29 May, 2013

Voices From the Blogroll III

What's that you say? You've a sense of deja vu about this post? You know, I've a strange feeling I've heard that phrase somewhere before, but I just can't put my finger on it...

Anyway, now that you've stopped rolling your eyes, I want to tell you that just like I've posted before, both here and here, there is a shitload of fabulously entertaining, confronting, thoughtful and considered writing out there in the blogosphere. These are some of the blogs I've been reading (benignly lurking in web-speak) and engaging with (commenting at) in recent times.

For those blogs where I haven't been able to discern the gender of the author, or indeed number of authors, gormless pillock that I am, I've used the neutral "singular they" pronoun. Just so you know.

I would also point out that, as ever, none of these very talented people need an endorsement from the likes of me. But, bugger that, they're getting one anyway.

A Baffling Ordeal:
"The Shadow Attorney General said some things in the Senate that, in light of the verdict, make his legal mind seem about as sharp as a knife made of diarrhoea."  Now, if I'd been drinking Coke when I read that, it would have come shooting out of my nose as if from the Bicheno Blowhole. And there are plenty of lines like that.

This blog isn't updated with anything like regularity but each new post ought to be eagerly anticipated, so good are they. This is not a blog I comment at frequently because I have nothing to add and don't want to fill up the comment threads with stuff like "Brilliant!" and "I wish I'd said that!".

This post, Amanda Vanstone Has Had Just About Enough of Your Bullshit is emblematic of A Baffling Ordeal's output.

There's a lot to like about this alternative news analysis site, the Australian Independent Media Network: thoughtful articles on a range of issues by a battery of good writers and thinkers; and it's updated regularly. This post was one of many that took my fancy: Goodbye MSM! I'm Just Not That Into You

Anti-Bogan is a very confronting blog, and makes for some unpleasant reading and viewing. You know, that I-really-want-to-look-away-but-I-can't feeling. Nevertheless, my view is that it provides an entirely necessary community service. And anthropological study.

Anti-Bogan re-posts the most shamefully racist, bigoted and misogynistic Facebook wall posts and twitter updates of our fellow Australians. It's not pretty on a number of levels, if you're anything like me: you might be saddened that people like the ones shown here exist outside of gatherings of your extended family; you may also wonder how they can be so proudly and wilfully ignorant; and you'll probably be appalled by their misuse of the opportunities that public platforms like social media provide.

This post delivers the output of one serving member of Australia's Defence Force Reserve and erstwhile Bob Katter's Australia Party candidate 

You might want to have a shower afterwards.

Bill's blog defies simple categorization in that he writes on a range of topics such as politics, rock music, economics and travel. His posts are invariably well-researched and well thought out.

Like this one on Pink Floyd's 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon that takes a different angle from the predictable classic album post.

Sydney-based Mitzi G Burger is a high school English teacher who masterminds BlogInBoots and also the Joycean Here Comes Everybloggy. There are lovely poems and personal musings. Bloginboots is only updated occasionally but enjoyable reading nonetheless.

This post is a particularly poignant one.

Cafe Whispers:
This political blog benefits from regular posting and devotes most of its energy to giving the coalition, its conduct and policies the kind of scrutiny the MSM just can't (or won't!) do on its own.

I thought this post was a really nice piece on the finite nature of humanity - and with a fabulous closing line. We really are just specks, all of us.

Cheeseburger Gothic:
Australian author John Birmingham is the brains behind this blog, and it's not a bad idea for published authors to do this sort of thing: as long as you don't make it too obvious, you can publicize both yourself and your recent publications for sale in a chummy online bookclub atmosphere - but I don't want to sell Birmingham short - he offers genuine engagement with his readership and the public far beyond mere salesmanship.

With opinion pieces also regularly published by Fairfax, Birmingham gets to have a bob each way: by ranting in the MSM opinionsphere; and then posting rational considered pieces on his blog. He therefore debunks the tired old stereotype of MSM columnist = authoritative wisdom, blogger = intemperate raving all by himself on occasions.

And as much as that's a nice straddling act, Cheeseburger Gothic also provides interesting posts of a literary nature and insightful musings on pop culture.

The Failed Estate:
Jim Parker is a former journalist who finds much to deplore among the MSM. One of these smart-alecks who thinks he's clever because he employs REAL analysis (and REAL analysis of crap analysis), he exposes the extent to which so much MSM journalism and opinion pieces are closer to spin doctoring than we'd realized.

If you don't already anticipate his next post as eagerly as I do, try this and this to get a sense of what The Failed Estate succeeds at.

Hoyden About Town:
A feminist collective that always gives the reader something to think about. This post, and the 2007 post it links to, really resonated with me - and should be compulsory reading for all blokes, however uncomfortable it might make them feel!

The name Julie Posetti will probably be vaguely familiar to many of you. Julie is a journalist and journalism academic who was caught up in a cause celebre not of her own making back in 2010, thanks to those fearless champions of free speech over at The Australian.

Media Watch covered it at some length, and you can delve into that here and here and read what Julie had to say herself here and a letter from her legal representatives here.

Needless to say, The Australian's pathetic, nasty, hypocritical bullying of someone who was not criticising that pompous rag herself, but REPORTING VIA TWITTER WHAT AN EX-JOURNALIST FROM THE PAPER HAD SAID AT A CONFERENCE, was terminated when legal advice based on logic, reason and the law managed to infiltrate a few thick heads. The same thick heads that sit behind such thin skins

At any rate, Julie's blog is mainly concerned with professional issues of interest to journalists. And since journalists are one of the filters through which all mainstream media news must pass, those issues are invariably of public interest.

Loon Pond:
Prolific, daily posts of a breathtakingly high quality that are quite simply, a must-read for me. That's pretty much what you get from this Sydney-based blogger: witty, scathing deconstruction of MSM cant - as seen here; here; and here.

You might wonder why they give lightweight contrarian buffoons like Gerard Henderson and Paul Sheahan so much oxygen, but I suppose the gullible might be lulled into thinking that if the SMH publishes them, there must be a skerrick of validity to their points of view. Loon Pond is there to disabuse you of that notion.

Naturally, The Australian provides a rich source of material.

News With Nipples:
The Harbour City is again the locale for this journalist (hmm, we're getting a few of those on board, aren't we?) and postgraduate student. Her blog title and header photo have given me cause to plead "It's not what you think..." on those occasions when I launch into The News With Nipples and there's a "Hey..." from close behind me.

Kim has a finely attuned and very sensitive bullshit detector and makes thorough use of it. It must be frustrating for someone like her to see professional standards ignored so often in the MSM.

This is the kind of crap that gets up her nose - as it should all of us.

John Quiggin: 
John blogs knowledgeably about science and economics and is always worth dropping in on. He even sought and gained an honourable truce with the extreme-right Catallaxy (and no, there'll be no link to that stinking, steaming pile of shit on this blog!) after some comment flame wars. So I'm probably breaching John's policy. Oh well.

Piping Shrike:
This political blog is always thoughtful and draws thoroughly evidence-based conclusions to support the views expressed there, as in this post on compulsory voting. I particularly liked the succinct summation of the non-mandated but predictable actions of the Newman Queensland government, which:
"...cut back services as though voter dissatisfaction at Labor doing the same never happened."

And is probably coming soon to a Commonwealth near you.

Politically Homeless:
If I've linked to Andrew Elder's blog before, I apologise, but in any event it's worth giving him another mention in dispatches, especially in a Federal election year.

And I hope his subtitle, Tony Abbott will never be Prime Minister of Australia, comes to pass. In any event, if Abbott's cosying up to the Essendon Football Club in 2010 results in the same fate for him as other red-and-black-draped Liberals like Andrew Peacock; John Hewson; and Peter Costello before him, then Abbott is destined, like them, to miss out on the top job.

The career of former Canberra Press Gallery doyenne Michelle Grattan came in for particularly withering and well-deserved scrutiny by Andrew.

PR Disasters:
This blog describes pretty much what happens when dickheads shoot their mouths off, taken from a PR Epic Fail perspective.

Here is a very recent discovery that has been an absolute godsend. It's kind of like the blog this one would like to be when it grows up, focusing as it does on rock music and being so damned entertaining and informative about it.. The blog's author, Mike Segretto, also has a second key focus on classic horror movies which will make for a delightful diversion whether it's a particular interest of yours or not.

This post in particular, which was Mike's list of the best albums of 1968, I found really compelling. And in a similar vein to The Rising Storm, he's not afraid to go out on a limb and champion albums that are often dismissed by the general run of critics and fans alike.
Seriously Whimsical:
Her recent post on religious belief made me sit up and take notice. With a nod to Richard Dawkins, she challenges atheists who are ambivalent about religion and faith to justify their stance. There's a dichotomy alright, and the way she compellingly argues, it isn't a false one.

That's So Pants:
Comments on her blog are disabled, so lurkers aweigh! Her post on population provided a super-sized take-away pack of food for thought. And on that basis, you might find her archive worthy of exploration.

This quote really tickled my fancy:
"that thing that is as mysterious to us as would be the complete works of Thomas Pynchon set to music by John Cage - public transport."

Victoria Rollison:
There's an entirely justified sense of despair starting to creep into Victoria Rollison's Federal politics-focused blog. She can't fathom how the electorate is rushing headlong towards electing an Abbott-led coalition government in September 2013.

Actually, that's not completely fair: it's more that she can't believe how a gullible public seems to be falling for concerted MSM spin doctoring on how lousy the Gillard government is and how wonderful Abbott would be in her place. There is a sense of history repeating itself in this: press coverage of the Whitlam government went in a similar direction.

And like me, she probably wouldn't mind if it wasn't so bloody obvious.

War Tard:
The author here is exceptionally knowledgeable about history, technological advancement and global politics. Wartard is also a very witty, stylish writer with a terrific handle on explorations of historical What if...? scenarios. He combines world-weary cynicism with a these-people-deserve-better humanity that is the hallmark of the seen-it-all-before war correspondent.

This post on the German WWII-era jet fighter the Messerschmidt 262 was extraordinarily comprehensive.

The brains behind this blog is American author John Scalzi. He doesn't need your traffic but it's a warm, welcoming  blog that keeps you up to date on his output, gives numerous opportunities to aspiring writers and is, like his books, witty and entertaining.

This recent post explores the publication of fan-fiction, a fascinating tangent to the issue of intellectual property for writers. While here, here and here he discusses a sexual harassment incident at a sci-fi fan convention that has wider implications - and applications.

And we're in Sydney again. Blogs like Peter's are not just lively reading but, I would assert, essential in a robust democracy. He has been providing insightful additional information about the Health Services Union scandals that you won't find in the MSM - and indeed run counter to the prevailing MSM zeitgeist on embattled MHR and ex-HSU National Secretary Craig Thompson.

So there you have it folks. Go ahead, knock yourself out. You could do a lot worse than make this lot part of your essential regular reading. Like sticking religiously to MSM outlets exclusively, for example.

I should make a point of commenting at these blogs more regularly, but sometimes there's nothing to add to something that hits the nail pretty much on the head.

Incidentally, while putting this piece together I wondered if  there were any blogs I DON'T think much of. Well, yes there are. And ooohhh, what a post that would be. Voices OFF The Blogroll as it were.

Coming soon. Maybe.


Ann ODyne said...

Brilliant! I wish I'd said that!
Art Of Pants is also as nifty as That's So Pants and she is just a monument of creativity. I am honoured to call her 'friend' since we met via Normblog when she lived in London. I cannot tell you the funny stuff we have done together, all over Victoria, and starting at the airport when I had to look for a blonde wearing a pink scarf and ahead of her in the disboarding queue ... was a blonde woman in a pink scarf which wasn't her.

Quiggin of course, has been a blogument for longer than a knife made of diarrhoea.
I used to visit the hoydens, but no way since the 2 women in Sweden events.
Thanks for the tips to those blogs I don't know, and here is one in exchange MuckRack blog where journalists hang.

just thought of something funny, coping with bloody word verification: count the days till some advertising smartarse fixes it with product placement brand names. *goes off to get in on the ground floor*


Lad Litter said...

Hahaha! The mind boggles at you and That’s So Pants getting together. I’ve only recently taken the time to go through her blog and it certainly is enjoyable reading.

Thanks for the tip re MuckRack – you’re full of good advice.

I think it’s fascinating that there are so many really good blogs out there – particularly the ones that perform better than their MSM equivalents. I’d certainly put John Quiggin’s in that category. Yet bloggers have so often been stereotyped and characterized as amateurs at best and nutters at worst. And sure there are plenty of those. Just not on my blogroll.

Your word verification commercial idea sounds very enterprising. Quick! Before Tom Waterhouse gets there!