History

The Electoral College: How does it work and should it be updated?(video)

Political Science professor Kevin Navratil will discuss why the Electoral College was created, the process of electing the president, and benefits and drawbacks of this electoral system versus electing the president by a nationwide popular vote. This event is organized by the MVCC Democracy Commitment.

Debunking Electoral College Myths

In most U.S. elections, the winner of the popular vote is the winner of the election. As we have seen many times, that is not always the case in the presidential election due to our Electoral College system. In particular, the winner-take-all laws in many states have resulted in the winner of the popular vote losing the election. This has led to millions of votes being effectively ignored and swing states, and swing state issues, carrying more weight than others.

Many people, for many years, have felt that the Electoral College system is unfair. It is a system that came about because of slavery and the result is that some votes count more than others. Since 1797, there have been roughly 800 attempts in Congress to get rid of the system. These have come from states both large and small and from both sides of the aisle. Defenders of the Electoral College point to reasons like: It protects small states. It’s what The Founders wanted. The way it works is written into the Constitution. Democrats will always win without it.

These are all myths. There is a way to fix it. Watch this short, informative video from The New York Times to find out more. To delve even deeper into the topic, these books from the MVCC Library are a great next step.

History, Epidemics, and How Governments Respond (video)

With concern over the Covid-19 Pandemic dominating all aspects of society, join political science and history faculty members Kevin Navratil, Jim McIntyre and Josh Fulton for a discussion of how the United States has grappled with disease outbreaks in the past. From Yellow Fever to Spanish Flu, come understand how Americans coped and how governments sought to combat the threats of disease.

The 19th Anniversary of 9/11

Today marks the anniversary of the terrorist assault on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93. The attacks claimed the lives of 2,977 people.

The MVCC library has an extensive collection of material that may help you understand the initial attack and the tragedy that continues to have long lasting effects on America and the world. You may find this article interesting. The author explores how different generations view the 9/11 tragedy.

Free America Flag Cleaning - Puritan Cleaners

Labor Day

The celebration of Labor Day began in 1882 as a salute to the workers of New York City. The idea of a special day for the American working class spread throughout the country and on “June 28, 1884, President Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September a national holiday.”

The history of labor unions in America is important for all of us to know. The MVCC library has a collection of print books (how to check out print books) and ebooks to help us understand the history of the U.S. labor movement. The Chicago labor movement may also interest you. The library also has numerous books on Chicago labor. Another great source for historical news is the Chicago Tribune Historical database. It is amazing to read newspaper articles about past labor unrest in Chicago.

The labor movement in the United States and the city of Chicago is a combination of tribulation and triumph. Enjoy your day off.

The 75th Anniversary of the Trinity Test

The atom bomb did not miraculously appear at the end of World War II. It took years and some of the world’s greatest scientific minds to develop the most destructive weapon ever created by humankind. In the late 1930s, rumors were circulating that Nazi Germany was working to develop a powerful new weapon. Two European scientists, Einstein and Fermi, refugees from fascist Europe, warned American officials of the danger of a Nazi atomic bomb. Einstein even sent a personal letter to President Roosevelt. The message warned the president of the dangers of atomic warfare. The threat of mass destruction by the Axis nations was the impetus of creating the Manhattan Project.

The new program was located in various parts of the United States. The Trinity project, one of the multilayered parts of the Manhattan Project, was located in New Mexico. It was the testing site for evaluating the most efficient way of dropping a super bomb. The military took over 52,000 acres of land in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1942. The area was shrouded in secrecy. On July 16, 1945, the bomb was dropped. The Army reported that a large amount of munitions had exploded to hide the truth that America had successfully created an atomic bomb. “To help provide the public with a credible account, the Manhattan Project allowed New York Times reporter William Laurence to live on the Los Alamos compound in the months leading to the blast. He kept the secret and wrote a celebrated series in the Times after Hiroshima.”‘Atomic Bill’ Laurence, The New York Times, and the Birth of the BombA star science reporter had unparalleled access to the Manhattan Project, as chronicler and cheerleader.

The most poignant part of this research has been reading the eye witness accounts of the Los Alamos bomb drop. One can feel the uneasiness of the scientists who participated in the construction of the atomic explosive. Several of them compared the new technology to stories from Greek mythology, Pandora’s Box and Prometheus. An updated article continues to compare technology and mythology.

Christian Lous Lange, the winner of the 1921 Nobel Peace, writes, “technology is a useful servant but a a dangerous master.”


Bastille Day

July 14 is Bastille Day, the most important public holiday in France. The country joins in a celebration to honor its people and history. The French call this day la Fête nationale (the National Holiday).

The origin of this holiday took place in 1880. French government officials felt that the country needed a national day of celebration. After much debate, July 14 was chosen, the same day as the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison.

France has an interesting history and culture. The MVCC library has many resources to help you understand why this this holiday is celebrated worldwide.

Fireworks

Fireworks have been around for over 2000 years. Most historians agree that fireworks originated in China around 200 BC. Villagers would throw pieces of bamboo into a fire to ensure that evil spirits would be frighten away by the exploding bamboo. This country also invented gun powder in 600 AD. Serendipity played a pivotal role in the history of fireworks. Gunpowder was placed into a piece of hallowed bamboo thrown into a fire. There was no aerial show, just a series of explosions. Gunpowder also proved to be an amazing addition to the weapons of war. Explorers and traders brought the new technologies to Europe. The Europeans utilized this new knowledge on the battlefield and for special occasions.

Europeans used fireworks to celebrate religious holy days, military victories, and royal events. The shows became more colorful and in addition to noise, the pyrotechnics went aerial. English settlers brought the science of fireworks to the colonies. John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a letter to his wife on July 2, 1776, stating that “this day ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks).” On July 4, 1777, fireworks were included in the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Happy 4th of July to all.

Drive-In Movie Theaters

An old form of entertainment is back. Two drive-in movie theaters are opening in the Chicago-land area this weekend. Many people may not be familiar with this form of movie watching, but you may find this “blast from the past” an interesting way to view movies. In March, the coronavirus restrictions forced movie theaters to shut their doors. This is not the first time that Hollywood has faced a crisis. The movie industry was threatened by television in the 1950s and 1960s, new technology in the later decades, and the latest assault, streaming. However,the industry has always reinvented itself and survived the attacks. Ironically, it is using an outdated method to lure viewers back.

The future of movie theaters is evolving. It will be interesting to see how the social distancing movement will affect the industry.

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