Lost @ sea

I am buried with work and semi-work, so naturally I take a few minutes to make an off-topic post, just because it amused me so much.

The NYT reported:

Incensed over what it views as a Western-Arab plot, Iran on Thursday threatened to sue Google for deleting the name Persian Gulf from its online mapping service and leaving the body of water nameless. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, was quoted by the state-run news media as saying that Iran had already warned Google of possible legal action and “serious damages” if the Persian Gulf was not identified as such. A spokeswoman for Google said that “there’s been some misunderstanding there’s something new here” and that “labels have not been on this body of water for several years.”

Iran is sensitive about the name of the body of water internationally identified as the Persian Gulf, which some Arab countries call the Arabian Gulf. Iran first raised the Google mapping issue two weeks ago, when its deputy minister for Islamic guidance, Bahman Dorri, said that the removal of the name was a “mischievous act.”

The mind boggles.  Sue an apolitical publisher for apparently responding to an international conflict by taking a subtle neutral position, though it might have actually just been a layout decision?  For what, exactly.  Yes, I realize that a country without freedom of speech can threaten to cut off some of their access to compel them, but sue?  Where?  On what basis?  If someone wanted to print a map where a place name (and note that I am not suggesting any country that is party to this particular fight — just in case I need to visit someday — let’s say it is the Cayman Islands) was replaced by the phrase “a bunch of a****les”, there would be no grounds for a lawsuit, at least not anywhere that has reached an 18th century level of respect for freedom in its laws. 

It amazes me how many people think that, in the internet age, a global restriction of free speech is a practical way to accomplish what they want.  Or who get so worked up about the accepted name of something — think “french fries” — that they make a big effort to try to change.  Are we ruled by a bunch of eight-year-olds? 

Oh, hey, I am back on one of my usual topics, because when I was writing that last paragraph I was thinking of regulators who think they can hide information about THR or “researchers” who do not like to use “e-cigarettes”, so made up the laughable term “ENDS”.

Finally, a friend who I read that article to suggested that perhaps the basis of the lawsuit would be that boaters were relying on Google Maps for navigation, and were getting lost in the Persian Gulf because, lacking a label, they could not figure out where they were.  That make sense, because that is an area where you definitely do not want to get a little lost.

3 responses to “Lost @ sea

  1. Carl, is it true that the next edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica will be renaming that Tennessee mountain range to “The Great Smokeless Mountains”?

    – A Concerned Cartographer…

  2. LOL. I suspect they would never allow a low-risk alternative name. It will just become the “The Great Mountains”. Or maybe, following the stadium and theater model of sponsorship, it will be the “The Great Nicorette Mountains”.

    (Let's hope they don't go with The Great Champix Mountains — that region already has a high suicide rate.)

  3. I'd rather them use the term “Electronic Nicotine Delivery System” rather than “Personal Electronic Nicotine Inhaler System”.

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