December 31st, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man 2006 Year in Review

I did a lot of writing about current events in 2006. Given that it was a national election year, that's not terribly surprising, but as with most current events writing, most of it will be forgotten any day now if it hasn't been already. But in the context of it being an election year, 2006 was the year that I set out to do something about the fact that the real reason that Democrats were losing consistently was that the public now fully accepted and took for granted even the most indefensible political theories of the Republican party. I wrote a lot of essays trying to make the point that unlike the Republicans who mouth platitudes about capitalism and freedom, you can actually count on Democrats to defend capitalism and freedom because unlike the Republicans, we're determined to protect it from enemies both external and internal. And early in that process I wrote an essay that I hope will be remembered, and that will have a profound effect on our political debate as a nation: April 26th's Definition: "The American Dream."

In 2006, I also ran amok with book and movie and game reviews, at least by comparison with past years. Most of those were pretty entirely forgettable, like the products I reviewed. But two of those reviews stand out to me as keepers. My April 27th review of Karger's Shortchanged was important not because of the brilliance of what I wrote but because of the importance of the book, and I hope that it and its subject, predatory lending, get a lot more attention in the new year. The other was my June 7th article, prompted by something I noticed on, Regarding Against His-Story, Against Leviathan which may be the clearest couple of paragraphs I've written yet in defense of one of the core concepts of forbidden lore, namely the idea that a book can drive you insane.

That being said, going back over the 2006 archive for this article and seeing just how much shallow and transient current-events coverage and reviews there were, I'm forced to contemplate the possibility that this blog has jumped the shark. (Although it can't have been too bad a year. It's not every year that I'm named Time's "Man of the Year.") It's possible that I'm running out of new things to say, out of rants that I've thought out over the decades. Which may be reflected most starkly in the sharply lower number of long multi-part journal entries I wrote. This time last year, I christened 2005 "the year of the series," the year that I wrote such insanely long essays that they had to be broken up over three, four, five or more days, and I did it a lot. This year, not so much, nor nearly so interestingly. Here are the ones I did write, and I'm pretty happy with all four of them:

I got a little bit of recognition from my readers back in 2005 for being one of the few people in America who writes coherently, in ways that both sides can handle, on the subject of race relations in America, mostly for my final follow-up essay on Hurricane Katrina, "So Now We Know. Now What?," back on 9/25/05. What I said at the time was that I hoped that maybe now, now that we'd seen just how unreconstructed this country's racism still was and how unfair it was and how deadly it was, we might begin to have that century-overdue rational discussion of race that we've been needing to have. In 2006, I made a few hopeful contributions to the subject, none of which got the recognition that I was hoping that they would: April 6th's essay on the troubling implications of the fact that African Americans are being pushed hard to invest in expensive homes at the top of the housing bubble, Stocks, (Barry) Bonds, and Real Estate, April 7th's defense of Cynthia McKinney in the ongoing beef with the Capitol police that cost her career, Except That Apparently She Was Right, Unfortunately, and my take on the single most important thing we could do to resolve race problems in America, namely deal with the very unfairly disparate effect that uneven enforcement in the War on Drugs has on the black economy, September 10th's A Modest Proposal: Treat Whites and Blacks Equally Bad.

I also wouldn't mind being remembered in part for two things I wrote about sex in 2006. I didn't get much attention for something that I thought was quite clever, my February 24th article on Mardi Gras beads and wet t-shirt contests, Bead Ho's, Wet T's, and the Auctioning of Attention. That probably means that it's not as clever as I think it is, but I'll take this opportunity to promote it again. I did get quite a few links though, when I took sides over an argument within the gay community over the question of whether or not outrageous behavior at gay pride parades was the reason why there was still homophobia, April 15th and 16th's In Defense of Feather Head-dresses and Ass-less Chaps and its Follow-Up: Who's Being Rude to Whom at a Pride Parade?

But from watching my subscriber numbers rise and fall, 2006 was the year that made it explicitly clear to me what most of the Internet really, really wants me to write more about: Christianity. I should have seen that coming. It was my November/December 2004 essay series "Christians in the Hand of an Angry God" that pushed my numbers above the 300 mark in the first place. I get some small bumps in readership over some of my philosophical, historical, and political posts. But I didn't get another really big bump in readership, one where people friending me substantially outnumbered the ones who unfriend me every day, until I wrote first a two-parter trying to explain to some Christian friends of mine just how painfully annoying it is to us that escaping from in-your-face public displays of (usually fake) Christian piety is even harder than getting away from second-hand cigarette smoke, April 24th and 25th's Second Hand Religion, or, Thank You for Not Shoving Christianity Down My Throat and Baseline Exposure to Second-Hand Christianity. And that bump paled beside the even bigger bump I got, the one that pushed me rapidly above 450, for a brief, quickly dashed off comment on something I'd seen in the New York Times, July 30th's Cost of Preaching Jesus' Gospel: $3,000,000.

As always, I'd like to thank you all for caring what I have to write. Be careful out there on New Year's Eve, and take with you my wish for you all to have a happy, successful, and prosperous new year in 2007.
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