Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
Motto of the MOC: Sincere, yes. Serious? Never!

"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Quizzes! Quizzes! Quizzes!

Over at the Blog Whose Name We Do Not Mention, links to a couple of quizzes have been posted, flooding poor Alison Bechdel with more irrelevant notes. Hoping to pick up some of the overflow, I’m posting both links here.

Free Rice (words): Free Rice

Geography: The Traveler IQ Challenge

I made it to Level 11 of the geography quiz, but I expected better. Part of the problem was the scale of the map, but I confess I don’t know the Central Asian republics as well as I should, and with some of the islands I consider myself lucky to have gotten the right ocean.
Warning: Free Rice is said to be addictive!


Maggie Jochild said...

I got up to 10 but that's strictly because I had played it several times and I was starting to learn along the way. My knowledge of equatorial Africa just plain sucked. I was really good on Civil War battlefields, Central America, and islands connected to battles in the Pacific during WWII, which is a little depressing.

On the last cycle, I keep getting that snarky "You do know this is earth, right?" Especially when I wasn't even on the right continent.

Ginjoint said...

Wait...I've been out of the loop a little. Why don't we mention the DTWOF blog? Why the hostility? *confusion*

On a different note, Jana, could you once again tell me the name of the kind of map that shows all land masses in their "real" sizes relative to each other? So that Texas is not shown larger than Alaska, that sort of thing? (Sorry, Maggie, but it's true!) I'd really appreciate it.

Maggie Jochild said...

Hey, Ginjoint -- let me say first, I'm glad to read, wherever you post it, details of how you're doing. Glad to hear the developments, and I send you energy often.

The BWNWDNM reference is in humor, not hostility. (At least, not from my viewpoint.) Just an acknowledgement that while we are refugees, of a sort, from The Other Blog because of being tagged as long-winded, off-subject, too political, too "quoty", or various other appellations which I still find incongruous arising from denizens of a LITERARY blog (can you see Free Rice influence coming out in me here?), still, we have common DNA. Perhaps Romney does not actually believe Jesus and Satan were brothers, but we know who our sisters are. (grin)

Jana will give you a much better answer to your map question, but since the early 80's I've heard the "non-distorted" map referred to as the Peters Projection. On looking it up at Wikipedia, I find it is actually the Gall-Peters Projection, and there is (predictably) some fascinating controversy about it, if you read the Wiki link above. I vividly remember the West Wing "Block of Cheese" episode about it, and C.J.'s initial scorn which had turned to earnest advocacy on her part by the end of the day. And, in the wonderful world of the internet, you can in fact watch this educational lesson and epiphany via Youtube at Cartographers for Social Equality

There are, in fact, other projections which try to address the problems of making 2-D maps from a 3-D reality. I'll leave it to Jana or someone else to explain those. It's all quite fascinating. Especially since we live on a continent named for a mapmaker who probably never set foot here. European domination of world knowledge, Alex, for $400...

Maggie Jochild said...

Oh, and with regard to Texans and their Size Does Matter fixation -- we get around it by claiming we are the largest of the 48 contiguous states. Don't have to cross a foreign country to get here, doncha know. (chortle)

silvio soprani said...

I got that "you know this is earth, right" almost exclusively when it was about the Middle East. Considering how much the Middle East has been in the news for the last millenium that was pretty appalling!
That geography game is totally addictive. Perhaps insults ARE an incentive to learning, contrary to all my experiences as a student and a teacher!

kat said...

ooh, I haven't tried the geography game yet. Free rice is seriously addictive, though.

I've somehow managed to survive the holiday insanity, then a trip down to Santa Barbara relatively unscathed. I still have the cold from hell, but it's somewhat better. My mom has exactly the same cold (well, same exact symptoms and timing), and her doctor said she could expect to keep coughing for 2 weeks......great.....just what I need....

I'm itching to try the geography game, but I have to go a fucking wedding today, and if I sit down with an addictive activity, I'll never make it out of the house (which sounds more fun, frankly, but I said I would go....)

'nyway, happy almost new year to youse, Divas. You rock.

little gator said...

I gave up early on the geography. A timed game with my clumsy hands was too frustrating. Even wehen I knew exactly where the answer was, I'd get a couple hundred km off just by fumbling.

liza said...

Mags, you packed a punch there. Good one. And I do remember that West Wing Episode. Sigh. (I loved West Wing)

So, friends and denizens of Cakeland, when you take a break from the quizzes, come over to my new blog and say hi.

Maggie's been, more than once, so you know it's cool.

I played FreeRice twice and got bored. I think I was about a 48. When the questions got too hard I spaced out, which just about sums up my middle and high school years.

Now mah jong. That I take seriously.

Maggie Jochild said...

Kat, so they're including fucking in the wedding itself these days. That's at least honest, eh?

Turns out you can click on a button at the Geography for the Nearsighted Without Tremors quiz and take OTHER quizzes, like for just North America. Which I did way, way worse on. Note to self: Must look at a map of Canada. And there's more to Mexico than archeological ruins.

Liza, when you mention Addiction and Mah Jong in the same sentence, you nailed it on the head. I once lived in a lesbian household where we all (not just us who lived there but our girlfriends and the neighbors) got hooked on mah jong to such an extent that the place went to seed around us. After two weeks, we snapped out of it. My tip-off was when I got a bladder infection because I was delaying taking a piss for hours at a time. And yes, we used flower tiles.

liza said...

was it mah jong on the computer. Cause that's what I love.

I don't know how to play the kind with tiles.

kat said...

yeah, they finally gave up and added fucking and signing the deed to your brand new wife to the wedding itself.

just kidding, of course.

I really loud and talkative and obnoxious with my friends, but with the world in general, I'm totally an introvert. This made for a very yucky event, considering that apart from the bride and groom, I knew absolutely NOBODY. It kind of sucked. One cool thing was that it was in a church in the South Bay (near Stanford University) and the wall behind the altar is all glass. All you see is trees and some sky and stuff. It was really pretty.

They handed out substitute rice that was this heart shaped stuff. Boyfriend thought it was candy and ate it......ha!

Off to fail at geography games!!!

kat said...

oh my.....geography quiz is going to become a problem......

the issue is that Europe is so small it's almost impossible to be accurate....this bugs.

kat said...


hope it brings you all the best. I've had such fun around here, and I hope it continues in 2008.

shadocat said...

Thank you Kat! A Happy and Better New Year To Us All!

Now I'm off to play Desktop Tai Pei (Mah Jong) at work...

Jana C.H. said...

I’ve been procrastinating about writing, so this may be a bit long, thus proving that the folks over at our Beloved Birth-Blog were right about us mouthy Orangeists.

I assume it is agreed by all that the Geography Quiz should have used an equal-area projection of some sort, not for political correctness but so that those with a good eye could get the feel for how much distance on the ground was represented by, say, a quarter of an inch on the map. I’m not saying my eye is that good, but theoretically it would have helped one estimate locations in oceans and in the larger nations such as Canada and China.

I have a couple of beefs with the Peters projection. First of all, it’s ugly. The continents look like they’re dripping off the page. If there is some necessary characteristic of a certain map that requires ugliness, I say go for it. But if all you need is a simple equal-area map, there is no need for it to look as if it had been smeared by a four-year-old and hung on a clothesline in the rain.

The second thing that annoys me about the Peters is the way it burst upon the world in the Eighties with its supporters trumpeting that is was (Wowee-kazowee!) an EQUAL-AREA MAP, as though nothing of the sort had ever been thought of before. (Google Mollweide or Goode’s Homolosine for examples of equal-area projections.) One gets the impression that the Peters people thought the evil Mercatorists were working hand-in-hand with Imperialist America (or maybe Canada) to suppress the self-esteem of the entire Southern Hemisphere.

The Mercator projection was not designed to make people think polar countries are larger than tropical countries, though it has that effect. It was created by to solve a particular problem in navigation—to show lines of equal bearing as straight lines. That’s all. It’s rather technical, and when I read the explanation of why holding constantly to a specific bearing at sea will NOT take you in a straight line (unless you’re following a meridian or a parallel), I understand it just fine. But I don’t grasp it well enough to explain it to someone else. Just trust me, this is a genuine navigational issue. Any cartographer will tell you that the Mercator was never intended to be hung up in classrooms, deluding innocent students about the size of Greenland.


About a month ago I read a biography of old Jerry Merchant (that’s Gerhard Kramer in German and Gerhardus Mercator in Latin), and found out something interesting. Jerry created his aid to navigation in the mid-1500s, and all the cartographers and geographers and cosmographers were duly impressed. But mariners are conservative creatures—they have to be. The Sea is too big and too dangerous to go fooling around with untested, new-fangled ideas. It took nearly a hundred years for mariners to start using the Mercator projection on a regular basis. Until then they kept on with their rules of thumb, and the Mercator map was mainly hung decoratively on walls, deluding innocent viewers about the size of Greenland. Such is life.

Thank you to Arthur Robinson and my 30-year-old copy of “Elements of Cartography” and to “Mercator: The Man Who Mapped the Planet” by Nicholas Crane, for all this useless but interesting information.

Jana C.H.
Heisenberg’s Law of Cartography: you can have accurate shape or accurate size, but not both on the same map.

kat said...

my first activity of 2008 was to go see Juno. It really rocked.

Maggie Jochild said...

Here's another quiz for those who are of a multilingual bent: At Language to Language, at the upper right you can choose to test your vocabulary in one of 18 languages (including Swahili and Esperanto).

Jana, thanks for the background information from the world o'maps. It's fascinating what mariners will and won't try -- they understand scurvy very early, and adventurous sorts had found the South Pole, but have a woman on board? Heaven forfend.

And I don't doubt that Mercator was not making a political point. However, the rulers of Europe never hesitated to use any tool (scientific, non-scientific or cultural) to prop up their ideology, and it IS up to us to suss out the byways of their legacy, discard the crapola and, well, consider there is no logical reason to say North is Up except that for the folks out conquering the world in the name of gold and god, north was their home territory. Hence, "top".

I love how C.J. freaks out about that.

kat said...

Hey, Shado, did you know that you got mentioned on Feministe??

shadocat said...

Thanks for letting me know, Kat!