South Park Self

living in a non-deterministic universe is morally reprehensible and a sure sign of a poor upbringing

I could swear the Daily Voice billboard this morning read "MY SHEEP LOVES COFFEE." If I didn't misread it, which is entirely possible before my first cup of tea, then it's a beautiful example of the perfect tabloid balance between inconsequential and surreal.

Having survived more or less unscathed the hideous first half of the week (the run-up to the print deadlines), I am now embroiled in counting student sign-ups to our orientation programmes. This process, over the last few years, has been a surprising insight into shifting internet trends. Four years ago student personal emails were all Hotmail and Yahoo. These days there's a lone Yahoo every now and then, but Hotmail appears to be dead. Everyone's using Gmail. Literally, probably half the cohort. If this is a worldwide trend, then I actually hate to think of the number of personal lives that are being conducted through a single site. If it Goes Evil it could paralyse half the world. (There's also a weird thing that looks like, which I tend to read as poor student writing for, but in fact it's a sneaky iteration of Yahoo, setting out to ride Gmail's coat-tails and deliberately confuse everyone).

Of course, it's also a not so lovely insight into what I like to categorise affectionately as the Student Dingbat Problem. They have an option, this year, of signing up for a programme online, or sending us a slip. The slip has written across it, in big capitals, "PLEASE ONLY FILL THIS IN IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS!" They are also cautioned, on the slip and in the online signup instructions, NOT to do both. I've only weeded out, oh, twenty or thirty duplications out of a cohort of 1400, so I suppose we can congratulate ourselves that only about 2% of the cream of our youth are unable to follow instructions. It's more than that, though, because my programme sizes shrink dramatically once I weed out the duplications in online signup. Which also warns them, in giant block capitals, not to sign up more than once. The Prime Dingbat for the afternoon is the one who signed up three times online, and also faxed us his slip, blown up to giant size, twice. He was clearly rather insecure about his orientation place. Sigh.

You would also not believe how many of them mis-type their own email address into the online sign-up. Gah.

The subject line is, of course, from Goats. Goats is well known to reconcile readers to a deterministic universe. (Its currently completely indeterminate ending I have to forgive because the labyrinthine complexity of the plot at its end point is so extreme that I suspect the authors have retired, exhausted and defeated by the need for conclusion).
I fear I absolutely would believe the preponderance of mistyped email addresses - but only because I've experienced it myself, from the other end of online shopping. Is very, very, very tiresome being unable to contact people about their orders; even more so when you're unable to reply to a rather demanding/desperate contact box query, entirely unsullied by phone number or email address of any kind.
Good grief, that rather tops the bad handwriting/dreadful typos I have to deal with. Mostly these kids give me something - they try, you know?
Your recommendations are highly effective: I have started reading Goats. I started at their recommended spot in 2003 with the first colour strips but I see there are years and years of prequel - worthwhile?
I started at the beginning and worked through; the only problem is the usual webcomic one, that the artwork at the beginning is somewhat rudimentary. It's very different at the start, more inconsequential, a sort of gentler surreal with the two boys and beer and their really odd pets. I rather enjoyed it.

I have, in a moment of weakness bolstered by my usual impulse to support the artist, ordered the whole bang shoot in hard copy, so there's always that to borrow...
People do not read. Instructions are just not worth the effort. We have a web system that people use, and a similar test system. It says "TEST SYSTEM - DO NOT LOG IN" in the browser title bar, at the top of the screen, and next to the log in box. Nonetheless, people got to and attempt to log in.
Hahahaha...we allow people to submit applications via disk, email or paper...of which we expect and clearly state we only want one submission. My all-time worst experience was an organisation of dingbats who submit a 200-page application in each format but to keep us on our toes made each application subtly different...i cried.