Question Mercatorian Authority

 

In 1974 German cartographer Arno Peters developed a projection that ignited a firestorm by introducing a map that far more accurately portrays land-area distribution on planet Earth.

Listen Bill, firestorms hurt innocent people. It’s not nice to start fires; however, if we may say one good thing  about firestorms: they just might melt the snowflakes who start them.

 

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All projections are approximations — you peel the surface of a sphere and press the peels onto a two-dimensional surface. Each attempt compromises something, but that god-awful Mercator (invented in the year 1569) compromises everything except convenience for sextant users in the year 2017.

The higher the latitude, the more profound the misrepresentation. Now what value could that have for propagandists? None I guess.

There must be something worthwhile in a technique that has survived 500 years of history, Bill. We think you have too much time on your hands. Watch some March Madness, Bill.

Yesterday my son turned me on to Cartographers for Social Equality — a cult classic from The West Wing episodes.

Bill, this sounds like something you could put on a business card to alert the innocent of the foolish views that seem to stick in your craw. Can we help you get the help you need?

WordPress uses the Mercator for data analytics by country.  Canadian and Russian visitors make me feel globally successful, simply by dint of all that map-shading.

I’m still waiting for visitors from Grønland (grøn is Danish for green). For no reason at all let me tell you that the German for green is grün.

Stay on task. Do your job. Sit down and shut up. Capiche?

What of those massive islands in Northern Canada? They are actually tiny islands. Take a look at a globe the next time you’re in a furniture store. Observe how the lines of longitude join at the North and South Poles —those antipodes are infinitely distant from the Equator. Literally. Only the places close to 0º depict areas accurately — the North Pole on a Mercator is as impossible to reach as the mythical elvish workshop.

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Geography glommed many generations ago into a mash-up called branches of social science. In effect a spattering of soundbites in an already watered-down curriculum.

Here are two of many remarkable cartograms by Benjamin Hennig that you can access on his website: viewsoftheworld.net. You can directly compare area and population density for the insight that this brings — if you’re into this kind of thing.

USelection2016Cartogram

We’re not ‘into’ things. We’re on to things — we’re on to you.
The map on the right resembles a vascular circulatory system, doesn’t it? Perspective matters perhaps.
EUreferendumCartogram
Read Hennig’s blog for more cartograms that portray other dynamics at play.

The Guardian published an annotated series for comparing map projections in 2009.

Why reinvent something that Mercator already settled 500 years ago? But you have to be different, don’t you?

Thanks for reading.

 

What’s an Empire without an Emperor?

The US chief executive has long kept all Earth inhabitants under his imperious thumb — it’s the thumb that presses the scale of balances down. An empire requires an emperor. Every four years we get to meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

But what’s an empire without an emperor?

Stanley Cohen‘s recent article “From War to More War” addresses the role of the US military in preventing the threat of peace.

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From wingtip to shining eagle wingtip. One wing to rule them all. One wing to find them. One beak to snatch them all and in the darkness bind them.

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I watched the Nixon-Kennedy debate in real time 1960, not yet knowing that both candidates stood on the shoulders of an ever stronger military incarnate — sow the seeds, harvest the weeds. 

U.S. bombs dropped in 2016.

I see dead people.

The School of the Americas is located near Columbus, Georgia. The other Georgia (the one in Eurasia) had a favorite son: Joseph Stalin, seminary dropout.

The SOA is a training site for staffing all the tyrants needed to maintain global control in the “Free World.” Graduates are groomed to play the part of imperiously moved  chess pieces. Sing the national anthem while waist-deep in the Big Muddy for the land of the Atlanta Braves and the home of the free (from freedom fries).

In the 1940’s the radio sports broadcaster Bill Stern aired a tribute to a certain regular Joe, a guy who hailed from Georgia (hint, hint). Stern’s weekly radio program Colgate Sports Newsreel produced serial hacks — fake news of the day. Fake news is another phrase for propaganda. A country never reveals to its patriots that propagandists are prevaricators. 

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I like Ike famously warned of the military-industrial complex in December 1960, but it received little attention in a country focussed on Camelot —that was before a Bay of Pigs epic fail of 1961. Guantanamo is one of many bases enforcing Pax Americana.

American celebrations anchored by celebrities reside in the culture’s marrow. Saying “thank you for your service” is as mandatory as standing for the blood-spangled banner. It’s a pledge of compliance. Freedom fries are not free. Football is a metaphor for war. And what are sport metaphors?

What if you rage against the military-industrial complex and its close relative, the prison-industrial complex? You become a valued resource of some isolated prison “campus.” Prisoners are human resources that yield “GREAT” profit.

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Here is a link to my other 16 posts on Mr. Cohen.

Thanks for reading.