Archive for January, 2008

Thinking in Different Perspectives

January 23, 2008 Leave a comment

I am featuring here the “Powers of 10” video by IBM; by today’s hyperkinetic attention span, it might be considered “long” but the impression it makes is very powerful, particularly on those not well acquainted with physics. One visualization guru justly called it, “9 Minutes of video you will never forget”. Here it is:

One of the themes that I stress with my students, when we are trying to analyze a primary source, is the danger of relying upon one’s own habitual perspective and frame of reference. An important element of a mental perspective is scale and the general tendency of people to visualize new concepts only in terms of the scale in which they go about their daily lives without any comprehension of alternate orders of magnitude leads to serious logical errors. The distortion becomes still worse, when matters of science or economic policy or planning are involved and the person trying to analyze is equally unable to conceive of using different time frames.


Assignment Update

January 23, 2008 Leave a comment

So far this week he students have turned questions on The Spanish-American War, worked on a chart on Empire, Republic and Democracy and read a short story about Imperialism in Africa by Jomo Kenyatta.

Martin Luther King Day

January 22, 2008 Leave a comment

There is no school in session on Monday in order to honor slain Civil Rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was asassinated 40 years ago by James Earl Ray, in 1968. Though convicted as a “lone gunman”who had confessed to the killing, Ray, who died in 1998, recanted his confession and later asserted in Congressional testimony that he had not shot King and then still later that he had been part of a larger conspiracy. A charge that received the vocal support of some members of the King family who wanted a renewed investigation into MLK’s assassination.

Dr. King was best known for his philosophy of non-violence and practice of mass civil disobedience, one modelled on Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against British colonialism in India, to end Jim Crow segregation in the South and acquire voting rights for African-Americans.  After the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, King had greater difficulties keeping his followers unified and faced challenges to his leadership from radicals opposed to his philosophy of non-violence, including the anti-integrationist Black Muslim leader Malcolm X and the pro-Communist “Black Power” advocate Stokely Carmicheal.  A powerful enemy of King’s was the longtime FBI Director, J.Edgar Hoover, who convinced himself  that King was either a Communist himself or was being naively manipulated by Communist Party agents loyal to the Soviet Union, and who ordered (an illegal) electronic surveillance of all of King’s activities, public and private.

King was an impressive orator and is usually mentioned alongside Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Daniel Webster, William Jennings Bryan, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan as having been among the most influential speakers in our history.

Below, his most famous speech, “I have a Dream…”

Categories: biography, History

Unit Vocabulary Part III

January 10, 2008 Leave a comment

The final section of vocabulary for The Age of Imperialism unit:

Imperialism   Empire   Colonialism  Hegemony    Sphere of Influence   Protectorate  

Colony    Satellite   Protectionism   Militarism    Indigenous    Tribe    Nation    State

Nation-state    Coaling Station     Missionary     Intervention     Guerilla    Rough Riders

Counterinsurgency Warfare    Big Stick     Roosevelt Corollary   Spanish-American War


Theodore Roosevelt    William McKinley   Rudyard Kipling     Rev. Josiah Strong

Unit Lecture Slides

January 10, 2008 Leave a comment

Some recent and past lectures for the Age of Imperialism unit

Yesterday, on Imperialism and the Nation-state:

Part I:

Part II:

On Free Market economies and monopolies:

On the industrial revolution and economics:

Books over Break !

January 9, 2008 Leave a comment

Welcome back!  Hopefully everyone at Lakeview had a relaxing, safe and enjoyable holiday!

Students sometimes ask me what books I’ve read or, alternatively,  “Do you do anything besides reading?”.  I do of course, but reading and critically reflecting on what you have read is ( or rather, should be) an important part of life; much of what I learn is eventually incorporated into my teaching and shared with the students. At times, their questions lead me to see the books I have read in an entirely new light.

Over break, I had the pleasure of reading the following books:

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday 

This massively researched biography is designed to “de-mythologize” Communist revolutionary and ruler of China,  Mao ZeDong as a sociopathic schemer and mass murdering tyrant. The authors have brought many new Chinese language sources to light for the first time as well as rare interviews with Mao’s surviving associates, servants and victims. 

The Mislabeled Child by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide

A husband and wife team of medical doctors who are also neuroscience researchers wrote this book to illustrate the complexities of brain activity behind conditions like autism spectrum disorder, “giftedness”, dyslexia,  ADHD and what hidden strengths these conditions also create that can be leveraged to help a child learn. Superbly researched and easy to read.

 Virtual Light by William Gibson

William Gibson, along with the late Philip K. Dick, is one of the most influential science fiction writers in the last half century.  A successful futurist, Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” and wrote stories that featured virtual reality, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence years or decades before these technologies became known to the general public. Virtual Light revolves around a pair of stolen, high-tech, sun-glasses and the secret they contain, a secret that some are willing to kill for.

Currently Reading:

Science, Strategy and War by Colonel Frans Osinga