283 – Heaven Is An Amusement Park That Never Closes
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.
“Heaven is a place,” sang the Talking Heads, “where nothing ever happens.” Not so in this version of the Afterlife. This is what Heaven might have looked like in the Divina Commedia had Dante not been a medieval Italian intellectual, but a contemporary Californian comic artist, like Malachi Ward, who drew this map. In Ward’s vision, Heaven is a place very similar to your local amusement park. Only better: it never closes, you don’t ever have to leave!
Beyond the Pearly Gates (emblazoned with the slogan You Did It!) is a Nu-Body Machine (1), instantly providing everybody with the body they’ve been trying to shape into while still alive. Catholics are welcome to Heaven, but are confined to a small section next to the entrance (2) where they can indulge their semi-idolatrous tendencies at the Throne of Mary (3). Others can try their hand (and their wings) at Angel Boot Camp (4), which is “great for Pentecostals and Charismatics.”
Those less inclined towards spiritual war could go for the snack bar (5), the marital coitus castle (6), the go carts (7), the dinosaur petting zoo (8) or Joab’s candy shop (9). Joab, a nephew of King David and eventually killed at his behest, was mainly known for his martial exploits, not for his sweet tooth.
Evil is not completely out of view in this Heaven: in fact, the Damned Viewer (10) allows you to visually check up on “Adolf Hitler, your philandering boss, the smug atheist next door and all the vile people you hate” get their comeuppance in the ‘other’, decidedly less amusing place. Maybe in Hell there’s a similar viewer, showing the Throne of God and Jesus (11) and the place where people can line up to sit, as if he were a giant Santa, on God’s lap.
And there’s more. Go to Family Land to chew the fat with pre-deceased loved ones (but wouldn’t you eventually bump into them anyway elsewhere in the park?). Visit the Arena of Answers, where the Illuminatron will tell you who really shot JFK, RFK and MLK. Go to Memory Land to relive your own finest moments or, if your existence was less than extraordinary, to Fantasy Land to relive somebody else’s. In the Hall of Heroes, visit with Abraham Lincoln, Moses and Princess Diana (among others). Visit America Land, where it’s always Memorial or Veterans’ Day.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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