National Geographic Magazine As An ‘Instrument Of Doom’

Vintage National Geographic Magazine CoverIt wasn’t long ago when you could visit the attic or basement of most any home in America and find stacks of yellow-spined back-issues of The National Geographic Magazine. Thanks (or no thanks) to digital advances, that scene isn’t as common today.

While there are still avid collectors of the esteemed magazine dedicated to history, science, nature, geography, travel and learning, there are far fewer than in 1974 when a science satire magazine, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, suggested that the sheer weight of all these collected periodicals would lead to the apocalypse.

In the March 1974 issue of The Journal of Irreproducible Results, George H. Kaub wrote the following:

This continent is in the gravest danger of following legendary Atlantis to the bottom of the sea. No natural disaster, no overpowering compounding of pollutions or cataclysmic nuclear war will cause the end. Instead, a seemingly innocent monster created by man, nurtured by man, however as yet unheeded by man, will doom this continent to the watery grave of oblivion.

But there is yet time to save ourselves if this warning is heeded.

PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE MUST BE IMMEDIATELY STOPPED AT ALL COSTS! This beautiful, educational, erudite, and thoroughly appreciated publication is the heretofore unrecognized instrument of doom which must be erased if we as a country or continent will survive. It is NOT TOO LATE if this warning is heeded!

With his tongue firmly in cheek, Kaub warned of “earthquakes, hurricanes, mud slides, fire, famine, and atomic war all rolled into one” due to the fact that “no copies have been discarded or destroyed since the beginning of publication.”

You can read Kaub’s original letter as well as the equally funny rebuttals from National Geographic readers on The Journal of Irreproducible Results website.

[Photo Flickr/roberthuffstutter]

Infamous French prankster arrested for impersonating a traffic camera




While it’s probably safe to say that most people think traffic cameras are pretty annoying, infamous French prankster Rémi Gaillard has brought harassing drivers to a whole new level. In this video, he impersonates a traffic camera, literally flashing lights at commuters and then chasing them while dressed in a cardboard costume. While many people have found the joke to be out-of-line, calling Gaillard obscene words and saying he is “destroying the very fabric of society”, I have to say that from this side of the action the video does have a lot of humor to it, especially with the aggressive background music. The fun didn’t last too long, however, as the cops arrested him before the situation could get too out of hand.

Drugs and travel don’t mix (in most places)


Flying out of Madrid’s Barajas airport last week I spotted this curious poster. Sorry for the crappy photo, but there was a light right in front of it. The poster asks, “Do you seriously believe that being around drugs overseas would be fun?”

The message is one to think about. Most recreational drugs are illegal in most places, and going to jail isn’t fun anywhere, yet I have to wonder about the subtext of this poster. It seems to be saying, “Stay away from drugs, son, or scary dark people with bad teeth will beat you up, steal your right shoe, and use you like a woman.”

In reality, the main dangers of using drugs overseas are being ripped off by the dealer or getting framed. This is especially common in Morocco and India, where a friendly guy will offer you drugs and when you buy them, call the cops on you. He and the cops will then take you for everything you got, and you better hope you’re not a woman in this situation.

So kids, be sensible. Take the legal drugs. Drink real ale in England. Smoke dope in The Netherlands. Chew qat in Ethiopia and Somaliland. Drink coffee and smoke tobacco just about anywhere. If it’s legal, it couldn’t be bad for you!

VIDEO: 50 state stereotypes in 2 minutes

Enjoy poking fun at other American states? You might enjoy this video posted by our friends at Huffington Post Comedy covering all 50 state stereotypes in 2 minutes and change. From Alabama

Our state bird is the NASCAR” to Wyoming

We don’t have any gay cowboys, alright? Okay, maybe a few gay cowboys…”, no state is left unparodied (read the video transcript here). Lest you think video creator Paul Jury is making snap judgements, you may want to read his new book States of Confusion, chronicling his post-college 48-state road trip.

Have a good sense of humor about how others see your state or country? You might also enjoy this map of US state stereotypes as well as maps from other countries. Follow Gadling and AOL Travel’s Road Trip Across America this summer and see how the states live up to their reputation.

Twelve random observations about Ethiopia

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been posting a series of articles about travel in Ethiopia. I’m about halfway through but I have some observations that don’t fit into anywhere but would be of interest to people considering a trip there. So here are a dozen facts about one of Africa’s most interesting countries.

1. When kids see you they’ll often shout out “Farenj!” (Foreigner!) It’s not meant in a bad way, and they’ll break into peals of laughter if you respond with “Habasha!” (Ethiopian!) This usually leads to a schoolbook conversation in English and much shaking of sticky hands.

2.
Ethiopians love Facebook. At any one time at least half of the people in Internet cafes are using it.

3.
Male friends will often hold hands or walk with their arms around each other’s shoulders, but homosexuality is frowned upon.

4.
English-language newspapers are easy to find in the capital Addis Ababa, and virtually impossible to find anywhere else.

5. Some hotel restaurants will give foreigners menus listing only imitations of Western dishes, assuming they’re not interested in “National Food”. I recommend the “Papered Steak”.

6.
Obama is incredibly popular here and everywhere else in Africa. There are Obama hotels, Obama electronics shops, even a brand of Obama ballpoint pens.

7. Harar Elephant Sanctuary has only one road, and the elephants avoid it.

8. Western charities bring over huge shipments of secondhand t-shirts from the West, so you’ll see Ethiopians wearing shirts advertising the Lake Champlain Monster, “Canada, Eh!”, and “John Kerry for President of France”.

9. Unattractive, poor, old, and handicapped characters are much more common on Ethiopian television than Western TV. Apparently Ethiopian drama isn’t afraid of reflecting reality.

10.
Ethiopians generally don’t eat dessert with their meals, but don’t despair. There are lots of Italian-style pastry shops.

11. Amesaygenalo is the Amharic word for “thank you.” At six syllables it’s the longest word for thank you I’ve ever come across. I like a culture that doesn’t rush its thank yous.

12
. Ethiopia has a different calendar. Right now it’s the year 2002. The calendar has thirteen months and the day starts at six in the morning. The Ethiopian Tourism Ministry’s motto is, “Thirteen months of Sunshine” and one tour operator has the motto, “Come to Ethiopia and feel eight years younger!”

Next time: Lalibela, Ethiopia’s ancient jewel!