You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 26, 2008

a little Thanksgiving conversation

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:01 am

The f/k/a Gang wishes a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday to all of our readers (regular, occasional, or inadvertent).   May your travels — across country or across town — be APAP (as pleasant as possible) and your feasting divine. Don’t forget to nurture an attitude of gratitude for all the good things in your life — and even for the trials that help make us better people.  And, guys, don’t forget to offer early and often to help with preparations and clean up.

men washing dishes – 
an early alarm ends
her Thanksgiving dream

Just in case conversation grinds to a halt around your dining table — and the Baby Boomer Raconteur in your family can’t remember the name of that movie he liked so much — here are a few topics that should liven things up and unloose a few tongues:

  • Should obese people who take up two airplane seats have to pay double the fare? This is a great question for Uncle Vito, between mouthfuls, while he’s reaching for that third helping of pumpkin pie.  As CBC reported last week, the Canadian “Top court backs free seat ruling for some disabled, obese travellers” (Nov. 20, 2008).  By rejecting an appeal by two airlines from a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling,

“The court’s decision means airlines must offer a “one person, one fare” policy . . . for people who are clinically obese and take up more than one seat.

Walter and Ted have been covering this topic for years at, and they can give you lots of tips for baiting the soft-hearted liberals in the family.  Meanwhile, you’ll find lots of tart, tasty zingers over at Simple Justice, where Scott Greenfield says “Obesity is Not a Crime, But Is It a Disability?” (Nov. 22, 2008).  Scott believes “this is a problem, both for the airline and the rest of us.” And he argues:

“No one suggests that obese people be prosecuted for being so fat, or spilling over into the next person’s airline seat.  

On the other hand, there is no rational basis to place the burden on society to make accommodations for the obese.  Are you prepared to be bumped from your flight because an obese person showed up at the airport with a ticket?”

In a similar vein, Prof. Ann Althouse offers more food for thought:

“If you get a free extra seat now, won’t people be clamoring to be considered one of the truly obese? Does some government agency certify that you are fat to the point of disability and thus entitled to accommodation?”

  • What the heck’s a Sex Offender? This one should wake up a few in-laws.  In an illuminating piece at his Once Fallen website, Derek Logue presents his stand-up routine called, “You Might Be a Sex-Offender, If. . . “, a compilation of real cases that have branded defendants as sex offenders for crimes that simply do not rise to that level.  Such as:
    • You might be a sex offender if… you ever paid for a prostitute in New York
    • You might be a sex offender if… you use a stolen credit card to hire a stripper in New York
    • You might be a sex offender if… You had sex with a teenager while you were a teen yourself

There are many more on Derek’s list.  The P.S.A.P. weblog aptly adds: “As a result of [a] deep and legitimate concern, however, our collection of sex offender laws have become draconian and self-defeating. They’ve become Draconian because they have been extended to cover “crimes”  that either should not be crimes in the first place or, even if they merit prohibition, the perps are by no means “sex offenders” (in any way outside of the ridiculously broad statutory definition).”

Before we brand them with a scarlet letter that restricts where they can live, hurts their job prospects and embarrasses them, P.S.A.P. rightly notes we need to stop and consider that:

“If we truly want the designation to have any shaming power, we must restrict its use to those offenses that are actually offensive.”

  • We’re Clueless on Civics (present company excluded, of course): G.W. U. law professor Jonathan Turley reported earlier this week that “Elected Officials Score Lower on Civics Tests Than Average Citizens (Who Score Lower than Basic Condiments)” (Nov. 23, 2008; and see the full report from AFP) via Simple Justice, which opines that we’re “Getting the Government We Deserve” ).  It’s a little dispiriting, but it presents all kinds of opportunities for one-ups-manship at the Thanksgiving table.  You can find the Civics Quiz here (from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute), and cherry pick the questions that stumped the most people, college graduates, and elected officials. How will your extended family do compared to:
    • the average American, who scored 49%
    • college-educated, who averaged 55%
    • elected officials, who averaged 44%

Prof. Turley notes that “Some 20 percent of elected officials believe that the electoral college as established to ‘supervise the first televised presidential debates’.”  But, offers a little solace: “our English cousins appear equally ill-informed on history.”

update (Dec. 1, 2008): Conversationalist Carl Strock of the Schenectady Gazette made “Flunking civics” his Thanksgiving column, and we’re grateful Carl snuck it into the free part of the Gazette‘s website.  Carl muses, “Today being Thanksgiving, let us give thanks that we live in a country as open as ours, where anyone can aspire to be president, whether he knows which branch of government the president belongs to or not.”

Below you will find a bunch of Thanksgiving senryu and haiku, which (along with the one near the top of this post) I wrote a year ago and would have forgotten about, if not for Mr. Google refreshing my recollection.

afterwords (Nov. 29, 2008):  Yes, these are a little late for Thanksgiving, but they should come handy throughout the Holiday Season left.

Thanksgiving rush –
not as late
as that flock of geese

wintry mix – 
a seatbelt protects each
Thanksgiving pie

bowed over
turkey and stuffing —
fewer, grayer heads

a third helping
of Thanksgiving politics
I bite my tongue

thanksgiving snow
gone too soon to make
that snow Buddha

… by dagosan –   from Magnapoets Japanese Form (November 20, 2007)

Finally, as we always say around here:  


  1. Hi David

    Thanks for the plugs, as ever.

    And if you were looking for another worthy project to plug over the holiday season, you could do worse than visit Elliott Bristow’s Retro Road Trips site see:

    for haiku like scenes from a world that’s been left behind.

    I think you might enjoy the short films to be found there.

    Best wishes,


    Comment by mattm — November 26, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  2. Hello, Matt Morden, it’s nice to have you here along with your poems. (Note: scroll down the main page to find Matt’s avian haiku from “Wing Beats.)

    Thanks for telling us about Elliot Bristow’s website. I just spent some time there and it is indeed a treat. I was amazed that his American road trip encompassed 500,000 miles and lasted from 1968 to 1982.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 26, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  3. I wonder why Derek didn’t include his own case in the list:

    You might be a sex offender if… You molested an 11 year old girl and are completely remorseless about it.

    Comment by Jacey — November 27, 2008 @ 2:49 am

  4. Jacey, I have left the link to your page about Derek, but deleted the quote you left, because I do not want my website to become a battleground about the activity and state of mind of any one person, and because I believe people may want to click on the full statement that you were excerpting from Derek to see it in context, including his Disclaimer about not justifying what he did and “how wrong I was.”

    My guess is that Derek did not include his own crime on the list because he does not consider what he did to be in the category of activity that does not deserve the Sex Offender designation.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 27, 2008 @ 8:16 am

  5. So, bashing and blaming your victim is OK, so long as you include a disclaimer in there saying you’re “not really trying to justify molesting an 11 year old girl?”

    You’re talking about a child being sexually abused.

    “My guess is that Derek did not include his own crime on the list because he does not consider what he did to be in the category of activity that does not deserve the Sex Offender designation.”

    I wonder whether Derek would agree with that.

    Comment by Jacey — November 27, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  6. Jacey, I do not plan to discuss any individual’s situation at this website (and I do not know a thing about Derek). My readers can click on your link and make up their own minds. This post concerns one issue SO-related issue: whether some crimes are called sex offenses that do not deserve that title. If you cannot limit yourself to that topic, I will reluctantly remove all of your comments.

    Comment by David Giacalone — November 27, 2008 @ 1:23 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress