Frequently Asked Questions
And some less frequently asked questions.

Questions about the web pages:

How do I find what I missed in class?
Go to my home page and click on the link to the announcements for your class.
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How do I find the assignment due next class?
There are two ways. Both require you to go to my home page. Method #1: Go to the syllabus for your class and go down until you reach the schedule. There will be a link to the assignment on the date the homework assignment is due. Method #2: Go to the announcements for your class. The class it was handed out will have a link to the assignment.
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How do I find old tests and homework assignments?
For this semester's assignments, go here.  For old courses from Bethany, go here.  The courses are listed numerically and if I have taught the course more than once while at Bethany, they are then listed with the most recent offering first.
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How do I find the review sheet for the upcoming test?
Go to the announcements for your class.  The links to the review sheets are there.  Or you can go to the syllabus for the course.  Find the schedule near the bottom of the page.  Click on the link on the test that you are interested in.  I will update the review sheets after a chapter is finished.
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How do I find out when you taught a course before?
Click here and you will find out when I taught the course at any school. The assignments at Bethany College will be on these web pages.  Note that the tests from other schools are not available.
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Does the web page take much time?
Once it is set up, it takes very little time. Announcements take about 2 minutes per class to edit, save, and upload. Handouts used to take a little bit longer, but now that I have WordPerfect 10, I can save them in PDF format. Setting up the web page takes a lot of work initially. I spent a fair amount of time on and off during the summer and fall of 1997, then again when I moved which would be in the summer of 1999, August of 2001, and September of 2002. But it was done leisurely, so I do not know how much time I spent. At the beginning of a semester it takes about 10 to 15 hours to setup, but that time has been reduced by electronically copying old pages and modifying them.
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How long have you been doing the web page?
I started it in the fall of 1997 but that was at another school. I was teaching part time, so that I had no office. I had daily quizzes that came from the daily homework assignments. The students needed a way to find out what the new assignment was. (It was a remedial Mathematics class. That is why they had daily quizzes.)
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Do the students use your web page?
Yes! I have the best evidence from American University in Cairo (AUC).  In spite of it being new to people at AUC. (The Economics Department there has more part-time faculty members than the total number of faculty members with web pages in the whole university.) As the semester rolled on the number using it is increased. The students took time to realize what it is there for. But the students learned about it.  Later on in the semester students would be more likely to miss classes, so they need to use it to get assignments. I think that towards the end of the semester about 1/10 of the assignments are handed in attached to a copy of the questions printed off of the web page. That does not include checking for announcements, getting review sheets, and getting copies of the previous semesters' tests. At review sessions, it was very common for a student to read me a question from the previous semester's test that they have printed. It is hard to tell how much Bethany College students use it, but students have told me they do use it.
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Questions about my teaching.

Why do I have comprehensive finals?
There are many reasons for this.  First, when I give you a grade, I am saying you know that material.  How can I know if you still know it if I do not give a comprehensive final?  Secondly, you have been tested on almost everything already; therefore, it should not be hard to study for the final assuming you put the information in long-term memory.  Third, when I took Arabic, we studied common phrases, then nouns, then adjectives, then verbs, then we made sentences.  Would it have made sense for the teacher to test me only on sentences and not hold me responsible for common phrases or for nouns?  No.  So why should an economics course be any different?  Students complain that a comprehensive final is too much work.  That is not true providing you put the information into long-term memory.  Almost every course I ever took had a comprehensive three-hour final.
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What do I do if I am sick and cannot make a class or test?
Let me know as soon as you can.  If you have a valid reason, I will probably ask for verification.  If you need to take an exam late, let me know and we will arrange for you to take the makeup exam.  Remember for each unexplained day late, there is a 10% penalty per day.
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What does "tautological circumlocution" mean?
A tautology is a statement or argument that assumes something, and then later proves that assumption correct based upon the assumption.  Needless to say, a tautology could be completely correct or completely wrong depending upon the validity of the original statement.  A classic tautological statement comes from the end of the Pink Floyd song "Just Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2."  As the music is fading out, you can barely make out somebody saying, "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding.  How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat."  

Circumlocution comes from "circum" meaning to go around, and "locution" meaning to speak.  It literally means talking in circles.  Often when a student has some grasp on the answer but is missing something, they will write a circumlocution.  If a student has no idea what the answer is, they will normally write an irrelevant circumlocution.  Politicians that become successful are normally successful because they have mastered the circumlocution.  Here is a classic circumlocution I got from my representative.  Can you figure what topic I wrote to him about?
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You write "irrelevant" on my assignments a lot. Does that hurt my grade?
No.  The reason that I write "irrelevant" is because I want you to know what is important in your answer.  That will help you to study for the next test and the comprehensive final.
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Why do you rotate colors when grading?
I use four or five colors to make things more colorful. I currently use red, orange, pink, brown, and/or green because it makes it easier to tell which question the comments go to.  If I am writing between two questions, it may not be clear which answer the comment refers to.  I shifted from two colors, red and green, to three, four, and now five because if a student does the questions out of sequence, then there may be two answers that are consecutive with the same color of comments and it is more colorful.  I have tried other colors, but they did not work well.  Purple looks too much like blue so it does not stand out.  The gold colored pen I got did not write well and was hard to read on white paper.  The first brown I have found had too wide a point.  (Fine points are necessary for writing in the middle of lines.)
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If I answer both parts A and B, what will happen to my grade?  Why?
If you answer both parts on a test that asks for you to do either part, I average the grades for the two parts.  Both of my grandfathers taught me not to throw away anything that could be of use later on.  I apply that to information.  Why throw out information about what you know?  It makes no sense, so I will not take the better one.  I only believe in giving extra credit if the test is too hard.  Thus, I will not give extra credit for extra answers.
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Do you drop the lowest test grade or the lowest homework grade?  Why?
No.  I do not drop grades.  I will not throw out information.  Neither of my grandfathers threw out anything useful.  One did not ever throw out a newspaper!  I follow in their grand tradition by not throwing out data.  If one test grade is poorer than the rest, and IF YOU are on the border, I take that into consideration.
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Questions about me.

Why did you stop drinking Mountain Dew?
The FDA has proven that the sodium benzoate (some sodas have potassium benzoate which acts the same) breaks down into benzene. Benzene is highly carcinogenic. The levels found would be illegal in drinking water. They are helping the companies find another preservative. Iceland and Norway have considered banning all such drinks. (This information was gotten from CNN and the BBC.)

Why did you stay only one year at Ripon College?
When I accepted the position in April of 2001, it was a tenure track position.  In June, I was notified of a development that could affect my position.  The day before I arrived at Ripon, August 13th, 2001, I was notified that my position was going to be terminated at the end of the 2001 - 2002 school year.  Appropriately, the decision to terminate me was a LIFO decision.  I was unfortunate enough to be the last in.
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Why did you leave American University in Cairo?
I suspected that AUC would offer me a renewal of contract well before they officially made the offer.  Thus, I prayed about the decision for a few months before I made it.  The decision was not easy.  If you include the benefits that came with that job, it was the best paying job I have ever had and probably will ever have.  It was probably going to be the only time in my career that I will have a chance to work with graduate students because I will most likely be at a small liberal arts college from now on.  So why did I leave?

First and foremost, I am not a big city person.  I had lived the previous 10 years outside of Farmville, VA, population 6000, and the nearest city was Lynchburg, VA.  Lynchburg's population was 65,000 and it was fifty miles away.  Multiply the size of Farmville by 2500 and you still do not get to the most common estimate for the greater Cairo area, 16 million.

The second problem is a problem that was going away.  I do not speak Arabic.  I was learning it, but it takes time.

A third consideration was that because it a renewable contract rather than tenure track, I would not be getting tenure there.  So I had to leave at some time.  The weakest part of my curriculum vitae is my publishing.  I had a book review and a joint article that came out in early 2001 and late 2000 respectively.  So, I felt the timing was correct.

Let me say what did not cause my decision.  Safety was not a concern.  Egyptians love Americans.  They often disagree with the American government's Middle East policies, but they distinguish between Americans and the American government.  I would feel safe there now, even after 2001/9/11.  The students were not my reason for leaving.  The majority of students there are good students and I have made some friendships with them.  There are multiple students that have kept in touch with me via e-mail.  As mentioned before, pay was not a consideration because effectively, it was the best paying job I have had.  It was not my colleagues.  The ones I know are very nice.  It was not Egypt or the Egyptians.  I have enjoyed being in Egypt and seeing millennia of history and beautiful landscape.  (Yes, deserts are beautiful, and so are the oases, the shoreline and the Nile River.)  The Egyptian people are very friendly and are always willing to help or attempt to find somebody that can help.  I felt safe almost anywhere in Cairo and Egypt.  I cannot say the same of New York City, New Orleans, or many other cities in the USA. Today, I would feel safer as an American in Cairo than an Egyptian would feel in the USA because of 9/11.
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Did you enjoy Egypt?
For the most part yes.  I did not enjoyed the pollution and traffic in Cairo.  However, getting out of Cairo into other areas of Egypt has been great fun.  The Egyptian people are very friendly and helpful.  Egypt is a great country that is making great strides in the right direction.  Yes, there are areas that need improving, but EVERY country has its weaknesses.  I think that if I could speak Arabic better, I would have enjoyed my stay much more.  I am very glad that I have lived there and I almost took AUC's offer to renew my contract.  (See above .)
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What did you miss the most about the USA?
That is easy.  I missed Mountain Dew and being able to talk to everybody I meet.
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Do you speak Arabic?
Shwaya.  I took two semesters of Arabic.  I have carried on a conversation with a taxi driver entirely in Arabic.  But the conversation was restricted to his asking me where I was from, how long I had been here, where I work, and a couple of other questions.  He was very pleased that I was from the USA because he loves USA, Germany and France, but not other countries.  He particularly does not like Italy.  He was also surprised that I could speak as much Arabic as I could given I had only been here one year.  However, I cannot carry on much more of a conversation other than to ask for a few items in a store and ask their price or to ask directions.  I would like to learn more Arabic.  Unfortunately, I was doing too much traveling the summer of 2000 to take more Arabic and in the fall, I was applying for my next job, thus I did not have time to take another course.
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Why do you write dates like 2000/06/29?
There are three standards for writing dates.  The first is the American style of 06/29/2000.  The second is the British style of 29/06/2000, and the third is my style and it is coming increasingly common on the internet.  The style I use is becoming standard in computing.  The American style makes no sense because months are longer than days and years are longer than months, so if the month comes before the day, then the year should come before the month.  The British style makes sense in that manner, except that all other measures have the large units on the left.  For example, in numbers the thousands are to the left of the hundreds, which are to the left of the tens, which are to the left of the ones.  Similarly, we write hours:minutes:seconds rather than seconds:minutes:hours.  So we should be consistent.  I recently found out that many Asian countries write dates with the year first.
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What is ska?
Ska is the musical style I listen to the most.  It is reggae's older brother.  However, I do not like reggae.  Take the reggae rhythm, speed it up and make it peppy.  Add a lot of horns.  You have ska.  Reggae took ska and slowed it down and got rid of the horns.  Over time, reggae slowed down and ska got peppier. In recent years, ska has had a series of hybrids with other musical styles.  For example, Skavoovie and the Epitones play a blend of ska and jazz.  The Mighty Mighty Bosstones started out playing a ska and punk blend.  The W's play a ska and swing blend.  Less Than Jake play a ska and metal blend.  I personally like the third wave ska better than the Two-Tone sound or the first wave ska.  But some great music came out of the Two-Tone era.  (The Two-Tone era was the late seventies and early eighties when the Two-Tone record label had a large number of hits in Britain.  The best known bands of that era were The Selector, English Beat, Bad Manners, and Madness.)
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What is wrong with my Roman numerals?
Most people put a line across the top and a line across the bottom of their numbers.  That is wrong.  Every line you add multiplies the number by 1000.  It is just like adding a comma and three zeros.  My guess is that is where the idea of the comma and three zeros comes from.  So the number is the number 6,000,000.  If you did just VI then you would have the number 6.  If you wanted to write 6,000, then you would write VI with a line above.

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Which countries do you boycott and why?
I boycott Sri Lanka, China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Syria, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and North Korea.  Except for North Korea, all of these countries have perpetuated genocide in the 21st century or the leaders perpetrated genocide in the 20th century and are now back in power.  The minorities being killed are: Tamils in Sri Lanka, Uyghurs in China, Darfuri in Sudan, Ndebele &Whites in Zimbabwe, Rohingya in Myanmar, Kurds and others in Syria, Chechens in Russia, Palestinians in Israel, Houthis in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, Kurds in Syria by Turkey, Hazara in Afghanistan, and Armenians in Azerbaijan.  North Korea is on the list because it is the most repressive government in the world, with possible exceptions of some of the other countries listed.  If you go to, you will find there are a lot more countries which could be added to the list.  I have highlighted the ones which I am the most familiar with.

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This page was created by Wilf .

This page was last edited on 2023/11/5.