Thursday, May 3, 2012

If you could resist the Corporatocracy would you?

Read the first three paragraphs and the last paragraph of the article "10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy" and then read the two steps your table is assigned. Try to figure out what they mean. You may use the computer to look up terms and do more research. You will then report out to the class about the steps. Take notes so you know what you want to say. You will turn in your notes when done as evidence of your thinking. 

When you report be sure to: 

1. Explain what the steps are and what people would actually have to do to achieve them. 

2. Explain what you think of the steps. Do you think they could make a difference to the corporations? Do you think they would make a difference to the people who are taking those steps?

3. If you have extra time, skim through the other steps and think of questions you have about them.

10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy

By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet
Posted on May 20, 2011, Printed on May 31, 2011
      Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite and corporate-collaborator government officials. However, the truth of such tyranny is not enough to set most of us free to take action. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture.
      Some activists insist that this political passivity problem is caused by Americans' ignorance due to corporate media propaganda, and others claim that political passivity is caused by the inability to organize due to a lack of money. However, polls show that on the important issues of our day - from senseless wars, to Wall Street bailouts, to corporate tax-dodging, to health insurance rip-offs - the majority of Americans are not ignorant to the reality that they are being screwed. And American history is replete with organizational examples - from the Underground Railroad, to the Great Populist Revolt, to the Flint sit-down strike, to large wildcat strikes a generation ago - of successful rebels who had little money but lots of guts and solidarity.
      The elite spend their lives stockpiling money and have the financial clout to bribe, divide and conquer the rest of us. The only way to overcome the power of money is with the power of courage and solidarity. When we regain our guts and solidarity, we can then more wisely select from - and implement - time-honored strategies and tactics that oppressed peoples have long used to defeat the elite. So, how do we regain our guts and solidarity?

1. Create the Cultural and Psychological "Building Blocks" for Democratic Movements
Historian Lawrence Goodwyn has studied democratic movements such as Solidarity in Poland, and he has written extensively about the populist movement in the United States that occurred during the end of the 19th century (what he calls "the largest democratic mass movement in American history"). Goodwyn concludes that democratic movements are initiated by people who are neither resigned to the status quo nor intimidated by established powers. For Goodwyn, the cultural and psychological building blocks of democratic movements are individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. Without individual self-respect, we do not believe that we are worthy of power or capable of utilizing power wisely, and we accept as our role being a subject of power. Without collective self-confidence, we do not believe that we can succeed in wresting away power from our rulers.
Thus, it is the job of all of us - from parents, to students, to teachers, to journalists, to clergy, to psychologists, to artists and EVERYBODY who gives a damn about genuine democracy - to create individual self-respect and collective self-confidence.

2. Confront and Transform ALL Institutions that Have Destroyed Individual Self-Respect and Collective Self-Confidence
In "Get Up, Stand Up, " I detail 12 major institutional and cultural areas that have broken people's sprit of resistance, and all are "battlefields for democracy" in which we can fight to regain our individual self-respect and collective self confidence:
    •    Television
    •    Isolation and bureaucratization
    •    "Fundamentalist consumerism" and advertising/propaganda
    •    Student loan debt and indentured servitude
    •    Surveillance
    •    The decline of unions/solidarity among working people
    •    Greed and a "money-centric" culture
    •    Fear-based schools that teach obedience
    •    Psychopathologizing noncompliance
    •    Elitism via professional training
    •    The corporate media
    •    The US electoral system
As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike."

3. Side Each Day in Every Way With Anti-Authoritarians
We can recover our self-respect and strength by regaining our integrity. This process requires a personal transformation to overcome our sense of powerlessness and fight for what we believe in. Integrity includes acts of courage resisting all illegitimate authorities. We must recognize that in virtually every aspect of our life in every day, we can either be on the side of authoritarianism and the corporatocracy or on the side of anti-authoritarianism and democracy. Specifically, we can question the legitimacy of government, media, religious, educational and other authorities in our lives, and if we establish that an authority is not legitimate, we can resist it. And we can support others who are resisting illegitimate authorities. A huge part of solidarity comes from supporting others who are resisting the illegitimate authorities in their lives. Walt Whitman had it right: "Resist much, obey little. Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved."

4. Regain Morale by Thinking More Critically About Our Critical Thinking
While we need critical thinking to effectively question and challenge illegitimate authority - and to wisely select the best strategies and tactics to defeat the elite - critical thinking can reveal some ugly truths about reality, which can result in defeatism. Thus, critical thinkers must also think critically about their defeatism, and realize that it can cripple the will and destroy motivation, thus perpetuating the status quo. William James (1842–1910), the psychologist, philosopher, and occasional political activist (member of the Anti-Imperialist League who, during the Spanish-American War, said, "God damn the US for its vile conduct in the Philippine Isles!") had a history of pessimism and severe depression, which helped fuel some of his greatest wisdom on how to overcome immobilization. James, a critical thinker, had little stomach for what we now call "positive thinking," but he also came to understand how losing belief in a possible outcome can guarantee its defeat. Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), an Italian political theorist and Marxist activist who was imprisoned by Mussolini, came to the same conclusions. Gramsci's phrase "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will" has inspired many critical thinkers, including Noam Chomsky, to maintain their efforts in the face of difficult challenges.

5. Restore Courage in Young People
The corporatocracy has not only decimated America's labor union movement, it has almost totally broken the spirit of resistance among young Americans - an even more frightening achievement. Historically, young people without family responsibilities have felt most freed up to challenge illegitimate authority. But America's education system creates fear, shame and debt - all killers of the spirit of resistance. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and standardized testing tyranny results in the kind of fear that crushes curiosity, critical thinking and the capacity to constructively resist illegitimate authority. Rebel teachers, parents, and students - in a variety of overt and covert ways - have already stopped complying with corporatocracy schooling. We must also stop shaming intelligent young people who reject college, and we must instead recreate an economy that respects all kinds of intelligence and education. While the corporatocracy exploits student loan debt to both rake in easy money and break young people's spirit of resistance, the rest of us need to rebel against student loan debt and indentured servitude. And parents and mental health professionals need to stop behavior-modifying and medicating young people who are resisting illegitimate authority.

6. Focus on Democracy Battlefields Where the Corporate Elite Don't Have Such a Large Financial Advantage
The emphasis of many activists is on electoral politics, but the elite have a huge advantage in this battlefield, where money controls the US electoral process. By focusing exclusively on electoral politics at the expense of everything else, we: (1) give away power when we focus only on getting leaders elected and become dependent on them; (2) buy into the elite notion that democracy is all about elections; (3) lose sight of the fact that democracy means having influence over all aspects of our lives; and (4) forget that if we have no power in our workplace, in our education and in all our institutions, then there will never be democracy worthy of the name. Thus, we should focus our fight more on the daily institutions we experience. As Wendell Berry said, "If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant."

7. Heal from "Corporatocracy Abuse" and "Battered People's Syndrome" to Gain Strength
Activists routinely become frustrated when truths about lies, victimization and oppression don't set people free to take action. But when we human beings eat crap for too long, we gradually lose our self-respect to the point that we become psychologically too weak to take action. Many Americans are embarrassed to accept that, after years of corporatocracy subjugation, we have developed "battered people's syndrome" and what Bob Marley called "mental slavery." To emancipate ourselves and others, we must:
    •    Move out of denial and accept that we are a subjugated people.
    •    Admit that we have bought into many lies. There is a dignity, humility, and strength in facing the fact that, while we may have once bought into some lies, we no longer do so.
    •    Forgive ourselves and others for accepting the abuser's lies. Remember the liars  we face are often quite good at lying.
    •    Maintain a sense of humor. Victims of horrific abuse, including those in  concentration camps and slave plantations, have discovered that pain can either  immobilize us or be transformed by humor into energy.
    •    Stop beating ourselves up for having been in an abusive relationship. The energy  we have is better spent on healing and then working to change the abusive system;  this provides more energy, and when we use this energy to provide respect and  confidence for others, everybody gets energized.

8. Unite Populists by Rejecting Corporate Media's Political Divisions
The corporate media routinely divides Americans as "liberals," "conservatives" and "moderates," a useful division for the corporatocracy, because no matter which of these groups is the current electoral winner, the corporatocracy retains power. In order to defeat the corporatocracy, it's more useful to divide people in terms of authoritarians versus anti-authoritarians, elitists versus populists and corporatists versus anticorporatists. Both left anti-authoritarians and libertarian anti-authoritarians passionately oppose current US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Wall Street bailout, the PATRIOT Act, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the so-called "war on drugs" and several other corporatocracy policies. There are differences between anti-authoritarians but, as Ralph Nader and Ron Paul have together recently publicly discussed, we can form coalitions and alliances on these important power-money issues. One example of an anti-authoritarian democratic movement (which I am involved in) is the mental health treatment reform movement, comprised of left anti-authoritarians and libertarians. We all share distrust of Big Pharma and contempt for pseudoscience, and we believe that people deserve truly informed choice regarding treatment. We respect Erich Fromm, the democratic-socialist psychoanalyst, along with Thomas Szasz, the libertarian psychiatrist, both passionate anti-authoritarians who have confronted mental health professionals for using dogma to coerce people.

9. Unite "Comfortable Anti-Authoritarians" and "Afflicted Anti-Authoritarians
This "comfortable-afflicted" continuum is based on the magnitude of pain that one has simply getting through the day. The term comfortable anti-authoritarian is not a pejorative one, but refers to those anti-authoritarians lucky enough to have decent paying and maybe even meaningful jobs, or platforms through which their voices are heard or social supports in their lives. Many of these comfortable anti-authoritarians may know that there are millions of Americans working mindless jobs in order to hold on to their health insurance, or hustling two low-wage jobs to pay college loans, rent and a car payment, or who may be unable to find even a poorly paying, mindless job and are instead helplessly watching eviction or foreclosure and bankruptcy close in on them. However, unless these comfortable anti-authoritarians have once been part of that afflicted class - and remember what it feels like - they may not be able to fully respect the afflicted's emotional state. The afflicted need to recognize that human beings often become passive because they are overwhelmed by pain (not because they are ignorant, stupid, or lazy), and in order to function at all, they often shut down or distract themselves from this pain. Some comfortable anti-authoritarians assume that people's inactions are caused by ignorance. This not only sounds and smells like elitism, it creates resentment for many in the afflicted class who lack the energy to be engaged in any activism. Respect, resources and anything that concretely reduces their level of pain is likely to be far more energizing than a scolding lecture. That's the lesson of many democratic movements, including the Great Populist Revolt.

10. Do Not Let Debate Divide Anti-Authoritarians
Spirited debate is what democracy is all about, but when debate turns to mutual antipathy and divides anti-authoritarians, it plays into the hands of the elite. One such divide among anti-elitists is over the magnitude of change that should be worked for and celebrated. On one extreme are people who think that anything is better than nothing at all. At the other extreme are people who reject any incremental change and hold out for total transformation. We can better unite by asking these questions: Does the change increase individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and increase one's energy level to pursue even greater democracy? Or does it feel like a sellout that decreases individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and de-energizes us? Utilizing the criteria of increased self-respect and collective self-confidence, those of us who believe in genuine democracy can more constructively debate whether the change is going to increase strength to gain democracy or is going to take the steam out of a democratic movement. Respecting both sides of this debate makes for greater solidarity and better decisions.

To summarize, democracy will not be won without guts and solidarity. Risk-free green actions - such as shopping from independents, buying local, recycling, composting, consuming less, not watching television and so on - can certainly help counter a dehumanizing world. However, revolutions that truly transform fundamental power inequities and enable us to feel like men and women rather than children and slaves require risk, guts and solidarity.
Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist. His Web site is
© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Energy Policy Presentations

The year is 2020. You work for the United States Department of Energy and the president has asked you to create a presentation to give to Congress on what our future energy policy should be.

Your 4 team members are:
Team Leader/Manager (keeps team on track)
Research Coordinator  (finds info and checks facts)
Graphic Designer (ensures clear and persuasive visuals)
Lead Writer (creates persuasive and professional text)

You must explain the following:

1. Why we need a coherent energy policy.
(consider energy needs, population growth, pollution, the economy, climate change)

2. What our energy future should look like to best meet our needs
(consider short-term and long-terms needs of people and the planet.)

3. What 4 sources of energy should we most rely upon? List a percentage for each and explain why.

4. Summarize your points clearly so very busy members of congress will remember your main points.


Your overall presentation will be graded for persuasiveness and scientific accuracy (10 points)

You must create two visual aids and do a 7 minute presentation.

You must create a PowerPoint (at least 8 slides, but no more than 12) AND a one page handout with your main points on it. (10 points each)

Each person must present at least two slides and will be graded for presentation skills. (eye contact, clearly understanding the material, not reading from notes or slides, speaking loudly and clearly) (10 points)

Save your work often. E-mail your rough drafts to me ( AND to all your team members at the end of the period. You will have to work on it outside of class and in class today.

Presentations will be on Thursday, April 26th at 9:00 SHARP! 

Everything's Cool - Politics of Climate Change

Watch the documentary "Everything's Cool" which is available on Netflix
and may be available on YouTube or other sites.

Read the New York Times Movie Review of it which can be found at

Visit the website from the film.

and then...

Answer the "EVERYTHING’S COOL" questions – Answer on a separate sheet. Please copy the questions and use full sentences that make sense. Please proofread for clarity – make sure your ideas come through.
1. What is the filmmaker’s point of view? (In other words, what is his position on climate change AND on the way politics is related to it?)
2. Do you think they have presented convincing evidence for the argument they are making? Give one or more examples from the film to support your opinion.
3. As a society, we make decisions through the political process. Do you think science is being considered fairly in the political process? Explain one way you believe the political process could be improved so science could be used better in decision making.
4. What are your overall reactions to this film? Explain at least two things you learned from it. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sources of Energy

We learned how energy moves through the ecosystem from the sun to producers to consumers, but what about the energy we use to heat our homes, run our factories and fuel our transportation? This unit is about those sources of energy.


Use the following websites as well as others you find to answer the questions below on your worksheet. You may use other sources as well, but start with some of these. 

Energy Quest’s Energy Story site is at Chapter 6-20 are good resources.

The butons on the left side show many different types of energy resources including fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, wave, geothermal and biofuels. has some great sites that were made by students for students:

You MUST use your own words. Do not copy from websites or from other students.

1. What is energy?

2. What is the difference between chemical, potential and kinetic energy?

3. What is a “non-renewable” resource? Define it and give 3 examples.

4. What is a “renewable” resource? Define it and give 3 examples. 

5. Explain do you think we still use mostly non-renewable resources? Is this good or bad? Why?

6.  Describe advantages and disadvantages of the following: 
Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, Geothermal, Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Others? 

7. What 4 types of energy sources do you think will be used most in the future? Explain your reasons for each source you select. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Ecological Footprint

The following link will take you to a website at which you can calculate your own ecological footprint.

Follow the steps below and answer the questions as you work. 

1. Go to the site and select the United States as your location. Why do you think the site gives you different choices of countries and continents? Do you think ecological footprints the same or different in different locations?

2.  Before you begin, predict how many planets it takes to support your lifestyle.

3. When you get started you don’t have to put in your e-mail… just get started. You will have a choice between “Basic Information” and “Detailed Information.” Please select detailed information so you can get an idea of all the factors that go into your footprint.

4. Why do you think the types of meat and dairy foods you eat are important to your footprint?

5. You may not know where your food comes from… If you grow a garden or buy food at a farmers market, it is grown nearby. If you eat fruits and veggies in the winter in Chicago, that produce must have been grown far away. Why do you think the distance your food travels is important to your footprint?

6. Click on the different types of housing to see which is closest to the building in which you live. Why does the type of house or apartment you live in matter? 

7. Would having more people living in your household make your footprint bigger or smaller? Why?  

8. Here in Chicago, most of our energy does NOT come from renewable resources. Our homes are mostly heated with natural gas and our electricity comes mostly from burning coal and nuclear plants. Unless you have solar panels on your home or a wind turbine in your yard you use 0% renewable energy. Just estimate as well as you can when it asks you about how much your household spends on gas and electricity.

9. When you are answering questions about travel, keep in mind that it is about one mile between Armitage and Diversy or between Cicero and Pulaski. Big main streets in Chicago are about a mile apart. A typical large SUV gets about 13 miles per gallon (MPG) and a  small car such as a Honda Civic gets about 20 MPG. A hybrid Prius can get about 40 MPG.

10. Summarize your ecological footprint:
How many Earths?_____ How many acres? _____ Tons of carbon dioxide?_____
Roll over the pie chart to get % for Food ____ Shelter _____ Mobility _____ Goods ____ Services ______
Which 2 areas do you have the most control over? _____________________________________________

11. Explore the site for a few minutes and write about some actions you can take to reduce your footprint.  What is one action you are ready to take?

12. Please comment on your footprint in the comments section of this post.  Was your footprint more or less than you expected? What was most interesting about the questions on the quiz? What was most interesting or surprising about your results?  What changes do you think you will make? Please describe the experience of finding your environmental footprint. Sign your comment with your first name and last initial to get credit.

You can learn more about how the Ecological Footprint idea got started by watching all or part of the movie at the following link.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Population Ecology - How does competition affect population size?

This assignment is a virtual lab about how competition between species affects population size. You will be using an online simulation that compares populations of two different species of microscopic protozoan paramecia.

When you get to the online lab you will see directions on the left side and an interactive laboratory on the right side. READ the DIRECTIONS on the left side and follow them.

Collect all your data, graph the data and answer the Journal Questions on the lab sheets provided by your teacher, since the computers have trouble keeping and printing the data from this virtual lab.

Use the "information" button in the virtual lab for more information about the paramecia.

1. Answer the first two journal questions before collecting your data.
2. Collect your virtual data an record it on your lab sheet.
3. Make a line graph of your data - put "days" on the X axis and number of cells/ml on the Y axis. You will need a key to identify the lines for each type of paramecium gown alone and grown in the mixed culture.
4. Answer the rest of the journal questions when you are done with the graph.

You will need to share computers, but each person in your group should collect all the data and answer the questions in their own words.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Local Activism and Environmental Justice

What is Environmental Justice?

Delegates to the  First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit came up with these Principles of Environmental Justice:

What do you think about these principles? Are they fair? Are they useful? Are they realistic? What would the pros and cons be if these principles were to be adopted?

The Environmental Justice Leadership Forum crafted this statement about climate change and environmental Justice  

What do you think about these Principals of Climate Justice? How are they similar to and how are they different from the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit principles?

This article about asthma rates in children in the Humboldt Park Neighborhood makes the point of the negative impacts environmental conditions can have on kids.

Some Local Chicago environmental groups:

 P.E.R.R.O. Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization

Video about the Greanpeace / PERRO action at the Fisk Coal Burning PowerPlant

The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization  gives "Toxic Tours" of their neighborhood to highlight the serious sources of pollution. The other programs their organization supports are listed below:

Current Campaigns:
  • Climate Justice - A vision to dissolve and alleviate the unequal burdens created by climate change.
  • Clean Power – We sought to have the two largest polluters (Crawford and Fisk Power Plants) in our backyard removed.
  • Public Transit – Works to improve fair access for all Chicagoland riders, but focuses special attention on helping transit dependent, low-income riders in Chicago’s poorer communities. A city that works, is a city that serves the needs of ALL it’s riders.
  • Water Wars A campaign to keep our water in public hands, and defend everyone’s right to safe, clean and affordable water.
  • Urban LandPooling our common knowledge and interests, and working with Mother Earth to produce healthy and safe local food sources.
  • Open Spaces - Little Village, (95,000 residents), has been fighting for a park for over 10 years. In June ’07 the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District announced they would build a park on the Celotex Superfund toxic waste site. We want a SAFE park!
  • YAOTL -Youth – Work on issues that support a fair environment for the community members. Some of the tools we use to combat these injustices are embracing our artistic abilities , making documentaries, videos, newsletters, and most important building ourselves into strong leaders through our community for our community.
  • Toxic Tours – Take a Toxic Tour of the former Celotex Superfund.
    See the danger in your own backyard – for real!

The Healthy Schools Campaign fights to improve health of students in low income communities in Chicago... their issues include obesity and asthma

Climate Justice Chicago has fought against the dirty coal power plants in the city as well as other environmental justice issues.