Friday, July 04, 2008

The Day Today - 4th July 2008

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

New Zealand's Economy

With a contracting economy, high interest rates and soaring prices, kitchen-table issues are likely to be a major factor with voters, with the economic environment likely to be distinctly unfavourable to the incumbent Labour Party's chances of re-election.

How is the internet changing how we write?

The internet is always saying, "Heyyy." It is always welcoming you to the party; it is always patting you on the back to congratulate you for showing up.

Can rap change the world? No, no it cannot.

Consider the hot album of the moment: “Tha Carter III” by Lil Wayne. Its central message is that if you are a rap star, you will get laid. The song “Lollipop”, for example, celebrates a young lady who treats Lil Wayne as she might a lollipop.

Earnest hip-hop fans often argue that “commercial” rappers such as Lil Wayne are beside the point. Hip-hop’s revolutionary potential is best expressed by “conscious” rappers who focus on important issues rather than babes, bling and booze. The Roots, a group from Philadelphia, are often cited as an example. Their message? “If I can’t work to make it, I’ll rob and take it. Either that or me and my children are starving and naked.”

But crime and starvation are hardly the only options. Even without a high-school diploma, a black man can probably find a job if he looks. And some manual jobs, such as plumber or cable technician, pay quite well. “It may well be that you can’t write much of a rap about training someone to fix heaters or air conditioners,” sighs Mr McWhorter.

But when it comes to more contentious political issues, hip-hop offers no plausible solutions; only impotent and sometimes self-destructive rage. In “Lost in tha System” by Da Lench Mob, for example, the vocalist says, of a judge: “He added on another year cos I dissed him. Now here I go gettin’ lost in the system.” The disrespect in question was a suggestion that the judge perform fellatio on him.

Juries - I don't like them. It just seems odd that such important matters as putting someone in jail depends on the judgement of twelve random people. As any psychologist, statistician, or philosopher (such as HORansome) will tell you, accurately interpreting arguments and information does not come entirely naturally and the mind has all sorts of short cuts that can lead even well-meaning jurors to err. Let alone the blatant prejudices shown by The Hand Mirror's fellow jurors. Part of me thinks we should train professional jurors (or "wasps") for the task, but whether that could ever be feasible I am not sure.

Cheesewatch! Be alert people, I was almost fooled but realised in time.

Life Imitating Art! for Fundy Post Paul.

And finally The Funny. A conservative news outlet goofs replacing "gay" with "homosexual.


HORansome said...

Ah, juries. I'm not fond of them (I was almost on one once) and think the inquisitorial system is, epistemically, better. CAJ Coady's book 'Testimony: A Philosophical Study' devotes the last third to why the inquisitorial system is better than the jury system and, I have to say, it all seems very reasonable to me, especially since it all works out to be so delightfully Bayesian.

Julie said...

First I was excited because you linked to one of our posts, but then I was excited because you made mention of wasps and I knew exactly what you were referring to without clicking on the link! Gosh, it's a good day when I feel like 2 years of Classical Studies and several Ancient History papers were totally worthwhile.

Paul said...

So, this is where the Quality gather.

Thank you for the link. Some day I must blog about my work choosing pictures for a nuclear command centre.

Isn't Mr McWhorter taking rap a little too literally, or assuming that its listeners will? It is always assumed that black kids will be so influenced by the lyrics that they will ruin their lives. Somehow, white kids are immune, despite there being no rock songs (to the best of my knowledge) about the value of studying hard and getting a good job in a respectable profession. Besides, it is the white kids who buy the rap.