289 - Galoshes of the World, Unite and Take Over!
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.
I first encountered the term ‘galoshes’ in the same Russian novels that also introduced me, albeit equally theoretically, to the samowar*. Subsequently, I’ve always thought of galoshes (also known as overshoes or gumshoes) as typical of Russia.
This poster seems to confirm this, but the habit of donning rubber shoes over more delicate types of footwear to protect these from water and mud is more widespread. In fact, the word ‘galoshes’ is of French origin: galoches, possibly derives from chaussures gauloises, i.e. ‘Gallic shoes’. This could refer to shoes carved entirely out of wood (compare clogs, now considered typically Dutch), wooden soles worn underneath the shoes, or leather overshoes with wooden soles. Charles Goodyear, the pioneer of vulcanization, apparently was instrumental in the transition, somewhere near the end of the nineteenth century, of wood to rubber as a preferred component for galoshes.\n
In Russia, galoshes are an essential part of hibernal shodding, so the pavlovian association between the two isn’t too far-fetched. This ad poster for them was designed by Vladimir Mayakovski (1893-1930), the Russian futurist poet and bolshevist agitator. Mayakovski’s first published poems appeared in the futurist publication ‘A Slap in the Face of Public Taste’ (1912); his first published poem of considerable length was ‘A Cloud in Trousers’ (1915). Another great title is ‘The Backbone Flute’ (1916), a love poem dedicated, rather infelicitously, to the wife of his publisher.\n
After the Soviet revolution (1917), Mayakovski started producing both graphic and text for Agitprop** posters; he became a popular exponent of what he called Komfut (‘Communist Futurism’). As such, he was allowed to travel freely throughout the West – fathering an illegitimate child with an American woman – before growing increasingly disillusioned with the course of the Soviet Union under Stalin; he shot himself in 1930.\n
Mayakovski produced this poster in 1924 for the Soviet rubber-industry trust Rezinotrest. The text reads: "Rezinotrest protects you from rain and mud. Without galoshes, Europe would sit and weep."\n
The map is not just strange because of the galactic galosh hurtling towards Earth; Mayakovski may have been a great poet and graphic designer, but he wasn’t much of a cartographer. The borders of the Soviet Union, highlighted in red, are rendered fairly accurately, but Europe is severely disfigured: an oversized Scandinavian peninsula points toward an expanse of water where most of Western Europe should be. There is no sign of the British Isles either, and the Iberian peninsula is wrong and too big. Iceland is attached to Greenland, and half of China seems to have fallen into the ocean. With that much more water on the planet, you’d need some big galoshes indeed to get around…\n
Thanks to Felix Hippmann for sending in this map, found here at the Wikipedia entry for galoshes.\n
* a typically Russian (and Central-Asian) kettle for boiling water to prepare tea, no relation at all to the manowar, a type of battleship.\n
** a contraction of ‘agitation’ and ‘propaganda’ reminiscent of – or rather prefiguring – the concept of Newspeak in George Orwell’s 1984, originally denoting the dissemination by the Bolsheviks of knowledge beneficial for the masses, later signifying any form of left-wing propaganda.\n\n
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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