Clive Thompson is one of the best technology journalists in the business. He writes for Wired and The New York Times Magazine, among other excellent publications. He's well-regarded, serious and married with two kids. Also, his Twitter handle is @pomeranian99. This has always made us curious. What's up with that alias? So, in the first of a series of pieces about off-beat Twitter names, we called him up in Brooklyn and demanded to know the backstory of his handle. His explanation, lightly edited, is presented below.
This is the story, the reason why I'm Pomeranian99. I'm Canadian. I grew up in Toronto and my grandparents on my mother's side were Ukrainian dairy farmers. They had a farm with lots of cows just outside Toronto. It was in the farmlands around Oshawa. And every Sunday, we would drive over and I'd play around either at the farm proper or the home they had with a couple of acres. And they owned a Pomeranian dog.
First, this is a weird thing for a couple of farmers to own. I later learned that there is a link between old Eastern European folks and Pomeranians. They are very heavily owned by young Asian women and 70-year-old Eastern European dudes. I was in Ireland once and I was told a theory by a farmer there about farming with animals. If you have pigs or chickens or cows, you have to not get too attached to animals because they might get sick and you have to kill them, or if you're raising a pig for slaughter, you have to kill it and feed it to people. So one of the things that farmers do is buy one spectacularly useless little dog. It's like a Chomskyan release valve on a farm. That's why these Irish farmers have little Jack Russell Terriers. They can pet them and love them and not have to worry about having to kill them.