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Saturday, March 29, 2014

"The Most Dangerous Game" in 7 minutes

Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" in 7 minutes - I've read and analyzed it so you don't have to.  This will suffice if you haven't read the story and you need to look good in class, or if you need to do a passable essay OR get a decent grade.  As always I recommend reading the story in its entirety.

Read the story here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why School Has Devolved, Not Evolved

This podcast is the result of a few conversations, and an idea that I read about in Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract.  James brought up the speed (or lack thereof) of baseball games and how it became that way.  The umpires of the old days were moved along by the setting of the sun.  Those umpires trained a generation of umps who continued the tradition - but as night baseball became ubiquitous the need to 'move the game along' vanished.  Now you have long, boring interminable baseball games.

School teachers are a reflection of the same phenomenon.  The teachers who started teaching in the 50's and 60's learned their craft in a difficult, non unionized, non tenured environment.  The harsh conditions created determined, capable, smart and dedicated teachers.  If you weren't a teacher with those qualities you were fired.  Those teachers trained the next generation of teachers - and the idea of being held accountable.  As unionization, tenure and collectivism infiltrated and then took over the teaching profession, the teacher trainers and the teachers themselves now no longer need to create a great product.  Their jobs don't rely upon results or quality.  Now you have long, boring, interminable classes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mind Control in American Politics

This post is coincidental because of the previous podcast on independent thinking.  James Corbett, the webmaster of Corbettreport, has produced a video on a similar topic.  Corbett tackles the false right / left paradigm that has saddled independent and critical thought - particularly in the political arena.  His angle is a good one; with only two sides of a story or an issue possible, there is little to no real debate, and the polarizing nature of people to fight for their 'team' takes over.  This stifles critical thought.

You see this in school with your high school teachers, and you'll see even more at the University level. These instructors will fight for their side (usually the 'democrat' side in academia), even when the actions are the same as the previously different side.  We're seeing this now during the Obama administration - no difference, but the teams are still squabbling.

Corbett goes a step further by bringing up the work of Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton's mentor, and his work on how the 'sides' are a sham and have been co-opted for years by the Establishment.  This has created a mass of humanity that does nothing different politically than what Yankee and Red Sox fans have done for 100 years - argue about how the other team sucks.

Break free from this nonsense.

I saw this post on the LRC blog, courtesy of Charles Burris.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How I Learned How To Think For Myself - An Odyssey

How I became someone who is:

  1. able to think for himself
  2. a self described libertarian
  3. able to critically and logically analyze
  4. not part of the artificial "debates" in society
Some of the sites events mentioned in the podcast:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

College Entrance Exam - SAT English Sections Explained

The Verbal sections of the SAT - the writing and the reading sections given a detailed overview by me.  General strategy and format laid out for you in under 20 minutes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

ACT English and Reading Introduction

ACT English and Reading Introduction

Time: The exam will take just under 3 hours.

Rationale – what the test writers expect you to be able to do and will test you on the following: “Solve problems, draw conclusions, make inferences and think analytically.  “Remember, the ACT emphasizes thinking skills.”

English section (Part 1): you are the editor of 5 passages, with 15 questions each for a total of 75 questions.  You have 45 minutes to do the entire section.  Each underlined portion is the place you will ‘edit’ to see if it should be changed or left the way the passage was written.  A varied type of editorial problem is presented in each case, but they can be divided into two kinds of questions:
1.     Usage / Mechanics questions: A) Punctuation – 10 questions.  B) Grammar and usage – 12 questions.  C) Sentence structure – 18 questions.  (40 total questions).
·      For the usage / mechanics section you need to know: Conventions of standard grammatical English, basic punctuation, how to write complete and organized sentences.

1.     Rhetorical Skills questions: A) Writing strategy – 12 questions. B) Organization – 11 questions. C) Style – 12 questions. (35 total questions).
·      For the rhetorical skills questions you need to know: basic understanding of rhetoric – is it unified, organized and consistent.
ð Each of the five passages has about 325 words.  You have about 30 seconds per question – you need to get 55 questions out of the 75 correct to have a shot at your standard, garden variety University.

Reading Section: (Part 4): This section is designed to test your ability to read and understand material you’ll see on the college level.

Rationale / Format: 4 passages – 750 words each, from 4 areas.  10 questions after each passage, for 40 questions total.  This gives you 3 – 4 minutes per passage and 4 minutes for the 10 questions, which works out to about 25 seconds per question.  To answer these questions you must be able to:
ð Infer
ð Find implications
ð Identify main ideas
ð See cause and effect
ð Understand vocabulary in context
ð Recognize author intent
ð Analyze the sequence of events
ð Identify the significance of selected details
ð Separate fact from fiction
ð Evaluate the validity of ideas.

Sub score 1) Arts and Literature (Prose Fiction and Humanities passages)
Sub score 2) Social Studies / Science (Social Science and Natural Science passages)
ð Use these two sub scores to identify your trouble spots or strengths.

 Passage Types and possible topics:
ð Prose Fiction: novels and short stories.
ð Humanities: architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language and literature, criticism, music, philosophy, radio, TV, theater.
ð Social Studies: anthropology, archeology, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology.
ð Natural Science: anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, psychology physics, technology, zoology.

This Week In School - 3/7/14

Events this week in school.  If you're wondering what actually goes on in a poorly performing school, with students predominantly from the "bad" side of the tracks, here you go.  This is probably the first in a series.
This week:

  •  the habits of students, what has changed over the past 4 years.
  • The Mahopac / Mt. Vernon racist tweet, behavior controversy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Introduction to the ACT in 12 Minutes

Here is an introduction to the English section of the ACT Exam.  Use it to determine if you think you would rather do the ACT exam than the SAT exam.  We also cover the format, tasks and problems that will be in this section of the test.