Sometime between September 23rd and October 1st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Well, this is a good way to keep me from visiting New Zealand:: "New Zealand's Customs and Excise Act 2018 went into effect today. That means travelers who refuse to give their phone or laptop password to customs officials will be fined NZ$5000. In addition, their devices will be confiscated and forensically searched." Not that I had plans to visit New Zealand, but this sure puts a damper on any interest.
  • The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle: “Last year, across the globe, more than 100 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten. That’s more than 13 servings for every person on the planet.”
  • Science Says Toxic Masculinity — More Than Alcohol — Leads To Sexual Assault: "Every drink is downed amid cultural expectations and societally mediated attitudes about women and power. Those things — and how young men absorb them — have a stronger causal influence than the alcohol alone. When a man feels entitled to assault someone, he may get drunk before he does it, but the decision to act was ultimately his alone."
  • iOS 12 Siri shortcut for traffic stops: Pauses music, dims the screen, turns on Do Not Disturb, and activates video recording on the front-facing camera. When done, sends the video to a trusted contact or uploads the file to Dropbox. Clever.
  • Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong: “For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives. It’s time for a new paradigm.”

Sometime between July 16th and July 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Sometime between June 25th and July 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Nothing terribly new here, I’ll admit, but I just stumbled across this, and I’ve had this rant (or variations upon the theme) many times over the past few years: Two Phrases That Destroyed American Culture:

The phrase ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is the single worst philosophy that has ever been adopted by American culture. It gave an entire generation of people the green light to be as impolite, unreasonable, and demanding as their little hearts desired because they were always going to be considered right. It destroyed the entire concept of courtesy and rendered manners obsolete. People began to treat their peers in the service industry like incompetent morons, lacking in feelings or human dignity, who deserved to be browbeaten and abused for no other reason than they had the audacity to run out of a particular brand of coffee. Furthermore, instead of suffering negative repercussions for their appallingly disrespectful behavior, they are awarded with free coupons and plenty of ass kissing. In reality, they should be shunned and humiliated for behaving like such self absorbed little children.

Speaking of respect, another idea that has ruined American culture is the one that states, ‘I don’t give respect freely. You have to earn my respect.’ This one is most often uttered by punk kids with bad attitudes and black fingernail polish.

Fucking gag me.

I mean, how egotistical does one have to be to automatically assume that their respect is so fucking important that one must jump through multiples hoops in order to earn it? How about we give people respect because they are humans with lives and feelings just as important as our own? Why not give people a default level of respect and more or less can either be won or lost based on the behavior of the individual? The loss of respect is something that should be based on actions. The idea that that one must win basic respect in the first place is incredibly belittling. How narcissistic can you be to embrace that ideology?

Washington State

Very cool: an early 1950’s pictoral map of the United States of America, apparently issued by the US Government to introduce our country to the people of Germany, most of whom knew little of us outside of what they’d picked up from GIs in their country during World War II.

Relevant commentary from the MetaFilter thread where I found this:

So the State Dept. handed out these maps to give Germans some idea of what the US looked like? I’m interested in their intentions, and the history behind this map give-away.


well, smackfu suggests that the map is from around 1951. There was only a vague image of the United States in Germany then.

For many Germans Americans were huge, well-fed guys handing out chewing gums to German post-war kids. And some of these guys even were black. (I remember my grandmother telling me how amazed she was when she saw the first black G.I., the first black person she ever saw.) Now imagine what people must have thought of the United States then. Of course they knew about cowboys, the Liberty Statue and so on but that was about it.

I think the map was supposed to give a somewhat more detailed look an the United States, but then again not too sophisticated. The Secretary of State probably imagined that Germans would be overwhelmed otherwise. Maybe they really would have been. I assume that’s why it’s designed like a children’s map.

Then again, in the early fifties Germans started to go on holiday again. So it might be a promotional map for the American tourist industry.

That’s what I can think of.


Check out the full-size (7 Mb) map here.

In the early 1800’s, as settlers moved westward across America, a dispute arose between the Americans and the British over ownership of the Oregon Country, land covering much of today’s Pacific Northwest, stretching from Oregon through Washington and up into British Columbia and parts of Idaho and Wyoming. While the territory had been declared to be in joint possession of the two governments, as more and more settlers moved in, the British claimed that land ceded to them in previous treaties and through the work of the Hudson’s Bay Company was being encroached upon.

After a few years of slightly strained tensions, in 1846 the Oregon Treaty peacefully resolved the dispute, setting the 49th parallel as the upper boundary of the United States. As the 49th parallel cuts directly through Vancouver Island when extended westward, it was determined that the boundary line would extend “to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s straits to the Pacific Ocean.” Unfortunately, that wording proved to be unclear enough to set the stage for another conflict.

Map of the disputed boundary

The difficulty lay in that there were two straits running southward through the islands — Haro Strait and Rosario Strait. As each country wanted the most advantageous boundary line, each claimed that the boundary ran through whichever strait would grant them the islands, with the British running the boundary line through Rosario Strait and the Americans, Haro Strait.

Over the next few years, both the British and the Americans started utilizing San Juan Island, with each group assuming that the other group was there illegally. By 1859, the British Hudson’s Bay Company had both a salmon-curing station and a sheep ranch operating on the island, and the Americans had about eighteen settlers living there also. Tempers were short, but things didn’t come to a head until June of 1859.

On June 15 of that year, American settler Lyman Cutlar discovered a pig rutting through his garden. He shot and killed the pig — which belonged to his neighbor, an Irishman employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. When Cutlar offered to pay for the pig, his neighbor claimed that the pig was a champion breeder and demanded $100 for the loss. Considering this high price to be unreasonable, Cutlar refused to pay. British authorities, already considering Cutlar and the rest of the settlers to be illegal squatters, threatened to arrest him. The American settlers, none to happy about these British who refused to leave their island, petitioned for U.S. military protection. On July 27th, a 66-man company of the 9th U.S. infantry, commanded by Cpt. George E. Pickett, landed on the southern tip of the island and set up camp.

The British governor of British Columbia’s Crown Colony, angered by the arrival of U.S. troops. answered by sending in his own forces — three British warships commanded by Cpt. Geoffrey Hornby — with instructions to remove Pickett from San Juan Island, but to avoid any actual hostilities if at all possible.

Over the next few months, each side continued to send in reinforcements, until by the end of August, “461 Americans, protected by 14 cannons and an earthen redoubt, were opposed by three British warships mounting 70 guns and carrying 2,140 men, including bluejackets (sailors), Royal Marines, artillerymen and sappers.”

Henry Martyn Robert

Incidentally, the construction of the redoubt at the top of a hill in the American camp to let the cannon oversee the water approaches to the island was supervised by engineer Henry Martyn Robert. Later in his military career, Robert discovered a fascination with parliamentary procedure, and went on to author Robert’s Rules of Order.

Thankfully, throughout all of this territorial saber-rattling, saner heads prevailed, refusing to “involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig,” in the words of British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes. Eventually, U.S. President James Buchanan dispatched General Winfield Scott to resolve the affair. Scott was able to broker a treaty, with each country reducing their forces — a single company of U.S. troops, and a single British warship — allowing the island to continue under joint occupation until a more formal resolution could be reached.

This situation continued for the next twelve years, making the Pig War the longest single military conflict on U.S. soil — even if the only casualty was a hungry pig. Eventually, during the signing of the Treaty of Washington between Britain and the United States, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany was asked to arbitrate in the matter of the San Juan Islands. He referred the matter to a commission, and after a year of deliberation, the commission ruled in favor of the United States on October 21st, 1872. British troops withdrew from San Juan Island within the month, and the last of the U.S. troops left by mid-1874.


Propaganda, anyone? This site really got my attention after it was posted over on MetaFilter today. On the one hand, on a conceptual/artistic level, I like most of what I see (though some of the posters really are just plain bad). However, on a more intellectual level, it’s just frightening, due to the strong resemblance to WWII-era Soviet propaganda posters. I was hoping that it may have been more satirical in nature, but apparently this is a real, serious attempt…though at exactly what isn’t entirely clear from the site.