Finding Kellyanne Conway’s Bowling Green Massacre

This evening, Kellyanne Conway talked about a “Bowling Green Massacre” in an interview with Chris Matthews. Here’s what she said as quoted by The Daily Beast:

“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” Conway said during an exchange on the program. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

When I heard that, I got really confused, because if there’s anything that our news outlets here in America will cover, it’s a massacre or any kind of mayhem. So I thought that was off. At the same time, it seemed such an unusual thing to make up out of whole cloth. Bowling Green? I’m sure it’s a lovely place (actually every place I’ve been to in Kentucky is beautiful) but it’s not a metro area that pops to the front of your mind.

So I went digging.

If you search Google for “Bowling Green Massacre” you will find odd pointers in online discussion forums and an apparent haunted house. I did not find any news stories. So I started gathering.

If you read my book Web Search Garage, you know it’s a collection of principles for better searching. One of them is called The Principle of Every Scrap; you can read about it here a little bit; unfortunately I think it’s out of print but I’d probably still get in trouble if I tried to post it.

Anyway, the Principle of Every Scrap states that you hang on to all the little bits of information that you come across as you’re putting a search together, because you never know what’s going to steer you in the right direction.

What was I finding? Mentions of 1998 in discussion boards. “Bowling Green State University” being mentioned far more often than “Bowling Green”. Haunted houses. Halloween?

I started taking these bits of data and trying them in different combinations along with Google’s full-word wildcard, which doesn’t work like it used to but still comes in handy. And eventually I found an article from the Kent State University student newspaper archive.

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So there was a rumor of a Halloween massacre at Bowling Green State University along with other universities, and that was it. A rumor.

But it didn’t make sense. Why Bowling Green? I restarted my search, left out “massacre” and put in Iraqis. And almost immediately found this article from 2011, in which two Iraqis were arrested in Bowling Green for plotting terrorist attacks.

So two Iraqis were arrested in Bowling Green for plotting attacks. I thought maybe Ms. Conway got confused and mixed up an urban legend from 1998 with an incident that occurred much later.

But that doesn’t really work either, because this is what Ms. Conway said:

“two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre”

And here is what the article says:

screenshot 2017 02 02 at 10 44 19 pm

So:

There is an urban legend of a “Bowling Green State University Massacre” that goes back to at least 1998.

Two Iraqis were arrested in Bowling Green in 2011 for plotting terrorist activities.

They were not charged with plotting attacks on American soil, and as the article notes, the charges were about things they did while in Iraq.

Ms. Conway is very busy and has a lot to do, but if there are additional news stories to be considered that I did not find during my searches and she cares to bring them to my attention, I will be happy to update this post.

Update: Ms. Conway is indicating she misspoke. She was referring to the two Iraqis who were arrested and meant “terrorists” when she said “massacre”.

How to Quickly Follow Local Protests and Actions With Twitter, IFTTT, and Pushover

There have been several protests going on at various airports around the United States over the new immigration policy. If you want to get information on protests from where the protests are actually happening, I have a recipe for you.

Your ingredients: Twitter, IFTTT, and Pushover

You’ll need three ingredients to put this recipe together:

TWITTER: If you don’t know what Twitter is, you probably want to skip this article and do some Googling. You might not know that Twitter offers geotagged tweets. Geotagging’s been on offer for — five years? — if I remember correctly, but you can learn more about it here at Twitter’s support page.

IFTTT: IFTTT stands for IF This, Then That, and is a service that allows you to use the activities of one service (a “trigger”) to make something happen on another service (an “action”.) I have written before about using IFTTT to monitor Reddit. You can get a very detailed overview of how to use Reddit at MakeUseOf.

PUSHOVER: This is the one you’ve probably not heard of. Pushover (https://pushover.net/ ) is simply a way to aggregate notifications in one place on your iPhone, Android phone, or desktop. (I use it on my desktop. As far as i can tell it’s platform-neutral; I’ve used it on Linux, ChromeOS, and Windows machines.)

What we’ll be doing here is finding geotagged posts on Twitter, and using IFTTT and Pushover to aggregate them in one place. You’ll have a “dashboard” of constantly-updated information to let you know what’s going on.

As I type this there is a protest going on at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, also known as RDU. (Also known as “If you get the wrong Lyft driver you can easily drive in circles around it for 45 minutes do not ask me how I know this.”) So we’ll use that as an example.

First thing we do is set up a Pushover account.

Getting Your Pushover On

Pushover is available at https://pushover.net/ . This article will focus on using Pushover on the desktop, so after you register on the site (registration is free) you might want to go directly to the desktop page at https://pushover.net/clients/desktop .

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Pushover for desktop offers a 7-day free trial, but after that it costs $4.99. That’s $4.99, period, per computer you use it on. No monthly fees. Just $4.99.

You don’t have to pay it right now, though – enter a device name and register your browser.

Now that you’ve got Pushover going, we need to make an IFTTT recipe.

Mixing Your Pushover With Twitter and IFTTT

Head over to IFTTT.com. If you have an account sign in, if not, you can make one for free. For IFTTT basics please refer to my MakeUseOf link above.

We’ll be making an “applet” (that’s what they’re called now) with the trigger of Twitter and the action of Pushover.

Step 1: The Twitter Trigger

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There are currently ten triggers. The one you want is “New Tweet by Anyone in Area”.

Step 2: The Twitter Action

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You’ll be asked to enter an address. I had to Google it because I didn’t know the address of the airport. Once entered the map will change to a map reflecting your address; you can use the + and – buttons to make the area you’re monitoring smaller or larger. Keep it as small as you can, especially in a busy metro area – you will get a lot of random stuff otherwise.

screenshot 2017 01 29 at 2 47 30 pm

Once you click on Create trigger, you’ll be directed to pick the Action part of your app – that’s Pushover. Pushover only has one action – to send a notification.

There’s a lot of things to choose from so I’ll have to use two screenshots:

screenshot 2017 01 29 at 3 09 15 pm

screenshot 2017 01 29 at 3 09 30 pm

Now the good news is you don’t have to bother with ANY of the options. You can just click Create action and you’re done. In my case I specified the device I’m using because I use Pushover for other things.

Once you’ve clicked create action you’ll have it all set up. Click Finish and you’re all done!

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So what do you have now?

You have Twitter being searched on a regular basis for tweets in the geographic area you specified. As the tweets appear, they are aggregated onto a Pushover screen.

Your Pushover screen — assuming you’ve registered your device — is available at https://client.pushover.net/ . Here’s is what a screen looks like:

screenshot 2017 01 29 at 3 31 38 pm

If you click on one of the tweets in the list, you’ll get the tweet on the right panel, along with the option to delete if you get information unrelated to whatever you’re following:

screenshot 2017 01 29 at 3 34 05 pm

Now, there’s more that can be done with this. With more apps (or maybe a more robust solution like Zapier) this could be more of an archiving tool, but at the moment it’s just an easy way to get information about local protests and actions directly from the scene of the protests and actions.

I can explore this further if there’s any interest. I look forward to your feedback. As always, thanks for reading and I love you.

Bad Weather Resource Lists for FL, NC, SC Coming Tonight

Hey folks,

Tonight when I get home from work I’ll be putting together resource lists for FL, NC, and SC in advance of Hurricane Matthew. The lists will grow and change over time.

I went through Fran in 1996 (remind me to tell you about sitting at my Granny’s dining room table, working on one of my books by the light of a hurricane lamp) and I’ve never forgotten how scary that night was.

As with everything else on this site, the lists will be CC-BY-NC. So if you’re a local neighborhood group, or a school, or a library or any other non-commercial, non-profit being, and you want to take the list and share it, PLEASE. Please take it. Keep checking back as I add stuff.

And if you can’t BY, don’t worry about it. YOUR health and YOUR safety and YOUR access to resources and help is 8000% more important than me getting a hat tip.

I will update the resource lists as I find things, and if I find them immediately useful I will tweet them with the hashtags of #MATTHEWFL or #MATTHEWNC or #MATTHEWSC as appropriate.

Wishing safety for you and yours.

As always: I love you!

Tara

Happy First Birthday, ResearchBuzz Firehose!

A year ago last week, I launched ResearchBuzz Firehose. The idea was to create a place where I could post individual RB items and tag them so they would be easier to find. The idea was also to make it easier for readers to follow categories, tags, and keywords, if they had specific interest.

At this writing the Firehose has over 4,900 posts. Broken out by category, they cover this spectrum:

  • Around the Search & Social Media World (1,217)
  • New Resources (1,114)
  • Other Things I Think Are Cool (48)
  • Research & Opinion (368)
  • Security & Legal Issues (593)
  • Tweaks & Updates (931)
  • Uncategorized (25) (This is also known as the “Tara screwed up” category)
  • Useful Stuff (650)

How did I put up so many posts in a year? Look at it this way: ResearchBuzz is ideally two posts a weekday – a morning post with 12 items, and an afternoon post with 10 items. That’s 22 items a weekday, or 110. Then I do a Saturday and Sunday edition – that’s another 24 items, or 134 items a week. That’s 6968 items over 52 weeks – the Firehose doesn’t match that because I don’t manage to do two editions every weekday.

But it gives you the idea – ResearchBuzz covers a lot of ground! You should see the stuff I read and don’t post.

But it’s no good at all if it doesn’t do you and good. When the site launched I wrote an article on how to best use the Firehose for content discovery. If you missed it, you can check it out here: https://researchbuzz.me/2015/06/23/introducing-the-researchbuzz-firehose-how-to-use-it/.

As always, if there’s anything I can do to make this site and resource more useful to you, just let me know.

Love,

Tara

The Learning Curve of Learning Curves

I admit to you freely that this is a little off the ResearchBuzz path, but this resource saved my bacon. And I figure bacon-saving (or tofu-saving, or chicken-saving, or whatever your protein of choice for saving) is a universal desire.

One of the many tasks in my Real Job is graphic designer. I’m competent at it, in the sharp-cornered, slightly awkward way of someone who has zero natural aptitude for a task but who studies and practices diligently in order to build skill.

My boss asked me to design a sales flyer. There wasn’t a lot of time to do it, so I quickly wrote up some copy (that I can do), thought about it for a few minutes, and then shoved it into the back of my mind so my subconscious could chew on it while I took care of more immediate tasks.

Later that evening my subconscious went bing! and I had a pretty good plan for a flyer.

For a while everything went according to plan. Got some graphic elements together, got a layout, fit in the copy. It looked pretty good. I was over half done with it, congratulating myself, when I realized I had made a big mistake:

I needed a curved text element.

In fact, I needed five of them.

I normally use GIMP when I’m designing, or if it’s not something really complicated I use PicMonkey. Curved text in GIMP is not something that comes easy to me. I knew it could be done, so I went and found some tutorials, then tried to follow along with my own flyer.

The results would have been great if I was designing a flyer for drunk Scrabble players. Alas, I was not.

At this point it was about 10pm. I complained on Facebook (as you do) and my friends suggested using Inkscape, but I did not have time to climb up that learning curve. So I went hunting for an alternative.

And I found it on GRSites, at http://www.grsites.com/generate/group/1/ .

That site is a logo designer. You can pick out a texture if you want one or a color if you don’t (and you can specify a hex color), font (you can even upload a font if you want), some special effects, etc. And you have a choice of curving the text up or down, with each orientation having seven different options.

This is ResearchBuzz with a slight up curve:

logo99105752

And this is ResearchBuzz with the greatest down curve, which is actually a circle:

logo83073510

Using this tool I was able to quickly generate the five curved text items I needed – I think it took me about ten minutes. And the flyer was finished.

Now, were they perfect? No. The kerning was a bit weird on one of them, and in another case the curve was a little odd relative to the graphic image I was using. But at the same time they looked fine, and certainly a hundred times better and a hundred times faster than I could have done myself.

GR Sites is not free – you can play with the tools all you like but to download/save items you’ll have to have a subscription. I was more than happy to pay $12 for a month’s access to all the tools on the site (there’s an icon maker, etc.) It saved me far more than that in time and all the hair I would have pulled out doing it myself! If the site is something you think you’d use a lot, yearly subscriptions start at $69 (and according to the pricing page, education discounts are offered.)

Because of all the folderol about sponsored posts and so on, I feel I must make the following disclaimer: GRSites is a product that solved my problem so I’m telling you about it. This isn’t a sponsored post. The GRSites people don’t know me from a hole in the ground. They don’t know I’m writing this post. I gave ‘em twelve bucks and I was happy to do it. Etc.

If you find yourself with graphic design tasks and you need a curved text element, but you’re not a hotshot designer, this is a great tool. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t free, but it’s very good, and will save you a tremendous amount of time.