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Thomas Jefferson and Amphibolies


picture of amphiboly sign

Some things do not seem to go together. Or if they are put together, the result is humorous, as in the case of the signs on the right. With the beginning of the 112th Congress, there is much anticipation of what our Congress critters will try to accomplish. As I contemplated what to post today and found a list of quotations of Thomas Jefferson in my files, I wondered what he would think of what our nation has become and is becoming. As I looked at the wisdom of Jefferson and knowing his close ties to the other founding fathers of our nation, I did a little looking around online and found a final quotation that was quite interesting. On to the quotations....

John Kennedy said in his address at a dinner for Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere on April 29, 1962, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

The quotations of Thomas Jefferson below could prove his point.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government."

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
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Are Test Results Valid?


picture of scantron

I think most teachers would agree with me that one of the hardest parts of teaching is testing and assessment. And I'm not talking about grading tests, but writing good ones. You think you have written good questions that cannot be read into, and then you give the test... How could the students misunderstand or misinterpret such clear questions?!

The teacher of the Tests and Measurements course at BJ came to class one day and told the students to take out a half sheet of paper. He told them to number from one to ten. He then proceeded as follows, "Number one; true or false? Number two; true or false? Number three; true or false?" At this point a student timidly raised his hand and asked the teacher if he was going to read the questions. The teacher interrupted, "Number four; true or false?" and so on through number ten. He then told the students to exchange papers, and he read the "right" answers. He asked the students to show by the raised hand what their scores were on this "quiz." One person got nine out of the ten right — with no questions! He went on to talk about the ineffectiveness of true-false questions in determining what students knew — good guessers could get at least a 90% and poor guessers considerably less, when there was no information actually being tested. BTW, we're currently considering eliminating true-false questions as much as possible from our French tests.

One of my "fun gifts" for Christmas this year was a "Teacher's Grade Decider" from Mark and Katie. Below is a picture of it:

picture of the teacher's grade decider

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Jury Duty


picture of jury duty

I have been summoned for jury duty several times, but I have never been seated on a jury that has gone into deliberation. The one time I was seated, the defendant decided to settle without his case's proceeding. The first time I was ever summoned, I was relieved not to be seated — it was a murder trial in Detroit and final exam week for me as a teacher. Ugh! The system was supposed to be "one day, one trial," but because it was so difficult to seat a jury for that well-publicized case, we all had to go back several days. I guess they needed a jury of people who lived in caves and never saw or read the news.

Well, this next week I have been summoned for jury duty. I'm glad they were able to move this to a time when classes aren't in session since it definitely would have been hard on my colleagues to cover my classes for a week.

In honor of this upcoming event, I thought I'd post some law-related humor. It's mostly jokes about lawyers, since they figure so prominently into courtroom scenes. I apologize in advance to several of my readers who are actually quite nice lawyers. They must know lots of other lawyers, though, who are the reason for so many lawyer jokes. Anyway, here goes...!

Mrs. Swanson was declining to serve on the jury because she was not a believer in capital punishment and didn't want her beliefs to get in the way of the trial.

"But, Madam," said the public defender, who had taken a liking to her kind face and calm demeanor, "this is not a murder trial. It is merely a civil lawsuit being brought by a wife against her husband. He gambled away the $15,000 he'd promised to spend on a fur coat for her birthday."

"Hmmm," reflected Mrs. Swanson. "OK, I'll serve, I could be wrong about capital punishment."
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Do You Use the Caps Lock Key?


picture of caps lock key

About the only time I use the Caps Lock key on my computer is when I aCCIDENTALLY hit it as I reach my pinky over to hit the A key. Seriously, it has come in handy at times, especially back in the days of typing on my trusty Remington manual typewriter that lacked bold and italics.

picture of search key

Recently I read an article telling that Google is planning to delete the Caps Lock/Shift Lock key on its Cr-48 notebook (laptop), replacing the key with a search button. If users still want to have it be a Caps Lock key, they can do so by tweaking a few settings. The article about this change gives an interesting history of typewriters and keyboards and tells when and why the Shift Lock key came into being and how its use has changed through the years.

The change Google is making on its laptops may be confusing to those who frequently use the caps lock key, but it could also help people avoid being part of something like the following discussion I found online earlier this fall:
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Christmas Cookie Rules


picture of Christmas cookies

A favorite tradition of the Christmas season is Christmas cookies. There are some that each family just has to make each year, or it wouldn't be Christmas. There are cookies that we make only at this time of year because of their strong tie in our minds and hearts to Christmas time. And every family's list is different. Today I'm posting a list of rules to make you feel better about your Christmas cookie consumption.

Christmas Cookie Rules

1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first one is the test cookie and thus calorie free.

2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

3. If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.
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