Good News For NASA, Bad News For American Geographers

Good News For NASA

Since the end of the Space Shuttle Program last August, it would seem that NASA’s interstellar ambitions were finally put to rest. However, there must have been much jubilation when Republican Presidential nominee Newt Gingrich declared that “by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American”?how humble of him. Amazingly, this is not the most outlandish statement to come from Mr. Gingrich; he has previously described Spanish as “the language of the ghetto” and said that Palestinians are an “invented people” who are all “terrorists”. However, this seems to appeal to the American electorate, who, at the time of writing, still view Gingrich as a credible candidate for the Presidency. We can only hope that Americans have some overly ambitious dreams of living on the moon, rather than reducing all of Spain to a ghetto and telling an entire nation of people that they don’t exist.

Bad News for… American Geographers

As the leading news channel CNN has proven, the USA may be one of the most powerful nations in the world, but it never fails to amuse. The channel has issued an apology after making a spectacular geographical faux pas by locating London in Norfolk on a map of the UK. When one particularly observant viewer detected CNN’s teeny 120-mile displacement, he quickly uploaded it onto Twitter and the image went viral; whether this was the work of a geographically challenged intern or a graphics artist playing a prank on his last day is unknown. CNN’s apology for the blunder fits an apparent trend of map-related gaffes across American news networks. Other recent geographical offenders include Fox News, which replaced Iraq with Egypt (how better to eliminate the likelihood of any new conflicts than to remove the country entirely?), and Chicago’s WGN, which relocated South Africa to South America (which is an easy mistake to make, right?). Such geographical haziness is hardly surprising; a survey conducted in 2005 revealed that one in ten Americans aged between 18 and 24 could not even find their own country on a map, and only half were able to locate New York City. Either way, Norfolk residents may have to watch out this summer as they could be faced with hordes of disorientated American Olympics enthusiasts wandering around The Broads.

And In Other News… The Customer Is Always Right

Who says the little guy (or girl) never triumphs? Indeed, February saw Sainsbury’s officially rename its tiger bread loaf as giraffe bread, following the actions of one very observant toddler. Three year old Lily Robinson sent in a letter to the supermarket chain, suggesting that the blotches on the previously named tiger bread better resembled the markings of a giraffe than the stripes of a jungle cat. Sainsbury’s customer manager Chris King was kind enough to write back to Lily, agreeing with her interpretation and stating that, “I think renaming the bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea”. King went on to describe the original bakers’ title for the bloomer loaf as “a bit silly” and included a three pound gift voucher with which Lily could buy some tiger bread and, if it was okay with her parents, some “sweeties too!”. Mr King’s letter sparked a Facebook campaign spearheaded by Lily’s mother to officially change the name of the loaf. With the campaign gaining over 150,000 ‘likes’, Sainsbury’s decided to act on the advice of their young customer and giraffe bread officially hit the shelves. As a final part to this endearing tale, after being inundated with compliments for his thoughtful response, Mr King has decided to undergo training to become a primary school teacher.

Ben James, Katie Dolamore & Malcolm Remedios


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