Sunday, January 04, 2015

Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2014

This year's version of the Jon Swift Memorial Roundup has been posted. This is where we proprietors of small blogs each submit what we think is our best post of the year and a link to it is posted so we all can see and read each other's work. It's a combination of a collection of good reads and a mutual support for small bloggers, some of who surely do not get the attention or traffic they deserve (which of course we all think at least from time to time), and through this we can become aware of the quality that is out there undiscovered.

There are 62 "my best of 2014" posts at the above link and a few more in comments there. Check 'em out.

This is the seventh year for the roundup; the first two, in 2007 and 2008, were done by the late Al Weisel aka Jon Swift. In 2010, Batocchio at Vagabond Scholar took up the challenge and for the fifth year has done the heavy lifting of calling for submissions and organizing those that came in. He deserves much praise for doing the hard work involved.

I always have a difficult time choosing one to submit, mostly because what criteria do I use to determine "best?" The one I thought had the cleverest turn of phrase? The one with the most solid argument? The one written with the most passion? The one that got the most response? The one I wish had gotten the most response (which is never the same as the other)?

I finally settled on one from October 13 called "Racism and that Boston 'Herald' cartoon," involving just that: some thoughts on racism and white privilege sparked by that notorious Boston "Herald" cartoon about Obama and "watermelon-flavored toothpaste."

Following are the other ones I considered, for those who are really interested, arranged chronologically:

February 28: How being rich can make you a sociopath
Part one of two, it was a review of psychological studies showing that being rich is an unhealthy condition that puts you at risk of being a self-absorbed, selfish, conceited, narcissistic sociopath utterly convinced of your own inherent superiority, lacking a social conscience, and callously indifferent to the welfare of others not of your elevated social class - and perhaps indifferent even to them. And the richer you are, the greater the risk.

February 28: How power corrupts - and wealth is power
Part two connected wealth with power and thus how wealth, like power, "corrupts, and absolute wealth corrupts absolutely." This was my most trafficked post of the year, with nearly 1000 hits.

March 28: Outrage of the Week: hang-ups about coat hangers
For years, the DC Abortion Fund, which offers financial assistance to poor women seeking abortions, has been giving coat hanger pendants to donors as a symbol of the days to which we do not want to return. This year, the right wing noticed and went predictably ballistic, spewing fundamantal ignorance of the meaning all over themselves.

April 5: Outrage of the Week: Obama whitewashes Iraq War
In reaction to the Amazing Mr. O claiming that "in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system" and that "we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state," I wondered if he had utterly taken leave of his senses or was he just counting on Americans' notoriously short memories and our cultural eagerness pat ourselves on the back with notions of how noble and self-sacrificing we are. I could find no other reason for him to make a statement that far removed from reality.

April 26: Outrage of the Week: SCOTUS ignores racism, undercuts affirmative action while pretending it didn't
The Supreme Court decided it's okay for state governments to actively ban, to outlaw, affirmative action in college admissions while claiming in the same decision that it had no impact on "the public debate" on affirmative action itself. I wasn't happy.

June 7: Outrage of the Week: SCOTUS and press freedom
A declaration in defense of the right of reporters to protect their sources as a necessary part of freedom on the press.

June 15: Clown Award: George Will
Will was roundly condemned for a column in which he dismissed "sexual assault" (and yes, he put the term in quotes) on campus as "the ambiguities of the hookup culture." This was my contribution to the piling on.

July 5: Racism (on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act)
Some thoughts about the persistence of racism on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

July 26: Middle East and Gaza: Israel does not want peace
Israel prefers having Hamas as an excuse; it prefers the occasional Hamas rocket to having no rockets at all; it prefers to drive the people of Gaza into the arms of Hamas to doing anything that would undermine Hamas's popularity - such as lifting the blockade of Gaza. And it depends on us here not knowing that or anything about the Gaza strip.

September 21: Mr. Obama's war
On our Nobel Peace Prize president's latest celebration of the benefits of bombing and wondering just what in hell was his legal authority for committing the US to years of war in Iraq and Syria.

November 8: Clown Award: The American people
Some observations on how easily we were manipulated, stampeded, into panic and paranoia about Ebola.

December 15: Eric Garner and untouchable cops
About the fact that cops consistently get away with what amounts to murder and looking at why that is so and why changing it will require a radical rethink of the distribution of wealth and power in our society.

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