Saturday, September 25, 2010

Technologically Lonely

3 comments:
There has been a growing debate about whether, in this technologically advanced world, the development of technological tools and how people use them is the underlying reason why the modern society is overwhelmed by increasing loneliness. However, I can not fully agree with his contention.

First of all, it is true that modern gadgets provided people with a way to busy themselves anywhere, anytime, thus they can simply ignore people around them. I remember my teacher told me that when he was young, people used to talk to others they did not even know in London cafes. Nowadays he would only find people set up barriers from others by indulging themselves with cellular phones or laptops, leaving him with no chance to talk to anyone. This attitude toward technological tools indeed contributes to the increasing loneliness mentioned.

Despite the fact pointed above, the actual purpose of developing technological devices is to facilitate various aspects of our life, including communication. Telephone was invented to allow people to speak to friends without getting out of their houses, so why only the newest form of communication channel—the Internet installed in laptops or other devices—is blamed for it making people lonely. In spite of limiting its users in respect of contact with others, the Internet is actually aiding people to send messages and documents cheaper and faster. The same reason is applicable to mobile phones. Therefore, the assertion that the development of technological tools has plunged humanity to loneliness is unconvincing.

Moreover, the growing loneliness is not directly caused by the advancing technology. With the ever increasing competitive work force, it is more reasonable to accuse financial demands as the reason why people have less chance to connect themselves to family and friends. Even if someone argues that the overwhelming competition is incited by the increasing speed of the most recent devices, it is again how people use them which result in the lack of leisure time to communicate with others.

To sum, it is not the advancing technology that makes people lonely. The development of such devices itself was instead intended to facilitate people to connect themselves with others. Even if the speed following the advanced technology caused some professions to be more demanding, the culpable side is again the uses that humanity has put to it.

GRE Argument Task 6

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Six months ago the region of Forestville increased the speed limit for vehicles travelling on the region’s highways by ten miles per hour. Since that change took effect, the number of automobile accidents in that region has increased by 15 percent. But the speed limit in Elmsford, a region neighboring Forestville, remained unchanged, and automobile accidents declined slightly during the same six-month period. Therefore, if the citizens of Forestville want to reduce the number of automobile accidents on the region’s highways, they should campaign to reduce Forestville’s speed limit to what it was before the increase.

The speaker recommends that the citizens of Forestville should tell the authorities that they want the speed limit in Forestville’s highways to be reduced to what it was before the ten-mile increase six months ago. The recommendation is made based on the fact that since the new speed limit was enacted, there were more automobile accidents in that region, increasing by 15 percent. The speaker also points out that a neighboring region did not change its speed limit, and its rate of automobile accidents declined slightly during the same period. Although the argument seems plausible, a careful examination upon it reveals its flaws, leaving it unconvincing as it stands.

To begin with, the speaker’s assumption that the decline of automobile accidents in Elmsford was a direct result of the region’s speed limit remained unchanged is specious. It is very possible that there were other factors contributing to the decrease, for example, the neighboring region had been helding an intense campaign on the issue of driving safely. Failing to give such possible explanations, the speaker could not make his argument cogent.

Even if it was true that Elmsford enjoyed slight decline of automobile accidents in its region, the speaker does not mention how slight it was nor did he provide any information about the actual number of speed limit. The speed limit in Elmsford may be irrationally low, and its citizens may actually crave to increase it. Furthermore, it means that Forestville has to reduce its speed limit to the same level. Meanwhile, if the decline was extremely slight, say 0.5%, then reducing the speed limit in Forestville to the same level may not yield a satisfactory result, and annoy its citizens instead.

Eventually, since the rise of Forestville’s speed limit itself did not necessarily cause a higher rate of automobile accidents, the speaker has to look for the actual reason why Forestville endured the increase. There might be some new citizens who provoked the young to drive carelessly. Therefore, the speaker would be able to make a better consideration about whether returning the speed limit to what it was is an effective measurement.

GRE Argument Task 5

2 comments:
“So that we can improve the quality of education for our students, we should merge the Fort Ann school district with the Hudson Falls school district. Scores on standardized tests for students in the Hudson Falls district rose an average of 25 percent in the past six years. Hudson Falls has five times the number of students as Fort Ann and four times the number of teachers, so they’re able to field more athletic teams and offer more enrichment programs, such as music and art. Three times as many graduates of Hudson Falls High go on immediately to four-year colleges as Fort Ann. Plus, the state aid reimbursement ratio for Hudson Falls is higher than that for Fort Ann.”

The speaker proposes that the Fort Ann school district should merge with the Hudson Falls school district to improve its quality. The proposal is followed with an argument containing some points to support it. Although the argument seems reasonable, it is actually plausible and has many flaws.

If Hudson Falls has five times the number of students as Fort Ann, having only four times the number of teachers means that the previous school has a lower ratio of teachers compared to students as the latter. Therefore, although those teachers can provide more options in the enrichment program, they might not be able to handle the students sufficiently. Eventually, it is doubtful that they can nurture the students’ potentials to the fullest.

Another weakness pertaining to the ratio of students is the fact that there are only three times as many graduates of Hudson Falls High who go immediately to four-year colleges as the Fort Ann. We have to remember that the number of students of the school in the Hudson Falls district is five times larger than the Fort Ann. Thus, if the previous school was indeed better than the latter, it should be expected that there are more than five times as many graduates do.

The last careless assumption is concerned with the state aid reimbursement. Whether it is true that the Hudson Falls school district receives a bigger ratio of aid reimbursement does not matter. There is no guarantee that merging the school with the Fort Ann would agglomerate the funds for both schools. The state might only give on portion, instead of two, of aid reimbursement for the unified schools. In the end, the merging would only encumber both schools.

All in all, if Fort Ann High is looking for a way to improve the quality of its students, merging it with the Hudson Falls is not a good solution. It is more practical to find out how the Hudson Falls High succeed in increasing their students’ average scores in the standardized test and consider to apply it in For Ann.

How to Tackle the Paper-Based IELTS Reading Comprehension

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The basic rule is DON’T SKIM. You just have to do everything in moderate speed. As long as you don’t slack while doing the test, you’ll be fine. Surely, it is advised that you get adequate practice to improve your so-called “moderate” speed.

If you have some difficulties in understanding the reading passage, well, those in the paper-based IELTS are actually simple. A paragraph consists of a main sentence and some supporting sentences. Meanwhile, a sentence’s core has a subject and a verb. Have yourself some exercises to mentally break the passage in this way. Don’t get confused with long paragraphs or seemingly endless sentences, because they are all basically the same.

1. Read the first three sentences, look if there is any question related to what you’ve found there. Make a temporary answer if it is possible.
2. Read the rest of the paragraph, look again at the questions. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to answer most of them by then.
3. Repeat step 1 for the next paragraph(s).
4. After reading the whole passage, check the answers you’ve made so far. There may be something you misunderstood when you only had read the first paragraph.

This way, you would not waste your time reading without answering any question (and likely to forget what you’ve just read). Moreover, it would be safer than getting lost in the passage when you try to answer the questions directly.

Dealing with the vocabulary questions is tricky when you have very little knowledge in the area. The best way to prepare yourself is reading everything and make sure that you look for the difficult words (and memorize them, of course). Books specifically telling you about what and how to memorize the most popular words occuring in IELTS would also help you much.

However, if your time is running out, go get yourself a lot of IELTS practice tests. Coin new words there, find their meanings. Make sure that you learn something from the answers’ explanation because experience would make you remember at best.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GRE Argument Task 4

2 comments:
“An important change is taking place in this area that will permit the Elm Street sotre to attract more business and increase profits. A locally owned grocery store, Ma’s Pantry, is permanently closing in two months because its longtime owner is retiring. The store is just one mile away, on the other side of the interstate highway. One feature that has attracted customers to that store is its deli section, where people order sandwiches to take with them. By adding a deli section to this store, we could expect to attract those customers plus others who used to shop for produce and other groceries.”

The speaker believed that adding a deli section to the Elm Street store will attract customers of the closing in Ma’s Pantry, a grocery store located one mile away. Even though the argument seems plausible, it is flawed in many areas and the speaker missed many things in his consideration.

Assuming that Ma’s Pantry will be closed for good, how can anyone be sure that its customers would go the Elm Street store afterwards? The availability of other stores near Ma’s Pantry as contending alternatives is not mentioned. The writer also did not give any information about the surrounding of the Elm Street store. Is it strategic and can be accessed easily? It that is not the case, people would hardly think of the store as a new shopping destination.

The second flaws relies on the reasoning of the deli section. The fact that the deli section in Ma’s Pantry succeeded does not mean that the Elm Street store would be able to have one as lucrative. It is likely that people buy sandwiches from the deli in Ma’s Pantry as their victuals on the highway. Therefore, there is a big possibility that they would not bother to visit the deli section in the Elm Store, which is located one mile away from the highway, on their way to other state.

The most vulnerable point in the argument is the writer did not mention what will happen to the properties of Ma’s Pantry after its closing. The owner might be retiring, but he could sell his store to others who would run it as usual or develop it to be bigger and more successful than ever. In the end, arguing whether the Elm Street store should have a deli section is completely useless because there would be no customer looking for a new store to shop at all.

Despite everything, if the Elm Street store to be more competitive, it would be better for them to make a distinctive character. The stone could make unique themes every month, build a small playground to keep children busy while their mothers are shopping, or hold fascinating events several times a year. Having something new and convenient would be a more advantageous factor in attracting customers rather than merely copying the rival’s strength.

GRE Argument Task 3

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“There are several unique pieces of sculpture in the Old Quad. Because they stand out-of-doors, it is not possible to secure them at night, and they could be targets for thieves or vandals. A comprehensive security system in the area, including motion detectors and surveillance cameras, would guarantee that these works of art will come to no harm.”

In order to ensure the safety of several unique out-of-doors sculpture in the Old Quad, the speaker proposes that a comprehensive security would work best. However, the argument has flaws in some of its components.

First of all, is it true that the reason they could be targeted for thieves or vandals is merely their being located out-of doors? The sculptures themselves might bear something valuable: gems or antiquities. Thus, the security efforts should be focused on them, not the sculptures. If these precious items are removable, we just have to keep them somewhere safe at night. Without them, the sculptures are less attractive, and hence would attract fewer crimes.

However, if that is not the case and the sculptures are vulnerable to larceny as said in the second sentence of the argument, it is reasonable to infer that the pieces themselves are portable. Therefore, a practical way to keep them save is simply to store them in a warehouse at night.

Now, if the sculptures are big and some irresponsible fellows are prone to vandal it, a security system is needed. Even so, the speaker does not explain how comprehensive his system will be. If it only includes a guard, motion detectors and surveillance cameras, it does not help much. The guard would be incompetent against vandals who act in a group and those with cars or motorcycle ready to take them away—fast. I suggest that a high fence surrounding the pieces would support the security system proposed. The fence could be opened during the day to allow people looking at the unique pieces conveniently.

GRE Issue Task 8

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“Because e-mail places a premium on rapid communication and quick response, it discourages careful thought and well-crafted prose and tends to encourage incivility.”

As the Internet has overtaken most of the functions of the post offices and such, we arrived in the era of rapid communication. Fifteen years ago, we had to wait four days to send letter to a nearby city, almost a week to a neighboring state, and even a month if we sent it from the middle of nowhere to an unknown village in a different contingent. As amazing as it seems, the Internet allows us to send an e-mail to anywhere, as long as the Web is accessible there, in a matter of seconds. Responses could be sent just as quick. If Kahlil Gibran and May Ziadah lived today, it would not take years for them to fall in love to each other. It might only take weeks or even days, instead.

However, there is an issue that the speedy nature of e-mail discourages people from thinking carefully of what they writer. As a consequence, they are not used to well-crafted prose. Even worse, e-mail encourage incivility to the Internet users. However, I disagree that e-mail and its propensity is culpable of those mentioned above. The argument itself is plausible and has at least two vital flaws.

In the argument, the writer implies that he expects conventional mails to be well-written and well-structured. Meanwhile, it is not necessary for mails to be written so well. Whether someone writes in the proper tenses, structures, or paragraph partitionings depends on the individual. It is very likely that some people write to their friends without thinking about any of those felicity. This tendency is brought up when they write e-mails.

Now, let us turn the table to the innovative alternative way of communication. Although “e-mail” stands for “electronic mail”, but does it mean e-mails only replace conventional letters? No, e-mails may be functioned as memos as well. A memo is expected to contain a short message, and thus we have to emphasize the content of the message rather than its rhetorical quality. When an e-mail is sent as a replacement of a memo, the similar inclination occurs.

Eventually, e-mails do not encourage incivility, for the individuals themselves have different degrees of inclination to it. Another point is we can not expect e-mails to be well-crafted because they replace not only letters, but also memos. Therefore, e-mails are not as detrimental as the writer thinks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

GRE Argument Task 2

No comments:
“Twenty-five years ago, the depiction of violence in film was rare in the country of Edonia, because the Decency Commission, a quasi-governmental body appointed by the President of Edonia, had the authority to prohibit the showing of violent movies. The authority of the Decency Commission steadily eroded with the result that the incidence of the depiction of violence increased. Two years ago, the Commission was abolished. During the same time, the incidence of crime among Edonia teenagers has increased dramatically. Over 90% of the parents surveyed by the Independent Inquiry Poll stated that they believe that movies are too violent. Therefore, the Decency Commission shodul be reestablished with a mandate to preclude the showing of violent movies in order to solve the problem of teenage crime in Edonia.”

The speaker believes that precluding the showing of violent movie will solve the problem of teenage crime in Edonia. It is also emphasized that the one should be given this mandate is the Decency Commission which then has to be reestablished. However, the argument has at least three questionable assumptions.

The most vulnerable assumption is whether is it true that the dramatic increase of crime among Edonia teenagers has been incited by the showing of violent movies. There are many other possible factors, such as displays of violence in other media or direct contact with newcomers with such inclination.

The second weakness in the argument is the poll indicating that 90% of parents surveyed believe that movies are too violent. In order to examine the quality of this result, the poll should be elaborated into more details it had given to the parents surveyed. Were they asked whether movies are too violent for teenagers or for children in common? Those who participated in the survey might think the rate of violence suggested was for young children or even toddlers. It is very likely that they would change their answers if it was clearly stated that they the ones they should put in mind are teenagers.

Even if it is true that violent movies is the strongest driver for teenagers in Edonia to commit crimes, still there is a problem with the assumption that reestablishing the Decency Commission would suppress the teenage crime rate. The speaker’s assumption that the commission’s achievements twenty-five years ago could be repeated is very unlikely to be correct. Nowadays, the highly-developed technology allows anyone who is internet-savvy enough to gain access to violent movies easily. Therefore, simply banning the showing of violent movies in the cinemas and television would not help much. Banning access to such movies in the Internet is much more complicated and there is no guarantee that the teenagers would not find any leak to the limitation imposed by the commission. Eventually, the reestablishment would generate no objective intended.

To Hit the Books or To Surf the Net

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People nowadays are enjoying the benefits generated by the Internet and the World Wide Web. It is possible for you to look for many kinds of information by surfing the Web without having to go out of your house, even get out of your bed. By a few clicks and keywords, you are led to anything you want to know about your favorite rock star or the recipe of a Korean dish you have just had the other day. Moreover, our fast-paced busy life should thank the existence of online media, both text and video, for it allows us to keep up with the hot issues with the slightest distraction from our demanding daily activities. That is how the Internet cover our need of conventional radio, newspaper, and television. Now, when it is compared to the classic source of information, books, does the Internet still able to emulate them?

In case of learning something, the Internet can help you catch the gist of it but books are vital to give you a thorough and credible information. You can say, hey, there are websites out there with the same weight of content! It is a flawed argument for there is a fatal weakness in the Web: anyone can post anything freely there. You can not do the same thing with books, especially those printed by the notable publishers. There are copywriters and editors who conduct tough selections among the scripts. This kind of process is extremely rare in the Web.

The next point that is going to be elaborated in this paragraph is the fact that the Internet is also a medium to access books. Books, in nature, are pages containing some accumulated information which were written for a certain purpose and function. In this advanced world, it is not necessary for books to be tangible. To avoid shipping problems and limitations, you can buy the digital version of particular books and print them by your very own printer or you can just read them on your screen. What help you to do this? The Internet. Therefore, even though you begin with the cyberspace in your study, you will end up reading books available there.

Eventually, it is not possible for us to learn just as much by surfing the Internet and the World Wide Web as by reading books. The information available in the cyberspace are overall and superficial. To learn something at best, reading books are still the most helpful way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GRE Argument Task 1

No comments:
“One of the most important reasons for the decline in the number of visitors to the downtown Herbert Falls area is the presence of teenaged skateboarders. Pedestrians are few and far between, and the graffiti and litter are widespread. Fully 80% of business owners surveyed recently responded that they favored putting limitations on the use of the mall by skateboards. Clearly, then banning the use of skateboards on the mall will reverse the decline in business in the downtown area.”

It is obvious that the writer believes the nonexistence of skateboards on the mall will restore the business in the downtown Herbert Falls area. However, it is just as obvious that the proposal, and its supporting statements, is flawed.

First of fall, how could the writer be sure that the presence of teenaged skateboarders is a critical factor that makes people reluctant to visit the area? Other reasons may be more urgent and ineluctable, such as the nearby downtown area has new entertainment facilities and the ones in Herbert Falls are already trite, if not breaking down. It is also possible that Herbert Falls itself is helplessly boring. There is nothing new and people cannot find any enticing events there.

Moreover, I do not see that skateboarders should be necessarily accused of the litter and grotesque graffiti around the area. It is reasonable that due to the lack of efforts to clean it from the local authorities, most people just simply think it is normal to add some litter there. The graffiti might be created by anyone, but whoever made it, isn’t it better to repaint it and ask local artists to make beautiful murals on the walls? It would make Herbert Falls unique and attract more visitors to the area.

Finding a scapegoat is easy, but before getting rid of the skateboarders, the writer and the local authorities should bear this in mind. If you ban skateboards on the mall, the skateboarders might then tell other teenagers about how “uncool” Herbert Falls is. That means the ones who would leave Herbert Falls to find a more compelling area to hang out are not only the skateboarders, but also a large portion of teenagers. This would certainly be a big loss and contradict the objective to reverse the business decline in the area.

GRE Issue Task 6

No comments:
Oh, this GRE stuff is killing me :(


“The university of today is a kind of service industry. In order to operate successfully, the administration and faculty need to be responsive to the desires of the students who are the paying customers.”

The speaker viewed the university as a kind of service industry with students as its paying customers. Therefore, it is consequential for the university’s success to comport with the desires of the students. It implies that students have a big bargaining position in the university and thus the university has less freedom to use its income as it sees fit.

Even as a college student, I am not keen of this opinion. University exists for enhancing knowledge and nurturing people with it. Hence, it is only reasonable to let the students have all their desires met if those reflect this end. However, I doubt that students know what is best for them, less knowing what is best for the university.

For instance, the university is saving money to establish an advanced research center. Meanwhile, the students are signing a petition to urge the restoration of their old stadium. Someone will point out that the stadium would be useful for a larger proportion of the students, but this gives very little support to the university’s achievements in the academic fields. If the university indulges the students by agreeing the petition, some of its goals as an academic institution will be more difficult to be achieved.

Another issue might dwell in the academic process itself. If the students feel that the current curricula is to strict and difficult, is it better that the university change it? The university is a place to learn at best, so an easier curriculum would enfeeble the students’ minds. That means, again, the university should not subject to its pupils’ requests.

Nevertheless, the university’s keep being on its toes about the students’ desires will not hurt. As long as they propose advantageous changes in their demands, the institution should consider them seriously. If these desires are met, the students would be merrier during their presence and study in the university. The positive atmosphere would make them more productive.

Eventually, it is advisable that the university is cognizant to what its students want, but it should not be responsive or subject to it. The university should focus on its academic objectives and stick to them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My World Bank Essay

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Earlier this year I submitted an essay for The World Bank International Essay Competition 2010. I only made it into best 200 essays, but it was worth trying. The theme was Youth Unemployment. Below you can see some parts of my essay. If you want to read the full version, just tell me.


Surviving Unemployed Young Women with Children

2. Introduction
Back in 2003, I was a student and an unemployed youth at the same time, being depended to my parents one hundred percent. As my family endured an economic downturn in 2006, I realized that earning some money is critical for me. Working as a freelance book editor was my first employment experience. Being seventeen and a university student at that time, I was paid low and it lasted for only seven months. It took me two years ever since to be able to stand on my own feet by teaching Indonesian language to some expatriates. Knowing that English is vital to most kind of occupation, I spared some time and money to master it. During the writing of this essay, I have finished my undergraduate study, and I have been translating English books into Indonesian for ten months, and they pay me very well.

I am not the only youth survived from unemployment and fought our way to be financially independent. I have seen that many others, both friends and young people I barely knew through media, did not let themselves overwhelmed by difficult situations and thrived. Unfortunately, it does not happen to most of us. Young unemployment is still a growing concern in Indonesia as well as in other parts of the world. As this is something I have experienced myself, I am keen to make a difference about it.

3. Youth Unemployment in Indonesia and Its General Solutions
Indonesia is a developing country with a large percentage of young people. There was a projection that in 2010, there would be 20% people in the range of 15 up to 24 years old. The official census in 2000 revealed that the projection was reasonable as its graphic shows the comparison of the number of male (dark in color) and female (white in color) in a various range of age groups from 0 to 75 (vertical line). Numbers in the lower horizontal line are in million.

As stated by François Bourguignon, such large numbers of young people living in developing countries present great opportunities, but also risks. Without decent education and livelihood, young people might be onerous or engaged in crime and terrorism. Not only it would spoil their future, but also threaten the future of the country as a whole. How can a country develop, let alone become prosperous, if most of its citizens in their productive age have no earning and familiar with perturbing deeds?

In Indonesia, unemployed youth rate is considerably high, reaching 60 percent of total 11.6 millions jobless people. Education and vocational training are blamed as being failed to prepare the young people to compete in the workforce or to create new jobs. Even universities are questioned because, ironically, large parts of the unemployed work force are university graduates . These lead to some typical problems concerning youth unemployment in Indonesia.

Having graduated from a university last year, my peers are struggling to get proper jobs. Many of them find it difficult because they do not have sufficient English skills or because their undergraduate backgrounds are not popular. Those whose parents can not afford them anymore usually work in informal education bodies despite their efforts to find better earnings. The rest of them rely on their parents until they find a suitable livelihood, while taking some courses that might help to improve their résumés.

As a small contribution on this predicament, I personally have been giving free private English lessons to some friends of mine (though only two of them remain) since November 2009. I doubt that conventional English courses would help them as much private lessons because, despite their price and quality, one class consists of many students. This fact occludes teachers to build a strong foundation in each student. Therefore, I suggest that youth with high English skills teach at least one friend freely (or in exchange of other skills, such as cooking) and then ask them to teach their friends, forming an endless flow of help.

On the other hand, the ones with merely senior high school certificates or lower education level face more complicated problems. Most of them are trapped in low-payment jobs or not working at all, thus they have very little chance to make a difference in their life. Housekeepers are paid lower than $2 per day of which they still have to share it with their family (in Indonesia, it is common that the number of dependant family members is at least equal to the productive ones), and the home-in housekeepers are paid only slightly higher than $2 per day. Other available options are being shopkeepers or food sellers under the wing of small organization or individual owners with small payment ranges from $2 up to $7 per day. Still, Indonesian population has a considerable density that even these cheap jobs can not contain all young people.

I strongly think that one of the biggest problem with youth unemployment among the poorly educated young people is they do not know what to do. That is why they have no gut to organize any business, or even if they do, they do not know how to generate some capital and how to run it well. It is also occluded by the fact that many of them are internet dull, using the web only to interact with their friends in social networking sites and rarely look for any information to improve their life.

Youth with some entrepreneurship experience can help them by conducting a free seminar on small scale business. The seminar should be as simple as possible in order to avoid the possibility that they would think it is too complicated for them and no further progress should be made. Initially, they should be told that they can start any small business by doing what they are already capable of, for example a catering for she who loves cooking, a small garage for he who loves automotives, or a books and comics rental for they who love reading. Another important point is giving them a little basic knowledge of business management. Finally, they have to understand the procedures of how to get a small business credit and permission. Materials used in the seminar can be copied to be distributed to a wider audience, and to be compiled in a blog to reach anyone in a national scale.

However, small scale business is also an answer to youth unemployment among university graduates. Actually, if they do not stubbornly insist on waiting to be employed in the offices, they can launch their own businesses. Concludingly, efforts in tackling youth unemployment should be focused on small scale business.

4. A Solution for Young Women with Children
Those with the most difficult situation are young women who have children. Many poorly educated women in Indonesia had been married before they were twenty, as my mother did. Many of them are married to men with low earnings. Worse as it is, they soon have babies whom they can not provide with a good living. When their husbands do not make considerable improvements related to their standard of living, these young women can barely look for some extra money since their little ones would be neglected. In addition, their husbands’ low income can not provide decent amount of capital and they own nothing to raise any.

A solution is urgently needed. What can they do without neglecting their babies or raising too much capital? Just look at their problem: children. So I propose the Children Care Center (CCC).

Indonesian middle class society has an increasing necessity of children care facility, yet CCCs are still rare and charge high prices in big cities. Therefore, parents are obliged to leave their children with housekeepers, extended families, or neighbors. Worst of all, a friend of mine used to spend his whole afternoon as a boy home alone until his mother arrived on 6 pm.

Problems would occur when the housekeepers consider children care as an additional burden or do not know how to take care of them well, and hence these children are not taken care of properly. Surprisingly, a research shows that children taken care by a non-family member (such as neighbors, housekeepers, or babysitters) will be more aggressive and disobedient. As another option, extended families may not always be credible or available, and who knows they actually are objected to help, especially for a long term. Lastly, leaving children home alone is always dangerous.

Compared to other types of children care, there are some advantages of CCC related to children development which will make this business has a good prospect. In CCCs, children have a bigger chance to interact with their peers naturally and in controlled activities, thus they become more sociable, tolerant, and independent. Furthermore, unlike the sole unmonitored baby sitter, leaving your children in CCC is also safer because there are some people in one time supervising your children and overseeing each other’s attitude.

Now, let me elaborate how children care center would be a solution to this particular group of youth. First of all, they already have the necessary skills. These young women have their own babies, thus it would be easy for them to take care of other children. Other needed skills, such as cooking and cleaning, are also common among housewives. Secondly, they can use their own houses as the CCC to avoid raising unaffordable capital. Most important of all, it is something they can do without having to neglect their own babies as they can also bring them to the CCC. Moreover, the President stated that small businesses (in household scale) do not need any permission from the authority . That means establishing a CCC will not give them a chance to worry about its procedure.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GRE Issue Task 5

No comments:
No business should sacrifice the quality of its products or services for the sake of maximizing profits.

The speaker asserts that, in any business, maximum profit goals should not render the quality of products and services to be sacrificed. I strongly agree with this claim. I see that instead of leveraging profit by reducing cost, the loss of quality will only stimulate a downward trend of revenue. This inclination works out for all kinds of businesses, as elaborated below.

Let us begin with tangible products, namely toys, food, and electronic devices. A corporation may skip a single step in its production to cut its production cost. Assuming that it is the safety check such as rounding sharp tips in children toys, bacterial scanning in food, or electrical stability in home theater sets, those products will be harmful. As soon as they find it, people will throw it away and the company will lose its market. Even worse, there is a possibility that consumers will sue the company because its products have hurt them.

Service-based business is our next target. How do you think of a hotel with a bad service quality would be? People will not recommend it to their peers, let alone they will come back again. What about an airport which always make its passengers feel stressful due to its lack of friendly officers and complicated administration? Even if there is no rival to worry about, individuals will fly more often if they know they will find themselves feel comfortable in the airport. Furthermore, I suggest that the airport should add more facilities related to its passengers’ needs, such as a free hotspot area or a handphone charger booth. Despite of their maintenance costs, these facilities will attract more customers, and result in more profit as what every corporation strives for.

Last but not least, this issue is also viable in the internet, particularly the social media sites. Facebook, for instance, has to restrain itself from accepting too many advertisements in its site. A bigger number of marketing deals with big companies will generate a bigger sum of money in the short term, but visitors will consider it as a quality loss. They will distaste Facebook for its letting a bunch of third-parties attacking them with unnecessary campaigns, and eventually rely on other sites in the same category. As lack of visitors means the death of an internet-based business, Facebook would wither and die as a consequence. This possible disaster is why Facebook should strictly maintain its quality rather than pursuing profit maximization.

As now it is clear that sacrificing the quality for profit will only result in undesirable ends, I appeal that every business leader should find a way to gain more profit by maintaining or even increasing the quality of its products and services. In the end of the day, the market will respect it and the corporation will stand out among its competitors.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GRE Issue Task 4

No comments:
As adults, we prefer to define ourselves more by our occupation than by our affiliation with social groups.

The speaker claims that grown-ups have a bigger inclination to identify themselves to their occupations compared to which social groups they belong to. In my point of view, it is a reckless statement for its generalizing every adult and every single occupation to have the same attitude toward his job. Such behavior, I am certain of it, differs based on some factors explained below.

First of all, let us see how the speaker could make such assertion. I admit that there are those who are happier to be associated by their professions than to be highlighted as a part of any social groups. It is mostly seen, as far as I am concerned, in the eyes of people love their jobs by heart. They pick up their job for their passion to it despite of what others say about this job. For a painter, for instance, drawing his pieces is in his heart and soul, and he can only recognize himself as a painter since he does not mind of being a part of any larger community. Other individuals with a strong proclivity to their employment are those with conventionally-successful profession such as doctors, business directors, and lawyers.

However, we must not forget that there are those who are not fortunate enough to grab the job of their dreams. What about an agriculture faculty graduate whose only choice is working in a bank? Could he identify himself as a banker? Moreover, if his family members are farmers and he used to live between them, there is a big possibility that he would relate himself more to his family background than to his livelihood. Another factor is the society’s negative assumption to certain professions. Low-income occupation, namely factory labors and drivers, might not be something people want to define themselves by. In addition, we should not forget that rich people tend to associate themselves with their wealth, no matter what they do for their living.

Now it is viable that someone’s occupation may not always be his first choice to identify himself. How he loves the job, how people think about it, and how he used to live would affect this inclination. Therefore, the speaker’s statement is only accessible to some adults, not all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thrum

No comments:
Come sip the breeze
of this very morning
is it salty or sweet?

Picture the sky to me
for all I can see in you
is how you love its blue

and do you hear
the thrum of our life
is running out its rhyme?

May 21st 2010, 6:24 am

GRE Issue Task 3

No comments:
I made this issue myself.

The existence of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter has led to various criminal acts, especially to teenagers. Therefore, such sites should be banned completely from the Internet.

The speaker stated that social networking sites should be abolished for its risking the safety of us and our family. I assert that this strong opposition is based on tangible reasons, but stripping these sites from our life forever is unnecessary. In that case, I propose the idea that this risk is preventable and we can live side by side with them in peace if we know how to do it.

To begin with, I will provide you with a brief elaboration on what “risk” means in this issue. Some people believe that as you joined these sites, you exposed your identity. Facebook is full of advertisements craving for not only the users’ eyeballs, but also specific details about them—yes, about you! These preys have a wide range of tricks to manipulate you to give them your identity as well as your friends’. There are those fascinating applications, namely quizzes, games, and groups who can obtain an access to your profile and use it for their ends. I think it is still insignificant, of course, when their intentions are to use this information as their research for a new product or to attack you with a whole lots of other product campaigns. The problem is what about if such tricks are used by deliberate villains? These malign individuals might find out where their potential victims live, when they go to school, what do they like, and then they might create a perfect plan to lure them out to the real world. That is how we ended up having a portion of undesirable news about kidnapping, rape, fraud, and even murder stemmed from these sites some people cannot live without.

As a counter-attack, I would like to point that Facebook has a privacy setting, as well as other sites in this category do. Any member can protect themselves from anyone, including those in her own Facebook friend list, prohibiting undesired and unexpected parties to take a peek on her photos, notes, profile information, and others. Even if you do not touch the privacy setting, you do not have to share genuine specific information about yourselves. Just use a nickname and go tell your friends that it is you by the private message service or when you see them offline. In addition, the applications’ sharing your identity always asks your permission to do it. If you want to be safe, you can simply ignore them.

Nevertheless, I regret to admit that some users are not aware of this rule, and hence their very private identities are viable to random people. This incognizance is caused by the complicated items in the privacy setting. These ignoramuses just want to have some fun, and reading the “cryptic” explanation hurts their delicate brains. Another possibility is they do not have any idea that this setting exists because there are those young users interacting in Facebook or Friendster as their first online experience.

What should be done, then? The U.S. Senators have urged Facebook to simplify their rules and setting, but it is not only the Facebook administrator team’s job to ensure our young people are safe. Parents and teachers have the same obligation to raise online safety awareness among teenagers, to explain the rules and consequences to them, and to forbid those under sixteen years old to maintain an account in these sites. In the end of the day, social networking sites will remain exist with minimum risk.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Asa

No comments:
Asa yang kutanam
bahkan sejak kau belum mengada
adalah untuk dirimu seorang, sayang
sebagai bekal perjalanan panjang
menjalin makna dan indah
sebelum mentari terbenam

Senin, 17 Mei 2010, 17.27 WIB

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two New Books Soon!

No comments:
These are books I've translated waiting to be published anytime soon by Ufuk Press.


Branded Outlaw by L. Ron Hubbard
This one was fun! I found myself missing the old western movies!
Read its synopsis here.

The Collapse of Lehman Brothers
Lawrence G. McDonald & Patrick Robinson

It was the toughest book I've translated so far.
However, it taught me a lot about investment banking.
Read its synopsis here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

GRE Issue Task 2

No comments:
Statement
In any field of endeavor, an individual’s best critics are the individual’s own colleagues or other peers in that field.

In your view, how accurate is the foregoing statement? Develop and support your viewpoint with relevant reasons and examples and by considering ways in which the statement may or may not be true.

Essay
It is reasonable that someone have to develop and improve themselves in order to survive in his life, including in his occupation. To ascertain that he is progressing, an individual must have critics from others. Are not self-critics enough? Apparently, anyone has an inclination to see what they want to see only, missing many things essential to his evaluation. To lose this subjective manner is exactly why everyone need to be evaluated by other individuals. Now, the remaining question is whether critics from those engaged in the same field or critics from the rest of the humanity is the best.
I can see why someone goes straightly to his peers from the very same pool of professional when he needs some critics or encounters any problem, especially when he is dealing with a very specific field being understood only by particular parties—physics, computer programming, pharmacy, etc. Undoubtedly, a pharmacist can not ask a businessman if there is something wrong with the new formula of the sleeping pill he just made since this “simple” question requires an understanding which takes years of reading and experimenting.

In different cases, critics from common people are more enlightening than those from someone’s colleagues of the same field. For instance, a marketer can learn why his last campaign failed by consulting a number of individuals among his targeted market. It is better than spending his whole time with his colleagues, wondering about what people think about his methods that led to no avail. A politician, similarly, may generate evaluations from the citizens—his people—about his achievements. They will be far more objective from his peers who want to tackle him down or merely laud him for a better seat. Despite the fact that they have limited professional knowledge of marketing and politics, these “outsiders” are to who the marketer presents his products and for who the politician works.

From the given arguments above, it is clear that people of some fields depend on their peers to get critics. Nevertheless, listening to common individuals can be more useful to professionals of other fields. In the end, by contemplating these critics, an individual can improve himself and become a lot better in his endeavor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy and The Rainmaker

No comments:
My sister is going crazy about Matt Damon. I exploit her admiring this actor to force her to study English, promising that I'd buy one movie for every 5 chapters of TOEFL preparation book she finishes. She has finished 37 chapters so far. The last two I watched with her were The Bourne Supremacy and The Rainmaker.



I like the fighting and tracking scenes in The Bourne series, especially in this one.
But of course, I still love Jackie Chan's.



As a law school fresh-graduate, Matt Damon looked so young here.
The movie is old-stylish, and has an adequate climax with an expected ending.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

GRE and a Poem

No comments:
My last post was my first exercise of GRE issue task. I'll keep posting my exercises. There will be lots of them, I hope. Well, you see, I'll post them only to stimulate myself, and to share it with others also preparing themselves.

By the way, I wrote a poem this morning.


All The Time

Sometimes I wonder what
when your eyes are wandering into the sky
or when you're talking to others about things I don't have in mind

but I always know that
every time I'm around, you constantly look at me from the corner of your eye
and when I'm not, you actually never leave me behind

o even the subtlest touch
and the slightest smile
brighten my day and night

all the time

GRE Issue Task 1

1 comment:
Issue Statement
“Schools should be responsible not only for teaching academic skills but also for teaching ethical and social values.”

Essay
Addressing the issue of involving ethical and social values in schools is apparently more complicated than it is stated by the speaker. Despite my concordance to this idea, I am aware that its application is rather intricate and inherent to various aspects, not only that of the students but also that of others associated to the educational system.

First of all, the school must decide which ethical and social values necessary to be taught. In a homogenous environment, such as an all-Christian school or an all-Chinese school, this problem might not entail too many concern and mystification. On the other hand, it would be more difficult for any level of educational institute with diverse backgrounds among its teachers and students. However, there are universal values decent enough for students of any upbringing to learn. Simple values such as respecting others and solving problems without conflict can be taught in neutral contexts.

An argument to support the critical need of teaching ethical and social values at schools is that students spend almost one-third of their time a day there. Therefore, schools play an important role as places where children and teenagers develop their attitude and behavior. If the pedagogues ignore this and only focus on their students’ academic achievements, these youngsters would have to learn such values from the rest available sources, namely family, friends, and media. The problem is however good-natured their parents are, they simply cannot always follow the children at schools and tell what is good and bad. Meanwhile, friends do not feel like they have responsibility to guide others to good deeds, and media is exploiting anything sold well regardless of its impacts.

Unfortunately, there is a drawback of imposing the teaching of such values at schools. Teachers will bear a larger responsibility, exhausting their time and energy. This fact might end up in teachers’ demanding a payment rise, and then trigger a rise of the school fee as well. Curriculum would have to be reconstructed, and it would take a while before managing to establish a proper one to pursue both academic record and values teaching. Nevertheless, these are trivial compared to what might and had happened to children studying at schools which neglect this issue. There are those bullied by his or her friends, being called as a “gay” or a “whore” continuously until they cannot stand it and then they commit suicide. It is very likely to happen when these children do not understand that they should not intimidate others and the consequences that might follow.

In the end of the day, schools must also teach ethical and social values at any cost. Any problem and complexity occur is expected, but letting schools to abandon it is a worse alternative.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 2010

2 comments:
I had to say goodbye to (my dreams of) Oxford and Cambridge University. However, I'll keep fighting :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

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I watched it last Tuesday with two future pharmacists, Wulan and Irma. We liked it, especially because Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) was very cute, but sadly too young for me (LOL). The first scene wasn't smooth, but the others were sufficient.


Despite my friend's criticisms toward this movie, I think it was fine. Everything was logic and it wasn't meant to aggrandize the American culture/society. The pearls were scattered in the states, but it didn't mean all pearls were in the states. The gate to Olympus could be available in some places, not only the one in the Empire State. The casts dominated by white men, yes, because there was no colored man in the ancient Greek mythology.

However, the movie was entertaining and gave me an adequate insight on Percy Jackson that I'm not interested to read the novel.

Poseidon and V for Vendetta

No comments:
I watched this one with my room-neighbor, Ranchan, and her roommate, Anis. I enjoyed the movie, especially because there was no ghost or evil-spirit at all! Hahahaha, I hate watching horror movies in my lodging house, it's already scary staying there at night, you know.


This cute little boy is Jimmy Bennet, staring as Conor in Poseidon. He looks like young Macaulay Culkin a bit, doesn't he?


And then we tried to watch V for Vendetta, but we found out that we didn't like it. The movie was too comical, and the masked man (Vendetta?) was too talkative and boring. I really prefer The Mask by Jim Carey.

Leonardo DiCaprio

No comments:

I watched it a couple of nights ago with my sister at home. I told her it was Leonardo, but she hardly believed. Unfortunately, I only watched the last half an hour. I supposed it's a great movie about violence related to diamond's trade in Sierra Leone.

The Quick and The Dead followed Blood Diamond that night. This time, I only watched the first half an hour. Nice. Leonardo di Caprio was damn cute, acting as a young yet fast gunman called Kid. How old was he? 21? Aaaaaw. Hahhahahahaa.

Matt Damon and Greenzone

No comments:



Yesterday my sister forced me to take her watching Greenzone. She's been crazy about Matt Damon lately. It was weekend, how expensive -___- but finally I brought her to Pejaten Village, much cheaper than Cilandak Town Square on weekend.

The movie was good, though not great. Matt Damon was cute and cool as always. I like the storyline, however, especially the idea that D.C. might hidden the truth that an Iraqi officer has told them that there was no WMD (weapon of mass destruction). Some people said that this movie is anti-American, and I think it's just one of self-critics for the states. Why did they invade Iraq if there was no such WMD? Why did they impose democracy to another country, seeming a paradox to the essence of the democracy itself?

My friend recommended Hurt Locker, another movie about the US invasion in Iraq. I'm not eager to it since I think Greenzone is enough for a while.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Little White Horse and The Prophecy of the Gems

No comments:

I'm still reading this book. It has an enchanting language.


Well, I couldn't force myself to finish this book. It's boring.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Movie Review: Valentine's Day

No comments:


I watched this movie a few days ago. I wasn't really eager to see it, but it turned out to be a nice movie.

Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift were the only ones I was looking forward to, but their part wasn't interesting at all. Lautner looked hot, but Swift looked really stupid there.

I really like the idea that finally Reed (Ashton Kutcher, he's cute as ever!) fell for his bestfriend Julia. That's sweet :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harvest Moon: Back to Nature

No comments:

This is one of my favorite games. I had a big reason to play it--learning English, lol.
It taught me a lot about farming and cooking vocabularies, hahaha.



Suikoden II

No comments:
This is my all time favorite video game. I think I've played it 8 times.
It has a strong storyline and complete environments.

I gave the hero a name--Reil.

This is when Reil and Jowy (his childhood friend) parted,
and then they had to walk in very different paths.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wanted Books

No comments:



I'm really looking forward to reading these books, but I have to finish my translation projects first...

Viva La Vida by Coldplay

No comments:
Right after I opened my second IETLS result, the IDP office played this song. Fitted my mood at best!

Here is the lyrics.


I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world


It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Assassin's Creed II

No comments:

I'm reading a novel adapted from this video game, and damn I reaaaally want to play it. Its visual quality is AWESOME. Unfortunately, I don't have any Xbox :(




Above you can see two pictures of the game. Below is the nowadays picture of Florence in which the story get started. It's damn beautiful.

My IELTS Tips: Personally Proven to be Effective!

3 comments:
I’ve got my second IELTS result. It’s a big success, since my overall score is 8.0, having improved from 7.0 in the test taken nine weeks previously. I really want to share it with you. I won’t tell you the whole long journey though, but I’ve read many books and done tons of exercises (nah, it's "only" 40 modules, yuck). Hence, not only I found that some of them were useful for me; I also developed my own method.

General Tips
Study grammar and improve your vocabulary. They are essential for every part of the test. It would be best for you if you do it with books specified for IELTS, and make contact with English as much as possible by reading English articles, watching English news, and so on. You can download a lot of practice test in the internet, including the listening recordings, as long as you are persistent. These cool links will help you to get started!

IELTS blog

IELTS-exam

examenglish



Tips for IELTS Reading
DON’T SKIM. I know that many people out there advise you to skim and scan the texts because you won’t have enough time for careful reading. In fact, I read my texts in moderate speed, and I got 9.0 (between one mistake and none at all). I’ll tell you how.

In my first test, I skimmed and scanned the texts, and then I confused, panic and lost my direction. Worst of all, in the last desperate few minutes, I still have four questions waiting to be read. My score was 7.0 back then (it’s good, I know, but it’s not satisfying for my intended universities).

Now, this is what I did in my second test—yes, the wonderful one (big thanks to my friend Andy who reminded me not to skim the text, he's a strong reader himself). First of all, I read the title (if available), and the very first line to grab the topic of the reading text. Then I went on to the questions. Usually, there are three sets of questions in one text (let’s call it SET A, SET B, and SET C). I didn’t have to memorize them, but I did try to know what they were about—choosing headings/opinions, describing a process/event, labeling an equipment, etc. This step cost me not more than 2 minutes.

At this point, I went back to the text, and start reading it. As soon as I found that the first paragraph contained information I need to answer questions in SET B, I made my answers and gave a bold underline and a number (of which the line provided its answer). In other words, when I was reading the first two paragraphs, I was also answering questions in SET B. As I arrived in the third paragraph, I figured out that they belonged to questions in SET A. I did what I had done with the previous paragraphs, and then repeated it for the final ones. After copying these answers to the answer sheet, I repeated the whole process in the next two texts. Each text only took me 15-18 minutes.


Well, don’t forget to GIVE NUMBER MARK in every line contains information for each question. The last free 10-15 minutes provided you with a chance to reconsider your answers (or to look for them if you decided to leave them for this final inning). These marks will save you a great deal of time because you don’t have to look around for this information again. If you aim for a perfect score in reading, DON’T GUESS. Make sure that you find every line for every question, and you have to be one hundred percent certain about it.

If SET A requires information from every paragraph (such as choosing headings), don’t focus on this set. You can do it by reading and answering SET B and SET C. This strategy if more efficient.

Overall, STAY CALM. Every question refers to (at least) a line in the text. Just don’t give up looking for it.

Tips for IELTS Listening
I have no special method here. What I will tell you is available in the books I read. The key is STAY FOCUS and STAY AHEAD. Read the questions before you hear the recordings, and MAKE GUESSES. Don’t lose your concentration, check your answers carefully when removing them to the answer sheet, and you’ll be just fine. If you want to achieve a very high score in listening, consult the answer keys of previous tests to learn how to avoid small mistakes (spellings, parts of speech, capital letters, etc).


Tips for IELTS Writing
Make no grammatical mistake, use a wide range of sentence structures, and avoid using the same words (the examiners love synonyms, but you have to pick them appropriately). Practice makes perfect and you would do better if you had read articles relevant to topics regularly appear in IELTS tests (humanity, lifestyle, transportation, poverty, environment, health, education, etc) because you will have more ideas to be organized in your writing. Asking someone with advanced writing skill to check your practice sheets is recommended as well.

Tips for IELTS Speaking
I thought my speaking performance in the second test was worse than in the first one, but thank God I was wrong. After a brief contemplation, I suspect it’s because I spoke more FLUENTLY and CLEARLY with no pause, especially in the second part (the two minutes monologue). Remember, the examiners will not ask you to tell the truth. You can tell them anything as long as it is logical and grammatically correct. Just be creative with your stories!

In the second test, I only used four basic tenses, one or two passive voices, and some difficult words (to behave, to cooperate, childish, similar…—See? They are not even that difficult). Well, I also played with my intonation a little to convey what I really meant. Later I found out that my speaking score is 7.5, despite the fact that I never went abroad and have no native speaking partner (speaking English with your friends, though they don’t speak well in this language, will help you much). Just be confident and be careful. Surely, if you need a higher score than mine, speak with more complex structures and sophisticated vocabulary.


Further Tips
Please let me know what you want to know (or what you have already known in addition to my tips) by leaving comments below. I’ll try my best to answer them. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

They Are My Dreams

2 comments:
University of Cambridge




University of Oxford


I hope everything will be fine.
If I end up reading in one of them,
I think I'd be happy for the rest of my life.
Amin.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Childhood Celebrity Crushes

4 comments:
Nick Carter and Aaron Cater




Okay, speaking about celebrity crushes, I can't skip them. I loved them so much during my teenage. Even my baby brother's name Nicko refers to Nick Carter, hahahaha. But their careers are not doing great lately. It's okay. There are other cute guys out there ;D


Dave Moffatt


I should have wondered why he never dated any girl! Last year I found out that he's a gay.


Bertrand Antolin


When I was in the sixth grade, I always watched Clear Top 10, mostly because he was the host (with Dewi Sandra). Well, I've just heard the rumour about his marriage with Indra L. Bruggman. Okay, he's another gay.


Tom Welling


I love him in Smallville! The cutest Clark Kent ever. And I'm glad he's married.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Does Fix You by Coldplay Have a Clunky Wording?

3 comments:
1. Background
“Fix You” is a song by an English alternative rock band named Coldplay. It was written by all four members of the band for their third album, X & Y. It was written by all four members of the band for their third album, X & Y . This song became popular worldwide in 2005, yet it was critisized as having a clunky wording . This fact drove me to analise the song’s lyric from linguistics point of view, focusing on its rhymes and clauses which are related heavily to its wording.

A song may contain, though not always, rhymes. This feature will make the song more easy-listening and familiar to the listeners. Coldplay often uses rhymes in their songs, and Fix You is one of their songs which contain rhymes in every verse. This essay will phonologically discuss what those rhymes are and their patterns.

Aside from any figurative meaning, interpreting the full meanings of a song might be difficult before its sentences are determined by analysing its clauses. Fix You contains many conjunctions, thereby listeners might find it difficult to perceive the main clauses. Consequently, they would only seize embedded clauses and a pile of separated meanings. This essay will also discuss how to determine main and subordinate clauses in Fix You, including detecting ellipsis and complementizers.

Finally, there will be an insight of whether Fix You really has a clunky wording. The full lyrics of this song is provided in the last two pages of this essay (after references).


2. Analysis
This part is divided into “rhymes” (phonological feature) and “clauses” (syntactic feature).


2.1. Rhymes
This song contains many rhymes. The most visible ones are each last words in each verse. However, rhymes in this song are not that simple, and it should be observed as a whole. Therefore, the data divided into verses and a chorus to be analysed separately, and then thoroughly.

Lines in Verse I are ended by [sək’si:d], [ni:d], [sli:p], [ri’və:s]. Only the last line is ended by a different vowel -- [ə] in [və:s], while the others are ended by [i] in [i:d] and [i:p]. Both [d] and [p] are plosive consonants, and this fact supports the similarities between [sək’si:d], [ni:d], and [sli:p].

Lines in Verse II are ended by [feis], [ri’pleis], [weist], [wə:s]. Again, only the last line has a different vowel, for the others are ended by [eis] or [eist]. Both [s] and [t] are alveolar consonants, and hence it facilitates the movement from [eis] to [eist].

Verse I and Verse II have distinct last lines, ended by [ri’və:s] and [wə:s] respectively. A rhyme can be derived from here because they contain similar syllables, [və:s] and [wə:s]. Considering that [v] and [w] are voiced consonants, it is acceptable to refer [ri’və:s] and [wə:s] as having the same rhyme.

Chorus of this song has three rhymes. The lines are ended by [houm], [bouns], [ju:]. The last one, [ju:], will be explained later. Since [houm] and [bouns] are closely related according to the fact that [m] and [n] are nasal consonants, they are considered as a rhyme. Meanwhile, [n] and [s] are alveolar consonants, thereby it indicates no significant movement in its pronounciation; hence [bouns] rhymes with [houm].

Another rhyme in the chorus can be found in the middle of the lines. They are [gaid], [ig’nait], [trai]. There are two similarities which make them acceptable as a rhyme. First, all of them contains [ai]. Second, [d] and [t] are plosive bilabial consonants. The fact that there is no closing consonant in [trai] is not a significant difference.

There are also thwo rhymes in Verse III. Lines in this verse are ended by [bi’lou], [gou], [knou], [wə:θ]. There is a lucid rhyme between [bi’lou], [gou], [knou] which have the same diphtong [ou]. However, the last one, [wə:θ], rhymes with [ri’və:s] and [wə:s] from Verse I and Verse II because both [s] and [θ] are fricative consonants.

There is another rhyme in Verse III which occurs in the middle of its lines. They are [ə’bΛv] and [lΛv]. The word [trai] in (n) line is not similar enough to be considered as rhyming with [ə’bΛv] and [lΛv].

Rhymes in Verse IV and Verse V have similar pattern with Verse I and Verse II. Every lines in Verse IV and Verse V are ended by [eis] in [feis] and [ri’pleis], except (u) which is ended by [eik] in [mi’steik]. However, they still have the same diphtong – [ei]; hence, they are considered a rhyme. Another rhyme is [ænd ai] in (s) and (w), forming a rhyme in different verses.

As the title of this song is “Fix You”, this clause is repeated several times. In fact, verse containing [fiks ju:] is repeated three times thoroughly, and hence this verse is called chorus. The last line of this chorus, (k), is [ænd ai wil trai tu: fiks ju:]. The last lines of Verse IV and Verse V are designed to deliver the last chorus repetition smoothly by copying its first two phones in (k) -- [ænd ai].


2.2 Clauses
A clause is a sentence that contains one predicate which expresses an event in the clause, and typically (though not always) centres on a verb (Tellerman, 1998: 63). A sentence must consist of at least one independent clause (a clause which contain a finite verb). When there are more than one clause in a sentence, one of them is a main clause, and the others are embedded/subordinate clauses. In addition, relative clauses are a type of embedded clause which modifies a noun (Tellerman, 1998: 82).

The first verse consists of subordinate clauses. Although each of line (a), (b), and (c) has more than one clause, all of them are subordinate clauses because they are iniatiated by conjunctions (when or but) and a pronoun (what). The later forms two noun subordinate clauses in line (b). Every subordinate clauses in (a), (b), and (c) are independent clauses as each of them has a finite verb. The subordinate clauses are shown below with # signs to mark the clause boundaries, and the finite verbs are in bold.

Verse I
(a) when you try your best # but you don't succeed
(b) when you get # what you want # but not what you need
(c) when you feel so tired # but you can't sleep
(d) stuck in reverse


The last line in Verse I, stuck in reverse, has no subject; hence it is a dependent clause. However, this text is a song, thereby the occurrence of ellipsis is possible. Ellipsis occurs when some essential structural element is omitted from a sentence or clause and can only be recovered by referring to an element in the preceding text (Nunan, 1993: 25). It is suggested that this line has an ellipsis referring to you which has been mentioned in every previous clauses. Therefore, the last line is suggested to be a main clause you are stuck in reverse, and embedded by three subordinate clauses -- (a), (b), and (c). In conclusion, conditions in (a), (b), and (c) are describing line (d).

In Verse II, line (e), (f), and (g) are subordinate clauses as they are started with conjunctions (when or but). In line (f), the second clause is a relative clause with a gap that should be filled by that. There are two dependent clauses; the second clause in line (e) which has a participle streaming, and the last clause in line (g) which is an infinitive to waste.

Verse II
(e) when the tears come # streaming down your face
(f) when you lose something # (that) you can't replace
(g) when you love someone # but it goes # to waste
(h) could it be worse

The next line is could it be worse. Since the line has a subject/auxiliary inversion (switching of position), it is a main clause. The key is the word it. In this essay, it is assumed as referring to the situation described in the previous verse – (you are) stuck in reverse. The line (e), (f), and (g) are subordinate clauses embedded to line (h). The function of these subordinate clauses is to add new conditions that could make it become worse.

Chorus of this song consists of three lines. The first line is a main clause lights will guide you home. Therefore, it is clear that the other lines, which are initiated by conjunction and, are embedded to the first line.

Chorus
(i) lights will guide you home
(j) and ignite your bones
(k) and I will try to fix you


Verse III has four lines. Clauses in line (l) and first clauses in (m), (n) are initiated by conjunctions – and, or, when, and but respectively. The last line is initiated by an adverb just and a pronoun what. Hence, all lines in Verse III are subordinate clauses.

Verse III
(l) and high up above # or down below
(m) when you (are) too in love # to let # it go
(n) but if you never try # you'll never know
(o) just what you’re worth


Clauses in Verse III should be detailed further. Clauses in the first line does not have any subject and verb. There is no verb in the first clause of line (m), but it is suggested that a finite verb are fills this gap. The second and third clauses of this line has non-finite verbs to let and go. Actually in line (n), if you never try you’ll never know can form a sentence because it contains an independent clause -- you’ll never know. Nevertheless, since it is attached to an intrasentence conjunction, but, it is not a sentence. The last line in Verse III, just what you’re worth is a noun subordinate clause since it contains a pronoun (what).

It has been discussed that Verse III only consists of subordinate clauses. A reasonable solution to this problem is considering one of the clauses in Verse as a main clause. There are two lines started with coordinative conjunctions, (k) with and, and (n) with but. Line (k) is the most possible option as and is a conjunction of which function is to give equal additional information, unlike but which requires a prior contradiction. Furthermore, line (k) needs a subject to fill the gap caused by an ellipsis. Because the subjects of other lines in this verse are you, line (k) should be modified into you are high up above and down below which can be embedded by the other lines in Verse III.

Verse IV consists of three lines, and the last line is a copy of the first line. Line (p) and (r) are independent clauses. The subordinate clauses in line (q) can be embedded to either line (p) or (r).

Verse IV
(p) tears stream down your face
(q) when you lose something # (that) you cannot replace
(r) tears stream down your face
(s) and I…

There are three lines in Verse V. Like the previous verse, its last line is a copy of the first line. Every line has at least one independent clause. In line (t), the second clause is a subordinate clause because it contains an omitted complementizer that.

Verse V
(t) tears stream down your face
(u) I promise you # (that) I will learn from my mistakes
(v) tears stream down your face
(w) and I…


Line (s) and (v) only consists of a conjunction and a pronoun, therefore they are not clauses. Similar to what has been stated in 2.1, the last lines of Verse IV and Verse V are designed to deliver the last chorus repetition smoothly by copying its first two words in (k) -- and I.


3. Conclusion
In creating “Fix You”, Coldplay carefully chose some sets of words with same vowels or diphtongs to form rhymes. Some of them even followed by similar consonants, such as the plosive consonants [d] and [p] of [sək’si:d], [ni:d], and [sli:p] in Verse I. Patterns of the rhymes are not limited into each verse. Rhymes created by Coldplay in this song also occur cross-verses. Furthermore, the rhymes are not only perceivable in the end of the lines, but some of them exist in the middle of the line.

“Fix You” mostly consists of subordinate clauses. One verse of this song may only has one sentence. When there is no main clause in a verse, the most possible subordinate clause can be modified to form a main clause. Therefore, they become a sentence, and its meaning becomes more visible.

From those have been discussed above, rhymes in Fix You are not simple. Despite of the complicity of its rhymes, the visibility of this song’s meanings can be endorsed by only doing a few extra efforts. Therefore, for a song carefully designed like Fix You by Coldplay, having a clunky wording is not an appropriate criticism.



REFERENCES


Kridalaksana, Harimurti and Research Team on Linguistics of the Faculty of Literature of University of Indonesia (1999) “Syntax (Fifth Draft).” Study Material of Department of Indonesian Literature, Depok.

Nunan, David (1993) Introducing Discourse Analysis. London: Penguin English.

Tellerman, Maggie (1998) Understanding Syntax. London: Arnold of Hodder Headline Group.

Phones are derived from The New Horizon Ladder Dictionary by John and Sara Shaw in Besta ID-78 (an electronic dictionary produced by Invented Besta Co., Ltd which is distributed in Indonesia).







“Fix You” by Coldplay

Verse I
(a) when you try your best but you don't succeed
(b) when you get what you want but not what you need
(c) when you feel so tired but you can't sleep
(d) stuck in reverse

Verse II
(e) when the tears come streaming down your face
(f) when you lose something you can't replace
(g) when you love someone but it goes to waste
(h) could it be worse

Chorus
(i) lights will guide you home
(j) and ignite your bones
(k) and I will try to fix you

Verse III
(l) and high up above or down below
(m) when you too in love to let it go
(n) but if you never try you'll never know
(o) just what you’re worth
(back to Chorus)

Verse IV
(p) tears stream down your face
(q) when you lose something you cannot replace
(r) tears stream down your face
(s) and I...

Verse V
(t) tears stream down your face
(u) I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
(v) tears stream down your face
(w) and I...
(back to Chorus)

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