Geography Bloopers

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Geographic ignorance abounds. Listed here are some funny and head scratching worthy geography blunders.

Absolut Geography Oops

Swedish Vodka distiller Absolut has managed to upset both sides of the geographic divide with their map depicting Mexico and the United States in the 1830s when what is now California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona were still part of the Mexican territory.  The map is just one of the advertisements that make up a series as part of an ad campaign started in April of 2007 with the slogan “In an Absolut World” and is meant to show ideal situations.  The map upset Mexicans who weren’t happy to be reminded up the loss of territories during the 1848 Mexican-American War and offended American conservatives who felt the ad aggravates the border tensions between the two countries.  While the ad was not created for the American market, nonetheless, various news media outlets aired the story during newscasts in the United States.  Under pressure from American consumers, Absolut has agreed to stop running the ad but stated on their website; “In no way was it meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues.”

Absolute Map of Mexico and the US

White House’s Cartographic Blunder

October 1, 2011: Press credentials for President Obama’s trip to Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Denver contain an embarrassing geography error on them as highlighted in this post from CNN.  The map on the press credentials highlighting the states on the tour has Wyoming highlighted along with California and Washington.  The problem?  President’s Obama’s tour to “The American West” is covering the states of California, Washington, and Colorado.  Time for a geography lesson at the White House (or at least for the poor Obama staff member who will never live this down).

Press credential for President Obama's recent tour.  Credit: CNN
Press credential for President Obama’s recent tour. Credit: CNN

The World Cup is Where?

June 17, 2010:  WGN TV in Chicago apparently thinks that South Africa is a continent located in a part of the world looking suspiciously like South America.  Hey, maybe the graphics department lost their mind over the incessant buzz of the vuvuzelas?

(via arbroath)

CNN Needs a Lesson on Satellite Imagery

May 4, 2010: CNN’s Don Lemon, in covering the news of the recent attempted car bombing of Times Square, was confounded by a blurred image when using Google Earth during his interview with Tom Fuentes, former FBI Assistant Director of International Relations.  Susana Polo on Geekosystem first pointed out the embarrassing exchange between the CNN Anchor and Fuentes.

Lemon: My question to Mr. Fuentes would be: what does that mean?  What should we garner from this when this area is even blurred out on Google Earth because of this security alert?

Fuentes: I think they don’t want you to see exactly what kind of work they’re doing, and also they’re searching other parts of the area just to be safe.

CNN may have the magic wall but apparently their anchors could use a lesson in how satellite imagery is acquired for online mapping applications.  That, and a lesson in how sometimes the Internet isn’t as zippy as we’d like it to be and stuff sometimes takes a while to load. (Via @ManoMarks)

Watch the exchange:

Miss Teen SC and Maps

August, 2007: Miss South Carolina Teen USA when asked during the Miss Teen USA contest this past why one-fifth of Americans couldn’t find USA on a map gave a bumbling answer that news pundits are still trying to decipher.  Her response to the question “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map.  Why do you think this is?” was:

 “I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and that I believe our education, such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should our education over here in the US should help the US, or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.”

As was to be expected, the 48 second video clip was posted to YouTube and has been viewed over 4 million times.

In explanation, Lauren Caitlin Upton has responded by saying:

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she told South Carolina’s The State newspaper. “I wasn’t expecting [the question]. I lost my train of thought.”

Yes, English is spoken in England

October 30, 2007: In another story for the geography ignorance file, Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder was a little stumped when it came to knowing what language is spoken in London, England.  The Miami Dolphins played the New York Giants in the first regular NFL game played outside of the United States.  Channing Crowder commented on his lack of geography acumen by saying:

“I couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries,” he said. “I swear to God. I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I know London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That’s the closest thing I know to London. He’s black, so I’m sure he’s not from London. I’m sure that’s a coincidental name.”

Source: NFL Star: They Speak English In London?

Uh, Sidney’s not in Australia

December 29, 2006: Tobi Gutt, a 21 year old German tourist made an 8000+ mile typo when he went on the Internet to book a flight to Australia to spend a four week vacation with his girlfriend.  A sense that something was wrong tickled the traveler when he boarded the flight to the United States but it wasn’t enough to stop him from flying all the way to chilly Montana in his light summer clothes.  Gutt told German magazine Bild, “I did wonder but I didn’t want to say anything, I thought to myself, you can fly to Australia via the US.”  It wasn’t until he was about to board a commuter plane to Sidney did it finally occur to Gutt that he might be on the wrong path.  His family back home in Germany sent him the 600 Euros needed to buy a ticket to continue on to the correct destination of Sydney, Australia.

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2 thoughts on “Geography Bloopers”

  1. “Hey, maybe the graphics department lost their mind over the incessant buzz of the vuvuzelas?”

    It was the best!

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