Archive for the 'Blogospheric' Category
I am not poor. In fact, by any sensible measure, I am a very, very long way from it. If you’re reading this then the odds are pretty good that you, too, are a fair way from poor. The technology that mediates between us all but guarantees it.
Three-and-some years ago I took part, with thousands upon thousands of others, in the makepovertyhistory march through the streets of Edinburgh. I’m sorry to say that by now my pride at being there is tempered by the fact that most of what I remember about that weekend was the carnival atmosphere. Surely that’s the wrong thing to recall? It was easy for us to participate; we were living in Edinburgh and it cost us little more than a couple of quid for the bus into town. We know others who travelled from all over the UK and beyond, determined to make a statement.
Perhaps that’s worth remembering? 225,000-odd people were motivated enough about an issue to ride for hours in ferries and coaches.
That was more than three years ago. Money is very much in the news again as our credit-based economy starts to judder a little. It’s been said, I can’t remember where, that most of us are only a month or two’s pay cheque away from poverty. That’s probably true — I know what our finances are like.
It hasn’t happened yet.
We’re still rich: we have a roof over our heads, cars in the drive, mobile phones, laptops, games consoles… I don’t understand what it’s like to not have food, shelter, warmth. I’ve never been there, and I hope I never will. Not everyone can say that, and they’re not all too far from home, either.
What can one person do? Little things, I guess. Give money, consume responsibly and thoughtfully, campaign loudly and persistently, learn about how the world works and how the world doesn’t work, learn about what goes on in your own village/town/city. You’ll be surprised.
When you learn, please let yourself be moved.
(If you’re in Northern Ireland, I can point you to some folks who are always glad of a hand. I have the privilege of getting to spend time with women and men who are completely dedicated to tackling the the flaws and consequences of how this society works.)
Tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2008, when (as I write this) 8626 bloggers have signed up to post on the theme of poverty. The idea is to raise awareness of issues and to spark discussion (although does that make “Blog Action Day” a slight misnomer?).
I added this site to the list what seems like a very long time ago, although I’m sure it’s only been a couple of months, if that. I think it’s fair to ask why. After all, I have asked and will continue to ask about the inherent disconnection between online conversations (and often those in the media in general) and what goes on IRL — at least or most especially in those real lives most intimately acquainted with poverty and all its consequences and other attendant issues.
Yet reflection-out-loud and an attempt to generate some discussion can’t hurt, so tomorrow I propose to reflect a little on the intersection between my own life (middle-class, male, white) and questions of poverty, both global and local. Please join in the conversation, either here, on your own blog, or on one of the eight-thousand-and-some others participating.
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.
- Sunday football in East Belfast, with commentary from Scrabo Power and Virtual Methodist.
- What will the next generation of broadband cost?
- Brazen City. In and of Belfast. I’ll be keeping an eye to see how this develops.
- Small-talk with a web designer. Can’t remember where I found this. Sorry.
- All 120 Crayon colours. From the always-interesting COLOURlovers.
- Guilloches. Fascinating and beautiful. I think I came across it via Kottke. I need to keep better track of the hat-tips.
- Kingdom Values and Windows Vista.
- Glenn continues to reflect on the spirituality of illness.
Gedeon Maheux suggested a group blog for today. It sounded fun, so here’s my contribution.
What are some of your favorite “story songs”? Everyone loves music, but often times songs that tell a story stand head and shoulders above the rest. The musical tales these songs tell turn them into either one hit wonders, or classic generational hits. Which artists write the most loved story songs and is there a consensus on the best one of all time? We just may find out.
I thought this would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy!
“And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle. Quite a graphic and hard-hitting sung tale of the ANZAC soldiers at Gallipoli. It’s been covered almost as many times as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, and a couple of those covers (The Pogues’, for example) are great, but I’d recommend hitting up iTunes for Eric Bogle’s recording on At This Stage.
“Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel. An admission to having some Billy Joel in my record collection will probably banish what little credibility I’ve managed to accrue over the years, but there you go. This is a song that I remember enjoying every time it came on the tape player in my dad’s car, and having dug it out again I still appreciate it — although I’m no wiser as to what on earth is going on in the prologue or epilogue. The Stranger is an album that really deserves to be given a chance.
“White Collar Boy” by Belle & Sebastian. The Life Pursuit is a great wee album, and this tune is my standout track from it. A gaolbreak tale told with fantastic humour:
You were chained to a girl that would kill you with a look.
It’s a nice way to die, she’s so easy on the eye.
Belle & Sebastian tend towards the slightly kooky, but this is probably one of the most accessible tracks of what I think is their most accessible album.
“Dic Penderyn (The Ballad Of Richard Lewis)” by Martyn Joseph. Martyn Joseph is the Welsh singer-songwriter with a tendency towards protest and a voice that knows how to make a point. “Dic Penderyn” is his telling of the hanging of an innocent man after the 1831 Merthyr Rising. This is a song that gives me shivers every time I listen to it.
“I Hung My Head”, a Sting song as recorded by the great Johnny Cash. Cash’s vocal drives home the sorrow and resignation of this bleak song’s protagonist. If you happen to lay your hands on the album, American IV, don’t let it go. The whole disc is fantastic.
For more sung tales check out the other participants of this group blog:
All of a sudden, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. It’s only been about three hours since Christmas, hasn’t it?
In my infant and growing discovery of the liturgical calender, Lent is a season that I’m not terribly familiar with. It’s never been more than that funny time when folks give up chocolate, but we don’t really understand why.
Maggi Dawn has posted a timely reminder of a popular skewed understanding of Lent, and points to an earlier series of posts she made in 2005. If you’re interested in the ideas and the history of the season (I am), I suggest reading them. I will be.
It’s in my nature to be sympathetic to this strike, enthusiastic as I am about many American drama and comedy shows. Independent of that, though, the essays on the site that I’ve had a chance to read yet are fascinating and fun.
So check the sidebar over there for a new link, and I suggest you plug it inot your reader.
Recently I posted about going on a bit of a Gaiman kick. (I still haven’t made it to see Beowulf, which is disappointing, but life gets in the way.)
Anyway. Clicking around the web (as you do), not writing the bits I should be writing (as you don’t), I stumbled across this unusual yet compelling little tale of romance and hero-worship. Warms the cockles, doesn’t it.
While I’m here and feeling ‘literary’, I was in the car on Monday and heard a short story by Michael Morpurgo. I would recommend going and listening to it, but you’ll only be able to find it on that link until Monday, so don’t wait.
There are many elements to my character I’m not proud of. One of them is that I find it difficult to not say “yes” — leading to a ridiculous busyness that seems to even get in the way of itself. The day job keeps me going; the little sidelines are fun but often include missed deadlines; the writing I throw at the world here becomes inane as I discover that all my words get taken up by paid work and when I sit down to write for me (which is all I ever hoped for this site) it’s become a drudge and the best I can do is chuck out a daft pun or another dull post about computers or gadgets; my understanding of ‘important’ gets skewed; relationships suffer…
Of course the other side of it is that I’m privileged in many ways: the people I encounter everyday, the comfort of my life, the opportunities I’m given and the experiences I find. I say “yes” because I can, and that’s not a state to be taken for granted.
But in my busyness, what do I miss?
beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. the least we can do is try to be there.
Through the season of Advent we commit to seeking to notice the wonder around us, the ‘beauty and grace’ that God showers the world with whether we see it or not — he’s like that. Which will mean lifting my head from the busyness in front of me, looking around and allowing my awareness to breathe.
This morning I came to a decision. I spent a few weeks trying out this BlogRush thing, but today I have ditched it and deleted this site from the network.
It’s a pretty harmless thing in itself, and it’s always fun to attract more visitors, but the widget that they give you to display is just plain ugly. I’m not pretending that marramgrass is a shining example of wondrous web design, but the BlogRush widget is just too much for my poor eyes.