Thursday, April 13, 2017

It's Reading T... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

     Farewell Artemis Fowl books. Tonight I, sadly, finished the nine book series, and it was a better ending than I thought. So, first Artemis makes a suicidal plan, and I was like: Oh yeah, no way he's surviving this. And BOIS was I wrong. So his plan succeeds, and he's alive, when all of a sudden they realize he won't actually survive. I was thinking: Oh good, I predicted correctly. But wait, there's still 10% of a book left! And without even using Mulches help, six months after the final battle, Artemis is resurrected and put into a cloned body. My mind got so blown that I don't even remember most of the rest of the book...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

For a Second There... I Almost though it was Reading Time

     Wait a moment. Right after Mulch saves everyone else, I was thinking: Wow, he must be invincible. But then he fell in a hole, and a dozen carnivorous rabbits jumped on him. Then, I was thinking: Well, it is the final book... Finally, after the others were fighting off attack locusts, I found out that Mulch simply opened wide, and ate all the rabbits, yet again surviving certain death. What is it with him? Even in the last book of the series, in the final battle, a support character survives. He must do something important later.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

It's Reading Time: The Return Of It's Reading Time...

     FIANLLY. Ha, I misspelled that word because I was so excited that the final battle truly began! Once again, the previous battle was survived because of Mulch Diggums recurring Deus Ex Machina habit. I was, surprisingly, surprised by this even though it happens all the time in this series. And now that the dwarf has done his job, he is no longer a part of the battle. It's like he's only in the story so the author doesn't need to have Artemis fix his own problems.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Reading Time Again...

     Sometimes, I think: Pshh, this doesn't look that hard. I could do that! However, today I actually noticed how most of the interesting details, and precise vocab, authors use would never just pop into my head. Besides noticing that, I was very entertained by a FINAL BATTLE type scene only 31% into the book. I am confused as to what will happen next once again, at the hands of Eoin Colfer.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Scigic? Shmaince?

      I have just come to realize, that for every bit of science in the Artemis Fowl books, there is a little bit of weird magic. So, the magic and science are combined to make... Scigic? Shmaince? I also love how these books have the weirdest, little, trivial details, like the fact that a car's hood ornament was knocked off and found in a soda machine 3 months later. These little snippets are unnecessary but tolerable, and this makes them great.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Finally. Got. Artemis. Fowl.

     Tonight, i started the book Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian, and it is amazing. I find it funny how during the story, both sides of the Opal Koboi Clone hostage incident are overestimating the intelligence of their enemy. They are thinking so far in advance, that neither side is seeing some pretty obvious stuff. I am very happy to be back reading Artemis Fowl, and engaging my entire brain in the most frustrating and fun activity possible.

Must. Have. Artemis. Fowl.

I am not currently lucky enough to possess one of those amazing Eoin Colfer novels, but I will have one tomorrow night to start anew. I  hope it is about Artemis delving farther into Fairy history, and probably going deep underground or underwater to save the fairy and human worlds. I wonder if new characters will be introduced, and how many characters will die? Probably a lot with the way these books work.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The GIFer

Three Reasons The Giver Book is Better Than The Movie.

“The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, is a great book about a utopia that is not quite what it seems. The inhabitants of this futuristic city have been brainwashed to have no emotions, no choices, and no conflict in their lives. Then Jonas comes along and attempts to change the world. Everything is the same in the movie. Or is it? I believe the movie is a lot worse, so there must be something different. To find it, we need to go deeper. There are changes in character’s roles and Jonas’s relationships to his fellow characters, to the clarity of story, and even to the narration style, among other things. In spite of all this, the movie does the best job it can portraying such a complex and vague book.
To start with, because it’s a Hollywood movie and not a Newberry Award winning book, many characters roles change. Asher becomes a hardcore, rule-following drone pilot instead of a more fitting job, like recreation director, all because this job causes more exciting conflict when Jonas runs away. Fiona gets un-friendzoned in the movie, and Jonas actually has a romance with her, all for the sake of Hollywood. I feel these changes in role only add unnecessary nonsense to the movie.  And the Chief Elder? Well, us semi adult humans would be totally lost if we didn’t have a physical person to mark as the bad guy, right? This totally changes the conflict and theme of the story, from Jonas v Community to Jonas v Chief Elder.
One of the things readers young and old sang the praise of in reviews, was the ambiguity of the book. For crying out loud, there are more unique theories to the ending of the book than words in this essay. And you would think that the movie’s directors would make note of this. But oh no, they went and screwed everything up, even going as far as telling us a little of what happens after the ending of the book. They did it in the beginning too, telling us all about the Great Ruining, and the Ashes, none of which are mentioned in the book, which is part of what made the book so great. The book, unlike the movie, was like an exciting mystery where we found clues to the past, present, and future.
And on the third hand, which we all have, is the narration of the story. In the book, we get a nice, vague, third person narrator giving us all our essential information. Then, in the movie, they changed it to Jonas being a first person narrator. I get that we get more clarity that way, but it leaves less to the imagination. If we can hear Jonas’s exact thoughts, we can’t imagine he’s thinking the same thing we are, and so we can’t associate with him as well. This is another way the movie differed from the book for the worst.
Even taking all of these screw ups into account, the movie does an okay job portraying a book about such ambiguous, abstract ideas with hard picture and visuals. (Although not all the visuals were that great. Let’s just forget the “seeing beyond” scenes. Forever.) Part of the movie being worse may also have been because of the high quality of the book.
To wrap it all up, the book was better than the movie because it was ambiguous, to the point, and we could relate to Jonas. The movie changed all of this, even after they saw it was good. However, the movie still did okay at representing such a complicated and mysterious book. In the end, the movie was good, but the book was great.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Life and Exploits of Grandma Becky


“Wow,” I said to my mom, “Grandma responded so fast!” I had just emailed Rebecca Mason, my grandmother on my mom’s side, all my questions, after a short texting conversation while I drove home from swim team. She didn’t even have any typos!! I knew she was very adept at using kindles and the like, but she is apparently an amazing typist. And I was overwhelmed by how much information she had given.
First, I had asked her, “What was being a teen in the ‘60s like?” She answered zealously, and said:

“In 1962 I moved with my family from Toledo, Ohio to Cupertino, California.  I immediately loved California but, looking back, it was a real "culture shock" for me.  I went from attending private school in Toledo to attending a very large public high school in Cupertino.  California was truly where everything was happening!  The Vietnam war began during my high school years and everyone was scared, especially the boys who knew they would be drafted into the service when they graduated if they did not attend college. Later in the 60s even college deferments were taken away and men were drafted according to the number that was drawn in a lottery for their birthdate. Some men who drew a low lottery number just signed up for the service they preferred rather than getting drafted into the army.  Many people did not support the war and, sadly, did not show respect for the servicemen either, who were only doing their job while putting their lives on the line.  There were demonstrations on college campuses, and things were chaotic.  Some young people were dropping out of society and heading to the west coast.  San Francisco and the surrounding area were popular destinations.  Some of these people were referred to as beatniks, hippies, flower children, etc. (If interested, you can look up more information about this).  While in high school, we could forget about the war some and just be normal high school students.  There were football games, dances, cheerleaders, bands, after-school sports and other activities.  Many students were preparing for college; some just wanted to have a good time.  The idea of women attending college and having a career like men was just beginning to be encouraged.”

Next, I was wondering, “What was being a parent like?”

“Being a parent is the most important job a person can have.  You want the best for your children but are often conflicted on what that is.  As a parent my children were never out of my mind, even if I was away from them.  I think we all have ideas about how we want to be as a parent but not everything can go as planned.  Each child is unique and must be considered as an individual with individual challenges and talents.  I know I had things that I definitely was not going to do like my parents did, and also things I thought I should do like my parents.  Nothing is for sure but I always tried to do what was in the best interests of my children.  I made mistakes; all parents make mistakes.  We learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, our children learn as well.  I can say for sure that I spent a lot of time praying for their safety while they were teenagers!”

I was surprised to hear nothing about propaganda when I asked: “What was your experience with the Cold War?”

“Wow, I hadn't thought about that in years.  I think the cold war years started in the mid 1950's and ended officially in the 80's.  I remember as a child often hearing talk about nuclear war.  It was very scary talk to a child.  It was on the news, we heard parents talking, etc.  I remember in grade school having air raid drills, kind of like you have fire drills now.  For me, once the Vietnam conflict started, I don't recall thinking much more about the cold war, although the term was still used regularly.  I also don't remember the air raid drills after coming to California.  I think Vietnam became a more realistic fear than a nuclear war.  I wasn't very interested in politics or the details of what was going on when I was a teenager.  I also was not interested in protesting or dropping out of society like some.”

My mom always tells me, “Go find something to do other than video games!” So I asked my Grandma, “How did you keep entertained growing up?”

“In Ohio we played outside a lot with the neighbor kids, especially in the warmer weather.  There were very few working mothers at the time and most families only had one car so mothers were always home to supervise the play.  We would ride bicycles, play tag and other group games.  Sometimes parents and children would go down to the empty field and play baseball on summer evenings.  There the sun didn't set until almost 10 some nights.  We had television but shows were limited so it was boring to watch TV all the time.  There were no cell phones, video games, CD players.  We did have records and record players.  Also, transistor radios were a big deal to have in the early 60's.  Some kids like to read books but I wasn't much of a reader at the time.  I did like the Nancy Drew mystery books.  Sometimes we would walk to the corner store for penny candy (yes, we could get candy for a penny).”  



Now came a question I was very interested in: “How has pop culture/slang changed over time?” I was surprised to learn that the middle class people had no slang, and talked cordially, whereas people supporting the law (like servicemen) or against it (like gang members) used slang.


“Gary (My Step-Grandpa) said most of the slang from that time came from inner city gangs and servicemen (not sure if that's true but it's a better answer than I had).  In the 50s & 60s came the original "rock" music, which really was pretty tame by today's standards.  There was Elvis Presley, the Beatles, many folk singers whose songs were about life at the time, like flower children, hippies, traveling, etc.  There were certain guidelines entertainers followed regarding words they used, how they dressed when performing, their personal lives, etc.  There was no rap or hip hop, no tweeting, texting, blogging, facebook, e-mail, or other forms of instant communication.  In some ways life was slower and easier then.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where Did Cuneiform Come From?

     To answer this question, I simply say, "read on." So, before all the fancy styluses and writing systems, there were counting tokens. They were used the same way as early cuneiform, to count and keep track of goods. They were small clay tokens with proto-cuneiform signs on them. To keep track of them, they were put in envelopes of clay. After a while, this got annoying though, so instead they just stamped the signs on the clay envelopes, along with some numbers. Lo and behold! Writing!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ALL kids will LOVE this...

     In ancient Mesopotamia, you could go to school, but you didn't have to. Just want to be a lowly farmer peasant? Then you do that. Want to be a lawyer of scribe? Well, if you have money, patience, and are of the male gender you can do that too! Although, there is an exception to this. Girls could go to school, but only if they were very important, like a high priestess or a princess. The rest of the population were apparently illiterate. This also means the job of the scribe was a very important one, as they could read and write things for other people all day, and make a good living.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

And this means what?

     A long time ago, in a galaxy very, very close... the Sumerians invented a writing system that was very useful for keeping track of things, seeing as, at the time, all it could do was list things. But, what did they list? Well, they used pictographs to, mainly, keep track of beer, food, and other property. So then, if someone stole your stuff, you could look back at your clay tablet and know. Eventually though, the Egyptian Heiroglyphic writing system emerged, and to write their words they used many consonants, and no vowels. This led to some signs being biliteral, or even triliteral. No wonder it took so long to decrypt. Confusing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why Would Anyone Want Writing?

     Well for one, it gives you an extra hour of school every day. Just kidding. Writing was actually invented for financial and logistical problems at first, and then for long distance trade. It was invented by people in the Near East and China, where they also used it for religious, social, and entertainment purposes. Many kings who also wanted to preserve the culture of the land ordered history books to be written and collected. This has helped us in modern times to learn all the stuff we know about these ancient cultures.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why Don't We Have A Universal Language?..

     Well, for starters, language evolves too rapidly for us to ever keep one language. And because humans always want to spread out, and band together, different groups of people have languages that evolve differently. Then, because of the fact that they all have different languages, nobody wants to sacrifice their language to have a universal one. So, languages like Esperanto were never successful at being universally adopted. But, English appears to be on its way to becoming an essential language to know. However, by that time English will have evolved to be probably unrecognizable.

Sources: http://people.howstuffworks.com/speak-same-language.htm https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-14164,00.html

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

'Writing Materials' Is A Boring Title...

     Over the ages, we have used many things to pour our knowledge out. First papyrus, made into scrolls by a process of separating the strips of fiber and gluing them. Secondly, parchment which is made of grosser things than you would think. It is made with the skin of new or unborn baby animals. That's a totally normal thing to record your knowledge on. And finally, we have paper. Initially made of rags instead of wood pulp, it was not that popular. But it was adopted by many by the 12th century and is now the primary writing material of many people. People also wrote on clay, and these tablets were often preserved when the building they were in burned down. So by burning down ancient libraries, attackers sometimes preserved the knowledge within.

Source: http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/WritingMaterials.html

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ancient Cuneiform Writing Is A Little Complicated. Just A Little...

     Tonight I read about ancient cuneiform writing, which is a dead language from the middle east, and in total had over 1500 signs. English has about 30. I hope you can do the math to figure out that ancient cuneiform script had over 50 times as many signs. I also learned that this way of writing was before modern writing with things like abstract ideas, so it was even more unclear what the writer was trying to say. They would say something like, 'the honorable man', instead of 'honor'. And, crazily enough, most civilians, including peasants, still knew how to read and write, so that they could write receipts and personal letters, among other things. We have also deciphered many of the texts, but it took many years because of the complexity, and because there is nobody left who knows it. We have deciphered enough however, to gather a huge amount of knowledge about it.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneiform_script and http://www.ancient.eu/cuneiform/

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why Most Animals Don't Have True Language...

      Tonight, I read about why almost all animals do not have true language. Many animals can imitate quite well, but only a few actually know what they are saying. For example, if you train an elephant to respond to the words "lie down," and it then imitates those words, it will not expect you to "lie down." There is an exception though. Recently, there have been a few African Grey Parrots that have learned the actual meanings of words and numbers. They can use these words to accurately answer simple questions like a small, human child would. It is still being debated whether this behavior is actually true use of the English language or not.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Another Day of Bland, Boring Responses...

     Today I learned more about language, and I found out quite a bit. Tonight I read about word order, and how the majority of languages have had different word orders over time. English, for example, used to have a subject, object, vets order about 1,000 years ago. Some researchers also believe that this is the very first word order ever invented. They also believe that spoken language came about around 50,000 years ago. Think about the last post and how long it took for them to start writing this stuff down! That would be really annoying, not having any writing for your language.

Monday, November 7, 2016

How Old Do You Think Writing Is Kids?..

      Today I used Wikipedia to read about the history of writing. I learned that there is proto-writing, which is pictures that loosely represent words, and there is true writing, where symbols can represent direct words, syllables, or single sounds. One of the main differences between them is that in true writing, the exact words of the writer can be figured out, whereas in proto-writing the exact meaning of the writer is very hard to figure out without knowing quite a lot of context. And now for the answer to the title: True writing is 5,216 years old! Think about the fact that the U.S. is only 240 years old. Writing is really old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_writing