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April 4, 2005

Your homework done for free!
Posted by Teresa at 11:53 PM * 181 comments

I have long been a fan of the Flying Moose of Nargothrond’s delectable Tolkien Sarcasm Page. The TSP has added a new feature: The Your Homework Done for Free! page, which begins:

A Brief Synopsis of The Lord of the Rings

One of the often-recurring requests on the newsgroup rec.arts.books.tolkien is from students requesting a synopsis of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic work The Lord of the Rings. The work is extremely long, and because of this many students simply can’t find the time to give the work a thorough reading before giving a written report on it. In the interests of cutting down the number of requests for this material, I have written a short synopsis of the three volumes which make up the Lord of the Rings as well as an accompanying synopsis for Tolkien’s posthumous book The Silmarillion.

As an added supplement, I have also listed some possible topics for term papers and book reports for those who don’t feel a desire to come up with their own.

Of course, I feel compelled to point out that a much better understanding of Tolkien’s work can be achieved by reading the actual books; it’s well worth the effort. If you simply don’t like to read, however, I’m sure the following synopsis and suggestions will help you make the grades you obviously deserve.
I believe them, because I used to answer the general e-mail at Tor. We got what were essentially “Will you write my term paper for me? Please hurry, it’s due soon” requests from everyone from middle-school students to university upperclassmen. I understand librarians get the same treatment. The Tolkien Sarcasm Page provides a very thorough summary of the plot, viz.:
The story starts with the twentieth birthday-party for Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit who lives with his brother Sam in a mythical land called the Shire. Frodo owns a magic Ring which makes him invisible when he wears it, a gift from his cousin Bilbo who stole it from the hoard of a Dragon years ago.

One day the old wizard Gandalf comes to the Shire, and he tells Frodo of an evil being named Sauron who wants to capture the Ring for himself. In ages long past Sauron stole the Ring from the Elves, to protect him from the Powers of Good; but the Ring was stolen from him by a creature named Gollum,and then stolen from Gollum by the Dragons, and then from the Dragons by Bilbo, who finally gives it freely to Frodo. “Sauron has been searching for the Ring for years,” Gandalf tells Frodo, “and now he has sent his ally, the evil Witch-king, to the Shire to look for it.” Frodo and Sam consult with their loyal friends Merry and Pipsqueak, and when the evil Witch-king appears with his nine servants the clever hobbits trick them into going into a mushroom-patch, disorienting the witches just long enough to escape the Shire.

But the tone of the book rapidly becomes more serious as the Witch-king and his evil servants pursue the hobbits through the forest. Frodo discovers that the witches have destroyed the village of Bree, and the Witch-king uses a magic spell to burn down the home of their old friend Tom Bombadil. Frodo, horrified, wants to go back and fight the evil witches, but at a hill called Weathertop he meets a noble man named Aragorn who convinces him to go to the city of Rivendell. “In Rivendell you will be safe from their magic,” Aragorn tells him, “for Elrond is a sensible man, and does not believe in it.” With that Aragorn leads them rapidly to Rivendell, with the witches in hot pursuit. As they ford the last river between them and Rivendell the Witch-king casts a spell on the river-water, causing it to rise up and try to drown them; only Frodo’s quick thinking can save them, and he uses the power of the Ring to make all the water evaporate into fog. The fog is so thick that the Witch-king and his servants become hopelessly lost, and our heroes make it to the safety of Rivendell.
It goes on like that. I particularly like their run-in with wicked Queen Beruthiel, who imprisons them in Lothlorien, and her good sister Galadriel, who helps them escape by floating them down the river in barrels. The synopsis proceeds onward through The Two Towers
Merry and Pipsqueak get kidnapped by forty-foot-high walking trees, but as the story goes on they convince the trees that it’s best to be kind to strangers; the lesson is well-learned, and when Aragorn and the others arrive the trees welcome them with open limbs. Just as this reunion is taking place Gandalf reappears, having ultimately defeated the evil Radagast; he reveals that there were actually two of him all along, and the other one is still trapped at Orthanc, now under the control of the wizard Saruman, Gandalf’s half-brother. …
and The Return of the Kings:
… Meanwhile Sam chases the tarantula back to the lair of Ungoliant, the Queen of Spiders, and after a tense argument about the nature of good and evil she finally reveals to Sam the cure for the spider’s-venom which holds Frodo in thrall. Sam thanks Ungoliant for her mercy and wisdom and revives Frodo, and they set off into Mordor to find Gollum. “Oft help will come from the weak when the Wise are foolish,” Gandalf once said, and sure enough all the spiders of Mordor are willing to help Frodo and Sam in their quest. …
It’s bound to make a powerful impression on your teacher, as will the suggested paper topics.

(Hey, you can’t argue with what’s practically a free term paper.) (Free term paper, free term paper, free term paper, free term paper, free term paper, free term paper.)

Most joyfully, the London Sunday Times appears to have used the Tolkien Sarcasm Page as one of its primary sources in a story about Cate Blanchett. And as we all know, if it’s printed in the Times, it must be true.

Addendum: Another FREE TERM PAPER! (free term paper, free term paper, free term paper): wicked Charles Eicher’s A History of Pigment.

Comments on Your homework done for free!:
#1 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 12:30 AM:

This is the second Classic of the fictional Homework Done For You genre. The first being Robert Silberberg's "Dying Inside."

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:48 AM:

Hilarious!

I had a kid send me "survey" about Dyson Spheres which in retrospect was probably a "do my research" request.

When game designer Allen Varney got sick of "do my research" requests, he put up a FAQ about game design. The FAQ is straight but the introduction is pretty funny.

#3 ::: mattH ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 03:51 AM:

You are so evil. That's eight links to a free term paper.

#4 ::: Brendan ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 03:57 AM:

*ahem* Permanent links are apparently much more effective than those inside blog posts for the sort of thing you're trying to do here, so you might want to add "free term paper" to the Particles sidebar, at least for a while. (I was going to add a nice inline link to http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2005/03/googlebombs_and.asp, wherein this is explained, but it disappeared on the preview -- assumed to be comment spam?)

#5 ::: Jim Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 04:32 AM:

You know, there's a Cliff Notes edition for "Lord of the Rings". Why don't these students just go over to the college bookstore and pick one up? It's just as intellectually dishonest as looking up unreliable sources on the Internet, but academically respectable.

#6 ::: Mari ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 07:18 AM:

Did you see the one about the girl who asked a commedian to write her term paper on Hinduism?

http://www.aweekofkindness.com/blog/archives/the_laura_k_krishna_saga/000023.html

I'd like to feel sorry for her, but, as a teacher who watches the ones who actually work for it, I just can't.

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 08:20 AM:

Thank you, Matt. I try.

Brendan, good idea, as you'll see if you look at Particles. Your inline link shouldn't have disappeared. I don't know what happened there.

Jim Meadows, in order to do the Cliff Notes thing, they'd have to get off their duffs, buy the book, and actually read it. Also, it's not in e-text, so any portion of it they recycle into their term paper will have to be re-keyboarded.

Mari, that's fabulous: Laura K. Krishna is a plagiarist.

I don't feel the least bit sorry for her. That's not a panicky student pulling a one-time inappropriate stunt.

#8 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 08:27 AM:

The free term paper available at the site you mention is an impressive piece of work.

But we should also add that it is a good resource for those studying the life of Professor Tolkein and all the works of Tolkein. He has been particularly influential since the three films of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings were such a success in recent years.

#9 ::: Janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 08:38 AM:

I get kids emailing (and IMing me) all the time to answer questions for papers and take-home exams. I explain in words of one syllable that they have read the book much more recently than I have and that, besides, I write the books and THEY do the homework. I do try to help but I don't write their papers for them.

One kid called me "a farted-up old lady" when I said I couldn't help him any more than point him to my website and its multiple links to reviews and interviews. This after a half dozen emails back and forth.

Jane

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 08:58 AM:

Never ceases to amaze me.

Oh, and Bill, that's a good one. Most sapient.

#11 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 09:34 AM:

Actually, the 1977 Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Cliff Notes are available on NetLibrary electronically to any student whose library subscribes...and you can cut and paste from it. The life of the author is abominally sketchy. The bibliography has at least one typo and lists some books I've never heard of (perhaps they were popular when it was written but didn't stand the test of time). A clever teacher would have no problem telling who is basing their report on the Cliff Notes by what is left out, just as papers based on the movie will reveal themselves by Jackson's omissions and changes. (Sad but true -- I recently got an abstract for a graduate/professional-level paper comparing Aragorn's Black Gate battlefield speech to those of some of Shakespeare's kings -- in the book, there isn't one...)

#12 ::: Michael Pullmann ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 09:56 AM:

Funny as that free term paper (yes, I'm too lazy to write HTML code for the joke) is, it's even funnier that a legitimate newspaper used such a site for its research.

#13 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 11:03 AM:

Not having read Tolkien, I have only the vaguest notion of whether that free term paper is meant to be real or a sting. Personally, I think that it would be appropriate for a number of papers to be given to such sites that will reveal to the instructor within the content that it's a fake since it's unlikely that the students will actually read through the whole paper they're passing off as their own.

My grades might not have been the best in high school, but I always did my own work. So, yes, those individuals deserve being stung if they're that lazy or dishonest.

#14 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 12:07 PM:

As a soon-to-be librarian in Grad school, I find this particularly amusing. I spent a semseter answering e-mail reference questions through the Internet Public Library program. Mostly, it was homework questions from nineth graders. Most had the sense to try and pass off the questions legitimately but few just keyed in their whole homework asignment and shot it off to the IPL. Like I got to Grad school without knowing how to do that one. Hah!

There was, however the curious e-mail I recieved from a Danish Librarian who wanted Journal articles detailing the methods by which American Librarians were circumventing the Patriot Act. If only.

#15 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 12:47 PM:

Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

I fully expect that most kids doing homework assignments these days are going to be cribbing from the movies, in which case, I look forward to them explaining that Aragorn falls off a cliff in a mighty battle with a giant wolf/warg, that Faramir tries to take the Ring at one point, that Elrond tries to send Arwen to the Grey Havens to prevent her from marrying Aragorn, and that Arwen saves Frodo from the Nine at the Ford.

I'm one of those people who rants and raves about certain sections of the movies. (You don't mess with Faramir. You especially don't make him say, in essence, "Hey, let's take the Ring to Gondor." Because. He. Didn't.) But now I see it was all part of a ploy on the part of Peter Jackson, who obviously had prescience enough to foresee all this cribbing, and thought, well, I'll just trip up those potential cheaters. They won't know that the Ents have already talked to Gandalf and that Merry and Pippin don't have to do any convincing, despite the fact that it still takes them three days to adjourn the Ent Moot. They won't know that Saruman and Grima invade the Shire, and take it over until the return of the hobbits. They won't know any of this, and their teachers will catch 'em all, serve 'em right.

I knew you had to have some sneaky reason for those changes, Peter, and now I know what it was.

#16 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:02 PM:

Okay. I've done my part in helping bring this vital free term paper service to everyone.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/pixelfish/370491.html

#17 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:20 PM:

Laura K. Krishna is not only a plagiarist. Plagiarism is a kind of theft, really, and theft is a kind of raiding (think vikings). Therefore she's a caste-raiding bitch!

Thank you, thank you, here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress.

#18 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:20 PM:

PiscusFish, that explains everything! And to think Jackson made Gimli into a buffoon just so we could trip up future students writing about the significance of dwarf-tossing in Tolkien's vision! He deserves an Academy award or two!

#19 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:24 PM:

I'm still stunned students would contact a *publisher* for paper-writing help. Good gods!

#20 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 01:33 PM:

Laura K. Krishna is a louse!

But seriously, despite the whining of many who participated in that discussion, it's unlikely she'll get expelled and never be able to go to another college and die poor, uneducated, and obscure .... What's more likely is that she will get an F for the course and/or have to put in community service time (probably doing busy work in the library, because community service students aren't covered by workman's comp, and you can't risk letting them get hurt doing heavy lifting or picking up dangerous trash), which may or may not clear her record. It will teach her a lesson, but possibly not a harsh enough one. Truly sad to see her consumer mentality applied to education, but it happens all over -- the sense of entitlement among students is appalling.

#21 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 02:40 PM:

Dave K: I should just tell you to read the books. But let's put it this way: Cliff Notes will get you a certain grade, and so will the free book report.

#22 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 02:56 PM:

Janet: And she's probably a legacy admission anyway, which will mean that Daddy makes a few phone calls and The Whole Thing Goes Away.

A friend called me classist a few years ago, and I am. I hate the rich.

#23 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 04:39 PM:

TNH (and everyone else)--the "Laura Krishna" story actually goes on well beyond that one blog entry--in fact, the blog's author has changed her name (it isn't really Krishna) because she was getting blitzed by accusatory phone calls.

What is astounding about the Laura Krishna episode is the number of people who either jump to her defense, or jumped all over the prankster/author.

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 10:01 PM:

When I volunteered on AOL, I managed OMNI's science chats. I got an amazing number of requests to write papers for people. Not to mention writers who wanted me to invent physics to fit their story.

#25 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2005, 10:50 PM:

There's a column in the current Newsweek, 'Tutoring' Rich Kids Cost Me My Dreams.

At ArizonaRoads.com I mainly get tourism questions, which I refer to the state tourism department. I also get questions from people trying to get out of speeding tickets. They usually think they can get out of them on some weird jurisdictional issue. For example, I had someone asking me about the history of the Apache Trail. His theory was that it was never properly transferred from the Bureau of Reclamation to the state, thus it was federal territory, thus a state cop couldn't issue a ticket there. Wrong on all counts, I'm afraid.

#26 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 11:21 AM:

Adam Rice - any refs on that? I'd like to read more.

#27 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 11:46 AM:

Xopher, follow the link in Mari's entry, way up at the top of this thread, to see the whole sordid story... Names changed to protect the not-so-innocent, and all.

#28 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 12:53 PM:

Patrick C., thank you, but I managed to graduate HS and obtain three college degrees, though by college I had improved to where I could graduate with honors on two of my degrees. I can proudly state that I did my own reading and research and I produced my own work. I never once bought a term paper or used any Cliff Notes.

Now as to reading it for fun, I'm still debating taking the time for that since I'm a bit busy writing my own fiction. I haven't even read a Harry Potter book yet, either. I really should take some time off to do some reading just for the fun of it.

#29 ::: Adam Rice ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 01:10 PM:

Xopher--it's all at the same site.

#30 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Thanks Adam, I found it. I still don't see the part about Laura K. Krishna blogging, though. I'm probably just confused.

#31 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 02:19 PM:

Dave K:
What I was trying to say, without spoiling the joke for others (but the secret's out, at least among Making Light readers), is that the Flying Moose's synopsis is wrong, yet sounds quite plausible.

Or hilarious, in my case. Tolkein is high on my 're-read for comfort' list.

I agree with you: Cliff Notes are Just Wrong.

Now to get Charlie out of the clutches of the boring Mr. S...

#32 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 03:38 PM:

I've probably mentioned this before, but when I owned and ran Sherlock Holmes Resume Service I ended up doing a certain amount of homework for pay. Mostly college essays, but up to and including researching and writing two M.B.A. dissertations from famous business schools, both times getting the MBA with honors to my clients. I finally stopped when someone needed, for her MSW, an essay on Ethics. "Can't you see the problem here?" I asked. "Can you feel any hint of irony?"

#33 ::: Lawrence Watt-Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 03:44 PM:

No one's mentioned the Jane Austin page yet?

#34 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:11 PM:

No one's mentioned the Jane Austin page yet?

Miss Austin's perhaps most admired novel is Winchester Park, the story of a young woman, somewhat resembling the authoress, who is taken to live with distant rich relatives in a strange, rambling mansion undergoing constant and erratic renovation, the staircases of which always number thirteen treads. A curse is rumored to be hanging over its widowed and eccentric proprietress, that should the house ever be entirely finished and the work cease, she will immediately sicken and die.

Squeeeeee! I will pay good money to read this book. Do you hear me, fanfic.net?

#35 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:38 PM:

I'm with you, Alex. Someone needs to write WInchester Park, but quick.

#36 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:38 PM:

LWE, that is totally awesome.

Totally, totally awesome.

Way.

#37 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:47 PM:

Actually, that's not the Austen pastiche I most wish I could read.

"When I first read Tolkien I was 13 and I was completely blown away. I wrote a crossover short story, Jane Austen meets J.R.R. Tolkien. It was great, especially the bit where the orcs attack the rectory."

Terry Pratchett, interviewed in The Age

#38 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 04:59 PM:

Xopher: Thanks Adam, I found it. I still don't see the part about Laura K. Krishna blogging, though. I'm probably just confused.

The blogging is being done by Nate Kushner in at least eight threads--over a thousand comments. A handful of those comments are signed by Laura, but most are obvious fakes. Nate made up fake names for her and her university after the story got spread around, though a little creative googling will show you the originals. He also seems to apologize for making the story public.

I'm trying to figure out if he's afraid of getting sued. I'm also not completely sure he didn't invent the whole story, possibly using the name of a real student at a real university. Mostly, I'm trying to figure out where all those people come from who think the story is true and that Nate's the villain and she's the victim. Maybe those are fiction, too. After all, this guy's supposed to be a professional comedian.

One of the ways Urban Legends live is by affirming something people want to believe. Perhaps this story will lead to a decrease in phony papers, even if false. I hate it when people justify lies on that basis, though.

#39 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:36 PM:

Maybe the Tolkien Sarcasm page is there for people whom teachers have warned, "Peter Jackson made a lot of changes to the story, so don't think you can get away with just watching the movies."

Because they'll read it and think, "Yeah, he did change a lot of things..."

#40 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:38 PM:

Hmmm, I see Jo doesn't have Brenda's picture of Jane Austin up. It's not on my drive anymore, either, and I sent the original to Brenda to deliver to Jo.

#41 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 05:47 PM:

I was, in fact, confused. Laura K. Krishna is the FAKE name; I get it now. I have to say it didn't make sense to me that someone whose last name is 'Krishna' knows nothing about Hinduism...even to the extent of calling it 'Hindu'.

#42 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 06:00 PM:

Lawrence Watt-Evans asked:

No one's mentioned the Jane Austin page yet?

Curiously, the page fails to mention Austin's historical-fiction piece Ethelred and Elfrida, the tale of Elfrida's assassination plot against Edward the Martyr to put Ethelred the Unready on the English throne.

Googling for Jane Austin revealed another Jane Austin site: The works of Jane Austin, which appears to have cribbed some of the biography directly from Jo Walton's site. What (if any) is the relationship between the sites?

#43 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 06:08 PM:

Well, I already did the "young Hobbit in possession of a magic Ring" opening on the Pastiche the Professor!(tm) thread some time in the past, but let's see.

. . . from tenty-five to tenty-seven he was in training for a hero; he read all such works as heroes must read to supply their memories with those quotations which in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives may so serviceably be hurled at homicidal goblins once the hard cheese and biscuits have run out.

He learned from Edward Sapir that,
"The gift of speech and a well-ordered language are characteristic of every known group of beings, though the Elves come at it slaunchwise and through sinus passages unknown to anatomists,"

From the well-traveled and urbane Jan Morris,
Humped and speckled, lush or rocky, hefty or insubstantial, littering the landscape from the Alan Lee promontories to the Brian Froud woodlands, from the inconstant avenues of Minas Tirith to the Unspecified West, the peoples of Middle-Earth are noble, sturdy, and given to long eras of brooding that culminate in woozy eruptions of mass violence,"

From Ayn Rand that there is some sheep-bleep that even a naive young Hobbit cannot digest,

And from Sir James George Frazer,
"I begin by setting forth the frew facts and legends which have come down to us on the subject of Middle-Earth. I hope you are seated comfortably, and have a large supply of food and strong drink."

So far his improvement was sufficient -- and in many other points he came on exceedingly well; for though he had no hope of writing epics, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of him throwing a whole party into hysterical glaive-voulging in a Dwarven waste-disposal site, he could listen to his uncle's fantastical buncombe with very little fatigue.

#44 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 06:15 PM:

Whoops, almost forgot:

And from John Kenneth Galbraith,
"Few subjects of earnest inquiry have been more unproductive than study of what the hell Sauron was on about."

#45 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 07:37 PM:

The Laura K. Krishna story is very interesting, but it illustrates one of the reasons I sometimes have a problem with blogs.

The site owner originally used the girl's real name (Laura K. P---) and then went back and changed it later. Fine. Except then he went into the COMMENTS and changed people's comments to say "Krishna" instead of "P---". Not fine. Editing other people's words to say something besides what they wrote is not cool. Our words should be our copyright (as in Usenet). I understand the guy's motivation, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

#46 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 09:30 PM:

"The Laura K. Krishna story is very interesting, but it illustrates one of the reasons I sometimes have a problem with blogs."

I think you must have left out the paragraph that actually "illustrates one of the reasons I sometimes have a problem with blogs". Since surely you can't seriously be saying that ill-judged, intrusive editing is peculiar to weblogs.

#47 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2005, 11:22 PM:

The choices he seemed to have were leaving the comments with the girl's name up (leaving her subject to further abuse), editing the comments to change the name, or deleting the comments entirely.


#48 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 12:42 AM:

I lecture and tutor casually at a university here. Every semester I read the riot act on the subject of plagiarism to the new class. Every semester I get students who don't believe me. Every semester someone fails the course because of it. Most semesters I just get them back again.

The administration is perfectly happy to discipline them for plagiarism by failing them from that unit. But they're allowed to re-enrol in the same unit. The admin doesn't mind that, of course. They get the tuition fees twice, that way.

#49 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 01:11 AM:

Dave Luckett:

Woodbury University, where I taught Math for two years, had a set of options available to myself and the others on the Academic Honesty Committee. These included expulsion. I think we did the right thing, several times.

Unfortunately, I don't teach there anymore. The decision not to renew my contract, where I had the highest ratings by students, the highest rating by the Academic Vice President, the most publications, and the most seniority of any cadidate, was made by a department Chairman whom I have very good evidence did not write his own dissertation -- which was not a Ph.D. dissertation, or a Science or Math degree. It has been recommended to me not to lay out my strategy in public. I have already informed appropriate persons that I believe the Chairman has committed academic fraud. We'll see what happens. The same principles of justice apply to students and faculty alike, in my opinion.

Now I'll clear my mind, so that I can present one paper at a conference tomorrow, and one the following day. The Chairman has one publication listed, in his entire career, which was coauthored. The Chairman is, by Making Light standards, essentially incapable of writing a correct paragraph. He was somehow promoted in the ladder of Professorial positions without the requisite publications, through some back door deal with the Board of Trustees. Other faculty are not happy about this. Time will tell.

#50 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 02:35 AM:

Dan Hoey: Mostly, I'm trying to figure out where all those people come from who think the story is true and that Nate's the villain and she's the victim. Maybe those are fiction, too.

No, I believe it, and I run into the same thing at my highways site. Although plagiarism and speeding are wrong, a lot of people believe that (a) the penalties can be excessive (expulsion, heavy fines/loss of license) and (b) you should have a "fair chance" to get away with it. There’s the whole stigma against "tattle-tales". It’s one thing if the professor/cop catches you, but another if someone else turns you in.

#51 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 09:28 AM:

JVP, best of luck. There is a followup article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed about four cases of professorial plagiarism they reported on earlier -- a couple of the cases ended what I would call well, with the plagiarist no longer involved in academia. On the other hand, a couple are still up in the air. But there is some encouragement to be found there.

Alan Hamilton, I think there's a difference between speeding and plagiarism -- speeding is a victimless crime (although it is dangerous and can lead to accidents, usually it doesn't), and plagiarism is stealing another person's reputation. I would say stealing their intellectual property, but the property is still there -- it's just that its value is reduced (tangibly if published for pay by someone else who takes credit for it, intangibly if just copied by a student for a paper), if it is used without credit elsewhere and believed to be the work of the plagiarist. The cost to the original writer may be negligible or career-damaging, but the original writer is still a victim. And if it's a student writing for a grade, there is the decrease in value of academic degrees and the specific reputation of the student's school which affects the other students at that institution. To my mind, there should not be a fair chance to get away with a crime where there is a victim. A victimless crime is different -- no harm, no foul.

#52 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 09:47 AM:

I hate the idea of 'no harm, no foul'. The absence of material harm is not the presence of good sense!

Speeding has an obvious and well established affect on mortality in statistical terms; if everyone drove at 100 kilometers per hour instead of 120 or more on divided highways, lots fewer people would die. The guy who ran a red light -- relying on Toronto lights being set so they're briefly all red -- and hit the guy who was turning left (which is why the lights are briefly all red) in front of the street car this morning was speeding. Didn't kill anybody, but it was obviously expensive, and if he hadn't been speeding it would have been much less likely to happen.

It's the same with people who don't come to full stops at stop signs; they haven't fucked up and killed someone yet, which is not the same thing as they're not going ever going to

#53 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 11:18 AM:

I'm with Graydon on that. Otherwise, why have laws against reckless endangerment? The victims are highly theoretical in that case, but could easily become real, and you and me, if reckless endangerers are not nipped in the bud.

#54 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 12:10 PM:

if reckless endangerers are not nipped in the bud.

Or the Bud? It is in this way that they become weiser.

#55 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 12:20 PM:

I was going to make a pun myself, but decided it would be busch-league. But you're right, though I doubt it will have much impact on the kind of lowenbraus that commit RE anyway.

#56 ::: scott h andrews ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 12:22 PM:

ah, the London Sunday Times. i was living in england 20+ years ago when they published excerpts from the fake Hitler Diaries. and eminent WWII historian Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper said he'd "stake his reputation" that the diaries were authentic. which he pretty much did.

#57 ::: Charles ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 02:26 PM:

When I used to hang out in an artist's newsgroup on Usenet, I had a kid ask me to write his term paper on "The History of Pigment." So I did. I reposted it on my website with a disclaimer that it was phony, and I STILL got a message from a kid looking for a term papers, he even had the nerve to complain it was too long and detailed. Sheesh!

#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 02:47 PM:

I loved "The History of Pigment."

Fake research papers could be a whole new art form!

#59 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 03:41 PM:

Charles, special thanks for:
"Most notably, the contribution from the New York "Ash Can" school of painters (named after their method of storing bulk pigments in large 'ash cans', lacking tin tubes for storage lead to the mass production of pigments in quantities the Nazis could not compete with. America's soldiers flooded europe with their brightly camouflaged tanks and colorfully ribboned uniforms (it was not mere coincidence that the most precious pigments were reserved for 'Purple Heart' medals).."

#60 ::: Charles ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 03:53 PM:

Ah, the Manhattan Project.. I'm embarassed to have you cite that sentence, it's a prime example of how I deliberately loaded the paper with bad punctuation and capitalization, bad grammar and cliches.

I wish I could find my other prank paper, "The History of the Paintbrush." It had something about Genghis Khan accidentally getting blood on the horsehair broom he used to swat at flies.

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 04:11 PM:

Janet Croft: "...the 1977 Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Cliff Notes are available on NetLibrary electronically to any student whose library subscribes...and you can cut and paste from it. The life of the author is abominably sketchy. The bibliography has at least one typo ..."

A bibliography in an academic or educational publication that only contains one typo is a near-miracle. This is something I learned over and over while a researcher and editor for the Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism. A good academic bibliography has roughly one typo per five or six entries, and the errors are non-fatal: i.e., not bad enough to make that item unfindable. I've seen academic bibliographies where perhaps one in three entries was so corrupt as to be unusable.

Xopher, that was a wretched pun. I'm sure you're proud of it.

Heatherly: "I'm still stunned students would contact a *publisher* for paper-writing help. Good gods!"

Consider the rest of the comments in this thread. Students who habitually do this kind of thing are surprisingly shameless. They'll ask anyone they think might come through for them -- publishers, authors, reference librarians, etc. -- and seem to take no harm from being told off for doing it.

Janet Croft again: "And she's probably a legacy admission anyway, which will mean that Daddy makes a few phone calls and The Whole Thing Goes Away.

A friend called me classist a few years ago, and I am. I hate the rich."

I've met some perfectly decent rich people. I'll admit that I'd probably find that harder to remember if I had to work with some of their more morally challenged offspring.

Adam Rice: "The "Laura Krishna" story actually goes on well beyond that one blog entry--in fact, the blog's author has changed her name (it isn't really Krishna) because she was getting blitzed by accusatory phone calls.

What is astounding about the Laura Krishna episode is the number of people who either jump to her defense, or jumped all over the prankster/author."

On what grounds? She solicited Nate Kusnher to assist her in committing plagiarism, offered him money to do so, lied to him from the start, and from the looks of things would have weaseled out of paying him if she could.

BTW, Ynhen X. Cnuy's name is easy to find. Googling on ["nate kushner" "laura" -krishna] will do it. So will ["nate kushner" "plagiarism" -krishna], if you take a quick look at the first few hits.

Alan Hamilton: Thanks for the link. I hadn't realized that "tutoring" is a euphemism, though in retrospect I should have at least suspected it.

Dumb choice on the parents' part. Teaching is the harder and more valuable task. Just doing the kid's work is taking the easy way out.

"I had someone asking me about the history of the Apache Trail. His theory was that it was never properly transferred from the Bureau of Reclamation to the state, thus it was federal territory, thus a state cop couldn't issue a ticket there. Wrong on all counts, I'm afraid."

That's so Arizona, it almost makes me homesick.

Lawrence: Thanks for the Jane Austin page, which has been duly Particle'd.

Abigail, could any Tolkien/Austen pastiche live up to the one you imagine when you read Pratchett's brief description of it?

Dan Hoey, if Nate Kushner faked his interaction with Laura K. Krishna, with all its little shifts of attention and balance of power, he's a good enough writer that no amount of staring is going to allow us to see through his prose.

Glen Fisher: "Googling for Jane Austin revealed another Jane Austin site: The works of Jane Austin, which appears to have cribbed some of the biography directly from Jo Walton's site. What (if any) is the relationship between the sites?"

I don't know what the relationship is, but the person who put up that second Jane Austin page is either fannish or a random re-poster, since he or she also reprints a piece from APA-NESFA #37, June 1973, about how to use corflu. (Being NESFA and all, the piece doesn't mention sniffing corflu to inspire fanac, or how corflu plus duct tape can fix a busted radiator hose.)

John M. Ford:

...from tenty-five to tenty-seven he was in training for a hero; he read all such works as heroes must read to supply their memories with those quotations which in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives may so serviceably be hurled at homicidal goblins once the hard cheese and biscuits have run out.

He learned from Edward Sapir that,
"The gift of speech and a well-ordered language are characteristic of every known group of beings, though the Elves come at it slaunchwise and through sinus passages unknown to anatomists,"

From the well-traveled and urbane Jan Morris,
"Humped and speckled, lush or rocky, hefty or insubstantial, littering the landscape from the Alan Lee promontories to the Brian Froud woodlands, from the inconstant avenues of Minas Tirith to the Unspecified West, the peoples of Middle-Earth are noble, sturdy, and given to long eras of brooding that culminate in woozy eruptions of mass violence,"

From Ayn Rand that there is some sheep-bleep that even a naive young Hobbit cannot digest,

And from Sir James George Frazer,
"I begin by setting forth the few facts and legends which have come down to us on the subject of Middle-Earth. I hope you are seated comfortably, and have a large supply of food and strong drink."

So far his improvement was sufficient -- and in many other points he came on exceedingly well; for though he had no hope of writing epics, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of him throwing a whole party into hysterical glaive-voulging in a Dwarven waste-disposal site, he could listen to his uncle's fantastical buncombe with very little fatigue.

(...)

Whoops, almost forgot:

And from John Kenneth Galbraith,
"Few subjects of earnest inquiry have been more unproductive than study of what the hell Sauron was on about."

I am amazed; I am very nearly slain. It's well enough to duplicate the tone; but to duplicate the quotations, in their proper relationship to the text, is an occasion for rejoicing.

David Bilek: That's a real problem, but I'm in agreement with Patrick and Jim: intrusive editing isn't a particular property of weblogs, and changing her name was one of a very short list of options. In Nate Kushner's place, I'd have done the same thing.

Writers are assumed to hold copyright on their own words, but I hope you're not under the impression that I hold comments any more sacred than Nate Kushner does. If a post is sufficiently offensive, the author still owns it, but it no longer appears on my weblog -- at least, not in its original form.

Dave Luckett, I'm truly sorry your school doesn't allow the occasional suspension or expulsion, pour encourager les autres.

Alan Hamilton again: Now you've got me croggled. People think they should have a "fair chance" to get away with speeding?

Janet Croft, speeding is not a victimless crime. It wouldn't be victimless even if we could guarantee that the only persons hurt or killed by it were the leadfooted drivers themselves, which of course is not the case. Excessive speed is dangerous in its own right. It also exacerbates errors and dangerous conditions, and increases the severity of injuries.

The primary effect of letting some students get away with plagiarism-for-hire is that it penalizes students who are poor and/or honest.

Graydon: Amen. It's why the law has penalties for both negligence and vehicular manslaughter.

Andy, Christopher, I take it you're having fun with that? (Okay, so am I, but I'm not going to admit it.)

Charles, I love "The History of Pigment," but I think you should remove the paragraph that says it's a fake. I also think you've trumped everyone else's tales of student effrontery with your story about the kid who chewed you out because your piece that he was plagiarizing was too long and detailed.

#62 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 04:17 PM:

Charles: it's a prime example of how I deliberately loaded the paper with bad punctuation and capitalization, bad grammar and cliches.

That's precisely why I loved it.

#63 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 05:23 PM:

Xopher, that was a wretched pun. I'm sure you're proud of it.

Why yes, as a matter of fact I am, and thank you. Also, thank you for noticing; no one else appears to have.

Janet Croft again: "And she's probably..."

Actually that was me. I was responding to Janet, not quoting her.

Rich people are like hair transplants: you only see the bad ones. Decent rich people don't show it off, or try to bribe you, or like that. I'm sure I've met some, but I've never been aware of it. I've met a lot of dumbass Harvard grads though...who I'm sure were just as annoying to their Harvard classmates.

#64 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 06:09 PM:

Thanks, Xopher, for that correction.

I'm not saying speeding in general is good or that we shouldn't have laws -- simply that in most cases the person going a few miles over the speed limit under ideal road conditions (good lighting, good surface, light traffic, etc.) is NOT causing _specific_ harm to any _specific_ other person. It could happen, in which case there is harm. And if it disrtacts or causes problems for other drivers, there's potential harm. But if it doesn't happen, then there isn't a _specific_ victim. In a wider sense, yes, speeding is incredibly harmful and if everyone always obeyed the posted limits we'd all be safer. With plagiarism, there is by definition always at least one _specific_ victim of one _specific_ person doing wrong. The seriousness of harm to a victim of speeding is far greater, and I don't mean to belittle the seriousness of the situation, simply point out that because there _is_ a victim, plagiarism should not be something a person should be allowed to get away with till caught. I wasn't sure if Alan Hamilton was citing the prevailing opinion on his site, or his own opinion, but that's what I was responding to.

#65 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 06:20 PM:

Also, thank you for noticing; no one else appears to have.

Oh, I did. I'm just getting up from rolling on the floor and groaning...

#66 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 06:48 PM:

Yes, the other Jane Austin poster is a fan, from way back; Harter was involved in the early days of NESFA and was president in 1979-81 (then ~gafiated to start his own CASE company), but was never as interested in highly-organized activity as most of NESFA. (We did get him to play Richard Deadwood in "Back to Rivets, or Mik Ado About Nothing" -- but as several of the managers I'm not sure I'd call it organized.) Jo's page isn't dated, but looks like a collection of other people's net posts. Harter's isn't credited but is dated September 2001; it may have taken off on the posts or they could both be materialization of net vapors.

#67 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 06:50 PM:

Used to know a Cherokee who would speed with relative impunity on the Nez Perce tribal lands. State police would ticket for excessive speed on a Federal Highway but some folks went to tribal court for small fines and no points - other folks went to other courts. Always seemed quite fair to me in allowing selective enforcement and especially smaller penalties for poorer people (as a class - individual exceptions).

Jack Boozer always said being copied by MLK Jr. was a compliment. Seldom see that discussed these days.

#68 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 07:25 PM:

Teresa, I think the Particle for the Jane Austin page needs a closing " in the a href=, because it's not displaying properly.

#69 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 08:40 PM:

Janet--I suspect that some plagiarists plagiarize from the dead (not necessarily on purpose), who are beyond harm; others buy papers from authors who know that they're writing such papers, and hence arguably aren't being harmed.

Whereas every speeder makes the roads that much more dangerous. Knowing that people are speeding causes some sensible drivers not to make trips they would otherwise make, and causes increased stress in many other people, including drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Stress kills.

#70 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 10:56 PM:

Stefan Jones:

Fake research papers could be a whole new art form!

It occurs to me that, as an art form, the fake research paper would seem to be closely related to the 'travesty' novel.


#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2005, 11:32 PM:

Similar skills required, but different intent.

Well, come to think of it, a good fake research paper will entertain the knowledgeable, and gull the, uh, gullible.

#72 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 12:56 AM:

Speaking of "fake research papers," I give you Alan's Sokol's parody, now known as The Social Text Affair.

#73 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:20 AM:

Vicki wrote:

I suspect that some plagiarists plagiarize from the dead (not necessarily on purpose), who are beyond harm; others buy papers from authors who know that they're writing such papers, and hence arguably aren't being harmed.

I think you're ignoring who I would consider to be the primary victims of academic plagiarism, those being the peers of the successful plagiarist whose work is (in effect) devalued by the plagiarist's lack thereof.

That's not to say that the author of a plagiarized work doesn't have reason to complain, but it's an important distinction that plagiarists mainly hurt their peers, the people around them who they might otherwise call friends.

I realize your point was actually to demonize speeding, but in doing so you were detracting from the harms of plagiarism.

#74 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 12:46 PM:

Plaigarism/paying for homework done is a fairly common thing to see among computer science classes these days too. Sites like this even make money facilitating such dishonesty. (they take a 15% broker's fee) I do wonder sometimes if some university might not have a cause of action against rentacoder, but I somehow doubt that "contributory cheating" is an actionable tort.

I used to be boggled at my boss's stories of interview candidates who couldn't pass her very simple programming challenge, but I now understand. (write a routine that, given a two-dimensional array of numbers, returns a one-dimensional array that contains the smallest element in each row - headhunters would send us people who couldn't do that, despite claiming 10+ years programming experience)

#75 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 03:01 PM:

Daniel Martin: Holy ****.

I love the one for "Java Regular Expressions" that starts, "In this assignment you are going to implement..." Talk about shameless.

#76 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 03:59 PM:

Daniel: I somehow doubt that "contributory cheating" is an actionable tort.

I would have thought that it would be abetting fraud, at least at schools which make sufficient noise about requiring that the work you hand in be your own. How actionable abetting is probably depends on state laws.

#77 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 04:28 PM:

Andy & Xopher: Thank you for those puns. My cat does not thank you, however, my snickering disturbed his nap. :)

Teresa: My shock at students contacting publishers is mainly due to the fact that so much of my social group are writers or aspiring writers. One does not Disturb the Publishers without Just Cause. :)

Also, most of my experience with students plagarizing has been pre-higher ed. If any of the middle-schoolers I'd worked with had thought of contacting a publisher for paper-help, I would have been (secretly) impressed that they understood enough of where books came from to think of contacting a publisher.

And hopeful, because that would also have indicated that they might have actually opened the book. :)

#78 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 04:53 PM:

From the sidebar:

Rent A Coder upholds the rigorous business practices required to be both a BBB member and Square Trade vendor.

* All customer issues addressed within 2 days

* Openly disclosed pricing and return policies

* Superior selling track record

Nice to know the business is conducted with integrity.

("Return policies?")

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 07:57 PM:

Jo's page has a copyright date of 2001 in the HTML source, near the end.

#80 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 08:25 PM:

I was responding to the statement that every plagiarist has at least one victim: I read that as "the person who is being plagiarized is the victim."

#81 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 08:40 PM:

Having spent a fair bit of my life living either in a college town or on the fringe of a major campus, I can recall the bulletin boards on which, lined up neatly, one could see advertisements for:

-- Term papers the students were incapable of writing

-- Credit cards the students were incapable of meeting the interest upon (never mind the principal), which could be used to pay for the term papers

-- Offers of five bucks an hour to be tortured by grad students in psych labs, so you could continue to have pizza delivered while waiting for your term papers to arrive and kiting checks to the credit card companies.

I think the breakdown of the system is due to a psych-grad gap. This could be closed by having MBA candidates fill the gap, either through classical management techniques (yelling at people until they cook the books satisfactorily, then firing them) or setting up subchapter-S corporations to outsource the torture of undergrads.

If anyone would like a paper on this subject, suitable either for B-school or psychology grad studies, with other applications through the miracle of globalized replace, please have two financial references available. (Warshington Mutal and Bonk of the West Online not acceptable.)

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:22 PM:

Jo's page came about after a discussion on rasfw:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/browse_frm/thread/7e601522a6896148/0d7850c4d49c2d87#0d7850c4d49c2d87

I hate Google Groups Beta.

#83 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 09:51 PM:

I feel a need to add my contestants for worst student and worst professor email conversations I've ever had:

Student: sent me email saying that he'd read my JavaScript book, but still had a few questions where it hadn't helped. The questions, of course, were included -- and had a distinct flavor (once you've seen it, it's obvious) of being school assignments. I told him that, well, it looked like homework, and that while I didn't do student's work for them, he should be able to get somewhere if he combined examples 4.3 and 8.11.

His reply: he'd been thinking about buying my JavaScript book, and now he wasn't going to. In fact, because I'd been so useless, he was going to go on Amazon and write a bad review of it.

Professor: sent me an email saying that he was considering making my Java book the assigned text for his class and asked me a few questions. I love having my book be required reading (cha-ching!), so I took some care with my response and gave him thorough answers.

His reply: he'd decided to go with another text instead, but because I'd been so helpful, he'd given his class the assignment that each person was to email me with questions. Needless to say, not much time was spent answering those.

#84 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 11:40 PM:

Quoth Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey: ("Return policies?")

"My coder was past his sell-by date. This code is stale. I want my money back"?

#85 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2005, 11:49 PM:

One thing that I don't miss about owning and running Sherlock Homes Resume Service was that, at least once a week, someone would walk in, and spend half an hour telling me their life story, describing their most recent interviews, and showing me a newspaper clipping with a desired job description. I'd listen with genuine interest, and then suggest some possible formats in which to prepare a resume crafted for that particular opening. I'd show them some samples in each format (with the special paper and folders I'd had printed), along with prices.

"You mean I've got to PAY for a resume?" they'd ask. "I thought this was free."

Few stuck around for my explanation of how I was a small business owner who had to pay the rent and utilities on the office, the payments on the photocopier, the print expenses, the phone book ad that brought them in...

On the other hand, I miss the ones who assumed that I was an actual Private Eye, and told me bizarre tales of urban crimes that needed solving, before I pointed out that the next word in the company name, after Sherlock Homes, was Resume.

In California, Private Investigators are licensed out of Sacramento. The local PI who'd threatened people (including me) with a loaded gun (a rather pretty Walther PPK/S .380 ACP), been arrested, found to possess stolen police badges and forged Federal ID, did not have his license lifted by the State, even when I sent them the police report. For that matter, the DA let the charges evaporate without ever setting a trial date. Seems the PI was a dirty tricks operative for a County Supervisor. He was last seen during a series of "Bear Hunting" expeditions to Russia, from one of which he returned with someone who claimed to be his wife, before she vanished into, oh, I dunno, Boris-and-Natasha-land.

But I digress.

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2005, 01:54 AM:

I flunked one of those programming pop quizzes on a phone screen interview last week. I -used- to be able to do a sorting routine--back when I was in college. But if I need to use a sorting routine, I look things up and copy the code or use something prepackaged! It's not plagiarism to use a standard piece of code that got published years ago and is stock trade stuff.

It's not as if the job called for someone who was a fulltime coder--testing software is not the same thing as programming code. Sometimes it can require script writing or script editing, but it's not really "programming" work, when there's coding involved, it tends to be small scale edits and such--and not "how do you do sorting." Grrr.

And I've never much -liked- coding, particularly the repetitive persnickety parts and having to be an accurate typist and I utterly -loathed- FORMAT statements (that was Fortran....). Implementing algorithms was one thing, but programming output to line up was a PITA. The good news and bad news about modern graphics stuff is that there is more Annoying Stuff to have to keep in one's brain that I don't like to have to devote neurons to -remembering-, the good news is that a lot more can be done and there are tools for doing that stuff--the bad news is that some of the tools almost make FORMAT statements look polite and user-inviting. I wish there were better GUIs for -doing- GUIs.... instead of having to type %/[more noisy-looking stuff -bs -morebs/switchgarbage/etcgarbage\esc\esc -bs....] as if one were STILL typing into something noxious like EDLIN!

#87 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2005, 08:54 AM:

Well, we're interviewing full-time programmers, who had been told when arranging the interview that this would be a technical interview. If you want a job as a full-time programmer and can't do in an interview something you should barely have to blink at, then we go on to the next candidate. We deliberately do not ask questions like "what are all the java operators in order of precedence", or other questions that any sensible programmer would look up if they really needed to know. The applicability of programming tests to non-programming positions is a different issue.

And yes, those students are completely brazen on rentacoder. I feel sorry for those who teach computer science these days, as it used to be that one only needed to worry about students copying off others in the same class or those in a previous offering of the same class (which tools like MOSS can address). I suppose that this is one argument for avoiding industry-standard languages in the classroom, though a rentacoder search for "lisp" still turned up this gem:

My homework is attached. Due date is 5 january till midnight as written on the upside of the homework page. Be aware that i live in Turkey .The lisp codes of this homework should be compiled and run with a gcl 2.2 compiler on the linux.

At least rentacoder explicitily disallows soliciting people to do a final project/thesis that will determine whether or not a student graduates. However, that's pretty clear evidence that they know that their site is being used by students to pay others to do their homework and class projects, and don't care, which says to me that their lawyers have told them not to worry about it.

There was a SIGCSE (here I wish we could put title= attributes on words in comments - it's the ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education; ACM is the major professional organization for US computer scientists) paper two years ago on this general phenomenon, that mentioned the rentacoder problem among others: Academic Dishonesty in a High-Tech Environment. One of the best quotes:

“In a software engineering course for junior and
senior majors, I had a former student send my class
(and me by mistake), a solicitation to sell the students
their former solution to the main project.”
-Survey Respondent

#88 ::: Edo ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2005, 10:40 AM:

To give another take on the whole plagiarism issue, here in Japan my students—senior high school—are actively encouraged to copy from each other in English class. This is primarily due to two factors, which after rereading look like different aspects of the same issue:

First of all, the standardized-test–based education system rewards the ability to regurgitate memorized chunks of data rather than critical thinking and process. This means "writing" class consists almost exclusively of translating sentences from previous years' university entrance exams. As long as they memorize the appropriate data sets, no one asks about the process.

And secondly, the students don't have enough time to complete all of their homework so they've developed a system of distributed processing. An assignment of 20 single-sentence translation questions will be parceled out between 5-10 students, with the completed work units shared equally among the peers before class. Often there are one or two students who do error checking.

Admittedly, this is an oversimplification as there are other issues, including Japanese group dynamics and educational theory. But after a year-and-a-half, the copying still irks me. I've resigned myself to the system, but still give the students a good-natured teasing about it whenever I can. And the ones who work things out for themselves usually get less generic feedback. (Not because of favouritism, but because their translations are unique.)

#89 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2005, 06:10 PM:

Dori--

I'd have been tempted to send the generic answer "Dear Student, Professor So-and-so is too lazy to do his own teaching. You can probably find my books at your university library or bookstore, if you actually want to learn what the class is supposed to cover."

#90 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2005, 08:37 PM:

Vicki -- I did something like that, just in a little more passive-agressive style: I'd answer with something along the lines of, "Thanks for your question! The answer to that is on page 135 of my book."

If they wanted the answer, great -- they could look it up. If all they wanted was class credit, well, they'd already gotten that, and I didn't want to spend time answering questions if they didn't care about the answer.

My all-time 2nd worst professor was the one who did require my JavaScript book for her class, but who then gave them the assignment to find a bug in my code and report the errata to me. To understand my frustration here, you have to understand that in the five editions the book has gone through, in the eight years it's been in print, there have to date been zero actual bugs found in the code. Yes, I pride myself on that.

But those students were required to find bugs and tell me about them, so I got all their emails. Each of which were cc'd to the teacher, of course, so they could get credit for the assignment. But I was the one who had to write back to each of them explaining why, for instance, they might think that my code that checked if thisNum >= 5 should instead be checking for thisNum > 4, but really, given that thisNum was always an integer, the two checks did exactly the same thing.

The next edition contained a sidebar explaining that there are multiple ways to write code, and just because one way works, doesn't mean that all other ways are incorrect. I always wondered what that teacher was thinking when she gave out that assignment.

#91 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2005, 08:33 AM:

Dori: he'd given his class the assignment that each person was to email me with questions.

That's an assignment? For elementary-school students maybe (once in six years, just to prove they know how to write a letter to someone who speaks English, instead of a text message to a fellow jargonista), but for coders? I boggle.

I sympathize with your frustration, and am awed that no bugs have been found. The original book on C used macro stunts to drop out every piece of code so it could be tested, but I get the impression from more recent language books that this practice has not been kept. I'm also awed by your tolerance; I think my reaction would have been to bounce all the emails to the professor (with copies up the line, as suggested for another item) with the suggestion that he evaluate them himself and see whether any of them deserved a passing grade. Phrasing the suggestion to his management that he be downrated for an impossible assignment is left as an exercise to the reader.

#92 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 12:10 AM:

(Okay, who's going to break it to Paula that the question Daniel mentioned doesn't require the use of a sorting routine?)

#93 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 01:22 AM:

Lisa Spangenberg:

Thanks for the Alan Sokal link. I knew about the original hoax, but I missed all the debates.

I particularly enjoyed Mara Beller's rebuttal, in which she points out that many aging physicists (Born, Bohr, Pauli, Heisenburg) made dubious remarks on the application of quantum theory to politics and the arts, so perhaps Sokal ought to clean his own house first. (Her take-down of Bohr is particularly damning. She contrasts a Bohr quote with one from Donna Wilshire, prize soup-nut.) Sokal agrees with most of Beller's comments in his reply.
--

(Stephan, that was evil. When you feel these urges, ask yourself, "Would Larry Page and Sergio Brin do that?")

#94 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 06:42 AM:

Wow... anyone who would actually answer any student e-mails like the ones Dori describes (regardless of the content of the reply) gets high marks for forbearance in my book. My response would probably be directly to the professor, noting that my consulting rate was $x/hour, and if the professor wants to engage my services to help him teach his class, he should be willing to pay such a rate, estimated per-student cost helpfully enclosed. I might even estimate the per-student cost at the retail cost of the book he declined to purchase, just to be snotty, but I doubt someone so clueless would get the implication.

#95 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 08:01 AM:

Andy wrote: When you feel these urges, ask yourself, "Would Larry Page and Sergio Brin do that?"

If ever I become half as boring as half of either those two, someone please come shoot me.

Now, if you had said Sergei Prokofiev and Larry Fine...

#96 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 11:11 AM:

Now, if you had said Sergei Prokofiev and Larry Fine...

...then I would have to tell you that they're both dead. Fine's not doing much of anything, but they tell me Sergei is decomposing.

#98 ::: Jonathan Vos ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 01:07 PM:

Larry Fine and Sergei Prokofiev:

Larry Fine [5 Oct 1902 - 24 Jan 1975]
"was born Louis Feinberg, in the south side of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Joseph Feinberg, and mother, Fanny Lieberman, owned a watch repair and jewelry shop."

"Larry was the first of four children; he had two brothers, Morris and a younger brother, Philip, who died prematurely, and a sister, Lyla, who became a school teacher. He wasn't even a year old when his parents and friends started treating him like a celebrity. He stole the show as an entertainer while still in diapers. One time, at just two years of age, his father propped him up on the top of a jewelry showcase to show relatives how well he could dance. Larry managed to do a few dance steps before losing his balance and falling backward through the glass top of the display case. Luckily, he emerged unharmed...."

"... After the surgery, doctors recommend that he be given violin lessons as a form of therapy. It was believed that the action of drawing the bow over the strings would strengthen his damaged arm muscles. Little did Larry realize that the violin would become an important tool in his career."

"In his teens, Larry had aspirations of becoming a comedian, even a star. He enjoyed putting on shows for anyone who would watch him. As a result, he gained valuable experience. Larry's skill as a violinist became so impressive that he was asked to play professionally. At age ten, as a student at Southwalk Grammar School, he soloed at a children's concert at the Roseland Dance Hall in Philadelphia. Backed by Howard Lanin's orchestra, he played 'Humoresque' on his violin."

"Morris remembers that Larry eventually became a versatile musician. 'He was a natural-born performer and could play any instrument he got his hands on-piano, clarinet, saxophone and brass. He even constructed a violin out of a cigar box and a broom handle. He played it single string like a cello, holding it between his knees.'"

"... Fine's favorite hobbies included teaching serious music, preferably jazz, the kind Andre Previn, Percy Faith, Morton Gould and Andre Kostelanetz popularized...."

His best known Sergei Prokofiev performances were:

Chout (The Tale of the Buffoon), Ballet in Six Scenes, Op 21 [Curley played the buffoon, Larry played the bassoon]

Cinderella, Ballet in Three Acts, Op 87 [the ballroom scene featured Curley belly-bumping everyone, and ended in a famous pie-throwing extravaganza at the stroke of midnight]

The Fiery Angel, Op 37 [Moe burned the place down]

Lieutenant Kijé - Symphonic Suite, Op 60
[the Lieutenant and his two sergeants are finally seen riding out a window on a massive artillery shell]

The Love for Three Oranges: Symphonic Suite, Op 33bis [juggled]

Peter and the Wolf, Op 67 [chase scene in forest]

War and Peace, Op 91 [reprise of popular characters from Lieutenant Kijé, except with Shemp as FDR, Curley as Mussolini, and Moe as Hitler]

#99 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 01:13 PM:

Edo, the last college I worked for had a thriving program for importing students from Japan, and many of the English teachers told me they had the same problem explaining about plagiarism and trying to encourage individual work. The students would smile and nod, and go back doing it the way they were taught at home. It was a real cross-cultural dilemma, but at least our professors did have one option you probably don't -- giving group assignments to small mixed-culture groups.

#100 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 01:32 PM:

Daniel, it would be even nicer if they allowed the completely harmless Acronym Tag, which unfortunately, they do not.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 03:06 PM:

Bob Oldendorf, Stefan Jones: I love the idea of the fake research paper as an art form. It's an elegant concept. Deliberate, amusing errors will be obvious to anyone who's mastered the material, but not to someone who just wants a paper to hand in.

Hmmmmm…

Two of the most characteristic examples of "New Wave" SF are Roger Zelazny's "We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line," and Samuel R. Delany's This Immortal.

As you know, Bob, Steampunk was the precursor of Cyberpunk, which uses the same tropes and methods as Steampunk, but transposes them into modern settings. The first draft of Neuromancer was initally written under a work-for-hire contract as the novelization of the movie Tron. However, in a burst of inspiration following their first exposure to Steampunk, Bill Gibson and Bruce Sterling broke the contract, paid back the advance, and rewrote Neuromancer into what has since been recognized as the first recognizable work of Cyberpunk.

The phrase "as you know, Bob," is an in-joke in the SF community, used to signify awkward expository dialogue in which characters discuss something all of them already know. It was originally a reference to Robert A. (Bob) Heinlein, whose far cleverer and more subtle use of expository dialogue constituted a quiet technical revolution in the way SF was written. When it came to exposition, Bob Heinlein knew it all -- as was ruefully acknowledged by every less-talented writer who found that himself reverting to the clunky, old-fashioned style of explanation used in pulp-era SF.

Fantasy was developed into a separate marketing category by John W. Campbell, after he married fellow Futurian Cele Goldsmith and they both went to work for Del Rey.

This could be fun, especially if we get Patrick in on it. He's the one who blandly asserted, back on GEnie, that William Ashbless was a perfectly real though extremely minor English poet, and that Powers and Blaylock's fiendishly devious hoax had consisted of giving people the impression that Ashbless was just something Powers and Blaylock cooked up, back in their undergraduate days.

Daniel, back in the days of the early World Wide Web goldrush, one heard stories of people who'd talk their way into lucrative website-production jobs, when all they had was a rudimentary grasp of HTML, a good line of patter, and the phone number of a friend who actually knew something about the subject. Since at that moment very few people knew anything about how websites got made, fakers could get by, and learn their trade on the job, while getting paid as though they'd already learned it.

I've also heard stories from computer professionals about people who know next to nothing about computers or programming, but manage to go from job to job in the industry because they interview well and are good at figuring out when they're about to be fired.

The difference between computing and other industries is that in computing, it's possible to tell (sometimes sooner, sometimes later) whether an employee knows anything.

Heatherly, publishing doesn't keep a list of civilians who've been rude and importunate. We don't even have a record of the name of the guy who showed up one day in full barbarian rig and live steel. (Building security took one look at him, said "Oh, you want Tor," and sent him up. Good thing he just wanted us to hire him to paint Conan covers.) Aspiring writers are far likelier to be remembered.

Bill Higgins, I don't know what it takes to be a Square Trade vendor, but getting the BBB's approval just means you weren't conducting blood sacrifices on their doorstep of their offices.

Mike, I see this as a well-funded research project run by the Economics Department.

Dori:

"I feel a need to add my contestants for worst student and worst professor email conversations I've ever had:

Student: sent me email saying that he'd read my JavaScript book, but still had a few questions where it hadn't helped. The questions, of course, were included -- and had a distinct flavor (once you've seen it, it's obvious) of being school assignments. I told him that, well, it looked like homework, and that while I didn't do student's work for them, he should be able to get somewhere if he combined examples 4.3 and 8.11.

His reply: he'd been thinking about buying my JavaScript book, and now he wasn't going to. In fact, because I'd been so useless, he was going to go on Amazon and write a bad review of it."

Did he give his name? I'd have written back saying that if those reviews appeared on Amazon, I was going to forward the entire correspondence to his teacher, and to his teacher's department. If his school had an academic ethics committee, I'd have forwarded it to them, too.
"Professor: sent me an email saying that he was considering making my Java book the assigned text for his class and asked me a few questions. I love having my book be required reading (cha-ching!), so I took some care with my response and gave him thorough answers.

His reply: he'd decided to go with another text instead, but because I'd been so helpful, he'd given his class the assignment that each person was to email me with questions. Needless to say, not much time was spent answering those."

Again, I'd have forwarded the complete correspondence to his department, and to the school's ethics committee. What that teacher was doing wasn't far removed from students asking you to do their homework.

I also like the idea of charging him for your work. If anything like that happens again, consider sending him a letter advising him of your hourly billing rate. Tell him if any of his students contact you with questions, it will be taken as a tacit acceptance of your rate, and he will be billed accordingly.

" My all-time 2nd worst professor was the one who did require my JavaScript book for her class, but who then gave them the assignment to find a bug in my code and report the errata to me. To understand my frustration here, you have to understand that in the five editions the book has gone through, in the eight years it's been in print, there have to date been zero actual bugs found in the code. Yes, I pride myself on that.

But those students were required to find bugs and tell me about them, so I got all their emails. Each of which were cc'd to the teacher, of course, so they could get credit for the assignment. But I was the one who had to write back to each of them explaining why, for instance, they might think that my code that checked if this Num >= 5 should instead be checking for this Num > 4, but really, given that thisNum was always an integer, the two checks did exactly the same thing.

The next edition contained a sidebar explaining that there are multiple ways to write code, and just because one way works, doesn't mean that all other ways are incorrect. I always wondered what that teacher was thinking when she gave out that assignment."

At a guess, she's been using that as a standard classroom assignment for ages, assumes that any book is going to have errors in its code, and hasn't bothered to check yours to see whether that's true.

Ask Jane about teachers who require their students to write a letter to the author of the book they're all reading.

Daniel again, I don't know whether this would be feasible, but could you maybe require that your students do an in-class modification of their finished code that would be dead easy if they wrote it themselves, and much harder if they didn't?

Stephan, some things are blessedly outside my expertise.

JVP, that's too diffuse to be really funny.

Skwid, I regard that tag with suspicion. What's up?

#102 ::: worddude ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 03:38 PM:

On the AbsoluteWrite forum, someone suggested starting a business in fake papers, giving them away for free. If people managed to water the market down with enough fake papers, the students may have to think twice before trusting what they use.

#103 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 03:57 PM:

If people managed to water the market down with enough fake papers, the students may have to think twice before trusting what they use.

I'm just going to let that stand for a moment. See if you can spot the problem.

#104 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 05:11 PM:

(Who's going to break it to Stephan that Paula was very clearly talking about a different interviewer with a different bag of programming questions, one of which almost certainly was "write a sort routine"?)

As for the in-class modification... perhaps professors could require such a thing. However, you must remember that (at least the last time I was hanging around close to where CS courses were taught), homework submissions have generally gone completely (or mostly) electronic, whereas the classrooms will generally have one computer maximum, and that at the instructor's desk. The logistics would have to be carefully considered. Despite the big-brother ookiness vibes it gives me, monitoring the campus network for visits to homework-selling sites is something I'd want the university to at least consider, were I a university professor.

I'll have to ask my father (who teaches programming part-time at the community college) what he does about this issue. Of course, he's dealing with a vastly different audience - night courses being taken by people who are paying their own way per course - than are most professors teaching undergraduates. Still, as there is occasionally job advancement tied up in the grades he doles out, there's certainly sufficient incentive to drive some students to cheat in this manner.

#105 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 08:12 PM:

Mmm, good point. Still, an insertion sort should be easy enough to remember off the top of your head... But, as Paula correctly noted, the RIGHT answer is to call qsort(3), heapsort(3), mergesort(3), or radixsort(3). For all you know, the next platform the code will run on is a massively parallel system with a real O(N log N) / procs routine sitting in the library twiddling its thumbs.

#106 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 08:25 PM:

Well, FWIW my father reports that he gets around this by having no large projects to be completed outside of class, and by having long lab periods (1.5 hours twice a week) during which students do all their programming. I guess this is an extreme version of our hostess's suggestion.

At the level of most of his classes, I can understand how that works. I don't think it scales to more advanced classes, however in those the instructor is probably more able to check in with each student as the project progresses and determine who is contracting the whole thing out.

This approach would require that college registrars schedule computer science classes not like math or history classes but rather like biology or chemistry classes, with an associated lab section. This is probably a good (or at least acceptable) change.

Unfortunately, this provides no insight into how other teachers are to deal with the pay-for-paper problem, especially given that rentacoder also has a section for documentation/writing requests including this gem, the self-referential irony of which is almost beyond belief.

#107 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 08:49 PM:

At least for programing, the solution is version control, much like the professional world -- there have to be plausibly time-spaced interim check ins before you email the TA or prof with the revision number of your final solution.

Throw in basic authentication of the students and cross-repository analysis of the answers and this makes the utility of scamming the answers rather limited.

#108 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 09:44 PM:

I do it by ignoring the admin's requirement to post assignments on the college's database, and insist that the students do short class papers instead, right there in class. This actually takes them less time, so they don't object (too much). But it also makes me familiar with their writing styles and abilities, so that when they do their midterm and major essays, I can spot plagiarism.

#109 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2005, 10:24 PM:

"I hate Google Groups Beta."

groups.google.ca still uses the traditional interface.

#110 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 01:19 AM:

This brings a lot of these threads together:
The Random Computer Science Paper Generator

#111 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 08:20 AM:

Daniel Martin,

This approach would require that college registrars schedule computer science classes not like math or history classes but rather like biology or chemistry classes, with an associated lab section. This is probably a good (or at least acceptable) change.

My husband is back in school getting his CS degree, and that is precisely how they do many of his classes. Class time for teaching, and then lab time for working on projects, and asking questions about problems they're having with their project.

He also has mostly group projects, which tend to be large, with parts due throughout the semester.

#112 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 06:19 PM:

wrt suggestions to prevent bought code by having work done only in supervised labs: how would you develop any skill in non-trivial projects? For my first significant project (when I went to night school to get the paper and theory to back up experience), we were told it shouldn't take longer than ~30 hours; that's a lot of supervisory time.

Dave's suggestion of version control is a cost-added idea that a lot of schools would grumble about, but might work until a code seller gets contractors to turn in several versions which the cheating student can check in. Or are these assignments sufficiently for a "real programmer" that they'd be tossed off in a single version?

#113 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2005, 01:25 PM:

wrt suggestions to prevent bought code by having work done only in supervised labs: how would you develop any skill in non-trivial projects? For my first significant project (when I went to night school to get the paper and theory to back up experience), we were told it shouldn't take longer than ~30 hours; that's a lot of supervisory time.

In my husband's classes they're expected to do work outside of class, but they do have specific lab time scheduled each week. I was asking him about the subject of cheating and he said something about professors quizzing the students about the projects they have turned in, to see if they understand what they've done.

I meant to ask him more, but got distracted and forgot. :)

#114 ::: Henchminion ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 09:19 PM:

I've been resisting the temptation for a couple of weeks, but I finally broke down and tried my hand at writing a fake term paper of my own, in my own area of study. The results are here: The Magna Carta

#115 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 09:40 PM:

Superb. I particularly liked the duck feathers.

#116 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2005, 10:25 PM:

Henchminion:

I hate to quibble about the references, but:

4. David Johanson The Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter (Ottawa: Library of Parliament, Research Branch, 1990) 17.

The treatment in the above is disputable regarding "Chainmail and the Elastic Clause."

5. Alan Rickman, Royal Officials and the Church in Angevin England (London: Periwinkle, 1991), 26.

is not as reliable as the later:

Alan Rickman, "By the Hammer of Grabthar: Norse Influence on English Baronetcy" [Edinburgh: Thistle, 1997]

9. William Shakespeare, Richard III (London: Puffish Classics, 2000), I.i.

The above play is not as timely and pertinent as:

William Shakespeare, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Henry IX [Stratford: Avon Classics, 2002], II.ii

especially for the scenes about the Battle of Bruce Stirling Brig.

Other than that, your scholarship is impeccable.

#117 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2005, 09:39 AM:

And that's why we still elect burglars today, children.

#118 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2005, 08:36 AM:

Henchminion: Once he understood the limits that the document had placed on him, John attempted to have it declared null and void. He prevailed upon Pope Innocent III to strike it down and excommunicate the barons who were supposed to enforce its provisions. The pope agreed to do this because he was an Enemy of Freedom. There can be no other explanation for his senseless harassment of totally innocent barons.

*wiping tears of great emotion from eyes*

#119 ::: konamtbdjc@hotmail.com ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 04:43 PM:

yea ur pretty queer, who likes lord of the rings dumbass gay people? yea u fagget, ur a queer u should be burnt on a stick u fudgepacker gay ass queer queer queer gay eater like lotr and his gay froto whos gay?!?!? you

#120 ::: Michelle K (found a rude person) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 04:53 PM:

Wow. Someone's mother must be proud.

#121 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 06:06 PM:

That's almost like schizophrenic word salad. I wonder how such a complete loser even found this site at all?

#122 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 06:17 PM:

konamtbdjc@hotmail.com is apparently under the impression that he is untraceable. How amusing.

One cannot help but think this is someone who just got back the graded copy of that free term paper.

#123 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 07:03 PM:

We got one, we got one, we green-and-yellow got one!
*cheers*

#124 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 07:28 PM:

Henchminion: many peasants were reduced to eating burage and socage

oh, my sides. hoop!

#125 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2005, 08:32 PM:

alt.fan.pratchett became a tad peeved with "please do my homework" requests. The result:

The Discworld Homework Files.

#126 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Stephanie: i need help in this area Multiplication of monomials and Binomials so please hurry up reply......I know nobody else to help me in this area

And you still don't.

#128 ::: chloe ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 03:42 PM:

The Effect that Coca Cola Company has on the national economies:
The Effect that Coca Cola Company has on the international marketplace:
Please anyone!

#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 04:50 PM:

What on Earth are you asking for, chloe? Did you read this post?

#130 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2006, 07:28 PM:

But surely we can help her, can't we? I think Patrick knows a lot about that. Jim, too. Anyone else?

#131 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 11:45 AM:

Coca-Cola and its evil companion Pepsi-Cola are propping up the failing pharmaceutical industry by their secret conspiracy to increase the incidence of obesity and diabetes, and thereby sell more patented medicines.

There, that should have an effect on Cloe's grades.

#132 ::: babe ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 04:01 PM:

yeah a really bad effect! don't listen to thes people chloe! I reaserche it and found you what you needed!

The Effect that Coca Cola Company has on the international marketplace:
Coca Cola has 51% of the global soft drink market. The Coca Cola Company
Since its inception in 1886, the company has come along quite nicely. Back then, sales averaged around nine servings per day. Today, Coca-Cola will refresh more than a billion thirsty consumers per day. Despite the turbulence of overseas markets in 1998, the company recorded another record year of volume, selling 15.8 billion unit cases (1 unit case = 24 8-oz. servings), up 6% from 1997's record. As troubled markets improve, the company expects to resume its long-term target volume growth rate of 7-8%, which incidentally, has been the rate of growth for the past 50 years.
The Effect that Coca Cola Company has on the national economies:
Well national economies are like individual countries. Naturally if Coca Cola has a whopping 51% of the global soft drink markets, then that means a lot (most) country have Coke products in their market places. This produces a significant income to many levels of the job workforce. Like truck drivers, vending machine owners, refrigeration dealers, grocery store owners and their employees, and so on. Not to mention the makers of the bottles, cans and other containers, plus the commercial artists designing the can's and case's logos etc. This even trickles down to the miners extracting the bauxite ore to make aluminum cans out of. Then there are the people at the Coca Cola plant that work every day to get soft drinks ready to sell. From the recipe to the syrup to the end product it employs a lot of people. Think of what the amount of sugar cane and sugar beets it takes.

#133 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 04:50 PM:

Chloe probably went Googling for something like "people who will do your homework" and got this.

Babe, on the other hand, is either a sock puppet or a drooling submoron. In favor of the former is the fact that nobody who isn't writing commercial crap for the Tyrell Corporation uses words like "inception." (Okay, maybe she's technically a replicant.) In favor of the latter are phrases like "Well national economies are like individual countries," which would indicate that the previous garbage was just cut 'n' pasted out of a Coke pufferama. If I were Brad DeLong, I'd knock a whole letter grade for the semester over anybody who used a phrase like that, even if it weren't missing the comma. Hey, drooling submoron, the weapons industry employs a lot of people, too. In fact, the illegal drug industry provides a basic (if dangerous) income for quite a few unskilled workers. Hurrah for capitalism and the untrammeled free market!

And, of course, in the US there isn't any cane or beet sugar in the stuff. It's corn, because the moonshine business, while still viable, ain't the profit center for small farmers and private entrepreneurs it used to be.

#134 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Mike, I think Babe is a sock puppet. Proving that even that infamous institution has its proper use.

#135 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 05:27 PM:

"The Effect that . . . "

Tsk, tsk our paper will be taken more seriously if you write "The impacts that . . ."

#136 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Stefan Jones: The reason 'impact' is used so often is very simple: most college students today can't tell the difference between 'affect' and 'effect' and are scared to pick the wrong one.

#137 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Yes, I know F.L. It drives me buggy. Especially when I hear it from the mouths of professionals.

#138 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 07:27 PM:

Babe's first paragraph is indeed cut-and-pasted from The Motley Fool.

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 08:17 PM:

S.J.: Me too, though I'm more likely to see things on the line of 'there was little affect from the war' or 'racism did effect black people'.

I wonder why I still have hair.

#140 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 08:20 PM:

Mr. Ford - Perhaps this is the first indication that I was wise to short Coke and hold on to my Tyrell shares. I may even make enough to help Chloe emigrate to the Off-World Colonies.

#141 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 08:25 PM:

I'm still waiting for Patrick to show up and explain the Coke/Pepsi Republican/Democrat Russia/China split. And then there's this.

#142 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 08:36 PM:

Traditionally, Coke was Democratic, Pepsi Republican. Of course, this was before Everything Changed.

Also, the Russians bought Coke, while Pepsi broke into the then-mysterious Chinese market.

Goodness, that was all a long time ago,

#143 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Careful, Larry. "Shorting Coke" is a phrase easily misunderstood by overworked government monitoring personnel.

#144 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 10:55 AM:

See also, Alex Halavais on How to Cheat Good.

#145 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 11:04 AM:

There was a brilliant RC Cola (I think) ad a few decades back. It went something like this:

[Scene: Communist Party Congress]
Voiceover: Once, there was only one drink.
[Speaker at podium gestures, and an enormous "Coke" banner unfurled to his left. The audience cheers.]
Voiceover: Then, you had a choice.
[Speaker gestures to his right, and an enormous "Pepsi" banner unfurls. The audience cheers.]

[Scene: Siberian wasteland.]
Voiceover: But people wanted more freedom, and travelled huge distances to enjoy the great taste of RC cola....]
[Scene: inside Siberian hut, where cheerful people dance and sing and drink RC Cola.
[KGB agents break down the door; the party falls silent.]
Voiceover... but not far enough.
-fin-

#146 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Alex, that was a great ad and made a nice set with the Wendy's ad featuring a Soviet fashion show.

Eees next, eefning wear!
(Enter woman in the same ugly brown dress worn throughout ad waving a flashlight around)

#147 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 01:24 PM:

Also, the Russians bought Coke, while Pepsi broke into the then-mysterious Chinese market.

But...but...when I was in Russia in 1990, there was only Pepsi to drink. Pepsi, that came in bottles (none of us had a bottle-opener, which caused some difficulty with the packed lunches), and mineral water, and very strong tea.

Other types of pop could be had, for exorbitant prices from the hotel where they put us up, but I didn't have a lot of spending money, so I drank Pepsi (I never drink cola), and when it was offered mineral water, and very strong tea.

I wasn't old enough for vodka.

#148 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 01:42 PM:

Bottle openers? To open bottles? You haven't spent enough time in the Fleet. We know many ways to open bottles that do not require these "opener" things.

The bottles may think they need openers. The bottle caps may think they need openers. But keep a sailor from his beer? No, this shall not happen.

#149 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 02:29 PM:

But...but...when I was in Russia in 1990, there was only Pepsi to drink.

Pepsi had a deal to swap their product for Stolichnaya.* I stayed in (what was then) Leningrad, where one really doesn't want to drink the tap water. And as part of a small collection of Interesting Bottles from All Over, I still have a Cyrillic Pepsi.

*I imagine some Soviet entrepreneur getting that close to convincing the Pop Lords of Atlanta to trade their goods for kvass.

#150 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Some years back Coca-Cola had an ad campaign with CGI polar bears it it. This came to the attention of Worcester's Polar Beverages company, which has been in business with a polar bear as its trademark for I think more than a century. Polar then commissioned TV ads, which had a polar bear pick up a can of Coke, examine it, and throw it far away as a reject, then open a Polar beverage container and contentedly drink from it. Coca-Cola sued and got a restraining order banning the commercials from continuing to air... I still think the lawsuit should have been thrown out on the basis of no merit to the case--Polar's trademark for decades and decades is a polar bear, and Coke doing commercials for cabonated beverages with a polar bear, deserved the response...

Meanwhile, on language debasement, those morons saying "one year anniversary" and "ten year anniversary" and such annoy me (and I've been hearing and seeing more and more of it on TV and radio and on banners, the Trader Joe's in Framingham has a large banner with that transgression on it in the store) hack me off, and the inability for a more facile and literate and competent vocabulary than using "impact" as a verb annoys me--the situation that usually also instead of saying "harms" or "injures" or other term indicating the results are not positive one, "impact" gets misused. "Affect" carries not notation of desirable or undesirable consequence, for that matter, neither does "influence".

"That influences my opinion," doesn't say -how- the "that" affects my opinion as to changing my opinion, only there there is some change my opinion is going to undergo or has undergone, due to "that." There are good influences, there are bad influences, etc.

#151 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 05:14 PM:

PNH: You have it exactly backward. Pepsi got into the USSR through a deal brokered by the Nixon administration. A few years ago, the good old boys at The Coca-Cola Company had their good friend Jimmy to thank for breaking into the Chinese market.

#152 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 05:19 PM:

For "ago" above, please read "later". Mind has turned to mush.

#153 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Fragano's right. One of the miracles of translation mentioned in Le Ton Beau de Marot is the finding of Chinese characters pronounced "ko ka ko la" and meaning "feel good feel happy." And that was a while ago.

Of course, they also translated "Coke Adds Life" so that it came out meaning "Coke resurrects your dead ancestors," but that was earlier.

#154 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2006, 11:05 PM:

The primary effect that Coca-Cola has had on national economies has been the destruction of the local cola industries. Coca-Cola, using multi-national dumping strategies and economies of scale has successfully removed the marketshare of such local colas as Inca Cola (Peru), Alpen-Kola (Germany), and Feshun-Teoa (Refreshing Brown Drink, Taiwan).

Coca-Cola's global strategy began in 1956, with the meeting held by the heads of three soft-drink conglomerates: Schweppes, Canada Dry, and Bristol Meyer (Coke's parent company). This meeting, known as the REFORGER (an acronym for REFreshing ORder GERmination) Conference, divided the world into the regions that would be controlled by each of the major soft-drink companies. Canada was ceded to Canada Dry, the English-speaking world (with the exception of North America) was given to Schweppes, and all the rest of the globe was claimed by Coca-Cola.

Using their secret ownership of Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola began a series of Divide and Conqueor takeover moves, reinforced by blatant branding, making "Rum and Coke" a generic, for example. This was detailed in the report "Some Aspects of National Commercialization Stratgies; An Advertising-Based Approach," (Harris, 1976), leaked to the press by an anonymous whistle-blower.

The congressional hearings before the Interstate Commerce Commission were quashed by Coca-Cola's lobbying efforts, on the grounds that the committee lacked jurisdiction over foreign trade. An investigation by the ICC (International Commerce Commission, a Republican-led committee of the 76th Congress) was stalled by inter-party rivalries.

The anti-competition efforts of the Coca-Cola Company reached their peak in the years 1984-86, with the buy-out and take over of the last regional/local Cola label, Brat-Cola (of Triete, Italy). Afterward, the claim was made, but never substantiated, that the people of Trieste had decided to switch to Coke based on a blind taste-test.

Independent observers (LeMay, 1998, pp.56-92; Frederick, 1999, pp. 22-23) have stated that Coca-Cola has a larger baseline capitalization than all but fourteen nations' Gross Domestic Products, enabling the soft drink giant to, effectivly, set its own foreign policy. Coke has not been slow to flex this economic muscle, resulting in the "El Toro" riots in Mexico City when Mariposa Cola suddenly was taken from the market, to be replaced a week later by a product in an identical bottle that appeared to be Coke with a new label.

The future of Coca-Cola as an economic force in international trade and national/international economies has been widely disputed. Schewppes and Canada Dry have recently joined forces to stop their own inevitable demise, brought about by competition and trade-tariff barriers. Over the next three to five years, experts say, the face of the soft drink world will certainly change.

"Who knows what we'll be drinking ten years from now?" says internationally respected Cola Historian Martin Presant (Newsweek, April 12th 2005, page 16). "All we can say for certain is that it'll be a mildly-addictive stimulate with corn-syrup-based sweeteners."

While the role of corn-syrup is beyond the scope of this paper, the economies of Coke and corn are closely intertwined. Corn-raising nations feel this in their economies; non-corn-raising countries are struggling.

==============

There you go, Chloe. Please don't copy this; use it as a springboard for your own research.

#155 ::: babe ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2006, 05:35 PM:

so what is this website about I try to help someone and you guys criticize me so much you guys like eat me alive so I am here to defend myself k.

#156 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2006, 12:16 AM:

Interestingly enough, both "babe" and "chloe" are posting from the same IP address.

#157 ::: babe ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2006, 05:45 PM:

huh.. how intersting cuz I go to the public libary anyone could use it!!!!!

#158 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Fragano, it's worth noting that the "good old boys" at Coke--okay, the good old boy at the top of Coke at the time--had more than a little to do with Atlanta's relatively decent response to the civil rights movement.

#159 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2006, 06:10 PM:

I think someone's doing an imitation of a clueless poster (or two) for their own (and our) amusement. It was funny, but that's enough now. Tell us who you really are so you can accept our congratulations.

#160 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2006, 06:18 PM:

Xopher, a pass through Google turns up Babe in Yahoo's forums, asking questions that are not quite clueless. Probably real poster.

#161 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2006, 07:58 PM:

adamsj: His name was Robert Woodruff.

#162 ::: Kiesha ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Who can I talk to if I want to pay someone to write my school papers for me.

#163 ::: prince ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 08:23 AM:

plz help me to write this essay until today you had to do homework, but on the specific circumstances we could not make this. You talk with the teacher: 1) inform about the prevailing situation; 2) you will explain, why you did not carry out task; 3) say, within what period you will be able it to prepare

#164 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Use lots of nouns in your essay. Teachers love nouns.

#165 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2006, 02:41 PM:

And adverbs. Adverbs are beloved of editors.

#166 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2006, 11:27 AM:

Strive ever to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. That is the sort of thing up with which teachers will not put.

#168 ::: abi sees either comment spam or poor literacy ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2007, 08:49 PM:

At the very least, a sincere avoidance of the letter "h".

#169 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Abi @168: I think the spam had been deleted before I saw your post, but now I re-read the thread and a number of the links (OCD?). Still entertaining.

Working the night shift. Going to sleep soon...

#170 ::: Katrina Stonoff ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2007, 10:56 AM:

What I find most hysterical about the London Sunday Times gaffe is that the author of the article begun the bunk synopsis with the clause, "For the uninitiated."

ROFL!! I read it as, "For the uninitiated, like me."

#171 ::: Jim Macdonald on the Spam Watch ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2010, 06:11 AM:

Oh, Fastcash, your post is so gone!

#172 ::: jessica ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:21 AM:

a story that begins with the following
jesse opened his eyes.where was this place?whiping the sand from his face, jesse stood up.in the distance he saw them coming

#173 ::: OtterB sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:46 AM:

No posting history and no relation to the conversation, but no payload either. Seems oddly pointless.

#174 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:05 AM:

I dunno. No links, no obvious spam markers, unique text. Poster name matches email address. IPN matches ISP of email address.

Maybe someone asking for homework help?

#175 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:08 AM:

She wants someone to write a story for her?!?!? And couldn't even copy the assigned beginning with its proper capping and punking?

Oh, jessica, jessica...

#176 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:13 AM:

Well I'm damn sure not going to ask her if she writes poetry.

Hi, Jessica. Welcome to Making Light!

What brings you here?

#177 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:09 PM:

Jessica, do you write poetry? Do you feel excluded right now? Are we intimidating you? Do you go to conventions? Do you have a dysfunctional family (there's a thread for that)?

#178 ::: praisegod barebones caught by GNOMES ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:09 PM:

Xopher:

I think that last one is a question is a question I'd find a bit intimidating (in the unlikely event that I wasn't a spambot...)

#179 ::: praisegod barebones caught by GNOMES ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:33 PM:

While I'm here this site seems pertinent to the topic of the main thread. Does it set off other people's pastiche detectors in the way it does mine?

#180 ::: praisegod barebones caught by GNOMES FOR REAL THIS TIME ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:35 PM:

Fresh figs, perhaps?

#181 ::: praisegod barebones is VERY SORRY ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 02:12 PM:

And would like to thank whoever pulled him out of the spam-trap after he'd cried wolf twice....

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