What’s that you hear, Lassie?
Yeah, I can hear them too.
Next up: AI-generated eyeballs (to defeat retinal scanners) and fingers, complete with your fingerprints. You heard it here first.
So much for ID security.
“But what about the Chiiiiiildren?” I can hear the wails already, in response to this latest example of Antipodean totalitarianism:
Cellphones will be banned in schools across New Zealand, conservative Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Friday, as his fledgling government looks to turn around the country’s plummeting literacy rates. The move would stop disruptive behaviour and help students focus, he said.
New Zealand’s schools once boasted some of the world’s best literacy scores, but levels of reading and writing have declined to the point that some researchers fear there is a classroom “crisis”.
Luxon declared he would ban phones at schools within his first 100 days in office, adopting a policy tested with mixed results in the United States, United Kingdom and France.
I know the thinking behind this: what has changed with schoolkids since (say) 1980 when literacy rates were X, but which are now X/5?
So it’s to the banning table we go.
Of course, what has also changed in the interim is that (dare I say it) teacher quality has plummeted, teaching methodology has deteriorated, and classroom educational standards have dropped.
But those are sehr schwierig (nay, even impossible) issues to tackle, because we know that all teachers are dedicated professionals who have only the kids’ best interests at heart, teaching methodology is much better now that we’ve dropped silly things like rote learning of arithmetic tables and lowered spelling standards in favor of feelings, and we won’t even talk about topics like strict grading and corporal punishment (eek).
It’s so much easier just to ban cell phones.
Now understand that I’m actually in favor of banning the fucking things in schools because at best, children have the attention span of gnats and the blessed ability to Goooogle stuff is so, like, cool and easy and twenty-first century, Dad; while old-fashioned learning is difficult and so, like, nineteenth century. (I’m hopefully assuming that the modern generations are actually aware of the existence of a 19th century, but let’s move on.)
And I’m not interested in the supposed safety of the Chiiiiildren that cell phones are supposed to bring. In fact, the proven negatives of cell-phone slavery amongst kids outweigh every single aspect of supposed in-class student safety, so there ya go.
Have the little shits turn their precious phones in at the school doors, to be returned when they leave the premises. And have “backup” phones permanently confiscated when found.
So go for it, KiwiPM Luxon: ban the poxy things.
And then, when literacy rates remain stubbornly in the basement, you can tackle the real problems, as outlined above.
My fucking email server has gone to shit. Now I can’t even use MS Mail or my MSN account.
Please don’t bother emailing me until Tech Support and I get it fixed — assuming we can — because I can’t respond.
I know that the Comment-login thing is getting worse, and I apologize. Tech Support is on the case, and warns that there may be some “fuckyness” [sic, good word, will steal] while he’s exploring the innards of WordPress.
Please be patient while he activates the high explosives.
On a similar note, while talking about fuckyness: correspondents may have noticed that my replies to emails come under my old own_drummer account. Do not be alarmed; this is because for some reason, when I reply using me@ or [email protected], the messages are bounced by the mail server. This too will be addressed after the login fuckyness has been fixed.
In the meantime, here’s a little diversion:
What goes: “Fuck. Double fuck. Double-doublety-double fuck”?
That would be me.
When my Logitech mouse starts randomly double-clicking when I tap the key once.
Yesterday I tried to see whether it was a software or hardware issue, so I tried going to Logitech’s “Customer Support” site (okay, you can stop laughing now).
shot bit the bullet — not literally, ammo is spendy — and ordered another one. From Amazon.
“Your order may be delayed as the product is on back order.”
[several lines of cursing omitted]
Well, you could choose to go through all this hassle:
The world’s richest known lithium deposit lies deep in the woods of western Maine, in a yawning, sparkling mouth of white and brown rocks that looks like a landslide carved into the side of Plumbago Mountain
But like just about everywhere in the U.S. where new mines have been proposed, there is strong opposition here. Maine has some of the strictest mining and water quality standards in the country, and prohibits digging for metals in open pits larger than three acres. There have not been any active metal mines in the state for decades, and no company has applied for a permit since a particularly strict law passed in 2017. As more companies begin prospecting in Maine and searching for sizable nickel, copper, and silver deposits, towns are beginning to pass their own bans on industrial mining.
“Our gold rush mentality regarding oil has fueled the climate crisis,” says State Rep. Margaret O’Neil, who presented a bill last session that would have halted lithium mining for five years while the state worked out rules (the legislation ultimately failed). “As we facilitate our transition away from fossil fuels, we must examine the risks of lithium mining and consider whether the benefits of mining here in Maine justify the harms.”
Advocates for mining in the U.S. argue that, since the country outsources most of its mining to places with less strict environmental and labor regulations, those harms are currently being born by foreign residents, while putting U.S. manufacturers in the precarious position of depending on faraway sources for the minerals they need.
Geologists say there’s also likely a lot more lithium in spodumene deposits across New England. Communities that haven’t had working mines in years may soon find themselves a key source for lithium and other minerals needed for car batteries, solar panels, and many of the objects people will need more of to transition themselves off polluting fossil fuels.
There are good reasons for U.S. communities to have healthy skepticism about mining projects; there is no shortage of examples of a company coming into a community, mining until doing so becomes too expensive, then leaving a polluted site for someone else to clean up. There are more than 50,000 abandoned mines in the western United States alone, 80% of which still need to be remediated.
But of course, there’s no story without there being rayyyycism, and the Injuns:
Environmental concerns aren’t the only problem with mining, Morrill says. The history of mining in the U.S. is linked to colonialism; Christopher Columbus was looking for gold when he stumbled across North America, and as Europeans expanded into the continent, they took land from Indigenous people to mine for gold, silver, and other metals.
Today, mining in the U.S. often encroaches on Indigenous land. Under mining laws in the U.S. that date to 1872, anyone can stake a claim on federal public lands and apply for permits to start mining if they find “valuable” mineral deposits there. Most lithium, cobalt, and nickel mines are within 35 miles of a Native American reservation, Morrill says, largely because in the aftermath of the 1849 gold rush, the U.S. military removed tribes to reservations not far from mineral deposits in the West. In one particularly controversial project, the mining company Rio Tinto wants to build a copper mine on Oak Flat, Ariz., a desert area adjacent to an Apache reservation that Indigenous groups have used for centuries to conduct cultural ceremonies.
…and on and on it goes. (Read it all until you begin to glaze over; we’ve had these arguments so often that everyone knows what’s going on.)
We could just continue to use oil to power our cars and trucks, figuring that the gross pollution difference between batteries and electric cars (production and consumption) and using internal combustion engines is pretty much a wash.
But then that wouldn’t be an insane choice made by gibbering eco-lunatics now, would it?