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Archive for May, 2012


Unit 1.16 – Blog Comment Spam

It’s not very often you get advertising spam comments as long and reasonably structured as the one below. Rather than just delete it I thought it would be more efficient to make an example of it and use it as material for some more of our beloved sample GAMSAT questions!


Difficulty: Medium / Hard

Time: 3 minutes


The following is a recent comment made on this blog by web spam expert, Babbette Bhaksian


Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page Search Engine Optimisation is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY.


Unit 1.15 – Fishapod Linguistics

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 3 minutes


Below is an extract from I Smirt, You Stooze, They Krump… by J. Crozier, C. McKeown & E. Summers entitled ‘Mix and Match’.

One of the latest creatures to have slithered from the primeval swamp of palaeontology is Tiktaalik roseae, a link between fish and land animals recently discovered in the Nunavut territory of Arctic Canada.

Tiktaalik has been dead for a mere 383 million years, but its name, Inuktitut in origin, looks set to enter the Collins English Dictionary in the near future.

It’s nice to see another Inuktitut word enter the English language, joining anorak, igloo, and kayak. But Tiktaalik’s nickname is just as interesting. Fishapod not only succinctly encapsulates the nature of this ‘fish with feet’ (an important missing link between water and land animals), but also highlights an interesting trend in language – the increasing freedom with which we create new hybrids from exisiting words, regardless of linguistic convention.

Purists will doubtless sneer at the way in which Germanic and Greek words have been spliced together in fishapod (‘Surely it should be icthyopod?’), but these people are probably still bemoaning that egregious Greek-Latin hybrid television.

As coinages like flexitarian, fauxmosexual and tanorexic show, we are adept at making new words from old, based on punning, allusion, and common sense rather than deference to ancient linguistic principles. These words are memorable, amusing, and – most importantly – easily understood. So the fishapod, our new friend from the distant past, serves as a reminder that English is ours to do with what we will, rather than a fossilised museum exhibit.


Unit 1.14 – A Poem About Death

I’m after losing the name of the poet, but if anyone knows maybe give us a shout? It’s an Irish poet from the north of Ireland.

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds


A Father’s Death 

It was no vast dynastic fate

when gasp by gasp my father died,

no mourners at the palace gate,

or tall bells tolling slow and wide.


We sat beside the bed; the screen

shut out the hushed, the tiptoe ward,

and now and then we both would lean

to catch what seemed a whispered word.


My mother watched her days drag by,

two score and five the married years,

yet never weakened to a cry

who was so ready with her tears.


Then, when dawn washed the polished floor

and steps and voices woke and stirred

with wheels along the corridor,

my father went without a word.


Unit 1.13 – 2012 Olympics

Difficulty: Easy/Medium

Time: 6 minutes


The following are a series of letters to the editor of concerning various aspects of the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Letter 1

My four children would have been thrilled to see even one event in the Olympic village. Yet after bidding online for numerous tickets we did not get any. Having the Games in London is like having a party in your house, being asked to pay for it and then not being allowed to attend. I went to the Munich Olympics which had none of the restrictions on attendance with tickets available during the games. 2012 seems a jamboree for sponsors, providing unhealthy food with a large proportion of the tickets reserved for corporate use. I’m now booking a holiday abroad during the Olympics. We’ve all had enough of watching sport on TV. I just hope my children will get a chance to see the Olympics live when they take place in another country.


Unit 1.12 – The History of Public Relations

Difficulty: Easy/medium

Time: 6 minutes

The following are extracts from Toxic Sludge is Good For You – Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, by John C. Stauder and Sheldon Rampton.


Passage 1

In 1836 legendary showman P.T. Barnum began his career by buying an old Negro slave woman named Joice Heth and exhibiting her to the public as “George Washington’s childhood nursemaid.”

Joice Heth claimed to be 160 years old. Was she for real? The man who coined the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute,” kept the public guessing through a clever series of forged letters to the editors of New York newspapers. Written by Barnum himself and signed by various fake names, some of the letters denounced Barnum as a fraud. In other letters, also written by Barnum, he praised himself as a great man who was performing a service by giving the public a chance to see George Washington’s “mammy.” The letters succeeded in stirring up controversy. Joice Heth was discussed in news reports and editorial columns, and the public turned out in droves to see for themselves. Barnum collected as much as $1500 per week from New Yorkers who came to see the pipe-smoking old Negro Woman.

When Joice Heth died, doctors performed an autopsy and estimated her true age at around eighty. Barnum handled the situation like the PR pro that he was. He said he was shocked, deeply shocked, at the way this woman had deceived him.

Barnum knew that in his publicity for “the greatest show on earth,” it didn’t matter whether people called him a scoundrel or a saint. The important thing was that the newspapers spelled his name right, and that they mentioned him often. He was one of the first people to manipulate the news for fun and profit.