Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Throw out Your Old Maps

The San Andreas Fault is a line which marks the border between two tectonic plates: The Pacific and the North American. It runs 800 miles through the length of California. Californians, especially Southern Californians, will talk of "The next big one", meaning the next big earthquake. This is because Central California had a big one in the 1850's, while San Francisco (in the North) had one in 1906, but Southern California is long overdue for a big earthquake, due to rising tension along the fault line.

The general worry is that, when this occurs, California will break off from the rest of the continent, looking somewhat like this:

This map was made in 1650, by a Dutch Cartographer named Joan Vinckeboons. Was he a brilliant geologist or a prescient cartographer?

It turns out he was neither. The San Andreas Fault, unlike most fault-lines, moves in a horizontal motion, not a vertical one. Therefore, while Los Angeles will probably move North of San Francisco at some point in the next 20 million years, a part of California will never break off to form an American Madagascar (Vinckeboons thought it already had). We should tell the Library of Congress they might as well throw this map away during their next spring cleaning session.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring Break

Wednesday night, in New York city, after spending an intense night making love to one of my numerous paramours, I bludgeoned her to death with a cupid statuette I own. I know from my strict upbringing that women of loose morals should be shown no mercy. George Bernard Shaw once said 'Women upset everything', and who am I to contradict him? So I was satisfied in having done the correct thing. I read some more of my Derrida book while I waited for her body to congeal, so as to minimize the amount of blood spilled. I then proceeded to saw her body into more easily manageable pieces. As testimony to what higher education can teach people, I took into account the anatomy of her limbs and organs so as to facilitate the cutting. Once I was done I was able to fit the pieces of her body into my Vuitton Keepall overnight bag and my new Samsonite suitcase. I then set off for Washington D.C.

I had decided not to take the plane because I hate to eat even small snacks when there is the risk of turbulence. People with decent upbringings prefer order and tidiness over raw speed. Utility can only be truly maximized when indifference curves are at their highest. I decided that the train would be much better. I arrived at the station by limousine, where a porter offered to carry my luggage to the platform. New York can be such a civilized city. I noticed a police officer ask a homeless man what he was doing there, to which the homeless man stood up and shouted about the Rights of Man and Thomas Paine. The policeman smiled and wandered off.

The train from New York to D.C., despite not having a smoking carriage, has become more pleasant in recent years. On the train I read in the paper how the Dubai Ports deal had been rejected by Congress because foreigners should not be controlling our ports. This made sense. After all, no one would want to trust our precarious points of entry to foreign entities. Once arrived in Washington D.C. I took the metro from Union Station to Anacostia, where I walked two blocks south and left my luggage in a storefront. I walked around the corner and waited all of ten minutes for both pieces of luggage to be stolen. They were someone else's affair now.

I then took the metro to East Falls Church, to my friend's house, for a well-deserved beer.