Friday, September 28, 2012

Satellite starrys

NASA has selected what they think are this year's prettiest Landsat images,  The winner: Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea.

There are a lot more beautiful satellite shots at NASA and USGS sites.

and an article with embedded videos at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land

A couple weeks back we had an excerpt from the animated short The Dot and the Line from that giant in animation Chuck Jones. So here we another giant in animation, Walt Disney, with another math-themed animation with "Donald in Mathmagic Land", a fun and educational film from 1959 that many of you may have seen as a kid.  The bit towards the end about sections of a cone ends up showing the globe of the Earth.  Here's just that bit:

Many people who saw this in their youth found it inspiring... although many of the aesthetic qualities and other information about the "Golden Ratio" are actually myths.  Nevertheless, math is still fascinating and this cartoon demonstrates so very many of the reasons why.

The only place I was able to find the entire video on YouTube had an introductory logo for what appears to be a YouTube channel for a guy who is keenly interested in numerology and symbology and also a quote from the 1995 movie "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers" which, along with the apparently incorrect, information about Walt Disney's Masonry, kinda suggests that the guy who posted it thinks there's something deeply sinister in the cartoon... or maybe he just likes that Halloween movie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God's creation two-fer

God in a foul mood (the caption, in case you can't read it says: "I hate my fans"). Published in a recent issue of The New Yorker by Alex Gregory of

Actually, to make up for that one, here's another along the same artistic theme by Mick Stevens, but with a much more light-hearted result:

Monday, September 24, 2012


Jef Mallet's Frazz having an embarrassing moment revealing his dependency on electronic devices.  But the strange thing is that this strip was from 2010... when it would have been possible to get the GPS on the smart phone... and probably a heart monitor app as well... and phones didn't interfere with those other devices anyway.  

I dunno, but I think Mallet may have wither stretched the tech point a little too far in an attempts at a punchline, or he could be revealing his own gaps in tech knowledge.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Map in the Hat

There's a new series of educational Dr. Suess-licensed books written in Seuss-esque rhyme and all about various subjects of learning and mostly featuring the cast of "The Cat In Hat" books.  I've seen my kids with some of those books from the library.  I didn't know that there was one on maps, but at a recent URISA Young Professionals social I was made aware of it:

Sample page (and a link to its reading):

While I can appreciate this recent tribute to Dr. Seuss, I gotta say the original Cat in the Hat was very much more subversive than this incarnation... and the Things were outright anarchic, certainly not well-behaved helpers. Would it have been possible to write these books more in that style? Like for starters ditch Earth and set the entire thing in an aggressively psychedelic geography. If overt learning must be accomplished, then at least squeeze the cast themselves through the 2D-3D geodetic transformations.  And get them hopelessly, even dangerously lost as quickly as possible.

To finish off this post, and because I can't help myself, I'll also post this link to a Cat in the Hat parody image (available as a T-shirt):

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Electoral College explained

Here is the entire set of videos by C. P. G. Grey that explains the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and other forms of voting that aren't so dogged by the systemic problems that, for example, end up creating an entrenched two-party system:
The map-ulicious video on the Electoral College is embedded below:

C. P. G. Grey actually has lots and lots of videos that explain all sorts of interesting things.  For example, his rundown of 10 common misconceptions is great... and the last comment on the last one on the list is deeply fun.

We'll do more C.P.G. Grey later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Homespun folk wisdom, jerk

9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney (click on the image to make it bigger if it's hard to read the text).  Those throwaway panels there at the beginning have that quaint folded map.  It's hard to imagine this kind of scene happening very often anymore, what with the "strangers" usually having any number of navigation technologies at their disposal.  I would be curious to take a survey of rural way stations such as gas stations or country stores to determine how much, if at all, the navigation devices have cut down on these sorts of "strangers asking for directions" situations.

Meanwhile, in the regular weekly 9 Chickweed Lane strip the plotline that I mentioned last April has reached a climax. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Coming up at 11...

So in light of the recent uptick in the types of shootings that the media goes ape about, here's a couple of cartoons on that theme that use maps:
Dan Wasserman

Dick Locher

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grimm Positioning System

With the tech media abuzz about this month's new Apple gadget announcements I'm posting this Mother Goose & Grimm strip by Mike Peters from 2010 to remind y'all that the App Store is only 4 years old... and Android and Apple apps together constitute a $15 billion - $22 billion market already and smart devices are the fastest growing technology adoption ever. Faster, even, than the dot-com boom and social networking.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Film Map

Remember the song map from earlier this year?  Now the same people at the Dorothy site have released a "Film Map" with place names and streets all derived from movie titles.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Dot and the Line: A Romance

Here we have an excerpt from "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics" by the incomparable Chuck Jones.  It's a classic 1965 Oscar-winning short film based on Norton Juster's 1963 book The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics inspired by Edwin Abbott Abbott's 1884 novella "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions."

In this short clip the line imagines himself in various roles of great importance that might impress the dot, the object of his obsessive affection.  One of these roles is, of course, as "The Equator" .... although technically that's a circle, not a line.

This is an impressive piece of art, to be sure, but I can't help feeling that the message of self-discipline comes off as a bit heavy-handed and at the expense of raw unbridled spontaneity.  The film is just dripping with the cultural conflicts of the '60's.  But it certainly deserved its Oscar.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

K-T Key Lime Pie

Mike Stanfill's "Far Left Side" webcomic.  This one is very likely to be a CIDU (comics I don't understand) for some people.  It most likely has to do with the dinosaur-killing asteroid impact about 65 million years ago and the factoid that brain damage can cause synesthesia, or in other words, can cause people to smell or taste or see things that aren't there, or that others nearby don't experience.  In entertainment/literature this is typically played to comic effect (one of my favorite examples here).  I know that I've seen pop culture references to victims of head trauma or stroke commenting about smelling burnt toast or tasting key lime pie... and I think that I've seen at least one technology/medical article confirming the same, but I don't know whether I've actually seen that or just think that I have because I've seen the pop culture reference so much.

A specific example of the "key lime pie" pop culture reference showed up in the popular Erfworld webcomic when Lord Manpower the Temporary gets shot in the eye.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aurora two-fer

These editorial cartoons are all about the Aurora, Colorado shootings from a couple months back.  Usually when something like this happens there are at least a few editorial cartoons that use the state in which it occurred as an element in the art (case in point, the Gabby Giffords shooting). While there were certainly a whole lot of editorial cartoons about the Aurora shooting, I couldn't find even one that used a map of Colorado.  I'm sure a lot of the reason for that is because the Batman imagery was far more artistically compelling (and there was certainly plenty of that). But I can't help but wonder whether Colorado's utterly mundane shape might have had something to do with it. In our contest to see which state will be the last to be specifically mentioned/represented in this blog, Wyoming has already made it... with a very quirky New Yorker cartoon.  Is Colordao's shape just too boring for cartoonists?

Talk about a non sequitur.  Here's how some cartoonists did use national maps for their Aurora-shooting-themed comics:
Bill Day

Bill Day

Bill Day

Manny Francisco
This one was interesting because this orientation of the contiguous 48 states kinda looks like a profile of Uncle Sam.  I'd never looked at it this way before. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lego Japan

Over at the Spoon & Tamago site there are images of a 3D map of Japan built out of 1.8 million Legos.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hollywood Teaches Geography

This one is fun.  Here is 114 countries mentioned in 100 movies supercut by Joe Sabia (at least I think it's that Joe Sabia.  The Ted Talk is interesting even if it's not).  Click on the CC button in YouTube to see the movie titles:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

C'mon, Stop it.

Bullies.  Can't live with 'em.... So send them to Mars!  Except that can have very dire consequences as depicted by Zach Weiner in his Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Disney themed maps two-fer

As promised, here's a couple more maps I found at Jonah Adkins' site.  Click on any of the images to see a larger version of them:

First we have a 1960-era Disney map of the USA crowded with Disney characters.  

Second we have a pre-WWII Disney-themed map of the world from an era when Disney characters were still known to shill for products other than Disney's.  Presumably kids could collect Micky globe-trotter cards from packages of Bell Bread.  I expect those would be a rare and valued find for collectors. Some of these characters aren't at all as familiar as the later canon.  And did anybody else not know that Goofy used to be known as "Dippy the Goof"?

Finally for kicks, and not from Jonah's site, is a Disney-themed globe from the 1950's:

Monday, September 3, 2012


Calvin Grondahl has this item about texting while driving.  I still think this makes a fantastic case for the quick implementation of autonomously-driving cars.