World War II – Stick to the facts

August 9, 2006

Today (August 9, 2006) is the 61st anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, Japan, by the United States. While we in the U.S. commemorate such events with full disclosure of information, sometimes to the discomfort of people who do not want a discussion on the use of such weapons, Japan itself is often reluctant to confront and acknowledge its actions in the war, actions which prompted President Truman to determine atomic bombs were the most humane solution to a quick end of the war.

High schools in Japan are using right-wing history textbooks that tend ot whitewash the role of Japan in World War II. Go see the brief article here, in China’s Peoples Daily On-Line.

Rational discourse and debate on the control of nuclear weapons in order to assure justice and peace depends on our understanding the truth about the use of nuclear weapons. Textbooks which distort the truth, either by omitting facts or selectively endorsing them, tend to keep us away from both justice and peace.

Also see this post, Atomic Anniversaries.

How about sexy history?

August 9, 2006

CNN carries the Associated Press report on the new study: Sexy music triggers teen sex.

According to AP:

Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

If only it were so easy! Shelly Batts at Retrospectacle points out the science error (which is actually noted in the AP story). (The original study is in Pediatrics; an abstract of the article is here, free of charge. I have not found a free source for the ful text.) Consider how we could use this research, were it accurate.

  1. The story related in the musical 1776! about how a conjugal visit from Martha Jefferson got Thomas off the dime to complete the Declaration of Independence would hold the rapt attention of kids who normally can’t tell the difference between the Declaration and the U.S.S. Independence.
  2. Woodrow Wilson’s romance after the death of his first wife would be a critical lead-in to a lesson about Wilson’s 14 Points, the Treaty of Versailles, the end of World War I and the setup for World War II.
  3. No student, knowing of the love Archduke Ferdinand had for Sophie, would ever forget the act that triggered World War I.
  4. Students would hide copies of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin with the good passages highlighted, to pass around. They’d want to go to London in their youth to work in a publishing house, and to Paris in their old age, to play chess with the ladies. Heck, they might even take up playing Franklin’s glass harmonica, and learn Mozart’s pieces written for the instrument, to see if it really drove ladies into fits of uncontrollable passion.
  5. Warm Springs, Georgia, might become a key Spring Break destination, to see if the warm waters would do for teenagers what it seemed to do for the libido of Franklin Roosevelt.
  6. Harry Truman would be devalued in the rankings of “better presidents.”
  7. Boys Nation of the American Legion would be overwhelmed with applicants trying to follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton.

Oh, I’m sure we can find more. Richard Feynman’s stories of seduction would make the history of Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project crackle to life, and boys would try to impress the girls with their understanding of the binding curve of energy. Read the rest of this entry »

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