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flag1.jpgIt seems that Past Tense should perhaps change it’s name to Test Tense, as three out of the last fours posts have involved a test of some sort, and one that one wasn’t much of a post at all, just a picture.  I could say that I’m just trying to better educate the blog-reading public, and while that is partially true, it’s really just because I’m lazy.  I didn’t even come up with these tests.  But in an effort to keep this blog from completely dying, I figure lazy posting is better than no posting at all.  And so I present to you yet another test.

 This test was conducted by Intercollegiate Studies Institute and was administered to 14,000 college freshmen and seniors from 50 institutes of higher learning.  The test consisted of 60 multiple choice questions on American history, government, and economy.  The point of the test was to see which institutions did the best job of increasing the knowledge of these subjects over the course of a students time there.  Well, it also showed something else–that American college’s (and apparently high schools) are not doing a good job of teaching these things.  No school scored better than a D+, for freshmen or seniors.  These aren’t Podunk U. or Bob’s Junior College.  These are legit academic powerhouses.   Rutgers, Duke, Cal, University of Michigan, half of the Ivy League, Murray State.  Yes, Murray State!  This is bad news.

Naturally, I had to take this test for myself.  I did pretty well, though not as well as I would have liked.  I scored 49 out of 60, an 81.67%.  Most of the questions I missed were among the last ten and had to do with economics, an admitted weak spot in my arsenal.  There were some gimmee questions, but most at least made me stop and think for a second.  (There were two questions that I had answered correctly originally, but changed my answer.  Never second guess yourself.)  So I wouldn’t say it was an easy test, but certainly I would have expected most college students to get at least a C, especially seniors.  When I got my score, it also gave me the average scores people have gotten for the month and since the test has been online, September 2007.  Both of those scores were 71.5%.

So, now the challenge.  Can you beat my score.  Remember, no googling.  Post your scores and what you thought of the test in the comments.  Have at it!  Go!

For a good and pretty interesting post on teaching history to high school students (and my comments on it) check this out on Blog 4 History.

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History Books

BooksI’ve got a couple questions that I’ll hopefully have an answer for by this weekend.  Stay tuned for those.  In the meantime I thought I’d share a little secret for all you avid readers of history.  Its called the History Book Club.  Now, I know what you’re all thinking, “Great, he’s trying to rope me into the Columbia House of academia.  How many free books does he get if I sign my life away?”  But its not like that, honest.  If you sign up for the History Book Club you get four books, any in their catalog, for $1 each (plus S&H).  That’s right!  Just $1 each (plus S&H)!  But wait, if you buy a fifth book, you get it at 50% off (plus S&H).  But that’s not all!  You’ll also receive this handsome attache’ absolutely free!  And there’s nothing more to buy…ever!  That’s right folks, you get four books from our extensive catalog for $1 each, 50% off the regular club price of a fifth book, and a free attache’ tote (plus S&H) with nothing more to buy….ever!

This is a really good deal.  The only catch is that you need to be sure to cancel the monthly pick or it will show up in your mailbox and you’ll be charged.  But since there’s nothing more to buy….ever! you can simply cancel your membership as soon as your books arrive. I have been a member about four seperate times and have built quite a library, much of which I have not yet read.  I’ve become something of a book fiend which is ironic since in my younger days I was a master of passing classes without having read the material.  Weird how things work out.

Anyway, if you’re looking to expand your own library the History Book Club is a good way to do it.  If you need any suggestions on good history related books, I might have a few ideas.  Give me a topic, I’ll give you a book.  In case you were wondering, the four books I ordered this last time were as follows:

The Wizard of Menlo Park     Team of Rivals 

    The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid     The World Undone

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Observations

I’ve noticed something semi-interesting while checking out the stats for this blog.  WordPress tracks how many visits I get and how many times a particular post is viewed.  For a while my post on Hamilton vs. Jefferson was getting a lot of hits, and recently my Essentially What Ended the Cold War post has been a popular read.  This is kind of funny because that post was a joke.  Hopefully, I haven’t mislead some poor high school researcher into thinking Rocky Balboa won the Cold War with his dramatic defeat of Ivan Drago.  Of course, to deny that that had any impact on the outcome would be foolhardy, but won it single-handedly, they may be a slight overstatement.

WordPress also tracks words that were typed into a search engine that led to my site.  If my powers of deduction are as sharp as I think they are, it appears that someone somewhere in this great land had assigned a paper on the differences between the aforementioned Hamilton and Jefferson followed by an assignment on the final days of the Cold War.  I’ve even had a few commenters say they were going to use my blog as a source!  If you’re the one conemplating such an action, and you’re reading this right now, I would suggest you rethink this plan.  I don’t know how authoratative “Some Guys Blog” will look in your bibliography.  But otherwise, best of luck.

Anyway, just a couple of observations I’ve observed after careful analysis of this humble blogs vital stats.  Glad I could be helpful where I was and hopefully I’ll continue to provide useful and amusing historical facts and analysis.  If not, feel free to leave intelligently scathing comments, unlike the dude that commented on this post who apparently didn’t read the title before complaining.

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New and Improved…Maybe

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This new blog’s purpose is two fold:  to combine The Halls of History and Answer’s to Josh’s Cold War Questions into one all-inclusive history blog and to serve as a test so I can determine whether or not I want to migrate my other blogs from Blogger to WordPress.  Blogger has been frustrating me with it’s inconsistent picture uploading and refusal to format my posts correctly.  I’m sure WordPress has it’s issues too, but I thought I’d try it out for a while.

 As for the history element of this blog, I feel my writing style works best in a more responsive format.  A question is asked, and I reply in kind.  With the abundance of information to be found on the web on any and all topics, it may be a bit superfulous to host a history question and answer blog, but hopefully I’ll be able to provide answers that are informative and at least mildly entertaining.  Plus, readers will get to sample my own ideas and opinions, which is well worth the price of admission.  Also, the reader provided questions saves me the hassle of coming up with an interesting subject myself.  If I am diligent I can probably answer one question a week, maybe more if I have some that are either a. very simple, or b. very interesting.

 So, without further ado, I give thee The Blog Formerly Known as Answer’s to Josh’s Cold War Questions.  All history questions welcome.

 PS

If anyone has any ideas for a less wordy title, I’m all ears.

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