Who says North is up?
Upside Down maps (also known as South-Up or Reversed maps) offer a completely different perspective of the world we live in.
Technically speaking, even referring to the earth with words like “up” or “down” or comparing places with words “above” or “below” is flawed, considering that the earth is a spherical body (it’s actually slightly “fatter” at the equator) and flying through 3 dimensional space with no reference of up or down. However, the issue of “up” and “down” does become an issue when viewing the surface of the earth projected onto a flat piece of paper (a map). And the effect of the orientation of a map is more significant than you might realize.
As all maps require orientation for reference, the issue of how to layout the map orientation is as old as maps themselves. As map orientation is completely arbitrary, it is not surprising that they differed throughout time periods and regions.
The convention of North-up is usually attributed to the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (90-168 AD). Justifications for his north-up approach vary. In the middle ages, East was often placed at top. This is the origin of the term “The Orient” to refer to East Asia. During the age of exploration, European cartographers again followed the north-up convention…perhaps because the North Star was their fixed reference point for navigation, or because they wanted (subconsciously or otherwise) to ensure Europe’s claim at the top of the world.
In modern times, reversed maps are made as a learning device or to illustrate Northern Hemisphere bias. Different from simply turning a north-up map upside down, a reversed map has the text oriented to be read with south up.
The famous “Blue Marble” photograph of the Earth taken from on board Apollo 17 was originally oriented with the south pole at the top, with the island of Madagascar visible just left of center, and the continent of Africa at its right. However, the image was turned upside-down to fit the traditional view.
While the orientation of a map might seem harmless, it can have a significant effect on one’s perception of the world, and the relative importance of the different place in it.
In speech, we often refer to places being “above” or “below” others. Think of how you would say you’re about to travel to the state or country to your north or south (to go “down” to Kentucky from Indiana, or “up” to Canada from the US). Without even mentioning geography, ask any grade school student whether Mexico is “above” or “below” the United States. We’re all familiar with the “land down under”. As we often correlate importance to relative height (think how a citizens of a country will fly their flag higher than all other flags), the north-up convention reinforces the idea that northern bodies are more important than their southern neighbors. Suddenly, traveling “down” to the South might have an inference much deeper than geographic location.
After looking at the map more closely, you may realize that the South-Up orientation may change your perception of the relative status of different places. For example, South America suddenly looks to have more prominence, and Africa and the Middle East completely dwarf Europe. Likewise, tucking Northern Europe, Canada, and Russia away at the bottom of the map, subconsciously takes away their status.
Charles Ramsey in a singular interview showed us a few things: 1) If you see something, say something, and DO SOMETHING. 2) Feminism lives in our cultural fabric when your neighbor sees you embroiled in a perceived domestic violence conflict, and he intervenes. He won’t look away, he’ll find the courage and reinforcements to break down the door to get you out. There are too many instances where we look away; these women are alive and free because Ramsey believed that he should intervene. 3) That searches for missing persons are constant campaigns, and the commitment of families and law enforcement is a marathon of public awareness. Last month a vigil was held in honor Gina DeJesus on the anniversary of her disappearance.
I’m already bemoaning the memes, the autotuned news edition, and other fallout for what is honestly an act of valor from Charles Ramsey. I do not wish this man to become a joke, or mimicked. He showed us how the average person can be an actor in seeking justice for your fellow neighbor by doing the uncomfortable work of getting involved, breaking three cold cases wide open.
A Tale from the Decameron, John William Waterhouse
I made this. Because I am a fully functional adult. With a job.
The CC Club: An oral history
The CC Club has long been a drinkers’ haven in south Minneapolis, a dim intersection of different scenes and people from across the city. Few establishments in the Twin Cities have seen more glasses emptied, cigarettes smoked, or strangers find each other.
But the neighborhood is changing. In a part of the city once defined by its independence, expensive condos crowd the streets and corporate chains have pushed out local businesses. Earlier this year, the owners of neighboring restaurant French Meadow bought the CC, and will officially take ownership on May 1. The new managers say they plan to keep the bar the same, but some CC regulars are skeptical — perhaps because the French Meadow is an organic bistro, and the CC is a seedy dive bar. Or maybe it just seems inevitable that a place like the CC Club can’t last forever.
click pic for great article by City Pages