Thursday, February 14, 2008

The difference between geography and topography.

Call it a friendly little argument about the size of Idaho as it exists within geographical boundaries in the overall continental map of the U.S.A. It sits boundary wise nestled with Washington and Oregon to one side and is basically a sprawling plot of land sandwiched between the Pacific Northwest states and the first upper midwestern state of Montana, and at the far eastern corner, Wyoming. A state with a stove pipe on one end and a fat butt on the other. Why paint a word picture of Idaho? Appearing today on Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries on-line blog. Senator Mike Crapo was whining at Oliveria who didn't much like having his supper times ruined with politicians' robo calls. So, Crapo tried to justify why it was utterly necessary to have such robo calls initiated in the first place, Idaho is a big state so Crapo claimed. Not when you look at the geographical boundaries of the state maps. The biggest portion of the state is down south. The narrowest portion of the state as one nears the Canadian border. But Idaho sprawls, lengthwise. So, in trying to prove me wrong, other commenters to the blog started discussing the mountainous areas of Idaho. Sorry, but I happen to be acquainted with different types of maps: Any map that depicts mountain ranges is called a topographical map within a specific geographical location. Where 3/4 of Idaho's geography huddles next to the clouds, one can suppose that Idaho has a lot of "geographic" land mass, but the question is, can you put large populations and actually have them supported on the steep and ancient volcanic mountains of the region. Not particularly. Only where there are a lot of large ice age carved valleys can you hope to put in cities and counties. Otherwise, one is more likely to find roads and railroads carved through the state, than large population centers anywhere. Only as the traveler nears the more desertlike and flatter lands of the south, does one truly begin to leave the mountains behind and a greater likelihood of larger population centers loom. For being a "big state," Idaho is actually mostly uninhabitable. So to put it briefly, it would take a day to traverse the state from north to south. From Kootenai County it takes about 30 minutes to end up in Spokane, Washington and to the east, about 45 minutes to an hour to end up crossing into the Montana border. If one were to traverse the fat butt part of the state, say around Orofino to say Boise, or points west, one could easily get the illusion that Idaho was a fairly "large" state. So, I am informed on the blog that Idaho is actually ranked 11th in large states. On what basis? The topography of the state? Idaho is a small state in its capacity to support large populations. Hell, in New York City alone, they have at least twice the population by guestimate of all of Idaho within its borders. You can only squeeze so many people in to the small scraps of hospitable territory that this state actually holds, before you have to in reality say, there is no more room here. "Big states" to my long held estimation, are capable of sustaining large human populations.

Watching CNN today, and the punditry were in full force discussing the likelihood, indeed the probability that the Dems will end up in a food fight at their convention in Denver. Oh, the heartburn! The GOP have taken up the echo chamber and have now started to coalesce around the front runner John McCain, see, we'll decide on a candidate and root the Dems on in the ruinous cat fight sure to follow. What I think the pundits have been forgetting is that rivals for the throne tend to drop out when: they can't raise the money. Which is where Hillary Clinton is right now. They are losing big in most of the primaries and caucuses, which is also what Hillary did. Because it is no longer cost effective for them to stay in the race. Which Hillary has decided to stubbornly ignore. Obama leads in states won, delegates won and money raised. I'd suggest to Ms. Hillary it is time to drop out, give the idea of a dynasty a rest for a while, and try again in 4 years. Something that the obviously anti-Dem pundits weren't prepared to argue themselves.

Gathering up the latest Inlander when I went with my mom to Applebees for our Valentine's day dinner. I was reading the editorial about the above discussion and the author, McGregor was definitely of the opinion that after 8 dismal years, we were finally seeing democracy in action. It was a good thing. Indeed, that was probably the one reason why Dems, independents and the more rational among the GOP were herding to the Dem polling booths in ha-huge numbers because they finally had a chance to see real democracy in action. It felt good. Too bad the pundits were prattling on so just to make themselves heard, that they couldn't recognize the messiness of democracy truly in action. They were trying to push it back in the box where they thought it belonged. So it takes time for the Dems to decide who they want for president. But given what the polled results were from source: CNN, where the Dem voters would either be satisfied with a woman for president or an African-American for president, once the nominee is selected, you can be sure the voters would rally to that person's side just to be rid of GW and those still trying to ride his dead horse into the White House. To put it bluntly, I have more faith in the American voter than I do in the punditry trying to stir up trouble for the Democratic process.

So, Idaho is too big for members of the state legislature to come up north and engage with the folks they expect to vote for them in November, eh. Make that too lazy. Make that, they only have the money to repair all those roads around the areas of the state which has the highest population centers: Nampa and Boise. If they actually had to travel the roads up north, maybe they'd come to appreciate why N. Idaho has a tendency to feel neglected. Nope, can't do that. Out of sight because of the mountains, out of mind. Reminds me of the political process existing in this nation today. Can't see the obvious for the trees.

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