Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Great Secret of Geography Revealed at Last

Islands float you know. People will tell you that an island is really the top of a mountain rising up from the bottom of the ocean, poking through the water. That's a myth, of course. It's something we are told so we'll believe that the earth makes sense. If we knew just how senseless the earth really is, we wouldn't take things so seriously and nothing would get done. We'd just meander aimlessly from place to place for no particular reason, frolicking happily, smiling and laughing and accomplishing nothing. To keep us occupied and productive, we are told all manner of fables and fanciful tales. One of those is about islands.

I discovered the secret of islands while standing on one of the beaches ringing the tiny island of Puerto Rico. Now Puerto Rico is between two large bodies of water. On the south is the Caribbean and on the north is the Atlantic. Puerto Rico floats in the middle, drifting around in a circle. You can tell because the wind blows from the east almost all the time. This is because there are whales on the west coast of the island pushing the island to the east causing this breeze. As soon as the sun goes down the whales go to sleep and quit pushing and the island stops drifting. About this time the manatees and dolphins on the eastern end of the island begin pushing it back the other way. By the time the sun comes up again, Puerto Rico is back where it was the day before.

Columbus discovered all of this when his ships got to Puerto Rico a day sooner than he had planned. This made him believe that Puerto Rico was a much larger island so he called it Cuba. He sailed on past and, on his way back, the island had drifted again so he got there a day later than he expected. This time he thought the island was much smaller so he called it, St. Thomas. He left the next morning but during the night the island had drifted back west again so he got to back Spain a day later than he expected and thought he was in Italy. All the maps we now use are based on these voyages. Geographers know that there is no such island as Cuba and that Italy is really Spain but they won't admit it. Even now there are people who believe they are speaking Italian rather than Spanish and insist on calling western Puerto Rico, Cuba. It's all so confusing.

It wasn't until NASA sent up an astronaut that this mistake was finally acknowledged. John Glen looked down and said, "What's Italy doing in the Caribbean?" The resident geographer, Dr. Spindle Awry, explained Glen's observation on an LSD flashback and the mission was immediately aborted postponing the invasion of Cuba indefinitely. Dr. Awry was dismissed soon thereafter. To minimize the embarrassment to NASA, the whole incident was deftly misunderstood and blamed on the Italians.

Even now scientists (and geographers) continue to defend the accuracy of their maps and we still haven't invaded Cuba. Dr. Awry was lost at sea trying to locate Puerto Rico and I'm still sitting on the beach enjoying the breeze.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God, he put my eyeballs just at the right height.

2:00 PM  

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