Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s take on the Mercator projection is … not what you’d expect. The punch line is similar to Christopher Rowe’s short story, “Another Word for Map Is Faith”: if you can’t make the map conform to the territory, make the territory conform to the map. Since we’re dealing with the Mercator projection, this requires some … escalation.
xkcd is back with another bad map projection: in this one, it’s all South Americas. The alt-text: “The projection does a good job preserving both distance and azimuth, at the cost of really exaggerating how many South Americas there are.”
If you’re not familiar with that poem, here’s the key passage:
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!
“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:”
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!”
And here’s the accompanying map:
It’s not like xkcd has a monopoly on comics about maps. Last week, Zach Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal web comic posted a comic about alternative non-spherical Earth theories: everything from a hollow Earth to, well, stranger variations—including a slightly lumpy oblate spheroid Earth, which I frankly find hard to believe in.
In Monday’s xckd, Randall Munroe points out that when it comes to coordinate precision, there is such a thing as too many decimal places.
After a hiatus of more than two and a half years, Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones are back to producing new episodes of Map Men. Back in 2016 I called the series “two silly people being very smart about often-silly cartographical situations” (though I may have gotten that backward). Anyway, they’re back, with episodes on the geological origins of the English-Scottish border and trap streets.
On Last Week Tonight’s 17 February episode, host John Oliver took a moment to look at how New Zealand keeps getting left off world maps—the case of IKEA’s map poster being the most recent example. They are nothing if not helpful: as a solution, the show’s Twitter account has posted a cutout map of New Zealand to print and paste on any map that has left it off.
IKEA’s going to need extra security.
By law, I am required to share every xkcd comic about maps. Today’s makes great fun of pop versus soda maps—the maps showing where in the U.S. carbonated beverages are referred to as pop versus where they’re referred to as soda. Randall takes things to their ludicrous extremes, as he is, by law, required to do.
Last Friday’s xkcd suggests that the Mercator projection’s reputation can be used to convince anyone of any false geographical fact.
Not that I’d suggest you do that, mind. No.
The latest cartoon from Itchy Feet, a comic about travel and language by filmmaker Malachi Rempen, is a “Map of Every European City.” In the comments, the cartoonist says, “Having been to every single European city, I can safely say with confidence that they all look exactly like this.” I don’t think he’s wrong.
The Onion: World’s Cartographers Continue Living Secret Life of Luxury on Idyllic, Never Disclosed 8th Continent. “‘Ah, yes—this is the life,’ said topographical researcher Garrett Farthing, chuckling to himself as he delicately put the finishing touches on yet another map showing their current location to be an empty stretch of the Pacific Ocean while being fed grapes by a trained monkey from an ultra-docile species found only on their lush, temperate, 3.5-million-square-mile landmass. […] No non-cartographer should ever sully this place with their uncultured presence.” You just had to blab, Onion. [WMS]
The dots don’t represent anything in particular, nor is their number and placement indicative of any kind of data. But when you’re looking at them, all spread out on a map of the United States like that—it’s hard not to be a little blown away.
Seven hundred of them. Seven hundred dots. That’s more than 500 dots—well on the way to 1,000. That could represent 700 people, or crime scenes, or cities. Or something that happens in this country every 20 seconds. These dots could potentially be anything—they’re red dots, so they could definitely mean something bad.
Whatever they might be, there’s no unseeing these dots.