Wednesday, January 27, 2010

National Geographic turns 122

I’ve been sick. Nasty, snotty, congested, sore throated, sick. I have only recently taken up the cause of my friend and ally the internet and even then it is through the haze of antibiotics and a variety of homemade soups that I have been consuming for nourishment and to abate dehydration. In my most recent travels Wired had a great article on how today (1/27/10) is the birthday of one of the absolute best magazines in the whole world; National Geographic. Here is their article:

Dun, dun, da, Dah da. Dun, da, dun, dah, dun, da, dun, da, da, – bum, bum.

Great theme song. Even reading it you want to go out and explore the world around you. The National Geographic Society has always put me in the mind of those English Huntsman clubs where there are people sitting around tables playing cards, trading stories, sipping brandy and smoking pipes full of Turkish tobacco. There are the heads of many different “taken” man-eating animals on the walls. There are globes and maps and books and there is an heir of adventure just under the surface. Phileas Fogg could step around the corner and say something preposterous like he could circumnavigate the globe in exactly 80 days or, perhaps, Allan Quatermain would regale the room with stories of that lost city of gold that he discovered.

Romantic stuff. The truth of the matter is The National Geographic Society actually delivers. Fogg and Quartermain, if they were not fictional characters, would be members of the National Geographic Society. According to my favorite second brain, Wikipedia the National Geographic Society is “headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history.” For the last 122 years they have done a pretty good job exploring the distant corners of our home. The articles and the photojournalism are stunning and have captured the imagination of generations and, after all these years, generations are exactly what we are talking about here; there are currently about 8.5 million members.

So Happy Birthday National Geographic! Fogg and Quartermain would be proud.

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