Presidents Day 2021 (apolitical)

Reagan is the only prez born in Illinois

jimmy carterFor Presidents Day 2021, mostly apolitical stuff.

How many pairs of U.S. Presidents have had the same last name? Answer below.

“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” – Ulysses S. Grant

June 24, 2020 — Earlier this month, a fire tore through the historic White Pine Camp in the Adirondacks. The camp served as the summer white house for President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. Now, the camp says it’s planning to rebuild.

Every president born before John F. Kennedy was born in the nineteenth century or earlier, making him the first twentieth-century born to become a president. He was also the first Boy Scout, and the first Roman Catholic to become president.

The  Hero Who Saved His Hero (RWR)

Game show exercise

I was watching Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last year. One of the questions was, “What is the most common Presidential first name, with six?”
The choices were George, James, John, and William. I was fairly sure it wasn’t William (turns out there were three), and I KNEW it wasn’t George because there are Washington and the Bushes.

So I ran through the Presidents in order in my head. After the 6th, it was 2-2 (Madison, Monroe v the Adams family). #10 was John Tyler, #11 was James K. Polk. 3-3. #15 was James Buchanan, #20 was James Garfield. So it’s James because the final one was in my lifetime.

Where were they born?

Here are some Presidential facts.

More presidents were born in Virginia than in any other state – eight.
Martin Van Buren was the first president born in a state rather than a colony.
21 of the 50 states have been the birthplace of a president.

1st – Virginia 8
1 George Washington; 3 Thomas Jefferson; 4 James Madison; 5 James Monroe; 9 William Henry Harrison; 10 John Tyler; 12 Zachary Taylor; 28 Woodrow Wilson

2nd – Ohio 7
18 Ulysses S. Grant; 19 Rutherford B. Hayes; 20 James A. Garfield; 23 Benjamin Harrison; 25 William McKinley; 27 William H. Taft; 29 Warren G. Harding

3rd – New York 5
8 Martin Van Buren; 13 Millard Fillmore; 26 Theodore Roosevelt; 32 Franklin D. Roosevelt; 45 Donald J. Trump

4th – Massachusetts 4
2 John Adams; 6 John Quincy Adams; 35 John F. Kennedy; 41 George H. W. Bush

Tied for 5th
North Carolina 2 (11 James K. Polk; 17 Andrew Johnson)
Pennsylvania 2- (15 James Buchanan; 46 Joseph R. Biden)
Texas 2 (34 Dwight D. Eisenhower; 36 Lyndon B. Johnson)
Vermont 2 (21 Chester A. Arthur; 30 Calvin Coolidge)

Tied for 9th
Arkansas – 42 Bill Clinton; California – 37 Richard M. Nixon; Connecticut – 43 George W. Bush; Georgia – 39 Jimmy Carter; Hawaii – 44 Barack Obama; Illinois – 40 Ronald Reagan; Iowa – 31 Herbert Hoover; Kentucky – 16 Abraham Lincoln; Missouri- 33 Harry S. Truman; Nebraska – 38 Gerald R. Ford; New Hampshire – 14 Franklin Pierce; New Jersey 22 and 24 – Grover Cleveland; South Carolina – 7 Andrew Jackson

Five presidents have shared the same last name throughout history: Adams, Harrison, Johnson, Roosevelt, and Bush. Father/son pairs, John Adams (No. 2) fathered John Quincy Adams (No. 6), and George H.W. Bush (No. 41) fathered George W. Bush (No. 43). William Henry Harrison (No. 9) was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison (No. 23), and the Roosevelts (Theodore, No. 26 and Franklin, No. 32) were distant cousins. If there is any relationship between Andrew Johnson (No. 17) and Lyndon B. Johnson (No. 36), it is unknown.

The latest James who was President was James Earl Carter #39.

September rambling #1: chugging cognac, and Flowers on the Wall

If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment.

The $80 Million Fake Bomb-Detector Scam—and the People Behind It.

How the Photography of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams Told the Story of Japanese American Internment.

John Scalzi on Hurricane Katrina, and poverty. “Being Poor,” Ten Years On.

The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’: “They are NOT asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives.”

Mr. Frog linked to Here’s How New Texas Public School Textbooks Write About Slavery.

No, Mount McKinley’s former and new name, “Denali,” does NOT mean “Black Power” in Kenyan. Or Swahili. Denali means “the great one” in the local Athabaskan language of Alaska.

Question: Why must we still talk about race? Answer: Twelve. And I Am a Racist.

Steve Cutts is a London-based illustrator and animator who uses powerful images to criticize the sad state modern life and society.

Is thyroid cancer the ‘good’ cancer? It doesn’t feel that way when you get it. Mentions Times Union blogger David Kalish.

How Jeb Bush’s Tax Cuts Suckered the Media.

Teen Boy Will Be Charged As Adult For Having Naked Pics of a Minor: Himself. If I hadn’t seen it on CBS News the day before, I would have thought it a hoax.

Tennessee mom calls Henrietta Lacks book ‘pornographic,’ seeks to have it banned in school; author Rebecca Skloot responds.

Damned Lies and Employment Statistics. “Yes, some ‘real’ unemployment rate is roughly double the official 5.1%. But there’s nothing sinister about that.”

1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.

Women, Don’t Make That Bicycle Face.

Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone.

TV host John Oliver has become America’s social justice warrior, and he reminds us how little most of us know about geography.

My friend Steve Bissette wrote, and I totally agree: “Sure bet: If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment. It’s not peevishness or pique, it’s just how it is.” Chuck Miller had a similar experience: Panera Bread and kiosk mentality.

I’m a Mom, Not A Martyr.

Becca Sunoo goes to Nantes. She’s the granddaughter of a couple at my church.

Matthew Gordon @ratherironic shows how well the Obama logo works for Trump with some simple color changes and rotation
See how the Obama logo can work for Trump with some simple changes in color and rotation. Kudos to Matthew Gordon @ratheironic

10 Insulting Words You Should Know.

What time is it, Oxford Dictionaries? How about almost ‘beer o’clock’?

Phantom vibration syndrome is common among those who use electronic devices.

A Woman Chugged an Entire Bottle of Cognac Rather than Give It to Airport Security.

A FEW MINUTES WITH… Booker T. Jones.

Weird Al 15-11. SamuraiFrog’s descriptions are great.

A History of Chris Christie’s Complicated Relationship With Bruce Springsteen.

From 2002: Art That Shook The World: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, part 1 and part 2.

Music! Fisherman – The Congos.

Mark Evanier is listing the twenty top voice actors in American animated cartoons between 1928 and 1968. So far: Sterling Holloway (Winnie the Pooh); Mae Questel (Betty Boop, Olive Oyl); Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo); Pinto Colvig (Goofy).

Six-degrees of separation from Robert Crumb.

Why Craig Ferguson Really Left Late Night.

Muppets: Jimmy Dean and Rowlf and Flowers on the Wall; if you don’t know the original to the latter, it’s here.

Download Jim Rockford’s Answering Machine Messages as MP3s.

In honor of Labor Day: Americans Celebrate 10 Millionth ‘Bring Yourself To Work Day’.

DO NOT wash your hair in the shower!!


The original creators of any given comic book character or title always had the purest vision and did the best work on that character or title. Is that always the case, though? Plus What are the five most affecting graphic novels?

Dustbury reminds us of the anomalies of the Billboard charts when it comes to black music.

GOOGLE (ALERT (not me)

Australian golf: The eighteen-hole winner for Saturday’s Roger Green trophy “was Rick Bennett with a score of 59 net from Andrew McGrath on 61 net.”

The Belgian Congo and Yugoslavia

One of my co-workers came up to me and asked how many of the five former Yugoslav republics I could name; I remembered four.

During the Vietnam war, it was widely reported – I don’t remember if it was apocryphal or true – that most Americans could not find Vietnam on a map. Likewise, today’s students might be challenged to find Afghanistan or Iraq on the globe.

By contrast, I was a bit of a cartology fanatic when I was a child. My paternal grandfather, who lived upstairs, would give me maps from his National Geographic, which I would study at length. I still have some of them in the attic, BTW.

Unfortunately for my recall, the world kept changing. French West Africa and British East Africa became a slew of independent countries. What was once Belgian Congo became Zaire, but is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sometimes referred to as Congo-Kinshasa; this not to be confused with the neighboring Republic of the Congo, also referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, which used to be under French control.

Later, Germany merged. Czechoslovakia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, and the USSR broke up; fortunately, the former two only broke into a pair of countries each. But Yugoslavia… One of my co-workers came up to me and asked how many of the five former Yugoslav republics I could name; I remembered four. Then I looked it up and there are SIX:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatia (which I forgot)
Macedonia (which I remembered because the Greeks got all bent out of shape)
Montenegro (which I remembered from WWI)
Serbia (which has two autonomous regions, Vojvodina – which I had never heard of; and Kosovo, which I had)
Slovenia (not be confused with Slovakia, part of former Czechoslovakia; I forgot it)

It SHOULD be easy to remember: BCMMSS

Now the former Soviet Union is tougher, and I have developed a bizarre way to remember, roughly from northwest to southeast:

Baltic states-ELL

Eastern Europe-BUM

Southern Caucasus, Russia-RAGA

Central Asia-KKUTT

ELL-BUM-RAGA-KKUTT? Well, it worked for me; sounds like a musical selection.

World, stop changing. I’m kidding; change is inevitable.

Where in the world is Binghamton, New York?

President Obama is taking a bus tour of upstate New York. If his driver uses the map shown on MSNBC, the President will be traveling far less than he needs to.
Here are where places ACTUALLY are in New York State. The cluster of cities in the MSNBC map is closer to Glens Falls, north of Albany.

Scranton, Pennsylvania should also be farther east and a little farther south, but that error isn’t as egregious as putting Buffalo more than 400 miles east of where it actually is located.

This is why I tend to be ever so wary of GPS-type software. It’s like that episode of the American version of The Office when Michael Scott drives into a lake or river because the GPS says there is a road ahead.

Some years ago, I was with a relative trying to find a street with GPS. I was convinced the second time through that the road we were seeking hadn’t been added to the system, but the relative tried another three or four times, with the same circular result.

The last time we drove the Charlotte, NC, the Mapquest directions took us off the highway a couple of exits early, having us worm our way through unfamiliar side streets before finding our way.

I should note that bad maps is not just in the skill set of one TV network. Dustbury notes that Headline News put an Idaho town in Oklahoma. And, famously, NBC News moved Vermont to New Hampshire, eliminating New Hampshire from the map altogether, which led to an on-air correction.

Nor is it just an American thing. A Guardian correction from August 12 demonstrates why you should be absolutely sure when you use Britain (for either the United Kingdom or the island) or England (for the country).

Of course, this just makes a geographically challenged audience even more perplexed!

O is for Oceans

I never heard of the Southern Ocean! It wasn’t in my fourth grade geography book.


This post was inspired by an episode of the TV show JEOPARDY! Specifically, April 4, 2011 final. The category was WORLD GEOGRAPHY: “These 3 nations each border the world’s largest & smallest oceans.”

I must admit that I sussed out the answer immediately. From the responses, however, it was clear that none of the contestants knew a key element of the clue. One response was India and Sri Lanka; another Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Borneo; and the third, Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

So, what ARE the largest and smallest oceans in the world?

The largest, by a considerable margin, is the Pacific Ocean, with 64,186,000 square miles (166.241 million sq km). But you all knew that, didn’t you?
The second-largest, of course, is the Atlantic Ocean, with 33,420,000 square miles (86.557 million sq km); I wasn’t aware of such a disparity of size between the Pacific and Atlantic.
The third-largest is the Indian Ocean, at 28,350,000 square miles (73.426 million sq km). This, clearly, is the ocean that the contestants thought was the smallest; not so.

The fourth-largest is the Southern Ocean at 7,848,300 square miles (20.327 million sq km). WHAT? I never heard of it! It wasn’t in my fourth-grade geography book. “Until the year 2000, there were four recognized oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic. In the Spring of 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization delimited a new ocean, the Southern Ocean (it surrounds Antarctica and extends to 60 degrees latitude).”
The smallest ocean, then, has to be the Arctic Ocean at 5,106,000 square miles (13.224 million sq km).

So, if the largest ocean is the Pacific, and the smallest the Arctic, what three countries border both?

While you think about it, a bit about oceans: The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored.

Obviously, the bordering nations have to be large, northern countries. Two immediately came to mind: Russia and Canada. What’s the third? The United States! Specifically Alaska. (The Pacific is at the top of this map, with North America to the left and Asia to the right.)

Interestingly, the first contestant started writing the US, Canada and Mexico, bailed and went with the answer shown. Even though I knew the answer to the question, I learned something too from this exercise!

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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