June 2010 Newsletter

College Focus:
  UC Santa Cruz
The Right Word:
  Envelope vs. Envelop
Strunk & White Tip:
  Rule 3, Part Two
  Recommended.Reading:   Rudyard Kipling
  SAT/PSAT PREP    July 12 - 23

    June 28 - July 2


Tim Tran, BS, Biology, San Jose State University, is going to Tufts Dental School in New York.
Julia High, AB, History (Honors), UC Berkeley, is working for Lindamood Bell this summer while studying for the Law School Admissions Test, which she’s taking in October.

Tim Lee, a graduate of Lynbrook High School in San Jose, is going to MIT.
An Bui, from King’s Academy, is going to UC Santa Barbara.
Deepak Lingam, a graduate of Mission High School in Fremont, is going to Johns Hopkins University.
Jeffrey Wang, a graduate of Palo Alto High School, is heading to UC Berkeley.
Sakthi Sankarraman, a graduate of Monta Vista High School, is going to Syracuse University for engineering.

University of Santa Cruz

Located 36 miles from the San Jose airport, UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) is the closest UC campus for most readers of this newsletter. The university is made up of 10 different smaller colleges, all nestled upon a hill surrounded by countless redwood trees. The natural beauty of the campus is a point of nostalgia for many alumni.

“The campus is great—very different from city life,” says Dong Nguyen (’09). “I remember when I was a freshman at College 8, seeing deer feeding on the lawn. I was astounded. I didn’t know whether I should go through the backdoor or sneak by.”

UCSC’s academic ranking is very high. Among California universities, only three private institutions—Stanford, Caltech, and USC—received higher ratings in both the just-released Washington Monthly 2010 rankings and those of U. S. News and World Report. And although most students will find it easier to be admitted to Santa Cruz than to most of the other UC campuses, it is important to remember that the UC system itself contains some of the best schools in the nation.

UCSC’s astronomy department manages the Lick Observatory east of San Jose on behalf of the entire UC system. It is also a managing partner of the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The faculty includes two of the University of California’s honored university professors, 20 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 13 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and 31 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. According to Princeton Review, the student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1, creating an environment that encourages close relationships. Alumna Jessica Tsang says, “UC Santa Cruz is a place where you can call your departmental faculty advisor, and he or she knows who is on the line.”

More than 16,000 undergraduates pursue course work in 63 majors, 35 minors, and 52 concentrations in the fields of arts, engineering, humanities, physical and biological sciences, and social sciences; graduate students work toward advanced degrees in more than 30 different academic fields.

Science Watch magazine says, “UCSC ranked first in the nation for its research impact in the field of physics, according to an analysis conducted by Thompson Scientific.”

UCSC pairs its strength in the sciences with an emphasis in critical thinking, interdisciplinary thought, and intellectual innovation—an emphasis which the Writing Program promotes in its high standards for student writers. With a long list of resources outside the classroom, from volunteer peer tutors to graduate students, the school produces competent, confident student writers, no matter what their backgrounds.

“I’ve met plenty of great friends for whom English is a second language,” says Nguyen. “After taking a Writing 2 class, [their English] improved dramatically.”

It is also the only school in the nation to offer a graduate science writing program that requires a degree in science and experience in research. Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Science Writing Program have gone on to write for National Public Radio, prominent science magazines, the National Institutes of Health, and newspapers across the country.

The UCSC Banana Slug is one of the more unusual mascots because of its slimy translucence and yellow color. The slug is part of the ecosystem surrounding the campus, which includes 10,000 acres of old-growth redwood. It is an enduring mascot to many students and alumni, and when someone asks, “What was your college mascot?” students answer, “The feared Banana Slug!”

To learn more about becoming a Banana Slug, please check the UCSC Website.

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Steve High,
Strunk and White’s Rule #3
Part Two: “That” clauses vs. “Which” clauses

by Steve High

Punctuating a clause beginning with that or which can be tough. The short answer is which clauses require commas and that clauses do not.

Strunk & White has a tale of two broken lawn mowers in Section IV: “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused.” One lawn mower belongs to a golf course, the other to a family like yours or mine. But we have only one lawn mower at our house. The golf course has many lawn mowers.

Look at the difference between the that clause and the which clause.

The Country Club’s Garage

Our Garage

The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage.
(Tells which one.)

The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage.
(Adds a fact about the only mower in question.)

A that clause is a restrictive clause. A which clause is a nonrestrictive clause. Because the meaning of these terms is not obvious, editors and English teachers have dreamed up quite a few synonyms for restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses in an effort to make the distinction clear:

Restrictive clause


Nonrestrictive clause

Essential clause


Nonessential clause

Defining clause


Commenting clause

Identifying clause


Non-identifying clause

Limiting clause


Informing clause

Non-parenthetical clause


Parenthetical clause

“That” clause


“Which” clause

All the terms in the left-hand column describe “that is broken” in the sentence about the country club’s garage. All modify the meaning of the noun “lawn mower” so that we can tell it apart from all the other lawn mowers.

All the terms in the right-hand column describe “which is broken” in the sentence about the lawn mower at our house. Note that “which is broken” can be removed without destroying the meaning of the sentence.
You can remember any or all of the terms to keep the Rule #3 distinction clear in your mind.

Rule #3 applies to many more kinds of expressions than just that and which clauses. If Strunk & White’s concise rule is too brief for you, read about this rule in Write It Right. Another excellent discussion is in chapter 7, “Abused Relatives,” in Bruce Ross-Larson’s Edit Yourself.

Which clauses often add needless words to your sentences. Edit Yourself makes this point with an amusing example.

Unnecessary comment


Better sentence

Decide whether a nonrestrictive clause can be cut, which often is the fate it deserves.


Decide whether a nonrestrictive clause can be cut.

To test your knowledge of Rule #3, including Part One, try our simple quiz. For a more challenging test on the Rule #3 principles used by the Associated Press, go here.

For answers to specific writing questions, email us here. Who knows? Your question may inspire our next article on Writing Tips.

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Envelope vs. Envelop
by Nat Crawford

Occasionally, I find students confusing envelope and envelop.

Envelope   is a noun. It refers to what you send a letter in.

I need to open this envelope.

Envelop   is a verb. It refers to the action of surrounding something completely.

The grownup amoeba must envelop its food.

A related problem is misspelling the word develop.

Wrong: develope

To avoid this error, pronounce the word the way it is spelled. Develope would have to rhyme with hope, elope, or envelope.

Right: develop

The only significant word that rhymes with develop is our friend from this lesson, the verb envelop.

For answers to specific writing questions, email us here. Who knows? Your question may inspire our next article on The Right Word.

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Rudyard Kipling
Nat Crawford,
director of tutoring

by Nat Crawford

During his long career, Rudyard Kipling wrote of English outcasts making their way through India; former British soldiers who set themselves up as governors of exotic lands; Roman centurions on the eve of the Christian era; and other curious, colorful, or ambiguous characters. He had a novelist’s eye for detail and, in much of his writing, a novelist’s indifference to the morals of those he described. Yet he himself strongly believed in the Victorian virtues of stoicism, self-discipline, and obedience to law. These seemingly bland virtues have never had a more engaging advocate than one of Kipling’s most didactic works, The Jungle Book.

The bulk of The Jungle Book, and its sequel The Second Jungle Book, relates stories about an Indian boy named Mowgli, raised by a family of wolves to follow “the law of the jungle.” This law tells the tiger where he may hunt, tells wolves how to admit outsiders to their pack, tells strangers how to greet each other, and forbids the eating of certain foods—including man. In Kipling’s fable, this law is as rigorous and far-reaching as any system of human law. Learning to follow it requires incredible discipline.

Now, if you talk to a person about following the law, he might ask you if he will regret giving up his freedom. But the word freedom has two senses, both of which The Jungle Book explores. On the one hand, freedom can mean the freedom to do what one wishes whenever one wants to, from marrying to committing murder; on the other hand, freedom can mean the freedom from the bondage of injury, chance events, and the violence of others—and thus a greater degree of freedom over one’s own destiny. Freedom in this second sense creates space in the soul for the virtues of honor, courtesy, and self-respect to grow. By contrast, freedom in the first sense is destructive, both to societies and to individuals. Kipling illustrates as much in the first three chapters of The Jungle Book.

When young Mowgli’s family flees from a ravenous tiger, the child finds a new family in a pack of wolves. To live in the pack, he must learn the law of the jungle from the jungle teacher, the old bear Baloo. These learning scenes are an amusing window into Victorian pedagogy. When Mowgli’s mentor Bagheera, the panther, asks Baloo to go easy on the little child, Baloo responds quickly:

“Is there anything in the jungle too little to be killed? No. That is why I teach him these things, and that is why I hit him, very softly, when he forgets.”

“Softly! What dost thou know of softness, old Iron-feet?” Bagheera grunted. “His face is all bruised today by thy—softness. Ugh.”

“Better he should be bruised from head to foot by me who love him than that he should come to harm through ignorance,” Baloo answered very earnestly.

This passage, taken from “Kaa’s Hunting,” shows Kipling’s gift for dialogue. The chapter contains many more amusing conversations between strongly drawn characters who possess camaraderie and a sense of humor. (As one might expect, Mowgli’s lessons do end up saving his life.)

In the same chapter, Mowgli encounters the Bandar-Log—the monkey people—who live outside the law of the jungle because they lack the self-discipline to follow it. The Bandar-Log capture Mowgli with the intent of making him their leader, but they quickly reveal their inability to hold to a course of action, from gathering food to weaving baskets. Mowgli, at one point entranced by the vision of the pleasant, idle life that they had promised him, quickly grows disenchanted when he sees the consequences of living without law. The Bandar-Log reply by describing the virtues of their freedom:

[T]he Bandar-log began, twenty at a time, to tell him how great and wise and strong and gentle they were, and how foolish he was to wish to leave them. “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,” they shouted.

As it turns out, the Bandar-Log have none of the virtues that they pride themselves in; they are neither wise nor strong nor even gentle, and Kipling suggests that no people can have these virtues if they live free of law. This passage would be more amusing were it not clear that the Bandar-Log are destructively selfish—and were it not clear that their lazy sanctimony is present in the real world, its preachers just as foolish and, in their hearts, just as violent as Kipling’s monkeys.

In the fate of the wolf pack that adopts Mowgli, Kipling shows what happens when a society loses respect for law. At the beginning of The Jungle Book, the wolves pride themselves on being known as “the free people.” By this they mean that they are free to make their own decisions, regardless of what other jungle creatures think. They have this freedom because by following a leader and a law, they make their society strong. As Mowgli ages, however, the pack loses its discipline. Some of its members begin to choose the easy path by following the tiger Shere Khan for the scraps of food he leaves behind, and by eating people, which the law of the jungle forbids. At the end of the third chapter, when Mowgli, after a long absence among humans, returns to the leaderless pack, the wolves show that they recognize what true freedom requires:

“Lead us again, O Man-cub, for we be sick of this lawlessness, and we would be the Free People once more.”

“Nay,” purred Bagheera, “that may not be. When ye are full-fed, the madness may come upon you again. Not for nothing are ye called the Free People. Ye fought for freedom, and it is yours. Eat it, O Wolves.”

The wolves recognize the value of what they have lost but realize that they lack the strength to regain it. Here, Kipling depicts the wistful whimper that marks the end of every civilization.

As what builds up a civilization, Kipling would say that it requires strong, independent, stoic individuals. He expresses his opinions most concisely in the poem “If,” written for his son Jack. In this poem, Kipling counsels his son to endure adversity and to tolerate the people responsible for life’s slings and arrows:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too...

Poets often praise dreaming, and philosophers often praise thinking, but Kipling says that a complete person must give dreaming and thinking a purpose: “If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; / If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim.” Following these lines, Kipling adds a withering condemnation of both exultation and despondency: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster / And treat those two imposters just the same.” Kipling brings his periodic sentence to a conclusion that one can fairly describe as stirring:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

Intellectuals have been sniggering at “If” since the early 20th century. However, just as the Seeonee wolf pack mourned its loss of a leader, today’s societies may someday find themselves mourning lost virtues praised by “If.”

In The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, Kipling shows Mowgli learning about and developing these virtues through a series of episodes stretching from Mowgli’s youth to his decision to return to human society. “How Fear Came” is a fable that describes how the creatures of the jungle lost their original happy community (in which even the tigers were vegetarians) for a world in which the herbivores fear the carnivores and all animals fear humankind. “Letting in the Jungle” tells of Mowgli’s revenge against the village that cast him out; it shows the fragility of human civilization measured against nature’s lasting fecundity and power. “The King’s Ankus” is an amusing morality tale about human greed. “Red Dog” introduces a new enemy and a new threat to the jungle law, allowing Mowgli to showcase his generalship and giving the reader one final image of the Seeonee wolf pack united against a common threat. “The Spring Running” brings the story of Mowgli’s sojourn in the jungle to its bittersweet conclusion.

The name “Jungle Book” is a misnomer, for both books contain stories that have nothing to do with the jungle. They all display Kipling’s gifts as a writer. One is his ability to describe the world from the perspective of his characters. In “The White Seal,” Kotick’s father curses, “Empty clam shells and dried seaweed,” when he hears that his baby is an albino. Mowgli shows his scorn for his mortal enemy by saying, “Some bat’s chatter of Shere Khan.” In “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” Darzee the tailorbird thinks it unfair to kill a cobra’s children because they “were born in eggs like his own.” And through the varied idioms of all these creatures we can hear the voices of actual human beings.

Kipling’s characters lack the depth of, say, Jane Austen’s; one would never read The Jungle Book to watch a character carefully analyze the winding paths of her motivations. What Kipling offers instead are jewels of descriptive detail, passages built around the most fleeting elements of sight, touch, sound, and smell. Here is his description of riding an elephant through a forest at night:

Sometimes a tuft of high grass washed along his sides as a wave washes along the sides of a ship, and sometimes a cluster of wild-pepper vines would scrape along his back, or a bamboo would creak where his shoulder touched it. But between those times he moved absolutely without any sound, drifting through the thick Garo forest as though it had been smoke.

Those who have been to Asia might know that Kipling does not exaggerate an elephant’s soundlessness.

Some of Kipling’s finest descriptions appear throughout “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat.” In the following passage, Kipling captures the feeling of waiting out a rainstorm’s great embrace:

All that time he heard nothing but the sound of a million little waters, overhead from the trees, and underfoot along the ground, soaking through the pine-needles, dripping from the tongues of draggled fern, and spouting in newly-torn muddy channels down the slopes. Then the sun came out, and drew forth the good incense of the deodars and the rhododendrons, and that far-off, clean smell which the Hill people call “the smell of the snows.”

Here Kipling also shows the writer’s gift of using concepts from one language to stimulate the imaginations of those who speak another.

Thanks to infamous lines in “Take Up the White Man’s Burden,” Kipling has been typecast as a supporter of British imperialism. That he was; but his collected works contain much more than homilies on expanding one particular civilization throughout the world. In The Jungle Book and its sequel, Kipling does the work of every great writer: he shows the crooked timber of human beings and their institutions in vivid prose, suffusing the whole with jokes, wry observations, some mockery, and a little sorrow. “Time,” suggested W. H. Auden, “pardoned Kipling … for writing well.”

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