July 26th, 2006


Jobs you and I will never have

I recalled while looking at L.A. city maps in advance of the move that map manufacturers routinely insert fake geographical data -- made-up towns, rivers, parks, etc. -- to protect copyright. The way it works is that if they see these invented place names on any other maps, they'll know the maker just copied their map, and they can sue.

Which leads me to consider that, given that this practice has been around for at least 50 years or so, there is an entire body of alternate U.s. geography in existence. A small country's worth of nonexistent towns, lakes, forests, roads, mountains. A whole world of phantom landmarks, an imaginary landscape to rival the most ambitious fantast, just to protect copyright.

By what process are these made-up places and names invented and tracked? Has anyone ever tried to visit one of these fake places, not knowing what they were, or turned down a nonexistent street? Has anyone ever cataloged these imaginary locations, the way some people do books that never existed? These and many other questins are why I will never be fit for real work.