It’s 12:04 AM now. The start of a new day. My brother Dante’s family has just left, along with my brother Steve, after a great dinner that Richelle put together. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep and waking up with her, and Xena our puppy. Drinking coffee together. Opening gifts. Going to church. Then spending the day with her family.
I used to hate Christmas. To me it was a holiday that could only be enjoyed by those who had ‘normal’ lives – people with functioning families – which mine was not. My memories of Christmas past are filled with Salvation Army Santas visiting us, with credit cards driving my mom to bankruptcy, of a sense of what we did not have – of greed.
So if Christmas is about being joyful with no reason to it – then from the perspective I came from – it was bullshit. Like the line in “I Will Buy You A New Life” says: I hate those people who love to tell you, Money is the root of all that kills, They have never been poor, They have never had the joy of a welfare christmas
So here I am now – with a paying job – with a family as normal as one can get – and I am thankful. I don’t feel I deserve to be this blessed. I struggle with that sometimes. But most important – it’s only from *this* perspective that I can see that if a sad soul like myself can make it to a place like this – then anyone can. That God has a place for all of us. Something I most certainly didn’t believe as a kid.
All of a sudden, the man in front of me soils himself. I guess his sphincter just relaxes. Shit runs down onto his shoes, but he keeps walking. He doesn’t seem to notice.
“However, I do. I clapped a hand over my mouth and nose, and my eyes bugged out but I couldn’t get out of line because of the crush behind me. And so, holding my breath, I walk into the windowless, airless room.
“Now, this meeting has a greeter, which is a person who stands at the door saying hello. And this one is a biker with a shaved head, a huge gut and a Volga boatman mustache. He gets one whiff of the man with shit on his shoes and throws up all over everything.
“You’ve seen the Edvard Munch painting of the guy on the bridge screaming, right? That’s me. That’s what I look like. But Terry enters theroom right behind me. And there’s total pandemonium, no one knows what to do.The man who had soiled himself stumbles forward and plops down in a chair. A fan blows the terrible smells of shit and vomit around the windowless room,and people start smoking just to fill in the spaces in the air. Finally Terry reaches out to the greeter, who had thrown up. He puts his hand on the man’s shoulder.
“Wow,” he says. “Looks like you got caught by surprise.” And they both laugh. Right? Terry asks a couple of guys to go with him down the hall to the men’s room, and help this guy get cleaned up. There are towels there, and kitty litter, to absorb various effluvia, because this is a meeting where people show up routinely in pretty bad shape. So while they’re helping the greeter get cleaned up, other people start cleaning up the meeting room. Then Terry approaches the other man.
“My friend,” he says gently, “it looks like you have trouble here.”
The man just nods.
“We’re going to give you a hand,” says Terry.
“So three men from the recovery house next door help him to his feet, walk him to the halfway house and put him in the shower. They wash hisclothes and shoes and give him their things to wear while he waits. They give him coffee and dinner, and they give him respect. I talked to these other men later, and even though they had very little sobriety, they did not cast this other guy off for not being well enough to be there. Some how this broken guy was treated like one of them, because they could see that he was one of them. No one was pretending he wasn’t covered with shit, but there wasa real sense of kinship. And that is what we mean when we talk about grace.
“Back at the meeting at the Episcopal Cathedral, I was just totally amazed by what I had seen. And I had a little shred of hope. I couldn’t have put it into words, but until that meeting, I had thought that I would recover with men and women like myself; which is to say, over educated, fun to be with and housebroken. And that this would happen quickly and efficiently. But I was wrong. So I’ll tell you what the promise of Advent is: It is that God has set up a tent among us and will help us work together on our stuff. And this will only happen over time.
“For you, Crabby Miss, and for me; together, over time.”
Merry Christmas. May there be peace on earth and good will towards all.
I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dan Gillmor, who has announced his upcoming launch of the Center for Citizen Media, a nonprofit whose goals are to “study, encourage and help enable the emergent grassroots media sphere, with a major focus on citizen journalism.”
My fellow co-workers will attest that I am an honest critic to a fault. So when I say that among those I have had the pleasure of working with over the years, few have impressed upon me such a degree of integrity, honesty, and vision – well it means something.
First, here at home: The New York Times publishes an editorial on Diebold and The Business of Voting: Paper trails are important, but they are no substitute for voting machine manufacturers of unquestioned integrity.
Diebold is inching ever closer to mainstream news coverage. Speaking of questionable voting systems….
…The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.
Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.
The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.
The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.
…Iran will be pleased that the Shia religious parties which it has supported, have become the strongest political force.
…”People underestimate how religious Iraq has become,” said one Iraqi observer. “Iran is really a secular society with a religious leadership, but Iraq will be a religious society with a religious leadership.”
…The break-up of Iraq has been brought closer by the election. The great majority of people who went to the polls voted as Shia, Sunni or Kurds – and not as Iraqis. The forces pulling Iraq apart are stronger than those holding it together.
The US Music Publishers’ Association (MPA), which represents sheet music companies, will launch its first campaign against such sites in 2006.
MPA president Lauren Keiser said he wanted site owners to be jailed.
He said unlicensed guitar tabs and song scores were widely available on the internet but were “completely illegal”.
Mr Keiser said he did not just want to shut websites and impose fines, saying if authorities can “throw in some jail time I think we’ll be a little more effective”.
Lo and behold, my favorite tab site on the web shut down in reaction to it: Powertabs.net.
Back in 1998 this happened to OLGA, it went overseas and relaunched. OLGA has a solid claim on being the first collaborative file archive on the web – 1992. Guitar tablature written by fans, for fans, in plain text. It is still running today. But probably not for long.
LATimes: At Inland Base, Scientologists Trained Top Gun: As Scientology’s highest-ranking figure, Miscavige, 45, has found in Cruise, 43, not just a fervent and famous believer but an effective messenger whose passion the church has harnessed to help fuel its worldwide growth. “Across 90 nations, 5,000 people hear his word of Scientology — every hour,” International Scientology News proclaimed last year. “Every minute of every hour someone reaches for LRH technology … simply because they know Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.”
Did you watch the Apprentice on Thursday? Come on. Admit it. Okay then, be a snob. If you missed it, you missed awesome live television. Randal revealed himself the dick he was on winning. Richelle and me were speechless and friends at work argued over if he was right in doing what he did.
As is typical, the negatives get shouted loud and clear and sometimes hard realities, and positives that should be heard get lost in the uproar.
Building systems that people rely on is hard. Building systems that touch the public even harder. I’ve been there (indeed I *am*there) myself. But as Brent says, building weblog systems is especially difficult, “It’s not just hard work, it can be tough on the psyche too – you’re talking about weblogs, which people feel are an extension of themselves. It’s not some boring abstract thing, not at all, it’s about people’s passions. Their lives, really.”
The folks at Six Apart have handled this outage admirably in many ways:
1. No one lost data.
2. They are back online!
3. Six Apart, and Anil Dash in particular, was fantastic at reaching out and being communicative about what was going on, as it was going on. A rare thing for any company. A lot of grace under pressure.
Read Anil’s in-depth interview with Niall Kennedy for example. Niall is community manager for Technorati, which has dealt with, and has solved, scaling/performance issues themselves, so the interview is from one who has faced similar circumstances. Frank and informative.
Personally, while I am a do-it-yourselfer, I have recommended TypePad as a great blog hosting service for folks who need more than what Blogger.com provides. I’m even more likely to do so now.
Saddly, I missed a party being held by a friend, didn’t make it to the blogger meetup, and band practice imploaded (as it is apt to do sometimes). But I did get to hang out with my brother for a bit, and for that, it was a good day.