Friday, February 11, 2011

How to fit France and Germany into the borders of a small antipodean town

Paco had a link to this Power Line post, discussing an amusing series of New York Times corrections to previous articles, about an island that does not exist, a species of fictional sparrows that are native to that island, which have become subject to the depredations of certain goats living on that same island - not to mention another correction regarding the possibility of cows falling out of the sky.

I suppose the appropriate reaction to these articles is to call for greater responsibility to truth in journalism, more commitment to research, and all that stuff. But I would go the other way. I love newspaper errors, I love the stuff ups they make, and I love the way they can seriously discuss events that do not happen on islands and nations which they have accidentally just willed into existence.

The best (that is, the worst) and most (which is, the least) reliable stories come in newspapers or magazines reporting on stories in different countries, because traditionally they haven't had to worry about any research at all. (Or maybe research has nothing to do with it: during the 1982 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Australians once omitted a whole state, the island of Tasmania, from our own map.) However, in recent reporting on Cyclone Yasi, UK paper The Daily Mail - they're quite a big deal, I hear, over in the UK - not only placed Tasmania back on the map, but inadvertently created a new Australian state, Capricornia, which surprised everyone involved. Meanwhile, in a surfeit of generosity, US channel CNN shifted the whole, vast state of Queensland inside the borders of Tasmania. To achieve this feat, they merely squeezed Queensland - which has an area larger than France and Germany combined - into the borders of tiny Queenstown, which had at last count a population of 5119 people. Queenstown, presumably, got all that left over space up the top of Australia in the meantime.

It's fabulous, the way you can redefine the borders of the world with a few taps on the keyboard and a bit of jiggery pokery with a map. There are classic examples, too, like the time the good Dr Dalrymple accidentally turned the Australian opposition leader into a convict - and more, too, I'm sure, that's just all I can think of at the moment.

Anyway, maybe we should all get together and read over the Austrian Notional Anthem to celebrate. As they traditionally say in this country when taking leave of one another, 'g'day folks! I've got to Chiko Roll now, see you round like a falafel!'

UPDATE! - A friend on Facebook, referring to events in Egypt, just said, 'Today we are all Egyptians'.

It must be hard for Egyptians, with their population of 79 million, to suddenly and unexpectedly be elevated to a population of around 10 billion, what with all the troubles they've been having, but I'm sure they'll get used to it somehow. I don't know how we'll pop the entire terrestrial globe into the Nile Delta region, but I suppose with a little effort we can get it in there.

Satellite image of Australia. Do you know how long it took us to paint all that stuff on? So show some respect, people!


Minicapt said...

I presume, based on the carefully selected colour scheme, that 'Tasmania' and 'Victoria' are parts of a single geo-political grouping.


TimT said...

No, it's just there wasn't any paint left over when we did Victoria and we had to make do. We're planning to slap on a nice shade of lavender before summer ends.

Interesting that South Australians seem to have chosen puce to be their colour....

TimT said...

Though I suppose you could argue Victoria and Tasmania do have a political arrangement going, of sorts. Tasmania is where Victorians go when they want to get away from it all. Victoria is where Tasmanians go when they want jobs.

I'll bet you've seen some doozies written about Canada, Mini.

Shelley said...

A large percentage of North Queenslanders think they should have a seperate state - as do those who have met them. Maybe it was a vote of confidence for the secession movement?

TimT said...

I hadn't known about the Queensland secession movement until recently - probably when you mentioned it on facebook! I like secession movements. In WA I think there's even a bunch of secessionists who want to become a separate nation! And I remember vaguely hearing about a possible NSW secessionist movement too, a split between the Sydneysiders/Novocastrians and the rest of the state.

What if everyone succeeded out of Australia except Canberra? That would be a dilly of a pickle.

kae said...

Queensland is yellow. YELLOW!

Surely marooooooooooon would have been a better choice for Queensland.

(PS I'm from NSW so I don't care, really!)

TimT said...

Yellow for the bananas that mostly don't exist anymore because they were wiped out by the cyclone? Mebbe?

mojo said...

It's painting the wildlife that's the tricky bit.

TimT said...

How true. Just try asking a kanga to sit still while we do the eyelashes.

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive