Thingamajig Thursday: audio plugs

Whelp, it's Thursday folks. And you know what that means! One more day until the weekend? Nahhh. Try time for another Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming what my father calls "wires."

It's true. No matter what kind of audio plug we're talking about, to him, and many others, they're just a bunch of "wires."

So let's start with the two on the top, there, which are called RCA plugs, or cables (sometimes jacks). Like the animals on Noah's ark, they generally come in pairs, white is left in the stereo field, and red is right. They were invented in the 1940s by the Radio Corporation of America (thus the name, RCA), and were meant to connect phonographs to radios. Nowadays we use them to connect any audio device, such as a CD player, to an amplifier.

On the other end of that cable, you'll often find the next plug in the photo, a 3.5mm plug, more commonly called either a 1/8" jack or a mini-stereo plug. It's the one that fits in your iPod, and just about any other portable audio device these days. If you go to Radio Shack and say, "I need a wire for my iPod," they'll probably know what you mean. But why not call it by its proper name?

Lastly we have the 1/4" plug, which is also called a stereo jack. If it looks similar to the ones you often see in B&W photos of stylish-looking women sitting at old-fashioned switchboards, that's because it is, and dates from the 1870s!

Of course, there are dozens more. But you should at least know the names of those three. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go forward this post to my dad"¦

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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