Fri, Dec
5
2008

The Greatest Canadian Blog - Part V - Part III

Fri, Dec 5, 2008


Best Religious/Philosophy Blog

Contenders: Bene Diction Blogs On, Dennis Gruending - Pulpit and Politics, Felix Hominum, Holy Experience, Whatever He Says

Who Should Win: These five blogs span the political spectrum, and put the lie to the suggestion that religious individuals are uniformly conservative. I note that Felix Hominum appears to be an Anglican and Dennis Gruending seems a very thoughtful individual considering and respecting the political considerations of all the mainstream parties. His blog is definitely one that a lot of people should read, but my vote goes again to Bene Diction Blogs On, for his thoughtful commentary and his attractive design.

I would like to offer what is a constructive comment to the author of Holy Experience. Please, please, please ditch the embedded music on your web page. It’s a pet peeve of mine, especially when I happen to be listening to other music on my computer as I surf. When somebody else’s music interrupts my listening, I tend to hastily vacate the site.

Surprise Exclusion: Jordon Cooper is another thoughtful blogger who oftentimes speaks on religious matters. He also takes excellent photographs. Be sure to check out his interesting and very personal website.


Best Activities Blog

Contenders: Hungry Zombie Couture, Knitnut, Maple Syrup and Poutine, Windsor Eats, Yarn Harlot

Who Should Win: Knitnut knits in Ottawa. Yarn Harlot knits in the Greater Toronto Area. Hungry Zombie Couture is a young, married chemistry teacher who sows, and Windsor Eats and Maple Syrup and Poutine both eat in Windsor (how much is there to eat in Windsor?!)

Tempted as I was by food in this category, I selected Hungry Zombie Couture. The other blogs (save for Maple Syrup and Poutine — sorry guys, maybe next year) are recognized elsewhere. Shannon gets points for surprising me with her blog title, and her interesting take on her passion.

Surprise Exclusion: Unknown.


Best Pundit/Professional Commentator Blog

Contenders: 59 Carden Street, Antonia Zerbisias’ Broadsides, Inkless Wells, Kady O’Malley’s Inside the Queensway, Mark Steyn Online

Who Should Win: So, what of those who are paid to blog? Is their commentary a step above the rest of us, or are the lines between trained professionals and talented amateurs blurring. The answer is yes on both counts. Antonia Zerbisias, Paul Wells, Kady O’Malley and Mark Steyn all offer readers access to their best work, and then some. All speak with their own distinctive voice, their well-honed insight and access to the news that most bloggers can only dream of. Standing against them are the Guelph City Hall bloggers of 59 Carden Street, and the part of me who loves to see underdogs win is rooting for these people.

But my vote still goes to Paul Wells at Inkless Wells, who reminds me of a Calgary Grit who is paid to write. He is very even-handed in his treatment of his subjects, writes with grace and humour, and offers considerable insight into the political process of this country. Like Antonia, he was one of the first columnists to really take notice of the Canadian blogosphere, and he is a respected longstanding figure within it.

Surprise Exclusion: Warren Kinsella. Yes, he’s partisan — now more than ever — but he also understands blogging better than most professional pundits. I have been given an insight into his life and his way of thinking. I don’t always agree with him, but I see the human being behind the type, and that’s why I’ve come to respect him, even though some of his opinions and his alacrity with dirty politics can sometimes drive me up the wall.


Best Professional/Career Blog

Contenders: Canadian Silver Bug CEO Blog - Time Leadership, Fiction Matters, Get Elastic, My Name is Kate

Who Should Win: It’s not too hard to find blogs about building your career or your business. They’ve got a ready-made audience in what the experts have to say. Many of these aren’t flashy, but they plod along, packed with information. Jim Estill’s CEO Blog (a member of the Waterloo Wellington Bloggers Association is a case in point. Similarly, Get Elastic is a blog about e-Commerce.

But this category appears to have attracted sites which don’t fit elsewhere. How else can you explain the inclusion of Canadian Silver Bug, save for the fact that its interesting posts about coinage (such as this one about the Free Lakota Bank) deserves recognition somewhere. Or, for that matter, Fiction Matters, which gives you the skinny on the publishing industry.

Rounding out the list, My Name is Kate takes a very personal look at digital marketing and social networking, has a good voice, and an attractive template.

Maybe I’m distracted by the gleam of silver, but my choice for this category is the Canadian Silver Bug.

Surprise Exclusion: Unknown.


Best Family Blog

Contenders: Don Mills Diva, Fawnahareo’s Place, Mabel’s Labels or The Mabelhood, Party of 3, Under the Mad Hat

Who Should Win: As I was writing up this review, I was going to suggest to the organizers that they consider combining this category with Best Personal Blog, since the two seemed to bleed into each other. Then I looked at the contenders, and I changed my mind. All five cover a very specific subject that deserves its own recognition: the challenges and joys of raising children. Don Mills Diva talks about life as a working mom of a three year old in an inner suburb of Toronto. Fawnahareo’s Place talks about living with epilepsy, and raising a family in the Yukon. At the Mablehood, Julie raises her kids and runs a small business. Under the Mad Hat is about a librarian and a mothher talking about feminism, politics, and finding good books for her kids (mind if I send you some?). Finally, Party of 3 gave me an excellent idea for a play table using Lego baseboards and a Lak table from Ikea.

Frankly, it’s almost impossible to pick just one winner, here; I was thoroughly charmed by them all. In the end, I settled on Under the Mad Hat, because she’s a librarian, and I’m a writer. Fawnahareo’s place will make me come back again because the Yukon fascinates me, and I intend to build this table someday. But, as I said, this is a particularly close contest.

Surprise Exclusion: I find it interesting that Attack of the Redneck Mommy is up for Best Blog, but fails to make it out of the first round here. But then, I think it’s for the best, spreading the joy around and all that.


Best Local Blog

Contenders: International Metropolis, Kitsilano.ca, Knitnut, Mike Cluett’s Milton Blog, Windsor Eats

Who Should Win: Newcomers to this list include Kitsilano.ca, an attractive but advertising-heavy blog covering the comings and goings of one blogger’s part of the Vancouver metropolis. Mike Cluett is doing a stand-up job covering the news of his neck of the woods — the town of Milton, Ontario northwest of Toronto, although given some of his news stories, perhaps he should be calling it his Halton Blog.

Both of these go up against two strong Windsor blogs, and again I have to wonder what it is about Windsor that gives it such a strong blogging presence. I’ve talked about Windsor Eats before — if you think it unlikely that food in Windsor would be difficult to blog about, think again, but for this category, I’m voting for International Metropolis, covering the architecture and history of Windsor and its sister city across the river. I especially liked the recent post mentioning Windsor’s streetcar heritage. Good work, guys!

Surprise Exclusion: I’m surprised Spacing’s Wire didn’t make an appearance — either its Toronto or its Montreal versions. I guess I’d better start nominating these guys and encouraging them to campaign.

I also notice that Waterloo Region doesn’t appear to have its own blog. Sure we have our aggregator, but we have nothing comparable to either Blog Guelph or International Metropolis, and perhaps that should change. Maybe I should be the one who changes it. Hmmm…

And, if anybody in Waterloo Region wants to correct the record, please contact me and add your site to the Waterloo Wellington Bloggers Association aggregator, okay?


Best Sci/Tech Blog

Contenders: DeSmogBlog, Dusan Writer’s Metaverse, Post-Darwinist, Sync, the Tech & Gadgets Blog, Synchro Blogue

Who Should Win: Sync and Synchro Blogue have managed a pretty impressive feat. These two blogs appear to be English and French versions of each other, and despite the obvious prospect for vote splitting, both made it into the final round. Not bad for a technology blog. It’s up against Post Darwinist, a somewhat controversial choice as it’s a blog that promotes Intelligent Design. Finally, Dusen Writer’s Metaverse is an attractive blog about a virtual life character.

My pick goes to DeSmogBlog, which for the past couple of years has been tirelessly covering environmental news and advocating for clearer air and water.

Surprise Exclusion: None.


Best GLBT Blog

Contenders: Gay Persons of Colour, Gay and Right, Montreal Simon, Moved to Vancouver, Slap Upside the Head

Who Should Win: Gay Persons of Colour explores the world through the eye of someone who is gay and a person of colour. Similarly, but somewhat differently, Gay and Right explores the eye of someone who is gay and also a Conservative. Moved to Vancouver is the blog of a homosexual couple now living happily (I hope) out in B.C. Slap Upside the Head keeps an eye on homosexuality in the news, and is, I think, important reading to follow the patterns of discriminations which these people encounter day to day. Finally, there is the very personal blog of Montreal Simon.

I’ve noticed a change in Simon’s writing since he came into the blogosphere a couple of years ago. When he emerged, he startled a number of us with the depth of his passion, speaking of his painful experiences dealing with bullying and homophobia. Today… well, I would hardly say that he has mellowed, so while he continues to advocate passionately for what he believes in, and gives no quarter to those people espousing views he disagrees with, I sense that he is more at home with himself. It’s hard to put my finger on it. But I’m reading a blog where, if I may be so bold as to say, someone is getting happier. And, if so, I am well pleased. And though Slap Upside the Head really tempts me, he gets my vote.

Surprise Exclusion: None.


Best Feminist Blog

Contenders: April Reign, Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome, Broadsides by Antonia Zerbisias, Choice for Childcare, Shameless

Who Should Win: There are two nominees here who are members of the Non-Partisan Alliance: the personal blogs of April Reign and Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome. Antonia Zerbisias is a professional journalist who embraced blogging in a big way, even convincing her employer, the Toronto Star, to open up comments on her website, making her one of the first professional journalists in Canada to admit that blogging is cool. She continues to blog, as strong and as passionate as ever. Choice for Childcare is certain to tweak a number of fans in this category; as I recall, it was set up specifically to oppose the Liberals’ child daycare plan, which is something a number of feminists I know support. Finally, Shameless is the blog for Shameless magazine, “Canada’s independent voice for smart, strong, sassy young women”, and it looks the part.

I’m having a hard time choosing between Shameless, which has excellent content and an aggressive layout that somehow remains uncluttered and easy to navigate, and the strong personal voice of April Reign. In the end, I have to side with April, who doesn’t have Shameless’ crew behind her design. April also runs the website BirthPangs, which didn’t make it out of the first round, possibly due to vote splitting.

Surprise Exclusion: Unrepentant Old Hippie.


Best Disability Blog

Contenders: Chewing the Fat, Disadventure, Moon Phases, The Seated View

Who Should Win: These are all fine contenders. Chewing the Fat is about a Toronto professional working in the field of disability for the past thirty years, who became disabled himself a few years ago. Disadventure is run by Jocelyn, a “twentysomething graduate student at SFU.” Moon Phases is the blog of a 35 year old woman living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and The Seated View covers the life of a man in a wheelchair. In other words, it’s a blog, but with a wheelchair, and well written too.

My vote went to Disadventure, with her clean blog template, strong voice, and a post poking gentle fun at Apple.

Surprise Exclusion: Are there seriously only four blogs about disability in the Canadian blogosphere?


Best Sports Blog

Contenders: Beijing2008: A Dual Perspective, Food Court Lunch, From the Rink, The Joy of Sox, Out of Left Field

Who Should Win: I am not really qualified to judge all of these sports blogs, but a quick glance at the contenders reminds me that Food Court Lunch showed up last year, and impressed me with its ecclectic mix of subjects. Beijing 2008 also had an interesting discussion on how the design of its Olympic pools may have helped smash world records.

Surprise Exclusion: None.


Best Health Blog

Contenders: Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes, Marijke: Nurse Turned Writer, Ottawa Street Dental, Salted Lithium, Weighty Matters

Who Should Win: Four of the five nominees are genuine medical professionals (including one dentist’s office in Windsor, offering good sound advice on staying healthy. The remaining one, Salted Lithium, describes one person’s long walk away from depression. That one has my vote, because of the strength of the voice at its core.

Surprise Exclusion: None.


And that’s it. Once again I’d like to thank the organizers of this fine event. Unlike other blogging awards, they’ve managed to balance the fine line between being wide-open, inclusive, and yet resistant to just representing the popular blogs. These blog awards have succeeded in showing us that there is a big Canadian blogosphere out there, full of sites we’ve missed, and each one a gem. Thanks guys!


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