Monthly Archives: April 2012

Response 7: How Big Is Africa?

This image has been floating around on the web the past few days. It’s a clever, graphic illustration that compares the land mass of the continent of Africa to major countries in the rest of the world. Click here to see a more detailed view that includes a table of those countries, measured in square kilometers.

My questions to you are these: What do you think such a map illustrates? Why would that be important? Why would this map appeal to so many people?


Response 6: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

Here are four questions I’d like you to answer in response to Ursula K. Le Guin’s story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” Be sure to write this on the appropriate space on your blog.

1. What is your reaction to the story?

2. Discuss the importance of this line, from the middle of p. 828: “Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive.”

3. Why does Le Guin (or her narrator) give so much control to the reader, letting them choose what the residents of Omelas have, “As you like it”?

4. What comparisons with the real world does Le Guin invite you to make, or does the metaphorical city of Omelas seem to relate to?

Some Sparks for Blog Post Ideas

Having trouble coming up with topics for blog posts? Here’s some stuff that’s been written in the past week that might be of interest…

Robert Wright of The Atlantic Monthly defends the purpose of Kony 2012.

Laura Seay of Foreign Policy decries media coverage of Africa.

Perhaps relatedly, TIME’s Alex Perry covers renewed tension and violence in South Sudan.

Marlise Simons of the New York Times reports on former Liberian President Charles G. Taylor being convicted by an international tribunal. He is the first head of state to be convicted in such a manner since the Nuremburg trials. Also in the Times, J. Peter Pham explains why the conviction wasn’t enough, and how it illustrates the problems with the international justice system.

And for something lighter and more artistic, Scottish artist Paul Cadden does some pretty amazing photorealistic drawings. If you wanted to visit his website and look around for things he’s said about his work, you could probably get a blog post out of that, too.

Response 5: The Power of Half

This week, we read chapter two of The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back. Please write a response to this chapter. Focus on:

  • What were your first reactions to what the Salwen family did and why?
  • What is the point of the story about the Salvant family?
  • Does this story make you think differently at all about Peter Singer’s suggestion about living a good, moral, and ethical life.
  • Would you ever consider making such a dramatic change, either individually or as a family? Why or why not?

You don’t have to answer these separately, but do think about all four questions before starting to write.

You may also be interested in the Power of Half website, especially if you need a topic for your blog. Look around there; good stuff.

Spring Response 4: Peter Singer

For today, you read Peter Singer’s essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Please respond to the following questions as specifically as possible:

  1. What problem does Singer intend to address through his essay?
  2. What possible solution does Singer suggest?
  3. What is Singer’s problem with terms like “generosity” and “charity”?
  4. What three objections does Singer anticipate, and how does he answer those objections?
  5. After reading Singer’s argument, what do you think is the individual’s responsibility to alleviate suffering elsewhere in the world, and why?

A Good Life, with Peter Singer

Here is the three-part interview that we watched with Australian philosopher Peter Singer.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Spring Response 3: Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda (2005) and Ghosts of Rwanda (2004)

  • Who is presented as the protagonist of each story?
  • Who or what was most responsible for the genocide?
  • How is Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire presented differently in each film?
  • How concerned with historical accuracy do you think the creators of each film were?