top 100 Right of Centre Blogs

21. Letters from a Tory
26. Capitalists@Work
41. Ellee Seymour
43. Matt Wardman
47. The Last Ditch
65. Newmania
71. Question That
72. Andrew Allison

Top 100 Left of Centre Blogs

19. Ordovicius
25. Bob Piper
31. Never Trust a Hippie

The Total Politics Top 100 UK Political Blogs

36. Letters from a Tory
37. Norfolk Blogger
52. Capitalists@Work
61. Ordovicius
72. Miss Wagstaff Presents
78. Bob Piper
87. Ellee Seymour
92. Matt Wardman
97. Never Trust a Hippie
100. Last Ditch

I just want to say that reading the lists made me rather crosseyed so please let me know of any errors or omissions. I know I should link your names to your blogs but frankly I am going to let everyone just use the BP blogroll in the sidebar.

Application for Membership --- A Tangled Rope

We have a new application for membership from a blogger who is a little different from our usual applicant, namely David Hadley, who blogs at A Tangled Rope. Writer and poet, published in fact, he certainly could lift the tone of the group with his literary fragments, poetry and book reviews. I rather liked this cheeky quote by Kingsley Amis in his header: "If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing." Of course, he doesn't mean us, does he?

Please take a look at A Tangled Rope and make your feelings known in the comment section here. Any objection will move the discussion and voting to the mailing list, with comments subsequently being closed here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Blogpower Roundup: Back to School Edition

Can you believe it? Another six week summer holiday has come to an end and teachers, students and associated hangers-on find themselves back in the business of nurturing young minds/ having their young minds nurtured or taking advantage of increasing governmental bureaucracy in our education system. With this in mind, I thought I would play the teacher for once and have a back to school themed roundup. Now I appreciate some of you will not have been near a school for sometime, so here is a picture of what children look like just to remind you, courtesy of Lady Macleod.

I face a class full of beaming faces, eager to start a new year at the Blogpower School for the Gifted and Talented, based this week in Birmingham. As the name suggests, the school has a lot of very talented bloggers who do not always get the exposure they deserve. Part of this is because they are lazy.

“So I hope you have all remembered to do the homework I set you at the end of last term” I ask expectantly, waiting for some interesting responses.

Some blank faces stare back at me.

“You know, the one where you nominate posts you have read from blogs in Blogpower?”

More blank expressions meet my gaze.

“You know, Blogpower, a community of bloggers that supports each other by reading and commenting on each others blogs”

Again silence. I get that sinking feeling again.

“Surely you are not expecting me to do all the work of researching and reading these blogs for you all on my own?”

What a stupid question.

“Very well”, I say resigned to losing the rest of my weekend and maybe more, “I will research and write a roundup for you of the best posts in Blogpower this week, but the very least you can do is spend some time reading it. There really are some very good posts.”

Sometimes I wonder why I bother.


We start the day with an extended form period discussing what we all did over the summer. Guthrum has just got back from holiday and spends his time moaning about what has happened when he was away. Not a great start to the day but at least he is here. Both Tuscan Tony and A Tory have taken their breaks during term time. No doubt I will get the blame if they fail their exams.

Chervil shows me some wonderful photos from her Dad’s garden, while JMB recounts a dinner she had with her wonderful twin. Ellee Seymour tries to convince me she received a cheque from a politician for a good cause, something I find hard to believe until I am assured the politician did not stump up the money. Two Wolves finds it hard to pay attention and starts reading some cartoons. Detention! You can do that in your own time!

Not everyone has had a good holiday however. The Morningstar tells us he has been diagnosed with having diabetes and is very critical of the (lack of) help and advice he is being given over it. This starts Calum Carr of on a rather justified rant of how badly one of his family members had been treated. One of Matt Wardman alter-egos interrupts and lets us know what the actual problems with the NHS are and how we could solve them. He speaks a lot of sense that boy, it is a pity such people never actually get to be health secretary.

We then start a discussion about the Olympics that continues until break. Miss Wagstaff may be Welsh, but she has no problem congratulating Team GB. Tin Drummer uses the opportunity to have a go at Alex Salmond. No Clue cringes at Boris and Britain’s part in the closing ceremony, which start me off on a characteristic moan about the prospect of having the Olympics in London. Calum Carr is particularly worried about the prospect of a GB United team, and its impact on Scotland’s sovereignty in the beautiful game. I tell him not to worry; it’s not as if the Scots are ever going to win anything, is it?

History brings break to a close, and the brilliant Gracchi enthuses us with his thoughts on the English enlightenment. Not everyone is so gifted in this subject however, and Colin Campbell has trouble remembering events in his lifetime. Bob Piper picks up on the theme of the Whigs mentioned by Gracchi and brings us to modern day politics. Suddenly, everyone is a lot more interested.

The Thunderdragon is unhappy with the modern electoral system and suggests some sensible amendments. The move onto politics has clearly upset me, but two students cheer me up by arguing some excellent ideas that are close to my heart. Firstly Ordovicus explains why socialism and decentralisation are not mutually exclusive. The Cornubrian follows this with some thoughts about why Welsh, Scottish, Cornish (and Brummie) nationalists should be republicans. The Thunderdragon, bemused by all this talk of nationalism, blames the idiots who want to define Britishness for helping to get us into this mess. Kizzie is more concerned about the similarities between her native Sudan and Pakistan. Such a clever girl, she has been interviewed twice by the media this week, once by the Arab Press Network and once by the BBC.

This does not move the argument away from politics however and Mike Ion starts to give Gordon Brown some advice on how he can fight back in the autumn. Oh, dear. The unholy trinity start a three-pronged attack on the government. Pub Philosopher believes Darling has lost it. Nick Drew of the Capitalists at Work collective wonders whether Labour is in the pockets of the insurance industry. MJW is more bothered about the state of the roads, and economic incentives to minimise disruption.

Class clown Bob Piper decides this is the point to resurrect a new version of an old joke that has been doing the rounds for quite a few years. The only type of economics Mutley is interested in is Home Economics, but we should remember that is astonishingly advanced for a dog.

The bell rings for lunchtime and I go to the staff room to meet up with some of my colleagues. Mr Starling is wearing his rose-tinted specs today and harking back to a time when the August Bank Holiday was something you could enjoy, unlike this year. Special needs teacher Mr Sackerson seems more concerned with the potential for house price falls. I tell him not to worry and ask him how his class is performing. Very well apparently; Deejay is now up to F in the alphabet, but Café Grendel is having concerns with a different kind of ABC, one involved in childcare. Another student having problems with childcare is Ruthie Zaftig, who has discovered undergraduates can get support but postgraduates cannot. Meanwhile, Crushed decided he does not like happy endings and has rewritten Rapunzel for a modern audience. Such a realist, that boy.

After lunch, I have an RE lesson with the class. As usual, on the first day someone has thrown up and I start by thanking Liz for her act of kindness. Sally in Norfolk pipes up and points out that Liz is not the only one who has performed an act of kindness this week. Welschcakes Limoncello voices her opinion that acts of kindness can be more commonplace and more subtle.

What is that I see? Jeremy Jacobs and Theo Spark looking at girly pictures? In an RE lesson as well? Give me a reason please, boys, why I should not put you in detention straightaway? Mr Jacobs remains silent, but young (bright) Spark claims it is actually a picture of the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. Don’t be so ridiculous, I say, that is an attractive biker chick and everyone knows that conservatives are old fuddy-duddies. Surprisingly, Fake Consultant, our American exchange student, backs him up and starts dishing the dirt on the Republican VP nominee. He clashes with Andrew Allison, who claims that this decision ensures there will be a Republican in the White House next year. Such an imaginative child! However, this appears to be an argument that Question That has some time for, and he reminds me that unlike Florida in 2000, this election in not necessarily a done deal. Matt M remains unimpressed with the position of Vice-President, and brings the discussion back to the part of the anatomy that triggered off the discussion, but suggests using the other function of this important part instead.

Heather Yaxley uses the opportunity to think about what might lower the virility, and possibly the libido, of these lusty young men. Tom Paine moves the discussion from sex onto paedophilia, and gives some very mature views on the subject not normally seen in adults let alone children.

We finish the RE lesson with Matt M exploring the question of the existence and divinity of Jesus. Jams O’Donnell uses his Poor Mouth to tell us that the Dead Sea Scrolls may soon be making an appearance online. Then something really surprising happens. Can you believe it? The bell goes for the end of the day and the children clear off as quickly as possibly, leaving a messy, empty classroom and one exhausted teacher.

So there you go. Obviously as a teacher, albeit only one day, and therefore obviously a leftist socialist loon, I have been incredibly equitable and picked at least one post from everyone who posted in the last week, except for this one by Paulie, which I simply did not know where to put. Everyone’s a winner!

Now bugger off, children. Teacher has a lot of important government forms to fill in.