Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2014

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

(A 2008 Jon Swift picture.)

Welcome to a tradition started by the late Jon Swift/Al Weisel, who left behind some excellent satire, but was also a nice guy and a strong supporter of small blogs. As Lance Mannion put it 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, 2012 and 2013.

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 (cofounded by Jon Swift and skippy) is a celebration of small blogs coming up again the first weekend in February.

Thanks to all the participants, plus a special thanks to DougJ at Balloon Juice for posting an open submission thread every year. (It earns some special consideration in the roll call below this year.)

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 #jonswift2014. (My goal is to find the right balance between inclusive and manageable.)

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:

"This Is Not a Solution; This Is the Problem"
Melissa McEwan: "On the criminalization of need, the myth of bootstraps, and what it really looks like when nobody helps you."

His Vorpal Sword
"The End of the Trail"
Hart Williams: "After a successful ten year run (which included attacks ON IT by Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and Brent Bozell on Faux Nooz), the author explains why the blog is ending and some highlights of that decade."

A Blog About School
"School budget cuts are only the beginning"
Chris Liebig: "It's about Iowa's apparent determination to exponentially increase its spending on standardized testing even though the school districts are already struggling with cuts to curriculum."

Mad Kane's Political Madness
"Inconvenient Facts"
Madeleine Begun Kane: "2-verse limerick about executive action and Republican hypocrisy."

I Wish I Had A Watermelon
Dave Dugan: "In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon, I made a comic about my experience as a 9 year old boy in the summer of 1974."

Kiko's House
"Pennsylvania State Police Botch Frein Manhunt"
Shaun D. Mullen: "The manhunt for cop killer Eric Frien could not have come at a worse time for the Poconos. Its economy crapped out long before the rest of the nation, and for a while it led all counties nationwide in home foreclosures per capita. This is because local bigs, not content to try to build the tourist industry and brand the Poconos as a special place with beautiful woodlands chockablock with trails, waterfalls, creek and rivers, as well as golf courses, ski slopes and family friendly resorts, climbed into bed with rapacious developers and usurious financial institutions after the 9/11 attacks to sell the Poconos as a safe haven from a world gone crazy."

World O' Crap
"Strong Enough For a Man, But Made For a Really Insecure Man"
Scott Clevenger: "After years of having to share the Bible with women, at last men have their own, super-secret Men's Bible. It teaches important Bronze Age lessons about male friendship and bonding with men usually found only in an episode of My Little Pony. Also, there's porn in it."

David E's FaBlog
"Zero Dark Salo"
David Ehrenstein tackles the Senate's torture report.

Strangely Blogged
"Men Who Hate Women"
Vixen Strangely: "In the wake of Elliot Rodgers' killing spree, I felt the need to write on the connection between misogyny and violence."

Poor Impulse Control
"Of the World, Looking Over the Edge"
Tata: "America’s mental health system is a failure. Being mentally ill may actually prevent you from being able to afford treatment that could save your life."

Ramona's Voices
"Derange Wars: The Cliven Bundy Story"
Ramona Grigg: "Crusty old rancher in Nevada has standoff with the Feds over range rights. Starring the Second Amendment, with walk-on parts by warring militias who don't know what any of it means but it sounds like a party so why not?"

The Way of Cats
"How to Subtitle Ourselves"
Pamela Merritt: "We can bridge the communication gap between cat language (they speak with their body) and human language (we use words, but can "subtitle" with our body). It's like a translation device!"

Pruning Shears
"New York Times visits Youngstown, discovers huge and nonexistent transformation"
Dan: "The Times reports on how fracking is remaking a region's economy, minus any relevant details."

Simply Left Behind
"The Wages of Capitalism"
Actor 212/Carl: "Because capitalism as practiced in America is in direct conflict with democracy, liberty, and morality, capitalism as practiced in America must go."

Anibundel: Pop Culturess
"Martin Struggles to Explain Game of Thrones' Race Problem"
Ani Bundel: "Martin tries to respond to his fans to explain why the race problems in Game of Thrones is baked into the text from his own novels, with limited success."

"I was the NRA"
Tom (TBogg) Boggioni: "How the gun nuts and cosplaying “great white hunters” ruined hunting for me and turned the NRA into a murder-enabling lobbying group. Fuck those guys."

You Might Notice a Trend
"At What Point Can The Stupidity of Racism End?"
Paul Wartenberg: "My thoughts on the first week of protests in Ferguson over the shooting death of Michael Brown. Also the moment I picked up the Quote of the Year (via a Business Insider article): 'We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone.' "

Real American Liberal
"Stop this Liberal President"
John Sheirer: "Imagine our once great nation's future if we allow this liberal president to continue his attack on our founding traditions. Those who do not share our views could be insane enough to carve this liberal president's face into the side of a mountain, as outlandish as that may seem."

Kathleen Maher's Pure Fiction
Crazy Women
Kathleen Maher: "My flash fictions are stories in 500 words or fewer. This one shows a family visiting the husband's grandmother in a nursing home."

Watergate Summer
"Holding Time"
enigma4ever offers an end-of-year meditation.

We Are Respectable Negroes
"The Culture of Cruelty is International: From Lynchings to Eric Garner and the CIA Torture Report"
Chauncey DeVega: "America is a society that tortures people as a matter of public policy. The CIA's torture of supposed "terrorists" abroad is part of a continuum of torture and cruelty from the lynchings of blacks in the 19th and 20th centuries to the tortures committed against American citizens in the country's prisons and by its police in the present."

"How Unions Are Unfairly Scapegoated For Detroit's Woes"
Marc McDonald: "There are many reasons for the catastrophic decline of the once-mighty U.S. auto industry over the decades. But it's unfair and inaccurate to point the main finger of blame at unions, the usual scapegoat."

Bluestem Prairie
"In Facebook status, Big Stone Co GOP chair calls Muslims "parasites," writes "frag em" at Mecca"
Sally Jo Sorensen: "Bluestem Prairie broke the story about a Republican county party leader advocated murdering Muslims during the Hajj in Mecca. Like many other Bluestem original reports, this story made national news online."

Just an Earth-Bound Misfit
"Quite Possibly the Last Post That You'll See Here on Climate Change"
Comrade Misfit: "Why it may be too late to do anything about climate change, other than 'embrace the suck.' "

"Rough Night"
Brendan Keefe: "Haven't been doing much blogging this year but I thought this picture from this past spring, and its follow-up, might be of some encouragement in these short dark days."

"10 Lessons from Bush's Fiasco in Iraq"
Jon Perr: "Foaming-at-the-mouth Republicans and their furious right-wing allies aren't just wrong that "Obama lost Iraq." They are desperately trying to evade paternity for a world-historical calamity they birthed and still support because Iraq was lost the moment the first U.S. troops crossed the border from Kuwait."

Bark Bark Woof Woof
"Give Us A Reason"
Mustang Bobby: "It takes more than a little gall for Marco Rubio to shed crocodile tears over discrimination against gays and lesbians and then turn around and explain in detail why he does it."

The Hunting of the Snark
"Those Whiny, Lazy, Greedy Millennials"
Susan of Texas: "After the financial industry gutted the economy they needed a way to deflect the anger of the losers in their economic battle. As always we can depend on Megan McArdle to support the rich, so let's watch her blame our young people for being their victims, claiming that their bleak prospects are a result of their laziness and fecklessness."

Blue Gal
"And the boys cat-call, just up for each other..."
Fran Langum/Blue Gal: "A different take on the NYC Hollaback catcalling video."

"Bob Benson's Loveless Erector Set"
driftglass: "How Madison Avenue invented, sold and then destroyed the Idealized Nuclear Family."

The Professional Left Podcast
"Ep. 262: Ferguson, Torture, and The Wish of Angels"
Blue Gal and driftglass: "We discuss the last time the system worked, and what went wrong."

Mock, Paper, Scissors
"The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan"
Tengrain: "As in other years, I think my Anatomy of a Column series on The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan continues to be my favorite work. I especially liked this episode, which features Peggy losing an argument with a cardboard cut out of St. Ronnie."

The Debate Link
"Innocent Until Proven Nazi"
David Schraub: "We lack confidence in our ability to accurately identify something as racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise hateful. Too often, we shy away from these issues unless we have an obvious crutch (like a Nazi connection)."

Last Left Turn Before Hooterville
"Dear White People: a Perspective on White Privilege"
Alicia Morgan: "An attempt to explain to my white friends who claim to be color-blind and not ‘see’ race that the very act of ‘not seeing race’ means that you have white privilege – the privilege to not see racism, and to choose not be around it. White privilege does not mean you are a racist, but it does mean that white folks need to look a little deeper to see that racism is alive and well in 2014, and by acknowledging it you can begin to be part of the solution."

Lance Mannion
"A very short, true story about a good dog"
Lance Mannion: " 'Golden retriever,' he said. But now he didn’t seem satisfied with his own answer. Her breed was beside the point. It didn’t describe the most important thing about her."

Scrutiny Hooligans
"Fighting A Command Economy With Monopoly"
Tom Sullivan: "I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for "efficiency." Like "shareholder value," when you hear it, prepare for your "betters" to screw you ... again."

Self-Styled Siren
"Gigi (1958): A Defense"
Farran Smith Nehme: "In which I argue that the contemporary view of the exquisite, joyous Gigi as somehow endorsing pedophilia is ahistorical, priggish, literal-minded nonsense."

The Reaction
"President Obama's cautious, restrained, responsible leadership on the Ukraine situation"
Michael J.W. Stickings: "Obama's apparent weakness, according to his idiotic critics like John McCain and Bill Kristol, is actually strength, an expression of caution, restraint, and responsibility that is really the only viable option at the present time and that could, over time, lead to a long-term resolution to this crisis. Obama's critics are salivating for war, or something. Thankfully – for America, for the Ukraine, for Europe, for the world – they're not the ones calling the shots."

The Rude Pundit
"Random Observations on a Reaming: That'll Teach That Negro to Be President"
Lee Papa: "The day after the midterm election, the Rude Pundit licks wounds and kicks some asses."

Spocko's Brain
"How Foster Farms Used the USDA, Big Chicken Lobbyists and Lawyers to Avoid a Recall"
Spocko: "In this piece I examine how Foster Farms avoided a recall of Salmonella contaminated chicken."

Mister Tristan
" 'Journalist' and War Criminal"
Gary, a relative of Mister Tristan: "A former 'Today Show' host obliterates the line between journalists and the people they cover."

"To the Pole!"
Darrel Plant: "The truish story of Roald Amundsen's 1907 plan to achieve the North Pole by polar bear."

Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
"Racism and that Boston Herald cartoon"
LarryE: "Some thoughts on racism and (my) white privilege arising from that notorious Boston Herald cartoon about Obama and 'watermelon-flavored toothpaste.' Like most of my posts, this one is drawn from my local cable access TV (and YouTube) show called 'Left Side of the Aisle.' "

"Love is the jewel that wins the world": Inspiration for a birthday, for every day
Ellen O'Neill: "My dear friend Barbara Geach died in August, after 22 years in a locked-in syndrome condition. She kept up a vibrant correspondence with friends around the world, which I share because it is so, very, inspiring."

Confession Zero
"The Day That…"
Mark Prime offers a poem.

This Is So Gay
"Laying Layers and the Lays They Tell"
Duncan Mitchel: "Critical thinking for thee, but not for me!"

Stonekettle Station
" Self Evident Truths"
Jim Wright: "Turns out there is nothing 'self-evident' about any of our rights."

Gaius Publius
"Are Democratic Leaders Already 'Tea Partying' The Progressives?"
Gaius Publius: "If you noticed that Steve Israel, the rest of his ilk, and the DSCC, are willing to surrender the House and the Senate to keep you out of power, would it really be … a bridge too far, a hanging offense, bad manners … to consider returning the favor?"

Hillary Rettig
"Why Tough-Guy Metaphors About Creativity Don’t Work"
Hillary Rettig takes on the trope of the tortured artist.

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"A Suggestion for Heterosexual Men"
Dallas Taylor "wrote this at the height of the #notallmen silliness."

The Cosmogonic Grunt
"To Shoot a Boy"
C. V. Danes considers events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Schroedinger's Cat
"Time to Move On, Time to Get Going"
Schroedinger's Cat: "A takedown of David Brooks and his half-baked but scholarly sounding ideas on the economy."

Zombieland—Now Brain Free!
"Too Hard:
Hawes remembers a student.

House of the Dread
"Trading Places"
Comrade Dread: "Since I slid away from fundamentalism, I’ve been going back and re-examining some of the stories I was taught growing up and I’ve been finding that if they really are read as the ‘literal word of God’ then God is rather monstrous."

"Parkinson's since 2006, Brain Surgery & Stroke 8/13, Heart Attack 2/14, Triathlete Yesterday"
yopd1 celebrates a milestone.

My Ready Room
"Whatchu Talking ‘Bout, Tillis?"
Ben Cisco: "A look at a flaming jackass (and now, sadly, Senator-elect)."

"Bringing a Putty Knife to a Culture War"
Roy Edroso: "It has two of my favorite subjects — libertarians, and culture-war schlemiels; but I repeat myself — and gave me a chance to be playful."

Balloon Juice (best post)
"On Darren Wilson"
Soonergrunt reflects on his four combat tours, police officer Darren Wilson and the notion of a clear conscience.

Balloon Juice (best series)
"Not being stupid is smart"
One post in Richard Mayhew's series on the Affordable Care Act. You can scroll back through all of his posts here.

"The Statue of Liberty Wears Shackles"
Eric L. Wattree: "Little known fact: The original prototype for the Statue of Liberty resembles a black woman with a broken shackle in her hand. The French abolitionist who conceived the idea in 1865 intended to celebrate the emancipation of American slaves, not the American Revolution."

Doctor Cleveland
"An Armed Society Is a Bloody Society"
Doctor Cleveland: "When gun-rights advocates say, "An armed society is a polite society," they mean, "I am entitled to kill people for being rude." Doctor Cleveland exposes the twisted logic and bloody consequences of Stand-Your-Ground laws."

Vagabond Scholar
"Lucky Duckies and Fortunate Sons"
Batocchio: "Those who benefit from a rigged game are reluctant to acknowledge that the game is rigged."

Thanks again, folks. Happy blogging (and everything else) in 2015.


Paul W said...

Thank you for the inclusion, Batocchio!

roy edroso said...

Thanks for doing this again! It's a lot of work, particularly with slackers like me on the list. And a great show of talent. Looking forward to digging in.

D. said...

Banquet for thought, here!

Sadly, most of my posts this year are links to better writers, but I'll see if I can scare up something.

bjkeefe said...

Thanks once again for the effort, Bat. And thanks to everyone who participated. Looking forward to a good night of reading after work.

danps said...

Thanks for keeping this tradition alive, Batocchio!

Tata said...

This roundup is a thing of beauty. TBogg's may be the best blog post ever and it was great to see it again. I can't wait to read - and re-read some of these. Thank you for including me.

ed waldo (Hart Williams) said...

Thanks so much for doing this, Batocchio. And thanks to my readers for a great ten years. "his vorpal sword"

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes, I got included! Thanks so much for this!

Mustang Bobby said...

Thank you for doing this, Batocchio. You do us a great honor.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

A wonderful job, as always! Thanks so much for doing this, and for including me in this great group of posts.

Fearguth said...

Help! I'm Fearguth, and here's one of mine from 2014:


Vixen Strangely said...

Thanks for inclusion in their great internet tradition--it's a pleasure to sample these roundups every year! I appreciate it.

Yastreblyansky said...

Thanks from me too for putting it together yet again! This is such a great institution.

I missed the call for contributions, but here's a link to the piece featuring David Brooks disguised as Sherlock Holmes contemplating the mysterious affair in Ferguson.

Batocchio said...

To folks linking their best posts in the thread, welcome! If you'd like to participate next year, please either e-mail me (click my Blogger profile) or make sure your own address is accessible (added to your Blogger profile, listed on your website, etc.). Thanks!

Scott said...

Thanks again, Batocchio, for keeping the love alive.

Carl said...

Thanks, Tocch. I let Al's family know that you continued this again.

I wondered all year what Jon would think. God, how I wish we still had his voice.

Ramona Grigg said...

This is great! Thanks for all your hard work. (And for including my piece) Can't wait to read all of these wonderful posts.


driftglass said...

The bloggy banquet table groans under the weight of so much goodness.

Thank you do much, Batocchio!

gruaud said...

The end of the year highlight.

Provider_UNE said...

I can barely imagine how much time you spend assembling this list. You are a credit to the human race.

One of mine.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Great roundup, people.

Batocchio said...

An excellent late entry:

Kathleen Geier
R.I.P., Gary Becker
Kathleen Geier: "This is the obituary I wrote for my former professor, the economist Gary Becker. Much as I deplore his political influence, in the end, I did get something valuable out of his work. In my post, I explore this contradiction."

Lex Alexander said...

Wasn't a great year for me, blogging-wise, so I'll not submit anything this time around. But thanks once again, Batocchio, for this master class in blog curation.

Unknown said...

Sadly, I missed getting in on this one but look forward to my annual perusal. For anyone making it down this far, here's the post I would have included: http://www.acookblog.com/2014/01/one-weird-trick-to-improve-your-food-photography.html

Cheers, and happy 2015.

Lotus said...

Thank you, as always, for undertaking the large project this always proves to be. We are in your debt.

Spocko said...

Hey, thanks for including me. I really enjoyed reading all the other pieces!