39 Comments

  1. Bob hasn’t done his research. He has gone into the jungle, without knowing how to survive there. Only when he’s deep in the jungle he looks up how to survive. Idiot.

  2. It’s just a reiteration of the incongruity of Internet Technology in a world were it traditionally doesn’t belong. This must be in the tens of thousands of variations of the joke.

    Maybe that you didn’t get it is a sign we are maybe actually getting *used* to having internet technology.

  3. Treesong — weirdly, with a satphone, you could get Internet from the Amazon jungle. And people have,

    The joke is that you really ought to have the basic things handled like that BEFORE you go — searching for “survival guides.”

    “Bob uses his off-the-grid satellite internet setup to search medical research for his symptoms to see if the Amazonian disease he has contracted is documented, or if there are treatment suggestions” is not particularly funny, incongruous, or even unusual. “Searching for survival guides”, though, suggests a remarkable lack of forethought.

  4. My initial (probably incorrect) impression was that a “survival guide” might be a local native that could show you how to get through the jungle without dying, sort of like how the Nepalese sherpas enable woefully underprepared tourists to get to the top of Everest.

  5. We’ve all searched Amazon for some sort of guidebook, right?

    Sure, he’s in a different Amazon, but he’s searching all the same.

  6. J-L’s comment fits with my initial impression, that besides being in the physical Amazonian basin, we are to understand this as having something to with the Amazon online store system. But it doesn’t work very neatly.

    Instead of his online activity being a search anywhere on the Internet for advice in the form of some web site or document that would qualify as “survival guides”, he would be taken to searching specifically at Amazon online bookstore, for a book form of “survival guide”. But how and when would they deliver?

    (To be fair, at Amazon.com he could get not a physical book but some form of e-book. This would then be almost the same as searching for any e-readable web content or document anywhere on the net — our previous case.)

    I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time efficiently explaining what it is about this that strikes me as just a bit off. It’s like, the mention of “Amazon” really ought to be doing double duty, but isn’t really.

    Look, what if it said “Deep in the jungles of New Guinea, Bob searches for survival guides”? Wouldn’t work as well? No, it wouldn’t; because there isn’t a behemoth company called “New Guinea” sitting on all corners of online commerce. AND YET that extra meaning isn’t really functioning in the comic we have.

  7. Mitch4 – “But how and when would they deliver?”

    Dunno about When, but with what what3words and a military drone they could get a book to the three-metre-square bit of the jungle he is actually in.

    https://what3words.com/divers.meditator.pilotless is such a random square in Reserva Extrativista do Rio Jutai in the state of Amazonas. If you haven’t heard of what3words, if breaks the world up into 57,000,000,000,000 squares of 3 metres by 3 metres, land and sea, and gives them a unique set of three words; they are not very obscure words, only 40,000 in various formations. (It is available in 40+ other languages, using different words that are not translations of the English words)

    If you can get a phone signal out you can tell rescuers what bit of the desert, Anatarctic, North Sea etc that you might be stranded in. And you can use it to navigate to normal addresses, like your friend’s garden shed.

  8. Here’s a TV ad about a chap being rescued from a loch by calling 999 with his what3words location

  9. narmitaj, I did run into What3Words before, and thought it sounds fun and interesting. Looking up some online comments on the variety of systems there have been, I thought there was a good critique in the point that nearby places will not have names that are in any sense nearby in the names-space. (And vice versa.) OTOH that was construed in a defense as something of a good decision, as it provides a sort of error-detection.

    The one I was most impressed by, in some surveys, was plus-codes, or Google’s proprietary adaptation of them. This has the nice feature of formalizing the use of shorter forms, which of course give bigger areas. And there is the pretty nice feature that the linear strings of a code do go from broader to narrower precision, so two codes similar in a prefix will be related positions.

    What3words does win on charm and literary appeal! That day when I was playing with these, I think I use the what3words web site, and on your prompting today I downloaded their app.

    But also I had run across it in a general Map Coordinates app. I am (if successful …) embedding next a screenshot of a settings panel, where the user chooses a system for displaying and communicating locations.

    What this app, and the what3words app as far as I’ve tried it, don’t quite do is provide an “overlay” on other apps so that there would be a way of dropping your location into your text message or email or whatever, without leaving that communications app. And that’s what you’d want for that lost-at-sea scenario, I would think.

  10. I suppose rescuers and rescuees wouldn’t ditch all the other ways they have used for years or decades to find people before what3words showed up – though perhaps the cartoon chap in the jungle hasn’t brought his paper map with grid references.

    https://gridreferencefinder.com/ gives you a whole range of things to find a specific spot in the UK – I just clicked on the doorway to the bar I frequent in my local pub, The George in Wedmore, and got all this, at various levels of accuracy no doubt.

    Grid Reference: ST 43532 47945
    Grid Reference (6 figure) ST435479
    X (Easting): 343532
    Y (Northing): 147945

    Latitude , Longitude (decimal): 51.227889 , -2.8100753
    Latitude , Longitude (degs, mins, secs) : 51°13′40″N , 002°48′36″W

    What3Words : windmill.lemons.pocketed

    Address (near) : George Inn, Church Street, Wedmore, Sedgemoor, Somerset, South West England, England, United Kingdom
    Postcode (nearest) : BS28 4AA

    I guess one issue with w3w is that if you are an Arabic speaker but need rescuing on a UK mountain, and only have the Arabic language version of the app, how easy is it to switch? I don’t suppose rescue services can easily swap between 43 different languages.

  11. When I worked with the Chicago Public Schools, I noticed they included in each school’s basic data the building location in a local grid system relating to street addresses but given like longitude and latitude – always numbers, no names – like 1440 E 5900 S. Later I saw this was wider than CPS, used by a variety of official agencies.

    We have a variety of numbered and named streets. Street signs will often for named roads give the number of the street, even where the adjacent streets or avenues are not numbered. It corresponds to what the house number range on the cross street would be. Sometimes the number shown for a name street is not round hundred, but something like 2640. Besides being in principle what the cross street house number would be, it is what the grid coordinates would use.

  12. @ Mitch4 – I ran into a similar system when visiting a friend in Salt Lake City. As I recall, letters to ordinary houses there could be (and often were) addressed with “coordinates” (like “123 N, 456 E”) instead of a standard address using house and street numbers.

  13. @ Shrug – I didn’t have much trouble with it, because it’s the same sort of “quadrant” setup that is also used in Washington, DC (and Portland, OR), with sectors for NW, NE, SW, SE. In the case of Washington, the “origin” is not the geographic center of the original diamond shape: it’s been shifted east to the Capitol, so that the “NW” quarter is significantly larger than the other three. Streets are numbered (and lettered) in both directions along each axis from the origin (north/south streets have numbers, east/west streets are lettered, then followed by alphabetical names).
    The system is very logical once you get used to it; it’s one thing that I really miss every time I get lost in Berlin’s utter confusion of unplanned streets and corridors. It’s bad enough that there is no system to the names, but there isn’t even a consistent standard for the numbering of houses in each street.

  14. I complained about the (lack of) logic in Berlin’s street layout to my aunt, a lifelong native, but she refused to even acknowledge the problem. To me the most vexing problem is that a street will change its name two or three times along its length, even if it is a fairly straight and direct thoroughfare. How am I supposed to get an overview of the city, or learn what connects where, if every segment I look at bears no relation to the bigger picture? Yes, I get that it was a bunch of smaller villages getting consumed into the ever growing city, but it doesn’t help me navigate the existing city to pretend it’s still just a bunch of unconnected villages!

  15. Miami (where I lived until college, and delivered mail two summers) has a sort of grid system, with quadrant names (abbreviated) obligatory in all addresses, between the house-number and the street number or name; thus “4830 SW 92nd Ave” for example. Around the corner you might find “9210 SW 48th Street”. On the divider streets only one compass direction is indicated, thus “5700 W Flagler St” . BTW these are not within the city limits of Miami, but the grid numbering extends to much of the unincorporated areas of the county, and to some other municipalities as well; though some of the closest-in cities or towns have their own systems entirely (Coral Gables, and Miami Beach — which is a distinct city).

    They are by no means equal in area. Because the city started close to the shore, one quadrant had no room to grow, a second expanded only northward in a narrow slip, and the two western ones sprawled uncontrolled until they hit everglades.

    Since basically all roads use the quadrant name designations, the roads running along the river on both banks has sections known as “NW South River Drive” and “NW North River Drive”.

    Where the streets don’t have many natural or built-up obstacles and can stick to a grid, the major streets go thru and smaller ones are blocked at various points so there are square-half-mile enclaves sort of. Where this is possible, there are 10 avenue numbers (N-S roads) per mile, and 16 street numbers (E-W roads) per mile. In the SW, the main Avenues were the 10 * N + 7 numbers (starting from 7th Ave and keeping the pattern at least to 127th) and the secondary ones were on the 10 * N + 2. The big Streets in the SW started from SW 8th Street (famous as Calle Ocho) and included SW 24th St (Coral Way, for part of its run), SW 40th St (Bird Road), SW 56th St (Miller Drive), SW 72nd St (Sunset Dr.) and I’ll stop at SW 88th St (Kendall Dr.).

    There is a sequence of designations for additional roads with the same number: For E-W after Xth Street is Xth Terrace; and for N-S after Xth Avenue there is Xth Place and then Xth Court. (In Chicago this issue comes up only for numbered streets on the South Side, and the follower of Xth Street would be Xth Place.)

    The named streets and avenues along numbered ones could be designated either way. A business on Bird Road might give their address with the name, or give it as on SW 40th Street. The names were helpful, as that street is still Bird Road when it passes thru the city of Coral Gables, where the numbering is quite different. (And further east yet, it is called Bird Ave in the district of Coconut Grove, which is actually a part of the City of Miami but swaps the Avenue and Street name directions.)

    In Chicago people are a little uneasy about a numbered street having a name. Some are fine — Roosevelt Road runs (sometimes) along W 12th Street, and you can call it either without raising eyebrows. Not far from me is (E) 55th Street, which disappears into a winding road thru a park and emerges west of the park as E Garfield Blvd, changes to W Garfield Blvd upon crossing the State Street vertical axis, and a couple miles further on becomes W 55th Street. Now,, no business along W Garfield Blvd would give its address as on W 55th Street. A resident, asked if they live on 55th Street, would likely say “Yes, but it’s called Garfield here”. Of course, there’s no doubt that it is 55th Street — see the street sign “W Garfield Blvd / 5500 S”, and house numbers on cross streets bear that out, and 54th St and 56th St are nearby as they should be, etc. But, it’s called Garfield here.
    (After all, if your street were named for a cartoon cat, wouldn’t you insist on using the name?)

  16. Boston has its own system, of course. First of all the streets are chaotic. It may not be true about the cow paths but there’s no better explanation. Quaker Lane is just weird. Second, there’s no north, south, east or west about the T (the subway system). Everything is inbound or outbound. If you keep going inbound past Park Street you find yourself going outbound. There was some effort to lay out a grid and alphabetize the streets in the Back Bay: Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, Hereford, Massachusetts Avenue, Ipswich. The main thoroughfares are Massachusetts Avenue pronounced MassAv, Commonwealth Avenue pronounced CommAv, and Washington Street pronounced Washington Street. MassAv crosses over the Charles River to Cambridge and brings you to Harvard pronounced Havvid. Try to avoid driving. Most of the streets are one-way so you can’t get there from here. There is said to be an intersection near Harvard where you find yourself at the juncture of five streets each with a one-way arrow pointing directly at you. Anyone can enter but nobody can leave.

  17. I’ve visited Boston / Cambridge as a driver just once, and it was indeed a nightmare, even with a local resident seated beside me and coaching. Two other times I was there by some other means and got around with a group so I was not too challenged; and both times spent our time largely in Back Bay so indeed I was given the impression as MiB says that it wasn’t utter insanity. From the Spenser novels I remember his office on Berkeley and one adventure where somebody gets pursued up and down Commonwealth and Boylston — and I had walked that stretch on one visit with a nonsober crowd.

    One of those times was for an academic conference at the … uh … looking at Google Map right now and I don’t see the big hotel and convention center … wasn’t it the Hancock Center? Is it gone?! Or am I confused?
    Anyway, faculty and bigwigs stayed at the hotel right there or nearby. Housing for students was at MIT dorms vacant in the summer but being run for profits like this. There were also real MIT students around and activity on campus. My group would take a bus along MassAv and across a bridge to the convention center in back bay; or at least once hiked it on foot, and heard endlessly about Smoots. In Boston Back Bay, we took time out from the conference to visit the then-controversial Mapplethorpe exhibit at the whatever place. In Cambridge, besides wandering the MIT campus (we didn’t truck with Harvard) some of us had our first Roni Zones, i.e. pepperoni calzones.

  18. Minneapolis also has a section of avenues named in order after the presidents of the United States, including somewhere in the middle the otherwise-forgotten President Central.

  19. I cut off a Mass driver in Boston once such that he honked and gave me the finger; not sure if he would have responded that way had I not had out of state plates. Either way, my proudest moment!

  20. I was almost killed by my own courtesy.
    – Greg Greenway in his song about driving in Massachusetts

  21. Yes, you were at the Hynes Convention Center, right across the street from Boston Architectural College which used to be the Institute of Contemporary Art which used to be the police station next to the fire station that is still a fire station. The John Hancock Building was the tallest building in Boston until they built the Prudential Tower in the early 1960’s which was the tallest building in Boston until they built the John Hancock Tower in the early 1970’s. The older John Hancock Building is still there, though not quite as visible from all angles, and still displays lights to indicate the weather:
    Steady blue, clear view.
    Flashing blue, clouds due.
    Steady red, rain ahead.
    Flashing red, snow instead.

    Flashing red is also used to mean the Red Sox game is cancelled due to weather.

  22. I have non-fond memories of Chicago’s “president” streets: I was there on a bitterly cold day looking for someplace, and fell victim to my inability to remember whether Madison or Monroe came first.

  23. @ larK – “not sure if he would have responded that way had I not had out of state plates
    Ever since we moved out into the Berlin suburbs, I have noticed a (probably unconscious) tendency among Berlin drivers: they seem to be a little more accommodating to cars with “foreign” plates. (Even though ours are directly adjacent to the “B” for “Berlin”, that still seems to qualify.)
    P.S. @ MiB – There used to be a building in Pittsburgh with a pyramid shaped roof that would light up with a similar weather code. It was turned off during one of the oil crises in the 70’s, but later “restored” by lighting just the tip, instead of the whole pyramid. The code still worked the same, but the impressive effect was gone.

  24. CIDU Bill: Retired professional wrestler and real-life loon Bob Backlund apparently has/had a rule that he won’t give an autograph to anyone who cannot on demand recite in order both the presidents AND the vice-presidents of the U.S.

    I can do the presidents easily (so maybe he’d sign his first name for me?) but asking one to list the vice-presidents is just cruel. For one thing, I know a mnemonic for the former, but have never seen one for the veeps.

  25. As a preteen nerd in 1961 I thought it a civic virtue to know the nine SCOTUS justices (but I don’t think we used that acronym then) and the Secretaries in JFK’s cabinet. It was disappointing that the latter turned out to be changeable.

    I also tried to know the victorious and losing presidential and veep nominees for the modern era, i.e. 1932 to the current date. But I dropped it after 1964 when I could not distinguish Goldwater’s running mate from the author of (the recently discussed here) “A Canticle for Liebowitz” — there was a Walter Miller and a William Miller but they wouldn’t stay in their right pigeonholes!

  26. Bill said: I have non-fond memories of Chicago’s “president” streets

    A building called Presidential Towers, at plus-code “V9J5+C6 Chicago, Illinois” or what3words location ///tribe.hints.mile, is on a block bounded by Madison on the north, Jefferson on the west, Monroe on the south, and …. Clinton on the east. Wait, what?

  27. Well, I remember who the 1964 Republican VP candidate was, even though I wasn’t really old enough to know anything about him. My father wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper alluding to the fact that William Miller was extremely conservative. He said that the GOP candidate “could be called the Bill of Rights.”

  28. Mark in Boston – I was going to mention that we ran into a intersection which sent us in a continuing circle – not near Harvard, but near the Old State House. We ended up there and followed a one way street out of the area as it was the only street to turn onto and followed it – ended up back there due to one way streets – did this 3 times and then, it being the middle of the night and no one else around – ignored the turn only and got out of there.

  29. Robert reminded me – we were in a parking garage in Boston and he was having trouble pulling into the stream of cars also leaving the garage (and we NYers are notorious drivers also) when he spotted a car with a NJ plate and figured it was his chance to pull into the line and did.

    But I will say that Rhode Island drivers are terribly s l o w. We figured it was related to size of RI – they drive slowly so they have time to drive a bit before leaving the state.

  30. We have a road on the south shore of LI which should be Rt 27A (another more main road north of it is Rt 27). I grew up calling it Merrick Road. At some point when I was maybe in my teens I found out that in Queens County it was Merrick Boulevard. When I started finding my way to Suffolk County in some places it is called Montauk Highway – in at least one place Main Street. Only parts of it are Rt 27A.

    In the Lancaster, PA area Rt number can come and go from a named road onto another named road and then back. In one place we go (Gap) Rt 30 – the main east west road – passes through the village. About 4 or so years ago they built a parallel road that branches off of Rt 30 in the middle of Gap. it is also Rt 30. What they did is the original Rt 30 is the east bound lanes now of it and the new road is the west bound lanes – confuses the heck out of Robert. So now, if one wants to westbound to a business on the main road in Gap one has to drive past the village and then turn left onto the original Rt 30 to get to the business. As I was posting this I mentioned that I was to Robert – he apparently found out that they did this due to the number of accidents on that stretch of the road.

    Rt 30 in this general area of PA is part of the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Highway starts on 42nd St, Manhattan (in Times Square) and continues across the country on various roadways to Lincoln Park in San Francisco – changing the road that is designated as the Lincoln Highway as it crosses the country.

  31. Phoenix also has a section of president avenues. When I was there for a conference a while back I discovered both this and that I remembered more of them (and the order) than I expected.

    One of the things about Boston that makes it hard is that the core downtown area is _small_. If you miss a turn and try to go around the block, even if you have a map that reliably tells you how, doing so will often take you to one or more entirely different places that weren’t where you were trying to go. Figuring that this must be wrong and taking other turns instead just makes things worse. Similarly, things one thinks of as being negligible, like highway offramps, can cover a significant fraction of the total distances involved. For example, since the Big Dig all of the best routes from the airport to Cambridge cross essentially the entire downtown core on combinations of underground highway ramps, and going the other way the effective onramp for the harbor tunnel is on the opposite side of everything from the actual tunnel entrance, at a really messy intersection, and if you miss it (which is easy even if you’re a native, unless you’re doing it regularly) and go further towards the harbor it’s rather difficult to recover.

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