Ivory Towers 10-22-08

University of Missouri sophomore Michael Linneman is willing to sell a kick to his family jewels on eBay to pay for college.

Linneman created an auction on eBay about three weeks ago titled “Kick me in the nuts to help me pay for college.” The offer entitles the purchaser to kick Linneman as hard as he or she can in his testicles while the incident is videotaped. The starting bid is $80,000 and carries a “Buy it now” price of $150,000. Linneman recently removed the listing, which had not received any bids, for personal reasons.

Linneman called the cost of his education frustrating. Although he works on campus and receives some scholarship funding, he struggles to pay for school. “There are some people who spent ridiculous amounts of money [to] come to school here and just party,” he said. “I work hard at school. It’s frustrating.”

Although he didn’t expect anyone to seriously bid on the offer, Linneman said he has been noticed by Web sites that pick up unorthodox stories. The idea came from reading a book titled Think and Grow Rich, which is about imagination in gaining wealth, he said.

Fellow students and eBay shoppers have commented about 15 times on his offer. “It’s been a good experience,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of people saying things like ‘I really want to kick you in the balls but I only have $5.’”

Had anyone followed through with the offer, Linneman said he would have relinquished the right to sue the kicker for damages. However, in the case of a bid from a trained athlete, like senior Missouri football kicker Jeff Wolfert, he might have canceled the offer. “If it were him, I don’t know what I’d do,” Linneman said. “I’d probably have to reconsider.”

Campus physicians disagreed with Linneman’s auction. In an e-mail, Student Health Center physician Jae Lee said he does not support any students, males in particular, receiving blunt trauma to the groin. In addition to impairing ability to reproduce, trauma could result in disfiguration from scar tissue or the death of the organ.

The Maneater

Students set up site for legal DVD sharing

In a day when digital file-sharing can land people in serious legal trouble, three college students are giving their classmates a more personal and legal way to borrow and lend DVDs, through a new Web site called PenguinShare.com.

Mark Rosenberg and David Garson, who attend Grinnell College and Daniel Turcza, a friend at Yale University, opened the site last month. PenguinShare works on the model of textbook-exchange sites: students register on their college’s network, view a list of titles that can be borrowed from other members, then meet up in person to hand off the videos.

The main difference with existing legal sites is that PenguinShare is free. Members are encouraged to make their own DVDs available to others, but are still permitted to join if they don’t have any to share. The site already has 400 users on 16 campuses and several thousand DVDs available.

Rosenberg said PenguinShare offers a few advantages over big companies like Netflix and Blockbuster. Students can obtain DVDs more quickly, especially on small campuses. Even similar online exchange sites such as SwitchPlanet.com, which have users ship items to each other, cannot match the speed of an on-campus exchange. The site also enables users to find peers with similar tastes and to discuss their preferences both online and in person. “It’s not just getting a movie to watch it,” Rosenberg said.

Unlike peer-to-peer file sharing on the Web, PenguinShare’s arrangement is legal because no files are reproduced. And because users are registered, anyone who damages or pockets a DVD can be easily identified. The site warns that “stealing through PenguinShare is stealing with documentation and a name attached, not a great idea.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Compiled by Sean Pegado, contributing writer.