Monthly Archives: June 2012

Twitter goes down


Twitter was down for a good 40 minutes today, possibly more. In Twitter time, that might as well be a century.

As I haven’t been on Facebook for over three years now, it allowed me to imagine (for the first time in my Internet life) what things were like before the proliferation of social networks. I was online long before social media of course, but once they came around, it seemed like the most fun thing to do. Even before there was Facebook, I was on Yahoo Groups, X-Files dicussion boards (oh, the shame) and much more. So there was always a social element to much of my online activity.

So when Twitter went down, I admit I found myself a bit… adrift. If I wanted to share something during the outage, I had to do this: blog about it. Now this was only 40 minutes. But it got me thinking about what would happen if Twitter was down for a whole week or a month. How long would be enough to change our online behavior? Would a bunch of people suddenly go back to blogging more or take it up for the first time?


Aside from logistical matters, did anyone else experience a strange, if a bit uncomfortable, state of calm during the outage? It was like being in one of those sensory deprivation tanks. Now, I’ve done this tank thing twice. You go in for an hour. I enjoy the stillness for about 20-30 minutes and the rest of the time, if I haven’t fallen asleep, I start to get antsy. I feel restless and like I’m wasting time when I know I’m suppsed to be relaxing. I know many of you will relate :-) Those that don’t, do you think it’s abnormal to feel this way?

As I was writing this by the way, Twitter went down again. But now I have to feed my baby and at least for a time, my mind will be consumed with other things.

Ignorance is bliss


It all started with this post from infamous Business Insider head honcho, Henry Blodget. You can see in the URL that the original headline was “Why do people hate Jews?” In fact, this is now the #1 Google result for that question, a fact that makes me immesurably sad. I can only hope that people search instead for anti-semitism instead which returns significantly better results.

Why did Blodget do it? Linkbait? Genuine curiousity? It’s hard to believe that the latter could be true of a grown man living in New York City. I could perhaps understand the question if it came from a resident of some backwards small town, but not a cosmopolian New Yorker.

In case you missed this insanity when it first happened by the way, Daily Dot has a good Storify here and, incidentally, a screen grab of the original post’s headline and lead image which you can see was not originally Natalie Portman.

Today, these tweets started coming out of the suddenly popular Sweden Twitter account:

There were others, but the point is made. Apparently a lot of people are confused about why Jews are hated by some. I say this with absolutely sincerity. While I don’t think Henry Blodget and Sonja have much in common, it is notable that they share this exact same lack of understanding, little to no knowledge of history, religion and sheer ignorance of their, well, ignorance.

I wish I could say this is a limited phenomenon, but I don’t believe it is. I’m reminded of an incident in a computer lab at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) in the basement of the Behavioral Sciences Building.

A fellow student sitting next to me was having some problems with her computer. I helped her. She was grateful and we struck up a conversation. I don’t remember how the topic came up, but she asked me what religion I practiced. I said I was Jewish. She looked confused. I thought that was just a culture, not a religion, she said. Taken aback, I asked her what religion she adhered to. She was a born-again Christian as it turned out and she was in the process of studying the Bible. I didn’t get into it with her, but you may have heard us Jews are in there too 😉

Flash forward 3 years or so and I’m working at the corporate headqurters of True Value, the hardware store cooperative. I’m the Coordinator (read: glorified secretary) of the Appliances & Electronics department. The girl who’s the Coordinator of the Hardware department goes on an excursion with myself and another coworker to Devon Ave, the area of Rogers Park in Chicago that’s home to Indians, Pakistanis, Russians and Jews, many of them Orthodox. She looks quizzically out the window at the Hassidim and wonderd why people around here wear those dark coats and hats. Are they Amish or something? she asks.

I have more stories like these, some even more incredible, but you get the picture.

I tell these stories not to gleefully point out that idiots are all around us, that ignorance is everywhere. I tell them to illustrate the point that what ignorance actually is is incredibly easy. It doesn’t take much to be ignorant. It doesn’t take any effort at all. On the other hand, it takes effort to be intellectually curious, well-read, etc.

This to me is the worst part about Blodget’s post, Sonja’s questions and anyone else who has wondered aloud about this topic. The worst part isn’t that they’re ignorant, but that they don’t care that they’re ignorant. They think it’s acceptable and everyone who seriously answers them endorses it.

In which I argued with David Simon and neither of us won

Apologies to those of you who have already seen me tweet about this a bazillion times. Who knew you actually pay attention to what I tweet? 😉 And several days in a row to boot!

I don’t ever want to forget this so I’m saving the link here. I went from thinking Simon is an obstinate Luddite to really understanding him and where he’s coming from. Mostly because I went and read things he’s written on his site. I get him now and I hope he gets me.

By the way this, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty and promise of online discussion. It really can facilitate understanding between people. Don’t believe the hype. 

UPDATE: Howard Owens wrote a response to David Simon. Another epic commenting thread ensued and David was again in the fray. He is now writing yet another response to Howard which may or may not be published by CJR. He talked about that and more on his own site. CJR, for their part, seems to delight in refereeing this brouhaha, despite some people’s feelings that perhaps they’re just adding fuel to an unnecessary fire.

UPDATE PART DEUX: CJR’s Ryan Chittum has written a riposte to Howard’s post. OY. Anyway, here it is.

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