Thursday, July 27, 2006

I have enthusiasm, on paper

  • Is it odd that as soon as class lets out for the weekend, I rush to Starbucks and eagerly proceed to work on the paper I'm trying to get published? Is there something wrong with me, in that I am actually excited about working on it, and I would rather do this than watch a movie or go sightseeing? Should I be worried that when I find something in my research (a quote, a fact, a statistic, etc.) that really bolsters my claim, I become practically giddy?

  • I worked on the paper for five hours today. The problem is, Every time I think I'm nearing completion, I'll feel compelled to write a sentence that opens up at least another hour's worth of research to verify what I just said. Everything I say has to be cited -- and the research I do to cite it leads to a lot more work.

    For instance, I wrote, "They repeat oft-used explanations, note that new technologies built into cable and DBS services give users the power to deal with unwanted indecency, and that’s that – a few pages at most.[1]

    "[1] See, e.g. ___________ [LIST THE RECENT CABLE/DBS INDECENCY RULINGS]"

    And then I had to do another Lexis search looking for all the indecency rulings having to do with cable and satellite. So I put the search words into Lexis ["indecency & (DBS or satellite or cable)"] and limited my search to FCC decisions, and I got 260 results, at least some of which I had to skim to figure out what they're about. And then in skimming one, I'd see a title like, In the Matter of Complaints Regarding Various Television Broadcasts Between February 2, 2002 and March 8, 2005, and see that it's 97 pages, and realize that I have to read at least some of it. And that document will no doubt lead to at least another few questions, each of which have to be researched, beginning the process again.

    Or I'll re-read the paper and realize that I have left out some incredibly elementary (and therefore important) stuff. For instance, what's the TEST for whether something is indecent?

    Research papers are like plants, blossoming and sprouting new leaves every time you ask another question. It gets very unwieldy very quickly. The good news is that it leads to a lot of potential new paper topics. :-)

  • I've been having an amusing back and forth with somebody at the FCC, using the web "contact us" form. I'm trying to find out if the FCC can sanction obscenity on satellite radio. Obscenity is different from indecency; indecency has some limited First Amendment protection, while obscenity has none at all. The FAQ on their web site says yes, but the law they cite to only applies to "satellite television." So I'm trying to find out what the actual law is.

    The customer service rep writing back has only limited mastery of the English language, and probably no training in the law. I mean, try to parse this for an actual answer:

    Thanks for writing the FCC again. The information we sent you states the FCC has no authority to regulate programming on satellite radio. This also applies to sattelite and cable tv. No complaint received at the FCC remains unanswered. The Enforcement Bureau reviews complaints received and takes appropriate action when necessary. There´s a difference between not having authority to regulate programming and having authority to impose sanctions on obscene programming. I am enclosing our Fact Sheet on what constuitutes Indecency and Obscenity.

    As you might imagine, the "Fact Sheet" was just as helpful.

  • Okay, I'm pissed at the English language. Rereading this post, I realized that I wasn't sure if I had used the word "sanction" properly when I said that I wondered if the FCC could "sanction obscenity on satellite radio." I meant punish. Turns out, it can mean punish OR condone! You're supposed to determine the meaning contextually, but look what happens when it could go either way. Heh. I'm going to stop using that word.

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