BB #30: Not Exactly South

SouthAmHave you ever really thought about the fact that South America isn’t?

Isn’t all that South, I mean. Nearly all of it is actually east of nearly all of North America. Most of it is east of Florida, although residents of Maine can safely refer to “south” America (especially if they mean Peru, Chile or Ecuador). And people on the USA west coast? The closest shores of Hawaii are just about as far west as the closest shores of South America are east.

And it’s nearly as far east from New York City (at 73 degrees west) to Rio de Janeiro (at 43 degrees west) as it is from Rio to Lisbon, Portugal (at 9 degrees west, so only four degrees further).

Perhaps we should rename it South-South-East America!


“It’s Green!”

Perhaps today’s bit of trivia will invite you to spend some time with a map (it’s kind of fun knowing where everything is), but I did have a serious thought.

Many of my friends in South and Central America feel a bit left out when people refer to the United States of America (the good ol’ USA) as “America” or to the people who live there as “Americans.”

Because, you see, residents of the USA aren’t the only Americans.

They’re not even the only North Americans!  Our Canadian and Mexican cousins (who so wonderfully bring us ice hockey, tequila, maple syrup and enchiladas) are also Americans and just as North as us.

Pachu Picchu

An American historic site!

This is why I try to use “United States” or “USA” when talking about this country.  (And I’ve always liked the neologism, “USAnian” for the residents.  It somehow sounds vaguely insulting, which I think is kind of funny given my extreme misanthropy and general views on the common USA lifestyle choices.)

So,… food for thought, a mind-expander perhaps?  Just keep in mind, living in the USA, you’re not the only Americans on the planet!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

16 responses to “BB #30: Not Exactly South

  • dianasschwenk

    Maybe we should be the north-west americans. When I was a child I wondered about how the rest of us are also Americans. My European relatives certainly think of us that way

  • bronxboy55

    I was just thinking about this the other day. We have friends in Panama, and I always think of them as being over there. But they’re not; they’re down there. I have to fix my brain.

    How are you?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “Down there,” “over there,” both work okay for me. “Over” is vague enough that it doesn’t grate much. When I lived in Los Angeles I had a friend who spoke of going “down” (from LA) to San Francisco! You go down to San Diego, maybe, but not to San Francisco! That grated. Every time.

      “How are you?” is not a question easily answered (if one desires an accurate, truthful answer). How long ya got?… And did you really want to know? 😀 😀 😀

  • The Color of Lila

    Ha, actually I grew up in several countries down there and my first military duty station was Panama. Convenient for calling home since I was in the same time zone as my Dad’s house.

    In fairness, it IS in the Southern Hemisphere, anyway. Just as other Americans are a bit miffed that USAnians hog the “American” label for themselves, so the geography need not be defined in relation to the USA.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ah, yes, the old Southern Hemisphere argument! All I have to say about that is… well, you’re exactly correct. (It always was the flaw in the presentation. :D)

      This actually goes back to when I was doing the Summer Equinox post and was spending a lot of time on my spinning Earth model. A big part of that whole presentation was the daylight terminator, and it was while working on the model that it struck me how South America got sunrise so much sooner. A close look at a map revealed the (up til then to me) startling truth that SA is much further east than I’d realized. Not really south at all.

      These days thoughts like that are usually closely followed by, “Ooh, that could make a nice blog post!” thoughts. Once I realized it tied in nicely with my long-standing thing about “USAnians” I knew I had a good blog post! 🙂

      • The Color of Lila

        I guess the location of Central/South America and the major Caribbean islands has always seemed “obvious” to me because I had a lot of childhood years there, and my Dad was a map nut so we always had a big map of South America on the wall (still have a pic of my brother, aged about 5, pointing to our location on that map). Ah, the things they used to occupy kids before the Internet… Now that I think of it, we didn’t really even have TV in that time and place.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        My dad was a big fan of maps, too, and that’s one thing I inherited from him in spades. (I also love aerial and satellite photography.) I have this collection of maps I’ve been carting around for decades with the idea of “someday wallpapering a wall” with them. Lately I’ve been realizing I’m probably in the last place I’ll ever own, so…. why not now?

  • Lady from Manila

    Dear Wyrd, Geography has always been one of my weak spots – so I didn’t know what to say here.

    Actually, I felt quite happy to see you on my notifications after getting online tonight so I rushed here without reading any of them yet. 🙂 I really hope you’ll be blogging again soon. I remain your number one fan and I’ve been missing you dearly. Do take care, my friend.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Hi Marj! Ha! You just made me think how “weak spot” and “soft spot” mean almost completely different things (although there is an old-fashioned sense of “weak” that makes them similar — “weak in the knees” can refer to how wonderful someone makes you feel).

      I haven’t given up the ship entirely just yet, but I’ve been consumed with hobby/project work recently. Been getting into my projects to the point of viewing sleep and eating as unwelcome interruptions! But I’ll be back, and maybe soon. I’m feeling the signs of another sea change; time to switch projects — there is a part of me that would like to focus on serious blogging, at least for a while. I have such a backlog of topics!

      Kind of as you touched on in one of your recent posts, I’m working towards trying to say what I really want to say without regard to where the pieces fall. I’ve tried all my life to be as inoffensive as possible (while still remaining true to my own views), and yet people have constantly managed to be quite offended by me. I’ve gotten to the age of increasingly thinking, ‘you know what? fuck it! I just don’t care anymore!!’

      It’s a strange freedom (which actually will make a good blog post someday) that’s not entirely comfortable on me yet. Like a new pair of dress shoes. But I’ve always loved those old folks who just speak their minds; I want to be like them! 😀

      • Lady from Manila

        I get what you mean, Wyrd.

        And may you find time to focus on those backlog of topics soon.

        I’ve been busy lately, too. But reading blogs is something I try to find time for at least twice a week. I’ll be watching out for your comeback. 🙂

        Enjoy your weekend.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah,… although come to that, it really isn’t a time thing so much as a choice thing. As I’ve said before, blogging started to feel like work to me: a lot of effort to turn out what I think is a good product, and a product that a very small number seem to appreciate and agree is good, but for which the general response seems to be, “Yeah, so what?” (Or in some cases, “Ewww… don’t make me think!”)

        It isn’t just that it’s unrewarding; it’s that I have come to have negative feelings about it, and I have to ask myself why I’d spend a good chunk of my day working on something that’s just going to end up making me feel bad. My project work makes me feel good, so you can see why it’s hard for me. The only real motivation is my own artistic soul that wants to write, regardless of whether anyone cares. (On some levels it is easier not having readers… it can be sometimes difficult to divorce yourself from thinking about how readers will react.) Bottom line, I’m really conflicted about it. Which brings us back to time, ’cause that’s what will tell the tale.

        I know I’m repeating myself, that I’ve said this stuff before, but expressing it helps me focus on it. (Very common problem-solving trick is to find someone you can explain the problem to. Often having to verbalize it helps clarify it in your mind, and that clarity leads to the solution. Sometimes, in the middle of the explanation, the light bulb goes on!) My own comments can be like bread crumbs (mmm, I love bread!) creating a trail of past thinking.

        [p.s. I hope I’m imagining the sense of reprimand and distance. The latter wouldn’t surprise me much; I’ve mentioned that it’s a common arc. Apparently getting to know me fully is frequently distressing, so I’m used to that. The former isn’t something I grant many the right to.]

      • Lady from Manila

        “On some levels it is easier not having readers… it can be sometimes difficult to divorce yourself from thinking about how readers will react.” That’s how I feel at times, too.

        You know, most of your comments are good enough to pass as blog posts.

        “Apparently getting to know me fully is frequently distressing, so I’m used to that. The former isn’t something I grant many the right to.” 😀 Oh Wyrd, I confess there are times I don’t know what to do with your comments to me on my blog. And there are times you can be darling sweet I feel like hugging you as a true pal around, not to mention you are so real in expressing how you feel about things and what’s on your mind.
        We’re ok, my friend, and that’s what matters.

        It’s very late now – gotta sleep. Have a grand time doing your project (I wonder if it’s the same as what you’ve been doing before).
        Nyt nyt.. 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Blog posts, comments,… that is a fuzzy line for me! They’re both ‘expressing your thoughts’ writing, and I suppose my sense of formal writing spills over into comments. I admit it feels odd to leave just a short, passing comment (although pith seems sometimes called for… I just hope it doesn’t pith anyone off).

        As for reacting to my comments, to quote a last-century British musical group (they were kinda popular, you might have heard of them, perhaps even encountering this lyric), “All ya gotta do is,… act naturally.” 😀

        As for my project**S!**, I’m not sure if your “nyt nyt” refers to something specific I should remember, but I’m using old-friend tools to work on new projects. They’re purely creative projects, my “ships in a bottle.” I’m writing a blog post now that touches on a lot of it…

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