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Hibernation

I’ve been publishing Political Irony since May 2008, during the run up to the election of Barack Obama as president. I started this blog for several reasons.

Primary was my frustration with the US political situation under George W Bush (my wife and I moved to New Zealand for almost 5 months when he was re-elected after lying us into a terrible war). I knew I had to do something for the 2008 election or risk regretting my inaction for the rest of my life. In addition to the blog, I volunteered for the Obama campaign (even got to shake his hand) and did other political work.

A secondary reason was that I make my living programming computers, which I’ve been doing since I was a child. I had started several companies, so I had done some marketing for technical products, but I was really curious how one goes about marketing a popular blog. And the best way for me to learn is to do.

And finally, I’ve always believed that people tend to live up (or down) to other’s expectations of them. I’m a friend of Ward Cunningham (I often have lunch with him), who invented the wiki. This was in the age where the term “internet troll” became popular. Who would have thought that crowdsourcing entire websites would result in anything better than screams and obscenity, but somehow most wikis survived and even prospered. Why?

At the time, most political websites were inundated with insulting and obscene comments, so websites in general were cracking down on viewer participation; at worst turning off comments, but even at best requiring people to log in and prove who they are. I was determined to allow people to leave comments anonymously, and without providing their email address or other personal information. I even ran the blog under a pseudonym “iron knee” (a pun on “irony”), as a way to reinforce the point that it is the ideas that are important, not who they come from. I worked hard to establish a culture of respect for other people’s opinions, and intolerance of personal attacks. And it worked.

During the almost 10 years I have been running this blog, I have only needed to delete a small handful of comments. In most cases, other readers let flaming newcomers know that they were welcome to join in the conversation but not welcome to attack others. Some people whose first comments on PI were outright flames have evolved into thoughtful readers whose insights have changed my opinions about things. I am grateful for them having the courage to stick around a generally progressive website, and pleased that they felt comfortable expressing their opinions here.

So why am I posting this? What’s my point?

Several things have happened pretty much at the same time. The first one you have probably noticed. I’ve been working at Google for over three years now, and my new role is keeping me very busy. I love my job, and I want to spend more time on it. I just got back from a trip where I spent almost 6 weeks giving a dozen talks in 7 countries. It was fantastic but exhausting, and I had almost no time to post in PI.

Second, I have come to the conclusion that blogs (including mine) that are giving Donald Trump all the attention he so clearly craves are only making the political situation worse. I find myself getting tired of reading about him, let alone posting articles about him. I wanted to try to post articles that were only about political things other than Trump, but he is very good at sucking the air out of every situation. It may be that he purposely wants to exhaust his opposition, so I am embarrassed that he seems to have succeeded in accomplishing that with me.

Two more things just happened, and I think they are the straws that broke the camel’s back. First, I got a notice from my hosting provider that (once again) my website has been hacked into. This used to happen from time to time, and always took quite a bit of work to clean up after and to take measures so it would not happen again. And secondly I got a notice from Google (how ironic) that PI seems to be something of a click-bait site, so they turned off my ads. I don’t know if this is because of being hacked into again, or if it is just that companies like Google and Facebook are trying to crack down on all the propaganda and misinformation they are hosting or supporting, and are a bit overzealous just now. I can appeal to them but that too would take time. Besides, the payoff from my one ad a page was barely covering my hosting fees and isn’t worth fighting for.

What am I going to do? I don’t know. I have announced in the past that I was shutting down the blog, only to find later (soon later in some cases) the time to resurrect PI. But for now I really want to focus on work, and I really want to ignore US politics for a while. It was quite wonderful to be out of the US for over a month and not hear the latest stupid thing or daily outrageous lies from our president.

Of course, things change, and I may have more spare time and more inclination to do something about US politics in the future, so I reserve the right to jump on this again. Just not now.

In case you are curious, the project I am working on at Google is called Flutter. It is a new platform for building mobile apps. You can read about it on flutter.io.

Meanwhile, I will leave the site up (but might disable comments for a while, depending on what got hacked), so you can always find links to most of my sources. I encourage everyone to read Electoral Vote to keep up with things (I just wish they allowed comments).

And in case this is good-bye, I really want to thank all of my readers, even the ones who never commented. And thank everyone who commented and challenged me, and made me think. I never expected to do this past the 2008 election, but you have made it all worthwhile.

Gratefully,
Wm Leler (aka, Iron Knee)


Also published on Medium.

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53 Comments

  1. Bobsuruncle wrote:

    Thanks for sharing the forum and giving us a venue to discuss political topics with others of different backgrounds. Best wishes in all you do!

    Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  2. rick wrote:

    Regardless of where it goes from here I wanted to thank you for nearly 10 years of Political Irony and for giving us a place to discuss it.

    Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  3. David Freeman wrote:

    Well damn. Although I haven’t been commenting for a while, I’ve still been reading. Can’t argue with anything you just said. I’ll check in every now and again just in case you restart but if not, it was a hell of a good run!

    Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Permalink
  4. PCR-WA wrote:

    Thank you for this blog. While I have never posted before, I have checked it every day for almost the entire 10 years(except when I am out of the country. I, too, have appreciated the breaks for the inanity of our news cycles).

    I have appreciated your comments, comics, insights and juxtapositions. So, thank you for all of your efforts. I am sad to see you go, understand (of course!) your reasons, and wish all the best to you and your endeavors… wishing of course, that the return of this will somehow occur sooner rather than later:)

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink
  5. Cyn wrote:

    i do understand your reasoning but i wish like hell you’d not go. gonna miss this. please post something here if you change your mind. this has been a corner of sanity & at times hilarity in an increasingly insane world. i do wish you the best! & thank you!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3:32 am | Permalink
  6. Emjay wrote:

    I’m happy for you in your new phase of life, but selfishly speaking, I’ll miss you!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3:44 am | Permalink
  7. Vincent Hearne wrote:

    I sympathize with your having had enough of Trump. I sometimes think that the US will not recover from this malignant aberration.
    On a happier note, all the very best in the job. I hope you meet with much success, and that we will see your posts again one day.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 4:07 am | Permalink
  8. Linda Sperath wrote:

    Insert sad/tearful emoji here…my mornings won’t be the same without Iron Knee. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 4:49 am | Permalink
  9. Roy La wrote:

    Thanks for your insight and effort. But most of all, I’ll miss the appropriate humor you used to illuminate otherwise grim and dark circumstances and events. Humor is the only antidote for me to face current events.

    Life is series of changes. Political Irony is one of your great achievements in what seems to be a phase now ending. Good luck in the next one.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink
  10. Hassan wrote:

    Career and personal life comes first! Thank you very much for all what have you done.

    Is there way to keep in touch you professionally? (your linkedin seems quite outdated). I am more interested now that you mentioned you are friends of Ward Cunningham. I am very much software craftsmanship enthusiast, I keep watching or reading books by Uncle bob martin, martin fowler, kent beck and of course Ward Cunningham.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink
  11. Hassan wrote:

    I found you in github as well.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 6:40 am | Permalink
  12. b wrote:

    Thank you for your years of service pointing out the irony of politicians. You have made me laugh at times when I needed it. You reassured me that I wasn’t the only one who saw people doing the things they were supposedly against.

    I wish you the best going forward.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink
  13. Wildwood wrote:

    Oh no! This is the only place where I have found sanity and humor and intelligent conversations. There may be other places where this happens, but I’m not sure where. I echo all the previous comments and wish you all the best and thank you for the time you gave us all.

    My son was over yesterday and announced he has disabled his FB and is no longer watching any news or commentary broadcasting of any kind, so I understand his and your needing to step out of this madhouse of political craziness.

    Have a wonderful life and know you, and this site will be missed. Bigly!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks so much for the nice comments. To the people who said they would check in from time to time, you can also subscribe to the blog, or the twitter feed, etc., so you will get notified if new posts start appearing. Who knows, once it gets close to the next election I may have to.

    And a special thanks to David Freeman, who really walks the walk in addition to talking the talk. David also filled in for me for a while a few years ago (some of you may remember him as “iron filing”) when I was on a trip to Antarctica and had absolutely no access to the internet.

    And thanks Hassan. Yes, my LinkedIn account only seems to get updated when I’m looking for work. I tend to keep my (crazy) resume more updated. I used to work with Kent Beck as well, but that was a long time ago and we mostly lost touch after he moved away. But there are plenty of other people from those days that are still local with whom I keep in touch (I had brunch with a dozen of them yesterday, and play music with several of them).

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  15. Geoff Brooks wrote:

    I have enjoyed your site since it began and almost always agreed with your perspectives and postings. We desperately need more like you in leadership positions in the USA (and fewer lawyers!). Good luck and best wishes!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  16. ebdoug wrote:

    Besides EV, politicalwire.com which you recommended before you went to Europe

    You know I’m waiting for pictures from your last trip. I follow all your trips. I have to travel vicariously. You have been wonderful. Eva

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  17. ebdoug wrote:

    OH, and a wonderful book I’m reading very slowly:
    The Home that was our country: a Memoir of Syria. She was born in 1974 to Syrian parents in Baltimore so holds dual citizenship. She got her law degree at Georgetown and as of 2012 where I am now in the book has gone back and forth between the two countries.
    Good book to read about despots and the rebels and the US bombing, etc. ISIS has yet to join in the fray. Russians and Iran are doing their damage along with the US.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  18. Sam Foster wrote:

    Bless you for this blog and for making the right decision for you. Thank you.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  19. Phil S wrote:

    Thanks Iron knee!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  20. Claudia wrote:

    No matter how full my email box was, Political Irony was always opened. Thanks so much for the insight and links to other thoughtful folks. Thanks also to all you commenters that added your perspectives to my day.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  21. Ed Alexander wrote:

    Hamilton and Toronto Ontario have put in bids to be Google 2. Just think if you can push us over the top, then you could come here and keep working for Google, and actually turn on the national news and not finding it all about Trump.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  22. Tari E Bruhn Garnaas wrote:

    I discovered PI through Electoral Vote several years ago. The humor often found in irony has helped me to weather some of the disbelief, dismay, and fears of the past couple of years. Best wishes to you.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  23. Janie wrote:

    Thanks for being a great source of humor and information all these years. I haven’t commented much, but I’ve been a long time follower. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
  24. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thanks Wm. Although we didn’t always agree, the times we found common ground kept my faith in people to overcome differences and come together.
    I started a new career as well earlier this year, when I hung up my boots for good. I still support the military, but now in a suit, in a basement of a building with
    Fair we’ll my friend, until we meet again!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  25. Not THE Dr. Ruth wrote:

    What everyone above said, plus my thanks for introducing me to Tom Tomorrow and several other great cartoonists along the way. See you on Twitter!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  26. westomoon wrote:

    IK / Wm — Last time you got to the point of shutting down PI, I badgered and harassed you about the decision. But this time, I can see your point, and I won’t try to change your mind.

    Nonetheless, I will miss PI bitterly — it has always felt like the sane person’s haven in an increasingly uncivil and loony world. What I will most especially miss is the stuff you’ve written — some of the best pieces published anywhere in the past year have been your connect-the dots observations.

    That said, I am astonished that Google has cut off your ad flow. Click bait? I think not. Other progressive sites have been claiming that Google has targeted sites critical of the conservative agenda. If true, this is even scarier than most of what’s happening these days. You might be in a better position than most to explore who has been affected by Google’s sudden conscience — I hope you have the opportunity to satisfy yourself that the strangulation has been done even-handedly.

    And finally — I am the least tech-savvy person I know. I would love to subscribe to any blog you may feel moved to create, but I have not the slightest idea how to do so. Would you mind giving instructions?

    If you choose Twitter as your vehicle, I’m afraid you’ll be leaving me behind — it, maybe even more than FB, seems to me to be a truly toxic medium. But as long as you stay free-range, I will always want to know what you think about what’s going on.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
  27. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ah, instructions *are* in order. When I post something to PI, a message is automatically sent out to Facebook, Twitter, to email subscribers, etc. If you look on the main page of PI, in the sidebar near the top, there is a category called “subscribe”. You can pick one (or more) of them, and they will help you subscribe. Email is the easiest and it will just send you an email when there is a post to PI.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  28. Steve wrote:

    Thanks for everything Wm.

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink
  29. Kirk wrote:

    Thanks so much for all the time and effort you have put into this site over the years! I’ve been reading pretty much daily since close to the beginning, and I will definitely miss having your take on politics in the future. For selfish reasons, I hope you come back, but really I just hope you are happy with whatever comes next for you! So long, and thanks for all the fish!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  30. il-08 wrote:

    Sad face tear emoji. Best of luck IK, at least I don’t have to listen to PatriotSgt and his right wing talking points any more! Just kidding PatSgt (can I call you that?), your posts made me think. Mostly about what a bunch of nutters conservatives are.

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 6:11 am | Permalink
  31. Kevin wrote:

    If this is the end, I’m sorry to see it. I’ve enjoyed your posts for several years.

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  32. ThatGuy wrote:

    Hard to add anything that hasn’t already been said. This is a terrific blog with a community to match. Thank you for everything you’ve done, both IK and other posters.

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  33. Ray wrote:

    Doh! Thank you for the almost daily irony! Cheers!

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  34. John wrote:

    I have been a longtime follower of your blog since before BO got elected. It has been a pleasure, hope that you find a rejuvenation of sorts. Dark times we are staring at and your input always puts a thought look at it. Cheers and thanks!

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  35. Ralph wrote:

    Can’t help thinking this would have to be the most ironic double irony, that a public, democratic forum focused on the hot button issues of the day and open to airing opinions from all sides would be shuttered by some anonymous, intolerant, spiteful hackers from some dark corner of cyberhell, facilitated by proxy through the company whose former motto, “Do no harm”, has long been deep-sixed. Or wait, you working a project at Google would make it a…triple irony? Ah whatever, it just ain’t right and sure not the America I grew up with.

    Anyway, many thanks for hosting an insightful, witty, often amusing, yet hard-hitting site and bringing well-referenced facts to the table, besides moderating a comments section where visitors could voice deep-seated disagreements while maintaining civility and respect, a rarity in public discourse or social media these days. I’ll miss my semi-weekly visits here and throwing in my two cents on occasion.

    Best wishes and happy trails.

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  36. Papa J. wrote:

    Thank you. You have made a difference in my life. This blog has been a refuge on many gloomy days. Hope to see you back.

    Monday, October 23, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  37. Jonah wrote:

    Sorry to hear you are considering “retiring” IK. Especially if DT is wearing you down. I for one think we are at an inflection point and where we go from here is critical and therefore we cannot afford to give up. However I’m an armchair critic and running/hosting a website is no trivial task so its understandable.

    All the very best to you.

    NB: I am curious why PI is getting hacked. This site doesn’t ask for nor store personal information so it doesn’t serve any purpose. Other than perhaps looking at IP addresses to see where some users are posting from.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 3:05 am | Permalink
  38. bruce adair wrote:

    Dear Sir,
    I have enjoyed your site since the beggining, and have never posted a comment before. Thank you very much and best of luck in the future.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  39. Fiona wrote:

    I’ve never posted, but have been reading (along with my husband) since the 2008 election. We are really going to miss you, and are really grateful for all your work and insight over the years. Hope everything wonderful comes your way.

    best,

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  40. Diogenes wrote:

    Fake News? Sad…

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 1:11 am | Permalink
  41. David wrote:

    I will miss your blog very much but I understand. You inspired me around 2010 to begin mine which has evolved to this:
    http://www.thedevilspost.org
    I offered no comment section on mine as a result of an experience with Mike Savage.
    It left me angry and more motivated. I hope this is just a breather for you and you come back. Thanks for all your efforts and great work! Dave

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  42. Trip Ericson wrote:

    I’m with everyone else here; I love coming to Political Irony. Please enjoy your time away, and I do hope you will return to it some day.

    Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 3:43 am | Permalink
  43. Iron Knee wrote:

    David, I added your blog to my links.

    Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  44. Moogle wrote:

    I’ll make you a deal, I’ll get your SDK, and I’ll make a beautiful phone app, and in exchange… you post some late night jokes.
    Insert meme here, either Chappelle asking “You got any more of those late night jokes?” or Patrick saying “Take the late night jokes… and but them in the blog.”

    Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  45. Burr Deming wrote:

    Not too late to reconsider.

    Here is why it matters. Your work provides a point of reference, a Northern Star of sorts for discouraged patriots. Your words are a gathering point of like-minded souls who do need a reminder they are not alone.

    That makes you important.

    Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink
  46. CNLDAD wrote:

    I found this site during those dire days of the Bush administration and it might very well be the only link on my current Bookmarks bar that hasn’t changed over that time.

    Your thoughtful insight will surely be missed by myself and countless others. I’ll be subscribing and hoping for the day I get a notice that you’re back in business. Until then, good luck in your career and a hearty thank you for all you’ve done for all of us.

    Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink
  47. Cyn wrote:

    couldn’t find my first comment here but did do a bit of digging thru the forum…anyone remember that? apparently first entry there was 9/11/09. think i was aware of this site before then but can’t recall for sure. that is a helluva long time..internet time wise… to be following a site. gonna miss this do hope you wander back this way one day. or at least give us a holla about anything else you’re up to. as the saying goes…good luck & thanks for all the fish. 🙂

    Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  48. BTN wrote:

    Thanks for the blog, Wm. The posts have been very informative and thought-provoking. In addition, the comments sections provided a good forum for civil debates, something lacking on the commercial media
    websites.

    Good luck on your future endeavors

    Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  49. Mountain Man wrote:

    I’ve followed and appreciated your work for years. Many, many thanks. I’m saddened by the disappearance of a voice as powerful as yours at a time like this, however. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” You’ve done way more than “nothing,” but I sure wish you’d reconsider laying down your gloves just yet. No matter what, though, thanks, thanks, and thanks.

    Monday, November 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  50. Kirk wrote:

    I’m not the only one that can’t bring myself to delete the bookmark, but keep clicking it out of habit every day and getting a little sad, am I?

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  51. Bobsuruncle wrote:

    …52.. I keep checking myself…

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  52. Cyn wrote:

    @Kirk use a feed reader like feedly or feedreader or digg & you can track comments & entries & not do it ‘manually’ so in effect this place will never die… 😉
    & yes i miss this so much 🙁

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  53. mm wrote:

    What a hard habit to break… This has been the first site I look at in the morning, for years. Thanks for keeping it going so long!

    Now I’m down to electoral-vote.com. Any suggestions for additions?

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] time and energy consuming job and is skeptical about the significance of blogging. So he’s thinking of shutting it all down. It’s not too late to write and ask him to reconsider. Here is my reasoning. […]

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