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‘Best of the Web’

This article first appeared in the News Letter on Friday November 05…

Screenshot from Ultonia

Some things are guaranteed when you get close to Christmas. Firstly, a shopping centre in Ballymena will put up a Christmas tree before anyone else; and secondly, Good Morning Ulster will respond by asking whether Christmas trees are just going up too early. Cue collective humbug and emoting about the true meaning of Christmas.

Lee at Ultonia knows where he stands in the Christmas tree debate. He blogged: “The electric light bulb is a technology that we managed to crack many many decades ago, does seeing them in different colours and predictable designs really manage to differentiate one shopping town from another?” Bah humbug Lee!

One local blog has gone further still by releasing its ‘end-of-year review’ in early November. Already 1690 an’ all thon has selected its ‘Ulster Scot o’ the Year, 2000 an 10’.

So who wins this much sought-after gong? Step forward DUP Culture Minister Nelson McCausland!

Explaining his thinking behind the selection, Billy said that Nelson’s “interestin’ thoughts re creationism ensured that the Ulster Scot was taken seriously by the global media”. Erm… quite.

Few people recognise the power of language like Nelson McCausland. As noted in last week’s column, the profusion of bad language in art productions is something with which Nelson is uncomfortable. But how does Nelson feel about bad language in other situations? (Civil servants in DCAL – and anyone who thought Salty Anglo-Saxon was a flavour of crisps – please note the following piece of wisdom.)

Once again, Lee at Ultonia has revealed that Mr MCCausland “used to be my boss and I discovered that excessive Anglo-Saxon was a good way of getting him to go away a little quicker particularly when he was giving me some thankless task.”

Over at Open Unionism, blogger thefreshthinking asked where next for the Orange Order. The blogger believes that the Order’s structure is ill-suited to the modern world and wrote that “we fail to attract young people because the organisation is run by old men set in their ways… How do we break this cycle?”

I see the County Grand Master of Tyrone is considered favourite to succeed Robert Saulters. I wonder how he would answer the blogger’s question? There’s an open invitation to post on Open Unionism if he wishes to take up the challenge.

Elsewhere, one local blog supplied an interesting insight into the negative power of social media. In a guest post for Progressive Unionist Voice Mike Nesbitt stated that social media “constrains by making us mistrustful that there is any context in which you can truly relax, speak you mind, crack a joke, or start to tease out a new policy in public”.

That enthusiastic amateur – the citizen journalist –is watching you! I guess he’s also saying that if you aspire to self-publishing then you must employ some restraint and quality control over content.

All of which segues nicely into the blog of PSNI ACC Judith Gillespie. This one has fascinated me for some time. It was no doubt set up to bring the PSNI closer to people, but in my opinion it is misfiring and the lack of common touch is actually highlighting the gulf between blogger and reader.

Recently, the blog recorded: “With my daily commitments, regrettably I don’t get the opportunity to get out and about and meet members of the public as often as I’d like to”. Jeez. If Prince Charles had a blog this is what it would sound like.

Stick at it Judith – but don’t be afraid to show us who you are! Even the odd post about where you stand in the ‘early Christmas tree debate’ might be refreshing.

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