Monday, February 2

Go Figure

FIRST: The Guardian UK 9th Year Math Quiz, given to Britain's brightest 14-15 year-olds. I aced it, but not without some difficulty. I'd like to see similar supervised tests required of everyone who mouths off about failing public schools. (My Poor Wife nabs a lot of books her school's library is getting rid of, and last week she came home with one originally stamped by an old Indianapolis vocational high school [Harry E. Wood] she'd never heard of. This led her to do some digging, and she found, somewhere, mention of a system-wide graduation rate under 50% for 1958. Can't attest to the accuracy, or the methodology, and there's no question that a high-school dropout in the 50s had better employment prospects than a graduate of today, provided he was male and could withstand a mind-numbing and finger-crushing factory job, but it sure does offer something of a reality check, while we're at it. If we still had moderately-well-paying salt mines urban youth were marching off to at sixteen, who'd be complaining about graduation rates? Colin Powell?)

I wanna see his math scores, by the way.

Anyway, the Sadlynauts bring us news this AM of Andrew McCarthy's Super Dyspepsia:
People tuning in to football for an escape were treated, as they have been all season, to Keith Olbermann. I used to like Olbermann as an ESPN sportscaster when sports was all he did, but that was a long time ago. Now, just the sight of him turns off a lot of the audience — though I am nut for football, I generally just don't watch, turn off the sound, or switch to something else when he's on, and I know I'm not alone.

So let's just start with the ethical considerations: Mr. McCarthy is entitled to his share of bile, and we're personally gratified that The Corner offers such an elaborate system for continually sluicing the excess, lest he explode somewhere and shower innocents. 'Tis true, as Tintin points out, that modern teevee sets come with a Mute function and the ability to change channels, both now generally, and of necessity, available without the disturbing of any major muscle groups. And, as M. Bouffant points out, the full measure of patriotic reassurance for the insatiably needy could be found, and right on schedule, shortly before game time, with Faith Hill singing America The Beautiful (now with Twice the God! thanks be to Faith!), Jennifer Hudson deafening sound technicians across the country with the Star Spangled Banner, in an unexpectedly understated performance which held off the beginning of the unfettered melismafest until the fourth bar [UPDATE: I'm informed they were both lip-syncing; why did I imagine anything else? Good news for audio technicians who will now be able to hear their newborn's first words], and a fly-over of Air Force Thunderbirds, just in case either end zone needed strafing or Janet Jackson was thinking of running out onto the field just before kickoff.

Fine, fine. Y'know, I live in Indianapolis, and I know I'm not alone in the waves of nausea that greet every appearance of Professional Paragon and Perennial First-Round Tank Commander Tony Dungy, and, believe me, you haven't been able to swing a Gay Marriage Amendment in these parts without running into him (complaining about public school graduation rates with phony numbers copped from General and Mrs. Powell, by the way) lately, particularly since he's had nothing else to do since Wild Card week. Hell, as people around these parts know, I'm no fan of Olbermann's MSNBC work. I don't like Jenna Elfman either. I think Friends blew donkeys, the ratings success of "reality" and home makeover shows proves we humans share morphological characteristics with an as-yet-unrecognized subspecies of baboon, and the concerted, highly-financed attempt to sell me the equine charms of Sarah Jessica Parker as sexy, or au courant marked the final triumph of Unfiltered Bullshit. I pay some small amount every month so one cable movie network or another can bring me weekend-long John Waynefests, and some channel claiming to present History, Learning, or some other form of Empiricism can play endless Searches for the Historical Jesus/Moses/ or Alien Autopsy. Christ, I thought the old Mickey Mouse Club was creepy when I was four; try lugging that around for half a century (try walking four blocks in any direction without running into something Disneyfied). And don't even mention Barbara Walters or Gene Roddenberry.

No, sir. You don't like it, change the channel, feel free to complain to High Heaven, or both; but do not pretend you are somehow being singled out for harsh treatment.

That's it for theory. But what interests us, once again, is why there seems to be a direct correlation between public "Conservatism" and Congenital Aesthetic Witling Syndrome. What sort of "football nut" considers the Super Bowl "an escape"? What sort of football nut wishes he could tune in to all sixteen hours of pre-game blather, with or without unpleasant political ramifications? None, to my knowledge; this is the attitude, where it exists at all, of the weekend partier, and it is soon to be transferred to The Oscars™, where you can gripe all you want about Hollywood Leftism. Just kindly stop pretending you do so as a lover of cinema. Asshole.


heydave said...

*golf clap* Oh, bravo, sir!

Anonymous said...

I killed that stinking test, too. Can I have a job that crushes my spirit and my fingers? Or am I stuck with what I have, doing good for people and occasioanlly exercising my need to be a complete prick at the same time?

Anonymous said...

My score was hugely embarrassing, but hell, after two solid decades of migraine, headache, and clusters I frequently mistake 10 for 1 and have to carry my address, phone number, and birth date around with me in case of pop quizzes by pharmacies and police.

Not that I was ever good at math, but the only year I actually flunked a math course was when I was drunk *and* stoned, *and* routinely truant. Frankly, the fact that public schools ever managed to teach me anything I put down to superhuman effort and cosmic genius on their part.

Anonymous said...

I missed the hill one? Crap. And I must really be out of it when the phrase "home and hosed" makes any damn sense.

Also, I gots one of them channel clicker things myself. While running over the channels, I spent about as much time (about 30 seconds) on the celebritainment one as on the actual super bowl one, and learned more from the former, for example that during media day one of the soon-to-be-miasma-if-not-melisma-festing boy-men could match the to-me random names with the Jonas Brothers, and that the secondary quarterback for the red-shirted (not a Star Trek reference, BTW) team was the most up on this sort of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

During the melismafest, did Jennifer Hudson do that Mariah Carey hand thing which tracks the tortured ups and downs of her singing like a pickled hummingbird trying to land at the feeder? Cuz I love that. Always makes me think they're going to break into Victor Borge audible punctuation at any second.

Anonymous said...

a direct correlation between public "Conservatism" and Congenital Aesthetic Witling Syndrome

Maintaining the degree of cultural outrage needed to sustain the Republican/conservative movement as it is right now requires never, ever giving an inch. First Keith Olbermann is tolerable... the next thing you know, it's condoms or cannabis.