Portrait of John Cox under the benevolent eye of his new editor.
I have told parts of this story before. The seven year blogiversary got me to thinking how it all started, how I ended up here. If you came for politically relevant commentary, move along! Nothing to see here!
My earliest brush with blogging came from The Corner of National Review Online (NRO). This new Internet thingy was great, and I would come to The Corner and read it cover to cover every day. I would read everything posted and then I would scroll down page after page to see if I had missed anything. I credit Jonah Goldberg as being the Blogfather of this blog. He was editor of The Corner, and as I recall, one night Jonah was giving a shout out to some other conservative blogs. One he mentioned in particular was Say Anything, a blog primarily in and about North Dakota.
Say Anything at the time, was running a feature called "Friday Night Babe". It was a single picture of a comely lass published regularly on Friday night. No big. You clicked over there, looked at it briefly and then...what's next? Moving on. Again, as I recall, the next Friday night, I finished up my paperwork from the job, and was just sitting around kind of bored. (Some of you may infer that I was not the high living bon vivant you have come to know and love!) So, just out of curiosity, mind you, I wondered if Rob Port, the erstwhile editor of SA, had posted another picture?
So I clicked over, and sure enough, there it was. But, as I said, once you've gazed upon it briefly, that was it. What's next? So I began to look around the site to see what else was going on. There were snippets of comments - some by sane people and others by mind numbingly stupid liberals! Well, this bore investigation! I started reading some of the comment threads and the articles that spawned them, and before long, shy unassuming me decided to actually voice an opinion on what I was reading.
This next part is critical to the story. I noticed that some people used a Nom de Cyber while others used their real names. This was back in 2005-2006. I noticed that a lot of guys commenting on the site were named "Mike". There was a Mike from Canada and a Mike from No. Dakota, and at least one Mike who was a commie-lib, and since some of the stupidest things were being said by liberals who had flunked out of English grammar somewhere around the second grade, I chose an outlandish Nom de Cyber, because, after all, it was just to make a few comments on a blog!
I chose the name "Proofreader Emeritus", so that when I expressed my POV, no one would mistake me for anyone else. I corrected the grammar and spelling of many a liberal who was pretending intelligence greater than his education. This became a bit unwieldy, so later I shortened it to "Proof". After a while, more people knew me online as "Proof" than my given name. I figured one day I would remedy that, and so far, I'm halfway there.
It was never something to "hide behind", but as something to distinguish my writing, my thoughts, my POV from everyone else's. After a while it became sort of a "brand name". My admiration, but not slavish following of Samuel Clemens, who presented himself to the world as "Mark Twain", became my avatar. I admire his wit and his writing, and coincidentally, prior to my excursions on the public Internet, I participated in some discussion on an inter-company BBS, and since all the really cool icons were taken, I settled on one of a young Mark Twain. Destiny. Go figure!
Now you know where I got my handle, let me tell you about the set up at Say Anything at the time. The proprietor, Rob, was very generous about letting people with similar or opposing viewpoints share the bandwidth of his blog. He invited his readers to start "Reader blogs". My earliest efforts, around 2006, were anemic to be charitable. I think my first posts may have more closely resemble what I now call "The Best of the Web*": I would post a link or a video with some profound commentary like "Wow! Check this out!"
As time went by, I felt more comfortable in expressing myself, and after winning a couple of writing contests Rob sponsored onsite, he invited me to become a front page contributor. Since Say Anything was, and I gather still is, one of the top 100 conservative blogs in the US, this was kind of a big deal.
Rob had since stopped posting a "Friday Night Babe", perhaps due to marital bliss, so I took up the mantle, among my other opinion pieces and I started to hit my stride as a blogger. I spent several years there, enjoying the experience, the exposure, the camaraderie, and even the conflict with the inevitable liberal trolls.
But there was a limit to what I could say there, despite the irony of the name, but the blog owner had guidelines, and he was my boss, so whatever he said goes! The way it should be. I didn't have a problem with that, however, there were modes of expression I wanted to use, fettered only by my own editorial judgement, so, on March 28th, 2008, I launched my own blog, Proof Positive, cross posting much of the material between the two, but if there was any doubt as to whether or not the material might meet Rob's standards or the vision he had for his blog, I posted them here alone.
Along the way Rob (or his wife) decided that the Friday Night Babe was not in keeping with the image he wished to project, so the feature migrated here and has been here ever since. I was experimenting with Photoshop satire, which Rob was not too keen on, and there came a point where we decided, amicably, to go our separate ways. Rob wanted to make the blog more North Dakota centric, whereas I was more a national politics kinda guy.
At one time I was cross posting here, Say Anything, Left Coast Rebel and Lady Cincinnatus. Now, it's here, Left Coast Rebel and occasionally at Political Clown Parade. Along the way, I welcomed Andrew Roman, who once had his own excellent blog, to stop by here and post whenever his muse strikes him. John Cox, who cross posts his 'toons and art over at his blog, the eponymously named John Cox Art, joined us in 2013, with the inaugural 'toon posted above.
And here we are. I don't think I left anything out. Well, there was the CPAC Stripper Fiasco of 2014, but those documents were all sealed! If you can think of anything I didn't cover, feel free to ask in the comments below.