The Random Yak

Friday Thoughts with Yak the Younger

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 9:16 am on March 19, 2010

“Refried beans really don’t look like beans anymore.  Does that make them has-beans?”

The Nearly Triumphant Return of Time-Waster Wednesday: Progress Wars

Filed under: Time Waster Wednesday — Random Yak @ 1:30 pm on March 17, 2010

(Apologies in advance to the non-gamers among you.  This one is probably only funny if you understand what is meant by “rep grind” … and fortunately, only humiliating if you have to admit you’re revered or higher with Brood of Nozdormu.)

It’s Wednesday afternoon.  You need something to do.

I give you:  Progress Wars.  The online video game that calls it like it really is.  Gone are the distracting graphics, the confusing quest text, and the need for problem solving abilities or that pesky high-end gear.

Progress Wars.  For those who live for the grind.

You’ll thank me when it’s over.

For the record:

1.  This is only a “near triumphant return” because I did not finish the game.

2.  The best mission name I encountered was: ” Plunder enchanted motorcycle hunter stranglers wielding invisible bandyclefs.”  (A mission so awesome I didn’t even understand what I was doing…much like half of Northrend.) “Mission: Ruffle Eggplant” was a close second.  It took a while to complete, probably because I didn’t have any idea eggplants could be ruffled.

3.  How can you not love a game that declares itself the ultimate expression of “being better than your friends at filling progress bars”?

Yes, I’m a gamer geek.  But if you spend more than five minutes on that website (and statistically, 57% of the people who read this site will)…newsflash…so are you.

In which I introduce you to my new lawn, and explain why I behaved badly this morning.

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 11:38 am on March 12, 2010

(…and yes, it IS rather a winnie-the-pooh sort of a morning.)

I have a lawn.

Wednesday afternoon, the workmen finished installing the sprinkler lines (but not the heads, wherein lies a tale…) and rolling out the new sod lawn.  A sod lawn which, even to my untrained and crabgrass-fearing mind, is nothing short of spectacular. You see, the grass is … green.  All of it. At the same time.  And it’s fuzzy and sticking up in the air, instead of lying limp and defeated as my lawns usually do.

It also has a remarkable lack of crabgrass.  (Also, somewhat regrettably, dandelions and clover, but I have no doubt the yellow-and-silver harbingers of summer will return as soon as the lawn across the street comes back to life. Most of mine come from there anyway.)

Unfortunately, what it does not have is sprinklers.

Or, more specifically, sprinkler heads.  Which means the sprinklers still don’t work.  Which means my weekend plans just went up in sprinkles…since that’s what I’ll be doing two to three times a day between now and Monday to ensure the survival of the new lawn.

Unless, of course, the sprinkler guys respond to my three telephone messages (yes, three…because if you give me multiple contact numbers and a reason to use them, you can expect me to do it) letting them know I was willing to put up with a week’s delay-for-various-causes when it came to getting the pre-sod parts of the project done, but I don’t appreciate extended delays that threaten to ruin all the work and expense that went before it.

I intend to spend a good two or three years killing this lawn, and nobody’s going to deprive me of that pleasure.

Now, I might have been just a bit more forceful than I needed to be in leaving the messages, but in my world, if you sign a detail-oriented, time-sensitive contract, you need to live up to your end of the deal.  I’ve lived up to my end, and I have the painful bank records to prove it.

I’m not to the naming-names and pointing fingers stage, primarily because the guys seem to have done really good work so far and I still anticipate giving them a very positive review when everything’s complete.  I also believe in giving people every opportunity – and plenty of rope – to hang themselves if they want to.  Sometimes people end up making something useful with it instead.   We can skip the many other good reasons not to publicly bemoan a problem still in the course of being solved, because I’m well aware of the public nature of this forum and the inability of a blogger to really withdraw anything once it’s been set free in the Googleverse.

I will not let the publish button go down on my anger.

In truth, I wish I hadn’t let the answering machine go down on it quite so quickly either – though if it saves the lawn I’m willing to take the chance.

An hour and a half has passed since the last of my calls, and the landscapers haven’t called me back yet.  I’m hoping they make some arrangements to spare me a weekend’s worth of lawn triage, though you and I both know I’ll do it if I have to.  I’m attached to the thing, you see, and willing to go to some trouble to see that it returns the favor.

Somehow I doubt I’ll hear from the landscapers any time soon, however.

Even I have to admit, my fears about my dying lawn seem much less pressing … now that it’s raining.

“Thursday-in-the-weeds” Oddness

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:20 am on March 11, 2010

I’m not sure how accurate it is to call myself “in the weeds” today, since yesterday’s installation of an absolutely fantastic new lawn (sans weeds-and-crabgrass) means there’s nary a weed in sight, at least in the front yard.  (We won’t talk about the back.  We’ll just call it The Bit Which Must Not Be Named.)

That said, work is piling up and I’m definitely standing on tiptoe to see anything beyond it.

So…until and unless I get the time to do something on my own, let me direct you to this awesome video of bears, pigeons, people and cars...the best (and most humorous) two and a half minutes of your day.

As much as I don’t like wasting time with videos, this one is worth the time.

Debating the “Digitally Distracted”

Filed under: Education Yaks,Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:22 pm on March 10, 2010

This morning, a colleague sent me a link to a Washington Post article about professors banning laptop computers in class (which led to this awesome video of a professor pouring liquid nitrogen on a laptop and shattering it on the floor as a warning to students not to violate his “no laptop rule” – which is safe for work unless you happen to be working on a laptop in this guy’s class) along with a note indicating that he (my colleague) was still debating the merits of the practice.

I’ve pondered the same question from time to time.

In my mind, at least, the debate boils down to whether ’tis nobler in the mind to permit one’s students to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (as brought upon themselves by their poor decisions with regard to misuse of classroom laptops) or to become the martinet instructor of old, brandishing the cane (if not the liquid nitrogen) in an attempt to enforce the educational equivalent of vegetable eating.

In other words:  do I let these purported adults make their own decisions, and suffer the consequences of bad ones, or enforce a no-laptop rule that might or might not result in better attention and educational success?

When I taught at the law school level, the answer seemed relatively clear.  If a twenty-five year old can’t make appropriate decisions about whether or not to use a laptop, (s)he probably doesn’t need a law license either.  One warning the first day of class that I expect people to pay attention and will hold them responsible for the course material seemed more than sufficient.  After that, stand or fall on your own, and if you fail the bar exam at least you’re qualified to pursue a career in laptop solitaire.  (Let me know how that works out for you.)

At the undergraduate level, however, the debate has more merit, or at least greater complexity.  Many undergraduate students are struggling with new-found freedoms and learning to make choices their parents either didn’t adequately teach or abdicated teaching altogether.  Even for those with good groundings and foundation, the temptations of an unsupervised existence often result in a certain amount of testing whether the parental units actually spoke with wisdom or just the old sound and fury, signifying nothing.  If nothing else, many of them face unlimited access to the laptop computer (and the host of time-wasting temptations it offers) for the first time, and are still learning how to use it well.

I am not responsible for their success – or failure – per se.  But do I have some ethical responsibility to help them make good decisions, at least in the classroom?  To the extent I let them know that laptops are for note-taking purposes only, and that if they’d rather be surfing they should grab a board and head for the coast, probably.  Should I have to monitor their use like an usher in a Puritan church, staff in hand and ready to administer a solid whack to the pate of the guilty?  Absolutely not.

It would be easy to let this commentary derail completely, to devolve into a rant lambasting the loss of personal responsibility and parental influence over the young, or a tirade about the lack of interest most college students seem to have in actually obtaining an education – in essence, the same kind of insignificant sound and fury that characterizes my typical response to futility in all its modern forms.  I won’t do that.

What I will do is offer a question, for those who read and those who comment to consider.

Is it better to ban the laptop and blackberry altogether, thereby ensuring that whatever woolgathering folly my undergraduate students engage in (and they will woolgather, as students have done since the beginning of time) is strictly of the non-electronic, non-digital variety, or to simply leave them with the same speech I give the (chronologically and theoretically) more mature graduate students and let them learn a harsh lesson if they refuse to make appropriate choices regarding the use of technology?

I wish I had an answer.  Even a smart remark would do.  But the reality is, I’m still debating this one myself.  Feel free to join the discussion if you wish.

In the interim…anyone know where I can get a supply of liquid nitrogen, in case I do reach a decision?

Monday Frivol: You know it’s a slow news day when…

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:59 am on March 9, 2010

Worth it for the headline alone:  “‘Astro-squirrels’ use coconut shells as helmets.”

Clicking through will get you this morning’s feature in the UK Telegraph, “in which we profile a Fareham, Hants woman who hangs coconuts from a tree so the local squirrels can eat them.”

No, I’m not kidding.  That’s the story, and apparently the UK’s suffering enough of an event shortage to make it qualify as ‘news.’  Not that I’m objecting.  I’ll take a pair of squirrels with their heads stuck up in coconuts over disaster and human-on-human violence any day of the week (and twice on Sunday), but I do have to offer a slight criticism on the headline.  The story has very little to do with launching squirrels into space, or even teaching them to fly (points to the commenter who identifies THAT obscure and slightly altered reference). In fact, the story only mentions “astronauts” because the (coco)nutty woman who feeds the squirrels thinks they look like astronauts when they stick their heads inside the coconut shells to reach the edible portion within.  Otherwise, this turns out to be a garden-variety tale about people who feed squirrels (and the associated mental oddities).

Again, not that I mind knowing the Telegraph has nothing more to say.  The best news day of all is the one in which the papers loudly proclaim “No News Today and All’s Well.”  But they might want to watch the way they title the squirrel stories from here out.  If they keep this behavior up, someone might think the editorial staff had … gone nuts.

Thursday Frivol: Even I don’t know what to do with this one

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:57 pm on March 4, 2010

This morning’s story out of Russia:

Authorities in Rostov recently had to address an addiction problem troubling a local zoo.  According to Komsomolskaya Pravda:

“The beer and cigarettes were ruining him. He would pester passers-by for booze.”

The offender has been sent to a rehabilitation facility in Kazan (approximately 500 miles east of Moscow).

No issue there, right?  No news either.  Alcoholic sent to rehab, case closed.

Only the addict in question happens to be a chimpanzee.  As in, a monkey.  (Or an ape, if you’d rather.)

The chimpanzee originally performed with a traveling circus, but when he grew too aggressive to continue performing, the circus sent him to the Rostov area zoo.  One might think that the chimp arrived at the zoo with cigarette-and-alcohol preferences intact, thereby explaining the problem, but the story suggests otherwise.  It specifically states that the chimpanzee subsequently “fathered several baby chimps and learned to draw with markers” as well as acquiring an addiction to booze and cigarettes.

Which presents a sort of interesting chicken-and-egg proposition.  Did he father those babies in return for alcohol and cigarettes, or were they his ill-advised-but-all-too-anthropomorphic retreat when he discovered his offspring had the nasty tendency to behave like animals?

Joking aside, there’s a bigger question here.  Who on earth (or more specifically, in Russia) considered it a good idea to give a chimp a drink and offer him a smoke to go with it?  If I have to lay bets, I’m putting money on “someone who wasn’t sober himself,” and “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Adding insult to stupidity, the addicted chimp is then sent to … a rehabilitation facility?  Really?  I’m hoping this boils down to a mistranslation of “veterinary facility” but somehow I have a sneaking suspicion the translation is true to the original text.  On the humorous side, however, it’s going to be awfully hard to convince the chimpanzee’s roommate to believe he’s really finished with his DTs when he sees a small, hairy primate in the next bed, clamoring for a vodka on the rocks and a pack of lights.

Object lesson from this one?  If you give a mouse a cookie, next thing you know he’ll want a glass of milk to go with it.  But if you give a chimp a Stoli, you’d better hide the cigars.

Notes from the Slightly-Less Weeds

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 11:04 am on March 3, 2010

Or perhaps I should say “slightly fewer.”

About three weeks ago, The Random Spouse and I made a decision.  After six years of battling the uneven, weed-infested, sprinkler-less wasteland which is The Front Lawn (and also, by chance, the registered headquarters for the local 251 Crab-and-Bermuda Grass Union as well as the launching point for their attempt to take over the northwestern United States) we decided to throw in the trowel.

Yep.  We’re replacing the lawn.  Now, technically, “we’re” not replacing it.  We’re paying for the privilege of letting someone else replace it.  Primarily because the idea of installing a functional sprinkler system on a serious lawn slope and then throwing down sod (grade is too steep for seeding without some serious risk of “slippage”) and expecting the whole thing to (a) function and (b) grow…well, it’s probably not beyond us but it’s definitely beyond what we felt like undertaking at the time.  See, PVC has this nasty tendency to come in straight lines, rather than slope-friendly curves, and – well, I know I need blogging material but let’s not be ridiculous.

So, a couple of estimates and more than a couple of dollars-committed later…we’re getting a new lawn.

I should probably add at this point that I’ve never actually replaced a lawn before.  Every other one I’ve owned has suffered the slings and arrows of my personal attention.  But over the years I’ve come to a realization:  I can grow flowers.  I can grow plants.  I can grow trees that produce massive amounts of (mostly unwanted) fruit.  I can make the roses bloom before their season and keep blooming long after the neighbors’ have whimpered their way into autumn silence.

But I can’t grow grass on the lawn.

I can grow it just fine in flower beds.  Toss a few bulbs in the ground and I guarantee the grass will sprout at once.  I’m forever digging it out of borders, and the brick staircase that leads to the front door seems determined to shelter it in every nook and cranny.  But on the lawn?  Forget it.  (My dandelions are the envy of the neighborhood, however.  At least, that’s what I read between the lines of the looks the neighbors give me.  It’s clearly jealousy.) With great effort and intense, focused concentration, I can produce a lawn that some might label “passable.”  (A+ for effort and dandelions, C- for grass…averages to a B in my book.) But the green, tufted velvet that graces The Lawn Around the Corner is beyond me.  I cannot make it happen on my own.

Which, I admit, probably contributed to the current decision.  When the landscapers finish the job, for one brief, shining moment, I Will Have A Lawn.  A nice lawn.  A green velvet carpet stretching the length and breadth of my little demesne.  With functioning sprinklers that turn on and off at my command.  (A fact most people would probably appreciate for its assistance in maintaining the lawn, but which I admit I’m more interested in for purposes relating to my ongoing experiment to see whether I can make a certain book-reading-while-dog-walking neighbor actually take notice of what’s going on around him.  As in…where *did* that water come from?)

Here’s hoping I can maintain it. I think I can, but at one point I thought I could do a lot of things I’ve since accepted as beyond me.  Still, it can’t be that difficult.  Maybe I should just pretend it’s a big flowerbed and hope the grass is equally fooled.

Good, bad, or otherwise, the workmen started yesterday (though today’s episode of “man v. crabgrass” was canceled due to a rainout) and should finish by the end of this week or the beginning of next, weather permitting and the crabgrass don’t rise.  I’ll keep you posted, but if you hear a maniacal cackling in the background sometime around next Tuesday, you can assume the installation – and the sprinklers – worked.  Don’t worry…it’s just me giving the dog-walking neighbor a reason to look up from his book.

Tuesday Frivol: Cactus Bites Man

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 2:29 pm on March 2, 2010

After all, if “man bites dog” is news, “cactus bites man” is front-page, above the fold.

For those of you needing more confirmation that golf is a dangerous game (and to be avoided at all costs): a golfer playing a round at an unnamed desert course was attacked by a marauding band of cholla cactus.  Emergency response teams spent several hours removing the apparently carnivorous cacti before transporting the man to a local hospital (presumably for continuing quill removal).

To the EMTs, I say “good job…way to stick to it!”

(Incidentally, I’d say the same to the cactus.)

Image here (tip of the horns, bits and pieces).

Video of a lesser incident involving the same variety of man-eating cactus here (tip of the horns, Boingboing).

Friday Frivol: This Place Has Gone to Pot

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:02 am on February 26, 2010

Literally.

A woman in North Carolina recently waited with anticipation for the UPS driver to deliver her new computer.  (We’ve all been there…watching for that brown truck that’s bringing us a fabulous new toy.) When he arrived, she signed for her package, took it inside, and opened …

a 45-lb bag of marijuana.

(Yes, you read that right.)

The box, which had approximately the same size and weight as a computer, was inadvertently delivered to the woman’s house by mistake.  Police had staked out the address where the pot should have been delivered – identified in the story as “another address in [the woman's] mobile home park” – but when no one showed up to claim the “package” they suspected the real criminals had decided to … leave.

The story doesn’t actually say whether the surprised computer buyer turned the drugs over to police, but I strongly suspect she did so.  It probably wasn’t too hard to figure out that the twenty police crouched behind the neighbor’s trailer might have an interest in the package.  (At least, not if you received the weed by accident.  If you actually own 45 pounds of marijuana, evidence suggests you might find logic a bit more challenging.)

Note to the wise, however.  If you’re going to do something as cosmically stupid as shipping a bale of marijuana by UPS, at least get the address right.  If you’re smoking it yourself, I recommend letting someone else do the writing.  From the looks of things the police will get you either way, but at least you won’t have the entire Internet laughing at you for it.

Put Down the Chili and Back Away Slowly

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 11:54 am on February 24, 2010

India is preparing to to weaponize its hottest chili peppers.  Specifically, bhut jolokia peppers, tiny marvels that top the Scoville Heat Unit scale  at a staggering 1,000,000 + SHUs.  (Yes, I know “pepper spray” is used by law enforcement everywhere, but that’s nothing compared with the peppers we’re talking about here…)

By comparison: a green bell pepper (which has no capsaicin) has 0 SHUs, jalapenos rank somewhere around 5,000 SHUs, and the hottest habaneros run around 550,000 SHUs.  Those without math skills take note: the bhut jolokia rates approximately two times as high as the habanero – and this isn’t the kind of sliding scale that means it’s “just” twice as hot.

The Indian government’s Defense and Development Organization has begun research into “pepper grenades” – esssentially a variation on the tear gas grenade currently used by many law enforcement agencies for riot control and other purposes.  Only the Indian grenades won’t be filled with tear gas.  They’ll be filled with an extract from the bhut jolokia.  Malfeasors, take note: that burning sensation isn’t going to go away when you toss water on it.  It will spread, as peppers do.

The tiny peppers may also enter military service to discourage a secondary type of intruder: the massive elephants that often wander into Indian military installations and wreak havoc on equipment and supplies.  Poles and fences have proven ineffective (the elephants just play with them or knock them down) but scientists have noted that the elephants give bhut jolokia a wide berth in the wild, and are planning to use the elephants’ distaste for the peppers to keep them away from military camps.  Proposals include a paste of bhut jolokia smeared on ropes around the perimeter of impacted camps.

But perhaps the best item on the Indian government’s “coming soon” list of objectives for the world’s hottest pepper is the last one: the government intends to add it to the soldiers’ diet to help them “combat extreme cold in high altitude terrain.”

It’s strong enough for grenades, scares away elephants, and makes the mighty habanero look like Gerber strained peas…but take two, they’re small!

Hot…it’s what’s for dinner!

Tip of the horns to BoingBoing’s story on “Weaponized Chili Peppers”

Monday Frivol: It’s not “dog bites man” but it’ll do.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:30 pm on February 22, 2010

German silver medalist David Moeller has become famous for something other than his medal-winning second-best slide down the Whistler luge track earlier in the week.

He also has the most famous dental work at the Vancouver Games – or at least the most widely publicized.   While following a reporter’s suggestion that the men’s luge medalists “bite” their medals after the presentation ceremony, Moeller apparently chipped his tooth on the second-place prize (thereby placing first in the lesser-known “find the marble in the oatmeal” event, which has apparently reached at least exhibition[ist] status).  A trip to the dentist fixed the tooth.

The medal apparently escaped unharmed.

One task, three guesses

Filed under: Just Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:24 pm on

Today is official “Single Tasking Day.”

I have a task to do.

Three guesses what it isn’t….

(Here’s hoping you see more blogging tomorrow.)

Men’s Curling: Bringin’ Funky (Pants) Back.

Filed under: Olympic Yaks — Random Yak @ 12:24 pm on February 17, 2010

No Winter Olympics coverage would be complete without at least one story on curling.

I admit my Olympics coverage to date has been somewhat lacking, though not without reason.  The tragic death of the Georgian luger on the day of the Opening Ceremonies pretty much put the finish on the four entries I had planned about the Antarctic Federation protests of the luge event – somehow, they didn’t seem appropriate.  Some things deserve respect, and a series of borderline-inappropriate (but admittedly rather amusing) posts about naked luge just didn’t work for me any more.  My plans to liveblog the opening ceremonies ran into a scheduling conflict, and although I’ve watched my share of the competition – and enjoyed most of it – there really hasn’t been much to snark about.  (Men’s figure skating aside, and quite frankly those jokes write themselves.)

Besides, I thought…I still have curling.  And if I can’t find something entertaining to say about the winter version of Olympic lawn bowling, I might as well hang up my keyboard.

So I watched, and I waited.

I thought I had the story last night, when Bob Costas actually managed to describe curling as “One of the most popular Olympic sports” without even cracking a smile.  To the extent he ever sounds sincere, he even seemed to mean it.  (As an aside, this comment met with literal howls of laughter in my living room.  Who says Bob Costas isn’t funny?)

But this morning I learned about something even better.  Or worse.

It appears one of the Olympic curling teams is engaging in some very unsportsmanlike conduct.  Unsportsmanlike even for curling, which everyone knows is a bastion of ill-concealed rivalry filled with showboating prima-donnas who will do just about anything to get the attention of the media.  It’s true.  Beneath that silent, broom-wielding facade, curlers crave the spotlight.  I’ve said for years that they’re a dangerous bunch.  And now I have proof.

Not content with defeating their opponents by traditional means, the Norwegian men’s curling team has resorted to dastardly gamesmanship.  Specifically, they’re trying to blind their opponents with their pants.  Now I admit, I could have misunderstood the purpose of the colorful couture.  The idea might have been to cripple opposing teams with laughter, rendering them incapable of brushing the ice or aiming the stone.  Or they might be going for the pity vote.  (Hey guys, let’s let them win.  After all, they’ve already lost their self-respect.)

Then again, the whole thing might just be a tragic mistake.  Perhaps someone accidentally swapped the curling team uniforms with a box intended for Ringling Brothers.  (Which also means that somewhere there’s a group of clowns without any pants on.)

Either way, the Norwegian men are appearing in public wearing checkered pants.  Red, White, Blue and Grey checkered pants. I’ve always said Norse people are brave, but this takes it to astonishing heights.  They still better win a medal, though.  Because if they don’t, I suspect the other teams will catch them in the locker room and steal their lunch money.  That’s what happens to the funny-looking kids.

On the positive side, I doubt anyone will steal their pants.

Tip of the horns, John Scalzi (at Whatever) for searing my eyeballs enough to get me to post.

Peaceful, Yes. Study Hall, No.

Filed under: Frivol — Random Yak @ 12:04 pm on February 16, 2010

An Arizona school district recently created wi-fi enabled school buses.  Mounting a digital router to the metal frame of the bus enables students to access the Internet while riding the bus, a situation bus drivers claim has significantly reduced the amount of horsing around and other chaotic activity on bus rides.

The router, which apparently cost $200 and has a $60/month service fee, was the brilliant idea of the school district’s information officer (read: Geek High Chieftain) who saw an advertisement for a wireless router that could be used to turn a private car into a “mobile wireless hot spot.”  The district tested the device during a four-hour trip to an away football game, and hasn’t looked back.  Student behavior on the bus has improved markedly, and the bus drivers are apparently heralding the router as one of the best ideas ever for maintaining discipline.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  if you have a problem, any problem, ask the nearest geek.  You might not actually understand the solution (at first) but trust me…we can solve it.

I don’t particularly like the idea of school buses in the first place – and I’ll be honest from the start and admit I never had to ride one (though I know plenty of people who have, and for the most part they share my opinion).  But if you have to waste an hour or two every day riding in one, having Internet access sounds like a fairly decent compromise.

The best part, however, is the part where district officials explain that the students are using the Internet for “study hall” purposes.  The article gives several glowing descriptions of students putting the web to academic use – and by implication, suggests that’s the only-and-primary use to which they’re putting this new bus-board freedom.

Upon which glowing report, I am calling shenanigans of the highest order.

You don’t turn hundreds of otherwise-rowdy students (note: they comment in particular upon the improved conduct of the boys) into quiet model citizens by enabling them to do their homework on the Internet.  First, most of them don’t even know you can do homework on the Internet (with the exception of those brilliant few who need to purchase and download that term paper they had all semester to buy write and haven’t done yet), and the ones who do already finished their homework the night before.  They might be using the bus to email friends – as the story also suggests – or communicate by instant message with friends across the country (or across the aisle…the text generation has less interest in face-to-face than the generations which went before).  They might even be surfing the ‘web looking for interesting facts or information – though most of it isn’t on subjects I’d write about here.

But the reality is, those students aren’t silent and well-behaved because they’re busy finding out what the world-wide-web has to say about the American Revolution or the chemical properties of lead.

Their Warcraft achievements and LOLcat viewing, however, are through the roof.


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