The first article was about a school in Vail, AZ (right outside of Tucson, area-wise, a large district) that had kids on buses who were stir-crazy and noisy. So they got a plan and put an Internet router on the bus. Voila! Problem solved. Now it's really quiet with everyone typing on their phone or laptop.
Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.
“It’s made a big difference,” said J. J. Johnson, the bus’s driver. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”
(Yes, I'm sure they are all studying.)
An early test came in December, when bus No. 92 carried the boys’ varsity soccer team to a tournament nearly four hours away. The ride began at 4 a.m., so many players and coaches slept en route. But between games, with the bus in a parking lot adjacent to the soccer field, players and coaches sat with laptops, fielding e-mail messages and doing homework — basically turning the bus into a Wi-Fi cafe, said Cody Bingham, the bus driver for the trip.
Now I grew up in Arizona and the distances between schools in different cities can be great so this is a swell idea especially in terms of kids getting something they need done finished while still enroute to something they want to do. But I see kids texting all the time, not talking. So now, instead of talking to a real, live human being sitting across from you on the bus, a student can escape. Between Facebook, texting and the availability of Internet access everywhere, I wonder when kids learn to interact.
The second article was about a young German woman (17) who is newest It Girl over there. She has already written and had staged a play and a movie so her first novel has been widely anticipated. Here's the problem: a blogger (yay bloggers!) found that she had lifted some material from another book. And, in fact, lifted an entire page in one place. Bad news, right? Not so fast.
On Thursday, Ms. Hegemann’s book was announced as one of the finalists for the $20,000 prize of the Leipzig Book Fair in the fiction category. And a member of the jury said Thursday that the panel had been aware of the plagiarism charges before they made their final selection.
“Obviously, it isn’t completely clean but, for me, it doesn’t change my appraisal of the text,” said Volker Weidermann, the jury member and a book critic for the Sunday edition of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, a strong supporter. “I believe it’s part of the concept of the book.”
"Concept of the book"? Welcome to the brave new world we live in where music sampling is common so why not literary sampling?
Although Ms. Hegemann has apologized for not being more open about her sources, she has also defended herself as the representative of a different generation, one that freely mixes and matches from the whirring flood of information across new and old media, to create something new. “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” said Ms. Hegemann in a statement released by her publisher after the scandal broke.
My response is not printable here but basically - BS. Now, yes, maybe this is the new generation's answer to art - everything old is new again. But there is no such thing as originality? And what's up with this new "authenticity" or is that a new way of saying "keepin' it real"? I don't know.
As someone who has tried writing fiction the past, I would say that there is nothing new thematically. Good versus evil, love conquers all, boy meets girl, blood is thicker than water. BUT just because there are no new themes doesn't mean there are no new stories. For example, we have raced so far ahead in medical advances but we are way behind on medical ethics. Child dying and need bone marrow? Create child 2 to save child 1. The theme is love of a child but that story couldn't have been written 100 years ago so it's a new story.
We go to new movies all the time, not to see the same stories but to hear themes retold in a new way. (And that's why I'm going out on a limb and saying that Avatar, with all its flash, will not win Best Picture. Story in film trumps everything for me and, I hope, the Academy.)
But, this is a new generation who now, apparently, believes in openly borrowing from anywhere. Yes, from the start of art, people have "borrowed". But I will say I am astonished at how brazenly it is being done and endorsed. Will our grandchildren never be punished at school for plagerism because, well, they just "borrowed" a phrase or two?
May you live in interesting times (I borrowed that.)