Category Archives: Places

European Etymology Maps

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A great set of maps showing the etymological origins of various words in European languages. Interesting to see how the families group together…or don’t.

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And lots more here.

Notes for an Epilogue

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Lens Culture is featuring a brilliant photo essay by Tamas Deszo on the loss of traditional culture in Romania. Above is the flooded village of Geamana.

Spiritual tradition and physical heritage are simultaneously disintegrating in Romania.

Time and modernization are beginning to undermine centuries-old traditions preserved in tiny villages, in communities of only a few houses, as well as the bastions of the communist era’s enforced industrialization, which became part and parcel of Romania’s recent history.

Those living in the ‘reservations of forgetting’ blend with nature, exhibiting a humility inherited through generations. They are living out their last days in evident equality of closeness to nature. Helped by time’s decay, they are diligently pulling down the absurd edifices of the environment that was inflicted on them. In the manner of termites, they carry away small pieces of immense concrete constructions on the rickety carts of poverty.

Notes for an Epilogue   [Tomas Dezso]

Paramount Studios Location Map

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This map, from a 1927 publication entitled “The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing”, shows which parts of California can be used as a set for different parts of the world.

[via]

World Beer Map

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I really like this map that shows beers from every nation in the world – even the ones where alcohol is illegal.

[via]

 

The Last Ice Merchant

This absolutely stunning documentary is about Baltazar Ushca, who has mined glacial ice on Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo for over 50 years. Due to the cheapness of manufactured ice, he’s the last one still working there – both of his brother’s have retired from the family business.

The Last Ice Merchant   [Vimeo]

Kim Jong-il’s Sushi Chef

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GQ Magazine is carrying a fascinating portrait of Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-il’s private sushi chef:

The sushi chef was leaving his apartment when he noticed the stranger outside. He could tell by the man’s suit—black and badly made—that he was North Korean. Right away, the chef was nervous. Even in his midsixties, the chef is a formidable man: He has thick shoulders, a broad chest; the rings on his strong hands would one day have to be cut off. But he’d long since quit wearing his bulletproof vest, and the last time a North Korean made the journey to visit him in Japan, a decade ago, he was there to kill him.

The chef’s name, an alias, is Kenji Fujimoto, and for eleven years he was Kim Jong-il’s personal chef, court jester, and sidekick. He had seen the palaces, ridden the white stallions, smoked the Cuban cigars, and watched as, one by one, the people around him disappeared. It was part of Fujimoto’s job to fly North Korean jets around the world to procure dinner-party ingredients—to Iran for caviar, Tokyo for fish, or Denmark for beer. It was Fujimoto who flew to France to supply the Dear Leader’s yearly $700,000 cognac habit. And when the Dear Leader craved McDonald’s, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go.

When he finally escaped, Fujimoto became, according to a high-level cable released by WikiLeaks, the Japanese intelligence community’s single greatest asset on the Kim family, rulers of a nation about which stubbornly little is known. We don’t know how many people live there. (Best guess: around 23 million.) It’s uncertain how many people starved to death during the famine of the late ’90s. (Maybe 2 million.) Also mysterious is the number of citizens currently toiling their way toward death in labor camps, places people are sent without trial or sentence or appeal. (Perhaps 200,000.) We didn’t even know the age of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, until Kenji Fujimoto revealed his birth date. (January 8, 1983.)

What we know of North Korea comes from satellite photos and the stories of defectors, which, like Fujimoto’s, are almost impossible to confirm. Though North Korea is a nuclear power, it has yet to build its first stoplight. The phone book hasn’t been invented. It is a nation where old Soviet factories limp along to produce brand-new refrigerators from 1963. When people do escape, they tend to flee from the countryside, where life is more dangerous. Because people rarely defect from the capital, their stories don’t make it out, which leaves a great mystery in the center of an already obscure nation. Which is why Fujimoto’s is the rarest of stories.

Kim Jong-il’s Sushi Chef Kenji Fujimoto: Newsmakers   [GQ]

5 Myths About North Korea

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In light of the recent bluster from Kim Jong Un, Joel S. Wit, a visiting fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Jenny Town, a research associate at the Institute attempt to debunk five myths about North Korea. Myth #3 is that…

North Korea is a hermit kingdom: The United States may have very little to do with the North, but that does not apply to the rest of the world. Did you know that North Korea sends hundreds of students overseas for educational and business training? Thousands of North Koreans work in China, in Mongolia where they produce goods for popular British clothing brands, in Kuwait where they work on construction projects, and in Russia where they labor in logging camps. A North Korean construction company is currently completing a museum near Cambodia’s famed Angkor temples featuring computer-generated simulations of the ancient monuments. Inside North Korea, just to give a few examples, the information technology sector is an outsourcing destination for other countries, even developing software and apps for the iPhone. Pyongyang’s sophisticated cartoon industry is reported to have been involved in the production of “The Lion King.” The German Kempinski group has been hired to operate Pyongyang’s largest hotel expected to open this spring. And residents and visitors to Pyongyang can now find Viennese coffee at the appropriately named “Viennese Coffee Restaurant.” Of course, North Korea is not an integral part of the international community, but neither is it a “hermit kingdom.”

Some of their debunking, as with the leaders-not-crazy part, are more technically-true than emphatically-true.

It’s Not a Hermit Kingdom, and 4 Other Myths About North Korea   [The Atlantic]

Per Square Mile

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The infographic above shows how big a city would have to be to house the entirety of the worlds population if they lived like the residents of various cities, using the continental United States for scale. Its author, Tim de Chant, considered only the geographical space taken up by the residents and not the land required to provide them with resources like food and water in this particular graphic. He has, however, investigated these other factors as well:

What’s missing from it is the land that it takes to support such a city. In articles and comments about my infographic, some people overlooked that aspect—either mistakenly or intentionally. They shouldn’t have. Cities’ land requirements far outstrip their immediate physical footprints. They include everything from farmland to transportation networks to forests and open space that recharge fresh water sources like rivers and aquifers. And more. Just looking at a city’s geographic extents ignores its more important ecological footprint. How much land would we really need if everyone lived like New Yorkers versus Houstonians?

It turns out that question is maddeningly difficult to answer. While some cities track resource use, most don’t. Of those that do, methodologies vary city to city, making comparisons nearly impossible. Plus, cities in most developed nations still use a shocking amount of resources, regardless of whether they are as dense as New York or as sprawling as Houston. Any comparison of the cities in my original infographic would be an exercise in futility at this point.

If the World’s Population Lived Like…   [Per Square Mile]   [Dekuju, M!]

Children Playing on the Beach

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This photograph was taken in 1947 at Omaha Beach, Normandy.

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25 Least Visited Countries

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Pictured above is the “Door to Hell” in Turkenistan, which happens to be number 7 on a list of the 25 least visited countries in the world:

Why so few?
The country is reputed to be the second craziest in the world. After, of course, North Korea.

Why you may still want to visit
Crazy is fun! And all the police officers make you feel very safe.

What else
Do visit “The Door to Hell” which is the nickname of the burning crater in Darvaza, litterally in the middle of Karakum desert. It is fantastic and well worth the 3-4 hours long drive. Just stock up on food and vodka before you go, because you will want to stay in a tent overnight near the flames. They make a comforting sound.

The 25 Least Visited Countries in the World   [Migrating Media]