Color Schemes of State Highway Shields

Colorado has the most diversely colored state highway shield.

state_highway_shields

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Southern Cambridge: An Ingress Territories Map

I made an attempt at depicting the southern half of Cambridge, MA in a map showing territorial control in Ingress, pointing out areas well controlled by one faction, like Cambridgeport (an Enlightened stronghold) and West MIT (a Resistance stronghold), also highlighting fronts and battlegrounds where control frequently shifts and action is relatively fast.

IMG_0608

Well, in my head it was a lot cooler than it turned out. Perhaps with symbols crafted with more nuance this could look more like a battle map.

The Unavoidability of Red

In a recent referendum, Mauritania voted to add red stripes to their yellow-and-green flag. This means Mauritania has joined the vast majority of countries that have decided that red should be one of the colors on their flag. How vast is this majority? This vast.

flags_with_red

No other general category of color (green, yellow, white, etc.) comes close to red’s dominance in prevalence among countries’ flags. A lot of nations find important symbolism in the color red, often representing the blood of those that have died for their country, revolution, courage, or valor, among other meanings.

In fact, if you look at the map above, you’d find that among countries with at least one land border, you cannot avoid either the country you’re in or a country you border having red in their flag if you include maroon as a red. If you exclude maroon, you can achieve this in Uruguay or Qatar.

Note that I have colored non-sovereign countries or territories in the map above according to the flag of the sovereign country that owns the land. If one considers the flags of these regions instead, there will be a few additional instances of flags without red, like Curaçao, Tokelau, and Macau.

I’m at MIT; What’s My Street Address?

Here’s a visual aid for street addresses of MIT buildings. It’s not exhaustive, particularly for buildings in the periphery (and, of course, buildings not even within this snippet).

Note that street address may be different from mailing address; this is unfortunate.

mit_addresses

Some notes:

  • Buildings 3, 5, and 7 are respectively 33, 55, and 77 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Building 32 is 32 Vassar St.
  • The MIT Tunnel System spans buildings with addresses that span 6 different roads.
  • Sloan third-floor connections span buildings with addresses that span 4 different roads (and curiously, main campus third-floor connections also only span 4).
  • Building 8 is a main-group building with an Ames St. address.
  • Buildings 17 and 57 somehow have a street address to themselves despite not touching a road.
  • Westgate Apartments (Building W85 and lettered extensions) spans 3 different roads in street addresses.
  • Building W53 (Carr Tennis Facilities) is addressed to Memorial Dr. despite having Amherst St. between it and Memorial Dr.

The background map is OpenStreetMap.

Exciting Things May Soon Happen in the Indian Ocean

At the end of last month, I said that I would limit myself to four posts a month.

Yeah, that didn’t work. What ended up actually happening is that I just started writing drafts and not publishing them. And you know what? Something really, really exciting has just happened in the world (geography-wise) and I now need to write about it. So uh, screw it. I’m not going to be able to contain myself to four posts a month. That attempt lasted zero months. Yeah, I deserve to be laughed at a bit for that.

The exciting news is that the UN has voted to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the Chagos Archipelago. Long ago, the British took the islands away from its natives and on top of this expelled all of the natives from the islands in order to build a military base to mutually benefit the UK and the US. Mauritius has asked for the islands back for a long time, but the UK has just felt that they didn’t want to take any sort of apologizing action for what they’ve done there yet. Now, though, we see this vote come through, and hopefully the International Court of Justice will demand that these islands return to the natives that have long deserved them back. Shame on the countries that voted in favor of the UK, in this day and age yet still promoting imperialism based on past injustice (though it is interesting to note that the Maldives voted against the resolution; it would be interesting to look into the reasoning behind that, because the Chagos archipelago definitely has historical ties to the Maldives and could have otherwise political significance now).

But that aside (and boy do I feel a tinge bad about feeding the geography geek in me when there’s this important sentimental significance to the event), here’s what’s very special about this from a geographical standpoint. Two things—both of these are due to the fact that the Chagos Archipelago is the only remaining portion of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT): the BIOT previously included three islands further southwest, but those islands were earlier ceded to the Seychelles.

1) The TLD .io is the ccTLD of the BIOT. If the UK loses the BIOT to Mauritius, we may see the IANA require .io to change hands. Given the development of sites using the .io TLD, this could get interesting. Might the BIOT be allowed to continue existing as a physically null entity, one that carries on as a concept but corresponds to no land on Earth, to legitimize .io’s link to a political entity?

2) The sun may finally set on the British Empire. There are more than 180 degrees of longitude between Dhekelia and Pitcairn Island. If the BIOT is no more, then sunrise in Dhekelia will come after sunset in Pitcairn, and for the first time in centuries, there will be a moment when it is nighttime over all the UK’s land on earth. The sun will continue to fail to set on the French Empire, though.

Minimum Wage, Expressed in Uselessness of Pennies

The following is a tabulation of minimum wage, except in a manner to point out how badly useless and economically inefficient the penny is. This is a chart of how long you can spend dealing with a US penny before you have spent more time dealing with it than the time-worth of a penny at minimum wage.

Federal Rate for Tipped Workers: 16.90 seconds
Federal Rate for Youth: 8.47 seconds

Federal Rate: 4.97 seconds
New Mexico: 4.80 seconds
Missouri: 4.68 seconds
Florida: 4.44 seconds
Louisville, KY: 4.44 seconds
Montana and Ohio: 4.42 seconds
Delaware, Illinois, and Nevada: 4.36 seconds
St. Louis, MO: 4.36 seconds
New Jersey: 4.27 seconds
Arkansas: 4.24 seconds
South Dakota: 4.21 seconds
Maryland and West Virginia: 4.11 seconds
Albuquerque, NM: 4.11 seconds
Michigan: 4.04 seconds
Maine and Nebraska: 4.00 seconds

Hawaii: 3.89 seconds
Colorado: 3.87 seconds
Minnesota and Oregon: 3.79 seconds
Prince George’s County, Maryland: 3.77 seconds
Rhode Island: 3.75 seconds
New York: 3.69 seconds
Alaska: 3.67 seconds
Arizona and Vermont: 3.60 seconds
Chicago, IL: 3.60 seconds
Connecticut: 3.56 seconds
California: 3.43 seconds
New York City, NY: 3.43 seconds
Santa Fe, NM: 3.32 seconds
Massachusetts and Washington: 3.27 seconds
Montgomery County, Maryland: 3.13 seconds

Berkeley, CA and Oakland, CA: 2.87 seconds
Emeryville, CA and San Francisco, CA: 2.77 seconds

Today I am deeply and profoundly ashamed to be an American

I said that I would try to make only four blog posts in June.

Then, I pretty much decided what four things I would talk about.

Then, I realized I felt I just needed to write this post after, let’s say, a certain piece of news.

(This really seems like the sort of thing I thought about all the time that led to my excessive posting the past few months, but maybe I’ll allow this to take up the slots of one of my four June posts. This one counts instead of slipping aside!)

The title of this post holds without the word ‘Today’, of course. I haven’t really been extensively not ashamed of being American for probably since I, let’s say…first read a history book. I have been especially ashamed of America recently for reasons I’m sure you have at least a hint for if you’re bothering to read this post. But I am now ashamed to an acute and staggering degree that I am a citizen of this country that decided to leave the Paris climate accord, an event that truly makes the selfish narcissism and pretense of exceptionalism of the land of the free and the home of the brave sparkle like a gem. Specifically a diamond, I’d even say, as there’s no better gemstone that symbolizes an insatiable pursuit of money at the cost of the world or even the advertised efficiencies of capitalism than the diamond.

This event rings a bell. What bell is it? Ah, yes, the Kyoto Protocol, volume 1 of America farting in the global elevator and then leaving to let everyone else smell it. We haven’t improved, have we?

Not actually. We improved. We did originally sign the Paris agreement after all. We, America, are historically a country of claiming a lot of grandiose and awesome-sounding principles, then hypocritically defeating them in entirety in implementation, and then eventually realizing that we kinda failed very badly at our principles, but yes, improving. We went through this phase with slavery, we went through this phase with discrimination against pretty much every new wave of immigration that happened, and we went through this phase with “gee, how okay is it to just kill all these people that originally lived on this land?” Then we slowly improved, realizing the egregiousness of the previous actions this country has taken and slowly building acknowledgment of our faults in the past, though there are always some stragglers to this.

Anyway, yeah, we improved and signed the Paris agreement under the Obama administration. Then, we started walking backwards again and backed out, because supposedly it’s better for America and it’s making America great again. Because, of course, America is a country of thermophilic entomophilic pollen-hypertolerant fish.

Of course, perhaps America hungers for the oceans to expand because the oceans gave us power. In World War II, we, America, were the country lucky enough to be separated from the bulk of action by the mighty waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and thus came out of the war fabulously undevastated and a world superpower. We interpreted our luck as a sign that we were the supremely righteous as the Good Guys that Won, and thus took it upon ourselves to apply our unquestionable justice all around the world, where everyone surely loves us, from Grenada to Iraq to Afghanistan to Vietnam. It was an amazing process of supporting anyone that vowed against communism regardless of what else they did; we helped all sorts of people from Yahya Khan to Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden to Muammar Gadhafi come to power, because they hated communists and that made them good guys. Fascinating, if they’re good guys, what does that make us?

Continue reading “Today I am deeply and profoundly ashamed to be an American”