Advantage: Queens

One of the things I miss about living in NYC is the ability to take the 7 train out to sporting events in Queens. No car, no traffic, no parking woes getting in and out. You could go watch your favorite team hit a grand slam homerun over at Shea Stadium (or chez stadium, as the pun goes), or, this time of year, catch part of a different type of grand slam, The U.S. Open.

To make up for the inability to take the 7 train out to Flushing, I've been watching a lot of baseball and tennis lately, especially the U.S. Open with all this Agassi excitement.

Modern tennis has its roots in a 16th century French game called Jeu de Paume, or, the "Game of the Palm." Eventually rackets were added and the sport moved onto the grass where, in the 19th century, it became "Lawn Tennis" in England.

Though Wimbledon's courts are still a sort of lawn (rye grass, actually), the other Grand Slam venues are not. The U.S. Open and Australian Open are played on an asphalt-type surfaces, while the French Open is played on clay. And while clay is slippery and makes the courts un petite peu dangerous, kudos are still in order to the French for serving up all those interesting terms like "love" and "deuce." After the jump, I'll let Wiki explain their origins, and many more.

"Tennis" comes from the French tenez, the imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold: This was a cry used by the player serving in royal tennis, meaning "I am about to serve!" (rather like the cry "Fore!" in golf).

"Racquet" comes from raquette, which derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.

"Deuce" comes from à deux le jeu, meaning "to both is the game" (that is, the two players have equal scores).

"Love" may come from l'Å“uf, the egg, a reference to the egg-shaped zero symbol.

The convention of numbering scores "15", "30" and "40" comes from quinze, trente and quarante, which to French ears makes a euphonious sequence, or from the quarters of a clock (15, 30, 45) with 45 simplified to 40.

These origins, of course, aren't the only ones floating around the web. The Straight Dope has some different explanations for the odd scoring system in tennis, as well as a different take on "love." And I've also heard that "deuce" could suggest the fact that you need to score twice in a row to win the game.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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