Archive for January 9th, 2010

The Conan Travesty

In case you haven’t heard by now, NBC has decided to screw one of the best comedians of the last decade. Conan O’Brien, less than a year into his run as the host of The Tonight Show, is being bumped from 11:35 p.m. to 12 a.m., to make room for The Jay Leno Show. NBC’s experiment of moving Leno to primetime has not worked out for the network, not so much because of its lackluster ratings (which NBC always expected and planned to offset with lower costs) as its effect on 11 p.m. local news broadcasts. Advertisers, who NBC had evidently warned to expect lower ratings, were not unhappy, but local NBC affiliates generate a lot of revenue from ads during the local news. With Leno providing these broadcasts with an especially weak lead-in, affiliates complained, and some allegedly threatened to drop Leno.

From NBC’s perspective, this move does make sense: They can undo the Jay Leno mistake at 10, and hopefully revive their 11:30 slot. Conan has been losing to David Letterman in the ratings—a battle Leno always won—since June, even occasionally to Letterman repeats. Surely, NBC hopes that Leno can retake his lead in his old timeslot. Conan, meanwhile, will supposedly get bumped back to 12. Continue reading

Symposium on Handwriting Part III: Why Handwriting’s Demise is Still Awesome

I acknowledged that there were trade-offs with less emphasis on handwriting. And, perhaps the most significant is the reduction in the supply of beautiful penmanship such as that exhibited by Tim.

Unfortunately, Tim’s analysis isn’t nearly as persuasive as his handwriting is beautiful. Let me first offer a general critique of Tim’s argument.

Tim claims “So if I understand Josh’s whole argument correctly, he wants schools to limit to a greater extent the time they spend teaching handwriting” and proceeds to list an array of negative consequences that flow from reduced basic handwriting skills. The problem with this is Tim offers no analysis whatsoever of how much handwriting instruction needs to be reduced for children to reach such a level of handwriting ineptitude that all of these negative consequences result. Is 70 minutes per week not enough: if not, why? While I probably favor the elimination of cursive instruction, I certainly never advocated the complete elimination of handwriting instruction; given that fact, it’s not clear at all to me that after 25 minutes per week in class, for example, the marginal benefit of additional handwriting instruction is particularly high. Tim needs to argue that it is if he wants to justifiably claim all of the benefits that he’s claiming.
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