The TV Tweeters

twitter-tvSo let’s say you’re a relatively active Twitter-user, and you have interesting things to say.

Most of your content is witty (and, naturally, succinct), with real thoughts on real issues rather than endless hashtag soups. You are, in short, a real person with a Twitter account, rather than a Twitter account run by a person.

Subtle difference, but key, that one.

Why — why, I ask, in God’s name — would you then dramatically alter your usage of Twitter for one or two hours a week, turning it into a constantly-spewing font of minute-by-minute updates about one TV show in particular?

It’s one thing from Twitter feeds that are dedicated to TV coverage, or to a specific fandom, or whatever. The people who follow those presumably want a nonstop conversation about their beloved stories (in the “Nana’s watching her stories” sense of the word, natch).

But if you’re spending 90% of your time on Twitter cultivating an audience that likes mostly real-person sorts of discussions, don’t use the remaining 10% of your Twitter-time to inflict a niche discussion filled with actor’s handles, obscure hashtags, and gushy TV crap. It just confuses your poor readers, who were under the impression (carefully cultivated by you) that you were a normal human being with basic social functions.

Also it makes their feeds a hassle to read for that hour. Seriously, the massive wall of Tweets from you? Not helpful.

Put it on another account, so that people can ignore that account. Otherwise you’re going to have to be that much funnier and awesome the rest of the time to keep us all putting up with your weekly fandom splooge-fests.

Sleepytime

We need a word for that last little bit of sleep, after you’ve woken up and said “fuck it” and gone back to sleep.

I like that part.

Language Learning and the Words That Escape You

There’s a whole genre of “How to Learn a Language in X Days” webpages out there, and they’re surprisingly entertaining.

Not useful, mind you, but entertaining. Something about the juxtaposition of phrases like “it’s easy!” and “you can too!” with advice like “practice with a tutor for at least four hours a day” and “travel to a country where this is the majority language” just tickles me.

Like…yeah, absolutely. Anyone can learn a new language, if they don’t have to work, and can travel at leisure. I could do a lot of things if I had that kind of time and money.

So like most people, I ignore the scammy and/or over-enthusiastic webpages out there, and just bumble along with some language software and recorded lessons, which does well enough for an unpaid hobby.

And I’ve noticed something over time: no matter what the language is, or how I’m learning it, there are always a handful of words that just will not stick, no matter what I do.

I’m trying to pin down the rhyme and reason. I am deeply curious to know what combination of sounds, parts of speech, and god knows what other factors it is that makes a few specific things constantly impossible to memorize.

Or maybe it’s just psychological: my most recent bugbear has been the Dari word for “friend.” I can remember everything else I’ve learned since I started, just about, but that one is always a gaping hole in my memory whenever I reach for it. Says something about my subconscious priorities, doesn’t it?

University of Phoenix Will Teach You “Relevant Skills,” Like Backflips or Something

Paid Facebook ads of the centralized, show-up-in-your-stream variety are rapidly going the way of Groupon: a sign that a product is failing, simply by virtue of being included.

I mean, seriously, when was the last time you saw a “Sponsored” post for anything you actually wanted? When was the last time you clicked on one (except accidentally)?

So maybe it’s fitting that the University of Phoenix, a scammy for-profit school that can’t tank fast enough, is verging on the absurdist with their latest round of Facebook ads:

university-of-phoenix-learn-relevant-skills

 

Say what now? Who looks at a girl doing gymnastics and thinks “relevant skills”? That is like as far as you get from relevant for the 99.9999lots% of us that are not planning a career in professional gymnastics. Backflips are not a relevant skill. Unless you are a gymnast, or a ninja.

Maybe if you asked whoever came up with the ad, he or she would tell you that it’s about coaching or athletic education jobs or something like that. In which case maybe the coach should be the one dramatically silhouetted against a heavenly bath of golden radiance, just saying?

“Come to Phoenix University. We can’t teach you to design an ad that makes any goddamn sense, but maybe you’ll learn to do a backflip. And then go bankrupt.”

Wooly Mammoth “Created on the Sixth Day” To Be SC’s Official State Fossil

For the most part, bills designating official state this-and-thats are harmless, or at the very most entertainingly stereotyping of their states’ cultures (as in the case of the Alabama legislature overriding their governor’s veto to insist on naming a famous style of moonshine the “official state spirit” of Alabama).

But there is no law that can’t have Jesus shoehorned into it somehow if you try hard enough.

columbian-mammoth-robert-bruce-horsfall

Enter the South Carolina State Senate, which took one look at a harmless fluff bill naming the Columbian mammoth the state’s official fossil (at the request of an absolutely adorable third-grader, who we can safely assume is learning more than she ever wanted to about the legislative process) and decided it needed an amendment clarifying that God made the mammoth, with his God-stuff, on the Sixth Day of creation, and damn ye heathens to hell forever if you believe otherwise.

Here is the final text of the bill (emphasis mine) as it was passed by the South Carolina legislature.

Whereas, giant mammoths used to roam South Carolina; and

Whereas, scientists have identified the fossils of about six hundred and fifty species of vertebrates in South Carolina to date; and

Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; and

Whereas, this discovery has been credited as the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Article 9, Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 1-1-712A.    The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.”

SECTION    2.    Subsequent to this act’s effective date there is a moratorium on the enactment of legislation establishing official state symbols and emblems until such time as the General Assembly directly by legislative enactment removes this moratorium.

SECTION    3.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

So yeah, that’s a Biblical story written into a piece of state legislation as if it were fact. Any chance of a veto, Governor Haley?

“Public” Pressure Didn’t Oust Mozilla’s Anti-Gay CEO — A Privately Held Company Did

mozilla-foundation-logoTake it easy on the champagne popping, will ya guys?

Yes, Mozilla’s recently-appointed CEO Brendan Eich is gone, following an uproar over his $1000 donation in support of California’s anti-SSM Proposition 8.

And while there will inevitably be hand-wringing about the PC thought police and liberals are the real hate-crimers and blah-de-blah, the reality is that this is how it’s supposed to work if you’re a free-market-fixes-all-ills zealot. The guy wasn’t charged with anything, he wasn’t accused of any crimes; he faced no government censorship. Enough consumers made it clear that they weren’t comfortable with the company’s leadership that internal voices convinced him to resign, and that was that.

A win for capitalism! Hoorah, or something!

Here’s the thing, though: despite the best efforts of individual people, many of them from within Mozilla, to get the word out about Eich’s donation, it was the popular website OKCupid’s decision to publicize the issue that made headlines. Until they threw their massive web presence behind it, there was nowhere near enough threat to Mozilla’s operations for them to care who or what Eich had donated to.

So if you’re glad to see a company being held accountable for its CEO’s bigotry, thank a major private corporation today! (OKCupid is owned by InterActive Corp, which also owns Match.com, and which promptly removed all of OKC’s prior writings criticizing fee-charging dating sites like Match.com from the OKC website after the acquisition, giving you a pretty good idea of how dedicated to transparency that corporate culture is.)

I’m not sorry to see Eich go, but I’m not sure it’s much of a victory for civil rights when everything is so dependent on a wealthy, influential corporation’s willingness to lend their might to progressive causes.

Ah well. I suppose in this case it’s the only way it was going to go down. What were all us end-users gonna do, boycott the browser we weren’t paying to use anyway?

If Your Caption Contradicts Your Headline, You’re Not Even Trying to Fact-Check

Friends, you know how I’m always telling you not to rely on free internet “news” sites for your news? And you know how it sounds really snobby and old-fashioned, which I admittedly am?

This kind of shit is what I’m talking about. With no particular intent to pick on MLive.com (Booth Newspapers’s generic-template online news site) – if your headline talks about a “6-foot python,” the photo caption directly below it should not reference a “7-foot boa constrictor.”

michigan-live-firefighter-python-rescue

Which, whatever. It’s a heartwarming local interest story so who cares, right?

But at the point where that’s the standard, I’m going to have to fact-check everything I read from your site by Googling around for other, confirming sources anyway, so why would I even bother reading?

(Short answer: I don’t, unless someone posts a Facebook link, which I guess is how these sites are planning on driving traffic anyway.)

I feel old, grumpy, and a little stuck-up about this, but I’m not wrong. If you’re referring to the same snake as a “6-foot python” and a “7-foot boa constrictor” before I’ve even started the article, you’re not even trying. Not a little, tiny bit.

Ah well. I’m sure they’re not paying the skeleton staff of MLive.com enough to care. Subscribe to a real newspaper, guys, seriously.

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