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Archive for January, 2012

Labor Abuse in China at Foxconn

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Mike Daisey was a self-described “worshipper in the cult of Mac.” Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.

It seems that our fetishization of new technology has blinded us to blatant abuse of the workers of the world. This is a much needed reminder and a critical view of Foxconn.

The Economist’s Survey of Germany, 2010

Monday, January 16th, 2012

For all its stolid reputation, Germany has become surprisingly flexible. But it needs to keep working at it.

Check out The Economists’ take on modern German economics and political culture.

Lana Peters, Stalin’s Daughter, Dies at 85

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Twisted tale of Stalin’s daughter offers insight into Stalin and his system.

Scotland is to vote on independence

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

After three hundred years of union, Scots are to be given the chance to vote for independence. The offer of a legally-binding referendum, probably in 2014, comes from David Cameron, who is not just prime minister of the United Kingdom but also leader of an outfit formally known as the Conservative and Unionist Party. It is more than a remarkable concession. Since the Scots may indeed plump for independence, it is also quite a risk…

Mr Cameron wants a straight in-or-out question. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which dominates the legislature in Edinburgh, is not so sure. He has said he favours a simple question. But he also points out there is a powerful view in Scotland that the country ought to be given more powers, taking it just to the brink of independence—“devolution max”, as it is known. Perhaps the referendum should reflect this view by offering three choices. Or perhaps two questions should be asked at the same time: whether Scotland should become independent, and whether it should acquire more powers…


Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Secret cables from the United States embassy in Beijing have shown there was no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square when China put down student pro-democracy demonstrations 22 years ago.

“James Miles, who was the BBC correspondent in Beijing at the time, admitted that he had “conveyed the wrong impression” and that “there was no massacre on Tiananmen Square. Protesters who were still in the square when the army reached it were allowed to leave after negotiations with martial law troops [ …] There was no Tiananmen Square massacre, but there was a Beijing massacre”.


Why did he “convey the wrong impression”?

Well at least there was still a Beijing Massacre. I guess.

The Exalted Position of Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Most polls reveal that Abraham Lincoln is the best president in U.S. history. In Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, he discusses the “mystic chords of memory.” Americans have a curious way of remembering Lincoln.

The discerning history student ought to be curious about the ways in which Lincoln has and has not earned his exalted place in American history.

In order to assess the extent to Lincoln was “the greatest” president, “a military genius”, “a master of the English language”, “a true American hero”, etc. we are going to:

  1. Define great leadership
  2. Read documents and answer questions about Lincoln’s presidency with a focus on the following themes:
    • Lincoln & His Cabinet
    • Lincoln & Slavery
    • Lincoln as Orator
    • Lincoln as Commander in Chief
    • Lincoln & Congress
  3. Analyze these articles in small groups, then present findings to the class
  4. Based on our reading, assess the extent to which Lincoln earned his exalted place as a great leader in American history.


Lincoln and his Cabinet: Listen to this short interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin and read this Times book review of Goodwin’s Team of Rivals by James MacPherson

Lincoln & Slavery: Listen to this interview with Eric Foner

Lincoln’s Oratory: Read Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Words by Ted Sorensen and listen to this interview with Ronald White about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Lincoln as Commander in Chief: Read this book review of James MacPherson’s Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief and Lincoln’s letter to McClellan

Lincoln and Congress: Read this review of Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate

There are reading questions for all five themes. Get them here and respond thoughtfully.

If this discussion of Lincoln is of interest, you are cordially invited to:

Durant, Caesar and Christ

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Here is a PDF copy of the whole book Will Durant: Caesar and Christ