Movin’ to the West Coast

In my future life discussion of the moment (a discussion with myself that’s really a step above talking to myself.  Really.), the topic of where I might go to grad school is a dominant theme.  I’m feeling the urge to settle.  Actually, I’ve been feeling the urge to settle for awhile, I just knew I didn’t want to settle up in Boston and hadn’t planned out my next steps.  So, one possibility for both next steps and settling has been someplace on the West Coast.  Several of my friends are from that area and will probably end up going back there, and it just seems like a nice place to be.  However, the specific location has eluded me, though Portland is the strongest candidate at the moment.

San Francisco or the Bay area generally also has a certain draw, but there are also drawbacks.  It’s basically another Boston cost-wise.  And while social outreach is really strong there (which is good, if you’re broke), it’s also big enough and popular enough to be highly competitive (which is bad, if you want a job in that area).  Of course, that same social outlook is also in the plus column for fostering acceptance and tolerance in the neighborhood.  Soon there may be another plus – a ‘decriminalization‘ of prostitution named Proposition K.  Basically this would mean no arrests or even investigations of prostitutes, though state laws would still call it a crime outside a local jurisdiction.

Responses to the law are mixed.  Some feel it would give added protection, in that groups could organize, remain highly public, and request police assistance if needed.  Others feel that the population of sex workers would explode in the city, bringing in money but also potentially causing an increase in sex trafficking as well.  In addition, when police are restricted from investigating prostitution, it may hamper their efforts to investigate other crime – drug use and distribution, abuse, and violence.  At the end of the day I’m not really sure how much Proposition K would benefit the lower echelons – would it mean more protection or less for those with drug addictions or in fear of injury or death who also happen to be sex workers?

Finally, I wonder at the name.  Really guys?  “I have a ‘Proposition’ for you?”  Gah.

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1421, 1606, and Wrack

Few may know the significance of these dates and their relation to ocean spume.  I myself was not really aware of them until coming across this article about a map.  Of course, when I saw the headline, I went, ‘oooohh, map!’, because the designs of the cartographers of old fascinate and delight me.  But the idea that the Chinese were first in yet another arena made me chuckle.  Who would I be today if the Americas had turned out Oriental, instead of Occidental?

The description of the map itself reminded me of one of my favorite novels, Wrack, by James Bradley.  In the vein of Eco, it chronicles the story of a modern archaeologist, a dying man, and the age of Australia’s discovery.  I like it, both for the cadence of the words and the winding of the narrative in upon itself.  Since the Chinese map also included Australia, it invokes the question now of whether the Chinese had explored that continent as well before Europeans came to the region.

The book itself leaves many questions unanswered about the true European discoverers of the island-continent, many of those questions sparked by the existence of European maps reflecting an accurate representation of Australian coastline before the supposed date of discovery.  It’s the same sort of questions that will have to be asked regarding the Chinese map if its authenticity is proven.  After all, does the existence of map imply discovery?  How accurate must a map be to ‘prove’ that someone has visited a particular coastline?  If you have any interest, these two sites give some general outlining information for the 1606 date of discovery for Australia.  Personally I prefer the questionable spin that Bradley puts on the whole situation.