The ten most common place names in the country are, in descending order of frequency, Greenville (49), Franklin (30), Clinton (29), Springfield (28), Salem (25), Fairview (24), Washington (24), Madison (23), Georgetown (22), and Arlington (21). Hawaii is the only state without a Greenville. →
- Christian Science Monitor: Way cleared for horse slaughter to resume in US after 5-year ban
Congress has passed a bill, and the president has signed it into law, that re-legalizes the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Banning that practice was a huge mistake, for reasons that were obvious at the time, but it took a five-year ban to show that to be so. Even PETA supports the change. The problem was that horses were either being abandoned to starve to death or shipped in crowded trailers to Canada or Mexico, where they were slaughtered (under terrible conditions in Mexico) and their meat sent back to the U.S. It actually increased animal suffering. Good for Congress for making a necessary—sure to be unpopular—change in the law.
- ACLU of Virginia: Norfolk Man Who Refused to Stop Videotaping Police at Demonstration Is Not Guilty of Disorderly Conduct
A Norfolk man was charged with disorderly conduct for videotaping an on-duty police officer back in April. I'm glad to see that he's been found not guilty by a Norfolk General District Court judge. There's been a strange rash of arrests, all around the country, for the non-existent crime of videotaping police officers. Decisions like this will help bring this to an end.
- Print Free Graph Paper
Just what it says on the tin.
- Wikipedia: Point Roberts, Washington
A tiny exclave of the United States is found off the coast of Washington State. "Point Bob," as it's known, is the southernmost tip of a Canadian peninsula, which extends just barely south of the 49th parallel that defines the U.S./Canadian border. To get there by land, one must go through two international border crossings. There are just over 600 households there, and one elementary school. After third grade, kids have to take a bus through Canada and back to the U.S. to get to school.
- Frontline: The U.S. Immigration Detention Boom
This map of the growth of immigrant detention facilities is a great—and alarming—illustration of the rise of these ever-larger, often private facilities.
- Wikipedia: Northwest Angle
Insufficient understanding of North American geography in the late 1700s resulted in the Treaty of Paris accidentally assigning a notch of land in Canada to the United States. These 600 square miles comprise the "Northwest Angle" in Minnesota, the northernmost point in the continental U.S. To get there, one must fly, drive through Canada, or take a boat across the Lake of the Woods. 152 people live there.
- Search State and Federal Campaign Contribution Data
All of your bulk downloads for government data in one place, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation. There's even a 2.2GB download of all state and federal campaign contributions (ever?).
- Wikipedia: Ellis Island
The waters around the Statue of Liberty are owned by New Jersey, but the land on which the statute sits is owned by New York. The adjacent Ellis Island is largely owned by New Jersey, which the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 has the right to all parts of the island that were created via infill after 1834. That leaves about 20% of the island (which I've been told includes the gift shop) in New York, and the remainder in New Jersey.
- National Geographic: "Sea Monster" Fetus Found—Proof Plesiosaurs Had Live Young?
Two plesiosaurs nested like Russian dolls seems like a pretty good indicator that they gave birth to live young, rather than laying eggs. There's good reason to think that other marine dinosaurs gave birth to live young, but usually to lots of little ones, while plesiosaurs would have given birth to human-like numbers of offspring, raising the possibility that they actively raised their young in a social sense.
- The Guardian: Birmingham’s Muslims and Sikhs debate response to tragedy
Three Middle Eastern men were killed in Birmingham this week, the victim of a hit-and-run as they stood guarding a gas station against roving English looters. This is the account of an impromptu meeting outside the same gas station, 24 hours later, of 300 Muslim and Sikh men. The unorganized bunch showed up expecting to march in protest, but after prayers, discussion, and votes, they collectively made a decision that probably surprised most of them.
- Naval Company Inc. Line Gun
I have occasionally wondered how utility companies run lines across rivers, ravines, etc. Here's a video about one company's shoulder-mounted, black powder mini-cannon. That seems like a great toy.
This is a clever little program that examines your MySQL databases and makes recommendations about how to improve your database's performance in light of the reality of your data. I'll be spending some quality time with this on a few of my websites.
- Wikipedia: Enclaved countries
There are only three countries that are completely surrounded by another country: San Marino, Vatican City, and Lesotho.
- New York Times: Ken Cuccinelli v. Climate Skeptics
Even ardent climate change skeptics—people who despise Michael Mann—are increasingly convinced that Cuccinelli's "investigation" is totally inappropriate and without credibility.
Because I’m a big dork, when I encounter Virginia place names that I’m not familiar with, I like to look them up on Google Maps and see how many times I have to zoom out until I recognize what part of the state that the place is. Sometimes there’s a highway or a river that allows me to round it down to a particular chunk of Virginia. Sometimes there’s a park or another town nearby that I can place. But sometimes I’ve got to zoom out an awfully long way before I can find something familiar to grab onto. My progress in the Commonwealth Quest has been helpful in getting to know Virginia better, but I think it’d take a lifetime to learn every nook and cranny.
Here are a few out-of-the-way places, by way of example.
How long did it take you to place them?
In English, when we want to describe something as incomprehensible, we might say “it’s all Greek to me.” From the always-excellent Strange Maps comes a diagram of what language people use in place of “Greek” depending in their native tongue. Romanians say “it’s all Turkish to me,” while Turks say “it’s all French to me,” who say “it’s all Hebrew to me,” who say “it’s all “it’s all Chinese to me,” who say “it’s all Heavenly Script to me.” The Greeks only come in second; most of the world is seemingly baffled by Chinese, though I suspect that owes more to centuries of Silk Road trade than anything else.
While you’re on Strange Maps, check out their 1861 map of West Virginia, when it was known as “Kanawha.”
The counties in the southeast that voted for Obama are the counties with the most nutritious soils. Consequently, they’re where cotton was once grown and, also consequently, they’re where the bulk of the region’s slaves were held. I love these interdisciplinary mash-ups. (Via Kottke)