Best Blog Posts of 2008: call for nominations

UPDATE, 24 December: Many thanks for the nominations so far. We have enough to get started on, but would love to double the number. Therefore, we’re extending the deadline to 10 January! But please post your nominations sooner rather than later, so we can get on with the judging.

UPDATE: Only about twenty nominations so far. Last year at the same stage we had more than a hundred. Would any bloggers reading this be kind enough to spread the word!

On Line Opinion and Club Troppo are again collaborating to compile an anthology of the best Australian blog writing. From your nominations our panel of judges will select forty to be republished at OLO over the course of January. The judges are: OLO’s Chief Editor, Graeme Young; Helen Dale from SkepticLawyer; Ken Parish, Nicholas Gruen, and myself from Club Troppo; and possibly one other blogger.

To give you a clearer idea of what we’re doing, here’s the end-product of last year’s process.

Send in your nominations by one of three avenues:

1. in the comments thread below (you’ll need to register if you haven’t already),

2. via OLO’s online nomination form, or

3. by email to me: J dot Farrell at UWS dot edu dot au
Remember that you are nominating posts, not bloggers, and don’t forget to include the url (the ‘permalink’ for the post itself).

Modesty is not the object, so please don’t hesitate to nominate your own best posts. No matter how good they were, you’re bound to remember them better than even the most admiring reader, and to be better able to locate them. Don’t forget, it’s an anthology, not a competition. There’s no winner, and in nominating some of your own posts you’re not necessarily claiming that they’re the greatest posts of all time — just helping us gather the information.

There are a few rules:

1. Posts should be from blogs that are Australian in some sense, and independent — that is, they should not be offshoots of mainstream media publications.

2. Posts should have the potential to appeal to a wide audience of educated general readers — that is, they should not require a professional-level technical knowledge, or give advice on feeding hamsters. With this proviso they can be about anything: science, politics, current affairs, the arts, or personal reflections on some profound theme.

3. Posts should be 800-2000 words, although nominations outside this range will be considered if exceptional. Thus they will generally be of the essay type, developing a substantial argument. They may contain quotes, but these should not constitute the bulk of the post. They may contain pictures, but this exercise is largely a homage to the written word, so pictorial essays are not eligible.

4. You may nominate a maximum of six posts in total, and three posts by any individual blogger.

The deadline is Friday 20 December.

OLO editors will endeavour to contact the authors by email and obtain their permission to republish the chosen posts, and invite them to make minor changes if appropriate. These will appear on the site, in no particular order, on weekdays in January.

We’re looking forward to your nominations. Please use the comments thread exclusively for that purpose, though you’re welcome to enthuse and lobby to your hearts’ delight.

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63 Responses to Best Blog Posts of 2008: call for nominations

  1. Pingback: skepticlawyer » Best Blog Posts of 2008

  2. TimT says:

    Well, as much as I’d like to nominate this post, I won’t.

    Instead, I’ll nominate this post of mine: A little talk about death. Can’t get a subject more serious than that, now, I think you’ll agree!

  3. Gummo Trotsky says:

    Looking back over the year. seems this is the best of my bunch.

  4. Gummo Trotsky says:

    Or maybe this.

  5. Tony says:

    Post? Call it Best Independent Aussie Broad-Appeal Word-Limited Due By My Birthday Essay.

  6. Matt C says:

    This was my favourite by far, though slightly over the word limit.

  7. rolanstein says:

    Shit – isn’t there an edit function? Didn’t mean to bold that last post title. It should be italicised, like the rest.

  8. JC says:

    Can I make a suggestion? Can there be a separate category for the off the planet post of the year?

  9. Ingolf says:

    With fingers crossed that it doesn’t figure amongst JC’s list, I’d like to nominate this one of mine:

    America at the Crossroads. Again.

    Will try to get back with a few favourites of mine that others have written.

  10. Peter Wood says:

    I would like to nominate this piece of mine.

    Garnaut announces target.

    It discusses Professor Garnaut’s targets and some equity issues. It also looks at the question of how we can reach a comprehensive international agreement that addresses climate change.

  11. Thersites says:

    Cassandra does Tokyo from this week.

    No idea who this person is but just brilliant ……

  12. Robert Merkel says:

    If I was to pick a couple of mine, I’d pick this one about a bet I made about our long-term economic progress, or maybe this one where I’m able to provide a bit more technical detail than the mainstream media did about the Qantas “nosedive”.

  13. Rafe Champion says:

    If ABC Unleashed counts as a blog I would like to nominate “Why Labor Rules”.

    If not I will have to post it on Troppo.

  14. Ingolf says:

    “A lucky man”, by David Tiley, a lovely piece written about the eulogy he delivered at his father’s funeral.

  15. Rob says:

    If it hasn’t already been nominated can I propose this one from The Currency Lad.

  16. Rafe Champion says:

    Another nomination, “Bias on Campus” on Catallaxy, it is one of mine despite having skepticlawyer’s name attached in the archive.

  17. Rafe Champion says:

    One more
    On re-reading the rules, it seems that Unleashed would not qualify as an independent blog, being part of a mainstream site (assuming the ABC counts as mainsteam).

  18. Nabakov says:

    I certainly non-nominate Rafe’s self nominations. They are a bunch of relentlessly cliche-ridden, autistically emotive and clumsily assembled old fart polemics. And that’s just the words. The concepts and conceits are even more threadbare. The wind’s whistling through yer dressing gown Rafe. It’s over. The world has passed you by.

    OK, Currency Lad is a very elegant prose stylist. But once you strip away the fancy wording stuff, you’re basically left with “old white religious males good, everyone else wrong.”

    Let’s bite the bullet here and award best writing about the weirdness of the meaning of a lived life blog essay to David Tiley in perpetuity.

    And another lifetime achievement bloggy award to Tony T for instigating and suavely managing the best liveblogging sporting threads – globally in any sport. Happy to personally present him with the “Fuck Nut Loose Bustard LOL!” trophy.

    OK, I should actually single out some great AusBlog posts now shouldn’t I?

    A woman’s post about a woman op-edder getting it wrong.
    A man’s post about a woman op-edder getting it wrong.
    A woman’s post about a man op-edder getting it wrong.
    A man’s post about a man op-edder getting it wrong.
    What I did on my holidays.
    A woman’s post about a man’s post about a woman op-edder getting it wrong.
    A man’s post about a woman’s post about a man op-edder getting it wrong.
    A woman’s post about aman’s post about a woman op-edder getting it wrong.
    A man’s post about a woman’s post about a man op-edder getting it wrong.
    LOLcats! On Holiday!

    At this point, your correspondent made his excuses and left – to engage with a 18 year old Lagavullin and “Untrue” by Burial.

  19. Nabs, some nominations would be useful. And appreciated. Really.

  20. Three of mine, as much to give an indication of what we’re looking for as anything.




    I will give LE a boot along in due course, some of hers are good too.

  21. Nabakov says:

    “Nabs, some nominations would be useful. And appreciated. Really.”

    Oh, come off it darling. Surely you’ve worked out by now I’m a terminally unserious and uncomittable bloke

  22. davebath says:

    Most of my posts are too short, or long enough but too full of notes to qualify. However, while I’m not nominating it, this one deserved more readers than some of my more popular posts, especially in the light of what is probably my best post for 2008, except I wrote it in 2006.

    Meanwhile, I’ll second SL’s vote for her ASBO/BrokenWindows essay, and nominate LE’s Has the time come for the common law to be scrapped?

    Meanwhile, I’ll take this opportunity to thank ALL of you for your efforts over the last year. You’ve given us some good reading.

  23. TimT says:

    Andrew Norton is a consistently fine blogger. Annoyingly so, in fact – because it’s hard to pick out just one post that would be suitable!

    That being said, this relatively recent piece on political funding would seem to fit the bill:

  24. Rafe Champion says:

    All my coupons are spent, someone find some pieces from Nicholas Gruen. No I am not pandering to the judging panel:)
    What the heck, find something from James Farrell as well!!:):)

  25. Rob says:

    If it’s not too late and hasn’t already been nominated, I think SL’s welfare post –

    – should be on the list.

    It got me thinking quite a bit.

  26. Nabakov says:

    OK Helen’s right. If I’m gonna be rude and snarky about other nominations here, it’s only fair I should I should nominate some posts too. But no one else can be rude or snarky about them ‘cos none of them are by me (still working on my major essay about Britain’s V-Bomber force for AGB. Might be completed in time for the 2010 nominations)


    Firstly the obligatory David Tiley nominations.

    Mind you, like little Jack Horner, you can much pretty stick your thumb anywhere into Barista and come out with a plum.

    Then there’s some elegant little and well pictorialed essays by Brett Holman at Air-Minded. Not specifically Australian in in content but penned by an Australian historian who’s taken to the blogging medium like a Supermarine Seagull V to antipodean waters and come up with some luminous observations.

    And because Gummo Trotsky is too shy to nominate himself, I nominate these highly provocative but beautifully written pieces of his. (OK, not much words but should be a global LOLpolitics blog touchstone)

    And this smart dispatch from the frontlines bucketing some home financing myths.

    I could go on but I’m more than half in the bag now thanks to half a bottle of Glenmorangie and I have to catch a plane in about 12 hours.

    God rest your merry gentlefolk.

    PS: Good innovation speech Nick. I’ll have some observations for you about it once I return from wherever I’m going.

  27. Rob says:

    Enthusiastically support sl’s nomination of the Elswhere post on Baz’s Australia. I came across it recently and thought ‘Wow!’

  28. legalsoapbox says:

    LE here. My favourite post written by me is one about private law:

    Probably not one that appeals to most people, but I liked it.

    I’d also like to nominate my co-blogger SL’s post:

    I liked one of Dave Bath’s recent posts on artful dodgers – the art of dodging questions (it annoys me SO MUCH when politicians do it):

    I’m always a fan of Jim Belshaw:

    I’m sure there’s more posts – I need to go back through people’s blogs…

  29. Troppo’s own climate change debate post. I never thought I’d see this topic debated civilly. It’s a thing of wonder.

  30. I liked Rex’s review of Warne: the Musical. I also liked the musical.

  31. roger.migently says:

    Geez we miss Missing Link. It was so much easier to remember the better posts when Troppo was the one doing all the work picking them up each week. Anyway, here are a few of the things about which Values Australia had a bee in its bonnet during 08, noting without shame that they boil down to Sex, Politics and Religion.

    We offer these selections without expectation in the spirit of providing choice for the judges.

    Old, smelly Mesopotamians


    New Jim Henson Photograph Uncovered

    Police Art Appreciation

    Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink

    No Reasonable Prospect

    Jesus Save Us

  32. Niall says:

    I’m amazed these ‘Best Of….’ pseudo award things still exist in the ‘sphere. Surely it’s nothing more than a closed circle back-patting exercise conducted by a narrow slice of a much broader spectrum of writers? In fact, Roger’s comment above summarises the general consensus. No-body cares who writes what about any issue, unless someone else thinks it’s worth a mention, a la Missing Link. I’d suggest posting volumes across a huge swathe of blogs in the OzSphere have fallen away since the demise of ML due to the service it provided to the general reader. ML also helped raise the quality of some writing.

    Yes, I too miss ML, but also acknowledge the workload must have been enormous.

  33. Nabakov says:

    So Niall, got any posts of yours you’d like an ostensibly disinterested party to nominate?

  34. Niall says:

    no thanks Nab. Not into awards & such.

  35. Jim Belshaw says:

    Katy (Legal Eagle)nominated one of my posts and then left a comment asking me to nominate posts because their (total post) volume was a bit daunting.

    A lot of my posts are not suitable without editing because I write them in bits, adding interaction with others as I go along. I also use a fair bit of visual material. However, three very different possibilities are:
    * Sunday Essay – The beliefs of a New England populist –
    * Mr Rudd and a dreadful sense of deja vu – Managerialism and systemic failure –
    * John Button – a personal memoir –

    There has been some very good writing over 2008 on some of the blogs that i follow, but I know that the authors will not self-nominate. I will have a look and see if I can put some nominations forward.

  36. Jim Belshaw says:

    Marcellous is a Sydney barrister. I greatly admire the clarity of his writing. I wish I could achieve same. Here are thee posts from him that I think might be considered:
    * Christmas and Milton –
    * E M –
    * An infamous decision –

    There are many more that I could have selected. The judging committee might like to browse to see what I mean.

  37. Jim Belshaw says:

    Will Ownen’s Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American Eye is, as the name says, a US blog. That may rule it out. It is also a blog exclusively devoted to its title, with a special focus on remoTe areas. I would like to think that it might be considered, but do not know the rules.T he blog is an education in Aboriginal art.

  38. Jim Belshaw says:

    I am sorry. I left out the link in my last post –

  39. Jim Belshaw says:

    Thomas, a student at Sydney University, has a great blog Deus Lo Volt.His posts on the US election were great, attracting huge US traffic because (I think)they explained things in simple ways.

    The election is over, so these posts are less relevant. Still, there is other good material. As an example see Fixing Australian cricket –

  40. TimT says:

    Sarsaparilla has a batch of good posts:
    Review of Not Quite Hollywood, by David –

    Tim Howard on contemporary fiction:

    Bernice on import restrictions on books sold in Australia

  41. James Farrell says:

    I’m not sure of the rules either, Jim, but you’ve sold Mr Owen’s post pretty effectively!

  42. I’d like to nominate Big Gav’s interesting revisitation of The Limits to Growth

  43. dominicmeagher says:

    Thanks for the time extension. In the interest of promoting a new Australian based blog, East Asia Forum (with which I’m affiliated) I’m nominating these:

    Japanese media on Rudd; Australias Japan correspondent? by Peter Drysdale


    How Americas economic crisis will change the world also by Peter Drysdale.

    And since I can, here is a self nomination also from East Asia Forum.

    EAF is about 7 month old and gets a lot of high profile contributors from around the region (for example, this series on 2008 in review and the year ahead).

  44. shiro says:

    Here are my picks:
    What Obama means for Asia
    Chinese investment in Australia. (one of the posts that generated the most traffic on the East Asia Forum which is an important Australian policy issue)

    Also, a couple of shameless self promoting posts: Incentives to suicide

  45. Jim Belshaw says:

    James, if Will Owen’s blog is in, should I nominate some posts for consideration, or will the judging committee check it?

  46. ennui says:

    Having now had the opportunity to scrutinize the nominations I’m struck by two things-

    1) the degree of self-promotion – this, of course, may well be a consequence of the rather crude process not simply issues of ego. Add the vagueness of judging criteria and you have an immediate but not insignificant evaluation problem! But c’est la vie!

    2) however, of greater importance to me, is the lack of recognition that seems to have occurred of the more outstanding Oz bloggers out there. (Though this may well be the result of 1) above.) Under the broad umbrella of politico/socio/ economics the indisputably best Oz bloggers are Don Arthur, Andrew Norton, Harry Clarke, Nicholas Gruen, John Quiggin and possibly Robert Merkel (occasionally). Particularly Don Arthur and Andrew Norton – these are always the “must-read’posts – even more so if you are into substance and balance as distinct from glibness or ‘cuteness’!

    I don’t understand why the Harry Clarkes (the post on ‘market fundamentalism’ was outstanding) and John Quiggins don’t rate even a mention in this scenario – it’s a bit like the Oscars being confined to films only made in the USA!

    Perhaps it simply reflects the (limited) sample of bloggers who bother to get involved – and in regard to that limitation one can’t be too critical, just recognise those limitations. However, even though it is essentially a matter of fun, there is an element of seriousness inherent in the exercise – perhaps like social tennis being played with an unstated competitive edge?

    Anyway to add to the nominations I’m torn between Don Arthur’s “Inequality” post early 2008 and Gummo Trotsky’s very interesting post “heritage bigotry” nominated at #3 – both well-written, thought provoking and provocative. In other words, excellant posts!

  47. James Farrell says:


    If you have

    (1) constructive suggestions to improve the process, please share them; and

    (2) nominations of specific posts, please list them.

    Note that this comments thread is not the only route for nominations. Most of the authors you mentioned have been nominated in emails.

  48. James Farrell says:

    Jim: I’d say one post by Mr Owen would be the maximum, given the narrow subject area, but if you’ve subsequently discovered a better example, but all means nominate it.

  49. kevin says:

    In these troubled times, I think this post on the nature of war is probably the best going around:


  50. Jim Belshaw says:

    James, the link I gave before was to the whole blog. So I am going to take the liberty of putting forward two very different recent posts that will, I think, also be of broader interest.

    The first post – Engagement not Intervention – uses a new book by Michael C. Dillon and Neil D. Westbury to review aspects of the NT intervention.

    The second post – Redemption and Exile – is a film review:

  51. James Farrell says:

    So you did, Jim. I was inattentive, and thought you were nominating the one on Basedow’s photographs! As it happens, I rated that highly, but I’ll put these others op too.

  52. C.L. says:

    I’d like to nominate Fred’s Pope Benedict message. Outstanding mastery of metaphysics, Italian, the nuances of translation and the wisdom of quoting the BBC.

  53. Jim Belshaw says:

    Thank you, James. I thought that the Basedow story was good too.

  54. Sacha says:

    When I went through my 2008 blogs I noticed that I’d been very busy with other things and my blog had taken a back seat. However, I’ll put forward my post supporting wards for the City of Sydney.

    While this was a political statement in the context of the City of Sydney elections (in which I was a candidate), I’m quite happy with it in and of itself as it discussed a key argument in favour of wards which I hadn’t seen elsewhere. I’ll also say that IMHO my argument was much more substantial than those put forward by the election teams. (In the end a majority of people voted against introducing three wards each returning three councillors.)

  55. Jacques Chester says:

    As the deadline has passed, I have demoted this thread from the front page and closed the thread.

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