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We Are All Citizens of Procrasti-Nation
Country motto: Don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Aren't we all honorary citizens?
Why get done today what you can put off until tomorrow? Anyone who knows that feeling is an honorary citizen of this virtual country: Procrasti-Nation.
For Freud, the need to procrastinate is a function of the Pleasure Principle, which dictates that we seek gratification, or least avoid pain and negative emotions. This explains why it is such a universal human urge.
The word in English derives from the Latin pro ('forward, towards') and crastinus (an adjectival form of cras, 'tomorrow'); many other languages use a vernacular term, demonstrating how deeply ingrained the contraproductive urge to postpone really is.
Greeks, now entering its sixth straight year of recession, might be more prone to anaboli than is good for them; but even the (supposedly) more industrious Germans have an intimate knowledge of Verzögerung.
If the Irish word - moilleadóireacht - sounds long and convoluted enough to be the name of a railway station in Wales, the Welsh themselves have apparently found that brevity is the soul of procrastination, which they call, simply, oedi.
A Norwegian on an off-day might call his failure to attack the day's work sommel, while his Swedish colleague would label it förhalning. Procrastinating Balts know the feeling as viivitamine (Estonian), atlikšana (Latvian), and vilkinimas (Lithuanian).
The Catalan version of postponing urgent stuff until mañana is called dilació, while Serbs and Croats can agree to observe a spot of odugovlačenje until they feel like resuming their duties.
In Turkey, procrastinators practice erteleme; in Hungary, halogatás; in Poland, kunktatorstwo. To speakers of Swahili, it's uajizi, while Indonesians know the feeling as penundaan. Gujarati defines it concisely as Ḍhīla, while Tamil speaks of Kālam kaṭattal, and Thai of kār p̄hạdwạnprakạnphrùng - a word so long you might want to consider procrastinating rather than pronouncing it.
So - procrastination is the great unifier of humanity: alle Menschen werden Brüder - but forever tomorrow. In the mean time, we live in Procrasti-Nation, that limbo between the imperfect, unfulfilled Now and that moment, ever receding behind the horizon, when all our errands are run, and our To Do Lists done.
Continuing the wordplay that spawned this map, Procrasti-Nation (Population: 7 Billion; Industry: None; Exports: Denial, Guilt, Justification) is divided into a number of districts that derive their name from punning, alliteration, etc.
Solitaireitory in the northwest refers to the classic card game standard on many computers, and an excellent means to while away a few crucial hours instead of finishing that report. Nearby Napland (not to be confused with Lapland) shows that comfy sofa, the allure of which is parallel with the urgency of the task at hand, and the lateness of the hour. Snack Sector is another area well known to procrastinators (very few of whom are rake-thin).
When Jonathan Franzen writes, it's in a closed room without internet connection, and on a laptop that has its USB port glued shut. Sounds like Mr. Franzen is well aware of the danger of Surfside: that nagging semi-certainty that someone somewhere on the internet is saying, doing or showing something that's more interesting than fiddling with that next paragraph.
Let's hope Franzen didn't bring a pen and paper to that writer's den, or he might still fall for the analog traps laid out in Doodle District. Others might linger in the Game Zone, and everyone else will find an appropriate form of self-justification in the Range of Excuses.
Off the coast lies Isle Get It Done, an insular expression of that self-delusion which usually props up midway a good session of procrastination.
Obviously, Procrasti-Nation is not the only country which can be conceived in such a way. What about Indig-Nation? Stag-Nation? Or even Hyphe-Nation? Any good maps of these or similar lands will be considered for publication. So to your drawing boards! Now! Or, of course, tomorrow.
Strange Maps #589
A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.
- There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
- A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
- Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.
First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)
Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.
All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.
Image source: European Space Agency
The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.
Into and out of Earth's shadow
In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.
The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."
In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."
When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.
The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.
BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.
MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.
Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.
Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.
- There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
- Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
- "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.