Matthew D. LaPlante 🏴‍☠️ Profile picture
Author of Superlative. Co-writer of Lifespan. Founder of UnDisciplined. Professor of journalism. Fledgling climate scientist. Former intel analyst. Soccer fan.
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Sep 10, 2018 10 tweets 3 min read
Can someone explain why there was a SYRINGE on the cover of this old sound effects LP? Like, did syringes used to make noise? And, if so, what kind of noise? I imagine a slide whistle, except instead of a "whoo-ooo-oop" it was more like the sound of people being tortured in hell. The cover of a sound effects record. Inexplicably, it has a syringe on it. Oh, Dear God in Heaven, there were several of these records. Another sound effects record with a syringe on it. What the actual fuck?
Sep 6, 2018 17 tweets 6 min read
I think I figured this out: The anonymous Trump administration official working to thwart the president's agenda is U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, with a writing assist from Ian Bremmer. (I think.) Here's why...

nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opi… My first guess was Larry Kudlow. He’d written about “first principles” before. But the cadence didn’t feel “Kudlowy,” so I started focusing on small bits of text, searching individual words and phrases. When I did, Ian Bremmer’s work kept popping up.

foreignpolicyconcepts.com/ian-bremmer-on…
Sep 1, 2018 22 tweets 3 min read
Buckle up, buttercups. My news writing students have turned in their first assignment of the year, and if I'm going to remain even a little bit sane and sober while grading these papers today, I'm going to need AN OUTLET FOR MY FURY. First article of the day: This woman doesn't know how to spell the name OF HER OWN CHURCH. Can someone come over with some whiskey and pour it into my coffee? Or just some straight poison. Put me down. Please.
Aug 13, 2018 8 tweets 3 min read
I spent several years of my life working in Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, and this is what I learned: There is no level of security that can keep these places secure if the people running them don’t have the trust and respect of their subordinates. #OmarosaTapes In this photo by Evan Vucci of the Associated Press, Omarosa Manigault-Newman sits next to President Donald Trump. If Omarosa took recordings in the Situation Room, and it appears she did, it’s not simply an indication that a “lowlife” breached security; it’s a sign of a failure to create a culture of trust and respect.
Aug 12, 2018 15 tweets 4 min read
Do you know the story of the first elephant to arrive in America? It’s a rather remarkable tale. Gather ‘round for a #WorldElephantDay story… An elephant at the Oakland Zoo peeks out from behind a tree. In 1796, a ship captain named Jacob Crowninshield went to go pick up a merchant vessel, called America, for a commercial fleet owner in Boston. But there was no sense in bringing home an empty ship. So Jacob stopped in Calcutta. That’s where he saw an elephant—and hatched a plan. A black and white portrait of Jacob Crowninshield, wearing a peacoat and holding a ledger. There is a ship in the background.
Aug 11, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
The guy behind us at this @NWSL game has no idea how this game works, but is explaining soccer to his family with a brand of confidence that would make @Ibra_official seem modest. Among other tidbits I'm picking up: penalty kicks are awarded for "really bad fouls."
Aug 8, 2018 7 tweets 2 min read
I'm usually rushing through @SanDiegoAirport. Today I got here early and my plane was delayed, so I got to slow down. I'm really glad I did. Security. No line. Just a TSA agent wearing hijab and her co-worker buddy, with his blue sleeves rolled up and rocking some rad Polynesian tattoos. They’re cracking jokes, keeping it light, loving life, and doing their best to keep us safe.
Jul 30, 2018 6 tweets 1 min read
Donald Trump swore an oath to faithfully execute the office of the president, the responsibilities of which include enforcing the laws of the United States. If he believes the Mueller investigation is illegal, he has a constitutional obligation to end it. Our Constitution is not Schrödinger's Cat. An investigation cannot be deemed illegal by the chief executive and permitted to run its legal course at the same time.
Jul 20, 2018 11 tweets 4 min read
You might remember 1990 as the year Nelson Mandela was freed, Margaret Thatcher resigned, George H.W. Bush sent U.S. troops to face-off against Saddam Hussein. But in the small town of Angels Camp, California, 1990 will always be remembered as the year THIS thing came to town... A man holds a goliath frog. He needs both hands to lift it up. This, my friends, is a goliath frog, a native species from Middle Africa that has been known to feast on turtles, birds and bats. Essentially, what you’ve got here is a frog the size of a really fat house cat. And when Andy Koffman heard about them, he had a Grand Idea. A boy holds a goliath frog. It's nearly as big as he is.
Jul 14, 2018 7 tweets 1 min read
OK, I think I get how this works. You just have to say "Russia, if you're listening," and whatever you say next gets the full force and power of the Russian government behind it! Try it! Russia, if you're listening, reunite the thousands of migrant children who have been taken from their families.
Jul 14, 2018 11 tweets 5 min read
It's well past 1 a.m., and I'm finishing up a 3,000-plus word day, so I'm a little loopy. Seems like a good time for a confession. Bless me Twitter, for I have sinned... So, where to start? Um, a few years ago, I got a call from @sharonmoalem, who says, "come help me write a book about epigenetics" and I say "I don't know anything about that" and he says "I do. I'll show you." And a year and some months later, there was this. The cover of Inheritance: How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes, with a pea pod – and a pearl in the middle of it - on a stark white cover.The cover of Inheritance: How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes, in Chinese.The cover of Inheritance: How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes, in Spanish.The cover of Inheritance: How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes, in Italian.
Jul 4, 2018 10 tweets 2 min read
Every year on the Fourth of July, early in the morning, a dear English friend sends me a note. It’s a very simple act, but it means everything to me. It gives me hope... A smart phone screen capture of a message. It reads We tend to celebrate our revolution without really thinking about how truly horrific it was. American and British troops tortured each other, burned one another alive, and wantonly violated all established rules of warfare. Our nation was born of atrocity. nytimes.com/2017/05/19/boo…
Jul 2, 2018 8 tweets 3 min read
When my students arrive next month, this is what I will tell them. This is not hyperbole. It’s part of my teaching philosophy. But IT'S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. If you want to be a tough teacher, here are some questions you should be able to answer... I don’t accept the idea that toughness is a personality trait. Toughness is a tool. And when tools are used without intentionality, someone is going to get hurt. This isn't "just who I am," it's how I accomplish my objective of preparing my students to become better writers. Does my teaching philosophy reflect my ambition to be a tough teacher?
Jul 1, 2018 11 tweets 1 min read
Getting pumped up to go back to the classroom next month by reading student reviews of my classes... "I've never had a more stressful class. LaPlante isn't afraid to tell you that what you said was stupid. Every time I got an assignment back from him my stomach dropped."
Jun 18, 2018 8 tweets 1 min read
Some dude just tried to carry four bags onto this flight. Not small ones, either. He is not happy that the gate agent stopped him. "I'm in first class," the dude says. "It doesn't matter," the gate agent replies. "You can't carry that many bags onto the plane."
Jun 17, 2018 15 tweets 4 min read
When I met Francisco Jose in El Salvador, we bonded over our love for our daughters, who are close in age. “I try to tell my kid a bedtime story each night,” I told him. “Me too,” he said. On this Father’s Day, I want to tell you about the stories Francisco tells his daughter... Francisco Jose looks at a photo of his children on his phone. At the time this photo was taken, he was planning to send his two children to the United States in the next 12 months, and was trying to prepare them for the journey. When we met, Francisco was getting his daughter ready to leave for the United States. She was 12 years old. That’s about the age that girls begin to be taken as property by the violent gangs that control El Salvador. That’s why he was sending her away.
theguardian.com/global-develop…
Jun 5, 2018 11 tweets 3 min read
I’ve reported on wars, natural disasters, political scandals and serial killers. So sometimes it surprises people when I tell them I once covered the Miss America pageant. Here’s how that happened, and how I came to loathe the swimsuit competition… There is, I’ve learned, no such thing as a “typical” pageant participant. But Jill Stevens was more atypical than most: An Army medic who had served a tour of duty in Afghanistan before being crowned “Miss Utah” in 2007.
Jun 1, 2018 4 tweets 2 min read
OH. MON. DIEU!!! I have discovered FrancoCountry music and plan to blast it at @stephenpdark and @gaileyfrey -- at ear-bleed-inducing volumes, of course -- for the next nine hours. Que c'est délicieux ! This is the in-dash screen for a Chevy Tahoe. It shows a variety of media selections, including Maybe not. @stephenpdark is bringing a hatchet. a tall gray-bearded man stands behind a hatchet.
May 28, 2018 11 tweets 2 min read
A woman from Utah tweeted out a list of the “dumbest” names from her kid’s middle school yearbook. That was her word: Dumbest. It went viral, of course. Because bullying is funny, I guess? I teach at a university in this state. Let me tell you about what happens to these kids… So, here’s what happens to kids with non-traditionally spelled names when they grow up: Some people, like me, can’t pronounce their names at first. (Pause for effect.) And so we have to ask. (Gasp!) And then they have to answer. (Scary music!) Horrifying, isn’t it?
May 26, 2018 19 tweets 4 min read
After being convicted by a federal jury of a hate crime against a black neighbor, this man faced up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of four years. But he’ll be out of jail in… wait for it... Mugshot of Mark Olic Porter, a middle-aged man in red jail clothing. He has gray hair. THREE WEEKS!
May 1, 2018 19 tweets 8 min read
I’ve always loved science, but I was bad at it. I got D grades in most of my high school science classes. Now I write books with some of the best doctors and scientists in the world. How? The answer involves this elephant, the National Security Agency, and a porn star… A baby elephant, named Zuri, stands in front of a man-made river in her pen at Utah's Hogle Zoo, in this Deseret News photo by Keith Johnson. With a GPA barely good enough to graduate, my post-secondary options were a bit limited. I joined the Navy out of high school. When I got to @OregonState a few years later, I found myself writing for the student newspaper, @DailyBaro. (And I was still bad at science!)