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Tutor profile: Daniel S.

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Daniel S.
Writing Instructor at UCLA - six years
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Why is it important to write good sentences?

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Daniel S.
Answer:

To answer this question, let's do a thought experiment. Let’s think of writing as if it were swimming. Let’s say we have to swim across a lake. Some of us are great swimmers, by which I mean, we have a great stroke. We will swim across the lake with no trouble, and we will look good doing it. Some of us are not great swimmers. Our stroke isn’t graceful. It’s messy and inefficient. We may still make it across the lake, but we will be tired by the time we get there. We will be huffing and puffing. Ironically, we will work harder than the good swimmers, but accomplish less in more time. If a swimmer is something you want to be, then you can easily see the importance of working on your stoke. Indeed, if you were a professional swimmer, you’d obsess on perfecting it. We are not swimmers. We are writers. Our stroke isn’t called a stroke. It’s called a sentence. That’s how we cross the lake. That’s how we write our essays.

Subject: Pre-law

TutorMe
Question:

Explain the difference between res judicata and stare decisis?

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Daniel S.
Answer:

Res judicata and stare decisis are terms that are used by courts to distinguish between the ongoing effects of settled cases. They are both latin terms. Res judicata means "the thing is decided" or "the matter is decided." And, having been decided, a court will not decide it again. So if you sue someone and lose, you cannot turn around and sue them again, perhaps in front of another judge, hoping for a better outcome the second time. For this reason, res judicata is also sometimes called claim preclusion. It bars relitigation of claims between the same parties. So I can't sue you a second time, and you can get on with your life, secure in that knowledge. Note, however, that someone else could sue you. Their claim isn't precluded by mine. So res judicata is a narrow concept. Stare decisis is a broad concept. Translated, it is taken to mean that a principle of law should not be disturbed. Legal principles shielded by the doctrine of stare decisis bind everyone from lodging a similar claim against anyone else. So, for instance, when the court held that racial segregation was unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education), it became unlawful for all of us in our public endeavors to engage in racial segregation. If someone breaks the law, they'll be held accountable, and they will not be able to challenge the law in court. If they were to try and so so, a court would dismiss the case (grant summary judgment) without conducting a trial on the merits of the claim. Instead, the court would say that stare decisis applies. The principle of law (in our example, that segregation is unconstitutional) will not be disturbed. The doctrines of res judicata and stare decisis are designed to increase confidence in our judicial system. Similar cases are decided consistently and, when appropriate, with finality, ensuring stability for society.

Subject: Film and Theater

TutorMe
Question:

Why are movies, regardless of subject, typically the same length?

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Daniel S.
Answer:

Films are the same length for two main reasons. The first reason is readily apparent. People can only sit still for so long -- about ninety minutes -- and movie theatres prefer to schedule two screenings a night. Also, people are busy in their lives. It's difficult to spend three or four hours in a movie theatre. So, in order to preserve audience interest, and provide a financially viable enterprise, films must conform to a certain length. The second reason is far more interesting as it relates to the structure of stories in films. Films are divided into three acts, and each act into sequences. The first act has two sequences. The second act has four sequences. The third act has two sequences. Each sequence is approximately 12 - 15 pages long. Each sequence is devoted to a certain aspect of the story that you are telling. For instance, the first sequence establishes the main character's status quo. The second introduces a complication or conflict that will propel the main character out of their ordinary routines and into the story of the film. In this way, every film -- and every story -- is told the same way. It doesn't matter if the events of the film transpire over a single day or an entire lifetime. The events of the story must conform to a preexisting story structure. It's this structure (generally called the three-act structure) that allows every story to be told (or filmed) in about the same amount of time.

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