Monday, November 23, 2009

Waiting For A New Map

An atlas, a major unabridged dictionary and maps; with these, you can conquer the ignorance of the world. At least, my grandfather thought that and he was a wise person.

I’ve probably mentioned his firm belief in a Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary as a basic tool for words, with the current MW desk dictionary as a suitable back-up. The best atlas of the time for a world view. But maps: they were stored carefully in the dining-room desk as mine are now in a thick cardboard box. Or on the wall.

Go east from my front lawn, long enough, and you will be walking through downtown Beijing. Or, judging by his maps, Peking or Peiping. I rather suspect “Beijing” was its maiden name and the Chinese chose to return to it; the maps show the gradual change over the years. Go south, through both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

When I have a moment or two, I will turn around and study mine, both in my room and in my radio studio. It doesn’t take long to realize just what is where, and its relationship to us and the other countries. Try looking up St. Helena Island to see how much the French hated Napoleon when they exiled him there. Where? Put on your bifocals.

The WW2 battles in the Pacific; just take a look to see where all those familiar-sounding island names are. It was a long trip trying to liberate them from the Japanese, these vital specs of land, spread over huge areas of water. The History Channel ran a series recently of never-before-seen military on-scene films; it was a rough conquest.


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