Knowledge of Geography

I didn’t put Klara in a private Christian school for the education but I have to say that they do provide good education.

We were talking about Thanksgiving turkey and I said, “Klara, do you know that there’s a country called Turkey?”

All of a sudden, she switched into a very adult voice and recited, “Mommy, Turkey is a country in the Middle East that is surrounded by three different seas. It’s known for its Mediterranean crops. . .”

I almost fell out of my chair. Then she asked me if I could help her draw the Ark of the Covenant, which I had no idea what it even was. So she brought her school book and showed me the map of Israel, and the Jordan River, everything.

She’s going to know the Bible and geography better than I do. Not that it’s very hard because I was educated in the USSR, and the only thing we learned in geography classes was where natural resources were located. I was 20 years old before I found out what the capital of Canada was but I can still reproduce the map of their fossil fuels from memory.

17 thoughts on “Knowledge of Geography

  1. This post made me laugh. Our geography was similarly over focused on natural resources and also industry types and what crops grow where (both at home and abroad). I guess if you are bent on the world domination it is useful to know where you can mine diamonds and which areas are good for getting your food from.

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  2. That is interesting that Soviet education focused on natural resources. I assume that the point of that was to suggest a highly materialistic view of the economy. Why is Canada rich? It is because it has natural resources as opposed to classically liberal institutions that promote human capital. Note that it is much easier to redistribute a country’s natural resources than its human capital.

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    1. Also, according to our textbooks, Soviet Union was the country with the largest amount of natural resources in the world and thus vastly superior to every other country.

      In a sad irony, we always learned about Ukraine as the country (then area of the USSR) with some of the best soil for growing crops in Europe, especially grain, which makes Holodomor that much more despicable.

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    2. Exactly, it’s Marxism. Everything is about the strictly material, economic aspect. In what concerns human capital, we didn’t believe in intelligence or natural aptitude. If a student failed math, it was always 100% the teacher’s fault.

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    3. “Why is Canada rich? It is because it has natural resources…”

      Such a good question!

      But your answer doesn’t tell the whole story because lots of poor countries also have lots of “natural resources.”

      Nonetheless, it’s a really good question.

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    1. “I still don’t know the capital of Canada. (shame)”

      Not to worry. Historically, most Canadians have firmly believed that most Americans know little or nothing about Canada except… SNOW. It makes us happy. We think it’s funny (hilarious) because… it’s yet another of the many, many ways that we tell ourselves that we are morally superior to Americans. So forget about the shame, you’re making millions of people happy without even knowing it!

      Funny story about Ottawa being chosen the capital of Canada (funny but not funny). It was chosen because it was further away and less accessible – landlocked and in the middle of a dense forest – to a U.S. military invasion than several other more obvious candidates. Seems that burning capital cities was the fashion in 19th century North America. You guys burned and sacked York (Toronto) in the War of 1812-1814 and so we returned the favour with interest by burning and sacking Washington (the burning and sackings are the not funny parts in case you were wondering.)

      Fifty years ago or so, one of Trudeau (the elder’s) cabinet members was reported to have said that the best thing about Ottawa was that it was only two hours away from Montreal by car. Ottawa is pretty as cities go, but excels at sucking the fun out of Canada (assuming there’s still any fun to be found here subsequent to the country becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Earnest Wokester International.)

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      1. Well, when I originally thought about what the capital of Canada was, I guessed… “Ottawa”?? So I did know at a subliminal level, but with a low degree of certainty 😉 I only knew about the sacking of DC because of that song by the Arrogant Worms about the war of 1812… I don’t remember covering that in school!

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  3. “I don’t remember covering that in school!”

    I can definitely see that… lol. Not one of the highlights of a triumphalist version of U.S. history.

    On our side, schoolchildren in Upper Canada (Ontario) were annually given a day off until late in the 19th century to celebrate the aforementioned burning and sacking of Washington. (Canadians are nice, but not always nice in ways that one might expect.)

    I believe that the reason that Canada, unlike Mexico, didn’t lose half its territory to 19th century Manifest Destiny expansionism was because there was de facto ‘mutual assured destruction’ regime in northern North America. The War of 1812-1814 demonstrated that a determined invasion by massed American land armies successfully conquer the northern British colonies but the all-powerful British navy was full capable of retaliating by leveling at will eastern seaboard cities like Boston, New York or Washington.

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    1. Eh, you know. The Arrogant Worms’ gleeful version is easier to remember:

      Come back proud Canadians,
      To before you had TV.
      No hockey night in Canada,
      There was no CBC.

      In 1812 Madison was mad,
      He was the president you know.
      Well he thought he’d tell the British where they ought to go.
      He thought he’d invade Canada,
      He thought that he was tough.
      Instead we went to Washington,
      And burned down all his stuff.

      And the white house burned, burned, burned.
      And we’re the ones that did it,
      It burned, burned, burned.
      While the president ran and cried,
      It burned, burned, burned.
      And things were very historical,
      And the Americans ran and cried like a bunch of little babies WaWaWa
      In the war of 1812.

      Those hillbillies from Kentucky,
      Dressed in green and red.
      Left home to fight in Canada,
      But they returned home dead.
      It’s the only war the Yankees lost except for Vietnam.
      And also the Alamo and the Bay of Ham.
      The loser was America,
      The winner was ourselves.
      So join right in and gloat about the war of 1812.

      And the white house burned, burned, burned.
      And we’re the ones that did it,
      It burned, burned, burned.
      While the president ran and cried,
      It burned, burned, burned.
      And things were very historical,
      And the Americans ran and cried like a bunch of little babies WaWaWa
      In the war of 1812.

      In 1812 we were just sitting around,
      Minding our own business,
      Putting crops into the ground.
      We heard the soldiers coming,
      And we didn’t like that sound.
      So we took a boat to Washington and burned it to the ground.

      Oh we fired our guns but the Yankees kept on a coming,
      There wasn’t quite as many as there was a while ago.
      We fired once more and the Yankees started running,
      Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
      They ran through the snow,
      And they ran through the forest,
      They ran through the bushes where the beavers wouldn’t go,
      They ran so fast they forgot to take their culture,
      Back to America, and Gulf and Mexico.

      So if you go to Washington,
      Its buildings clean and nice,
      Bring a pack of matches,
      And we’ll burn the white house twice.

      And the white house burned, burned, burned,
      But the Americans won’t admit it.
      It burned, burned, burned…
      It burned and burned and burned
      It burned, burned, burned
      I bet that made them mad.
      And the Americans ran and cried like a bunch of little babies WaWaWa
      In the war of 1812.

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      1. Omigosh, that’s so so funny!

        My education has been lacking to date. Thank you so very much for posting this!

        I looked up the group and this one – We are the Beaver – had just the right tone of poke-fun-at-yourselfery for my personal taste;

        The US is the eagle, Russia is the bear
        Australia is the kangaroo, cause they’re kind of weird down there
        Yeah, India is the tiger, that stands so proud and tall
        But Canada is the greatest of them all

        We are the beaver, we’re furry and we’re free
        Yeah, we are the beaver, we got two big front teeth
        Yeah, we are the beaver, we can chew right through small trees
        We are the beaver, we are the beaver, we are the beaver

        You might think a rodent is a pretty lame choice
        For a national animal, but don’t you listen to that voice
        No, cause all them birds and predators, just take from the land
        But the beaver, always gives a dam

        We are the beaver, we got cute little webbed feet
        Yeah, we are the beaver, it’s bark we like to eat
        Yeah, we are the beaver, a nickel we complete
        Yeah, we are the beaver, we are the beaver, we are the beaver

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I freely admit that most things I think I know about Canada are the result of Arrogant Worms ditties, and watching the Red Green show as a youth. Which makes all the lockdowns and totalitarian weirdness of late nearly incomprehensible.

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          1. “all the lockdowns and totalitarian weirdness of late nearly incomprehensible”

            Canada’s political culture had its formative moment in counter-revolution – the northern British colonies were invited to the American Revolution and declined. Order and stability was valued over all else.

            In practical terms this meant a high degree of deference to the leadership of our elites especially as they were the only ones who it was believed could protect us from the excesses of the quarrelsome, unstable and violent republicans to our south. Collapse into civil war in the U.S. was predicted here from the beginning and sure enough there was a civil war.

            We remained a parliamentary liberal democracy with British common law rights for individuals – deference to elites worked fine when there was a degree of disagreement and open debate among them and in Canadian society at large.

            But when Canada’s elites all (practically to a person) became various shades of woke, there was no alternative channel of resistance in society left to channel anti-wokeness. As I said above, “the woke have the place nailed down tight” and I don’t see any mechanism from within that can restore the liberal democratic Canada of even a decade ago.

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