165 - Licking Europe: Asia As A Horse
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Heinrich Bunting‘s Itinerarium Sacra Scripturae (‘Travels According to the Scriptures’), first published in 1581, contained accurate maps of the Holy Land, but also three maps of pure fantasy. Two of those have already been described on this site: the world in the form of a cloverleaf (entry #87) and Europe as a queen (entry #141). This is the third one.
The title of this map is Asia Secunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasir (‘Asia, the Second Part of the Earth, in the Form of Pegasus‘). The winged horse of Greek mythology is the son of Poseidon and Medusa, was tamed by Athena and became the horse of the Muses. This obviously pagan origin of the image makes its appearance in a Holy Land travel book a bit of a mystery.
On this map, Pegasus is drawn realistically – i.e. Asia is adjusted to horse-shape. • Asia’s front legs, touching Africa with the knees, constitute Arabia. • Its head, licking Europe, is Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). • The Tigris and Euphrates rivers run down its neck, on which is marked the area of Mesopotamia. • Another river indicated, at the horse’s thigh, is the Ganges, with India Infra Gangem (‘India before the Ganges’) to the west and India Extra Gangem (‘India across the Ganges’). • The horse’s behind is India Orientalis (‘East India‘, which could be used for parts east of present-day India, e.g. Indonesia, formerly the Dutch East Indies). • Both hind legs are inscribed with India Meridionalis (‘South India’), which doesn’t at all reflect the single-peninsular nature of the Indian subcontinent. • The wings are labelled Scythia and Tartaria, names often used to describe the vast unknown areas of Siberia. • The body of water in between the wings and the horse’s body is the Caspian Sea.
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The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.
- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
- Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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