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.

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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?