Two Words for Two Worlds

There is a thick line between veganism and the celebration of violence. The chasm between the desperately impoverished and the decadently entitled widens by the hour.  We witness the disparity at broadband speed and with the suddenness of a tsunami.

Africa is an enormous continent that gets depicted as approximately the size of Greenland on the very faulty default Mercator projection, used to depict everything from an extraordinarily specious perspective — one where the North Pole and the South Pole are infinitely large. This is to say that a single point with no dimension gets presented as limited only by infinity. Altogether all you need to know about the specie that finds Mercator’s single-purpose map indispensable to everything.

WorldMapper, it is scaled according to meat consumption.

“Meat, as shown here, refers to all animal products that are consumed by people. Meat consumption per person is highest in Western European territories. Nine of the top ten meat consuming populations live in Western Europe. The anomaly in this ranking is New Zealand, a territory that is famous for its high ratio of sheep to people and the production of lamb. The most meat is consumed in China, a quarter of the world total. A fifth of the world population lives in China, eating on average 510 calories of meat per person, which is above the world average of 432 calories of meat per person.”

— WorldMapper


Two very different journalists on Korea.

First the vegan, Charles Newkey-Burden, author and journalist. He also writes for Shortlist, the Daily Telegraph and Four Four Two.

Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust you’ve never had a bacon butty

“Yes, dogs are smart and friendly – but so are pigs. Researchers from Cambridge University found pigs are as smart as three-year-old humans. They can play computer games and recognise people they met several years ago. They develop trust and empathy like we, and dogs, do. Few people relish the thought of any animals being slaughtered so it’s normal for those who eat meat to try to justify it. Just as westerners get angry about people in Asia eating dogs and cats, many Indians get outraged by westerners eating cows. People shake their heads in disbelief at guinea pigs and alpacas being served up in South America.” — Source

How much is your approach to meat a reflection of inculturation? Whom does the culture incarcerate and whom does it traffic?

The next article is by the non-vegan Andrew Keh, an international correspondent, covering sports from Berlin. He has previously covered Major League Baseball and the N.B.A. and has reported from the World Cup and the Olympics.

An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t

At a restaurant near Gangneung Olympic Park, a colleague and I slipped on plastic gloves and each grabbed scissors. (When I’m president, scissors will replace knives on everybody’s dinner tables.) We pulled crab parts from a bubbling pot as deep and wide as a witch’s caldron. We broke our busy silence only to marvel at the ribbons of red and white meat dangling between our fingertips: They were feathery soft and, yes, so sweet. When all the legs were gone, we asked for a couple packs of instant noodles to repurpose the cloudy russet broth. The place also serves sannakji, raw octopus so fresh that the slices quiver on the plate. For non-Korean visitors, the dish exists almost exclusively as a dare. — Source

If you have the stomach click on I have the stomach to eat menudo.
Is it ethical to eat an animal that is still alive when it arrives at your plate. Could you eat live octupus? Andrew Keh celebrates it. It’s not something that I can un-see, but as a vegan I must bear witness to the banal.


Thanks for reading.

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.



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.


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: You can directly compare area and population density for the insight that this brings — if you’re into this kind of thing.


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.
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.


Africans without Europeans

What’s wrong with this map? What’s right? What’s just? Who decides? Who benefits?

Maps are important ways to perpetuate a Big Lie.  Here is Africa from a fresh perspective.

Alkebu-lan is Arabic for “Land of the Blacks.” The map above uses familiar color and shading schemes to name the distinct cultures and people. Human geography.

Zoom in and experience the fractal quality of intense diversity:

Sokoto Kuilafat surrounded by neighbors. Please read Big-think perspective




The unlabelled land mass at the bottom is the uninhabited realm of lands depopulated by an extinction level event such as Black Death: an alternate history suggested by Frank Jacobs elucidated here:

Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent

A few interesting land areas stand out: places Empire Expanders call Sinai, Levant, Sicily and Spain. Their unexpected presence gives pause.

Please look at this planet from the Other’s perspective, remembering that you too are the “Other.” Call me Ishmael.

The equator is the dashed line. To my eye that great lake in  Alkebu-lan looks like a chick’s eye. What a strikingly different way to look at this enormous continent. The solar system doesn’t have a top and bottom, so I can just imagine visitors from another star system mapping the southernmost continent as the top of the third planet out.

The Latin for the interior sea is Mediterranean: the sea at the middle of Earth. It’s natural but unfortunate to look at the world from where you name “us.” It could be New  York or the Middle Kingdom (China) or Middle Earth.

Anywhere, really.

America must not remain the center for geopolitical advantage studies.

The land of the fulsome and the home of the nice.

Imperialism is brutal exploitation of a land and its people: gain without pain for the well armed and the already comfortable.

Here are the paths the genomes took.
From IBM recombinational analysis on the human genome. Source.

Simply stated, a map projection is a compromise achieved by forcing a sphere in three dimensions onto a two-dimensional surface. Only a globe presents accuracy to scale on behalf of the earth orb, but you can only see one side of the globe at one time. And it doesn’t fit well in your pocket.

When you have looked at the same combination of continents 100,000 times or so, it gradually takes on the ring of “truth.”

Consider the azimuthal equidistant projection for establishing a center point anywhere. It’s the polar opposite (figuratively and literally) of the mercator projection. Mercator places the North Pole at infinity. Azimuthal places Santa’s Workshop at the center of the world.

Source: David Rumsey Map Collection

Expect maps to push agendas hard. In 1978 the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said produced the book Orientalism,in 1978. It explains the way an occupation force imposes its perspective on the occupied: imposition of language and Eurocentric concept of unchangeable truth.

The wide stance of Cecil Rhodes as Colossus of Rhodes in this famous cartoon. Founder of the Rhodes Scholarship fund. Before Zimbabwe there was Rhodesia. Cecil left a legacy.

From Allen Webb, my source for Cecil Rhodes, a quote from gentle Cecil:

We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.

The British imperial overlords used a straight-edge to define borders for the people they exploited before leaving former colonials to sort it all out. Once they left they didn’t look back. What’s past is passed. Let’s just say ‘we’re history.’

Consider the absurd British decision to create an East and a West Pakistan in the South Asia theater of interest and profit. It’s folly most insane. Lord Balfour had as much insight as the architects of East and West Pakistan when he crafted a  67-word statement in 1917.  Nakba is one result. Truth is one casualty.

Arbitrary borders possibly drawn by an idiot with a straight-edge

I mention alternate histories. Here is one such at DeviantArt.Net, a resource for speculative art.


Keep a window open for Yanko Tsvetkov, the cartographer for the indispensable Atlas of Prejudice.


Thanks for reading.

Junior Chills Tribute, Cambrian Explosion and the Mercator Projection

I am blessed to live among my fellow curious creatures on this orb, trotting about this world alongside ants with societies much like ours, to dolphins who exceed our intelligence and do not declare war.

Shakespeare may now be paraphrased, “let slip the dolphins of war.” The Defense Dept. discovered they could train gentle seagoing mammals for military missions. These shine a warm light upon an institution that needs better PR perhaps. Eisenhower in January 1961 recognized the dark side of the MIC.

I think our enormapendous “Defense” budget is too large by many orders of magnitude. Just saying. 

Yes it really is cool to be a citizen of our singular planet and I’m grateful for every soul reading these words with eyes or ears developed in the Cambrian Explosion.


Todays visitors are from Australia, Philippines and United States. Another day when visitors from over the many seas outnumber those in the country of my present geography.

Here is the local geography. Cincinnati rests on a fluvioglacial terrace, i.e. the latest glacier passing by crunched a flat space. A great geologic arch extended from central Ohio to central Kentucky. Take a 360-degree look from a hill overlooking our downtown and you see accordant summits: all the hills surrounding the central city are at the same elevation above sea level. By the way, that link for accordant summits shows you why this blog has no click-bait: the choice for me: to be ad-free!


Recently I discovered a fellow traveler on WordPress who has morphed the music and theme of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” with lyrics that blend the Palestinian spirit of the indomitable with a tragically deferred dream, Junior Chills for Palestine. The Palestinian people have not allowed humiliation by colonizers to wipe away their joy. 

Damien of Junior Chills is a fellow denizen of Earth. He lives, writes and performs in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland,  identified by map makers as the United Kingdom and borders what the world globe tells us is the Republic of Ireland. Two of the three monotheist faiths share a common isle that unites and separates, but they work hard at achieving peace. Belfast used to make the headlines here every day.

Junior Chills tugs at values I try to express and organize in my mind. Music combined with what it is to be Palestinian today. same Palestinians were around when Woody Guthrie was hard traveling, Palestinian refugees are still living in diaspora.The American Empire is unquenchable in its appetite for domination, a thirst handily hidden under the ugly name American Exceptionalism. Be fruitful, multiply and conquer. much do we learn from music and photography where images share humanity. People who live in those places defined by Empire. The British Empire thought themselves bestower of blessings upon the colonized.

Why is the Mercator Projection still the default standard for maps? It’s only practical use is as a navigation aid for mariners crossing oceans. Long ago. Centuries before GPS. Greenland has about the same square kilometers as Mexico. Peel an orange and you’ll recognize how well that crap map deceives the viewer. The Mercator method takes a sphere and infinitely stretches it along a tall cylinder: every line of longitude must parallel every other line of longitude.mercator.projectionThis places the North Pole at infinity and the South Pole at infinity. The only accurately described line is the equator. It may be poetically keen to imagine Santa’s Workshop as infinitely large, but it doesn’t help us relate to our fellow citizens with their geographic relationships.

When Maps Lie by Andrew Wiseman
: Tips from a geographer on how to avoid being fooled.

It’s the method of Procrustes to force things until they fit. Empires have too much on their minds to allow people to live their lives without an overlord deciding where you belong, where you don’t belong and how to enclose different peoples in the same country. The reason: just let the natives fight it out, they matters of empire to attend.

John Cleese has an answer to a question “Why does English food suck?” “I don’t know. We had an empire to run.” So they brought back somewhat more edible fare from the colonies.