Sneak Peek #1: Even the Government's Peanut Butter is Expensive!

The new issue hits stands this Tuesday, and we thought we'd get things started with a little sneak peek on our peanut butter spread (that's 2 pages full of weird facts you need to know about peanut butter!). Here's just a little taste:

Want to know who makes the priciest peanut butter on the market? The federal government, of course! For about $220 per 6-ounce jar, the National Institute of Standards and Technology sells what it calls "Standard Reference Material No. 2387," a pristine peanut butter spread. The price tag comes with a precise analysis of the peanut butter's nutritional composition, including levels of vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids, and aflatoxins, the carcinogens produced by mold in peanut crops. Food manufacturers use the spread for quality control, comparing it to their own products. Sadly, this means that no one actually eats the gold-standard peanut butter; it's fed exclusively to laboratory equipment.

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But that just scratches the surface. From stories on why the U.S. banned sliced bread, to public artworks that went terribly wrong, to the 50 most interesting places in the space-time continuum, the new issue is definitely worth reading. Look for it on newsstands, or better yet, pair a subscription with mental_floss T-shirt and save yourself some money. Click here for details.

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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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