Posts Tagged ‘maps’
Dr. Andrew Shears is a geographer by both vocation and avocation. Fascinated by American history, and by what might have been, he created the map above…
I discovered a list that really intrigued me like none other: the List of U.S. State Partition Proposals. For a geographer/cartographer who’s a U.S.-specialist and who’s interested in alternate history, this was Kryptonite for my productivity. From this list, I stumbled onto listings for U.S. Territories that Failed to Become States and the listing for the hypothetical 51st State. I even came across a nice little book called Lost States, a humorous account from Michael Trinklein that briefly explores a number of random states that never quite happened.
After reading all of these things, and all of the linked pages connected — that’s where Wikipedia really sucks you in — I, of course, allowed my own mind to wander and I came up with the beginnings of a historical geography narrative for the United States of my own, drawing on each of these sources. How could I spell this out? Well, I’m no novelist, because I just really don’t have the imagination or skills necessary to put together a story in that format. However, I can make maps here and there, and I firmly believe that maps can do a pretty good job telling a story.
What did I end up with? My own alternate history U.S. map of 124 states…
As one watches the U.S. government congeal into an unappetizing mess– as representatives, “serving” districts and states shaped though decades and decades of gerrymandering, vote narrow interests in search of advantage in elections-to-come– we might ponder Dr. Shear’s reminder of how differently it might all have looked… if only for the reminder that it didn’t have to be– nor does it have in the future to be– this way.
As we wonder what in the world became of Mr. Smith, we might recall that it was on this date in 1861 that President James Buchanan signed into law the Congressional Act creating the “organized incorporated Territory of Colorado.” The land had come to the U.S. in 1848 as part of the spoils of the Mexican-American War. Then populated virtually exclusively by Native Americans, white settlers flooded in with the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1858. Pressure from those new arrivals, along with a different kind of pressure felt by Washington as Southern states were seceding in the run-up to the Civil War (this was the period immediately before Lincoln’s inauguration), spurred the action– which expanded the Union and gave it access to the gold and other minerals in the Southern Rockies.
From Geotastic, “Vaguely Rude Place Names of the World.”
As book our next vacations, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” beat out Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?,” and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” to win the first– and only– “Best Disco Recording” Grammy ever awarded.
Do Norwegians feel curiously at home in Chile, and vice versa? Do South Africans have a strange affinity with Italians? And Filipinos with Maldivians? They should, at least if they’re map nerds: each lives in a country with a territorial morphology that closely resembles the other’s.
Although they’re on opposite sides of the globe, Chile and Norway are each other’s type, morphologically speaking: elongated to the extreme…
The Five Types of Territorial Morphology [c.f., here] sounds like a fun parlour game, at least in cartophile circles (is Portugal compact or elongated? Is or isn’t Somalia prorupt? Does New Zealand qualify as fragmented?) But there is a serious, geopolitical concern behind this attempt at classification. For a country’s shape has a profound impact on its economic success, and even its political viability.
Case in point: Lesotho. Being completely surrounded by another country does your economy no good. Four out of 10 Lesothans live on less than $1 a day, and the country ranks 160th (out of 187) on the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even compared with the wildly unequal society that is South Africa, Lesotho stands out as a pocket of deprivation…
Another morphology, another set of problems. Fragmented states often experience great centrifugal pressures, with separatism affecting their outlying fragments. This is true of the Philippines, the central government of which only last October concluded a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which had waged a separatist guerilla on the southern island of Mindanao. Something similar has been endemic in Aceh, at the western tip of Sumatra, where both the Dutch colonisers and the Indonesian central government have battled insurrections and rebellions.
Indonesia has had to contend with a few other centrifugal forces, one of which actually succeeded (and seceded): East Timor, which in 2002 became the 21st century’s first independent state. In the process, East Timor changed from being a fragment of a fragmented state to being the solid core of a compact state.
The implicit message of the Five Types is that compact is best, avoiding the logistical problems posed by the elongated, fragmented, perforated and protruded types. But is that really so? Cambodia, vaguely resembling a sea shell, is a fairly compact nation. That didn’t stop it descending into murderous anarchy when the Khmer Rouge took power in the mid-1970s, installing a regime that took its cue from the crazier aspects of Maoist Communism. China itself, morphologically compact, is torn between its high-performing coastal zone, an underdeveloped hinterland, and a far west forever rumbling with the distant thunder of separatism.
Perhaps these morphologies are the star signs of geopolitics: a fairly random way to categorise states and territories, which may or may not behave like the categories they’re placed in predict they will. Maybe the Five Types are a parlour game after all…
Read the whole story at Strange Maps.
As we agree with Virgil that we should “trust not too much in appearances,” we might send clearly-magnified birthday greetings to Alexis-Marie de Rochon; he was born on this date in 1741. An astronomer, physicist, and inveterate traveller, de Rochon worked extensively in optics and lens design– and is probably best remembered as the inventor of the retractable telescope, the spyglass.
source (and larger view)
TotH to +Basil Doeringsfeld.
As we ruminate on redistribution, we might note that today is “St. Distaff’s Day.” The distaff, used in spinning, was the medieval symbol of women’s work (to wit, the use of “distaff” as an adjective denoting the female side of a family). In many European cultures, women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas, which ended yesterday. The tradition of St Distaff’s Day is more amusing than a simple resumption of chores however, as it involved men and women playing pranks on each other– as memorialized by Robert Herrick in his poem “Saint Distaffs Day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day” (in Hesperides).
Evopropinquitous- “things I learned as a Field Biologist”
More hard-earned education at Evopropinquitous.
* “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature’s inexorable imperative” - H.G. Wells
As we recheck our rucksacks, we might send adventurous birthday greetings to Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor; he was born on this date in 1875. Grosvenor was recruited in 1899 to a small scholarly journal published by the National Geographic Society. (His benefactor was a friend of his father’s, Alexander Graham Bell, then the president of the Society (and soon, Grosvenor’s father-in-law.) Grosvenor became the journal’s first full-time editor, and began to build it, developing its extraordinary photographic service and map department. Revenue from growing circulation supported expeditions– which supplied more remarkable photos and maps… Membership grew from 900 in 1899 to more than 2 million at the time of his retirement (by then, as President of the Society) in 1955.