Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Federalism, Blogging And Scarlet Fever

I accept that there can be few things more introspective, more conducive to deep navel-gazing, and more potentially boring than blogging about blogging : but here I go again. Those who have read the last fourteen chapters of my forthcoming book "In Search Of A New Paradigm in Contextually Integrated and Networked Proclamations" will know where I have got to in my search for an answer to the age-old question facing us all : to consolidate or follow the advice of Chairman Mao and "let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred types of blog contend". I was swinging very much in the direction of the consolidation school when I decided to investigate the counter-claims of the Federalists : and they have certainly made me pause for thought.

I always think that the three greatest things given to the world by the United States of America and its diverse and wonderful people are (1) popular music; (2) innovative communications; and (3) federalism. I shouldn't have to say anything in support of my first choice being included in the list, the chances are we all support the nomination every time we hum a tune. As for innovative communications, all you need to do is imagine what that great British invention the World Wide Web would have been like if we had developed it on our own! Things like Google, Blogger and Facebook can only be American and - however annoyed we get with them - I believe they rank as great human achievements. Which leaves me with federalism. Now is not the place to venture into the political significance of the federalist writings of the great American pioneers - let it merely be said that we in Europe are still trying to learn the lessons 250 years later.

If we apply federalist principles to blogging what we have is a series of separate and quasi-independent blogs all gathered together within a common federalist framework. I can therefore keep Fat Dog, Pint of Bitter, and Daily Photo as separate States within the cultural hegemony of News From Nowhere. It is an exciting thought, I am sure you will all agree. I will ponder on it further and report my findings in the draft of Chapter 16.

By way of diversion, let me conclude with a completely unrelated quotation. Yesterday, I found myself with a couple of hours to spare in Bradford Central Library. In the spirit of serendipity, I pulled a book at random from the shelves of the Reference Library and started to read. It was a collection of the reports of the "Female Sanitary Inspector" for Bradford - Miss C F Stephens - to the Health Committee of Bradford Corporation. I quote from her report dated 31st December 1902 in which she tells of a visit to one typical slum in what, at the time, must have been one of the richest cities in the world.

“Fourteen occupants in a three-roomed house. Bedroom : 1334 cubic feet, occupied by seven persons, equalling six adults. Bedroom : 810 cubic feet, occupied by three adults. The parents and youngest two children slept downstairs. The second time I visited this house the parents were in bed, and there were nine other members of the family in the room. In this case the woman resolutely refuses to allow a window to be opened, “for”, she says, “that is how scarlet fever comes into the house”. Meanwhile the filth of the house and the impure air, added to the gross overcrowding, render it a perpetual wonder that the whole family are not the victims of some loathsome disease. These people are now under Notice to abate the nuisance, as they declined to do so without pressure”.

If nothing else, it makes you think and helps you get things in perspective. As I say, it is completely unrelated to the first part of this post. But now I come to think about it, it raises the question of how we can open the windows of our blogs to fresh ideas without risking the dangers of scarlet fever. I obviously need to lock myself up in a dark room and do some thinking.


  1. Chapter 16 promises much Alan.

    Opening the windows of our blogs to fresh ideas is quite safe with the liberal application of carbolic soap and a shovel of lime for the midden.

  2. Martin : I don't seem to have any lime to hand, will a few lemon drops do?

  3. What about the Swiss then? Surely they had federalism (and cuckoo clocks) well before our american cousins?

  4. Did anybody notice the tiny trace of a smirk on Obama's face as he signed the new health law for the USA?

    Way-HEY, way to go, man! Federalism has my vote every time so long as the person voted to the top of the pile has such good ideas.

  5. blogging about blogging does have a hint of navel gazing about it but honestly, if you want to talk about blogging only bloggers understand!

  6. Chairman : The Swiss don't count.
    Edwin : It does seem like a good outcome.
    Kylie : I agree - and we do all seem to be undergoing some kind of blogging crisis at the moment as our own personal networks get larger and become less sustainable.

  7. The bit about the sanitary inspector made me laugh, because seriously, my mother NEVer opened a window in the house because of "that filthy black air" out there. Hee. Little did she know that all that toxic air INside was the dirty air!

  8. Hey Alan! I enjoy a good TeaParty anytime!
    Re;Poverty in Bradford.Its beyond belief that Britain, such a rich country for such a long time ,can allow its own people to live with poverty & muck.We could always afford to do so much better.
    5 years again a lass called Cherry [this photo was taken in The Peice Hall]travelled from Beijing &stayed in Halifax a while.I took her on a Tour of West Yorkshire.She was much taken by the black-patchy effect she saw on old brickwork.It looked so beautiful she thought.How Was It Done ? she wondered........I had to explain it was the result of pollution from Our Industrial Revolution.Ironic, considering all of China's pollution at the moment!

  9. Tony : I have to confess that as I was making my way from the centre of Bradford to Bradford Royal Infirmary - where I had left the car and Isobel on a course - I couldn't help thinking that nothing had changed all that much in 107 years.

  10. Letting fresh air into our blogs...I like that!

    I actually had scarlet fever in January...ugh.

  11. Alan: They must do - they have numbered bank accounts. How do they do that if they don't count?

  12. Chairman Bill : OK They count but we are not allowed to talk about it because it is secret.
    Betsy : That is awful, in my ignorance I didn't even think it existed any more.

  13. Wow... Scarlet fever in 2010? I too thought it'd been eradicated decades ago.

    I once lived next door to a family who never opened the windows and kept the drapes pulled 24/7. Very disturbing place to visit on a bright summer day, as inside, even with lamps lit, it was always twilight. The rationale being that this kept the "bad" germs out. However, at any given time, one family member or another was sick, respiratory ailments mostly (duh...) The mother also complained constantly about the high electric bill. Otherwise, they seemed to be bright, intelligent people!

  14. Oh dear, methinks Bradford needs a great deal of rehabilitation...which is the subject that is beginning to wrestle my mind when it comes to blogging - shall I continue with Saltaire DP when my year of challenge is up (there are, I suppose, only so many photos you can take in a square mile) or shall I move on and single-handedly attempt to show that Bradford isn't all muck and misery?

  15. lol...opening a window now...

  16. i'm raising a pint to federalism!! it is a shame it is actually so out of favor these days in the ol' us of a....

    must say i absolutely love the title of your forthcoming book it just rolls of the tongue, i hope you will be having tom form half-moose with a twist do the illustrations!

  17. This was a very exciting post! It sent me, a citizen of the U.S. with a very vague memory of my high school government class, out into the internet to research federalism as a refresher. What fun to have before sunrise on the West Coast of the U.S.!
    And P.S.: Thanks, Alan, for your always-succinct comments on my blog.

  18. The Federalist Rhetoric of Blogging... sounds like an academic analysis someone should pursue. Cough, AB, cough.

    Strange about the pop music, though... I think that most Americans find themselves humming tunes from British artists. Or maybe that's just me.

    And I think modern blogs are susceptible to H1N1... not scarlet fever. Hehehe.


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