Sunday, September 10, 2006

So that's what those hipsters with laptops in the coffee shop are doing

The New York Times is on to them. The Week in Review editors ordered up a batch of term papers on typical freshman assignments such as "Compare and contrast Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World." The results were exactly what you'd expect from some hipster who had himself dodged college writing assignments:

...Papers written to order are just like the ones students write for themselves, only more so — they’re poorly organized, awkwardly phrased, thin on substance, but masterly in the ancient arts of padding and stating and restating the obvious.

If they’re delivered, that is. The “Lord Jim” essay, ordered from, never arrived, despite repeated entreaties, and the excuse finally offered was a high-tech variant of “The dog ate my homework.” The writer assigned to the task, No. 3323, was “obviously facing some technical difficulties,” an e-mail message explained, “and cannot upload your paper.” The message went on to ask for a 24-hour extension, the wheeziest stratagem in the procrastinator’s arsenal, invented long before the electronic age.
No. 3323, we know who you are. We had a roommate in college who never, ever, turned in a paper on time; he was too busy begging for extensions to actually write the damn thing. He was a philosophy-music theory double major; according to his father, this double major would make him doubly unemployable. Good to know he found work all the same.

For our part, our greatest moment in our college composition class was when we plagiarized the marketing blurb off the back of a Toni Morrison novel and turned it into the introductory paragraph and thesis statement of our "critical essay." The professor gave it an A--and let's be honest, 5 pages of drivvel suits Toni Morrison to a T.

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