What is this?

Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trace effects, a waste of time?

Today we tried a new game, named "Trace effects", made by the US department of state. By playing the game, you are suppose to learn English. It's made for students between 12 and 16, and it's played in your browser. So, is it worth playing?

The experience of the game

When I first clicked my way into the website, I had no idea what I was about to play. I had to make an account, which annoyed me since I hoped I could use my Google account, or something else. After making my account I had to wait for the game to load, which took about ten minutes. After the introduction video, that explained that I had to find my time-machine so that I could get back to the original time, I could finally start playing.
First the game lagged for a bit(which is probably the computers fault, but I think it should be playable on the school computer), then I was given the task of finding clues. The game is in 3D, and the graphics are not good, but still impressive for being in a browser. I went outside, and again I had to wait, this time for about three minutes, while the game loaded. Outside, I found some buildings and I could talk to people in my quest for clues. The voice acting in the game reminded me of a robot, unsuccessfully programmed to sound like a human, and I soon went tired of lagging around listening to them. After walking around some more finding clues, I went tired, and "finally" the game crashed. 

Worth playing?

The idea of the game is good, but the game is not. I don't understand how you are suppose to learn more English from this game than, let's say The Elders Scrolls Skyrim. Trace effects is basically a bad story, made into a bad game, from which you do not learn anything you would not learn from a normal game. I would not recommend this game to anyone, since it's a complete waist of time you could have used either to play a good game, or to actually learn English instead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Napoleon's big mistake

On this date, two hundred years ago, the last of Napoleon's Grande Armée was forced out of Russia. 380.000 French men had died on Russian soil, taking 210.000 Russian soldiers with them. The Russian Campaign is the most famous military defeat of all time, and is used as an example of what happens if you try to take Russia during the harsh winter months. To this day, French soldiers are being found by farmers plowing their fields.

The campaign

Russian Troop at Borodino
By crossing the Neman River, Napoleon entered Russia on the 24 of June 1812. With him, he had the  Grande Armée. It consisted of almost half a million men, and they won several smaller battles.
On September 7, Napoleon, Marshal Ney and 130.000 men, met with 120.000 Russian soldiers at Borodino. The battle became the bloodiest single-day battle of the entire war with over 70.000 casualties, including 47 French, and 23 Russian generals. The battle ended with French victory, however, since they were in foreign land, they could not get replacements for the fallen men.
With over forty thousand men less than when he started, Napoleon started marching towards Moscow. On September 14, he entered Moscow expecting a battle. The Russians however, had chosen to retreat and set the city on fire.

Napoleons retreat

After failing to save the city, and trying to make a peace treaty, Napoleon started his retreat from Russia. With the winter closing in, and without winter gear, he probably knew that it would be disastrous. Napoleons troops marched for several months, sometimes in extreme cold. They kept being attacked by Russian cavalry, that tried to destroy as much as possible of Napoleons army. When he finally reached the river he had crossed in June, on December 12, he had lost almost his entire army. The invasion of Russia also caused the European Coalition to declare war on him once and for all. Napoleon managed to gather 400.000 more troops the following year, but he lost once and for all in 1814, before miraculously returning again and loosing at Waterloo in 1815. During the entire war, as many as six million people was killed or badly injured, making it one of the worst wars in European and American history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Trafalgar Christmas tree

The Christmas tree at Trafalgar sqaure

Every year, a huge Christmas thee is placed on Trafalgar square. It stands twenty meters tall, and is decorated with lights and a Christmas star. The tree is given by the city of Oslo as a gratitude for the help given to Norway during The Second World War. The three stands until the twelfth night of Christmas, when it is taken down. So whats the story behind it? What was Britain's role in Norway during The Second World War, and why is the tree given to London?

When Norway was attacked on the 9th of April, 1940, the Germans had one particular goal in mind. The city of Narvik, was the last stop for the Swedish iron, before being transported out of the country.When the Germans attacked Norway, Narvik was quickly taken, and two Norwegian battleships were sunk. Few days later, the British, assisted by French and Polish troops, attacked Norway, trying to take Narvik among other places together with Norwegian troops. The battles led to huge casualties on both sides, and in the end, the allied troops withdrew from Norway and Norway surrendered to Germany. The Norwegian King, his family, and the government fled to London and commanded the Norwegian free troops, resistance and fleet from there. The tree is presented to London, as a token of gratitude for their help during the war. It was first given in 1947.

On top: Norwegian troops near Narvik
Bottom: British troops at Namsos.

The number of people killed during The Second World War

The war led to huge casualties on both sides, over seventy million people was killed. Total Norwegian casualties reaches eleven thousand, or 0.32% of the population. The UK lost 450.900 people, or 0.94%. Up to 8 million Germans was killed(10%), and the Soviet Union lost 23 million(14%), and the US lost over 400.000(0.32%).

A story from the war in Norway

Even though the main battle for Norway took place in 1940, bombing raids and sabotage went on trough out the war. One of the men who went on a bombing raid, was the RAF navigator Ron Day. The last days of the war his squadron flew towards Norway, but the plane he was in was shot down. Click this link to read the full story about his days as a German prisoner, when the war was coming to an end. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/51/a3964151.shtml

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Thirteenth Amendment

A slave named Peter, from Louisiana.
147 years, and one day ago, on December the 6th, 1865, The United States officially abolished slavery in all of it's states. It was the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the text says the following:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 

During the civil war in 1863, Lincoln and his government made a proclamation, that declared that the slaves from ten confederate states were free men. However, Lincoln was afraid that people thought it was temporary, and the proclamation did not free all slaves, or abolish slavery everywhere. They agreed to make the the Thirteenth Amendment, so that slavery would be totally abolished. 

Almost every state ratified the Amendment in 1865, but even though they did not have slavery, two states waited for quite some time until they officially abolished slavery. Kentucky signed in 1976, and Mississippi signed in 1995.

Whats interesting, is that in 1861, what could have been the Thirteenth Amendment, now called The Corwin Amendment was proposed, and even signed by President Buchanan. However, it was never adopted. When Lincoln became president the Amendment hadn't been ratified, and he quickly sent out the amendment without mentioning that it had been signed by former president Buchanan. In congress an act was proposed to withdraw the amendment, and when the war broke out few days later, the debate was put on the table, and in 1865 the new Thirteenth Amendment was accepted.

So whats so special about the Amendment from 1861? Well, it's the complete opposite of the one from 1865. While the one from 1865 abolished slavery, the one from 1861 said the following:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."

The Corwin Amendment basically makes it up to every state if they want to abolish slavery. Since the Amendment never passed, it's still possible for a state to bring it to the congress. The last time this was tried, was by Texas in 1963. 

The evilness of slavery

The US abolished slavery in 1865, The British did so in 1833(Except for areas controlled by The East India Company), Sweden ended it in 1847, and Denmark-Norway ended it in 1792.
Most western countries ended slavery in the late 1800s. However, for example France, kept having slaves in the colonies for a while, and Belgium wasn't exactly nice to the people in Kongo either. When it comes to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, they abolished it in the mid 20s, and U.A.E ended it in 1963. The last country to end slavery was Mauritania in 1981.
Slavery is oppression of people, and we must remember that we still have problems today with forced labor and people working at minimum wages. According to the UN, 27 million people still live as slaves.

Some people think of slavery as something that happened a long time ago, that the "mind" of the people was different then. I don't think that's the case. I think that people though just like us, only that these days we choose people in a democratic election, and since normal people can vote, we elect sane people. But we must still remember that slavery has been brought back before. Sweden has abolished it twice, China twice and France three times. The people who's minds would accept slavery, are still out there, and if the wrong people gets enough votes, especially these days with the economic crisis in Europe, slavery and god knows what could be the consequence.