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.

 

do_not_question_authority_by_graffitiwatcher

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.

mercator.brittanica

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.

 

A SaFaRi into the SaHaRa

My last detour took us to a Picnic (pique-nique in French) in 1934 Grange, Pennsylvania. Here is a footnote to that previous post has ended up in the opening paragraph for this post. You may not have wondered about the Yiddish word shtick . It’s from the German noun Stück (a piece).  

What’s your shtick, Bill?

Yakking  on about different ways to yak away. 

There is just something exhilarating about learning languages. aha-momentHere are three (3) remarkable benefits: 

  1. remove barriers,
  2. erase borders and, if fortune favors,
  3. become less baffled

We’re glad that you are taking a safari into the Sahara. Please tell us less.

Root letters in Arabic do something quite curious. They occur in an ordained order. Here is a root you may have noticed in the title  — SFR. Arabic dictionaries segment meaning through a root system. Grab that Arabic dictionary over there and flip away until you’ve encounter SFR,  see below.

2-%d8%b3%d9%81%d8%b1-sfr

Don’t forget to read from right to left.

Bill, are you going to tell us about a book that teaches Arabic with aplomb?

Yes.

I want to share how much Sugar Comes from Arabic by Barbara Whitesides helped me master Arabic, and have a rollicking time at the same time. It’s an amazingly beautiful ring-bound volume that is simply delightful. As with all my reviews, I just want to pass on good words for great works. It’s what teachers do.

Calligraphy is one of those hobbies I’ve hobbled through with my left-hand. Now I can’t overestimate the unexpected thrill of gently pulling the pen along my paper — no plowing into the paper, or covering up writing while writing.  You may have noticed that English is written from left-to-right.

Let us consider prefixes, suffixes and diacritical marks. Hey you say, there are bunches of words having such and much to do with “travel” in Arabic — words like safari.Hey I say, the Arabic root for desert is SHR. Technically, the Sahara Desert suggests Desert Desert. Here is a fun web page for those wanting yet another resource on Arabic verb forms.sahara

Well that was breathtakingly tedious, but we needed to yawn in order to dispel stale air. But you were heading into a desert, please proceed.

Interesting innit?

 

Here’s another innit —

arabic-sound-heuristic
Here is a useful diagram for associating alphabet whats and wheres. I’ve found it helpful for distinguishing the “sun and moon” letters in Arabic.

Didn’t you write a toss-off post a while back — just trying to change the subject.

Yes — Sudden solitude in a crowded desert, based on a line from T.S. Eliot’s The Family Reunion.

Thanks for reading.

 

German Grammar in the Everyday Every Day

Fashioning a German Lesson Plan from Anything at Hand

Class topic of the day (des Tages): how picking up a plastic bag off the street and reading the language printed on that bag may help you learn language. The one I have here is your classic bad-news-for-the-environment plastic bag. I retrieved one for each of you, so it’s a handout. Later in the day you can three-hole punch this handout and put it in your binder under today’s date.

handout
Your handout for this class: Let’s say I had snagged this bag from under a parked car in the Kröger lot, before the plastic could pose a wildlife hazard. Now it’s in the lesson plan as an instructional resource. Note: 3 holes have not yet been punched. Please include margin notes using your felt-tip pen. Thank You. THANK YOU.

Today’s exercise allows you to use innate perceptual senses to discern meaning from everyday texts, and to discover potential contexts for your favorite words. Remember that new knowledge is fragile knowledge, so be gentle with yourself and feel free to make mistakes. In this class the student who makes the most mistakes gets the highest mark since she learns from her own mistakes. Also, if the present-moment reader finds an error in this post I get a point.

Use this bag later in your life for sandwiches, knickknacks, sturdy water bottles and items with words written upon them.

Anyway, pick up your red Sharpie and write ‘rot‘ on the handout. Think about how similar ‘t’ and ‘d’ sound: “Ta Da!” and recall the apocryphal tale of Saxons (Sachsen) moving to England to start a new language. On that hypothetical boat Saxons decided to change their ‘t’ to a ‘d’ and say ‘good‘ rather than ‘gut‘ and day instead of ‘Tag‘. And then call it English.

migration routes around 800 C.E.
migration routes around 800 C.E.

Draw a rainbow with your Sharpies and label each color separately in your language of choice or else in German. Gather the things you want to put in your handout. Label that bag with its contents, z.B.:

  • Apfel (grüner)
  • Brot (rotes)
  • Papier (weißes)
  • Banane (gelbe oder grüne oder schwarze oder schwarzgelbe oder oder oder)
  • Apfelsaft (süßer)

Now place each object (each noun) into the bag (in die Tüte) and take a walk (einen Spaziergang machen). Connect the Umlaut dots atop the ‘u’ to form an ‘o’, thus reminding you just how crafty those dang Saxons were (Tüte becomes tote). Those tapfere Sachsen even simplified the ‘chs’ in their former German language to an ‘x’ in the new language (nächste becomes next).  While on this relaxing stroll let your friends (strangers optional) know about the contents of your bag:

Hallo. Hier in meiner Tüte habe ich einen grünen Apfel. Gebrauchtes Papier ist immer das Beste. Glaubst du das.

Let’s say you forget to bring your own shopping bag to Kröger. At least save those plastic hazards in your vehicle or Rücksack and drop them into the fiber recycling drum in their foyer (the place where you grab a shopping cart).