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How can we make the brave decision to create a project entirely or substantially using Open Source Software (OSS)? In this article I take a look at a few ways in how we can justify the use of OSS for our projects and the criteria we can use to make the right selection

The Open Source Software Conundrum

Risk vs. Reward

So you’ve got a brand new Greenfield project and a budget and you’re raring to ago. You know you will be judged not only for delivering your project on time but also keeping a tight hold of your budget.

“So I know,” says the inner IT muse, “I shall brave the wilds of the Open Source menagerie and reap the rewards by being lauded by my peers and score with the bean-counters by using free software!”

You may be on to something there, the rewards for going the OSS route is that it is practically license free (a fact that your CFO will like), is admired and supported by many including your peers, and in many cases have huge and active user communities. But before you go down this path you need to also consider carefully the risks.

One risk of using OSS is that many open source projects are developed by a community that work in their spare time. It stands to reason therefore that they may have limited time to fix bugs that may well be a showstopper to the progress of your project. The OSS you choose for your project may also fail in time or be orphaned, due to a myriad different reasons that are entirely out of your control. OSS typically has a steeper learning curve, requiring more skilled resources working on your project that in turn raises the question of opportunity and hiring costs that need to be considered.  Unlike their professional brethren, OSS may not have the required community help you need provided in a timely manner and this can lead to costly project timeline overruns. OSS also often do not always have the best documentation and this can again lead to project time lost. All these are serious and important considerations that cannot be dismissed lightly.

An Open Source Strategy 

So do we give up on an Open Source strategy and move to an expensive and often bloated software solution with the substantial costs? Sometimes this is necessary and there is nothing wrong with that approach if it makes sense in your case. What I propose here, however, is a simple selection strategy you can use to decide if Open Source is the way to go for your project.

The assumptions I make here are that you are not dealing with some intractable legacy issue and that you have more or less a Greenfield project to work on.

1. Examine your Resources

This should always be your starting point once you have an approximate idea about the kinds of software you will need for your project (e.g., Operating System to host apps, Coding platform). Even in a Greenfield type project you would first need to examine who you can bring in on the project and what they will cost. By costs I don’t simply mean salaries though that will indeed be a major part of your OPEX budget but also opportunity costs. What else can or should they be working on based on the over-arching initiatives of the business? So in looking at your resources first work these priorities out and then assuming you have a team you can assemble have a good understanding of what their skill sets are. Do an analysis on their expertise on the key software you plan to introduce. Running on Linux? Fine, how good is your Sys-admin team on not just Linux but the flavour or Linux you are considering using? Plan to utilize a MySQL cluster? Does your DBA have any experience in the MySQL cluster engine or will he or she have to pick it up?

Having to learn new things is one of the joys of being in IT so it is certainly no showstopper but you will have to factor the time in for your project, and sometimes this can be a considerable factor.

Sometimes in doing your analyses on your available resources you may realize that going down the open source is not your best solution. In that case be always pragmatic and go with the strengths of your team.

2. Choosing the OSS

Ok so you’ve done your resources analysis and you’ve picked or are about to hire your team. At this point you should have some idea about the software you want to use for the project. However typically you will have a range of software that you can use for each part of the piece and will need to drill down. For example, your team has a Linux expert so you can go in that direction but what flavour of Linux (of the many dozen distributions and flavours out there)? For example, does it need to be ready for enterprise use? How exactly do you select the OSS for you? Personally I have found the following criteria handy for the given situation I am in. I choose my OSS based on the following criteria, and I typically require the answer be a ‘Yes’ in all 3 of the criteria listed below:

A.)  Are there companies of the size I am working in or larger using this software for professional projects?

If the answer to this question is yes it gives me some assurance that others before me have beat this part and succeeded. A lot of IT decision making and strategy is based on an assurance of future success and it helps to know that someone else has done so – albeit for what could be a very different project with different resources etc. – but it can be, and more importantly has been done. If you need further assurance than simply call or email the project manager or CTO/CIO of the company in question. I find that colleagues are only too happy to share their hard won knowledge if approached politely and can have extremely valuable insight for your project ahead.

B.)  Is there a large and active user base and community both using and supporting this software?

If the answer is yes it increases my confidence level in the success of this project. It means that there is every chance that this project is not going to end soon and that should I have questions that need to be answered they will get answered in a timely fashion.

C.) Is there a Professional Services package you could purchase for the software in question?

More often than not, an IT decision maker will choose a professional proprietary software vendor on the strength of its support program. This makes sense as it’s his or her job on the line when things fail and having someone else to turn to (or pass the blame to!) in a timely fashion, seems like a smart move. However all joking aside, OSS that have a Professional Services package only makes sense. The risk of not being able to get answers when you need it and the time wasted in finding an alternate solution late in the project is too costly by far. You can mitigate this by paying for the appropriate level of support you need.

 Conclusions 

When I choose an OSS I tend to make sure that all 3 of these criteria are met as a minimum and that the Resource question also makes sense for your given situation. In making this fairly simple analysis you can improve the odds of success in selecting the right OSS for your next project.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Pope-mania strikes Sydney

 
Sydney, July 18th, 2008 Dateline Sydney! (I’ve always wanted to say that). Pope-mania thrives unfettered like a ravenous pig going through rancid kim-chee. City inundated with pilgrims. Flag-waving, off-key singing, dancing in a circle, marauding pilgrims. Roads closed in seemingly random fashion. Probably a million Sydney residents dazed and confused (more than usual) about how to get to and from work. Thousands upon thousands of man-hours of work lost as people ogle and jostle and otherwise strain their bodies to take a gander at the Pope as he navigates the crowded streets of Sydney in his Pope-mobile. A quote reported on the Sydney Morning Herald website by one Liba Vazquez, 17, who gushed “It’s amazing … I felt lifted. He’s like Jesus Christ on earth…it was worth waiting two hours in the cold for a glimpse of the Pope”. Her brother Amadeo was a tad more reserved in his praise with, “Just seeing the Pope is something.” So this brings me up to point of this blog. What is all the fuss about? Why are people making ridiculous claims about what is after all, I’m pretty sure, a man, and going through extraordinary efforts to simply catch a glimpse of him (I have no idea why anyone wants to catch a glimpse of anyone famous for that matter – how does that enrich their lives?).

To understand this a bit better you have to understand what most Catholics believe – or are asked to believe. I should point out here that I myself am not Catholic but used to be a rather devout Christian in my youth, however that is not germane to the points I am making in this blog as I do not think it makes me any more qualified to make the points I make. So what do Catholics believe about the Pope? They believe in Papal infallibility.

What this actually means is quite interesting. From wikipedia, ‘In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is the dogma that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation. For all such infallible teachings, the Holy Spirit also works through the body of the Church to ensure that the teaching will be received by all Catholics.’ So from this one can draw two clear conclusions. The Pope doesn’t make mistakes when he makes one of his papal declarations and if you don’t believe it its pretty much your fault because you clearly don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding you!

So I thought it would be fun to examine one of the less common edicts from the infallible one. I am referring to the edict known, rather melodramatically, as The Defect of Birth. This edict stipulates quite simply that someone born illegitimately is not allowed to become a Priest in the Catholic church.

Apparently it was Pope Urban II (1088-99) who prohibited the ordination of the illegitimate offspring of clerics, unless they became members of approved orders. The Council of Poitiers, under Paschal II (1099-1118), extended this prohibition to all of illegitimate birth. These regulations were later approved by other Popes and Councils.

So let’s think about this for a second. One of the infallible decrees handed down through the ages suggests that one is tainted for the sin’s of one’s parents. Leaving aside that Mary the mother of Jesus was herself impregnated in mysterious ways (let’s just leave it at that shall we?) the fact that thinking human beings can accept that a person is responsible for the sins of their parents, I frankly find obscene. I struggle to understand how a religion that talks about the forgiveness of sins (the absolution of sins by some Priestly mumbo-jumbo in the case of Catholics) will somehow accept that a Priest can be tainted because their parents might have had him illegitimately. And what about rape? There were have an interesting moral conundrum as the Catholic church exerts its papal will quite energetically over the subject of abortion under almost any circumstances. And yet an act of violence perpetrated against a woman who is wholly innocent and the illegitimate child born out of following one’s conscience and the Church’s teachings against abortion, will not be ever allowed to become a Priest.

Forgive for for saying this but this sounds more like idiocy rather than infallibility. And for this the masses throng the streets and strain to get a sight of a man, just a man no matter how good he may try to be, that they believe is the embodiment of Christ on earth.

Interesting times we live in.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a princess. And her name was Paula. Princess Paula was as kind, and sweet and gentle as the day was long – and the days were very very long in the part of the world where she came from – and she was much loved by all the people in the land. Princes Paula’s favorite past-time was to go riding through her vast estates on her chestnut brown mare Sallymae Brown. These long rides gave her the time to think, and enjoy the fresh cool forest air. Usually she would go for miles before even meeting another soul as the grounds were very vast and the meandering paths she took every day – though varied, were always through the secluded and mysterious Whispering Forest. One day, as she came across a bubbling brook that she had not remembered ever seeing before, she saw a man – who’s face was completely hidden by a rather large, round hat, sitting on the ground with one leg stretched out straight and one bent. Out of the bent leg protruded a long and nasty looking arrow with bright red and green feathers. The shaft of the arrow was the blackest black she had ever seen and it gave her a chill up her spine to see it! A gasp escaped her pretty lips as nothing at all like this had ever happened to her before! She was, a very cautious and sensible Princess, so approached him slowly. He looked almost as if he was dozing off and appeared to pose no immediate threat.

 

“Hello? Do you need any help?”, she almost whispered. He removed his large round hat and slowly looked up and meowed ever so sorrowfully! Yes, dear reader, he meowed for to Princess Paula’s astonishment there before her was a being with the body of a man and the head of a orange marmalade tabby – only proportional – if you gather my meaning. He had the most luminous brown eyes and as she looked on in amazement he meowed pitifully again only this time, instead of just hearing the meow, she thought she could also make out what he was saying. Clearly things were not quite as they should be and being a very cautious and sensible Princess she was struggling with whether or not she should flee the scene. Even Sallymae Brown was disturbed and snorted loudly, gave a startled whinny and stamped twice on the ground. Something magical that she had only read about in children’s story books was clearly happening!

 

Then she heard him clearly say, “Please don’t leave just yet…I am thirsty as I have been here for 2 days with neither food nor water”.

 

Now Princess Paula was a very cautious and sensible Princess but she was also famous for her kindness and she could not turn away from a plea of help from one in need. His need and apparent helplessness gave her the courage to immediately dismount and approach him slowly with a bottle of water she always carried with her. “Here”, she said. “Please drink this…”

 

He reached out for the bottle with a perfectly formed human hand and opened his perfectly formed cat mouth and poured the contents of the bottle straight in. “Thank you”, he said gratefully after he had had his fill.

 

“You are most welcome…Sir?”, she responded hesitantly. “How come you to this forest kind Sir for I have never seen the likes of you here, or indeed anywhere?”. Now Princess Paula was shy with strangers and not one to be so forward in her speech normally but you will forgive her, dear reader, as it is not every day that one encounters such a magical creature. She was so impressed by his great cat head sitting incongruously on his broad man-shoulders that she completely forgot that he had that nasty looking arrow sticking out of his leg!

 

He meowed in a way to suggest a chuckle. “I am not from around these parts kind Lady. I come from a thousand leagues across the great Sea but I was placed here as a curse by the evil witch Bromgrenhelda – who is a very powerful witch but also very cruel.” He paused, with a deep cat-sigh and closed his eyes as if in deep rest. Momentarily he opened them again and stared right into her eyes with his deep piercing stare. She was mesmerized for she had never seen such luminous eyes, in either man or beast before. He continued, “Have you heard of the evil witch Bromgrenhelda?”

 

“No” she said simply. “We have heard tales of witches but I have never come across one, good or evil”, she continued. Finally her curiousity got the better of her and she said, “What are you kind Sir for we have no one such as you in all our Kingdom and what pray tell is your name?”.

 

A enormous whisker twitched and he said, “My name is Perelandrel and I am a Prince where i come from until I was cursed by the witch and sent here. I am not normally so disfigured as you see me. “Curse the day I was born!!!” He said with an anguished caterwaul.

 

The Princess, who was after all famous for her kindness, goodness, and all-round general niceness, felt a great deal of pity for this magnificent creature with the handsome cat head and man body. “Is there anything I can do for you?”, she asked. At this point she noticed him wince and finally remembered the arrow stuck in his leg and said, “Would you like me to send for the court physicians to tend to your wound?”.

 

“It would do no good kind Lady for that is a magic arrow and it binds me here to this land and keeps me in the hideous form you see before me now”, he said. “However, if you could find me a Princess that is pure of heart and honest and brave who will kiss me, hideous as I am then I will be set free. However…”, and at this he put on a very serious expression on his cat-face, “if she turns out to be not this person I have described in any way, She will turn out to be as hideous as I look now and the curse will be permanent.” At this he gave out another hideous wail. “I am doomed! Doomed for it is well know that Princesses, when you do come across them, are selfish, and prideful, and slothful and cowardly! Where will I ever find such a Princess of such a description and why would she ever kiss me!?!”

 

Princess Paula realized that Prince Perelandrel had no idea that she was a Princess yet she was naturally slightly miffed (& very rightly so you might say dear reader) that he would assume that all Princesses were selfish, and prideful, and slothful and cowardly! She decided to overlook this for the moment as this poor half creature and half-man was in obvious pain and anguish. She said in slow, clear words, “Kind Prince Perelandrel – I am a Princess. The Princess Paula in point of fact and you are in my Kingdom. Sir, I can assure you of only what my people say of me and that I am well known for being kind, and sweet and gentle and I believe I have been honest all the days of my life and while I am not the bravest soul in my Kingdom Sir I can assure you that it took some courage indeed to help a strange stranger such as yourself in need!”

 

The Prince knew that this might be his only chance to be released from his curse and thought that he had better swallow his pride and say something nice to assuage her hurt feelings. “Princess I meant you no personal insult I assure you. It was only because where I come from this is how Princesses are. They are catty, and capricious, and cantankerous to boot! I have never been to your land and had no idea (he said wincing a little) that they could be as beautiful as you or as you describe yourself so evidently to be!”.

 

The Princess smiled a little. For while he was very wrong to think poorly of Princesses he also looked so adorable with his great big cat head that it would be hard indeed for her to remain angry. In her heart she wondered how handsome the Prince would look when he is returned to his human self and thought that he must be very handsome indeed! She boldly walked over to him and leaned down so as to kiss him but he stayed her with his hand! “Nay my Princess! I have to tell you the whole curse!”, he blurted.”Not to doubt you Princess but if you are not as you say you are – not only will you remain in this accursed form forever but I will die!” She looked him deep in the eyes and said calmly, “I am Princess Paula and I am who I say I am”. With that she leaned down and kissed his cat head full on the mouth.

 

The kiss, and what a kiss it was dear reader, seemed to last a long long time. It made her dizzy because had she thought about it, and here dear reader you will have to admit that she would not have had cause before to think of such a thing, she would not think it was possible to kiss a man with a cat head fully on the mouth! After awhile she began to see stars all around her and her sight grew hazy – she could not see him or even the forest or her beloved horse.

 

Suddenly she came to with a start. And there before her was a large, beautiful Tabby cat, purring loudly by her legs. She picked him up and around his neck was a necklace. It said, Prince Perelandrel, If Found Please Return to Bromgrenhelda, Evilwitch Lane, Western Swamps.

 

The Cat had turned back to his normal form and the Princess knew that she was indeed of a pure heart, and honest and brave and that all male cats are little Princes and all female cats are little Princesses. The Cat and the Princess lived happily ever after and never spoke to each other of the incident again.

 

THE END.

The frequency of names from 1880s to 2004

 
Ever thought about the frequency of names? I was just reading an article about 10 obscure facts about Jesus. I can’t vouch for the veracity of any of the claims made in that article but it did get me to thinking about the frequency of names and how it has changed over the years. Apparently in Jesus’ time the name Judas was pretty common. There was Judas Iscariot, Judas Maccabeus, and others, and apparently there are some that claim Jesus had a twin brother named Judas! After doing some perfunctory googling I found this fascinating link that gives us a graphical frequency rank of any mostly anglicised name used between 1880s and 2004. You will not be surprised that Judas Iscariot one of Jesus’ apostles has forever ruined the name Judas as a choice for a baby boy’s name. There are no Judas names used from 1880 to 2004 in the top 1000 names chosen. One will probably not be surprised to find no single instance of Judas at all in this period. Odd because the name Judas is greek for Judah and that is a name that is still used and means Yehudah which is Hebrew for “praised” – a perfectly acceptable meaning. However the related name Jude has made a real comeback ranking 375th (approximately 170 plus names per million babies). Perhaps the actor Jude Law has something to do with it (I was named after an actor that my mother thought terribly handsome). Apparently Jude is no longer obscure, with apologies to Thomas Hardy. Christ’s other apostles are much better represented as a choice for a boy’s name. John was the top boy’s name in 1880 ranking number 1 and even in 2004 ranked a respectable 18th in the rankings. Likewise, Peter (39th in the 1950s), Mark (ranked 6th in the 1960s), Luke (42nd in 2003) etc. all scored respectably. Some truly awful sounding names (to our modern ears) were really quite popular in days gone by. Gladys was ranked 14th in the 1900s. Imagine almost 5000 per million innocent little baby girls named Gladys in 1900 by well meaning parents. Marvin was very popular in the 1930s for some reason (1800 names per million) and ranked 50th. Plain old Jane was terribly popular in the 1940s with almost 11000 girls being named Jane per million babies. Curiously, the phrase Plain Jane comes from 1912 and apparently in this context Jane is just a generic American slang term for girl or girlfriend (see Jane) So what’s in a name? A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but if you were named Rose your name’s popularity peaked in the 1910s where it was the 16th most popular name given to girls. Something to think about…

I went to see War of the Worlds the other day and it made me think about the hero archetype. A little googling and here is what I found (this by Shawn J. Wittmier * ): The Archetype of the hero in modern myth and media is one that is a fairly set pattern. In order to have a successful heroic figure, the tale must follow along these lines:

  • The hero usually suffers a great loss, which makes him set off on a quest.
  • The hero generally has a mentor or helper who helps him on his quest.
  • The hero must face a set of trials, which allow him to overcome “evil”.
  • The hero narrowly escapes death, usually more than once.
  • The hero escapes the “evil villain’s” stronghold or destroys him.
  • The hero is then reintegrated into society with a new status, wealth, or marriage to the princess.
  • There has to be a happy ending.

What is more the author suggests that movie viewing public will keep flocking to see movies that promise the viewer this archetype. Sure enough, War of the Worlds shared this archetype in Tom Cruise’s character. He suffered from a great loss – his world is literally turned upside down by alien invaders. The hero didn’t have a mentor but one can argue that this is not really a problem for our model. You can have a hero starting out on his quest (like Frodo of Lord of the Rings) who would need a mentor but Tom Cruise’s character is middle aged and presumably has had his mentoring all taken care of in some unexplored past. The hero definitely has many trials to deal with in this movie, chief among them trying to keep his two children and himself safe from very unfriendly aliens who seem hell bent on exterminating all human life on earth. The hero definitely escapes from death time and time again with almost metronome like regularity, facing danger at every turn. The hero in War of the Worlds is instrumental in defeating a hitherto invincible enemy – though he is not responsible for their ultimate defeat. I suppose the next aspect of the hero archetype doesn’t really take place in this movie unless you argue that reuniting with his family at the end as a reintegration of sorts. More generally the defeat of the aliens allows for a literal reintegration of soceity as a whole. Does that count? Finally, as in most hollywood fare, the ending is ridiculously and unrealistically happy. So anyways this started to make me think more about the modern hero archetype and what other aspects can be added to this list and why we respond to it and why we are attracted to heroes in general. I think to the list above we can add certain modern archetypal characteristics. There is the reluctant or awkward hero (like Harry Potter or Frodo). The hero called to action through circumstances but not through design or ambition (in a recent movie Dawn of the Dead the hero was a TV salesman). What’s a TV salesman to do when the dead come back to life? Presumably this isn’t normal training for a TV salesman. Then there is the competent or expert archetype. Our heroes are often expert at some aspect of their life. They are rarely out of work. They are committed to their work, sometimes too committed so other aspects of their life suffer. In War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise’s character is an expert mechanic even though that’s not what he does for a living (he loads containers at a dockyard though he is expert at that too!). There are exceptions to this archetype of course. It’s hard to argue that Frodo or Harry Potter are experts but these heroes are the ones that are in need of a mentor to presumably pass on some useful expertise to be used on their heroic quests. Modern heroes also seem to revel in being imperfect. They often have failed marriages (Both Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds, and Bruce Willis’ character in Die Hard are divorced), may have a drinking or swearing problem (like Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven) and may not exactly be likeable people in some ways, though naturally have a rogueish charm. Some may appear geekish and awkward (for example Harry Potter comes to mind). In this way, the hero appears approachable to us. We too can be a hero because we are not that different from them – we too are manifestly imperfect. The modern hero archetype has certain other qualities in common. They don’t give up and are rarely reluctant when the proverbial shit hits the fan. That’s when they move into action and the action is often relentless and they appear undeterred by set-backs. They are stubborn, a quality that all heroes seem to share and they are uncompromising in the pursuit of what they think is right. It is this stubbornness that I believe translates to that quality we most associate with heroism – bravery. A brave person is just someone not willing to back down from a position that they believe to be right. They always have a choice to make and they make choices that are hard but are invariably the right thing to do. In High Noon Gary Cooper’s character plays the reluctant hero that has a choice to flee with Grace Kelly to safety or stay and save a town that has turned their back on him out of a sense of self-preservation. He chooses to stay. He chooses to stay even though Grace Kelly’s character threatens to leave him if he does. He would naturally not be seen as a hero if he did the sensible thing and left. How can one contemplate leaving Grace Kelly? Being a hero clearly involves great sacrifice and grave risks. An archetypal modern hero is also good looking. This is perhaps the least rational of our hero beliefs but it is hard to believe in a hero that is fat and unattractive though what looks has got to do with heroism is unclear. Our mind is so used to thinking in these ways that when exceptions to this rule happen in real life we have trouble accepting it. Richard Jewell, the security guard who found a pipe bomb in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games was later thoughtImage to be the chief suspect in the case. I think it can be argued that one of the reasons he was a major suspect was that he fit a profile that goes against our notion of what a hero looks like. Mr. Jewell is overweight,and not particularly attractive. He was deemed to fit the profile of an anti-hero as it were. I’m sure with a little thought one can think of more qualities of the modern hero but I’m not really trying to write a thesis here just put some thoughts down. So the modern hero archetype is an interesting contrast of being approachable, the guy next door, that does extra-ordinary things under extra-ordinary circumstances. However it occurs to me that being a hero that doesn’t fit the mold would make for a very interesting and realistic story. Life is full of “heroes” like Mr. Jewell, that don’t fit the mold. In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s character is a reluctant hero in more ways than one. He is not a good man to begin with and his “quest”, though noble (he is going after the men that cut up a whore and the Sheriff that protects the perpetrators because they are “good old boys having some fun” and these are just whores after all) is taken on for a very ignoble reason – for money. Yet he claims that his wife’s influence has changed him – he is less evil than he was before though no less deadly. He blames alcohol for most of the killings he was responsible for and doesn’t remember most of those he has killed. He was a killer of women and children. The love of a good woman can be seen as his “mentor”. The complexity of his character is one of the reasons that make the movie so good and perhaps leads us to feel less than satisfied with cookie cutter hero archetypes like Cruise’s character in War of the Worlds. In the end I think its interesting to think of the hero archetype because it tells us what we admire about ourselves. I have been referring to the modern hero archetype because the archetype itself changes across time and tells us of what we value as a society today. Apparently we can stomach a hero that looks like Harrison Ford much more so than we can one that looks like Richard Jewell and perhaps that itself is a reason to question our notion of heroes. Finally, consider another kind of hero. Mother Theresa spent her whole life working with the poor and unwanted in the slums of Calcutta. She too no doubt faced many dangers and hardships on her quest to provide the forgotten a small measure of respect before they met their end. I think the evil she fought was the apathy of human indifference to the suffering of those that cannot benefit you in any way. And in the end she spent her whole life being a champion of the poor. A most unlikely hero, a small woman of homely features and unprepossessing manner. She was a hero in the very best sense of the word. When she died (Sept. 5th, 1997) the world mourned the passing of a giant of the 20th Century. Yet Princess Diana died a few days before Mother Theresa did (August 31sth, 1997) and the coverage in all the media was considerably larger and the outpouring of a sense of loss appeared to be larger as well. This too reflects on us as a society doesn’t it? Perhaps it was because we felt that Diana died well before her time (after all Mother Theresa was 87) and perhaps we felt sorry for her troubles. We can identify with someone like Diana more than we can someone like Mother Theresa who’s goodness seems other worldly. I just don’t know but it felt wrong somehow. * For the complete article see this link.