obligations of citizenship

[Work] is a social convention and disciplinary apparatus rather than an economic necessity. […] Work is the primary means by which individuals are integrated not only into the economic system, but also into social, political, and familial modes of cooperation. That individuals should work is fundamental to the basic social contract; indeed, working is part of what is supposed to transform subjects into the independent individuals of the liberal imaginary, and for that reason, is treated as a basic obligation of citizenship.
—  Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries (2011), pp. 7-8
On Jury Duty

(Twelve Angry Men, 1957)

So last week I was called to jury duty.  I served on one case – domestic violence – and went through voir dire on another – drunk driving – for which I was not called. (A solid mix of citizens, not just men – although no minority persons served on my jury. And no one got angry.) For those who have never been through this process, a few thoughts:

1. The jury deliberation process has been absolutely everything you hope it would be on each of the two juries I have served on in my life. (Two domestic violence cases (of very different circumstances); two findings of not guilty.) Those jurors took the presumption of innocence and the state’s obligation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt very seriously. It was, frankly, inspirational. It makes one optimistic about the legal system in the US.

2. Pretty much everything else is a seemingly-easy-to-fix annoyance. The cattle call at 8:30 am when no judge will call for a jury before 9:30, especially Monday. The complete lack of information and updates about when you might be needed, so you just sit in the cattle call room, a room that you literally cannot leave while on call. The endless in-and-out of lawyer confabs with the judge, during which the jury must leave – and during which the jury gets no updates as to time until return. It’s just soul-crushing tedium in the midst of what is in fact an incredibly consequential act of American democracy.

3. Class matters. The voir dire for the drunk driving case was much more detailed than for the domestic violence case. My sense was that this results from the same reason that drunk driving is a misdemeanor in most places with domestic battery is a felony (as is minor possession of marijuana): middle class people get drink driving charges and hire good lawyers. (The differences in the quality of defense attorneys in the two cases was obvious.) Since they are vulnerable to drunk driving charges, middle class people demand the process be difficult for the state. Other crimes? Not so much.

In the end, I say: if you get called, go. Enjoy. It’s a learning experience and a practical exercise in democracy. Which I guess explains the tedium, too …

At a minimum, Congress should honor Selma by restoring an effective Voting Rights Act, once a bipartisan cause…. But let’s be more adventurous and make voting in federal elections an obligation of citizenship.

E. J. Dionne, “50 Years Later, Selma’s Struggle Is Not Over”

Conversely, Republicans are looking to end voting:

Richard Fausset of the New York Times

“Echoing a speech given by President Obama a day earlier, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that access to the polls was ‘under siege’ by a flurry of recent state laws, and by a 2013 United States Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act, the landmark legislation that was the great prize for the civil rights activists who marched here a half-century ago.

Good evening, folks, and welcome to today’s statistical map - and it’s all about Youtube views, something that I’ve been tracking for a few years straight now. Unlike what some would have you believe, they are not useful on their own as an indication of whether a song will do well, as they are often warped by the extent to which the home nations watch their own entry. 

However, particularly as we get closer to Eurovision week, they become one of several useful indices for determining how much excitement the songs are generating amongst fans. Last year, all but one of the top 5 (Sweden, who had redone their video) were in the top 10 songs by views on the official ESC Youtube page. In 2014, Armenia and Austria shared top spot in the views fro the very beginning of the season, whilst in 2012, Sweden, Serbia and Russia all were amongst the most viewed too.

So, how does 2016 shape up? Well, before we delve into specifics, it must be noted that, if the health of the ESC can be measured by the interest its songs generate on Youtube, things are going swimmingly for the contest. At a slightly later stage in the pre-season two years ago, 17 songs, almost a majority, had fewer than 100k views - now, only 9 do. Back then, only 8 countries had more than 250k views at this juncture - now 21, almost a majority, do. The goalposts have certainly shifted in just two years.

It’s a little early to talk about trends so far, but one thing that really stands out is a rather more muted reaction to the videos from Northern Europe compared to the South in general. All the primarily German-speaking nations currently fail to register more than a quarter million views, and the same is true of almost all Nordic countries (except, narrowly, the hosts, Sweden.) The UK’s song, whose entry last year was one of the most viewed, also falls into the category of lesser-viewed songs alongside neighbours Ireland, whilst the Dutch-speaking sphere fares much better, with Belgium almost having hit 500k and NL almost on 750k. There are surprisingly few views for the Baltic gents, given the amount of people I know repping them - Estonia is the only one with more than 100k views, about 10% of which are probably mine ;).

On the flipside, the most viewed songs are those of Poland, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Armenia - but these songs have been so frequently at or near the top in terms of views for as long as I’ve been doing YT analysis, that I’m starting to think watching their videos is an obligation to hold citizenship of these nations. Australia seems to be joining that club, the fourth song so far to crack 1m views. Serbia, France and the Netherlands are straight behind them and I personally rate the chances of all three.

We’ll be looking next at FB likes, which are also quite useful in predicting semi-final qualifiers! You may be surprised at some of the trends so far - I definitely was.

Views so far on the official ESC channel (there is no Italy because no Italian song has yet been uploaded onto the official channel) :

[In a world of no secrets, people say,] “What do I have to worry about?” I say, “That means you don’t think you’re going to do anything that’s pushing the edge. You don’t think you’re gonna take any risk. You’re not gonna trouble the government.” Well, that’s not what our government’s about. We’re supposed to trouble the government. We’re supposed to challenge the government. We’re supposed to have some wild thoughts. We’re supposed to think differently. And we’re supposed to be able to get together with our fellow citizens and then assemble for a redress of grievances in ways that—as long as we’re peaceful—in ways that might disturb the government.

Disturbing the government is an obligation of citizenship. That’s what we’ve forgotten.

—  Robert Scheer, quoted by Alexander Reed Kelly, The Word is not Privacy, it’s really Sovereignty, truthdig