I remember well how, on this day in 2007, I logged in to WordPress and started a new blog. Then, fatefully, I let Ari have the keys. In fairness, though, it was mostly Ari’s idea. The rest of this post is pure self-indulgence and a stab at one or two FAQs so I’ll put it under the fold.

For a while it was just the two of us, writing to each other. This might seem exceptionally foolish, but really it’s only slightly foolish: the history department here stretches over some four floors in a building designed to isolate its inhabitants from each other and we actually don’t see each other that often.

Why, at this late date in the Internets’ history, and god help us, on the eve of a presidential election year, start a blog? Here were some of the reasons. We’ve run up slightly over a thousand posts and now have eight posters, six of them better informed and mannered than Ari and me.

The first commenter who wasn’t me or Ari was silbey, followed closely by ac. They’re still with us, bless them, and we’ve since had around 22,000 comments.

The banner picture: it’s a barn about a mile from my house. It looks iconically western—it’s a working farm, with a railroad running behind it, and mountains in the distance. But I don’t live in an iconically western neighborhood; I live in a standard-issue suburban neighorhood—which is not to say it’s not typically western, just not iconically western. Yet you come to the edge of it and there’s the very image of the American West. One of many reasons for the title of the blog, too.

Big drivers of referrer traffic: Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo, BitchPhD, Crooked Timber, Matt Yglesias, Unfogged, Cliopatria, Ben Smith at Politico, Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, Jason Linkins at Huffington Post, Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings, Andrew Sullivan, Lawyers Guns and Money, the Nielsen-Haydens, and foremost, William Gibson, whom I have thought awesome since before I was out of high school and who gave this blog its unofficial motto:

History can save your ass.

Thanks to all of you for reading. Will the second year be better? We have hope.