See the Sun Set on Europe
An impossible map of all the sunset shadows across Europe
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.
One theory about the origin of the name 'Europe' is that it means 'sunset' (1) – Asia, by the same token, would mean 'sunrise'. In that case, here we have a sunset map of sunset-land.
Imagine the westering sun disappearing over the horizon on the left hand side of this map. These are the shadows cast by the hills and mountains of Europe.
Darker means more mountainous; lighter equals flatter. Hence the near-invisibility of the Netherlands, on the western edge of the Northern European Plain that extends all the way into Russia.
Other remarkably flat areas include the Hungarian Plain and the Po Valley in northern Italy, both surrounded by mountain chains.
The darkest shadows – and the highest mountains – can be found in the Alps (clearly the result of Italy pushing into Europe). The Balkans are almost completely mountainous, the Carpathian mountain range writes a Z for Zorro across the map of Eastern Europe, from southern Poland to the Romanian-Bulgarian border. The Pyrenees form the Franco-Spanish border, but extend almost all the way to the northwestern extremity of the Iberian peninsula.
Mountains often prefigure borders: that Z shape in Romania marks the edge of Transylvania. The mountainous peninsula in the west of Great Britain is contiguous with Wales. The zone where Belgium's flat north transforms into its hilly south, is almost exactly the same as the language border between Dutch and French. And Switzerland's independence has more to do with its mountainous inaccessibility than with the convenience of its banking system.
This sunset map of Europe is based on actual topographical information, but is a computer-generated image rather than an actual snapshot by satellite. That would be impossible: those mountains and plains are draped over a globe, so by the time the shadows start lengthening in Spain, night has long fallen in the Balkans.
Strange Maps #858
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
(1) See also #331
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- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
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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