Friday, September 30, 2022

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk.

Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin's last 'silent' film, was filled with sound effects and was made when everyone else was making 'talkies.' Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress.

Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. Then he is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad.

The idea of the film was apparently given to Chaplin by a young reporter, who told him about the production line system in Detroit, which was turning its workers into nervous wrecks. In the film, Charlie becomes literally trapped in the machine.

This was one of the films which, because of its political sentiments, convinced the House Un-American Activities Committee that Charles Chaplin was a Communist, a charge he adamantly denied. He left to live in Switzerland, vowing never to return to America.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Peculiar Patents

The U.S. Constitution states in Article 1, section 8, clause 8 that one purpose of the legislature is:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

This is known as the "patent and copyright clause" and states the rationale for a patent system. The government is counting on commerce involving successful inventions, and the infectious inspiration which hopefully will encourage other inventors.

A great many inventions that receive patents never earn their inventors anything. We're not worried about that now. What we want to know is: what makes an invention patentable over those that aren't according to U.S. law?

In short your invention will qualify if it fits one of these five criteria:

1)Process: doing something?
example: toasting bread

2)Machine: something that can do something
example: a pop up toaster

3)Manufactured: something made by man
example: a Pop tart

4)Composition of Matter: substance made by man
example: snozzberry Pop tart filling

5)New Use: doing something new with something that isn't new.
example: Pop tart as body fragrance?  Toaster as musical instrument?

Now take a look at these peculiar patents and you decide whether they 'cut the mustard.'

Have a great idea for an invention you think would make our lives here at school easier?

Think it could get patented?

Founded in 1973, The National Inventors Hall of Fame meets every year to honor a new group of inventors. To be considered for induction, an inventor must hold a US patent and the invention must have benefited society and advanced science and technology. Inventors in the Hall of Fame include Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright for the airplane, Rudolf Diesel for the internal combustion engine, and more recently Les Paul for the solid body electric guitar. Click here to see the complete list.

Who in our class would we induct?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Edison vs. Tesla

Sure you know about Thomas Edison the Ohio entrepreneur and inventor. But who was the real genius behind many of his inventions?

Starting in the late 1880s, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were embroiled in a battle now known as the War of the Currents.

Edison developed direct current -- current that runs continually in a single direction, like in a battery or a fuel cell. During the early years of electricity, direct current (shorthanded as DC) was the standard in the U.S.

But there was one problem. Direct current is not easily converted to higher or lower voltages.

Tesla believed that alternating current (or AC) was the solution to this problem. Alternating current reverses direction a certain number of times per second -- 60 in the U.S. -- and can be converted to different voltages relatively easily using a transformer.

Edison, not wanting to lose the royalties he was earning from his direct current patents, began a campaign to discredit alternating current. He spread misinformation saying that alternating current was more dangerous, even going so far as to publicly electrocute stray animals using alternating current to prove his point.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Little House On the Prarie

Little House on the Prairie, a series of eight mostly autobiographical books about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life as a white settler on the American prairie, has been a perennial favorite ever since it was first published in 1935.  My second grade teacher started reading it to us.  In the 1970s the TV series with Melissa Gilbert and Michael Landon came onto the scene. I watched it as a child, and watched it again with my own children.

Pa, Ma Wilder and the children, Laura and Mary of the prairie. We went with them through all their obstacles, the sickness of Mary, the birth of children, moving to their own farm, the store owner and his family, the teacher at the school, all of the issues and problems that the family, the children and Ma and Pa had together. This was a time in our history when the West was young, the earth was new, the farming good. New lives, new adventures, to share, and this series gives us hope. So much love and kindness in this family, and that won the day, every time.

The Ingalls family were people of their time and place. In the words of Laura June Topolsky writing for The Awl, that meant they were “Manifest Destiny personified.” Even Pa, the adult character who is most sympathetic to the Osage Indians on whose land the Ingalls family are squatting, sees white people as having a right to the land, writes Laura Ingalls scholar Amy Fatzinger. She quotes Laura’s Pa from the text:

Portrayals of Native American characters in this book and throughout this series have led to some calls for the series to not be taught in schools.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

OK Land Rush

At precisely twelve noon on September 16, 1893 a cannon's boom unleashed the largest land rush America ever saw. Carried by all kinds of transportation - horses, wagons, trains, bicycles or on foot - an estimated 100,000 raced to claim plots of free land in an area of northern Oklahoma Territory known as the Cherokee Strip. There had been a number of previous land rushes in the Territory - but this was the big one.

'As the expectant home-seekers waited with restless patience, the clear, sweet notes of a cavalry bugle rose and hung a moment upon the startled air. It was noon. The last barrier of savagery in the United States was broken down. Moved by the same impulse, each driver lashed his horses furiously; each rider dug his spurs into his willing steed, and each man on foot caught his breath hard and darted forward. A cloud of dust rose where the home-seekers had stood in line, and when it had drifted away before the gentle breeze, the horses and wagons and men were tearing across the open country like fiends. The horsemen had the best of it from the start. It was a fine race for a few minutes, but soon the riders began to spread out like a fan, and by the time they had reached the horizon they were scattered about as far as eye could see. Even the fleetest of the horsemen found upon reaching their chosen localities that men in wagons and men on foot were there before them. As it was clearly impossible for a man on foot to outrun a horseman, the inference is plain that Oklahoma had been entered hours before the appointed time.'    -Harper's Weekly 33 (May 18, 1889): 391-94.

How did the Homestead Act encourage settlement of the new Western frontier?

Who were the real Sooners and why should the Oklahoma football team change their name?

What was appealing about Oklahoma?  Would you want to live there?  Why?

In 1890 the national census concluded there was no longer a square mile of the US that wasn't settled.  According to Historian Frederick Jackson Turner's  'Frontier Thesis' the closing of the American Frontier means the gradual decline of our Democracy.  Do you think the United States needs to continue to expand?  If not why? If so where?

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Real All Americans

Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian School, founded by Richard Pratt, may have failed to assimilate Native Americans  in society but the school's football team proved their respectability by challenging — and beating — their counterparts in the Ivy Leagues and Military Academies. Although the school shut its doors in 1918, the winning team established Jim Thorpe and coach Glenn "Pop" Warner as two of the best-known names in American sports. It also introduced plays, including the forward pass, that are standard in the game today.

Hear author Sally Jenkins read from her book: The Real All Americans

Pop Warners playbook included more than just the forward pass. His 'hidden ball play' and other 'trick plays' became legendary in football lore.

Watch these 'Trick Plays' and then design one of your own.

Who knows? If its good enough maybe the Braves can use it Friday night.

How did Football, in many ways, became a substitute for war?

Friday, September 16, 2022

THS: Home of the Brave?!

The "Braves," an American Indian warrior, became the symbol of the Talawanda Schools in the 50s after a contest was held to name the newly consolidated district formed by Sommerville, Hanover, Milford, and Oxford.  Hannover 5th grader Karen Irwin won with the name 'Tallawanda' because Tallawanda Creek (aka 4 Mile Creek) flowed through the three newly merged townships.  After some discussion the second 'l' was dropped and the new High School on Chestnut Street opened in 1956 where it remained for then next half century.

But who was Talawanda?  What did the name mean?


In 2018 the Talawanda school board voted 3-2 to change the high school’s mascot from “Braves” to “Brave” after a meeting lasting more than three hours.

A heated crowd filled the Performing Arts Center at Talawanda High School to listen to the recommendations made to the board by the superintendent-appointed branding committee.

The change responds to complaints that the name and logo currently used by Talawanda are offensive. Many feel that the logo is more of a “caricature,” depiction of what a Native American would look like, and others feel that they are simply honoring Native Americans with the “Braves” name.

Should we be proud to have the 'Brave' as our Mascot or change it to something else?

Is Talawanda alone in its use of Indian Mascots?

Do Indian Mascots honor or insult Native American Groups?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Battlefield Detectives

George Armstrong Custer, the young Civil War hero turned Indian fighter, was trapped on a desolate ridge overlooking the Little Bighorn River in the territory of Montana. Swarms of well-armed Indians surrounded him. According to legend–and many historians–Custer rallied his vastly outnumbered troops. The desperate 7th Cavalry soldiers shot their horses to make barricades and fought ferociously as hundreds of Indians, led by famed Sioux war chief Crazy Horse, overran the ridge.

But because Custer's men were wiped out before reinforcements arrived, a definitive account of the Little Bighorn battle has eluded historians. The only eye witnesses were the Indians, who had conflicting recollections. And so the legend of "Custer's last stand" began to take shape. "The image of Custer blazing away till the very end with his pistols was an icon of the American West," says John Dorner, chief historian at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

The lack of reliable accounts has kept the details of the battle a hotly debated topic, and discoveries in recent years have challenged the heart of the legend. "The myth is the gallant, heroic last stand–that the Indians drove him to the killing field, where he fought to the last man and last bullet against overwhelming odds," says Richard Fox, a professor of anthropology at the University of South Dakota.

Fox, who specializes in archaeology, completed an extensive battlefield survey after a 1983 wildfire and revealed evidence that cut to the core of the Custer legend. "My research says the outcome was a function of panic and fear, a very common thing in battle. There was no last stand in the gallant, heroic sense."

Wednesday, September 14, 2022


What in the World:  The title and key of this map have been removed.  What does it show?  

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and his dealings with a group of Lakota Indians. In this dramatic scene we see Costner as he joins the Lakota on a Buffalo hunt.

Clearly the Plains Indians were expert horsemen and hunters. But were they always?

What was the United States government policy regarding Indians? The Buffalo?

How effective was it?

Unfortunately the number of wild buffalo herds in the United States has decreased significantly over the past two centuries. However it is still possible to view wild buffalos. The Yellowstone National Park maintains the largest number of wild buffalo in the United States and many other National Parks provide habitats for buffalos. It is estimated that there was once 60 million buffalo in North America. According to the National Bison Association there are only 350,000 buffalos in North America today.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Golden Spike

Can you spot the differences in these two pictures?

Completing the last link in the First Transcontinental Railroad with a spike of gold was the brainchild of David Hewes, a San Francisco financier and contractor. The spike had been manufactured earlier that year especially for the event by the William T. Garratt Foundry in San Francisco. Two of the sides were engraved with the names of the railroad officers and directors. A special tie of polished California laurel was chosen to complete the line where the spike would be driven. The ceremony was originally to be held on May 8, 1869 (the date actually engraved on the spike), but it was postponed two days because of bad weather and a labor dispute that delayed the arrival of the Union Pacific side of the rail line. On May 10, in anticipation of the ceremony, Union Pacific No. 119 and Central Pacific No. 60 (better known as the Jupiter) locomotives were drawn up face-to-face on Promontory Summit, separated only by the width of a single tie. The golden spike was made of 17.6-karat(73%) copper-alloyed gold, and weighed 14.03 ounces (436 g). It was dropped into a pre-drilled hole in the laurel ceremonial last tie, and gently tapped into place with a silver ceremonial spike maul.

Why was this Rail Road necessary for the United States?

How would it effect our nation's future?

Friday, September 9, 2022

Transcontinental RR

 Where did you go on your Summer Vacation? If you could have gone anywhere, where would you have traveled? How would you get there? Plane, train, automobile?

I bet that most of you did not take the train. There was a time however when the train was not only the preferred form of transportation in America; IT WAS THE ONLY FORM OF TRANSPORTATION.

As you watch this clip focus on the social and the economic factors that influenced rail travel in the United States.

What challenges did building the Transcontinental Railroad pose?

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Oregon Trail


Try taking a journey by covered wagon across 2000 miles of plains, rivers, and mountains.  Try!  On the plains, will you slosh through mud and water-filled ruts or will you plod through dust six inches deep?   How will you cross the rivers?   If you have money you might take a ferry if there is one.  Or you could ford the river and hope you and your wagon aren't swallowed alive!  What about supplies?  Well, if you're low on food you can hunt.  You might get a buffalo... you might.  And there are bears in the mountains.  At the Dalles, you can try navigating the Columbia River, but if running the rapids with a makeshift raft makes you queasy, better take the Barlow Road.  If for some reason you don't survive, your wagon burns, or thieves steal your oxen, or you run out of provisions, or you die of cholera-- don't give up!  Try again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Home On the Range

“Home on the Range” appears to have been written in 1885 by a group of prospectors in a cabin near Leadville, Colorado. It was popular throughout the Southwest in the 1880s and 1890s and is now recognized as the state song of Kansas.
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

How often at night when the heavens are bright
I see the light of those flickering stars
Have I laid there amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of love
The red man was pressed from this part of the west
It's not likely he'll ever return
To the banks of Red River where seldom if ever
His flickering campfires still burn
Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

1. Do you think the settlement of this region had a more positive effect or a more negative effect on the person or people who wrote this song? How can you tell?

2. Do you think the settlement of this region had the same effect on all the different groups of people who lived there? Why or why not?

Here is a picture of my Grammy Ulrey, Roy Rogers, and his famous horse Trigger circa 1943.
Giddy Up!

Manifest Destiny

2) What opportunities and conflicts emerged as Americans moved westward?

3) Which groups depicted in this image were most likely positively affected by westward expansion?

  4) Which were most likely negatively affected?

In Chapter 12 we will discover how westward expansion in the late 1800s affected several groups of people. Many of these groups saw new opportunities for jobs, prosperity, freedom, and land ownership open up before them, while others were denied these same opportunities.  Read the Introduction.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Reconstruction: Success or Failure?

During the 1870s, more than a dozen African American men, many of whom had been born into slavery, were elected to the U.S. Congress. It was a triumph of our founding ideals of equality, justice, and the pursuit of happiness!

It was a period that ended all too quickly.

When neither candidate in the 1876 presidential election secured enough votes in the Electoral College to be declared winner, a deal was struck. Southern Democrats agreed to back Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes; in exchange, the federal troops who had protected black voters were withdrawn from the South. Just a few years later, the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Bill of 1875. Black voting rights were gradually stripped away, and black representation in Congress faded.

Reconstruction was over, and the Jim Crow era of segregation began.

Black Wall Street


In 1921, at the height of ‘Jim Crow’ America, rioters destroyed a beacon of Black prosperity and security: The Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma also known as ‘Black Wall Street.’

They killed hundreds of black Tulsans, left thousands homeless, and ransacked an entire neighborhood.

At the time, there were no prosecutions of the instigators. Almost a century later, there have been no reparations.

In fact, I had never even heard of it until I saw it on HBO’s ‘The Watchmen

100 - 300 Greenwood residents were killed. 9,000 Greenwood residents were left homeless. 1,200 Greenwood buildings destroyed $50-100 million in property damage.

NOT ONE sentence in our US history book! Why?

Read the story for yourself and then answer these questions:

1) Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Give examples.
2) What happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921? Why?
3) How did this incident test our nation's commitment to its founding ideals?
4) Why do you suppose this event is not in our History Textbook?
5) How is our nation still healing more than 150 years after the Civil War?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Reversing Reconstruction

Sure you've heard of Homer Simpson;  but who was Homer Plessy?

What were Jim Crow Laws and why was this man not allowed to sit in a 'whites only' railroad car?

This video is about the history of civil rights and Plessy v. Ferguson from 1896. The 14th Amendment is examined as is the case.

How did railcar attendants know Plessy was black?

Monday, August 29, 2022

Gone With the Wind

 Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It tells a story of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era from a white Southern point of view.

The film received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary), a record that stood for 20 years.

What does the title of the film mean?

What challenges did the South face following the Civil War?

How would the South rebuild?

Want to watch the rest of the movie?

Friday, August 26, 2022

With Malice Toward None....

How could a nation torn apart by civil war put itself back together? That was the question facing all Americans in 1865. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln spoke of healing the wounds on both sides of the conflict:

With malice [hatred] toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
—Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 1865

Thursday, August 25, 2022


Have you ever broken something and tried to put back together again? Was it the same as before? After the North defeated the South in the Civil War, politicians faced the task of putting the divided country back together. There was great debate about how severely the former Confederate states should be punished for leaving the Union. With the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, it was up to President Andrew Johnson to try to reunite former enemies.

Can you help him re-assemble the pieces?

What does the finished image look like? What can it teach us about Reconstruction?

Reconstruction and 1876: Crash Course US History #22

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Truth About Abraham Lincoln

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Ten score and three years ago, a man was sent to Earth to destroy slavery, unite a broken country and vanquish vicious vampires.

Abraham Lincoln was not only our 16th president, but he was also on a lifelong mission to destroy these undead, blood sucking devils.

But the vampires that the Great Emancipator sets out to destroy are not your teenage sister's sparkly, lovesick, whining vampires.

Early in his life, Lincoln discovered that vampires have been a part of American history since the first European settler hopped off a boat and that the slave trade keeps vampires under control for food.

Lincoln then made a vow: "I hereby resolve to kill every vampire in America."

The future president tried to do just that. He drives stakes into a few of the vampires here. He cuts some of their heads off there. He even lights a few on fire. Up and down the Mississippi, he chops through the undead like he's clearing a forest for some creepy railroad.

At least that's the picture painted by Seth Grahame-Smith in his novel "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."  The book became a best seller and a blockbuster movie in part because it is an interesting cross between fact and fiction.  

But the sad truth is that what most of us know about American History comes from Hollywood.

1) Is Seth Grahame-Smith’s book a Primary or Secondary source?

2) What about the Journal his work is based on? Primary or Secondary?

5) Why did we really fight the Civil War?  What was the outcome?

Friday, August 19, 2022

Do You See What I See?

Concentrate on this picture for at least 30 seconds then look away and write down everything that you saw.  Share with the person next to you.  Did you see the same things?  How is this like History?

What is taking place in this scene? Where did this event take place? How Many of these famous 'Founding Fathers" can you identify? Did this event even actually happen as it is shown?

Is this painting 'Bad History' as Adams called it?  What did he mean when he says the 'true'  history of the American Revolution is lost....   forever?

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting in the United States Capitol Rotunda that depicts the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. It was based on a much smaller version of the same scene, presently held by the Yale University Art Gallery.[1] Trumbull painted many of the figures in the picture from life and visited Independence Hall as well to depict the chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. The oil-on-canvas work was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and placed in the rotunda in 1826.

Is this painting a 'primary' or 'secondary' source.  What is the difference?

Adams & Jefferson were the only two Founding Fathers still alive when Trumbull's painting was completed.  When did they die?

What was David McCullough's historical interpretation of John Adams?

Links to Primary Documents:

US Constitution 
Bill of Rights

What are the founding ideals of America found in these documents?


What do you think the Founding Fathers would say if they could talk to us today?

Listen to the Preamble Song:  "We the people... In order to form a more perfect Union..."

Learn more about the Constitution, the compromises, and it's ratification.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

What Is History? (and why should we study it?)

What happened long ago shapes how we live today.  What Dr. King said on that hot August day in 1963 made another point: we are not prisoners of the past.  If we can dream of a better tomorrow, it lies in our power to shape the history to come.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Who Is America?

The study of American History is not just about memorizing events and dates.  It is about the ideals and values we hold dear, and the struggle of the American People who fought so hard to defend those values. Presdients like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln certainly had a profound impact on our History, but America wouldn't 'be' without everyday people like you and me!

Who is America?

What are the ideals and values that tie us together as Americans?

How have those ideas and values changed over time?

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Vietnam: The Weight of Memory

The Vietnam War seemed to call everything into question—the value of honor and gallantry; the qualities of cruelty and mercy; the candor of the American government; and what it means to be a patriot. And those who lived through it have never been able to erase its memory, have never stopped arguing about what really happened, why everything went so badly wrong, who was to blame—and whether it was all worth it.

Read More

1) What were our goals in Vietnam in the first place?  Why did we get involved?

2) Why is the Vietnam War still so divisive to many Americans today?

3) What is patriotism? How can a person be patriotic to their country and still hold the government accountable for its actions?

4) What motivated American men and women to serve in the Vietnam War? What would you have done during the Vietnam War? Would you have supported or opposed it? Why?

5) How does America apply the lessons that it learned in the Vietnam War to challenges facing us today?

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The 60's

There has never been a decade quite like the sixties; the diversity, conflicts, hope, anger, the music. The 60s decade was a decade of change. Not only were those changes evident in pop culture, music, & fashions;  they changed the course of history.

As you watch the film in class read the corresponding sections in the text:

41.3 Marriage Families and a 'Baby Boom'

44  Civil Rights Revolution: "Like A Mighty Stream"

45.1 Redefining Equality: From Black Power to Affirmative Action

49 Emergence of a Counterculture

50 - The United States Gets Involved in Vietnam

51.4 Growing Opposition to the War

Answer these questions in your final essay.  One paragraph per answer.

I. Why did the counterculture fall apart?

II. Were the 60's good or bad for America? Why?

III.  What lessons did the 60's teach us?

IV,  Which character in the film did you relate to most?  If you were them what would you have done differently?

V. Would you have wanted to live during the 60's?  Why or Why not?

Monday, May 9, 2022

Rockin' The Suburbs

After World War II, there was a 'Baby Boom' creating the need for more housing. Most people resorted to homes outside the cities like suburbs because there it was cheaper. These places were called "Suburbia". Every community in the suburbs were like it's own little town. They all had schools, churches and parks. The increasing popularity of the suburbs grew as the government gave GI bills to the returning veterans of World War II and the Korean War. They helped them with the mortgage and college.  Improved roads and railway transport became the new way of travel as more and more people commuted.

How was Suburban Family life reinforced on TV?

What did critics think about Suburbia?

Would you want to live here?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Zero Sum Game

The friendliness of Tic-tac-toe games makes them ideal as a pedagogical tool for teaching the concepts of good sportsmanship and the branch of artificial intelligence that deals with the searching of game trees. It is straightforward to write a computer program to play Tic-tac-toe perfectly, to enumerate the 765 essentially different positions (the state space complexity), or the 26,830 possible games up to rotations and reflections (the game tree complexity) on this space.

An early variant of Tic-tac-toe was played in the Roman Empire, around the first century BC. It was called Terni Lapilli and instead of having any number of pieces, each player only had three, thus they had to move them around to empty spaces to keep playing. The game's grid markings have been found chalked all over Rome. However, according to Claudia Zaslavsky's book Tic Tac Toe: And Other Three-In-A Row Games from Ancient Egypt to the Modern Computer, Tic-tac-toe could originate back to ancient Egypt.[1] Another closely related ancient game is Three Men's Morris which is also played on a simple grid and requires three pieces in a row to finish.[2]
The different names of the game are more recent. The first print reference to "Noughts and crosses", the British name, appeared in 1864. The first print reference to a game called "tick-tack-toe" occurred in 1884, but referred to "a children's game played on a slate, consisting in trying with the eyes shut to bring the pencil down on one of the numbers of a set, the number hit being scored".

1) What strategies did you use to win?

2) Why does Tic Tac Toe lose its appeal the more you play?

3) How is Tic Tac Toe an example of a Zero Sum Game?

4) What comparisons can we make between Tic Tac Toe and Global Thermal Nuclear War?

5) What is the only way to win?

Today gamblers can challenge a Tic Tac Toe Playing Chicken.

Can you beat the bird?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Prisoners Dilemma

 During the Cold War the opposing alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact both had the choice to arm or disarm. From each side's point of view, disarming whilst their opponent continued to arm would have led to military inferiority and possible annihilation. Conversely, arming whilst their opponent disarmed would have led to superiority. If both sides chose to arm, neither could afford to attack the other, but at the high cost of developing and maintaining a nuclear arsenal. If both sides chose to disarm, war would be avoided and there would be no costs. Although the 'best' overall outcome is for both sides to disarm, the rational course for both sides is to arm, and this is indeed what happened. 'Mutually Assured Destruction' was the idea that waging war would be so destructive to both sides that neither could possibly win. Both sides poured enormous resources into military research and armament in a war of attrition for the next thirty years until reform in the Soviet Union caused ideological differences to abate.

The Cold War and arms race can be modeled as a Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is the story of two criminals who have been arrested for a heinous crime and are being interrogated separately. Each knows that if neither of them talks, the case against them is weak and they will be convicted and punished for lesser charges. If this happens, each will get 20 years in prison with the possibility of parole. If both 'rat' on each other, its a slam dunk case for the prosecution and they both face death sentences. If only one person 'rats' and testifies against the other, the one who did not cooperate will get the death sentence while the other will go free.

What would you do? Why?

How is this famous variation different from our class example? What was the surprising outcome?

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Star Wars

If anything defined the 20th century as the age of anxiety, it's the cold war with its ultimate no-win nuclear endgame.  Reagan's 1983 Evil Empire speech sets the tone for a more aggressive US posture against the Soviet Union, and the costly arms race it renewed.  

1) How did the 'Death Star' reflect the very real fear of the atomic bomb during the Cold War 70's & 80's?

2) Why is the post-Soviet world so obsessed with Star Wars?

3) Who would Darth Vadar & the Empire represent in Cold War history? The Rebel Alliance? Explain?

4) What was Reagan's ' Star Wars' program and how did it bring about an end of the Cold War?

5) How will you be celebrating Star Wars Day?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Red Scare

In the 1950's the fear that communists both outside and inside America were working to destroy our way of life created a reaction known as the Red Scare. Pop culture reflected this fear of communists invading and taking over Americans minds.

Then a little known senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy charged that more than 200 communist agents had infiltrated the highest levels of our government. The charge provoked a furor and a witch hunt that quickly spread to all levels of American life.

"The Crucible", a play written by Arthur Miller centers on the similar events in colonial Salem and the subsequent trials. Those who demanded their innocence were executed, those who would not name names were incarcerated and tortured, and those who admitted their guilt were immediately set free.

3) Compare and Contrast the Salem Witch Hunts to the McCarthy Era.

4)  Who was persecuted and what was the evidence? What recourse did the accused have?

5)Which was more dangerous: the accusation or the actual witches?

6) Who was Edward R. Murrow and how did he respond to McCarthy's allegations?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tear Down This Wall....

President Reagan's remarks on East-West relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987.

How does Reagan support his statement "Freedom is the victor?"

How does Reagan challenge Gorbachev to prove that his reforms are not just 'token gestures?'

What is the tone of this speech?

How persuasive was this speech? Why? Give reasons.

Everything I learned about Cold War History I learned from watching 'Family Guy.'