Blog Awards, Outstanding Bloggers, Sun Mountain Award

A Sun Mountain Award for Ed Darrell at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

sun-mountain-200x120-number-016-millard-fillmores-bathtubFor about 40 years now, many of us in the United States have been engaged in a “Culture War” and that struggle has changed the country.

Issues that probably could have been resolved decades ago have become perennial.  Political postures that few other Western societies tolerate have become normal.  And even the future of such grounded American traditions as our civil liberties have been challenged.   Most of us have not escaped being affected in one way or another by the Culture War.

There are perhaps thousands of blogs that deal in some fashion with the War.  I doubt anyone has read them all and I certainly haven’t.  But I feel I’ve read enough blogs and posts to know that at least one, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, is genuinely outstanding.  Although the blog by no means deals exclusively with Culture War issues, it deals with those issues often enough and rationally enough to be a primary resource for anyone concerned with the conflict.

sun-mountain-award-200x200-number-016-millard-fillmores-bathtubI think that’s very largely because Ed Darrell, the owner of Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, brings at least three extraordinary strengths to his blogging:  Exceptional powers of reasoning; superb standards of intellectual honesty and factual accuracy; and a completely impressive knowledge base.

My admiration for Ed began when he left a post on this blog during a debate over the Constitution’s  separation of church and state.  Like many other people, I’ve read posts too numerous to count on that issue.  But Ed laid out the case for a separation of church and state better than I’d ever seen done before — including in text books.

It seems to me that much of Ed’s best and most enjoyable writing is done in his responses to commentators on his blog.  So, when you check out his site, be sure to read his responses!

I am very pleased this evening to inflict the Sun Mountain Award for outstanding blogging on Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub and Ed Darrell.  Thank you for the great work you do, Ed!

Blog Awards, Dale, Outstanding Bloggers, Sun Mountain Award

A Sun Mountain Award for Dale at Faith in Honest Doubt

sun-mountain-200x120-number-015-faith-in-honest-doubt Dale’s blog — Faith in Honest Doubt — is hands down among the most engaging blogs I’ve come across on the net.

Near as I can figure, the blog’s strength comes from at least three sources.  First, Dale’s style of  writing is excellent — so good it will possess your soul, if you have one.  Next, Dale seems to have an eye for fascinating things to write about, and some of his topics are rare finds.  Last, Dale’s analysis of his topics is sharp, almost always insightful and sometimes brilliant.   Given that trinity of strengths, I believe that, if Dale had written the Bible, I would be a Christian.

sun-mountain-award-200x200-number-015-faith-in-honest-doubt2 If you are inclined to give Dale’s blog a try, here are two recent posts you might want to start with.  “Failed Dividing Lines” is a brief take on the news media in America, while “The US is Still Not a Christian Nation” is a compact, but I think persuasive, argument against Dominionist propaganda.  Both posts got me to thinking.

To show my appreciation for Dale’s work, I am inflicting on him the Sun Mountain Award for Outstanding Blogging.  As I once explained, the Award is named after Tavakiev Mountain, which translates as “Sun Mountain”:

Sun Mountain, which peaks at over 14,000 feet (4301 meters), was so named because it is the first mountain along the Front Range of the Rockies to catch the sun each morning. So, as an outstanding mountain, I decided it fitting to name an award for outstanding blogging after it.

Thank you, Dale, for your hard work in creating an outstanding blog.

Abstinence Only Sex Ed, Adolescence, Adolescent Sexuality, Blog Awards, Child Sexuality, Children, Courtship, Dr. Karen Rayne, Education, Family, Health, Love, Marriage, People, Relationships, Science, Sexuality, Sun Mountain Award, Teacher, Wisdom

A Sun Mountain Award for Dr. Karen Rayne at Adolescent Sexuality

As many of us know these days, the United States leads the Western world in nearly every category of adolescent sexual problem, including unwanted pregnancies, abortions, out of wedlock births, partner abuse, rapes, and STD infections.  It’s a disturbing picture.  Moreover, it’s pretty much up in the air at this point whether anything meaningful will be done about it.  That’s largely because there is strong ideological and cultural opposition in the US to implementing the solutions that are already known to work best.

Surely, those solutions do not include telling adolescents little more than to abstain from having sex.  In the first place, only a quaint minority of teens will take that advice.  In the second place, the majority of teens who don’t will all too often behave unwisely because we failed to share with them our knowledge and wisdom.  Yet, despite all that, abstinence only sexuality education remains a very popular pseudo-solution to dealing with adolescent sexual problems.  It is highly controversial in many parts of this country to teach teens anything else.

Indeed, abstinence is so highly praised in the United States that even those of us who oppose only teaching teens to abstain from sex are usually quick to say teens should still be taught abstinence as the preferred method for dealing with their sexuality.   “Abstain first, and have sex only as a last resort.”

It seems very few of us want to tell teens having sex can be a positive experience.  One of those few is Dr. Karen Rayne.  For that reason, Dr. Rayne’s blog, Adolescent Sexuality, is in it’s own way among the more courageous blogs I’ve come across on the net.

Dr. Rayne is an educator who, in her off line life, specializes in teaching human sexuality to people of all ages.  She has focused her blog, however, on providing the best possible help and advice to parents in dealing with their teenage children’s sexuality.   That is, her blog isn’t for teenagers so much as it’s for the parents of teenagers.  And it is surely one of the most helpful blogs such a parent could find.

I find her advice insightful, balanced and wise.  Some of us might be scandalized by the notion that sex — under the right circumstances — can be a positive experience for their teen, but I am not.  To be sure, I might have been scandalized by that notion as recently as fifteen years ago.  But that was before fate led me to make the acquaintance of scores of teens.  Today, I am because of those teens in fundamental agreement with Dr. Rayne.   Most teens are going to have sex by the end of their adolescent years, and those teens need to know how to best manage their sexuality.

Dr. Rayne’s blog is wide ranging.  She deals with just about every aspect of adolescent sexuality, and never seems to exhaust the subject.  She avoids writing technical jargon and instead writes for a general audience. Her advice is based both on research and field experience, and seems quite practical.  For those and other reasons, I am ruthlessly inflicting on her the Sun Mountain Award in appreciation for an outstanding blog.

Blog Awards, Hume's Ghost, Intellectual Honesty, People, Politics, Sun Mountain Award, Values

A Sun Mountain Award for Hume’s Ghost at The Daily Doubter

Sun Mountain Award Number 013 - The Daily Doubter

Sun Mountain Award Number 013 - The Daily Doubter

What would happen if a good scholar wrote a political blog?

Well, The Daily Doubter is a political blog written by Hume’s Ghost, who is noteworthy for his scholarship and his intellectual honesty.  Regardless of your politics, you can trust him to make an effort in good faith to get at the truth, although he himself approaches matters from a more or less liberal perspective.  I have often been impressed by his readiness to correct even his most minor inaccuracies and mistakes — even when doing so weakens his cause.  It seems to me Hume’s Ghost is a bit more driven by his desire to get at the truth than by his politics.

As you might expect, HG’s writing is precise and transparent.  It is also logical in the formal sense of the word: That is, genuinely logical.  I’m willing to bet HG has never intentionally committed a strawman or ad hominem fallacy in all of his time blogging.   I suppose that in itself sets The Daily Doubter apart from many political blogs.

The Daily Doubter seems mainly focused on debunking the false claims, exaggerations, and possible lies that one can find in the conservative media.  (Please Note: That’s not to say you would be unable to find false claims, etc. on the liberal side, but only that the Daily Doubter is much more focused on debunking  the false claims, etc. of the conservatives than those of the liberals.)  It does an admirable job of that and should be on the reading list of anyone — regardless of their politics — who is interested in getting at the truth.

Back in October, I wrote in another post on The Daily Doubter that Hume’s Ghost “…is the sort of person you could point an intellectually gifted child to, saying, ‘See! That’s the kind of intellectual you should aspire to become!'”  I am pleased to see how well that opinion has stood up over the months.  For that and other reasons, I am taking the liberty of inflicting The Sun Mountain Award on an unsuspecting man and his outstanding blog.

Thank you for your hard work, HG!

Blog Awards, G, Sun Mountain Award, Writing

A Sun Mountain Award for “G” at How to Survive Suburban Life

How to Survive Suburban Life is meant to be a legacy. “G”, the blog’s author, states, “Primarily these writings are intended as a record of my ruminations for my new grand-daughter who has been born into a fast-changing world, one which she may feel needing some comparison with a past as experienced by an older family member.”

That beautiful purpose is completely matched by G’s superb prose, which is a pleasure to read, and her remarkable perceptiveness. She has an extraordinary eye for detail. Moreover, her posts are so much more than dull records: In many instances they approach — or are indeed — short stories. I am amazed by that.

Most people who blog about their lives know all too well that life usually doesn’t come neatly packaged as stories. The typical day of any person on earth is a mere sequence of mostly random events strung together only by chronological time. Our days usually lack a plot, sometimes a theme, and very often a climax. Yet, some of us can turn an average day into a story. G is one of those few people who can pull it off regularly. In fact, I believe she’s masterful at it.

I think it’s worth mentioning G also strikes me as wise. For instance, consider how well she understands and manages her art students in this post. For those reasons and more, I am this morning taking the excessive liberty of inflicting the much feared Sun Mountain Award for outstanding blogging on her.

Thank you, G, for your hard work!

Art, Blog Awards, Lirone, Poetry, Sun Mountain Award, Writing

A Sun Mountain Award to Lirone at Words that Sing

Words that Sing is a personal blog — that is, a blog whose frequent subject is the life of the author — and it easily rises to the level of literature. Some people seem born to describe their lives beautifully, and in ways interesting to the rest of us, and Lirone appears to be one of those people. Among other things, she is a skilled and gifted writer of prose and poetry, and apparently an accomplished singer.

Words that Sing, however, touches on more subjects than just the subject of its author, and while it is personal, it is far from being self-absorbed. Lirone has a gift for seeing and expressing the universal truths revealed in her own circumstances.

Lirone’s blog is new. She launched it only this past February, and I fervently hope she will continue blogging for a long time to come. One of her reasons to begin blogging — perhaps her primary reason — was to recover from a love affair that ended badly. When some people begin a blog for that reason, the blog rapidly descends into a mere record and retelling of angst.

But Lirone has transcended that, and I think there might be an interesting reason why she has. I suspect it’s at least in part because she’s focused herself on exercising, stretching, and developing her skills as a writer — especially of lyrics and poetry — instead of concerning herself only with her suffering. If that’s true, then her blogging might be a lesson to anyone in similar circumstances.

In addition to being an outstanding blogger, Lirone is a thoughtful, considerate, and avid commentator on other people’s blogs. For all those reasons and many more, I am joyfully taking an opportunity to shamelessly inflict the Sun Mountain Award on her.

Thank you, Lirone, for your outstanding work!

Blog Awards, Sun Mountain Award

A Couple New Badges for the Sun Mountain Award

I know this is horrible of me, but I’ve been busy changing the badges for The Sun Mountain Award. The problem was, I couldn’t easily read the small, original badge, which is only 200×73 pixels. So I made a much larger 200×200 pixel badge. But that large new badge didn’t quite match the original badge. So I then made a medium size 200×120 pixel badge that matches the large badge.

All of this has left me with three badges for the Award. So, to simply things, I’ve decided that I will no longer use the smallest badge — the original badge. Instead, from now on, I’ll only customize and issue the two newer badges unless someone really wants the original badge. But where does that leave recipients of the Sun Mountain Award?

Well, anyone who wins a Sun Mountain Award can choose, entirely at their discretion, whether to display a Sun Mountain Award badge on their blog. And if they do indeed want to display the Award, then they have the option of displaying a small or large badge. Each time I issue an Award from now on, I will customize one of each size.

As for the older, original badge: I’ll keep the ones I’ve already made posted should anyone still want to link to it. I just won’t be using that badge in the future.

I hope all this tweaking has not caused anyone too much inconvenience. I think I’m pretty much finished tweaking now.