Friday, April 01, 2011

Coffee talk

Coffee break


Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, set off a little firestorm in the ethosphere this week after he published, then temporarily retracted, a tongue-in-cheek essay on positions pushed by Men's Rights organizations. The post had feminists calling him misogynist and men's rights advocates crying misanthropy.

I'm not sure I really have an opinion of the original essay to be quite honest, but I thought Adams' explanation of the whole debacle was an interesting little journey through the bowels of social media.

See, a few weeks back, I wrote a column in which I complained about family game night. It was supposed to be an off-beat, light-hearted glimpse of some mundane thing we all do, and that from time to time drives us crazy. It was supposed to be akin to looking at a snapshot, not painting a portrait.

In the print edition it appeared on a page opposite the obituaries ... which that day happened to contain an obituary for an 8-year-old child. I was mortified by the context I now found my story. Some mother was mourning her son, and if they looked to the right they would read my complaints about a family ritual they will never be able to have again with their child.

I thought: This wouldn't happen on the internet. My frivolousness wouldn't share a page with someone else's sorrow.

Now I see how it can. And how anything, no matter what audience it was meant to entertain, can take on meaning it never was meant to convey.


The NYTimes ran a story this week that city schools were planning pricey technology purchases despite cuts in other areas of education spending, namely teachers.

Questions about the effectiveness of these new technologies as they pertain to learning and evaluation persist, but we are like moths to the technological flame. ... We seem to prefer the automated bells and whistles despite any proof that they work better than the lest costly tool they replaced.

As in the case of Interactive White Boards it seems pretty clear: Everyone likes them, but there's no real way to tell if they are more effective than their low-cost cousins.

I know I'm kind-a old school, here. But I'd rather have more teachers.


You've no doubt heard about the female King Cobra that supposedly slithered out of the Bronx Zoo last weekend. Well, zoo officials didn't think the venomous viper got far, but by Monday a mystery asp started a twitter account under that moniker "BronxZoosCobra" and began live-tweeting its supposed tour of Gotham.

Among its tweets:

"Dear NYC, Apples and snakes have gone together since the beginning."

and "Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!"

and my personal favorite: "At the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Temple of Dendur really kicks some asp. #snakeonthetown"

In few days the little viper was on slitherabout, she'd had garnered more than 190,000 followers. The Bronx Zoo was sponging up some of the curiosity, too. Its follower count jumped more than 100 percent (to 8,000 including @bronxzooscobra) after the snake started tweeting. She even got @Jon_Favreau 's attention by posting a link to a photo on display at Ellis Island of his 1900s doppleganger.

Snake = winning.

Of course zookeepers said they believed the snake was holed up somewhere inside the confines of the zoo and would mosey on out when she's got good and hungry. Which many had hoped would mean a few weeks of reptile raillery.

On Thursday afternoon, however, the zoo reported the snake had been located, leading many twitter fans to wonder (and hope) that would be keeping its smartphone.

and ... @bronxzooscobra's first tweet back in captivity?

"Just regurgitated my iPhone. Oh, it's ssso on now. You'll never guess what's coming. #freethebronxzooscobra"

Keep the party going:

Score = tied.

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