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40 Maps They Didn’t Teach You In School
August 14, 2013 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Tongue-in-cheek US imperialism and fun stuff as well, for instance Europe according to the USA, and some educational Countries Officially Not Using the Metric System
posted by Schroder (72 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was neat. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Vindaloo at 4:45 AM on August 14, 2013


Doubles, though. 1, 2
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:47 AM on August 14, 2013


Double or not, this map had me laughing the whole way down.
posted by oddman at 4:51 AM on August 14, 2013


Apparently everything is larger in Venezuela. IQ, cup sizes - all cup sizes - and body mass. No wonder they don't like foreigners coming in to mess up that sweet, sweet deal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:55 AM on August 14, 2013


Now I have data to support my proposal that St. Louis ditch the Rams and get an American League team.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:59 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Glad to see Dracula getting his due.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:01 AM on August 14, 2013


None of the maps are rendering for me.
posted by NoMich at 5:05 AM on August 14, 2013


Although if St. Paul had kept its original name, it would be Pig's Eye, which is a lot more fun than St. Anthony.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:11 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


The World's Population, Concentrated is pretty astounding, no?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:15 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The World's Population, Concentrated is pretty astounding, no?

I need Zanzibar for scale.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:20 AM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wait a minute...Fresno used to be called...Fresno Station?

We are through the looking glass here, people.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:20 AM on August 14, 2013


Poultry?
posted by cromagnon at 5:22 AM on August 14, 2013


Poultry?

Turkey
posted by Jalliah at 5:36 AM on August 14, 2013


If anyone else is curious why the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the world's lightning strike capital, I found this discussion on reddit.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:40 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Theft is motivated by envy, not greed?

I also suspect that some of these maps were devised by Canadians.
posted by bad grammar at 5:52 AM on August 14, 2013


Poor Opera. All alone.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:53 AM on August 14, 2013


I've always read the "Countries Not Using the Metric System" map as "Countries that Have Played Golf on the Moon Plus Liberia and Burma."
posted by Ghost Mode at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


I can understand 'Socialist Union' or 'Vikings', but South Americans associate Denmark with... robots? Did I miss a memo?
posted by bouvin at 6:49 AM on August 14, 2013


The World's Population, Concentrated is pretty astounding, no?

I need Zanzibar for scale.


Sorry, Zanzibar doesn't have standing.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:05 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Days like this is when I hate being completely color-blind. The people around me could have any penis size at all, for all I know.
posted by kyrademon at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


They got Ethiopia wrong on the alphabets map. The script is called Ge'ez, not Amharic. Only about 29% of Ethiopians are native speakers of Amharic, though 41% speak it as a second language. Amharic, like Tigrinya, Oromo, and several others descended from the ancient language Ge'ez, which is now extinct except as a liturgical language.

Some of these related languages, including notably Oromo, spoken by over 1/3 of the population, have switched to the Latin alphabet.

Addis Ababa, founded in 1886 by Menelik II (an ethnic Amhara), is an island of Amharic surrounded a sea of Oromo. You drive 15 minutes out of Addis and the signs change from Ge'ez script to Latin. Oddly enough, English appears on most of the signs in both areas.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the strengths of standard English weights and measures is their binary nature. A gallon breaks down into a half, then a quarter, then a pint, then a cup, which is 16 tablespoons. Americans should begin change with the Fahrenheit system, which is nonsensical.
posted by Brian B. at 7:24 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, is that CURRENT breast size, or NATURAL breast size?

And why hasn't my English ancestry made me less of a lightweight drinker? There must be some Turkish or Cypriot blood in there we don't know about.

Of course, I sha'n't have to worry about any of it for long, since New York is killing me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:27 AM on August 14, 2013


Fahrenheit is perfect:

100 degrees is really fucking hot.
0 degrees is really fucking cold.

None of this water phase change nonsense.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:28 AM on August 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


The majority of these maps are clear and specific examples as to why the world needs GIS professionals and cartographers.
posted by graxe at 7:37 AM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


On measurement: I was just reading an article by a math teacher who, as an activity, gives elementary school students arbitrary lengths and has them create units of measure based on them. When asked to divide the length into smaller units, he noted the kids almost never divided into tenths, but frequently took the unit into fourths, eights, and even sixteenths. Now this was in the US, so possible bias, but still provides some insight into what humans will do when forced to come up with measurement on their own.

Also, on the US brands map, nothing against Caterpillar, but shouldn't Illinois get to claim McDonald's?
posted by Wulfhere at 7:44 AM on August 14, 2013


Yeah, I get a bit irritated at the land/water swap one. First of all, that's not a thing, which is why it was taught in school. Second of all, it's actually just reassigning the colors. So if they DID teach it in school, it would just be to illustrate how you should always read the legend of a map before drawing conclusions.
posted by maryr at 7:46 AM on August 14, 2013


Although if St. Paul had kept its original name, it would be Pig's Eye, which is a lot more fun than St. Anthony.

Fortunately, St. Anthony is not the original name for Minneapolis. It was a separate town that Minneapolis absorbed (and is still the name of the neighborhood.) The original name for Minneapolis was Albion, which I actually think is sort of awesome, and spent years as a journalist regularly referring to St. Paul as Pigseye and Minneapolis as Albion, which never caught on, which shows the limitations of my sheet force of will.

Charles Hoag, who offered the replacement name for Albion, actually recommended the city be called Minnehapolis, which is terrible. It's just terrible.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:07 AM on August 14, 2013


This one seems out of date. The US probably slid to red or maybe even black in the last 3 months.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:21 AM on August 14, 2013


I can understand 'Socialist Union' or 'Vikings', but South Americans associate Denmark with... robots? Did I miss a memo?

Only thing I can think of is LEGO® MINDSTORMS®, which apparently always have to be shouted.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2013


T.D. Strange: "This one seems out of date. The US probably slid to red or maybe even black in the last 3 months."

Hyperbole much?
posted by gertzedek at 8:35 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Haven't been reading the front page all that closely lately, have you?

Check out the comments in the Laura Poitras thread a little farther down the page. Maybe ask Michael Hastings' family for their assessment.
posted by Naberius at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2013


I bet that autocomplete of "Washington is broken" is ALL about DC, nothing to do with us. :\
posted by epersonae at 8:57 AM on August 14, 2013


Fahrenheit is perfect:

100 degrees is really fucking hot.
0 degrees is really fucking cold.

None of this water phase change nonsense.


Will it snow?

That depends, is it 31ºF and 33ºF?

Fahrenheit is bonkers.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:57 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gringos Without Borders: "They got Ethiopia wrong on the alphabets map."

Yes, there are vast scads of misinformation in those maps. I hope no one is taking them as authoritative. (The land/sea switch one makes no sense when it comes to Antarctica, as another example.)

The maps are kinda fun, though.
posted by jiawen at 8:57 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will it snow?
That depends, is it 31ºF and 33ºF?


Nup. It can snow well above freezing -- really primo snow weather is actually just a smidge over freezing, like 34-35. And just because it's 31F or 28F doesn't mean you won't get rained on.

Likewise, it can freeze outside when it's above freezing, as many a highway bridge would tell you. Or many ancient/old-timey people who used radiative and evaporative cooling to make ice well above freezing would tell you in a seance. Just because the temperature outside is below freezing doesn't mean that there's ice anywhere, or that there will be anytime soon, and conversely just because it's above freezing doesn't mean that there aren't dangerous amounts of ice or snow on the roads.

You don't really need to remember the exact freezing point very often. Instead, you can tell that it's likely to snow because the forecast calls for snow. And you can tell if it's snowing, or raining, by looking out the fucking window. Remembering the number 32, if you really feel the need to, is no more an intellectual challenge than remembering the number 0.

Similarly, you don't need to remember that boiling water at STP is 212F very often. You can easily tell whether water is boiling by looking at the fucking bubbles.

I'd agree that the US should mostly abandon customary measures of length/distance and mass. But Fahrenheit really is more better than Centrigrade for everyday use by common cretins like us since it doesn't compress the normal range of outside temperatures into such a small band.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


What pisses me off about Celsius is that they insist on using degrees, even though nothing of note is 180 degrees apart in Celsius.
posted by ckape at 10:24 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen that one about brands going around on tumblr and it annoys me because they've apparently decided that Saks Fifth Avenue, which as you might guess from the Fifth Avenue is a New York City thing, was founded in Georgia, apparently just because there is an unrelated town named Saks in Georgia?
posted by titus n. owl at 10:27 AM on August 14, 2013


I wish I could delete comments because I just did further research and proved myself wrong, sorry guys
posted by titus n. owl at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with ROU Xenophobe. I would switch everything but Celsius. Zero degrees should be really cold and not just nippy.
posted by Area Man at 10:44 AM on August 14, 2013


I wish I could delete comments because I just did further research and proved myself wrong, sorry guys

So what did the further research show? So far as I can see Saks Fifth Avenue was founded in NY and it's corporate HQ is in NY. What's the Georgia connection?
posted by yoink at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2013


The breast size one is bullshit anyway; cup size is relative to band size so cup alone really doesn't tell you anything unless you're sure that all places have the same distribution of band sizes. Plus different companies seem to measure it differently, which I'm sure is only exaggerated internationally.

Also I wish they'd source things from actual original sources and not just "imgur", that basically just means someone swiped it to post on reddit without accidentally breaking the server of the original host.

It's a fun group of maps, though.
posted by NoraReed at 11:11 AM on August 14, 2013


How about this as a compromise: All weights and measures switch to SI except temperature which instead of degrees Celsius will be measured in Kelvin. This has several advantages.

1) Named after wealthy, dead Englishman.
2) Human relevant temperatures appear arbitrary (water freezes at 273.15 K)
3) Some human relevant temperatures are round-ish (hot days are 300 K, 250 K is damn cold)
4) Temperature is measured in Kelvin not degrees. No more arguing about 20 degrees being a nice room temperature or a bit nippy.
posted by flyingfox at 11:17 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But Fahrenheit really is more better than Centrigrade for everyday use by common cretins like us since it doesn't compress the normal range of outside temperatures into such a small band.

This reminds me of another reason Celsius is superior to Fahrenheit: It is a well-known theorem from indoor social thermodynamics that, given enough co-workers, a faction to support each possible office thermostat setting will spontaneously develop with time. Having more whole degrees within the acceptable temperature range would result in an increase in the number of opinions about optimal thermostat setting, making for prolonged, more complicated and bloodier conflict.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


How about this as a compromise: All weights and measures switch to SI except temperature which instead of degrees Celsius will be measured in Kelvin. This has several advantages.

1) Named after wealthy, dead Englishman.


Kelvin wasn't English. He was born in Ireland and spent his life in Scotland. He is usually regarded as Scottish.
posted by Thing at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2013


Kelvin wasn't English. He was born in Ireland and spent his life in Scotland. He is usually regarded as Scottish.

Well, that's embarrassing. I have honestly never looked into his nationality and made a naive assumption. Poor form on my part.

Popular culture currently has a Tesla/Edison over fixation. Kelvin was, in my humble opinion, a far more interesting person.
posted by flyingfox at 11:42 AM on August 14, 2013


Graphical depiction of Fahrenheit vs Celsius vs Kelvin.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:44 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fahrenheit is perfect:

100 degrees is really fucking hot.
0 degrees is really fucking cold.

None of this water phase change nonsense.


Actually, the (revised) Fahrenheit scale is explicitly defined by 32º being the freezing point of water and 212º as the boiling point. How they got to be those arbitrary-seeming numbers is kind of a complicated story, but it is based on water phase changes.
posted by jedicus at 12:01 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


But Fahrenheit really is more better than Centrigrade for everyday use by common cretins like us since it doesn't compress the normal range of outside temperatures into such a small band.

Common cretins worldwide seem to get along fine with Celsius temperatures.

And it could be worse! Anders Celsius's first scale went the other direction, with 0 being the boiling point and 100 the freezing. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:14 PM on August 14, 2013


Fahrenheit is perfect:

100 degrees is really fucking hot.


You don't get to base shit on 100. 100 is arbitrary and meaningless in the imperial system.

Thankfully boiling is 180 degrees F above freezing, and 180 is a nice, round number in base 6.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:47 PM on August 14, 2013


Funny thing about the metric map is following it up looking at the "Which Side of the Road Do You Drive" map.

UK: Since most of the world uses metric, then you should get modern and do so too!
US: Yeah, that logic dictates you should be driving on the right side of the road. You first, UK. You first.
posted by grubi at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2013


You don't get to base shit on 100. 100 is arbitrary and meaningless in the imperial system.

Thankfully boiling is 180 degrees F above freezing, and 180 is a nice, round number in base 6.


Then let's compromise: shift Fahrenheit down 32 degrees. Water freezes at 0, boils at 180, and we'll call it Fahrengrade. Or Celsinheit.
posted by grubi at 1:09 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


(btw, that makes the avg human temp 66.6 degrees, which is AWESOME.)
posted by grubi at 1:13 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Celsius: Forty degrees is very hot. Thirty degrees is a summery day. Twenty degrees is comfortable. Ten degrees is cold. Zero degrees will kill you unless you have protective equipment.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zero degrees will kill you unless you have protective equipment.

What, like clothes?
posted by Daily Alice at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Burlington Coat Factory is a great place to get protective equipment for a reasonable price.
posted by Area Man at 4:01 PM on August 14, 2013


Also, 10C isn't cold except to King Candy-Ass of Wussitania. The most you can say about 10C is that you wouldn't want to take a long walk in shorts and a t-shirt.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:29 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, 10C isn't cold except to King Candy-Ass of Wussitania.

10C is decidedly cold in any place where that's about as cold as winter gets (in Southern California, say, it's definitely warm coat weather). It's also cold in any place with a real winter when you first start hitting that point on the way down in Fall, although it feels gloriously balmy on the way out of winter in Spring (in Montreal, say).
posted by yoink at 4:45 PM on August 14, 2013


Enquiring minds want to know

So ... where do people with degrees in Human Geography actually work??
posted by Twang at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2013


where do people with degrees in Human Geography

Fahrenheit or celsius?
posted by yoink at 5:51 PM on August 14, 2013


I see that I need to explain how metric temperature measurements work for people in the USA, just as you might have to explain firkins and rods to someone from the rest of the world. We divide the temperature range between the boiling and freezing points of water into one hundred degrees. Hence the name centigrade or celsius. These words come from Latin: centigrade meaning "one hundred steps" and celsius meaning "I am better than you". Because it is better to do things our way, which is why we do them.

Note the lower point of the temperature range - zero! This is the point at which water freezes. The human body is largely composed of water. We could not survive if we froze. This is why, when we look at a map of the globe, the countries are colored but the extremities are white. The colors indicate human habitation. The extremities are white because nobody lives there. If they did, they would freeze, because the temperatures approach zero degrees centigrade. I say approach because of course you cannot have a number lower than zero.

Now, some people will say "Hang on, you can lower the freezing point of water by adding alcohol". This is true. But you cannot lower it very far, and to survive in very cold temperatures it would take a great deal of alcohol consumed over a long period of time. This is why some of the lower regions of Canada are in fact inhabited during the summer.

Any questions?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:00 PM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


10C is decidedly cold in any place where that's about as cold as winter gets (in Southern California, say, it's definitely warm coat weather)

If you say so, Your Majesty.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:04 PM on August 14, 2013


Forty Maps that Explain the World (WaPo via HonoriaGlossop)
posted by box at 6:51 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hug a Mongolian
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:17 PM on August 14, 2013


One of the strengths of standard English weights and measures is their binary nature

SI units were really a step backwards in a lot of ways. What we should have done is eliminated the decimal number system as an arbitrary throwback to the days when we counted with our fingers and gone with a more sensible base, like binary or hexadecimal.

I mean think of it this way, a gallon is 100 quarts, a quart is 10 pints and a pint is 10 cups.

Makes a lot more sense than a meter being 1100100 centimeters.
posted by empath at 3:00 AM on August 15, 2013


Also, now water freezes at 100000 degrees Fahrenheit. It's just natural!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:03 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


What we should have done is eliminated the decimal number system as an arbitrary throwback to the days when we counted with our fingers and gone with a more sensible base, like binary or hexadecimal.

Little known fact: Empath has 16 fingers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:11 AM on August 15, 2013


Or two fingers.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:11 AM on August 15, 2013


10C is the average overnight low in July/August in Calgary. Here, a long walk in 10C in shorts is called "going home from your friend's BBQ".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:57 AM on August 15, 2013


10C is the average overnight low in July/August in Calgary.

The experience of 10C air temperature at the end of a long warm day is utterly unlike the experience of 10C as the high air temperature reached during a short winter's day. 10C is about the average daily high for Calgary in October. You know, when everyone but the absolute wimps spends the whole day outdoors in shorts and t-shirts.
posted by yoink at 11:19 AM on August 15, 2013


The Saks state is actually Alabama, and it's utter crap. Apparently a department store conglomerate based in Birmingham owned Saks' parent company for a couple of years in the 2000s. Hardly a brand we can claim.

However, I'm not able to think of a "famous" alternative at the moment. Morrison's Cafeteria, anybody?
posted by TallulahBankhead at 8:41 PM on August 15, 2013


Is Talladega a brand?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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