[Very OT] Tweets I Don’t Understand

Following news that Baltimore’s mayor resigned after using her influence to force various agencies to spend hundreds of thousands of copies of a children’s books she wrote, Baltimore-based television writer/director/producer David Simon tweeted

To everyone coming @ me and demanding a season six of The Wire about Catherine Pugh, her ridiculous kiddie-books-as-shakedown and the rank complicity of Baltimore medical systems and charities and such in this citywide grift, let’s be clear: Full stop. No. I don’t do half-hour.

Does he mean he considers this to be a sitcom plot?


  1. “Does he mean he considers this to be a sitcom plot?”

    Yes. That is exactly what he means.

  2. Well, I guess her attorneys prefer this perspective over “She shook them down for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.”

  3. [Very OT] some of us prefer periods at the end of sentences instead of the beginning. Full stop.

  4. If I had to choose, I would rather explain “Monica & Bill” to my elementary school kids, rather than the reasons behind my refusal to buy any more books by Ms. Pugh.

  5. Bill, if politics is playing out more unbelievably than in a bad comic strip, maybe it isn’t all that OT.

  6. @ Bill – I used that as an example precisely because you had mentioned it recently. My point is that there are probably many kids in Baltimore who have read and even liked those books, who will now be rather puzzled and/or disappointed if they are suddenly struck from the curriculum.

  7. No, I do not believe that he means that this is a sitcom plot. Rather, I think he means that this is a simple story that would be told quickly, and is lacking the complexity and nuance needed for The Wire.

  8. Does anyone here have the patience (or the right little software tool) to count the characters in that? I’m bothered that he omitted the period (or full stop) at the end — as Billybob seems also to be — and as this was said to be a tweet, wondered if that was just because of the character limit.

    (And what is that limit these days? What parts count against it? If you are retweeting, and in some views that is indicated by a “RT”, do those count as two characters? If you include a picture, does that count as a thousand words? 🙂 Or the identifier that is used to include it? Why won’t the base Twitter web site or app just let you type and then break it up and label the parts for you, as various add-on tools will?)

  9. Thanks, Olivier.

    If the limit is 280, maybe the missing final punctuation was an accident in the copy-paste operation?

  10. I get 277 characters, but we’re in very close agreement. No, I didn’t count by hand.

  11. @ Mitch4 – I don’t think that sentence is missing just punctuation: it appears to be short by a couple of words, and “sitcom plots” would fill the gap as well as anything else.

  12. P.S. The NPR report on the mayor’s resignation included a photo that was so unbelievably unflattering that it made me wonder whether someone (such as the photographer or editor) was trying to make her look bad. Assuming the press conference lasted more than a couple of minutes, there must have been a picture that looked better than that one.

  13. All right, I went to Twitter and looked it up.

    * The link is https://twitter.com/AoDespair/status/1124059882204934163

    * There is indeed a period at the end of that last (fragmentary) sentence.

    * There’s a little formatting. He has a couple newlines after the colon of “let’s be clear:” . So “Full stop. No. I don’t do half-hour.” shows up as a one-line paragraph of pithy phrases.

  14. Twitter archives notwithstanding, the word “half-hour” seems to me to be an adjective that preceded a noun that was truncated from whatever device the original source of the message might have been.

  15. Our County Executive just resigned and is in the process of pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. He originally ran on a campaign against the small-scale corruption of the previous guy. We didn’t realize that he meant that the corruption wasn’t extreme enough.

  16. Gosh, Kilby, you say “Twitter archives” like it’s a storage facility where the refrigeration may not be managed well and the contents could be going bad. Really though it’s just Twitter. And if you follow that link you’ll see it as just David Simon’s tweet, looking as though he typed it in; there doesn’t seem to be any copy/pasting involved.

    The missing period was therefore likely the result of loss during copy/paste, on CIDU Bill’s part.

    But with the period restored, I don’t think we need to suggest a completion in additional words. Since the original writer was running out of characters, it’s fair game to offer “sitcom plot” as a suggested interpretation , which might have been added if he had more space. But it shouldn’t still seem like a truncation due to copying.

  17. Not due to copying, simply via delivery. Many people (and a variety of other creatures) feed their text to Twitter from a mobile phone. My assumption is that if somebody sends a 300-character message into the system, then it will be truncated to the 280-character limit, and performing the truncation at the last possible white space division would seem eminently sensible.
    P.S. I cannot test this hypothesis. I deleted my Twitter ID immediately after they doubled the character limit. The primary reason was that I had not used the account for more than a year (or two), but I also felt that it was irresponsible to double the bandwidth to accommodate even more sewage for which some individuals misuse the system.

  18. I was very careful not to truncate what I copied. And I don’t think I even COULD HAVE copy/pasted it and left off just the final period.

    I guess I could have saved it and then gone back with an editing program to white out the period and re-saved it, but that seems like a lot of work to go through just to make somebody else’s comment grammatically incorrect.

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