“God created war so Americans would learn geography”

I heard this quote on the Tim Ferris show with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. During the show, Potts mentions this quote (attributed to Mark Twain): God created war so Americans would learn geography. Being a human geography teacher, I know this to be true. Many of my students don’t remember 9/11, they were toddlers or smaller. They don’t remember our 2nd go-round in Iraq, much less the first in 1990-91. So when Obama gives a speech about ISIL, they wonder several things: What is he talking about? Where in the world are the places he’s talking about? Vox (in their 14 maps that explain ISIS) has done a great job of showing this critical geography to us.  Here’s one of the maps that shows ISIS control. In our Theory of Knowledge class this past week, we assigned groups of … Continue reading »

Mid-terms are not Presidential elections but they could be close

One of my AP US History students asked me if this was the most that a party had controlled the House of Representatives. I didn’t know so we looked it up. Here’s what we found: “Combined–Control of the U.S. House of Representatives – Control of the U.S. Senate” by ChrisnHouston – File:Control of the U.S. Senate.PNG File:Control of the U.S. House of Representatives.PNG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Look at the second box (that’s the House). Turns out in the 1940’s the Democrats controlled almost 80% of the House. Republicans have 244 out of 435, so they’re getting there (56%). To reach those 1940’s #’s the GOP would have to win almost 90 more seats.   Then my student asked a different question: Does a whooping in the House mean the GOP will win the 2016 presidency? … Continue reading »

Catalonia, Presidents and Flags

Will Catalonia secede from Spain? This Nation article seems to think so. Here’s a key quote: “For Spain, the secession of Catalonia—and the Basque Country, which wouldn’t take long to follow—would mean the departure of two of its wealthiest regions and would therefore be a significant loss.” But Colm dismissed my argument: “But this loss would bring about greater political stability. It would be advantageous for everybody.” As Juan Enriquez says, “People assume stability where there isn’t any.” Juan Enriquez – PopTech 2006 from PopTech on Vimeo. In his book, The Untied States of America, he shows how No U.S. President has ever been buried under the same flag he was born under. Catalonia and Spain are in a similar space.