The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.
In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But … that is not what great ships are built for.
This comes with much love and prayer that you remember Who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.
Writing tonight’s CAC op-ed was the first several-hundred-word piece I’ve written in a while. Looking through my blog shows that I used to do this on a regular basis. Used to do it with ease.
It’s difficult to pin down what has changed. Certainly I’m older and It’s harder than it used to be to string words together. My suspected Gulf War Illness could be another factor. Still, it’s also true that the nature of online communications has changed.
Many people started their Internet experience using America Online (AOL). Nothing wrong with that, of course, but my beef with AOL was the beautiful walled garden that it provided: people would log on and think there was no world beyond AOL.
Today the same could be said about Facebook. Facebook has captured much of the attention that used to be on blogs like mine, only now it’s also walled off and shot through with conniving advertisements. It’s all built to encourage short attention spans, while blogging can be as robust as I feel like making it.
Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter) has worked hard to try to turn me from a producer back into a consumer again. It is an easy trap to fall into – “there are so many voices out there, what can I add with mine?”
And yet, people still visit my site. I still have many gems I’ve written here and I can tell the story of my life exactly the way I want to tell it. This is more valuable than ever.
Maybe I still have it, maybe I don’t, but there’s no doubt of the value of my words here. Let me know if you want to see more.
Update 12 Feb: After some back-and-forth with the N&O editorial staff, I have trimmed my op-ed into a long letter.
I wrote and submitted this 500-word Op-Ed to the News and Observer tonight. I hope they run it. I will be forever passionate about citizen engagement (real citizen engagement) and oppose any efforts to water it down.
A Requiem for Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Councils
In 1974, amid concerns that Raleigh’s rapid growth was distancing city leaders from the community they served, Mayor Clarence Lightner launched Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Councils (CACs). CACs offered a forum where citizens and government officials could share information and concerns. For over 46 years, the city’s 18 CACs and their parent organization, the Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council (RCAC) was the only advisory board not appointed by City Council, a unique status that granted neighbors the freedom to discuss what was important to them and a means to provide unfiltered insight to City Council. Sadly, in a vote that demonstrated a shocking lack of transparency and good government, Raleigh’s mayor and City Council abruptly ended this decades-long partnership with nothing ready to take its place.
Much has been made of the (merely advisory) role CACs played in rezoning cases but CACs were so much more. When a neighbor lost her home and husband in a tragic fire, CAC neighbors pulled together to collect clothes and furniture. After the April 2011 tornadoes ripped through Raleigh, CAC volunteers were in the streets clearing debris and distributing water. In response to crime concerns, CACs worked with landlords to implement after-school activities for their teen residents and worked with the Raleigh Police Department to open neighborhood offices. CACs provided a neutral forum where police could meet with wary neighbors and build new connections and trust. CACs organized community events that promoted health and distributed school supplies to neighborhood kids. With CACs it didn’t matter what race you were, how wealthy you were, what your age was, or whether you rented or owned your home: if you were a resident your voice counted. You had a seat at the table.
Like any organization, CACs had their challenges. The unvarnished feedback CACs gave was not always welcome (especially to some developers, though almost all projects won CAC favor). CACs faced a continual fight for shrinking city resources and support. And, yes, CACs were known to butt heads at times but it is precisely this independence that gave CACs their strength: chairs were answerable only to their neighbors.
It is this independence that Raleigh will miss the most. Every other city advisory board is driven from the top down; its work must first be approved by the City Council. How can we ensure citizen concerns will be adequately addressed when city council alone controls the conversation? Who will be doing the listening and who will be doing the talking? Without the crucial independence enjoyed by CACs, community engagement quickly devolves into a one-way conversation. Partnership has been fatally wounded.
Raleigh’s CACs represented one of the most beautiful forms of democracy: neighbors coming together to work things out. Our city will be hard-pressed to improve on it.
This is a fantastic oral history of the greatest Super Bowl Halftime show ever, the 2007 show performed by Prince, of course.
Coplin: I would be watching the monitors and trying to factor my own opinion about the show, but no matter what you see in the television truck, you have no sort of sense of what people at home are experiencing. And I remember just my phone started blowing up. Like, “OMG, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.” I just had all these people, friends, colleagues, people in the business, just really losing their minds on my texts. And that’s when I knew that this thing was really maybe even better than we thought it was gonna be.
Nathan Vasher (Bears cornerback): The last two or three minutes, I peeked out of the tunnel. I didn’t want to go all the way out there, but for two or three minutes I got to witness greatness. I haven’t experienced that greatness again.
I was wandering through my MT.Net archives and noticed I had linked to a Triangle Business Journal story on the revival of Oculan. The story included this quote, which for some reason I just noticed was a slap in the face to me (hey it’s only been 18 years, right?):
Where Oculan stumbled, said independent analyst Richard Ptak, of Ptak, Noel & Associates in Amherst, N.H., was in the marketing.
“They had a very nice solution and a good strategy, but were never able to communicate why it was a good product,” Ptak said. “A lot of tech entrepreneurs think all they need is a better mousetrap, but nobody buys technology for the sake of technology anymore. They buy it because it’ll solve a problem.”
Well, Mr. Ptak, Oculan did a fantastic job communicating why it was a good product. Not only did it have an outstanding team of sales engineers out pitching it, the damn product sold itself. Your quote about a better mousetrap shows your ignorance.
Neil Peart, legendary Rush drummer, died on Friday from brain cancer at the age of 67. I’ve seen Rush in concert a few times and enjoyed most of their music. I especially enjoyed their “Rush: Behind the Lighted Stage” documentary.
In spite of their misfit nature ad limited radio airplay, Rush sold a ton of albums.
Here’s a great piece by the New Yorker about Neil and Rush. Rest in peace, Neil.
Neil Peart, the lyricist and virtuosic drummer of the Canadian progressive-rock band Rush, died on Tuesday, in Santa Monica, California. He was sixty-seven, and had been fighting brain cancer for several years. Rush formed in Toronto, in 1968 (Peart joined in 1974), and released nineteen studio albums, ten of which have sold more than a million copies in the U.S. According to Billboard, Rush presently ranks third, behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band.
Called this yesterday, too. Iran was fully capable of killing many Americans here but chose not to. They may be saner than Trump.
Iran is believed to have deliberately sought to avoid U.S. military casualties in missile strikes on bases housing American troops in Iraq launched in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, according to U.S. and European government sources familiar with intelligence assessments.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday the Iranians were thought to have targeted the attacks to miss U.S. forces to prevent the crisis from escalating out of control while still sending a message of Iranian resolve. A source in Washington said overnight that early indications were of no U.S. casualties, while other U.S. officials declined comment.
Called this yesterday. Loss of a single engine won’t down a plane and Iranian officials declared it a mechanical problem before the fires were even out. Condolences to the victims.
WASHINGTON — An Iranian missile accidentally brought down a Ukrainian jetliner over Iran this week, killing everyone aboard, American and allied officials said on Thursday, adding a tragic coda to the escalated military conflict between Washington and Tehran.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said his country had intelligence that an Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down the jetliner, which was carrying 63 Canadians among its some 176 passengers and crew. Mr. Trudeau said his conclusion was based on a preliminary review of the evidence but called for a full investigation “to be convinced beyond all doubt.”
One from 919-373-6758 read:
“Hey there, so sorry if I have the wrong number. I am Pat and would love to contact [homeowner]. Regarding a property in [homeowner address], in order to determine if there is interest in selling. Do I have the right number?”
the other from 919-769-6879, read:
“Hey there, This is Pat, I am trying to reach out [homeowner – sic]. Regarding a property in [homeowner address], to see if selling it would be an option. You wouldn’t know the owner or would you?”
Both were sent at the same time of day, 9:33 AM, but on two separate days. They were from two different phone numbers as well. Another neighbor received a similar text on Nov 20th, I’m told. (Coincidentally, I’ve been getting and ignoring scammy calls at home from 919-769-68xx numbers for several weeks now).
Being the curious sort, I did a few Google searches for this text and came across a number of similar texts, only from different alleged people. A search of the venerable 800notes.com shows only one other similar text, this one from “Alex” from the number 832-934-9960:
“Hello, apologies if this is not a good number. This is Alex, I am looking for [homeowner]. Regarding a property in [homeowner address], in order to see if selling it would be an option. You don’t know the owner or do you?”
Obviously these are connected. How many people are getting them? How come there isn’t more information about them online? How is it that both my friends got the texts on separate days but at 9:33 AM on those days? And what’s the ultimate goal here? Is this just some bot that is out there, doing data cleanup to match phone numbers with names and addresses?
I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about this supposed scam.
Update 10 Jan:
I found another Internet hit, this thread on the City-Data website. This one’s from someone in Minnesota and dates from November 2018:
Over the past several months, I have been getting texts asking if I want to sell my house in Maricopa County. Each one has a different phone #. each message has a different message. My wife has gotten a couple as well (again, a different phone # and message each time).
Today, I got this one which is pretty typical:
“Hi (and my actual 1st name)! My name is Alex, I’m a local home buyer reaching out to see if you’re interested in an offer for your home on (my actual address)? Thx
I refuse to text back. But a couple of times, I called with my Google Phone # (same phone but with a hidden #) and got a vmail message asking to leave my name and address. I left out the address but gave my google, non-traceable #) and said that I wanted to sell my property”. No response….
I googled the number that came in on the text just today which is 480-531-6397. Another time from 623-295-0692 (he was “looking to buy a house in our neighborhood”). There are other phone #’s. I’m not alone with the 623 extension https://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-623-295-0692
Does anybody know what their scam might be? People who have called or texted back haven’t gotten a call back. Something smells fishy.
The most recent entry (again, November 2018) on that 800notes page adds a new name to the mystery, a “Tim.”
Got a text message. Says his name is Tim with Home Buyers. Wanted to see if I wanted to sell my house.
The user “superstition480” on the City-Data thread says the outfit is “1 800 Fair Offer”:
The main company doing this, is called “1 800 Fair Offer”. They illegally robocall consumers trying to buy their houses FAR below market value. The company is owned by an arrogant guy named Sean Terry. This goof actually has videos posted on YouTube to teach his followers how to illegally robocall for more leads. I am in the process of filing a complaint with the Arizona State Attorney General’s office, and am also considering a class action suit against this company for their illegal robocalling.
I’m going to see what I can find out about “1 800 Fair Offer” and if there have been any complaints against them for illegal robocalling/texting.
Facebook kicked these guys off their ad platform in August 2019. Apparently that didn’t last long as I got two ads for The Epoch Times in my Facebook feed today:
I guess Zuckerberg loves money more than morals.
Facebook has banned The Epoch Times, a conservative news outlet that spent more money on pro-Trump Facebook advertisements than any group other than the Trump campaign, from any future advertising on the platform.
The decision follows an NBC News report that The Epoch Times had shifted its spending on Facebook in the last month, seemingly in an effort to obfuscate its connection to some $2 million worth of ads that promoted the president and conspiracy theories about his political enemies.
“Over the past year we removed accounts associated with the Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”Facebook’s decision came as a result of a review prompted by questions from NBC News. The spokesperson explained that ads must include disclaimers that accurately represent the name of the ad’s sponsors.