Monday, October 15, 2007

Narcissistic Praise Junkies

From Wired magazine (online). This is not quite a 'literary' entry (except for some helpful English-English translations provided) but it is a lot of fun. Download it by clicking here.

A US Navy recruitment PowerPoint presentation thinks of young American MySpace generation as a 'somewhat alien life force' whose language and lifestyle is 'almost unrecognizable to adults'. According to the presentation kids in America today are 'coddled' and 'narcissistic praise junkies' and that it will be 'beyond though' to make these 'millennials' join the armed forces.

This Annual Navy Workforce Research and Analysis Conference report also finds that 67% of them are 'less likely to join the military' because of the Iraq War.

The US Navy's typical kid today: 'has always been online', 'has never known a world without digital phones', and his 'best friend may be Chinese'. The report also says:

The Most-Praised Generation

  • These kids grew up hearing nothing but praise, all the time, everywhere

  • Recent childhood has been defined by ego-stroking

  • Soccer trophy syndrome ... 'I am special'

  • Can get disgruntled if not praised for simply 'showing up' at work

  • 'Narcissistic Praise Junkies'

  • Many young adults feel insecure if they are not regularly complimented

There is a lot more. This report is hilarious.

World's worst poem

McGonagallFor years the poem by William Topaz McGonagall about the December 1879 train disaster in Scotland, The Tay Bridge Disaster, was regarded as the world's worst poem. Two lines from it were judged as the worst ever written.

And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down

But now they are saying they have a new champion. The poem: A Tragedy by Theophile Marzials, contained in a 1973 collection called The Gallery of Pigeons has been described as '... the absolute epitome of awfulness'. Here it is:

The barges down in the river flop.
Flop, plop,
Above, beneath.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop ...
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop...
And my head shrieks - "Stop"
And my heart shrieks - "Die."...
Ugh! yet I knew - I knew
If a woman is false can a friend be true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end--
My Devil - My "friend."...
So what do I care,
And my head is empty as air -
I can do,
I can dare
(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip, drop.)
I can dare, I can dare!
And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.
Plop, flop,

If you think it is easy to write awful poetry, please visit the Bad Poetry website by Seamus Cooney, according to whom, 'There is a huge amount of bad poetry in the world. Although new bad poems are being written by the hundreds every day (many of them in university creative writing classes), most bad poetry is simply weak and ineffectual and lacking in interest and (fortunately) is soon forgotten. To achieve memorable badness is not so easy. It has to be done innocently, by a poet unaware of his or her defects. The right combination of lofty ambition, humorless self-confidence, and crass incompetence is rare and precious...'

Visit the website to read some of the worlds worst poems. You will be surprised at some of the names you will see there.


World champion readers

According to a survey conducted by the Academy of Sciences' Czech Literature Institute and the National Library, 88% of Czech women and 77% of men read one or more books a year or, on average 83% of Czechs read at least one book every year. An average Czech reads 16 books a year.

39% of Czechs read one to six books a year, 16% of the population read seven to twelve books a year while 14% devour 13 to 24 books a year. These are called stable readers.

9% read up to 50 books a year and 6%, known as 'passionate readers', read over 50 books a year. Wahhhh!!!

At the other end of the spectrum, 17% of Czechs do not read a single book in a year (here we call them Malaysians) compared to the European Union where the average is 42 % (who do not read).

These are some figures for some other European countries (ie., percentage of people who don't read any book at all): Sweden -- 19%, Finland ­-- 24%, Britain -- 25% and Portugal -- 67%. (Poor Jose Saramago, but then Portugal has a Nobel Literature laureate.)

Here is a brief of how an average Czech spends his leisure time each day: 41 minutes a day reading books, 30 minutes a day reading newspapers and magazines, 111 minutes a day watching TV, 113 minutes on the radio, and 86 minutes a day on the internet. That is over six hours of leisure (but I guess they would probably do other things while they are listening to the radio.) And 95% of university graduates are readers. (I wonder if the ratio is reversed in Malaysia?)

The survey is quite comprehensive. You can read it all at the Radio Praha website: