Things I’ve read today

Like a vast number of users of Apple’s products, I read every post at Daring Fireball every day. It’s an Apple-centric news, information and review blog, but it’s also about whatever else its author, John Gruber, finds really interesting and things is worth the time and effort for his readers to explore, as well.

Well, Daring Fireball has been on fire for the last couple of days.

Yesterday, links to this quite excellent (albeit quite unsafe for work due to language) piece by David Simon on this absolutely ridiculous Gen. David Petraeus “scandal,” with an equally excellent followup about an FBI agent named John O’Neill. Even if you find the language offensive, read both of these pieces very carefully and consume the key message – then ask yourself what’s really important to you when we make decisions about the people we want to protect us from the dark parts of the world. When you’re done with that, do some serious soul-searching about the notion that a person taken down by some stupid sex scandal just might have had the ability to prevent 9/11. Then ask yourself again what’s really important to you.

Then, tonight, Daring Fireball had a link to a piece called “Twitter is pivoting,” by Dalton Caldwell. I’ve thrown around the phrase “500 ways to kill yourself” when describing Twitter’s behavior as a corporation over the last year or so, particularly concerning their inexplicable desire to slay the developers of third-party clients which played such a significant role in Twitter’s lofty position in the social media landscape. Caldwell’s piece is a pretty solid analysis of the path Twitter’s taking, and makes some interesting comparisons to another former social media giant that once took a similar path.

More social media news

Pinterest launched brand pages this week; I created an account for BSU back in the spring, and then never cultivated it. The launch of brand pages gave me a reason to at least touch base with the account this week, get it converted to a brand profile and verify our website. I’m still not entirely certain how to go about using this as a social media resource for the University, particularly given the vast number of balls that I already am juggling. But it’s one of those things that just feels like we have to get going.

And, even with the understanding that we’re not using Pinterest and should be, and have no presence on Instagram and probably should, I can’t get out of my head the notion that the relaunched MySpace could be a very useful tool for promoting certain segments of the programmatic and entertainment opportunities at BSU… But it’s also one more thing to manage in an already overwhelming sea of things to manage.

Also, the Twitter battle between the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas over the last couple of days adds a really interesting psychological warfare angle to the fact that neither of those two groups of people seem to be able to find any way to not blow each other up. It’s like Spy vs Spy at this point, only nobody is miraculously back in one piece in the next issue.

Grad school update

I took today off work as a writing day for graduate school. I generated some new material for the final paper I’m doing with one other person in my Systems Thinking class, but the majority of my efforts were spent repairing some abysmal work that was turned in with the last version of this paper. Incredibly frustrating. I’ve got some more writing days next week, but need to shift gears and pour some massive work into my final paper for my other class; completing that is going to be a challenge, honestly. So I want to see if I can have the paper I worked on today essentially done by the time The Walking Dead starts on Sunday. Good goal, that.

Social goals

About the only thing I’m doing with regularity is Pinterest. Twitter is a pain to follow when I’m out and about like I was today (and, the fact that I missed my quota is a good indicator that I was concentrating on my paper instead, which is good). This is only my third post here in maybe nine days since I started the daily goals checklist; that’s probably the one thing I’d like to try and make an effort to do better at.


For a couple of evenings this week, the girls wanted to bust out the Legos in the basement. Helen has been building this huge elaborate… something. It’s either a ship or a house or a ship with a house on it, or even possibly just an undefined polygonal mass. Whatever it is, she’s put a ton of effort into it and it’s pretty interesting. While she was working on that, I set out to build a version of the Monster Fighters Vampyre Hearse (even though we don’t have the bones or fangs or other skeleton-y bits to really make it work) with a significantly meaner engine than the retail kit. I think Lego’s base kit is pretty awesome, but the front of that vehicle seems very undersized compared to the rest of it. Minifig scale tends to make a lot of stuff seem undersized, I realize, but especially given how chunky the back of that hearse is, the front third is pretty underwhelming.

I ended up building more of a science fiction truck, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I want to spend more time just experimenting with the way pieces can be assembled in different ways to build certain structures, and especially how bits like saws and grates and walkie-talkies and sextants are used in interesting ways to create form and texture. I was able to do a few things with this truck (and I need to get some good pictures of it; there is an in-progress shots on Instagram), but I felt like I was limited both by a lack of parts and by a lack of understanding of how to fit together parts we do have in atypical ways to construct the masses I was going for.

Overall I’m really happy with how this vehicle turned out, particularly given the fact that it was for all intents and purposes designed on the fly as I was building it. In some cases, I found a part, decided I liked it, and figured out a way to shoe-horn it onto the vehicle in a manner that made sense and was visually appealing. There’s really only one part of the vehicle I’d change, and I honestly am not sure what I’d do as an alternative. So, for now, it’s good.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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