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Monthly Archives: December 2007

New Year Blog Resolutions

Remember the end of 2006?

1. Write less.

2. Write about what I know. It is a commonplace of writing teaching that one should write about one’s own backyard. An example of that advice:

I have a muse and essentially her name is Oregon. My stories take place there. Fiction grows out of place. Always keep your eyes open, understand where you grew up. Write about your own backyard, the place you know best.

On the other hand, Elizabeth George wrote:

One piece of advice, that neophyte writers are always given is ‘write about your own backyard’. Loosely translated, this means to write about an environment with which you are familiar. Broadly translated, it means to write what you know. To this I say balderdash. If I had believed that, I’d have spent years attempting to write about Huntington Beach, California, a place that could not interest me less as a setting.

I am writing a blog, not fiction, but I do think I should continue to rant less, and focus more on posts where I actually might have some insight, however modest, to share. With so many millions of blogs out there, does it matter if this one omits many things others find important? I think not. We all have something to offer.

3. Do not use the term “political correctness”. Why? Because it has become a shorthand for too many things which strike me as undesirable and lazy. The thing is to argue each instance on its merits, avoiding any such catch-all phrases.

4. Otherwise, go on pretty much as I have. Enough people seem to appreciate it. Just for the record, here’s how it started. A quick quote from a very early entry (May 2000):

Meantime this computer (lent to M and me by G: thanks!) shows definite signs of dying and something will soon have to be done. And my reading goes on. I suspect June may be somewhat less inward-looking in these pages than May. It has been therapy for me, and my justification for putting all this stuff here is that others can benefit from such glimpses into the human condition, because I assume I’m not special. I know reading others’ pages has broadened my thinking.

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Posted by on December 31, 2007 in blogging

 

2007 turns to 2008: 2 — end of year droop

Sounds like something men might fear, doesn’t it? But I am referring to the blogging phenomenon where, perhaps because other people have lives, readers tend to drop off a bit at this time of year.

On English/ESL it is to be expected. The pic below shows what’s happened there. You can tell when the HSC season was on.

droop1.jpg

Here, though, it isn’t quite that way. Of course the history here is a lot shorter too.

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Posted by on December 31, 2007 in blogging, site news, site stats

 

2007 turns to 2008: 1 — how to feel like Methuselah in one easy TV show

I watched Wallis and Edward on ABC tonight, a 2005 Company Pictures effort for BBC, and rather well done I have to say. Curiously, it was made in Latvia.

My mother used to say that in her younger days people said she rather looked like the Duchess of Windsor; she was not entirely flattered. The Abdication was felt even here in Australia, I believe; my brother was born the year before…

Now to my aging. It is a fact the Abdication occurred just twenty years before I was in the equivalent of Year 8; seems nothing to me now, twenty years. (I was a stamp collector then, as The Rabbit may recall, as he saw the surviving evidence, and among my collection was one Edward VIII stamp, probably collected around 1956.)  At that stage anything pre-war was definitely antediluvian from my perspective, though I quite clearly recall King George VI and our singing “God Save the King” in school.

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Posted by on December 30, 2007 in M, M's trip, memory, personal, TV

 

"Into our ambiguities…" — homily by Andrew Collis, South Sydney Uniting Church 23 December 2007

This is the same Sunday as the conversation I reported earlier. You will find two other homilies by Andrew in my WordPress blogs here and here.

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Posted by on December 30, 2007 in Christianity, faith, inspiration, religion, South Sydney Uniting Church

 

Blogginess and such

Over on Old Lines from a Floating Life I have been doing a series to wind that blog up before it becomes merely an archive: see 2007 in Review. What is “in review” is the blog, not the world at large — so it is an exercise in “metablogging”, aka “wanking”. 😉 However, I stand by it as it does have useful features, apart from my own enjoyment. There are good lists there of posts I would like people to read, for example.

The latest metablog will amuse some of you: 2007 in review: #23 — template fickleness! I think I may have set some kind of record in the past year or so.

There are strict limits to the fiddling you are allowed to do on WordPress.com. They do not normally allow Java scripts, for example, for (I believe) security reasons. They also limit the changes you can make to a template. I have happily wrecked quite a few templates on Blogspot, but you can’t do that on WordPress. The templates are in fact common to all the blogs which use them, so if they let me restructure something deep down that change would automatically transfer itself to all the blogs using that template. You can, apparently, buy some CSS rights, which I haven’t even though it isn’t expensive. I guess they must decouple you from the shared template then in some way.

There are things you can fiddle with, such as sidebar widgets and custom headings. You will see I do both, because when I have something to fiddle with I am sure to fiddle. One big deficiency in my expertise (among legion deficiencies) is that I have very limited graphic programs apart from what Windows XP brings with it. I don’t have Photoshop for example. However, I have found a neat free program that enables the basics plus more: Photofiltre, a little French thing that doesn’t take up much space and is easy to learn and use:

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Posted by on December 29, 2007 in blogging, site news

 

More on Benazir

Naturally the papers are full of events in Pakistan today. One might add that the US would have been better off in general if its attention had been more firmly on this part of the world after 9/11, and less focussed on Iraq. But that is a whole other story that goes back to the tail end of the Cold War, the rise of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and the US contributions to both in the interests of the Great Game (1970s/80s version) in Afghanistan.

One of the more moving pieces I have read so far comes from The Australian’s Bruce Loudon:

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Posted by on December 29, 2007 in current affairs, events, humanity, Islam, politics, USA

 

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Recycle 6: from 29 March 2007 on WordPress — Religion: Who Needs It?

Good heavens: this is the second reference to Jamie Stern-Weiner’s blog in two days! He has written there an entertaining account of a debate at Westminster on "‘We’d be better off without religion." Jamie agrees we would be, and admired participants in the debate such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and A.C. Grayling rather than their opposition, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Prof. Nigel Spivey and the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton. I am not a Scruton fan either. It is all very hypothetical though. Religion isn’t about to go away, not in my lifetime or probably in yours. Me, I am a believer in God who does not believe in magic books. So I agree entirely about the dubious morality of much of the Bible, but not of all of the Bible, and ditto for the Quran, though here is an interesting conundrum for the world as Muslims tend to be wedded to the magic book principle even more than Christians or Jews. Rather than go into all that here, I refer you to entries here under the tag "Bible". So I do not identify with this characterisation of religion:

…Rather than a rational discussion of morality culminating in a series of arguments, religious morality is just a set of rules written down on paper, with no attempt at rational explanation and no critical discussion of the issues. Moreover, believers are positively discouraged from thinking for themselves about morality, and are rather indoctrinated or terrified into blindly following whatever their “Holy Book” or “religious teacher” has to say. That’s not morality, it’s tyrannical brainwashing…

Rather, I do lean towards this comment in Meanjin Vol. 65, no. 4, 2006:

Modern-day Christians have to stop thinking that they do not need to engage in dialogue because they have found their good shepherd. Having to engage with those of a different faith is not always comfortable. But in our post-secular society, in which the boundary between belief and unbelief is much less clear than for previous generations, interfaith dialogue is the way of the future… We are becoming a society in whch secular and religious cultures coexist, and indeed can sometimes learn from each other. In that sense we may be moving to a post-secular generation. — Constant J Mews, Monash University

In that spirit I have been compiling this section of my blog roll

To those I now add (thanks to Arthur):

I think I would also add [29 December 2007] a classic essay, written in 1938, but just as (even more?) resonant for 2008: E M Forster’s "What I Believe".

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Posted by on December 29, 2007 in Christianity, faith, inspiration, pluralism, religion, replays