Our Failing Education System

Bloggified by Jake on Friday, May 18, 2007

Today, I got this email from my girlfriend:

Hi, everyone

The Ericsson Company is distributing free computer lap-tops in an attempt to match Nokia that has already done so. Ericsson hopes to increase its popularity this way. For this reason, they are giving away the new WAP Laptops. All you need to qualify is to send this mail to 8 people you know. Within 2 weeks, you will receive Ericcson T18. But if you can send it to 20 people or more, you will receive Ericsson R320.

Make sure to send a copy to: anna.swelung@ericcson.com

T. Aaron Marcin
NBCT 4th Grade Teacher
Cary Elementary School
919-460-3455

I am dumbfounded. Ten years ago, when emails like this started to circulate with the promise of Bill Gates giving you a dollar for everyone to whom you forwarded a message, I could forgive the ignorance of people who, in wide eyed amazement at the power of this fabulous world wide web that was so beyond their comprehension, believed such things were possible.

Today, though, why does anyone forward anything that strangers tell them to pass along? As a general rule of thumb, anytime an email tells you to forward it to any given number of your friends or family, the one thing you probably shouldn't do it forward it to any given number of your friends and family.

Whenever I get one of these emails (and 99% of the ones I get come from one person), the first thing I do is shake my head and sigh at the realization I gave whoever sent it to me much more credit for intelligence than they deserve. The second thing I do is send back an email mocking them, usually with a link to a Google search that will lead them to a series of posts discrediting the email.

What made this one really stick in my craw though was that my girlfriend is a teacher, everyone she sent it to other than me was a teacher, and the majority of other addresses it had previously been sent to had public school domains. These people are supposed to be molding the future generations into non-morons, but somehow think it makes perfect sense for They all have at least Bachelor's degrees, yet couldn't be bothered to do a little simple math and realize if Ericsson gave out computers at an 8^n rate, that email would only have to go though nine generations before Ericsson would be on the hook for more computers than there are people in the world.

Let's say Anna Swelung really did send this out to eight people and they all forwarded it along to eight more. When those 64 forward it to 512 more people (and for the purposes of this argument we'll pretend everyone has only one email), Ericsson would owe 72 computers. When those 512 people send it along to 4096 more people, they're out 584 (72+512).

Here's the rest of the breakdown until eventually the email is being forwarded to more than 8.5 billion people, theoretically within hours of Anna hitting send:
4096 x 8 = 32,768
32,768 x 8 = 262,144
...2,097,152
...16,777,216
...134,217,728
...1,073,741,824
...8,589,934,592

Obviously, things get out of control even faster if all those people forward it to 20 people instead of eight. So, explain to me again how giving away a multiple free laptops to everyone in the world is going to help Ericsson's bottom line.

Also disturbing is the fact these teachers all have college degrees (my girlfriend has a 4.0 average and has nearly completed her Masters), yet none could be bothered to do the 0.1 seconds of research necessary to determine this is a hoax. First off, the Ericsson T18 isn't a computer. It's a cellphone. For that matter, it's an old outdated cellphone you wouldn't want even if it was free.The same goes for the R320.Here's the big kicker, dumbasses, Nokia and Ericsson don't even make laptops! Ever wonder why our education system ranks alongside those of countries where living to 40 is a rarity and the drinking water is 53% urine? There are kids in Somalia whose "school" is a crater from a landmine explosion who are getting a better education than the youth of America.

The next time someone asks you to forward an email, punch them in the cunt.

On a similar note, as I was writing this, I remembered an article I read in Readers' Digest a year or two ago while pooping at my parents' house. It was this story of a guy who borrowed a couple thousand dollars from his friends and family to fly to Somalia and collect the millions of dollars that a bank official had emailed him about. The tone of the story implied we should feel sorry for this idiot and I just didn't see it.

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