Posts from December 2002

Christmas 2002: Snow is falling

Christmas 2002
: Snow is falling here now; the earth is white against the dark. The children are in bed with their dreams. Santa is on his way. The church service is over. The candles are dark. The presents are out. The stockings are hung. There’s beautiful music still on TV. And there’s still a little wine left in my glass.

And I sit here wondering whether it feels like Christmas yet.

I think back to last Christmas and know that much has changed. Last year, so close to September 11th, I was a mess and only now do I know how much of a mess I was. A few weeks ago, I took our son to one of our holiday traditions: a road production of A Christmas Carol. It’s warm yet cheesy. Still, last year, at every emotional cue, I was practically weepy. This year, I was just me again: stiff stuffed into those little theater seats. Last Christmas eve, I had the same problem in our church service during practically every hymn: they tore into the soul. This Christmas eve — tonight — I was simply worried about finding my bass notes in those same hymns.

Is Christmas returning to normal or have I grown a callous around my soul?

Last Christmas, I mourned the 3,000 dead of September 11th and feared for the future. I wrote in this weblog (in archives that have mysteriously disappeared):

So 2,000 years ago, we are led to believe, strife and suffering in the Holy Land led God to send his only son to Earth to wash away our sins and give mankind the hope of a new beginning.

Now, exactly 2,000 years later, at this Christmas, there is still strife and suffering in the Holy Land and it has spread the world around, escalating to nothing less than a World War against terrorism and evil now being fought at our door.

Yes, this is a depressing thought — not exactly the gift you were hoping for this Christmas.

It would seem as if we’ve made no progress in all this time. In fact, it would seem as if we’ve made things even worse. And if we are left still with sin and suffering and without hope, then perhaps God also made a mess of things or did what He did in vain. It can look like that.

But stop there. Now is the time — if there ever were a time — to look at what Christmas actually means. And I come to believe that Christmas is not about the light — the star, the gifts, the warmth, the virtue — but instead about the contrast, about the dark around it. Christmas is about the need for hope among the hopeless, virtue amidst sin, light in the darkness….

So Christmas is not lessened this year because it is a bad year. No, precisely because it is a bad year, Christmas is more needed, more meaningful. For Christmas is a time for the future — for our children and for hope.

This Christmas, we mourn the death of my wife’s father, a wonderful man sorely missed.

I don’t know whether I’m having trouble igniting Christmas because of that or because of that callous grown over the last year and a few months.

I’ll probably know by next year.

Right now, I just look forward to tomorrow morning as much as my children do, in their dreams. I can’t wait to share in their joy, the greater gift than our presents.

For Christmas is still Christmas for them.

I hope Christmas is still Christmas for you and yours.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

New VLOG address…: The good

New VLOG address…
: The good news is that Glenn Reynolds linked to my latest VLOG. The bad news is that Glenn Reynolds linked to my latest VLOG and it being video, the bandwidth choked like Trent Lott saying he supports affirmative action.

But I found another place to serve the video (and I’m investigating other sources).

Sony has a neat (if too neat) site called Screenblast that offers 50 megs of free storage and unlimited bandwidth. That is the good news. THe bad news? The site is as difficult to navigate as Trend Lott’s morals.

But here is an address for my video showcase that should work. Go there and click on the MEDIA 2002 link and you will (I hope) get the video to which Glenn so generously links.

I’ve disabled the link to the vlog on my server temporarily; will reactivate it as soon as the server can breath again.

(I repeated this post above)

A new vlog: The year in blogs and media
: I just put up another vlog that combines my view of the year in blogs with Glenn Reynolds’ (below) with the item about old radio (below). I’m still experiimenting to find the right voice for these vlogs and that’s why I’m using material I’ve already put online in print.

Please use this vlog showcase address: Alternately: I put up both a high-bandwidth version here (on a page that — thanks to my HTMLing son — now includes links mentioned in the VLOG and an embedded media player) and also a pretty cruddy low-bandwidth version here.

: For the script of the vlog, click the “more” linke below.


The future: Glenn Reynolds —

The future
: Glenn Reynolds — who better? — looks back at the year in blogging.

And what a year this has been. Blogging passed from its founders and their tech interests into a wider world, thanks to 9.11, with more bloggers, more interests, a larger audience, and greater influence. Blogs played a part in our post-9.11 world and will forever be part of that record. They played a part in politics, most notably the Lott story. And they are beginning to play a part in media, showing a new relationship to the audience, giving the audience a new voice, finding new ways to create media.

At the end of his column, Glenn looks to the future with a generous tip of the Instapundit fedora to vlogs and mobile moblogging.

What’s clear is that the professionalization of journalism

Attention spans: Thanks to the

Attention spans
: Thanks to the University of Virginia [via Die Zeit], here is a full day of radio programming for a Washington station on Sept. 21, 1939. Note:

: Most shows were 15 minutes long. Since when — and why — did 30 and 60 minutes become the standard? And why are we latter-day Americans accused of developing short attention spans? Radio back then was short and sweet — and it was onto something. All you have to do is watch one episode of Dateline NBC that stretches a six-minute story into 60 minutes and you’ll agree that TV could stand a haircut.

: The quality of the programming is not what it is cracked up to be. I have long said that the supposed Golden Age of TV was just shlocky vaudeville; this is the real Golden Age. I have been similarly suspicious of the wonders of radio. This bears out my suspicion. It has its moments (for example, the news writing on old radio is so much more vivid, since it does not rely on either pictures or sound) but all in all, what we have today beats the hell out of what they had then.

: Listening to radio is frankly boring (unless you’re stuck in your car). TV is better. That is why I now push vlogs. Many of us had experimented with audio blogging but that just didn’t work for me; it was boring (and a bit embarrassing) just sitting there listening to my PC. We expect more today and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yahoo-oo: So Yahoo buys Inktomi.

: So Yahoo buys Inktomi. Says George Mannes at The Street:

Yahoo!, conceivably, could use Inktomi to replace all or part of the search results it receives from Google. On the other hand, Microsoft, whose MSN portal competes with Yahoo!, may not be interested in using Inktomi’s technology once it’s acquired by Yahoo!, giving Google an opportunity to take Inktomi’s place on MSN. Inktomi, which was a pioneer in automated Web search technology, has seen its prominence overshadowed by that of Google and its own formulas for finding relevant search results for Internet users.

On the one hand, Yahoo gets a search engine cheap. On the other hand, it gets the also-ran search engine that is clearly behind Google in quality and acceptance.

Woof: Norwegian mother takes orphaned

: Norwegian mother takes orphaned puppies to her own breast.

Vlog revolt I am watching

Vlog revolt
I am watching Andy Rooney waste dots on a screen once again, blathering and fumbling about packaging, about a camera packed inside foam inside a box and how that is supposed to reveal something absurd about life.


Tell me that any of you could not create a vlog with far better, more meaningful, more compelling, more informative, more entertaining commentary than Andy Rooney.

Sports is just sweat: Glenn

Sports is just sweat
: Glenn Reynolds suggests that the World Trade Center site should be given over to a baseball stadium.

Ah, drugs, betting, and greed.

Now there is a real symbol of American corruption.

: Continuing our sports report, Tony Blair is ready to give up Britain’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.

He has that right.

New York is already getting gaga over the prospect of having the Olympics.

I’m not.

They are wildly expensive.

They bring security risks to a city that does not need them.

They will overcrowd an already overcrowded town.

The games are forever tainted by drugs, gambling, greed, and politics; they are not the symbol that they once were (or that we thought they were).

Go, Tony!

: Meanwhile in Texas, they want to just go full circle and turn the Astrodome into a casino.