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March 19, 2007



Everybody run for cover: he's on the warpath...
This is one of those seemingly "liberal PC" things (it really isn't, it's merely sloppy thinking masquerading as therapeutic intervention) which makes me furious enough to risk banishment from the Queendom of Pam. (The other is that ridiculous "HISstory/HERstory crap passed off as radical feminist ""wit"" by people who either 1) don't know; or 2) don't care that the word "history" is derived from the latin "histores" which means nothing more or less than "a tale" or "a story" and has, literally, no gender cognate WHATSOEVER. As social commentary, 3 out of 10; as intellectual meditation on language and academia, -6 and falling!)
Anyways: there's a reason we have an "UP/NORTH" and maps are oriented (pardon me but it has to be said, Said) towards it and it has NOTHING to do with Eurocentric values and EVERYTHING TO DO with the fact that the Earth has ONLY ONE magnetic pole and it happens to lie at one end of the of the globe and its very existence is reponsible for their being a north and south. If y'all wanna wait 50 or 60 million years, then sure, we can publish new maps because the periodic reversal of the magentic pole will have moved in favor of all those beautiful third-world countries we have so viciously oppressed with our Northocentric worldview. But right now, in the observable lifetime of the human race, large aspects of global science, business and comnunication all are based on the sad, evil white male Eurocentric REALITY that there's one magnetic pole, it points one way, it's existence predates and dictates how we have to obey the rules of its existence and no amount of post-logocentric intervention is going to alter the fact. Unless, of course, one wants to move to Uranus (or Neptune, can't remember which) a planet whose axial tilt is so radical it has no "North" or "South" pole but is more like an "East" or "West" pole. The political implications of that I leave to profounder minds such as Andrea Dworkin or Anne Coulter.


You're right about the magnetic pole, of course. But what's with the vitriol? Maybe it's my fault. I used the word "Euro-centric" in this blog post, though I knew it might incite a gratuitous rant. I had hoped the word "Australia" would instead trigger a harmless rugby meme. Well, goes to show you never can tell.


i feel so much lighter!! THAT is the world as I know it.


Hold on there a minute, Scout(s).

The Earth has only one magnetic pole? That would have come as news to the three plucky guys (including personal icon of mine Sir Douglas Mawson) who trekked to the South Magnetic Pole in 1909. Or to the people who track its perambulations now. You could look it up.

And as to north=top on a map, that hasn't always been the universal choice, and there's nothing in the record to suggest it's more than a case of choice becoming convention. Once upon a time, for instance, European mapmakers commonly placed east at the top; early Arab/Muslim mapmakers put north at the top.

Not to revert to total school report mode, two not-terrible overviews of the subject are at http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/HistTopics/Cartography.html and http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_159.html.

Very truly yours, etc. ...


Um ... Arab/Muslim mapmakers put SOUTH at the top ...

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