Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, September 21, 2021

Strip away the hot-button talking points on one side, and the lyrical beats on the other, and the remaining rhetoric makes right-wing talk radio and gangsta rap look like separated-at-birth twins:

Even beyond simple matters of style, rap and conservative talk radio share some DNA. Once you subtract gangsta rap’s enthusiasm for lawlessness — a major subtraction, to be sure — rap is among the most conservative genres of pop music. It exalts capitalism and entrepreneurship with a brio that is typically considered Republican. (Admiring references to Bill Gates are common in hip-hop.)

Rappers tend to be fans of the Second Amendment, though they rarely frame their affection for guns in constitutional terms. And rap has an opinion about human nature that is deeply conservative — namely, that criminals cannot be reformed. The difference is that gangsta rappers often identify themselves as the criminals, and are proud of their unreformability.

Finally, rappers and conservative talkers both speak for a demographic that believes its interests and problems have been slighted and both offer stories that have allegedly been ignored.

The key ingredients to success in both camps are: Ego, Haters, Feuds, and (of course) Verbal Skills. The possessed proportions of each determine the specific flavor of a host’s, or rapper’s, cred. So in this cross-media analogy, Rush Limbaugh is to Jay-Z just as Michael Savage is to Eminem.

Intriguing as this distillation of media methodology is, it all goes a long way toward justifying my blanket avoidance of all forms of radio…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/21/2009 10:57:24 PM
Category: Political, Pop Culture, Radio
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Because keyboards and keypads are so ubiquitous in everyday communication, schools are steadily abandoning penmanship lessons in cursive writing:

“We need to make sure they’ll be ready for what’s going to happen in 2020 or 2030,” said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, she said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting.

That’s nonsensical justification, of course. Modern curriculum doesn’t even begin to anticipate what students will need to know for 2030; there’s a good chance that computing devices by then won’t even remotely resemble the current keyboard-input beasts. It’s the same old story: Schools are test-prepping instead of actually educating, and eliminating anything that you can’t deliver via computer is the path of least resistance.

Not that I’m all hung up on preserving the art of cursive script. It would be nice if everyone were still versed in it, but if not, we’ll adapt. General handwriting styles evolve over decades and centuries; it’s not the first time that a mode of expression has died out.

It’s curious that this AP article doesn’t address one critical consequence of this trend, considering it opened with it as an illustrative example:

Charleston [West Virginia] resident Kelli Davis was in for a surprise when her daughter brought home some routine paperwork at the start of school this fall. Davis signed the form and then handed it to her daughter for the eighth-grader’s signature.

“I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid’s signature,” Davis said.

Her daughter was apologetic, but explained that she hadn’t been required to make the graceful loops and joined letters of cursive writing in years.

This implies that tons of young adults are incapable of signing a check, or any official document, with an adult-looking signature. No word on how this is supposed to be rectified in the short-term; longer-term, I assume such inked signatures will simply die out in favor of officially-sanctioned electronic/biometric signatures. Or the old hillbilly-illiterate “X”-mark will come back into vogue…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/21/2009 08:17:40 AM
Category: Media, Society
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