WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Erroneous Atlas

Jan 29, 2021

Road trip! Comedians Cameron Esposito (Queery podcast) and Beth Stelling (HBO Max Girl Daddy) navigate a multiple-choice game about maps.

Heard on Ken Jeong: Mask Me Another

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Are you ready to play another game?


CAMERON ESPOSITO: Oh, this is what I've been thinking about for eight months.


STELLING: Born ready.

EISENBERG: Great. And this is great because here's what I'm going to say to you - maps.

ESPOSITO: Nothing but terror.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: They're like, why are you saying maps to us?


EISENBERG: Because maps are very helpful - they help us figure out where we're going and where we are. But they are also - guess what?


EISENBERG: That's right, Beth.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: They are liars. So this is a multiple choice and called Erroneous Atlas. So here we go. All right, Beth, this is for you. It's multiple choice, OK?


EISENBERG: So the Northern Hemisphere is depicted on the top of our everyday maps. Why? Is it because, A, it's north and north is up? Is it B, because it was drawn by people who live in the Northern Hemisphere - or is it C, because Santa lives there?

STELLING: OK, they make it bigger because America's the worst, and they wanted to, like, look bigger, like they're a bigger world power. And they lie. And in America, maps use filters without telling you.

EISENBERG: It was drawn by people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. That's the one that you are...

STELLING: They facetuned the maps for the last hundred...

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Right. OK. Yep.

STELLING: They should not be allowed.

EISENBERG: Yeah. It's basically because of - it was drawn by people who live in the Northern Hemisphere.

STELLING: And they're self-centered.

EISENBERG: And, you know, basically - I mean, the short answer is colonialism (laughter) is the short answer to everything. But it's because...

ESPOSITO: Is Aaron Sorkin on your writing team? Because this is directly a plot point in "The West Wing."

EISENBERG: You know, it's so interesting. He applied, but we thought...

COULTON: Oh, he didn't get the job?

EISENBERG: Yeah. We thought he was OK.


EISENBERG: Yeah, we thought he had a weak submission.

COULTON: He talked a lot is the thing.

ESPOSITO: You said "Sit Down" is a radio show. Stop moving.

COULTON: Yeah. Stop. Will you just please? Got to leave some space. OK, Cameron, here's one for you. In 1921, a German cartographer created a new type of world map that is now commonly used in classrooms and by National Geographic. This map uses curved sides to minimize the three types of distortion area, direction, distance. What is that map called?

ESPOSITO: I think I know what you're talking about.

COULTON: OK. good.

ESPOSITO: Das map.

COULTON: Das map.

EISENBERG: That's it.

COULTON: Is it called - I'm going to give you a list here.

ESPOSITO: Yeah. Let's go with the list.

COULTON: A, Winkel Tripel, - B, smirkle (ph) double - C, blinkle (ph) quadruple - D, Rip Van Winkle - E, Wink Martindale?

ESPOSITO: This is so hard.

COULTON: I'll be frank. We can throw out Wink Martindale.

ESPOSITO: Yeah. I know not Wink Martindale. Yeah. I think it's the first one.

COULTON: And you are correct. The Winkel Tripel is named after its creator, Oswald Winkel. And the tripel refers to area, direction and distance.

ESPOSITO: I missed those maps. When did they come about? I know what you're talking about. They're from what year?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Those - you'd look at them and just be like, what?

COULTON: 1921. 1921.

STELLING: Yeah, they did feel like they were more artistic.

ESPOSITO: What? From 1921. I did not see that map in school, I don't think.


STELLING: We saw them in the books.

COULTON: Yeah. I felt like...

STELLING: The main ones we saw were the pull-down maps in front of the chalkboard.

EISENBERG: They were just flat, just pure flat. All right, Beth, many cities' public transit maps are intentionally simplified. Including New York City's, which of these things is deceptive about the New York City subway map? Is it, A, the map is rotated about thirty degrees to make it look like Manhattan runs perfectly north to south, when in fact, it does not - B, Brooklyn and Queens are depicted as much larger than they actually are - or C, it shows an imaginary place called Staten Island?

STELLING: Well, Staten Island is real, as told to us by Pete Davidson and Judd Apatow.

EISENBERG: That's first time I heard it - I've heard about it.

STELLING: Yes. They have a king. It's a monarchy situation. I...

EISENBERG: It's a free boat. No one will go.

STELLING: I do believe that it could be A and B, but I am going with - I'm going with A because it's not - it doesn't run perfectly north-south.

COULTON: That's exactly it - yeah, doesn't run. They just made it all nice and easy to follow. And also, the Manhattan subway stops are actually packed more densely than others, so - but they made them all kind of look more spaced out. That's like a real estate move.

ESPOSITO: So this is why, when you were coming from JFK on the train, you - it's been 75 minutes so far. You look. You couldn't be further in Queens. You've actually gone...

EISENBERG: I know. You went backwards.

ESPOSITO: It looks as if the stops are all equidistant and you're going to be at wherever the. Very so soon, but no, but you're not even smelled Manhattan.


COULTON: All right, last one, Cameron. In 2012, Apple tried to compete with Google Maps by releasing its own map software, which ended up being so buggy that CEO Tim Cook apologized. Which of the following complaints was made after it was launched? A, Arizona tourism officials complained that the Grand Canyon was depicted at two-thirds of its actual size - B, they forgot Liechtenstein - C, Australian police complained that they had to rescue motorists who were accidentally directed into a remote part of the Outback?

ESPOSITO: Oh, I don't care about this one, and I'll tell you why.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ESPOSITO: Apple Maps still sucks.


ESPOSITO: It's the worst.

STELLING: There is not a more useless thing on the planet.

ESPOSITO: I'd rather just be lost listening to the U2 album you forced onto my phone.


STELLING: One Beth saying my thoughts.

COULTON: I don't remember. Did we get an answer? I don't think we did.

EISENBERG: I don't think we got an answer.


COULTON: Cameron, just tell me - Arizona, Lichtenstein, Australia?

ESPOSITO: Oh, that's not - OK. It's not Liechtenstein. Arizona.

COULTON: No, it's Australia.

STELLING: People were getting lost in the Outback?


COULTON: Trying to think of a that's-not-a-map joke, but that's as far as I got.


EISENBERG: Good. Well, guess what? You did it. You did another - you did two amazing games.

STELLING: Yeah. We had fun.

EISENBERG: You did fantastic. Thank you so much. Cameron Esposito hosts the podcast "Queery." And Beth Stelling's special, "Girl Daddy," is on HBO Max. Thank you so much for joining us.

ESPOSITO: Oh, we had so much fun. I was happy to start my day this way.

STELLING: Absolutely. Beautiful.

EISENBERG: After the break, from the movie "The Hangover," the series "Community" and the reality show "The Masked Singer," the hilarious Ken Jeong will join us for a music parody game about the '90s. And I am 90%-plus sure that you will love it. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

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