Wednesday, June 13, 2012


In high school most of us took the SAT exams. SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test. The exams, at least then, consisted of reading comprehension, math skills, and vocabulary.

I am a reader now and read then, but had difficulty concentrating on the reading comprehension portion of the SAT. The selections often dealt with something so beyond my world and uninteresting-- for example a species of pelican that sleep only on Tuesdays--that by the time I got to the end of a selection I could not remember that the mother pelican typically was a lefty so I had a hard time answering the important questions.  

The math for me was fun.  Always good with numbers, those questions were easy and I enjoyed trying to figure them out. Occasionally when I am in the library I pick up the SAT preparation books to try my hand at the math questions therein.

The most challenging portion of the test was the vocabulary portion. The comprehension was only challenging to the extent that I was challenged to stay awake during the selection. The math, as I wrote, was more like doing Sudoku than an academic exercise. The vocabulary though was something else.

Then, if not now, the vocabulary consisted mostly of a series of word analogies.  Winter is to Cold as X is to Y, and you had to pick out Summer is to Hot from a list of four choices. However, the questions were not nearly this easy. Often the words themselves were alien to me, but even when I knew them the trick was to understand the relationship.  So, resilient is to vulnerable would require that you could identify the relationship between resilient and vulnerable.  So it could be, someone who is resilient is less likely to be vulnerable and you had to pick out a similar pairing.  This could become very difficult and was made even more challenging because the test writers threw in questions in which the relationship had nothing to do with word meanings.  You might get kook is to civic and spend time thinking that the relationship is that a kook does not have an understanding of civic responsibilities, when the correct relationship/answer was another pairing in which both words, like kook and civic, were palindromes.  There was one I recall where the answer to "berry is to cherry" was not two words representing two types within the same category, but two words like lunch and crunch because the relationship was the rhyme.

I would find these questions exhausting, but I do see the merit in assessing one's ability to think about relationships between words and/or concepts.

Last night while I was watching the Heat succumb to the Thunder analogies came to mind.  Durant is to James as James is to Pierce.  Thunder is to creative as Heat is to staid;  Westbrook is to today as Wade is to yesterday.

These analogies do not do real justice to the quality of the Miami Heat. The Heat players are terrific, but I could not get over how good Durant and Westbrook were and how out of this world athletic the Thunder seemed to be.  When the Celtics played the Heat, Paul Pierce looked like an old man compared to LeBron James. LeBron James despite his incredible skill, looked long in the tooth compared to Durant. Dwyane Wade is a joy to watch but he too looked old school to Westbrook who had me shaking my head over and over.

One game does not a championship series make, but unless there is an injury or last night was a grand aberration, Thunder is to Plunder, as Heat is to Beat

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