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Cartography and the Ostrich

March 26, 2010

Ah finally.  Health care passage.  I can only imagine the joy for President Obama.  I have a confession, I have been relentlessly checking and rechecking all my favorite blogs for the reaction, both right and left, just to try and re-capture a moment that reminds me of a magical Tuesday night in November, when we all believed anything was possible.  Do you remember that night?  I do.

While the health care bill is nowhere near the bill I wish it was, it does force insurance companies to acknowledge the people that they are actually insuring, rather than merely the bottom line.

As one post stated, success begets success and I hope this is the first of many good steps forward for this country.  I know the R’s in Congress are going to do their “best” to stop all progress, which is beyond acting like a child.  At least most children I see pitching fits in the supermarket stop when their parent gives them raisins or mints or whatever they are pitching a fit over.  Not so with the children in Congress.  ShamefulDoubly shameful.

I also have to add, the violence and death threats must stop.  The R’s in Congress and the blowhards on the radio and television must condemn it.  Gotta stopFor real.  And while I was linking to the Washington Monthly story just  now?  Ad for a Birthday “Bomb” for Nancy Pelosi, paid for by John Dennis for Congress.  This stuff is horrid and scary.

But this?  Funny.  I do like this president.  He can be a little frustrating at times but he does give a good speech. 

Doesn’t it feel good just to sit back and say, finally–something for the dems to hang their hats on for November?  Yup.  And here’s one more that slid, at least for most folks, under the radar.  And it’s good damn news for students.  So I’m going to savor it for just a bit longer.  Because the upcoming financial reform fight isn’t going to be pretty, but I’m still optimistic that reason will find its way to the R’s.  Although I do have to say, I am looking forward to the Republican spin doctors coming up with something as snappy as Death Panels when we’re talking about re-regulating the industry that nearly drove us all off a cliff because they were too busy counting their winnings in the back seat to pay attention to the wheel. 

I guess the real question is, what were they doing at the wheel in the first place? 

This brings to mind a book that I’m currently reading called The Island of Lost Maps, by Miles Harvey.  I borrowed it from my better half for my trip to the Big Apple this week, and it’s been a lovely balm from the tedium of eating alone in restaurants.   The story tracks a man named Gilbert Bland, and is a true story of Mr. Bland’s crime spree through the mid 1990s.  And what was his crime?  Cutting out maps from rare books in libraries all across the country.  But not just any maps, and not just any rare books.  Maps that only exist in the single digits because they are the first time anyone has mapped Florida, or the first Mercator map, or the mythical Lotus-land where people eat the magical lotus fruit and forget their family and friends and lose all desire to ever return home.  And he took these maps from books that have only 1 or 2 copies of them in existence.  Hence these books’ residence in Rare Book Rooms.  Mr. Harvey weaves the story of Gilbert Bland into a recounting of early explorers, early mapmakers, and current collectors.  The book attempts to build a map of Gilbert Bland.  But more on the scale of 11-dimensional chess rather than the 2D maps we’re familiar with.

But [SPOILER ALERT], when the stolen maps are recovered, several of the libraries were loath to admit that any of the maps came from their books.  No, they said, no one could have taken a single razor blade, hidden it in their hand and sliced out maps from our rare books in a few seconds.  Not possible.  At the book’s printing in 2000, one institution had yet to ever admit it could have happened, leaving orphaned, ancient, unique, and incredibly valuable maps unclaimed.  To be, presumably, retained by the FBI and stored with, oh, I don’t know, the Arc of the Covenant? 

This kind of willful closing of the eyes even when faced with evidence of the truth, will bring this country lower than anything else ever will.  We have no racismThese aren’t unhinged crazies that talk radio has stirred upWall Street knows what’s bestI’m a deficit hawk!  Sex scandals are only in one party.

This country progresses when folks are engaged, it is time that We the People turned off the pundits and turned on our own brains. 

ps- Tweety should know better.

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