Worthless Junk: Is it Necessary?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. Start a 30-minute timer after reading the topic below and finish writing the essay within that half hour.

Prompt: In this day and age, you must understand the overwhelming importance of owning unnecessary material. In the way we live now, you are not what you produce. You are what you buy. And outside of that which is found in a few aisles in the grocery and hardware stores, most of what you consume is totally unnecessary. –Adapted from James B. Twitchell, Living It Up: Our Love Affair with Luxury

Topic: Is most of what people buy totally unnecessary?

If this essay is my opinion (it is), then YES. Most of the objects people buy, apart from necessities, are completely useless. Let me provide a cliche example.

:UNSPONSORED FLEX TAPE®™© ADVERTISEMENT: “To show the power of Flex Tape®™©, I sawed this boat in half, and repaired it with only Flex Tape®™©!”

:Hapless Elderly Woman: “Oh golly, this fancy newfangled Flex Tape®™© sure looks mighty handy, it oughta fix that old deep freezer out in the garage!”

Later, our Hapless Elderly Woman waddles into her local Wal∗Mart  mom and pop grocery store, and sees the 12×10 Flex Tape®™©: The Super Strong Waterproof Tape!®™© for only $99.99! Later, she brings it home and deposits it in the garage, never to be seen again until the apocalypse, when Mad Max himself discovers it.

So my verdict? Yes, almost all of what people buy is useless. People, get something other than Flex Glue®™© in your heads!


John Quincy Adams’ Interesting Life

Writing Assignment: Write a two to three page paper on one of the following topics:

Summarize the life and career of one of the presidents discussed this week:

  1. James Monroe                                                                                                                                  2. John Quincy Adams
3. Andrew Jackson

John Quincy Adams, born to a wealthy family, never actually went to school. Instead, he was under the tutelage of his cousin, and his father’s law clerk. John did get the chance to travel with his father when his father went on trips to Europe. Because of the fact that he was able to travel to so many different places as a young child, he was able to get a more expanded education. Especially when he enrolled at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

John Quincy spent a lot of time in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. Because of him spending so much time in other countries, he became fluent in many different languages. When John finally got back to America after all of his traveling, which was before he even went to college, he went to Harvard and he graduated in 1787 with a B.A and in 1790 with an M.A.

Before he went to Harvard though, John Quincy had already translated Virgil, Horace, Plutarch, and Aristotle. 

When John Quincy wrote a series of articles defending George Washington, he got recognized nationally. George Washington had made a decision to keep the United States out of any kind of war with Europe, especially the growing French Revolution. This was understandable since America had just gotten over the Revolutionary War. In order to support him, John Quincy wrote a series of articles, and he was instantly recognized.

After this, George Washington appointed John Quincy Ambassador of the Netherlands in 1793 when John Quincy was just 26. John Quincy didn’t really want this position. He preferred a more quiet and peaceful lifestyle, being able to read and study in private, as opposed to the bustle of politics, but his father encouraged him to take it. So John Quincy reluctantly took the position. It’s a good thing he did because during his travels there he met his wife.

When his time as ambassador was over, John Quincy hoped that he would be able to return to his quiet life, but George Washington named him Minister of Portugal in 1796. John Quincy didn’t really like being in public service as much as you would think, but he decided to do it anyway.

When John Quincy later ran for President he was opposed by Andrew Jackson, a war hero from the War of 1812.

By the end of the election there was a three-way tie, and the presidency had to be decided by the House of Representatives. A man named Henry Clay helped John Quincy win the election and John Quincy officially became President in 1825. Andrew Jackson was furious at the fact that he lost. He was positive that John Quincy and Henry made some sort of deal because of the fact that John Quincy appointed Henry Clay his own Secretary of State. Andrew Jackson then vowed that he would beat John Quincy in the next election (and he did).

During his presidency, John Quincy suggested that they try to improve things in the country internally instead of improving it through foreign involvement. John Quincy suggested that they start improving the country internally so he supported a high tariff to help pay for all of the new road and canals that he started.

In the next election, Andrew Jackson got what he wanted and beat out John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828, making John Quincy only the second president to only serve for 1 term. His father was the first. After this, John Quincy thought that he could finally retire from public service, but this was not the case. John Quincy was unexpectedly elected to the House of Representatives a year after he retired from his Presidency. John Quincy continued to serve the last 17 years of his life in Congress, even when he a stroke in 1846. This stroke left him partially paralyzed. After he recovered, he returned to his duties in Congress.

In 1848, he suffered another stroke. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it out of this one, and he died in his home two days later.

 John Quincy was very stubborn when he believed in something and wanted it, just like his father. He will always be remembered as the Greatest American Hero.

With Clive in India Book Review

I reviewed this book. I have been feeling pretty bad lately so I apologize if the review sounds pessimistic.

This book was written by G.A Henty, who is probably one of my least favorite authors due to his writing style. He wrote this book to be as historically accurate as possible, including events that actually happened and characters based on real people.

The book was filled with battles, and they were all highly action packed and could have been entertaining to read, if not for the bad things about this book.

Oh dear, here they come. I thought that the character development in this book was rather pitiful. I had no connection to the main character, and I had no feelings regarding whether he succeeded or failed. He was kind of a joke, honestly.

The other thing is that the battles where written super chaotically, and there was no real train to where things where going. As such, it was hard to even follow what was going on.

In conclusion, I thought this book deserved a 3.5 out of 10. It was rather mediocre pretty much all of the time. The only positive thing I can even think of about the book is the imaginative environments. That was pretty cool, but often soiled by the poor writing. I would not recommend this book to anybody.

The WAAAGGGHHH of 1812

Writing Assignment: Write a two to three page paper on one of the following topics:

Summarize the history of one of the following topics discussed this week:

1. History of Washington D.C.

2. James Madison

3. The War of 1812

The war of 1812 is a war that many do not know much about. It is often called the ‘second Revolutionary War’ due to the fact that it was fought, again, between the British and the United States, and again it was fought because of the British trying to ‘push around’ the U.S, or treat it like its own possession.

Let me explain. One of the first things the British did was starting to casually impress Americans into the British Navy, under the pretense that ‘They were British citizens at one time.’ While technically true, the Americans were not British anymore, and this made them mad. The British also started arming Native Americans with weapons, making it difficult for the U.S to expand north (which they desperately wanted to do).

Slowly, tensions began to reach a breaking point. The current president at the time, James Madison, wanted to avoid war at all costs. A political group, the War Hawks, wanted the opposite (the War Hawks were the sons of fighters in the Revolutionary War, and wanted to cement their place in history). Eventually, the ended up convincing James Madison that the war was necessary for them to expand. So in June of 1812, James Madison asked the Congress to declare war on Britain, which was happily granted.

In the first ‘battle’, American troops marched into Canada and demanded that the Canadian forces surrender. The Canadian general, outnumbered 5-1, waited forever. He finally decided that he was outnumbered and better make like a tree and leave. The first ‘battle’ ended in favor of the Americans, with no casualties on either side and no ammunition expended. Thrifty!

The British and Americans fought for a couple years, no side either gaining a true advantage over the other, until the burning of the White House. In 1814, the British invaded Washington, DC and sacked all of the government buildings, then set the ‘President’s House’ on fire. Many irreplaceable paintings and documents were saved by the works of several people.

This defeat was highly embarrassing for the Americans, but they gained their reputation back during the defense of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore. Over 25 hours, the British rained barrage after barrage of artillery down on the fort, but when they stopped, the U.S flag was still flying, and the Fort was intact. As such, Francis Scott Key wrote ‘The Defense of Fort M’Henry’, The first line of which was adapted into the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.

After this battle, both sides agreed to end the fighting and signed the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814. As such, the war was officially over. However, communication was very slow back in those days, and the two sides clashed one last time in New Orleans. Andrew Jackson led the Americans against the British, inflicting 2000ish casualties while only suffering 300ish of his own. However, news of the treaty arrived soon after, and they felt mighty stupid. Oh well, these things happen.

Are Snap Judgements Better than Reasoned Decisions?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. Start a 40-minute timer after reading the topic below and finish writing the essay within that half hour.

Prompt: In decision making, we usually follow a reasoned process: weighing pros and cons, talking things over with a friend, and drawing on our past actions and experiences. In snap judgments–decisions that we make on the spot, with no reflection beforehand–we do not follow such a methodical decision-making process. Everything tells us that relying on snap judgments is unwise. We make such decisions, however, because they ultimately work out better than decisions to which we give a lot of thought.

Topic: Are snap judgments better than decisions to which people give a lot of thought?

I really am starting to get confused by these questions. They usually result in the answer that ‘both have their advantages’. But, I will do so again, and be forced to repeat myself AGAIN.

Both have their advantages. If you are a criminal, hypothetically, what would you do if you where the mastermind of a devious heist? You would think long and hard about what to do to steal the loot and not get caught. Showing up at the door completely unprepared and expecting to ‘just wing it’ would become a massive trainwreck pretty fast.

On the other hand, if you get in a gunfight with someone else, you don’t really have time to throw up your hands and say ‘Hold on! Let me think about what to do here!’. You have to rely on your adrenaline to help guide you towards what you should do in that moment. You might have even heard stories about people doing seemingly inhuman things when their or someone else’s life was at stake.

The point is, both have their advantages, and both have their own appropriate situations for use. So, I just repeated myself. Ugh.

Lesson 50 English: Out on the Pampas Book Report

Writing Assignment: Finish the final draft of your 2-3 page book report on Out On The Pampas.

To finish the book report, proofread and revise the rough draft into a final draft with the tips from this week’s lessons. When you are finished writing, post the essay to your blog and put a link to the post on the 8th grade English forum. If you have any questions, post them on the forum as well.

Out on the Pampas is a book written by G.A Henty. He originally told the book in story format to his children long before he actually wrote it.

During the bookthey settlethey workand they talk.

Practically foretelling the inevitable migration to the South American mainland,    Mr. Frank Hardy deems the future of his two boys relatively unsettling and decides to   move down to the Argentine Republic to start a new farm life of hard workprimarily   for profitable purposes in the future for the family.

His two boysCharley and Hubertwere both in their mid teensand were growing fast,   and of coursetheir father worried about their future in England.

After Mr. Hardy announces and confirms the migration to South America to the rest of   the familyhe tells the boys and girls what they must do to prepare for the expedition   and settlement.

I thought the book was alright. It was a mildly entertaining story, but, ultimately, it was pretty forgettable. I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone else.

Is it better to care deeply about something?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. 

Prompt: Many people believe that one must care very deeply about something in order to do it well. Passionate commitment, they argue, is a characteristic of every great achiever in history. But caring very deeply about something can cloud one’s judgment and make it difficult to think clearly. More can be accomplished, in fact, with cool detachment. It is usually those who remain emotionally detached from their tasks who achieve the most.

Topic: Is it better to care deeply about something or to remain emotionally detached?

I disagree with both. Caring deeply about something can result in better decisions, or more effective strategies to achieve your goal. Being emotionally detached can lead to laziness. If a general, for example, remained detached from his troops, he would be more willing to send them on suicidal charges or just generally make more life-threatening decisions. If he cared deeply about his men, he would be much more thoughtful in how he directed them, and he would make less risky decisions and more intelligent actions.

Both sides have their negatives, though. Caring about your troops can have emotional responses if they fail, but being withdrawn can make you seem like a robot or a sociopath.

Does Working With Others Lead to Better Results?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. Start a 45-minute timer after reading the topic below and finish writing the essay within that half hour.

Prompt: Many thoughtful people have said that cooperation brings out the best in people and leads to success in almost all endeavors. There is a limit, however, to the value of cooperative behavior, since such behavior may suppress people’s willingness to be creative and to stand out from the crowd. Too often, cooperating means going along with the group even if that is not necessarily the best way.

Topic: Does working with others lead to better results than acting as an individual?

This is a very controversial subject, as it depends entirely on how you play with other people. As such, I will provide several examples, and let the reader decide.

I, personally, am an actual introvert, so I don’t really function well in a team with people I do not know. If I am in a CTF game, I function better playing the stealthy, lone wolf role than being in the thick of things among my other teammates. Unfortunately, since I am part of a minority that way, I have virtually no place on the field because other players team up to target me, and as such I literally serve only as a distraction.

Some people who are not me work very well in a team. These people, known as extroverts, function very well in a team scenario, as they feed off of being around other people. These people would be able to coordinate extremely well in a CTF game, usually stomping poor introverts such as myself.

All in all, it depends entirely on how well you function in your roles. Each one has its pros and cons.

Is it Appropriate to Complain to Show What We Need?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Start the timer when you finish reading the prompt and stop writing when the timer is finished.

Prompt: There is an old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Simply put, this means that people who make their needs or desires known by making noise–that is, by complaining–are the ones who get what they need or want. But nobody likes a squeaky wheel: the complainer may get what he or she wants, but only at the risk of being perceived unfavorably..

Topic: Should we complain to get what we want?

It depends entirely upon what you define ‘complaining’ as. If you define it in the form of your 5 year old sister whining, then that is inappropriate complaining, and nobody wants to hear that.

The real definition of ‘complaining’, according to Dictionary.com, is to express dissatisfaction, pain,uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault,  to tell of one’s pains, ailments, etc, and to make a formal accusation.

Let’s use the Force Awakens as an example. Famed for being one of the most controversial movies ever, due to its political agendas and bad story. When people ‘complain’ about the movie, they are providing feedback on the movie. However, Disney being Disney, they chose to ignore the feedback and the Last Jedi still sucked.

As such, ‘complaining’ isn’t always bad, and can provide good feedback. Remember that next time someone ‘complains’ about something!

Is Good Advice Always Welcome?

Writing Assignment: Write a 1-2 page essay on the following prompt and topic. Set a timer for 60 minutes. Start the timer when you finish reading the prompt and stop writing when the timer is finished.

Prompt: There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters — they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

Topic: Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome?

There is no definite answer. Good advice can be welcomed if the person is open-minded, but sometimes people simply refuse to listen to any good advice. It is entirely an opinion based question, AS THERE IS NO DEFINITE ANSWER.