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New Penzance Island: A Very Wes Anderson Treasure Map
The fictional island has all the attributes necessary for a classic adventure story - including a bunch of intriguing place-names
How do you know you’re watching a Wes Anderson movie? Here are a few clues: an abundance of matching tracksuits, official school attire, or other types of uniform; a nostalgic setting in a recent, pre-digital past; and a panoply of dysfunctional characters, inhabiting meticulously manicured houses.
Those houses, like the movies themselves, are the cinematic equivalent of the late-renaissance Wunderkammer, stuffed with curious artifacts and remarkable specimens from nature. Mr Anderson maintains his baroque predilection for gorgeous props in Moonrise Kingdom. Arguably the most central of these precious objects is a map of New Penzance Island, the place where most of the action takes place.
The map is shown as a background to the introductory narration. It is also instrumental to the pair of wayward path-finders at the centre of the story. In the tradition of map-enhanced adventure stories , the map is of a fictional island, rife with rugged coasts and sheltering coves, defined by jutting capes, and supplemented with a fair helping of auxiliary islets. The fictional island thus possesses all the attributes necessary for a classic adventure story.
Anderson adds another layer: New Penzance Island also is that archetypal place, increasingly distant and appealing as we get older, where it’s always summer and we are forever young. The golden place of eternal youth has often been imagined as an island in the distant west - the Greeks and Romans called them the Fortunate Islands, to the Irish storytellers it was Avalon, or Tir Na n’Og.
But while those islands were set only very vaguely in yonder oceans, New Penzance can be pinpointed with more precision: the Khaki Scouts of North America, and the Old Chikchaw Harvest Migration Trail, even though both named after fictional collectives, point towards a general geographical area. The look and feel of the island, its vegetation, climate and settlement suggest an island off the New England coast .
But that’s as precise as it gets. The map is completely fictional, and doesn’t include any reference to real places. And even though the story is set over a short, specific period in the summer of 1965, it seems to take place outside of time. Nothing of whatever was happening during those summer months  in America or the world intrudes upon the island’s edenic isolation.
The map itself is pretty hard to find too - in its entirety, at least. The movie’s website features it prominently, aptly using it as a guide to Moonrise Kingdom, but only allows close-up scrolling. The version presented here, puzzled together by yours truly one screenshot at a time, is to my knowledge the only complete one  floating around the internet.
New Penzance takes up a central location on the map. The island consists of a n elongated land mass, oriented southwest to northeast, with a large, north-facing, double-headed promontory bolted onto the middle. The easternmost point is named as Cape Cooper, on a small cape between it and the large promontory lies Summer’s End, which features prominently in the film. Other locations on the island are Roman’s Ruins , near its centre, and Yeoman Lane, Vineyard Theatre and Berry’s Cottage near the unnamed, eastern cape.
The two streams shown on the island are the Stepping Stone River and the Wood river. The named bodies of water around the island are: Stone Cove; Black Beacon Sound; Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet ; Kumamoto Plum Wellfleet Bank; the St Jack Wood Channel; the Bay of March 31, ‘75 ; the Sea of St Stephen; and the Cold-Water Strait.
In the waters off Cape Cooper, an arrow points South to Gogo.
The tiny islands surrounding New Penzance carry particularly intriguing names. Just off the west coast: Fidelity Island and Honesty Rock, almost hugging each other. South of Roman’s Ruins: a trio of islands curiously reminiscent of the small-tiny-large sequence of the Maltese archipelago, with the larger island named Belgian Hours.
Across the Cold-Water Strait, we see what might be the mainland (or perhaps just another island), containing another national reference: Polish Prince (just to the west of Lily’s Look-Out). Further along the coast is a place called Treasured Indian Grip, north of St Jack Township, inland. To the east of this landmass, possibly connected to it, is another hunk of dry land, its top bit named Fort Stockhausen.
Only a few of those names crop up in the film, but Wes Anderson being the detail-obsessed filmmaker he is, they probably each have some significance. Your guess is as good as - and if you’re a fan, probably better than - mine. (Fire away!)
Which leaves the name of the island itself: New Penzance. The name obviously refers to the coastal town in Cornwall. One review contributes a remarkable thesis as to the significance of its choice:
The plot of the classic Gilbert and Sullivan comedy The Pirates of Penzance bears a vague resemblance to that of Moonrise Kingdom. “One [story is] about an orphaned scout going rogue to be with his love, the other about an orphaned pirate’s apprentice going rogue to be with his love […]”
Strange Maps #570
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 See the one that started it all: Treasure Island (#378)
 It was in fact filmed in Newport, Rhode Island.
 On July 28, LBJ announces a surge in US troops in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000 - and a doubling of the draft, from 17,000 to 35,000 men per month. On August 11, riots break out in the Watts area of Los Angeles. On August 15, the Beatles play Shea Stadium.
 I say complete, but I mean: less than complete. Some missing areas near the map’s edge have been reconstituted to look like the original. And the map is also lacking its longitudinal and latitudinal edge markings.
 Surely a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Roman ruins found on so many (European, North African and Middle Eastern) maps.
 An all too prosaic description, renamed in the film to more poetic effect.
 Which is funny - and perhaps significant - as the film is set ten years before 1975…
Certain water beetles can escape from frogs after being consumed.
- A Japanese scientist shows that some beetles can wiggle out of frog's butts after being eaten whole.
- The research suggests the beetle can get out in as little as 7 minutes.
- Most of the beetles swallowed in the experiment survived with no complications after being excreted.
In what is perhaps one of the weirdest experiments ever that comes from the category of "why did anyone need to know this?" scientists have proven that the Regimbartia attenuata beetle can climb out of a frog's butt after being eaten.
The research was carried out by Kobe University ecologist Shinji Sugiura. His team found that the majority of beetles swallowed by black-spotted pond frogs (Pelophylax nigromaculatus) used in their experiment managed to escape about 6 hours after and were perfectly fine.
"Here, I report active escape of the aquatic beetle R. attenuata from the vents of five frog species via the digestive tract," writes Sugiura in a new paper, adding "although adult beetles were easily eaten by frogs, 90 percent of swallowed beetles were excreted within six hours after being eaten and, surprisingly, were still alive."
One bug even got out in as little as 7 minutes.
Sugiura also tried putting wax on the legs of some of the beetles, preventing them from moving. These ones were not able to make it out alive, taking from 38 to 150 hours to be digested.
Naturally, as anyone would upon encountering such a story, you're wondering where's the video. Thankfully, the scientists recorded the proceedings:
The Regimbartia attenuata beetle can be found in the tropics, especially as pests in fish hatcheries. It's not the only kind of creature that can survive being swallowed. A recent study showed that snake eels are able to burrow out of the stomachs of fish using their sharp tails, only to become stuck, die, and be mummified in the gut cavity. Scientists are calling the beetle's ability the first documented "active prey escape." Usually, such travelers through the digestive tract have particular adaptations that make it possible for them to withstand extreme pH and lack of oxygen. The researchers think the beetle's trick is in inducing the frog to open a so-called "vent" controlled by the sphincter muscle.
"Individuals were always excreted head first from the frog vent, suggesting that R. attenuata stimulates the hind gut, urging the frog to defecate," explains Sugiura.
For more information, check out the study published in Current Biology.
New research from the University of Granada found that stress could help determine sex.
Stress in the modern world is generally viewed as a hindrance to a healthy life.
Indeed, excess stress is associated with numerous problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, obesity, and other conditions. While the physiological mechanisms associated with stress can be beneficial, as Kelly McGonigal points out in The Upside of Stress, the modern wellness industry is built on the foundation of stress relief.
The effects of stress on pregnant mothers is another longstanding area of research. For example, what potential negative effects do elevated levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine have on fetal development?
A new study, published in the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, investigated a very specific aspect of stress on fetuses: does it affect sex? Their findings reveal that women with elevated stress are twice as likely to give birth to a girl.
For this research, the University of Granada scientists recorded the stress levels of 108 women before, during, and after conception. By testing cortisol concentration in their hair and subjecting the women to a variety of psychological tests, the researchers discovered that stress indeed influences sex. Specifically, stress made women twice as likely to deliver a baby girl.
The team points out that their research is consistent with other research that used saliva to show that stress resulted in a decreased likelihood of delivering a boy.
Maria Isabel Peralta RamírezPhoto courtesy of University of Granada
Lead author María Isabel Peralta Ramírez, a researcher at the UGR's Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, says that prior research focused on stress levels leading up to and after birth. She was interested in stress's impact leading up to conception. She says:
"Specifically, our research group has shown in numerous publications how psychological stress in the mother generates a greater number of psychopathological symptoms during pregnancy: postpartum depression, a greater likelihood of assisted delivery, an increase in the time taken for lactation to commence (lactogenesis), or inferior neurodevelopment of the baby six months after birth."
While no conclusive evidence has been rendered, the research team believes that activation of the mother's endogenous stress system during conception sets the concentration of sex hormones that will be carried throughout development. As the team writes, "there is evidence that testosterone functions as a mechanism when determining the baby's sex, since the greater the prenatal stress levels, the higher the levels of female testosterone." Levels of paternal stress were not factored into this research.
Previous studies show that sperm carrying an X chromosome are better equipped to reach the egg under adverse conditions than sperm carrying the Y chromosome. Y fetuses also mature slowly and are more likely to produce complications than X fetuses. Peralta also noted that there might be more aborted male fetuses during times of early maternal stress, which would favor more girls being born under such circumstances.
In the future, Peralta and her team say an investigation into aborted fetuses should be undertaken. Right now, the research was limited to a small sample size that did not factor in a number of elements. Still, the team concludes, "the research presented here is pioneering to the extent that it links prenatal stress to the sex of newborns."
Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook. His most recent book is "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
What is the price of peace?
Or put another way, how much better off would we all be in a world where armed conflict was avoided?
To give some context, 689 million people - more than 9% of the world's population - live on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank figures, underscoring the potential impact peace-building activities could have.
Just over 10% of global GDP is being spent on containing, preventing and dealing with the consequences of violence. As well as the 1.4 million violent deaths each year, conflict holds back economic development, causes instability, widens inequality and erodes human capital.
Putting a price tag on peace and violence helps us see the disproportionately high amounts spent on creating and containing violent acts compared to what is spent on building resilient, productive, and peaceful societies.
—Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman, Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP)
The cost of violence
In a report titled "The Economic Value of Peace 2021", the IEP says that for every death from violent conflict, 40 times as many people are injured. The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
Grounds for hope
But the picture is not all bleak. The economic impact of violence fell for the second year in a row in 2019, as parts of the world became more peaceful.
The global cost dropped by $64 billion between 2018 and 2019, even though it was still $1.2 trillion higher than in 2012.
In five regions of the world the costs increased in 2019. The biggest jump was in Central America and the Caribbean, where a rising homicide rate pushed the cost up 8.3%.
Syria, with its ongoing civil war, suffered the greatest economic impact with almost 60% of its GDP lost to conflict in 2019. That was followed by Afghanistan (50%) and South Sudan (46%).
The report makes a direct link between peace and prosperity. It says that, since 2000, countries that have become more peaceful have averaged higher GDP growth than those which have become more violent.
"This differential is significant and represents a GDP per capita that is 30% larger when compounded over a 20-year period," the report says adding that peaceful countries also have substantially lower inflation and unemployment.
"Small improvements in peace can have substantial economic benefits," it adds. "For example, a 2% reduction in the global impact of violence is roughly equivalent to all overseas development aid in 2019."
Equally, the total value of foreign direct investment globally only offsets 10% of the economic impact of violence. Authoritarian regimes lost on average 11% of GDP to the costs of violence while in democracies the cost was just 4% of GDP.
And the gap has widened over time, with democracies reducing the cost of violence by almost 16% since 2007 while in authoritarian countries it has risen by 27% over the same period.
The report uses 18 economic indicators to evaluate the cost of violence. The top three are military spending (which was $5.9 trillion globally in 2019), the cost of internal security which makes up over a third of the total at $4.9 trillion and homicide.
Peace brings prosperity
The formula also contains a multiplier effect because as peace increases, money spent containing violence can instead be used on more productive activities which drive growth and generate higher monetary and social returns.
"Substantial economic improvements are linked to improvements in peace," says the report. "Therefore, government policies should be directed to improving peacefulness, especially in a COVID-19 environment where economic activity has been subdued."
The IEP says what it terms "positive peace" is even more beneficial than "negative peace" which is simply the absence of violence or the fear of violence. Positive peace involves fostering the attitudes, institutions & structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.
The foundations of a positively peaceful society, it says, are: a well functioning government, sound business environment, acceptance of the rights of others, good relations with neighbours, free flow of information, high levels of human capital, low levels of corruption and equitable distribution of resources.
The World Economic Forum's report Mobilizing the Private Sector in Peace and Reconciliation urged companies large and small to recognise their potential to work for peace quoting the former Goldman Sachs chair, the late Peter Sutherland, who said: "Business thrives where society thrives."
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.