Thursday, August 30, 2012

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

I’ve spent a lot of time on the roads of northern and eastern Maine this spring and summer.  A number of camping trips to the coast are under my belt, as well as some trips to some far-flung cemeteries.  (No, I’m not shopping around in advance of my ultimate demise, which hopefully will not be any time soon.  I take requested tombstone photos for an online genealogical group for whom I volunteer with the trite name of Find-A-Grave.  I guess “Graves R Us” was taken.)  Friends and relatives have received visits too, so I’ve been around this year.  Getting out and enjoying this place nicknamed “Vacationland” is something I try to do every year during the nice weather.  A new addition this year is my GPS, which has allowed me to get off the busy highways and see some of the less-traveled roads. 

There is no question that Maine is a stunningly gorgeous place, and I have been fortunate to have been able to see some new corners of it this year.  Other corners of the Pine Tree State have been off-limits however.  A lot of them, actually.  You see, one thing I have noticed in my travels this year has been the apparent proliferation of “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” signs on properties.  The reasons are not entirely clear to me, but I’ve had time to ponder it while driving and I have some theories.

While crime rates are probably no higher than they ever were here, I think that we are hearing more about crime nowadays thanks to the ease of access to information through so many channels, and so it seems more prevalent.  Along with increased awareness of crime comes increased fear of strangers and the unknown.  Putting up signs that read “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” may give some people a sense of security, albeit a false one.  “Bad people won’t come near now,” is the subconscious thought process.  Frankly, if someone has malicious intent in mind, I find it hard to believe that a simple sign is going to deter them.  And if someone does not have malicious intent in mind, why worry about them?

It could be a personal safety thing also.  Some years ago in Maine, there was a tragic case in which a young mother was accidentally shot to death in her own backyard by a hunter who mistook her white mittens for the tail of a deer.  It was beyond sad for everyone involved, and raised awareness among landowners in the state that posting their land against hunting might be something to consider.  I have no doubt that the amount of land on which people may freely hunt in Maine has gone down quite a bit, especially since that incident.  Even though I am not opposed to hunting, I cannot fault someone for not wanting unauthorized hunters on their land, especially if it is near homes.  I can’t help but wonder how many of those “No Trespassing” signs might more accurately reflect the landowners wishes if they actually read “No Hunting” instead.  Someone who may not want hunters may be more open to people wishing to hike or picnic on their land.

Then there is the property damage issue.  Motorized all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have grown enormously in popularity in Maine over the past 30 years or so.  (Full disclosure: I have one and I love it.)  However, they can be noisy and can really rip up the land, especially when used carelessly.  Over the years, I have seen a number of public ATV trails closed, no doubt due to noise, littering, or people who have literally strayed off the beaten path and caused damage to private property.  Again, if a landowner’s qualm is with ATVs but not with people who want to take a walk and maybe observe some wildlife, a more specific sign, such as “No ATVs” might be in order. 

And then there is the cynical side of me, which wonders if there are just a lot of disagreeable types out there who have somehow acquired mortal enemies, or just have become so alienated from society, and they just want to be able to prosecute more fully if someone so much as sets a foot on their property.  This thought especially entered my mind the other day when I saw, the inspiration for this post:  a nice split-level ranch, beautifully landscaped in a suburban neighborhood with a big black and red “KEEP OUT” sign on the well-manicured front lawn.  That’s not a hunting issue or an ATV issue, and on a quiet street in a small town, it’s likely not a crime issue either.  That’s a people issue!  More specifically, it’s an “inability to play well with others” issue.  It’s pretty sad that someone would adopt such a paranoid bunker mentality, but there are some who do.  A few may have good personal reasons for turning their homes into fortresses, but I’d dare say many more don’t and are just being asshats.

Or maybe all the signs are to keep people away from meth labs or pot growing operations.  Unfortunately, such things are not unheard of in rural Maine, where the economy is difficult even during the best of times.

Or maybe there are lots of stereotypical crusty old men who put up such signs to keep those “blasted kids off the lawn”.

Or maybe nudists live there.  Though in Maine, I suspect those are few and far between, and chilly too.

I could go on and on with maybes, but whatever the reason, there are definitely a LOT more “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signs around than there used to be.  It’s a shame that more and more of this beautiful state is being sealed off.  Remember the lyrics to the 70s classic rock song Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band?:

And the sign says, "Anybody caught trespassing will be shot on sight"
So I jumped on fence and I yelled at the house, "Hey! What gives you the right...
To put up a fence to keep me out, or to keep Mother Nature in?
If God was here, He'd tell it to your face. 'Man, you're some kind of sinner.'"

This YouTube video is from a pretty decent remake of Signs by the band Tesla in 1990.

Now I am not saying there are no legitimate reasons for “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signs, because there most certainly are a number of them.  Nonetheless, people would do well to consider if their reasons are good ones before slapping one up.

And put some clothes on, for Pete’s sake!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiran

(You guessed it! I am swamped with "stuff"  this week, so I am tossing out another book review in place of a regular blog post.  I can't say enough good about this novel by fellow Mainer Paul Doiran, so please, read on.)

The Poacher's Son

I usually despise the term "thriller" when applied to novels, but The Poacher's Son* really did thrill me, so in this case it fits. Paul Doiran's debut novel tells the story of Mike Bowditch, a wet-behind-the-ears Maine game warden whose world is turned upside down when his estranged father, a known poacher and generally rough guy, is accused of the murder of two men, one of whom is a sheriff's deputy. Mike's emotions clash, as his role as a son and that as a law enforcement officer are at odds. The story wends its way through the woods of Maine until it reaches an astounding ending that you'll swear you didn't see coming.

As a lifelong Mainer, I can vouch for the absolute authenticity of Doiran's portrayal of the Pine Tree State, its residents, and its rural culture in The Poacher's Son. He casts an unblinking eye on the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's not all lighthouses and lobsters after all. His characters are as real as real can get, and reminded me of people I have actually known in Maine. The plot is smart, fast-moving, and completely believable. The ending blindsided me, and still has me shaking my head in disbelief.

It's not often that I read a book that I can't tear myself away from, but The Poacher's Son was one of those books. I highly recommend it!  I have since read Doiran's sequel, also featuring Mike Bowditch, entitled Trespasser*, which is every bit as good as The Poacher's Son.  The third Mike Bowditch novel, Bad Little Falls*, was released a few weeks ago, and my copy is already waiting for me to stay up late with it, just as I did the first two in the series.

*The links provided will take you to's sites for each of Paul Doiran's novels, though they are widely available through almost any book retailer.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What the 2012 London Olympics Taught Me (Or, Keep Calm and Kerri Walsh)

The 2012 London Olympics are just wrapping up as I write this, and like many people around the world, I’ve been following the events very closely.  The past two weeks have been filled with thrills and excitement that only the Olympics can bring, and I am a little sad to see them end.  However, I have no doubt that the novelty would wear off pretty quickly if they went on much longer.  Looking back on the games, I’ve learned many, many things, but here are the top ones, in no particular order.

  • There’s just so much of it.

The Olympics are like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Even if you have the most comprehensive television coverage available, there is no way you are going to get your fill of everything that you’d like.  Even with TiVo, or a doggy bag, depending on which end of the metaphor you are talking about.  If I was able to record all the broadcast events from the Olympics, it would probably take me until New Year’s to watch them all.  I might be done by Thanskgiving if I fast-forward through all the promos for the new Matthew Perry sitcom though.

  • Canadian television coverage is actually better than American television coverage.

Living as near to Canada as I do, my cable system carries some Canadian broadcasters, which means I have the unique opportunity to compare their coverage to that of the Americans.  Suffice it to say, Canadian coverage edges out American, primarily due to two things: its willingness to broadcast most events live instead of on tape-delay, and its tendency to shy away from irrelevant fluff reports (Who really cares where the Spice Girls are now?) and put its energy instead into the events and the athletes.  Mind you, I do find it hard to overlook the Canadian pronunciation of the word boat as “boot” during the paddling events.

  • Those gymnastics girls could probably definitely beat me up.

Not that I would ever give them a reason to, of course, but there’s a lot of power and athleticism crammed into those small packages.  I wouldn’t stand a chance.  I’d be a smear on the floor and they’d have never broken a sweat.

In the past, I’ve always kind of avoided gymnastics and similar “style points” events, in favor of more black-and-white events like swimming and track & field, where the outcomes are clear to me.  This time, I gave gymnastics, diving and the like more of a fair shot, and was won over.  When they showed film of Gabby Douglas on the uneven bars in slow motion, and I could see the pure strength, speed, and coordination involved in doing such a complicated and difficult activity, my eyes were opened.  Respect earned!

  • Nobody stays young forever.

Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw, two youthful-looking guys that I’ve been watching on TV for years, are starting to look their ages.  Costas is 60, and Brokaw is 72.  The frequency with which they were shown this year in video clips from past Olympics may have heightened this perception on my part.  Not that it’s unexpected, and they both look fine, but it does remind you of your own mortality.  At least it does when you are wading into the heart of middle-age like I am.

And props to Brokaw for not getting plastic surgery.  I suppose being mostly retired as he is, there is less pressure to do that kind of thing.  I only wish Costas had done the same.  Whenever I see him nowadays, it’s the “work” he’s had done that I notice first.

  • Body hair apparently makes you slow and uncoordinated.

Being one with no shortage of hair on his person, I noticed that no one who was expected to be speedy or graceful had hair anywhere except on their head, and sometimes not even there.  This was the case not only with swimmers, but divers and track athletes too.  Does body hair really create that much drag for a runner? What about that 8 X 10 piece of paper they make you pin on your shirt during a race?  If hair is going to slow you down, then that’s got to come into play too.  And what about divers?  Is hair going to prevent you from doing one of those triple loop-de-loops with a twist thingies?  I suspect vanity comes into play here as well.

As for me, if I had to shave my body hair for an event, it would take me three days, and by the time I finished I would have to start all over again.  And man, oh man, the razor-burn and itchiness would be murder!  I think I’ll just stay hairy and remain in my recliner watching.

  • It’s much nicer watching sporting events without corporate sponsor signs plastered on every square inch of the venue.

The only signs were “London 2012” and it was great, because ad signs distract me during sports.  For example, I saw an advertising board for Fifth Third Bank, who financed my auto loan, while watching something not too long ago, and noticed their odd slogan “The Curious Bank”.  I spent the rest of the game wondering what kind of slogan that was for a bank and what the hell they were curious about.  Having already run a check of my credit report to approve my car loan, I would have hoped their curiosity about me had been sated.  Are they wondering if I prefer boxers or briefs?  Coke or Pepsi?  Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?  None of your damn business, Fifth Third Bank!

But I digress.

  • Mere mortals cannot do a lot of what these athletes do.

I can swing a bat at a pitched baseball, kick a soccer ball, or even run a football down a field, although I could not promise you that I could do any of them well.  But a lot of these Olympic events are things that would just be physically impossible for me.  I refer again to Gabby Douglas’ performance on the uneven bars.  Check it out on YouTube.  There is no way on earth I could even start to do that.  I bet you couldn’t either.  And how about those athletes that run up and then jump over a bar that it two meters in the air?  Not a chance I could even come close.  Pole vaulting?  Someone would be shish-kabobbed if I tried that, and it would probably be me.  10,000 meters of running with an all-out sprint at the end?  I get winded if I take more than two flights of stairs. Again, I have nothing but the highest respect for these athletes and all the work they put in to do what they do.

  • The Olympic mascots,  Wenlock and Mandeville, look like animated metric wrenches.

Someone mentioned it to me at the start of the games, and by golly, they were absolutely right.  I just couldn’t unsee it after that.  Here's a link to a page on the London 2012 site that shows them, if you somehow missed them.

  • Beach volleyball is better than regular, gym-floor-type volleyball.

Beach volleyball looks fun, like something you’d do on vacation or at a picnic.  It’s just two people on each side, and lots of soft sand in which to land if you take a dive.  The only things missing are seagulls and beer.  Regular volleyball, on the other hand, looks exactly like what we used to have to do under duress during gym class in high school, while wearing itchy blue and yellow gym uniforms.  I often thought the gym teachers scheduled this activity every year to give the tallest and strongest kids a chance to legitimately pound on those who were smaller and weaker, thus getting the bloodlust out of their systems in a relatively controlled environment.  While far from being an athlete, I was lucky enough to have some size and strength in high school, so I was better off than many, but there are plenty of classmates of mine who still bear scars from volleyball.

  • There is no adequate explanation as to why that little stream of water flows into the pool during diving competitions.

Have you ever noticed that?  I’ve wondered about it for years.  I put it out on Twitter a couple of times and no one seemed to know for sure.  Why do they have that stream of water?  There must be a reason.  It’s not there during swimming competitions, I don’t think.  All I know is that if I had to hang out that pool for very long with that constant dribbling, I’d be inspired to run to the restroom every five minutes.

And while I’m at it, what’s with the showers and hot tubs the divers bolt toward immediately after they dive?  Are they some kind of weird fish-human hybrids that can’t be allowed to get dry?

  • The British are pretty cool.

I’ve always thought this, but the London games have only strengthened this opinion.  Their history, their people and their culture fascinate me to no end, and I’d love to visit England some day.  I mean, this is the country of Stonehenge, Winston Churchill, the Beatles, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare, Big Ben and Mr. Bean.  What’s not to love?  The food is a little sketchy, mind you (Exhibit A: Toad-in-the-Hole), but I could always pack some PB & Js if I made a trip. 

London did an outstanding job staging these Olympics if you ask me, and they should be proud.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hello? Where Did Everybody Go?

Truly nice weather is fleeting in this part of the world I call home.  Northern Maine has long, difficult winters, and muddy, cold springs that can test the mettle of almost anyone.  Autumn is nice, but short.  By mid-October the trees are bare, the grass has died, the crops are in, and we are basically on standby until Old Man Winter comes roaring back into town.

The summers, however, are spectacular.  From early June until mid-September, everything is warm and green and pleasant.  It rarely gets too hot, and while we do get our rainy years from time to time, the sun tends to dominate.  The glorious summers in Maine almost make the frozen pipes, dead car batteries, mud up to your ankles, and cabin fever during other times of year seem worth it.  Almost.

So what I am wondering is, where is everybody?

It was rather warm on a recent Saturday afternoon, though not uncomfortably so, and since I had a little time on my hands, I decided to take a drive around the area where I live with the windows rolled down to enjoy an iced coffee and the satellite radio in my car. 

The town in which I live is small by many people’s standards, with about 6000 residents, but it is one of the population centers for this part of Maine.  It’s hardly what one might call “urban”, but it’s not just a wide spot in the road either.  We have traffic lights, fast food franchises, a hospital and things like that.  It’s the kind of place where you would reasonably expect to see people out doing things, especially on a gorgeous summer weekend day.

That was not the case.  I drove past countless houses with unoccupied picnic tables and lawn chairs, empty trampolines and swingsets, idle bicycles and ATVs.  Hardly anyone was walking on the sidewalks, and the neighborhood tennis and basketball courts may as well have had tumbleweeds blowing across them.

It was quite a contrast to what I remember as a kid here back in the 80s.  I was always somewhat of a rambler, and would always explore the territory to which I was restricted by my parents to the fullest, from my neighborhood when I was quite young progressing to my block, then to my side of town, and finally to the whole town by the time I was about 12.  Back then, people were everywhere outside on a summer Saturday.  Getting up enough participants for a rousing round of British Bulldog or an impromptu Whiffleball game took very little effort.  Those tennis and basketball courts that are so vacant now used to have groups lined up to use them on summer days when I was a kid.  There wasn’t a whole lot of serious trouble to be gotten into either, because there were just as many adults out enjoying the day and generally keeping an eye on things as there were kids.

Not so today though. There’s hardly a soul to be seen on a pleasant Saturday, and that’s a shame.
I recently spoke to some friends of mine in other part of the country, and we’ve come up with some theories.

One is that there are just fewer people around nowadays who are likely to take part in outdoor recreation.  Many of those people I saw out and about when I was a kid were Baby Boomers and their children.  That generation of children, my generation, has been referred to as the Echo Generation since they were the offspring of the children of the Baby Boom Generation itself.  The Echo Generation, which was not as large as the Baby Boom Generation, does not seem to have produced much of its own echo however, as many are choosing to have fewer children. So Baby Boomers are aging (and less likely to be taking part in outdoor activities), the Echo Generation is smaller, and the current generation of children is smaller still. One possible explanation for the lack of people outdoors these days is just plain lack of people.

Another theory is that people are just less oriented toward outdoor activity these days.  The limitless entertainment choices our electronic gadgets set before us have made many into hermits.  The urge to get outside and do something is less, since you can simply sit on the couch and do something with a lot less effort.  Chances are, inside many of those houses with the empty yards were people glued to a screen of some sort, oblivious to the beautiful day outside their windows. 
It’s a vicious circle too, because the less you get up and move around, the less likely you are to do so in the future.  When I was young, people who were just plain fat were the exception rather than the rule.  Now it seems to be the opposite. (Disclaimer: I am not even remotely a Mr. Universe and could really stand to drop about 20 pounds myself.  I am not picking on fat people here.)

A third possibility is that here at the height of summer, a lot of people are enjoying the outdoors away from home, whether it is on a vacation or just on a day trip somewhere.  While this is no doubt true to an extent, I find it hard to believe that it’s so quiet simply because everyone is out of town.

This phenomenon is hardly unique to my town, I’m sure.  You hear time and again how people just don’t get out and do things anymore.  What do you think?  Are there just fewer people nowadays?  Are electronics and laziness to blame for keeping people inside?  Is everyone off somewhere having fun without us?  Or is it something else?  Leave a comment, drop an e-mail, or message me on Twitter.  I’d like to know what you are seeing where you live and what you believe is behind it.

As for me, I am shutting this laptop and going out to wash my car.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Attack of the Grand High Twits

Last Friday evening, a certain popular social media network, the one that allows users to post 140-character ditties for followers interested in what they have to say, decided to suspend my account.  For the purposes of this posting, I will refer to this network as “the social media network in question”.   I will also be referring to the powers-that-be at this network as “The Grand High Twits”, which is probably a step up from my original choice of “Stupid Bastards”.

I started using “the social media network in question” about two years ago, and was slow to take to it.  The first year I was on board, I rarely checked it more than once a week, and had no more than a few dozen followers.  Once I saw its power as a means for networking with other writers and creative-types, thus giving my writing a much-needed kick in the pants, I began to use it more regularly.  “The social media network in question” is now my go-to social media site.  I’ve built my following to nearly 500 people, and follow around that same number.  It is modest compared to some I know, but I have been choosey about both the people I follow and those I allow to follow me.   Like a tiny seedling in a quiet patch of earth, I’ve nurtured my account and coaxed it, tending it constantly, weeding and pruning, until it has become something special.

Then the Grand High Twits in charge at “the social media network in question” came along last Friday evening and, like a big smelly St. Bernard, took a massive dump on my little seedling by suspending my account.

Let me give you a little context.

My use of “the social media network in question” has always been conservative at best.  Typically, I will post when I have updated my blog or am looking for some feedback on a writing-related issue.  I like to share my thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and the lighter side of Maine politics, and sometimes re-post links to interesting news articles or the thoughts of others whom I follow.  Some weeks, I’ve also been known to give shout-outs to aspiring writers who are also on “the social media network in question” on Wednesdays, and to other non-writing people who interest me on Fridays.  On a given day, I average probably around five or six postings.  I’ll occasionally reply to postings made by people I have followed for a while also.

The accounts I follow fall under two categories: those who provide information of interest to me (e.g.-news, sports, weather, etc.), or like-minded creative types such as writers, actors, musicians and the like.  Some of the latter are super big-time people who don’t even realize I am alive, but most are more like me: relative small timers trying to get off the ground and share what they can do with others who might be interested.

For example, I follow and am followed by a talented young man who had one big break in Hollywood some time ago and is now looking for the next big thing in his career.  Trouble is, he’s a genuinely decent guy who loves his family, takes his studies seriously, plays sports, has hobbies, goes to church every week, etc.  You get the picture.  Not exactly the Hollywood type.  Plus, for an actor, he’s a little shy, and very normal in appearance. You’d probably not pick him out of a crowd, and in Tinseltown that is not an asset.  He deserves more, and I am genuinely interested in what comes next for this guy.

I also follow and am followed by a very talented woman here in Maine who blogs on the outdoors.  She writes passionately and with authority on any number of topics related to hunting, fishing, wildlife, outdoor recreation and the like.  Her love of the subject matter oozes through in her work.  I originally met her on “the social media network in question”, and it is the means by which we banter back and forth on occasion.  She has been very supportive of my writing, and I can’t say enough good things about hers.  Recently, she was picked up by a major newspaper in the state to provide outdoor columns.  It couldn’t have happened to a better person, and I am dying to follow her progress as she takes her writing to the next level.

As far as those who follow me, I don’t have an iron gate in front of my account.  The only things I ask if you want to follow me are: a) don’t be a purveyor of sexually explicit material and b) post your own personal postings once in a while.  Don’t just follow me and disappear, or worse yet, repost the same thing over and over.

I've become quite attached to the people I follow, as well as those who follow me, in a weird, 21st century kind of way.  In some ways it is like the relationship somebody might develop with a character in a book or a television show: not a personal one necessarily, but one with meaning nonetheless.

Which leads me to last Friday evening.

My personality might best be described as “gently cynical”. My buddies used to compare me to the Matthew Perry character Chandler on the TV show Friends back in the 1990s.  Like Chandler, I’m not going to plow anyone down with overt nastiness, but I do have a hard time keeping snide comments to myself, especially when something offbeat is right in front of me.  Plenty of aspects of the Olympic opening ceremonies in London last Friday fit that description, and since I found myself alone while watching them, I decided to let my thoughts loose on my followers.  Some examples:

“Am I the only one hoping for Mr. Bean to be the one lighting the Olympic cauldron? #openingceremony

Call me a philistine, but Kenneth Branaugh is always going to be a Hogwarts professor to me. #OpeningCeremony #OlympicCeremony

If there was a gold medal for running too many ads, NBC would have already won it. #OpeningCeremony #OlympicCeremony

“ ‘Queuing’? ‘Telly’? Matt Lauer's been into the bangers and mash again. #openingceremony

Get the gist? I put up about 35 postings of this type in the space of about 90 minutes.  Nothing offensive, nothing that tried to sell or promote anything.  Then, all of a sudden, a banner shows up on my account stating that it had been suspended, without explanation.  I went to the link provided, tried unsuccessfully to figure out which rule I had broken, and then immediately wrote to contest my suspension, using polite but strongly-worded terms. I got a robo-reply that they had received my objection, but no explanation of what I had done that fell outside their lines or when they would get back to me.  Some legwork online revealed that much of the suspension work done by “the social media network in question” is done by “bots” which scan accounts for anomalies and summarily suspend (have you read George Orwell’s 1984, by the way?), leaving the flesh and blood tech support people to sort it all out later.

I expected a top-tier outfit like “the social media network in question” to have tech support staff on-hand 24/7, and expected a resolution within a few hours, if not by the following morning. Nope.  Nothing from them the next morning, or the next, or even the next.  It wasn’t until Monday evening, and then only after a series of pointed inquiries by me into the status of my account, that I got the following reply from the Grand High Twits, in which I have edited only the real name of the social media network:

“Your account was suspended for posting multiple unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic, which is a violation of the *****er Rules. You can find the more information about Trending Topics here:

I have now unsuspended your account. Repeat violations may result in permanent suspension.

Thank you,

That last line made me feel exactly like I was an eight-year-old kid in parochial school again, and not in a good way. Essentially, the Grand High Twits were saying “I will let it slide this time, but if you do it again, you are going to get severely punished.”  Yes, Mother Superior.  Thank you, Mother Superior.  I’ll never do it again, Mother Superior.

I was tempted at that point to tell the Grand High Twits to shove my account right up their cyber butts, but thankfully cooler heads prevailed.  It still took them another 24 hours to fully restore my account, by the way.

So I’m back on “the social media network in question”, but some questions remain:

·         What determines “unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic”? Did they see the opening ceremonies?  Nothing was related to anything else.

·         For that matter, what determines “multiple”? Is it two?  Twenty?  Two hundred?

·         Was there a connection between my suspension and the fact that my postings were about the Olympics?  Especially given that the social media network in question and the broadcaster carrying the games here in the U.S. have a recently-minted partnership in place? 

·         Are the Grand High Twits really as stupid as they appear?  The network is under a very bright spotlight with the Olympics underway, and liberal interpretation of their rules as a means of suppressing opinions contrary to their own is really, really bad thinking.  After all, they have proudly touted themselves as a major instrument for communication and organization in the “Arab Spring” protests against dictatorships in the Middle East last year.

This article from the New York Times about the suspension from the social network of British journalist Guy Adams for posts critical of the U.S. broadcaster is rather eye-opening.  Adams was suspended at almost exactly the same time I was.  His account is back now too. You can follow him at: @guyadams.  And if you don’t already, I’d be grateful for a follow on my account at “the social media network in question” as well: @countofbluecars.

Just think of following both of us as a way to stick it to “the man”.