Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L55 – With Clive in India

    All  GA Henty books are great, and With Clive in India is no exception.  This awesome book is action packed and is a perfect read for adventure-loving kids like me.  It is a slightly longer book, but nonetheless it is just as good as a movie.

    The book starts off slow, but quickly speeds up as he gets sucked into the many battles.     The plot is generally exciting and quick.     At its core the plot is about Charlie Marryat, a young man who goes to India as a clerk for the British East India Company, is sucked into the army, and reveals his excellent leadership qualities there.      His incredible leadership and foresight gain him massive recognition and rank in the army, and he quickly is considered the second best general in the army, under the one and only Clive.       Set in India in the early 1800s, the climate and position force him to accommodate, so he gains in respects that fit the setting.      The author, G.A. Henty, manages to fit all this in an active plot line, while only using third person.   Sometimes Henty describes the character in the middle of a battle, betraying no feelings at all through third person, yet with a vivid imagination it is easy to come up with many possible things that the character is thinking.       Charlie Marryat’s journey is well documented in this excellent book. 

     My thoughts on the book are all good.      The book is great, it catches the reader and keeps them reading for a good while.        It allows the reader to, as Billy Joel put it, “Forget life for a while.”      The descriptive scenes can be imagined as though it was a really long movie, which is what I do when I read.       My favorite parts were the battle scenes; they are action packed and fast paced, my type of reading.       There was nothing I really disliked about the book, except the slow start.        I don’t think Henty had any particular purpose in mind as he wrote With Clive in India other than to entertain the reader, and he does exactly that.      He engulfs the reader in the book, and makes them want more on the book, but never really says that he wants to entertain – I just pull it from reading the book itself.      I would highly recommend this excellent book.  

    Though I would like to say more on the book, that would be a spoiler, and nobody likes spoilers.      All in all, I highly recommend this book and would read it over and over again myself if it didn’t get boring after so many times reading it. 

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L150 – Blogging

         Blogging is a very important skill.  It is a practice zone for the skill of writing, and is very useful when selling something.  Often, blogs are news sites.  Other times, blogs are the gateway to a good job.

          Writing is a crucial skill in the workplace.   As Gary North, Senator Ron Paul’s presidential campaign manager, says, “If you can tell other people what to do in not only verbal words but words on a piece of paper, you have a significant advantage in getting a job.”  A blog is a perfect place to practice your skill – if the public likes it, it’s good.  If nobody likes it, it’s bad.  Besides, if you lose a disk drive that held all the original files, there is always the backups on the blog.  It’s almost like a public Cloud for free, a social media, and a chat center rolled into one.

          One day my blog is going to get me a job because my employer can see my writing skill on my blog.  I will have a higher chance of getting the job because not many people have very good writing skills nowadays, though there are more and more bloggers by the day.

          Every time I post an essay, I look back at some of my old ones and think, “Man, I wouldn’t write it that bad now! It just looks so horrible and the grammar’s slightly off.”  This is a sign of improvement.  Eventually, after college if I choose to take it I might look back at this essay and think, “Oh my Lord, that essay is so horrible that I don’t know why I posted it!”  That’s a sign of improvement.

          The point of a blog is to put what you think out on the web, but it works just as well as a historical, physical book of essays.  This will eventually show an employer my advancement in the skill of writing, and earn me a job.

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L145 – College

          There are many ways to get more education.  The one most talked about is college.  Although college has been around for a long time, it is still the main way to get higher education.  The thing is, though, it’s becoming obsolete.  With the rise of the internet, a physical college and campus is not as important; the new-fangled online colleges allow for all the learning of a physical college, but also the comforts of home, if the choice is even made to do college. 

          The question is, is it important for you?  Depending on your needs, college may or may not be very important.  If you don’t have much money and don’t need higher education, it’s not really a good idea to go into thousands of dollars in debt just to get a piece of paper that pretty much just says “So-and-so completed so-and-so class with highest honors”. Now you may argue, “But doesn’t that piece of paper get me a better job?” Really, it doesn’t.  The paper gets you on the short list for the interviews, but it doesn’t guarantee you the job you seek. 

You don’t need the degree to beat others with a degree; you just have to be confident and competent.  If you know what you’re doing, the interviewer will notice, and you may get the job.  For example, Nicola Tesla dropped out in his second year of college, but still managed to land a job at one of the biggest companies at the time.  Sure, he was a genius, but the same rule applies. 

A reason that it may be important is that you want to do something that wasn’t covered in college, like geology.  President Herbert Hoover made millions off his degree in geology by predicting the best places to drill for oil.  One of my uncles has a degree in programming and makes two hundred thousand a year at least.  A good idea is to take boy scouts in middle school and early high so you can get a taste of the many different fields that are available. 

What is your situation?  There are a few options.  You could get a degree without going to college at all!  There are online colleges, CLEP exams, and a few inexpensive other ways to get degrees. So why waste time and money going to a physical college, or even a college at all? There are benefits of not going to college; take advantage of them.   Do it soon, or not at all: tenth grade is a good deadline, or there’s gonna be some serious cramming happening in eleventh and twelfth.

 There are ways other than college; don’t forget to consider them, and in conclusion, I recommend watching a video by Gary North on the expenses of college.  Here it is: Video

Posted in 8th Grade, History 8

H8 L75 – Civil War Generals

The generals of the civil war are all interesting, and they each have a different story.  Many of them have corresponding parts of the story, like the Mexican-American War, and West Point Military academy.  One of the things they do not have in common is their names, which, in order, are Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William T. Sherman, and Thomas J. Jackson.

Ulysses S Grant was born April 27, 1822 as Hiram Ulysses Grant, to Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant.  He attended West Point Military Academy, but an accidental clerical error accidentally changed his name.  Not wanting to be rejected by the Academy, he changed his name on the spot.  After graduation, he was stationed in St. Louis, Missouri, where he met his future wife, Julia Dent.   Before they could get married, Grant was dragged off by the army to serve in the Mexican-American War.   He proved his bravery under fire there, as well as the feeling that the war was only being waged to spread slavery.  He returned after the war and finally married in 1848.  Then, shoving aside all the warnings of disciplinary action about his drinking problem, he resigned from the army on July 31, 1854.  He moved back to Missouri with his family and tried to farm the land granted to him by his father-in-law, but the land wasn’t farmable.  Some of his other failed business ventures were real estate, engineering, and clerkship.  

Finally, he had nothing to sell but firewood on a St Louis Street.  Eventually, in 1860, he decided to work as a clerk (supervised by his younger brothers) in his dad’s tannery.  When the Confederates attacked the Union-occupied Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861, Ulysses S Grant immediately decided to join the army and fight.   However, the Army rejected his application, and he only got in because of an Illinois Congressman.  He was assigned the command of an unruly volunteer regiment, and immediately got to work. 

Evidence:  Under Grant’s leadership, the 21st Illinois Regiment was ready for battle. 

Evidence:  When Kentucky left the Union in 1861, Grant got ready for the first few battles, and in a joint operation with the Navy in 1862, attacked Forts Henry and Donelson, with sweeping victories.  These battles gave Grant the nickname “US Grant”, standing for “Unconditional Surrender Grant”.  With these battles, he was promoted to major general of volunteers.

He quickly took Shiloh, fended off Johnston and Beauregard’s surprise attack, and sieged Vicksburg, Mississippi,  and captured the whole Mississippi River for the Union.   He then took command at Chattanooga and decimated the Confederates [in Tennessee] in the Battles of Chattanooga.   After the war, Grant served as the 18th president, and in an attempt at a business, agreed to a partnership in the financial firm Grant and Ward only to have his co-partner, Ferdinand Ward, line his own pockets with the money, and completely wreck Grant’s career.  (He had some really bad business luck!)  He died just as his memoirs were published by Mark Twain, on July 23, 1885.  

The other major general at the time, Robert Edward Lee, was born on January 19, 1807 to Colonel Henry Lee “Light-Horse Harry” and Anne Hill Carter Lee.   He enrolled at West Point and applied himself wholly to the work.  He finished without a single demerit and with perfect scores in all of his classes.   After West Point, he met and married George Washington’s great-granddaughter, Mary Custis.  They had seven children together, three boys and four girls, but Lee could never stay long to see them, for his Army obligations sent him all over the country.   

Finally, the break he’d been waiting for happened, in the form of the Mexican-American War.  In the war, he proved himself as brave and brilliant, a perfect combination in a battle commander.   After the war, he had some trouble, though.  He couldn’t deal with the little things in life, and when his father in law died, he returned to the plantation to try to manage it.   The place had gone bad and became a sinkhole for money.  Eventually he got a break and was sent to end John Brown’s revolt;  the orchestrated attack ended the fight in less than an hour, and this success put him on the call list for Union Army Generals if it were ever needed. But when Virginia seceded, he turned down an offer from Lincoln to lead the Union army and agreed to lead the Confederate. 

In the first part of the war Lee was doing great, holding off the Union near Richmond, until he decided to move north.  That was really his fatal decision, and it probably doomed the Confederacy.  The result of his attempt to take a wedge out of the North was the bloody battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.  These obliterated whatever was left of his army before said battles, and really turned around the war effort for the Union.  The fate of the war was clear when Grant erased from existence the majority of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, as well as some of Petersburg, Virginia.   About a week later, Lee surrendered to Grant at a private home in Appomattox, Virginia.  Since Grant and Lincoln were very generous and did not hang Lee as a traitor, he was sent home to his wife and kids in April of 1865.  He took a job as a college president, and kept his mouth shut on the subject of politics.

He died of a massive stroke, surrounded by family, on October 12, 1870.   

William Tecumseh Sherman, born to Charles Sherman and Mary Hoyt, was one of eleven children.  (That’s a handful!)  His dad was a good lawyer and Ohio Supreme Court Justice.  However, he died suddenly, and left the poor family with next to nothing.  A family friend, however, raised William, and he was sent to West point when he came of age.  He had little respect for the demerit system, but he did very well academically.   There were no real big troubles on the record, just a million little things.  Despite this, however, he topped out sixth in his class at graduation.  He wasn’t shipped off to the Mexican-American war like the other major generals, he was stationed in California as an executive officer.  Since he didn’t get any combat, he thought the army was a dead end and resigned.   He made a small fortune in the gold rush as a banker, right about up until the Panic of 1857, and then he lost it. 

Evidence:  He finally settled down in Kansas to practice law.   

Two years later, in 1859, he was a well-liked headmaster at a military academy in Louisiana.   Sherman warned his friends about the war and predicted exactly what was going to happen;  the war would be long and bloody, and the Union would eventually win.   He then settled in for the ride, wanting nothing at all to do with the war.  Then, all of a sudden, after the firing on Sumter, he asked his brother, Senator John Sherman, to arrange a commission in the army.  He was assigned the 13th US Infantry and commanded under William McDowell.  Sherman was in the First Battle of Bull Run, which made him deeply pessimistic about the war.   He exaggerated the enemy’s strength and complained about shortages in food and supplies. He was then put on leave, considered insane and not good enough for duty.   He tried to help and provided logistical support for Grant in the capture of Donelson and was assigned to serve under him the following month. 

His mettle was tested in his first battle, the battle of Shiloh.  Sherman initially ignored reports of Johnston in the area and wasn’t to too picky with the picket lines.  The next morning, the Confederates struck with the force of a hammer on a diamond.  Strike correctly and the hammer can break the diamond, hit it wrong and the hammer breaks.   In this case, Beauregard and Johnston are the hammer, and they didn’t hit the diamond (Grant & Sherman) quite right.  The attack was repulsed, and the next morning, Grant and Sherman routed the Confederates.   And yet the newspapers still complained about both men; as one newspaper says, the “Army was being ruined in mud-turtle expeditions, under the leadership of a drunkard whose confidential adviser was a lunatic.”  

After the fall of Vicksburg, Sherman was given an army to command, and he began his famed “March to the Sea”, tearing through Georgia with a massive trail of destruction.   This effective military tactic, mostly used in “total war”, was called either “Scorched Earth” or “total war.” When Grant won the presidency, Sherman took over as the top gun in the Army, until his retirement in 1884.    He said flat-out no to the presidency, and died February 14, 1891, in New York City.  President Benjamin Harrison ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast that day, the death of the man who recognized war for what it really was: “War is hell.”

Sherman was Grant’s right-hand man, so who was Lee’s?  The answer comes by the name of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.   Born January 21, 1824, to Jonathan Jackson and Julia Beckwith Neale, along with four siblings.   His father and older sister, Elizabeth, were killed by typhoid fever when he was two years old.   His mom then remarried to Blake Woodson, and when the young ones had quarrels with their new dad, they were sent off to some relatives’ house.  

Jackson then lost his mother to childbirth complications; the infant, William Wirt Woodson, survived, only to die of tuberculosis ten years later.  He eventually enrolled at West Point and was only admitted because the district’s first choice withdrew his application.   He was teased by all the others about his poorness and modest education, but this only fed the flame of determination, and he finished 17th in a class of 59 in 1846.   He was then carted off the Mexican-American War, where he met Robert E Lee and the two became close friends. 

After two marriages and two stillborn daughters, he returned to the military, and served as a VMI officer at J.B[1].’s execution.  He then had another daughter that lived to adulthood.  At first, he wanted Virginia to stay in the Union, but when they voted to secede, Jackson showed his approval and agreed to start training troops for the battles.   At the time, the cadets were acting as drillmasters, training recruits for the soon-to-be-called “Stonewall Brigade”.   After training his troops for battle he was promoted to brigadier general under Joseph E Johnston.   At the first battle of Bull Run, when Jackson charged his army ahead to take a gap in the Union line, Barnard E Bee exclaimed, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” 

Afterwards, Jackson launched the Shenandoah Valley campaign, and successfully led the Confederates to victory and eventually a spot in Robert E Lee’s army. 

He showed bad leadership at the Seven Days’ Battles but redeemed himself with his lightning-fast “foot cavalry” at Cedar Mountain.    he also held his troops in place at Antietam, until Lee ordered a withdraw of all his forces from the Potomac.   He was extremely successful against Joseph Hooker in the Battle of Chancellorsville but was sadly shot by friendly fire and killed by complications.   He died May 10, 1863.

          War generals are such interesting topics, and the have so many things that were alike and things that weren’t alike at all, such as the Mexican-American War (one exception), West Point, and their side of the war. 

[1] John Brown’s

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

English L101-115 Book – The Journey of the Tower of Babel

Part One 

Chapter I – Beginnings

March 1, 2008 B.C.

          This diary is to log our exploits after the confusion of languages and I was chosen to write it, so here I am writing it.  This is the first day of the confusion and I am unable to read the Hebrew that I learned in school two years ago.  I was chosen to start a log on the trip and to record all that happens on the way.  Well, I was walking around in the tower searching for anyone that spoke the same new language, which I called “Spanish”.  I called out and I heard another voice beside me yelling at me and I could understand.  To me this was surprising because I had spoken Hebrew all my life (so far).  I asked if anyone else could talk in the same language too, and he had encountered Chiram and Abhy.  “Aaron, what’s going on?” Barrak said.  I told him my opinion, said sure to a suggestion of his, and we split up. He went left and I right.  I ran into Chedva and Elias and he found Liesbet. 

Continue reading “English L101-115 Book – The Journey of the Tower of Babel”
Posted in 8th Grade, Science 8

S8 L114 – Constellation Spotting

          My brother and I went outside to get some wood for the fireplace one night, and when we were nearly done, my brother remembered the assignment and got me looking.  He kept finding the “little dipper” in every little star cluster, up until he said he found something that looked like a “tail.”  This got my attention, and I asked him to point it out.  He did so, and I realized that it was the tail of the constellation Draco.  Using this I located both of the Ursa (major and minor) and finished the assignment.