AP Comparative Government Homework

Economist Update: Hey all--we got the final Economist and it's in my office if you want to come by to pick it up.

Final Project: Please click here to see the guidelines and links for the final project.

Homework 45: Please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 507-515. If you are interested in people who scam Nigerian scammers, you can check out 419 Eater. If you are particularly interested in scam-baiting and its moral implications check out this episode of the NPR radio show "This American Life" (click on the button for "Full Episode" to hear).


-Due Wednesday, May 17th.



Optional Stuff

Who knew that the humble aluminum soda can was such a triumph of engineering?

Homework 44: Please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 499-507. For those of you interested, here is the article from National Geographic magazine on the curse of oil that we discussed in class the other day. Click here to see videos that accompany the article. Click here for photos. Lastly, click here if you want to read the field notes of the author. Additionally, here's a site devoted to the memory of Ken Saro Wiwa--activist for the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta.


ALSO: Here's a piece showing how Germany's attempt to use cleaner energy has paradoxically led to a massive rise in coal consumption.


-Due Tuesday, May 16th.



Optional Stuff

Why do so many NBA teams feature basketballs in their logos while so few NFL teams have footballs in theirs?  This piece actually has a geopolitical element as well.

Homework 43: Please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 491-99. A plethora of resources on Nigerian corruption! This is an amazing podcast on how to steal a million barrels of Nigerian oil.  And here's a piece about the extraordinary removal of central bank governor Lamido Sanusi after he uncovered $20 billion in missing oil money. Here's another account--the Extraordinary Story of Nigeria's $20 Billion Oil Money "Leakage."



-Due Monday, May 15th.



Optional Stuff

What would we actually do if a civilization-threatening asteroid were hurtling towards Earth?

Homework 42: Please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 482-91.  Also, please watch this documentary showing one example of Nigerian corruption: the fuel subsidy scam of 2011.  Note that showing the film has been banned in Nigeria.


Here's the treemap I showed in class representing Nigeria's top exports--by contrast, here's the USA.


ALSO: The Economist scored an interview with Donald Trump... read it here!


-Due Friday, May 12th.



Optional Stuff

I am obsessed with watching amazing examples of penmanship.  Here's Seb Lester expertly drawing various corporate logos freehand.  And here's self-taught auto detailer Glen Weisgerber demonstrating roundhand lettering.

Homework 41: Please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 474-82.  Finally, after three years of captivity, Boko Haram has freed dozens of the schoolgirls it kidnapped.


-Due Thursday, May 11th



Optional Stuff

Visit the world's only abandoned floating McDonalds!

Homework 40 So we are now starting Nigeria--please read this excerpt from Ethel Wood on Nigeria, pp. 466-74.  Here's an amazing documentary about life in Nigeria's biggest city: Welcome to Lagos (Part 1 and Part 2)



Also, the Economist has two good pieces about the previous election between Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan--here's one about the intersection of oil and politics, and another with more background in graphic form.


-Due Wednesday, May 10th




Here's a great piece from (my elementary school classmate) Evan Osnos about Xi Jinping, who he calls "China's most authoritarian leader since Mao."


Optional Stuff

How to pronounce UK place names! Also, one woman--17 British accents.




MINI-PAPER 3: In two to three  pages, I want you to compare some aspect of Mexican government to some aspect of Iranian government.  Go crazy--choose whatever you want!



-Due Monday, May 15th

Homework 39 Please continue on in Ethel Wood--pp. 449-56. Here's another "Our Man in Tehran" video--"A Narrow Escape."  It's pretty riveting.



-Due Tuesday, May 9th


ALSO: The making of dried bonito flake--a key ingredient in many Japanese soups like ramen.


AND: "The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong its a recipe for panic and paralysis"

Homework 38 Please continue on in Ethel Wood--pp. 440-49.  Here's a great video from the Council on Foreign Relations on 2009's Green Movement. Also, check out the Iran Primer--probably the best and most comprehensive website about Iran and its government.



-Due Monday, May 8th


ALSO: The fascinating chronicle of the disappearing and reappearing red M&M.

Homework 37 Please continue on in Ethel Wood--pp. 430-39. Here's a fascinating piece from Foreign Affairs, arguing that the USA was not instrumental in overthrowing Mohammad Mossadeq. And here's a really nice rundown of Operation Ajax from the New York Times.



-Due Friday, May 5th


ALSO: Video games that work better than school?

Homework 36 Please continue on in Ethel Wood--pp. 421-30.  A nice video from the NYTimes on what's at stake in the nuclear negotiations in Iran. And here's an interesting piece covering Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's take on the (then) potential nuclear deal.



-Due Thursday, May 4th


ALSO: 100 Years of Persian/Iranian Beauty

Homework 35 Please continue the Ethel Wood reading--pp. 412-21.  From the New York Times: "Atomic Labs Across the US Race to Stop Iran." A short graphic on the tangled alliances of Iran here. And here are some portraits of Iranians talking about the effect of sanctions.



-Due Wednesday, May 3rd


ALSO: Where, exactly did "eeny, meeny, miny and mo" come from?

Homework 34 We are beginning a new country--Iran.  Please read this fantastic primer on the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam. Also, please read "Who Is Ali Khamenei?"--a piece from Foreign Affairs. Finally, check out this excerpt from Marjane Satrapi's great graphic novel Persepolis--a tale of her coming of age during the Iranian Revolution.  Finally, please begin the Ethel Wood reading--pp. 402-12.


A couple of years ago, the New York Times ran a fantastic series of short videos featuring their Tehran bureau chief, Thomas Erdbrink.  It's entitled "Our Man In Tehran."  This is the first episode, which also features a Q&A about Iran.  

Episode 2: The Martyr's Daughter.

Episode 3: Big City Life.

Episode 4: Mr. Big Mouth.

Episode 5: Eye For an Eye.



-Due Tuesday, May 2nd


ALSO: I cannot stop watching this video.

Homework 33 Continue on in the Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 383-91.  More fallout from the drug war. Also, a Mexican crackdown on the number of children entering the US illegally.



 Vice videos on Mexico!  Thrill to the music of the narcocorridos--bands that play for and celebrate brutal drug cartels (and here's the links to parts two and three).   Be chilled by the seemingly scary (but maybe not so bad) subway gangs of Mexico City.  Don't spill your drink as you learn about what has happened in the 20 years since the Zapatista uprising in the impoverished state of Chiapas. And learn about the triumph of the human will at Mexico's other border.  Also, please read this incredibly gripping article from the New York Times Magazine from two years ago about an American priest ministering to a prison controlled by the Zetas.


-Due Monday, May 1st


ALSO: The brutal reality of life in one of China's most polluted cities.

Homework 32 Continue on in the Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 373-82.  And here's a good piece about Jesus Malverde--considered to be "the patron saint" of drug dealers. ALSO, from today's New York Times: Xi Jinping's Dilemma.



-Due Friday, April 28th

Homework 31 Continue on in the Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 363-72.  Also, please focus on this piece from the 2015 Economist on the rise of Mexican NGOs.


ALSO: A rare defense of the US primary system.


-Due Thursday, April 27th


ALSO: Crazy GoPro action!

Homework 30 Continue on in the Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 355-63. Here's an interesting piece about NAFTA and whether it really cost America jobs.



-Due Wednesday, April 26th


ALSO: An Object at Rest

Homework 29 Continue on in the Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 346-55. Also, check out this great Vox explainer on the War on Drugs. And from a 2014 Atlantic piece: "The Good Mexico Versus the Bad Mexico."




Le Pen will face of against Macron in the second round of French elections; polls expect an easy Macron victory. But could there be trouble ahead?




-Due Tuesday, April 25th


ALSO: A table with a secret compartment

Homework 28 Here's the second section of the Economist special report on Mexico in 2012. Also, here's the first Ethel Wood reading on Mexico--please read pp. 337-46. Here's a photo spread on the "days of rage" that took place in Mexico three years ago after the disappearance and murder of 43 student teachers.



-Due Monday, April 24th


ALSO: Courtesy of Vox.com, 23 Maps and Charts on Language.

Homework 27 We move on to Mexico!  The Economist did a special report on our southern neighbor in 2012--please read the first section.


ALSO: Jeremy Corbyn's 7 Weeks to Save Labour



-Due Friday, April 21st




MINI-PAPER 2: In exactly three  pages, I want you to compare some aspect of Chinese government to some aspect of Russian government.  Go crazy--choose whatever you want!



-Due Monday, May 1st



Optional Stuff

Super slo mo of a compact disc shattering.

Homework 26: Please read pp. 310-6 in this excerpt.  Also, check out some of the official government-approved routines for the dancing grannies.



-Due Thursday, April 20th



Optional Stuff

Don't trust adults!

Homework 25: Please read pp. 302-9 in this excerpt.  Also read this hilarious story about the Chinese government's attempt to rein in its army of 100 million dancing grannies (here's a video about the phenomenon). Also, here's an interesting piece about how the Chinese government uses nationalism to increase its popularity from the Brookings Institute.


My trip to Taiwan can be seen if you add my Snapchat, which is polazzo_journey.  Please don't let me see the embarrassing/horrible/illegal things you do!



-Due Wednesday, April 19th



Optional Stuff

Is the black hole at the center of our galaxy a gigantic quantum computer?

Homework 24: Please read pp. 293-302 in this excerpt.  Also check out this story about the increased effort of the Chinese government to oversee nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).



-Due Wednesday, April 19th



Optional Stuff

Amazing photographs of waves.

Homework 23: Please read pp. 285-93 in this excerpt. Also, check out this piece from the 2003 New York Times: China's State Sponsored Amnesia. Also here's an interesting piece about the Chinese trend of gay men marrying lesbians to conform to societal norms. And!  awful photoshopping in Chinese media.



-Due Tuesday, April 4th



Optional Stuff

Really cool graphic on the NYT--albeit from 2015.

Homework 22: Please read pp. 278-84 in this excerpt. Also, please check out this special report  from the 2013 Economist on China and the Internet. And here it is: The Secret Document that Transformed China!



-Due Thursday, March 31st



Optional Stuff

Fantastic piece in the New Yorker on how South Korea has become the plastic surgery capital of the world.  Here's a GIF showing how similar the faces of beauty pageant contestants look. Here's 30 startling before-after pictures of Korean plastic surgery.




Film Suggestion: If you want to help choose a film for next week, please fill out this form.

Homework 21: Please read pp. 268-78 in this excerpt. Also how concerned should the world be about China's increasingly large debt?  Pretty concerned, this article implies. New Washington Post editorial, "China Betrays Hong Kong."



-Due Thursday, March 31st




Optional Stuff

A bit late, but here's a cool article on Pi.

Homework 20: We are beginning to read Ethel Wood's section on China.  Please read pp. 258-68 in this excerpt. Also, check out this article from last year's Economist on the National People's Congress--China's rubber stamp legislature.


ALSO: Staring into Brexit's Abyss... or Brexit Doesn't Have to Be a Disaster?


AND: Does a country need to have a viable manufacturing sector to remain rich?



-Due Thursday, March 30th


Optional Stuff

Did culture kill the two parent family?

Homework 19 We are beginning China! Check out China's Way Forward, an article from the Atlantic Magazine written by James Fallows--an American journalist living in Beijing at the time of the writing. It's a couple years old, but still good. Also read this piece from the Wall Street Journal, entitled "The Coming Chinese Crackup."  Finally, a piece from last month's Economist, The Two Faces of Mr. Xi.



-Due Wednesday, March 29th


Optional Stuff

Check out this link: crazy smog in Beijing--click on images 2-4 to bring and dispel the haze.

Homework 18: Russia!!!!1! Please read pp. 234-49 in this section.  Also, please watch this great new Vox video on Putin: "Spy to President."


-Due Monday, March 27th



Optional Stuff

New hold music for Yahoo?

Homework 17: Yet more Russia. Please read pp. 225-34 in this section. From last year's Economist, a leader on Russia entitled "A Hollow Superpower," as well as a briefing on Russia's wars. Finally, a piece from today's Slate on How the West Can Defend Itself from Putin's Russia.



-Due Friday, March 24th



Optional Stuff

Have you heard of "eephing"--also known as "hillbilly beatboxing"? Here's a sample.

Homework 16: More Russia. Please read pp. 218-25 in this section. "This is How the West Ends"--pretty dramatic stuff from Anne Applebaum, though the piece is a year old.


-Due Thursday, March 23rd



Optional Stuff

End the scourge of clock changing! Also, how well do you really know the NYC subway?

Homework 15:  Please read pp. 208-18 in this section. Also--The Return of the Czar.


-Due Wednesday, March 22nd



Optional Stuff

Fascinating graphic illustrating the world's nuclear stockpile. Also, rap stars and pre-16th century art resemblances?

Homework 14: More Russia! Please read pp. 200-8 in this section. Also, here's "Understanding Stalin," a review of Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin.  Kotkin was the author of the FA piece from last night's homework.


Also: would a Bernie Sanders-style candidate and a more left-wing platform bring victory to the Democrats? This article thinks not.



-Due Monday, March 20



Optional Stuff

A weasel riding the back of a flying woodpecker?  Can it be real?  Can it be?

Homework 13: Deeper into Russia! Please read pp. 191-200 in this reading. Also, please read this fantastic article from Foreign Affairs about the rise of Vladimir Putin (Russia's nightmare dressed as a daydream).


ALSO: The Dutch Election shows how NOT to defeat populism.



-Due Friday, March 17th



Optional Stuff

Is cryonics just a scam?

Homework 12: We begin our unit on Russia! Please read pp. 183-191 in this reading. Two years ago, reformist politician Boris Nemtsov was murdered in Russia. Thus far, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice--though it seems pretty certain that the culprit is Chechnyan strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.  Check out this fascinating New Yorker piece about him.


 And here's an article about Kadyrov's quirky Instagram account.



-Due Tuesday, March 14th (or Wednesday, March 15th if there is a snow day)



Optional Stuff

From 1995 in Newsweek--some people call this "the wrongest article ever written."

Homework 11: We are moving on to a new chapter in the textbook on supranational entities, focusing on the European Union--please read it: 162--179.  Also, please read this article from the 2015 Economist. Also a good piece in the Financial Times about the French election--which you can only read by clicking here and browsing down to the link entitled "Voters in France Yearn for a National Revival." 


-Due Friday, March 10th



Optional Stuff

Some great stuff from Francis Fukuyama on European identities--here's part one and here's part two.


This is an amazing machine!

Homework 10: Please continue on in the textbook.  Please read pp. 143-152. Also, please read this piece about the Sinn Fein surge in Northern Ireland as well as this handy guide to Theresa May's cabinet.  Also, are dress-codes requiring high heels sexist?  The Commons debates the matter.


-Due Tuesday, March 7th


MINI-PAPER 1: In two to three  pages, decide which form of government is superior--that of the United States or that of Great Britain. A word of caution: It's okay to say that US Government works best for the US and British government for the Brits, but if this is your choice, be sure to elaborate... Couldn't the US be a unitary state?  Why not let the British regions be autonomous? You get the idea.


-Mini Paper Due Monday, March 13th.



Optional Stuff

Is the dreaded Rebound Effect making our gains in energy efficiency meaningless?

Homework 9: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 133-42. Please also read this Op-Ed by former PM Tony Blair.


Check out an example of Prime Minister's Questions from March 1st--note that Question Time starts about at about the 1:00 mark on the video. "Number 1" is the traditional first question, to which the PM always gives the same response.  There's a nice transcript that scrolls on the bottom. Obviously, the star of the show is the Prime Minister, Theresa May and her chief inquisitor is Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour party.  Corbyn is an interesting individual--representing the old, pre-Blair Labour party. The men and women seated on the front benches are the government (on the Tory side) and the shadow government (Labour).


The flowers in the lapels are to celebrate St. David's Day, a daffodil, which is the national flower of Wales.  St. David is the patron saint of Wales.


Note: when members stand after a point, it means that they are trying to get the attention of the Speaker to ask a question. Note that all of the comments of the Prime Minister are always directed towards the Speaker.  The Speaker calls for order (frequently) and also calls on members to ask questions.  The most frequent interlocutor of Theresa May is Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour party. The people sitting next to the Prime Minister are the members of the Cabinet and the people sitting next to Corbyn are the members of the shadow cabinet.


...and here's a clip of former PM David Cameron calling (since ousted) Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls a turkey.



-Due Monday, March 6th


Optional Stuff

Pretty cool stuff--definitely worth watching.





You've always wanted to hear Tainted Love played on thirteen floppy drives and one hard drive, haven't you?

Homework 8: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 124-33. Also, check out this Economist article from 2010 about the (failed) Lib Dem attempt to change the voting system in the UK.


Also: this might be one of the most important (and depressing) articles about the state of the world that you'll read this year--Our Miserable 21st Century.  Contains some really mind-blowing stats.



-Due Friday, March 3rd


Optional Stuff

Ten not entirely crazy theories explaining the great crime drop.

Homework 7: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 114-23. 




If you're interested in the details on on some of the ASBOs handed out, click here for Asbowatch VII, and note that there are links to Asbowatches I-VI.  These are pretty funny.



-Due Wednesday, March 1st




Optional Stuff

Amazingly animated, the Eagleman Stag will blow your mind.


Is this really the most satisfying video in the world?

Homework 6: Please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 102-113.  Also, please read this Economist article (from 1/21) about Theresa May's "hard" Brexit plans.


-Due Tuesday, February 28th


Optional Stuff

These clips of early color motion pictures from 1922 are really haunting--some of the earliest use of color you will ever see.


Check out Li Hongbo's bonkers paper sculptures.

Homework 5: We are beginning our Britain unit!  To that end, please continue on in the textbook. Please read pp. 92-102.  Also, please read  these two articles from the Economist on Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and personal liberties. Note that ASBOs have been superseded by new laws since 2015, but the basic elements survive in the legal code. Also, note that things have changed.  David Cameron is no longer Prime Minister and Britain has voted to leave the European Union.



-Due Monday, February 13th


Optional Stuff

Some sobering details about the birth rate in China.


You might have already seen this amazing short history of Japan.  Definitely worth a watch!

Homework 4: Please continue on in the textbook.  Please read pages 54-80.  Also, the Economist argued in 2011 that California suffered from an excess of democracy. How can that be?  Please read this piece.


-Due Wednesday, February 8th


Optional Stuff

Pogo remix!


Those of you who have had me before know that I'm a bit worried about all humans being pushed out of the workforce.  This film elegantly explains why this is a threat: Humans Need Not Apply.

Homework 3: Please continue on in the textbook.  Please read pages 34-54. 


-Due Friday, February 3rd


Optional Stuff

You should really read this report from the (libertarian) Niskanen Institute about the rise of two separate moral systems in the United States. And if you found it interesting, this piece in by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times reflects more on its conclusions.


A must-read in Bloomberg about the rise of Uber and Airbnb.


This guy watched every single Superbowl and then ranked them.

Homework 2: This is the first excerpt from the textbook.   Please read pages 12-34.  Also, check out this piece written by Bill and Melinda Gates entitled "Three Myths on the World's Poor." 


-Due Thursday, February 2nd


Optional Stuff

Best Simpsons opening sequence ever?


An amazing retrospective on National Geographic maps.

Homework 1: Please go to this form and enter your information!




You should do the following:


1) Make sure you have a Dropbox account.


2) Share a folder with me.  The format should be as follows:  If your name were Patrice Lumumba and you were in my 6th period AP Comp Gov class, the folder would be entitled: Patrice Lumumba, CG6. Please do not omit the "CG" in front of your period number. My e-mail address for sharing is mpolazzo@gmail.com


3) Upload a headshot of yourself that (a) is not too large and (b) actually looks like you. Place it in the shared folder. Name it patricelumumba.jpg (substitute your first and last names).  Please note that all headshots should be in JPEG form!


4) All uploaded data is due by the start of the period that I teach you on Wednesday!


-Due Wednesday, January 1st


Optional Stuff

The Atlantic Magazine has an amazing photo blog called "In Focus."  Check out their round up of the best photos of the week here.


Amazing animated infographic of auto sales in the USA.  Sounds boring, but very cool and interesting!