April 14th, 2009

How To Write a Term Paper

My friend nihilistic_kid is a published novelist who used to make something vaguely resembling a living as a term paper artist. In the above titled post, he gives some advice to undergrads:
Spring Break is over, at least in the US, and so now the shank of the semester has begun. Time for term papers! As a former term paper artist I've learned a few things about papering. Things you will not learn from other sources simply because almost nobody has the experience I have. Composition specialists, your professors, and writing center tutors have not written 5000+ model term papers in virtually every field and in every length and format.

So, if you hear different from what I am saying, remember that I am right and they are wrong.

Note: this is "How To Write a Term Paper" not "How To Learn Something." Learning is your problem!
The remainder of the post outlines the process in eight steps.

I also recommend his piece about writing for a term paper mill, "The Term Paper Artist" published in The Smart Set, at Drexel University.

I think if I'd read his post when I was an undergrad, I would have handed in more of my papers on time.

Your morning dose of cute: Tweenbots

From http://www.tweenbots.com/:
Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
Check out the video.

(If the embedding isn't working, just go to the site.)

Thanks to frobzwiththingz!

A question for tax day: "Do you regard the income tax which you will have to pay this year as fair?"

Charles Franklin, on The Irony of Tax Cuts:
The Republican driven tax cuts have worked. Voters now have more faith that the federal income tax system is fair than at any other time since World War II. Moreover these changes in public opinion coincide with the Republican capture of the House in 1994 and accelerate with the Bush tax cuts. But the irony of this success is that the GOP finds it hard to claim credit for a job well done. Once the tax monster is slain, who do you fight next? Once the people are no longer grumpy about unfair taxation (tea parties notwithstanding), how do you keep the issue alive? By successfully shifting public views of the fairness and burden of federal income taxes through repeated cuts, Republicans inadvertently also reduced the salience of their best issue of the 29 years since the Reagan Revolution. The public now agrees that tax cuts are good, but they are no longer particularly angry about taxes.

Today Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President Bush, offered an interesting proposal in the Wall Street Journal: raise income taxes on those who currently don't pay. That is a rather shocking proposition from the party that has spent nearly 30 years arguing that tax cuts are good for everyone. The very success of that political program has been to remove millions from the tax roles, and put nearly half within striking distance of paying no federal income taxes. So you'd think that would be cause for celebration among Republicans for a job well done and a lot of credit to claim with those voters.

Alas, those voters aren't voting Republican in overwhelming numbers. The way to not have to pay taxes is to not make a lot of money. And while these less taxed citizens appear to have been pleased with lower taxes, that hasn't translated into a majority of Republican votes among these non-taxpayers. So Mr. Fleischer has now taken on the burden of convincing nearly half of the public that it is not good for them to pay little or no income taxes. Instead, fairness demands that everyone pay taxes. That's a breathtaking argument for a Republican to make.

Fleischer goes on to argue that it is poor policy for the top 10% of earners to pay 72% of all income taxes, and that is probably a discussion worth having. But the argument for raising income taxes on the bottom 90% to provide a little more load sharing for the top 10% is an interesting electoral calculus to say the least.

Obama's plan to lower taxes for more of the lower 90% (or 95%, whatever) plays to the anti-tax momentum Bush built. And it means that Republicans don't have the angry taxpayer revolt of the late 1970s that helped build the Reagan platform that transformed tax policy for a generation of Republican politicians.

And so we are left with the irony of Republican success. How do you keep tax cuts at the center of your economics when nearly half don't pay, but aren't as grateful as they might be. And if the issue doesn't have the mass appeal it did for Reagan, can it still motivate the base (remember those tea parties!) enough to continue to have legs. But I have to wonder if Mr. Fleischer's plan is really the way for the anti-tax party to go.
I do think it's a bit simpler. The Wall Street Journal is read, by and large, by rich people, and Ari Fleischer wrote a nice little essay to make them happy. That it's political kryptonite doesn't concern him particularly.

He might even believe what he's saying is a good idea, but he doesn't have to try to sell it to the voters.

Hah! Funny.

Roger Simon, in a piece about the pirate rescue in the Politico:
In any case, even as dramatic as it was, Obama’s pirate adventure probably will be quickly forgotten. Oh, yes, it will. Anybody remember the Hainan Island incident? It happened during George W. Bush’s first 100 days in office. On April 1, 2001, a Chinese jet fighter rammed a U.S. military surveillance plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan. The 24 U.S. crew members were held hostage for 10 days and released only after the Bush administration issued a letter of regret for entering China’s airspace.

We got the crew back unharmed and eventually even got the plane back (in pieces), but we had to pay China $34,000 for the food and lodging of the hostages. But then China is a little tougher to deal with than pirates. (Today, the Chinese wouldn’t even bother to ram the plane. They would just start selling U.S. Treasury bills until we promised never to invade their airspace again.)
Okay, that's enough procrastination. Back to work.
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