Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blogpower Round-up No 4 --- Advent Edition

Advent is the period of time leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Formerly a period of fasting and penitence, now it's more a season of anticipation and hope but also of reflection. On the four Sundays before Christmas, the colour purple in the Advent wreath and also in the church vestments reminds us to reflect, while the rose or pink colour reminds us to be joyful.

Today I am presenting a round-up of posts of Blogpower members which have been submitted as being what others considered worthy of special mention and many of them are reflective, anticipatory and even joyful.

With today being the first Sunday of Advent one post in particular ties in with the theme of penitence. After sharing his faults and errors of commission with his readers in Confessions, Crushed by Ingsoc is repentant and ready for a new beginning.

Welshcakes reflects on the film, Malèna, set in Sicily during World War II, and asks us to consider why, in her quest for survival, Malèna became what others called a collaborator. But did she truly have a choice?

In Latin Lunacies, Welshcakes points out some of the idiosyncrasies of her beloved Italians, but, in all fairness, she cites an equal number of things about the Brits which disturb the Italians.

Over in Morocco, Lady Mac, in Musing........., wants us to join her in pondering free will and miracles and the question of whether they can possibly co-exist. And what constitutes reality? Yes, many questions there, but no clear answers.

Moving to a different religion, Islam, Beaman says of his poem, The Religion of Peace, " My poem can be taken two ways and I will let the reader decide." I choose to think it positive myself. What do you think? But in another poem, Marzuq: One word, Beaman thoughtfully portrays an old Arab man, secure in his faith in Allah. Read the whole poem; this is but a taste.
In poverty stands he firm with eyes
On heaven’s door; his gaze implies
A comfort held; his smile bright sceptre
The creation of his protector.
Although, strictly speaking, these posts were in January and May, we did not have round-ups then, so nominated now, they were included here.

Still on the topic of Islam, Kizzie, an unveiled Muslim woman herself asks Why do we discriminate against Veiled Women?!! meaning discrimination experienced by veiled women at the hands of other Muslim women. As she says, it's a choice. If a woman chooses to wear it, it's her right. Isn't it democratic to consider the veil an act stemming from freedom of choice and freedom of expression? Finally she asks, Isn't tolerance one of the teachings of the prophet?

James Higham, while normally decrying the regionalization of England by the EU, reflects on what England, where the sun never sets, that green and pleasant land, means to him, an expat in many countries over the years.

However in his current country of abode, Russia, in one of his very popular series of stories about riding on the tramvai, James watches in amazement as the woman driver and conductress deal with a problem encountered on a recent journey.

Rather cynically, Crushed reflects on democracy, or perhaps not? in the UK and why he exercises his vote the way he does.
Democracy? Hah! They just rotate the teams when the people tire of them. They're the same team really, just one has policies that put more money in my bank, one has policies put more money in yours.
But when talking about his chosen profession Crushed is in his element and gives us the inside information on how to be successful at it. The big bonus for him is that he loves it.

Ian Appleby takes to task some recent posts on blogs which sarcastically decry government regulations which improve safety for children and people in the workplace. Ian believes that what's at stake is that regulation eats into their bottom line. Never mind a few crippled workers or children, or the odd bit of toxic waste, eh?

Forgotten Superstar, Jo Stafford, is highlighted by Richard Havers. He doubts that few under 65 will remember her, but she was the number one ranked female singer of the pre rock era. Interestingly enough she studied classical music, intending to be in opera, but the depression put paid to that plan.

In a different kind of musical post, the Russian Wolfhound taunts us in Not name-dropping, telling us all about his visit to a great concert in Lisbon and how he met the MASSIVE STAR and went to a bar with the band after the concert. But WHO? He's not saying. Clues in the comment section.

In this very fine post, War, Respect and Remembrance, while regretting a recent incident of disrespect to wounded British soldiers, Welshcakes also reflects on war itself, talks of women's role in it, then and now, and she anticipates the day when peace will be the norm.

With another hard hitting post, A Taxing Job? Welshcakes tackles the subject of prostitution and whether it should be legalized or not. Looking at all sides of the issue, she comes to no conclusion and invites her readers to share their opinions.

Meanwhile Gracchi proposes The Dickens Football Team, captained by the indomitable Betsy Trotwood, a leader of men and women who has the ability both to comfort those in distress and to be ferocious with fraudulent divers. She is tough but fair. He anticipates they would definitely beat the socks off a Wodehouse Team led by that effete cricket playing toff.

In the run-up to last week's Federal election in Australia, Colin Campbell highlighted the ad in which an online prankster had listed the now former Prime Minister John Howard's Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, for sale on the internet real-estate site Domain. Do check out the property details.
The month of November sees the celebration of World Toilet Day and Colin introduces us to the fascinating website of the World Toilet Organization, with its especially useful section on how to ask, where is the toilet? in many languages. He reminds us never to take the modern sanitation sytem for granted for many do not enjoy this luxury.

Grendel, taking note of the arrest of the British schoolteacher in Sudan for allowing a teddy bear to be named Muhammad, is wondering in Holy Cow what evil may fall on his head, since his children decided on the name of the great Egyptian god Ptah for their nice fluffy cow.

No doubt inspired by Al Gore's Nobel Prize, the Fake Consultant, in On Greener Torture, or, These Days, Environmentalism Matters, offers some excellent practical solutions for making torture more environmentally friendly. Surely a good thing, no?

Considered by the nominator as the uber ultra geeky but interesting post of the day, Shades of Grey waxes on about the solution to the overheating problem in Data Centres. If you think I can summarize it, think again and hustle over there yourself. Enjoy!

Although his membership in Blogpower is only days old, Bob Piper quickly appears in a round-up with Annapolis doomed to Failure, in which he speculates that the Middle East Peace conference in Annapolis will fail, for Hamas is not represented.

Without dealing with Hamas, without dealing with the plight of the Palestinian refugees, without resolving the crisis in Gaza, the situation will get worse, not better, irrespective of the fine words spoken in Annapolis .

In Get Back, Get Back, Bob thinks that the Labour Party should stop soliciting donations from wealthy supporters and return to their grass roots supporters in the trade unions.

Another recent BP member Newmania, in his own unique way, discusses the final ruling against fox hunting in the UK with The Hunters Hunted, but he points out the very real fox as a pest problem.

While in his personal world, Newmania has this strange feeling that all is too quiet, he is, actually dare he say it, content. He worries that Nemesis is surely licking her dry lips even now.

The Croydonian plays matchmaker in Who to invite to the Office Christmas Party, as he tries to match up some very famous available singles in the world of politics and government. For example Monsieur Sarkozy with Dr Rice.

Commenting on an Algerian minister's statement in a newspaper interview that it was the Jews who were responsible for the election of Sarkozy, The Croydonian also refutes his statement that images of Sarko appeared on Israeli stamps during the campaign.

Matt Wardman highlights the fact that most Muslims are highly critical of the Sudanese government's arrest of the British schoolteacher in the bear affair. He quotes a Muslim author who discusses Adam, the talking prayer bear, owned by hundreds of Muslim children and coincidentally named after another prophet important in Islam.

Shooting down the argument for gun availability is Matt Wardman's next goal as he takes on, section by section, an article in defence of the wide availability of firearms in the USA, from a statistical point of view. As Matt says: To wrap up - if the gun is not there, it really is very difficult to shoot someone (or yourself) with it.

The very popular UK webcast 18 Doughty Street went on hiatus this month but according to Matt Wardman the ultra techie blogger Mike Rouse has plans to upload the entire archive to and make it a lot more user friendly in the search options.

Louis, or Brummie as he's more informally known, takes issue with the time honoured tradition of grammar school versus secondary modern school selection for the eleven year olds in the UK in Eleven Plus....Three? He makes a very good case for this most important decision being put off for another three years, which would benefit latebloomers.

The Cornubian usually covers the Cornwall beat, but in Another Misuse of Terrorism he decries the recent case in New Zealand of the government using anti terrorism legislation against Maori political and language activists.

CityUnslicker, our man in the City, in Time to call it, thinks that after being anticipated by economists for a long time, the peak of the housing market in the UK has passed and prices are beginning to fall. He's very glad that he's not planning a move.

While analyzing the results of his informal reader poll on who would make the best Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, the CityUnslicker is amazed that Alistair Darling, the current Chancellor, actually received any votes at all, since he considers him the worst holder of that office in many years.

Congratulations are in order for the Thunderdragon, who during the month of November posted his one thousandth post. As he is only 22, one can only speculate at the number this opinionated small c conservative is capable of churning out in his lifetime. Well done, Sir.

At Critical Faculty Dojo, Phil wonders why the BBC is so shocked that lawyers were beaten with batons and arrested by the police in Pakistan, when protesting the declaration of a state of emergency in the country. The assumption being, as he sees it, that lawyers should have been immune because they were lawyers. As if the rules that apply to the rest of humanity should not apply to them.

With great solemnity, As a Dodo mourns the loss of The People's Data, which first came into existance in ancient Babylonia, circa 3800BC. The final last gasp was the loss of the financial records of 25 million UK citizens. The Government was forced to declare The People's Data lost and presumed gone forever, in the hands of internet fraudsters and identity thieves.

On the US political scene, in Pandering and Propaganda at Their Worst, Ruthie looks at an ad for Tom Tancredo, Republican candidate for president and denounces angrily the fact that he's using scare tactics in his campaign, with illegal immigration as his one issue.

Matthew Sinclair takes a hard look at Immigration and Society in Britain. Looking at the many factors he concludes: my problem with immigration is not economic. My biggest concern is ..... that it will lead to the slow death of the values that define what is best in our society. He also thinks that limiting immigration is a good idea.

For an encore Matthew takes on John Rawls, the great influential twentieth century philosopher, in The Problem with Rawls, highlighting what he considers the huge weaknesses in Rawls' theory of social justice.

Recently Colin Campbell discovered that the tables have turned on men in adland. Whereas once women were portrayed in a negative manner he found an article called Dissing Men: The New Gender War which says among other things: new research shows that media portrayals of gender have largely done an about face in the past decade or so. Go read the whole thing. Interesting.

This time of the year is also one of conspicuous spending by many. Ruthie decided to brave the mega Mall of America, on the dreaded Black Friday, to photographically record the occasion in The Temple of Consumerism. Despite the temptations Ruthie didn't spend a dime.

Alas, Mutley was not so restrained on his recent venture into the Castle Point Shopping Centre, supposedly to buy a new cardigan or "woolly" as it's known in the Devon vernacular. He was caught up in a Shopping Frenzy!! , which he later regretted somewhat, on his return home.

Mr Mutley was very excited this month as he made his plans for a trip to Australia. While his route was a little unconventional, Muts assured us from on high over Korea that, while the trip was rather eventful with his horsey companions, he had every expectation of arriving safely. Alas, it was not to be.

This season will be a trying one for JMB, as she describes her Achilles' heel in Chocolate. She plans to avoid it at all costs. It seems many of her commenters are similarly addicted but will not be joining her in a self-imposed withdrawal, since they have every intention of indulging.

While feeling under the weather recently, Jams O'Donnell reposted the real story of his alter ego and blog name. The Poor Mouth is a short book, written by one of his favourite authors, the Irish novelist/humorist Flann O'Brien. He made it sound so good I've put it on hold at the library. I'm also relieved to hear that he does not harangue people using a bullhorn, as his avatar might suggest.

Never Trust a Hippy has started and participated in a big debate about bloggertarians. Basically Paulie believes that libertarians in the blogosphere are often purely negative and don't contribute much to political debate. Not everyone agrees with him - but it's an example of Blogpower making the blogging world's headlines!*

Reviewing the recent film An American Gangster, The Russian Wolfhound, who certainly recommends it highly, notes that putting the word American in the title seems to guarantee an excellent film and he cites some examples. Of course, omitting Madonna from the cast also helps.

With the recent addition of George, a new puppy, to her family, Liz has many stories and photos to share. In her tongue in cheek post, We Never Let Dogs sit on the Furniture, she tells of an interesting visit to the vet with a poorly George. I think that this puppy has brought much joy into the lives of Liz and her family but also into ours as we ooh and ah at the regularly posted photos.

George -- not sitting on the furniture

That's it for the November Blogpower Round-up and it has been my pleasure to host it. These posts highlight the fact that this is an exceptionally vibrant group of bloggers, to which I am proud to belong and pertinent facts about Blogpower can be found at Defending the Blog.

I know that Advent does not feature in all your lives, as it does in mine. Perhaps you are celebrating Hanukkah in a few days, or Eid al-Adha at the end of the month, or Rohatsu soon. Perhaps you are a humanist and just celebrating how truly amazing life is. Peace be with you all in this coming month. Next month, please join James Higham of Nourishing Obscurity, your host for the December round-up.

*The summary for this post was provided by Gracchi.


Colin Campbell said...

Wow! That is a labour of love JMB. Fantastic range of material an exquisitely segwayed. Thanks for including some of my posts. Highly appreciated.

Shades said...

This must have taken you hours. I think Colin means Segued as in continuing without pause, rather than Segwayed, which is something that happens to Presidents.

CityUnslicker said...

this not comprehensive at all and must have taken about five minutes, not.

Richard Havers said...

Fantastic. It gives me a whole days reading. Many congrats

Matt Wardman said...

Superb turnaround time and selection.

Sorry for the 17 minutes.

Dragonstar said...

Whooo! What a post!
That will keep me busy for quite a while. Thanks.

Beaman said...

Great work JMB. I'll have fun looking at all these links over the next few days. Well done!

Gracchi said...

Well done! Fantastic Roundup really enjoyed reading it and now I have to read all those posts- that was brilliant though.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, it is superb and must have taken a massive amount of work. I'm humbled to be included 4 times. Well done, jmb!

jams o donnell said...

Wow great job jmb!

Carver said...

That was a great round up. I've already visited some of the blogs based on this round up and will try to visit more in the coming days. Very interesting. Peace be with you too. I guess I need to get motivated and get my advent wreath out of the attic. I also have an advent calendar where each day you pull out a little story book and it tells the story leading up to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. I'm a tad bit behind schedule.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

All's well that ends well, I see.
You must have been up all night though.

leslie said...

Wow, jmb, this is FAB...I read some of those blogs regularly, but really must check out some of the others. I posted about advent today too, but especially about the difference between St. Nick and Santa Claus.

jmb said...

Hi Colin,
well it was a labour, that's for sure. The posts were nominated so in they went.

Hi Shades,
It did consume a lot of this week. Thanks for the link to the clutz.

Hi CityUnslicker,
Five minutes, not. That's for sure.

Hi Richard,
Thanks. Enjoy. It is a lot of clicking.

Hi Matt W,
Thanks, you're are forgiven and that heaven I went back just one more time!

Hi Dragonstar,
Congratulations for making it to the end.

Hi Beaman,
I think it will take several days to follow up. Thanks.

Hi Gracchi,
Thanks from someone who is pretty good at putting these things together himself.

Lots of work but fun too until the mad rush at the end. You win the prize for the most nominated blogger.

Hi Jams
Thanks Jams, looking forward to the book.

Hi Carver,
You deserve a medal for getting to the end. Now it's time for me to turn to Christmas. I put a wreath on the front door today.

Hi Crushed,
It did end well. Everyone eventually came through with enough nominations. Well too many really. Not all night but it took a while.

Hi Leslie,
Glad you enjoyed it and you deserve a medal too for making it to George. You had a good post yourself today.

Thanks you all for reading this very, very long post and leaving a comment.

Lord James-River said...

Fabulous effort - big, big job and so well put together. My hat is doffed, m'lady.

Political Umpire said...

Well you are certainly a more dedicated blogger than I!

The Cornish post caught my eye for obvious reasons. I have to say I found it thoroughly unsatisfactory, to say the least. He writes "The New Zealand Government is using its Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 to arrest members of the Moari community, in an attempt, some people are claiming, to break up what has become quite an effective language, political and cultural revival."

No links are given for this absurd claim. If the government wanted to dent the revival it would start by withdrawing funding for Maori language etc (as conservative voters often demand anyway). Several of those arrested were not Maori. (Cornishman can't even spell the word.) The terror charges were withdrawn because the act was unworkable, which had nothing to do with the probity of those arrested. Many were re-arrested on firearms charges (curious how these 'activists' felt the need to own offensive weapons, not something normally associated with linguistic revivals). Most disaappointing is the fact that no links or facts are included in the post - just some hysterical claims followed by an exhortation to email the NZ minister of police (who would have nothing to do with the decision to charge the accused nor with the subsequent prosecution).

Phil A said...

A lot of work. Thanks for putting in so much time on it.

mutleythedog said...

This is an excellent blog round up - I can see so many new links from it, it is a really worthwhile thing to do...

lady macleod said...

Well done indeed! You did a fabulous job jmb. Thank you from all of us I should think.

kizzie said...

Woooow! I'm soo impressed. Amazing job! I really appericiate this! ( we all do!)

Ellee Seymour said...

What an incredibly impressive post, you are a real blogpower star!

Josie said...

Wow, what a great post. I am going to kick off my shoes and check out some of those sites. Some of those blogs I'm not familiar with, so this is going to be fun. The blog with the post about dissing men looks particularly interesting. I have noticed that happening in advertising as well, making men look like "idiots".

This must have been a lot of work!


jmb said...

Hi James,
Thank you sir, it certainly was a big job. Glad to see you online again.

Hi PU,
I hope you made these points over at the original post, as I'm sure you did.
One can never trust the media to have the whole story and often there are under stories which would make the story less sensational so are conveniently forgotten, depending on the integrity of the medium involved.

Hi Phil,
You're welcome, it was worth it I hope.

Hi Mutley,
Knock yourself out following the links. It will surely take a while.

Hi Lady Mac,
Thank you, it did end up a little long but there were lots of good posts in there.

Hi Kizzie,
You're welcome and I was very happy to include your post.

Hi Ellee,
I wouldn't go so far as to say that but I am a determined lady so kept doggedly at it.

Hi Josie,
Do look at Colin's post on dissing men. There are some good links to follow. I was totally unaware of it, since I always turn off the ads.

Liz said...

Great round-up, jmb! Fantastically well-linked and written up. Good stuff. And thank you, from George and me, for the mention.

Wolfie said...

Stellar work Sir. Well done.

Janice Thomson said...

I just realized I got so carried away looking at all the links I never posted a comment here thanking you for all the work that went into this post Jmb. There are some awfully good blogs out there. It is amazing the diversity of subject matter and the brilliance of some minds as well as humor and much more. Again many thanks for this compilation.

Paulie said...

Jesus wept!

Good man!

jmb said...

Hi Liz,
Thanks and it was a pleasure to include you and George, the doggy "totty".

Hi Wolfie,
Thanks from JMB, not actually a Sir.

Hi Janice,
I'm glad you enjoyed it, although I admit it could have limited interest to non BP members.

Hi Paulie,
I'm glad you came to read. However I'm actually a good woman.