License Plates

I came to a bit of curiosity, wondering what foreign license plates look like. Excluding plates for trucks and motorcycles, most United States plates look alike: same dimensions, name of the state, six to eight characters allowed. If you’ve been on a road trip on a major Interstate highway in America before 2009, you have probably noticed that the Canadian plates look the same: one for each province or territory, and if you’re anything like me, have probably been like “Mom, look!!!!!! in excitement. Interestingly enough, the territories of Nunavut and Northwest Territories have polar bear shaped plates. However, you are unlikely to see one of those unless you someday visit Yellowknife or Iqaluit.

Most Americans tend to think about Mexico as a single unit, and forget that it too is divided into states. You can easily find this out by looking at the last page of map in your annual Rand McNalley US and Canada road atlas. As such, each state has its own plate, and funnily enough, they look very similar to US and Canadian license plates: same size and name of the state. However, they number the plates in three parts rather than two. In America, we have three letters, a dash, and three or four numbers (or possibly the other way around). In Mexico, the plates have three letters, a dash, two numbers, another dash, and two more letters. Central American plates are also the same size, but are usually only characters on a solid color, with the country name written on the top, and “Centro America” on the bottom. The type of characters varies: Panaman plates have only numbers, while Belizian ones all begin with C for private vehicles. South American license plates, depending on the country, are either elongated (but not as long as Euro plates) like in Argentina and Brazil, or American sized, like in Venezuela. Guyanan plates look entirely different from the other styles.

African license plates seem to come in two styles: long like European plates (which make sense considering that most of Africa was under European jurisdiction until the 1950s and 1960s), or square with two rows of characters. They tend to vary only in colors, but have solid backgrounds. This pattern even applies to the plates in Arabic, not in Latin characters.

Asian plates have the most variation, simply because of the great cultural variety on the continent. In the Middle East, the plates are in Arabic, but the name of the country is in English (the first three letters, that is), and the plates are often clearly divided into two, three , or four sections, by raised lines. Chinese plates are blue with a Roman letter and five numbers, and a single Chinese character on the left, which might mark (this is my guess) the province of registration. Indian plates have the Indian flag on the left with two rows of characters. Japanese plates have only four characters, all numbers. In Burma (Myanmar), the plates are entirely in local characters, rather than adopting Roman letters and/or Arabic numbers. While in Central Asian countries like Khazakstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan, the plates resemble European plates, probably since they used to be part of the Soviet Union.

European plates are easily recognizable due to their elongated, yet short shape. Countries in the European Union have plates that are white with a vertical stripe on the left: containing the symbol of the EU and the country code (one or two letters). Countries not in the EU follow this pattern, but don’t have the EU symbol, having their flag instead. Other countries have older looking plates, some of which have their flag or some identification of the country (however, not all, as it never used to be that way). In Russia, the country identification is in a segmented-off square on the right with the flag, “RUS”, and two numbers indicating province.

There you have it, my informative research rant about license plates. I hope this didn’t bore you to death. I would like to thank for giving me all my information. Thanks for reading!


A musing upon losing

When we see them winning, when they gather against us, call us bigots, homophobes, racists, rednecks, white trash, birthers, religious freaks, and every swear word in the book, when they overpower our logic by sheer force of numbers and power and authority; that is how we know we are in the right!

After days of being criticized both online and in person for not supporting gay marriage, I became fed up with what seemed to be the whole world talking about gay rights. Then I saw a Facebook post that was a list of companies that supported the Gay Rights agenda (as if to say “Oh you’re boycotting those companies that support gay marriage, eh? Good luck surviving!”). This made me aware as to the extreme numbers of supporters in power of an agenda that I believe to be wrong, and now I realize that there is no way I can try to win, especially when one side refuses to acknowledge the other side’s points as worth hearing. Thus this bit of wisdom came into my head.

Top ten things no dictator ever said

10. Feel free to leave any time you wish.
9. Would you mind if we peacefully negotiated?
8. Sharing is caring!
7. I’m sorry about that, I really am.
6. Actually, you can have that territory, I don’t want any more land.
5. I admit I have exactly 7,853 missiles aimed at the United States at the moment.
4. All right, your sentence is up. You can leave the labor camp now.
3. Tell you what, this Jesus fellow was pretty smart. I guess I could allow worship of him within my domain.
2. Let me be honest with you…
1. You’re right, trademark facial hair is so yesterday!

Why do all Chinese people look alike?

Believe me, this post isn’t as racist as it sounds like. Post flaming will be used to roast marshmallows. The answer lies within a trait unique to Europeans. Anthropologically speaking, there are four races: European, Negroid, Mongoloid, and Melanesian. Oddly enough, the European race is the only one subject to major internal genetic variation. Notice in America there is quite a great deal of racial interbreeding (a term I use only scientifically), yet in every combination, the non-European traits are dominant: very dark brown eyes, and black hair. Oddly enough, the skin color trait tends to be co-dominant, while European hair texture and lip thickness tend to be dominant. At least, this is what I can notice by observation. But what everybody cares about is hair color and eye color, in terms of passing down traits.

So let’s delve into this idea of internal genetic variation, shall we? Blue eyes came from a single mutation somewhere in the Caucus Mountain region thousands of years ago, so every blue-eyed person is very distantly related. It seems more prevalent i northern latitudes, as blue eyes are more adaptable to areas of less light. For this reason of there being less light, people in Northern Europe tend to have both blonde hair and blue eyes, as a result of adapting to this lack of light. Red hair also comes from northern climes, probably because of the pale skin tone associated with natural redheads (for more, see this). And eye colors other than blue and brown  only exist as different combinations of genes that cause either brown or blue eyes. There is no green-eye or hazel-eye gene, surprisingly enough. However, brown hair and eyes is still dominant, as seen in families and fourth-grade science textbooks introducing kids to the magical world of Punnett squares. So brown hair and eyes are dominant, and so are often paired together, as is the blonde hair/blue eyes combo. Easy: dominant vs recessive, right?

Then how do we explain the odd combinations of brown hair/blue eyes, or even rarer: blonde hair/brown eyes? I bring this up, as it is the entire reason I delve into this subject in the first place. While watching some British television, I noticed the large percentage of actors to play the title character in Doctor Who (nine out of eleven) have blue eyes (seriously, look at pictures). Yet all but two have natural brown or black hair! I decided to look at the supporting characters and noticed the same trend towards brown or black hair and blue eyes for British Caucasian actors/actresses. This seems to indicate a genetic anomaly in the British Isles that causes Brown hair/blue eyes pairing, or in some parts of Ireland, black hair with blue eyes. Meanwhile, while brown eyes with blonde hair seems to be common in the US, since it for some reason is the phenotypic combination most glorified by the West-Coast  dominated American culture, but it really is very rare. The highest concentration of people with blonde hair and brown eyes is the Baltic Countries, which for those of you who don’t know, is Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Those countries are very small, so odds are that if you see someone with blonde hair and brown eyes on the street, he or she probably invested in hair dye.

Yet other races don’t have this same type of genetic variation, which is strange to my mind. After all, the Mongoloid race is the largest by far, encompassing East and Southeast Asians, the Micronesians and Polynesians, and the Native Americans (very convenient map found here). Yet all (or at least most) of this race have an Epicanthal fold, very little facial and body hair, straight black hair, medium-toned skin and a unique facial structure. The same goes with those of the Negroid race, all have dark skin, large noses, noticeably protruding jaws, curly, sparse hair, and very dark eyes. Yet Caucasoids (Europeans) show a great variance in our appearance, especially since this group includes North Africa, the Middle East, and possibly South Asia (the Indians don’t really seem to fit anywhere), as well as Europe. It seems to me that the reason Americans say that all Blacks or Asians look similar to one another is because they lack these visible genetic variations that Europeans have, and are so used to seeing.