Kansas Classrooms


I can’t teach you about safe sex because it might encourage you to become promiscuous.

I can’t tell you what airbags do. That information will make you think it’s okay to start crashing into things.

I’m sorry class. We can no longer study Mexico. As you’d all run away to Tijuana if I told you what was there.

If I teach you girls how to rescue a burnt casserole, how can I trust you to follow the teachings of Héloise?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you how Hannibal crossed the Alps. If I did, you crazy kids are likely to conquer the prom with elephants. Oops.

Trigonometry will no longer be taught. You could use that knowledge to calculate the trajectory of eggs thrown at my Geo Metro.

We won’t be using safety glasses this year in shop class. I believe anyone who gets a word chip in their eye have it coming.

Science has been cancelled because your parents prefer to believe in magic.

Big Fat Whale, Brian McFadden 2006

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In 2015, Norwegians started a Facebook campaign to give Finland the Norwegian part of the Halti mountain as a gift for the centenary of its independence.

There is a town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo called Banana.

There are seven classifications of snowflakes: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatical dendrites, capped columns and irregular.

The wife of noted evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins is called Lalla.

In 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs called for the extermination of all Mormons in the State by means of an executive order. It was rescinded 138 years later.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

The Beginning of Plate Tectonics


Continents form
3 billion years ago?

Today, Earth’s surface is divided into a few dozen plates of rock, one of which sometimes ploughs under another to be destroyed in the planet’s molten heart. This process, called plate tectonics, is thought to have begun around 3 billion years ago. Only when plate tectonics had come into operation could the first continent, nicknamed ‘Ur’, come into being.

See other: History of Life

The Grammar of Demonyms


Demonyms, previously gentilics, are used to describe the inhabitants of a particular country or place. In English, they come in many forms; some bear a close relation to a country’s name (e.g. Germany = German), others appear completely irregular (Isle of Man = Manx). To make matters even more confusing, some countries even have multiple demonyms.

  • -(a)n Australia = Australian
  • -anian Guam = Guamanian
  • -ard Spain = Spaniard (archaic)
  • -asque Basque Country = Basque
  • -be Burkina Faso = Burkinabe
  • -ene Greece = Hellene (archaic)
  • -ensian Micronesia = Micronesian
  • -ese Japan = Japanese
  • -gian Belgium = Belgian
  • -i(e) Bangladesh = Bangladeshi
  • -ian Hungary = Hungarian
  • -ic Iceland = Icelandic
  • -ien Niger = Nigerien
  • -in(e) Montenegro = Montenegrin
  • -iot(e) Cyprus = Cypriot
  • -ish England = English
  • -lese Togo = Togolese
  • -nese San Marino = Sammarinese
  • -nian Panama = Panamanian
  • -onian Tobago = Tobagonian (Trinidad and Tobago = Trinidadians)
  • -(en)(in)o Philippines = Philippino
  • -(e)r Luxembourg = Luxembourger
  • -vian Peru = Peruvian
  • Irregulars Netherlands = Dutch

Language of Airports


From an English-speaking perspective, some of the names and abbreviations of airports around the world are exceedingly unusual and unfortunate.

Unfortunate IATA airport codes include:

BAD (Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana, United States); BOG (Bogotá Airport, Columbia); BUM (Butler Airport, United States); DIK (Dickinson Airport, United States); DOH (Doha Airport, Qatar); FAT (Fresno Yosemite International Airport, California, United States); GIT (Geita Airport, Tanzania); KOK (Kokkola/Pietarsaari Kruunupyy Airport, Finland); MAD (Madrid Barajas International Airport, Spain); NOB (Nosara Beach Airport, Costa Rica); OLD (Old Town Municipal Airport, Maine, United States); PEE (Perm Airport, Russia); POO (Pocos De Caldas Airport, Brazil); SAD (Safford Regional Airport, Arizona, United States); SEX (Sembach Airport, Germany).

Unusual names of airports include:

Batman Airport (BAL) Turkey; Black Tickle Airport (YBI) Canada; Brest Airport (BES) France; Dang Airport (DNP) Nepal; Fak Fak Airport (FKQ) Indonesia; Flin Flon Airport (YFO) Canada; Fort Dix Airport (WRI) United States; Fukui Airport (FKJ) Japan; Gaylord Airport (GLR) United States; Linga Linga Airport (LGN) Papua New Guinea; Mafia Airport (MFA) Tanzania; Mala Mala Airport (AAM) South Africa; Moron Airport (MXV) Mongolia; Ponce Airport (PSE) Puerto Rico; Pratt Airport (PTT) United States; Shafter Airport (MIT) United States; Tsili Tsili Airport (TSI) Papau New Guinea; Useless Loop Airport (USL) Australia; Wagga Wagga Airport (WGA) Australia; Wee Waa Airport (WEW) Australia; Wuhu Airport (WHU) China.

Unless you are the Mongols


The Mongols are a civilization that are known for being the exception to many historical phenomena.[1] Listed below are some of the most important of those exceptions in a generalised form:

  • Nomads: The downside is that you have to move around a lot because your herd always needs new grass, which makes it hard to build cities, unless you are the Mongols.
  • Civilization: Certain conglomerations of humans are seen as civilizations, where as, say nomadic cultures generally aren’t. Unless you are, say it with me, the Mongols.
  • Early Cities: The city-state period in Mesopotamia ended around 2000 BCE, probably because drought and a shift in the course of rivers led to pastoral nomads coming in and conquering the environmentally weakened cities, and then the nomads settled into cities of their own as nomads almost always will, unless, wait for it, you are the Mongols.
  • Persian Empire: Let’s start with the Persian empire, which became the model for pretty much all land-based empires throughout the world. Except for, wait for it, the Mongols.
  • Silk Road: […] with the growth of the Silk Road, the nomadic people of Central Asia suddenly become much more important to world history. Much of Central Asia isn’t great for agriculture, but it’s difficult to conquer, unless you are, wait for it, the Mongols.

“A tiger wearing a bell will starve.” – Mongolian proverb

  • Early Christianity: Both Herods ultimately took their orders from the Romans, and they both show up on the list of rulers who are oppressive to the Jews, partly because there’s never that much religious freedom in an empire, unless you are, wait for it, the Mongols… or the Persians.
  • Early Islam: It’s common to hear that in these early years Islam quote “spread by the sword”, and that’s partly true, unless you are — wait for it — the Mongols.[2]
  • Dark Ages: [The Abbasids] hailed from the Eastern, and therefore more Persian, provinces of the Islamic Empire. The Abbasids took over in 750 and no one could fully defeat them; until 1258, when they were conquered by, wait for it, the Mongols.
  • Islam in Africa: Until then, most of the people living in the East had been hunter-gatherers or herders, but once introduced, agriculture took hold, as it almost always does. Unless, wait for it, you’re the Mongols.
  • Imperialism: So by the end of the 19th century, most of Africa and much of Asia had been colonized by European powers. […] Notable exceptions include Japan, which was happily pursuing its own imperialism, Thailand, Iran, and of course Afghanistan. Because no one can conquer Afghanistan, unless you are, wait for it, the Mongols.
  • World War II: So, not to sound jingoistic, but the entry of the U.S. into the war really did change everything, although I doubt the Nazis could’ve taken Russia regardless. No one conquers Russia in the wintertime, unless you are, wait for it, the Mongols.

“A donkey that carries me is worth more than a horse that kicks me.” – Mongolian proverb


[1] Green. J. (2012) Crash Course World History

[2] Actually, as usual, the truth is more complicated. Many people, including the Mongols, but also including lots of people in Central and East Asia, embraced Islam without any military campaigns.

Indian Stream


In 1832, a border area between Canadian Vermont and New Hampshire was claimed by both British Canada and the United States.

Even though the United States had secured its independence from Britain through the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the borders were often defined vaguely or based on inaccurate maps.

The treaty established that the border between New Hampshire and Canada would be “the northwesternmost Head of the Connecticut River.” Unfortunately, no-one agreed on which body of water precisely that should be. It was in this geographic confusion that the short-lived nation of the Indian Stream Republic was born.

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.” ― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

In 1832, local settlers converted the disputed lands between Hall’s Stream, Indian Stream and the lakes of the Connecticut River into an independent republic known as Indian Stream. It existed briefly from July 9, 1832 to 1835 when it voluntarily yielded to New Hampshire. American jurisdiction was fully acknowledged in 1836.

See other: Posts on Micronations

Geographic Illiteracy


Over a decade ago, National Geographic organised a global survey to measure the developed world’s geographic literacy.[1]

On average, fewer than 25 percent of young people worldwide could locate Israel on the map. Only about 20 percent could identify international news hotspots like Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

‘Geographically Illiterate: Someone who sucks at geography.’ – Urban Dictionary

More recent research shows no improvement. When the Russian Federation invaded the Ukraine in 2014, the Washington Post conducted a survey which showed that only 16% of Americans was able to locate the Black Sea nation on a map.[2]

More importantly, it was found that this lack of geographic knowledge is related to preferences and decision-making: namely, the farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.

Whatever your views on this political squabble, the following conclusion is inevitable: whether people are in possession of a certain geographic fact determines their opinion in a certain way.

As for geography, knowledge of the location of places and the physical and cultural characteristics of those places are a requirement to function more effectively in an increasingly interdependent world.

On top of that, knowledge of the geography of past times and how geography has played an important role in the evolution of a society, their ideas, and its environment are not only prerequisites for historical knowledge, but also necessary for making sound decisions in the present.[3]

“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” – Lennart Meri

These findings only underline the importance of teaching Geography. However, as always with formal education, it does not tell the whole story: besides teaching Geography as a core subject on the national curriculum, National Geographic researchers found that geographic knowledge also increases through travel and language proficiency.

In the highest-scoring countries of the National Geographic Survey (Sweden, Germany and Italy) at least 70 percent of the young adults had travelled internationally in the last three years, and the majority spoke more than one language (at the time, no less than 92 percent of young people in Sweden).

In the U.S. and Mexico only about 20 percent of young people had travelled abroad during the same period and the majority spoke only one language.

“All I ever wanted was a world without maps.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

‘Our daily lives are interwoven with geography. Each of us lives in a unique place and in constant interaction with our surroundings. Geographic knowledge and skills are essential for us to understand the activities and patterns of our lives and the lives of others. We move from place to place, aided by transportation and navigation systems. We communicate using global networks of computers and satellites. We strive to live in healthy physical and social environments. We work to avoid the negative consequences of exposure to natural and technological hazards. We search for interesting destinations and vacations. We observe and learn about our own culture and other cultures around the world. We want to lead satisfying lives and contribute to the welfare of our communities. Geographic knowledge and understanding is fundamental to reaching our goals, and in attaining a higher quality of life.’
Why Geography Is Important (2005), Grosvenor Centre of Education


[1] The National Geographic–Roper 2002 Global Geographic Literacy Survey polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States.
According to Robert Pastor, professor of International Relations at American University, in Washington, D.C., “The survey demonstrates the geographic illiteracy of the United States.”
About 11 percent of young citizens of the U.S. couldn’t even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean’s location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. Less than 15 percent could locate neither Israel nor Iraq.
“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” – Ambrose Bierce

[2] From March 28 to 31, 2014, The Washington Post asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans 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, they also asked the survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. The newspaper wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. The survey also found that 5 out of 2,066 Americans thought the Ukraine was located in the U.S. corn belt.

[3] The importance of geographic knowledge is of paramount importance, not only for a better understanding of historical and present geopolitical issues, but also as a scientific measuring device to help humans to make better decisions about the environment. Consider the intellectual poverty of young people who are ignorant of:

  • The basic physical systems that affect everyday life (e.g. earth-sun relationships, water cycles, wind and ocean currents).
  • Relationships between the physical environment and society.
  • How the processes of human and physical systems have arranged and sometimes changed the surface of the Earth – and still do.
  • The fact that the Earth is the homeland of humankind and knowledge of that planet provides insight for wise management decisions about how the planet’s resources should be used.