How are we doing so far?

Greetings, gentle readers. I may have recovered from blogging fatigue, and thought I’d start over by asking you for a little help. How do you think we’re doing? Any complaints? Any helpful suggestions? What do you want to see more of, or less of?

Oh, and suggestions for good blogs asnd other sites to link atre always welcome.

7 thoughts on “How are we doing so far?

  1. David – Increasing the spread and depth of topics would stimulate discussions IMO.

    Inevitably, issues of international contention – like “privatisations” or global warming and other green issues – are likely to attract more posts than bland musings about life and the universe. Earlier, you introduced Open Threads but that seems to have lapsed although it is a good way of picking up on emerging hot topics. A running series monitoring publication of mooted silly EU regulations would help to inform as well as creating an opportunity for posters to say why they believe the latest to be ill-advised.

    The draft EU Constitution is probably too big to be taken at a go, in one big chunk, but individual Articles – like the ones that would confer powers on the EU to run European foreign affairs and defence or to “coordinate” the economic policies of member states – are worth discussing because these engage fundamental issues of national sovereignty or statism versus personal rights and responsibilities. Should the EU’s inclination to rigorously apply the “Precautionary Principle” to any novel technology be applied also to the Constitution? Given that it is too late now to apply that principle to the experiment of monetary union there is the unresolved issue of whether sanctions should be rigorously and even-handedly applied to EU states breaching the Eurozone’s Stability and Growth Pact.

    The longest running radio programme – so it is claimed – is Alastair Cook’s weekly “letter from America” on the BBC in which he interprets topical American issues for British listeners. Personally, I should love to read something similar for European countries in rotation where a correspondent, whether citizen or expat, wrote on what they regarded as the topical themes and news developments in the countries where they live. That should help to build those metaphorical bridges across European frontiers.

  2. I’d second Bob’s suggestions about topic choices.

    I’d also like to add that one strength of the bloggers here, namely their diversity of origin within the continent, could also be exploited a bit more. What anxieties and forebodings do other parts of Europe other than the UK have about the entire European project? What keeps the Dutch, the Swedes and the Portuguese up at night about the latest initiatives from Brussels? Bloggers drawing on local information about their places of residence and/or origin could do a lot to key in those of us who know only a few of the major European languages about the state of opinion in the other parts of Europe.

    Another suggestion I have, and one I’ve made before, is that you turn on at least a few crucial HTML tags. HTML has a great deal more expressive power than pure unformatted text, and even the traditional pagebound format permits its’ users the option of using different typefaces for highlighting particular fragments, offsetting pieces of text as quotations, indicating that something is a reference, and so on. As it is, one finds oneself either having to resort to ALL CAPS to indicate emphasis, which can seem like shouting, while it is simply impossible to unambiguously denote a reference to a source document in the sort of manner that one could using, say, the <SUP> tag.

    IMHO, the most important tags to consider enabling are <A>, <EM>, <STRONG>, <LI>, <UL>, <OL>, <BLOCKQUOTE>, <PRE>, <SUB> and <SUP>. Possibly <DEL> and <CITE> might be useful as well. Tags like <I> and <BOLD> are formatting instructions rather than structural elements, and as such are deprecated by the W3C, while any other tags might possibly open up security holes or unintentional avenues for other sorts of mischief.

  3. I would be wary of pre-emptive blogging–don’t decide beforehand you are going to cover the articles of the constitution, for example, as it would make blogging look like a chore; instead let news and whimsy dictgate the postings.

  4. This is an example of just the sort of topical news report I think Fistful should zoom in on to start a discussion:

    “An official watchdog will today list a catalogue of weaknesses in accounts covering the European Union’s E90bn (?62.5bn) annual budget, in a fresh assault on Europe’s much-criticised financial controls.

    “A report from the EU’s Court of Auditors highlights ‘numerous weaknesses’ in financial systems in a document which will be seized on as evidence that the system is too lax to stamp out fraud. For the ninth year running, the court is refusing to certify the EU’s annual accounts. – from:

  5. Agree with both Abiola and Bob.

    What is really really needed is discussion on the Stability and Growth Pact.
    To my surprise today Pedro Solbes (in a letter in my newspaper) supported the point of view of Dutch finance minister Zalm (who apparently regained his courage) declaring that it’s no use to agree on the Convention when the countries do not live up to what they agreed on.

  6. Frans,

    I do not follow your logic when you say that Solbes attitude surprise you. Would you be so kind to explain?


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