Separated at Birth: DC and South Australia
"Heaps Good" is Australian slang, not some DC hipster band
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.
A joyous, tearful reunion of identical twins separated at birth — few stories are more heartwarming, or more emotionally satisfying. And they don't just happen on TV.
Some time ago, Eric Fidler met up with a friend in one of the bars in his hometown of Washington, DC. The friend was wearing a shirt that read Heaps Good, superimposed on a familiar-looking outline.
"Since we live in DC, I assumed his shirt was a silhouette of the District of Columbia rotated 45 degrees clockwise and that 'Heaps Good' was a local band," says Fidler.
That would not be out of the ordinary. Washingtonians are proud of their city, and not shy to show it: "A good number of people here have DC flag tattoos or even DC flag transoms over their front doors. My local café gives out DC-shaped stickers that say 'Made in DC.' This washingtoniana is more common than you would think — and nobody in the suburbs does this with their jurisdictions."
No Virginia or Maryland tattoos, then. Or transoms. Or shirts. But the map Fidler's friend was wearing proved to be a "false friend." "After talking to him for about 20 minutes, I realized the coastline didn't match up to the shoreline of the Potomac. Because I had been planning a trip to Australia, I finally recognized the shape as the state of South Australia. My friend visited the place three years ago, and bought the shirt there. 'Heaps Good' is not some local hipster band; it's a South Australian phrase that means 'Really great.'"
Fidler didn't leave it at that. Back home, he photoshopped both jurisdictions next to each other, correcting for differences in size and orientation. And the resemblance is striking. The two entities really do look similar enough to have been separated at birth. Both are one and a quarter side short of a full square. Their non-rectangular side connects a sharp edge with an obtuse one, connected via a more than vaguely similar shoreline.
That is where the similarities end, though. South Australia is vast — at just over 400,000 square miles (1 million km²), it is more than 5,000 times bigger than DC, which measures just under 70 square miles (177 km²). And incredibly empty by comparison: It manages just 1.7 million inhabitants (less than 5/sq. mi, or 2/km²), against DC's 0.7 million (more than 10,000/sq. mi, or around 4,000/km²).
Also, the District's unofficial motto doesn't quite exude the same carefree attitude as South Australia's "Heaps Good." Perhaps an idea for Mr. Fidler's upcoming trip to Australia: Walk around with DC outlined on his shirt, under the slogan Taxation without representation. How many Ozzies will get the hint, and recognise that shape as the faraway District of Columbia instead of their own state of South Australia?
Strange Maps #740
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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