Words On Wednesday

2015-04-15 Capitalism, Education, and Religion

I talk about stuff nobody likes to discuss, and that’s the way I want it to stay.

Television Purchase

Since our 40” Vizio went out, I’ve been looking for a replacement TV and I can’t decide on one.

40” CLASS (39.5” DIAG)
60Hz 35.5”W X 20.5”H X 2.8”D
One USB / Two HDMI Inputs 22.1”H X 7.7”D w/Stand
Energy Star 2 Year Warranty

Above are the contents of the advertising tag for the television I’m interested in at Costco. It’s the same size as the TV it’s replacing, not a brand I’m familiar with, and it includes a 2 year warranty in the price.

42” LED
1080P 60Hz 2 HDMI ports, 1 USB port, 1 component-composite
36.13” W x 22.87” H x 7.48” D
Smart TV w/ WiFi
$298.00, was $358.00

This is a comparable TV available at Walmart. It’s 2” bigger, from a brand I’ve been very satisfied with in the past, without a 2 year warranty, and $20 more expensive.

The variables in place here make me wonder which TV I should go with. With screen size, I’m of the opinion that bigger is better as long as it fits in the hole above my mantle (both of these do). Point for the Vizio. Though brand loyalty means little to me, I do like knowing a manufacturer has a history of putting out quality products that last a while and my previous Vizio TV lasted 6 years. Point for Vizio. The screens of both televisions looked pretty good: not as stellar as the newest 4K sets, but good enough that I could look at it without longing for better. Both are 1080P @ 60Hz with the same ports (I think the JVC had a component port, just wasn’t listed on the tag), and neither looked noticeably better than the other.

I’ve previously been very opposed to Smart TVs. I own a Chromecast and a PS3, so I really don’t need the features that a Smart TV would offer. Therefore, the inclusion of Smart TV functionality in the Vizio is a null point. I won’t hold it against the Vizio, but I won’t take advantage of it either. Warranty is a good thing to have, but I don’t know that it’s important enough to make a difference to me. It only lasts 2 years, I can buy it on the Vizio for an extra sum if I really want it, and I don’t necessarily predict that either set would die within 2 years. I can’t really place that as a strong point for the JVC, since it’s not something I’d probably get anyway.

At only $20 more, I’m leaning more toward the Vizio since it appears to be the better value. I still have reservations since the JVC does have the warranty and it is slightly cheaper, but I feel as though I would enjoy the extra screen size of the Vizio and I’d feel more comfortable with the brand. And some people have an issue with Walmart’s business practices, but I don’t mind buying from the cheapest seller.

If I haven’t already made a purchase upon publishing this post, I’ll probably buy one soon. Going from a comfortable 40” screen to a 24” screen with no remote is painful. It works for now, and it was nice to have a backup, but my eyesight is terrible. I need something that I can see from forever away.

Vizio 39 Inch

Update on day of publishing: I actually didn’t buy either of these. When I went to make the purchase, both were sold out. At Costco, there was a 39” Vizio that caught my eye, however. I like the brand, the component input doubles as an AV input, and it has 2 hdmi ports. Perhaps I made what some would call an impulse purchase, but that seemed to be what I was looking for. We purchased it on Saturday, and I’ve got no complaints out of it so far. Plus, we upgraded to the 5 year warranty, so it’s covered for as long as I would expect it to last anyway.

New Word Counter Metric

The site I use for text meta data now has a new metric: Reading Level.


While running my last post through WordCounter, the metrics column caught my eye with something I haven’t noticed before. According to the data, my writing was considered 11-12th grade reading level. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to run some of my previous posts through, just to see how they compare. Every single one I tested came back as 11-12th grade.

I don’t know how to feel about this discovery. Is it saying I write on a level that 11th grade students and up would be able to fully comprehend my writing? Though I try not to brag, I genuinely feel that I write more proficiently than most 11th and 12th graders (then again, this is “reading level” and not “writing level”). What about my writing indicates it should be placed at that specific reading level?

When informing a friend of the metric, she ran a variety of text through it. She tried everything from Wikipedia articles (which mostly suggested a college graduate reading level) to the excerpts from children’s books (ranging from 3rd to 8th grade levels). Apparently, they base this on the Dale-Chall readability formula (http://www.wordcounter.net/blog/2015/03/title-capitalization-spell-check-and-more-new-word-counter-tools/). In short, the test deals with the ratio of “difficult” words based on a list of words familiar to 4th graders, as well as the average number of words in each sentence.

With my new knowledge of the Dale-Chall formula, I’m much more alright with hitting the 11-12th grade reading level mark. The vast majority of my friends have a high school diploma, but few have anything more. This says to me that most of my friends can read my writing without much difficulty, but also without feeling as though I am writing beneath their comprehension level.

After performing more tests with the formula, however, I feel as though I should improve the reading level of my writing. Most Wikipedia articles have college graduate reading levels, and the local newspaper stories I’ve tested seemed to have an average of college student. My own academic papers have been listed as college graduate reading level, but I rarely write for academia. It makes sense that my casual writing would be more simple than my academic work, but it seems like I should strive for college student level. At 11-12th grade, I’m not far off from it. Throw in a few more big words, utilize some slightly more complex sentence structure to eek out a few more words per sentence, and just generally write for a more intelligent audience.

Then again, is it really so bad to write at the reading level of a high school junior or senior? Just because the bulk of my casual writing is at a lower level, it doesn’t mean I’m incapable of writing with more embellishment. I just write what comes to mind and what I enjoy. If anyone wants an example of my higher-level writing, I’ve got the swan song of my undergraduate degree waiting at the click of a link. This blog is writing for pleasure, so I shouldn’t have to make an explicit point to improve the reading level. Besides, “improve” is a relative term, and lower could be better depending on the audience.

Update on day of publishing: What do you know, this post actually *isn’t* 11-12th grade. It’s probably due to the TV specs listed in the first segment, but I got college student this post. I can almost guarantee you, next week will be back to my normal 11-12th grade.

Education and Religion

A recent discussion with someone cemented my stance on the separation of education and religion.

The chat stemmed from a Richard Dawkins quote about any one ancestry line had every generation procreating at least once. That particular quote amused me, but I dislike Richard Dawkins in general. His militant atheism is annoying to me, not from the perspective of someone who is religious, but rather from a human being who doesn’t want the beliefs of others shoved down my throat.

In the words of Patton Oswalt, “I feel, as an atheist, about people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher the way that Christians must feel about Fred Phelps.” (Source: http://www.alternet.org/belief/patton-oswalt-bill-maher-and-richard-dawkins-its-ok-be-atheist-not-be-jerk). Oswalt goes on to explain that he just doesn’t care about religion. Personally, I feel like this is the way religion or the lack thereof should be handled between everyone. I follow Christianity, but I don’t care if you believe in another religion or in any religion at all. If you inquire about my beliefs, I’ll tell you; if you don’t ask, I’m not going to badger you with my own thoughts on the matter.

Dawkins is unwavering in his belief that religion is bad for humanity; he believes that it breeds ignorance and that it causes war. I personally disagree. My thoughts are that religion in general gives cultural cohesion to people. It allows individuals to have closure for the deaths of loved ones and soothes uncertainty about the future. Religion offers moral guidance and a lifestyle recommendation. For every single conflict that started from a difference of religion, I can almost guarantee you there have been a multitude of actions done for the betterment of humanity because of religious influences. Putting the individual rewards of specific religions aside, religious beliefs are good for people to have.

However, just because I advocate for religion does not mean that I think religion answers all the questions of the world. Many people look to a religious text and say, “This book answers all of my questions. There is no reason to continue with scientific research or discovery.” At this point, I draw the line. We should all have an ingrained curiosity, a willingness to learn new things. Scientific discovery is a wonderful thing, and those who truly understand their own beliefs and religion as a whole should understand that the only religion destroyed by discovery is the one that was never correct to begin with. Science and religion are like yin and yang, two portions of the same whole. Religion explains what science has no way to prove or disprove.

While many religious zealots in the Bible belt of southeastern America think that religion should be heavily promoted in school, I strongly beg to differ. Two plus two is four, no matter if you’re Christian, Catholic, atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, or anything else. Science, though sometimes incorrect, seeks to find the truths of our physical world. We learn new things all the time. To quote Men in Black, “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119654/quotes) Imagine the state the world might be in if we still believed all these things that have since been proven incorrect. I want to stand by members of all religions and advance toward a greater and more intelligent civilization. These people are my fellow humans, and we’re all on this big chunk of rock together.


Words: 1917 | Characters: 10750 | Sentences: 98 | Average Word per Sentence: 20 | Paragraphs: 42 | Reading Level: College Student


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