72 - The World As Seen From New York's 9th Avenue
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.
Many New Yorkers feel their city is more than just the (self-proclaimed) capital of the world. They think it actually is most of the world, the rest of the planet merely being the unavoidable orchard in which their Big Apple grows.
Several cartoons illustrate this metropolitan hubris, and they do it so well – and with self-irony rather than sarcasm – that they can’t but have been made by New Yorkers. A nice one is Daniel K. Wallingford’s US map skewed to give NYC prominence over the rest of the country, which is mislabeled as a sign of New York arrogance and ignorance. That map dates from the nineteen thirties. I’m still looking for an image with sufficient resolution for me to post it here.\n
Another one is already on this blog (see post #37): a cover of the New Yorker magazine in the aftermath of 9/11 depicting the city as ‘Newyorkistan’: its neighbourhoods renamed after far-off places and lesser-known tribes. Which is another way to ‘think the world’ of New York.\n
The map in this post is another, earlier cover of the New Yorker. In 1976, artist Saul Steinberg drew up this depiction of the world as seen from New York’s 9th Avenue. Not being a New Yorker myself, I don’t know why this Avenue was chosen as the Centre of the World. Some observations:\n
- The map looks west, over 10th Avenue and the Hudson into the rest of the US. \n
- The US is presented as a rectangle, bounded by Mexico to the left, Canada to the right and the Pacific Ocean on the far side. \n
- Right across the Hudson lies Jersey – in nondescript terrain but owing to its proximity to NYC still in bigger type than the rest. \n
- Washington DC is already much smaller (and almost in Mexico). \n
- Some rocks and a single bush (funnily enough near Las Vegas, where there’s not much vegetation) form the only distinguishing features. \n
- The only places that are mentioned in further away than DC and Jersey are Texas and Utah (as states) and Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles (as cities). \n
- The US ends at the Pacific, across which are visible Japan (as a single island), which divides the land mass further away into China (to the left of Japan) and Russia (to her right). \n
Was this cover construed only to convey the fact that New York is rather self-centered? Or does the orientation also have some significance? Because it does seem strange that NYC, on the East Coast, has its back turned to Europe, which is completely absent in this map…\n
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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