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Introductions & Conclusions in Context

Perhaps the best way to understand the power of a good introduction and conclusion is to read great examples.  Read the following introductions and conclusions that employ many of the techniques discussed in this module.  See if you can identify the techniques used by each author, then read our commentary on the text.

Going to a restaurant is generally a discouraging experience for me because I always manage somehow to antagonize the waitress. This, of course, is something you never want to do because waitresses are among the relatively small group of people who have the opportunity to sabotage items that you will shortly be putting into your mouth.

My particular problem is being unable to take in all the food options that are presented to me. If you order, say, a salad, the waitress reels off sixteen dressings, and I am not quick enough to take in that many concepts at once.

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Bryson, Bill. "What's Cooking?(restaurant and cookery terminology)." ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 58.2 (Summer 2001): 147.

When a thing is old, broken, and useless we throw it on the dust-heap, but when it is sufficiently old, sufficiently broken, and sufficiently useless we give money for it, put it into a museum, and read papers over it which people come long distances to hear. By-and-by, when the whirligig of time has brought on another revenge, the museum itself becomes a dust-heap, and remains so till after long ages it is re-discovered, and valued as belonging to a neo-rubbish age—containing, perhaps, traces of a still older paleo-rubbish civilisation. So when people are old, indigent, and in all respects incapable, we hold them in greater and greater contempt as their poverty and impotence increase, till they reach the pitch when they are actually at the point to die, whereon they become sublime. Then we place every resource our hospitals can command at their disposal, and show no stint in our consideration for them.

It is the same with all our interests.

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I have been asked to speak on the question how to make the best of life, but may as well confess at once that I know nothing about it. I cannot think that I have made the best of my own life, nor is it likely that I shall make much better of what may or may not remain to me. I do not even know how to make the best of the twenty minutes that your committee has placed at my disposal, and as for life as a whole, who ever yet made the best of such a colossal opportunity by conscious effort and deliberation? In little things no doubt deliberate and conscious effort will help us, but we are speaking of large issues, and such kingdoms of heaven as the making the best of these come not by observation.

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From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

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If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points. This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

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Of course. It was all becoming clear now. There was real food to be had here if you just knew the lingo. "Well, I'll have that," I said. "And I'll have it with, shall we say, a depravite of potatoes, hand cut and fried till golden in a medley of vegetable oils from the Imperial Valley, accompanied by a quantite de biere, flash-chilled in your own coolers and conveyed to my table in a cylinder of glass."

The man nodded, impressed that I had cracked the code. "Very good, sir," he said. He clicked his heels and withdrew.

"And no feuillete," I called after him. I may not know much about food, but I am certain of this: If there is one thing you don't want with steak it's feuillete.

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It's a nice dream, and something to think about in the time-space warp of standing in the checkout line at Kmart. Here is where the people who came before us have abandoned tiny dreams. Here, they've ditched merchandise they no longer wanted or couldn't afford: Among the candy bars and Life Savers and Chiclets are disposable cameras, J.Lo CDs, Mach 3 razor blades, infant-size T-shirts, a belt, Gatorade, a "Get Well Soon" card, corduroy pants.

In Kmart you always get the feeling that these items will spend their purgatory here, until someone else wants them at the last minute. It's the random nature of the place that gave it the reputation it has.

It's why Dustin Hoffman's autistic "Rain Man" character would react violently to being taken there. "Kmart sucks," the Rain Man said.

It did, and with any providence, it will go on gloriously sucking.

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Stuever, Hank. "K'mart has a lovable disorder." Washington Post, January 22, 2002.

I never expected the Amish to provide precise philosophical yardsticks that could guide the use of technological power. What drew me in was their long conversation with their tools. We technology-enmeshed "English" don't have much of this sort of discussion. And yet we'll need many such conversations, because a modern heterogeneous society is going to have different values, different trade-offs, and different discourses. It's time we start talking about the most important influence on our lives today.

I came away from my journey with a question to contribute to these conversations: If we decided that community came first, how would we use our tools differently?

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Rheingold, Howard. "Look Who's Talking: The Amish are famous for shunning technology. But their secret love affair with the cell phone is causing an uproar." WIred.com, January 1999.





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