The Kid Makes Her Point

This morning, unbeknownst to me, my daughter decided that she needed to make her views about the Eric Garner grand jury decision known to the folks at her school, so she dressed in black for mourning and wrote the words “ICANTBREATHE” on her arms. And then off she went to school, here in rural, conservative Bradford, Ohio.

Where, as it happens, she encountered no major pushback for her political speech. Some of the kids asked her about what the words meant and at least one of the teachers commented that of all the kids in the school, she would be the one to make a protest. But in terms of her getting crap for it, nope. Which speaks well of the little rural conservative town in which we live, and the people with whom my daughter goes to school, students and faculty both.

(It may also say something about the Garner case, in that I’ve seen concerns about it from all sides of the political spectrum. I’m not going to go deeply into that at the moment, however.)

As a parent it’s very interesting to watch my child’s developing political and social thinking on all sorts of topics. Some of her thinking she inherits from me and her mother, obviously. But there’s a whole side of her thinking that comes from her own view of the world and her own take on various subjects. It’s a reminder that children surely and inexorably become their own people. I’m proud of my kid that she’s thinking about things outside of her immediate self-interest, and that she’s willing to deal with potential flack for those thoughts.

She’s not always going to get it “right” — but then I don’t always get it right, either, and I’ve got 30 years on her. But she’s finding her voice and remembering to listen. I’m very happy about both.

You, Me, Twitter

The following is a public service announcement about you, me and Twitter. Some of it are things I’ve said before, but I’m presenting it all here in a handy, easy-to-read numbered list. Ready? Here we go.

1. I use Twitter. A lot! Here I am over there.

2. When I use Twitter, I am generally using it as a public individual making statements made for public consumption, i.e., I assume the things I write there will be seen widely and outside my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances.

3. As such, people I don’t know will frequently respond to tweets I write. This is fine! That’s part of the nature of Twitter. Respond away.

4. If I find your reply interesting, amusing or otherwise of note, or if I’m just in the mood to be chatty, I may respond. Because that’s my assumption when you replied: that you were open to a response from me as well. Likewise, if you “@” me on a Tweet that’s not a response, I assume that you meant for me to see it and possibly respond. Don’t “@” me if you don’t intend to invite me into the conversation!

5. But I may not respond, for various reasons. You should assume that I won’t. It’s not personal, I promise.

6. Most people who respond to me on Twitter are lovely people. But some people aren’t. If I decide you aren’t, then here’s what I will likely do: I’ll mute you, which means that whatever you’ve tweeted at me will disappear from my tweet timeline and no subsequent tweet from you will show up in it, ever. To me, it will be as if you don’t exist on Twitter at all! Why would I do this? Because life’s too short to deal with irritating people on Twitter.

7. No, you probably won’t know if I’ve muted you — kind of the point of muting people is that they don’t know. I get a warm feeling in my heart from the idea of the muted, jabbering on as if I’m still able to see their “cleverness.”

8. That said, sometimes before I mute someone, I may let them know I think they’re a complete waste of a circulatory system, or some such. Then I mute them. They may have a comeback to what I said, but I wouldn’t know. From my point of view I’ve gotten the last word.

9. No, I’m not obliged to read your Tweets, and no, it’s not censorship to mute you. You are free to keep tweeting at me as much as you like! That’s the very essence of free speech! But “free speech” does not guarantee you an audience — in this case, me. If you’re the sort of person confused about this, it’s just another reason why we’re both better off having you muted in my tweetstream.

10. Things that may get you muted include, but are not limited, to:

  • Being racist, sexist, homophobic or other varieties of bigot;
  • Being insulting and boring about it;
  • Being insulting and clever, but not knowing when to quit;
  • Being the sort of person who is under the impression that a medium confined to 140 characters per post is the perfect medium for a substantive debate on a complex issue;
  • Having your understanding of social/political issues clearly confined to cue cards provided to you by others;
  • Being creepy;
  • Being an author or other creator whose purpose for being on Twitter is to spam people about your work;
  • Being someone who believes that the only reason I exist on Twitter is to retweet something you think I should;
  • Appointing yourself the Arbiter of Things I Should and Should Not Say On Twitter;
  • Trying to pick a fight with me;
  • Extreme stupidity;
  • Just generally being an asshole.

11. Occasionally someone with a large number of followers on Twitter (and/or a large number of sock puppet accounts) will attempt a pile-on, in which his (and it’s almost always his) followers try to flood my tweet stream with nonsense. When that happens, I use the original asshole’s Twitter handle as a mutable phrase, which means that any tweet bearing that handle is pre-emptively muted. As the sort of gibbering yahoo who piles on inevitably includes the originator’s handle so they can get a virtual head pat for doing their master’s bidding, this cuts out almost all of the nonsense. So if you’re the dog-piling sort, don’t bother; I won’t even see it. Also, maybe rethink your life choices.

12. Basically, I am on Twitter for my own amusement, not to engage in argument, substantive or otherwise, particularly with people I don’t know, and especially with people who I determine to be jerks. If you understand that when you communicate with me, we’ll get along fine. If you don’t, then you’ll be muted. Either way the problem will be solved.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014, Day Four: Fan Favorites!


For the first three days of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2014, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.

Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authorsnon-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.

2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Sears, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music CDs, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.

3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.

Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.