August 27, 2013

"40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World."

Please check these out. Spend as much time as you like. Then, I'd like to ask you a question. Don't click "more" until you've looked at the maps.

Which map did you spend the most time with? Which maps drew you in? Looking back at my experience with these maps, it occurred to me that this functioned as a sort of a personality test, though I'm not ready to spell out what your results are. I'll just say where I became absorbed:

By far, I spent the most time with "4. Map of ‘Pangea’ with Current International Borders." The other 2 that absorbed me were "23. If the World’s Population Lived in One City" and "38. The Longest Straight Line You Can Sail on Earth."

Some of them I skipped right over because they gave me that feeling that an annoying ideologue was urging me to get outraged about something.

93 comments:

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I didn't spend much time with the Pangaea map (that's how it's usually spelled, as it in fact is in the accompanying text), because I'd seen it before. The real zinger in there, of course, is where India used to be. Kind of explains the Himalayas, yes?

I think I spent the most time on the literal translations of Chinese names for European nations. Um ... wow. What's with all the orchids?

After that, the coffee map (people, we're lagging the Swedes seriously here; step it up!), the vegetation map (we forget exactly how vast the taiga is), and the one with the little circle over China, India, and Japan: There are as many people inside this circle as outside. Gives you a sense of scale, that does.

FleetUSA said...

I was most drawn to the overlay of the US on the moon. Second was the density of world population in US states, but I already knew of the Texas situation not the others.

Graham Powell said...

I was most interested in the amount and types of alcohol consumed. Not surprising that Anglo countries all seem to prefer beer.

Lyssa said...

I probably spent the most time with the one about paid maternity leave (see above, re: an annoying ideologue, I'm sure). I find it extremely hard to believe that all of Africa with the exception of one country, and all of South America with one exception (save a very few "data not availables"), provide actual paid leave for a significant portion of the population. I found myself trying to figure out the call of the research question, and how the drafter must have crafted it just so, or (quite likely) applied very different standards for different countries.

I was also very interested in the Pangea and population density ones, as well as the "countries that England has not invaded." (Cue ideologue again, given the loadedness of the term "invaded.")

Hagar said...

Where the oil goes.

A badly missing map: The ocean currents.

Franklin said...

I'm not sure whether I was reading the population of the Earth if it were as dense as a city correctly - the map seems to imply that Paris is more dense than New York? Can that be right?

SteveR said...

I agree with your observations completely. I love maps, a good map is like a good book.

surfed said...

I taught Geography for 35 years. I am cognizant of most of this information. Good for civilians to have knowledge of though....

Lyssa said...

Oh, I also took notice of the fact that the highest paid public employee in every state is a university employee. They wanted you to focus on the frequency of coaches, but even the ones that weren't coaches were university employees.

Broomhandle said...

The surnames map was interesting. Martin is the most common surname in France? Who knew? And you're absolutely right about the attempt to incite indignation.

Capt. Schmoe said...

I found the one regarding alcohol consumption by countries very interesting. It verified suspicions that I've harbored for many years.

1) Never try to out drink Russians or Aussies. You will lose, ask me how I know.

2) The countries where Islam is the primary religion basically do not consume alcohol. Another reason not to trust them.

Cheers

Paco Wové said...

"40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World"? Oh puh-leeezzee. Get over yourself, Mr. Reddit Cartographer.

That said, maps 7 (European surnames), 18 (earthquakes), 20 (bribery incidence), and 31 (population distribution by latitude and longitude) were worth a minute or two.

Also - 'Business Management EU' doesn't know what the boundaries of Indonesia are (#5).

MrCharlie2 said...

I spent more time on "39. Map of Europe Showing Literal
Chinese Translations for Country Names". Finland translated as "Orchid Fragance" grabbed me. Then I tried to figure exactly WHAT they were translating.

Amexpat said...

Most of the maps were cool, but they mostly provided info that I was aware of.

The map with literal Chinese translations for country names was the most interesting for me. The information was new and somewhat puzzling. Sweden as "Very Lucky Soldiers" and Spain as "West Classtooth"? I was glad to learn that I live in the land of "Move Prestige".

David-2 said...

I spent the most time with "7 most common surnames in Europe". I was glad to see there was a basis for using "Smith" as the canonical generic surname. (And for "Papadopoulos" for the canonical generic Greek surname.)

I thought "The 7000 Rivers that Feed into the Mississippi River" was rather amazing; I had never thought about that before.

Finally, I spent a lot of time thinking about "The Longest Straight Line You Can Sail on Earth
(Pakistan to Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia – 20000 miles)", specifically, how would you actually determine that (e.g., data structures and algorithms for coding the problem). I'm still not done with it.

Paco Wové said...

Oh, yeah; the other thought that occurred to me (after I noticed that map #5 didn't know where Indonesia began or ended) was, "So, how reliable are the data going into these things?"

n.n said...

I stopped reading at "4. Map of Pangea" where the the caption is "was a supercontinent that existed". It is unseemly that scientists make affirmative statements based on inference from limited, circumstantial evidence. They routinely cross the fine line which separates science and philosophy. They are welcome to draw conclusions from emergent patterns, but they should properly classify their speculation and identify its context. Too many people only read the "headline".

I should have stopped reading at "2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System". This is only partially true. While in America the English system is commonly used, the metric system is predominantly used in technical applications for the convenience of proportions that it offers, which, incidentally, is the reason for using the English system in other applications: perception.

Gerald Magnuson said...

Map 12: Visualizing Global Population Density... East Asia is way too overpopulated!

Wally Ballou said...

I spent the most time looking at the translations of country names (baffling) and the alcohol preferences, because they had more textual information to process. Some maps, though interesting, could be taken in at a glance,some were uninterseting, and some others, as you said, bespoke an ideological chip on the mapmaker's shoulder.

lgv said...

I spent little time on the ones that you mentioned. I'd seen the Pangea map before.

I looked carefully at: 1) Google street view (wondered how global it was) 2) Metric Map (it bugs me why we haven't switched) 3) McDonald's (not accurate or not up to date, Indonesia has McD) 4) Different writing systems.

Some I found misleading (paid maternity leave? Some with it average $1/day in pay for women)



Brian said...

The "economic center of the world". It's got a whiff of the ideologue about it, but I was nonetheless ensnared by the mental task of de-projecting the data from the flat map back to the globe.

I find this sort of visualization problem nearly irresistible.

MadisonMan said...

I also liked the 'If the world's population lived in one city' map because it showed the differences in population density between cities, and I found that interesting.

Population by Latitude and Longitude was also interesting to me.

MadisonMan said...

If you’re a visual learner like myself

Horrible way to start, by the way. Replace myself by I, please.

And don't get me started on this nonsense visual learner/tactile learner garbage. That's just a way to excuse failure without taking responsibility for it.

JackOfVA said...

Map 4 (Pangea). Thinking about how nifty it would be to drive from the east coast of the US to Australia.

Then 7 (most common surnames in Europe) I recognized about half of these names from classmates at my early 1960's suburban Detroit high school.

Then 29 (economic center of gravity) Reminded me that China was really the center of the developed world for a long time, until the rise of Europe and subsequently the USA.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I spent the most time on Most Common European Surnames. I'm an etymology freak. I also spent time on Literal Meaning of Chinese Names for European Countries. Those Chinese are so silly. Last but not least was the Piracy map. One must be prudent about where one dispatches one's supertanker.

Sayyid said...

I'm skeptical of most of those maps after finding an inaccuracy in at least one of them. The McDonald's map is inaccurate. Morocco is shaded blue for "not present."

McDonald's is not just present in Morocco, but it's so present (31 locations) that it has its own country-specific website: http://www.mcdonalds.ma/

By way of trivia, it's actually one of the few restaurants in Morocco that both stays open during daylight hours in Ramadan and does not have tourists as its target market. I ended up eating a lot more McDonald's and a lot less local food than I planned on when I visited Morocco because of it.

Lyssa said...

Franklin, I think that it seems right that Paris could be more dense than NYC. Remember that NYC is more than just Manhattan, and some of that is not nearly as dense. Also, even Manhattan is less dense than it seems, population-wise, as so much of it is commercial with many employees living in the suburbs.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Oh, and how is it we let Canada outdrink us in coffee? Lousy flannel-wearing Gordon Lightfoot lovers.

EDH said...

By far, I spent the most time with "4. Map of ‘Pangea’ with Current International Borders."...gave me that feeling that an annoying ideologue was urging me to get outraged about something.

Well, even as far back as Pangea you can see the USA fucking the vagina of the third world, formed by South America and Africa, with its dick, Florida.

Old RPM Daddy said...

I think my favorite was Number 27, World Map of the Different Writing Systems. So many systems packed into South and Southeast Asia! But I never knew that Georgian and Armenian had their own scripts as well.

Cedarford said...

My most looked at were:

1. Map of economic gravity showing the decline of N America, the rise of Asia.
2. Pangea map with most interest in how India, Madagascar, Antarctica, and Australia once fit together.
3. Where Google street view is available. Essentially where 1st world civilization is, now spreading to less civilized and developed lands.
4. Worldwide map of oil import/export flows.(All exported oil from Brazil with deepwater oil rigs Obama and Soros sent from the Gulf to Brazil goes to CHina)

Biggest impression in a single glance:

1. Map that splits half the worlds population to India and East Asia vs. "The Rest of Us"/
2. Countries still resisting the metric system. Map is wrong, BTW. Thai use metric for everything but property measurements. Leaving America with both our measuring system and our Constitution as the most archaic and out-dated in the world. To compete in the modern world, both need real overhaul.
3. Coaches vs. all other college officials and employees for "highest paid". Map of highest paid athletes serving to enrich the college coaches obviously not available.

Sayyid said...

Another note: when looking at map #20 (violations of bribery law) be aware that what's being picked up is the confluence of a few variables: (1) How much actual bribery goes on, (2) How much of that bribery is acted upon by the authorities, and (3) What qualifies as "bribery" under the country's laws, and how well people are able to work around those definitions.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Age of first sexual intercourse, amount of coffee and alcohol consumption, paid maternity leave, bribery (absence of) and number of researchers per million all lead indisputably to the conclusion that I should move to Scandinavia tomorrow.

I don't understand "Borg" as the most common surname in Sicily. I think someone must have been joking.

G Bugg said...

Surnames, oil distribution and the US rivers maps were the most interesting to me. Say my mothers maiden name on that map - that was kind of cool. As a cartographer, for the most part, found the collection pretty dull.

ad hoc said...

I was most interested in the maps of surnames, alcohol consumption, translations, and population density (#12).

I think the metric system map was somewhat misleading as the US uses both systems. Scientific and technical papers report data in metric units.

Roger Sweeny said...

I feel like I spent about the same amount of time on each map. It was as if I was about to take a test on the 40 maps and had to be a little familiar with each of them. Many I had seen before and most of the rest I felt I could "get a feel for" by a relaxed consideration.

That said, the metric map kind of pissed me off. People do not "use" the metric system in the United States? Every scientist or medical technician or electrician does. If you buy a bike in America, the size will be in millimeters. You can't work on a new car engine without metric tools. And what does that bottle of water you're drinking from say? Five hundred milliliters.

(Few people realize that the USA is officially on the metric system. All "customary" units are defined in relation to a metric base. E.g., an inch is defined as the length equal to exactly 2.54 centimeters.)

Roger Sweeny said...

I feel like I spent about the same amount of time on each map. It was as if I was about to take a test on the 40 maps and had to be a little familiar with each of them. Many I had seen before and most of the rest I felt I could "get a feel for" by a relaxed consideration.

That said, the metric map kind of pissed me off. People do not "use" the metric system in the United States? Every scientist or medical technician or electrician does. If you buy a bike in America, the size will be in millimeters. You can't work on a new car engine without metric tools. And what does that bottle of water you're drinking from say? Five hundred milliliters.

(Few people realize that the USA is officially on the metric system. All "customary" units are defined in relation to a metric base. E.g., an inch is defined as the length equal to exactly 2.54 centimeters.)

CWJ said...

Another Geographer (by training not by vocation) here. This is a wonderful link that I've now added to my favorites.

As you and the commenters have shown, cartography is propaganda as well as art and information. Always think about who and how a map was compiled (technical term) as well as viewing/reading the result.

I also was drawn to the US/Moon overlay. Even though the moon is large enough that earth/moon can be considered a double planet system, the representation quickly captures how small the moon actually is.

tim maguire said...

Country names literally translated from Chinese and the most common surnames were interesting.

The shift in economic center of gravity bugged me because it didn't make much sense and had to have ignored large holes in the historical record. Plus I think its 2025 projection is crap.

Henry said...

I was reminded of this.

More specifically, I was annoyed at how often political boundaries obfuscated data. Some of the maps are legitimately geographical. Some use reasonably good projections. But many are visually inane.

Here's one place to restart.

D. Luthor said...

Capt: I know some Saudis. They drink alcohol. It is just not reported much.

Peter said...

"the metric system is predominantly used in technical applications for the convenience of proportions that it offers, which, incidentally, is the reason for using the English system in other applications: perception."

Metric is used in science and engineering because:
1. Its powers-of-ten organization is convenient for representing very large or very small numbers, and
2. It's a truly international system.

But for all that, astronomers seem to hang on to their parsecs and light-years, although neither is an SI unit.

The advantage of traditional units (Other than familiarity) is that they're often based on a powers-of-2 hierarchy, which makes it easy to divide and multiply quanitities (i.e.- gallon/ half-gallon/quart/pint/cup).

In any case, if the USA does eventually "go metric," the last two areas of change will be in building and land measure.

1. Building materials used since WWII almost always came in 4 x 8 foot sheets. Buildings last a long time.

2. Townships are 36 square miles; a square mile is 640 acres- divide in four and you get 160 acres (large farm); divide it by four again and you get 40 acres (small farm); divide that by eight and you get 5 acres (farmette). A look out an airplane window reveals that much of the countryside is marked off by "section roads," located at mile intervals. And within these are large farms, small farms, and farmettes. None of this would yield easily or gracefully to re-measure in hectares and meters.

My peeve: U.S. brand cars have had metric fasteners in them for decades now, but lawnmowers, snowblowers, etc. still use fractional-inch. Couldn't they be nudged to use metric??

Oh, the maps: population by longitude and latitude. A set of these showing estimated populations by longitude/latitude over historical time would be interesting.

john said...

I was struck by the correlation between highest coffee consumption and age of earliest sexual intercourse. I just can't figure the causality there.

That, and it being easier to bribe someone in Canada than in the US.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The "literal translation" map is confusing to anyone who doesn't know how Chinese people represent foreign names.

Essentially there are two ways: translating the meaning, and translating the sound into Chinese phonemes. For example, "San Francisco" is translated by meaning, in Chinese it is "Old Gold City". But "America" is translated by phoneme, to "Meiguo". "Meiguo" literal meaning is "beautiful country", which is a happy accident, most country names come out as some kind of orchid, as commenters noticed.

Foobarista said...

"Economic center of gravity", "booze per capita", "European country names in Chinese rendered back to English", and the city one. (I'd already calculated the straight line thing :)

Tibore said...

I'm a little irritated by the "no maternal leave" map. It may be true that the US doesn't have laws mandating such, but the implication ends up being that none exists. Which is not true; the fact that laissez faire political philosophy ends up leaving that undefined does not mean that it's nonexistent.

Leave it to the NY Times to not bother laying out the difference between something not being government mandated and not existing to begin with.

Tibore said...

Ha! Best one: "Map of Where 29,000 Rubber Duckies Made Landfall After Falling off a Cargo Ship in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean"

Vittorio Jano IV said...

Chinese names for foreign countries tend to be characters that sound similar to the name of the foreign country in the language spoken there. In many cases, the names are shortened to comprise a single character/sound plus the character for "country" ("guo"). Often there is an attempt to include a meaning that is relevant for some reason as well as an attempt to provide a positive (or at worst, neutral) meaning. For example, sticking to countries with whose languages I have some limited knowledge and using the pinyin romanization system:
--Meiguo = America (second syllable is transliterated);
--Yingguo = England (first syllable);
--Deguo = Deutschland (first syllable);
--Aierlan = Ireland (entire name);
--Moxige = México (entire name); and
--Xibanya = España (entire name).

Unknown said...

As I spent time looking at the map about paid maternity leave, it made me wonder. Of course, the purpose of the map is to make me think how behind the times the U. S. is because we don't have paid maternity leave. But perhaps looking at it the other way around, as I will look at all maps from now on, we see that all of the countries that do not have our economic dynamism and freedom do have paid maternity leave. Maybe there's something about the government keeping its nose out that allowed us to become a great nation.

PatHMV said...

Population by latitude. There's a very narrow sliver of our planet that is truly welcoming to human beings. Almost all of the planet will tolerate us; we are remarkably adaptable. But only about a 10% band where earth says: "hey, come on, make yourself at home!"

Also interesting that much of northern Africa is within that welcoming zone, but has a relatively scant population because of the deserts. I wonder what the potential is for converting the Sahara and the other deserts in the area to plains or forests.

Unknown said...

As I spent time looking at the map about paid maternity leave, it made me wonder. Of course, the purpose of the map is to make me think how behind the times the U. S. is because we don't have paid maternity leave. But perhaps looking at it the other way around, as I will look at all maps from now on, we see that all of the countries that do not have our economic dynamism and freedom do have paid maternity leave. Maybe there's something about the government keeping its nose out that allowed us to become a great nation.

D. Luthor said...

Igv: Metric might have taken off here if the creators had chosen to base volume on the quart instead of making something arbitrary and so close to a quart but not exactly. Or doing the same thing in regards to making up the meter... so close to a yard. Or just left Fahrenheit alone.... it is already nicely base-100 and quite sensible.

Cameron Price said...

I can shed a very little bit of light on the Chinese names of countries. I studied Chinese a few years ago, and it seems that many of the names are chosen to sound roughly like the originally, while retaining a positive meaning. For example, England, which they've translated "braveland", but I always thought was "hero nation", is actually Ying Guo, which sound sorta like england. (Incidentally america is mei guo, literally beautifiul nation). In both cases guo is pronounced with a falling and rising tone which helps in making it sound like the original word. I imagine a lot of the other countries have similar explanations.

edutcher said...

Have to agree with Broomhandle with the surnames (Wilson in Ulster?). Driving orientation, highest paid public employees (Yo, coach!!???!), and the countries Britain invaded all drew me in, but a bit less.

I couldn't resist Pangea because The Blonde's favorite nephew was fascinated by it when he was little and once even took over from the teacher to explain it in class.

Clyde said...

My favorite was the internet usage over time map. I liked watching the pixels change color as internet usage heated up during local day time and cooled at night.

Huan said...

http://hint.fm/wind/

codeweasel said...

For some unsettling reason I was fascinated by the distribution of rubber duckies.

I also liked the U.S. on the surface of the moon.

codeweasel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madAsHell said...

I'm curious about the Chinese names map. It must be the same old all-your-base-are-belong-to-us translation trick.....or it's complete bullshit.

I spent the most time on the internet usage map, any alcohol map, british invasion map, and the economic center map.

TJIC said...

@FleetUSA: I was most drawn to the overlay of the US on the moon

Same here.

I'm polishing a novel that has as part of its plot four people hiking around the moon, and this map really drew me in.

Anthony said...

I've seen some of these maps before, and some fairly recently, which skews the time I spend with each one. (For example, Pangaea with modern political borders got a few seconds this time, but lots of time when I first saw it.)

Ones I spent some time with this time:

Writing systems, even though I've seen it before.
World divided into 7 billion-person regions.
Population by latitude and longitude.
Longest great circle route on water ("straight line you can sail").
Internet usage by time of day.
Busiest air travel routes. (I went and looked up stats for Bay Area to LA - but there are 3 airports at one end and 4 at the other, so the busiest single route is way less than Cape Town to Joburg.)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Franklin,

I'm not sure whether I was reading the population of the Earth if it were as dense as a city correctly - the map seems to imply that Paris is more dense than New York? Can that be right?

I think it might, if you class as "New York City" everything in the five boroughs, and leave out of Paris, say, the Cités, which are euphemistically called "suburbs." I'm surprised they didn't throw in Hong Kong, which would be the obvious doesn't-get-any-denser-than-this comparison.

Jeff Gee said...

I spent a lot of time with 39, Literal
Chinese Translations for European Country Names. Also 35, the pirate activity map, although I want to click on it to find out what the purple do-hickeys meant and the map turned out to be un-clickable.

It is very dispiriting to know that Ludacris claims to have no hoes in my area code.

[got an error message when I first tried to post, so apologies if this is a near-double]

Beorn said...

Putin controlling more than half of the oil that Europe imports sent a shiver down my spine.

Aaron said...

The Chinese names for European countries break into two camps:

1) Names of the big powers when China wished to impress them...thus country of law, country of brave, country of morals, etc. These are slightly related to the phonetic sound of the country's name. De Guo = Germany = Deutschland.

2) Names of countries after China stopped doing that and simply made them phonetic.

This is why there are so many "orchids" simply because they are replicating "land" Finland, Poland, etc. Spain and Italy have no meaning they just are phonetic: Shee-Ban-Ya and Eee-Da-Lee.

Christy said...

Earthquakes - I found it pretty, but mostly I was fascinated by the overwhelming Pacific Rim aspect. Sure, the map was centered on the Pacific, but I searched for other strong spots. My reading of history led me to expect the region from Greece to Mesopotamia to light up most. Guess I need to read more Asian-Pacific history.

The rivers emptying in to the Mississippi, surnames and then translated Chinese names of countries fascinated me next most.

Does this confirm me as an ENTP? Nah, I simply liked best what I knew least.

Christy said...

Oh, and the rubber duckies that found the Northwest Passage!

Titus said...

The maternity leave map caught my attention.

Hagar said...

The metric system might have taken off in the United States if John Quincy Adams had not been so unpopular with his own party.

And seeing Norway as one of the countries "invaded" by the British first made me say B.S., but then remembered that there has indeed been a couple of instances when armed men from the British Isles "invaded" Norway. And of course there was Canute the Great, but Store-Knut was Danish, not British, and he bought his way in, there was no military force involved, not of his, anyway.

So, as others have pointed out, including AA, these maps need to be treated with caution. A lot depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Freeman Hunt said...

My favorites were surnames, more people live inside this circle than outside it, pirates, McDonalds (Japan!), duck paths (sort of like a map of ocean currents), and vegetation. I wasn't interested in the Pangea map because I couldn't see any interesting relationships to be drawn from it. Except for the inside this circle map, I skimmed over many maps because I already knew what they were illustrating; I'm not sure what I would have found most interesting going into it without already being familiar with much of the data.

eddie willers said...

I came away with, "Whoa...it really is the Mighty Missisip".

From Inwood said...

I missed the map with 57 states in the US & the one with all the East Coast ports in the Gulf or vice versa (don't make me look it up).

I'm late in writing so I woild just note that Ifound this collection a mixture of fun & seriousness with some ideology.

On NYC's density, as pointed out a lot of NYC is non-residential. F,or instance, Inwood (North Manhattan)is 1/2 parkland but the populated part is 99% apartment houses, which gives it quite a lot of folks in the non-parkland, as I can personally attest.

Also, the population of US cities is misleading with San Antonio & Indianapolis in the top dozen & Boston & SF down the list. Metro or Consolodated areas are more important if you are looking to advertise, let's say.

I also read somewhere that Stuy Town/Peter Cooper, tho all high-rise do not have the same population as the low-rise row buildings they replaced had.

The Godfather said...

I learned the most interested from the map showing the longest straight line voyage (and the animation that explained it). We know intellectually that we live on a ball, but we perceive the world as flat, so this is an eye-opener.

A great many of the maps showed stuff we already know, essentially where modern developed economies exist, and where developed societies have characteristics we are or aren't comfortable with (at my age, and as a grandfather, I'm not comfortable with early ages of sexual intercourse -- I'd recommend 30 -- and the same for driver's licenses and consumption of alcohol).

Two asides: Although it's hard to tell from the map, there's left-side driving in the US Virgin Islands (at least there used to be; I haven't been there for awhile). Those islands have no British connection, but before the US acquired them they were the Danish Virgin Islands, and at that time the Danes drove on the left.

Re: McDonalds. Several years ago we took a tour of central Europe with an English tour company. The local tour guides adjust their patter depending on the nationality of the group, so with our non-US group they told their "mock the Americans" stories -- one of which was to say that on this street you see the American embassy, and they would then point to the local McDonalds. The funny thing to me was that there were just as many Starbucks as McDonalds in these foreign cities, but nobody mocked the Starbucks. I guess even tour guides can appreciate a good cup of coffee. I don't think the coffee map captures that nuance.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The United States legalized the metric system in 1866 (HR 596). The Federal government did not mandate their use at all levels of government, so Americans went about their business using the units they were used to. Some people just can't stand that thought, but I'm a big fan of diversity.

Jeff R. said...

The River ones were the big ones for me; they both made me really want to see equivalents for the rest of the world (and for the Nile and Amazon)

CWJ said...

Hey Ann, Pretty clear that this post was a winner! And in fact it was a post like this that motivated me to register on blogger.

Ann Althouse - Come for the politics, stay for the esoterica!!!

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, I see. People were using the Pangea map to see how things fit together. I already knew that, so it didn't occur to me to do that. I vaguely remember an activity in school where we had to cut up a map prinout and put together a rough Pangea. I guess it worked.

Elise Ronan said...

Continuous straight line map.

Storkdoc said...

Just a note. Norway was invaded by England in WW2

Henry said...

Freeman wrote: I vaguely remember an activity in school where we had to cut up a map prinout and put together a rough Pangea.

I remember a similar elementary school lesson. I wanted to put Scandinavia in Hudson Bay and the teacher was like, "Uh, perhaps..."

Kirk Parker said...

Lyssa,

"I find it extremely hard to believe that all of Africa ... provide actual paid leave for a significant portion of the population."

When you're a subsistence farmer, your cash income is $0.00 per hour. When a woman there is "out on maternity leave", she gets exactly the same.

See? ;-)

Tyrone Slothrop said...

As an engineering student in the late seventies, we worked equally in metric (SI) and English. Every other problem in our textbooks was in SI. By our senior year, we were equally comfortable in either system. It was then that Dr. Zarling, chairman of the engineering department and an eminently reasonable man, told us that we would never work in SI as engineers in the US. All tooling, all materials are made in English dimensions, and it would be just too expensive to abandon. In any event, the convenience of SI is overrated. For instance, engineers use decimal inches, which kind of negates any advantage in using millimeters.

Vittorio Jano IV said...

Chinese names for foreign countries tend to be characters that sound similar to the name of the foreign country in the language spoken there. In many cases, the names are shortened to comprise a single character plus the character for "country" ("guo"). Often there is an attempt to include a meaning that is relevant for some reason as well as an attempt to provide a positive (or at worst, neutral) meaning. For example, sticking to countries with whose languages I have some limited knowledge and using the pinyin romanization system:
--Meiguo = America (second syllable is transliterated);
--Yingguo = England (first syllable);
--Deguo = Deutschland (first syllable);
--Aierlan = Ireland (entire name); and
--Xibanya = España (entire name).

Inga said...

Global Internet usage, lightening strikes, earthquakes. Those three were mesmerizing.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I imagined my favorite map. I'd like to see a world map showing where all the rarer chemical elements come from; their distributions are highly unequal. A few of them are the sites of ancient astroblemes or space wounds.

Hagar said...

Yes Storkdoc, but like I said, it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.
A minor expeditionary force soon withdrawn is technically an "invasion," but hardly on the scale of the real invasion conducted by the Germans in order to, as they said, "protect" us from those dastardly British.

And while the Brits are a bunch of snotty SOB's, they are our snotty SOB's - cousins as it were - and under the circumstances were quite welcome, we have never laid claim to any kinship with the Germans nor asked them for any military help that I know of.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I think that map #29 "Economic Center Of Gravity" is misleading (as is partially explained in a caveat). The locus moved westward as western Europe developed first and continued westward, crossing over the Atlantic, and continued across the Pacific to begin emerging in Asia as continuum. It didn't reverse course and come back to or through Europe, passing twice. I don't think a 2D projection of this is helpful in this regard except to stroke the already engorged egos of Europhiles.

hawkeyedjb said...

In the US, the government doesn't mandate that anybody make more than about $15,000 per annum. So I guess nobody does. Just like nobody gets paid maternity leave.

Paris is a bit smaller than San Francisco, with about 3 times as many people. It's one crowded place. But much more enjoyable than San Francisco.

heyboom said...

I was intrigued by the Google Street View map and I noticed that it was most prevalent in democratic countries. As a side note, my wife and I went to Pangaea's in San Diego this morning. It's an indoor shop of sorts that houses over 70 different stores, but without any sort of barriers separating each one.

And we bought a magnetic robot builder that we can use to make different variations of robots. I thought that was a bit interesting and ironic, I guess.

traditionalguy said...

In honor of The Guinness Book of Records there should be a map of where the most Guinness Ale is consumed, obviously the highest area to be colored green.

That Pangaea Map showed the west African coast from whence 90% of the black African slaves came to America was once up against the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina North Carolina and Virginia. Hmmm.

Amexpat said...

I don't understand "Borg" as the most common surname in Sicily. I think someone must have been joking

It looks like "Borg" is for Malta, which it is placed right above. Sicily is not a country so it wouldn't be for that.

...McDonald's (not accurate or not up to date, Indonesia has Mc

It looks like the McDonalds's map is way out of date since it has Iceland as a price example. According to Wikipedia, McD closed up there after the financial crisis in 2009 and has not returned.

Tim said...

To those who say SI is overrated for engineering purposes, I would suggest you work a few thermodynamics calculations in SI, then in English units.

That said, I have been using SI at work for 30 years, to the point I think in metric (strangely enough, I still visualize in English units of area and length and volume).

Anyway, if you work in manufacturing, you know that the US is a dual system country.

Hagar said...

I had to work very hard to switch from thinking in metric to English units, and I have never wanted to switch back again, but then flexibility never has been a conspicuous characteristic of us squareheads.

The United States is a large enough market that there really is no need to to make a forcible change-over. Those who need to because of their vocation can easily work dual systems between work and home without disturbing everyone else.

I should point out that in the old country, masonry and lumber are still sized in English units, though Norway went metric with independence in 1814. The French Revolution, as well as the American, was still a big thing with the intelligentsia then.

And speaking of the intelligentsia, part of the resistance to metric here, I think comes from university professors insisting on very "scientific" and "logical" units that I never heard of in Norway growing up. The units mandated out of Washington for the highway industry back in the Clinton administration were just needlessly difficult to work with, besides the gobbledegook. Good thing the new Congress repealed the mandate.