Wednesday: Hili dialogue

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) is on the job today; posting has been light as I’ve been having fun in Hawaii.

It’s the second day of the new year: Wednesday, January 2, 2019, and we’ll be writing “2018” on our checks for some time. (But does anyone write checks any more?) It’s National Cream Puff Day, but, as I write this at 5 a.m. on January 1 (Grania is doing Hili today), I’ll be having my Hawaiian breakfast of coffee and two small mochi filled with ice cream (a local and culturally appropriated Japanese treat). It’s also a holiday in these countries: Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

On this day in 1860, the discovery of the planet Vulcan was announced at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences. It was a small planet hypothesized to exist as a way to explain anomalies of Mercury’s orbit. Vulcan did not exist. In 1940, Japanese forces seized Manila.

On January 2, 1967, Ronald Reagan, ex-actor and future President of the U.S., was sworn in as governor of California. On this day in 1981, the British serial killer Peter Sutcliffe (aka the “Yorkshire Ripper”) was arrested in Sheffield. He killed 13 women and tried to kill 7 others, and is now serving 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment. On this day in 1991, Sharon Pratt Kelly became the first African American woman mayor of a major U.S. city as well as the first female Mayor of the District of Columbia. She served one term but then lost the next Democratic primary to the miscreant Marion Barry.

And this I remember well: as Wikipedia describes it, on January 2, 1999, “A brutal snowstorm smashes into the Midwestern United States, causing 14 inches (359 mm) of snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 19 inches (487 mm) in Chicago, where temperatures plunge to -13 °F (-25 °C); 68 deaths are reported.” I haven’t looked at the weather in Chicago since I’ve arrived in Hawaii, but I’m sure it’s not like this.

Notables born on January 2 include Barry Goldwater (1909), Isaac Asimov (1920), Roger Miller (1936), Jim Bakker (1940), Lynda Barry (1956), Christy Turlington (1969), and Paz Vega (1976).

Those who died on January 2 include Dick Powell (1963), Tex Ritter (1974), Erroll Garner (1977), and Maclyn McCarty (2005, co-discoverer of DNA being the genetic material).

Hili has a distinguished guest this morning.

Hili: Tell me about your work in Ireland.
Justyna: One night would not be enough.

In Polish:

Hili: Opowiedz o twojej pracy w Irlandii.
Justyna: Nocy nie starczy.

 

Tweets from Grania. This first one shows that Netflix is acting like WordPress did; in my case it was at the request of Pakistan, but this one is at the request of Saudi Arabia. Do we have to wait for a Democratic President to repudiate that oppressive and censorious country?

LOOK AT THIS FRUIT BAT!

Thank you, Aussies, for saving the dehydrated fruit bats!

Americans are notoriously ignorant of geography, as this video shows. As Grania noted, “This is alarming even allowing for the fact that some people may genuinely have misheard countries as continents. Even after correction, it’s still pretty bad.” Oy, I’m embarrassed for my countrymen!

In view of the above, this song needs to be compulsory in American schools:

A tweet from reader Blue:

A tweet from reader Michael, called “Grief-stricken Kentucky cops.” It’s an official tweet of the Lexington, Kentucky Police Department. Of course the photos are meant to be funny: the joke is that American police subsist on donuts (all Americans believe this). Krispy Kreme is a ubiquitous, much loved, but very dire donut, consisting of sugar-coated air.

Tweets from Matthew. Look at those feet!

I may have posted this, but it’s worth seeing again:

The Frog Kama Sutra:

Finally, my pal Pi:

 

81 Comments

  1. Posted January 2, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    The planet Vulcan is like Jesus’s appearances after the “resurrection”…. astronomers who expected to see it began to find it. Many independent observations were made.

    Then Einstein found the right equations of gravity, explaining Mercury’s orbital anomaly without the need for another planet.

  2. Posted January 2, 2019 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The map challenge is so sad but not unexpected. Remember, these clueless people get one vote each just like you. The Animaniacs cartoon is brilliant! Surely it could be made to go viral and erase the ignorance! Please! Remember School House Rock”?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      You can bet money that all of the geniuses in the video can operate a cell phone. Oh, if you think that was bad, show them a map of the U.S. outlining the states and see if they can name one. And she went to college?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        I could name at least a dozen US states.

        And fifty countries. I get confused by some of the more obscure Eastern European countries (Lithuania etc), and many of the smaller African ones (can’t tell Ivory Coast from Liberia…)

        I liked it where for ‘America’ (I presume meaning USA) she pointed unhesitatingly to southern Siberia. Though most people did get the right continent for ‘Africa’.

        ‘Honduras’ was a bit ambitious – I’m not sure I could get Honduras. Wouldn’t Brazil or Argentina or Chile have been the obvious easy ones?

        Of course we don’t know how selective the video was or how many people just got stage fright.

        cr

    • davidintoronto
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      I suspect (hope!) there’s at least some selection bias going on. I.e., the geographically competent didn’t make the cut because competency isn’t that funny.

      • James
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Very, very likely.

        Also, we’re not seeing how random people in other countries do on these on-the-spot tests. We don’t know if this is an issue with Americans, or with people in general. I’m inclined to believe it’s an issue with people in general, given accounts I’ve read of history–people tend to know the geography around where they live in minute detail, but get fuzzier the further out you go.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          Also, we’re not seeing how random people in other countries do on these on-the-spot tests.

          I agree that is a necessary counterbalance. And I suspect that you’re right that many other areas would not fare impressively either. Working in a very geographically disparate industry, I still see some quite vague people. Most people have, as James says, a relatively good idea around their home country, but then get progressively worse. For an example, when our normal route from the Bight of Benin to Europe was blocked by the ebola outbreak spreading to Nigeria and putting Lagos airport out of commission (according to our infection management plan), I got quite bored with explaining why we were putting people onto flights changing in Addis Ababa or Casablanca.
          Repeated use of a journey does help people fix it in their memory – but I suspect that is common to all motile organisms.
          On the gripping hand … there’s a good reason that tickets are checked at the gate. Even within the confines of a single airport with a myriad of maps on walls, ceilings and floors, people arrive at the wrong gate. Not to mention the people who turn up at the wrong airport.

          • James
            Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

            ” Most people have, as James says, a relatively good idea around their home country, but then get progressively worse.”

            I think that’s something that may make Americans worse at geography than others: our country is freaking huge. Most of the Europeans I’ve met living in the USA have had trouble wrapping their heads around the scale of the USA. Each of our states is the equivalent of a European country; trying to wrap your mind around the whole nation is difficult to someone who didn’t grow up doing it.

            This matters for more than just the physical scale, too. In Europe it’s difficult to NOT go from one country to another these days, and those countries are often quite different in terms of language, diet, culture, even legal systems (the differences have been smoothed over, but there’s still differences). In the USA it takes serious effort to spend much time anywhere with a substantially different culture. Someone living in Kansas isn’t going to have much opportunity to work in another country! This affects how we view the world. If you can go, not just your entire life, but for multiple generations without ever leaving your homeland, you’re going to have a different view of the world than someone who lives in one country and works in another, for a firm owned by a third, and under a manager who lives in a fourth!

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:34 am | Permalink

              All fair points.
              America is about the same area as Canada (with two common languages) and China (with dozens of significantly different dialects, despite generations of promotion of Mandarin as the preferred tongue). It is half the size of Russia in square km, and less than half the size in the metric of time zones (4 versus 9, discounting Hawai’i).

              You don’t have to travel to a different country in order to live under a different legal system – there are three distinct ones in the “United” Kingdom alone.

        • Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          The fact is that we don’t really need a control here. Maybe the bits are selected, but NO properly educated American should be that geographically dumb. Who cares whether people in other places are just as dumb? We TEACH this stuff in schools, and curious citizens should pick it up even if it weren’t taught.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            Amen to that. Why we would want to make excuses or condone a performance like this from anyone is beyond me. If you had made it through 8th grade you should beat this. You can find a similar result if you change the subject to American History. It is something to be ashamed of, not excused.

          • James
            Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

            With respect, I completely disagree. Everyone knows that Americans are not interested in information that doesn’t affect them personally, and has known that for at least two centuries (maybe longer); that’s nothing new or interesting. The interesting question here is WHY Americans don’t retain this knowledge. Simply bemoaning the fact that Americans aren’t interested in a topic one finds important doesn’t do anything; understanding why Americans aren’t interested enough to retain the information can lead to methods for resolving the issue. Anyone can point and laugh, or point and weep; we are intellectuals, we are supposed to probe more deeply.

            • Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

              I’ll go out on a limb here but I would guess that Americans would do poorly on a test covering things that affect them personally, such as how our government works.

              • James
                Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

                The fact that you don’t see a problem with defining “what affects them directly” for people, then testing those people on what you’ve defined, is, to me, problematic.

              • Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                James, I don’t view resolving all known issues as my task. If you have a problem with defining “what affects them directly” questions, please give us your thoughts on the subject.

              • James
                Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

                “If you have a problem with defining “what affects them directly” questions, please give us your thoughts on the subject.”

                Defining “what affects them directly” and quizzing them on it creates, at minimum, the potential for serious biases to be injected into the study. A part of every scientist’s training is (or was, when I was trained, and should certainly be) teaching them to carefully construct their studies in order to understand the phenomena in question, because of this exact risk; I see no reason to discard standard procedures in scientific investigations merely because we’re dealing with human beings and not fossils, rocks, or stars.

                The fact of the matter is that the person best able to assess what affects them directly is the person in question. YOU may consider how the government works to be a significant issue; they, on the other hand, may consider it a relatively minor one, and may consider, for example, infrastructure maintenance (not always involving government) to be more important. Or they may consider how to glaze windows or properly launder vomit stains to be more important (I have two young boys and a young girl; these issues come up as often as government regulations in my life).

                By pre-determining what we consider to be significant direct impacts on the person’s life, we are no longer asking “What do you consider to be direct impacts on your life?” and are instead asking the question “How do you respond to what I consider direct impacts on your life?”

                If you want to know the significance of this distinction, I invite you to examine the 2016 election and its aftermath. The Trump supporters I have met stated that the attitude that prompts the second question is a major reason why they voted for Trump–he at least didn’t present that attitude.

              • Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

                What seems to be missing from your analysis is any sense that people should be educated on subjects that are beneficial for society as a whole and helpful in preparing citizens to vote intelligently and to hold a worthwhile job. While exactly what they need to be taught is necessarily a controversial subject, there is definitely a need to teach them something they don’t know already and is not part of their every day experience. Perhaps we need to change “what affects them directly” to “what would affect them directly if they were to vote intelligently and/or hold down a good job”.

                As for Trump voters, the drive you describe is a sort of anti-intellectualism. They were made to feel ignorant by all the talk about foreign policy, globalization, and foreign policy. (Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was correct but not diplomatic or in her interest.) Unfortunately, their reaction was not to educate themselves on these issues but to elect someone as ignorant as themselves. While we may call this a natural reaction, they are still ignorant and their decision will “affect them directly”.

              • James
                Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

                “…that people should…”

                You’re right. I am ignoring that. For two reasons.

                First, because understanding how people “should” behave is irrelevant to understanding why they behave the way they do. We’ve identified an interesting phenomenon here; I’d rather explore it than try to fix it before understanding it.

                Second, why do you get to decide what someone should or shouldn’t know? Again, the person best able to identify what they should know is the person in question; you have yet to provide any arguments, much less evidence, to the contrary. I am simply not arrogant enough to tell others how they should live their lives, at least not in this level of detail!

                “Perhaps we need to change “what affects them directly” to “what would affect them directly if they were to vote intelligently and/or hold down a good job”.”

                No. That merely ensures that our biases will take over. The whole point of the series “Dirty Jobs” was to call into question our understanding of the definition of “good job”. And as for “vote intelligently”, I cannot recall a single instance in the past decade where that phrase didn’t mean “vote the way I want people to vote”. There’s an element of indoctrination in any educational paradigm, sure, but we shouldn’t make it the goal.

                “As for Trump voters, the drive you describe is a sort of anti-intellectualism.”

                If you think that, you haven’t had a real discussion with a Trump supporter. The ones I’ve met are very keen on education and intellect. Most I’ve met spend their spare time reading, with history and economics being common topics (we can discuss the quality of what they read, but to call them anti-intellectual is simply false). What they despise is self-appointed guardians of culture dictating what they “should” do. The average Trump supporter, in my experience, views themselves as capable of living their own life, and despises that many intellectuals view them as nothing more than children that need to be led. It’s not anti-intellectualism, but rather a rejection of Intellectuals over intellect.

                Take an honest look at your comment and ask yourself how many ethical statements you made, how many times you stated someone “should” do X, Y, or Z. The average Trump supporter, in my experience, views that as you talking down to them. It’s insulting. I mean, imagine if someone wearing a “MAGA” hat did the same thing to you–you’d be livid!

                Trump supporters were not “made to feel ignorant”. They were ignored as irrelevant, and insulted when they weren’t ignored. People who believe they know how to “vote intelligently” simply told them how to act, without understanding their perspective–something you’re still doing, and which my entire point in this discussion is to argue against–and they voted for the first person who actually gave a hoot about them. Not ideal, no; but continue to tell them how they “should” behave and that’s what they’ll keep doing.

                Note that I’m not a Trump supporter. I merely detest, as a violation of all sound intellectual principles, the all-too-common practice of assigning beliefs to one’s opponents. The straw-men you are tilting against were fought in 2016, and were soundly defeated. Yet there’s still this absurd resistance to looking at what the people who voted for Trump actually believe.

              • Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                Did I ever say I personally was going to decide how people should think? That’s a strawman.

                Education, in a sense, is all about deciding how citizens should think. And, of course, determining the curriculum is going to be controversial and open to bias. Does that mean we should forgo education? I doubt you believe that.

                As for people determining for themselves what they need to know. Sure, to some extent that works. But should I as a teenager get to decide what classes I should go to or should I be able to skip school entirely? I don’t think that works and I suspect you don’t either.

                Even as adults, there should be a strong sense in the community as to what people need to know and an encouragement to learn it.

                While we all want to be free, if a large portion of a society decides to opt out of education and learning the ways of the world, society as we know it will break down and disappear. We’ll be free but destitute. Is that what you want?

                As far as the noble Trump voter is concerned, I have yet to meet any or see any interviewed on TV. Sure, they are nice people Sure, some are intelligent. Sure, they have the right to their opinion. However, they are often simply wrong. It’s a lot like religion. Sure, they have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. However, they are still wrong. Jesus didn’t die for their sins (whatever that means) or rise from the grave. The god they worship doesn’t exist.

              • James
                Posted January 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

                “Did I ever say I personally was going to decide how people should think?”

                It’s the inevitable consequence of what you said. Your statement implies that there is a right and wrong answer to these questions, after all. At least, that’s how it’s been interpreted every other time these statements have been used in this context. I feel confident that this time won’t be an exception. Note that I’m not saying you personally are deciding these things; that they CAN be decided ensures that someone WILL decide them, with all the consequences inherent therein.

                “Education, in a sense, is all about deciding how citizens should think.”

                To an extent, sure–I almost posted that education is impossible without an element of indoctrination. But embracing that element is deeply problematic, especially when it results is ostracizing over half your population, which is what the Trump supporters say is happening.

                “But should I as a teenager get to decide what classes I should go to or should I be able to skip school entirely?”

                And you have the audacity to accuse anyone else of using straw men? The Trump supporters I’ve met tend to be adults, home owners, and well-established in their careers. Yes, I DO expect that such people should be given the liberty to determine what they should learn. Teenagers, being below the age of majority, are so obviously an exception that there is no reason to include them in this discussion.

                “Even as adults, there should be a strong sense in the community as to what people need to know and an encouragement to learn it.”

                I strongly disagree with the spirit of this argument. Individuals should be allowed to make their own choices. The only other option is to have some small group of people decide for everyone else what’s important, and if you think that’s ideal imagine if Trump was the person who got to make that choice.

                In reality, there are finely-honed mechanisms for directing people towards proper areas of study: economic and social incentives. If you don’t know how to keep financial records, you go to jail; if you don’t know proper table manners, you don’t get promoted. These incentives do not steer people towards a deep knowledge of geography. This whole discussion amounts to little more than me saying “Huh, that’s interesting, I wonder why” and you (and the blog’s author) finding this somehow objectionable.

                “Is that what you want?”

                You’ve managed–without ANY textual evidence on my part–to convince yourself that I want the breakdown of society. Impressive.

                In fact no, I don’t want society to break down. I like not needing to dig my own potatoes and forge my own tools. You and I differ greatly, I think, on how we define community, however.

                “As far as the noble Trump voter is concerned, I have yet to meet any or see any interviewed on TV.”

                I note your inclusion of the word “noble”. This is nothing more than the “No True Scotsman” fallacy combined with Argument from Personal Ignorance (you are attempting to negate my experience with your lack thereof, rather than addressing the evidence I present).

                This has been fun, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that you’ve no intention of taking anything I say seriously, and instead wish only to mock those who hold different views from what you hold. I’ve seen the end of this road, on the Left and Right. I want no part in it.

              • Posted January 2, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

                By “noble Trump voter”, I am merely pointing out that you are describing people with supposed good qualities without talking about anyone specific. I am doing the same thing but the Trump voter I see doesn’t have such good qualities. If you take a real Trump voter and really drill down to what they think, what they understand, and why they voted for Trump, I think we’ll find someone lacking in understanding and with motives that are not so laudable. What you engage in here is a version of moral relativism and the “there are good people on both sides” argument.

        • Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          We don’t know if this is an issue with Americans, or with people in general. I’m inclined to believe it’s an issue with people in general,

          Well, give that map to a person from the UK and I’m pretty sure most of them will at least be able to pick out the UK.

          I would have thought that the same would surely apply to Americans (i.e. they could pick out the USA), which leads me to think that some creative selection was going on in the edit.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:45 am | Permalink

            Well, give that map to a person from the UK and I’m pretty sure most of them will at least be able to pick out the UK.

            I would have thought that the same would surely apply to Americans (i.e. they could pick out the USA),

            See my point upthread about it being quite common practice in USian public discourse to chop the map up significantly, discarding Canada and Mexico as being “ultima thule”, making Alaska an island in the NE Pacific, and tucking Hawaii into the Monterey Canyon. Where they put Puerto Rica, I’ve never seen it obvious enough to notice it’s existence. I guess that and using oxygen makes me resemble Trump.
            I feel the need for the wire brush and Dettol.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        I’m always suspicious of these vox populi pieces with supposedly random people on the street. Nevertheless, though geographical ignorance isn’t limited to the residents of this nation, we USians tend to be notoriously uninterested about the goings on out there in “not-America.”

        Hell, wasn’t but a decade ago, we had a vice-presidential candidate who thought Africa was a country (and the Queen, the head of the UK government).

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

          Nevertheless, though geographical ignorance isn’t limited to the residents of this nation, we USians tend to be notoriously uninterested about the goings on out there in “not-America.”

          One of the things I noticed (the woman with the stripy top and the man who called Alaska “Greenland”) was a deep unfamiliarity with the shape of the continent, as opposed to the shape of the country. Having that pesky non-USian country on the side does seem to confuse people.
          Hypothesis (for which you’d need a printer and a street full of Americans) : if you manipulated a map (global or w-hemispherical) so that Canada, Mexico and the Alaskan purchase (Seward’s Folly) were presented as separate islands in the Pacific, more people would be able to identify Alaska and the contiguous US correctly.
          I was trying to identify the projection used for the map in the video. It’s not a Mercator ; it’s not a Peter’s (that’s another fine way to mess with people’s geographical mindset). Miller?

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

            @Gravel [picture t bottom of this comment] This Map quiz clip is from a mid-2018 episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Show & the street is probably Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of the Walk of Fame.

            The map isn’t a standard Pacific-centric projection of any type I recognise. I would suppose that it’s been knocked up by the art dept to show up well on the camera, outdoors, in July, in Calif – AND the map is irregularly wrong in a number of ways of course, but not wrong in ways that would prevent me from naming 70 or more countries correctly. 🙂

            The big clue that Jimmy’s Art Dept has been imaginative is that the Bering Strait [Alaska/Russia gap] is shown as approx 1,200 km wide [you could almost slide Australia through the gap Perth first] & not the real distance of 80 km [50 miles]. What they seemed to have done is taken a more usual Atlantic-centric non-rectangular projection & swapped the positions of the Americas with the Rest-0f-the-World to get a rectangular Pacific-centric map. I looked up some ‘orange peel’ style projections, but couldn’t cock up the Bering Strait as thoroughly as they have managed 🙂

            map

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 3, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed the Bering Anomaly. I’ll watch out for it in future, and possibly feed it into the gaping maws of HAARP conspiracy nutters and Pellucidar-hunters, if I feel like stirring the hornet’s nest.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

                I hadn’t noticed that either. Obviously it’s incorrect since someone swam the Bering Strait.

                I think it was less noticeable because we’re more used to seeing the Atlantic-centred Mercator projection, where the split is down the 180th Meridian (aka the Date Line) so the proximity between eastern Siberia and Alaska is not emphasised.

                Incidentally, how convenient for mapmakers that the Zero Meridian was arrogantly established by the British to run through Greenwich! So the 180 degrees cuts through almost no large land area. If the Zero line had been through Lisbon or Venice instead, things would have got a lot messier on the other side of the world.

                cr

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted January 5, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

                The Greenwich Meridian was established by negotiation at a international conference in 188-something, because around 80% of the then-current marine charts used that meridian.
                To the victor, the spoils.

          • Serendipitydawg
            Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:41 am | Permalink
      • rickflick
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        If you remove selection bias,

        “The National Geographic Society made a survey of young Americans’ knowledge of geography. Here are the SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS
        Among 18- to 24-year-old Americans

        87% couldn’t find Iraq on a map
        70% couldn’t find New Jersey
        11% couldn’t find the U.S.”

        Actually, not as bad as depicted in the film, but still not good scores.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Iraq is actually not that easy, since it’s location and shape aren’t particularly distinctive. Tends to get confused with Iran, I think. Saudi Arabia for example would be much easier.

          Ditto for New Jersey. I doubt the average non-USAnian could do New Jersey. A lot more could do New York (with Long Island as a clue), or Florida, or Texas, or California.

          cr

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        In the original Jimmy Kimmel clip an American lad steps up & reels off a dozen countries correctly. Clip cued up here:

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 2, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Cueing didn’t work. The lad is at 3:00

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          That points up another interesting anomaly of the map. When the lad at the end pointed to Iceland I thought “that’s wrong, Iceland’s a lot closer to northern Scotland!” – but actually, of course, that’s just an artefact of where the map was split.

          I have to say that the kid was damn good, he rattled them off much faster than I could have done.

          cr

    • Dragon
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, I heard Czechoslovakia, Burma, and Yugoslavia in the Animaniacs cartoon. I have may missed some other name changes. We need an updated version.

      I have seen a couple videos from the UK where comedians demonstrate similar ineptitude among their citizens.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        I have seen a couple videos from the UK where comedians demonstrate similar ineptitude among their citizens.

        Oh hell, yeah! Easily done. When I was a student, living 70% of the length of the country from where I grew up and clocking up around 12000km a year under the thumb, walking the mountains and caves with a map in one hand (if there was one) and a lamp in my ‘at, I’d have those eye-rolling moments too.

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Rob Paulson, who voiced Wakko, did that song in one take. He can still do it from memory to this day and regularly performs it.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        The trouble with that Animaniacs cartoon, for learning purposes, is that it’s too fast to properly follow or comprehend even when you know the names of the countries.

        Not that it isn’t an impressive achievement.

        It reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s ‘Elements’ song, elegantly illustrated here by Timwi Heizmann:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGM-wSKFBpo

        cr

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Scroll down Beyonce’s feed & there is a boy who aces it – it is just some people have no understanding, or do not care, or have other interests. I like to think I could get most world countries right – sometimes I confuse the smaller West African states…

  3. Laurance
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I pay my bills by check. And I pay, um, it’s called “money”, in stores. I don’t whip out a piece of plastic, and I have to say I’m starting to feel like a weirdo when people all around me are all sticking these cards in these thingummies, and here I am with these pieces of paper and metal disks.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I paid a bar bill in cash yesterday since I had some that had been passed on to me over the holiday. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this exchange of pieces of paper for goods and services was still accepted. But what was once a standard method of payment now feels really weird.

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      You do not have the touch payment option?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        We have it at around 40% of outlets. I’ve used it twice.

        • Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          It is everywhere in London – over £5 that is & under £30…

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 3, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Different country, different shopping habits. Bookshops, supermarkets and places where typical transactions are up in the tenner range there are probably more of them. Pubs and newsagents (typical transactions a couple of quid), not so common. It is changing though, so the actual split might be at “size of chain”, with sole traders/ single premises not making such investment in hardware until it’s actually requested by large numbers of customers. Takeaway food places in a chain – all have card facilities ; sole traders, large majority have a cash box.

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I write two checks a month, sometimes three. Otherwise I use my debit card. I keep a small amount of cash on me just in case, but it’s a lot easier to use the card.

      • Mark R.
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Ditto…except I use Discover since I get cash back bonus. Most bills I can pay electronically, but some vendors only accept a check through the mail.

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I only write about two checks a month these days. I could certainly avoid even that many but, on the other hand, it doesn’t cost me anything really. I will leave it to later generations to go check-free.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        We’re nearly there! My missus and I (in our late 60s, like PCC(E)) issue a cheque maybe once every three or four months. Most of our bills are paid online. I like to have cash in my pocket, mainly out of habit; but most outlets in our town take touchcard payments for anything under £30.

    • Posted January 3, 2019 at 2:50 am | Permalink

      Here in Britain, I doubt that I could even pay for anything in a store or restaurant by cheque these days. Banks used to issue ATM cards that doubled as cheque guarantee cards. The retailer wrote a code from the card on the back of the cheque, and that guaranteed that the bank would honour the cheque, up to a maximum of £50 (back in the 1980s, anyway, when £50 was a lot of money). My current ATM/debit card is no longer a cheque guarantee card. I have no idea how a British retailer is meant to trust a cheque today.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 3, 2019 at 4:22 am | Permalink

        David:

        “I have no idea how a British retailer is meant to trust a cheque today”

        Nearly all High Street retailers don’t trust cheques, because [as you say] they are no longer guaranteed. ‘Tradesmen’ usually accept them & others who know the cheque issuer.

        AFAIK all insurance & utilities companies [including broadband] still accept cheques, but you are punished because all the best deals require paperless direct debit. I reckon it costs those without cards/internet £300 – £1,000 per year in lost deals. Along with the closure of small Post Offices & small bank branches it makes the life of the elderly very hard.

        It is a pity nobody has come up with an easy, safe, accessible, free [paid for by ads] internet device for shopping & banking. I think supermarkets could give away a dedicated ‘netbook’ in store that allows customers to shop & bank with them from home [most supermarkets in the UK have their own banking & insurance services].

  4. Mike
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I’ll bet she knows every intimate detail of the lives of the Kardashians or Beyonce et al.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      I’m well aware of the Kardashians being the lawyers of choice if you’ve beaten someone to death, and Beyonce make fine buoyancy aids. But who’s Al? Paul Simon’s producer, along with Betty?

    • XCellKen
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      I drove past Beyonce’s high school last night

  5. jacques Hausser
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I’m very glad to see that Milano, Verona and Venice are now included in Switzerland. Thank you, Animatronics, to give us a long dreamed access to the sea!

    • jacques Hausser
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Sorry, Animaniacs

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        Venice needed access to the sea?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Now, would that Animaniacs might afford Vladimir Putin a warm water naval base somewhere in the Mediterranean, we wouldn’t have him propping up the barbaric Assad regime in Syria!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 3, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Since the alternative to Assad appears to be ISIS… 😦

        But a bit of geographical nautical contemplation shows why the Russians were so… determined about not letting go of the Crimea.

        cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      You could actually notice that? It was too fast for me to follow.

      On re-viewing it I see you’re correct.

      I think he missed out Andorra and Liechtenstein, too. Not sure if he got Luxembourg.

      cr

  6. Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Nice shirt!

    You could help Matthew out with his MASSIVE pile of holiday marking!

    See if you can catch a wave dude…

  7. tubby
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Pi is judging you. Judge, judge, judge.

  8. Reggie Cormack
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The map challenge. How is it possible to go through any education system and still be so ignorant? Gorblimey, I’m stumped.

    • James
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      To be honest, how much does this matter to their daily lives? I’m sure they learned it in school at some point–but if it never comes up again, how long can you expect them to retain it? It’s not a question of ignorance or willful stupidity, but of division of intellectual labor. If you spend all your time working at a retail shop, caring for your kids, and taking care of your home, you learn things related to that; the exact location of Croatia or Borneo or Patagonia isn’t useful, so falls away.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Incuriosity has killed some cats, too.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Your logic is almost nauseating at it’s base. People are perfectly okay being ignorant of anything that does not directly affect their daily life. So Trumpian.

  9. James
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’ve always enjoyed the way Animaniacs approached educational content: irreverent, insane, but sticky. In my Government class in high school we students used their song to remember the presidents in order (our teacher was very confused). It’s a good way to learn, one that has been used for thousands of years. I often wonder if we shouldn’t re-introduce it as an educational method in schools.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Pretty sure that the Japanese would have captured Manila in 1942, not 1940.

  11. Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    January 2 is also a public holiday in Scotland, but not, alas, in the rest of the United Kingdom.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      A realistic reflection of the local intensity of hangovers?

      • James
        Posted January 2, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        I once got a construction site an extra day off that way. July 4 (USA holiday) was on a Thursday. Typical celebrations include fireworks and drinking enough alcohol to drown a whale. The client wanted to work July 5, that Friday. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do that, and how many operators and laborers (good people, but inclined to imbibe) would be fit for work. He gave them the 5th off that year.

  12. Ray Little
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    The most embarrassing thing about the geography test is how complacent they are about the failures. How representative is this, though? Surely all Americans can’t be happy idiots.

    • Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I’m sure the responses in the video were selected for their amusement value but there are plenty of articles online where average Americans were tested on geography, world affairs, and what have you. They don’t fare well. Here’s one:

      https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/survey-geography-foreign-relations-americans-students/

    • Serendipitydawg
      Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      I feel that this sort of thing is edited to get maximum ‘entertainment’ value… I reckon a similar quiz in the UK about European countries would have similar results, and they are currently our partners in the great EU enterprise.

  13. Posted January 2, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    New population of Coelocanths! https://reefs.com/2018/11/07/a-living-reef-fossil-new-population-of-coelacanth-discovered/

  14. Steve Pollard
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) is still inside. Although one should never say that anyone is irredeemable, he hasn’t provided much evidence that he is safe to be released into the community.

    At his trial, he claimed to be influenced by the word of God. That quickly led to the grim joke: “If you talk to God, it’s called praying. If God talks to you, it’s called paranoid schizophrenia”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 3, 2019 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      “If God talks to you, it’s called paranoid schizophrenia”.

      Except in the US where it’s called ‘witnessing’ …?

      [/sarcasm]

      cr

  15. BJ
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    “On this day in 1860, the discovery of the planet Vulcan was announced at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences. It was a small planet hypothesized to exist as a way to explain anomalies of Mercury’s orbit. Vulcan did not exist. In 1940, Japanese forces seized Manila.”

    I love how you wrote this paragraph as if the two events are related 😛 I wish I had the mental energy to make up a story as to how that might be true, but my brain just isn’t willing to work that hard right now, and nobody likes a long, under-cooked joke.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 3, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Just look at the next para. It seems we can blame Ronnie Reagan for the Yorkshire Ripper (or maybe credit him with his arrest).

      It’s an artefact of PCC’s style.

      I have known it to be used in devastating (and probably lawsuit-proof) fashion in political commentary though. We used to have a local commentator who had a knack of juxtaposing facts in just such a way.

      “Councillor Bryan vetoed the expenditure to re-roof the community hall, stating that people had plenty of other venues for recreation. He was unable to be reached for further comment, having flown to his holiday home in Fiji for the weekend.” That sort of thing.

      cr


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