I started this blog in the early days of the Bush administration when Bush was enjoying the highest approval ratings in history. I was worried about where he would lead the country and, by the end of his first week in office, I was terrified. I suppose only the long view of history will bear out which one of us was right, but so far I would say that The Ranter leads at least 6-0 at the half (environment, economy, Iraq, torture, rendition and appeasement, with Afghanistan and a few others undecided).
I tried a number of things to get the word out, to get people to join the ACLU and to buy my tshirts. For a while the site did rank #1 for "bush is evil" in Google. But I eventually lost interest for several reasons:
- Realistically, as soon as Bush’s approval ratings started to really drop once the Iraq war started going poorly, I felt less need to keep writing. Everyone could see that the emperor had no clothes and I just didn’t see the value any more in being one more voice repeating it. I did on a couple of occasions write posts in favor of Bush, or at least critical of his critics, but it seemed like the right had plenty of people writing those types of articles, so there wasn’t much point there either.
- The site never really got traction. I had no illusions that I would develop hundreds, let alone thousands, of loyal readers — there are just too many writers on politics and current events, most of them much better than me, but other things I did drew in more people in comments and more interaction, and this site never rose to the level of engaging readers. Perhaps if I had found some others to write and built more of a community, it might have stayed interesting longer to both visitors and me.
- The fundamental vibe of most of the articles is negative, and I’m not a negative person. In fact, I’m a strong optimist. And I think most of the tshirts I designed were positive and at least a little humorous (“Proud member of the vast liberal conspiracy” which seemed even funnier in 2003). So I felt more and more out of step with my persona on Taken For Ranted. I could have tried to turn that around, but I felt constrained by the existing content here. I always imagined that what I wrote here would be free, fun, ironic. The truth is, with a couple of exceptions, it was plodding and boring. That wasn’t the point.
- I have been enjoying thinking about other things and decided I wanted a new space to do it, so I started writing on an old domain I had, RaisedByTurtles.org. My original idea for that site was to get people, especially young people, to write fictional biographies, perhaps several, where they would be unfettered by the boring details of their actual lives and write the life they planned to live or just something offbeat. My official biography is, uh, unfettered by facts. I never did figure out how to spread that idea among young people, but I had positive associations with the domain and, given my slow pace at getting things done, it seemed a more appropriate name for a place for my thoughts. It is not political. It’s a place to put down things I don’t want to forget, without feeling constrained by the topic. Some are straightforward solutions to computer problems that I know I’ll need to solve again (forcing Firefox to open resizable popups). Some are just my reactions to doing business at this place or that (as my thoughts on how restaurant managers should count vegetarians). I don’t know as these topics will interest any other human being, but they interest me more than opposition screeds to an administration that is no longer in office, and I felt like they would go better somewhere else. Like buying a new notebook to keep your journal in I guess.
Maybe this all begs the question of whether I suddenly think everything in America and the world is great and Saint Barak has saved democracy. Sadly, no. But unlike with Bush, I’m just not sure where Obama is taking us and I’m not sure he’s making the right or the wrong decisions. And in any case, I suppose the answer to that really is in what happens a year or two from now (in other words, do we get our wars, health care, spending and tax system under control or not).
I might have something to write from time to time, but for now, that’s why I don’t. The closest thing I have to what I used to write here is my Twitter stream except it’s lighter and more whimsical and more like what I imagined the feel of this blog would be.