Tuesday 26 November 2019

Bloggers on Blogging: Part 6

And another blast from the past -- pale! Of course, we remember you, pale.


Hello! It's pale from A Creative Revolution here….. I am not even sure if anyone remembers me now.

The Batcave has moved a couple times, I lost the blogging thread because I have just been so busy. New job, new towns. New….life.

But I got an email a few days ago from Fern, wondering if there was anything past bloggers had to say, to reflect on the glory days of blogging? 

Before Twitter. 

I think Twitter has killed a lot of the conversations we used to have, the sense of community that used to be a part of what blogs were. I miss all the friends and camaraderie.

ACR was a soapbox where we could also explore larger issues. We had theme weeks such as the Think Tank series. We could swear, and we certainly did a lot of that. I taught myself how to make videos and graphics, the platform that ACR ran on was way too powerful for what we ended up doing. At one point a lot of bloggers got together and started another aggregator. 

My partner in ACR for the first few years was Prole. She is a highly intelligent, bare knuckle kind of blogger. I always admired the way she could turn something around in her mind and come up with posts that were deadly serious, but really informative and fun to read at the same time. Both of us are very pro feminism. Anti corporate. The Harper admin was a scandal a day, faux pas ridden goldmine for blogging. 

When we first started, there was a largely male blogverse here in Canada. They all knew each other and were dismissive of women bloggers who talked about things that they, men,  considered unimportant. This stuff started happening:

At Status of Women Canada–the government agency charged with protecting women’s rights– the Harper government closed 12 of 16 regional offices. It also cut funding for over 41 women's organizations. These include women’s shelters and advocates for women's health, equality and security. It also cancelled funding for legal challenges to enforce the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Harper pushed a bill through that undermines the principle of pay equity, and scrapped the national child care program initiated in 2005. Finally, officials have repeatedly brushed off calls for action in response to 1,200 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and destroyed the federal long gun registry.

Canada lost its place as a progressive and feminist country for many years. We lost our place on pay equity, healthcare for women….

One of the “progressive” bros told me in a text conversation that there were much more important items to be covered, and that women may have to….(I kid you not, he said this)…..CLOSE THEIR LEGS FOR FOUR YEARS.

Most of the Blogger Boyoz were not as blatantly dismissive of 53% of the population, they were a little more subtle. 

Quite a few labelled us as “RADICAL feminists” They portrayed us as hysterical females. We were called “angry” and told we were too emotional. 

We were not behaving like nice ladies. TSK TSK. 

That was from “our” side.

The data speaks for itself. 

A whole generation was subjected to struggles and poverty, created by a government determined to destroy women, and an apathetic opposition that could not walk and chew gum. They seemingly could only cover issues that appealed to the wealthier of their supporters. 

This attitude even spread to the blogger awards that were being held for Canadian blogs…..A lot of us said that we wanted a category for best feminist blog. 

It was like a frat boy fest of back slapping and congratulatory BS, they laughed at us….So we started the F-Word awards. 

Feminism, which to some is a BAD word. 

The F-Words were fun, we got to meet a lot of bloggers who were speaking on the same issues, and also being dismissed. The F-Words ran for two years, but alas, things shifted for Prole and myself, and we could not dedicate the time to this endeavour. We were working hard to make our .71 cents on the dollar after all…..

The Trudeau Government has been a massive improvement on social issues for women. Still a long way to go. A lot of damage that occurred during the reign of the Harpercons and their enablers is still being felt by those who grew up in poverty, and their mothers who struggled while their rights were being cut. 

I remember the day that the Canada Child Tax Benefit was increased…...That was a months's worth of groceries to me and my kids. Suddenly. In my bank account! Did you know I cried that day? The political is always personal.

Does the Trudeau government scandal sheet even compare to the Harpercons? 

Not even close. But as always, the delicate flowers that embrace conservatism squeal like stuck pigs whenever it has to do with Trudeau, their false equivalency is glaring. 

But, about that long way to go…..

We still need to keep yelling at the menz who would ignore what is happening in real time, because it seemingly does not affect them directly. We still have so called progressive boyoz’ telling us to sit down and maybe….Just maybe they will get to our issues. The last election was a sigh of relief. 66% of Canadians didn't vote for Scheer and his regressive and divisive politics. 

And maybe. Just maybe…...Ill get my soapbox up and running again. I still own the domains…….I like to think that we all played a part in calling out the bullshit over so many years, a part that the traditional media mostly abandoned. 

I read the other posts in this series, and I just want to say, I miss you all. 

Love, pale.

ADDED by fern hill: Alison provided a link to the first F-Word Award vid.

Bloggers on Blogging: Part 5

Yay! One of my faves, Alison at Creekside, has joined the party.

Follow her on Twitter.



I loved it. I loved that we were citizen journalists and pamphleteers. I loved that we were rigorous and funny.

I loved kicking ass and taking names. I loved spending days researching and calling out what our 90+% Con-fluffing media owners lacked in both reporter hours and inclination to report on. And I loved the attention.

I loved Holly Stick or Beijing York or other bloggers rocking up the comments with links to what I had missed or gotten entirely wrong because, as @trapdinawrpool says below, credibility was our only currency and we all defended it fiercely on each other's behalf.

I loved that bloggers knew each other's interests well enough to quietly pass on stories/data to whomever had excelled in that particular niche.

I loved the camaradarie across political lines.  I loved that out here on the Wet Coast we got together in real life in various combinations of political bent and butted heads and made friendships as people.

It was of course the nine year reign of Stephen Harper and the rise of the right that galvanized many of  us into blogging in the first place - that and the realization that money and lots of it had more to do with the inner workings of our neoliberal corporate-captured governments than whatever pap we had been inculcated with about progress and democracy in our youth.

Now Harper is head of the global IDU, the right has gotten pointier, and blogging has been replaced by the silos of Faceplant and the relentless context-free scattershot weaponization of data on twitter.

When blogger/researcher The Sixth Estate quit blogging three years ago, he asked - in a rhetorical analogy to people - why the cape buffalo and hippos in Africa did not rise up together against the lions who killed and ate them. Three years later the lions are unhappily sharing the same slowly sinking life raft with the cape buffalo and the hippos. We're still the lions though, the lions reassure each other quietly, their claws sinking ever deeper into the life raft.

OK, where the hell was I going with this lions business? Oh yeah. The lions are not going to listen to us - not as bloggers or tweeters or Faceplanters. That blogger camaraderie to make common cause wherever and however you find it now -- as in life, that's what counted all along about blogging .

Monday 18 November 2019

Bloggers on Blogging: Part 4

Woohoo! Mandos the Elusive returns to blog about Feminism 101. He didn't offer a title so here it is.


For my contribution to the DAMMIT JANET commemorative blog party, I'm going to argue that sometimes undergoing maddening, pointless Feminism 101 discussions with people Just Asking Questions might sometimes actually do some good from time to time.

Nowadays I moved on to other things in my life, away from the quantity of Internet-argument I used to do before. But I joined DAMMIT JANET not quite at the beginning, but relatively close to it, and so I've shared a lot of the experiences of the DJ gang, and my path to it had a lot of shared stops, like rabble and Bread and Roses, at least in the latter part of my online career.  But otherwise, my path to DJ was probably somewhat unexpected.  I've been arguing on the internet for a long time, and I had an online presence on USENET and private NNTP forums way back before the commercial web was a thing.  If you, those who are "Internet-young" enough, think women and feminism are underrepresented in Internet-arguing now, well, let's just say that the Internet today is practically a "Take Back the Night" rally compared to then.  Back then, the default discussion around sex and gender issues revolved around whether, if we were going to allow abortion in the first place, men should also have the right to a "legal" abortion, meaning being allowed before any birth to make a declaration that they would not pay any support to the pregnant woman thereafter.  This was in some, if not most quarters, the progressive position -- the opposing position was preoccupied by how best to punish women who had abortions without male consent.

You can imagine how things were.  Actually, in most cases, abortion itself was acceptable, because these were Internet engineer-libertarians mostly, the kind who thought that they'd become Howard Roark any day now. The objection was merely the supplanting of the family "state" (a.k.a. "freedom") with the government state. I was pretty lefty back then, which was, again, even more of a challenge on the Internet than it is now, because of all the open Randroidery.  But you can see what sort of things even a lefty young guy might start to get concerned about, when the main issues being discussed regarding gender came mainly from different degrees of Father's Rights Activist. (The libertarianism was happily bent to find excuses to limit women's freedom, of course, because women's freedom was deemed to require government intervention.)

Mercifully, curated web forums became a thing, and there were even a few left-progressive ones, like the storied Old Rabble, the original Rabble community when it first formed.  These types of forums had a lot more women on them (going from 2% to like 20% maybe), and they even had dedicated feminism subforums.  And then along came the first wave of blogs, well before DJ, and there were even blogs dedicated to women's liberation.
Man, I must have been insufferable.

I spent the bulk of this period learning that the dichotomies and conflicts about gender issues that the USENET-world had taught me were central to the issue just . . . weren't. I learned that the main, most pressing issue wasn't men's alleged impending exclusion from the comforts of family life (e.g., the establishment of a science-fictional matriarchy), but rather, the price women had to pay for the social consensus that the human family needed to revolve even around a man who was violently abusive.  I learned that a variety of female-separatist fantasy, with men deliberately confined to a social periphery or bred out through genetics, was never seriously going to be enacted by any significant number of feminists, for any number of reasons, and that those fears were distracting hypotheticals from the pressing issue of real life and real human relations between genders. 

And, by the time I was invited to contribute to DAMMIT JANET, I came to the understanding that bodily autonomy was the cornerstone of individual and collective liberty especially in the modern, technological world, and that no one safe from tyrannical control if the pregnant woman wasn't safe from tyrannical control. 

I reached that point through a great deal of arguing with feminists, some of them even male pro-feminists further along than I, on all those web boards and the early blogosphere, chewing my way through all kinds of maddening, abstract, intellectualized hypotheticals. Not everyone was gracious about it; some forum contributors were probably rightly angry at me and some of the things I said, and of course, they themselves were hardly all perfect people with excellent character, as they themselves might have admitted.  But I realize with hindsight how tedious some of those arguments must have seemed, how arrogant it was to treat all those topics as interesting intellectual hypothetical scenarios, rather than painful aspects of real life.

I do not claim to be perfectly cured of that, although I like to think I am a little more self-aware than I used to be.  And at DAMMIT JANET, we built an amazing team that punched way above its weight in the overall battlefield of human rights in Canada.  Indeed, I would like at the end just to make just a little bit of a case, that chewing over the arrogantly abstracted hypotheticals and repeatedly rehashing Feminism 101 concepts can actually do some good in the world, even though I know it takes a significant amount of time and energy.

Bloggers on Blogging: Part 3

The third instalment is by my co-conspirator, deBeauxOs. (Boy, embedding a video is a lot easier than I remember.)


_Let's do the Time Warp Again_

That would the more hip way of saying: "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."


Yesterday afternoon was spent re-reading *old* DJ! blogposts and feeling all verklempt about the writing and some of the questions we addressed.

The spark behind every blogpost was righteous and rightful outrage. Yes, I'm using the term _right_ in opposition to the notion of wrong: wrongful, wrong-headed, wrong-doing. Malfeasance and malevolence, in other words.

Fernhill and I were battle-weary veterans of decades-long campaigns to ensure that women and girls would never again face the dangers of back-alley abortions, as our foremothers did.

So we climbed back down into the trenches and deployed this nifty communication instrument called "Blogging".

The rest is history as they say. In the course of writing, first at the now-defunct _Birth Pangs_ then at our own spiffy blogsite whimsically dubbed DAMMIT JANET! (thank you Peter) about pro-choice issues, we discovered that everything is indeed connected. Thus we wrote about the Harper government's corruption and hypocrisy, Pope Maledict, global concerns, Mother Teresa, dominionism -- basically highlighting how the convergence of political and religious forces was a declaration of WAR on human rights and social justice.

Blogging provided a place and a space to write concisely or profusely, to practice rigour or abandon myself to the excesses of lampoonery. 

However.. when I discovered the vicarious allure and _Wham! Bang! Boom!_ pleasures of tweeting, the depth and demands of blogging lost its appeal.

Whereas writing a blogpost is often a painstaking and laborious expression of sorrow, pain, fear and anger, tweeting provides an immediate outlet for rage. 

Thus my focus and writing style adapted to this hot new medium.

If blogging was a new, democratic frontier for political and ideological explorations, we soon discovered that Twitter was nothing but _Blazing Saddles_. A quick and dirty adrenaline jolt versus substance and reflection.

I'm grateful to my co-blogger who coaxed me into the joys of blogging, then prodded me to deploy my penchant for one-line zingers by tweeting.

But dammit... I need to return to a social medium that provides the intellectual grist that twitter does not.

Sunday 17 November 2019

Bloggers on Blogging: Part 2

This is fun!

Second in the series is by Kev and is also up at his blog Trapped in a Whirlpool. He is also known as @trapdinawrpool on Twitter.

Edited to add:


Why won't Blogger let me link to some sites? Grrr. I've forgotten how to do this.


Twitter Killed the Blogging Star

First off I want to thank the folks at DJ for all the amazing work they have done over the years you are an inspiration to many of us.

I have kept my blog open because I keep telling myself that I will start writing again but the truth is that I get all the detritus roiling around in my head out on Twitter. I also find that my writing has been infected by the shortcuts the old 140 character limit forced on us.

Also lost along the way was the motivation to do the necessary research required to write credibly on any subject. Bloggers have only one currency and that is their credibility, without that you merely end up shouting into the wind.

We were a community there for each other, correcting each other when required or adding to to our knowledge of a topic, often writing on the same issue from different perspectives. Blogging opened up my world and lifelong friendships have been forged in the process and while the same can be said of twitter the depth of the relationships forged through blogging is just not there.

In the end we were able to go from oh you're just a blogger to in many instances having the media steal our work. Many legacy media outlets eventually started calling their own opinion writers bloggers in an attempt to appropriate the culture we had established.

The blogging community broke many stories, changed the narrative on many others and added depth to the debate, in the process opening some eyes to the truth of what this world has become. In the end though change comes, twitter and facebook will wither away as well with something new replacing them but the blogging community will always be closest to my heart.

Bloggers on Blogging: The All-Star Lineup

DAMMIT JANET! turns ten years old today. Well, I thought it did, until I started looking for the first blog post.

Turns out deBeauxOs and I started this site 11 years ago.

As the kids say: whatevs.

It's hard to believe now how vibrant the blogosphere was back then. First order of the day's business was to see if yesterday's post had attracted any comments overnight. Then on to check out what others were talking about.

The easiest way to find out what was happening was to go to an aggregator. DJ! was on Progressive Bloggers. (Good grief, it still exists.) We were accepted reluctantly. Admins made a point of telling us that our acceptance was "not unanimous."

Many of the blogs on our blogroll over there on the right were also on ProgBlogs. I've clicked on a few links and found that at best, they have sporadic posting, at worst they've disappeared completely. Some are just ghosts, frozen at their last offering years ago. Two that I know of are still posting regularly: Montreal Simon and Accidental Deliberations. Good on them.

So -- as it turns out on false pretenses -- to celebrate what I thought was our tenth anniversary, we invited some of our old blogger pals to reflect on the Good Old Days.™ (This is not to say they will blog on blogging. But they've been told that's what we were going to call the series, but, you know, trying to herd bloggers is futile.)

Over the rest of the month, we'll publish their contributions.

Here's the first up, by Catelli.


On Blogging

Coincidences can be fun sometimes. Often when I am in my car, or in the shower I ruminate on topics that interest me. A recurring topic lately that I have been pondering has been on Blogging, and how I miss those days. Lo and behold, Fern reaches out to me and asks if I would be interested in sharing my musings on that topic. (Happy 10 year anniversary to the DJ group! You made it longer than most!)

A little backstory on who I am, or was. The first part of the 21st century were heady days politically. The echo of the 1995 Quebec referendum was still playing out, the Adscam scandal was exploding and we had two Conservative parties vying for attention. Throw in 9/11 and the mess that resulted from that (massive understatement here) and there was no shortage of opinions and hot takes and outrage. It was in this environment that I jumped into blogging as Closet Liberal. I was pissed at what the Liberal Party of Canada had become, and my blogging identity was a mocking reflection that the Liberal party had driven this liberal into the closet.

Time passed and I felt that identity was too constraining. I deleted that blog, and resurrected as Catelli, with a new blog “Not Quite Unhinged.” Catelli is an old nickname from high school, and the blog name was a reflection of what I felt and still feel. That our politics and our society is pushing me to being a little bit, but not quite, unhinged. Let’s just say it’s a good thing Canada doesn’t have easily accessible volcanoes to throw oneself into. That character is now hanging around as Catelli2.0 on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/Catelli2Oh)

Back then I didn’t really move in the same blogging circles as the DJ group, though I was certainly aware of them. It took Twitter to bring us all together…..

I held onto Blogging as long as I could. But one by one, all of the blogs I frequented were going silent. Their owners had jumped onto this platform called Twitter. Eventually, as an opinionated fellow that hated shouting into a vacuum of silence, I made the jump too. I tried to keep my blog alive as the best platform for long form thoughts. Twitter with its then 140 character limit and horrible threading ability was too limiting. But I noticed an odd thing. Even though I have a pretty well engaged Twitter follower list, hardly anyone read my blog posts. Even though I would promote them on Twitter, repeatedly, I would only get a few reads at most.

And that basically ended blogging for me. Twitter threads are where it’s at! Until a new platform turns Twitter into a wasteland.

But I can’t help missing those days. The conversations I had then were enlightening, fun, engaging and at times infuriating. But it truly felt like a true debating platform. That’s what it was for me. The group I engaged with didn’t argue, we debated. It’s from that perspective that I really do miss Olaf of Prairie Wrangler and John of Dymaxion World. Those two in particular challenged this centrist from the right and the left, respectively.

Do I blame Twitter for ending that though? Not really. Twitter makes it easier to keep track of conversations and interactions, which is what I was using a blog for. But I had to jump around from blog to blog to blog to monitor the comment sections. It wasn’t convenient or efficient.

I think what I truly liked about blogging is what I am starting to dislike about Twitter.
Learning new things. It’s why I joined both. To opine and to learn. It’s easy to have opinions, but learning new ideas, facts and concepts is where it really was at for me.

Back then the conversations were focused, usually on the blog topic at hand. I learned a lot, but it was trickling in, and easily digestible. Reading blogs in many ways was like reading a book. You could pause and absorb the information in. You chose the speed by which you obtained that information.

Twitter on the other hand is a firehose of information. It is 14 dozen cable news networks all at once. And if you watch a lot of cable news, you start getting depressed. The stark reality of Twitter is that it can be a real-time window onto the entire world. There is so much going on at once that I feel insignificant and ineffectual. Even the topics I care about are swamped by the issues that are piling on every day. I couldn’t even get people to read my blog, how the hell do I get enough time from people to care about what I care about? The fault doesn’t lie with Twitter, it’s just the vehicle delivering the overwhelming reality of the world right now. The Liberal International Order we all thought we were building turned out to be a fragile illusion that is collapsing worldwide. And we’re watching it live.

I don’t mean for this retrospective to be depressing. I guess it’s part of human nature that witnessing terrible things causes us to look back with rose tinted fondness at events in our past. It’s moments when you start to miss George W. Bush that make you realize, “Holy hell!? Really? That war criminal?”

If Twitter never existed and we were still on blogs, the horrible news that affects us would still be happening. Maybe I would just be able to hold onto blissful ignorance a little bit longer.

So do I miss blogging? I miss some of the people I knew. I have found so many more since then, so maybe I should just count my blessings. 187 Tweeps on Twitter is worth a few bloggers in the archive.

But yeah, I do miss the fun and the excitement of it all. It was a moment in time that I will cherish. I am glad I was there for it, and that I participated. And thanks for the memories to all that were there for it. You made it worth it.