On the Morality of Map Projections

I walked into a coffee shop in Cambridge yesterday and saw one of the patrons wearing shoes with toes order a decaf instant coffee. Decaf. I bet they were the kind of person who still pronounces “.doc” with a hard “d” sound. I stormed out. No establishment that indulges that kind of pleb deserves my business.

We need to talk about map projections. “We” as in society, but specifically Olin, since ye’re the ones most likely to listen to me. I’ve tried warning the people of the MIT—I even bouɡht a stupid amount of soap in a wooden box so I would have somethinɡ to stand on—but they wouldn’t hear. Or rather, didn’t want to.

It seems like everyone these days just uses the same tired old portolan charts that were first pushed on us by Western imperialists four hundred years ago. It’s not because they don’t know better; every cartographer knows in their heart that what they’re doing is wrong. It’s just that they don’t care. This new generation of mapmakers—these millennials—can’t be bothered to think about anyone but themselves long enough to learn that their actions have consequences.

Well, I for one don’t intend to watch society morally degrade around us. I intend to stand up for what is right, what is left, and which one is east. To all of ye college students out there, this is yer wake-up call. Ye can save the world! Ye just need to stop worrying about yer foolish entitled normie maps.

Let’s start with the Mercator projection. We all know about Mercator, and how it is a racist construct birthed by imperialist colonizers and how it was designed to espouse a Greenlandic-supremacist ideology. It’s disgusting how often it continues to be used today despite apparent greater awareness on both the Left and Right of how biased it is toward the Top (i.e. Greenland). Is this really the first thing we want visitors to see when they walk into Milas Hall?

The problem is that the most popular alternative projection is also awful. I still can’t believe that Peters supporters have the Gall to sully the word “alternative” with their foul tongues. They say that they’re only interested in fairness, and that they want everyone to be represented equally on their map, but if you dig just a little deeper, you see the roots of their heinous ideology. That’s because the Gall–Peters projection is actually biased against densely settled areas. If everyone is equal, then why does Australia look over twice as large as India when India is, in reality, over 50 times bigger than Australia? The answer becomes clear when you realize that Arno Peters hailed from notoriously sparsely populated Berlin. Way to check your biases, Arno.

A common substitute is the Lambert cylindrical equal-area. Rumor has it that Johann Lambert felt no shame at littering, and did so frequently.

Okay, so maybe you decide to forgo conventional projections and use an azimuthal one. Psh. Anti-vaxxer. All azimuthal projections are inherently rooted in archaic ideas like the Earth being a flat disc ringed by a lip of ice and at rest beneath a disc of light 50 km across and 5 000 km up that circles the North Pole with a radius that oscillates over the course of a year. And now that people are re-realizing that those archaic ideas were right all along, the government has been using azimuthal projections to mock them and try to cast us back into the dark age that Copernicus started. Anyone who uses an azimuthal projection unironically is complicit in the conspiracy.

And don’t even get me started on oblique aspects. People like to throw up oblique azimuthal equidistant projections and act like they’re so enlightened. Unfortunately, attempts to use the oblique azimuthal equidistant projection to change morality have been common. New Age liberals aggressively push it in their attempt to convince people of their theory of moral relativity. First we tell people to question what’s up and what’s down. Then we tell them it’s subjective what’s simultaneous and what’s not. Then they start thinking they can decide what’s moral and what’s immoral. What’s to stop them from becoming gods? In any case, I oppose it.

But the worst projection of all, literally the embodiment of everythinɡ unholy in this universe, is the Waterman butterfly projection. Waterman used to be cool, but ever since Randall Munroe spilled those beans in XKCD #977, the normies have been all over it. None of them know or care about the historical context. Waterman was beautiful because of that. And now it’s ruined. Thanks a lot, Randall. I was eating those beans.

And there ye have it. I hope at least some of ye will take this information to heart, for the good of the world, and of yer own consciences. Stay flat, comrades. And for the love of Amaat, stop using the Winkel Tripel projection. It’s not cool; you just look like you were born in the nineties.