What Santa Isn't Bringing You

CNN Money just did a fantastic gallery on hot toys for rich brats, (aka things I'd have to sell a kidney just to make a down payment on). Here are some of the inane highlights from the list:
Lego Batman: $27,000
Made entirely of Lego bricks (cape aside), this 6'6'' statue of the Caped Crusader is supposedly meant to protect your kid from nightmares, monsters lurking under the bed, and any other Joker that might cross their path.
Grand Victorian Mansion: $22,000
Why play in cardboard boxes, and set up tea parties in the backyard when you can do it in the comfort of your own mansion? Available in white, lavender and light victorian_mansion.jpggreen, the fairy tale home includes "a wraparound porch, a stained-glass window, window boxes (for gardening), a skylight and a doorbell." Further, the walls come sponge-painted, there's a fireplace mantel, a loft with ladder, and simulated hardwood floors. I have an apartment in Brooklyn that doesn't have half of those features (we barely have a doorbell), or the square footage for that matter!
robby_robot.jpgGenuine 7-foot Robby Robot: $49,999.99
Forget the fact that your kids have never seen the 1956 chestnut "Forbidden Planet." That shouldn't stop them from coveting this 7 ft behemoth. Not only is the thing remote controlled, he's programmed to deliver lines from the movie. If that isn't enough to scare the bejeezus out of the neighborhood bully, you can always use your own vocal stylings by taking advantage of the wireless mic provided.

Other highlights from the list:
a gasoline operated jeep, a fortune telling machine, and a 1,000 lb piggy bank that can hold an Ivy League tuition in change in it's pork belly. Check it out here at CNN Money.

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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