There’ll be just the one post today from me, until evening. It’s essentially about how politics led to N.O.
1. University years
Economics and Politics was my first course, setting the tone for all subsequent activity.
At that time, as with most students, I was influenced by teachers and professors to become Fabian but was a bad one, as I kept asking about the flaws. Bad move.
Still remember a national students convention where the waste of paper was staggering, given that we were meant to be conserving forests. I asked about that and was fobbed off. Found the organizing committee and asked them. They didn’t want to know. Bad move.
That was when the shackles imposed by both sides began to break.
Having for some years used a school’s Apple IIs and IIes, it was time to get my own. One of our parents thought Macintosh superior and so I bought the 512K ED, supposedly the better model. This in the pic might not be the precise model:
It was a time of turmoil for me, changing countries and wives a couple of times. Computing essentially meant word processing for lesson notes and handouts, plus sending a turtle around a computer room floor.
It was also a time when my political views started hardening towards what they are today.
The Russian venture began and so I was without computer for some years, yet kept up on TV once I could understand a bit of Russian, though there were too many other things happening, not least one particular young lady.
Then my TV was stolen and I never bought one again. These few years were the least political of my life.
You could call this the start of my blogging in the sense of being a visitor to various sites, plus at the same time, the net itself was leaping ahead in sophistication.
Not sure if it was before or after 911 that I bought the Intel Pentium PC, with huge, TV size monitor, using a shaky old dial-up – does 56K ring a bell or is that false memory syndrome [?] – but I was lucky enough to have a techie mate who kept setting up later versions.
It became apparent as never before that much of what I’d been taught was porkies but things were still too busy in day-to-day matters to spend much time thinking.
5. Issues at that time
911 happened and some aspects of it were so obviously a stitch-up, given what I knew by that time of Iraq, to the point I told my mate of the time [we still write] that the US had no intention whatever of being out of Iraq by 2003. At the same time, I started looking at this whole Muslim thing and the net was good for information.
There was a 78 page file within no time, with all sorts of quotes from Arabs and other Muslims, plus our western commentaries. Still have it – it’s sitting right here in Docs. It was clear to me, if not to the rest of the world, that this was the new push, the new Gates of Vienna, the new Moorish Spain.
That was probably early 2002, the start of getting the message out, never to students but to those around me.
6. A bit left field
It took a turn off the beaten path, seeing that radio transcript of Svali’s from 2000 and going down that rabbit hole exploring MKUltra, HAARP, the Patriot Act, then along came Bohemian Grove, the Bilderbergers and the Masons, not to mention the Knights Templar. FEMA followed and the modus operandi of the atrocities started to form a pattern, along with the denials.
Having been of the Left, now Centre-right, IMHO perhaps I didn’t have the blinkers on to the same extent the strictly Right had, didn’t share the blind loyalty to our institutions and rulers. Whilst I’d always taught children God, Queen and country as a combined concept, not openly but through the values we held, it seemed to me that our country was nothing like what our rulers set forth.
It also became apparent that there were two Rights – those of small govt., low tax, stay out of our lives thinking, with some compassion and yet firm on migration, decent education etc. … and then another type I met who were cold, hard, almost caricatures in suits – the Heseltine type, yet morally malleable at the same time.
7. The genesis of nourishing obscurity in the mind
For some years, through work, online activity continued to take a back seat until work began for the trade minister and suddenly, I had to research and find more intensely, compose this, edit that – now being paid for it. It added a certain edge to the process.
My own personal situation slowly fell apart – it had been coming for some time – and thus there was vastly more time on the hands, rather than with her. We’re talking around 2003/4 when I began engaging online politically, as distinct from following blogs.
One thing I read was about China and there was an expression about biding one’s time, hiding one’s light and nourishing obscurity – seemed a good idea. [See the About-This Site section linked from the navbar.]
8. The 7/7 factor
More evening time now accelerated things until 7/7, which interestingly started my mate’s blogging over here – he came into it through Jean Charles da Silva e de Menezes and I read things on that topic by a few early bloggers.
I recall going to Dizzy‘s old site and arguing the points over there. He called me out for not having definitive proof over police knowledge 11 seconds before the first blast and that’s where I realized that archiving and attribution was what it was all about. Capturing and filing anything seen.
I’d always vaguely known it but now it was given an edge which characterized the first and subsequent blog posts of N.O. later – don’t argue without chapter and verse at hand.
At that time, the whole Jewish Palestinian question was being debated at Stephen Pollard’s old blog, at which I was a regular.
Into 2006 and a leftist called Indecent Left [quite an apt name for the left in general] and I had a fight over God, on Stephen’s blog, over three days, and it was no holds barred. I’d come in to defend a Christian commenter who didn’t really have a lot of data beyond his faith and was being crucified.
IL was more than a handful and I was unprepared, so had to scramble all over the net for data, which kept him at bay until the next point he made but it was tough going. After three days, he thought I’d put up a good fight but I thought I’d barely survived and was knackered. We actually became friendly for a time after that.
9. The genesis of blogging itself
Talking to my techie mate two days ago about when blogging began, he said that in the early days, it was essentially just CMSs – content management systems using html – that was sometime pre or early 2002, so the earliest ‘bloggers’ per se were from then.
Check this one. It puts a date on the early days of blogging.
Familiar names included Toque [English Parliament], TimWorstall, Devil’s Kitchen’s Chris Mounsey, Chris Dillow and quite a few others, e.g. Nosemonkey, Clive Davis, Guido. These were the originals, those with a legitimate stake in the history of UK blogging.
Blogger [TM] had obviously revolutionized the whole business, also Typepad and WordPress. The rest you know.
10. Genesis of Nourishing Obscurity
That Indecent Left experience in early 2006 convinced me it was time to give it a go, an actual blog of my little ownsome. Just didn’t think it right laying it on Stephen Pollard’s readers like that. I wrote to him and he said go for it.
In our corner of the sphere, we soon or already had names like Tom Paine, Welshcakes Limoncello, Cherie, Wolfie [blog now deleted], Andrew Allison [blog now dormant], Angus Dei, the Tin Drummer and too many others to name all, many blogs now defunct.
N.O. began, not modestly but with a bang, on Wednesday, July 26th, 2006, at 07:49, exactly ten years ago from the minute this goes up now. It was in the middle of what Tim Worstall called ‘the silly season’ of the year, traditionally when least readers visit.
11. First template
The initial template/theme was called Harbor, a three-column which IMHO still stands up, though some call it bland:
Needless to say, they’ve arranged the sidebar data badly in this case, needing to move the text down below the pic, sort out column widths … etc.
The older bloggers came in and supported, also giving N.O. a plug on their own blogs, which I appreciate to this day. Strangely, I didn’t initially go full bore at politics, now finding so many other things to blog on and hugely distracted.
12. The first genuine post
This was on Salmon fishing in Iceland … as distinct from the establishing and housekeeping type posts subsequently kept in that region of the blog. An excerpt:
In our current time of turmoil, Iceland Review continues to add its own in-depth analyses of earth-shattering events. Here is an abridged version of two of their current major stories:
Salmon Fishing is Better compared to an Average Year
Salmon fishing in Iceland’s rivers has fallen short of last year’s phenomenal catch but despite this, fishermen have still been pleased. Reykjavík has its own salmon river, Ellidaár. The city’s mayor, Vilhjálmur Th. Vilhjámsson, caught the first salmon this year and the catch so far has been satisfactory.
However, Morgunbladid reports that fishing without a permit has increased in recent years.
Something beautiful about the Icelandic mentality and this continued as a rich source of feelgood blogging for a long time. I was friendly with the editor there too.
13. EU Serf
If you look at the solitary comment on that salmon post, it’s by EU Serf. He was kind enough to see some sort of merit in N.O.:
… so there was goodwill in the early days – more on that further down. But it also shows that the EU Out movement has been going quite a long time – trace Nigel’s history on that.
This got my own blogrolls started, they have their own blog as there are so many, plus I’ll have you know that the Blogrolls have 2 followers on Blogger to this day – yay! Plus I made that template on my little ownsome.
Well actually, in those days, the html [not XML] was dead easy – you didn’t mess with the overall framework but in some places, you could delete and put in, provided you ended something exactly the same way, but in reverse.
Don’t dare do those things today with XML and subsequent.
15. Dearieme and Cityunslicker
What might surprise some is the appearance in those early days of Dearieme – it surprised both of us on Sunday evening and yet here he is:
Cityunslicker is known by many as the driving force behind Capitalists at Work and here he was back then at N.O.:
16. It develops its own style
I never planned it to be so but quirkiness was a part of the N.O. shtick from the outset and not all liked it. Nor did they like my references to Them, the Alt-history of the time, nor did they like the pro-Israel articles, nor did they like attacks on the establishment.
In fact, the blog developed its greatest failing – catering for too many tastes at one time. Tom Paine wrote:
His blog attempts something to which I would never aspire. It is a one-man magazine. Not only does he blog about a wide range of subjects, sometimes individual posts cover a lot of ground! His is a magpie mind and nothing human is alien to him.
And the corollary to that:
James’ posts are so frequent, his interests so varied and his contacts so extensive that his blog is rather like the Scottish weather. If you don’t like it now, just wait a few minutes.
17. Doomed Dresden
One major failing was the ‘overweening arrogance’ of the author, a veritable upstart who now had the temerity to suggest that he could become some sort of aggregator of bloggers who’d been there some years ahead of him. Plus his wind-ups, plus his really extreme language at times, calling Merkel ‘vermin’, which lost him another hundred readers, his overt aggression and so on. Plus his eccentricity and dare one say it – madness.
His answer is that if it was good enough for King George III, dot dot dot
Thus, after an early, promising start, the blog languished for many months and those who’d supported it dropped away. This was to be a motif throughout its life. The author seemed either oblivious or uncaring, as if he didn’t actually care if his blog succeeded or failed. He’s never employed SEO in any major way.
18. A structural issue
If you run six posts a day on a variety of topics and a reader is only interested in at most two, but more usually just one post, then ipso facto, he will consider your blog c***.
Also, left and right do not mix well, they do not assimilate with one another.
Being quite Tory in those days, many of the left and the libertarian community also did not like my politics and so it was not until early to mid 2007 that any sort of traction was felt by N.O., that is – multiple comments, two posts in a row.
And then it was for the radical ideas on the EU and for an English Parliament which had the most traction, the other ‘guff’ something to skip over until the ‘good’ posts went up.
Even a few days ago, a fellow blogger and tweeter whom I respect and like wrote to me, explaining that he was unfollowing me temporarily on Twitter because he did not share my enthusiasm for American politics.
That’s fair and thus I lost yet another reader. I miss him of course. I do care and do not like to lose people whom I like and respect. But I’m also a realist and know that if someone does not wish to remain, for this reason or that, then what can I do? I’ve never gone back to anyone in my life and asked to be liked. I’ve always moved on, learnt the hard way from hankering after wimmin long gone.
I can’t list all contributors here, mainly because if I mention X, Y and Z, without mentioning W, then there is a rightfully miffed contributor named W. They’re listed under the navbar heading ‘Contributors’ and thanks to all those fine people.
Looking at the Guestposter page, it would seem ‘some fine things have been laid upon my table’ but, in statistical terms, I’ve lost a good two-thirds of my readership over the years, over differences and manner. Fortunately, others have come in to have a look and stayed and the net effect has been a fairly constant traffic, if not spectacular, which will do me, thank you very much.
20. Cameron in 2007
One I must mention is ScotToryB – I’d love to know where he is now. Perhaps he left because I attacked the Tory god of the time, Cameron. From the get-go, this blog was down on Cameron in a big way, plus Common Purpose.
However, even while the blog was coming into what can arrogantly be called its ‘golden age’, Tories were leaving in increasing numbers, plus conservatives who misinterpreted the attacks on Cameron, attacks which are now, in 2016, fully vindicated.
21. The golden age
If there can be said to have been a golden age of N.O., it would be mid 2007 through to maybe early 2010 – many guestposters, many hits, a few awards and the start of a blog group called Blogpower in 2006:
This group had over a hundred members at one stage, plus an infamous blog party in mid-2007, at which the author disgraced himself:
Devil’s Kitchen dropped in for some drinks, the venue was Second Life [Tom Paine’s residence] and one of those characters is my current mate.
Oh yes, the idea was we would present awards to various blogs, in different categories, winners voted upon which … er … was one of my poorer moments:
This was maybe the high point for both Blogpower and my blog too – even Iain Dale asked BP if we’d publicise one of his campaigns.
22. Our Beeb radio interview – the non-breakthrough
We were interviewed by Chris Vallance on BBC Radio, recorded by the Thunderdragon [fine blogger from those days]:
If those awards and that party, plus the radio interview were the high point, then Dresden Doom was also on the horizon, just as we have now in 2016 in Europe.
23. As with the blog, so in real life
One major issue at that time was BNP infiltration and it was an issue which threatened to break BP apart.
The matter which did break it apart was over a divisive internal fallout, which had me expelled and shut out, which took us into 2008 and my blog, N.O. being shut down, mid-year, albeit temporarily, by Blogger – a reprisal by one unnamed party. Think ‘Remainer’ today and that was the mentality.
At the same time as the BP expulsion, plus the loss of N.O., there was another little RL issue.
Hundreds of Brits were expelled from Russia by the procuror in Moscow, we still think it was tit-for-tat against Gordon Brown. I was put up with by Welshcakes for three months, the poor lady, in Sicily but it was one hell of a good experience at the same time.
For me. Then back to Blighty.
Put up with over here by my mate for a few months, I eventually reached where I am now and he hosted the blog for three years.
24. Other projects, other campaigns, other groups
This was a group of people, including many who had departed Blogpower at my expulsion and the idea was to keep that camaraderie going.
Coming back to the criticism that this was all an ego trip for me, it was certainly not my idea of how it worked. My idea was to raise the profile for all of us and I’m sticking to that. However, I can’t help being a tad in-yer-face.
In fact, my mate has said that when the fallout started at Blogpower, I should have stood firm and said: ‘Look, I started this bloody project, so shut it or leave.’ I didn’t do that, far preferring the idea of being part of a community, with its little rules and procedures and being but one part of the steering committee. That’s how I was expelled – so even though a bit peeved by the expulsion, at the same time I was glad, as it proved the system did work.
Bloghounds was different – it was not a group with rules and regulations, it was a blog. And as always, when you make a group/blog closed, people wish to get in and sometimes get peeved that they can’t.
We really did have threats of legal action for not letting them in, which vindicated the decision. A key player was the level-headed Cherie, who co-administered and for that reason, it ran very well indeed. Plus the ‘big tent’ Sackerson, the whole technically overseen by Wolfie. Wolfie keeps popping up, does he not? Mysterious gentleman. 🙂
That was a good blog/group/non-group/whatever.
What was it about? Ah well … er … we hadn’t actually figured that one out. This was why it eventually languished, as we had no purpose. Our politics were, once again, diverse and so it could not have been anything political.
We simply ran the blog and some people did wonder what the hell we actually did. Had to be nefarious, did it not?
The Albion Alliance
This was a 2010 GE attempt by four of us to get the bloody PPCs, the pollies, to commit to direct democracy and an EU Referendum. Only UKIP cooperated.
There was a second version which was an aggregator for all missals from the EU, it was run by Ian Parker-Joseph.
This was something I ran at N.O. which rounded up blogs of the week and linked to some interesting post of theirs. In its day it was popular but it got to the stage where people would only check in to see if they were mentioned – I’ve done that elsewhere.
It ended up being just a bit too much work and there was something else called Britblog going, although that died when its founder skipped out and it was taken over by Marxists who thought that occupying key positions in the ‘organization’ was somehow their manifest duty to society.
There were also things like Pets Parade, where readers sent pics of their pets. They were fun, even though I was threatened by the left-leaning readers with legal action over it.
25. The Tory ostracism
Interesting that I’m called a religious nutter by radical atheists but miserable sinner by Christians, virulent Tory by those not actually Tory and a leftwing loon by those who are, because I come out as centre-right libertarian on the Political Compass [see the About page].
And though the language can be smooth-extreme, the positions were, until a few decades back, quite mainstream and hardly worthy of comment. That’s how far things have deteriorated in this society, in the west in general.
26. The current N.O.
Strange thing because Chuckles was not originally attached to N.O. but rather to the Orphans of Liberty project of 2011:
So, even though he and I are, with Julia M, the current steering committee of OoL, Chuckles’s main appearances are at N.O., along with haiku. And they are critical to the N.O. ethos of the magpie, the quirky and the irreverent.
This is the sort of disgraceful humour at this site [though this particular one is from Twitter]:
27. Future of N.O.?
Who knows? There will always be things that need shouting about, e.g. the current May and Remainer treachery, plus the Donald over there, but I’ve a boat to complete and medical issues are beginning. This afternoon there is one of those, so maybe light blogging for now.
Seems to me that N.O. will continue in some form but who’s a clairvoyant? Either way, this is the official 10th Anniversary and I’ll drink a toast to her this evening. Or not, if the dentistry goes awry.
If you glance back over those ten years, there are many people who have given of their time and effort and I can’t even begin to say how deeply I feel about that, that I really do care about each of these, even though many have severed relations, even this year.
I would say that perhaps Nourishing Obscurity has been a worthwhile exercise and worth continuing too. She’s not the greatest blog but she’s been a niggling nuisance all along and if we all did that, become niggling nuisances, the PTB might not treat us with such impunity.
28. A future Bloghounds?
I’d like to get together with some stout-hearted people again and get some sort of blog community going, not necessarily with that name.
Talking here specifically about blogging, not other social platforms.
Oliver Kamm once wrote that we were, in as many words, pseudo-journalists, the lowest of the low and that’s good enough reason to make the entry criterion that we are committed, regular bloggers.
I see that blog visitors and bloggers often despise Twitter users too, though all major world players use that platform. My loyalty though is to the blog format. It’s just nicer.
So any sort of loose group would be just for regular bloggers, meaning hosts, admins, regular contributors and/or registered blog members, dedicated readers over some years, it would be fun, would take very little organization and maintenance and might even bring some sort of rapprochement.
It would take a special kind of mind which could sit with those he/she opposed and still have a drink, there’d have to be a sense of humour at large inside the bar. The aim would be to preserve blogging as a journalistic form. Accent would be on ‘good’ blogs, whatever the membership deemed those to be.
We’d set up a ‘clubhouse’ for the form of it, also to list the membership, it would not be a blog as members would have those already – I’d imagine it would be a static front page on which is some cartoon or nose-thumbing at some oafish thing in society. We could see if we could get a membership of a hundred and then restrict it to that, the exclusivity principle, the place filled if a member departed or expired.
Perhaps each member would be required to make a presentation once a year on favourite book or topic of interest. There are all sorts of apolitical things we could do. One requirement would be that the blog carried the logo in some discreet place in a sidebar [if one was an admin].
Just a few thoughts anyway. Suggestions always welcome.