Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unusual Search Terms

It has been a while since I checked into the odd search terms that bring people to this blog. (Those compendiums have themselves proved to be effective bait, as attractive to readers as honey is to Winnie the Pooh.)

In recent days, new readers have found their way here using Google, Yahoo, and other search engines to find out about these topics:

ayn rand's the children's hour

did franklin roosevelt have erectile dysfunction?

does the first amendment protect cindy sheehan

does the first amendment protect political speech

hanson brothers circumcision interview

how would benjamin franklin react to film fantasy about witchcraft

jesuit Thoughts on masturbation

marquette university
gay sex

Pornography in Buena Vista Virginia

sponge bob barr

tyler whitney
sex tape
One unusual search has stood out, not because it is humorous or inscrutable, but because it is unexpectedly frequent. A number of visitors have been looking for an article written by my friend, Mike McGough, some 20 years ago. Then the editorial page editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (now with the Los Angeles Times), McGough did a piece for The New Republic about the decline of high school debate called "Pull It Across Your Flow."

His article elicited a letter-to-the-editor from me, which in turn led to our meeting for lunch and subsequently a two-decade friendship. It also inspired me to write my own article on high school debate and -- apparently -- it also inspired sociologist Gary Alan Fine to write a whole book on the subject called Gifted Tongues: High School Debate and Adolescent Culture.

At first I thought that a debate coach somewhere had assigned his students to read McGough's original essay, but when I saw that the searches were coming from various locations around the country (and not clustered around one city or state), I decided that hypothesis was groundless.

I am still at a loss, as is Mike McGough. Can anyone out there answer the question of why a 1988 article about high school debate suddenly has such a surge in interest? Both the author and I would like to know the cause.

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