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Posts Tagged ‘Barak Obama

Everyday heroes…

 

Over the years (R)D has considered action figures of all types, from the political (e.g., Barak Obama) to the cultural (e.g., Shakespeare and Jane Austin).  But heroism isn’t always an epic proposition; and it doesn’t always accrue to recognition, much less fame.  In the end, these smaller and more anonymous acts of leadership, courage, and sacrifice are the lifts that elevate life-at-large.

Jesse Weiss, an assistant professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of the Ozarks, has pioneered a way to redress the bobble-head balance:

A pop culture enthusiast and inveterate collector of kitsch, Weiss saw that the head had come off one of his collectible action figures: the professional wrestler, Rhino. “I guess it was kind of serendipitous,” said Weiss. “One of the heads popped off and I realized you could take them apart and put them back together”…

He has created more than 100 action figures modeled on fellow professors, administrators, students, community members and even the college’s president…  Sean Coleman, an associate professor of biology who teaches interdisciplinary courses with Weiss, said he keeps his action figure next to the nameplate on his desk…

… [Coleman] praised the evident attention to detail, down to the mole on his figure’s lip and the color of his belt. “We’re academics, but we’re quirky a little bit,” he said. “Everyone I know would like one of those things. It’s definitely part of the campus culture.”

Find the full story– and more pix– at Inside Higher Ed.

As we strike heroic poses, we might might wish an animated Happy Birthday to sculptor Alexander Calder; he was born in Pennsylvania on this date in 1898.  The son of a sculptor and a painter, Alexander studied engineering before following in his parents’ footsteps.  While he painted and drew, he is best remembered for his wire and his motor-driven sculpture– dubbed “mobiles.”

Alexander Calder (source)

Calder mobile (source)

Calling Gil Scott-Heron…

From the good folks at Staple Crops:

Hip-Hop Word Count™

The Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day.

The Hip-Hop Word Count describes the technical details of most of your favorite hip-hop songs. This data can then be used to not only figure out interesting stats about the songs themselves, but also describe the culture behind the music.

How can analyzing lyrics teach us about our culture?

The Hip-Hop Word Count locks in a time and geographic location for every metaphor, simile, cultural reference, phrase, rhyme style, meme and socio-political idea used in the corpus of Hip-Hop.

The Hip-Hop Word Count then converts this data into explorable visualisations which help us to comprehend this vast set of cultural data.

This data can be used to chart the migration of ideas and builds a geography of language.

The readability scores are on a scale from 0 (illiterate) to 20 (post-graduate degree).

So, how do different artist’s fare?  For reference, Staple Crops ran energy policy speeches by both Obama and McCain from the 2008 campaign; each scored a 12– “Educational Level: High School Graduate, Reading Level: Time Magazine.”

By comparison, Fifty Cent’s “I Get Money” scored a 7– “Educational Level: Junior High School, Reading Level: True Confessions.”

At the other extreme, Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents 2” and Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend” both scored 16– “Educational Level: University Degree, Reading Level: Atlantic Monthly.”

Grade other artists, pick up a set of the trading cards (exampled above), or buy chocolates (!) featuring reliefs of one’s favorite rappers at Staple Crops.

No child left behind, Sucka!

As we dust off those closeted turntables, we might wish a lyrical Happy Birthday to the painter, poet, playwright, essayist, and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott; he was born on this date in 1930 on the island of Santa Lucia in the West Indies.

source

 

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