What does your nation’s leader drive?

What’s interesting in the following chart is:

1) The queen of England got ripped off.

2) South American leaders drive cheaply (look at Chile and Uruguay).

3) The premise that you can determine a country’s level of corruption by the cost of a head of state’s car is really stretching it.

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The lion whisperer

A long, long time ago, when I was young and stupid, I visited a guy in Florida who raised wild animals that performed in television shows and movies. So, as part of the story I was writing, I went into a cage with a lion and with a tiger.

The thing I learned was to make sure the animals had already been fed, and to keep the guy who owned the animals between me and the “pet” at all times.

With that in mind, I still think the guy in this video does not want to be out and about in the wild on a day when these animals are hungry.

Who was that woman in the Obama selfie?

Does it matter? I don’t want to bother with “selfie gate.”

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Because this is who the woman was:

It’s a world leader. They’re sitting at a memorial service that took about four hours in which people were dancing and singing and had a good time.

So are they supposed to put on a “serious face” when everybody else was having a good time.

Well, except for Michelle. (She kind of did look pissed in all the photos I saw during this sequence. And hubby and wife did swap seats, eventually.)

More fun with maps

Here’s another interesting map fact that’s been my obsession for the day:

southamerica

A while back, I posted a map that showed that you could fit a bunch of countries in Africa, including the U.S., China, India and all of Europe.

So if these southern hemisphere continents are so big, how come they look so small on every map I look at?

world-map

Well, it was explained years ago on “The West Wing.”

Here’s the map that freaked C.J. out (click to enlarge):

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Technically, there is no reason why this map is unacceptable. There is no up or down in space (I learned that in “Ender’s Game“). Had the first exploration maps come from the southern hemisphere, this is how they would have been drawn. The North here is pretty squished. The South has plenty of room.

It’s an interesting perspective.

Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013

New York Times correspondents remember Nelson Mandela:

And Mandela speaks:

Ask a slave …

… Since who else would know more about the foibles of the founding fathers?

There’s a whole series of these on YouTube. Here’s another one:

I’ll go out on a limb here and say when she really did this for a living (a slave re-enactor), she was at Mount Vernon. And the sad thing is, these are really questions she was asked.

These definitely aren’t the answers she gave on the job.

 

Birther derangement syndrome

It only appears to be activated by the color black (from the Texas Tribune):

When Democrat Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, Republican voter Christina Katok of Walden said she believed he was ineligible for the job.

She reasoned that he was born in Kenya and therefore wasn’t a “natural born” American — one of a handful of constitutional requirements for the job. (Obama’s birth certificate shows that he was born in Hawaii, but some critics do not accept that as fact.)

Fast forward six years and another freshman U.S. senator, Canadian-born Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz of Texas, is being mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. But Katok, who would vote for Cruz in a heartbeat, doesn’t have any concerns about his eligibility.

“As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil,” she said. Katok said she was more disturbed by Obama’s “strong ties to Kenya,” the African country where his father was born. She also said she didn’t like the fact that Obama did not release his long-form birth certificate during the 2008 race.

Maybe it’s some kind of medical condition. These are seemingly normal functioning people who just have an issue when seeing black and white. That’s why they have a problem with a mixed race guy who was born in the United States and whose father was born in Kenya, but have no problem with a white guy born in Canada whose father was born in Cuba and fought on the side of Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution.

This Sacramento Bee cartoon pretty much captures birther logic:

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Finding your way around Geoguessr

geoguessrThe XKCD.com illustration at the right isn’t what I have a hard time with on Geoguessr.

I can pretty much figure out where I am within a couple of meters as long as the road signs are in Roman letter.

But I seem to spend a good percentage of my time stuck somewhere in Russia and China bombarded with signs that I can’t translate.

Here’s what I do. I land. I do a 360 degree turn. I look for clues: street address, road markers, phone numbers on trucks and buses, business signs.

Eventually, I’ll find something that’s helpful. Then, do a little Internet cross checking, pull up Google maps, figure out how close you can get to the place in the photo using the street view and mark your location on Geoguessr. I can do this almost everywhere in the world.

Except for Russia and China.

Really. I can find my way around a tiny remote island without a problem. The Marshall Islands, the Canary Islands. Anything that has streets off the African coast. Every country seems to include Roman letters in their signage. Even Japan uses various forms of spelling: characters, its own alphabet and Roman letters. It takes a while longer to figure out where you are, but eventually, you can hit the mark.

And, I guess knowing any Romance language will help. If you can read signs in French, you can figure out signs in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. But it’s not essential. I don’t know any Nordic language, but I still can mark where I am.

At least with the Greeks, the letters are close enough that you can work out in your head what the corresponding Roman letter is.

But the Russians and the Chinese rarely provide those clues. Maybe twice, when I’ve found my way to a Russian highway, I see a sign with Roman letters, and then, even when it’s an odd spelling, I’ll figure it out. But that’s rare.

Minutes before I saw the above cartoon, I was on a roll. I zipped through a town in Iowa, a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco and not far from Stockholm, and got more than 6,000 points on each.

Then I hit Russia. Twice. Game over.

Here the link: http://geoguessr.com/. Give it a shot and see where you end up.