By skepticlawyer

People's Choice AwardAs readers may have noticed, once again we’ve been nominated for the Sydney Writers’ Centre ‘Best Blogs’ Award. I have no idea how we will go this year, as we were shortlisted last year and they may decide they’ve had enough of us. However, it was nice to be shortlisted and there was an informative write-up in The Australian. That article meant I discovered a number of very good blogs of which I’d never heard (ie, the other shortlisted blogs) and was able to direct my brother (a motorcycle enthusiast) to one of the best motorbike blogs (especially for people into custom bikes) I’ve ever seen.

The bulk of the competition is decided by judges (their profiles are available here; unsurprisingly, we’re in the ‘commentary’ category), but there is also a ‘People’s Choice‘ award. We didn’t enter that last year, but thought we may as well throw our collective hat in the ring this year. I have no idea what will happen – we’re pretty much a ‘mid-sized’ blog: this likely means we’ll get ‘nowhere, fast’. That said, none of the blogs entered last year were enormous (no Larvatus Prodeo, no Catallaxy, for starters), so I could be entirely wrong.

The prizes — if we do win — will come in handy for the three of us who do academic writing (Legal Eagle, Lorenzo and Witty Knitter). Indeedy, WK is getting close to the dreaded PhD thesis submission stage (which is why you haven’t seen her around much), and I can tell you that professional editing doesn’t come cheap. While many of you will no doubt point out that we’re all competent writers, it’s fair to say that editing one’s own work is a complete pain in the backside — the mistakes one sees in everyone else’s writing are often passed over in silence when checking one’s own. The human eye sees strictly what it wants to see. This problem ranges from the large (‘was that chapter meant to be there?) to the small (‘that’s the third infinitive you’ve split in two pages’).

So if you’d like us to produce readable academic prose (I’m sure you’ve all encountered the unreadable sort), then vote for us using the button above.

ALSO: feel free to use this post as the open thread, and pop up interesting links or comments.


  1. Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink


    I gave a talk at my university a few days ago about academics and blogging, and directed people to this blog as an example of academics applying their skills in a broad range of areas.

  2. Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Oh Deborah, that’s super that you cited us in a talk! I did a talk on academics and blogging last year – conclusion; it’s useful but hard work!

  3. kvd
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Since this is an open thread I guess somebody should record the government’s latest problem. I am a conservative voter by inclination, but what I mostly want is the government of the day to just do its job, and to face the electorate (me) regularly. Now when Ms Gillard is attempting to provide for a quite serious revamp of aged care, and for a national disability scheme – supported in principle at least, by both sides – she (my Prime Minister) has to deal with this sort of stuff. The harder hearted will chuckle, I guess, but in the larger scheme of things I just find it tragic.

    Congrats on the Best Blogs thing. Well and truly deserved IMO.

  4. Posted April 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    As an open thread, I have trouble with the labels ‘The First World War” and ‘The Second World War’ because, for example, the Seven Years War was more global than the allegedly “First” World War. Indeed, so was the War of the Austrian Succession, of which Macauley famously wrote, concerning the actions of Frederick the Great:

    In order that he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.

    But the EU deciding to label the Second World War the European Civil War is both gauche and offensive.

    I like to call the so-called WWI ‘the Dynasts’ War’ and WWII ‘the Dictators’ War”. It seems more accurate labels. Though the Five Years War (1914-19) and the Eurasian War would perhaps be more distinctive.

  5. Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    As I’ve often had to say since moving over here:


  6. Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I have often entertained the cynical view that Europeans only turned against imperialism because they suddenly experienced being on the receiving end of the Nazi version.

    But yes, WWII was so much bigger than just Europe.

  7. Jonathan D
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to endorse the “European Civil War” terminology, but this story is so ridiculous if true, that I had to suspect it wasn’t quite that simple.

    To start with, I wouldn’t expect a museum of European history to be covering the whole of WWII to start with, so it’s unlikely their trying to rename it, as opposed to other possibilities such as giving a name to part of it.

    Then I see that Wikipedia has an entry for “European Civil War which says that the term is usually associated with a view of history that combines (parts of) both world wars and other 20th century European conflicts. If this sort of view is given any credibility at all, then the right context for it is one where the focus is already on European history, rather than particular time periods.

    So, while I can all too easily believe that the Europeans downplay the events of those times in the rest of the world (I found myself speaking as Skepticlawyer describes at least every May while I was in London), I’d be surprised if anyone at the House of European History was actually trying to label the Second World War as the European Civil War.

  8. Jonathan D
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The Wikipedia article on the museum itself says that one of the aims is to show diverse perspecitives, and to raise awareness of the complexity of of historiography.

    In contrast, the Daily Mail reported that the museum was to omit anything that couldn’t be agreed on, including WWII as a result of arguments about the civil war business

    So it seems there’s a big gap between the aims and the practise, although neither are consistent with the Mail’s complaint that “ECW” will be the description of WWII.

  9. kvd
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Open thread again: What would you do if you had two golden balls? For the lawyers a subsidiary question: was the verbal contract being suggested enforceable?

  10. Posted April 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes, whenever linking to anything from the Daily Mail, one has to be alert to the possibility that one is being trolled. You’re dealing – when it comes to the Mail – with a publication whose raison d’être is the manufacture of confected outrage.

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