My anaconda don’t wanna go to class tomorrow
Stargazers could be in for a rare display Sept. 12 as an Earth-directed solar flare ignites the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, in the United States. As a result of the flare’s direction and strength, the dazzling light display could reach as far south as Maryland in the east and down to Kansas farther west.
Traditional disclaimer first: do not believe me, believe your tutor. If the person teaching your course tells you to do something different to what I say here, listen to them. Do not fix them with a defiant stare and cry ‘But paraTactician says THIS!’. They will ask ‘who is paraTactician?’ and you will say ‘he… writes Homestuck fanfiction’ and your academic career will never recover.
The purpose of an assigned essay at uni, as opposed to an exam essay, is to demonstrate you know what you’re talking about. So as long as you produce a coherent piece of prose, of an appropriate length, which shows that you’ve read what you were supposed to read and made an attempt to think about it critically, you will get a decent mark. But we don’t want decent marks! We want awesome marks. No-one wants to be Mr Anderson. You want to be Neo, and Neo has style.
Here’s the trick: beat the shit out of the question.
I’m going to make up a Classics example because I’m a Classicist, but I’ll make it non-technical, so it should be relevant to most arts essays. Imagine you get the question ”The women of the Iliad are mere ciphers, with no other role than to move the plot along.’ Do you agree?’.
Here’s the obvious way to tackle that question. There are four (mortal) women in the Iliad who get any amount of screen time: Helen, Andromache, Briseis, and Hecabe. So we lay out our paragraphs:
1. Introduction: There are several women in the Iliad. In this essay I intend to consider the role each plays in the poem. (NB: I loathe this style of introduction, but it remains inexplicably popular; my Philosophy tutor used to insist on it, and mark me down if I didn’t do it.)
6. Conclusion: As I have shown, the women of the Iliad perform a range of functions other than simply advancing the plot, they are well-rounded and complex characters who blah blah blah.
This is what a lot of people will do, and it’s fine. It’s dutiful. It works.
But all questions make at least one assumption, and a clever question deliberately diverts your attention away from that assumption. It’s like politics: a speech drawing attention to x candidate’s fantastic track record on the economy is not going to mention her dismal record on social policy. A good journalist spots this, and hangs neon lights on it. You have to come at the question like it’s hiding something, and you’re going to find out what. You are Terezi Pyrope, and the question is the trembling Senator Lemonsnout.
Giant assumption in this question: do the women of the Iliad move the plot along? What happens to the plot of the Iliad if you take all the women out? Answer: pretty much fuck all. Briseis is the only one who matters. You can remove Andromache and Hecabe from the story altogether, and although Helen needs to exist for the war to happen, she doesn’t actually need to speak - it’s enough for the audience to know she’s somewhere in Troy. No-one needs to see her.
So why are they there?
The question is now on the back foot. Instead of it saying, ‘Hey! Bold, sweeping statement! Do you agree, panicked undergraduate??’ and you muttering ‘Er gosh um well that is to say I mean no not exactly um’, you’re asking the questions. Why are there any women in the Iliad? Why didn’t Homer just compose a sausage-fest?
That’s what you need to look for: the weak point. A good essay, like a good story or a good pop song, has a hook. If you can find a hook, you’re made. Try asking the exact reverse of the question, and seeing whether it makes sense. Look at it sideways. Squint. Throw it on the ground. You have to answer it, but you don’t have to answer it in the way it wants to be answered.
I hope that sort of helps? A lot of it will depend on the tastes and preferences of the person marking your work, and you should adapt to suit them. But for me, the distinction between a solid essay and a great essay is always that when the question holds up a palm and says ‘Hit my hand!’, the solid essay obligingly punches its upheld hand. The great essay kicks it in the nuts.
(Also: for easy style points, make your paragraphs flow. In the above ‘women’ essay, I guarantee you at least one person will begin a paragraph with ‘Another woman in the Iliad is Andromache’, at which point I will take a swig of Emergency Whisky. There should never be a chasm between paragraphs. If there is, bridge it.)
Exciting news! The Internet Slowdown net neutrality protest planned for September 10th is really taking off. This morning, a dozen of the world’s largest websites announced that they’re joining in a big way. Sites you know and love like Etsy, Kickstarter, Wordpress, Vimeo, Mozilla, Namecheap, Foursquare, imgur, and reddit.
Will you join too?
Oh, but that’s not all that happened this morning. Just a few hours ago I got a phone call from a number in Washington, DC. The person on the other end tried to ask some questions without identifying themselves, but when I asked outright they told me they were from NCTA — yep, as in the National Cable Television Association, aka Comcast’s lobbying army.
They wanted to know when we would be announcing the names of the companies participating in the September 10th net neutrality protest. I suggested they take a look at the front page of The Guardian, or at this op-ed by the CEO of Etsy in Wired, and mentioned they may want to check out this TIME Magazine article. Then I hung up.
After the call, I couldn’t stop smiling. I’ve been organizing for many years and one thing I’ve learned is that powerful enemies only start contacting you when they’re scared. If they don’t think you’re being effective, they ignore you.
Friends, we are giving some of the most powerful interests in the world a run for their money. And they have tons of money. We’ve got Comcast & company shaken up and scared. This is our chance to to drive the message home and win this once and for all.
All the tools you need for the battle are here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th
If you’ve got a website, blog, or Tumblr run the “slowdown” widget on your site to symbolically show your users a “loading” message and help people understand what the Web could be like without net neutrality. If you don’t have a site, change your profile pic to the “loading” symbol, so that the entire Internet is alive with protest on September 10th, and forward this email to everyone you know to spread the word.
The truth is, unlike Comcast and their cronies, we have nothing to hide. A report from the Sunlight Foundation yesterday showed that 99% of comments the FCC has received are in support of net neutrality. The public agrees, and hell hath no fury like the Internet scorned. As I write this email, I’m feeling more hopeful about our chances of victory in the battle for net neutrality than I have since we started this fight.
We can win this, and when we do, it’s a victory we can put in the history books.
For the Internet,
-Evan Greer at Fight for the Future
P.S. Our friends at Namecheap are really throwing down in the fight for net neutrality. Check out the awesome video they just put up at NetNeutrality.com (nice URL right?), wait til you get to the part where people are riding on toilets chasing wall street bankers up a bike ramp.
P.P.S. There’s still time to get your very own #TeamInternet t-shirt or hoodie. Go here and reserve yours before they’re gone! http://teespring.com/stores/team-internet
My first giveaway on tumblr *c*
You can win one messenger bag from the ones available in BlueRobotto’s shop (Check out the shop for more pics and the description of each bag)
1 person will be randomly selected as winner from the notes in this post. The winner will chose 1 bag from the ones available and it will be sent to them without charge.
If this post gets more than 500 notes 2 winners will be chosen.
If this post gets more than 1000 notes 3 winners will be chosen.
How to participate:
- You don’t have to follow BlueRobotto.
- Reblog this post to participate, only 1 reblog to prevent spam.
- Likes count too.
- If you win I should be able to contact you through your tumblr.
Things to consider:
- Shipping to anywhere in the world, BlueRobotto will cover the shipping expenses.
- Any question feel free to send a messege :)
The givaway will end on saturday september 20th, at 10:00 PM Central America time.
Good luck to everyone who participates :D
You can also contact BlueRobotto on twitter @bluerobotto if you want to ask anything.
if anyone remembers the story that was making rounds a while back about a 19 year old discovering the solution to cleaning up the pacific garbage patch, that project launched a fundraider which now has 7 days to reach it’s goal.
it’s so close! 89% there so please signal boost at the very least; get this out there and give this the last push it needs
Centuries // Fall Out Boy
Some legends untold
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me, remember me for centuries
Last week in Batwing: Future’s End #1 there appeared to be an appearance of what looked like the long missing from comics Cassandra Cain.
Several blogs picked up on this and I had numerous people asking about it to the point and surprised I hadn’t written about it.
And there’s a reason for that.