Friday, May 30, 2008

Flight of Manhattan

Fun with MapQuest and Google Maps.

First it was Bill Renken's Errant Isle of Manhattan, on Radical Cartography: "What would happen if Manhattan itself decided to take a tour of the oceans, stopping at other cities to refuel and have a good time."

First stop: Chicago

Jason Kottke speculates on a visit to San Francisco

Seth Holladay takes the island to Boston

However, the first thing I thought of, after viewing these fantastical maps, was the series of science fiction books by James Blish; Cities in Flight. Centuries into the future, the invention of massive antigravity devices allow entire cities, including New York, to get up and leave the planet. These "Okies", as they come to be known, struggle to get by as they offer their services to less industrialized planets.

UPDATE 6/10: Just came across this entry in the B2B: Miniature Worlds contest: Colony City By funkwood

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vermeer's Hat

The "glowing" painting by Johannes Vermeer, "Officer and Laughing Girl", is featured on the cover of this new book: Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook.

At the intersection between World History and Art History, this book examines the work of Vermeer, while focusing on the things that appear in Vermeer's paintings: beaver hats from the New World, porcelain from China, and Turkish rugs. Brook discusses how the "urge to acquire the goods of distant lands was refashioning the world more powerfully than we have yet understood."

Featured in the background of the painting is a Willem Blaeu print of a map of Holland and West Friesland, by mapmaker Balthasar van Berckenrode.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kim'chin do

Michael5000, one of my favorite bloggers, recently engaged in a creative project called Geography of the Forgotten Lands. I already knew he was interested in flag design, but it turns out he also likes to create imaginary countries! Michael has created descriptions, and flags of countries that are "part parody of reference-book prose, part commentary on world events, part pure geographical fantasy." I just think they are good fun.

The one piece missing from these delightful geographical fantasies are maps. So, from time to time I plan to draw map of these imaginary countries. Unfortunately, I am not very artistic, so if one of you artistically inclined cartophiles out there would like to draw a map with more detail (mountains, rivers, more cities, etc.) send them to me and I will be pleased to post them.

Kim’chin do
Capital: Namju
Population: 161,000 (2001 estimate)

Economy: Fishing, forestry, zinc, electronic goods.

If you look at the area northeast of Hokkaido on any world map, chances are you will see only open ocean. It is not entirely clear how an island as large as Kim'chindo came to be forgotten by the world's cartographers. As the site of major Soviet naval and air bases, it was regularly omitted from that country's maps for security purposes. While it is difficult to imagine the Western publishing companies taking their cue from the USSR, no other explanation has ever been put forward for the island nation's widespread omission from our maps and atlases.

The natives of Kim'chindo had tales of their ancestors arriving from the south on a city of rafts. Modern archaeologists have established only that a large migration arrived from the Korean penninsula, in the 12th Century A.D. A great capital of wood buildings was built on the southern tip of the island on a sophisticated plan of broad boulevards and great open plazas. This city, Kim'sol, was destroyed by a tidal wave in around 1620:

My city
floats out to sea
in jumbled sticks.
-- Ko Tae-Li, 17th Century
As much as half the island's population perished in the disaster.

In the modern era, the island was handed from empire to empire: the British (1710) were followed by the Dutch (1770), the Japanese (1906), and the Soviets (1945). Kim'chindo stumbled into independence after the breakup of the USSR with a small but polyglot population (34% Japanese, 32% Kim'chin Korean, 12% Russian, 12% Chinese, 10% European) and no tradition of self-government. A parliamentary system has been established and elections held, but the real power in Kim'chindo is held by the large corporations (mostly Japanese and Dutch) that have acquired its mills, mines, and factories. Nearly 40% of working citizens, a 2002 study found, are in the employ of a foreign corporation. Wages and investment in national infrastructure remain well below world averages.

Flag: The Kim'chin, like many Asian cultures, associated colors with direction. The modern flag, designed in 1993, is thus a sort of traditional map. Red, in the center, represents the people. Black is to the north, white to the south, yellow is to the west, and green to the east. Blue and purple were considered the colors of danger in classical Kim'chinsymbology, and are rarely seen in traditional decoration.

Kim'chin do description and flag by Michael5000.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dick's Map

Mrs. Cartophiliac and I visited Dick's Sporting Goods the other day. While there, I could not help but notice, and appreciate, this use of a map in the design of their store:

Out came the camera phone!

In case you are wondering, that is a pillar in the middle of the store. The star represents the location of the store.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Monday, May 6, is Memorial Day in the United States. While many see it only as a three-day weekend that marks the beginning of summertime fun, it remains a day to commemorate the men and women who have died in military service to their country. Known originally as Decoration Day, the day has been commemorated annually since the end of the American Civil War.

Here are two map postcards depicting scenes from that war:

Randy Green created the card above, depicting a "somber yet magnificent overview of the key states involved and the heroic figures who emerged from this tragic yet ultimately liberating and unifying conflict." A full sized poster or jigsaw puzzle of this card is available from White Mountain Puzzles.

The postcard below was sent to me by a friend many years ago. I especially like this one because, while you cannot see the detail, it does include a map. The original painting, The Last Council at Chancellorsville, by Mort Künstler, depicts Generals Jackson, Lee and Stuart. The Battle of Chancellorsville was one of Lee's greatest victories on the field, but he lost his "right arm" when General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson was mortally wounded.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Make Your Own Map Purse

Sonya Style is a do-it-yourself site of arts & crafts ideas, cooking, decorating and gardening, by Sonya Nimri.

Here she offers step-by-step instructions on how you can make your own map purse! Make one of the city are visiting and you won't need to carry an additional map.

I especially like the added touch of the toy car "latch".

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Wakko's 50 State Capitols

Speaking of state capitols...

How many of us struggled to remember all of the United States state capitols? If only we'd had this song to help us:

Of course, kids today don't have School House Rock to teach them how a bill becomes law or how to use interjections!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Northern Ireland

Last month I commented on the postcards my friend Victoria brought back from Ireland. I noted that they drew no distinction between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Just thiis month, another friend, Teresa, visited Northern Ireland, and sent these cards.

Teresa noted that postcards were hard to find (not just map postcards). Presumably they are not geared up for the tourist industry, even though they've all stopped shooting at each other. Give it some time...

This postcard (to the right) includes a tongue-in-cheek emphasis on the pastoral setting... but Guinness and oysters for breakfast? Hmmmm... Guiness maybe...

And interesting fact: The famous (and tragic) steamship, Titanic, was built in Belfast.

Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the United Kingdom, as well as the largest lake on the island of Ireland. Unlike Loch Ness, in Scotland, it is not known for sea monsters.

The Causeway Coastal Route covers eighty miles of coastline beginning in Belfast and ending in the Walled City of Derry. Tourist don't want to miss a visit to the Bushmills whiskey distillery.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Connect the Dots

When I first came across the website, Spud Art, the first thing I thought of was this mappish "spud art". But instead it is "the landfill of Matt Maldre's life, a 32-year-old Christian designer in Chicago."

Among Matt's random thoughts:

"Here's a map of America with JUST the capitals. No state lines. It would be fun to number these stars and make them into a connect-the-dots game."

The first thing I saw in all those dots was the national bird of the United States, the turkey.... OK, the eagle is the national bird, but not if Benjamin Franklin had had his way...

OK, that's a pretty sad looking turkey, but is it really any worse than the ones we make children draw in school every Thanksgiving?


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spanish Jeopardy

"Rex Parker" calls himself "The 55th Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver In The Universe!" He also collects and writes about vintage paperback books, in his blog, Pop Sensation.

Naturally, this book's cover caught my eye: Jeopardy Is My Job, by Stephen Marlowe.

Hardball detective fiction writer, Stephen Marlowe (must be Phillip's brother), writes about hardball detective, Chester Drum, and his hardball trip to Spain, where he tracks down hardball (highball?) drinkers. Its a good thing he has a map to help him out.

If you enjoy bad book covers, then you should also check out Judge a Book by its Cover.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Oregon: the Quilter State

In addition to the Kentucky Democratic Primary tomorrow, folks will also be voting in Oregon. Barack Obama is expected to win this primary.

Oregon is one of the handful of states I have never visited, so I only have these two map postcards:

The only resident of Oregon that I sort of "know" is blogger, Michael5000; art quilter, bible-reader, and pop quizzer. He loves his home state, and his home town of Portland (City of Roses). However, unhappy with his state's boring flag, he sponsored a contest to design a new flag. The winner:

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kentucky: The Blue Grass State

Just when you thought it was safe to go back out into the political mainstream... It's another primary! On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is expected to win Kentucky, but not by as much as she did in West Virginia...

I don't care what they say, the grass in Kentucky looks green to me. Just like every other state...

The State of Kentucky is known throughout the world for its magnificent horses and horse farms. The most famous horse race in the country (in the world?) takes place in Louisville, Kentucky. The 134th running of the Kentucky Derby took place on May 3, 2008.

Speaking of Louisville, I am looking forward to spending this Memorial Day holiday weekend there.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ohio on a Stick

Some of you may have noticed my recent experimentation with selling advertising space to Project Wonderful. It is an interesting model for buying an selling ads. That little ad box in the upper right portion of this page does not, I think, usually offend.If anything, the ads are often a little silly and irrelevant to the topic of this blog (online comics, fan fiction, t-shirts). I have so far made a grand total of $0.27!

Just imagine my suprise when, this morning, I looked at my blog and found an ad for "Original Map Paintings." The ad links to an online shop at Etsy, an online community where members can buy and sell "all things handmade".

The art featured in this shop is by Erik Maldre. He calls the two examples posted here Ohio on a Stick and Estonia on a Stick.

From the Artist's Statement:
The second reality is clearly defined by the title of each piece. "'Region' on a Stick No. 'X'" perpetuates beyond the representational notions of a map by suggesting that the represented region is a physical object unto itself. Ironically enough, the duality of representation comes full circle for the suggested physical object is still a representation of such due to its physically painted nature.
Erik, I love this stuff. If you had sent me a link, I would have plugged your site for free! (Like I'm doing now.) Although, as long as you maintain the Project Wonderful ad, your link will remain at the top of the front page...

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Becca, a college student who also works in my library department, spent the last four months studying in Lüneburg, Germany. As always, I ask my traveling friends to pick up map postcards. Becca did not let me down.

Lüneburg is famous for its salt mines. While they are now closed, Becca said that she saw many buildings that were sagging or crumbling because of collapsed mines underneath. Unfortunately, Salt Museum was closed for the winter.

Other museums in Lüneburg include The Museum of the Principality of Lüneburg (bookprinting and bookbinding), the East Prussian History Museum, and a Brewing Museum.

Unlike many cities in in Germany, Lüneburg was spared during WWII and few of its historical buildings were damaged.

One of Becca's less productive activities while on the job is drawing "amusing" cartoons on the dry erase board...

"Nerdy collection"!.... harumpf!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Have Another Beer, Eh?

Beer map of Canada, from Geist

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Monday, May 12, 2008

The Geography of Bliss

Another antidote for the Map of Misery...

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.

"Weiner set out on a yearlong quest to find the world's unheralded happy places... he'd travel to countries like Iceland, Bhutan, Qatar, Holland, Switzerland, Thailand and India to try to figure out why residents tell positive psychology researchers that they're actually quite happy." -- Publishers Weekly

I'm happy that the cover designers used a map for the paper airplane.

Also available, in large type with an alternate cover!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Almost Heaven?

The next stop on the Neverending Democratic Primary season is West Virginia.

West Virginia is the butt of many hillbilly jokes, and it would be politically incorrect of me to repeat them here... OK, maybe one:

Q. What do a tornado and a West Virginia divorce have in common?

A. Someone always loses a trailer.

West Virginia, the Mountain State, detached itself from the rebellious Commonwealth of Virginia and became the 35th state in 1863.

State song: Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free)

Almost heaven, west virginia
Blue ridge mountains
Shenandoah river -
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads
-- John Denver
I have visited West Virginia several times, for white water rafting, and understand why many love it for its beautiful mountains and valleys. Here are a few (non-map) postcards (click to enlarge):

Like many states*, the cardinal is the West Virginia State Bird

* See also: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Map of Misery

From the May 8, 2008, issue of The Economist, Map of misery: The house-price bust has a long way to go.

SOUNDING more like a cartographer than a central banker, Ben Bernanke this week showed off the Federal Reserve’s latest gizmo for tracking America’s property bust: maps that colour-code price declines, foreclosures and other gauges of housing distress for every county. His goal was to show that falling prices meant more foreclosures, and to urge lenders to write down the principal on troubled loans where the house is worth less than the value of the mortgage. His maps—where hotter colours imply more trouble—also make a starker point. The pain of America’s housing bust varies enormously by region. Hardest hit have been the “bubble states”—California, Nevada and Florida, and parts of the industrial Midwest. The biggest uncertainty hanging over the economy is how red will things get.
Read the rest of the article.

All I have to do is walk around the neighborhood and see the number of "For Sale" signs that have been up for months... Houses are not moving. Prices are dropping, and many people are hurting. Many folks who might need to sell their home cannot do so without taking a loss.

Maybe they shouldn't have bought that house they couldn't afford in the first place... Maybe it might have occured to them, before they bought their house, that if property values have jumped 300% in the last five years, they might, just maybe fall again... But I also know folks who need to sell their home, because of job relocation, etc... and they cannot get out. Ms. Cartophiliac and I have often spoken of relocating... I think we'll just stay pat for now.

Where to go when surrounded by the Map of Misery? Why not take a vacation for the mind? Visit The Funny Times:

The Funny Times is a The Funny Times is a monthly tabloid newspaper for humor - funny jokes, political cartoons, news and columns.
No matter what has you down:
  • The War on Terror
  • HMO Waiting Rooms
  • Family Stress
...our cartoonists and columnists will fill you with inspiration instead of despair.
So, don't let yourself be lost in the Sea of Red Ink, broken down in Monotony, or stranded on the Road to Ruin... use this road map from The Funny Times.

Thanks to the Stumbling Tumblr for the miserable tip.

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