The World: It’s Massive, Man

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This thing called the world, it’s massive, man.

Russia has 11 time zones. The U.S. has three or four. I’m not sure.

Two-thirds of the country is Siberia. No one lives there. Well maybe a few nutcases of people who just need some space to collect their thoughts, maybe just need to chill.

It’s freezing in Siberia, a wasteland, endless nothingness. I wanna go there. Probably wouldn’t stay long, but I wanna see it. Stop for a burger somewhere. Then bolt.

Russia has issues, man. Those Arctic waters to the north. They’re frozen, man. No good for international trade. Boats have trouble moving through ice. Duh.

Undeterred, the Russians are making boats that can move through several feet of ice. The Artic could be Russia’s pathway to global dominance once again. Creative, a geopolitical flea flicker.

Then there’s China, man. Frigging huge and far out place, man. Sprawling all over the place for endless thousands of miles. The North China Plains, the Yellow River, all sorts of stuff, man.

Same thing with India. Big as crap, man. Three times larger than the United States.

Then the oceans, man. The Atlantic. The Pacific, the Sea of Japan, The South China Sea, the Artic, and the Indian Sea. All huge, man. And deep. Sprawling everywhere. Nasty stuff in every one of them. Beer cans, waste, sharks, seaweed, and who knows what else.

The coolest of the oceans is the Arctic. Mostly dark there, man, meaning like all day and night. Lotta ice there, man. The most mysterious and dangerous ocean on Earth, which is saying a lot because they’re all mysterious and dangerous.

Did you know some dude rode a motorcycle over ice to the North Pole, the epicenter of the arctic? My kind of dude, man. Going for the big one. Wonder if it was a Harley. How do you not fall off riding on ice?

And mountains, man. Do you know why Russia and India never get into wars even though they border each other?

The Himalayan Mountains, man. Mountains so enormous and treacherous to cross over that Russia and India just don’t even bother making that trip no matter how much they disagree. Must be some seriously imposing mountains to keep those countries off each other’s backs.

Then there’s water, man. Five simple letters: W-A-T-E-R. The answer to all your geopolitical questions. The most prosperous countries and cities border warm water where boats can come and go delivering and shipping away products such as oil and semiconductors. If you live near water, you’re good, man. Trust me on that, man.

Here in the United States, we’re blessed, man. On both coasts, we have big oceans and to the south, we’ve got the Gulf of Mexico. Huge advantage, man. Living in this country you are blessed, Holmes. Be thankful. You don’t want to live anywhere far from water. Dryland is bad. Your trade opportunities aren’t as plentiful. Less oil, man. Less driving around in RVs, man.

Water sets you free. So does oil.

Rivers, man, a bunch of big ones out there. Did you know the Nile River in Africa is the longest on Earth spanning 4,160 miles? Think about that. A river much longer than the distance from New York to Los Angeles. What? A river?

The river affects 10 countries: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Egypt. The Nile makes the Mississippi River seem like a baby pool.

Is the Nile where they hung out in the time of Christ, man? Some sort of baptism there or something? Who knows, man?

Agriculture, man. Brazil is almost as big as the United States. But a third of the country remains jungle. People can’t live easily in jungles. Duh, man. Plenty of soil there but it doesn’t grow crops easily. Bad climate. Agriculture and weather, man. That’s all this is about.

I came to all these enlightened insights from a book I just finished reading by Tim Marshall titled Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World.


Why this book?

Because last summer I saw my Uncle Chris at the beach, and he has always been the smartest and most well-read person in the world over the past several hundred centuries.

“What’s the book everybody should be reading?” I asked him.

“Prisoners of Geography,” he said. “Tells you everything you know about the world, how where you live geography determines your fate, opportunities, and who you go to war with and why.”

Rocking the most mammoth brain on the planet, Chris knew all. Sadly, he sadly passed away a few weeks ago. This blog is a tribute to him for the parting gift he shared to read this crucial book.

For the rest of my life, I will always appreciate his recommendation. It has given me a better understanding and appreciation of the world than I ever learned in school, mostly because in history class I was finishing my algebra homework or daydreaming about becoming an NBA superstar or prom king which didn’t pan out for all sorts of reasons no one wants to listen to.

Why countries are successful, why they go to war and for what reasons, why waterways are so important, why geography is crucial – it’s all in this one book. This is one delicious bite after another, a full-course meal.

Nothing I’ve ever read has given me a better understanding of this place we live on called Earth. So often we read about regions of the world. This book tackles the entire thing from a macro perspective, telling you all the big picture truths, past and present, we should all know to be fully actualized human beings that Maslow explained. Here I’m going to share some of my favorite passages from the book.



Russia is vast. It is the vastest. Immense. It is six million square miles vast, eleven time zones vast; is the largest country in the world…Wherever we are, there is Russia, perhaps to our east, or west, to our north or south.


How big is the biggest country in the world? Russia is twice the size of the United States or China, five times the size of India…However, it has a relatively small population (144 million), fewer people than Nigeria or Pakistan. Its agricultural growing season is short and it struggles to adequately distribute what is grown around the eleven time zones that Moscow governs.


The Arctic


The Arctic Ocean is 5.4 million square miles; this might make it the world’s smallest ocean but it is still almost as big as Russia, and one and a half times the size of the United States.


The Arctic region includes land in parts of Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States (Alaska). It is a land of extremes; for brief periods in the summer the temperature can reach 26 degrees Celsius in some places, but for long periods in winter it plunges to below minus 45.


There are expanses of rock scoured by the freezing winds, spectacular fjords, polar deserts, and even rivers. It is a place of great hostility and of great beauty that has captivated people for millennia.


In 1987 Shinji Kazama of Japan became the first person to reach the North Pole on a motorcycle…Kazama is the sort of man who would have ridden through a blizzard in order to get into the history books, but there is no doubt that there is now less ice to cross.


A biological reshuffle is underway. Polar bears and Arctic foxes are on the move, walruses find themselves competing for space, and fish, unaware of territorial boundaries, are moving northward, depleting stocks for some countries but populating others.


It is thought that vast quantities of undiscovered natural gas and oil reserves may lie in the Arctic region in areas that can now be assessed. In 2009, the US Geological Survey estimated that 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, and 90 billion barrels of oil are in the Arctic, with the vast majority offshore.


Countries and companies prepared to make the effort to get at the riches will have to brave a climate where for much of the year the days are endless nights, where for the majority of the year the sea freezes to a depth of more than six feet, and where, in open water, the waves can reach forty feet high.


The Arctic states know that this is a tough neighborhood, not so much because of the warring factions but because of the challenges presented by the geography. There are five and a half million square miles of ocean up in the Arctic; they can be dark, dangerous, and deadly. It is not a good place to be without friends.



Africa, being a huge continent, has always consisted of different regions, climates and cultures, but what they all had in common was their isolation from one another and the outside world…The world’s idea of African geography is flawed. Few people realize just how big it is…Africa is far, far longer than usually portrayed. You could fit the United States, Greenland, India, China, Spain, France, Germany, and the UK into Africa and still have room for most of Eastern Europe.


Unlike Europe or North America, where the jagged coastlines give rise to deep natural harbors, much of the African coastline is smooth. And once they did make land, they struggled to penetrate any farther inland than roughly one hundred miles, due to the difficulty of navigating the rivers as well as the challenges of the climate and disease.


The world, man. Complicated beyond comprehension, man. People all over the place doing things, trying to survive, angling for more food, better economic conditions, power, and money. All over the place are people, land, and oceans.

Down to the bottom of South Africa up in the Arctic, across to Siberia, through the Balkan countries, and down to India. Everywhere, man. Things happening. Shit going on. Things you and I are not even aware of. People who don’t know you or me. Seeking fulfillment, because all humans do.

People who don’t understand our language and culture and vice versa. What is going on out there in the world? Where is everybody? What are they doing? Why are they doing it? How far away are they from us? Do they live near water?

Are they thinking of riding their motorcycle to the North Pole? Can they ride on the ice? Is there enough ice?

It’s a lot to think about, man.

A whole lot to think about.

I’m talking about the whole world, man.

Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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