Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

A break from geometry problems on this, the first day of 2018. Here is a short geography quiz. Following is a list of American cities, in pairs. Your job is to, for each pair, pick the city with the largest population. Some of these are easy, others not so much so. After you finish picking, post your answers in the comments section and then grade yourself by going to Wikipedia. Use the population figures from the city’s Wikipedia entry. Some cities have the same name as others in other states. Assume the most prominent in case of conflict.

  1. Dallas – San Diego
  2. Austin – San Francisco
  3. Philadelphia – Chicago
  4. Houston – Boston
  5. Muleshoe – Lipan (both in Texas)
  6. Santa Fe – Denver
  7. Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri)
  8. Topeka – Memphis
  9. Minneapolis – Fort Worth
  10. Miami – Phoenix
  11. Oklahoma City – Baltimore

Update and answers:

  1. Yes, San Diego is more populous than Dallas. Just barely. That’s one I missed.
  2. In the rankings, Austin is number 11, San Francisco is number 14.
  3. Chicago 3, Philadelphia 5.
  4. Houston 4, Boston 21.
  5. This is an easy one. Muleshoe, Texas is much larger than Lipan.
  6. Denver is number 23, Santa Fe does not make the top 100.
  7. Kansas City, Missouri, ranks number 37. Kansas City, Kansas, does not make the list.
  8. Memphis is number 20, larger than Boston. Topeka does not make the list.
  9. Fort Worth, 17, is way ahead of Minneapolis
  10. Phoenix, at number 6, far out-ranks Miami.
  11. Baltimore 26, Oklahoma City 29.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

I’m taking a few days off, so here is another easy Quiz Question for the week. Name the country in the map above. Post your answer in the comments section  below. John Coombes, you should be able to get this one.

Update and answer

All right! A number of people figured out this was on the west coast of somewhere (see the water off to the left). Helen figured it can’t be Chile or Peru. It must  be Ecuador. Take note, geography students. That horizontal line running into Ecuador’s coast is the equator, after which the country is named.

Friday Funny

Number 75 of a series

In August this year nature struck the great state of Texas a terrible blow. Possibly 100,000 homes have been destroyed, many owners without flood insurance. Lives have been lost, and as I write this the death toll continues to climb. But I have worse to report.

The United States of America has suffered a tremendous loss of its own, something from which it may never recover. It has lost the southern state of Mississippi. I would laugh, but it hurts too much.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Mondays are slow days, but there is always a Quiz Question to puzzle, confuse, entertain.

Geography again. Everybody’s favorite subject. No fair running to Google maps. Just close your eyes and remember what it was like when you last drove through these places. Answer any or all. Highest score wins.

Which countries share a border?

  1. France and Luxembourg
  2. Luxembourg and Liechtenstein
  3. Italy and Slovenia
  4. Austria and Romania
  5. Greece and Bulgaria
  6. Czechia and Hungary
  7. Switzerland and Luxembourg
  8. Slovenia and Hungary
  9. Germany and Denmark
  10. Poland and Ukraine

Post your answers in the comments section below, then scurry to Google Maps. Best score wins.

Time’s up.

Nobody had a go at answering last week’s Quiz Question(s). Some were easy, others not so. Here are mine:

  • France and Luxembourg – Duh, yes.
  • Luxembourg and Liechtenstein – No way. Switzerland is in between.
  • Italy and Slovenia – Yes. Not something most people would know 70 years ago. Things have changed.
  • Austria and Romania – No, Hungary is in between.
  • Greece and Bulgaria – Yes. There is a considerable stretch of border.
  • Czechia and Hungary – No, Slovakia is in between.
  • Switzerland and Luxembourg – No.
  • Slovenia and Hungary – Yes, new since the last big war.
  • Germany and Denmark – To be sure.
  • Poland and Ukraine – And yes.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Mondays are slow days, but there is always a Quiz Question to puzzle, confuse, entertain.

Geography again. Everybody’s favorite subject. No fair running to Google maps. Just close your eyes and remember what it was like when you last drove through these places. Answer any or all. Highest score wins.

  1. Do Oklahoma and Colorado share a border?
  2. Same question—Oklahoma and Missouri?
  3. Michigan and Wisconsin?
  4. Iowa and Kansas?
  5. Minnesota and Nebraska?
  6. Oklahoma and New Mexico?
  7. Arkansas and Kentucky?
  8. Delaware and Pennsylvania?
  9. New Jersey and Maryland?
  10. Oregon and Utah?

Post your answers in the comment section  below. Then scurry over to Google Maps.

Update and Answer

Helen and Prasad have answered, apparently without resorting to  maps. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Do Oklahoma and Colorado – Yes
  2. Oklahoma and Missouri – Yes
  3. Michigan and Wisconsin – Yes
  4. Iowa and Kansas – No
  5. Minnesota and Nebraska – No
  6. Oklahoma and New Mexico – Yes
  7. Arkansas and Kentucky – No
  8. Delaware and Pennsylvania – Yes
  9. New Jersey and Maryland – No
  10. Oregon and Utah – No

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


Geography again. This should be easy.

Ignore Alaska. Without Alaska, in what state is the northernmost point in the United States?

Post your answer as a comment below and not on Facebook.

Update and answer

And thanks to the many (1) who submitted an answer to last week’s Quiz Question. Nobody got it right, although it is something covered in all high school geography courses.

No, despite a casual glance at a U.S. map, the northern  tip of Maine is not the northern tip of the lower 48. That distinction, at 49.38 and some change north latitude, lies with the northern tip of Minnesota. See the map from  Google Maps:


How would you like to live in that bit of the United States? Dude, if you don’t have a passport, you are going to need a boat to get to Kansas City.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


Geography is a lot of fun, so I will stick with it for a while. Last week’s Quiz Question asked which was the second largest island on the planet,  after Greenland. The answer was, of course, New Guinea. This question is only slightly easier.

Of the two islands, which is larger, Great Britain or Sumatra?

Again, you are required to do this one from memory. Don’t go running to Google or even a world globe. Post your answer as a comment below and not on Facebook, where every jake leg is going to see your answer. When the contest closes I will moderate the comments to make them visible to all readers.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series


Lurching into geography again for this week’s Quiz Question. Geography is always a safe bet, because almost nobody knows a bunch of geography. This week’s Quiz Question is about islands.

First, geographers do not consider Australia an island. The other big stuff is continents. Greenland is the largest island. What is the second largest island?

The answer can be found in five seconds with Google, but you are supposed to know this by closing your eyes and imagining a world map. Don’t go to your world map or globe, either. Examine all the large islands and determine which is larger than all the others. Then post your answer as a comment below. Don’t use Facebook, because that will clue everybody in the world to the correct answer.

After you post your answer you can go to Google and see if you were right.


And of course, Byron Black, who lives in the region, provided the correct answer. New Guinea is the second largest island, after Greenland.

No Greater Loss

This is news.

Washington (CNN) – More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.

Maybe that’s why Americans re-elected President Obama last year. The Republicans are supposed to be the Party of God, and if voters are abandoning God they may also be abandoning the Republican Party.

According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans’ perception of religion’s power has never been lower.

OK, the poll did not ask respondents about their own religious convictions or lack thereof. What the survey speaks to is our perception as to to what extent religion is running our lives and our politics. My interpretation: we think people are ignoring God when it comes time to make critical decisions.

For example, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War and the rise of the counterculture fed the perception that religion was on the wane during the late 1960s, he said.

There seems to be a bit of a problem here. Reading this I get the idea people are concerned about a decline in morality. This indicates some confusion between religion and morality. There is a difference:

Morality is treating people fairly, not stealing, not hurting people, not killing people, not breaking promises, not lying. It is also working to make this a better world by protecting the environment for future generations and promoting the advancement of the human intellect.

Religion is belief in life after death, belief in miracles, belief in one or more gods and possibly also conversing with disembodied and nonexistent spirits.

I guarantee you we can have morality without religion.

So, forget about morality. Let’s talk about religion. What is the actual status of religion? How’s it doing? Tom W. Smith, NORC/University of Chicago conducted a survey released 18 April of last year. Here are some excerpts:

The ISSP [International Social Survey Program] Religion studies covered 18 countries in 1991 (counting East and West Germany and Northern Ireland and Great Britain separately), 33 countries in 1998, and 42 countries in 2008. This paper analysis the 30 countries that were in at least two of the three ISSP rounds and appear in the 1991–‐2008 merged ISSP Religion file created by GESIS [of the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences].

The survey asked three questions:

A. Please indicate which statement below comes closest to expressing what you believe about God.
I don’t believe in God.
I don’t know whether there is a God and I don’t believe there is any way to find out.
I don’t believe in a personal God, but do believe in a Higher Power of some kind.
I find myself believing in God some of the time, but not at others.
While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God.
I know that God really exists and I have no doubts about it.
Can’t Choose No Answer
B. Which best describe your beliefs about God?
I don’t believe in God now, and I never have.
I don’t believe in God now, but I used to.
I believe in God now, but I didn’t used to.
I believe in God now and I always have. Can’t Choose No Answer
C. Do you agree or disagree with the following… There is a God who concerns himself with every human being personally.
Strongly Agree/Agree/Neither Agree nor Disagree/Disagree/Strongly Agree/Can’t Choose/No Answer

These questions are not about religion in general, because they seem to imply the “God” in question is Yehweh, the God of Abraham. Of course some religions have multiple gods, and some have no god. Anyhow, taken all that, the following findings are significant.

East Germany, the part of the German Republic ruled for 40 years by the atheistic Communist Party responded “I don’t believe in God” by 52.1%. The United States was near the bottom of this list at 3%, and the Philippines were dead last at 0.7%. On the flip side, “I know God really exists, and I have not doubts about it” was most prevalent in the Philippines at 83.6%, and the United States was near the top at 60.6% with Chile, Israel and Poland also beating out the U.S. The survey numbers are from 2008.

A general review of the tables reveals that countries that tend to be more pragmatic also tend to be less religious, Japan and France being examples. China (PRC) was not included in the survey, but I have seen another poll that puts that country at the very bottom of belief in God. This is hardly surprising, since prior to the 20th century China was a mostly Buddhist country, and the communist government since 1949 has impressed atheism on the population.

What does the future hold? The authors of the survey have this to say:

Belief in God has decreased in most countries, but the declines are quite modest especially when calculated on a per annum basis. It is only the repetition of the modest declines across measures and countries that makes the case for a general diminution in belief in God. This is further illustrated by the situation in the United States. Belief in God remains high, but has slowly eroded from the 1950s to the present (Chaves, 2011; Smith, 2009 & 2012). If the modest, general trend away from belief in God continues uninterrupted, it will accumulate to larger proportions and the atheism that is now prominent mainly in northwest Europe and some ex–‐Socialist states may spread more widely. But it is also possible that the pro–‐belief “exceptions” (Russia, Slovenia, and Israel) may become more widespread and belief may make more of a general rebound perhaps in response to a growth in “existential insecurity,” from a nationalistic, in–‐group growth in religious identity (e.g. Arab, Islamic movements, Hindu nationalism, etc.), or from some other societal impetus.

And finally:

Thus, while there is a drift towards lesser belief in god consistent with secularization theory the changes are modest in magnitude and mixed in scope. Countries have shown and are likely to continue to show huge differences in levels and trends about belief in God and a homogenization of belief (or disbelief) is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

Don’t look for the end of religion anytime soon. I predict we will get rid of head lice before we see the last of religion. What we should look forward to, instead, is a decline of the rule of religious dogma over our daily lives and over government affairs. CNN had this to report recently.

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts.
“God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
So when the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths on May 24, Reed said the church had no choice but to cut its charter with Troop 542.
“It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16. “It’s a moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist church.”

Pastor Reed states “It’s a moral stance…” A moral stance? Really? You’re going to kick a troop of Boy Scouts out of your church because some of the kids may have been born differently from the others? A moral issue? Reed is saying an imaginary person stated several thousand years ago that homosexuality is a choice and a sin. I do believe the Reverend Reed is, like many others, confusing religion with morality. A few more Reverends Reed in this world, and we may not need to wait another three thousand years for religion to become irrelevant.