Girl Scout Badge Nostalgia: Computer Fun (1990)

The main reason I collect Girl Scout handbooks isn’t their value (which is often negligible). It’s the nostalgia factor.

It’s also the fact that, while some of the content is timeless, other parts of the books aged faster than girls do.

Today’s example: “Computer Fun,” one of the badges included in Girl Scout Badges and Signs (1990).
Girl Scout Badge Nostalgia

Back in Ye Early 1990s, when this badge appeared in Girl Scout Badges and Signs and also back when I earned it, badges were organized into five “Worlds,” indicated by color: The World of Well-Being (Red), the World of People (Blue), the World of Today and Tomorrow (Orange), the World of the Arts (Purple), and the World of the Out-of-Doors (Yellow).

The World to which a badge belonged was indicated by the color of its border: Computer Fun, being from the World of Today and Tomorrow (which focused mostly on the sciences), had an orange border.

Badges were also graded by difficulty for Juniors and Cadettes: badges with a green background were comparatively easier to earn, and were for Juniors only. Badges with a tan background were comparatively harder to earn, and could be earned by either Juniors or Cadettes. Computer Fun was one of the “hard” ones.

Ironically, I suspect it’d still be one of the hard ones today, but not for the reasons it was hard in 1994.

Here’s the first page of badge requirements:

Page 101 of Girl Scout Badges and Signs, 1990. The first of two pages detailing requirements for the

The instructions, “Complete Six Activities,” were pretty standard for badges. Occasionally there were one or two mandatory activities, but generally speaking, we got to pick from 6-10 options.

This page contains Activity 1:

  1. Find computers being used for at least ten different purposes. To do this, look through books, newspapers, or magazines, watch television, or go in person. Share what you have found with your troop members.

Today, I suspect most girls could pull this one off without leaving their own room. In Ye Fabled Land of 1990, however, this one actually did take some research. A few lucky folks actually had computers in their own house. For most kids, though, computers were a newfangled thing we were all told not to bother with, for they would surely blow over.

Ahem.

Anyway, here are the rest of the requirements:

filename-1(2)-page-001

(This page is from my former troop leader’s copy of Girl Scout Badges and Signs, which is why it has her signature and our names in it. On most of the others, she marked which activities we’d done, so I’m uncertain why they’re not marked here.)

Activity 2:

2. Spend at least two hours learning something new from a computer, either by taking computer-assisted instruction at a school or learning center or by using a computer educational toy.

Today, I’m pretty sure every kindergartener who signs up for Daisies has completed this one. In my day, though, there was an excellent chance that most or all of the girls in one’s troop hadn’t used a computer for two hours in their entire lives.

3. Help put on a demonstration of computer toys and games for your troop.

Time Traveling Troop Leader: “Okay, everybody get out your phones.”

Us, in 1990: “What?”

…In 1990, my home phone was still rotary dial. Touch tone service didn’t reach our part of the U.S. till I was in high school. Portable phones were attached to a battery the size of a small briefcase, so no one used them unless they had to.

4. Visit a business, bank, or other place that uses a computer to solve problems.

  • See the computer in action and find out some of the things for which it is used.
  • Find out what language the computer users, how information is put into the computer, and how information comes out.
  • Learn how to use an automatic banking machine.

When I was a kid, ATMs were magic. I’m not kidding. I spent a large part of my childhood thinking there was a person on the other side of the wall who just sat there and handled transactions all day. When free-standing ATMs became a thing, I was very confused.

That said, I’d like to send some of my high school students to do the first two. We’ve reached the flip side of the coin: Computers were brand new for my generation, but today, they’re so ubiquitous that students often don’t realize what software platforms do or how they’re coded.

5. Invite someone who works with computers to talk to your troop or group. Find out what she/he does with the computer, what training was necessary, and what other people are involved in keeping the computer working properly. or Interview four different people and find out how computers affect their lives.

Ah yes, the old “talk to other humans” activity. Some version of this activity appears in every single badge. And I hated then all.

6. Visit a computer store. Compare different kinds of personal computers. Ask someone to explain the basic options available to the average buyer. Decide which one you would buy.

Honestly? I’d have kids do this today. Knowing how to read computer specs has saved me from making laughably bad purchases on a dozen different occasions.

7. Read a computer magazine. Make a list of the types of information that can be found in the magazine and how this would help you use computers.

Magazines stopped being the best source of this information 15 years ago. Unfortunately, now it’s even harder to find, since The Rise of the End-User has somehow meant that we’re all supposed to just know this stuff even though that’s literally the opposite of what “end-user” means.

8. Learn how to do some basic computer operations. Demonstrate your ability to do the following:

  • Format a disc.
  • Insert a software program.
  • Create a file.
  • Print stored information.
  • Save something you have created.

“Disc.”

Is there even an equivalent to formatting floppies today? I think “backing up our files to the cloud” might be the closest most of us get on a daily basis. For the kiddos in the audience: Yes, we used to format floppy disks all the time. It was the only way to reuse them, and because they only held 1.44 MB (you read that right), we needed a lot of them.

Anyway, my dad had an Apple IIGS, so I learned to do all of this much sooner than many of my peers. When Windows 3.1 came along and all my friends were going “WHOA NO WAI LOOK AT THIS,” I was going, “that’s literally just AppleWorks only less ugly.”

Then Clippy appeared. $#*(#& Clippy.

9. Play an electronic computer game at least five different times. Keep a record of how you do. What skills are needed? How can you improve?

or

Be a computer games reviewer. Play at least three different video games and write a brief review of your opinions of each. Include in your review: comments on the objective of the game, the skills required, the eye appeal and the quality of the graphics, the interest level, and the educational value.

…Let me show you what computer games looked like at the time this book was published.

prince-of-persia

Prince of Persia, 1989. I had a similar game for the Apple IIGs, Dark Castle, whose graphics absolutely blew my mind at the time.

indesdx

EGATrek, 1992. This is your readout as captain of the Federation starship USS Lexington. Oh yeah, I’m feeling very 24th century right about now.

indexaaa

And the crowning achievement of early 1990s computer games, Castle Wolfenstein 3D. This game literally changed how we thought about video games: it was the first one to let us move in three dimensions…more or less.

Stare good and hard at Wolfenstein for a while. I’m serious. Imagine a world where these graphics are incredible. They are blowing your mind. You have never seen anything so photorealistic on a computer screen. Ever.

Yes, I just typed “photorealistic” with a straight face.

Castle Wolfenstein 3D really did blow our minds when it came out. Even EGATrek was enough fun that I’ve gone searching for emulators from time to time over the years. But the technology keeps moving further than we realize: in 1994, the year my fellow troop members and I completed “Computer Fun,” these were amazing graphics.

Today, they’re “retro.” Kitschy, even. There are five year olds doing better work on Scratch.

I have no idea what the updated computer badges look like for Girl Scouts today. I imagine they cover an updated set of the same basic skills.

I do think girls would be hard-pressed today to complete the 1990 version. For one thing, where would they find floppy disks?

Advertisements

Introducing My Favorite Candidate: Vote Pippa

As we all sit around waiting for the polls to close and the midterm election results to come in, allow me to introduce you to my favorite candidate in this year’s race:

45674047_10110783947574433_4926711110695911424_n

Pippa is young. Some say she is too inexperienced to hold public office. Others point out that she is a cat.

It’s true that Pippa is young. And a cat. But her platform offers hope to millions of Americans. Just look at her positions on:

The Economy

Enact a 7-day nap week. Emphasize America’s skills in the lap-creation industry.

Civic Duty

Make “Feed Pippa” day a national holiday. Also, make every day “Feed Pippa” day.

Border Security

Any border wall must include a door, which is to be left open at all times. If the door is closed, a concierge must be assigned to it 24/7 in order to open it for anyone who wants to go in. Or out. Or in. No, out. Wait, let’s just stand in the middle for a while.

Healthcare

Make it easy and affordable for Americans to see their vet, especially for cases of flea infestation. Americans will not, however, be required to like their vet.

Welfare

Institute universal basic snuggling.

Drug Policy

Legalize catnip for cats ages 3 months and older. Tax sales of catnip and use the funds to pay for education. Humans need training for the most in-demand jobs of today, such as opening cat food cans.

Trade

Create a fair, organized system for other countries to shower us with gifts, mostly in the form of tuna, catnip mice, and that really nice kind of hairbrush.

Join me in helping a young cat realize her dream of napping on the Speaker’s podium. Vote Pippa 2018!

What I’m Reading: Election Eve Edition

Two things I’m looking forward to after tomorrow:

  • Raking leaves in my front yard without having to talk to canvassers,
  • Getting only bills in the mail.

I’m not sure how many glossy, four-color trees died to warn me that The Liberals(TM) are about to give us healthcare, fix our roads, or return us to a sensible immigration policy, but for some reason, those are all the flyers we’ve received this election cycle. RIP, trees.

Here are several articles that have crossed my radar in the past week. They make far better reading than campaign flyers.

What I'm Reading_Election EveEdition

Current Events

U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See The Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It,” Janet Reitman, The New York Times Magazine

“Aside from the few white nationalists who had been identified by the media or on Twitter, Stout had no clue who most of these people were, and neither, it seemed, did anyone else in law enforcement….

This is like a Bermuda Triangle of intelligence, Stout thought, incredulous. He reached out to their state partners. ‘So you’re telling us that there’s nothing? No names we can plug into the automatic license-plate readers? No players with a propensity for violence? No one you have in the system? Nothing?'”

Twilight of the Racist Uncles: How Facebook Is Melting the Minds of Our Elders,” Ed Burmila, The Baffler

“If you are under the age of fifty, the odds are that you have at least one older person in your life who has gone down this road in the last few years. If you are white, I am certain of it. Lamenting our older relatives’ journey down the rabbit hole of right-wing paranoia and vituperation feels, at times, like my generation’s version of having the big talk about putting Nana in a nursing home. ‘Losing a parent’ has dual meanings for us after 2016. We’re dealing with the loss of people who are very much alive—but who have become such chaotic stews of anger, persecution complexes, racism, and half-assed conspiracy theories that they can no longer hold a normal conversation.”

Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” Masha Gessen, The New York Review

“But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now.”

 

Writing

How to Write Consent In Romance Novels,” Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic

“Guillory says one of the best compliments she received about The Wedding Date was that the book could serve as a model for young people who want to better understand romantic boundaries. A friend from law school read the book with her book club, which comprised several mothers of young children. ‘One of the women told me that she wanted her little girl, when she got old enough, to read my book to know what consent was and how a man should treat her,’ Guillory said of the meeting, which she Skyped into. ‘It just really made me feel emotional, because I want girls to grow up thinking that they deserve to be heard, that their voices matter, that men should listen to them by default.'”

Writing Sex Scenes With Less Cissexism, Pt 2: Story Level Trans-Exclusion,” xanwest, Kink Praxis

Trans-exclusion breaks into two core things, that are often intertwined:

  1. Refusal to respect or acknowledge the gender of trans and/or non-binary people
  2. Not letting trans and/or non-binary people into the room (particularly gendered spaces)

What do each of these look like at the story level? I have three examples for each, along with discussion of how each can impact sex scenes.”

How to Write Full-Time in the 21st Century,” Lance Ng, Medium

“Commercial writing is a very unscalable way to make money. It’s not like selling products or services because you have to do it yourself and you only get paid once (most of the time). The only way to increase your income is to raise your prices. But what would justify it? Especially in an era where rates are falling for the written word. If you want to make a living out of writing, you have to rethink your value proposition today to survive tomorrow.”

Nightmare Fuel

Are You Living in a Simulation?“, Nick Bostrom

“This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.  It follows that the transhumanist dogma that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.”

(See also: this Vox video for an overview, or Brian Dunning‘s take on Skeptoid for some perspective.)


Elect me mayor of your heart: buy me a coffee or share this post on social media.

An Update on My Crabs

If you were reading my author blog last spring, you may remember that about six months ago, I kicked a serious case of the crabs. And the bucket they rode in on.

bucket-blue-crabs-52661

How has my life changed since I divorced myself from the toxic sectors of the autistic activism community?

In short: It’s great.

My anxiety levels dropped precipitously after I banned and blocked about two dozen people, and they’ve stayed down. I’ve been able to take on more challenging work. I’ve completed several projects I never thought I’d actually get done. I’ve had much more interesting, in-depth conversations with researchers who aren’t constantly trying to pull their fellow crabs off the rim of the bucket.

Oh, and sales of my book…actually increased.

In short, I can absolutely recommend walking away from people who are dragging you down. If you need a sign, this is it: Life is better without crabs.

 

Emotional Labor, Gender, and the Erasure of Autistic Women

This post was originally published at Autistic Academic.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a listicle at My Aspergers Child, titled “Married to an Aspie: 25 Tips for Spouses.”  As you might expect from a title containing the word “Aspie” and the improbable number “25,” this list was terrible (and did not, in fact, contain 25 tips).  Emma and I unpacked several of its varied problematic assumptions here; I spoofed it on Field Notes on Allistics here, and The Digital Hyperlexic did some more unpacking here.

What I’d like to do now is to discuss the intersection of gender, assumptions about emotional labor, and the erasure or overlooking of autistic women that results.  This is a topic I’ve discussed more than once on this blog in various ways, although I’ve never quite gotten to the heart of the emotional labor question.

What is emotional labor?

Emotional labor is the work done to organize, remember, prioritize, sort, and structure daily lives and relationships.  In short, it’s the effort put into giving a fuck about other people’s thoughts, needs, and desires.  There’s an excellent introduction to emotional labor and the ways it manifests (as well as ways to do it) at Brute Reason here.

The problem with emotional labor, of course, is that generally speaking it is not considered “work” at all.  Rather, women in particular are expected to provide it “out of the goodness of our hearts.”  Emotional labor is actively cast as not-work by being cast instead as a natural urge women simply have – as if, rather than calling on women to generate effort, we’re actually doing them a favor by foisting the world’s give-a-fuck duties onto them.

In cishet relationships in particular, women are raised to, are generally expected to, and frequently end up doing a disproportionate amount of the emotional labor, as this massive MetaFilter thread on the topic attests.  (The days – literal days – it will take you to read the entire thread are wholly worthwhile.)  We cast emotional labor not only as “women’s work,” but as not even work.  Women who fail to put up with “affirmation, forbearance, consultation, pacifying, guidance, tutorial, weathering abuse,” as Jess Zimmerman sums up emotional labor (at the link in the above paragraph), are not only punished for it socially but are in a sense not considered women at all – and the enforcers of this, as N.I. Nicholson also points out (at the Digital Hyperlexic), are frequently other women.  Certainly, as Nicholson also points out, failing to do the emotional labor “correctly” is cast as social and romantic suicide: “no man will ever want you.”

What does this have to do with autism?

Consider, first, how autism in general and Asperger syndrome in particular are portrayed as deficits in emotional labor, specifically.  The DSM-IV criteria for Asperger Syndrome (which differ from the criteria for autism only in their willingness to allow for a broader range of features in speech development) specifically target certain differences, difficulties, or absences in expected displays of emotional labor:

  • marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction,
  • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level,
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

The last criteria in this section, “lack of social or emotional reciprocity,” is a demand for emotional labor, full stop.  Emotional reciprocity is the one thing all forms of emotional labor have in common.  The other three are more specific examples of emotional labor: using nonverbals that make the other person feel noticed and attended to, energy invested in “appropriate” relationships, and “sharing” (the ambiguous construction “of interest to other people” in the list of examples, implying “of interest to the patient, pointed out to other people” and “of interest to the other person”, is particularly telling).

It is the lack of “appropriately” displayed emotional labor that leads researchers like Simon Baron-Cohen to cling to the notion of a “theory of mind” deficit in autism and similar developmental disorders.  In In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, authors Donvan and Zucker accuse ASAN founder Ari Ne’eman of “unmistakably” having autism and of possessing no Theory of Mind because, in a conversation with “autism parent” Liz Bell, Ne’eman expressed disagreement with Bell’s position on autism, but did not do the emotional labor of making that disagreement palatable to Bell.

And, of course, “25 Tips for Spouses,” many of which boil down to assumptions that the “Aspie” half of an Aspie-NT marriage is failing to do his (always his, according to “25 Tips”) fair share of the emotional labor, and that this is somehow autism’s fault:

3. Although he genuinely loves his spouse, the Aspie does not know how to show this in a practical way sometimes.
12. Because the Aspie does not have the same relational needs as the NT partner, he may be unable to recognize instinctively or to meet the emotional needs of his partner. Marriages can thus form some dysfunctional relationship patterns.
13. For NTs who had normal expectations of the mutuality of marriage, there may be a sense of betrayal and a feeling of being used and trapped while in a relationship with an Aspie.
15. In the privacy of their relationship, the NT partner may become physically and emotionally drained, working overtime to keep life on track for both of them.

18. NT partners may begin to feel that they are entirely defined by the role they fill for their Aspie partner. There can be a sense that there is little mutuality, equality and justice.
19. NT partners may feel that they are daily sacrificing their own sense of self to help fulfill the priorities of the Aspie partner.
20. NT partners may resent the reality of living on terms dictated by the needs and priorities of the Aspie partner.

Insofar as Asperger syndrome is understood as a deficit of emotional labor, these statements make a certain amount of sense.  But notice how “Aspie” and “man” are perpetually conflated – not only here, but in most dating guides for people with Asperger syndrome (as Emma and I have discussed in previous posts), and in the literature on so-called “Cassandra Syndrome.”  The overwhelming majority of people who claim “Cassandra Syndrome” are non-autistic women married to autistic men, and the fundamental claim is that the man in question has so terribly neglected the emotional labor of the marriage that it has caused actual trauma to the woman.

How Autistic Women Get Lost

Emotional labor is a demand we place primarily on women.  We expect men to do far less emotional labor than women; socially, we tend to punish men who do “too much” emotional labor as excessively “effeminate.”  We expect autistic people to do even less emotional labor – to the point of doing none at all – and we pathologize this lack of emotional labor-doing as both a tragedy and a fault.  Meanwhile, autistic girls and women get lost, both before and after diagnosis.

We know that girls and women don’t get diagnosed with autism as frequently as men and boys.  There have been a spate of articles in recent years on why this might be happening and how to address it.

One answer that has been floated in several circles is that we “miss” autistic girls and women in diagnosis because girls are taught and socialized, from birth, to perform emotional labor.  When the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder still emphasize deficits in emotional labor, clinicians are looking for lack – not for difference, which is more likely to appear in girls who have been socialized to perform emotional-labor rituals without being given any insight as to their meaning or purpose.

(This, by the way, has nothing to do with whether girls are “innately better” at emotional labor than boys.  It has everything to do with how both girls and boys are raised.  Girls are expected to at least make the effort; boys are not.  Girls, therefore, show up in clinicians’ offices making the effort; boys do not.  While no studies exist yet, I suspect that a study of boys who are raised in households that demand more emotional labor from them also “fly under the radar” of diagnosis more easily than boys who are raised without such demands.)

What of the girls and women who are diagnosed – who are, as I was, probed by clinicans until our difference in emotional labor’s performance becomes apparent?  Well, if you ask the authors of “25 Steps,” we don’t exist – or we don’t marry NTs, or our marriages are never affected by our autism.

(If this last one were true, one would expect a crusade to demand equal emotional labor from boys and men.  Emotional labor “cures” autism!  Except, of course, it does not.)

I’ve written about this question before.  Long story short, autistic girls and women are subjected to the continued demand, attached to our (actual or perceived) gender, to do the emotional labor, no matter what it is, and certainly no matter whether or not we have a developmental disability that specifically lists deficits in emotional labor ability in its diagnostic criteria.  What becomes a convenient scapegoat for men in emotional-labor-lopsided marriages (it’s not him, it’s his autism!) becomes a whiny excuse for women.

This is also why creepy male behavior is excusable with the reasoning “but he might be autistic!,” while curt female behavior is not.  His autism is a reason to pity and excuse his lack of emotional labor; our autism is no excuse to skip out on our expected over-share of the emotional labor.

And this is why there are no “25 Tips” for autistic women married to non-autistic men (like me).  I’m presumed not to need them.  As a woman, I’m presumed to have the (innate or trained) ability to do a disproportionately large share of the emotional labor, to absorb my husband’s disproportionately small share.  (It is also assumed that the shares are lopsided in exactly that way; no one asks how my husband and I have negotiated the emotional labor in our own marriage.)  It is presumed that he will never feel “betrayed,” “used,” or “trapped” by me and my autism, or that he will never need to turn to an Internet listicle for help if he does.  Because I’m a woman, and disproportionate unpaid emotional labor is my birthright.

Thus autistic girls and women get overlooked before diagnosis and erased after it.  Our cultural presumptions about who is able and equipped to do emotional labor make it easy to both diagnose and dismiss autistic men as “just like that,” while blaming and burdening autistic women with “doing it anyway.”  When autistic women don’t “do it anyway,” they’re de-feminized in countless ways.  It’s a lose-lose game.  Crone Island beckons.

How Much Is My Girl Scout Handbook Worth? Part Two: The Market

Part One of this post ran in 2011, and it’s always been in the top five most popular posts on this blog. Based on the search terms folks use to find it, it appears that the sequel is both desired and long overdue. So here it is.

Part One covered the basics of appraising the condition of your handbook(s). I highly recommend reading it before moving on to Part Two, since it explains why not every book actually has value as a collectible (and how to tell if your book does or not).

Assuming you’ve already determined that your handbooks are in Very Fine or Fine condition, however, here’s what you need to know about the state of the market.

Which Girl Scout books are worth the most?

2011-12-28_18-57-40_511
1947. From my personal collection. Background courtesy of our linen closet.

As of late 2018, here’s a rough approximation of which Girl Scout items fetch the highest prices in the rare and used book world and what their price ranges look like:

1. Well-preserved personal ephemera.

Items like scrapbooks and photo albums are by far the most valuable, especially if they are well-preserved and provide details about the people, places, and dates shown in the photos/clippings within them. Prices for these items currently run in the $500 to $2,500 range, with higher values typically being set on photographs taken prior to World War II.

As far as price goes, I strongly suspect that Mariner Scout documents also fall in this category. I say “suspect” because I have yet to actually find any for sale.

2. Ephemera from the National office.

Cookie campaign advertisements, brochures from events held by the National office, and similar non-book items fetch higher prices than nearly any book. Currently, most of these fall in the $200 to $500 range (and yes, that means sellers are asking $500 for a single piece of paper in some cases!).

3. Certain books.

Currently, only a handful of Girl Scout-related books exist that are consistently listed at $100.00 or above – and only one handbook makes that list.

That handbook is How Girls Can Help Their Country, the first Girl Scout handbook ever written, published in several editions from 1912 to about 1917. Most editions I’ve seen on the market are priced at about $150.

How Girls Can Help Their Country was very cheaply produced. At least one edition is bound together with actual staples. Like most cheap books published in the 1910s, it was printed on acid-containing paper. Very few of these still exist, and those that do are disintegrating rapidly. My rule of thumb is to buy any copy I find for under $100 (so far, that’s been one).

If you want to read How Girls Can Help Their Country without investing in one of the delicate few remaining copies, Applewood Books issued a reprint a few years ago.

The other “Girl Scout books” that consistently sell for around $150 apiece are Very Fine copies of Edith Lavell’s and Lilian Garis’s respective adventure series, published in the 1920s and 1930s. If you have one or more with pristine dust jackets, congratulations.

4. Ephemera at the council level.

Songbooks, training manuals, and other items published at the council level typically run anywhere from $0 to $150, depending on the item and the demand for it. Training manuals from National tend to fall into this category as well, rather than category #2 above.

5.  Everything else.

Some old handbooks are more in demand than others, and surprise: they don’t follow any predictable pattern. For instance, handbooks published in the 1940s and 1950s tend to be cheapest to acquire – probably because a lot of them were published and they were the only ones published in hardcover, making them more durable.

The handbooks published in 1994 and in 2001 are selling, on average, for more than the 1940s/1950s handbooks. Copies in their original packaging can easily fall in the $100-$150 range. But before you get too excited: Copies in anything but new-in-the-package condition are selling for about $10 or less, which is probably less than you paid for it in the 90s.

Where can I find up to date prices for comparison?

The best way to figure out how much your Girl Scout handbook, novel, or ephemera might sell for is to look up similar books through used and rare book dealers.

Luckily, there’s an easy one-stop way to do this: AddALL (link opens in new window). AddALL searches several used and rare book databases, and it can give you a look at what’s out there and what people are asking for it.

That said, remember: Used and rare books are ultimately worth only what someone is willing to pay for them. Until you have cash in hand, all you have is a book.

Gambling on Gamble: The Case That Made Us All Wish We’d Paid Attention in Civics

What’s the deal with Gamble v. United States?

The case, on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket for 2018-2019, is getting a lot of attention in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings. So far, I’ve spotted this Facebook meme:

42661538_2309950289034644_2097780177621745664_n

Facebook meme text:

On next month’s SCOTUS docket is Gamble v. US No. 17-646. This is what the rush is about. Yes, they want him to overturn Roe, yes they want him to drag us all back, but they need him seated for October to rule on that specific case. At stakes [sic] is the “separate sovereigns” exception to double jeopardy. If he (and the other 4 conservative judges) vote to overrule it, people given presidential pardons for federal crimes cannot be tried for that crime at the state level. Bam. Trump can pardon the lot of them and they have nothing to fear from state’s attorneys. We’re all looking at the shiny coin and not seeing the bigger picture.

The Atlantic has this article, which appears more or less to support the meme’s position; but see this post by Ed Brayton at Patreon, which points out at least one flaw in the meme’s reasoning.

A fun true fact about me, for new readers: I used to be a lawyer. These days, pretty much all I do with my law degree is use it to interpret one of my top hobbies, SCOTUS-watching, for amusement and edification. Here’s what I can tell you about Gamble.

What is Gamble v. US all about, anyway?

On its face, Gamble is pretty straightforward. Back in the day, Mr. Gamble got convicted of a felony. Under both the law of his state (Alabama) and federal law, that felony conviction meant he couldn’t legally possess a firearm.

Fast-forward a few years. Mr. Gamble is pulled over by police one day. Inside his vehicle, the cops find a loaded weapon. Mr. Gamble is prosecuted by the state of Alabama for being a felon in possession of a firearm and convicted, under Alabama state law.

Then, the federal government decides that it wants to prosecute Mr. Gamble for being a felon in possession of a firearm, too. It convicts him under federal law. The federal conviction adds about three years to the almost-four-year sentence he’s already received for the state conviction.

Throughout the process, Mr. Gamble continually points out that, hey, this should be double jeopardy. And judges agree with him! One even said that, were it not for the “separate sovereigns” exception to double jeopardy, Mr. Gamble could not possibly be tried twice for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

So Mr. Gamble appealed. And has kept appealing. And now he’s got a hot date with the U.S. Supreme Court.

So is this really “double jeopardy”?

Yes. The Fifth Amendment reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

(Important bit in bold.)

Mr. Gamble was convicted in Alabama under Alabama Code section 13-11-72(a), which reads:

 

No person who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence, misdemeanor offense of domestic violence, violent offense as listed in § 12-25-32(15), anyone who is subject to a valid protection order for domestic abuse, or anyone of unsound mind shall own a firearm or have one in his or her possession or under his or her control.
He was also convicted in federal court under 18 USC 922(g)(1), which reads:

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person— (1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
The text matters in double jeopardy cases, because being tried on two charges for the same action isn’t always double jeopardy. How many acts occurred matters less than how similar the charges are. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)
For now, just keep in your head that yes, being convicted of both of the crimes quoted here counts as being convicted twice for the same crime.

 

What’s the “separate sovereigns” exception?

The short and dirty version is “Trying someone twice for the same crime is not okay, unless two separate governments do it.” And in the U.S. federal system, a state government and the federal government count as “two separate governments.”

The “separate sovereigns” exception isn’t in the text of the Constitution. It arises from British common law, much of which we imported way back in the late 1700s because it was, frankly, what we were used to. I won’t get into its background here, but if you want to read 150 years of precedent supporting it, check out the lists of cited cases in the briefs for Gamble, which are available at the SCOTUSblog link at the top of this post.

Does the “separate sovereigns” exception really make it possible for the President to pardon people for state crimes?

No. But it does make possible a result with nearly-identical consequences, in a handful of specific cases.

For example, suppose that Mr. Gamble had been tried by the federal government first – but the President stepped in to pardon him. Under our current system, Alabama can still try him for the same crime.

Without the separate sovereigns exception, however, Alabama would not be able to try Mr. Gamble for being a felon in possession of a firearm once the President had pardoned him, because the Fifth Amendment’s bar to double jeopardy would prevent it. The federal charges and the pardon would be the end of it (assuming Mr. Gamble had not committed some other crime).

That sounds pretty ominous if you’re not keen on our current President pardoning anyone. But here’s the number-one reason it’s unlikely to occur except in a minute handful of cases:

When people face multiple charges from the same single act, in most cases, double jeopardy doesn’t even apply in the first place.

The relevant test comes from Blockburger v. United States, and it states (I’m paraphrasing) that it’s not double jeopardy to face two charges for the same act, as long as each charge contains at least one element the other does not.

This can be confusing in the abstract, so here’s an example.

Suppose that a completely hypothetical defendant named Maul Panafort is accused of committing tax fraud – basically, of hiding millions of dollars so that he didn’t have to pay either the IRS or his home state of Michissippi any taxes on that money.

Now, it’s pretty tough to lie on your federal tax return without lying on your state tax return, or vice versa. State tax returns use information like your adjusted gross income, calculated on your federal return. When those numbers don’t match up, folks get suspicious.

Wanting to evade suspicion, Maul Panafort naturally used the same fake numbers on his state tax return as he did on his federal tax return. But both the state and the feds found out, and now they both want to charge him with criminal tax fraud.

It’s not double jeopardy if they do. Take a look at the charges:

  • Federal: “you lied on your federal tax return.”
  • State: “you lied on your state tax return.”

Both charges include “you lied” and “on your tax return.” But the federal charge includes the “federal” element, which the state charge does not. The state charge includes the “state” element, which the federal charge does not.

Even if Mr. Panafort receives a Presidential pardon for federal tax fraud, the state can still prosecute him for state tax fraud. It’s not double jeopardy, because each charge contains an element not contained in the other.

The overwhelming majority of cases that both the state and federal governments can prosecute will fall into this category. There’s a reason it’s taken several years for SCOTUS to receive a petition in a case that cleanly addresses the separate sovereigns doctrine (and why Mr. Gamble’s attorneys went to great pains in that petition to stress that this was a “clean case”).

Will cases exist in which a Presidential pardon could bar state prosecution, if the separate sovereigns doctrine is overturned? Yes. It would have saved Mr. Gamble, for instance. But these cases are likely to be so few and far between as to be highly unusual – and I predict that anyone the current President wishes to pardon is likely to face non-double-jeopardy state charges anyway.

Are the conservatives really going to overturn the separate sovereigns exception?

My prediction: If the Court overturns the separate sovereigns exception, the vote will not be along political lines.

The strongest support for that position appears in the last case in which the Court considered the “separate sovereigns” question, Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle. There, the Court looked at whether Puerto Rico had sovereignty separate from the U.S. federal government (the Court’s answer: no).

Justice Ginsburg wrote a concurring opinion in which she pointed out that sooner or later, the Court needed to address the question of double jeopardy as it related to being prosecuted by both the state and federal governments – and she signaled that the exception may be overdue for retirement. Justice Thomas joined that opinion.

The Court may or may not overturn the exception, but there is no reason, currently, to think it would do so along conventionally-accepted political lines.

In fact, the separate sovereigns exception is fascinating precisely because it is so hard to come to a conclusion on based on traditional political leanings: its existence supports a certain type of bounded federalism that conservatives and libertarians traditionally support, but at the cost of increased police intervention in individuals’ lives and a counterintuitive reading of the Fifth Amendment, which they traditionally eschew.

Is there a good reason to support (or to oppose) getting rid of the separate sovereigns exception?

Off the top of my head, the biggest to support getting rid of it is fewer prosecutions: you’d be prosecuted in state or federal court, but not both. It’d also make the prohibition against double jeopardy clearer to ordinary folks, although it’s not going to make it exactly clear.

Reasons to support keeping it include that it’s a 150+ year old component of our federalist system, one that arguably supports the concept that the states really do have powers the federal government does not within their own borders. There’s a chance that ending it would have unforeseen consequences for the balance of power between the states and the federal government, which may not tilt in the favor of individual liberty.

It’s not an easy question, either way. But I do look forward to seeing which justices have what things to say about it after oral arguments.


I no longer practice law and this post isn’t legal advice, but feel free to share a coffee with me anyway.