Friend or foe?

Brain Pickings, one of my favorite places to find interesting things to read and think about, introduces a children’s book called “Friend or Foe?”

It’s an allegory with a not-so-hidden message about “otherness” — how we see people who are different, as enemies or friends. This Brain Pickings post is also a great example of how you can introduce a book to your classmates: with lots of pictures and selective quotes. Like this:

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Whether or not you add a SPOILER ALERT (in this case, what the answer to the “Friend or Foe?” question is, which is NOT revealed in this post), is up to you.

Writing prompt: After reading the description of the story, what do you think the answer to the question is?

Should we die?

A thought-provoking article about whether death may not be inevitable anymore.

“Should we die?” (from the Atlantic)

This video is funny in parts and eye-rolling in parts. (Unable to embed; click on the screenshot below and the video should open in a new window. If not, you can find it in the article.)

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A couple of reactions:

Do you really need a computer to tell you you’ve reached 66% serenity while meditating?

“Will aging dictators be able to stay in power forever?” (a cold chill down my spine)

Writing prompts:

Does having a “death deadline” encourage you to live your life to the fullest?

What aspects of IoT (the Internet of Things) do you think are beneficial to society?

Becoming a citizen

Becoming a citizen of the U.S. may be something not many people really want to do these days, but this practice civics test for people to become naturalized citizens is a good review for people who are already citizens. I wonder if our current president could pass this test (especially question 9). Here are a few examples:

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“Naturalization is the process to voluntarily become a U.S. citizen if you were born outside of the United States. You may be eligible if you can show continuous U.S. residence for three to five years, are at least 18 years old, and demonstrate good moral character and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. You must also take the English and civics test, unless you qualify for an exemption.” (from the Explore My Options page)

The application process for permanent residents to become citizens is $640. That’s a lot of money.

I was a little nervous taking this practice test. Like a TOEIC or TOEFL test, I should pass with flying colors, right?

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This story from a couple of years ago said that high school students in one US state had to pass a civics test to graduate. I don’t think this is too much to ask. And I think that people running for president, congress, and any other public office should have to take one.

These are the requirements for becoming a Japanese citizen. Again with the “good moral character”! Where’s the practice test for that? These requirements are pretty much the same as those for becoming a US citizen. Except you’re not allowed to hold dual citizenship in Japan.

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Writing prompt: What does being a citizen of Japan mean to you? Would you ever give up your Japanese citizenship to become a citizen of another country? Why do you think some immigrants to Japan become naturalized citizens? Do you know any?

Going viral

This subway performer’s videos have gone viral at least a few times in recent years. You wonder (well, I wonder) why some arguably less talented singers go viral. Piko Taro said last year that he had not made much money off his “song” and Mike Yung, if you look at his Twitter feed, hasn’t either.

This was funny (he means “front page”):

A student last semester did a research project about what it takes for people to become famous. He never really found a secret formula (and if he had, we’d all know him by now, right?). But what do you think? Why do some people, or videos, go viral and others don’t? (writing prompt). And another writing prompt can be: Explain what Reddit is to Mr. Yung.

Anyway, I could listen to “A Change is Gonna Come” over and over again. Not something I can say about PPAP.

Read more about Mike Yung here: “Searching the Subway for Mike Yung, the Viral Singer that Time Forgot” (from Pitchfork)