Friday, October 31, 2008

King Arthur and the Mutability of the Past -- Crushed by Ingsoc

The past is a funny kingdom. People look at history as if it's an exact science. Of course, it isn't.
The past really is mutable, or has been up till now. Archaeology blends into history which blends into historical myth.

Even in the twentieth century, historical myths have been peddled. History has often been used to justify political concepts, indeed it is STILL used to justify political concepts. And it's not just in the case of Israel, which I think we've covered to death here, but even in concepts such as Welsh Nationalism. Political movements often use history to justify claims which are, in fact, fallacious.

A classic twentieth century case of historical myth concerns the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe in the country that now carries it's name. Under white rule, it was seriously maintained that the city actually was the Ophir of the bible, the legendary mines of King Solomon. It was taken as read that native Africans just couldn't have built it. And the white settlers used this concept to justify their claims that Rhodesia had belonged to a 'superior' people before the 'savages' had come in.

Historical myth as a political tool is as old as history itself. After all, the history of Herodotus starts with an allusion to the Trojan war as the first battle between Greece and Asia. We call Herodotus the father of History, but in truth, much of what he writes of events much over a century before his time, is wildly inaccurate, a mish mash of oral legends. His account of the Kings of Egypt, for example, has no real historical value whatsoever.

Continued here at Crushed by Ingsoc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

French appeal to the ref over Agincourt -- Critical Faculty Dojo

I find revisionist so-called 'historians' truly incredible.

Now it seems they have set their sites on Agincourt of all things.
The fact is the French were thrashed by a numerically inferior force, thanks to a large extent to the longbow and the trained English archers who used it to such effect.

Apparently French revisionists are trying to excuse the defeat by claiming the poor French were the outnumbered underdogs and the English 'war criminals', though there is nothing to suggest the English violated the rules of war that existed at the time. Talk about sore loosers…

The documentary evidence in favour of the accepted versions is pretty solid. Maybe they should concentrate on finding the historical equivalent of the urban myth.

Posted by Phil A. at Critical Faculty Dojo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blogpower Roundup: Best Wishes Edition

Time for another roundup of the best of the Blogpower blogs over the past week...

Here in the UK, much of the media's attention has once again focused on links between oligarchs and politicians. Ordovicius looks at the reaction on the Tory side, and Labour councillor Bob Piper takes a more generally cynical overview. Tuscan Tony makes short work of Peter Mandelson.

Mike Ion takes a look at the problems facing David Cameron; Never Trust A Hippy the troubled Tribune newspaper. On a tangentially related note, Norfolk Blogger argues for driving tests for over-75s.

Government waste and stupidity are two perennial blog topics. Andrew Allison has an example of the former; Ellee Seymour news a possible mitigation of one of the most notorious examples of the latter - the EU's disastrous fishing policy. There's details of a new liberties campaign at Looking For A Voice; this is placed in a wider context by The Last Ditch.

This week's star Letter From A Tory is addressed to US Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, while The Fake Consultant discusses Barack Obama's running mate.

Bearwatch has, as you might expect, been posting some very interesting material during this bear market, such as this post. Critical Faculty Dojo looks at the bailout from a taxpayers' point of view. Pub Philosopher opines on the regulation of corporations. Brummie Republic and No Clue offer different perspectives on poverty.

Some more philosophical blogging over at Calum Carr, who discusses the morality of suicide; and An Insomniac, who considers the argument that environmentalism is a form of religion. Crushed By Ingsoc offers his own unique perspective on sex education.

Here's Nobody Important, making me relieved that I never got into the virtual world of 'Second Life'. Corporate Presenter has some tips on interviewing celebrities; Sempiternal Horizons on writing short stories.

On that specific form of writing we are so familiar with: Miss Wagstaff Presents the 7 Deadly Sins Of Blogging. The Thunder Dragon asks: Is blogging dead? Bearwatch has a particularly funny American version of a joke that has done the rounds of the blogs a few times.

Around the world with Blogpower! From Las Vegas (Deeply Blasphemous), via Banff, Canada (Finding Life Hard?), over to Niger in Africa (The Poor Mouth), all the way to Australia - where the sensible ones can take in a cup of coffee (Cafe Grendel) while the not-so-sensible can have a go on the high wire (Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe).

This week's post illustration was provided by Sally In Norfolk. On behalf of the Blogpower community, the flowers come with best wishes to Welshcakes of Sicily Scene, who had to go to hospital last week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blogpower- Encapsulating The Power of The Blog

Who are Blogpower, they say? What is Blogpower they ask?
The answer’s in the question, honeybunny, the answer’s in the question.

Maybe none of us are ever going to change the world. But as bloggers, we all believe that our thoughts are worth sharing. And we believe in the power of people communicating. So is Blogpower people power?

Is this indeed, a vision of great significance?
Yes, I think so.

Blogpower has no political axe to grind. If you have not yet met our current guiding lights, come do so. We have Colin Campbell, who shows here just why the sprit of Python with the anarchic wit of Spike Milligan will never die. And we have jmb, our stolid, sensible grandmother. One of the benefits of BP, is many of us have equally talented co-authors too and jmb has one of the best, the sassy, quick witted Moggs, shown here at her best and most thought provoking.

We have our political bloggers. But do not think this is an organisation of one particular shade. Bob Piper is by far the most objective of the Labour Bloggers out there I feel. Read this honest post and you get a feel for the quality of debate available in BP blogs. Political bloggers who can assess the faults of their own side, yes, BP gives that. And not just on the red side. I like Norfolk blogger mainly because of his own readiness to analyse the failures of the Lib Dem advance. But I also like his cutting ability to make my smile at the oddities of positions based solely on political allegiances and ideology devoid of reality. And the Tories have a powerful voice in Letters From a Tory. How we are we to see him? Is the proverbial Surrey Colonel writing his ‘annoyed of Godalming' letters? I suspect not. Does it matter? Because he does it in a way that hits the nail, as he does here in a very incisive piece about Cameron. And as for other less trodden parts of the spectrum? Miss Wagstaff is one of the best, A Michael Dobbs for the Welsh assembly, and I think we all need to congratulate her here on a job well done.

Come meet Paulie, of Never Trust a Hippy. Don’t tell me Hippies don’t think, not if you’ve read this thoughtful piece on bank nationalisation. And meet Thunderdragon. Short, to the point, gets his point across. Can’t argue with that.

Tin Drummer is a good writer, because he thinks. Often after Stella, as he himself admits. But I’ll say this. Though I myself use a lot of Orwell Imagery, there are passages in 1984 had me ponder. And what the Drummer writes here, I had to agree with. Bang on, TD, bang on.

Another interesting blogger is Jams over at the Poor Mouth. Interesting, because I think he just blogs what interests him. And why not? I liked this little offering.

If you’ve missed out on Gracchi’s excellent, and I mean excellent set of posts on Livy, a series of posts that belongs in an Oxbridge thesis, don’t allow this to happen. Here’s the latest.

From Tuscan Tony and his lingerie to Mutley and his campaigns, life in BP is never dull.
You get Finance News from Capitalist@work, you get a unique take on Sport from a Brummie Republic.

Why do you need to buy a paper?

And of course we have Tom Paine. Is he the real Tom Paine? I don’t know. I’ve read the Rights of Man, and I read Tom’s posts and sometimes I’m not sure...

And we have our own little furry heroine, to be found here- no, no, no, I don’t mean Welshcakes, a heroine of cuisine though she is. But we all go to be taunted at what we’re not getting to eat and to hear once again, about the indomitable little dog that is Simi.
And it’s always good to have experts. I’d love a cup of coffee from this guy. I think he’d know how to make one, and I love my coffee. And when politics is personal, the personal is political, as this post shows.

Have you met No Clue? Here she is on the Barnstaple Clock Tower. In BP it really is true, you can learn something new every day.

From the new, to the returned- Beaman’s back!
And Ruthie's still here, she assures us.
And our Featured BP blogger is reading a book when she can get round to it.
And lastly, never forget that Age really is all in the mind, that nature will always be beautiful, that consultants not in the BP family, are often a let down, but you could do a lot worse than get advice from a fake consultant.


I do not agree with everything you say, my friend, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


What is Blogpower? When it was started I remember that it was about the smaller blogger and attempting to get him or her a bit of the limelight and to be supportive of each other. Going round Blogpower this evening I learnt a hell of a lot- and perhaps the most important lesson I learnt was how good the blogs in Blogpower are. This roundup was pretty easy- and if I missed you off it was because I didn't have to look hard for posts at all and so being a lazy blogger, didn't. Anyway to business.

When thinking about the high profile bloggers- lots of them from Iain Dale to Andrew Sullivan have become minor celebrities- as David Hadley writes this concept of the celebrity is something that we all should be thinking about, it dominates our landscape (and renders me suspicious that larger bloggers can ever provide the change in perspective that the Tin Drummer wants to see). The thing you miss with celebrity bloggers though is that they only take on celebrated issues- smaller bloggers are often more interesting- just take a look for example at the Fake Consultant's post on Egyptian elections- its an issue which will never make the tabloids but which we need to understand. On a similar theme, the Cornish Democrat posts a fascinating essay from Tom Nairn on the concept of nationalism- this is exactly the kind of thing that small blogs do well, disseminate academic work which often gets lost. If you stray from the mainstream (like Messrs Dale, Fawkes, Conspirators, Kos and Sullivan to mention a few), you also think about new and interesting issues- like why for example there are so few famous female artists, whether a sexual orientation really can have a duty to vote one way or another, why national symbols can be counter-productive (this is a long and exceptionally interesting article), whether assisted suicide should be made legal, whether cricket can conquer America- small bloggers do this whilst also providing concise and thoughtful reformations of current issues (like this summary of the arguments against the bailout and David Keen's guide to the British conferences is essential reading for those who weren't there). Coming out of the party conferences- Louis shows the Tories the way forward, Bob marvels at Gordon's gamble of a reshuffle, Mike questions Cameron's links to the hedge funds and Andrew praises the Libdems.

Away from such stuff- politics is not life and bloggers do not just blog about politics. Tom puts politics in perspective this week. My own recent post on Cincinnatus attempts to go back into Roman history and reinterpret this figure's place within that history. Others are also in the business of reading stuff, so you don't have to- Heather has been reading Esure press releases about cars and comes to some interesting conclusions. I like Crushed's unconstrained enthusiasm for the film, the Libertine, he also compliments one of my favourite actresses Samantha Morton which is a mark of good taste, and prompts me to want to see the film. If Crushed is ecstatic, perhaps he needs to listen to this piece of music whose sad movement is the perfect audio post. JMB doesn't need sad music, she has computer shops to contend with. But at least she doesn't live in Rabat, where sexism in Ramadan seems to thrive nor face the gloom of British adverts- bah humbug. Morning star just keeps the gloom going by discussing pain during diabetic eye tests. But even in dark times, we need humour- I loved this post of bad spellings and misplaced sentences. Jams helps by bringing us news of British triumphs at the IG Nobels. Just to surprise everyone Welshcakes has yet again posted some pictures of a pure cullinary delight (he says feeling his stomach rumbling). On a serious note, Liz posts about support in the blogosphere and how important it can be: Callum suggests the very act of blogging can be helpful in bad times. We should never lose sight of the fact that its humans writing blogs- and humans get ill, have bad times and good times: one who hasn't been having it so well recently is Mutley who's been to hospital- here's to him getting well again.

This may seem all a bit ideological but I think there is a point here- whether you agree or disagree with the posts above (and I agree with some and disagree with others) you can find a lot there to make you think. As the Pub Philosopher notes, we face at the moment a gap in information about things that are important to our live- he is talking about politics but could be talking about any number of things- I beleive that good blogs can help shrink that gap. I'm sure I've missed good posts- but this is what I saw this week and this reassures me that there is a hell of a lot of good thinking and writing going on- and that's without even including some of my favourite blogpower blogs that didn't post over the last couple of days.

And with that pious paean to the small blogger, that's all folks till next week's roundup!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

At Last!

Last week I promised to take a turn at a Blogpower roundup, and naturally enough my network packed up. However, it may be late but it is done (and my network is still non-functional for the desktop although the notebook is linked in quite nicely.

The bloggers below are an interesting crew and while I don't agree with all their views, I do love reading them!

The Two Wolves are howling at Recession, the 5th horse of the apocalypse. Tuscan Tony is also looking at things in the toilet, but this time focusing on a search engine for the location of the nearest necessity.

Tom Paine's been ignoring the prophets of doom and gloom and been driving his Maserati across Europe – all right for some! A Tory has been speeding lines in the other direction and posted an open letter to John McCain suggesting he needs a new strategy. Heather Yaxley does some strategic analysis of her own of a campaign that is likely to annoy the very group it is targeting. Jams over at The Poor Mouth has managed to find something awful of his own – some 1874 poetry by Theophile Marzials.

Welshcakes is also getting into language this week and coming to grips with the challenges of pronunciation while Pauli at Never Trust a Hippy is asking if bloggers are putting journalists under pressure to publish leaks by being an alternate and immediate source of leaks themselves.

Meanwhile I have just discovered that Sally in Norfolk has in fact sallied out from Norfolk this week. Crushed by Ingsoc examines the ecstasy of orgasmic raptures, or is that the rapturous ecstasy of orgasm. I'm still not sure!

Ellee Seymour ask whether or not “The Secret” is mumbo jumbo while ThunderDragon reckons describing Tony Blair as 'Churchillian' is definitely stretching the bounds of belief.

Adelaide Green Porridge marks the passing of JB Jeyeratnum, one of the few who consistently stood up to the ruling PAP in Singapore. DeeJay at Age is All in the Mind has linked to a beautiful piece of music – Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and An Insomniac wonders whether Apple are stringing us all along and wants to know whether or not the iPod touch is any good.