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Yes, son Number 1?


Yes, son Number2?

Can we get SinCity, cheetah speed, please? begged Pollux.


Llama speed? negotiated Castor.

No chance.  Anyway, it’s SimCity, pointed out Cosmo.

The twins’ father had done his technological homework and knew all

about the video game series, originally designed by Will Wright.

Why don’t you develop SuttonCity?  You could work out ways to

maintain the townspeople of Suttonford’s’s happiness and could try to

keep your budget on track, he suggested.  You could even alter the terrain

and build different types of housing on it.

The town council are already doing that, said Castor, affecting

civic boredom.

But you could have lots of power, Cosmo continued.  You could

declare Suttonford a nuclear free zone.

As if North Korea would pay any attention to that, huffed Pollux.  We

don’t have any baseball stars, so I don’t think we would get any

favours from Kim.

Well, you could create an earthquake by fracking on the rugby

ground, teased Cosmo.

Don’t be disgusting, dad, chided Pollux.  If we can’t have SimCity, we

don’t want any of the spin-offs.  Some of the characters are weird:

himbos, for instance.

And what, or who, are himbos? sighed their father, thoroughly

confused by now.

They’re male bimbos who swan around in Speedos with fluorescent nipples

with a rendering mode operated for fog-piercing landing lights,

creating high visibility.  They sometimes appear in vast numbers,

explained Castor.

Right, said Cosmo.  Something like closing time at The Running Sore,

suggested Cosmo, delighted at his own humorous take on the

matter.  (He was making reference to a local hostelry run by a

dyslexic publican.)

Very funny, dad, said Castor.  Not.

You know, reflected his twin, even Snod is becoming more


Mr Snodbury to you, corrected Cosmo.

A white sphere made of large jigsaw pieces. Letters from several alphabets are shown on the pieces.

Yes, but he’s anti sites like Wikipedia, said CastorHe says we are all

becoming robotic.  If we encounter the real world of human beings,

he says, we can’t cope.  We need online help from a brain that

describes objects we have met and computes things for us.

Yes, Pollux took up the theme seamlessly.  Snod found an online

brain called Rapyuta.


Yes, it’s Japanese for Castle in the Sky and he said that’s where all the

robotic beings live.

I expect he was joking, said Cosmo.

No, dad.  He said that it used to be called Cloud Cuckoo Land and he

thinks it is where a lot of young people already live- virtually.  He

swore that students today will never be able to live alongside human

beings as current kids need calculators and tablets and are restricted to

operating in highly controlled environments, requiring databases to


He might have a point, thought Cosmo.  What else did he say?

Pollux added: He said we were living in a tickbox universe and the

current state of educational ideology only encouraged

standardisation and robotic perception.

Hmm, considered Cosmo.  Some primary schoolchildren on a tea

time news programme the previous night were quoted as having

challenged their teachers by asking when they would ever use the

material from one of their lessons.  Cosmo had thought they were

cheeky, precocious brats and if he had asked a teacher that kind of

question when he had been at school, he would have had a punishment

exercise at least and his parents would have reprimanded him as well.  Why

should the uneducated juvenile, or his/her untutored progenitor have any

kind of worthwhile opinion on the curriculum?  No wonder droves of

excellent teachers were leaving the profession.  If it went on, the

classrooms would be headed up by yummy mummies and their

cowering and obedient spouses and the true educational content of their

modules would be zero.

And, what had amazed him was that the lesson shown on tv had been a lot

of fun too.  He’d heard of unsmiling children dictating the content of their

lessons and even complaining if their teacher was ill and therefore absent.

In the Good Old days an absent teacher was a cause for celebration and a bit

of fun.  A Head Teacher would have been very popular if he or she had

proposed a half holiday.  Now, even if there were snowdrifts the height of

The Shard, some yummy mummy would complain if she was prevented from

risking life and limb in her 4×4 to collect some enfant terrible at the end of the

school day when the snow ploughs would be out and the gritters long gone.

Such parents wanted value for school fees and that meant a full day, no

matter what.

There must be prep, even if it was just a face-saving waste of time.

It was all about Ms X showing off her A* over Ms Y’s plain A in some

mindless exercise dreamt up to keep nail bar competitiveness alive.

Maybe we should ask Snodbury to create a SnodCity, mused Cosmo


Ooh, yes!  enthused the twins.  We love boundaries! 

Pollux continued, solo:  Snod said that eventually young people

might not be able to navigate their own rooms, or understand a

single word uttered by a human being, or fold an item of clothing.

Interesting, said Brassie coming into the kitchen, carrying a basket

with the twins’ discarded clothing, headphones and sports towels. I

seem to have evidence of the latter type of behaviour already making itself


Yes, supported Cosmo, and I sometimes have difficulty in communicating

the meaning of the monosyllabic word ‘no’.

The twins looked somewhat puzzled.

I’ll make it crystal clear for you both, said their mum.  No computer

games until you’ve done your prep and tidied your rooms.  If they

are still a mess at the weekend, then your pocket money will be


Yes, ma’am, they echoed and scarpered.

See, said Brassie.  They do like boundaries.