Today marks Popehat's second birthday. As mentioned on our "About" page, Popehat is really almost five years old, but we were driven underground by our own laziness for a time. The site reemerged in this form, like a drunken phoenix from a flaming couch, on October 26, 2007.
Laziness remains a problem. We'd intended to write a "thanks to our readers" post on our first anniversary, then promptly forgot to write it. We meant to write some sort of retrospective as our thousandth post, but that got delegated to Patrick, who was going through one of his moods, and nothing happened. Odds are that future milestones will be ignored.
Anyway, two years are twice as much as one year. And a thousand posts is like a thousand dollars. It's nice, sure, but it won't help you when your car is broken down on the side of the road because you never change the oil. Two years, on the other hand, is about a year longer than some very good weblogs have lasted. So we'll commemorate them.
First of all, we would like to thank our readers, and most especially our readers who comment. In all sincerity, engaging with commenters is one of the most satisfying things about having a weblog. The number of our "regulars" has grown over time, and we're very happy about that, in particular because we've been lucky enough to enjoy discussion with some very sharp people, rather than the mongoloids, morphodytes, troglodytes, and mopers who infest some sites we could name but won't.
It wouldn't be fair to name some commentariat and not others, but we will single out one, who has been with us from the beginning and remains with us today: Alex C., or "Al," from a large city in southern California. Thanks for your input and throughput Al. We enjoy your quips, barbs, and humor. Bless your pointed little head.
Second, while we've been fortunate enough to grow this site (in terms of traffic) from nothing to "small medium" size, we couldn't have done that without help from larger and older blogs. We've been lucky enough to score links from GIGANTOR VERSUS MECHAGODZILLA VERSUS SHOGUN WARRIOR sized blogs from time to time, but their readers don't stay, and when they comment, well … meh.
But a couple of very large, though non-Japanese-robot-monster sized blogs have been very generous to us in terms of sending traffic, links, and virtual friends our way, so we'll mention them by name: We'd like to thank the authors of Overlawyered, Patterico's Pontifications, Dispatches from TJICistan, and the League of Ordinary Gentlemen (a very different but most worthwhile group blog which has grown like a weed in the past year – we remember when we steered traffic their way) for their kind words, links, patronage, and readership. And everyone else on our blogroll, especially the "law bloggers," who send us nice words and traffic even though this is not a law blog.
And now, finally, a selection of posts that we think might prove to be entertaining in some fashion:
The first post that wasn't a rerun from some other site or a meta post:
SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. (Coincidentally, our standard/favorite advice, useful in nearly all situations)
Comments, We Get Comments!
While we enjoy comments, sometimes we enjoy them for the wrong reasons. Take, for example, the following:
One of our first widely read posts, in which we debate the meaning of certain constitutional amendments with the then-insurgent followers of Ron Paul.
Like all bloggers, we get spammers. When we can find out who they are, we name them. Occasionally that upsets them.
Sometimes it really upsets them.
And then again, sometimes comments really upset us. Or some of us.
Other times comments are fun because a famous, or infamous, person shows up, like a writer/director/actor from a kids' show, or a notorious and violent white supremacist, or a jackass who got on a crowded aluminum tube of people while he had a dangerous contagious disease, and decided to sue over it.
Finally, few posts have drawn more irritated people than this one about an obscure lawsuit over a tattoo.
There's No Accounting For Taste
Why do some posts draw huge traffic over the years, and others languish in relative obscurity? It would be nice if we knew, because then we could write those sorts of posts more often. The truth is, though, that you are a fickle and unpredictable audience. One thing is clear: you like stories about outrageous lawsuits and legal threats. That's why two of our most highly trafficked posts were about a jackass suing a volunteer rescue organization and a lawyer threatening to sue a blogger for making fun of a hideously decorated house. A New York ophthalmologist with a mortal fear of peanuts was also quite popular. If you were looking at search engine traffic, our most read posts would be this essay on a PETA official willing her body to melodrama, and especially this quickie about Dora the Explorer's makeover. (We shudder to think how many innocent little girls, Google image searching for their friend Dora, have been corrupted.)
Arts And Letters
The bulk of our posts are about law, politics, and related matters. But we're no mere policy wonks. We're Rennaisance wonks. Readers have been treated to David's thoughtful takes on iconography and leadership and bawdiness in art, Ezra's excellent boardgame reviews and After Action Reports, and one of the first obituaries to appear on the web of a certain irascible Nobel laureate.
Who Knows What Evil Lurks?
One of the cool things about blogging is that you can play investigative reporter without deadlines or responsibility. You can spend weeks researching a post to fact-check some poor bastard at a newspaper without subject matter expertise who was writing on a deadline, or some other blogger who posted something off the cuff. It's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. That doesn't mean that it's any less fun, as we found when we fact-checked the Los Angeles Times on a story about a woman arrested for misbehaving on an airplane, or multiple libertarian bloggers who held up an orchid smuggler as an example of over-criminalization, or multiple blogs breathlessly reporting that a juvenile was being held in some PATRIOT ACT dungeon. It's also fun to use the web to expose bad behavior, as we very recently saw when Patrick investigated the background of a litigious game company. It's even more fun to tweak the government, as we did with a kind assist from a reader in New Zealand (who we still can't name), becoming the first website to violate the order of a silly judge (who claims to be an expert in "cyber-law") barring the internet from publishing the names of two murder defendants.
We Laugh So We Won't Cry
It's not all law and small-l libertarianism around here. We're nothing if not whimsical. But the truth is that we're nowhere near as funny as our kids or complete strangers washing up on our shores.
Moreover, we've learned that humor must be used sparingly. Especially satire. Someone once said that all satire is a joke between the writer and the reader at the expense of a hypothetical third person who is too dumb to know that it's a joke. Except sometimes that third person is not hypothetical.
There's No Place Like Home
We generally try to maintain some level of privacy for ourselves, but Ezra is an exception. His posts on San Francisco are personal and illuminating, showing sides of city that aren't famous, from crab-mascots to exotic pizza. Our sole flirtation with the "big leagues" of blogging would not have been possible without Ezra's research and insights into one of the city's most unusual characters.
The Dead Walk!
As we've stated, this is not a law blog. Of all of us, only Charles is actually an attorney. At one time, we considered this a gaming blog. Then Derrick vanished, leaving us without impetus and bereft of gaming insight. It was a nice ride while it lasted, as evidenced by Derrick's epic two parter analyzing the 2008 elections as a real time strategy game.
Today, to the extent we have a "theme," that theme is whatever we want it to be. Lately, that means we're a zombie blog. Lots and lots of zombies in fact. And the bloggers who love them.
Your Friday Afternoon Has Been Missing For Eight Months
One of our early features was ways to waste your Friday afternoon, while you're watching the clock, when you should be working. We regret the casualty, and will try to bring the feature back this week. The problem is that while our Monday mornings are dull and dreary, our Friday afternoons are often busy.
Again, thanks for reading. When the dead walk, we hope that they eat you last.