Archive for May, 2011

Afghanistan has the 11th lowest life expectancy in the world, the lowest HDI in Asia, and an absolute poverty rate of 50%.  It’s not surprising that this country is suffering, their history has been stained by endless war beginning in the 1970’s after a very brief period of peace in the 1960’s.  The primary export of Afghanistan is opium, and sadly in today’s climate of security, dealing massive amounts of drugs on an international level is fairly difficult.  Because of the legal issues with their primary export, they have to use wheat as their secondary export.  With agricultural superpowers like Ukraine and India nearby, the demand for Afghan wheat is quite low.

Using the helpful tool Gapminder I was able to track the GDP rise of Afghanistan over a long period of time.  Interestingly, the years in which Afghanistan’s economy grew the most were the years under the control of the USSR and later under the USA.  Although towards the end of the USSR’s reign over Afghanistan, the descent in their GDP per capita began.  After several years of violence, the instability of the nation reduced the GDP per capita to its all time low in 1994.  In 1996, the Taliban gained control of the country and provided stability.  This stability didn’t come free however.  The Taliban were the most brutal and oppressive regime to ever gain power in Afghanistan.  Led by Mullah Omar, the Taliban imposed strict, occasionally nonsensical rules that caused many people to be tragically executed.  The Taliban took a large chunk out of Afghanistan’s workforce by preventing women from holding jobs.  The people of Afghanistan suffered an economy that was worse than what experts have guessed medieval England was like.  In 2001, a breath of fresh air came in the form of mortars and air strikes.  The American invasion resulted in the toppling of the oppressive regime.  America brought democracy and capitalism to Afghanistan.  Afghanistan began a rapid ascent to their current status.  They are still suffering from one of the worst economies in the world, but the economy has been growing steadily since the American invasion.  Unfortunately, the nation still has 50% of it’s people living in absolute poverty.  There are 2 million Afghans who do not have a steady supply to food, and struggle just to survive.  This is a horrifying number.  The UN and the USA both send massive amounts of food aid to help the starving in Afghanistan.  President Karzai issued a speech earlier this month begging the American military to stay in Afghanistan because of the irreplaceable help the United States has given to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan under Karzai and the United States has made greater strides in poverty prevention than has ever been experienced in Afghanistan.  The primary American method is to instate capitalism and pour billions of dollars of aid into the economy.  The USA has pledged $10.4 billion of aid to Afghanistan for development.

The United States also opened up the Afghan Reconstruction Fund, with $50 billion.  This fund holds money from all across the world for the sole purpose of recovering from constant warfare.  The previous governments anti-poverty plan was quite unsuccessful.  The Taliban would slaughter people and burn down their workplaces.  It would outlaw many products that Afghanistan used to use to get even a bit of money.  It would seem that the Taliban’s economic policies had no poverty prevention at all.  Through the aid of the United States and capitalism, Afghanistan’s population living under absolute poverty has gone down from 80% to 50%.  Hopefully the remnants of the Taliban will see that the Afghan people are better off with freedom, and will allow this positive trend to continue and lessen the unnecessary bloodshed.














References –

Afghanistan. (n.d.). Afghanistan. Retrieved from

Taliban. (n.d.). Retrieved from

USAID/Afghanistan. (n.d.). Retrieved from




Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

Drama Reflection

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

Robert Anderson

In the unit of What I Want to Say but Never Will, I was in charge of set design.  I felt that this was particularly challenging as opposed to acting, but it was a learning experience.  I had never designed a set before, so everything I did was brand new to me.  Even the scale drawing was basically new to me.  In 7th grade I had been forced to make scale drawings, but this skill didn’t help me with the kind of drawings I had to make for this.  So basically, what I had to do was learn a new skill and create something with it which would be used in a public performance.

A choice that I felt worked extremely well was the use of the black boards as walls.  They were originally intended to hold paintings, as suggested by Mr. Mosser.  However, they ended up being one of the most versatile set piece.  They provided separation between groups that needed to be separated, they created an edge to the space where the play would take place, and they did hold the paintings efficiently.  Another successful choice was the set actually foraying into the audience a bit.  This, I felt, was an expression of the play’s emphasis on empathy.  It allowed the audience to see the actors as people, rather than just parts of a play.  The inspiration for this decision came from something Jordan Fleming said.  I can’t recall what exactly it was, and I don’t think he knows he was the inspiration for it, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  An original idea I had with no inspiration was to put a podium at the front.  This was for the speakers to be the highlight of the scene.  The cast decided to switch this to a very heavy desk, although I wasn’t there so I don’t know why.  Either way, it worked out, since the desk was a central feature of the end result.

I definitely would have liked to have searched the school completely in the search for three different designs of chairs, as I had originally hoped for.  That was something that I have felt since the early days of my planning would be a handy part of the set.  I could have also gone for some functionless, purely aesthetic features in my set.  This could be a rug or some other form of elegance.  This could have given the set a more refined look than it ended up with.  I feel that the student artwork wasn’t enough to actually serve effectively as the sole source of visual beauty in the set, so it would have been nice to have a little more to look at.  Of course, I did not intend for my set to be what people came to see.  I attempted to make a set that would be in a state that got the audience to focus all of their attention on the actors.

The audience reacted to my set exactly as I’d hoped they would.  They didn’t react to my set.  The set seemed to be unnoticed by the audience, which was really a delightful comment on my efforts.  I didn’t receive any compliments, which may sound like a bad thing, but I didn’t hear anyone say that the set was bad.  It seemed like everyone was neutral to it.  This was really either a compliment to my work as a set designer or an example of their apathy.  I hope it was the former.

Coastal Inquiry

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Social Studies 10




Image A:
Ghaza Beach










Image B:

Gaza Beach











Describe the costal management strategies used in Gaza Beach.


In Gaza Beach, I have identified sea walls and rock armor.  The sea walls can be seen heavily in Image A, as they are built around a bay to protect the ships and the shipping.  We can see a fleet of ships within the square shaped sea wall structure, separating the beach from the Mediterranean Sea.  Sea walls are large walls, identifiable by their clearly artificial shape.  They protect the coast from the forces of the water by providing a buffer between the waves and the area needing protection.  In Image B, there is some rock armor at the edge.  The rock armor is protecting the coast directly from the waves and the tide.  The rock armor is located just at the edge although, it has been slightly damaged by the bombing the Israeli army conducted.  Rock armor works just like regular armor, by forming a protective layer.  The waves are knocked back into the sea before they can reach the area behind the rock armor.  Rock armor also protects against erosion.  Since Gaza Beach is situated in an already miniscule nation, it is essential that the beach doesn’t erode quickly.


Explore how Gaza Beach’s coastal management strategies protect the coastal importance.


As seen in Image A, Gaza Beach is a very important location for trade.  It is a vivacious trade route between Europe and the Middle East.  This is because of its important location.  Gaza Strip is located immediately adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and connects it to the deserts of the Middle East.  It’s one of the only viable options for Middle Eastern nations that don’t have access to the Suez Canal.  As a result of this, it is imperative that the beach’s remain protected.  By building sea walls around the important shipping locations they can maintain a degree of safety for the merchandise being traded.  The rock armor being used in Gaza Beach isn’t as helpful for protecting trade, but it does protect the thousands of residents of Gaza Strip.  After the 1967 war, the Israeli’s kicked a lot of the Muslims out of the country, and they fled to Gaza Strip and West Bank.  To protect the people and the trade, these examples of hard engineering are necessary.


Demonstrate the effectiveness of Gaza Beach’s coastal management efforts.


Gaza Beach’s coastal management efforts are opposed by both the sea and the high levels of terrorism and warfare that occurs in Palestine.  The Mediterranean Sea is not a sea that is noted for its destructive power, as it has been the home to many ancient civilizations.  The sea does, however, swell up during storms and creates a degree of destruction.  These storms that Gaza Beach must defend against range from weak to medium strength, and are generally defended against successfully.  The only storms that Gaza has troubles defending against are the “storms” created by the Israeli army.  The Israelites and Palestinians hold huge amounts of animosity towards each other, and as a result, Palestine has become something of a battleground between Israel’s Mossad and Palestine’s Hamas.  Despite all of Gaza Strip’s efforts to protect trade by building sea walls, these have proven ineffective, as Israel sometimes attacks.  Israel’s attacks do not come unprovoked.  Since Gaza Strip’s government is an internationally recognized terrorist group, they do sometimes attack both Israel, and themselves.  Terrorists have a technique that has been proven rather unsuccessful called suicide bombing.  Suicide bombing involves blowing yourself up to kill other people.  Many times the terrorists will engage in suicide bombings in Gaza Beach, thus further reducing the effectiveness the coastal management efforts have had on protecting the coastal importance.  In 2006, there was a well documented scuffle on the beach between the civilians of Gaza Strip and Israel.  Where the rock armor was supposed to protect the people from the sea, the Israeli army launched bombs from their boats and onto the beach.  So, despite the rather successful defense from the sea that the coastal management efforts provide, they do not have successful anti-warfare coastal protection.  Image’s A and B clearly show this.  The coastal management techniques are visible, but so is the devastation the area has suffered.  In Image A, there are large desolate gaps where buildings could not be built.  Every building is clearly made very cheaply, as they do not appear refined at all.  A lot of this is because of both the literal fence Israel built to keep Muslims out, and the fact that Israel prevents Gaza from getting a large amount of resources.  The flotilla raid of May 31, 2010, is an example of this.  Israel engaged in neo-privateering by assaulting a vessel carrying aid to Palestine.  So, because of Israel’s war tactics against Gaza Strip, the coastal management efforts have been made worthless.



Process Narrative

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Drama Portfolio

My task was to design the set for my class’s production of What I Want to Say but Never Will.  I used a variety of sources to aid me in the creation, primarily Mr. Welbes, the internet, and the script itself.  The script had some basic instructions on what to put on the set, which made my job much easier in some areas, and much more difficult in others.  As a result of the script outlining only the very basics of the set design, I had to make a lot of it myself, as well as arranging it all.  My partner and I were generally left to our own devices to construct the set and lights, and I believe we had success.

Mr. Welbes taught me how to make scale drawings in the context of set design.  He showed me how to use a tool that makes lines that are always parallel to the side of the table, which I used to first create the outline of the black box theatre.  After I had the outline of the black box theatre, I went in, using a ruler and the parallel line device to create drawings of the seating areas for the audience.  That would later become the template for all of my designs.  To continue on in my design I had to access the greatest trove of knowledge known to man – the internet.  The internet is an amazing resource because it lets you look at anything that has ever existed.  I attempted to use it to look at previous stagings of What I Want to Say but Never Will, but there were no images online.  This is because I could only find one instance of it ever being performed, which led me to believe that our class was a real trailblazer.  Sadly, this meant that I didn’t have anything to base my design off of.  So I went back to the script and read through noting what was necessary.  The script didn’t have nearly as many clues as I would have liked, as it only suggested the inclusion of student art and it told me to make the set ambiguous.  The set had to resemble a space, but it couldn’t have any features that were solely representative of a single location.  For example, I couldn’t include a sink or a garden hose, as those would indicate that the play took place in a kitchen or outside.  My idea at this point was to create three ambiguous spaces in a single ambiguous space.  I originally intended to create this by having three sets of chairs with different designs set across the stage.  Unfortunately I only had access to one design in large quantities.  This caused me to have an emergency re-design.  I discussed with my partner and the individual responsible for lighting about the issue.  We came up with the idea of rather than using chairs in a horizontal line, we could separate the people by creating a baseball diamond-like shape with the chairs and have them separated space.  This change made it into the final design and was the most characteristic part of my design.  I toyed with several different layouts for the student art, originally planning to have only a few art pieces up, but then changing it to many, and finally back to a few.  I went to Ms. Derbishire to talk about the paintings a few weeks before the performance, but the paintings were being used in an IB art show at the time.  Judging from a snarky comment written on my participation rubric, I don’t believe my teachers were aware that I had asked about them before we actually received them.  After about a week, the art show was over, so I went to Ms. Derbishire again.  This time, I was able to procure a small amount of beautiful artwork with which I could adorn my canvas.  The main reason why I wanted to put only a few up was that I didn’t want to distract the audience from the action, which was the reason I did a lot of what I did.  I received no compliments for my work, which I take as the biggest compliment of all.  I wanted the audience to focus on the actors and the story rather than looking for interesting facets of the set.  Of course, that isn’t to say that if I had infinite resources I wouldn’t have made an elaborate set that features beautiful designs.  I would have much preferred that, but with my budget of ¥0 I thought my austerity measures were wise.  My decision to use the black boards to hang some of the paintings came from Mr. Mosser’s suggestion.  I looked at it and thought to myself, “those would work.”  So I put them in.  Unintentionally, they served a greater purpose by exacerbating the separation between the chairs.  I didn’t put them in to do that, but after they were up I noticed it and liked it.  So, after a period of time the set was constructed.

My work extended beyond the simple set of the play, I also aided Varun and Aimee in their sections of the production.  I helped Aimee with her separating the monologues into characters.  This didn’t go too well since she refused to acknowledge many of my ideas, generally making the claim that my undeveloped brain couldn’t possibly work as well as her finely tuned machine.  Of course, her insults were a bit more hurtful than that.  Generally I decided that my time was best spent either working on my part of the production, or helping Varun with his, where I would be safe from such verbal abuse.  I worked with Varun heavily and helped him plan out his lights.  I, in fact, also set up a large portion of the lights.  This did lower the amount of time I could touch up on the set design, but I felt that the set was sufficient and that the play would look terrible with no lights.  We set that up according to Varun’s design – with some of my suggestions.  In the end, the play looked nice as a result of Varun and my hard work, as well as the actors who worked very hard as well.