I was reminded, by my lovely wife, last night that this month marks six years of me wasting large amounts of time slogging away at one blog or the other, offering as little of value as humanly possible and switching things up frequently. I had forgotten that Dec 2003 was the month that I typed out the first "hello" post on my first LiveJournal. Soon after I found Blogger and created Isolated Desolation. After IsoDes ran it's course I decided to switch gears and roll out the award winning *snicker* Lose an Eye, It's a Sport which was my main blog home for the next two years or so. During that time I also have kept up 3CB a sports blog (and also now my longest running blog) as well as the short-lived I've got the Munchies which was shuttered and replaced with Beyond Beltway 8 which is my current food blog that I neglect far too often.
Which brings us to what you see here, the Almanac, which I consider to be the natural extension of IsoDes and LaE, a continuation of a bloggy journey that's turned into more silly self-indulgence than any actual attempt to craft public policy or impact the future etc. However, if there's one thing bloggy-types love doing, it's getting a good old-fashioned navel-gave on. Lacking anything overly compelling to write about today....why not?
When I started writing Isolated Desolation, the object of the entire operation was to offer commentary on politics from a local, State and National perspective. At the time of the writing, I was somewhat naive politically, considered myself a Republican (albeit a rather moderate Republican) and really didn't know the first thing about blogs, blogging etc. At the time, the idea of a blockquote or html formatting was as foreign to me as Svengali. Those early posts were confrontational, partisan, and (happily) gone, except in the pages of the wayback machine and other Internet archival tools. If you want to hunt them down, so be it. IsoDes wasn't deleted to hide them, it was deleted after a time to make room for what came forward. At that time I didn't realize you could keep a blog around for archival purposes, I assumed that Blogger would delete it. Ooops. Had I known then what I knew now, IsoDes would still be in archival form as is LaE and IGM. Ah well.
Despite (then) self-identifying as a Republican I can still say I'm one of the few moderates who did not cast a vote for George W. Bush in either of his two elections. I've never been a political fan of the Bush crowd, and consider their policies to be short-sighted and (over the long term) unsustainable. Of course, I didn't vote for Gore or Kerry either. For the last three Presidential elections I voted third party, mainly in protest to the dreck that both parties have been issuing forth from their bowels to head the ticket. Strangely I've got a feeling this next Texas Gubernatorial election is going to have the same stench.
One of the big pluses of dumping IsoDes and moving forward with LaE was that it let me, for the most part, shed the cloak of partisanship which, I've found, frees up your writing as you're not beholden to any sacred cows. Sure there are some, primarily in the blogosphere, who refuse to accept any philosophical change, at any level, from someone they've decided to hate (for whatever reason) but the truth is I haven't been a Republican since the election of Bush 1. In today's small-tent Republican Party there's no room for someone who believes that the Government actually does some things really well, that utilities should be regulated for example, and that gay marriage is not today's sign that the apocalypse is upon us. Add to that my strong support of stem-cell research, and my belief that limited abortion rights (where I stop is when abortion is used as a means of birth control) should be granted in a free society. Unfortunately, in today's spiritually pure Democratic Party, there's no room for someone who doesn't believe the hype surrounding anthropogenic global warming, who doesn't view Gov't controlled healthcare as a good thing and who isn't a fan of hate crime laws or so-called "smart-growth" planning. That was the whole point of LaE, an attempt to move the discussion forward in my own way. Judging by the state of debate in the Texas blogosphere, that mission was a resounding failure.
After a couple of years of beating my head against the proverbial wall I decided to shutter LaE and move forward with the Almanac as my primary blog. Here you will find more media crit and much more cultural observation than actual political insight. I'd like to think that, over the past six years, I've mellowed some and have come to accept that there are certain people who aren't going to like me simply because they're angry people who have to win at all costs, even if 'winning' is akin to coming in first place in the consolation bracket. (I mean, honestly, they're blogs. 99.9% of the populace doesn't know who you are, or what brilliance you impart on the World on a daily basis.)
Over the past six years I've seen the political landscape turn almost 180 degrees. From the Republican domination that bred IsoDes, to the collapse of Right-wing power that saw the genesis of LaE, to the inevitable rise of the Democrats into which the Almanac has been birthed. I've no doubt that, as time passes, the Democrats will eventually seize control of the State and, contrary to many beliefs, the world will not suddenly come to an end. Heck, there's a good possibility that I'll be voting for some (not all) of them, and will endorse them over ineffectual Republicans for a variety of offices.
I've also seen the Texas blogosphere grow and then regress. My view now is that the quality of debate online is shockingly low. Part of the reason is that some of the talent has been shipped away to on-line news services, another reason is that some of the better commenters have either lost interest or found themselves too caught up in the demands of life in the real world to take the time to play in the blogger's sandbox. The last part is just the general personality make-up of bloggers in general. By rule they're people (self included) who honestly view their opinion to be correct. They're so sure of this that some (not all) will go to distracting lengths to perpetually discredit even those with whom they disagree on most issues. That most bloggers tend to internalize even the slightest disagreement only feeds the monster that is the on-line flame. Perhaps the most fun, from my blogging standpoint, is when people take a satirical post and run it up the rebuttal flag-pole. This happens more often than you might think. When it does, it's a beautiful sight to behold. The old saying that you're not blogging if you don't have (at least) one Internet stalker is true. I can safely say that I have a couple of stalkers and have had an entire blog created for the sole purpose of correcting an error in math that I made in one post. How's that for quality?
The last lesson I've learned is that an audience and an open forum are overrated on blogs. At LaE I experienced both the good and the bad that go with a fairly broad audience. (for a blog) On the one hand, you get lots of e-mails and information from campaigns, which makes poli-blogging fairly easy. On the other hand every period and mis-spelling is held up as proof of case that you're an idiot. This is especially annoying when it comes from the MSM. As an accounting major, I've never claimed that either my spelling or grammar was world class. Of course, I also don't have a paid editor whose job it is to go over my writing with a fine-toothed comb and make corrections. I also don't have a paid fact-checker on staff to do my research for me. These are the structural differences between blogs and the MSM. Things that make them different, yet useful in their own way.
One constant over the past six years has been my criticism of ChronBlog, something that I suspect will remain in place as they continue to decline. It's hard to believe that the Mrs. White/J. Howard Gibbons LiveJournal era would be considered the salad days, but compared to the dreck the ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank is churning out now one almost pines for a return of Mrs. White's catapult. Then, as now, I have a desire to see ChronBlog succeed, to really focus in and own the local market. While I'm not as torn up as some about their lack of a conservative columnist, it would be nice to see some balance on the Op-Ed page on local issues. (However, part of that fault lies with local Republicans, who seem loathe to comment on local news, choosing instead to bash the National Dems)
So, that's it. Six years of navel-gazing wrapped up in one nice, neat post that's gone on for too long and accomplished pretty much nothing. Which, when you think about it, is an ideal summation of my blogging career. How long will the Almanac last? Your guess is as good as mine. Short answer: It will last as long as I want it to last, and not any further. One thing I believe the Internet allows us to do is totally tear up the blueprint and reinvent the wheel on a constant basis. If you go back to the early posts of LaE through to its end, and then pick up from the beginning of the Almanac you'll see a constantly evolving style of writing and posting. To my mind, this is a good thing. With this smaller, admittedly less open, platform I've found what's right for my blogging style....for now.
Maybe next a photo blog? Nah.