February 12th, 2008

The history of The Evil Eye. And how heavy metal fans keep it away. Really.
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America's 50 Greenest Cities. The list is not all that surprising, but the notes on some are fascinating.
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The 20 Worst Foods in America. This ranking is based on their impact on your health; no doubt they taste pretty good.
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Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls. These pictures are bound to make you just a little nervous. Or very nervous.
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Nothing is sacred. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs Stairway to Heaven, beautifully and horribly at the sme time.
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Where did the myth of using only 10% of our brain power come from? We humans are wasteful, but not THAT wasteful!
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Police departments are dealing with budget cutbacks which leave them without proper bagpipes. That doesn't mean they will do without.
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Weirdest Things Found in Sewers and Drains. Things don't just dissapear from existence when you flush them down the toilet.
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Behind Prokofiev's music for the ballet Romeo and Juliet. With bonus video of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.

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

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North America: East or West Coast?
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