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Saturday, December 18, 2004

The TigerHawk blogiversary post: My blog year in review 

One year ago today, I started this blog. I did so at the suggestion of a friend who was probably tired of hearing me carry on. I had no idea whether I would take to blogging, or whether anybody would read TigerHawk. Not wanting to fail in front of friends and family, I told very few people during the first few weeks. Most of them, even just one year ago, had no idea what a blog was.

Whence the name "TigerHawk"? It really just popped into my head. By late 2003 Technorati was already tracking almost 2,000,000 blogs, so many of the cutsy play-on-words names had already been taken. I wanted something that would be memorable and Googleable and that would reflect my interests at some level. The name TigerHawk just seemed to fit. It happens to be the slang term for the University of Iowa's fierce hawk logo, and while I am not an Iowa alumnus I did grow up in Iowa City and have loved the Hawkeyes from a very early age. The name has the further advantage of combining imagery of Iowa and Princeton, where I did go to college and where I now live. Finally, the name evokes hawkishness, which certainly describes my orientation toward the war on Islamic fascism, which I supposed would be a recurring subject.

Has TigerHawk been rewarding? Candidly, it is probably the most significant creative exercise of my life, at least of the arts and letters variety (business and family life both taxing my creativity in more mundane ways). I was never capable in music, lack virtually all capacity to visualize or render images, am colorblind, and have poorly defined senses of smell and taste, so my creations really have to be verbal. I always fantasized about writing for an audience, but I never found a way to overcome the inertia that keeps so many of us from doing what we really want to do. Sure, I would write ranting emails on one subject or another and circulate them among my friends to some small acclaim or blow in the occasional letter to the editor of a big newspaper, but blogging promised to be different. Blogging allows me to write on anything at any time, all while hoping for the possibility that somebody else out there may find it as entertaining as I do.

And people do read this blog. TigerHawk is definitely small potatos in the blogging world (only occasionally making it into the top 1000 blogs in terms of traffic and top 1500 measured by in-bound links), but I get about 180 visits in a normal day, roughly a third of which are "returning visitors" who have come back for more on purpose. I figure that we have perhaps 200 reasonably regular readers who check in at least once a week or so. And readership has grown significantly in the past few weeks, both before and after my first "Instalanche" for this post. Reason enough to keep going.

Indeed, to keep the content flowing during my many business trips and Adirondack interludes, in August I brought in my co-blogger, Charlottesvillain, who has (by default more than anything else) become TigerHawk's principal sportswriter. The 'Villain has proven up to the task, having back in August picked the Hawkeyes to win the Big Ten title in football this year.

Many of our readers, including members of our family and old friends and blogger friends too numerous to mention here, have only been reading TigerHawk since the summer. Not wanting them to miss out on the classics of our first year (out of well over a thousand posts), the rest of this post is a link dump of some of the highlights, organized by topic.

International affairs

My early posts on international security matters were pretty weak, in retrospect, but to my eyes they have improved as the year went by. In early October I got a lot of attention and a then record number of comments for my long post justifying the Iraq war. Leading up to that, though, were posts on a wide range of related topics including, by the way, our mistakes in Iraq, and how the oil-for-food corruption undermined the containment of Saddam's Iraq and increased the probability of war. I wrote about the war on terror in the Sahara here, and what Iran's ties to al Qaeda actually support our rationale for the invasion of Iraq. I wrote here and here about the culpability of the media for the dislosure of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, the al Qaeda computer whiz, and Iran's support for parts of the Iraqi insurgency. I blogged about a buried article that shows that the American invasion rescued Iraqi antiquities rather than permitting the looting of them. I wrote about Richard Clarke's apparent belief that al Qaeda influenced the Oklahoma City bombing. There were literally hundreds of shorter linking posts, or discussions of subjects that loomed large at the time because of the presidential campaign or a twist in the war, all of which are in the archives but are otherwise not worthy of inclusion here.

Israel

TigerHawk is a supporter of Israel. I'm not a "blank check" supporter, but I believe that it is in America's geopolitical interests to back Israel. I also believe that it is the right thing to do. I believe that most Europeans and even many Americans do not share my view because they apply a double standard -- conduct that is acceptable by or among Arabs is somehow evil if done by Jews and the suffering of Jews, even if comparable to the suffering of Arabs, somehow does not seem to count for as much. For example, I wrote about our asymmetrical view of Arab and Jewish refugees. Palestinian refugees are famous for their alleged suffering at the hands of Israel, but nobody sheds a tear for Jewish refugees. Why? Because Israel absorbed its refugees, and Syria, Jordan and Egypt did nothing for theirs.

Other matters pertaining to Israel:

Its deepening ties with India

Victory over the intifdada

Annoying matters pertaining to presidential politics

While I was no strong supporter of George W. Bush (why must he be so slow on his feet?), I did vote for him. While I served up all my left brain reasons here, my right brain wanted to vote for Bush just because I found John Kerry so darn unappealing. Remember when he "forgot" Saint Patrick's Day? That was hilarious. And the one about "his family" owning his SUV, after sanctimoniously denying that he drove one? And how he complained about "Benedict Arnold CEOs" but nevertheless invested in their companies? And the "throwing back the medals ribbons" kerfuffle? Oh. And claiming that he hates Evian?

I wrote about the slinging of mud in campaigns, and why campaigns sling mud about the slinging of mud.

I occasionally published my own round-up of lefty blogs, which I called "Carnival of the Commies." Here's how the lefty blogs reacted to the RatherGate forged memo scandal.

I thought that we were all overreacting to claims of campaign violence.

Whom would you rather have as a boss, Bush or Kerry?

Notes from business trips and family vacations

One of my early uses of the blog was to report on my travels, including family vacations. On my fourth day of blogging, for example, I reported on our flight out to Durango, Colorado for Christmas last year. I also reported on our visit to Mesa Verde National Park, skiing on Christmas Day, and our day at a Roman beach. Some of these stories have not been kind to largely innocent strangers that crossed my path. Or hotels in Miami Beach and Houston. I have written on the surgical instruments business concentrated in Tuttlingen, Germany, and on the tradition of gondoliering in Venice.

Health policy and related rants

Since I have been in the medical technology business for more than half my professional life, I have more than a passing interest in health policy. I'm not a mediblogger per se -- we leave that to actual healthcare professionals -- but when I have seen an opportunity to unload I've taken my shot. I have written on the irrationality of the "mad cow" scare, wondered why insurance companies pay for the removal of pylar cysts, and considered the intersection between infectious disease and individual rights. I have advised my readers how to think about the way we pay for healthcare and objected to single payor systems. I have discoursed on the uses and abuses of deception in public health, the unintended consequences of too much sanitation, and the ethics of separating conjoined twins.

Our obsession with personal safety, school discipline and litigation

I view the rise of regulation by civil litigation and our national passion for safety in small matters to be part and parcel of the same idiocy. The laws against talking on a cell phone while driving, for example: I showed you how stupid they are, here. I also deplore ridiculous applications of discipline in our schools against both students and teachers, which are becoming too numerous to catalogue. It rankled me that Puyallup public schools banned witches costumes because they didn't want to offend witches, and that a school in Louisiana disciplined a child for using the word "gay." I called for the reform of the civil litigation system, proposed an "apology privilege" to promote civility and dispel the anger that leads to lawsuits in the first place, and argued that expert witnesses are disabled by observer bias that we would not permit in any other context. I was appalled that in Pennsylvania, the best legal advice is to lie to your doctor.

Random musings

There were a lot of them, too numerous to mention here. But I got a lot of fan mail when I wondered what the world would be like if people urinated submissively. You know. Like dogs.

We discussed nuclear proliferation with our daughter.

I'm quite interested in similes that begin with "all over it like...."

We cleaned out our pantry and found some old food. And some angels straight from heaven.

I defended the practice of talking on cell phones in public places.

I tried my hand at kitten blogging, and crippled kitten blogging, even though we no longer own felines.

And then we abandoned cat-blogging for eagle-blogging, which is way cooler.

I remembered my father, as I do every day.

I also remembered Donald Justice, a great American poet.

I was really wrong -- at least so far -- about the Google IPO.

We (the 'Villain and I) tracked the Olympics medal count, measuring the Coalition of the Willing vs. the Unwilling. Here's the introductory post, and here's the final tally.

I wrote about the left's dominance of universities. I wrote about charter schools, and pointed out that the politics around these schools was partly a matter of nomenclature (this post generated my first link from a big blog, Winds of Change, on March 1). I thought that our national concern for the political opinions of "9/11 families" was more than a little overdone. I ranted about the fascist tendancy in real estate development and the tyranny of authoritarian neighbors. I really don't think that journalism is "the first draft of history." I considered our assumptions about the nature of leadership. I wrote about Kofi Annan trying to glom on to the "Olympic Spirit," whatever that is. And I trashed the Gray Lady's defense of Kofi here.

I have occasionally picked on Eliot Spitzer

I am troubled by Eliot Spitzer's ambition to regulate the national economy from his offices in Albany and lower Manhattan. I don't like that he, of all people, is taking on Richard Grasso. I wanted to know why Spitzer thought it was the attorney general's job to run a website with drug prices. I don't like the way that he is putting people out of their jobs while pretending to be the defender of the little guy. And I wonder about this.

New Jersey

I write about New Jersey from time to time, and am considered by some to be a "Jersey blogger," which is no better than being a pajama-blogger, if you think about it. I have complained at length about New Jersey's war on employers and the dubious impact of the millionaire's tax, and I argued that James McGreevey was exploiting the gay rights movement, and that the activists were falling for it.

And, finally, numismatics

I've collected coins off and on for my entire life, and occasionally have spouted off on the subject here, much to the dismay of my regular readers. I try, though, to make my numismatics posts topical, such as this discussion of the origin of "In God we Trust" on our coinage, or the sad unpopularity of the Sac dollar, or the appalling Louisiana Purchase nickel. My most widely read numismatics post, though, was "tip jar temptations," which has been circulated fairly widely among coin collectors. As it should: Where else but TigerHawk will you see coin collecting and Seinfeld discussed in the same post?

Thank you all for reading, and being so damn civil about it. Let's see what happens in our second year.

27 Comments:

By Blogger Patton, at Sat Dec 18, 12:01:00 AM:

Congratulations on the milestone, may it be the first of many. I've been reading you, if not since the beginning, at least since soon thereafter and my visits have invariably been time well-spent.  

By Blogger Fausta, at Sat Dec 18, 07:51:00 AM:

Happy blogiversary!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 18, 08:14:00 AM:

Am just dipping into your homage to your father . . . it rings so true . . . Have blogged my own homage to your Blogiversary here:
http://sisu.typepad.com/sisu/2004/12/blogging_promis.html

Sissy  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 18, 09:38:00 AM:

TigerHawk: Not Just Ranting To His Friends Anymore--Since December '03It's been a very good year Jack. Keep it up.

Rob A.
(F?WF?)  

By Blogger screetus, at Sat Dec 18, 11:19:00 AM:

Screetus digs your blog. Best wishes for many more years!  

By Blogger LegalXXX, at Sat Dec 18, 02:28:00 PM:

Congrats.

So does this mean that I can not read the blog for a year and just come back this time next year and you'll link to EVERY. SINGLE. POST. you've made during the past year?

Hehe...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 18, 02:29:00 PM:

Dude!

Blog on. I enjoy the perspectives on current affairs as well as the levity that you offer all the Tigerhawk fans! Submissive urination is still tops!

Happy Blogiversary. I will buy you a Blog-a-lager (like that?) at the Triumph in January to celebrate your first year of posting.

Crusader  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Dec 18, 02:56:00 PM:

Chris -

Checking in once a year is certainly an option. However, you would miss a lot of exciting stuff -- by my calculation this post linked to roughly 6% of my posts for the year. So you'd miss out on 94% of the rich, bloggy goodness! Of course, you'd have a lot more time with your family, or to work, or to study, or to watch golf on television.

Crusader - Looking forward to it!  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sat Dec 18, 07:15:00 PM:

Thanks, Jack, for creating a right-of-center blog I can come without having my head explode. Happy Versary!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 18, 07:41:00 PM:

Congrats, Jack. I'm definitely one of the regulars, as you doubtless noticed. Keep rockin'.

Jim
Parkway Rest Stop
http://parkwayreststop.com  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 18, 09:22:00 PM:

Happy Blogoversary, Jack and Charlottesvillian :)

I'm so glad you're here - I enjoy TigerHawk so much - wish I'd gotten by earlier in the day to wish you a happy one.

But better late than never.

- Cassandra  

By Blogger Solomon, at Sat Dec 18, 09:55:00 PM:

Congrats! Keep it up!  

By Blogger pedro, at Sat Dec 18, 11:57:00 PM:

Way to go, Jack. My intro to your blog came via the submissive urination post, and I've been coming by several times a week since. You've got a nice style. Keep up the good work.  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Sun Dec 19, 07:51:00 AM:

Congratulations on an interesting year, Jack! I am honored to have been granted guest privilages and hope I don't drag you too much.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 19, 08:34:00 AM:

Jack. This post is displaying in about 4-point arial, so I can't read it. Your blog is great, but what was that award you got recently? Spike  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 19, 09:32:00 PM:

Happy blogoversary! I found TigerHawk during the McGreevey affair. Yours is a great blog, and I've been reading it daily ever since. Thanks so much for blogrolling me!

Steve Bragg
DOUBLE TOOTHPICKS: Worldviews Behind The News  

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