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June 2014

Maria Popova @brainpickings: an unusually wonderful blog

This Twitter account is managed by well-educated blogger, Maria Popova, and it is just the kind of project I would love to be involved in if only I was that talented, resourceful, and connected. No matter what your interest is, you can find intellectual stimulation, fresh ideas, wisdom from the past, and meaningful visual art.

In a world where so many are snapping selfies, sitting down to watch the very superficial Kardashians, and indulging in personal petty dramas that ruin lives and reputations, this Twitter feed is "unusually wonderful."

The design is simple and all of the material is easily accessible; Maria's blog contains no annoying advertisements because she is supported by her followers, and everyone agrees the content is well worth the voluntary donation.

If you are interested in self improvement, education, and literature, then follow @brainpickings.

Twitter Account: Preston Speaks

Tonight I want to feature our doggy friend Preston. He speaks from his Twitter pages about events he attends with his pet parents. Preston is a jet-setter, (he just flew into Pittsburg, PA) an author, a public relations expert, and a good friend to other dogs around the world. Not only that, but Preston is just plain old handsome, and sweet. He wants to help others and spread his views about the world.

He and his pet parents are all geared up for the pet expo in Steel City. I am sure they will have a wonderful time, and Preston will update us on all of the family activities. Make sure you click on @Preston_Speaks and support him at the pet expo.

Remember, as humans we can only imagine how amazing we are to our dogs. Preston definitely has a message beyond his marketing and public relations skills. He wants us to treat our animals with dignity, and give them some comfort and happiness before their short lives are over.

Goodnight world! Goodnight Preston!

CIA Joins Twitter

Maybe it isn't much of a surprise to any of you, but I was stunned to discover the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) lurking on Twitter in broad daylight. They fired up their first post with a weird comment in their typical government style, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet." This happened on June 6th, and since then they have used their Twitter account to connect with an educational blog they have used for years. They post historical trivia, from their own biased perspective, that includes some cool photographs and tabs you can click around on.

They tweeted a link today that features George Washington, and discusses his skills in the black arts. I can remember some history about Washington's fascination with spying and wartime intelligence, and it was nice to take the CIA official refresher course.

I know I don't sound very excited about the CIA Twitter account, and I guess I'm really not. I like these shadowy, controversial organizations to protect their secrecy, not flaunt their weaknesses. Wouldn't they be more intimidating if we never saw them on social media? The rest of us have to use the internet to educate each other about problems like the CIA, FBI, IRS, and all of those other scary acronyms. Finding them on Twitter is a bit surreal.

It makes you wonder who is in charge of posting the actual tweets. What would this person look like? I always imagine the CIA person looking like a dweeb selling shoes, horn rimmed glasses, with a badge on his shirt that says statistical analysis team leader, or something similarly nerdy. I am more interested in who they pick to post this stuff than the post itself.

Go ahead and check out the CIA Twitter account, but it really isn't necessary for you to follow them; they already have almost 700,000 followers, and they know who you are and what you are doing anyway.


Twitter Account: Charlie and Renae

Charlie the Westie, and his hoosis (human sister) Renae, are two of my favorite Twitter characters. They live in Seattle, but I met Renae at a Starbucks in Houston a few months after I became acquainted with her and Charlie via social media. While some social media friendships fizzle and wither, ours has rather grown, and I am hoping she gets to visit H-town again soon.

Charlie the dog usually comments on their shared life. Renae is a student that loves to read fiction, watch sports, and snack on interesting foods. This makes her an idea hoosis for Charlie, and he obviously loves her immensely.

Charlie and Renae are part of a world wide group of dog owners that frequently communicate "in character." These interchanges are sometimes comedic, but often meaningful as owners provide advice, friendship, and sympathy on a wide range of discussion topics.

LIfe is difficult, but the Twitter account @NaeNae_1204 will lighten your spirits as you read the antics of Charlie and Renae. Click and follow!

Twitter Account: Anonymous

Tonight I want to tell you about the Twitter account, Anonymous @YourAnonNews. First of all, Anonymous is very intriguing with shadowy undertones, blended strangely with common sense, and fiery rebellion. I honestly love following this account. They lean left, and are progressive fighters for internet freedoms.

During the day, they will hook you up with news you would never hear about from the big few: CNN, PBS, FOX, MSNBC, BBC et al. Tonight, for example, they posted a link to a blog, originally posted on Salon, featuring a child injured by a SWAT grenade that was fired into his crib during a drug bust that netted nothing.

Anonymous has recently taken on techie preppy, Mark Zuckerburg, of Facebook fame. If Anonymous is right, and Zuckerburg is tracking my web browsing history, and mining my personal data even when I am not on his site, then maybe I should disconnect my FB account and clear my cache.

If you want to follow dissension in real time, and enjoy a few laughs along the way, then Anonymous is definitely for you. They ride the two big acronyms (FBI and CIA) like camels, exposing numerous internal scandals and interesting tidbits. Recently, they have focused on some moves made by the internet giant Google, and they are currently following activist sit-ins at corporate in Seattle, Washington.

I don't really know what "net neutrality" means, so I will remain silent except to say that this is one of the contentious internet discussions currently highlighted by the activists in Seattle. You should stop and think about it though: we are giving up a lot of internet privileges, we are cramming personal data and documents into Google accounts, and we are constantly under surveillance in unimaginable ways as demonstrated by Snowden.

Join the 1.2 million souls currently following Anonymous--enjoy the intrigue, and think about the valuable information.

Twitter Account: Educating the Gates Foundation

The Educating Gates Foundation Twitter feed raises an interesting question about education policy in the United States. As one of the followers post, "It's not about children learning. It's all about the profits made on constant scab picking and improving education."

Educating Gates attacks an important controversial question: how do we control market influence from misinformed, or unethical, philanthropists?

Bill Gates might believe he is saving education, but he is not approaching the issue from the appropriate perspective. He is not a classroom teacher. Instead, his influence has harmed urban students, and Houston, Texas, is a prime example.

To expose misinformed, unethical reformers such as Gates, simply google a look at how his policies have affected standardized test scores around the nation. Test scores have declined; especially in reading and writing, where students experience almost no joy because of constant test preparation.

Teacher purges have destabilized communities, and damaged student perceptions about the worth of education itself. Because they no longer look up to their teachers, classroom disruptions have risen dramatically, and students believe their teachers are expendable, fun to get rid of, and not competent to teach their subject.

If Bill Gates could go undercover, wear a disguise, get hired in a tough urban high school, and last for two weeks, Hell would freeze over.

I recommend following The Educating Gates Foundation--find out what is happening to urban kids and their teachers.

Introduction to the Tweet Critique

I got my idea to write about Twitter accounts one day when I was talking to my friend. I told her that when people ask me what I like to write about, I tell them, EVERYTHING! And that's the truth. If I had financial resources, I would sit around and write a series of short stories, and follow those up with some creative nonfiction, and maybe follow that up with a lot of OPINION...writing about Twitter accounts will give me the freedom to touch on nearly every subject, and have some fun too.

 I am just an amateur writer, but we all know that practice makes everything but writing. But I am gonna, please, follow me along.