American History Week 36 The most important skill I developed in High School

Prompt: “The most important skill I developed in high school.”

The most important skill I’ve practiced in this curriculum is definitely writing. Writing has always been one of my favorite parts of school. It allows me to use my own words to describe what I’ve learned, and in this I find myself remembering what I’ve been taught far better than if I were given a test. I write in my day to day life, in my free time I usually use writing to practice character development and world building. But in this curriculum I’ve learned to write in a much more structured and organized way.

The regular writing that I do for this has really helped develop my ability, and I believe I’m a much better writer now than I was when I started this course. This will certainly come in handy in my life, as I plan to become a cartoonist. If I want to create my own cartoons the ability to write meaningfully, thoughtfully, and realistically will be a big part of developing my characters perspectives and motivations.

The free form structure of writing this curriculum has offered, under a prompt, has given me a chance to really work out my brain. I’ve learned how to address the prompt, state the facts, add in my own opinions, answer the prompts question, and wrap it all up with a proper conclusion. I’ve written more during my two years attending this curriculum than I did in the ten years I attended public school. That’s saying something.

I also find myself much less stressed writing than I did taking tests. I’m able to flush out the ideas and lessons myself, instead of choosing between someone else’s answers. Writing helps me digest what I’ve learned, and remember what I’ve learned. When I took tests I found myself memorizing everything I needed to know, barfing up all the information for the test, then immediately forgetting it all once the test was over. I can’t do that with writing. To write about a topic I need a very firm grasp of what I’m writing about, and that firm grasp of a lesson stays with me long after the essay is written.

My spelling and diction have also improved. The program I use to write doesn’t have an automatic spellcheck, so I find myself having to look up how to spell some of the larger words. This, though sometimes annoying, has lead to me learning how to spell many words that I previously didn’t know. It takes away the crutch that we often rely on, when the computer doesn’t correct my spelling for me I have to actually learn how to spell the words myself.

Its improved my patience. If I had a test that I wanted to get through quick I could guess on half the answers and be done. I can’t do that with writing. I have to not only know the answer, but take time to find the words to explain it. It’s like taking the time to catch a fish instead of buying one from a store. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes understanding. But in the end it’s much more satisfying.

American History Week 34 Wars on Terror

Prompt: “Was it worth $4 trillion lifetime expenses, 4,424 deaths, and 31,952 wounded to invade Afghanistan and Iraq?”

Both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq began after 9/11, using the tragedy as reasoning for the invasion. Osama bin Laden was linked to the attack in 2001, though the FBI had very little substantial proof of his involvement. In 2003 Saddam Hussein was also blamed for the attack, again with very little concrete evidence. Hussein was also speculated to have weapons of mass destruction, but a CIA analyst in 2016 disproved this theory.

So with shaky reasoning to begin with the longest modern war the US has been involved with began. The war on terror cost over $4 trillion dollars, cost the lives of thousands of Americans, left tens of thousands of Americans severely injured, and took the lives of over two hundred thousand innocent civilians. Even after Osama bin Laden had been reported dead US troops remained in Afghanistan. Michael Meacher wrote in a 2003 article of The Guardian that “the so-called “war on terrorism” is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives.” The massive supply of oil in the middle east would be an incentive for the US, an incentive to obtain greater control of the region.

The war on terror was said to be fighting for peace, but that wasn’t the result. Conflicts in the middle east continue to this day, and the refugee crisis that grew from the wars left many without homes. This leads of conflicts around the world, as refugees struggle to escape the destruction of their homeland and find safe refuge in other countries. War often creates more war, destruction breeds more destruction. That is the most visible result of these wars. I wonder what the middle east and the US’s relationship with it would be today if these wars never took place.

American History Week 33 News

Prompt: “The main news sources that I rely on and why.”

In all honesty I don’t watch too much news (unless you count Pew News), but one thing I look for when I’m wanting world news is a lack of bias. I want to see the facts of what happened, not hear a bunch of opinions about what happened. Despite often being right leaning, I feel that OAN does a good job with this. The times I’ve watched this news channel they’ve reported the story and its details without adding too many personal opinions or leaving out any facts. So if I did want to get off the internet and watch cable for whatever reason I’d probably go to this news source.

American History Week 32 The Fall of the USSR

Prompt: “In January 1992, would you have predicted a smaller or larger Pentagon budget in 1993? Why?”

In 1980 the first Olympics to take place in Russia were held. Many westerners attended the games and socialized with Russians. This lead to Russians visiting their friends in America, and seeing first hand how wealthy the west really was. One story I heard about such an event actually made me tear up. It was about a Russian visiting an American and asking to see an American grocery store. The American took him to see the closest store, and the Russian was shocked. He said, “No, I don’t want to see the stores for the rich. Show me a commoners store.” The American replied, “Well, that’s what this is.” The Russian shook his head and demanded to see a store for commoners. So the American took him to a different shop. Again the Russian wasn’t satisfied. He again demanded to see a commoners store. So the American once again brought him to a different nearby shop. Upon entering the third shop and seeing the vibrant lights, colors, and plentiful food on every shelf tears began to fill the Russians eyes. He looked at his American friend and he said, “They lied! They lied, they lied, they lied!! You have wealth!”

That is an example of the immediate visible different between the American and Russian economy in the 1980’s. Russians who traveled to America and saw this difference returned to Russia and shared this news with their friends. This began the first seeds of doubt in the USSR to sprout in the minds of many Russians. Mikhail Gorbachev came onto the scene, and with his more liberal communist views began to open up the country in ways never before tried. Russia’s satellite states also began to push for freedom, a famous example being East Germany. President Reagan’s 1987 speech at the Berlin wall included the famous line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Intense pressure began to build up on the USSR. It’s people were realizing how second class their economy was, military defeat left its defense weakened, and the anti communist movement was heating up to a boil in the west. The USSR eventually couldn’t handle all this pressure, and dissolved (In American time) December 25 1991. My professor said this was the best Christmas present he ever got.

With the fall of the USSR also came the fall of the Cold War, a war of mutually assured destruction that had kept both America and Russia in fear of each other for nearly 45 years. The worry of nuclear devastation was finally over, the curtains closed and the iron curtain fell. After such an affair I would imagine that the pentagon would lesson their military spending. The war was over, it was time to build up the economy. This is in fact what took place, until 2001. But that’s another story.

American History Week 29 If I visited the 1950’s

Prompt: “What would you miss the most if you had to go back to 1955, as in Back to the Future (1985)? What would you miss the least?” 

If I were to travel to the 1950’s I would miss the diversity of the modern world. I’m part of the LGBT community, so I would be very sad to see a world which doesn’t understand or accept gender identity, sexuality, or non traditional self expression. The hetero normative views and standards of the 1950’s would be hard to witness.

But I am a big animation nerd, and I would love to witness the making of the newly blossoming cartoons of the era such as Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Felix the Cat. My favorite era to travel to would be the 1920’s and 30’s, purely to witness the birth of animation as we know it. What I’d give to spend a day watching Max Fleischer draw toons hopping outta the inkwell. If I were to travel to the 1950’s I think I’d spend most of my time touring animation and film studios. Maybe I’d find Grim Natwick and see what he was up to, or perhaps I’d see if I could catch a peak at Mae Questel recording her lines for the Saturday morning show Winky Dink and You.

Another aspect of the 1950’s that interests me is the nature. The idea of a family camp out in the mostly unspoiled redwood forests of California sounds absolutely superb. Everyone piling into the oldsmobile, packing up a picnic basket and a few tents into the back, and trucking out into the wilderness singing songs all the way. There’s something so wholesome about the thought, a novelty in the lack of technology. Just family, a loyal dog, and a sprawling forest that seems to endlessly blanket the countryside in idyllic natural beauty. Yes that is the life.

In conclusion the 1950’s had many beautiful aspects, but it also had many not so great aspects. If the 1950’s embraced diversity and self expression it may have been a paradise. But a time which excludes and shames people for their sexuality, race, gender, or for exploring their identity is not a time I would ever want to live in. Visiting it would be another story. I would be absolutely thrilled to meet my animation heroes and see the beauty of the national parks.

Economics Week 17 Fiat Currency

Prompt: “Is it counterfeiting when government-licensed banks create money out of nothing?”

The gold backed standard allows the free market to have control over a limited supply of wealth. Under this standard there is no fiat currency, all the money in circulation is backed by gold. Government licensed banks, such as the federal reserve, have the power to print all the money they see fit without the restrictions of a limited gold supply. I wouldn’t necessarily call this counterfeiting, as it is legally backed. But it does pose the threat of inflation if the fed prints out more money than our economy can afford to support.

Economics Week 16 Retirement Speech

Prompt: “My Retrospective Retirement Speech: What I Accomplished, and How I Did It.”

The things we choose to do in life sculpt our experience. The dreams we choose to chase make up the majority of our time. The lifestyles we live bloom from our youth, and evolve as we do. Asking myself what my lifestyle will be before I’ve matured into it sure is an undertaking, but it’s also a chance to dream of what I want to live.

When I’m in my eighties, surrounded by family within the life I’ve created, what do I want to see around me. Do I want to chase stardom, inspiring my peers and bringing light into the areas that have been darkened? Do I want to chase knowledge, soaking up the wisdom of generations past and telling the stories of the old days to my children’s children? Do I simply want to pursue peace within myself and my space, getting to know myself better each day until I can eventually greet myself as an old friend. In my mind the most well rounded choice would be to do a little of each. Inspire people, learn the wisdom of the past and present, and discover myself and my everyday joy.

I can imagine three physical ideas I would like to make real within my world some day. The first is inspiration. I’ve always had an intense fondness of cartoons. I see them as dreams fully realized, the artists inner spirit being brought to life on a paper or screen. I want to make a cartoon one day, one that expresses my emotions, thoughts, and personal inspirations. If this future work of art could inspire someone to be themselves more truthfully or pursue their own individual joy in life I would feel most honored.

The second physical I want to create will take a piece of nature to bring to life. When I am older I want to buy a slice of land, fairly large and able to support my ambition. This ambition is made up by two parts, architecture and agriculture. I’ve always adored tiny house architecture, as well as earthen building. I want to build several earthen tiny houses on my land, either to rent to my friends or to use as multiple Airbnbs. I also want to build an organic farm/ranch for myself. I want to raise goats, cows, chickens, possibly llamas, as well as other animals. I also want to create a fairly large crop production. I’ll raise a cornfield, a pumpkin patch, apple trees, grape vines, sprouts of all sorts, and a decent sized food forest. With the architecture combined with the agriculture I’ll feel confident in my ability to build, maintain, and help things grow.

Once I’m at that point in my life I’ll be ready to have children, who I’m sure will become the light of my life. I’ll want to help them find themselves, bring them joy and humor every day, and encourage anyway they choose to grow and explore themselves. Their happiness will make me extremely content and proud.

At the end of the day, or the end of the life, the physical accomplishments you’ve made matter only as much as how happy and proud you felt while making them. You could earn a high raking job, be making millions, and be miserable. I would call this a life that is not being lived to the fullest, for a life that is not making you happy to live does not create much value for the individual living it. On the contrary you could be dirt poor, but if you’re finding joy and peace within that lack of material wealth I would classify you as among kings. A monk could spend his life meditating in a cave, living off scraps of fruit dropped from the trees. A lawyer could spend his life defending things he doesn’t believe in, living in luxury but feeling empty. I would rather be the monk, truly enjoying every moment of being without ever selling myself.

If I inspire people with my animation, build beauty with my architecture, and grow life with my agriculture I will be very happy and contented. If I can raise my children to love and be true to themselves I will be very proud. If my grandchildren raise their children to love being alive, learn from their mistakes, and laugh as often as they can I will be truly at peace.

Economics Week 14 Labor Unions

Prompt: “Do Labor Unions Cause Price Inflation?”

Labor unions create benefits for their members. These can include reduced hours and higher pay. The labor union enforces that its members are protected from being fired, and that their demands are met. But this stops the free market from deciding how many workers it needs, and how much they’ll be paid. In a free market if a business is close to bankruptcy it can let go of some of its employees, but if they are in a labor union it’s not able to. So the business has to continue paying employees it can’t afford, and therefor has to raise its products prices. This creates inflation, as the business has to continue raising prices in order to pay the employees protected by the labor union.

Economics Week 13 Tariffs

Prompt:  “Does a tariff on imports also reduce exports?”

Tariffs discourage foreign producers from shipping their products to the US. If they have to pay extra to ship their products to the US they’ll have an incentive to sell elsewhere. The individual producers will then have a friendly rapport with the alternative country they are selling to, and are more likely to buy from that country over the country with the tariffs. This reduces exports, and slows down both production and consumption within the US.

Economics Week 12 Voting With Your Dollar

Prompt: “Would you pay 20% more to shop at a store that sells only American-made goods?”

There are several factors at work in this decision: how well the product is made, how the product got made, who made it, and who is selling it. An ideal product in my mind is a well made, long lasting product made from sustainable materials. The ethics and values of the producers are also very important. Purchasing a product is the economic equivalent to voting. Consumers can use this power to support specific business’s, push for more eco-friendly production methods, and send their capital into the community of their choice. As a consumer I would opt to buy from a store in my community who has environment oriented production.

Choosing a producer who lives and works in my country guarantees that my money is going to be recycled back into my economy and make it stronger. It also means we can better regulate the ecological damage caused by production and create a more sustainable cycle of consumerism. If I choose to buy something from another country (even if its cheaper for me), I’m sending my assets into another countries economy. I also have less information about the environmental factors going into making the product, and could be unknowingly putting a bigger strain on the earth.

In conclusion I would opt to buy products made in my community, even if they are more expensive. I’ll have the information about how the product was made, and I know I’m using my dollar to support my community instead of another. Stronger economy, healthier environment.