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What You Should Know about Politics. But Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues

Its a very exciting time in American politics. Voter turnout in primaries and caucuses across the nation has shattered old records. More than ever, in this election year people are paying attention to the issues. But in a world of sound bites and deliberate misinformation and a political scene that is literally colored by a partisan divide–blue vs. red–how does the Its a very exciting time in American politics. Voter turnout in primaries and caucuses across the nation has shattered old records. More than ever, in this election year people are paying attention to the issues. But in a world of sound bites and deliberate misinformation and a political scene that is literally colored by a partisan divide–blue vs. red–how does the average educated American find a reliable source that’s free of political spin?

What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t breaks it all down, issue by issue, explaining who stands for what, and why–whether it’s the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, oil and renewable energy sources, or climate change. If you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or somewhere in between, it’s the perfect book to brush up on a single topic or read through to get a deeper understanding of the often-mucky world of American politics.

Polls have shown that interest in the presidential campaign traditionally peaks 3-6 weeks before the elections. But this is also a book that transcends the season. It’s truly for anyone who wants to know more about the issues, which are perennial issues that will continue to affect our everyday lives. . more

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I’d recommend this book to anyone around my age. It covered a great deal of political topics, ranging from economy to education. Conrad’s writing was very conversational and included more ‘I’s in it than I would have predicted (not a complaint, I enjoyed her input).

One thing you must note if you choose to read this book. If you do read this, rent (or buy) the most recent edition. The one I rented from the library, and the only one available, was published in 2008. Obama wasn’t even president I’d recommend this book to anyone around my age. It covered a great deal of political topics, ranging from economy to education. Conrad’s writing was very conversational and included more ‘I’s in it than I would have predicted (not a complaint, I enjoyed her input).

One thing you must note if you choose to read this book. If you do read this, rent (or buy) the most recent edition. The one I rented from the library, and the only one available, was published in 2008. Obama wasn’t even president yet.

I noticed that almost immediately, realizing that nothing surpassed 2008. However, I continued to read on despite not being the most recent. I found that this book was a quick sum of

30 years that my schooling failed to teach me. None of my history classes taught recent history, anything beyond 1960’s or Vietnam. so this was a great wrap up of what happened prior to my birth -> until I began focusing on real world, current events.

Definitely recommend but highly suggest looking for the latest edition!

I picked up this book, along with The Everything American Government Book, out of desperation. I had spent most of my life saying that I didnt care about politics or the news except in the greater context and curation provided in history books. Then one day I woke up to realize that were living history and are here to take action or, at the very least, witness the ride. However, whenever I read a news article, I understood no more than 30%. I was missing the blueprint of how government and I picked up this book, along with The Everything American Government Book, out of desperation. I had spent most of my life saying that I didn’t care about politics or the news except in the greater context and curation provided in history books. Then one day I woke up to realize that we’re living history and are here to take action or, at the very least, witness the ride. However, whenever I read a news article, I understood no more than 30%. I was missing the blueprint of how government and politics work (or are supposed to work) and the background of most current affairs.

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I could’ve kept reading newspapers and magazines and hope to, by sheer repetition, construct the desired mental maps. But there’s gotta be a book that short cuts this, I thought, and amazon.com took me to What You Should Know About Politics… But Don’t. The title said it all for me. And the subtitle added more validity to it: A Nonpartisan Guide To The Issues That Matter.

Jessamyn Conrad does a very nice job identifying and describing some of the most important political and cultural topics of this decade. For each topic, Conrad provides background information about the issue at hand and the players that surround it, sometimes going back several decades. This background was essential in helping me weave a narrative (in my mind) and be better equipped to formulate a position.

The book touches on 13 topics in a little less than 400 pages. With approximately 30 pages per topic, the book is not at risk of being boring, especially because the topics are independent of each other.

As for the subtitle, Conrad limits her narrative to providing the main viewpoints around each topic, and the arguments presented by opposing parties. She doesn’t adjudicate the upper hand (ethical or logical) to any particular position. So, in my opinion, it checks the nonpartisan box.

The one thing missing perhaps is a complete update of the 13 topics, and perhaps the addition of new ones… things changed on January 20, 2020! This is the third edition, published in 2020, when Obama was still president.

In sum, if you’re looking to build or strengthen your blueprint of current American politics, read this book… and buy the fourth edition when it comes out. . more

IELTS Mentor “IELTS Sample Answer & IELTS Preparation”

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample 218 – Unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school

IELTS Writing Task 2/ IELTS Essay:

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Write about the following topic:

Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programmers (for example working for a charity, improving the neighbourhood or teaching sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Answer 1: (Agreement)
In the last few years, many new ideas and beliefs arose aiming to improve society and reinforce the relationship between members of a society. One of the proposed ideas, yet under observation, is to make it compulsory for high school students to do some programmes, of course, charity ones, to assist their community.

Firstly, I am completely supporting the idea that: helping promote the society is one of the main duties of a righteous and positive member. Imagine that in the vacation, some youths, and even all ages, work for charitable organisations which help the poor, the sick, the learners and others. Imagine other group cleaning and decorating the streets- of course, that won’t affect their dignity- or teaching the young. Indeed that will lead to an extremely modern, civilised and loving community. However, all these are examples, and there are many other ways to improve societies, both charitable and uncharitable methods. Despite this, the idea of compulsory charitable work doesn’t sound good for me. I believe that making that compulsory, will not lead to the heroic purpose of the charitable work i.e. the inner desire to help others, but, instead, will make it a type of finishing your work.

I know that this proposed idea aims to teach high school students to be responsible to their society and to take care of others, but I think there is a more efficient method. There are now working groups in many schools in different places which do such charitable work and even without inspiration from the school’s administration. So why not make many groups in all schools, and I think that will attract many students.

In conclusion, I think there are other better ways to promote the society without making it compulsory; the sitting compulsory subjects are enough.

(Approximately 294 words)
(by Abdallah Hassan )

Answer 2: (Disagreement)
People have divergent attitudes towards the unpaid community services. Certain people strongly argue that these types of services should be included in high school education such as charity activities, teaching other children and activities for society. Even though it has some positives, it should not be included in the high school education due to various reasons.

Unpaid community services should not be mandatory in the high school programmes. First and foremost, students have a lot of subjects to study within a limited period of time and that would become even harder in case the community programmes are made compulsory for them. For example, in India, most of the schools have added more subjects recently in the curriculum of high schools. Besides, if they are to perform such community activities, they would definitely face challenges in the academic area and sometimes, they may fail in the examinations.

Moreover, during this period of time, most of the students are not mature enough. Since they are not capable of handling service programmes effectively, they may feel difficulties and dissatisfied while implementing such activities among others. In addition, it would develop a negative attitude towards the unpaid community services from the tender age. Consequently, they may lose interest in doing those kinds of services later on.

However, one should not ignore the fact that if community services become a part of high school education, everyone gets a chance to work for society. Thus, these programmes instil moral and ethical values in the mind of children which is degenerating today’s generation enormously. Nevertheless, I think that students should be more focused on education and should not be forced to do something that might detract them from their main target and task.

To conclude, despite some advantages, unpaid community services should not be promoted in the early stages of education.

(Approximately 301 words)
(by Joy Thomas )

Answer 3: (Agreement)
What is the likely outcome, if unpaid community services make mandatory part of the high school programme? To comment on this subject, I am including a study, which collected statistical data taken from polls conducted, recently, among diverse segments of society. The majority of participants supported the idea, whereas others disagreed with the idea. In subsequent paragraphs, I will discuss the opinion expressed by participants of study with a personal choice of aligning myself with the majority of the society.

According to the survey, there should be no social unpaid work because such an activity will hinder student’s studies. The students will have to take time out of studies diluting concentration. In addition, if social community services are compulsory, then a child might become a victim of bad society trends, especially in their teenage time. The study shows that those participants who had the aforementioned views were in limited number. Some of these opponents presented their ideas logically whereas some others were impulsive and rigid followers of social taboos.

On the other hand, a large majority of those interviewed agreed with the idea, viz. unpaid community services should be a compulsory part of high school programmes. They explained that poor and needy families – which are a part of our society – will be benefitted by this idea. Such a programme will help to build a healthy society.

I am strongly of the view that, the social unpaid work should be made a mandatory part of the high school programme.

(Approximately 247 words)

(by Touseef Rana )

According to one camp, emerging non-profit services to secondary schools will improve students’ personalities and help to improve their skill in reacting with the community services. Moreover, working with poverty and homeless will add more values to schools programmes, and more variety the school subjects. This will be a good way of introducing skilled and smart individuals to the community.

In addition, when primary schools students deal with sick people or poor people, they will have a clue about how to deal with them in the future. For instance, in Asia, particularly in China and Korea, they use this way to improve high schools students’ skills.

According to the other camp, firstly, employing charity tasks with secondary schools will make it more difficult for teachers and students to keep their concentration with the regular school programmes. Secondly, most parents will not feel safe about it because dealing with patients in hospitals and streets’ homeless people demand more wise individuals to protect themselves from various viruses. Thirdly, generally, non-profit and charity organisations are doing great jobs, and merely more help and support from the governments will be enough. Also, we have to take into consideration that these services don’t need more individuals; they need more aids.

In conclusion, after hashing out the pros and cons of these two points of view, I completely disagree with this statement.

(Approximately 269 words)

(by Walied Farag )

Model Answer 5: (Agreement)
One of the most controversial issues today relates to whether the high school should include the unpaid community service compulsorily as part of the programmes. Many parents are of the opinion that it will be beneficial to the students when they work for a charity and improving the neighbourhood, just to name some examples. Personally, I am convinced that community service should be part of high school programmes for several reasons.

There are a handful of advantages that community service brings to the youngsters. To begin, it helps the teenagers to develop an excellent interpersonal skill. Admittedly, it is more valuable to do the unpaid social work than staying at home playing with electronic devices. It provides teenagers with an avenue to socialise with others, encourage them to exchange their thoughts with people of the same interest. It is indirectly helping them to develop the crucial socialising skill which plays an indispensable role in their studies and their prospective job. They will be benefited by learning how to communicate with people around us and respect other’s opinions. In short, community service will benefit the students by giving them an opportunity to meet new friends and thus widen their friend cycle.

Apart from that, teenagers will be more patient and have higher endurance after working for the community service. To illustrate, when they teach the younger children about sports, they are actually learning the value of being more patient which cannot be learnt from textbooks. To pick up this good value, it can only be acquired through practising. On the other hand, teaching children about sports is proven to be an effective way of destressing. In the twenty-first century, even citizen including student is becoming more stressful than in the past. Thus, they can keep their mind off from their studies when doing something not related to their academic studies like community service. To put in a nutshell, community service can educate the youngsters to be more patient which is essential in dealing with troubles.

In conclusion, I think that community service should be implemented in the high school programmes as there are numerous advantages of carrying out community service. Our nation will continue to prosper and flourish if there are more well-educated individuals being raised.

(Approximately 373 words)

(by Lee Wing Qeen )

Sample Essay 6: (Agreement)
Many individuals debate on whether or not voluntary works should be a part of the educational system. Some citizens argue that it does not necessarily have to, however, some others believe that doing important voluntary works like assisting other people, cleaning, or helping children in doing exercise are integral parts that must be included in a school curriculum. This is not a trivial question to answer; nonetheless, personally I incline to believe that schools must adopt volunteerism into their academic subject based on improving attitude and behaviour point of views.

To begin with, increasing cognitive value is considerably a rudimentary task of school. Since school is a place for the educational process, it must be targeted to not only improving knowledge but also effective insights of students. One of the ways to cope with this issue is by managing to volunteer over social events by pupils as a part of lectures. This idea can help to boost students’ willingness in understanding social needs and administering the prompt way to overcome the social problem. Unpaid school internship, for example, has been imposed by several schools and as the consequences, the pupils of those schools are more active in assisting social events without any command from school than those who are from the school where the same program is not applied.

Furthermore, the idea of involving free social service as the part of school activities can help students to set their perception about volunteerism. It goes as a systematic way of thinking. Knowledge can affect attitude and lead to behaviour subsequently. Adult volunteers in the food bank, for instance, tend to work without earning money sincerely because they are accustomed to doing volunteering since it was the part of after school program they attended.

All in all, as an educational agent, the school has to optimise student life skills, academic, attitude, and behaviour, by involving social activities in the school program.

9 Things You Should Know About TensorFlow

This morning I found myself summarizing my favorite bits from a talk that I enjoyed at Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, What’s New with TensorFlow?

Then I thought about it for a moment and couldn’t see a reason not to share my super-short summary with you (except maybe that you might not watch the video — you totally should check it out, the speaker is awesome) so here goes…

#1 It’s a powerful machine learning framework

TensorFlow is a machine learning framework that might be your new best friend if you have a lot of data and/or you’re after the state-of-the-art in AI: deep learning. Neural networks. Big ones. It’s not a data science Swiss Army Knife, it’s the industrial lathe… which means you can probably stop reading if all you want to do is put a regression line through 20-by-2 spreadsheet.

But if big is what you’re after, get excited. TensorFlow has been used to go hunting for new planets, prevent blindness by helping doctors screen for diabetic retinopathy, and help save forests by alerting authorities to signs of illegal deforestation activity. It’s what AlphaGo and Google Cloud Vision are built on top of and it’s yours to play with. TensorFlow is open source, you can download it for free and get started immediately.

#2 The bizarre approach is optional

I’m head over heels for TensorFlow Eager.

If you tried TensorFlow in the old days and ran away screaming because it forced you to code like an academic/alien instead of like a developer, come baaaack!

TensorFlow eager execution lets you interact with it like a pure Python programmer: all the immediacy of writing and debugging line-by-line instead of holding your breath while you build those huge graphs. I’m a recovering academic myself (and quite possibly an alien), but I’ve been in love with TF eager execution since it came out. So eager to please!

#3 You can build neural networks line-by-line

Keras + TensorFlow = easier neural network construction!

Keras is all about user-friendliness and easy prototyping, something old TensorFlow sorely craved more of. If you like object oriented thinking and you like building neural networks one layer at a time, you’ll love tf.keras. In just the few lines of code below, we’ve created a sequential neural network with the standard bells and whistles like dropout (remind me to wax lyrical about my metaphors for dropout sometime, they involve staplers and the flu).

Oh, you like puzzles, do you? Patience. Don’t think too much about staplers.

#4 It’s not only Python

Okay, you’ve been complaining about TensorFlow’s Python monomania for a while now. Good news! TensorFlow is not just for Pythonistas anymore. It now runs in many languages, from R to Swift to JavaScript.

#5 You can do everything in the browser

Speaking of JavaScript, you can train and execute models in the browser with TensorFlow.js. Go nerd out on the cool demos, I’ll still be here when you get back.

#6 There’s a Lite version for tiny devices

Got a clunker desktop from a museum? Toaster? (Same thing?) TensorFlow Lite brings model execution to a variety of devices, including mobile and IoT, giving you more than a 3x boost in inference speedup over original TensorFlow. Yes, now you can get machine learning on your Raspberry Pi or your phone. In the talk, Laurence does a brave thing by live-demoing image classification on an Android emulator in front of thousands. and it works.

#7 Specialized hardware just got better

If you’re tired of waiting for your CPU to finish churning through your data to train your neural network, you can now get your hands on hardware specially designed for the job with Cloud TPUs. The T is for tensor. Just like TensorFlow… coincidence? I think not! A few weeks ago, Google announced version 3 TPUs in alpha.

#8 The new data pipelines are much improved

What’s that you’re doing with numpy over there? In case you wanted to do it in TensorFlow but then rage-quit, the tf.data namespace now makes your input processing in TensorFlow more expressive and efficient. tf.data gives you fast, flexible, and easy-to-use data pipelines synchronized with training.

#9 You don’t need to start from scratch

You know what’s not a fun way to get started with machine learning? A blank new page in your editor and no example code for miles. With TensorFlow Hub, you can engage in a more efficient version of the time-honored tradition of helping yourself to someone else’s code and calling it your own (otherwise known as professional software engineering).

TensorFlow Hub is a repository for reusable pre-trained machine learning model components, packaged for one-line reuse. Help yourself!

While we’re on the subject of community and not struggling alone, you might like to know that TensorFlow just got an official YouTube channel and blog.

Update! As of March 2020, there’s a 10th thing you should know…

#10 TensorFlow just got user friendly!

Now that we’re done with last year’s news, it’s time for the one thing you need to know above all others: TensorFlow 2.0 is finally here! It’s a radical makeover that’s all about making TF super easy to use. The consequences are going to have major ripple effects on every industry, just you wait. Read my update about it here.

That concludes my summary, so here’s the full talk to entertain you for the next 42 minutes.

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