A photoblog that came my way recently. Here is a sample. Click on the picture to explore further.
Tag Archives: meet a blog
In the UK
- Islam And The West – the Kashmiri Nomad is sometimes a bit confronting and perhaps too keen on finding examples of Christian hypocrisy, not that it does any harm to at least weigh what he says but I would rather he accentuated the positive. Nonetheless his terrorism category makes for interesting reading.
- Madhab al-Irfy .. — “.. a place where Irf rants on religion-related stuff when he’s bored sh*tless. Irf’s work gets published here and there. He occasionally gets harassing after-hours phonecalls from a News Ltd journo, and recently joined the ever-growing list of sane people threatened by Daniel Pipes…”
- Planet Irf – same blogger. “The weblog of Irfan Yusuf, lawyer and writer who was once a small-c conservative but is now politically left right out. His often irreverent take on things appears in some 15 newspapers in Australia and New Zealand as well as online. His book "Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-fascist" was published in May 2009.” Great blog.
- From Australia there is Uniting Church minister Duncan Macleod in Queensland. Check his “Islam” entries.
- From the USA Rabbi Brant Rosen. That is his “Islam” blog search.
These three come from the BlogExplosion widget on NEIL’S SYDNEY ON BLOGSPOT. They have attracted me by their content and/or design. The images are linked to the blogs.
The author describes himself and his pseudonym thus: “Wilmaryad Ben O’Scallas is the love child of Irish author, Oscar Wilde, and Greek-American opera genius, Maria Callas. Wilmaryad comes from a faraway land. A land of sea, rain, sun, snow and sand. Where he has to swim against the tide. And where gay love has to hide.” A very human document.
“…the portfolio, journal, and personal blog of filmmaker/editor, Luke Fandrich. Check out my original shorts, edits, and festival work from past and present, read up on my observations as a former film student, share in my general production woes and successes – then COMMENT and REVIEW to share the view from your side!”
“Today is the six-month anniversary of Gaiatribe: Ideas for a Thinking Planet. This blog was launched on January 14, 2009. So far, it has established favored subject areas and attracted a following of regular readers. I would enjoy further input from you regarding this blog’s progress and possibilities.” – 14 July 2009.
My former colleague at SBHS Russell Darnley has entered the blogosphere. I mentioned Russell a while ago in Islam has about 1.3 billion followers worldwide. He was in Bali at the time of the bombing and wrote about it; the full text is in that post.
“I want to write about the overwhelming manifestation of selfless human love and care I have experienced.”
It’s obvious that the tragedy in Bali has brought great grief to the lives of many Australian families. For those of us that have been intimately involved in the tasks of ministering to the needs of the injured, attempting a body count and counselling the grieved friends and families of the missing it has been a demanding task.
This has been a task made more bearable by the massive upsurge of goodwill and the magnificent cooperation that has emerged in the face of this tragedy.
There has been little time to reflect on the intentions of the perpetrators. Our energy has been elsewhere. With the evacuations complete and the forensic process now underway there is time to write.
My first task was to survey a network of private hospitals surrounding the Sanglah public hospital for walking wounded. There were none. What first confronted me was the youth of the patients. Sure there were people of my own age but many were Rugby and AFL players from Australia. As a Rugby coach I found an immediate affinity with lots of the young guys that were lying, not always gravely injured, but bewildered about the whereabouts of missing teammates. I could only ask them to have hope and if the inclination took them, to pray for their friends…
Many thousands of people have assisted in the relief effort. Their care of the sick and dying and the respect they have shown for the dead have filled me with great hope.
The overwhelming majority of Indonesia’s 230 million people I am sure are deeply appalled by the wanton violence. Bali in particular is now confronting the prospect of a significant economic downturn if tourism is no longer seen as safe and viable.
I can only conclude with the words of the Denpasar (Badung) Fire Brigade Crew that I happened to talk with yesterday as a walked back to Sanglah Hospital from the Garuda office.
“Tell the Australians that Bali is safe. We can guarantee this. We will protect them. Tell them that we want them to come.”
Now he is out there for you all to read. I commend his blog to you.
Speaking of blogging friends, thanks Jim Belshaw for your kind words today.
I have often enjoyed DeusExMacintosh on Skeptic Lawyer, but today’s entry is a corker!
The image is linked to the original.
I found this via BlogExplosion: matthew millens photoblog. It’s really well laid out and minimal. I can’t replicate this on my WordPress.com freebie, I’m afraid, but it’s a brilliant use of a rather mysterious theme called Sandbox.
Not so minimal, but I think OK, is an old new template I have decided to run with for a while on my photoblog. It does work best on a wide computer screen.
I have also started a series in sepia and black and white. It will run for five days. Many of them will be reworked from older colour photos, but I may also take some deliberately in monochrome.
Here’s an example, not on the photoblog but specially for this blog.
That was taken in Moore Park, Surry Hills.
Aviva Tuffield (ed), New Australian Stories, Melbourne, Scribe 2009.
This eclectic anthology of new stories showcases some of our finest short-story writers and proves that the short story is alive and well in Australia. From seasoned practitioners of the form through to rising and emerging stars of the short-story firmament, New Australian Stories caters for all tastes. There’s humour, mystery, drama, and even some delusion and deceit. Whole lives are captured in just a few satisfying pages. Ideal for dipping into and perfect for those seeking inspiration and escape, this collection is designed for your reading pleasure.
Contributors include: Cate Kennedy, Amanda Lohrey, Carmel Bird, Tony Birch, Nicholas Jose, Paddy O’Reilly, Max Barry, Margo Lanagan, Lenny Bartulin, Michael McGirr, Georgia Blain, Chris Womersley, Patrick Cullen and many more.
Perhaps it’s just me, but while agreeing there is plenty of variety I was struck by how many of the stories are concerned with ageing and dying. I do commend this anthology though. Nicholas Jose is in good somewhat comic form on a not quite as adventurous as she would like fictional grandmother. Wayne Macaulay’s “The Farmer’s New Machine” offers a somewhat Gothic solution to an agricultural problem. Isabelle Li looks at the ageing and dying issue from a Chinese Australian perspective in “A Fishbone in the Throat”. Paddy O’Reilly’s “Breaking Up” is admirably concise and takes the title in an unexpected direction. Chris Womersley’s “The Possibility of Water” is very clever.
I could mention many more; there are very few duds.
Scribe is one of Australia’s treasures – an independent publisher. The future of such ventures may be under a cloud in these times, not helped by the Book Supermarket-friendly mooted changes in our publication laws, an issue the founder of Scribe takes up in his blog. It is also mentioned, though with less apprehension, by this reviewer.
If short stories are biopsies, then the writers of New Australian Stories are skilled surgeons. The best short stories can conjure a past and a future out of a segment of present. Lots of the stories in this collection do this well. Highlights for me included Abigail Ulman’s Chagall’s Wife, whose tale of a high-school student angling for the attentions of a teacher easily evokes the nonchalance and unexamined alertness of burgeoning sexuality. It also stands out for its lean, direct prose; most of the other stories have a tendency towards fleshier prose which can sometimes be less effective. Another stand-out was Vivienne Kelly’s The Third Child. In this story, Frances writes yearly letters about her unchanging life to an aunt who lives abroad. Kelly’s restraint is admirable and pays off in an unexpected way; it’s a breathtaking story.
In relation to the talk of eliminating the territorial copyright provisions, there has been some fear that if it were to go ahead, uniquely Australian voices and stories would be lost. I get the feeling that the production of this kind of book will be negatively affected by major changes to the Australian parallel importation laws; I’d guess that the risk to independent Australian presses of putting out works by new (to books) Australian authors put is offset by their domestic sales of big-ticket overseas titles and books by established local heroes. The way the Productivity Commission is going (i.e. arbitrarily hedging their bets), if you love short stories, you should buy books like these and make them bestsellers in their own right.
And that is from the first of some new (to me) literary blogs I found while searching for New Australian Stories. It’s 3000 BOOKS // LET’S TELL MORE STORIES.
Another is Angela Meyer on Crikey Blogs: LiteraryMinded.
I am very impressed with Advice for a young climate blogger on the Real Climate blog – one of the best sources on its topic. The advice extends well beyond climate blogging. For example:
Don’t defame people. This should go without saying, but trivially accusing scientists of dishonesty, theft, academic malpractice and fraud pretty much rules you out of serious conversation. Instead it will serve mainly to marginalize you – though you may gain a devoted following among a specific subset. Don’t be surprised if as a consequence other people start to react negatively to your comments.
Correct mistakes. Again, it should go without saying that maintaining integrity requires that errors of fact be corrected as soon as possible.
Realize that although you speak for yourself, if you take mainstream positions, you will be perceived as speaking for the whole climate science community. Don’t therefore criticize unnamed ‘scientists’ in general when you mean to be specific, and don’t assume that the context in which you are speaking is immediately obvious to casual readers.
Avoid using language that can easily be misquoted. This is hard.
Don’t use any WWII metaphors. Ever. This just makes it too easy for people to ratchet up the rhetoric and faux outrage. However strongly you hold your views, the appropriateness of these images is always a hard sell, and you will not be given any time in which to make your pitch. This is therefore almost always counter-productive. This can be extended to any kind of Manichean language.
There is a lot more, all good. And yes, there are times I have needed such advice.
I decided to post a few gems this morning as I posted entries into my Google Reader.
1. Indigo Jo
Indigo Jo is a Muslim in England. He is writing about a demo in Trafalgar Square.
Most of the speakers were members of the WCPI "Central Committee", including Maryam Namazie, Fariborz Pooya, Bahram Soroush and Shiva Mahbobi. The latter was actually introduced as a member of said committee, but actually all four were; it begs the question of why the views of a small Iranian Marxist sect should be important in the debate over religion and state in the UK. I also wonder if any state they managed to establish in Iran would be much less repressive than the present régime, given that police states tend to recycle their old enemies’ secret police forces (this happened in both Iran and Russia); I had coined the slogan "Shari’ah, yes, Stasi, no" in case we managed to mount a counter-demo. AC Grayling, a popular philosopher, and Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society, spoke as well. I wonder if they knew who their friends were.
Creative Spark is an Australian expat in Singapore. He is writing about actor Sean Penn and writer Dustin Lance Black being censored on Singapore TV so the word “gay” did not sully any Singaporean ear.
…Am I living in a country full of bigots with no respect for human rights, who are so delicately composed in their moral values that an award speech that mentions the word “gay” freaks them out?
It certainly hasn’t been my impression of Singapore people, but maybe I just hang out in the wrong circles…
And the whole idea that controlling a country’s traditional mass media is still effective could only come from a government bureaucracy clinging to very old ways of doing things.
It’s just so far out of kilter with the realities of media, the citizens of the country and the attitudes of the world that it’s got to crack at many minute. The MDA must be feeling like an old dam with severe structural weakness now. Ten years ago you might have got away with it, but now it’s just making them seem irrelevant and kind of silly…
This blog is by Bob Leckridge, a Scottish physician. The particular entry is part of a series on personal growth.
Different ways of understanding
There are different ways to understand. The physical way can be seen in science which, as Deleuze says, is a way of thinking about function, a way of trying to understand how things work. The relationship way is seen in storytelling and in philosophy, and that leads to the third way, the spiritual, which is a way of understanding the connectedness to that which is greater than the self. There is no one right way. We really all are unique. Our views, our memories, our consciousness are all unique and individual. But we are also connected. We share environments, we collaborate, we compete, we form and break relationships. We share. What we all do is try to make sense of our lives, of the world and of our daily reality. We need to understand, to see patterns, to grasp that reality. When we don’t do that, we feel scared, confused, alone. We are meaning seeking, meaning creating animals. Nihilistic thought, randomness, chance and powerlessness can be overwhelming, can become unbearable, closing doors, squeezing out hope and leaving us lonely and in pain. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? What’s happening? What’s going to happen? We’re full of questions, and always seeking answers. We do that by using our ability to understand.
But we mustn’t forget that our understanding is always unique and personal, and the we need to negotiate, in our spaces of meaning, to create our communal visions, our shared purposes. With understanding comes humility, a humility which should prompt us to ask others What sense do you make of this? What does it mean to you?
Australian writer John Birmingham was one of the highlights of Journalspace before the great crash. He has reappeared on the new Journalspace at Cheeseburger Gothic, but so far it is a blog of brief notes sometimes pointing to his other venues. You may like to look at his take on the Lahore Cricket fiasco/tragedy: Cricket attack rewrites the rules.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a brave prediction. The attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Pakistan was not carried out by militant Presbyterians.
There is a small chance it was the work of Tamil Tigers, but only a very small chance. If the Tigers wanted to target the national heroes of their enemy, it would be much easier do so at home, rather than go through the logistically tortuous process of moving dozens of trained insurgents and their equipment thousands of miles away into an alien and hostile environment, where their very presence would arouse immediate suspicion.
No, I think we can probably rush to judgment in this case and blame our old friends the beardy nutters.
This attack will have the immediate effect of further isolating Pakistan and its people from the outside world. Sri Lanka were the last, best hope of the Pakistani Cricket Board, the only serious cricket playing nation still willing to tour in the face of repeated warnings from security experts that such an attack was inevitable…
See also my own post Pakistan: Sri Lanka Cricket team attacked below.
And a note on my Google Reader
My little stable of blogs was very active overnight. I have added a record 31 new posts this morning to Neil’s shared items. That’s almost four pages in the Reader!
If that sounds like a recent post by Bruce, it’s because I took my cue from that post! I commented there: “I may steal this for my Friday Intellectual Spot (or should that be in my case ‘Intellectual’?) — a really good find, Bruce.” Now I have stolen…
Tobias Ziegler has a blog, Not a Hedgehog, on WordPress.com. The item Bruce cites appeared on a Crikey blog, Pure Poison, on 24 February: Pure Science: Seeing ideological bias in research findings. So I have tagged this “meet a blog” as well, since you have now met several so far!
The results suggest that research findings which support liberal approaches to public policy are more likely to be regarded with scepticism, and that this scepticism seems to be associated with concerns about the ideological bias of the researchers. These perceptions of bias are more likely to come from those who are conservative in general, or who hold conservatively-aligned attitudes on the specific issue the research looked at. These findings seem consistent with a lot of the reactions to research that we see in conservative columns and blogs, and in responses from the commenters on those sites. And although they were explicitly artificial, the descriptions of research findings are similar to what we typically see presented in the mainstream media – brief, superficial and lacking the detail needed for critical evaluation. Under those conditions, there appears to be a tendency to see Leftist influence on the research endeavour – and the source of the research becomes the focus, rather than the integrity and quality of the research itself…
…We regularly see scientific research and academic institutions criticised as having philosophical and/or ideological motivations to conduct research that supports certain outcomes (e.g., anthropogenic global warming). This study provides evidence for one type of bias in judgment that may contribute to these types of claims.
But that doesn’t mean those of us who lean to the left can sit back with a smug sense of self-satisfaction. Liberals still appear to be more suspicious of findings that contradict their existing beliefs. It’s good to be sceptical, but that scepticism needs to be applied equally, without being influenced by the nature of the findings. And as the authors of this study note, the proneness to see liberal but not conservative bias might be because researchers are more likely to be liberals.
Rigorous, objective research should be able to serve as evidence in the debate over public policy. Rather than dismissing any research on ad hominem grounds, everyone involved in that debate needs to focus on the research itself. If the findings are genuinely affected by ideological bias, point to the evidence of ideological contamination in the study. We need to avoid this natural tendency to point to the researcher just because the findings don’t fit with what we believe.
Once upon a time (2003-4 especially) Salam Pax was one of the most famous blogs in the world. It has also appeared in book form. Now it has revived after a long hiatus, appearing now with its archives intact on WordPress.
Always very human and very witty in the past, Salam Pax is back on form. See also I want Baghdad to feel like home again.
I have been out of Iraq for almost two years now. The Baghdad I left in 2007 was not the city I had grown up in and loved. She had become so different, so violent, so not herself that I didn’t feel I was abandoning her.
I remember the moment when it felt as if leaving wasn’t a choice, but a very clear necessity. I was sitting in my pyjamas on the ground in our front garden; my father, mother and aunt crouched beside me, also in their pyjamas. Two American soldiers pointed these absurdly large rifles at us and an unnecessarily aggressive Iraqi translator hissed: "We know you have explosives in this house. It’s better for you to tell us where they are than us going through the whole place and finding them." …
So, two years later, after all that, what on earth am I doing back here?
I wish I could say that it is a wider general trend of Iraqis returning. If you were following the news after the US "surge" and the widely publicised improvement in the security situation since that time, you might have the impression that Iraqis were returning in big numbers. The truth is many of those who did go back left shortly afterwards again, having found their homes occupied by other people, or their neighbourhoods still unsafe. But many of those kept returning, bringing more family members with them: one foot in Iraq and the other holding the door open just in case a quick retreat was needed. That’s where my family and I are now.
Since the war started, Baghdad has become for me the sort of place where you can never really judge how it is until you are there. Listening to the news from afar can be confusing and rarely gives you the full picture. When I moved to Beirut three months ago the picture got slightly less blurry. And now I want to see if the situation really has improved….
The other very famous Iraq blog Baghdad Burning – published as two books! – has not yet re-appeared. It is still worth reviewing the archives, however.
The third blog comes from Iran.
It is well worth visiting.
And I have to acknowledge finding this one through Dangerous Creation, which itself has found more focus in recent times and has attracted a following from a number of new readers. My relations with that blog have been troubled, as many of you know, but it is only right to mention it in this context since without it I would not have seen Neo-resistance. If you have been to DC lately you’ll have formed your own opinion; I still look in on it and there are things to think about there, even if my blog is chalk to its cheese. This — Neo-Human, All Too Neo-Human – is pure coincidence, referring to The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq and written in 2007; but it is an odd coincidence.
On the right you will see a small stack of (bargain!) books, two that I have referred to just lately, and one that I am about to review.
The new book
Lawrence Potter (left) has inadvertently led me to a very good book blog via This May Help You Understand the World by Lawrence Potter. As that entry says:
In a confusing universe, it’s reassuring to find that it isn’t only you who doesn’t grasp the intricacies – or even the basics – of the world’s problems. We probably all feel that at some instinctive level we understand most of the big issues, but the truth is – certainly as far as I’m concerned anyway – that we couldn’t even begin to explain the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims (and why it matters) or the US electoral system, or the Weapons of Mass Destruction controversy, or why the Palestinians are fighting each other or even why organic bananas are so much better for everyone, not just you.
In fact, I suspect that the number of people who could get any further in their explanation than “Err … well …” would be tiny.
Those are just some of the topics covered in this excellent and well-timed book…
I concur! The first entry is on jihad…
Potter is very thorough and up-to-date (as of early 2007 of course). Other topics include: Israel/Palestine, US elections, world trade, climate change, Darfur, Russia, nuclear proliferation, and China. On China, about which I know a bit, I find it very well informed. Back to the review:
Considering what a comparatively slim volume it is, the amount of information in it is amazing, and it’s just so pleasing to be able to listen to a news broadcast or read a paper and actually have a reasonably clear idea of what they’re talking about. In fact, smugness is in danger of setting in …
Oh … and Mr Potter also tackles the thorny question of whether George W Bush really IS stupid.
The answer may surprise you.
And any author who looks like that has to be credible.
Seriously, this is an excellent and very readable book. He avoids pomposity and excessive predictability or overdone PC. Not a bad achievement, eh! It’s another Best Read of 2008.
Well, that horrible set of events in Mumbai continues to distress and perplex, doesn’t it? In my post Some thoughts on Mumbai I ventured some background gathered from good sources, but the plot really is thickening, isn’t it? Trouble is there are so many vested interests at play here it is hard to know what is most likely. There can be no doubt none of it bodes well.
In today’s Australian one letter writer expresses quite a common view, which would seem to have much in common with what I tried to say in Dark energy, God and humility, which in a way is also about Mumbai…
IT’S all too easy to see the current terrorism in Mumbai as the work of an insane minority. These men are not deranged. They are intelligent and psychiatrically normal men who just happen to believe literally the words of their silly and dangerous religious books.
Both the Koran and the Old Testament frequently advocate violence towards those of differing religious beliefs. Most people, perhaps influenced by secular humanism, instinctively do not take these “silly bits” literally. Unfortunately, a minority of the devout can’t make a distinction.
Until the major world religions, be they Muslim or Christian, are prepared to “clean up” their violent and often murderous literature, they deserve to be proscribed just like any other terrorist group.
As John Dominic Crossan says in God & Empire, however, it is not quite as David Phillips and many others portray it. If one considers a dual portrait of God as a God of Violence and/or a God of Love:
It is positively, absolutely not that one solution is found exclusively in the Old Testament and/or the Jewish tradition while another is found exclusively in the New Testament and/or the Christian tradition. It is not ecumenical courtesy, political correctness, or post-Holocaust sensitivity but simply biblical and historical accuracy to insist that both solutions run side by side, and often in the same books, from one end of the biblical tradition to the other. They are asserted relentlessly as the twin tracks of the Divine Express…
He’s quite right, an assertion I base on having read the Bible and Apocrypha from one end to the other, not cherry-picking as I went, and much the same can be said for the Qur’an, a substantial amount of which I have also read. (Few books are more bloodthirsty than The Apocalypse of John, after all.) It is what you do with this that matters. Crossan comes up with one solution, which I am not sure works, but at least leads to a rather healthy analysis of life and politics… I can’t help thinking, though, that the life-time study of the biblical traditions and the Ancient Near East/Greek World/Roman World has led to an only too understandable cultural myopia… We’ve all been there. What he knows he knows in depth and explains very illuminatingly, however. Can’t see fundamentalists liking it one little bit.
I make a case in that “Dark energy” post for quite a radical rethink by believers of their sacred scriptures, one that is not I have to say original to me. At the same time there are those not willing to be quite so radical who can still be perfectly harmless, even desirable, as neighbours and fellow-citizens, even if they regard me with suspicion and I regard them as being a bit cracked. Only through such benign tolerance do any of us have much hope, after all. We don’t have to be right, you know…
And the excellent blog I found…
… It’s Vulpes Libris (The Book Foxes). Have a look.
Not really, though they are of close age, if in different countries. Ben is a discovery Jim Belshaw made recently: Bachelor’s Day – China. His blog is Rambo’s Blogger. Do visit him. He comes from Zhejiang Province near Shanghai.
Ben is not a trainee teacher in fact, it appears. There is also a serious problem for the Chinese underlying that as well: the gender imbalance caused by the One Child policy and the traditional preference for male children.
But speaking of young teachers/teachers to be… Or young teachers that were…
My oldest ex-student is now 60 years old!
Yikes! Or OMG as they say here in The Cloud. Yes, I worked that out last night as I was thinking, for some reason, of the Class of 1967 at Cronulla High where I taught the very first HSC English (Third Level). Now most of that class turn 60 next year, I would think, if they turned 18 in 1967. But one or two were a year older…
Now how does that make me feel?
You guessed it! See the second half of this post title.