Cascadia, State of Jefferson and other secessionist movements

Being in Portland several times over the past several weeks for beer happenings got me thinking about the (mostly inconsequential) debate about “Cascadian Dark Ales” (versus the other names of “Black IPA”, “American Black Ale” and so on) and about the “Cascadia” part of that name. See, here in the Pacific Northwest “Cascadia” can refer to the Cascadia independence movement, which according to Wikipedia:

Cascadia is the proposed name for an independent nation located within the Cascadian bioregion of the Pacific Northwest region of North America. Proposed boundaries differ, with some drawn along existing political state and provincial lines, and others drawn along larger ecological, cultural and economic boundaries.

The nation would be created by secession of British Columbia from Canada, along with Oregon, Washington and portions of other states from the United States. At its maximum extent Cascadia would extend from the coastal Alaskan Panhandle to the north, extending into Northern California in the south, and inland to include parts of Alberta, the Yukon, Idaho and Western Montana.

This also made me think about the State of Jefferson—another proposed secessionist movement that would combine part of southern Oregon with Northern California:

The State of Jefferson was a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous, mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California, where several attempts to secede from Oregon and California, respectively, have taken place in order to gain own statehood.

I find these sorts of movements (ideas? memes?) fascinating on all sorts of levels, partially because they seem so wildly improbable and partially because it’s sort of a glimpse into an alternate reality (which piques my science fiction interest). And yet both Cascadia and Jefferson State are fairly recent phenomenons, which give them an air of plausibility for something that could be accomplished in my lifetime. Wildly improbable plausibility, as I noted, but still.

For these and other historical U.S. alternate realities, Wikipedia’s list of secession proposals is a fun read.

Online Bend maps

Lately I’ve been playing around a bit with Google Earth, and correspondingly Google Maps, and it’s amazing the kinds of things you can do with it. Unfortunately, their source data for Central Oregon is less than impressive; try to zoom in too tightly and you just get pixelated blobs.

Well, the city of Bend website has put their GIS mapping system online, you can get to it here, and it’s super-detailed (for Bend only) and largely fills that niche that’s missing from Google’s maps. It even has some of the same functionality with their layers option. The only drawback is that it only runs in Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater (and, I’m assuming, Windows).

Still, it’s pretty sweet. I’m already thinking about how to use this data somewhere…


Today at work my friend Kerry and I were talking about geography and globes, which was prompted by the Yahooligans Where in the World is? game (where you see if you know your world geography), and came up with what I think would be the perfect globe: an interactive one whose outer surface is a touch-sensitive LCD screen that has all the details projected onto it from the inside. Think about it: it’s basically a spherical computer screen, so it could always be up-to-date with new political country borders—download new data to it via a USB connection to your computer—and facts about each country; a touch-sensitive surface means you could simply poke a country to get information about it, or play games on it (find the country); it could be custom color-coded; it could be animated; you could even load other planets onto it, say Mars, Jupiter, or even a fictional one. It would have to be programmable, of course, so hackers could customize the hell out of it.

A cursory search online reveals this: The Explorer Globe from LeapFrog. It’s similar to what I’m thinking:

Touch the interactive pen any place on this interactive, talking atlas and learn thousands of amazing facts. Compare population and land area between say Dundee, Scotland and Oaxaca, Mexico. Find out flying times between Lubbock, Texas and Kyoto, Japan. Learn fascinating facts about continents, countries, capitals, music, currency, highest points and so much more.

There is also a “Eureka” game mode that prompts players to find geographic points of interest (giving hints along the way) before time runs out. Up to four players can play six multi-level games with this very chatty, very challenging atlas. And it isn’t just for kids either. Everyone will have fun testing their knowledge of geography and exploring the world.

Sounds cool. Sadly, I’m pretty sure technology isn’t advanced enough yet to come up with my perfect globe. When it is, though, I want royalties.

Fool’s World Map

Via Boing Boing tonight comes the Fool’s World Map. Brilliant.

This is a project visualizing the world map which many fools in the world imagine. If you can see this map comfortably, you are definitely a fool.


One day, a Texan asked me a question when I lived in U.S…


The question was “How many hours does it take to go to Japan by car?”. (true story)


He didn’t know where Japan is, and even bofore that, he didn’t know that Japan is an island. And then, I thought. “What kind of world map is pictured in his mind?”


This was a beginning to think that it might be fun to gather those mixed up recognitions of countries and visualize it as a world map imagined by the fools in the world.

I love the map, although it’s kind of depressing how dumb the world seems to be in general…

Latitude and longitude

Here’s an interesting site I stumbled upon today: The Degree Confluence Project. From their homepage:

The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories will then be posted here.

Sort of like a blog post for every latitude and longitude intersection on Earth (well, every one on land, anyway). Cool idea. Here’s the nearest confluence to Bend.

This reminds me of another idea I had along these lines after reading an article in Discover Magazine: geographically-based Web browsing. It’s not a new idea, I can’t claim it, but here’s the gist: You have a portable device that’s connected wirelessly to the internet (laptop, PDA, whatever) and is GPS-enabled, so you have realtime GPS coordinates for wherever you are and a live net connection. Then, you browse pages that aren’t accessible via a Web address, but accessible instead based on your current location—tagged by the latitude and longitude fed via the GPS. These “pages” can be like standard Web pages—ads, for instance, for stores that might be close by—or they can be more interactive—forms for users to enter notes tagged to that location that can be read by others. Virtual graphitti.

So, there would pages and content that you could only access while sitting at a certain bench in the park, and totally different stuff that could only be accessed in front of the shoestore downtown, etc. etc. Sort of a cybergeek way to “map” the Web onto the real, 3D world. To find pages you’d have to navigate to the corresponding real-world location. I like the user interaction part of it, too, the thought being that anyone could leave those “notes” for others. That’s pretty key. The term I had at the time for all this was “geosurfing.”

Imagine some of the cultural weirdness this could engender: most content would be tagged to “people-safe” areas like sidewalks, parks, buildings, etc., but there would always be daredevils who would tag a geosite corresponding to the middle of a busy city street or freeway, accessible only to those brave or stupid enough to try. Or horny teenagers (or porn entrepreneurs) would have cached geosites of porn in secret or obscure places (creepy thought: like the end of the pew third row from the back of the local church), or in bars to help enforce adult-only sites. Geosites near movie theaters could have user-posted reviews of what’s showing, or spoilers, and restaurant sites might have similar notes—need to figure out a good wine or recommended dish when on a date? Check the local notes discreetly. It goes on.

The main drawback? No ubiquitous WiFi. So while this might be a cool application to build (the data model and concepts are sketched out pretty well in my head), and might work in a large, well-wired city like San Francisco or New York, it really wouldn’t work at all here in Bend, and that’s obviously where I’d most like to use it. So, filed away for the future.