Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, July 04, 2021

Despite declaring so, I knew the odds were long that I’d actually make any headway on fixing this blog today. And so it was: Easing into the morning, then off to a friend’s for Fourth of July barbecue and fireworks display. Which leaves scant time (or inclination) for php tinkering.

I’ll find time over the next couple of days to get the blogging up to full speed.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/04/2021 11:09:15 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

Instilling quality writing skills is never a pretty process, especially when it’s hamhandedly administered as a punishment. And as always, there’s always plenty of institutional resistance.

Maybe re-framing the issue as a political and business efficiency issue will spur serious action on the issue.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.

“It’s impossible to calculate the ultimate cost of lost productivity because people have to read things two and three times,” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, which conducted the survey for the commission.

The commission, established by the College Board, drew attention with its first report in 2003. That outlined problems with how writing is taught in American schools and proposed remedies. The group’s second report, last year, tried to drum up support for writing education by highlighting the value that business and industry leaders place on writing skills.

This year, the commission surveyed human resource directors who oversee nearly 2.7 million state government employees, and found writing skills even more important than in the private sector.

While two-thirds of companies surveyed in the 2004 report said writing was an important responsibility for workers, 100 percent of the 49 states responding to the anonymous survey said it was. More than 75 percent said they take writing skills into account when hiring.

But while 70 percent of state managers said large majorities of their professional employees had adequate skills, just one-third said clerical and support staff did. The report estimates the states spend $221 million annually on remedial writing training, sometimes sending workers to $400-per-employee classes.

“You have to be able to write, convert an idea and turn it into words,” said Bob Kerrey, the former U.S. senator and governor from Nebraska, who is chairman of the commission.

In public office, “I read things that were absolutely incomprehensible,” Kerrey said. He shudders to think how Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, published 229 years ago Monday, would have read in standard, government-worker bureaucrat-speak.

“It would be 10 times as long, one-tenth as comprehensive, and would have lacked all inspiration,” Kerrey said.

All of which serves as a good plug for The National Commission on Writing (as if having Bob Costas’ mug on the front page isn’t bigtime enough).

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/04/2021 01:17:26 PM
Category: Politics, Society, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

Yesterday, I helped Rachel* at Midnight Culmination grow her little porn ad-banner farm to a grand total of four. (She scouted out the affiliate deals; I just coded up the images and links.)

So, since we all know what a sure-thing moneymaker online porn is, she’ll be buying the drinks on the next night out on the town.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/04/2021 12:30:14 PM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback

Who’s lucky enough to be born to the tune of fireworks?

Well, thousands of people, really. Contractions know no holiday.

But here are some of the more famous names who entered the world on Independence Day, variable number of years ago. Having achieved some measure of The Good Life, I guess they all characterize the fulfillment of the American Dream:

- Geraldo Rivera (born 1943): Part journalist, part assassin — all moustache.

- George Steinbrenner (born 1930): If the Yankees had never had The Boss, they would have had to invent him.

- Neil Simon (born 1927): Straight outta the Bronx, probably the first playwrite name to come to most Americans’ minds.

- Gloria Stuart (born 1910): She broke into her first movie in 1932, and, buoyed by a turn in Titanic, is still working today.

- Nathaniel Hawthorne (born 1804): A leading American literary light.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/04/2021 10:22:28 AM
Category: Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback