Aussie’s view of America; can you do as well for Australia?

November 2, 2013

An Aussie's attempt to label the state of the U.S.  Don't laugh -- how well can you do labeling a map of Australia?  From Texas Hill Country's Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

An Aussie’s attempt to label the state of the U.S. Don’t laugh — how well can you do labeling a map of Australia? From Texas Hill Country’s Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

Found this at the Facebook site of Texas Hill Country.  A little rough for high school geography, especially if it’s ninth grade geography (surely you can moderate this a bit, teachers), but a good idea for a quiz?

How well can your students do labeling the U.S.?  Will they find this person’s obvious anguish and creative non-answers amusing?  Can they do better?

Now turn the tables:  How well can your students in the U.S. do labeling a map of Australia?  Canada?  Mexico?

Ask your students:  Is it important to know such stuff?  Why?

And you, Dear Reader: What do you think?

Here you go, a map of Australia to practice with:

Unlabeled map of Australia to label!  Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010

Unlabeled map of Australia to label! Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010


Paramount logo inspiration: Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah

July 1, 2012

This is mostly an encore post — a tribute to Paramount Pictures in the company’s centennial year.

There’s a geography exercise and social studies bell ringer in this somewhere [links added]:

Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden. The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

From the Deseret News: “Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden (Utah). The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

What is the most “paramount” mountain in Utah?

How about Timpanogos Peak, Kings Peak, Mount Nebo, Mount Olympus. Lone Peak or Twin Peaks?

It’s none of the above because one of Hollywood’s most familiar images — the famous Paramount Pictures logo — was inspired by Weber County’s Ben Lomond Peak.

As such, Ben Lomond — not even the highest summit in Weber County — may be the most famous mountain in the Beehive State.

The peak is given credit for prompting creation of the majestic but fictional mountain in the popular Paramount design, based on two histories of the motion-picture company.

According to Leslie Halliwell’s “Mountain of Dreams,” a biography of Paramount, founder William Hodkinson grew up in Ogden and the logo was “a memory of childhood in his home state of Utah.”

Compare it to the Paramount Pictures logo now:

Paramount Pictures logo

Paramount Pictures logo

Teachers may want to hustle over to the Deseret News site to capture the story for classroom use — the online version includes a short set of slides of a hike to the top of the peak (it’s a climb most reasonably healthy people can make in a day – “reasonably healthy” to include acclimated to the altitude).

What other geographic features have become commercial logos? How do images of geography affect our culture?

For my money, I still like Timpanogos better, even if the Osmonds did use it.

Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah, from a Flickr file

This image of Mt. Ben Lomond looks more like the Paramount logo, some might say.

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True or false? Deception, with iPhones, to tell the truth

September 11, 2011

Magician Marco Tempest pushes the boundaries on use of iPhones in magic tricks — is it magic, pure electronics, or what we want to see?

Tell us in comments how you could use this shorter-than-usual TEDS video as a bell-ringer, teachers — or as an ice-breaker, meeting facilitators and corporate trainers:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michelle Gardiner, who suffered my bass playing with quiet equanimity.


7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo special reports

March 13, 2011

7 Billion: Are you typical?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo s…, posted with vodpod

I could see a bell-ringer in there somewhere.  Who do you think ought to see this thing?  What classes in public schools should see it, for what purpose?

I hope the year-long series lives up to the video.  I hope there are a lot more videos to go along with it.  As a piece of persuasive rhetoric, it does make a decent case for subscribing to National Geographic for a year.  How’s that for rhetorical criticism?


American Icons: Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

February 2, 2011

One of what should be an occasional series of posts on American iconic places, natural features, sights to see, etc.  For studies of U.S. history and U.S. geography, each of these posts covers subjects an educated American should know.  What is the value of these icons?  Individually and collectively, our preservation of them may do nothing at all for the defense of our nation.  But individually and collectively, they help make our nation worth defending.

This is a less-than-10-minute video you can insert into class as a bell ringer, or at the end of a class, or as part of a study of geologic formations, or in any of a number of other ways.  Yosemite Nature Notes provides glorious pictures and good information about Yosemite National Park — this video explains the modern incarnation of Half Dome, an enormous chunk of granite that captures the imagination of every living, breathing soul who ever sees it.

Potential questions for class discussion:

  • Have you put climbing Half Dome on your bucket list yet?  Why not?
  • Is it really wilderness when so many people go there?
  • How should the National Park Service, and the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, manage these spectacular, completely unique features, both to preserve their wild nature, and allow people to visit them?
  • What are the federalism issues involved in protecting Half Dome, or any grand feature, like the Great Smokey Mountains, Great Dismal Swamp, Big Bend, Yellowstone Falls, or Lincoln Memorial?
  • Does this feature make you wonder about how glaciers carve mountains and valleys?  (Maybe you should watch this video about glaciers in Yosemite.)
  • What is the history of the preservation of the Yosemite Valley?
  • Planning your trip to Yosemite:  Which large city airports might be convenient to fly to?  (What part of which state is this in?)
  • What other grand sights are there to see on your trip to Yosemite?
  • What does this image make you think?  Can you identify the people in it?

    John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite Valley

    Who are those guys? Why might it matter? (Answer below the fold)

  • How about this image? Who made this, and so what?

    Albert Bierstadt, Sunrise, Yosemite Valley, ca. 1870 - Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

    Photo or painting? Where could you see this work?

Read the rest of this entry »


Edith Wharton on Facebook: What a horrible thought!

January 3, 2010

Nancy Sharon Colllins, reporting after her recent work at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, including reading some original letters and other writings of Edith Wharton, wonders what would be the effect on history and literary studies, had Edith Wharton used Facebook instead of keeping her journal and writing copious numbers of letters.

And that got me thinking: What if Edith Wharton had Facebooked? Had she lived in our time and communicated digitally, I wonder what her literature would be like. Looking at five days of cursive writing and personal letters made me realize that her compulsion to jot down her thoughts was no different than ours today when we tweet about what we had for lunch or share some fab link we just discovered. The difference between a letter written longhand and a Facebook post is that one takes a little bit longer (and leaves a more lasting trace), but the purpose is the same. Whether we live on a grand, Whartonian scale or a quieter, more ordinary one, we feel more significant when we share intimacies about ourselves with others.

There’s a good warm-up and/or journaling exercise in there for literature teachers.


Geography quiz: In space, who will accept your teeming masses?

December 3, 2009

Lady Liberty from space, European Space Agency photo

What is this famous landmark?

This could be an interesting geography or history bell ringer.  What are these famous sites pictured above?

Answer below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


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