Saturday, September 17, 2005

One year* anniversary

It's my one-year blog anniversary. Sort of. Kind of.

Why the asterisk? Although the first day I ever posted on this blog was nominally almost exactly a year ago--September 16, 2004--I wrote very little for the first five months.

To tell the truth, starting the blog wasn't even my idea. I'd been reading blogs and commenting on them for about two years, and that was more than enough for me. But when my son was up for a visit he suggested I start a blog of my own, since I was already spending so much time writing comments and letters to other blogs.

My first reaction was a vehement "No way." I craved neither the spotlight nor the amount of work it would take. But my son said it was really easy to set one up; he'd even do it for me. And I didn't have to ever actually post on it--but it would be there waiting for me, just in case.

He went to Blogger and showed me the templates, and to humor him (and to shut him up) I chose one. It was all done in a minute or two, and when he asked me what I wanted to call it I thought of "neophyte neocon." But he pronounced that too long (I agreed) and suggested "neo-neocon." So "neo-neocon" it was.

I didn't much care. It was all quite irrelevant, since of course it would only be seen by me and by him and perhaps one or two other people on earth.

Here's my first post, in its entirety: A test to see whether everything's in order, blogwise. I didn't post again for twelve days, and in those first few posts I'd not even figured out how to do a link. In September there were a grand total of two posts, in October a whopping four, then one in November and two in December (the election had exhausted me). I had a huge surge in January with six.

Then in February something happened. I'm not sure why, but suddenly I was writing more. I had installed a sitemeter during the last week of January, and it was sobering to see the tiniest of trickles. In late February it occurred to me that if I was doing this anyway, why not experiment and see if I could actually get some readers?

Despite the casualness of my start, I did have an idea for my blog, even from the first. I was determined to tell the story of my political change, the tale that my friends and family didn't want to hear. I wanted to provide a forum for people who had similar stories to come and compare notes. I wanted to write about whatever else I wanted to write about.

So in late February I sent out a couple of e-mails introducing myself and my blog to a very small group of bloggers I considered simpatico.

I immediately was on the receiving end of kindness and got a couple of links. The traffic started climbing, the links kept coming, and the rest is history, of a sort. There are so many people to thank along the way that it's probably easier to say thanks to 75% of my blogroll rather than to list them all--but a special thanks to Dr. Sanity, Vietpundit, and Norm Geras, who, whether they know it or not, I consider my original blogmother and blogfathers. Then there are Roger Simon and Austin Bay and and Michael Totten and Clive Davis and Dean Esmay and Dymphna and the Baron and...well, as I said, take a look at my blogroll.

And of course I want to thank all of the readers and commenters here. I've been very gratified at the uniformly high caliber of the comments--I think it's worth coming just for those alone. After all, I know I'm not everybody's cup of tea--for one thing, I tend to specialize in the long essay rather than the short and snappy, and for another thing, well--I'll just reiterate that I'm not everybody's cup of tea (or, as one commenter here famously wrote, "one of the most painfully boring blogs of all times").

Writing this blog has been hard work, but it's been wonderful.

One of the best things about blogging is seeing readers come here from all over the world. I hadn't known what tales a sitemeter could tell until I had one of my own, so it was wondrous to me when I first saw sights such as this typical one, representing a random snapshot of the time zones of recent readers :

or this one, of the countries of recent visitors:

So welcome to my blog, and welcome to my first anniversary party. The cake will have to be virtual, but at least it won't be fattening:


At 11:54 AM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Ron said...

and for a year of excellent thoughtful writing...I tip my hat and gratefully say thank you!

At 1:10 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Won't be fattening? I just gained five pounds looking at it. Congratulations.

At 1:24 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neo, Next year be sure to blow out the candle so it won't melt all over the cake! Keep up the great posts. Happy Aniversary!

At 1:24 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger TmjUtah said...

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, dear neo, happy birthday to you.

There. That oughta do it....*grin*.

I have enjoyed your posts tremendously over the last few months. Even though your writing features bucket loads of style, your content is what keeps me coming back.

Bill Whittle's "Tribes" was thought provoking and a damned good read, but your essay on it was what tipped me into actually picking up "on killing".

I stopped at my favorite barbeque joint on the way home from Barnes and Noble for a bite, and the waiter (everybody knows me there - I swap recipes with the owner)asked about the book. I told him I was looking for some answers and maybe my wife might understand me a little better if she read it, too...

You should have seen the look on the face of the lady sitting at the next table. C'live.

I've got some reservations about some of LtCol Grossman's conclusions, but his baseline data makes some pretty strong statements. I can see why his work is required reading at so many institutions, not just military. I lack the academic grounding to judge Freud or Jung's postulates of human behaviour, but do have enough past exposure to the Sunday supplement level of pop psych to at least recognize most of the labels. And yes, I think I've found at least two good answers to my short list of questions.

A key part of your profession is to help individuals achieve honest understanding of themselves. Good job here, ma'am.

Keep up the great work. And happy birthday, again.

At 1:30 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Troy Stephens said...

Happy Anniversary, Neo! And thank you for taking that step into the blogosphere, inspiring others in turn and providing a place for those of us going through the same challenging transition to find one another and seek to better understand. I look forward to enjoying more of your resourceful fact-finding and candid and insightful writing.

It sounds like your son has been supportive of this project. Has he been someone with whom you can discuss such matters as you blog about, or do you not see eye to eye so much on these issues? Regardless, cheers to him for helping prompt you to get started! And thanks again to you!

At 3:13 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Neo-neocon, so much.Your blog is smart, morally decent, and deeply thoughtful. It makes me feel less isolated and confirmed in my efforts to remain independent-minded.
I visit many blogs as a lurker. I very much enjoy Charles' mordant wit on LGF, for example, but the comments are usually just a lot of piling on. Your calmer tone encourages thought-out responses (at least for the most part.) Yours is the only blog where I've commented more than once.
Thanks again.

At 4:11 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Happy anniversary, Ms. Neo!

Yummy looking cake. I hope that's not just a virtual cake, fed to you as if you were a tamaguchi. You need a real delicious treat to fortify you for the year ahead...

At 4:20 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Tom Dilatush said...

Happy birthday, Ms. Neo!
Your blog has been on my "daily read" bookmarks list ever since I found it. Your posts on your "conversion" hooked me; the other posts keep me coming back...
I'm awfully glad you decided to start posting in earnest.
Thank you, and please keep doing it!

At 4:41 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger VietPundit said...

Congrats! And thanks so much for your superb and thoughtful posts. Sometimes I feel guilty reading your writings, thinking that "I oughtta pay for this stuff!" Speaking of which, when is your book coming out? :-)

Also, please say thanks to your son for suggesting that you blog. He did a lot of us (your readers) a big favor.

At 5:23 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Pastorius said...

Happy Blogiversary, and may it be romantic one.

At 5:38 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forget just how I stumbled onto your site. It has been conversation over coffee at the kitchen table, homey & warm. It has also been challenging & mind changing. It’s a varied feast, your place here – a bit of this, a bit of that. You avoid cliché. I’m one that likes a longer essay from time to time. Your blogroll has also been a source of edification. May there be many more anniversaries.

At 7:56 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

Happy Anniversary, Neo.

I must confess a small twinge of envy at the quality of your writing. I wish I could write essays with your combination of clear focus, manageable length, and concise, clear thinking.

Very few bloggers write such well-polished essay-length articles on a regular basis.

Perhaps you could celebrate the anniversary of Part 1 of "A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change" as your true first anniversary.

Another possibility is the last week of February, when you began seeking out others of like mind.

At 8:18 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats, Neo, on the very worthwhile endeaver of your blog. Your posts always result in some mental exercise on my part as I think and reflect on them so perhaps I have expended enough calories to justify sharing a piece of vitual cake . Hope there are numerous anniverseries to come.

At 8:42 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are one of my daily "must reads". It's always a pleasure to recommend your blog insights to others. Congratulations for bringing something to the table for the rest of us to share.

At 9:03 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger BeckyJ said...

Happy birthday, and may you have many more years in the blogosphere!


At 9:36 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger grannytiger said...

The hosts of a (very) early-morning talk show I listen to on the way to delivering newspapers (please don't ask what a grandma is doing shlepping papers porch-to-porch at an ungodly hour)sometimes remark to each other, after a particularly good conversation with a caller, "now that's a man I'd like to sit down and have a beer with".

Ever since I found your blog by happy coincidence, I've felt the same about you -- except for the beer part.

Congratulations on your first year!

At 11:55 PM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to add my own appreciation and thanks, neo. And Happy Birthday to the blog!

At 10:31 AM, September 18, 2005, Blogger Dymphna said...

Happy Anniversary!

The Baron told me about this post so I was determined to hobble in and add my congratulations to the list.

Blogging can be a slog; it's demanding in the same way a kid can be demanding -- and it also has the same rewards, though of a different order, of course.

Parsing another blog's raison d'etre, style, appeal, etc., is probably presumptuous, but heavens, that never stopped me before. So here goes:

Your style is similar to..I'm blanking her name...the "Little House on the Prarie" author. And I mean that as a real compliment. She is the standard I use for most essayists since she is clear, simple, and entertaining. So are you. Pellucid, perhaps?

My enjoyment comes from that aspect more than anything. While I did not have the painful conversion experience that you and many of your readers did (mine took place much, much earlier and was based on economic theory. Back then, liberals were able to entertain the idea of dialogue so I didn't feel isolated as I made my move rightward. I *have* felt isolated since, though). Anyway, that's a bond you all share and one which is comforting to so many of your readers because they and you suffer from a changed belief system which dare not speak its name in this current climate of peecee intimidation. It must be painful.

I come here because I enjoy your thoughtful style. You'd have made a good philosopher -- moral philosophy, not the analytical dead end that infests most of the "professional" philosophers in academia today.

My favorite post is probably your 9/11 reminescence. It resurrected my own feelings and the sense of that day and left me with much to contemplate...9/11 touched me peripherally in that my son's girlfriend, a flight attendant, had been scheduled to work on the next day's version of one of the planes that flew into the Towers. She's been in the business for a long time and knew many of those killed that day. Needless to say, she's not been the same since.

You have a naturally contemplative bent. The long essay is perfect for you and the work you have done has benefitted others. That is surely enough!

The Baron saw your cake and it brought back memories of cakes he and our son used to do every year for the Cub Scout banquet. Each boy and dad had to choose a theme for the cake and then design it. One year they made a volcano called "Cake-atoa." Now you've gotten him going again and he's decided our anniversary celebration has to be a cake.

My idea of a plate of crescents (a dessert that began as a celebration of the defeat of the Muslims) has gone by the boards and a cake it will be, just like old times. He's already rubbing his hands together in glee and figuring out the design. For the sake of being un-Islamic he's decided his creation must contain at least a little lard...

Here's to next year's celebration!

At 11:37 AM, September 18, 2005, Blogger Kalroy said...

Happy Anniversary. I'm glad you started writing, I've enjoyed your essays immensely and share some of those with the guys at work.

So thank you as well as Happy Anniversary,

At 7:40 PM, September 18, 2005, Blogger Lynn B. said...

Oh ho! Just found your blog via OceanGuy. What can I say, I'm a little slow. But I'll definitely be back. Great writing, great content.

Happy blogiversary!

At 10:34 AM, September 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I first started reading your blog on and off because of the "A Mind is Hard to Change" series.

It helped me review psychological motivations and behaviors of my fellow human beings, and provided some real life experience to go with the theories in my mind.

As such, it helped facilitate many of my end conclusions concerning human nature, human behavior, and the risks/rewards of propaganda.

It is really useful to understand just exactly what one will get with a show like Over There, or why people lie and for what reasons as well as whether lies are effective or not in various situations.

At 1:44 PM, September 19, 2005, Blogger SteveR said...

Mazel Tov! on your milestone. I just discovered you a few months ago and put you on my favorites. I enjoy both your insightful thinking and your writing style.

At 1:44 PM, September 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your anniversary--you are a very thoughtful and gifted writer

At 2:35 PM, September 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations and mazel tov, neo-neo. Thank you for your work and contributions.

At 11:04 PM, September 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good year, neo.

This is a great place to think, as opposed to slap words around.

You set the tone.


At 2:22 PM, September 20, 2005, Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

Congratulations! (I'm sorry, saying "Happy Birthday, Neo" just doesn't suit you...)

Your blog is indeed something to be proud of -- insightful and thoughtful, in addition to being a classy place to hang out.

You've done a far better job than me, in spite of starting on the same day. I should probably be jealous, but I'm not -- you're entitled to all the credit you've received, and then some.

Please do keep on writing! It's always a treat to see that you have a new post out.

with respect and best wishes,
Daniel in Brookline

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