Using periods in digital communication makes you seem overly declarative and angry it’s better to just keep the conversation going by not really using any punctuation at all unless you want to to use exclamation points to express sincerity but I dunno I’m not sure I sincerely believe this idea in which case it’s best to just keeping typing I guess that keeps the conversation going (btw apparently neither parenthesis, nor commas, have a similar effect), so it’s completely ok, when texting, or facetiming via nautical flags, or Morse-coding from a steampunk opium den, to use commas because they really aren’t final in the sense that they just let things keep going (and there’s actual academic research, it appears, to back up this idea), brb, reading Ben Crair’s piece in the New Republic again it’s fascinating!
Businessweek fact-checking rappers’ pronouncements of their net worth is a bit like asking a physicist to examine the cliff-jumping exploits of the Road Runner. Is it really necessary to examine a self-expressive vehicle for symbol, gesture, identity, individuality, trope, and skill with the reality-addled eye of an accountant?
And hey, if that’s your thing, you should probably get things factually correct, right? Having failed to understand that the meaning of rap lyrics isn’t in their literal accuracy, Businessweek fails to accurately understand them literally.
Here’s their infographic:
8 of the 12 entries contain inaccurate analysis. Here they are, starting from the top:
Pitbull: clearly referring to income (“make dollars”), not net worth, or “wealth” as it’s phrased above. Also, Pitbull says he’s brilliant — a dead giveaway that nothing he says is intended to be a factual statement
Nicki Minaj: again we have the income versus net worth mistake, but here it’s compounded by the fact that she’s talking about future income, which by definition has not had the chance to flow through her income statement to her balance sheet.
Diddy: classic a rounding error by Businessweek! Diddy says he’s “worth about a billion”. His actual net worth is listed as $580 million. Given the “about” signifies an approximate amount, Diddy in fact correctly rounds $0.580 billion up to the nearest billion.
Jay-Z: he’s obviously referring not to his own wealth, but to other rappers’ wealth. His own wealth is left unspecified but implied to be superior (classic Jay-Z).
Lil Wayne: again with the income/net worth mistake. Lyric/fact check is about income, but the graph refers to wealth.
50 Cent: same mistake as with Lil Wayne, except this time there’s also the problem that 50 makes no reference to any timeframe in his lyric, so citing a specific year’s earnings to debunk it makes no sense. Also, where’s the Vitamin Water money?
Rich Ross: refers to the value of his “army”, not his personal net worth.
Gucci Mane: this one is just odd. Gucci Mane says “I’m worth 20 mil on eBay”, a basic statement of personal worth (if not necessarily net worth), which then for some reason is compared to the most expensive item of Gucci Mane paraphernalia on the site. With an current estimated net worth of $15 million, putting the auction value of his assets plus future income at $20 million is a remarkably restrained.
4 out of 12 isn’t bad in some contexts (e.g. baseball), but it doesn’t cut it in rap (e.g. “that’s a one hot album every ten year average”). But who knows what other rap inaccuracies a more robust investigation could uncover? Was Frank White in fact not a real person but instead a fictional alter ego of The Notorious B.I.G.? Did Tupac and Dr. Dre never actually command an army of post-apocalyptic road warriors in the California desert? Was Nellie’s cheek not injured for most of the year 2000?
Of course, the whole premise of the thing is absurd. And that’s it’s biggest failing. The best use of absurdity is to use inaccuracy to highlight truth. Businessweek achieved the opposite.
"Military combat uniforms have two purposes: to camouflage soldiers, and to hold together in rugged conditions."
That’s just nonsense. I can think of at least six purposes combat uniforms serve:
1) “camoflage soldiers”
2) “hold together in rugged conditions”
3) allow soldiers of the same side to recognize that they are, in fact, on the same side
4) keep soldiers from freezing/overheating
5) instill esprit de corp
6) instill fear in the enemy
The point here isn’t to display any deep knowledge of this particular subject (although camouflage — from ducks to cubists to Marines — is fascinating), but to use that example to launch two short rants, one narrowly-targeted and one broadly-targeted.
First, the narrow rant. How unnecessary and credibility damaging is the quoted sentence? The remainder of the article aside, what’s the point of pretending to have found the TWO definitive uses for things that have been around for thousands of years? It would be so easy to just not be definite. Not including baseless, easily countered claims tends to improve arguments.
Now, the broader rant. This type of annoyance is a consequence of an even more perfidious pattern of the way we write now on the internet for money: “The [N] Reasons Why [Thing That Happened] Happened” or “[N] Things You Need To Know About [Thing That Happened]”. In a limited sense, these each have the same problem as the example above — the number of reasons, things you need to know, etc. is arbitrary. It can always be reduced or inflated: 5 reasons can always be 6; 9 things you need to know can always be 8. This is all so grating because it’s stylistic evidence of a an attempt to gain authority by limiting causality, intent, meaning, etc. Banal examples like these show how misguided and pervasive it is. I’ve probably done it. Hopefully writing this will induce me to catch myself before I do again.
Religions, like content farms, have always used, and abused, listicles. The 10 Commandments were disruptive, pageview maximizing content (assert monotheism and double the tabletviews!). Complications arise as the medium matures. Think of the Trinity: is it really three slides, or one slide, or a representation of infinite slides?
No dubiously tax-exempt organization deserves to be reduced to a revenue generating opportunity for purveyors of Taiwanese weight-loss drugs more than Scientology. So, LOOK: These are the 59 Proper Nouns of Scientology Everyone Can’t Stop Looking At. (via the indispensable Wikipedia entry):
1. L. Ron Hubbard
3. Celebrity Center
6. Study Tech
7. Volunteer Ministers
8. World Institute of Scientology Enterprises
12. Explorers Club Journal
13. Astounding Science Fiction
14. American Medical Association
15. American Journal of Psychiatry
17. Internal Revenue Service
18. Food and Drug Administration
19. Anderson Report
20. Sea Organization
21. Operating Thetan
22. Advanced Organizations
23. Operation Snow White
24. Free Zone
25. David Miscavige
26. Cult Awareness Network
28. MEST universe
29. Reactive mind
30. Tone scale
31. ARC triangle
32. KRC triangle
33. Suppressive persons
34. Potential Trouble Source
36. Bridge to Total Freedom
37. Space opera
39. Galactic Confederacy
40. Douglas DC-8’s
41. Super Power Building
42. Rehabilitation Project Force
43. Committee of Evidence
44. Religious Technology Center
45. Commodore’s Messenger Organization
46. Flag Service Organization
47. Purification Program
49. Applied Scholastics
50. Way to Happiness Foundation
51. Association for Better Living and Education
52. Volunteer Ministers
53. Citizens Commission on Human Rights
54. National Commission on Law Enforcement and Social Justice
56. Pyramid scheme
57. Operation Freakout
58. Office of Special Affairs
59. Project Celebrity
This may be the best joke Woody Allen has written in years:
When The New York Times called, inquiring if I might pen a few words “from the horse’s mouth” about hypochondria, I confess I was taken aback. What light could I possibly shed on this type of crackpot behavior since, contrary to popular belief, I am not a hypochondriac but a totally different genus of crackpot?
What I am is an alarmist, which is in the same ballpark as the hypochondriac or, should I say, the same emergency room. Still there is a fundamental difference. I don’t experience imaginary maladies — my maladies are real.
Of course, this is also talking late-stage Woody Allen, so that inspired passage is followed by a horrifying description of the time a spot he thought was skin cancer turned out to be a hickey.