learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

Effective only for producers on a farm who elected to participate in the production

adjustment program established under the Agricultural Act of 1949 for the 1988 crop of

wheat, feed grains, upland cotton, extra long staple cotton, or rice, except as otherwise

provided in this subsection, if the Secretary of Agriculture determines that, because of

drought, hail, excessive moisture, or related conditions in 1988, the total quantity of the

1988 crop of the commodity that such producers are able to harvest on the farm is less

than the result of multiplying 65 percent of the farm program payment yield established

by the Secretary for such crop by the sum of acreage planted for harvest and the acreage

prevented from being planted (because of drought, hail, excessive moisture, or related

condition in 1988, as determined by the Secretary) for such crop, the Secretary shall make

a disaster payment available to the producers. (I wonder if the writer of that 145-word

sentence was paid for a disaster?)

An article in a 1989 business journal was entitled “Tips for Improving Absenteeism.”

(Did the article really purport to tell us ways we could get better with our absenteeism?

On the contrary, it dealt with methods of reducing absenteeism.)

In a writing journal I spotted an item entitled “Composition Theory in the Eighties.”

Anticipating an article that might help me do a better job of teaching that theory, I

quickly turned to the piece. Then I read its subtitle: “Axiological Consensus and Paradigmatic

Diversity.” I read no further. Unclear titles will discourage your reader from


Look at the student writing examples that follow. (The snide remarks in parentheses

are mine.) Do you think these students reread what they had written?

“The cities of Paris, Rome, London, Brussels and Bonn are on daily alert due to the

new term ‘Euroterrorism’ being practiced throughout the continent.” (No they’re not!

Those cities are nervous because of the threat of Euroterrorism, not the term. Try this

instead: “The threat of Euroterrorism is spreading, and daily alerts are common in Paris,

Rome, London, Brussels, and Bonn.” Notice also that I didn’t say “the cities of. . .,”

because most people who can read will know that those are cities.)

“Something has to be said for the quality of an individual which is my personal goal

although contrary to any career goals.” (Something has to be said for the complete lack of

clarity in that sentence.)

“The fact that it is hard to continue to impress the public and terrorist is not cheap is

evident.” (Is that a fact? Emphasis was the author’s, although I don’t know why.)

“Coordinating actions and attacks leads to the other question raised by the original one

but is directly tied to the first part.” (Does this student hate his reader? Why else would he

force the reader to decipher a complex sentence like that one? I suspect that even the

writer of that sentence would not have understood what he was trying to say.)

I could cite many other examples of similarly convoluted sentences and phrases from

my collection. But I suspect that by now you’ve had enough of this offal. The point is


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