Global Awareness

Some commenters have asked for an open thread to discuss the Olympic games. Your wish is Danio’s command.

In the spirit of International cooperation and community building, here’s an interactive geography challenge that someone linked to in the comments of some long forgotten post last month (if you want to identify yourself to me I’ll happily give you credit up front). Can you identify all 204 nations participating in the 2008 Games?


  1. Dallas says

    I got a traveler IQ of 123. I was only 6000 points away from advancing to level 12.

    I love those things.

  2. John C. Randolph says

    The resolution on that map is way too low. I generally recognize countries by the shape of their outlines, and I couldn’t even see the baltics separately.


  3. Serena says

    Dallas you rock!

    I was not so good, but not so bad either.

    My traveler IQ was 111 and I got to level 11.


    I have to beat it now….

  4. Helioprogenus says

    This was a tough one. IQ was 128 but I didn’t realize how much of West Africa I was hazy on. In some ways, it’s a bit of a cheat because the capital is named with the country, so we can randomly click in the country hoping to hit the capital if we don’t know it. It would be a better challenge if the country didn’t appear with the capital name. Then probably even less people would succeed.
    Thanks for the link though, that was eye opening.

  5. JoJo says

    IQ of 130. Like Helioprogenus I have trouble with Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. Also, I found it annoying to be told “481 km off” when I click on northeastern Italy for the Doge’s Palace. I know where Venice is, I’ve been in Venice, but I can’t put the cursor right on top of Venice because the control is too coarse.

  6. says

    IQ of 103. Control problems too, I may need a better mouse (…and a remedial course in geography, I put the Maldives and Easter Island way south near the antarctic circle for some reason…)

  7. Bride of Shrek OM says

    Heh, open thread on th Olympics. Can I just say, for about the fifth time, that the concept of sycnronisd swimming is an embarassment to the olympic ideal.

  8. Bride of Shrek OM says

    ..and the fact I mispelt synchronised is an embarrassment to my sixth form English teacher.

  9. Arthur says

    IQ of 116. I’m a miserable failure at west and sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and the less-famous Caribbean countries.

  10. says

    “Day After Tomorrow” – Tom Waits

    I got your letter today
    And I miss you all so much, here
    I can’t wait to see you all
    And I’m counting the days, dear
    I still believe that there’s gold
    At the end of the world
    And I’ll come home
    To Illinois
    On the day after tomorrow

    It is so hard
    And it’s cold here
    And I’m tired of taking orders
    And I miss old Rockford town
    Up by the Wisconsin border
    But I miss you won’t believe
    Shoveling snow and raking leaves
    And my plane will touch tomorrow
    On the day after tomorrow

    I close my eyes
    Every night
    And I dream that I can hold you
    They fill us full of lies
    Everyone buys
    About what it means to be a soldier
    I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel
    About all the blood that’s been spilled
    Look out on the street
    Get me back home
    On the day after tomorrow

    You can’t deny
    The other side
    Don’t want to die
    Any more than we do
    What I’m trying to say,
    Is don’t they pray
    To the same God that we do?
    Tell me, how does God choose?
    Whose prayers does he refuse?
    Who turns the wheel?
    And who throws the dice
    On the day after tomorrow?

    I’m not fighting
    For justice
    I am not fighting
    For freedom
    I am fighting
    For my life
    And another day
    In the world here
    I just do what I’ve been told
    You’re just the gravel on the road
    And the one’s that are lucky
    One’s come home
    On the day after tomorrow

    And the summer
    It too will fade
    And with it comes the winter’s frost, dear
    And I know we too are made
    Of all the things that we have lost here
    I’ll be twenty-one today
    I’ve been saving all my pay
    And my plane will touch down
    On the day after tomorrow
    And my plane it will touch down
    On the day after tomorrow

  11. Physicalist says

    Traveler IQ 110 (I blame some of the errors on the mouse).

    Haven’t seen a moment of the Olympics. Should I be ashamed?

  12. Arthur says

    President Bush calls himself the fan-in-chief. I wonder who would make the best fan-in-chief for the 2012 Olympics. No, wait, I think I figured it out.

  13. Skwee says

    I’m not much of a sports fan at all,so I don’t watch the actual games, but I did see the Parade of Nations & the cauldron lighting. The parade is always my favorite part, because I love seeing the diverse uniforms.
    On that note, I had no idea that there was a North Korean Olympic team.

  14. Number8Dave says

    127. Got to Level 12 but didn’t pass it. Scored worst on the big countries like the US, Canada, Australia and China, where there were no nearby national boundaries to orient from. There was some island, nominally part of Norway, that was so far away (an Antarctic territory?) that I didn’t even see where it was when they pointed it out. But a lot of fun.

  15. Ragutis says

    Well, the opening ceremonies were absolutely amazing. I believe the Beeb had it uncut, so I’ll have to watch that version one of these nights. However, seeing our Dear Leader looking like an absolute slob in the stands was yet another national embarrassment he’s provided. FFS, you’d think he was home, on a couch, watching pig racing and surrounded by empty Bud cans and potato chip bags. Couldn’t Laura effing elbow him in the ribs and tell him to sit the fuck up?

    Fantastic win by Lithuania over Argentina in men’s basketball. (Well, the second half…. Well, except the last four minutes… Whatever! It was a win! Lietuva!)The U.S. women looked decent against Japan in soccer as well. Walsh/May-Treanor look like they’ll dominate again.

    And I don’t “get” synchronized swimming either. However, I watched synchronized diving for the first time tonight, and was impressed.

  16. Cassidy says

    I’m an unapologetic Olympic junkie, but I did NOT appreciate having to watch Bush wax poetic on the wonders of religion infiltrating China during the primetime coverage tonight.

  17. says

    @#6–I want my five minutes back.

    He says “GOD Bless You” to sneezes
    Cos he’s sucking up to Jesus
    And he wants his Lord and Savior to be sure which side he backs
    He’s a moral guy, and yet he
    Loves the image of a sweaty
    Guy who finds the tree-slash-atheist and hacks him with an axe!
    True, he isn’t very funny
    But I’d bet a bit of money
    There’s an audience who loves him, and who thinks he’s just the best
    But if Cook should catch me sneezing
    And he finds my words displeasing
    It’s his own damned fault–I really didn’t ask him to be blessed.

  18. John C. Randolph says

    the concept of sycnronisd swimming is an embarassment to the olympic ideal.

    How do you feel about rythmic gymnastics?


  19. Samnell says

    612,555 points on the quiz, Traveler IQ 136

    With a better map I would have done much better.

  20. says

    PZ & PZ stand-ins – you might be interested in this – Texas schools will be required to provide a Bible elective for their students. I disapprove…

    Sorry for the shameless plug, but I feel like this is the sort of thing you guys’d care about.

  21. clinteas says


    I believe the traveler quiz was linked to by Truth Machine a while ago.

    As to the Olympics,the coverage here in Australia is appalling,we get to watch 4 hours of a women’s roadrace while really good other stuff is on,so Im already cured.
    Second Bride of Shrek’s opinion as to the synchronized swimmers,but there’s other yawnworthy stuff too !
    SO given the whole political thing,the doping,and the crap coverage,its more of a non-event for me.

  22. Jeanette Garcia says

    I am not a sports fan but I was knocked out by China’s dazzling opening ceremonies.

    Bush, sitting in the bleachers, looked bored or like he was trying to find a way out of there.

  23. niennie says

    DID you guys just see the 4×100 m relay men???? Jason Lezak really pulled it through… it was even more amazing than Great Britain’s win against USA’s Katie Hoff.

  24. Richbank says

    483,189 points, traveler IQ of 123. Couldn’t get Africa and the random cities in western Australia :(.

  25. SteveO says

    I’m a little saddened at what seems like a general tone of negativty here. I’ve been increasingly aware over the past year of all the positive and amazing things in life. I think we too often accound for all the bad, and take the good for granted.

    The Olympics is not perfect, but what are we comparing it to? One Iranian swimmer refused to swim with the Israeli, some athletes were busted for doping. But the Iranian basketball team hugged the Israeli coach of the Russian mens team, and said in the press conference they weren’t here to get into politics.

    There’s a lot of wonderful going on there folks. And the comments about Bush say more about you than him. There’s plenty not to like, but how much of your being is corroding away from this hatred?

    I wrote this in an email to a friend earlier tonight:
    I’m completely in awe of what the human is capable of. We drive cars at speeds more than twice as fast as the fastest animal can travel on it’s own power. We fly jet planes and operate computers, reacting to more data in seconds than our brains and sensors were ever built to accept.
    We continually push the human body to new limits. We’ve been watching a little bit of the Olympics. I’m astounded that every time, people beat world records in objectively measurable contests. Gymnastics and archery are some of my favorites, and I like the beach volleyball. But those are competitive, and to score higher on a gymnastics routine, or for more accuracy, or against another scoring team is very arbitrary.
    The things that really amaze me are the swimming and the weightlifting. In these purely objective measures, people push their bodies to new limits every time. Even with the augmentation of the new high-tech swimsuits, and potentially steroids or at least basic chemical nutrition and supplementation, humans invented those aids and perfected them.

  26. says

    DID you guys just see the 4×100 m relay men???? Jason Lezak really pulled it through… it was even more amazing than Great Britain’s win against USA’s Katie Hoff.

    Best race EVAR!

    I mean, when the fourth and fifth place finishers break the world record, that’s mind-blowing.

  27. Craig M says

    It’s the first summer Olympics for which my kids are old enough to care. My high-schooler is a track and XC runner and a swimmer, and he’s really enjoying watching the games already. The parade of nations was cool just for the geography lesson, as I tried to at least put every nation with a continent! We also love seeing the obscure sports, but dang, no table tennis on television yet. We’ve been ROTFL at Bush too.

  28. niennie says

    Table tennis is one of the most exciting sports, surprisingly! It starts fast, it ends faster. I can’t wait to watch Singapore and China.

    About the negativity, I honestly don’t care. If there is a time to forget the world, its the Olympics.

  29. says

    I wondered why there was such a surge of interest in that quiz today.

    Yes, the map is small, which is why being close gets you points.

    I am guilty of posting it in the comments awhile ago – no credit required, I originally got it from Lawyers, Guns and Money.

  30. says

    I got traveler’s IQ of 118 or somethign like that. The latter ones were quiet hard. The only thing that saved me was that I knew where most countries were. The ones I did the worst in, though, were island nations and Africa.

  31. cactusren says

    Traveler IQ 136!

    And yes, the men’s 4×100 relay was best race I’ve seen in a long time! I couldn’t freakin believe Lezak caught up with the French swimmer! I had written it off and assumed the US was getting silver, then as he started gaining on him, (I’m a little embarassed to admit this) I actually started yelling at the TV–something along the lines of “holy shit, holy shit, I can’t fucking believe this!”. The men’s 100 breaststroke and women’s 400 freestyle were good races, too (though they did not cause me to start speaking to inanimate objects). And while I don’t mean to be unpatriotic, I really enjoyed watching the US men’s beach volleyball team (the favorites) get schooled by Latvia, which barely even made it into the Olympics. Go underdogs!

  32. says

    Yeah, I was yelling at the tv too during that race at the end. Absolutely unbelievable. My dogs were trying to sleep and both gave me rather annoyed looks.

    The other amazing thing is that not only was the world record broken it was smashed into tiny bits, the 5th place team actually came in over the old record.

    The event I’m really waiting for is the 3000m Women’s Steeplechase because I went to high school with Anna Willard one of the runners and she has a pretty good shot at a medal.

  33. Josh says

    Traveler IQ of 90 and I only got to the sixth level. I really didn’t make that many mistakes but I guess I have to make you guys look good.

    I was not quite that impressed by the opening choreographed dance bits but my duties as a father made sure I didn’t get to see those continuously. My simplest and most direct observation… I was really impressed by China.

    When they strode in headed my Yao Ming and the kid I thought they were almost leading an army. I thought China’s delegation was just going to surround all the other olympians. I didn’t happen that way but It looked like it might for a while. The last torch relay and the lighting ceremony were really well done.

    I caught the Chinese mens gymnasts. They made some mistakes but were superhuman examples otherwise. Liking the China. I know there are bad bits and problems within the country but with 1.3 billion people there is great potential for excellence.

  34. andyo says

    Cuttlefish you freaking OWN!

    Tip to Dane Cook fans: You know why Carlin was great and Cook is crap? Because one treated his audience like they knew something, and the other one cateres to the lowest common denominator of the ignorants. Guess which.

  35. Claudia says

    I am a geographic moron. :( But I’m gonna practise and do better!!! Its cool finding out where stuff really is!

  36. Liberal Atheist says

    The map was way too small, almost impossible to hit the right spot even when I actually knew where they were…

  37. davem says

    It’s a bit too US-Centric for me. Since when has ‘Fenway Park’ (on level 2!) been a famous place? Never heard of it!

  38. says

    I have to agree with Cassidy that hearing Bush pushing his god in China made me sick. We believe stupid things, so you should too. I’m so ashamed!

  39. Steffi says

    I’m boycotting the Olympics as well.

    I’ve never been interested in the Olympics but it’s the first time I’m actually trying my hardest not to watch any bit. Everything about the Games looks so amazingly fake and it really reminds me of the Berlin Olympics…

    The Football World Cup (or Euro) is way more interesting anyway.

  40. Sili says

    I recall being drilled in Africa back in … primary(?) school. Europe, too, I think – back when there was still a curtain (not that it has gone away entirely, yet).

    But I don’t remember any of it anymore, so I don’t think I’m gonna bother. I tried something similar for Europe alone a while back, where one had to drag countries to the right spot on a map – didn’t do very well on that, even.

    And no, I don’t have anything to say about the Olympics. Just as I had nothing to say about Tour de France. I don’t even recall when my telly was last plugged in. I really should pack it up and put it away before the license inspector calls.

  41. MikeM says

    I think the Olympics are vastly overrated.

    That being said, I just had to watch the men’s road race live. I was up until 2 a.m. watching it, and still had to turn it off with 6 of 7 laps complete. I simply could not believe the pace of the thing on that 6th lap.

    I don’t go all homer, getting happy and sad depending on the performance of the American(s). That being said, there were 3 Americans within 30 seconds of first place, after 152 hard miles. That was really a great race.

    I’m not happy with how they run cycling in the Olympics, though. It really should be a stage race, with at least 2 road races and 2 criteriums and 1 time trial. Pinning a medal on a guy after a 152 mile race hardly makes sense. All that race proved was there are about 50 guys who are all about as good as each other, and one of them had better timing/luck than the rest.

    The men’s 4 by 100 swimming relay from early Monday, however, was pretty awesome. That team was the underdog, and the French team trash-talked their way out of the gold medal. Classic.

    One side-note: Why do they tape-delay this stuff? Why even pretend? Real fans are just going to go to a news website and get results right away. I knew the relay results hours before NBC showed it. Quit treating us like idiots.

    I’m into bike racing because I used to race bikes (really badly) and swimming because my kids do it (pretty well), not because I want to chant “USA! USA!…” at the teevee. I root for good performances, not Americans. Had the Americans taunted the French before that relay, and then lost, I’d have said they deserved it.

    But I’m not going to pretend to be interested in gymnastics so I can root for Americans. I think it’s kind of a twisted sport… Just a gut feeling here: Those Chinese gymnasts AIN’T 16. Sorry. This truth will eventually come out. Let’s face it, they know in their hearts those girls are about 14.

  42. scooter says

    Posted by: Bride of Shrek OM | August 10, 2008 8:36 PM
    Can I just say, for about the fifth time, that the concept of sycnronisd swimming is an embarassment to the olympic ideal.

    I tuned in and got synchronized diving, which was actually pretty cool. I agree on the synch swimming, it’s been the butt of countless TV comedy skits.

    Congrats to the Aussies on the female swimming rocket.

  43. scooter says

    Posted by: John C. Randolph | August 10, 2008 10:53 PM
    How do you feel about rythmic gymnastics?

    Is that a form of birth control and Kama Sutra ?

  44. scooter says

    I was surprised that I got caught up in the women’s badminton. I didn’t know it was the second fastest racket sport with speeds up to 200 mph.

    The Canadian beat our girl in a tight match, too bad, our girl was a Chinese ethnic so I was rooting for her out of irony.

  45. BMcP says

    The Olympics aren’t about “International cooperation and community building”, they are about making money.

    That and giving authoritarian dictatorships more prestige and legitimacy.

  46. Retrokatze says

    I don’t have a telly but even if I had one I’d boycott the olympics. The majority of the athletes is doped anyway and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching the games, knowing that the farmers in Hebei are nearly dying of thirst so China can have its illusion of “Green Olypmics”.

  47. says

    Personally I thoroughly enjoyed the cycling, though I do agree that a stage race might be more interesting. However there are plenty of very prestigious one-day classics out there, and I think the Olympics fits in with them very nicely.

    If you turn it into a stage race you’ll end up with countries putting together teams with the aim of getting their best man/woman to gold. It doesn’t matter so much in the Tour, where there are several competitions involved, and winning a stage is more important for some.

  48. Kseniya says

    Oooh. Tough! Level 9, IQ 107. And I thought my geography was pretty good… I wonder how I’d place in my age group. I should try this on a fast computer (instead of this 266mhz pentium 2).

    Is it just me, or did some of the Chinese gymnasts look about 11 years old?

  49. Danio says

    Is it just me, or did some of the Chinese gymnasts look about 11 years old?

    Yes, they definitely did. I’m starting to suspect a western bias in these observations, though, at least in my case. When I watched the opening ceremonies and saw the little Earthquake hero tyke marching with Yao Ming in the Chinese procession, I wouldn’t have guessed he was more than 5 or 6, but the commentators stated his age as 9 or 10.

  50. Kseniya says

    Yup, Danio, I had a similar experience. One of the people I was watching with, who is maybe around 55 or 60 years old, said the first gymnast looked “about eight”, but I pointed out that she actually had breasts (but still looked way shy of sixteen.) I chalk it up to inexperience with a vast array of Chinese faces and ages.

  51. natural cynic says

    Almost bragging with a geo IQ of 134 after completing 12. I saw that I was not getting as close as I wanted, so I paused and changed the resolution to 480×640. Everything was bigger, but you have to scroll a few times. Only botched the Norway city in the far north and put Mayotte on the wrong side of Africa.

    The tape delay really sucks. It’s worse on the west coast where even the “live” stuff is delayed 3 hours. Thanks NBC for that and all the pompous twittery. Saw Bush with Costas and got my usual reaction at the start of the interview [knotted stomach] so the mute was useful.

  52. Qwerty says

    I only got to level 9.

    My excuse is that it’s hard to click on such a tiny map.
    That said, I had trouble with those island cities in the Indonisian area. And I didn’t know where most of the Chinese cities were. Ouch!

  53. Qwerty says

    “Posted by: Bride of Shrek OM | August 10, 2008 8:36 PM

    Heh, open thread on th Olympics. Can I just say, for about the fifth time, that the concept of sycnronisd swimming is an embarassment to the olympic ideal.”

    What about the equestrian events where the athelete is really the horse. I still remember seeing an equentrian rider get off his horse and light up a cigarette. Such stamina!

    I applaud those woman who can seemingly dance on the water. That said, I’d hate to have to wash my hair after. I think they use some kind of weird gel.

    Of course, every four years they seem to add more weird events. I am waiting for tiddly winks to become an Olympic event. I can hear the announcer saying, “Nice tiddly!”

    Okay, you caught me. I like saying, “Nice tiddly!”

  54. poke says

    I am making an effort to watch the games in order to counteract the people boycotting them.

  55. cactusren says


    They actually use plain gelatin to keep their hair in place. (I know this because my sister used to do some synchronized swimming. I did the real kind of swimming, but I have to say, some of the stuff they do in synchro is pretty amazing). Anyway, the gelatin comes out easily in hot water.

  56. scooter says

    I had a motorcycle accident, and I looked down and couldn’t see my knees, that’s when I began to expect I didn’t exist.

    But then some good samaritans pulled the motorcycle off of me, and I could see my knees again, then I existed again.

    But for that brief moment in time, I didn’t exist, so the theory that Atheists don’t exist is absolutely proven by my personal experience, and that proves it.