Where is Ukraine?

That’s what 2,066 Americans were asked in a survey.

This is where they put it:

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In case you can’t figure it out, the red dots are closer to Ukraine than the blue dots are. What’s really unbelievable is that some people put Ukraine in the middle of the U.S. I really hope they were joking.

But how could this get any worse? Political scientists from Dartmouth and Princeton tell us (from the Washington Post):

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.

So people who were the most unlikely to know where Ukraine is were more likely to say we should intervene militarily in Russia’s takeover of Crimea. Yeah, let’s send American troops to battle the Russians on the Russian border. I wonder how that would end?

‘My Love from the Star’: A Korean hit in China

According to a major news outlets, the following Korean soap opera is the most popular show in China, much to the chagrin of Chinese officials:

The show’s called “My Love from the Star.” If I have this straight, a guy from outer space who’s 400 years old is hanging out with a pop star. And that’s putting half the world in a frenzy.

Chinese officials are upset because, it seems, China can’t put together entertainment that’s popular enough to keep its citizens enthralled. For example, the Washington Post says:

It’s not the first time popular foreign entertainment has led to hand-wringing in China. In 2008, when Dreamworks’ “Kung Fu Panda” became a runaway hit in China, it led to similar soul-searching. Why did it take American producers to find the drama and humor in a fat panda learning kung fu in China, many asked.

I didn’t know “Kung Fu Panda” had created an international incident.

Oh, for the full first episode of “My Love from the Star,” click here.

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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Another reason to not visit North Korea

This is the most dangerously insane place in the world (via Talking Points Memo):

Kim Jong Un’s uncle was reportedly given one of the most brutal death sentences imaginable last month.

According to NBC News, which cited a report in a Chinese newspaper, Jang Song Thaek and five of his closest aides were stripped of their clothes, tossed in a cage and eaten alive by a pack of 120 hungry dogs. The dogs had reportedly been starved for five days.

Jang was considered to be the young North Korean leader’s second-in-command.

The details of the execution were published in a newspaper that serves as an organ of China’s Communist Party, but NBC could not independently confirm the report.

North Korea is run by crazy people. And it has nuclear weapons. The nukes probably aren’t a threat to North America, but if I were in China, Japan or South Korea, I would be wvarily looking in that direction.

Future shock in Shanghai

Somebody has been busy (click photo to enlarge):

original

The city on the left is Shanghai, China, in 1987. The city on the right is Shanghai in 2013. It’s like a modest backwater turned into the set of “Blade Runner” overnight. In terms of construction, this may have taken 26 years, but I can’t think of an American city that has changed this much this quickly.

Did you know there are more than 160 cities in China with a population exceeding one million? Can you guess how many American cities exceed one million?

Nine.

China has a population 1.36 billion. The U.S. population is 317.3 million, less than a quarter of China’s. Still, given the proportion, you’d think there’d be at least 40 American cities over the million mark.

The cities I currently live in, Washington, D.C., and Louisville, rank 24th and 27th in terms of U.S. population. They wouldn’t even make the top 200 in China. Maybe that’s one reason American cities don’t grow as fast.

By the way, Shanghai is China’s second largest city in terms of population, with 27 million people. The largest U.S. city? New York, with a paltry 8 million.

And China’s largest city? The Guangzhou metropolitan area with 44 million. I have no idea where this is. I thought Beijing was the largest city, but it ranks third.

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.

The horrors of childhood in Syria

We can’t conceive of the real-life nightmares children face in other parts of the world. These Syrian children were almost blown up. I would have been catatonic. They just see it as another day of surviving.