Osama Who?

We were nine the year of Martin and Bobby, and because we were politically precocious, the names of James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan are very familiar to us. But our precociousness only went so far: We draw a blank on Tet and Chicago, although we do remember Tricky Dick on Laugh-In. (Answer: Yes. Because you’re a fucking asshole.)

Jumping ahead a few years, we’ll happily admit that we only watched Senator Sam and the Watergate hearings because they pre-empted the Match Game — and only until the networks started rotating daily coverage among themselves. Sure, we paid attention, but it’s not like we went out of our way.

You’ll forgive us, then, if we don’t get an easy chuckle out of this factoid making the rounds:

Teens Don’t Know Who Osama Bin Laden Is, According to Yahoo! Search Trends

That was Yahoo’s Monday report on Sunday-night search activity. Boing Boing combined it with some Jaw-Droppingly Clueless Tweets, and the meme was off and running.

And really, who can resist? You can blame the kids, you can blame their teachers, you can blame their parents, you can blame the media, you can even blame society. Everybody wins!

In our case, we’ll blame Yahoo.

Let’s start with the factoid, as provided:

teens ages 13-17 were seeking more information as they made up 66% of searches for “who is osama bin laden?”

Notice anything wrong with that?

Besides the fact that it’s utterly meaningless?

Consider: We’re told that teens made up two-thirds of the Who searches. We’re also told that Who searches ranked fifth that evening, and that “Searches for Osama Bin Laden Spike Nearly 100,00%”. (Missing zero, or comma for decimal? “100,00%” appears twice in the Yahoo post.)

But we’re not told the actual number of searches. Nor does this give us any idea what percentage of American teenagers didn’t know who Osama was. All we can say is that of those people who didn’t know who Osama was, two-thirds were teenagers.

And that’s presuming that all people who ask “who is osama bin laden?” have no fucking clue who he is. As opposed to, say, knowing who he is, but wanting to know more.

Then again, maybe all this explains why Yahoo has become a massive failure: They can’t even manage their own statistics.

But we’re not done.

Let’s grant the premise. Let’s grant that teens don’t know who Osama bin Laden was.

And let’s ask: Why should they?

How long has it been since Osama was headline news? How many years did President Bush play down his significance? How many years instead were Americans told that Saddam Hussein was the villain behind 9/11? How many years did we, as a nation, focus on Iraq and ignore Afghanistan?

And how did kids who were 3 to 7 in 2001 absorb all this? What did you absorb between first grade and high school? Because in our case, we’re talking about the years between the Batman TV series and Jimmy Carter being elected.

And you know what happened next? Toga parties.

So even granting the premise, we’re not inclined to wag our finger at America’s Ignorant Youth. We’re a Nation of Airheads, and we’ve always been.


Daddy is mad. I’m hiding under my desk.

The Yahoo story is stupid because it implies a causal relationship where it’s unlikely one exists.

HOWEVER, thanks to the all-obsessive fixation on standardized tests and test scores, and that history/social studies are not on standardized tests used under NCLB to evaluate schools, they are teaching bupkus when it comes to civics. Per the National Assessment of Educational Progress:

Fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights on the most recent national civics examination, and only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches, according to test results released on Wednesday.

Sounds like they’re ready to be Vice Presidential candidates!

@SanFranLefty: The Supreme Court is also pretty loose about the Bill of Rights, especially the 4th amendment.

@Dodgerblue: The current Court seems to think that the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th amendments are optional.

@SanFranLefty: Except that corporation are “persons” within the protection of the 14th amendment. Get with the program.

@Dodgerblue: Well of course, I meant as applied to protect individual human beings.

@SanFranLefty: And on the 8th amendment, there’s only a violation if a squad of Navy Seals puts a round in your chest, one in your eye, and throws your body into the ocean. Unless you’re an enemy combatant, whatever that means.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: I have CRUSHED Angry Birds. CRUSHED IT!!!11 There are only three games at which I’m not at 3 stars. Woo hoo!

And now, because of my mad mousing skillz I am CRUSHING Zuma’s Revenge. Even though I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.

Oh yes. And such as. (Has noje stopped shouting and banging stuff around? I’m afraid to look)

@SanFranLefty: Never heard of it. Should I? I’m very new to games and better quit right now if I ever hope to get anything done. On the other hand, I’ve finally found something useful to do with my computer.

Today is not only Cinco de Mayo, it’s also One Day Before Lefty Quits Her Job And Leaves For A Vacation In Paradise. Drinks are on me!

@Benedick HRH KFC: OMG, go to the App Store and download it for $2.99. Then send me a message in the sandbox and we can start playing Scrabble on the go.

@Dodgerblue: Woot!

@Benedick HRH KFC: I’ve been told that one can find photos of attractive, naked people by using a computer.

@SanFranLefty: Congrats! I trust they have planned a suitably lavish party with gifts? (Look out for those little blue bags from Tiffany’s)

@Benedick HRH KFC: Not mad. Just wondering how the anti-FDR blogosphere would have responded to the Normandy invasion.

@Dodgerblue: My Mexican friend Liz is totally down on Cinco de Mayo:

“For the record: nobody in Mexico says “Happy 5 de Mayo”, this is a holiday heavily promoted in the US by the beer companies, and NO, it’s not Mexican Independence Day. You got that?”

But it is Mexican Punk, Metal and Hard Rock Day. I declared it myself. See my FB posts throughout the day, starting last night with something from the Repo Man soundtrack and a really big guy playing industrial metal. But today’s Really Big Guy is Rob Trujillo of Metallica.

The Normandy invasion was an Anglo-American assault on German occupation troops in a legitimately conquered country. The Vichy government condemned the invasion. Also, don’t forget that the trains stopped running on time in Fascist Italy after the Anglo-Ameriucan bombing and invasion of that country.

@Dodgerblue: You know, I’ve heard of that. I think Catt mentioned it. I wonder how that works?

@Jesuswalksinidaho: You have a future in Republican consulting.

@nojo: Joseph P. Kennedy and Charles Lindburgh would be all over Fox “News.”

@Benedick HRH KFC: I just read that William and Kate will be visiting California this summer. Will they be getting matching tattoos down at Venice Beach?

@Dodgerblue: The Brits love LA, especially Santa Monica. We met the most charming English tourists during our visit in March.

@¡Andrew!: One hopes they outnumber the Germans, who are everywhere in Cali. And let us not speak of the French.

@¡Andrew!: I did so love Santa Monica when I was there. I watched sushi on little trays go round and round. Valet parking creeps me out. I drove up the coast.

@Dodgerblue: She’ll get ‘Common’ tattooed across her ass. He’ll get a PA like his brother’s.

@Dodgerblue: I was surprised by the number of German tourists that I saw in Mexico City. Lemme tell ya, Spanish spoken with a German accent sounds especially chilling, like Satanic chanting or one of those dumFux Nooz bimbos when they erupt into gibberish from their demonic possessions.

@¡Andrew!: My favorite tourists are Aussies. They know how to have fun.

@Benedick HRH KFC: Did you drive from LA to SF? There’s so many places along that route I’d love to visit: Santa Barbara, San Simeon, Big Sur, Carmel… oh the glamour, adventure and romance!

Watch out for that left toin at Pismo Beach.

@¡Andrew!: Didn’t have enough time. Drove up the coast to Carmel then back down through the mountains. Hiked a bit. Ended up with a nice car crash about 30 miles north of LA. I thought the coast was very beautiful north of San Simeon.

@Benedick HRH KFC and @¡Andrew!: The drive between Santa Barbara and SF is absolutely stunning. I would suggest driving south-to-north, because that way when you’re on Highway 1, you’re on the side closer to the cliff versus closer to the ocean.

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