Moment of madness: A textbook Terminator

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There were those who mocked when, in 2003, Californians elected Arnold Schwarzenegger their 38th governor. There were those who observed that, perhaps, the job required more from its incumbent than an ability to lift heavy items. Cynics noted that previous bestowals of high office upon mediocre Austrian artists have not always worked out brilliantly.

However, Californians have rather taken to Ah-nuld, re-electing him in 2006. It would nevertheless be nice to be able to believe that his latest cost-cutting initiative may give some of his boosters cause for contemplation: phasing out school textbooks.

In fairness, he does not argue that education should be removed entirely from the curriculum, merely observing that online texts are cheaper to distribute, and more adaptable. There are two problems here. One is the Orwellian possibilities of such a regime, in which history can be rewritten at a few keystrokes. The other, more prosaic but possibly catastrophic for classroom morale, is the difficulty bored students will have obscenely defacing illustrations on screen.

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