There has been some conversation lately about the appearance of a certain gay ROTC-supporting doppelganger of mine whose name - Learned Foote - actually does appear on his birth certificate. Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal decided that only the story behind the other guy's name was worthy of note. Once again, I find myself doing the reporting that the MSM will not do, and offer this story on the origins of my moniker.
Far from the polished delivery and professional graphics you expect from today's KAR, this ThunderJournal had a much humbler, dashed-off birth. In fact, the origins of KAR had it's germ in this 2004 conversation between me and my then next door neighbor Bill:
BILL: Did you see Nick Coleman's column this morning?
FOOT: No, but I did read some extremely stupid letters to the editor.
BILL: I read those too. Almost as dumb as Nick Coleman's pap.
FOOT: If only there were some sort of medium that offers instant turn-key publishing capabilities, hyperlinks, reader commenting and the capability of displaying offensive photoshopped graphics through which we can tell the world how dumb these people are. If. Only.
BILL: Oh, you're thinking of a "blog".
FOOT: A what now?
BILL: A "blog". It's an online web page that does all those things you just mentioned!
FOOT: I see. I'll have to look into that.
BILL: We could start a blog. We could be as big as Power Line!
FOOT: Big as what, now?
And so the next day I googled that word, and I got all manner of weird results. So I called up Bill and he clarified it for me. The first hit was something called "blogspot" (now under a new name), which promised: "a free blog publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world."
Sharing your thoughts!
This is obviously exactly what I was looking for! FREE!
I hastily set up KAR (the choice of name having been extensively discussed elsewhere on this ThunderJournal). And shot off an e-mail to Bill.
FOOT: I've set up a "blob". Sign up and post something.
BILL: Awesome! I'm going in.
FOOT: No we just sit back, wait for some guy to kill himself with a sherry enema, and watch the traffic roll in!
All that was left to do was to come up with a cool handle. I didn't have much time to think of such things. And I knew that I didn't want to use my real name for reasons that have also been discussed extensively elsewhere. As a new attorney barely a year removed from being sworn into the Minnesota bar, the first thought that popped into my head was the name stalwart 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judge Learned Hand.
Obviously, I couldn't use "Learned Hand". Some other dead guy already had taken it. How about switching out the surname for another appendage?
Learned Thumb? No.
Learned Penis? Ha! No. (Although, if I had to do it over, I'd seriously consider this one.)
LearnedFoot? Eh. OK.
Total elapsed time: about 17 seconds.
That's all there is to it. And another fun fact: the missing space between "Learned" and "Foot" is attributable to my misconception at the time that the poster name was the same as the username and therefore had to be a single word with no spaces. Originally, I had an underscore in there, but I found that underscores were a terrible pain in the ass to type, what with having to depress the shift key and all.
I think that Hand's name occurred to me first because he was an incredibly elegant writer. He has penned some of the most famous judicial opinions to not come out of the Supreme Court. This is undeniably because he was a crackerjack jurist. But it also had to do with how well he could articulate his reasoning. In fact, in ranking the writing chops of jurists based on their published decisions, I'd have to say that Hand ranks just behind Benjamin Cardozo and this guy as the greatest opinion writers of all time.
I'd like to think that I chose the name as an homage to that uber-literate man; as a brand name that aspired to a higher literary standard than the syntax-challenged illiteracy that characterizes 95% of all the blogs out there and 137% of all comment sections.
Nah. I was in a hurry.
And now you know...The Rest. Of. The. Story.