Aussie’s view of America; can you do as well for Australia?

November 2, 2013

An Aussie's attempt to label the state of the U.S.  Don't laugh -- how well can you do labeling a map of Australia?  From Texas Hill Country's Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

An Aussie’s attempt to label the state of the U.S. Don’t laugh — how well can you do labeling a map of Australia? From Texas Hill Country’s Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

Found this at the Facebook site of Texas Hill Country.  A little rough for high school geography, especially if it’s ninth grade geography (surely you can moderate this a bit, teachers), but a good idea for a quiz?

How well can your students do labeling the U.S.?  Will they find this person’s obvious anguish and creative non-answers amusing?  Can they do better?

Now turn the tables:  How well can your students in the U.S. do labeling a map of Australia?  Canada?  Mexico?

Ask your students:  Is it important to know such stuff?  Why?

And you, Dear Reader: What do you think?

Here you go, a map of Australia to practice with:

Unlabeled map of Australia to label!  Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010

Unlabeled map of Australia to label! Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010


Paramount logo inspiration: Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah

July 1, 2012

This is mostly an encore post — a tribute to Paramount Pictures in the company’s centennial year.

There’s a geography exercise and social studies bell ringer in this somewhere [links added]:

Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden. The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

From the Deseret News: “Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden (Utah). The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

What is the most “paramount” mountain in Utah?

How about Timpanogos Peak, Kings Peak, Mount Nebo, Mount Olympus. Lone Peak or Twin Peaks?

It’s none of the above because one of Hollywood’s most familiar images — the famous Paramount Pictures logo — was inspired by Weber County’s Ben Lomond Peak.

As such, Ben Lomond — not even the highest summit in Weber County — may be the most famous mountain in the Beehive State.

The peak is given credit for prompting creation of the majestic but fictional mountain in the popular Paramount design, based on two histories of the motion-picture company.

According to Leslie Halliwell’s “Mountain of Dreams,” a biography of Paramount, founder William Hodkinson grew up in Ogden and the logo was “a memory of childhood in his home state of Utah.”

Compare it to the Paramount Pictures logo now:

Paramount Pictures logo

Paramount Pictures logo

Teachers may want to hustle over to the Deseret News site to capture the story for classroom use — the online version includes a short set of slides of a hike to the top of the peak (it’s a climb most reasonably healthy people can make in a day – “reasonably healthy” to include acclimated to the altitude).

What other geographic features have become commercial logos? How do images of geography affect our culture?

For my money, I still like Timpanogos better, even if the Osmonds did use it.

Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah, from a Flickr file

This image of Mt. Ben Lomond looks more like the Paramount logo, some might say.

More, Related Articles:


True or false? Deception, with iPhones, to tell the truth

September 11, 2011

Magician Marco Tempest pushes the boundaries on use of iPhones in magic tricks — is it magic, pure electronics, or what we want to see?

Tell us in comments how you could use this shorter-than-usual TEDS video as a bell-ringer, teachers — or as an ice-breaker, meeting facilitators and corporate trainers:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michelle Gardiner, who suffered my bass playing with quiet equanimity.


7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo special reports

March 13, 2011

7 Billion: Are you typical?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo s…, posted with vodpod

I could see a bell-ringer in there somewhere.  Who do you think ought to see this thing?  What classes in public schools should see it, for what purpose?

I hope the year-long series lives up to the video.  I hope there are a lot more videos to go along with it.  As a piece of persuasive rhetoric, it does make a decent case for subscribing to National Geographic for a year.  How’s that for rhetorical criticism?


American Icons: Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

February 2, 2011

One of what should be an occasional series of posts on American iconic places, natural features, sights to see, etc.  For studies of U.S. history and U.S. geography, each of these posts covers subjects an educated American should know.  What is the value of these icons?  Individually and collectively, our preservation of them may do nothing at all for the defense of our nation.  But individually and collectively, they help make our nation worth defending.

This is a less-than-10-minute video you can insert into class as a bell ringer, or at the end of a class, or as part of a study of geologic formations, or in any of a number of other ways.  Yosemite Nature Notes provides glorious pictures and good information about Yosemite National Park — this video explains the modern incarnation of Half Dome, an enormous chunk of granite that captures the imagination of every living, breathing soul who ever sees it.

Potential questions for class discussion:

  • Have you put climbing Half Dome on your bucket list yet?  Why not?
  • Is it really wilderness when so many people go there?
  • How should the National Park Service, and the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, manage these spectacular, completely unique features, both to preserve their wild nature, and allow people to visit them?
  • What are the federalism issues involved in protecting Half Dome, or any grand feature, like the Great Smokey Mountains, Great Dismal Swamp, Big Bend, Yellowstone Falls, or Lincoln Memorial?
  • Does this feature make you wonder about how glaciers carve mountains and valleys?  (Maybe you should watch this video about glaciers in Yosemite.)
  • What is the history of the preservation of the Yosemite Valley?
  • Planning your trip to Yosemite:  Which large city airports might be convenient to fly to?  (What part of which state is this in?)
  • What other grand sights are there to see on your trip to Yosemite?
  • What does this image make you think?  Can you identify the people in it?

    John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite Valley

    Who are those guys? Why might it matter? (Answer below the fold)

  • How about this image? Who made this, and so what?

    Albert Bierstadt, Sunrise, Yosemite Valley, ca. 1870 - Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

    Photo or painting? Where could you see this work?

Read the rest of this entry »


Edith Wharton on Facebook: What a horrible thought!

January 3, 2010

Nancy Sharon Colllins, reporting after her recent work at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, including reading some original letters and other writings of Edith Wharton, wonders what would be the effect on history and literary studies, had Edith Wharton used Facebook instead of keeping her journal and writing copious numbers of letters.

And that got me thinking: What if Edith Wharton had Facebooked? Had she lived in our time and communicated digitally, I wonder what her literature would be like. Looking at five days of cursive writing and personal letters made me realize that her compulsion to jot down her thoughts was no different than ours today when we tweet about what we had for lunch or share some fab link we just discovered. The difference between a letter written longhand and a Facebook post is that one takes a little bit longer (and leaves a more lasting trace), but the purpose is the same. Whether we live on a grand, Whartonian scale or a quieter, more ordinary one, we feel more significant when we share intimacies about ourselves with others.

There’s a good warm-up and/or journaling exercise in there for literature teachers.


Geography quiz: In space, who will accept your teeming masses?

December 3, 2009

Lady Liberty from space, European Space Agency photo

What is this famous landmark?

This could be an interesting geography or history bell ringer.  What are these famous sites pictured above?

Answer below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Best optical illusion of the year

July 12, 2009

I like to use optical illusions for warm-ups and bell ringers, to get students thinking and looking at things a bit differently.

Richard Wiseman said this is the best new optical illusion he’s seen so far this year:

Image by Prof. Kitaoka, 2009

Image by Prof. Kitaoka, 2009

What’s the illusion?  Well, you see those green stripes?  See the blue stripes?  Actually they are the same color.

You don’t think so?  Zoom in.  Or click over to Wiseman’s blog site and see what happens when all the other colors are turned to black.

I know you think you know what you see; what you think you see may not be what you actually see.  Your brain modifies what you think you see, in order to make it appear sensible, and in doing so, it sometimes makes you see things quite differently from what they are.  Don’t forget that.

So, how do we know what we know?  How do we know that what we know is correct?


Earth images from European Space Agency (ESA)

May 20, 2009

Greece and the Aegean Sea, mosaic image from European Space Agencys MERIS Satellite

Greece and the Aegean Sea, mosaic image from European Space Agency's MERIS Satellite

Great collection of photos from the European Space Agency (ESA), from their Earth from Space: Image of the Week series.  This one is a mosaic of Greece, the Balkans and the Aegean Sea.

Surely this could be made into a bell ringer/warmup.  Check out the images for other geographic forms, and great photos of them.  Nose around the ESA site, there are some great finds.  Can you quickly identify this image, for example (without looking at the name of the photo file)?


Bell Ringer: Bermuda Triangle, Area 51, Marfa, and other cool mysteries

May 17, 2009

If a day goes by that I don’t get a question about one of these sites, it’s a very slow day.

Those questions tell me something else:  Students have genuine interests in geography, and in mysteries.  Students will pay attention to lesson plans that include one or more of these sites in them, especially if you refer to the mystery.

How about just a geography search:  How close is the closest site to you?  Can students visit these sites on their summer vacations?  What airport is closest for tourists?  What arrangements need to be made to visit the place?

Wired.com provides the video — your students have the questions.  Can you provide the answers, or lead them to the answers?  How about listing your answers in comments?

Answers, or more information:


Great Depression in music and images – look what good film can do

March 14, 2009

History is Elementary once again shows why we ought to be reading her stuff regularly, pointing to the short film “Pennyland” by Eddie and Frank Thomas.

I dare you to plug that into your lesson plans, teachers.  When you do, drop back and tell us in comments what you did, will you?

More:


Reading for government classes: Obama’s shift in governing philosophy

January 28, 2009

No, Obama didn’t change his mind.  He’s changing the way government does business — putting government on a more solidly-based, business-like model for performance, according to at least one observer.  That’s the shift discussed.

And it’s about time, I say.

Max Stier’s commentary on the Fed Page of the Washington Post quickly lays out the case that Obama’s making big changes.  Copy it for students in your government classes (or history classes, if you’re studying the presidency in any depth).  Stier wrote:

There are some fundamental reasons why our federal government’s operational health has been allowed to steadily deteriorate. It’s hard to change what you don’t measure, and our government operates in an environment with very few meaningful and useful measurements for performance. Perhaps more significantly, it is run by short-term political leadership that has little incentive to focus on long-term issues.

A typical presidential appointee stays in government for roughly two years and is rewarded for crisis management and scoring policy wins. These individuals are highly unlikely to spend significant energy on management issues, when the benefits of such an investment won’t be seen until after they are long gone.

(According to the Post, “Max Stier is president and CEO of Partnership for Public Service, a group that seeks to revitalize the federal government.”  I don’t know of him otherwise.)

Political appointees can be good, but too many have not been over the past 25 years.  A bad enough political appointee can frustrate even the most adept, dedicated-to-the-people’s-business career federal service employees, and frustrate the law and good management of agencies.

Let’s wish them all good luck.

Potential questions to follow-up this article in discussions:

  • Constitution: Under the Constitution, who specifically is charged with managing the federal agencies, the “federal bureaucracy?  What is that charge, in the Constitution?
  • Constitution, politics: What is the role of Congress in managing the federal bureaucracy?
  • Evaluating information sources: Do some research on the internet.  Is Max Stier a credible source of information on managing federal agencies?  Why, or why not?  Who provides an opposing view to Stier’s?  Are they credible?  Why or why not?
  • Evaluating information sources: Is the Fed Page of the Washington Post a good source of information about the federal bureaucracy?  (Students may want to investigate columnists and features at this site; the Fed Page was started as a one-page feature of the newspaper in the early 1980s, covering for the public issues that tended to slip through the cracks of other news coverage, but which were very important to the vast army of federal employees and federal policy wonks in Washington.)  What other sources might be expected?  What other sources are there?  (Federal News Radio is another site that focuses on the functions of the federal agencies — Mike Causey started out writing the column on the bureaucracy in the Washington Post; this is an AM radio station dedicated to covering federal functions in the federal city.  Other sources should include National Journal, and Congressional Quarterly, especially if you have those publications in your school library).
  • History, maybe a compare and contrast question: How has the federal bureaucracy changed over time?  Compare the size, scope and people employed by the federal government under the administrations of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton.  What trends become clear?  What major changes have occurred (civil service protection, for example)?
  • Analysis: How does the transition process from one president to the next affect federal employees and the operation of government?
  • Analysis: How does the transition of President Barack Obama compare with past transitions — especially that of President Franklin Roosevelt, who also faced a tough economic crisis, or Ronald Reagan, whose transition signalled a major shift in government emphasis and operation?

What other questions did your students find in this article?  Comments are open.


Lookin’ good, for 4.28 billion years old

September 25, 2008

New candidate for “oldest rocks on Earth,” from Canada.  They come in perhaps as old as 4.28 billion years.

They’re older than John McCain!



Oops! How many stripes on the U.S. flag?

August 7, 2008

School kids and people seeking naturalization as citizens of the U.S. should be able to tell you there are 13 stripes on the U.S. flag, one for each of the original 13 colonies. The top stripe is red, and the bottom stripe is red.

Oops. The U.S. Postal Service printed a stamp that features what looks like a flag with a 14th stripe.

Representations of the general usage, first class postal stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in April 2008 -- and, is that a 14th stripe on the flag in the lower right?

Representations of the general usage, first class postal stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in April 2008 -- and, is that a 14th stripe on the flag in the lower right? The four original, correct paintings were done by Laura Stutzman of Mountain Lake Park, Maryland.

A philatelist blogger, Stamps of Distinction, noted the error in a post earlier this week. The Postal Service acknowledged a problem with the stamp, but said what looks like a seventh white stripe at the bottom of the flag is really just a light patch added to the stamp to give contrast with the last red stripe.

The error appears on the fourth of a four-stamp plate known as the “Flags 24/7 stamps.” The flag is portrayed flying at four different times of the day, sunrise, noon, sunset, and night. The night portrayal carries the last-minute art revision that looks like a 14th stripe, on the bottom of the flag.

Errors in stamps drive up collectors’ prices — USPS says it has no plans to change the stamp now, so it won’t become a rarity.

Stamps of Distinction explains the intricacies of U.S. flag design, stamp traditions, and more specifics. You would do well to visit that site and check the full post.

Please note that flags flown after sunset should be specially lighted to be flown; the U.S. flag code suggests flags should be retired at sunset, otherwise, except at a few locations where the flag may be flown 24 hours a day, by law. USPS said:

For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.

Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. In 1942, a code of flag etiquette was established. The code states in part that the American flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset every day, weather permitting, but especially on days of national importance like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Also, federal law requires that “when a patriotic effect is desired,” the flag can be flown through the night if properly lit. Although compliance is voluntary, public observation of the code’s measures is widespread throughout the nation.

Teachers, can you use this for a warm-up/bell ringer exercise on flag history?

Resources:


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