Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Room of One's Own

This is the room in which Virginia Woolf wrote all or parts of her major novels. Somehow, it is exactly as expected.

The Guardian UK has a piece on the rooms in which writers work, providing a picture of the room and discussing some of the habits and distractions of the room. It is a very interesting piece to flip through the lives of authors to see how they work as I am really interested in the invention process and the habits of others.

I am curious to know the reading and writing habits of those that read TRS. Since the birth of Sweet Baby J., I have been adapting my reading and writing schedules to my parenting and work schedules and it has not been easy though I think I am slowly getting the hang of it, except when insomnia hits.

I prefer to write while at home rather than at work because, even with a toddler at home, there are fewer distractions and, since my office is small, the books I need are home. Though I think this semester I will try to write more at the office this year and ensure that writing stays at school. My desk is in a separate room and faces the kitchen and faces away from the window. Megs can work anywhere. I work in the office or at our "dinning room" table.

Before SBJ, I read during the day and wrote during the evenings. Now, I begin the day early with coffee, email, and a quick read of the major papers and a few choice blogs. After the morning read my goal is to write as much as possible before lunch. I spend the afternoon editing, reading, note taking, and thinking about the next day's writing to ensure I have something to say. I do not prefer writing during the afternoon because it is my worst time of day for concentration though there are times it is easier to write than read but I must make sure I am not near a computer because my mind wanders. During the evenings, I can read but can no longer write as, if I do, I cannot shut my mind off and the insomnia begins.

Other quirky habits: my desk is a mess, always, as I pile on the next project or put the next set of books to read before I finish. When writing, I prefer to write a draft and then type the draft. When typing, I create sections as distinct word files and then copy those files to a new file for a complete draft, which helps with editing and preserves the invention process though it expands everything exponentially. When reading, I either summarize the argument on the top of the page or underline & make notes in the margins and then, when finished with a chapter, create notes and questions about the text.

Music is optional when working as it depends on the mood. It tends to be mainly instrumental, especially when writing, as the lyrics distract.

Your habits?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Justifiable Representaion of a Man Hitting a Woman?; or, a Question that Has Been on Harrogate's Mind Since 1995

Lots of great things about 1995. Baseball was in a sense redeemed from the ignoble 1994 strike, by the Mariners' heroic playoff comeback against the Yankees, when Ken Griffey, Jr. rounded the bases all the way from first when Edgar Martinez heroically roped a double down the left field line (look closely at the end of the clip, you'll see that none other than a fresh-faced Alex Rodriguez was waiting in the on-deck circle to greet Griffey home). It was just the other day that Harrogate was arguing that Edgar should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite the fact that he was a DH. Except for perhaps paperweight, probably no better pure right-handed hitter has graced the plate in Harrogate's lifetime.

Phish was in their prime in 1995. Harrogate, firmly ensconced on Pete's Couch, did not like Phish at the time, though now, far from Pete's Couch, he loves Phish. [surprises lurk in the links, O Readers.]

Also in 1995, Harrogate rented the movie Drop Zone. Starring Wesley Snipes and the great, great, great Gary Busey, it appealed to Harrogate immensely, and still does. But one moment happens in that movie the likes of which Harrogate cannot for the life of him recall having ever seen in a movie. It is a moment in which a man hits a woman across the face with his fist, knocking her on her ass, and though the female in question is a wholly sympathetic character, the narrative fully supports the action. Indeed, it is a comedic moment. As a viewer, because of the Rhetorical Situation in which it happens, one may even want to cheer.

All Harrogate asks of those who would respond is, please don't invoke issues related to snuff, which we obviously reject, unless you are prepared to make the case that there is a substantive connection betwixt the scene in question, and snuff.

So, in the spirit of Elmo's goldfish Dorothy, Harrogate "has a question" for his fellow Board Members and Readers alike. When you watch the clip below, check out the action between the 1:00 mark and about 1:15. Tell Harrogate if you don't think Wesley does the right thing here. And what might the broader implications of our answers be?

A Great Obama Moment, and a Rare Harrogatean 'Tip of the Hat' to Andrew Sullivan

Harrogate's dislike for Andrew Sullivan runs deep, and always has, despite the fact that they agree on a handful of very important issues. All this has been registered on this blog, in the past.

But as the saying goes, a blind groundhog will find an acorn every now and then. Lo about a week ago, Harrogate became immensely indebted to Andrew Sullivan for posting about an awesome Obama moment Harrogate would otherwise have missed.
Here is an excerpt from Obama's speech that Sullivan rightly dubbed "Quote for the Day" on Thursday, June 19th.

Quoth Obama:

I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States. The other side likes to use 9/11 as a political bludgeon. Well, let’s talk about 9/11.

The people who were responsible for murdering 3,000 Americans on 9/11 have not been brought to justice.

They are Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and their sponsors – the Taliban. They were in Afghanistan. And yet George Bush and John McCain decided in 2002 that we should take our eye off of Afghanistan so that we could invade and occupy a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. The case for war in Iraq was so thin that George Bush and John McCain had to hype the threat of Saddam Hussein, and make false promises that we’d be greeted as liberators. They misled the American people, and took us into a misguided war.

Here are the results of their policy. Osama bin Laden and his top leadership – the people who murdered 3000 Americans – have a safe-haven in northwest Pakistan, where they operate with such freedom of action that they can still put out hate-filled audiotapes to the outside world. That’s the result of the Bush-McCain approach to the war on terrorism.

One of the most frustrating memes our "liberal media" slavishly replicates is that national security is the strong suit of John McCain. Only if security and perpetual warfare are interchangeable, is this true.

Harrogate is proud of Obama for not ceding ground, for not letting the media dictate that because McCain's vision is the most murderous (the word they would use is "toughest") in the game, it follows that the Arizonan stands to make American safer. Yea, when Obama chooses to, he can hit real, real hard with the Rhetoric.

From the Geniuses at Dibs

I saw this commercial last night, and it quickly became one of my new favorites.

The Obamas and Gay Rights, the Great Georgia Lie, the Charlie Black fiasco, and "this poor president". Two Reads for Consumption

One of Harrogate's favorite things, if not his favorite thing, about Barack Obama, is that he is the first Presidential candidate to speak openly, loudly, and consistently on behalf of gay rights. Trolling this morning, Harrogate is happified by this piece on Michelle Obama.

Nicely played, Mrs. Obama. Keep swinging away on this issue. Harrogate admits, it makes the election less nauseating for him, when you talk like this.

Then there is this piece by the inestimably shameless Matt Towery, a pundit Harrogate regularly experiences, O Readers, so you don't have to.

Towery first of all continues to perpetuate the great Lie that Georgia might fall into the Barack Obama column. While one supposes that anything is possible except for American politics attaining bedrock decency, this has got to be among silliest memes we have seen yet, although if it causes McCain to spend real money there, then it might be a worthy one.

Towery also blasts the media for blasting away at Charlie Black for saying that if there is a terrorist attack on the United States before the election, this would benefit McCain. Towery rightly points out that those attacking Black on this issue refuse to engage the actual comment. But then, that's the way with our great Media, aint it--that Towery gets this right only proves once again the great saying, a blind groundhog will find an acorn every now and then.

Finally, this statement is just so precious, and so unironically delivered, that it must be replicated herein:

First, no one knows how President Bush and Vice President Cheney might react if we were attacked. This poor president, who I now feel is being abused beyond any justifiable level, can hardly take any measure without dropping in the polls. And any perceived mistake on his part would be guilt by association for McCain.

(Note to the nefarious blogger over at When Harrogate boldfaces a particular section, that means he is drawing especial attention to it.)

Tis wonderfully hyperbolic of thee, Mr. Towery, to say the fucking least. Poor President Bush indeed. He and the GOP have only gotten some 90% of what they wanted since his inauguration in 2000. Witness the recent wiretapping bill, for example.

The Consequence of MoveOn's ad

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, developed a new ad in the style of's Iraq ad. This is a small ad buy but it will most likely be targeted to Evangelicals who may think about supporting Senator Obama in the fall. Here is the ad:

The ad relies on the same appeal to pity, straw argument, and reductio ad absurdum found within the ad by

Just as James Dobson attacked Senator Obama earlier this week, Perkins will as well. The fear that Dobson and Perkins face is not that Obama will win over the Evangelical vote but neutralize them in the election. Slate has an excellent piece on how Senator Obama is doing a much better job that Kerry or Gore at appearing human rather than a straw argument to these voters. If he closes the gap with Evangelical voters or at least neutralizes them, then that may be the difference between winning and losing a state like Ohio.

Because American Elections are Disgusting, and Get People Killed to Boot; or, a Homage to Pat Buchanan

Everyone's favorite isolationist, nativist, and old-school American exceptionalist. A man especially loved, it turned out, despite decades of criticisms of the United States' alliance with Israel, by really, really old Jewish people living Palm Beach County, Florida.

Worst of all, he works for NBC.

That's right, ladies and gents, Harrogate gives you none other than Patrick J. Buchanan. Harrogate reads his column religiously. This, despite the fact that, to paraphrase Ben Stiller in Dodgeball:

Buchanan loves the red-meat white supremacists, the red-meat white supremacists love the GOP, so ipso facto, Buchanan loves the GOP.

Query: Does Buchanan read the Dictionary to "break a mental sweat"?

But we digress. A blind groundhog will find an acorn every now and then, and Buchanan opposes American military adventurism; on these grounds at least, the man merits commendation. Seeing as how American elections kill people and all.

The current article by Buchanan asks a simple question:

"Who's Planning Our Next War?"

This is a fascinating read, not just for those who, like Harrogate, loathe American politics more and more with each passing day, but also for those who simply think that the question of going to war, the question of mass slaughter, is something of a big deal. Near the beginning of his column Buchanan states:

William Kristol of The Weekly Standard said Sunday a U.S. attack on Iran after the election is more likely should Barack Obama win. Presumably, Bush would trust John McCain to keep Iran nuclear free.

Yet, to start a third war in the Middle East against a nation three times as large as Iraq, and leave it to a new president to fight, would be a daylight hijacking of the congressional war power and a criminally irresponsible act. For Congress alone has the power to authorize war.

Hmmmmm. At the end of the column Buchanan asks an important question. But all things considered, it is also a pretty laughable question.

Is it not time the American people were consulted on the next war that is being planned for us?

For the supporter that never stop

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the Clinton supports who refuse to accept Senator Obama as the nominee. It provides many groups and many reasons. It is well worth the read.

Unity, Oh Unity. Has Harrogate seen unity?

Unity the tattooed lady (Marx Brothers or The Muppets is the question...)

Senator Obama and Senator Clinton had their first date tonight, before the big date tomorrow. Awkward....., especially when you fight over who pays for whom, who will work for whom, who gets to speak when and where, and who will be the Vice-Presidential nominee in 2008.

In Washington, D.C. Senator Obama met with the big money donors of Senator Clinton and it was "emotional and upbeat." Or, according to ABC, the mood was "strained but supportive." Two other unnamed sources stated that the event seemed like "an Irish Wake" and Obama "better go back to the internet." A few mentioned that he did well at the event and warmed over some fundraisers but why go there but the general consensus is that the tension between the two, and their fundraisers, will make relations almost unworkable.

Such warmth and happiness....

Let us, all night and all day, join together spiritually and symbolically as Senators Obama and Clinton join together near-physically in Hope,... er, I mean, Unity, N.H. where the two combatants tied during the primary back in January.

Senator Obama received his biggest cheer when he stated he would step down as the nominee.... er... I mean would help Senator Clinton pay off her campaign debt from the Democratic primary. During the remainder of the event, he faced, as he expected, the Spanish Inquisition, and he did not even receive the comfy chair. (Or, if you don't care for the Brits, here is the Mel Brooks song and dance.)

Like everything else between these star-crossed, er, sword-crossed politicians, the discussion of campaign debt has been contentious as the Clinton camp was not happy Obama did not offer to help sooner and the Obama camp was not happy that she continued in the primary even as she conducted a deficit-spending campaign, knowing he would help pay off her debt when he received the support of Supers Ds (Oh do I miss them). Further, as Howard Fineman notes when discussing the first date last night, back when the primary began, Democratic donors and potential Obama supporters, were told very early in the primary that is they did not support Clinton they would be shut out of Washington. Besides, there is the whole issue of the general where the DNC has not raised a lot of money compared to the RNC and other Democratic candidates need support in tough economic times. But I digress....

According to Politico, at tonight's meeting the Clinton donors want to know how he will help her pay of her political mortgage since she will not use her own small fortune. Senator Obama will not enlist his grassroots support (read email list) but one of his best fundraisers at developing infrastructure will be in charge. Both Barack and Michelle contributed the maximum amount of $2300 for Senator Clinton's campaign this evening. They had been criticized since they did not donate sooner.... like back in February when it could have helped her compete in the post-Super Tuesday states.

After each Senator addressed the crowd, after the press left, and before the donors, well, donated, the donors asked Senator Obama a few unloaded questions..

Question One: Will Senator Clinton be added to the ticket as VP. Both appeared uncomfortable and Senator Clinton gestured for him to move on.... (Hah). But seriously, that is what the report says Clinton did.

The second question concerned whether or not there would be a roll call vote at the convention (to make the votes official and so history can record the fact that Senator Clinton received x number of delegates)? There is a battle between the candidates over this as some Clinton supporters (but maybe not Clinton, I am not sure) want the roll call to record the votes. However, Senator Obama wants Clinton to release, officially, her delegates to him before the convention. It is a better sign of unity if the nominee has a unanimous total as it reduces any ambiguity. Obama responded with:
"Hillary and I are going to negotiate this thing and talk about it, and obviously we're going to do what is right for the party. We're all going to make sure we agree."
Of course, part of the negotiation, which, according to The New York Times, is being conducted by a lawyer, will concern speaking time and speech length at the convention in Denver as Senator Obama gets to play a prominent role in determining both, which can be very important if you have higher aspirations. (See part One and Two here.)

Also being negotiated are such topics as whether or not Senator Obama will provide staff and transportation for Senator Clinton if she campaigns for him, whether or not Senator Obama will hire more of Senator Clinton's staff (oh, because the Patti Solis Doyle was well-received by the Clinton camp), and whether or not they will allow former President Clinton to undermine, er, I mean campaign as well. President Clinton, who is still sulking in the corner of the woodshed, is, well, still sulking over the primary because people had the audacity to take seriously his comments. While Hillary has moved on, someone else has not.

Back to the inquisition.... at one point, The Washington Post reports that Senator Obama was told if he wanted to be a "true leader" he needed to "acknowledge that sexism had played a role in the demise of Clinton's campaign. Obama agreed and said that the issue should be addressed." A concern was raised that by her supporters that he did not properly address this, well, he did not address it at all during the campaign.

There was no follow up as to support how sexism made people vote against her or why the Clinton team did not speak out against the tactics of ra.... oh why bother. It is not the "ism," it is the result that matters most to this group and this group did not receive the result it desired, hence the tension.

Both campaigns have uttered, and yes the passive voice is necessary, either "Time is needed" or "Time heals all wounds." A complete healing is quite unlikely but enough for a Democratic to win is quite possible.

Now would be an interesting time, if this were to occur at all, for Senator Obama to choose Senator Clinton as his running mate. Again, as I have argued here over and over and over again, the probability of this occurring is very, very, very low as it counters Obama's message and the rift between the two is insurmountable. And, even if it could be bridged, it would not be a functional bridge; decorative, but not functional-- no one would want to walk let alone drive across it.

However, that being said, it seems that since Obama has a sizable lead in important state polls, which of course could change after an October surprise, but since he has that lead, he could select Senator Clinton from a position of power, not of weakness. Time has demonstrated that now, unlike the end of May, he does not need her to win in the fall. This may change, but if it does, he would not be the nominee or a functioning president....

And I leave you with this: "Time" by Pink Floyd (live).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

D.C. v. Heller: Acknowledging Constitutional Rights

The Supreme Court just released its 5 -4 decision in D.C. v. Heller. Speaking for the majority of the Supremes, Justice Scalia strikes down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and requirement that shotguns and rifles be disassembled, declaring that the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."

More importantly, the decision states that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is an individual right and not a group right, making the militia portion of the clause rather meaningless in relation to the bear arms part of the clause. Preamble, Smeamble I guess.

The syllabus of the decision states:
The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
This does not mean that all gun bans would be unconstitutional. I have not heard what what level of scrutiny will be required to review whether or not a gun ban is or is not constitutional.

There is more than enough historical evidence to support the majority's claim that the second amendment is an individual's right. For example, before the states ratified the second amendment, Pennsylvania possessed a similar amendment and the state did not have a militia, which would mean that the right was an individual right.

But the conflict here exists between principle and consequence: what can communities do when gun violence plagues society as was the case in D.C. though I am unsure if the D.C. law in question reduced the amount of violence in the District.

Update: Last week in the Guantanamo case, Justice Scalia declared that the Court's decision would "cause more Americans to be killed." Over at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick, via professor Stephen Wermiel from American University, wonders why the dissenting Justices in Heller did not use the same argument and declare that striking down the ban in D.C. will "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Sopranos: The Movie

The cast of The Sopranos appeared at a charity event for breast cancer in Soho last night. A reporter from NY1 asked Tony Sinco aka Paulie Gualtieri aka Paulie Walnuts about the chances of a Sopranos movie and he replied the the movie was in the head of David Chase and James Gandolfini and we should look for it in 2010ish.

In a related note, the owner of Satin Dolls Club aka the Bada Bing in Northern Jersey received a call (from whom is not known) in which someone from HBO told him not to renovate his club because HBO would be filming there.

Some random website has a discussion of a few possible plots. None seem appealing for me because, if anything, I want to see Meadow Soprano take the family over from Tony. I thought that in the last season the show would head in this direction. But, alas, I was wrong...

If there were to be a movie, what would you want to see?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Electoral Picture Pages

From the Politico: Republican Senator Gordon Smith (Oregon) produced a new television ad with the following line:
"Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama."

The ad shows Senator Obama's face and an image from Obama's website. Further, the ad closes with Senator Smith saying, "I approve working together across party lines and this ad." You can watch the ad here.

Senator Smith was an early supporter of Senator John McCain. However, his present lack of support means Oregon will be blue in November. This ad also undercuts the Republican argument that Obama has no bipartisan accomplishments.

Dobson, Pot & Kettle

According to the AP, James Dobson accuses Senator Barack Obama of "distorting the Bible and pushing a 'fruitcake interpretation' of the Constitution." Since "fruitcake" is not a metaphor associated with constitutional interpretation at all, I wonder what Dobson is implying in this comment. Hmph. But i digress.

In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered a speech to the liberal Christian group Call o Renewal to discuss the connection of religion and politics. In his speech, he discusses the need to address social problems through moral lessons learned from religion but not to base policy decisions on specific religions. This seems to be a return to the ideals of the Social Gospel whereby religion helped to fight social problems but did not codify those efforts into law. There is a major difference between using religion and religious movements to help the poor, improve education, etc., and relying on religious interpretation to criminalize homosexuality or prohibiting same-sex marriage.

In our pluralistic society, Obama argues that there is a need to bridge the religious and secular to provide presence for plurality and not subordinate the secular to the religious and enact a specific orthodoxy (for whose orthodoxy would it be?). According to Obama, it is appropriate for people to use religion to speak in universal values but demand decisions based on religion-specific values. To view religion this way avoids the undemocratic command this must occur because G-d or the Bible says so.

While I know many people who object to the use of religious discourse is the public realm, Obama's distinction reflects the pluralism present within our society. Religion would not be the only type of discourse used to discuss an issue as there are other foundations of law, morality, and justice such as the law, science, or philosophical morality. However, because people identify as being religious it in society, it should not be excluded outright just as Plato or John Rawls should not be excluded.

I admit that there is the danger of a slippery slope here as the use of religion may lead to the establishment of one religion. There is also the concern that secular discourse may be better. For example, the civil rights movement progressed through the legal system at a faster rate than through the use of MLKs religious inspired discourse though it is unclear if the first could have occurred without the second.

Yet, Obama's view of religion counters the Christianist view that mixes religion and politics as a specific religion forms the basis for policy decision ,which is why Dobson must speak out against him. In the AP article, Dobson argues that Obama's position means that Dobson would need to conform his beliefs to that of Senator Obama's: "What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe." Dobson added :
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology...He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter".... and trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality."
Dobson has yet to comment on the irony of his statement and the contradiction between his statement and his approach to religion or theology. While he criticizes Obama for the way in which Obama makes people "conform," Dobson is not concerned that others would need to conform their beliefs and values to his.

Yet, since Dobson's political organization... er, I mean religious organization... and he does not have candidate in the upcoming election, as he stated he would not vote for McCain for President, he needs to create a "devil" for his worshipers to hate so they will get out to vote in the fall and not fall for the outreach by the Obama campaign.

I must admit: I am a very big believer in the separation of Church and State and see a problem with the undemocratic claims from religion. However, the position that religion can inform morality and that it is wrong to base policy decisions on a specific religion seems like a reasonable bridge in our society.

Update: The timing of this is intriguing. Obama delivered his speech in June of 2006. Dobson initiated his attack, an attack that attempts to diminish the knowledge of Obama's Christianity and calls into question his authenticity as a Christian, especially in his ability to speak for others. Why now?

I'm Getting Pissed

After last week's discovery that low-level staffers moved two Muslim women out of the television shot during an Obama speech, the New York Times ran a story about how Obama has visited numerous churches and synagogues, but not a single mosque. I'm getting pissed, for two reasons and at two groups:

1. To my true love, Barack Obama: grow a set, buddy. I know it sucks that the internet is buzzing with Muslim rumors and I know that you're Christian and that being a Muslim national candidate is political suicide. But to distance yourself from a constituency like this? Come on. You've taken on racism, homophobia in the black community, deadbeat dads... Don't remain silent on this one.

2. To the media, whose reputation as liberal is clearly unfounded: being a Muslim isn't bad. To perpetuate the idea that being labeled Muslim is a "smear" (and, yes, I know this is Obama's web site, but it doesn't refer specifically to the Muslim question) is offensive. And to those few reporters who make a footnoted disclaimer (think: "He's not a Muslim, but it would be okay if he were")--and I don't even think that I've heard anyone take this baby step, but I'm being optimistic--rethink your righteousness.

We're dangerously close to entering the "I'm not racist. Some of my best friends are black" stage of religious discrimination. Nice. Really nice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Relying on Google for Community Standards?

The New York Times reports that in the defense to an obscenity trial in Florida, the defendant will rely on a Google meta-search to show that the residents around him possess broader standards than they may claim in public.
In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.
Mr. Walters is defending Clinton Raymond McCowen, who is facing charges that he created and distributed obscene material through a Web site based in Florida. The charges include racketeering and prostitution, but Mr. Walters said the prosecution’s case fundamentally relies on proving that the material on the site is obscene.

The argument is that "private actions" contradict our "public values," and the information found through Google Trends may support this claim. While this may work for the obscenity portions of the trial, it may not for racketeering and prostitution.

The current legal standard by the Supreme Court is from Miller v. California and involves a three-tier test by former Chief Justice Warren Burger:
(a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
This test leaves a lot to the imagination, especially in regards to defining the community in "contemporary community standards" or the "literary," "artistic," "political" or "scientific." Though most people would consider it unreadable, James Joyce's Ulysses was considered obscene because a few passages. In the 1933 court case, United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, a District Court in New York ruled that literature should be excluded from obscenity, even if it contained some foul language and some discussions of sex and sexuality.

I am not sure if the Google Trends argument will work but at least it is creative in the way in which it may reveal the actual rather than the ideal vision of a community.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playground Etiquette

This afternoon, Sweet Baby J. and I ventured off to the park so she could escape modern life in an apartment. While at the park, I hoped that she would run herself to exhaustion; instead, she only "played" on the swings for 10 minutes and then tired of the park altogether. Rather then playing, she desired to be charioteered down through the neighborhood to see the people in our shopping district. It worked out well for both of us as she played wallflower (or stroller flower) and I shopped for a book, Slavery by Another Name.

While at the park, there was a "park etiquette moment." There are eight swings at the park. Sweet Baby J. was on one and there was one empty one next to us. Another father and daughter pair played under a cement formation (a higher level to the park) while a third child (a boy), who's father was not around, ran to the empty swing and draped himself on it, calling for his father to put him. After three minutes of crying and clinging to the swing with no father in sight, the other little girl walked over to the swings and desired to swing; however, there was no open swing. After another three minutes, the boy's father arrived to place his kid in the swing and then swing him while the other little girl and her father waited for their turn.

This brings to mind a series of playground etiquette questions: First, how long should you and your child play on the swing? five minutes? Ten? fifteen? Until your child wants out?

Second, when making a "claim" to the swing, what matters more: having a kid or parent "hold" the swing or making sure that both the parent and the child are present i.e.

Third, what are the boundaries to the equipment? Should the father of the girl have persuaded the clinging boy to give up the swing because the father was not immediately available? Or would that have cause more problems between the fathers?

It seemed like the father of the girl who was waiting for the swing desired me to give up the swing because I had been there for a while, (though we only got on the swings a few minutes before he arrived as two other children played around with the swings with no father around to push them as well-- and yes, there were a disproportionate number of fathers at the park today). The reason I claim this is because I and the father of the boy received a self-righteous and moralistic parenting tip: "I am teaching my daughter how to share and how important it is to wait your turn" as if we were teaching our children to be self-interested jack-boot park thugs. My initial thought was to say, "Well, I refuse to provide any moral foundation for my daughter and I plan on teaching my daughter to take your daughter's lunch money in elementary, middle, and high school."

But rather than assert this, Sweet Baby J decided the swings were no longer fun, as she tends to get shy when others show up in numbers, and wanted to watch pigeons walk about on the sidewalk. As we left, I pondered this situation.

What is proper park etiquette? Or, even better, does anyone have any stories where someone breaks a perceived park etiquette? How do we communication this etiquette? Or, what is the best way to communicate it?