Amusing, but there are typos: Wales is the “Land of Strangers”, not the “Land of Stangers”, and a lot of the etymologies are poor. San Francisco does include a diminutive, but you should render it: “St. Frankie”, not “St. Little Frank One.” Virginia is named for Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, and is not the “Virgin Land.” Philadelphia is named for “Brotherly Love’, not “Sibling Love.” And so on ad inifinitum.
My native Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, apparently, falls into a small zone which pronounces syrup as “SEARup,” and whose residents think Mary and merry sound the same, but marry sounds different. I have trouble imagining alternative viewpoints.
The Economist redraws the map of Europe, giving Poland and Lithuania a break by moving them out of their inconvenient position between Germany and Russia. Great Britain gets to bask in the sun off the coast of Spain. And there are other helpful changes.
People who find their neighbours tiresome can move to another neighbourhood, whereas countries can’t. But suppose they could. Rejigging the map of Europe would make life more logical and friendlier.
Britain, which after its general election will have to confront its dire public finances, should move closer to the southern-European countries that find themselves in a similar position. It could be towed to a new position near the Azores. (If the journey proves a bumpy one, it might be a good opportunity to make Wales and Scotland into separate islands).
In Britain’s place should come Poland, which has suffered quite enough in its location between Russia and Germany and deserves a chance to enjoy the bracing winds of the North Atlantic and the security of sea water between it and any potential invaders.
Belgium’s incomprehensible Flemish-French language squabbles (which have just brought down a government) are redolent of central Europe at its worst, especially the nonsenses Slovakia thinks up for its Hungarian-speaking ethnic minority. So Belgium should swap places with the Czech Republic. The stolid, well-organised Czechs would get on splendidly with their new Dutch neighbours, and vice versa.
The largest US state is 66 times as populous as the smallest but it has only 18 times as many electoral votes. Wah! Boo hoo! It isn’t fair!
Some people think we ought to change everything so that votes in the electoral college come out the sane as the results of the popular vote. One way to do that would be simply to abolish history and redraw the map of the states, so that every state had approximately the same population.
It’s a spectacularly stupid idea, but it does produce an interesting new map and some very cool new states’ names.
“In an election in which Obama won the popular vote 51%-47%, a politically neutral division of the nation into 50 equal-population states would have given Romney 58% of the electoral votes and Obama 42%. Equal-population districts work against the Obama Democratic coalition.”
OK, I’m willing to live in Shenandoah and give up plenty of history to avoid another Obama.
A fascinating illustration of the astonishing diversity of languages found at the geographic meeting points of the Indo-European, Semitic, and Turkic language families. It is also very interesting to note how large a portion of the land area of the Middle East is arid and uninhabited.
The Washington Post has a colored-coded map of the world’s least and most emotional countries.
I’m an American (rated one of the most emotionally hysterical countries), but I’m of Lithuanian descent and Lithuania is (correctly) rated one of the world’s most stoical and phlegmatic countries.
I have a few problems with this map, however.
Shouldn’t England be pretty much the same (unemotional) color as Lithuania? It makes sense for Poland to be rated a bit more colorfully volatile than Lithuania, but so should Latvia. I would think that Russia ought to be rated as dangerously emotional, prone to Dotoyevskian fits of violence, despair, and afflicted with a yearning for governmental brutality and oppression. Belarus, on the other hand, traditionally has exhibited a bovine, peasant obliviousness which ought to win it a rating as even less emotional than Lithuania. Its emotional rating ought to resemble the moon’s.
The results are full of anomalies. Is Mexico really less passionate and demonstrative than the United States? Is Japan really as calm as Switzerland? Don’t these people watch any samurai movies?
On the whole, I think getting Lithuania basically right was merely a fluke. Otherwise, this map is mostly open to question.
Detail of 1880 “Conspectus of the History of (US) Political Parties,” an attempt to represent graphically just over a century of American politics.
Susan Schulten introduces this interesting antique item at Mapping the Nation.
I had never heard of a “conspectus,” which is a nineteenth-century term meaning “a comprehensive mental survey.” And that is exactly the idea. I have only reproduced the image here, and left out the extensive narrative that was designed to be laid out under the chart, which lists political events, Supreme Court decisions, and acts of Congress.
In fact, there’s so much detail that I wonder about the purpose of the chart. Perhaps the point was to collapse the chaos of change into a single view, one where a party’s power could be traced over time. The appeal seems to be to capture an overall state of change, of flux. Notice how much the chart resembles a a river. The metaphor is useful — the wider the river at any spot, the more “powerful” the party at that time. I’m particularly impressed by the representation of the turbulent 1850s, when the Whig Party disintegrated and the Republican Party was founded.
When I was a kid, I used to imagine that digging a tunnel from my backyard in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania would take me to China, or maybe Australia. Good thing I never pursued the project. Now that I have a tool to identify where I’d be coming out, I see that I would have wound up all wet and far out to sea in the Indian Ocean.