The Dumbest Generation

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Hoot Owl, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2008

    Saw this book on Fox this a.m., for a change someone's not blaming teachers!! Don't kill the messenger, I don't agree w/all of this.



    The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) By: Mark Bauerline

    Book Description
    This shocking, lively exposure of the intellectual vacuity of today’s under thirty set reveals the disturbing and, ultimately, incontrovertible truth: cyberculture is turning us into a nation of know-nothings.

    Can a nation continue to enjoy political and economic predominance if its citizens refuse to grow up?

    For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture available to young people and the impact it has on their futures. At the dawn of the digital age, many believed they saw a hopeful answer: The Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms “information superhighway” and “knowledge economy” entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.

    That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn’t happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect. According to recent reports, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its consequences for American culture and democracy.

    Drawing upon exhaustive research, personal anecdotes, and historical and social analysis, Mark Bauerline presents an uncompromisingly realistic portrait of the young American mind at this critical juncture, and lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies.

    About the Author
    Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory University and has worked as a director of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw studies about culture and American life.
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Well I'm under 30 and I do read literature and vote. I do know the basic scientific methods, basic American History. My political respresentatives are Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Chet Edwards. I can locate Iraq and Israel on the map.

    I also read in Reader's Digest that this year there have been more 18-30 voters than in any other election.

    I know there are people that fit under this age category that also fit what Bauerlein is talking about, but again, don't lump us all together.

    ETA: The slogan "Don't Trust Anyone Under 30" was first used in the 60's. (Reader's Digest)
     
  4. Jem

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    I think this could be said about any young generation. Think back to even the early 1900's-hello? There were uneducation people all over the place. Kids were being forced to work in factories. Even adults weren't very educated. This is a lame argument, and I'm debating posting it, but I just don't find this to be true. Those who are interested will always find ways to learn. Those who aren't, won't.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jem, you're right. The "adults" have been saying this about the up and coming genearations for, well, genearations. Think about what adults said about music throughout the 20th century...from big band to the beatles...and the dancing styles that went with it. Yes, there are some issues, but we need to place the blame where it belongs (if we can figure that out).
     
  6. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    One thing I have noticed about many of the children today is that they have a very limited attention span. They want to play individual computer games and board games like monopoly is only for old people. Spelling is a lost art,thank you spell check,and some of our 11 and12 years old can't even sign their name in script. What will they do if they get a check.E-mail and text massaging can be great,but it can lead to bullying and worse.The computers can take up time that could be used for reading.I don't think we can blame all of this on technology,but it is a point to be considered.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I think that's more because we've turned kindergarden into first grade and these kids haven't learned the skills needed to actually be students...we try to just turn them into students before we've taught them how. No offense to kinder teachers...I blame this one on the idiots that set your curriculum. I think you guys are doing a great job with what you've been given :)
     
  8. newbie1234

    newbie1234 Companion

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    This is funny because I remember reading an article about 5 years ago about Millenials, and how they're awesome. I don't have the article at my disposal, but it included lots of research about Millenials being service-minded, responsible, thoughtful and lots of other good things. Now there's a book that says people under 30 are worthless.

    1950's we had segregation. 1960's we had wide-spread political and civil unrest and the Vietnam War. Stagflation in the 1970's. Economic recession in the 1980's, junk bonds, record-setting unemployment. Past generations weren't perfect unless you're looking with rose-tinted glasses.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And believe me when I tell you that there are plenty of over-thirties who "do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map."
     
  10. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    There is a lot out there about how TV, video games, computer use, etc, affects the physiological development of the brain. It actually develops differently in kids who use a lot of technology at a young age, and those who instead are read to and/or spend a lot of time in creative play. These studies would support the conclusions of this book.

    Check out some of the books about how children's brains develop. In my experience, I can always pick out the kids who have been read to as young children and encouraged to play, and those who have been allowed to OD on technology. Children who have limited time using technology learn to read much more easily, have longer attention spans, and have a higher interest in many subjects and in learning in general. Their curiosity has been developed.

    Just FYI, the term used in the 60's was "Don't trust anyone OVER 30!" :lol:
     
  11. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Don't be offended it was not aimed at you You have applied yourself but I have found many sub 30s lacking in the 3 Rs and sub 20s well I am afraid there will not be enough workers to pay my Social Security
     
  12. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I think the guy is out to make a few bucks, here's a quote as far back as Plato and Socrates:

    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

    ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson

    I do agree w/bonneb about quickly picking out kids who have been read to vs. the ones who OD on electronics.

    I agree w/IrishDave too about worrying about Social Security being paid...
     
  13. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Every generation has its challenges and shortcomings - this one has definitely been affected negatively by all the use of technology at a young age.

    an example: My DD went on a "date" the other day, and the guy spent most of the time texting other people while she sat there!! No, she will not be seeing him again!!! hahahahaha!
     
  14. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Reminds me of the Movie "Wild in the Streets" (1968)
    "Don't trust anyone OVER 30!" was a catch phrase
     
  15. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Ahhh thanks. For those of us that have wonderful principals we are allowed to take time to teach them how to interact with each other and give them 45 minutes of play time a day (at least at the beg. of the year).
     
  16. Carmen13

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    :wow:, I'm so relieved that I'm 30!!!!:rolleyes::D
     
  17. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Carmen - perfect!
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Carmen's trustworthy to two age groups and on two continents!
     
  19. educator

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    Another symptom of this is the inability of young adults to become self sufficient. I know people who have children in their 20's who still depend on mom and dad for financial assistance.

    I would have starved or lived in a box rather than admit to my parents that I was unable to be financially independent at 18, much less 24 or 25.

    I think a great deal of the problem is what we expect from young people. I know that I'm encouraged to "make each child feel successful" and "develop self-esteem". This may be important, but at some point the young people have to learn that a boss, a customer or a partner isn't going to create the artificial success that they become accustomed to in school. Sometime, abject failure is a sign you should work a little harder.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    ahhh, don't get me started on letting a child fail. I think we do would do more for a child by letting him fail in an environment where it is safe to do so, and let him develop the skills to overcome failure, than to create, as educator said, artifical success where children learn they don't have to do anything to "succeed".
     
  21. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    :agreed: I agree with you 100% - this is why I have students who do nothing all semester then hand me a big pile of papers two days before the grading period ends and has the nerve to ask "can I pass now?" Or sob story, "if you give me an F in World History, I won't be able to fit welding into my schedule next year" to which I response with that great teacher statement "I did not fail you, you failed your self in more ways than one."
     
  22. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I don't have much experience with primary and secondary school, and I'd never taken an education course until I started my ACP, BUT, when I walked into that classroom last october, it was with that mindset. It took the kids a few weeks to get used to somebody who would hold their feet to the fire, but you know what? They all eventually figured it out. They worked their butts off and they succeeded FOR REAL. I had quite a few students tell me they were prouder of the B in my class than the A in so and so's class because they actually worked for the B. They felt good about it, so they told me. I told them that's what REAL self esteem feels like. They seemed to like that feeling better...who knew? (I apologize in advance for the dripping sarcasm in that last sentence).
     
  23. SSA

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    I remember I had a professor read me that quotation in college once. That exact same piece from Socrates lists all sorts of other criticisms of education that you hear today as well. The moral is that the most basic issues in education haven't changed in centuries.

    There are a lot of older people whom sneer at the younger generations whom buy this book and others. You can write anything provided there is an audience for it.
     
  24. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    :agreed: I agree with you 100% also
    but I bet welding would help him get a job since he may not make it to college :D with that attitude he has!
     
  25. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I've been known to tell a crying college student who's whining about having financial aid issues if they don't pass my favorite line:

    Yes, you know what, I DO know of a way you can pass my class....Take it next term...and next time, why don't you try showing up more than once or twice and actually doing your homework.

    Sorry charlie..this ain't high school. I don't really give a rat's behind about your problems (of course, there are exceptions, but those are from the students who actually tell me about them as they're happening). You either did or didn't do the work. You chose not to do the work, you chose to fail.

    Okay, I'm sorry, I went off there a little bit.
     
  26. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I should explain our vocation programs - we have two types of programs. Our regular vocational classes are taught by our high school teachers at an introductory level and everyone can take these classes. Our vocotional programs are dual credit courses with local colleges and students have the potential to coop with local unions and start working towards the apprentince (sp) status in the various fields offered. The powers that be insist students must have earned a certain amount of credits before they can enroll into our vocational programs so they remain on track to graduate. So, until my failing student earns enough credits, he can not particpate in the welding program. Please don't think I was in any way trying to devalue welding - our vocational programs are awesome and students who participate in these programs get some of the highest paying jobs in our county.
     
  27. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    WOW...what an awsome program. I wish more high schools saw the value of vocational/technical education. We have one school that's a true vo/tech program and a couple of schools that offer one program of that nature (usually an LPN program). Sorry to get off track.
     
  28. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    The attitude he has
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

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    This might be THE single biggest issue for gifted and talented kids: by the time schoolwork finally begins to challenge them, most of them have internalized that it's their job not to need help and that something is very, very wrong if they do need help, so they give up rather than be disappointments.
     
  30. Weazy

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    Amen! The only difference with my students is--they do not really care if the fail or not. Most of their parents' do not work and look for other ways of supporting themselves. I have a very hard time trying to motivate students who do not have any motivation coming from home. By the way--somehow, these same families manage to afford video games, four-wheelers, tv's for their rooms, cell phones etc., but they do not have a working computer to type their papers, or dictionaries! They are not learning about priorities at home, therfore schoolwork and learning is not a priority. I have had students ask me, "When does the fun begin?" Apparently, I am supposed to provide entertainment instead of an education. We do have fun activities (I think:confused:) but we do not do these everyday. The times are much different from the 70's, which is when I was in school. And do not get me started on the fact that there there is a huge lack of respect these days. I actually had a student inform me that I would have to earn his respect before he would give any respect! :eek:
     
  31. educator

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    I believe we have to earn the respect of children. That being said, children have to learn the meaning of respect. Some of them are unable to separate respect from fear.

    In the beginning, if it makes them do what I want them to do, I'll take a little bit of what is commonly called "healthy respect" a euphemism for fear. However, if after a few weeks I haven't earned their respect, then I'm missing something.

    The students who aren't getting encouragement and discipline at home probably have no inkling of what respect even looks like. When those children want your approval, you have their respect. Just saying yes maam (a southern thing), and obeying orders isn't respect. When they begin to emulate you and seek your approval.........you've arrived. Anything less, and you've fallen a little short of the goal.
     
  32. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    "they do not really care if the fail or not." almost, if you can GIVE them a passing grade they are OK with it. I have always had a policy that if a student is one point away from a higher grade they can do extra credit to rase it to the higher grade Most will try for the "A" if they are one point from an "A". The others, Very few will do it they will settle for the "C". And the #1 thing that just frosts me is when they get a "D" they say "I passed" like it was a badge of honor!:confused::mad:
    Who the He|| started this "you have to earn respect?" It should be we give respect but if you lose it you have to earn it back!
    I bet that student expected (demanded) your respect right away!:mad::2cents:
     
  33. MissFroggy

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    HOnestly, I think spelling IS becoming a lost art. It may become totally unnecessary as technology improves even more. We may be doing more voice recognition. Anyway, it's just a change in the times. As for cursive, probably the same. The funny thing is- two things I really teach hard my class is spelling and cursive (3rd grade) My kids LOVE board games and we play them all the time at school.

    I think we need to do the following at school for this next generation. Technology is here to stay, so we need to think about what skills they will need later in life:

    -focus more on social conflict resolution
    -stronger conceptual understanding of math (as calculators do the work as kids get older, at least they will know WHY the problems work the way they do.)
    -develop empathy in children (seems to not be there in many people)
    - manners
    - social justice
    - ecology and environmental stewardship (green teaching)
    - geography, politics, civics
    - at least one foreign language
    - understanding of multiculturalism
    - ability to work in groups
    - understanding of scientific principles so we can have lots of great inventors
    - the arts
     
  34. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    As I said in my last post
    It should be we (student, teachers, parents) give respect, .... but if you lose it you have to earn it back!
     
  35. Weazy

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    I agree with both of you, but when my mom and dad sent me off to school, it was with the understanding that I have respect for my teacher from day one. But as I said, this sarted at home.

    Irish Dave--yes, this particular student could have cared less about having respect. He wanted to run the class which was a constant disruption, and when I informed him this wasn't approriate, apparently I lost his respect. It had nothing to do with learning because he wasn't there to learn. I constantly tried to reach this kid in a variety of ways, but he wasn't open to anything. He wanted social time--all the time! BTW--he was 2-3 years older than the rest of the students! (high school) The other students were very upset with him, and informed him of his lack of respect!! They were tired of the interruptions, as well. I was shocked because this particular class was quite a handful--so I was very proud of them to stand up for me!:)
     
  36. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Hmmmmm can we test that on a scantron?

    I do agree BUT isn't some of what you posted what PARENTS should do?
    Also
    - - ecology and environmental stewardship (green teaching) Not at the cost of the human race but to better the human race
    -- understanding of multiculturalism again not at the cost of being an American Or Canadian but to enrich being an American Or Canadian

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  37. Hamster

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    My 18 year old daughter just signed up for classes yesterday at the University of Illinois. They said the average ACT score goes up a little every year! It looks like they are getting smarter every year!
     
  38. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    or they're just becoming better test takers. (no offense to your dd)
     
  39. KinderCowgirl

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    Miss Froggy - I love that list! Imagine where our kids would be if we taught them all that.

    I saw a writer on the Daily Show yesterday - his book is "How Stupid Are We?". He was saying 70% of people in America couldn't even find Iraq on a map; even though we've had soldiers there for 5 years and it's been on the news every day for 5 years. I know at my school people don't really teach Social Studies because it's not tested (yet). Can you blame the kids for not having a worldy interest?

    I don't think it has anything to do with age, I just think it's our culture. We are very self-centered here - you go to other countries and their kids speak several languages, their adults can identify world leaders other than their own. Here we are very ADD particularly when it comes to the news - if it doesn't fit in a sound byte then why listen? Look at "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader", those questions shouldn't be hard for people, but they are.
     
  40. newbie1234

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    The more I think about this book, the more I question its usefulness, especially to teachers. He compares today's generation to the Khmer Rouge. How is that constructive? Supposedly the author offers some solutions , but I'm not going to buy his book and I couldn't find any examples of his solutions. Additionally, his purported scientific evidence is quite thin.


    Technology isn't going anywhere, so there's no point in blaming new technology for all the world's problems. Technology will continue to evolve and life will continue to become easier and longer because of it. The constructive approach is to integrate new technology into lessons, and figure out creative ways to teach both the abstract learning objectives and the concrete facts that students need to plug in once they've grasped the framework of a particular subject area.

    Ultimately, this book is a self-congratulatory pat on the back for folks over 30, not a useful critique of anything. I'm sure somewhere is its analog, a self-congratulatory pat on the back for folks under 30 .

    I found this summary of the book published by the Boston Globe, and I'll briefly respond point-by-point:

    1. "They make excellent 'Jaywalking' targets."
    I agree that younger generations are less and less aware of cultural and historical milestones, but I blame policies like NCLB for that. High-stakes testing programs are forcing social studies, music, art and other electives out of the classroom. Geography was a required class when I was in middle school, but I'd be hard-pressed to even find an elective Geography course today.

    2. "They don't read books--and don't want to, either." Even the author admits that older generations didn't think that books were that cool, and I've seen no empirical evidence that this generation is any more hostile to literature than previous generations. There's a big shortage of leisure time in this country to begin with, so maybe the issue is that teens and young working professionals don't have the free time to read a book that earlier generations enjoyed.

    3. "They can't spell." This, I admit, is a problem, but spelling isn't a cognitive skill; it's a matter of memorization. Is the sky really falling if the younger generation is hooked on spellcheck? I don't think so. Besides, this is relatively easy to mitigate in the classroom and at home by making spelling count on assessments and encouraging our children to keep paper diaries, etc.

    4. "They get ridiculed for original thought, good writing." This is just wrong. The author claims that good writers get harassed on MySpace. Maybe this is the case, but there are a ton of other online forums where young people reward each other for expressing themselves and doing so well: Deviantart, Livejournal, Deadjournal, various debate forums, the National Novel Writing Month project--the opportunities are almost endless. I've also discovered, purely by accident, that young folks actually have a subculture of "fanfiction" writing forums where they write original stories starring their favorite literary and television characters and then critique each other's work.

    5. "Grand Theft Auto, etc." There's just no empirical evidence that links poor writing and reading skills to videogames. I don't even see a logical connection between the two. Videogames exercise, and have been shown to improve, hand-eye coordination and spacial skills, not harm writing skills. Apples to oranges.

    6. "They don't store the information." There is also no empirical evidence to back this up. According to the Newsweek article, there is evidence that multitaskers don't store information as well as people who focus just on the learning activity, but online information gathering doesn't necessarily involve multitasking.

    Again, though, in case this is proven to be a problem, it is easily mitigated in the classroom and at home. Require that students use x number of online sources and x number of paper sources. Take away points for each citation to Wikipedia and other non-standard internet sources. We can take our children to the library and help them access print sources when they bring home research assignments.

    7. "Because their teachers don't tell them so." I'm not getting into the debate about self esteem curricula. It's my experience that students are being taught to bubble in scantrons at younger and younger grade levels and aren't learning how to be students in a larger context. Maybe at one time the myth of the teacher who gives everybody A's so that their feelings aren't hurt was true, but I don't see that today, and I didn't see it during the 13 years that I attend public schools.

    8. "Because they're young." This is true, of course, and it's always been true. I'd prefer the term "inexperienced" to "dumb." Technology changes, and there will always be Luddites around to throw wrenches in the machines, but time marches on. Labeling the younger generations as dumb, lost causes, and so forth isn't constructive, and it's far from a new exercise. Ultimately, this books fails because it does just was it protests; the author ignores historical context and becomes a "Jaywalking" target in his own right.
     
  41. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Jun 13, 2008

    I wanted to find an audiobook of "The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30)" But I guess that is what he is getting at :)
    I do most of my reading in my car with audiobooks
    But I am buying this book.
     

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