ONE of the distinguishing things about BlogCritics, something that makes it very different to old school mainstream media, is that we’re all available, contactable and interactive.
We have some great writers and personalities here, both on the editorial side and the vital wider writer community; it’s great, thrilling actually, to see them actually interact, through the Comments, with our readers.
The articles posted on BC, although complete in themselves, are like the opening remarks in a conversation; sometimes formal, often irreverent, rarely dull. If you want to shoot the schnizzle about your favourite new band, game, TV show, sport and movie or get seriously political over the hot button issues of the day, THIS is the place to come.
“The comments are what make BlogCritics a community.” Eric Berlin
“Have I said recently how I see comments as kind of the heart or psyche of BC? No? Well, I see the comments as…” Christopher Rose
“I take comments moderately seriously” Dave Nalle
BlogCritics is a weird gestalt of writers, readers, commenters and of course the folk in the big room up the stairs from the Comments cubicle that run the place. The core of the BlogCritics culture is obviously made up of the over 1,200 registered Bloggers who post all the diverse articles here but there is also a large and growing band of unregistered regulars who post comments with a frequency, style and wit that leaves me wondering why they don’t have a blog of their own.
One such is the mysterious Bliffle, who has been swinging by BC for a while now and earns Comment of the Day for Monday 19th December 2005 for this excellent comedy extension of NaNoWriMo 2005 winner gypsyman‘s cool satire The Bush File
Manifest Destiny! Oh, it has such a nice ring to it!
The problem with Mexico and it’s unwanted immigration is that peasant life in the US is too attractive. Why even the least educated and unaccomplished and desultory among us has TV, a car, and enough fat, salty and greasy food to attain genuine obesity. To reduce the invasion of Mexican peasants we simply have to reduce the state of the US peasant to want and deprivation. I propose we do that by shifting the tax burden to the lowest paid while simultaneously reducing their health care support, depriving them of bankruptcy rights, looting their savings, and demolishing their “Unions”.
It will help to reduce the peasants de facto Freedom Of Speech by incurring wars and inducing a constant state of psychotic paranoia so they are willing to surrender rights. In fact I think they will even cheer the diminishment of those “rights” as they look fearfully behind themselves for strangely garbed brown men with daggers and RPGs.
One of the many things the world finds fascinating about the USA is the sharp contrast between the often groundbreaking modern discoveries and inventions or thrilling new books, movies and music coming out of the country on the one hand and, on the other, some staggeringly backward social ideas and/or political policies that seem to have a regressive stranglehold on many peoples’ thoughts.
The two most obvious and fiercely contested examples are the convoluted and often bitter debates over the death penalty and abortion, two subjects that have the USA locked in a potentially seriously damaging internal argument that shatters normal political allegiances and can bitterly divide both friends and family alike. Finding socially equitable solutions to these rancid blind spots is becoming pressing, both in political terms and for the greater good and harmony of the country as a whole.
Comment of the Day for Tuesday 20th December 2005 comes from BlogCritic Ruvy In Jerusalem, as he throws out one typically gritty external perspective, added as Comment #99 to fellow BlogCritic Sam Jack‘s news report on the tactics used by Wichita anti-abortion campaigners in his photo-heavy October 2005 story A Bible and a Bullhorn.
I’m old enough to remember when abortion was illegal in the State of New York and a bill was brought up in the state legislature to “reform” the laws.
This was in 1970, before Roe vs. Wade was decided in the federal supreme court.
There was a debate on the issue on what was then WNEW, Channel 5. One fellow speaking against abortion was a Catholic prelate whose name is not worth remembering.
What he said is, though. “Abortion should be banned to protect good Catholic girls.”
It was the dumbest thing he could have said. Why should a nice Jewish boy (once I wasn’t a balding middle aged man) like me give a tinker’s dam about Catholic girls – good or otherwise – if they were not jumping into MY bed?
Judaism does not forbid abortion, as does Catholicism. Why should I have to swallow Catholic dogma and put a nice Jewish girl at risk with a back room abortionist so that some Catholic prelate’s precious “good” Catholic girls would not be allowed to have abortions and HIS church would not have to really educate them as to why not?
That seemed wrong.
Sexual morals in America were just a tad better then than they are now.
But the bottom line is this. If fourteen year old kids have sex for pleasure, they better damned well KNOW that babies do result from sex. That thought should be on the mind of both hormone crazed kids as they strip their clothes off, hot and hungry for each others bodies.
There is more to sex than the foreplay, clit tickling and mind blowing orgasms that American and European culture focus in on and use to sell products.
This means that parents have to educate their children. They can’t get off the hook with garbage like, “the school didn’t do it,” or, “I’m too embarrassed.” One of the responsibilities you sign up for when becoming a parent is being willing to educate your children
about sex, about emotions surrounding sex, about how to deal with the fact that sex CAN and DOES result in babies.
I don’t favor abortion. I don’t believe abortion ought to be illegal. This should be a matter between the mother carrying the foetus, her doctor, her pastor and G-d – and the people who will have to provide for the resulting child.
I do believe there ought to be restrictions, and I believe the law here in Israel should be more restrictive. But at the same time, it is imperative to educate a child about life, love and sex, and it is imperative to provide a strong support network for that young woman who goes through with a pregnancy willing to give the baby up, knowing that she herself cannot provide or it.
As far as a pregnancy resulting from rape, the central issue is “does forcing the victim of the rape to bear the child endanger the health of the victim?” If so, IMHO, the embryo should be aborted. This is a question that can only be answered on a case by case basis.
As for what went on in Kansas, I can only remind you that before your nation fought its civil war in the 19th (Christian) century, there were seven years of “Bloody Kansas”.
Until the USA finds ways to heal the wounds caused by these issues, the country remains trapped in a weird, 20th Century, “Groundhog Day”-like timewarp, endlessly treading water until a solution can be found. This is not good for the country or the wider world.
I guess the comment response to articles posted onto BlogCritics is proportionate to their inherent interest (which may explain why my posts get so few!), but often the comments take on a whole new purpose or role.
In addition to the more obvious and natural back-and-forth of (mostly) healthily competing points of view, sometimes the comments become an alltogether different kind of space. This is probably most obvious on the B5 and Pretty Ricky posts as between six and ten mostly pre-teen girls battle to the death over who exactly is spectac’s boo. However, BlogCritics also serves to keep discrete groups of people, separated by circumstance or distance, in touch.
One of the best examples of this is to be found on the thoughtful article about the now-jailed leader of the Latin Kings, Antonio “King Tone” Fernandez, written back in September 2003 by one S-Train. It now serves as a space for the gang to keep in touch and keep their spirits high and has built up an impressive comment stream of nigh on six hundred posts.
Comment of the Day for Wednesday 21st December goes to “Queen Rosie” for Comment #548:
I have read some comments on here that are misguided. If you are ignorant to Tone’s teachings then you live your life in ignorance. But you cannot expect your life to change for the better if you do nothing to change it. King Tone is a wise and strong leader. Many of us true kings and queens miss him dearly. He wanted the best for the nation. And what are some of you thinking….that he was wrong for taking the nation public. But did you not understand that in doing this you were shown in a better light. We were once perceived as gang bangers. Now we hold it down as a strong, latin nation. That is why this nation was started….to promote the strength of latinos everywhere. I for one am a follower of King Tone until I die. Even my baby girl knows of his teachings so that she can live her life proud of who she is. Yes, he did do something illegal but I don’t see anyone on this blog that can say that they have never done anything illegal either. Even I have. I did not have to serve time for the stupidity done in my youth, but it served as a reminder to be a role model and not a follower. I am proud of my nation 360 strong. There is nothing in life better than having pride in your rasa. I have been a Queen for over 20 years. These young bloods have alot to be proud of. The legacy that we leave behind is one of a united, strong nation. Don’t let anyone or anything bring you down. Whether you are a Latin King or Queen, or just a proud latino/a….hold your head up to the sky and give thanks for what you got. There were and are many other latinos and latinas that struggled other than King Tone to get you to that high standing. When he returns, I hope that he will return as our Inca. He has alot to offer the nation. Amor De Rey! King Tone….you are missed by me and many others and I hope that you can get this message somehow, so you can see how you impacted this nation and my life as well.
I’ve become increasingly aware of the broad diffusion of the Spanish language and people since moving to Andalucia a little over four years ago and particularly it’s strong presence and high profile in the USA. With that in mind, I’d like to wish a Feliz Navidad a todos los hispanohablantes y espero que el año que viene sera un buen año para todo el mundo.
Moving on from the world of American gangs to the even more violently contested turf of “The Meaning of Life”, Comment of the Day for Thursday 22nd December 2005 goes for the first time to Sam Jack, who added Comment #18 to his own Intelligent Design: The Difference Between Natural and Supernatural opinion piece.
About Richard Dawkins: I am almost as unimpressed with him as I am with the ID people. Dawkins has had an important role in explaining evolution to the general populace, but to do so, he has departed from pure science by making aesthetic judgements. It doesn’t matter that I happen to agree with him; Dawkins does escalate the conflict. He does attack religion.
Dawkins came by his notoriety in much the way that Scalia did: by espousing an absolute philosophy and defending it wittily. There’s a place for that to happen, and far be it from me to stop Dawkins from expressing his opinions, but I think that he’s working counter to the goal of most scientists, which is, as I said, to be left alone to do science. Destroying religion isn’t on their plates, and the fact that Dawkins is prominent as both an evolution and atheism advocate just mixes them up together.
I think that religion and science need to draw a truce at “non-overlapping magisteria,” and in his unwillingness to make that his position, Dawkins is doing just as much to escalate the conflict as Michael Behe and the Dover School Board.
As a non-faithist myself, I found this to be both informative and a timely reminder that a certain measure of respect and self-restraint are never inappropriate.
For the statisticians amongst us, Sam Jack becomes the third ever person to receive the coveted and prestigious CotD by commenting on their own article, which is one of the signature differences between BlogCritics and many other online destinations, following in the footsteps of Douglas Anthony Cooper and Al Barger.
Some of the comment streams generated in the wake of posts like the Miracle of Fatima or Pretty Ricky take on quite literally epic proportions as they wend their way to whatever ultimate destiny awaits us all.
One of the most epic of these is generated by The Top 100 Guitarists According To Rolling Stone, written back in August 03 by The Theory. The 2395th comment to this post, by the forthright, if anonymous, ed banger is Comment of the Day for Friday 23rd December 2005.
Is Rolling Stone relevant anymore? Not since Wenner and Co moved east to hobnob with the Hamptons crowd. Like the magazine, and many of you that have written in, it is obvious guitarists from the the original punk rawk and new wave explosion were omitted. Where is Keith Levine – ex-PiL and early Clash? The Edge took his sound from him – and John McGeough – ex-Gary Numan, Banshees, PiL – Johnny Lydon always had the best guitarists – Steve Vai included – and Johnny Marr – easily the best guitarist of the 1980s – sad he has done nothing interesting since the Smiths. Punk aside – where is Roy Clark? A guitar legend who can play anything – Glen Campbell – corny image aside – was also a fantastic axeman – but none of them were as good as Django -perhaps the world’s first guitar superstar – Rolling Stone should check em out.
Sticking with the musical theme, one of the many enjoyable rituals for this time of year is list making and one of the most fun debates always surrounds the topic of Albums of the Year. Junichi Semitsu‘s personal Best Albums of 2005 produced not only an interesting and varied list but some nice comments too. I chose this Comment #1 by Boise, Idaho’s Jackson Smith as Comment of the Day for this Christmas Eve, December 24th 2005.
Good list. I’ve been looking over all kinds of ‘best of’ music lists for the year, and this is one of the most inclusive, varied, and complete ones I’ve seen yet. Some of my favorite albums, like Bright Eyes, Spoon, Sufjan, and Death Cab are on there, plus plenty more I’ve been curious about but haven’t heard and some I have never heard of. I think I’ll have to check out some of the stuff I haven’t heard… thanks!
So this is Christmas and let’s see what’s cooking in the comments oven today. Co-incidentally we began this week with a quote generated by one of gypsyman‘s posts and we’re going to end the same way. His 267th post to BlogCritics, Words From On High? prompted this Comment of the Day for Christmas Day, Sunday 25th December 2005 as Comment #3 by the sharp-witted Matthew T Sussman, his third such award.
You never do hear a peep out of Buddhists on Christmas. It’s always the Pope. Why is that?
And for that matter, where’s the KKK on Martin Luther King’s Day?
How about an e-mail greeting card from Osama on Independence Day?
Or a press release from my ex-girlfriend on my birthday?
By the way, gman, if you haven’t already you should write a post on how BC and NaNoWriMo have improved your writing skills as I seem to have noticed a significant leap in your work recently. Or learned to read!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ONE AND ALL