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Part V - Medieval Britain

Choose the best among the several topic sentences for each paragraph below.


  1. I saw around Velva a release from what was like slavery to the tyrannical soil, release from the ignorance that darkens the soul and from the loneliness that corrodes it. In this generation my Velva friends have rejoined the general American society that their pioneering fathers left behind when they first made the barren trek in the days of the wheat rush. As I sit here in Washington writing this, I can feel their nearness. (from Eric Sevareid, "Velva, North Dakota")

    1. Family-sized farms are not productive.
    2. I grew up on a family-sized farm, near a town called Velva.
    3. Many politicians deplore the passing of the old family-sized farm, but I'm not so sure.
    4. People moved away from the cities in the late nineteenth century, in search of fertile land for farming.

  2. The first is the wear-and-tear hypothesis that suggests the body eventually succumbs to the environmental insults of life. The second is the notion that we have an internal clock which is genetically programmed to run down. Supporters of the wear-and-tear theory maintain that the very practice of breathing causes us to age because inhaled oxygen produces toxic by-products. Advocates of the internal clock theory believe that individual cells are told to stop dividing and thus eventually to die by, for example, hormones produced by the brain or by their own genes. (from Debra Blank, "The Eternal Quest" [edited]).

    1. There are two broad theories concerning what triggers a human's inevitable decline to death.
    2. Some scientists believe that humans contain an "internal time clock" which forces them eventually to die.
    3. We all must die some day.
    4. My biology professor gave an interesting lecture Thursday.

  3. The strictest military discipline imaginable is still looser than that prevailing in the average assembly-line. The soldier, at worst, is still able to exercise the highest conceivable functions of freedom -- that is, he or she is permitted to steal and to kill. No discipline prevailing in peace gives him or her anything remotely resembling this. The soldier is, in war, in the position of a free adult; in peace he or she is almost always in the position of a child. In war all things are excused by success, even violations of discipline. In peace, speaking generally, success is inconceivable except as a function of discipline. (from H.L. Mencken, "Reflections on War" [edited]).

    1. Soldiers need discipline.
    2. We commonly look on the discipline of war as vastly more rigid than any discipline necessary in time of peace, but this is an error.
    3. Although soldiers are not always disciplined, they serve an important social function in wartime.
    4. In times of peace, soldiers often convert easily from wartime pursuits to the discipline necessary successfully to compete in even the most competitive marketplace.

  4. In Montreal, a flashing red traffic light instructs drivers to careen even more wildly through intersections heavily populated with pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. In startling contrast, an amber light in Calgary warns drivers to scream to a halt on the off chance that there might be a pedestrian within 500 meters who might consider crossing at some unspecified time within the current day. In my home town in New Brunswick, finally, traffic lights (along with painted lines and posted speed limits) do not apply to tractors, all terrain vehicles, or pickup trucks, which together account for most vehicles on the road. In fact, were any observant Canadian dropped from an alien space vessel at an unspecified intersection anywhere in this vast land, he or she could almost certainly orient him-or-herself according to the surrounding traffic patterns.

    1. People in Calgary are careful of pedestrians.
    2. Although the interpretation of traffic signals may seem highly standardized, close observation reveals regional variations across this country, distinguishing the East Coast from Central Canada and the West as surely as dominant dialects or political inclinations.
    3. People in Montreal drive faster than people in Alberta, and Maritimers generally don't pay any attention to traffic signals at all.
    4. Canadians do not follow traffic signals properly.

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