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Thursday, March 6 12:01 AM EST

Test Shows 99.99% of High
School Seniors Can't Read Perl

By Brian Briggs

San Francisco, CA - Recent results from the standardized Perl Fluency Test showed that 99.99% of US high school seniors can't read Perl.  This disturbing statistic shows that American students are painfully unprepared for life after graduation.

"This shows that there is a real need for a Perl Monk in every classroom," said Perl Monk Kelly Adrity.  "We've got computers in every classroom, now we need our kids to be able to use them, and what better way to learn about computers than to learn how to read and write in Perl. I'm glad the budget proposed by President Bush sets aside millions for Perl Monks and it should be part of the personal budget of evey family to show their kids the Perl way."

The four hour test had 2 sections, a simple translation section and a project section.  The first part asked students to translate easy Perl phrases into their standard English equivalent, and the second section required students to produce a simple MP3 player in Perl.  "I didn't know what the hell any of it  meant," said one Senior, "it had lots of slashes and periods and brackets. It was so confusing.  I'm feeling rather nauseous."

Perl experts were astounded by the results.  "I was amazed that none of the students were able to read this simple sentence:

$_='while(read+STDIN,$_,2048){$a=29;$c=142;if((@a=unx"C*",$_)
[20]&48){$h=5;$_=unxb24,join"",@b=map{xB8,unxb8,chr($_^$a[--$h+84])}
@ARGV;s/...$/1$&/;$d=unxV,xb25,$_;$b=73;$e=256|(ord$b[4])<<9|ord$b[3];
$d=$d>>8^($f=($t=255)&($d>>12^$d>>4^$d^$d/8))<<17,$e=$e>>8^($t&
($g=($q=$e>>14&7^$e)^$q*8^$q<<6))<<9,$_=(map{$_%16or$t^=$c^=
($m=(11,10,116,100,11,122,20,100)[$_/16%8])&110;$t^=(72,@z=(64,72,$a^
=12*($_%16-2?0:$m&17)),$b^=$_%64?12:0,@z)[$_%8]}(16..271))[$_]^
(($h>>=8)+=$f+(~$g&$t))for@a[128..$#a]}print+x"C*",@a}';s/x/pack+/g;eval

I mean, come on, that's so easy," said Paul Chen, Chairman of the Learn Perl or Die Association, which administered the test nationwide.  "Teachers need to start with simple phrases like  $RF=~tr/A-Z/a-z/; and work up from there.  We really need to start teaching this in first grade and enrolling them in online degree programs if kids are ever going to understand this by high school."

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Not everyone shared Mr. Chen's view about the necessity of adding Perl to early elementary curricula.  Programmers Against Perl (PAP) spokesperson, Keith Willingham said, "There's no better way to scare students away from computers than exposing them to Perl.  Even experienced programmers are frightened and confused by it.  The Perl lobby is just getting too powerful, and they need to be stopped."

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