Hello, David. Sorry for the delay. Doing two jobs seven days a week, it's really not for me to make my schedule.
I have spent quite a lot of time to study your reply and to try to use it to analyze other ariticles, although the later doesn't go any further so far. I think that's because I don't really understand what you said here. So here I would like to keep the focus on this article and put down my thoughts as following:
1>As to your example, a leaving bus, it's only a matter of several seconds, which, if considered in terms of time, can be viewed as present, the use of present tense is thus easily justified, as most grammar books would state:"Present tense is used for what is happening at the moment of speaking." The rise in the number of appeals, on the other hand, might occur a few days, or even a few weeks back. It seems to me these to cases don't match quite well.
2>Then again, my confusion may well be unnecessary, since you've already stated clearly the theory. So I move on to the next issue, the author's perspective. At this stage, it's seems this means how a writer would define what would be classed as present. Furthermore, I take a guess to believe for a writer, who is a native English speaker, the choices of tenses must be much less mechanical, while those using English as a second language may be restricted by rules like:"Use simple past when the time is certain. Use present perfect when you don't know the exact time", as they were taught by grammar books. When I am writing in Chinese, I seldom take grammar into my consideration, as long as I'm sure readers would have no problems understanding my words. Sometimes, an article is said to be nice merely because it doesn't follow the routine. Am I right to think so?
3>Now let's move back to the definition of present. If an English writer sometimes may "locate the eventsof how we ourselves view the event", I am quite curious as to what the boundary will be.When describing events in the past, people from time to time may adopt historic present. Can I view this as an extreme example of viewing past events as part of an ongoing matter? Only in this case the whole history of human society, or even universe is thought to be in progress, starting from extremely far past and extending to whenever this universe may still be in exsistence. If the answer is yes, I suppose this would lead to the conclusion that an author has absolute freedom to extend what he may describe as present, as long as he is able to convince his readers to believe so.
4>Then I can't help thinking this article over with the help of this new approach as I understood it. Here's the formula kindly provided by you:
A strange thought occurs to me a few days back, saying:"Wait a minute. Now we consider 'the increase ... is actually at the START of the CURRENT ACTION'. Why don't we push it a bit more to consider ministers' urging families to appeal as the start. It's clear that 'The rise comes after ministers urged families to appeal'. In other words, ministers' urging families to appeal is the reason and the increase in the number is the result. Logically it would make sense to rewrite the paragraph in another way." So here it the changed paragraph:.....Past..............<larger number of appeals---------------story appears--------parents waiting---------outcome>|.....Future........
This is seemingly right, at least according to my understanding of the perspective. But doubts remain. If this extention goes on and on, past tense would probably be out of business, which is obviously not true. These muse be something wrong with my thinking.The rise comes after ministers urge families to appeal if they are rejected ... faith schools are breaking the admissions rules ...
5>Can a writer sometimes view what happened a few years, or ever a few decades back as part of an ongoing matter? I don't know. But I guess it might be safe to consider event occured a few days ago in this way.
There is an English corner near to my flat and I visit this English corner every Wednesday night. It's there I got to know my friend Alex, a wouldbe college graduate who is trying desperately to get a position in New Oriential English School, the largest of the like here in China. He's asked to perform a series of demo lessons. The latest one was on last Tuesday and the next one will be in this afternoon. He didn't do well last time. Suppose now I'm asked to write about his interview. I guess the following would be acceptable:
Then I thought maybe I should take the risk and push it even more:Alex ... spends a lot of time preparing the interview after the interviewers told him to get ready for the upcoming demo lessons. He doesn't do well so far. But he is now being taught by those experienced. So I believe he's going to be alright this time.
I've tried my best to condense it. This is the shortest one I can write. So, I suppose I'd call this my last week's homework.Alex ... spends a lot of time preparing the interview after the interviewers told him to get ready for the upcoming demo lessons. He doesn't do well last time/Tuesday. However, he finds some experienced guys to train him after that. So I think he's going to be alright this time.
PS:Sleep only four hours a day!?? Do you feel tired at daytime because of this? If not, that would be wonderful. My grandfather on my father's side used to sleep five hours every day and would still be as energetic as he had been. I'm always envious of people like them. They're actually living a longer effective life. As to me, if I don't wake up naturally, I will be lethargic at everything.
Thanks again, David. I am looking forward to hearing your reply.