Category Archives: Around the world

Where Does Little Red Riding Hood Come From?

Little Red Riding Hood

An anthropologist has been trying to find Little Red Riding Hood’s origins, using methods from evolutionary biology. Which led to this:

“[…] the evolutionary analysis of Little Red Riding Hood does not support a Chinese origin. Instead, the folktale seems to have emerged almost 2000 years ago somewhere between Europe and the Middle East, Tehrani reports today in PLOS ONE. China most likely adopted the tale from Europe, rather than the other way around. The African versions of the story probably evolved from the Middle Eastern tale, The Wolf and the Kids. And that story appears to be older than Little Red Riding Hood, although one version of the European tale has become far more popular due to its publication in book form 200 years ago by the Brothers Grimm.”

(Image from Gallica)


Russia on the Internet

Thought-provoking piece from The Calvert Journal on why Russia has become the internet’s go-to provider of memes and viral videos:

“It is no coincidence, then, that in the past few years Russia has become a rich hunting ground for easily consumable visual content (This special relationship took on an official character when market leader Buzzfeed chose the Guardian’s Russia correspondent Miriam Elder as its new foreign editor). The Russian-language internet has all the characteristics necessary to be the perfect fail-farm for those in search of a photo-fix: it is huge and active (with 70m users in 2011, it’s Europe’s biggest internet market) and, in contrast to inaccessible behemoths China and India, the dweebs and doofuses starring in Russian photobombs and facepalms don’t look so very different from English-language users. Bluntly put, they’re white.”

Maps, Maps, and More Maps

Ginger Map Europe

If there’s anything the internet loves more than lists it’s very long lists of maps. So here are a few great ones, with everything from stereotypes to surnames and, yes, rubber duckies.

40 maps that will help you make sense of the world according to Twisted Sifter.

36 maps that explain the entire world from Business Insider.

There’s more over at Bored Panda and (of course) Buzzfeed. But the most extensive collection of interesting maps, accompanied by great explanations, comes from the Strange Maps blog.

And if you still want to read more about maps, you won’t go wrong with Jerry Brotton’s book A History of the World in Twelve Maps.

(Image via Imgur)

Cultural Differences

Just as I was posting about the differences between the UK and the US, I came across this list (compiled by Thought Catalog via Quora) of what surprised people when they moved to the US. Some favorites:

“[My Russian in-laws] were also shocked by buffets. My father-in-law told everyone back in Moscow, “No, really! You just pay to enter!”

“Tests in pajamas. Ok, this might be an MIT thing, but I’ve seen several students (mostly undergrad) take exams in pajamas.”

Treatment of dogs. At least until the 1980s in Guyana, dog food was not a thing that existed. Dogs got table scraps and mostly were outside. They are surprised by how in America, people actually avoid feeding their dog “people food”.

And it looks like Quora has quite a few similar threads on different countries — perfect reading for the weekend. Here’s the UKTurkey, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, China, India, Germany, Canada, and France, and I’m sure these lists will continue to grow.

UK vs US

A quick summary of the dilemmas one has when crossing the pond:

Football or soccer?

Take away or take out?  

“In New York, a restaurant makes some “takeout” food, which it fully intends to take out and deliver to someone. In England, the term is “takeaway,” a subtle difference that places the onus on the eater. And it is surprisingly common for London restaurants to request that you come and take away your own bloody food, thank you very much. Or to inform you imperiously that they will deliver only if you spend twenty quid or more. In New York, a boy will bring a single burrito to your door.”

Happiness or not-miserableness?

“The pursuit of happiness may be too garish a goal, it turns out, in the land of the pursuit of not-miserableness. After enough Britons respond with “I can’t complain” when you ask them how they are, you begin to feel nostalgic about all those psyched Americans you left behind.”