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September 05, 2009

Conn. Politicians Play Onan's Game of Solitaire

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, far right, speaks while colleagues play solitaire on their computers as the House convenes to vote on a new budget for the fiscal year in the Capitol, in Hartford, Conn., Monday, Aug., 31, 2009. (JESSICA HILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS / August 31, 2009)

The two card sharks have been identified as state representative Barbara Lambert, D-Milford, and John Hennessy, D-Bridgeport. Here's what they look like from the front:

John (Jack) Hennessy, D- Bridgeport CT,
Solitaire playing Legislator
Barbara L Lambert, D- Milford CT,
Solitaire playing Legislator


The card game on their screens is not, strictly speaking, Solitaire — which is a collection of single-player card games — rather, their game is Klondike Solitaire.

Klondike Solitaire, which was originally included in the Windows computers as a "how to use a mouse" training game, is now so ubiquitous that it's become a synedoche for all Solitaire games (synedoche is the term for when a part is used to refer to the whole, such as mustering sailors by calling for "all hands on deck").

What's the Context of this Card Playing?

The nattily dressed lawmaker who is standing in the photo is the leader of the minority party (Republicans). The two Solitaire playing legislators are in the majority party (Democrats). What's really happening is the Minority is delivering a rhetorical screed which will have no effect on the outcome of the day's voting, and two members of the Majority turned to other amusements. The former speaker of the Legislature said, Good thing they didn't pan the camera around the room, they'd have found a lot more Solitaire.

It's not just Legislators

Laptops are a Distraction

It's not fair to put a laptop or a computer in front of somebody and then be shocked, shocked and appalled to find that they're using it as a distraction. Laptops are an addicting distraction. It's like putting jelly beans in front of kids and being surprised when they eat some. With multitasking and ubiquitous computing, work is a struggle against distraction.

Computer Privacy

It's curious that when we worry about computer privacy, we usually think about privacy in terms of what's behind the monitor, not what's behind the user/playa.

This didn't have to happen

The bright folks at 3M provide privacy filters for laptops, monitors, and cellphones (their motto: Practice Safe Text) that would have prevented this unfortunate scandal:

For Laptop-Lugging Luddites


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