The History of Maps
Maps have been employed throughout the ages to illustrate, identify, obfuscate, the exact position of the letter 'X'. X is, of course, the most valuable of mathematical variables, followed by 'Y', and 'Z'. However, almost no one in the Middle Ages cared about the Y of things, and still fewer about the Z. This is because X marks the spot where everything is, and sometimes where something you wanted really badly was, too.
In the age of hunter-gatherers, before there was anything worthwhile in existence, maps showed people how to get from one place to another without being killed along the way. Consequently, maps are greatly missed in places like Baghdad, Antarctica, and Texas. Now, maps are generally ignored by most, and are even ridiculed on road trips as being "for wussies," assuming the driver is male. Meanwhile, children have shown some aptitude at map reading, but they seem unable to refold them correctly.
Sometimes on television, a token blonde bimbo will explain a weather pattern using a map festooned with iconic "smiley" sun-faces, sad cloud-faces, and apathetic Henry Kissinger faces. At shopping malls, maps are often displayed in order to point out the nearest haberdashery where velveteen rabbits can be purchased.
In 1799, the American Map Treasury burned down due to arson, and, as a consequence, most U.S. Americans today do not have access to maps. Efforts have been made to recreate the missing maps but they have all, as yet, failed. The UN is now working on allying U.S. America with the Iraq and other Asian countries in order to optimize education for us and our children.
The World's Most Recognizable Maps
Cartographers agree that some maps have greater-than-average historical value, and many are, indeed, priceless. These include:
- The Ho Chí Minh Trail
- The Grounds of the Playboy Mansion
- Pope Clermont's One-Way Fun Map to Jerusalem
- The 1790 Free Blanket Distribution Survey
- The One I Have to Hide with My Shiv
- Grand Ayatollah Ali-Al Sistani's shortcut to Mecca during the Hajj
- Sherwood Forest
- The One I Have to Draw To My House For Your Dumb Ass Every Year on Christmas
- The 1784 Atlantic African-American Trade Route
- The 1861 Escaped Slave Trail
- Central Park
- The Bellman's map
- A blank sheet of paper, used to confuse early pioneers
The First Maps
The first map ever produced dates back to the Shang Dynasty (1600 BCE), from the text of the I Ching. Confucius, trying desperately to make his students understand the idea of change, divination, the movement of the body, and the concept of the hot dog, simply gave up after six hours, and sent his favorite whipping-boy Lian Shan to the nearest enemy village to be killed for disrupting class. Directions to the enemy village would not be enough for this doorknob, however, so Confucius scribbled out a crude map. History was made that day, when Lian did not return.
Maps soon evolved from the primitive scribblings of holy men to elaborate illuminated scrolls, sometimes packaged as "atlases." In the 20th Century, people began to use mapping for things other than proving that other things were flat. The insides of computers, robots, and bomb-making materials all had to be carefully mapped. [You didn't want the red wire and the green wire to get mixed up, believe me. - ed.] Coincidentally, Copernicus first postulated that the world was non-flat while jotting down his shopping list on a map of Hell's Kitchen.
Other uses for maps
- NYC Tourist Identification
- Place to Write Last Words in a Combat Zone
- Al-Qaeda To-Do List
- Sleep-Aid in Corporate Meetings
- Excuse for Not Finding Osama Bin Laden
- Giving mathematicians something to think about so they'll buzz off.
- Torture (through the inability to read the tiny illegible fonts when older maps are digitized)
Nicknames for maps
- Hitler's Wallpaper (Germany)
- Armed Forces Standard Retreat Guide (France)
- Escape Booklet (Australia & Arkansas)