Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, February 13, 2021

I can’t believe it’s taken this long for this idea to come about: Wireless Internet on schoolbuses, for keeping otherwise restless students productively occupied.

“It’s made a big difference,” said J. J. Johnson, [driver of an Internet-enabled schoolbus in Vail, Arizona]. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”

On this morning, John O’Connell, a junior at Empire High School here, is pecking feverishly at his MacBook, touching up an essay on World War I for his American history class. Across the aisle, 16-year-old Jennifer Renner e-mails her friend Patrick to meet her at the bus park in half an hour. Kyle Letarte, a sophomore, peers at his screen, awaiting acknowledgment from a teacher that he has just turned in his biology homework, electronically….

Internet buses may soon be hauling children to school in many other districts, particularly those with long bus routes. The company marketing the router, Autonet Mobile, says it has sold them to schools or districts in Florida, Missouri and Washington, D.C.

Basically a students’ version of the increasingly-popular BoltBus. I guess this makes the bus ride actually fun, which wasn’t the case when I was a school-lad (although I’m going by second-hand accounts, since I never needed the yellow transport while growing up — school was always within walking distance). And alas the now-quaint custom of passing notes across seat rows and aisles; now the kids just IM back and forth.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 06:24 PM
Category: Internet, Wi-Fi
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In the wake of yet another high-profile plagiarism incident in the publishing world, we come upon the modern media proliferation justification for cribbing others’ work:

Although [16-year-old novelist Helene] 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.

So according to this mindset, Hegemann’s lifting of an entire page from an obscure novel called “Strobo” for use in her book, “Axolotl Roadkill”, is fair game. Because “Strobo” came to Hegemann in a flood of content, it was essentially anonymous raw material, free for repurposing.

Which is all nonsense, of course. What strikes me about these supposed new-media rationalizations is that they are never disclosed ahead of time — only after the theft is discovered. If copycats like Hegemann truly believe that what they’re doing is acceptable, why don’t they reveal what they’re doing upfront, when their book/movie/music first comes out? Obviously, if they can’t admit to this content theft (or “mixing”, or “curation”, or whatever semantics sound best), then they know that they’re in the wrong. At best, they’re just too lazy to engage the original creators’ permission. Ethical quicksand, all around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 05:34 PM
Category: Creative, Publishing, Society
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It’s a stat that only weather geeks can appreciate: Yesterday saw bonafide snow cover on the ground in 49 of the 50 United States.

The idea of 50 states with snow is so strange that the federal office that collects weather statistics doesn’t keep track of that number and can’t say whether it has ever happened. The office can’t even say whether 49 out of 50 has ever taken place before.

As of early Friday morning, 67.1 percent of the U.S. had snow on the ground, with the average depth a healthy 8 inches. Normally, about 40 or 50 percent of the U.S. has snow cover this time of year, said David Robinson, head of the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Not surprisingly, Hawaii is the only flake-less star of the flag, with even its high-altitude mountains free of the white stuff. I guess I’d have to move to those islands in order to safely escape wintry weather…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 04:54 PM
Category: Weather
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big red
Don’t go searching for the term “Flying Tomato” on Shaun White’s personal website, because that Torino-born nickname is now dead to the Olympian:

“Apparently I resemble the drummer from the Muppets,” White said. “I guess I’m Shaun ‘The Animal’ White now. I’ve kind of outgrown ‘The Flying Tomato’. It’s kind of like going from old pants to new pants.”

Sorry to break this to White, but a basic rule about nicknames is that you don’t get to choose your own — everybody else does that for you. He’s made his disdain for “Flying Tomato” known before, so it’s no surprise that he’d want to ditch it, even for the dubious preference for a Muppet Show character. Frankly, latching onto that reference smacks of a manufactured attempt at re-branding.

The fact is that when he’s up in the air during his stunts, no one is thinking “Wow, look at that monster!”. They are thinking, “Wow, look at that big red… flying… tomato!” “Monster” is just too generic to stick.

All that said, if White were to change his nick, the other suggestion from a teammate, “Red Zeppelin”, would be a better choice. I could see that one catching on.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 04:00 PM
Category: Other Sports, Pop Culture
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