Friday, December 31, 2010


Let's go with XKCD again to finish out the year and promote a new hobby: GeohashingRandall Munroe hinted at this pastime earlier in a Christmas-themed comic, but this time thoroughly threshed it out into a full-blown instructional, complete with interactive website.  I was going to try to determine whether the geohashing algorithm had any pattern or if it was fairly random, but somebody already did that here:

... which led to this next discovery: Did you know that geohashing has its own wiki?

Here's another odd hobby XKCD has originated, photos of people doing it:

By the way, the secret text that is revealed by hovering over the cartoon on the xkcd site is:
Saturday is game night.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Seismic waves

Here's an XKCD by Randall Munroe on a geology theme that is a rather fascinating observation. Clicking on the image will make it larger and easier to read. Go to this actual webcomic, hover over the image, and there will be an additional message in the "title-text" . This one says
 The USGS operates a really neat email/SMS earthquake notification service ( that allows fine-grained control of notifications.
Here's the updated link to the USGS service mentioned in the title-text:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You are org chart (II)

John Morris does this org chart "You are here" joke.  He also did this one.  Think these guys work at the same company? If they do there's been a massive company-wide re-organization.  I wonder if these might be the same guy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here's another fine mess

Here's a "-stan" gag by Neil Dishington.  I'm actually kind of surprised how often the "-stan" joke comes up in map-related comics.  I mean it's a relatively easy cartography joke (not as easy as this one though), but it's been done rather creatively each time I've seen it. 

And for those of you youngsters who don't get the joke, see the Wikipedia entry on Laurel & Hardy:  (not that I'm old enough to get it, I just learned about it from my elders).  Better yet, watch a Laurel & Hardy video or two.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Richard B. Cheney National park

This is from Mike Stanfill's "Far Left Side" webcomic, which admits to being "inspired" by Gary Larson's famous Far Side comics, and to having a very left-leaning tilt.  This ran last month and either ties in to recent Cheney antics, or to the artist's understandible dislike for the man.  I just think it's impressive that Cheney has no pulse.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas GPS

In his Mother Goose and Grimm comic strip Mike Peters gives us this Christmas and GPS-related comic from last year.  He does a lot of map-elated comics.  He ran another one last week that I'll post it tomorrow... and beg your forgiveness when I do (you'll understand why).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Opposite of Gandhi

Let's do another installment of Subnormality by Winston Rowntree.  Click on it to see a larger, legible version.  The exploding planet at the end qualifies it for this blog.  The rest of the content is just deeply odd.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bill Watterson B.C. (Before Calvin)

Here's a special treat: Rare art by Bill Watterson, of Calvin and Hobbes fame.  The link goes to a site has a few collections of art by Bill Watterson from his college and pre-Calvin & Hobbes days... when he did editorial cartoons.  I promise I'll get to some Calvin & Hobbes-proper map comics eventually (better yet if y'all find 'em and send 'em in).  But this is kinda fun until then.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Modern Worrior

We'll do another Penny Arcade by Mike Krahulk and Jerry Holkins.  This one is also too "inside gaming" for me.  I'm guessing this references the "Modern Warrior" video game.  I like this webcomic, but I'm just not into shoot-em-up games.  The games I like to play are ridiculously tame.  I think I like the concept of gaming more than the actual activity.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meeting adjourned?

This is by Ellis Nadler.  Some of the papers the guy is tossing appear to be maps.... the one at his right elbow for sure anyway.  Not sure how funny it's intended to be.

Monday, December 13, 2010

WoW map app

Penny Arcade by webcomic artists Mike Krahulk and Jerry Holkins.  Since I've not played such games I'm not sure that I get this.  Is it simply pointing out the thoroughly inappropriate behavior some WoW addicts can accomplish?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jarvis Atlas

This is from a story arc in Jim Meddick's Monty where Monty's "Little Lord Fauntleroy" stereotype rich, bratty next-door neighbor who has dug up a Neanderthal but thinks it's a Bohemian artist.  His Butler Jarvis is posing as Atlas.  There have already been a number of other "Atlas"-themed posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, including the beach ball suggestion Jarvis has made.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Which left?

Another comic by Adey Bryant, this one about getting directions.  It demonstrates what every GIS professional knows:  the vital importance of having an origin.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Texas textbooks

An editorial cartoon by Mikhaela Reid. This was a comment on the controversy about the Texas Board of Education approving history textbooks which presented a... "different" take on history. It is far, far cheaper for textbook producers to make one textbook for the whole nation's public schools. So those publishers seek to get their books approved in the largest states, because after the larger states are sold, the smaller states tend to follow (not that they have much choice at that point). So the textbook publishers have learned to keep anything that might remotely be considered controversial out of the history textbooks because they don't want to risk not making a sale to the people who get themselves on to the larger states' textbook advisory boards. That's a lot of the reason history can be so boring: All the exciting stuff gets cut. In this controversy the Texas board was seeking changes in the history texts that weren't supported by historical facts. It led to a lot of school boards around the country looking for textbooks that weren't influenced by Texans.

The book with the title "Brrrrr! Our Chilly Planet" is the one that qualifies this editorial cartoon for posting here, with its image of something vaguuely Earth-like. Of course a big fat textbook on just climate or meteorology is unlikely to find its way into a public high school curriculum, no matter what it's climate change position might be.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Cartoonist Ray Jelliffe makes a quick joke.  Is this a bookstore or a library?

For some reason this cartoon vaguely reminds me of this excellent passage from that greatest of books: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
Mr Prosser said: "You were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time you know."
"Appropriate time?" hooted Arthur. "Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when a workman arrived at my home yesterday. I asked him if he'd come to clean the windows and he said no he'd come to demolish the house. He didn't tell me straight away of course. Oh no. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver. Then he told me."
"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine month."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Google China

Political cartoonist Daryl Cagle made this one in march 2010 as commentary on reports that Google cooperates with China's repressive government in order to secure marketshare in that promisingly gigantic marketplace.  As the year progressed Google's relationship with China fell apart somewhat as China kept making censorship demands on Google's search sites.  Gooogle has lost marketshare to a Chinese company.  China has even launched their own version of Google Earth.   I don't think this one actually has anything to do with environmentalism or global warming.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The world according to Hollywood

This is a map of locations used by Paramount Studios for various settings when they needed to shoot movies that took place in other parts of the world but couldn't or wouldn't actually go there for shooting.  Click on the image to see a more legible version.  I've heard of biologists who chuckle when they hear pacific tree frogs chirping in movies that are supposed to be set in places thousands of miles away from where they live.  Then there was the innumerable shots in M*A*S*H that were supposed to be Korea, but were unmistakable to me as SoCal chaparral. What was worse was the Dukes of Hazzard chase scenes supposedly in Texas, but almost always in that same SoCal scrubland.  Texas doesn't have those kinds of mountains. Then there was a scene in the very fun movie "How I Got Into College" where the main characters are zipping along as fast as they can go to get their college applications in on time and, as they're driving along what is very clearly Southern California highways, there's a sign that says "Welcome to Michigan". But that movie was filmed at my alma mater Pomona College so I'll forgive them. And it's a very funny movie.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vanishing Point road 2

Tom Toles, editorial cartoonist, makes jokes at the expense of his local transportation authority with some regularity. The little artist line in the lower right-had corner that Toles always does says: "Focuses the attention"

Earlier in the month we had a version of this from a Beetle Bailey strip:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Map directions scaled

Cartoonist Andrew Toos has this guy giving directions as if they're both looking at the same map... which isn't there. And it's in metric, so I'm guessing this is British?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You are bear

James Stevenson got this cartoon published in The New Yorker in June of 1990. I'm almost wondering why this is only a "You are here" gag rather than also a "Bear poops in the woods" gag.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vanity project

Cartoonist Alex Gregory had this in The New Yorker in April of 2003.  Truth be told, I do believe that it is a kind of vanity project, albeit a remarkably... um... charitable one.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Driving Frazz

This Frazz strip by Jef Mallet was from 2008. It's a tad perplexing I think... Frazz is a cycling freak so maybe the joke is that he sort of zoned out while driving and "woke up" to the fact that he'd started driving one of his cycling routes instead of going to his intended destination.  I thought Frazz had adopted a GPS before this one ran.  I dunno.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

The fog of maps

I have a feeling we're walking in circles...", "I'm sure we're not!  It's only the fog that looks the same everywhere..."
Anna Gawrys gives us this funny little item. Due to the androgynous nature of the characters I can't tell whether this might possibly be another "spouses arguing about directions" gag

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grim Iraq

Bill Greenhead, also known as Stik, did this editorial cartoon on the war in Iraq (note the map in the reader's hhod).  This is considerably darker than some of the other examples of his work I've posted.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recession map

2008 saw the beginning of editorial cartoons about the current recession.  This one included a map.  I don't know that Mr. Bush was quite this clueless.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unfolding solar panels

Remember back in 2006 when the International Space Station had trouble with a solar panel array that wouldn't unfold? Bruce Beattie of the Daytona Beach News-Journal made a nice little map-related editorial cartoon about that.  How nice!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sorghum Corners, Ohio

Roz Chast had this published in The New Yorker in May of 1988.... so I'm not sure why she labelled it a 1989 map.  The labelled are hard to read even if one clicks on the cartoon to make it bigger, however they are ripping of typical New York City neighborhood names for areas that are likely unpopulated fields in rural Ohio... or at least that's what I understand the intended joke to be. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Serious dog walking

Artist Gerard Whyman depicts a map-carrying dog that is very serious about taking a walk.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vanishing point road

Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker. This joke would work better if the first panel had the road going to a vanishing point rather than simply over the horizon.  You'd think the artist would know that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yuppie mountain

In February of 1990 James Stevenson got this cartoon published in The New Yorker.The labels on the ski trails map are presumably very yuppie-esque... but even blown up they're too hard for me to reas.

I think that by 1990 the Yuppie era was growing to a close, no?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Told you so

Artist Graham Waters gives us this "spouses arguing about directions" + GPS gag.  It's pretty bland, though.  Not a lot of humor in the depiction of a simple "I told you so".

Sat' nav', by the way, is the British term for GPS, because GPS is the term specific to the U.S.'  NAVSTAR GPS satellite navigation system.  GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is the term that covers all of the technologies. GPS is the only fully-functional global satellite navigation system. Galileo is the Euro version and is in the middle of its deployment phase.  The Russian version is called GLONASS, but it's currently only regional, though it's global deployment is planned. The Chinese are working on expanding their regional Beidou navigation system into the fully global Compass navigation system.  There was a years-long negotiation/fight between the U.S. and the Europeans about whether and how to make GPS compatible with Galileo.  In the end they were made to be compatible and most new GPS and sat. nav. products will use both.  I think I read that the GLONASS will also be compatible. India and Japan both have smaller regional systems.  So does France.

Of course the original cartoon up there still isn't very funny. Sorry.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010