In the spirit of ESPN’s documentary series “30 for 30,” which it launched on its 30th anniversary, herewith some “20 for 20” documentary observations on the day-to-day life of Power Line on its 20th anniversary.
If I read our site meter correctly, since its founding 20 years ago Power Line has posted 63,016 items, or about 8.5 articles a day. Not bad for a bunch of guys with day jobs. Assuming an average length of 500 words each (which may be an underestimate), that totals to more than 30 million words in 20 years.
Needless to say this number makes it hard to single out a Top Ten Best list, or really places 2 – 10, as Scott’s “61st Minute” post will always be number one (except for that one peculiar outlier we could never explain, “Down and Out in Santa Monica,” which turned out to be a preview of California’s urban future and somehow a reader favorite by traffic for several years).
Stan Evans used to say two things to his apprentices like me that work well for this kind of writing: First, “the hardest thing about writing is sitting your butt in a chair and starting.” Second, “the deadline is your friend.” We don’t have fixed daily deadlines here at Power Line, but some informal ones that careful readers can make out. And the daily rhythm works. I find that if I miss a day because of travel or some other distraction like teaching classes or working on a long piece for some lesser publication, I have trouble getting back in gear.
John mentions that he always meets Power Line readers on his travels, as do it, though not surprisingly when I meet Power Line readers now, most invariably say “the Week in Pictures is my favorite!” Not sure that’s what I want on my tombstone, but serendipity always comes into play in life. TWiP began as a casual Saturday morning distraction where over morning coffee I just tossed up a few cartoons and funny pics for the heck of it, and decided to end it with an inside joke of sorts—a lampoon of John’s regular coverage of beauty pageants combined with his fondness for firearms. Behold, the “empowered feminist.”
Trouble is, John has stopped his regular coverage of beauty pageants, which is a pity. He tells me they aren’t having them any more, and as a land-locked midwesterner he isn’t competent to cover women’s surfing competition, which is my suggestion for a successor for beauty pageants or any other plausible excuse to celebrate uses of “callipygian.” I have relied on John’s beauty pageant coverage because I have long had the practice of following beauty contests strictly on radio, so that the swimsuit and gown segments won’t cloud my objectivity when evaluating the contestants’ trenchant analyses of world peace.
Anyway, one Saturday—I think it was in late 2013—I skipped my regular morning TWiP posting to catch an airplane to fly across the country. Upon arriving at my hotel at the destination, I opened up my computer to a flood of indignant emails: “WHERE THE HELL IS THE WEEK IN PICTURES!!” Who knew there would be a fanatical fanbase for such a thing. The temptation is to do it every day—there is that much material—but then I wouldn’t get anything else done. So the rule is, mid-week special editions only in connection with proximate breaking news, like monkeypox, “15 days to slow the spread,” etc.
We’re thinking about some refinements and new additions to the site (I’ll have a reader poll on this some time soon), but our biggest constraint is time. There isn’t enough time for everything worth doing. When asked once how he came up with column topics, William F. Buckley said something like, it’s easy; just put on a blindfold, turn to any page of the New York Times, and you’ll have a topic—usually something that outrages you. That’s a typical day for me: I’ll see ten things every morning that are worth comment or coverage, and time for maybe three at best. Maybe one of these days I’ll retire from my present job(s), and then I’ll really be busy here.
Meanwhile, for those of you who have been asking for more drone video of Zen moments with trains, here’s this week’s offering: