Happy 2015!

2014 only has a few hours left, and I can’t decide if it’s really been an unusually awful year or if it’s just that 2014’s horrible events have been of a higher profile than the horrible things that have happened in previous years.

It’s been a pretty bad year though, hasn’t it? Just going by wars it’s been bad. The ones that were already going on when the year started have continued, particularly in Syria but also in South Sudan. The fighting in Iraq technically didn’t start in 2014 but it ratcheted up so much, between ISIS’s midsummer offensive and the U.S. response, that it basically became a new conflict this year. Afghanistan’s conflict is, by some measures at least, worse than ever. The Pakistani Taliban committed maybe their worst atrocity ever this year. Boko Haram ramped up its terror campaign in Nigeria, the civil war in the Central African Republic had its bloodiest year yet, there was the biannual attempt to save Gaza from the people living there, and too many smaller conflicts to count. There’s also 2014’s brand new wars, the Donbas war in Ukraine and the civil war in Libya.

Apart from war, 2014 also treated us to horrifying violence in Mexico, the biggest Ebola outbreak on record, multiple tragic airline catastrophes (including one at the last minute), the dumbest international incident of the century so far, whatever this was, and no Pittsburgh sports teams won anything. Also, we learned that still, in the year two thousand and freaking fourteen, some of us in America still can’t get a square deal from the legal system.

On the plus side, the economy is better, I guess, for some people, so that’s…something? And, you know, 2015 can’t be any worse, can it?

Pivoting from big things to small things, this particular blog saw a four-fold increase in page views this year, which even after you factor out the spammers is still pretty nice. On the other hand, 8 of my top 10 most viewed posts this year were actually written last year, so maybe I’ve already peaked (of course, hardly anybody read them last year, so that’s still progress). Our top 10 posts that were written this year, by views, were as follows:

  1. What is a “Man of Peace,” anyway? (written after Ariel Sharon died in January)
  2. U.S. Presidents and the Middle East: Teddy Roosevelt and the Perdicaris Affair (written on, that’s right, President’s Day)
  3. Badly drawn colonial borders are still a problem
  4. Islamic History, Part 16: the Caliphate of Abd al-Malik (685-705)
  5. Happy Sparkle Day to Megyn Kelly and Fox News!
  6. No, Vladimir Putin is not a cartoon super-villain, and he’s not the Defender of the Faith either
  7. The Crimean Tatars are not the stuff your dentist scrapes off of your teeth
  8. Islamic History, Part 18: the conquest of Iberia (711-759)
  9. Not even worth a trial?
  10. Islamic History, part 21: The Abbasids take over (750-786)

It was also a pretty good year for writing stuff that other people published, and for getting to say stuff on TV that somebody else later dubbed into Arabic. I hope to keep doing those things in the new year, but more often.

I want to thank you all sincerely for reading this blog and to ask your help in building it further in the new year. If you read something here that you like, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, wherever, or if you enjoy the site overall please let your friends know about it. Likewise, if there are things I can do to improve the place, or if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered here, leave a comment about it and I’ll do my best. I’d love to be able to come back here next year and say that page views increased another 400%, but I can’t do it without you! Thanks again and Happy New Year to you and yours!


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