Monday, July 10, 2006

Meteorology Pop Quiz I

In which hemisphere (Northern or Southern) was this hurricane, and how can you tell?

Answer is in the comments.

Sociology Project III / Political Science Project I

Estimate the percentage of Americans responding "yes" to the following question:

Do you trust yourself, and the United States Government, both enough that you are certain that you will never find yourself morally compelled to commit an act which would be defined as "treason" or "terrorism" by the government, or agents thereof? (This excludes acts which are not prosecuted: i.e. if your someone who works at the Post Office gets upset with you and calls you a terrorist, but no charges are ever brought, this incident would not count for purposes of the question. "Yes" is the law-abiding answer.)

Now estimate the percentage of each of the following groups in your community who would answer "yes:"

1. Catholic women between 25 and 40 years of age
2. African-American men age 40 to 65
3. Women who identify their religious preference as Wiccan
4. All gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people
5. Hispanic women under the age of 25
6. All Native Americans
7. White male Protestants under the age of 25
8. Whites who identify themselves as "very liberal" or "somewhat liberal"
9. All persons who identify their religious preference as Muslim
10. All persons who identify as atheist or agnostic

Next, perform the survey by telephone. Record:

the respondent's age range (under 25, 25-40, 40-65, over 65),
gender (including whether or not the respondent has always been legally recognized as his/r current legal gender),
religious affiliation,
ethnicity as reported on U.S. census data,
sexual orientation (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual),
and political leaning (very liberal, somewhat liberal, middle-of-the-road, somewhat conservative, very conservative, libertarian, other/don't know)

These demographic subdivisions should be recorded before asking the question, to avoid attempts by prejudiced persons from answering falsely in order to make other groups look bad.

Ideally, you should have about 400 responses for a meaningful result; extra credit will be provided for additional responses at a rate of one percentage point for each additional 50 responses. You must be able to document all responses (phone numbers called, dates and times of the calls, recordings of the calls, or some similar method of proving that you did make the calls as recorded and got the responses you report) if asked to do so; failure to comply will result in a failing grade.

(You may also conduct the surveys by mail, and present the completed surveys as evidence, if you like, though be aware that self-selection may make your results invalid. Also, mailed surveys may not be enough to meet the 400-response requirement, so be sure to allow enough time to perform phone surveys if this becomes necessary. If you end up doing both kinds, report the method of response along with your other data.)

Write an analysis, after the compilation of all data, which summarizes trends across different demographics. Which groups see themselves as most likely to be in compliance with future U.S. governments? Did any respondents volunteer any comments which might explain differences between groups? How closely did your predictions match the actual results? What explains the differences between prediction and actual data, if any differences are significant?

Finally, write a three-page personal essay in which you answer the question yourself and explain your response.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Future of the United States Pop Quiz III

1. Increasing climatic changes due to global warming will lead to a paradoxical cooldown in _____________ by the year 2040.

a. The Western Great Lakes (MI, OH, IN, WI)
b. The Upper Mississippi Valley (ND, MN, IA, WI)
c. The Pacific Northwest (WA, ID, OR, CA)
d. The Southeast (FL, GA, SC, AL, TN)

2. What region of the country will be decimated in the year 2032 by a new and specifically North American strain of West Nile virus?

a. The Desert Southwest (CA, AZ, NV, NM)
b. The Upper Mississippi Valley (ND, MN, IA, WI)
c. The Pacific Northwest (WA, ID, OR, CA)
d. The Southeast (FL, GA, SC, AL, TN)

3. In the fashion world of the year 2019, _______________ will be the new black.

a. silver
b. bioluminescence
c. carbohydrates
d. black

4. What is the official cause of death on Madonna's death certificate, in 2030?

a. asphyxiation
b. heart attack
c. extraterrestrial parasite
d. antibiotic-resistant staph infection

5. The long-anticipated Big One (earthquake) hits the San Francisco Bay Area in which year?

a. 2008
b. 2016
c. 2020
d. 2028

6. What is the male-to-female ratio of the crew on the first interstellar spaceship, and in what year is it launched?

a. 50/50; 2049
b. 67/33; 2019
c. 0/100; 2032
d. 25/75; 2078

7. What is notable about an American citizen who turns 80 in the year 2069?

a. S/he has reached retirement age.
b. S/he is eligible to receive cybernetic replacement body parts.
c. S/he has become the world's oldest living human being.
d. S/he is legally permitted to create a clone of him-/rself.

8. Which of these is nearest to the price of a barrel of crude oil in the year 2030, in 2006 dollars?

a. $95.00
b. $170.00
c. $638.00
d. $2,370.00

9. Which two states are no longer part of the U.S. as of the year 2041?

a. Hawaii and Vermont
b. Utah and Texas
c. Hawaii and Utah
d. South Dakota and Vermont

10. What genetically engineered animal escapes laboratory confinement in 2020 and becomes a common crop pest, destroying up to 30% of the corn, soybeans, and wheat grown in the U.S., and which company developed it originally?

a. The Giant Chicken (Gallus gallus megalodon); Archer Daniels Midland
b. The Betabug (Adalia hartii x betaluminius); GlaxoSmithKline
c. The Nemonsantode (Caenorhabditis monsantulus); Monsanto
d. The Cancer Mouse (Mus transgenicus carcinophorus); Genentech

My answers are located in the comments.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Religion Project III

I hope that everyone had a pleasant Winter Break, and I trust that you are all ready to begin learning again. Our first project will be a religious one.

Background: Syncretism is the process by which two or more religious practices become intertwined. Generally, when two groups with competing beliefs encounter one another, they are mutually hostile, and one group is militarily successful over the other. However, this does not always mean that the religious beliefs of the defeated tribe vanish: women and children, taken as slaves and wives, may perpetuate their beliefs (though obviously these beliefs will have to change somewhat) even in captivity, and from time to time these beliefs and practices will appeal to the victorious group and become gradually incorporated into the victors' religion. There is some evidence, to name but one example, that Judaism shaped and was shaped by the religious practices of the Canaanites (who were conquered by the Israelites) and Babylonians (who conquered the Israelites).

Goals and Methods: You will be divided into groups of three or four students each, and I will select a combination of two or three religions for each group at random, which combination is written at the bottom of this page. Your groups will then be responsible for creating a syncretistic religion around the combination of founding religions I assign. You may wish to divide up the responsibility for different aspects of the resulting belief system among the different members of your group: for example, one member might focus on specific beliefs (how many deities? what are their names, relationships to one another, and responsibilities? What is the religion's creation myth?), one on day-to-day rituals and practices (special holidays and observances, particular beliefs relating to moral behavior, rituals and their symbolism), one on objects relating to the belief system (for example: scriptures, temples or places of worship, iconic objects or idols, locations of particular significance, etc.), and one on continuity, which is to say, making the contributions of the other members fit into a coherent whole. The last member, the one responsible for the continuity, will also be preparing the final report and presenting it to the class, along with whatever other materials (models, scriptures, songs, etc.) have been prepared.

The final report should include the following:

-Name of the founder(s)
-Approximate date of the beginnings of the religion
-Name of the religion
-Brief history of the followers, their persecution, etc.
-Holy sites, if any (with models as appropriate)
-Holy scriptures, if any
-Beliefs regarding the afterlife
-Beliefs regarding sexuality (appropriate age, number of husbands/wives, marriage ceremonies, acceptable partnerings, etc.)
-Number of gods and their responsibilities, interests, abilities, etc.
-Holy days
-Unusual features (cannibalism, transvestitism, self-sacrifice, alien worship, etc.)

Your group will then be asked to answer questions from myself and the rest of the class. Your final grade will depend on your overall thoroughness, visual aids (if any), and coherence.

Your combination is: Seventh-Day Adventism + Shaktism.

If your group feels that this is not a workable combination (as is possible; these were chosen at random), you may substitute either of the following:

Cargo cults + Unitarian Universalism

Pastafarianism + Evangelical Christianity