I'm not one for resolutions. I need to lose some weight, and I'm going to work on that, primarily by blogging less and hiking more. My main concern for myself and my family this year, frankly, is economic. No big worries, actually. My job is fine, and my college so far has pledged not to lay off faculty. My wife's also very happy in her new position as an assistant store manager at a major retail outlet in the region. My kids are doing fine, although I do pledge to work harder at helping my youngest son with his learning. He's about a year behind where he should be in school and we're working with doctors and the school staff to pin down the challenges and move forward. No, my biggest worry is the housing market. I'm going to need to refinance at the end of this year. The loan's an adjustable, one of the easier ones to get a few years back when the market was still booming. We have a new home. My neighborhood's development was completed in 2005, and we moved in our current location in early 2006. I haven't checked the papers or talked with neighbors, but I'm pretty sure homes in our neighborhood are selling for about $100 to $150 thousand less than their selling prices, and that might be an underestimate. I'm guessing my mortgage is flat on equity or underwater. Lenders have pulled back, and who knows what things'll be like when they ask for that appraisal? I don't like to think about it because I get anxiety attacks. I will deal with it at the appropriate time. It's not an emergency or anything. But when the loan payments balloon I don't know if we'll afford them and we'll be deciding what to do at that time, although I'm confident that God's goodness will help me though any difficulties. One reason I don't blog about the housing market that much is because I'm in the thick of the difficulties and I wish some things had turned out differently.
So, with that, let me turn to what I want to do this year with my blog, American Power. I thought about doing some big roundup of favorite blogs or favorite blog posts I'd written in 2008. Either way something like that was going to take a lot of work. Just as I was thinking about it, I came across this awesome post at "This Ain't Hell, But You Can See it From Here." Jonn Lilyea, the author, makes a number of insightful observations about blogging, and I especially liked this passage on personal hopes for readership, and the phenomenal community-building that blogging's all about:
We’ve been lucky with traffic, because some of the finest bloggers on the web have cut us a break and sent traffic our way with little prodding. And I’ve got a lot of great readers and commenters who’ve been loyal for months now.If you check the post you'll find one of the most extensive roundups of appreciations and kudos available. I left a comment and admitted that this was the New Year's post I was hoping to write. It's a real beauty.
It always amazes me when I’m cruising the internet looking for stuff to write about, I’ll come upon a blog that I’ve never heard of and I’ll see This Ain’t Hell tucked in among some of the big names in the blog roll. It’s so gratifying.
I used to link to every blog that linked to us, but it’s impossible to keep up with everyone these days, but I’ve never turned down anyone who asked for a link - which is obvious by the length of my blogroll. I also used to read every blog in the blog roll everyday - that has become impossible, too. But I do my best to keep up.
I too have too many bloggers whom I admire and appreciate. Some of them are professionals or top conserservatives in the right-blogosphere. Jonn at This Ain't Hell has another neat bit that's relevant:
I tried so long to get a link from Blackfive and finally scored on National Airborne Day. Since then I’ve tossed brews back with Matt and Uncle Jimbo and met Laughing Wolf at a barbeque.What's great about the post is it's humility. I think most serious bloggers - folks who write well and wish to see their essays gain wider exposure - also hope to be seen and linked by some of the top bloggers on the web. Jonn notes also that he finally got a link from Hot Air, for example, and that had to be cool.
I've also been lucky at American Power. I can't name all the top bloggers who have thrown me a link, and I've had quite a few, thankfully. Probably the most generous is Jeff and his co-bloggers at Protein Wisdom. Those guys write well, especially Jeff, and they send a lot of traffic. Tom McGuire linked once and I was astounded at the guy's traffic. People were clicking that link for days. The Other McCain's a generous linker, and last week he sent a lot of traffic my way when his post got picked up at Instapundit (not quite an "Instalanche" on my side, but cool anyway). There may be a few other great bloggers who've sent readers may way who I'm omitting (Tigerhawk sent me a lot of traffic over Thanksgiving weekend, now that I think about it). It's the ones who haven't that confound me. For the life of me, Jules Crittenden, who's always a great read and a font of moral clarity, just won't deign to associate with American Power. I sent him an e-mail with a link yesterday, and that's that. He's into the blogging hierarchy thing. He loves to thank all the big bloggers who send him links, and blows off those down at the lower 9th tier as infinitesimal. I also sent Pamela Geller a link the other day, but I misspelled her name at my post and she let me know that THAT WAS A BIG BLOGGING SOCIAL FAUX PAS. I guess Atlas Shrugs is off the list of American Power benefactors!
In any case, I'm not too serious about it. I think I get more links from the big lefty blogs that I piss off, especially Lawyers, Guns and Money. The hits to my stat counter from the progressives are nice, although I could do without the threats and intimidation in the comment threads.
Anyway, I mostly just have fun getting my ideas out there and building community with regular folks. I don't blog for fame or income (and I don't reallly understand those blog "blegs" for money you see sometimes, which is basically online panhandling). I've built up a whole bunch of friends online who are my best buddies, literally. I can't mention them all, of course, as I'd be here all day. I correspond with Jan at Vinegar and Honey quite a bit. We share our outrages with each other and generate ideas for blog posts. Courtney checks in a lot with reports on balancing the demands of college, home life, and blogging. If I'm forgetting any other regular visitors, just sent me an e-mail and I'll add your link to this post.
Now, as far as what I'm going to do with this blog going forward? Well, I haven't thought much about it. Things will pretty much be the way they are. Readers might have noticed that I like to write in depth on some of the hottest news stories of the day, especially as those events have implications on politics, cultural change, and national security. The gay marriage debate and the Mumbai massacre are the earlier examples, and the current ongoing Israel campaign in Gaza being this week's example. This is when I do my best blogging. I know there's a decline in the variety of blog posts, but the quality of the analysis goes up, as the constant posting on topic is recursive and ends up being like a research topic. Plus, I'm able to get a lot of outrage off my chest and piss off the secular progressives who are intent to destroy this nation.
In fact, that's what I've pretty much always done. While the hardcore progressives are in fact a small percentage of the American electorate, their influence is magnified by their representation in the media, the transnational corporate sector, and in the schools, from K-12 all the way to the elite universities. One of the biggest calamities of Barack Obama's election is that he personally legitmates the secular progressive agenda by his background, ideology, and training (and he successfully suppressed his radicalism during the campaign and has so far abandoned an outwardly aggressive progressivism amid the realities of transitioning to goverment in a center-right polity).
So that's what readers can expect in 2009. This blog, American Power, is a voice of moral clarity. Note though, please, that I am a humble and very imperfect man. I strive to be as caring and trusting as I can be, and I'm working on it. Last year I begain attending church again for the first time in decades. I don't go as often as I like, but it's fulfilling to me to be around people with strong moral values and a respect for traditionalism in family and culture. We are losing this as a society. Not religion, of course, but a true practicing Christianity that take spirtual values as meaningful and life-driving - and I mean as a code by which to live ethically and good.
On the other hand, I'm not one to "turn the other cheek," to let ideological bygones be bygones. I'll fight for my principles in blogging battles, as well as in the campus debates the occassionally erupt at my school - because the views I represent need to be expressed and defended. If I make people uncomfortable, that's just the way it's going to have to be. If I lose readers or traffic because I'm "too serious," well, I have no apologies. One of the things that drives me buggy about a lot of big academic bloggers is their refusal to take moral stands. Daniel Drezner's the worst. A Jewish scholar of international relations, I've rarely seen him get truly outraged at the leftist nihilism and pro-Palestinian Israel-bashing in the academy and online. Perhaps I've missed something at his blog, but I got tired of it, of his refusal as a "blogademic" to ruffle any feathers among the scholarly mandarin-gatekeepers at the top peer-reviewed journals.
In any case, I'm rambling and the Rose Bowl's starting.
Let me close by sending folks over to Paula in Israel, who writes one of the most vitally interesting blogs I've seen in a while. Also, if you're a regular commenter or visitor here who doesn't blog, what are you waiting for? Start a blog at Blogger (for free) and I'll give you a huge shout-out at American Power!
Happy New Year!