Morning Cup of Links: July 4th Holiday Weekend

First off: Happy Canada Day!
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9 Fourth of July Myths Debunked. We learn our history in childhood as short sound bites that oversimplify what really happened in 1776.
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On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study. If you are paranoid about government mind-control rays, you'll be even more so after reading this research from MIT. (via Everlasting Blort)
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Our earth is a dynamic place that moves and changes with no regard to humans or anyone else. Cracked looks at five events that left behind some serious scars. (NSFW text)
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First, they made killing infants illegal, then they outlawed sex determination before abortions. Now families in India who want sons are resorting to gender reassignment surgery to turn their daughters into boys.
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Watch fireworks explode in slow motion, thanks to ultra high-speed film. They're blowing things up, too, although I can't imagine why they picked a jar of mayonnaise.
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An ad from Argentina called "Braids" could stand on its own even without the product it is promoting. What was that product, anyway? ...not that it matters.
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265 TV Marathons & Specials for 4th of July Weekend 2011. So you'll have something to do between picnics, parades, and fireworks.
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Ten Big Uncle Sams. Americans, take this larger-than-life symbol with you as you celebrate the holiday weekend.

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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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