I had plans for a quiet weekend. I’d finished some work ahead of schedule, sent it on its’ way and settled in on Friday night to watch Million Dollar Listing LA. I like to stare at Madison and throw a Cheezit at Josh Altman when he starts to annoy me. The problem was that the episode was not on my list of recorded programs. I don’t know what happened. I suspect someone around here deleted it – someone who still hasn’t mastered the remote – because I did see that “Deadliest Catch” was now on the list and I didn’t put it there. So, instead, I turned to the Olympics and my computer, and started reading things on Twitter.
Twitter can be Hell on Earth, but it can also be fun. You can find information on just about anything, even when you’re not expecting it. Some of it is really worthwhile, while some of it just leaves you shaking your head. One thing I found out about Friday night was that Fareed Zakaria had been suspended by both CNN and Time magazine, accused of plagiarizing parts of his story on gun control. It seems that there are obvious similarities to an article written by another author, and historian, Jill LePore, from the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker. Two of the paragraphs in question were written as follows.
From Lepore’s New Yorker piece:
As Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law scholar at U.C.L.A., demonstrates in a remarkably nuanced new book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” firearms have been regulated in the United States from the start. Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed: Indiana (1820), Tennessee and Virginia (1838), Alabama (1839), and Ohio (1859). Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.
From Zakaria’s Time Magazine column:
Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA, documents the actual history in Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. Guns were regulated in the U.S. from the earliest years of the Republic. Laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813. Other states soon followed: Indiana in 1820, Tennessee and Virginia in 1838, Alabama in 1839 and Ohio in 1859. Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas (Texas!) explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”
I was more than a little stunned by the news. I like Zakaria, even though he has a tendency to take some less than subtle jabs at American Democracy. I might not always agree with him, but I found most of his arguments to be solid and well-reasoned. The thing is he knows better. This is something you learn when you’re still in elementary school. Don’t copy the other kids’ homework. Zakaria is a graduate of both Harvard and Yale, and both universities have strict rules on plagiarism. He’s issued an apology, accepting full responsibility. I just don’t know if it’s enough to repair what was an excellent reputation.
On the absurd side of Twitter, we have the ever entertaining Real Housewives. During my late night obsession with the conversations, I came across some tweets from Aviva Drescher. She seems to be unable to grasp that this is not the venue to hold a debate. It’s not even a matter of trying to get your point across in 140 characters or less. It’s really about learning the simple fact that you’re going to make friends or enemies just by being on a reality show and tweeting about your life. Aviva went on and on for a very long time, trying to win folks over to her side while battling with others who should have just been ignored.
I woke up this morning to a monsoon, with our weather station having just given up and displaying a little message that said “it’s raining cats and dogs”. I think I’ve spent my money really well when I have a gadget that confirms what I already know by looking out the window. That being said, my plans for Saturday were changed as I watched my backyard turn into something resembling a future koi pond. So, I went back to Twitter and found out that Mitt Romney had picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. I was still nursing my second cup of coffee, so I really didn’t have much of a reaction. I plan on taking a red Sharpie to my polling place and writing in my vote for Elmo and Kermit, anyway. The worst attacks I’ve seen on Sesame Street are Cookie Monster’s way of devouring anything with chocolate chips.
Then I read a few more items and realized that Aviva was still tweeting about how mean people are. There had been a break in the action, so I assume she had finally fallen asleep at some point during the night. She was now asking people for advice on how to handle mean tweets and bloggers who she considered overly critical of her.
Should I block bloggers/tweeters who speak negatively to me? Or is there some backlash when u block people? Thnx. Xoxo
Hey folks- u know I am new to this game. I have a question for the experts….
Now, the way I see it, and I’m far from being an expert, but if you’re one of the Bravo Housewives and you’re asking for help on Twitter about how to deal with Twitter wars, you might as well ask Dr. Sophy for couples’ counseling. There are some very kind, smart and funny people on Twitter who are willing to help you. In fact there are a couple of people who could probably write a “Twitter for Dummies – the Housewives’ Edition” book, but even they’re going to throw their hands up with any Housewife who can’t figure out that engaging in a battle on a social media site is a losing one. Maybe she’s just being cagey, trying to garner attention, in the hope of broadening her fan base. Either way, she sounded a little silly, and I hope she doesn’t fall into the same trap some former cast mates have. About a week ago, she asked if her dad, George, should have his own Twitter account. I’m sure you have your own thoughts on that one.
I did manage to leave my cyber world long enough to read some of September’s Vanity Fair. It’s the Annual Style issue and one of the designers who they honored, with a two page spread, was Ralph Lauren, with a photograph by Annie Leibovitz. The second of the two paragraph Spotlight piece, “Titans of Style” reads as follows:
“This vision has been called taste, class, snob, but it also reflects the American ethic of upward mobility for all. In 1998, Lauren donated $13 million to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., money that went toward the preservation of the American flag – the 1813 original that inspired “The Star Spangled Banner”. This man brings a slice of the American Dream to everything he does.” *
I think it’s fair to assume that this went to press before our Olympians donned those Polo blazers.
Here’s a very good reason to like Twitter and to love the Olympics.
* Vanity Fair, September, 2012; by Laura Jacobs