Friday, June 5, 2015

Blog #35 - World War One Themes

After watching the BBC's The Great War Diaries, Part One, we discussed some main themes that were central to the film.  What I would like you to do is pick three main themes from the film and discuss how it shows them using specific examples from the film.  I've included the film below in case you forgot.  

This blog should be at least 250 words and is part of your final exam.  It is due Wednesday, June 10, before class begins. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blog #34 - Red Rubber, White King, Black Death

So far throughout World History A and B, you have studied how Africa had grown as a multi-ethnic continent with different tribes and thousands of languages before the Europeans came to become the crossroads for trade and commerce like it is today.

The northern African countries, the ones that have had the most interaction with Europe (good and bad) like Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are more economically advanced than their sub-Saharan brethren. Those countries that lie South of the Equator are the ones that we will focus on for most of our imperialism unit in Chapter 24 and revisit before the end of the semester.

The British and the French were the two biggest colonizers of sub-Saharan Africa, but the Belgians, Germans, Dutch and Portuguese also carved up the continent after 1800. This period is known as the "new imperialism" - as if the time period of slavery when up to possibly 20 million Africans were stolen from the continent and shipped over to the Americas was somehow "old" imperialism and this was more "enlightened" because the Euros didn't sell humans and instead sold the resources? Yeah, right.

Some of the worst abuses of Africans were done by the Belgians in the resource-rich Congo. The Belgians extracted tons of rubber (this is where the title of our blog comes from), copper and ivory. Those villages who didn't harvest enough rubber would have children or sometimes women lose a hand. This was when the king himself, Leopold II, owned the Congo, until 1908 when the outrages over such treatment forced him to give it up. To quote a BBC documentary with the same name as our blog, "Until Adolf Hitler arrived on the scene, the European standard cruelty was set by a king."

Link to King Leopold's genocide:
A BBC news link that traces the current state of the region to the mess from the 19th Century:

One thing that is included in your history book that was never included in the stuff that I learned was info from the Africans' points of view. The best examples are in Ch. 24, sec. 2, on p. 754-5 and p. 759-761. I had seen a movie about Shaka Zulu but it really was more about the brave whites who had to take on the Zulus in the scary war in southern Africans. I never got to learn the "other side" of the story or the Africans' side of the story unless I watched Roots which came out when I was 9 (in 1977, I think) or read stuff on my own.

As Americans, we can't claim any kind of moral superiority over the Europeans because of the U.S.'s genocidal policies enacted towards our Native Americans between the 1600s - 1800s. 

Your questions:
1. Can you think of an instance in history that we have studied where one person has had so much power over so many people and abused it so consistently?  Explain.
2. Give at least three examples of abuses that King Leopold's agents forced upon the Congolese people (as mentioned in the people).
3. How were the abuses of King Leopold's Free State exposed in 1904 - 1906?  What eventually happened to his ownership of the Congo?

300 words total.  Blog due Friday, May 29 by class.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blog #33 Similarities between the Revolutions

Sorry, guys and gals, that this wasn't posted until this morning. The due date is adjusted below.

So we have studied four different revolutions in this class (American, French, Haitian, Latin America), all in different regions of the world, and all within a fifty year time period.  Please answer the following two questions about these revolutions:

1. What do these revolutions have in common?  Explain.
  - things to think about are who is revolting?  What are the reasons why they are rebelling?  Which system of government / economy is being attacked?  Are there similarities between the leaders of the revolutions? How successful were these revolutions (yes, they all succeeded, but how did they conform to Enlightenment ideals?)?

2. Which of these four is the least similar to the rest?  Why?

This blog is due Wednesday, May 13 by the beginning of class. 250 words minimum.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blog #32 - French Revolution and the Enlightenment

The French  Revolution (1789-1815) was heavily influenced by the philosophes that we read about in Ch. 17 and the ideas of the Enlightenment.  Also, the American Revolution against the British monarchy and the subsequent American Constitution was extremely important to the leaders of the French Revolution. 

Some Enlightenment ideas that were used in the French Revolution were:
1. Natural rights - life, liberty, property
2. Equality for all men
3. Social Contract - government derives its power from the people, not God
4. Religious freedom
5. Separation of powers - executive, judicial, legislative
6. Written constitution
7. Voting for citizens (ability to pick their leaders)
8. Free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble
9. Schools were improved, not dependent upon the Church

However, there were times, during all four stages of the French Revolution that some of these Enlightenment ideas were betrayed by the leaders (and mobs) of the French Revolution.  Explain in your answer how the Revolution both expanded the ideas of the Enlightenment and also betrayed those ideas.  

Due Monday, April 27 by the beginning of our class period.  250 words minimum. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blog #31 - Liberal Arts or Specialized Education

This past week we were reading about the differences between a Renaissance or liberal arts education and a much more specialized or skilled trade education.  Leonardo da Vinci was a perfect example of the Renaissance Man because he had so many skills (drawing, inventing and engineering, sculpting, painting, etc) and so many interests from geology to to anatomy.  However, today, we can see that Americans have specialized in certain fields, for instance, eye doctors, tax lawyers, and sports stars. 

Your job is to figure out which do you think is a better fit for you in today's world - a liberal arts education or the specialized education - and explain why.

Here are some arguments for a liberal arts education: 
 - a liberal arts education provides a well-rounded education in language, literature, history, science, and sometimes math.  The skills needed to do well in a liberal arts education include critical thinking, analysis, looking at the big picture and thinking outside the box, better written and oral communication skills, and problem solving skills.  Recruiters are looking for these kinds of candidates to work for Fortune 500 companies;  
 - Countries like China that have specialized education are looking to move away from their form of education and more towards an American-style liberal arts education so that they can have more workers who are able to think outside the box, be creative with problems, and stop moving to the U.S. for job opportunities;
 - Sometimes, when someone is trained in a skill, that skill can be outdated by a technology or computer within months or years after the student is trained to do that skill.  By having a liberal arts degree, there is some flexibility in being able to tackle most anything (short of things that require advanced degrees like doctors, lawyers, MBAs, engineers, etc.) if a job is phased out or shipped overseas. 

Here are some arguments for a specialized education:
 - Depending upon the specialized school, most graduates will be able to get a job immediately upon graduation and make decent money right away.  The skills that a person learns and goes into should be in demand today and hopefully, you will be able to learn which ones cannot be replaced by machines. Also, by getting a job soon after graduation, you should be able to pay off any student loans that you have accumulated;
 - Even in a specialized university, the students still take classes in English, history, and other "soft" classes that can train these workers to be competent in oral and written communication.  Math and science classes are great at developing critical thinking skills, perseverance, and analysis.  
 - Right now, there are so many people with college degrees that are unemployed, why not learn a specialized skill that you can put to use right away?  25% of McDonald's managers nowadays have college degrees, according to one article.  Find out what you like to do, love to do, and make money doing it.

Response: 200 words minimum, explain your answer by telling me whether you believe liberal arts is the way to go or specialized is for you.  You can use some of the reasons that I have provided here or come up with some of your own.  If you can't decide, explain why you can't decide.

Due Wednesday, March 25 by the beginning of class. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Blog #30 - Robin Hood

Robin Hood comes from an 800 year old English legend about an outlaw in the Sherwood Forest in conflict with the Sheriff of Nottingham.  There has been evidence that the person the sheriff was battling was someone named "RobertHod" or "RobinHod."  Yet there are several example of a Robin Hood scattered across a hundred years or more, my guess is that they may have been inspired by the legend and borrowed the name.  According to the University of Rochester's (UK) website project on RH, references to an outlaw began appearing in chronicles of the times in the mid 1400s.

In the 1700s and 1800s, English writers began searching through their ancient history in order to find folk heroes (probably a sign of the growth of nationalism or love of one's country).  English historians have also tried to find out RH's true roots as well, and this website concludes:

"Despite the efforts of authors like P. Valentine Harris, no verifiable Robin Hood emerged from the historical record. Today, most scholars accept Robin as a literary invention, based in part on other figures like Gamelyn and Fouke fitz Waryn, as well as real-life outlaws. Any search for the ideal Robin Hood, a dispossessed noble who robs from the rich to give to the poor, is doomed to failure. That Robin is a modern figure whose individual characteristics were added in different stages, which are roughly represented in this exhibit" (

In the 1800s, he appeared in plays, songs, and operas as well as novels.  Because of the lack of solid facts on RH, it appears that artists have fit him into almost any context that they have wanted to, placing him within the Anglo-Saxon invasion or in today's movie version, a returning archer from the Crusades.  An author named Pierce Egan in 1838 wrote a series of adventures that added Robin's Merry Men to the myth.  Sir Walter Scott also included RH in his classic, Ivanhoe (1820). 

The two most recent American movies Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) with Kevin Costner in the lead role along w/ Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman.  The other was Mel Brooks' farce, RH: Men in Tights (1993) which had its best moment when Cary Elwes, as Robin Hood, cracked, "unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent."  Costner's portrayal of RH was criticized for losing his lame British accent half way through the movie.  The first movie goes for serious drama and action and includes a Moor from the Crusades (Morgan Freeman's character), while the other movie shreds the Robin Hood convention with tons of jokes.

Your questions: 
1. Why do you think a country like Britain that had a strong tradition of law and loyalty to the monarch would honor such a popular rebel hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor? 
2. King John pledges to a charter of law and liberty after being convinced by Robin Longstride (Robin Hood) to reward all English men by giving them rights.  Chances are, it wasn't Robin Hood who did this.  Historically, this isn't accurate, but it makes for a good movie.  Comment on which is more important in movie making: historical accuracy or dramatic action and why.  

Due Monday, Nov. 3 by class.  250 words total for both questions. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog #29 - Inside Mecca

Well, we've finished the National Geographic special, Inside Mecca, and I hope that you were able to learn something from it.  I find it absolutely a fascinating field trip that we have been able to take - via video, obviously - into the holiest place in the Muslim world, a place that only Muslims are allowed to go. 

The Kaaba, the building that houses the Black Stone, originally built by Adam (of Adam and Eve), and rebuilt by Abraham almost four thousand years ago is an amazing sight to see.  It is probably one of the most recognizable holy places in the world, and now you know its significance.
As part of the hajj, we got to see the three pilgrims on their spiritual journey and discover what Islam means to them.  It is important, with the way some Americans view Muslims today, I believe, that there is a balanced portrait of Islam and what the religion is.  We cannot base our views upon the actions of a tiny group of extremists. 

So, in 200 words or more, tell me what insights you have gained from watching Inside Mecca.  Thanks.

Due Monday, October 20 by class. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blog #28 -- Are We Rome?

"Imagine a small agrarian republic that gradually grows into the world’s greatest military and cultural superpower. Over time, as public power is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small group of wealthy private citizens, that ruling elite falls increasingly out of touch with the world beyond its borders. Those borders, porous and steadily expanding, become ever more difficult to manage and defend. Faltering under the growing burden of policing them, the military is forced to recruit considerable mercenary support to handle conflicts that might arise, as well as those already under way. Eventually, losing its grip on power both internally and externally, the superpower enters a state of accelerating decline, ultimately fading into a shadow of its former glory." - "As the Romans Did", The Atlantic Monthly, June 22, 2007.

Some people have compared America to Rome and the different stages that it has gone through, from its earliest days as a small farming republican democracy that grew steadily into the world's largest military and cultural superpower of its time.  America had done this in a shorter amount of time period, and in some respects still maintains its military and cultural superiority.  We have the biggest armed forces and the most powerful economy in the world, and our culture can be found throughout the world with McDonald's, Subway, and Coke. 

In some ways, according to author John Murphy, America and Rome are very similar. For instance:
 - both America and Rome have an exaggerated sense of self - importance, thinking that we are the greatest nation / empire in the world;
 - our military is stretched across the world / empire and also alienated from the regular people in society;
 - we both struggle to police / protect our borders from immigration / foreign invasions;
 - we idealize our founders as someone to look up to;
 - both Romans and Americans tend to be shortsighted and don't think down the road and some things can tend to bite them in the end;
 - Rome and America have tended to be very multicultural and built on the work of immigrants;
 - America and Rome have a huge gap between the rich and poor meaning that the rich are very rich and the poor are very poor.

Some things that make America different than Rome however, are:
 - Romans had slavery throughout its entire history, while America outlawed it 150 years ago;
 - America has seen so much change in the last 150 years with regards to industrial, technological change than Rome had experienced in its entire lifetime;
 - America's free land give aways (courtesy of stealing from the Indians) actually worked unlike the Gracchus brothers' reforms.

In your own words, discuss the similarities and differences between Rome and America.  You can come up with some of your own.

Due Thursday by class.  200 words minimum.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blog #27 - Confucian Values in America

We've read about Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and his five relationships.  These relationships emphasized both governmental and personal morality, and proper relationships between the governed and the ruler.  His teachings gained dominance over Legalism, Daoism and Buddhism during the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.E. - 200 C.E.), and most of his writings are known in the book, The Analects of Confucius

We looked at the five relationships that he felt built the foundation of a moral society:
1. Ruler to ruled
2. Father to son
3. Older brother to younger brother
4. Husband and wife
5. Friend to friend

In each relationship, there is an obligation to one another - the one in the superior relationship has to be an example of proper behavior while the person in the lower relationship must provide obedience.  Much of this is based upon an emphasis on the family or filial piety.  And, unlike American individualism, Confucius believed that family and the good of society should come before the interests of society. 

In his teachings, he emphasized setting a moral example for others.  He felt that this was key above all else, especially for rulers: to lead by example instead of imposing a set of rules.  So, if you'd want your people to save money, the rulers should also do the same thing and be careful how they spend their tax money. 

So, in America, my question for you is:
1. Where do you see Confucian values?  Elaborate w/ specifics. 
or do the opposite - Which parts of American life could use some Confucian values?  Why? 

Your comment should be a minimum of 200 words and is due by Thursday, Oct. 2 by the beginning of class. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crash Course World History Videos

Here are the awesome review videos, some from class, others we haven't seen:

Agricultural Revolution -

Indus River Valley -

Mesopotamia -