Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2013

(The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves)

(A 2007 Jon Swift picture.)

Welcome to a tradition started by the late Jon Swift/Al Weisel. He left behind some excellent satire, but was also a nice guy and a strong supporter of small blogs. Lance Mannion put it well in 2010:

Our late and much missed comrade in blogging, journalist and writer Al Weisel, revered and admired across the bandwidth as the “reasonable conservative” blogger Modest Jon Swift, was a champion of the lesser known and little known bloggers working tirelessly in the shadows...

One of his projects was a year-end Blogger Round Up. Al/Jon asked bloggers far and wide, famous and in- and not at all, to submit a link to their favorite post of the past twelve months and then he sorted, compiled, blurbed, hyperlinked and posted them on his popular blog. His round-ups presented readers with a huge banquet table of links to work many of has had missed the first time around and brought those bloggers traffic and, more important, new readers they wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed.

It may not have been the most heroic endeavor, but it was kind and generous and a lot of us owe our continued presence in the blogging biz to Al.

Here's Jon/Al's 2007 and 2008 editions. Meanwhile, here are the revivals from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

If you're not familiar with Al Weisel's work as Jon Swift, his site features a "best of" list in the left column.

Meanwhile, Blogroll Amnesty Day (co-founded with skippy) is a celebration of small blogs that's still going strong, and coming up again the first weekend in February.

Thanks to all the participants, plus a special shoutout to DougJ at Balloon Juice for posting a submission thread every year. (I continue to try to find the right balance between inclusive and manageable.) Apologies to anyone I missed who wanted to participate. You still can, by linking your post in the comments. Whether your post appears in the modest list below or not, feel free to tweet your best post with the hatchtag #jonswift2013.

As in Jon/Al's 2008 roundup, submissions are listed roughly in the order they were received. As he wrote in that post:

I'm sure you'll be interested in seeing what your favorite bloggers think were their best posts of the year, but be sure to also visit some blogs you've never read before and leave a nice comment if you like what you see or, if you must, a polite demurral if you do not.

Without further ado:

You Might Notice A Trend
"Long October: the Ambitious Damage of the Hollow Men"
Paul Wartenberg: "A rant during the end days of the October shutdown about the modern GOP's obsession to destroy a working government."

Mad Kane's Political Madness
"Weapon Wonderland (Song Parody)"
Madeleine Begun Kane: "Pro-gun control song parody, which can be sung to Winter Wonderland."

Pruning Shears
"Shoddy gun paper excites right wing"
Dan: "A poorly written pro-gun tract is dragged back from the memory hole and (briefly) gets conservatives worked up."

Herlander Walking
"Be Lysistrate, Be a Maenad…Hell, Just BE Mad!"
Labrys/Syrbal: "An old-school feminist looks back across progress or lack thereof, and the religious ideation of ages and how it hampers women. And what hampers women hampers the entire human race."

"Preserve The Core -OR- Fuck The Extremities"
Rehctaw: "Preserve The Core looks at the more or less eternal power structure that determines how the rest of us must cope."

"Intelligence Chief James Clapper Answers A Craigslist Missed Connection"
Paul Bibeau: "America's top spy saw your ad, and he wants to help. He's quite persistent about it."

"I Feel the Breeze"
Melissa McEwan: "A post recounting some of the key moments in which my marginalized body reconnected with the breeze I had been urged to deny it."

A Blog About School
"Don't Sign the Homework (Part 2)"
Chris Liebig: "Everyone talks about "helicopter parents," but what about helicopter schools? Here's why I won't sign my kids' homework every day, and why you shouldn't either."

David E's FaBlog
"The Agony and the Exabytes"
David Ehrenstein: "The New York Times (aka. The World's Worst Newspaper) decides that its important to make an ACTUAL COUNT of PRECISELY how many gay men there are out there. At heart this is no different from the days of Abe Rosenthal who decreed that the NYT should never discuss THE GHEH at all."

Show Me Progress
"Of state fair rodeo announcers and clowns: res ipsa loquitur"
Michael Bersin: "The day after the Missouri State Fair rodeo clown in an Obama mask story broke."

The Way of Cats
"The Heart of Cat Civilization"
Pamela Merritt: "One of the things I encourage and promote on my blog are the joys of multiple cats. Here I celebrate the big-hearted anchor of my current cat group, Reverend Jim."

The Brad Blog
"Yet Another Reason Internet Voting is a Terrible Idea: Targeted Attacks Hijacked 'Vast Amounts of Data' to Foreign Countries Earlier This Year"
Brad Friedman: "Unknown to users, 'massive security vulnerability' built into the architecture of the Internet allowed massive 'man-in-the-middle' rerouting earlier this year. The same technique could easily be used to modify votes cast across the Internet -- and nobody would ever know it -- if we are dumb enough to move to Internet voting as many proponents (many of the Democrats!) are now calling for."

Poor Impulse Control
"Lightning Pushes the Edge of a Thunderstorm"
Tata: "Those bloody bastards who were wrong but never in doubt and still won't listen to dirty hippies who got it right? Fuck them."

"The Human Face on Which They Stomped"
Deborah Newell Tornello: "Back in February, I wrote about the tragedy of ex-policeman Chris Dorner (you may remember the horrible story, which ended up in his being burned alive in a remote cabin)."

Bark Bark Woof Woof
"Goodbye, Perrysburg"
Mustang Bobby: "In August I said goodbye to Perrysburg, Ohio, the town I grew up in as my parents prepared to move away. Our family had lived there since 1957, and I looked back on the years I spent there and the memories they held."

"60 Minutes Report Confirms All Obama Conspiracies"
Jon Perr: "From the moment he announced his candidacy for president, Barack Obama has been surrounded by allegations and conspiracy theories calling his citizenship and his patriotism into question. But as 60 Minutes' year-long investigation has revealed, all those stories you've heard—about the Kenyan-born, pot-smoking Muslim Marxist sympathizer who abandoned Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya—are true."

his vorpal sword
"As I Enter My Fifth Decade as a Writer"
Hart Williams: "I hate writing about my life; my readers love it. The story of how writing found me, mid-Watergate, in a university that was soon to be systematically physically destroyed (WITH demolition videos!) Naturally, I hated this. – except for the videos."

World O' Crap
"Plato's Retreat"
Scott Clevenger: "A wandering philosophy professor uses airtight logic, ironclad sexism, and shapeshifting metaphors to prove that the Affordable Care Act will make your wife screw the gardener behind your back."

The Rude Pundit
"A More Realistic Bush Museum"
Lee Papa: "Come along on a tour of the George W. Bush Library and Abattoir of History."

"Shuffle Up and Deal"
ranchandsyrup: An entry "in the Shuffle series whereby I hit shuffle and write about the song that comes up."

The Debate Link
"Criticizing Israel without it Seeming Anti-Semitic is Hard (and That's a Good Thing)"
David Schraub: "The claim that it is impossible to criticize Israel without it being (or being labeled) anti-Semitic is preposterous. But to the extent the idea is to ensure that questions of Jewish equality and anti-Semitic oppression are given due weight and consideration by persons who might otherwise be inclined to ignore or downplay them, it is a good thing that we promulgate a norm whereby people who want to speak about Israel also are obliged to think carefully and deeply about the issue of anti-Semitism."

"On Fathering"
infinitefreetime: "Me, late at night on my second Father's Day, talking about my own apprehension about being a dad and how my feelings toward my son/fatherhood in general have changed since he was born."

The Insufferable Movie Snob
"What the Heck is 'Pre-Code'?"

Donkey Mountain
"America's Poet"

Kiko's House
"'We're Number 17! We're Number 17!' America's Hellbent Race To The Bottom"
Shaun Mullen: "In recent decades America's standing has steadily eroded, and today it is indisputably no longer a great country, ranking at or near the bottom among the 17 industrialized nations in quality-of-life and other social measures. This, of course, will come as news to many of us, not the least of whom are the inside-the-Beltway politicians who fiddle while America crumbles."

"Guns Only Give Americans The Illusion Of Freedom"
Marc McDonald: "Gun advocates often claim that guns play a crucial role in giving Americans freedom. But the fact is, real democracy died long ago in America--and guns did nothing to prevent it from happening."

"How Someone Ends Up in Disability Studies"
Eric Hayot: "Given that German laws on the treatment of disabled people are just as good, if not better, than US ones, I felt pretty confident enrolling my three-year-old, mildly disabled son in a German school. I was wrong."

"The Famous 50% (Lawful Gun Owners Who Should Be Disarmed)"
MikeB: "Further to an earlier post in which I argued that 10% of gun owners are in need of being disarmed, I present links to sites that quantify problems like drug and alcohol abuse, rage, mental illness and stupidity, things that obviously make people unfit to own and use guns safely."

"I Surrender"
Darrel Plant: "Paul Krugman's words made flesh. Living the dream of the 'permanent class of jobless Americans.'"

Connecting the Dots
"A Sinkhole of Spying and Secrets"
Robert Stein: "A media veteran weighs NSA revelations that wash over every area of American political life: civil liberties, government lying, foreign policy, traditional journalism—raising questions about who we were, are and are becoming."

Kathleen Maher's Pure Fiction
"Space Mountain"
Kathleen Maher: "Al as Jon Swift was uniquely supportive of my fiction blog 'Diary of a Heretic,' which became the title of a novel on Kindle. My new site is supposed to help sell the novel but features a good deal of my 'work-in-progress.'"

I Should Have Been A Blogger
"Fans Threaten to Boycott Game of Thrones, Take Two"
Anibundel: "The Red Wedding is over and fans react like they didn't learn anything the first time GoT killed a major character. Here's why they're wrong." (SPOILERS for season 3, obviously.)

Naked Capitalism
"Out of Control – New Report Exposes JPMorgan Chase as Mostly a Criminal Enterprise"
David Dayen: "This post was mostly the summary of a report on the many criminal activities of JPMorgan Chase, but in a year when the bank supplanted Goldman Sachs as the poster child for Wall Street misbehavior, it resonated. Though published in March, it still gets linked to this day."

Strangely Blogged
"How Has Uncle Sam Probed You Today?"
Vixen Strangely: "Being quite weirded-out by an anti-ACA advertisement featuring a somewhat creepy Uncle Sam, I endeavored to understand the thinking behind it."

"The Year without a Chrismukkah"
J. of J-TWO-O: "In which we ask, Is it kosher for Jews to celebrate Christmas when Hanukkah is in November? And why did Rankin/Bass never make any cool stop-motion animation shows about the Festival of Lights?"

Simply Left Behind
"Nobody Asked Me, But..."
Actor 212/Carl: "How Nelson Mandela was an exception to history's staunchest rule: Power is forgetting."

Real American Liberal
"Debunking Extremist Gun Arguments"
John Sheirer: "Ignoring gun extremists should be our first choice, but, unfortunately, responsible people have to meet radical distractions and distortions with clear, reality-based rebuttals. This detailed and extensively sourced post takes on the worst of the radical gun fetishists' false claims."

p3 – Persuasion, Perseverance, and Patience
"A quantum of umbrage: What's the Second Amendment done for you lately?"
Bill Nothstine: "Five months after the Newtown school shootings, and following a series of incidents where conspicuously-armed citizens paraded in public in a so-called attempt to "open public dialogue" with fellow-citizens who were diving for cover, I decided it was time to tally up what we'd really gained from the first two amendments."

Mister Tristan
"Bush to Baghdad?"
Gary, a relative of Mister Tristan: "Gary suggests that President Obama should tap former president George W. Bush to head up a special diplomatic mission...to Iraq. Think of it as a listening tour or a series of town hall meetings, across the length and breadth of Iraq, to explain our justifications for going to war in 2003 and to listen firsthand to the Iraqi feedback."

and that's the way it was
"Islamic History part 2: The Pre-Islamic World"
DWD: "Part of my ongoing Islamic history series; I picked this one because it's gotten the most positive feedback; it's hard for me to judge my own writing but I do like this one. It discusses the world on the eve of Muhammad's first revelations and the rise of Islam out of Arabia, focusing primarily on the two superpowers of the period (Rome and Persia) and how their ongoing conflict weakened them both and paved the way for the Arabs to build their massive empire."

Mock, Paper, Scissors
"The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan"
Tengrain: "The story behind the story of Peggy Noonan going to the Bush Library Dedication. I try to imagine what happened that leads to one of Noonan's strange columns. As Noonan is the official hagiographer of the GOP, she makes herself a grand target for parody."

"For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Anger . . ."
Ellen O'Neill: "A review of Man of Steel and its unsettling doxology. What struck me was the unchecked anger of the beloved Superman, and the unchecked cosmic anger that Zack Synder and, dare I say, Hollywood seems to be suffering from.

Brilliant at Breakfast
"Dispatch from Casa la Brilliant"
Jill: "A chronicle of disease, humor, hope, and despair."

I Spy With My Little Eye
"Republicans Are The Dissatisfied and Angry Diners At The Table Of Life"
Aimai: "This post, which was originally posted at No More Mr. Nice Blog, connects the attitude of Republican voters and politicians during the Shut Down to the attitude of the angry diners who use tips and the threat of not tipping to express their disgust with workers and their anger at their own social position and treatment during the meal. Republican dislike of the federal work force is shown to be similar to angry tippers attitudes towards non tipped waitstaff—both are workers from whom the correct amount of deference can not be extracted by the judicious use of rewards and punishments."

Blue Gal
"The Professional Left Podcast (Ep 210)"
Blue Gal and driftglass: "The episode 'Downton Abbey Jesus' discusses Megyn Kelly's White Santa/Jesus comment and the Blue Gal post features a photoshop by BG."

"Nick and Me"
driftglass: "The totally true story of how I made a big-time Hollywood actor and Conservative nut job cry like a toddler and run away."

Big Bald Bastard
"Invisible Privilege"
Big Bald Bastard: "The beneficiaries of straight white privilege are typically unaware of its existence, and those of us who recognize it and are uncomfortable with the fact that it exists still benefit from it. The ultimate expression of this privilege was the assertion that President Obama's "You didn't build that" line was a personal attack. The privileged class actually believes that they made it on their own, and that women and minorities are somehow stealing from them when they compete in industry."

Tom Watson: My Dirty Life & Times
"Bridge and Tunnel Kid"
Tom Watson: "This is the start of a blogging project about the past, about New York, and about my life. I think Al would approve."

Lotus – Surviving a Dark Time
"Boston bombing reaction: why are we such a frightened people?"
LarryE (aka Whoviating): "The most frightening thing about the Boston Marathon bombing was not the attack itself, it was the public reaction to the police reaction to the attack. With links to my two earlier posts about the attack."

This Is So Gay
"Deliver Us from People"
Duncan Mitchel: "My traumatic encounter with NPR's TED Radio Hour, and our new BFFs, the robots. Host-entity Guy Raz asked 'Do we need humans?' and his answer seemed to be 'No."'

Southern Beale
"Journanimalism: The Passive Voice Gun Dodge"
Southern Beale: "A new spin on the old canard "guns don't kill people, people do." When it comes to covering accidental shootings, the media persistently ditches placing blame where it belongs by switching to the passive voice. The most hilarious example is a headline from the Dayton Daily News: "Man Saves Self From Shooting." In this case, the man accidentally shot himself when he reached for his gun."

"Culture Clubbed"
Roy Edroso: "write a lot about culture warriors and their sad, sick idea of what moves people. In this one I took the chance offered by an especially idiotic post by William Jacobson to lay out what I think is the big issue."

The Reaction
"HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM: Popetastic conclavular 2013 ends with a surprise win for Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio"
Michael J.W. Stickings: "My blog is mostly American and mostly political (with a great deal of attention on Republican craziness), but there's no denying that one of the key stories of 2013, and one of my blogging obsessions despite not being Catholic, was the papal election that produced the increasingly admirable Pope Francis, with global repercussions for us all."

"Shakespeare and the Scientists"
Lance Mannion: "Note to ego: Never have dinner with scientists."

Balloon Juice
"T-Bones and Cadillacs"
mistermix's conversation about welfare with his conservative neighbor.

They Gave Us a Republic
"This Ought to be Universal"
Blue Girl describes her health care odyssey.

Schroedinger’s Cat
"Austerity Explained"
schroedinger’s cat: "I explain austerity using a photograph of two cats."


Vagabond Scholar
"Our National Political Discourse"
Batocchio: "An attempt to explore how our national political discourse should work, and how it does work instead."

Thanks again, folks. Happy blogging (and everything else) in 2014.


Carl said...

As always, sir, you do signal service in Jon's memory.

Thank you from all of us, big and small, young and old.

driftglass said...

Such in inspiring collection. Thanks you so much Batocchio. You do Al proud.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Thanks so much for posting this wonderful collection. It's always an honor to participate. Thanks again for all your hard work!

Mustang Bobby said...

Thank you. This is a great collection of writing and writers. I am honored to be among them.

Tata said...

Thank you, Batocchio!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link-- I see I was dumb enough to forget to include a description: "On Fathering" is me, late at night on my second Father's Day, talking about my own apprehension about being a dad and how my feelings toward my son/fatherhood in general have changed since he was born. Feel free to look around at the rest of the blog, obviously; I spend a lot of time talking about teaching, cooking, books, and, lately, renovating my bathroom without killing myself: http://www.infinitefreetime.com. Thanks again!

Paul W said...

Thank you for the link, I hope I continue to post well in 2014 (p.s. GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT PEOPLE).

Anonymous said...

Congrats to everyone and thanks Batocchio. My gob is absolutely smacked that our little blog is on there.

Batocchio said...

infinitefreetime, I updated your entry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again!

Dan said...

Thanks so much for doing this every year, Batocchio. It's a wonderful tradition.

The WP said...

Thank you for including "Dispatch from Casa la Brilliant."

I think everyone should read it.

Vixen Strangely said...

Thanks for this great collection--it's always a joy to read.

O’Hollern said...

Thanks for linking to my lonely little blog!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for including mine. I noticed that this year there are several best posts about gun control. That must mean that those who say Newtown made a difference in the national consciousness are right.

DWD said...

Batocchio, thanks for performing this great service every year. So much great stuff to read!

Mark Gisleson said...

Damnit. If it wasn't for this annual collection I wouldn't miss blogging at all, but thanks to you, I do. (Just a teensy little bit because really, it was hard work and paid even worse than a real job.)

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Thank you for the vote of confidence, it means a lot. It's also a wonderful tribute to a great guy who left us all too early.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Thanks for doing this. I am sure you will be karmically rewarded, if not in this life, in the next - or the one after that.

zencomix said...

Salamat po!

Nothstine said...

I'm honored to be in such company. Thanks so much, best wishes to my fellow Swiftian honorees, and Happy New Year to all!

Marc McDonald said...

There is lots of great, and inspiring, reading here. Thanks, Batocchio, for carrying on this great tradition.
Here's to a wonderful 2014 for all of us.

Rehctaw said...

It's 4° outside. Perfect day for some progressive reading, a little snark and the warmth that comes from the memories of Jon Swift's living contribution to the blogging community.
Your efforts to continue Al's support of all the small, but important, voices raising touchstone issues, is deeply appreciated.
Another great roundup. I'm honored to be in such company.
Thanks Batman!

M. Bouffant said...

Thanks indeed for keeping on keeping on (Plenty fine reading & places I should be reading more often here, but where's the time?) & for the invite. This yr. for sure I'll find some quality in the quantity & submit it.

P.S.: I don't remember if Doghouse Riley ever participated, but he checked out too soon as well, & certainly deserves some sort of lasting memorial/award. (I'll leave details to better minds.)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Batocchio! How happy I am to see that Modest Jon Swift's spirit lives on here
I'm too quick to despair--this was a gift
While I'm always late to the party, this time I was with my family in Chicago. They consume all attention. Big up all!

Deborah Newell said...

Thank you for this, Batocchio. May Jon's spirit live on!

bjkeefe said...

@M. Bouffant: As I recall, Mr. Riley did not ever participate in this, though I believe he was invited. (I tried to encourage him myself, a time or two, and I forget his reason for declining, but I do remember it sounded okay at the time.)

You are correct that he left us way too soon, even if all we ever knew him for was his blogging, and that he merits some sort of lasting tribute. I tried to write one, before 1/1/2014, for submission to this very post, but I could not get it right. My reach exceeded my grasp, by a parsec or two. Maybe for next year.

Thanks once again, @Batocchio, for putting in the work to assemble this year's collection, and for keeping up the fine tradition.