World News from BBC

  • Mubarak moves to restart economy
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak holds talks with key ministers to try to revive an economy hit by 12 days of protests calling for his resignation.
  • Multiculturalism has failed – PM
    David Cameron criticises “state multiculturalism” in his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.
  • Mid-East facing ‘perfect storm’
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Middle East is facing a “perfect storm” of unrest and governments must embrace democratic change.
  • Strauss calls for one-day switch
    England captain Andrew Strauss has backed calls for the restructing of future tours so one-day matches are played before Test series.
  • Chernobyl birds are small brained
    Birds living around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident have 5% small brains, an effect directly linked to lingering background radiation.
  • Berlusconi’s brainteaser
    At last – the origin of the phrase ‘bunga bunga’ is revealed
  • Border clash kills Thai soldier
    A Thai soldier is shot dead in a disputed area around the Cambodia border, where tensions have been rising in recent days.
  • UK lifts Tunisia travel warning
    Warnings against travel to Tunisia are lifted as the Foreign Office says there is a “reduced threat” following recent political unrest.
  • Giffords’ husband to lead space mission
    The husband of wounded US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has said he has decided to resume astronaut training in order to command the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour in April.
  • Fatal clashes on Thai-Cambodia border
    Thai and Cambodian forces have exchanged artillery fire in a disputed border area, with a Cambodian soldier and a Thai civilian reported killed.

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Economics History

Essay Contest: What qualities make America a great nation?

Just a reminder that the deadline for submitting your students’ essays for our “What’s So Great About America” Essay Contest is coming up soon!

11:59pm Pacific Time on FEBRUARY 28, 2011!

Have your students write a 500-1000 word essay, following their viewing of John Stossel’s recent special (they can watch it on our web site), and SUBMIT THEIR ESSAYS on our web site to be eligible to WIN OVER 120 CASH PRIZES, plus an all-expense-paid trip to New York City to see a live taping of “STOSSEL” for 1st and 2nd place students, teachers, and an adult chaperone.



ESSAY TOPIC: What qualities make America a great nation? Are the criticisms of America discussed in the video valid? Does the video successfully counter these charges? Support your analysis with at least two examples from the video.


Today’s Econ Links

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Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz

Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

“…choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.”

Students – we saw this clip today in class – what are your thoughts? Learn anything? How do you think about what makes you happy, or gives you utility? Leave your comments below.

Assignments Economics

Econ Chp 1 Test Essay Question

Please answer the following question in essay format (a few sentences will do) by using the comments function below (simply click on comments / leave a comment. Make sure to properly identify yourself in order to get credit:

An economist might say, “Choosing is refusing.” Explain this statement in your own words, and using economic vocabulary.

History News

Mr. Johansson’s Pledge

A CHALLENGE to those brave souls in my U.S. HISTORY courses:

If, by the end of QUARTER III, you raise your CLASS AVERAGE by 5%, I will provide, FREE OF CHARGE, a feast of unheard proportions, or in all likelihood, supply your class with PIZZA or DONUTS in order so that we may CELEBRATE your SUCCESS!


2nd∘- FROM 86.2% TO 91.2%
3rd∘- FROM 87.4% TO 92.4%
4th∘- FROM 75.1% TO 80.1%
7th∘- FROM 74.3% TO 79.3%

This I pledge, voluntarily, and without hesitation, on the 3rd day of FEBRUARY, 2011.


Here’s the PDF of the pledge hanging in my classroom – Johansson Pledge

Assignments Economics

Reading: Ethanol Madness

Here’s the 2nd reading for this week – due to the snow day, it’s due this weekend sometime (you should have it done by Sunday, 2/6/2011, for sure…)

Ethanol Madness


Today’s Econ Links

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etc. Teaching

Snow Days: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

We have another snow day today, so that’s two for this week, and five total so far in the school year. Snow days are curious in that they mean different things to different people. Students and teachers probably enjoy a  day off here and there, as a bonus weekend, or just time to catch up with family and homework, but there are other implications as well, that often go unnoticed. It all depends on one’s frame of mind.

The Good:

  • Time off to catch up on sleep, homework, etc.
  • Students get more time to do what they like, and don’t have to be in school. Maybe hang out with friends, relatives, and family, especially if the snow day comes before of right after a weekend.
  • Opportunity to actually enjoy the snow, build a snow man, etc.
  • Complete projects that have been on the back burner for a while. Bake bread.

The Bad:

  • Missing school.
  • Lesson plans are interrupted, time frames are busted.
  • Scheduled resources go to waste, like computer lab time, A/V equipment, etc.
  • Dates that are scheduled for tests, quizzes have to be pushed back, and that messes with everyone’s schedule.
  • Lack on continuity – it’s hard to follow logical connections if you’re in school for one day, off two, then back for two.
  • Students have to be home – and parents may not be able to. No problems for high schoolers, but certainly for younger kids.

The Ugly:

  • Many districts only have so many calamity days (we have three, and now we’re in deficit spending!)
  • … and if you’re in deficit spending of your calamity days, that means we’ll go longer in the summer.
  • Some districts make up calamity days over spring break – that’s no fun for anyone, and presents a whole host of other problems, especially students not attending due to pre-arranged plans.
  • Summer plans get messed up.
  • The district, once calamity days are spend, tend to not want to take more days, even though they ought to.

So, there are many ramifications to snow days, other than a great time off from school. However, unless we break it down, some of them might go unnoticed until much later in the year. Not to mention the lack of actual instruction time, as we all know that students, and teachers alike, have a hard time focusing those last days in June.

Have any other others that I missed? Feel free to comment below…


Today’s Econ Links

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