First Amendment: The Right To Tweet

This was a pretty interesting story, in case you missed it, and it all started about a week ago.

Basically, a Kansas high schooler Emma Sullivan tweeted "just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot" to her 65 followers. A member of the Governor's staff discovered the tweet while combing Twitter for references to the Governor. Feeling the tweet was disrespectful, she got in touch with the Youth In Government program (which had put on the Sullivan's trip, with a larger group), which in turn contacted the school where the 18-year-old girl was enrolled. She got yelled at and was ordered to write an apology.

Cue the outcry. Since then, Sullivan has gained 14000+ followers. The school dropped the apology thing, and the Governor issued an apology statement.

Sullivan also indicated that the tweet was not actually true - that she didn't say mean things to the Governor's face - but that she disagreed with the Governor's conservative stance/policies. 

An opinion piece on CNN asks some really interesting questions - at least, several of which came to my mind as I was reading the story.

Among them...

  • How common is it for elected officials to have a social media monitor?  
  • Is it appropriate for an elected official (or said official's representative) to take action against negative comments?
  • Would this have happened if Sullivan was ten years older? (ie, not a high school student)
  • Should the fact that she was actually lying be a factor in the conversation? I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure the tweet quoted above doesn't qualify as defamation.

I can think of at least one instance where a complaint conveyed over social media had a positive impact. Last year, during a "HoCo Thursdays" series of posts, Erinn at Something Else to Distract Me posted about the poor state of the roads in her development. Quickly she got a response from a member of the County Executive's staff, and I know that the roads in her neighborhood sure look a lot better now. This was a great instance of a member of government noticing a negative comment and moving quickly to address the issue. (hocoblogs@@@)

Likewise, I can see how a monitor of social media would be useful in locating false claims/libel that could damage a person's reputation. 

Still, I wonder if there are specific people targeted to monitor social media, or if it's something by chance - for example, was Erinn's post noticed because the staff member reads her blog, or because the staff member is in charge of monitoring Howard County-related posts?

And if there is a staffer employed to monitor social media, should that be disclosed? Where?

Although the Kansas incident has a creepy, Big-Brother feel to it - and clearly got out of hand - I do think that social media (facebook, twitter, blogs) can be a very powerful tool through which constituents and elected officials can communicate.  

Thoughts? Leave 'em in the comments below.


Thinking ahead.

I bought a pine scented candle a few weeks ago, just before all the Christmas things came out.

Normally, I'm not one to rush the Turkey. I like the holidays. I like the time taken to slow down and celebrate with family - particularly when I have such an awesome one on both sides. But this year, I'm craving a fresh pine wreath for the door, sparkling lights, pumpkin pie, ugly sweaters, and the peek out the window that happens when snow is in the forecast.

I think it has something to do with change - wanting to close the door on the things I'm finishing up, move on.

I'm thinking about the blog, too - not closing its doors, but some changes that I'm considering for 2012. Right now, SWR is a mashup of things I feel like typing about, books, local things, and sometimes food. In short, I'm considering narrowing the scope.

If there's something you've really enjoyed about the blog in the last year or so, or something you would like to see more of in 2012/SWRv2.0, please let me know in the comments, or send an email along to swimwriterun at gmail dot com.


Occupy your job application

That's Newt Gingrich's advice, and who knew that the Occupy movement could be solved so quickly?  

I can't help but appreciate the irony in it. Because it seems to me that, if unemployment and economic inequity was not such a problem, the movement would be smaller. Not gone. But certainly smaller, and possibly less sympathetic.

Frustrated by your unemployment status?  Upset because the cascade of economic catastrophe after a speculation "bubble" put a damper on job prospects, housing opportunities, etc?  Underwater financially thanks to $50K+ worth of student loans, which are necessary for a degree that's needed for a job that doesn't exist?

It's cool. Get a job. Improve your hygiene, especially those of you that stink of pepper spray

Problem solved.

How do you say "What?" in Cuban?

Or, more importantly, how do you say "Can both sides please move away from the pandering and on to addressing the very real social and economic problems that are fueling a series of protests across the country, problems that actually affect both left and right and will only continue to be more detrimental in the future?"


To Market, To Market...

I actually didn't plan on posting about this so quickly, but thanks in part to a bout of insomnia, and also to the fact that I wanted to buy a colleague some baked goods as a "thanks" for helping me get some great data, I made it to Green Valley Market today, on opening day. 

I walked through the doors around 7:15. It was surprisingly crowded. I think the "opening" had something to do with it. The store had some giveaways - I scored a free tote - and a ribbon cutting.

I always wonder what they do with giant scissors after the ribbon cutting. Does one pair travel through a company to all locations? Do they just use it to cut really big pieces of paper? 

I also think it's a testament to how much the area was missing its anchor grocery outlet. There were definitely people doing real shopping there.

I snapped a few pictures. 

Some initial thoughts? For those of you who shopped in the Elkridge SuperFresh, the layout is actually very much the same. The interior looks newer, though. 

The bakery still looks excellent. I picked up some croissants for our "breakfast nook" at work (this would be funnier if I had a picture... but I don't.). A sample bite of a brownie with walnuts and PB icing was very tasty. Free samples... breakfast of champions. In checkout, the women behind me had gotten cupcakes that looked awesome - one topped with fruit, the other with a cannoli, each in a little domed cupcake box. 

And there was this cute cake.

The seafood and produce looked fresh.

In my first post, I mentioned that my biggest concern was prices. One nice thing is no value card is needed for this shop. I shop for certain items fairly consistently so I was able to do a walk-through price check. There were fewer sales than at my local giant, but many prices were close, particularly when I looked at value-pack meat and such. Some were pricier. I'll have to do comparisons in the coming weeks - yes, I'm that person.. aka, the poor student, remember? - but they do have a paper circular which will be really helpful. 

While the circular isn't online, I'm a big fan of the fact that the store has both a facebook and twitter presence. FB seems more updated at this point - I'm looking forward to seeing how they put social media to use once things really get running.

Have you been to Green Valley Marketplace yet? Are you a Elkridger who's looking forward to having a very close-by grocery store again? (hocoblogs@@@)

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Edit to update (11/29): Recently noticed that the circular (or a portion of it) is in fact available on the GVM website.


Green Valley Marketplace

We got a coupon mailer for Green Valley Marketplace - the grocery store that will be replacing the overpriced and rundown SuperFresh in Elkridge - the other day.

I'm not going to lie, it's been kind of annoying not having a grocery store within walking distance. But I just say annoying. I am aware of how fortunate we are, and can't imagine how difficult it's been for people who don't have regular or convenient transportation. For me, it's been going without mushrooms if I happened to forget them. Or just going a few miles out of my way because I really wanted chicken for dinner.

Still, I'm curious about this new place. The coupons they gave us amount to $5 off of $50, for the first four weeks that the store is open. If the prices are good, we'll definitely use them. That was the biggest failing of the SuperFresh store. While the bakery was excellent, the rest of the store was really, noticeably more expensive than other options like the MeadowRidge Giant.

So much so that we would have conversations like this.

SWR: "I'm going to make a stop on the way home. What do we need from SuperFresh?"

Mr. SWR: ""As little as possible."

I'm also glad to have a new storefront in our shopping center, and hopefully there's been a small hiring bump. I'm really hoping that they get around to issuing some sort of online circular, which will make it more convenient to shop. I use that feature on the Giant webpage often.

I'll post up some pictures when I get over there, but you can see a preview on their facebook page - the store is set to open on Nov 16. (hocofood@@@)

EDIT (11/16): First impressions and pictures, here.


Elkridge Creeper Ice Cream Person... 2.0

Last night, I spotted the Elkridge creeper ice cream man/woman that sometimes works our neighborhood.

To be clear, it was around 6:20. On November 3. I was wearing a scarf and a jacket. The sun was going down. And then I heard the music, and saw the truck whipping around the corner into the lot opposite ours.

I guess there's always time for ice cream?

I don't have a picture of this one, but this is what I imagine it would have looked like had I gone over.