Other people’s blogs
So I tottered out of the bell tower this morning* and while watching Peter buy the Observer** noticed a headline in the Sunday Times: THE 100 BEST BLOGS IN THE WORLD. I was weak and silly and a headline writer’s patsy. I bought it.
The Guardian did the 50 best blogs a few months ago and I was entirely nonplussed: my hazy recollection now was that by the descriptions in the article 49 and a half of them were hard nonfiction and the half was one of those train-wreck tell-alls. I’m not sure I went to have a look at any of them. Okay, I thought, the net world is a big place, there is a corner for hellhounds and roses and bells and books and pianos and horses and . . . fortunately it’s a large corner. But today I decided that if I wasn’t made of sterner stuff then I ought to be and I was going to go so far as to read a few of these recommendeds and then I would blog about it. It is profoundly ridiculous that I write a blog but rarely ever look at anyone else’s***: I might be missing good blog topics. As I understand it that’s what everyone else does: you read each other’s and then talk about it. Right. Okay. Hat on straight†, feet flat on floor††. . . .
The first thing that happened is that the first address listed gets you This Webpage Cannot Be Found. This may be a peculiarity of my computer, of course–or of Sunday evening: although it reproduces itself nicely I admit it’s still Sunday evening–but when I finally got there via Google there was more address than the Times gave you:
This first category is called ‘world affairs’ and normblog is described as ‘an indispensable window on the world’. Hmm. Okay, here’s a clip:
The question here is: why are we so interested in anniversaries? And although no direct answer is given to it, this is offered as one of the effects of that interest:
[A]nniversaries are to be praised because they constitute a historical review system allowing us to think about just a few things at any given time rather than trying to think about everything all of the time.
Review system, maybe; but allowing us to think about just a few things at a time I don’t buy. We’re both allowed and able to be selective anyway, without the aid of anniversaries. You don’t celebrate your child’s birthday so as not to have to think about your other children. So why? . . . It’s a way of organizing what would otherwise be chaotic.
It’s what? Okay, this is a sober, serious, thought-provoking world affairs blog and I write fantasy and think the way my hellhounds sleep on their backs is the ultimate in hilarity. I accept that I’m missing the point. I would have said anniversaries are an officially sanctioned excuse to have some fun. You know, fun? I know the economy has just crashed and burned so the excursion to the Fat Duck††† may need to be put off, but you can still buy a balloon and go for a walk in the park. And presents? You know, presents? You need to be really focused to buy presents for no reason. Anniversaries are a reason. And I never knew a parent who stopped thinking about one kid because another one was having a birthday. And one of the nice things about anniversaries–or three day weekends commemorating some national anniversary–is that they don’t have to be organized: they’re just lying there! You can pick them up or not just as you choose.
However, if he gets more people to listen to Emmylou Harris then he is a good thing, even by my somewhat off-centre criteria:
Although he is wrong wrong wrong about Red Dirt Girl being less than her best, it is a brilliant album and I wrote about half of SUNSHINE to it.
Next we have
. . .described as ‘A superb way into the mind of America.’ Oh? Ah. Well, I haven’t lived in America in almost twenty years. Things change. Also, being the sort of evil cow who nonetheless hates confrontation, the author photo puts me right off, being a Wanna-Make-Something-of-It?-stare author photo. If this were a book, I’d quickly and nervously lay it down again.
But I do like the conceit of posting TH Huxley on Valentine’s Day, and the remark: ‘Those who would have us live “according to nature” invariably have a stupid view of nature’ is my idea of dead on.
Next on the list is
’ . . . The assumption is that you are on the journey with Sullivan, that you read him every day, as indeed millions do.’ Okay. Textbytes. We can do textbytes.
This of course immediately caught my eye:
Heather Havrilesky hates both animal lovers and people who hate animal lovers. She talks about the latter:
I don’t think there’s anyone I hate more than people who can’t shut up about how deeply sick and wrong it is to love your dog and call her stupid names and treat her with the respect and kindness and around-the-clock fawning and admiration to which she’s clearly entitled. I have a big problem with people who want to hold court on how bad it is for a dog to be invited onto the bed or the couch and squeezed and kissed and anthropomorphized. “Dogs were meant to roam around in the wilderness,” they remind us, “ripping little animals apart all day long! Dogs weren’t meant to lounge about on the furniture, wimpering for more Snausages!”
I’m for the boring middle. It’s impossible not to give a beagle the couch and to treat them as almost human. But once you realize they actually like the security of knowing their place in the pack, you find it easier to enforce some simple boundaries.
Hmm. This does not seem to me a particularly informative or soul-sounding gloss, but then the hellhounds and I are more or less attached at the hip and this is Critters 101 when I’ve got two or three PhDs on the subject.
Havrilesky’s article certainly made me laugh‡ in happy recognition.‡‡ I’d have her over for coffee: I bet she has blogworthy words to say about owners of four-legged aggressive off lead threats to society and friendly hellhounds. I feel she’s a little underinformed about the ripping apart of small mammals, however: squirrels bite. They’re vicious little sods. If you want your Natural Dog to have a joyous hunting experience, you don’t want to start it on either squirrels or rats: stick to rabbits. Preferably very old or very young rabbits, that can’t kick very hard.‡‡‡
Renee Grinnell summarizes a new study:
According to a new San Francisco State University study…money can lead to greater happiness for the person possessing it and those around them, if it is used to buy experiences, not possessions.
According to SFU’s February 7 press release, the study by Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at SFU, “demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality – a feeling of being alive.”
If you see the point of money as freedom, it works. As soon as it becomes anything else, it doesn’t. And possessions are not freedom. In many ways, they can be its opposite.
Er. Um. ‘In many ways they can be its opposite’? Well. Yes. True. But I’ve been that kind of free once or twice in my life, and I belong to the the ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ philosophy. Also, you separate me from my books, my piano–even my computers, especially the one with Finale on it–and my All Stars§ at your peril.
Although the original study looks pretty interesting, and this blog is supposed to flag stuff for you. Yes, this is one of the sneaky virtues of bell ringing: you get all this exercise, mental, physical and social, and furthermore it’s (ahem) free.
‘a good stop for witty and non-PC politics’
Okay. I give up. I don’t know anything about Obama’s stimulus package except that the price tag scares the bejeezus out of me: being a taxpayer and all I take it personally. I’m a little depressed that the knives are already out–the guy’s been in office what, three weeks?–but I suppose they would be, for an $800 gazillion anything§§ even if we have documentary proof that he walks on water and heals scrofula at a touch.§§§
I’m now losing the will to live.¤ I am just not a political animal.¤¤ My favourite item in this blog is an ad at the top which states: ‘The Ony [sic] Real Obama Watch. Exclusively Here, the Same Watch Barack Obama Wears for $325.’ My brain, deprived of more digestible material¤¤¤, is fascinated that the ad-buyer thinks that people who follow closely argued discussions on the horrifying quandary that is the Middle East are also going to fall for a Barack Obama watch. Hmm. Maybe this is how they’re planning to fund the stimulus bill?
‘A feisty, left-leaning American news and comment blog . . .’ Oooh. Hors d’oeuvres page. Good for us butterfly minds.
“This book is born of annoyance: a great bewilderment over the myth that continues to surround the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It gives voice to a vast swath of psychically disenfranchised Americans, millions of them, lumped most thickly in the urban areas on either coast, who never understood Reagan’s appeal.”
Yes. That would be me.
Oh, what a relief: frivolity
I suppose this falls under the general heading “Be Careful What You Wish For.”
There are a whole lot of folks who once looked forward to the day when women would become equal participants in the work force with men. . . .
What they didn’t predict was that women might finally reach the goal of equality less because they scaled the heights than because men slipped downward. But here we are.
In the winter of our economic discontent, women now hold more than 49 percent of jobs on the nation’s payrolls. If we cross the 50 percent line-hold the applause-it will be because men are losing their jobs even faster than women. . . . The other dubious part of this “equality” for families is that even if women fill half of the payroll jobs, they don’t bring home half the paychecks. They still earn only 78 cents for every male dollar. In two-worker households, husbands earn close to two-thirds of the income and usually hold the job with health insurance.
So women’s work has been more stable but less profitable. And don’t forget that the recession is still on. Women may yet catch up (or catch down) with men’s job losses. They are especially vulnerable to cutbacks in state and local government, where they work in disproportionate numbers.
. . . Sigh.
And last under the ‘world affairs’ category we have:
‘An extraordinary blog maintained by the staff of the British Embassy in Harare. It must be unique in the annals of British diplomacy–embassy officials saying what they really think . . .’
Well, it’s getting late, and I’ve spent way too much time looking at other people’s blogs which is why I don’t, and horizontality (and hellhounds) are beginning to call me in a voice that will not be denied. So I must have missed the extraordinary entries: the ones I looked at read like rather gentle newspaper columns. But as long as I’m complaining, pardon me, but this is supposed to be the 100 best blogs in the world. And under ‘world affairs’ we have . . . a total American-British lockdown. I realise that the Times is selling to a British, English-speaking audience, but . . .
I am, being Old and No Fun, going to skip the ‘Celebrities’ and ‘Style’ categories but I’ll have a go tomorrow or next Mumbleday at ‘Words’ and ‘Comic Relief’. Then I have to try and remember to buy Blogs Part Two next Sunday. And since I don’t read other people’s blogs I can blithely ignore the fact that all around me hot, happening, cutting edge blogs are writing muscular, grappling-hook commentary on the Times’ list. Never mind, I’ll make myself a nice cup of tea and read a, you know, book.
* * *
* Having clung cravenly to the treble for Grandsire, was driven inside for Stedman which I rang perfectly competently and then fluffed bob minor, arrrrrrgh
** I swear this ritual exists to give us something to complain about. I would have thought we could find other things to complain about even if we didn’t buy a Sunday paper, but I daresay–old hardcopy fuddyduddies that we are–we’d miss it if we stopped.
*** That would be the bells, books, hellhounds, roses, piano, etc. Hey, I got out into the garden today. I mean for longer than it takes to move a few pots of flowering trees.
† I don’t wear a hat
†† . . . and I usually type with at least one leg folded under me. Factoids about Robin McKinley, #15: cannot sit in a chair as the chair was intended for sitting in
And they recommend you stay here:
‡ Although it also made me feel old, tired and . . . uh, British. Golly. And I thought I get bent out of shape about stuff.
‡‡ But I couldn’t get her talking dog to play for me! Drat and ratbags! Note to self: must learn little video-clip thingy on digital camera, so I can record Darkness and Chaos backchat. Take us ooooooooout!
‡‡‡ If you do click through, you’ll discover the original article is on salon.com. I really have to learn to cruise salon.com. I’m just afraid I’ll never be heard of again.
§ Do hellhounds count as a possession? Do I count as a possession? Who owns, the goddess or the devotee? I know I pay the bills^ but we are seeking a higher truth here.
^ don’t I know it
§§ I just googled for the exact figure and the first Google page of just the headlines quotes four different figures. This is not reassuring.
§§§ Which so far as I know we do not have
¤ But speaking of author photos, here’s a really scary author photo.
¤¤ And the White House dog search goes on: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gGfERtIuYk_00Udf16Hctly2CM7w Very first advise anyone gives anyone about choosing a puppy is don’t choose a puppy mill puppy. . . .
¤¤¤ Reading a serious political blog is for me akin to eating a cheese sandwich: major personal cataclysm follows
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