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Archive for January, 2009

Def Political Poetry Slam

Monday, January 19th, 2009

You are to write, rehearse and offer a perfect performance of a political poem in “slam style”.

1. Watch some poetry slam performances. Simply enter “poetry slam” and/or “def poetry jam” into the YouTube browser.

A former colleague turned me on to Taylor Mali. Take a few moments to watch What Teachers Make and Speak with Conviction.

I also respect the following examples by: Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and Shane Koyczan

2. Choose a theme and/or a country from our course.

3. Write and revise. Aim for a 3-5 minute piece.

4. Practice, practice, practice. Find your voice, then perfect it.

5. Stand and deliver in class. Speak with passion, conviction and diction. We want to hear you loud and clear. We will have a 90 minute political poetry slam. This is a healthy competition. We will vote on the winners. Prizes will be alloted.

This is the last hurrah for us. Let’s do it right.

Incongruous Paradigms?

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Are capitalism and environmentalism incongruous paradigms?

Post a 750 word essay (one page, single-spaced) which begins with a specific, complex and refutable thesis.

Then read  responses of your classmates (at least 3 of them). Then leave an incisive 1 paragraph comment on 3 essays. Commenting is not optional.

Come to class ready for healthy debate.

Chinese aim for the Ivy League

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

The book spawned a genre, selling more than two million copies in China on the premise that any child, with the proper upbringing, could be Ivy League material.

Now, eight years after the publication of “Harvard Girl,” bookstore shelves here are laden with copycat titles like “How We Got Our Child Into Yale,” “Harvard Family Instruction” and “The Door of the Elite.”

Their increasing popularity points to the preoccupation – some might say a single-minded national obsession – of a growing number of middle-class Chinese parents: getting their children into America’s premier universities.

Read Chinese aim for the Ivy League from The IHT

Franklin Delano Obama?

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Suddenly, everything old is New Deal again. Reagan is out; FDR is in. Still, how much guidance does the Roosevelt era really offer for today’s world?

The answer is, a lot. But Barack Obama should learn from FDR’s failures as well as from his achievements: The truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for FDR’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious.

Read more from Paul Krugman

A Short History of Agarian Revolt in America

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

This condensed version of Lawrence Goodwyn’s Democratic Promise, the highly-acclaimed study on American Populism which the Civil Liberties Review called “a brilliant, comprehensive study,” offers new political language designed to provide a fresh means of assessing both democracy and authoritarianism today.

A Short History of Agarian Revolt in America free from Google Books

Putin’s Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

This thoroughly revised and updated edition of the classic text provides the most current and authoritative assessment of Russia available. Distinguished scholars offer a full-scale assessment of Putin’s leadership, exploring the daunting domestic and international implications of Putin”s reign.

Read selected essays (on topics of domestic policy, the economy and foreign policy) from this books for free at Google Books. I particularly  impressed by Petrov and Slider’s essay, “Putin and the Regions”.

A ‘Postcard’ View Of China’s Global Prominence

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Journalist James Fallows explores China’s recent rise to power and what it means for the US in his new book of essays, Postcards Tomorrow Square.

A National Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Fallows has been reporting on the economic and political transformation taking place in China since 2006.

Listen to this interview with Fallows

Photo Essay: Russia Leaves Eastern Europe Out in the Cold

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom was supposed to have restarted the flow of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine Jan. 13. How much is actually getting through is uncertain at this point, but one thing is certain:  Eastern Europe has been left in the cold ever since Gazprom ceased gas flows…

View the Foreign Policy Magazine Photo Essay

Ghosts of the South

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

It was over a lunch of Confederate fried steak in Columbia, S.C., that I realized something crucial about North and South. A passport ought to be required to travel from one to the other. Despite decades of economic and cultural homogenization, the regions remain as different as basketball and NASCAR. That thought occurred when my lunch partner, a man named Chris Sullivan, told me this: “To say the War Between the States was about slavery is like saying the Revolutionary War was about tea.” And he meant it, sure as the pear trees bloom in sun-washed Columbia, the South is rising once again…

The article

Response Sheet

On the Media on China

Monday, January 12th, 2009

On the Media explores how the media “sausage” is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of “making media,” especially news media, because it’s through that lens that we literally see the world and the world sees us.

While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.

Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR’s fastest growing programs, heard on more than 200 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.

OTM among my favorite podcasts. I rarely miss an episode (one hour per week on Fridays)

Your task: For 7 extra credit points, be the FIRST to listen to the following OTM episode and post responses to the questions listed. The second person will get 4 points. Everyone should listen to this voluntarily (are you used to my dogma yet?).

Listen to the 2 January 2009 Show, broadcasted from China in the lead-up to the Olympic Games (note the three separate streams on the OTM webpage)

1. What is the significance of 3T, 1F?

2. What’s the significance of the perpetual panda stealer?

3. Describe a significant controversy surrounding “Wolf Totem”.

4. What is the dilemma journalists face with regard to martyrs?

5. Cite 2-3 other interesting perspectives that you learned form this episode.