The recent 12MC article Small Change, Big Difference created an unusual amount of interest. One comment from reader Ross arrived embedded with a challenge:
This reminds me of a question I’ve often wondered: Which place changes the most when you add "New" in front of the name? In other words: Which "New" place is the most unlike the place it was named after? My guess: New Britain (the island in Papua New Guinea). It’s hard to imagine a place more unlike "Old" Britain.
Ross obviously put a lot of thought into his well-educated choice. This example might be the best one around, at least as good as any top tier of contenders. I thought I would see if I could add some other places to the list for consideration and open the discussion to a broader audience.
Britain had Ireland nearby so I suppose PNG’s New Britain needed a New Ireland nearby too (map). The two were located in close proximity just like their namesakes. Face it, just about anything geographic or climatic in Papua New Guinea would differ considerably from anything in the British Isles. One could select just about any place with a "New" prefix in the tropics and it would score well in this contest.
The New Ireland name in PNG was affixed to an island, a string of islands and a province. The largest town on the island of that name, Kavieng, became the capital of the larger province of New Ireland. This was the site of fierce fighting in World War II and wartime relics can still be found within the area. Today most visitors come for the military history or to dive on pristine coral reefs located just offshore.
New Ireland used to be New Mecklenburg (Neu-Mecklenburg) which would be equally odd. Maybe it should get extra credit for being distinctly different from two separate European locations. Plus New Guinea differed from Guinea (see 12MC’s Upstart Eclipses Namesake for that story) to add to the distinction even further.
New Amsterdam is Guyana’s oldest town, with a rich history. About 1733, the name New Amsterdam was given to a little village that sprang up around Fort Nassau, several miles up the Berbice River. In 1785 it was decided to abandon Fort Nassau and move to the neighbourhood of Fort St. Andries lower down the river at the confluence of the Berbice River and its tributary the Canje River which is now the site of present day New Amsterdam… New Amsterdam, covers about 13.7 square kilometers in area with an estimated population of approximately 35,000.
New Amsterdam might also deserve bonus points. Not only did it differ considerably from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, it looked nothing like the other New Amsterdam on the tip of Manhattan Island that formed the nucleus of New York City.
The Bergtheil or Bramsche Colonists: In the early 1840’s, just after the colony of Natal had been annexed by the British, the Natal Cotton Company was established. One of its directors, Jonas Bergtheil, went to Germany to attract settlers to Natal to grow cotton for the Company. After much searching, he found a group of people in the area of Bramsche, Osnabrücker Land, Kingdom of Hanover (now in Lower Saxony) who were willing to try their luck in this new colony. The Bergtheil colonists settled in New Germany, Westville, just outside Port Natal (later renamed Durban)…
Then I watched the video driving tour and it looked like any suburb anywhere. The location may have been distinctly removed from Germany, however, it still had an air of familiarity.
New Bedford Inlet, Antarctica
New Bedford Inlet, Antarctica Does Not Look Like New Bedford or the Original Bedford Either
It was hard to reconcile the disconnect between Antarctica and temperate climates. I found a "New" location hidden within its folds and I’ll bet there were plenty of others equally out of place. New Bedford Inlet wasn’t discovered until 1940 when it was "photographed from the air… by members of the United States Antarctic Service (USAS), and named after New Bedford, Massachusetts, the centre of the New England whaling industry in the middle of the 19th century." It was a horribly inhospitable spot packed with glaciers and freezing temperatures in Palmer Land. That hardly resembled Massachusetts even during a bad winter.
New Bedford in Massachusetts was in turn named for Bedford in England. New Bedford Inlet didn’t look anything like England, either. Once again I thought this type of nesting deserved extra credit.
A Couple More to Ponder
I found many others. I wanted to mention two more although I won’t elaborate on them much.
New Caledonia (map), a collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia probably wouldn’t be confused with Caledonia (i.e., Scotland)
New Washington (map) in the Philippians resembled neither Washington, DC nor the state of Washington in the United States. However it was named for George Washington directly and not for either of those other locations so it probably didn’t count.
Can anyone come up with even more extreme occurrences to add to Ross’ list?
I wouldn’t quite call it a groundswell, however more than one hundred different people searched for "cornfield" on Twelve Mile Circle over the last five years. Readers wanted an article based on cornfields and I shall oblige. Never say that 12MC doesn’t respond to its loyal fans. I interpreted cornfield to mean Corn Maze because I couldn’t comprehend of any other reason to consider a cornfield even remotely interesting. Actually I think I preferred the British term for Corn Maze in this instance, Maize Maze. It sounded so much more a-MAZE-ing. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
The Corn/Maize Maze concept probably didn’t merit much explanation. A farmer would drag a mower through virgin cornfields, cutting passageways into intricate, confusing patterns, forming a maze. Oftentimes patterns unfolded into elaborate works of art viewed best from above. Visitors explored the maze, got lost, found surprises and generally had a great time. The concept wasn’t new. Hedge mazes dated back several centuries as noted in an earlier article, Hazy Hedge Maze Memories. The difference here, however, was impermanence. Hedges took decades to reach maturity and their labyrinths remained fixed in place. A corn/maize maze could change radically every growing season.
While mazes constructed of crops inherited an ancient pedigree, I was surprised to learn that this adaptation was distinctly modern. I’d thought that corn/maize mazes had been around for a long time, guessing they probably traced back to the late 19th Century. That was completely wrong. They’ve only been around since 1993. Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania (map) claimed the first example:
In the early 1990s, Midwest farmers were struggling to recover from severe flooding, which ruined many crops, including corn. LVC alumnus and Disney World producer Don Frantz ’73, and then-student Joanne Marx ’94, had a plan to do something about it: build a corn maze, charge admission, and contribute the proceeds to the Red Cross to aid the disaster victims. Frantz had read about Europe’s small hedge mazes… "If there was an American adaptation of the European art, it would be a maze in a cornfield," said Frantz in a 1993 interview.
The concept took off from there and not just in the United States. An organization called The MAiZE included affiliates in more than 250 locations, primarily in North America. Another group, the Maize Maze Association did much the same focused primarily in the United Kingdom.
I picked a few random examples from around the world.
The Deer Meadow Farms Corn Maze in Winnipeg, Manitoba (map) was featured in a nice YouTube video taken from an ultralight airplane. This maze could be enjoyed from high above or down at ground level. Deer Meadow Farms used Global Positioning System equipment to sculpt its field with a new design each year, offering four levels of challenge:
• Try just wandering through and finding your way out. (Easy)
• Try to find the picture stations and take a photo. (Medium)
• Try to find all the hidden Trivia Stations and answer the questions…correctly. (Difficult)
• Try # 3 during the Maze by Dark nights. (Very Difficult)
It should take about 45 minutes to complete the maze pursuing the easier scenarios.
I liked looking at the Milton Maize Maze in Milton, East Anglia, England. The design in the Flickr image represented a Spitfire airplane in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of The Battle of Britain. The version found on Google Maps (map) was a more recent vintage and featured a large ear of corn rendered as a cartoon character.
The Milton Maize Maze website said,
We normally recommend that you allow yourself 1 hour 30 minutes to navigate the maze and allow yourself another two + hours to enjoy the other activities on site… The maze is a multi-maze with two completely different mazes in one… There is a good chance you may get lost; it is a seven acre field with several miles of paths! Never fear if you don’t soon get your bearings there are maze marshals on hand to point you in the right direction.
Several miles of wandering might be a bit much for me.
Why did I focus on a maze at Pałac Kurozwęki (map) in Poland? Quite simply because it was farther away from the birthplace of temporary agricultural mazes than any other I found. Sure there might be others in existence although I didn’t feel like spending a lot of time searching. Please feel free to offer better examples in the comments if you’re so inclined. Kurozwęki actually described itself as a Hemp/Maize Maze.
By walking in our maze, you can test your sense of direction, resourcefulness and other abilities. Every year we organise games and competitions by placing on the maze paths questions or riddles to answer. The task is additionally exciting because cell phones are blocked on the premises so you must rely only yourself.
I wasn’t sure how the hemp reference figured into the formula. I assumed it was the type of hemp used to make rope and twine. Further research demonstrated that there were a number of mazes that combined maize, hemp, sunflowers and other tall stalky plants to add variety to the experience or color to the designs. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some visitors used a certain other hemp-based product to enhance the experience even further.
I mentioned in the previously-referenced five years of searching that Iowa moved ahead of Minnesota in frequency, 47 to 31. A clever reader searched on Minnesota eight times the following day. It wasn’t enough to push Minnesota into the lead although it edged it a bit closer. The reader, naturally, came from Minnesota.
Twelve Mile Circle featured an article with the curious title Search for Search and Other Tales about two years ago. This effort examined a year’s worth of search queries that people entered into the website. To be clear as before, these weren’t random searches from Google or other sources, these were actual words or phrases typed individually into the little search bar on the top-right corner of the 12MC homepage. I was curious to see if conditions had changed in the intervening period. Because it was raining yesterday and because I was bored and didn’t have anything better to do, I reexamined the data for a five year period. I’m nothing if not obsessed.
I compiled the results and made them available in a shared spreadsheet. Feel free to see what hidden gems you can uncover in the 1000+ distinct search terms entered by readers, ranging from Time Zone (214 occurrences) to a plethora of single instances ending with Zipper. I did my best to combine entries that were variations on a theme, for example counting Exclave and Exclaves as the same item. I’m sure there were many typos in the list although don’t blame me, blame the people who typed them into the search box originally. I corrected some of the blatantly obvious ones although I didn’t go down the list line-by-line.
Mathematically, at a rough order of magnitude, it came out to about three queries per day. The Top-15 changed a bit using the longer time period, with "Search" bumping down to the second position:
214 Time Zone
Cornfield still surprised me. I couldn’t understand the fascination with cornfields, and I suspected it might have related to cornfield mazes? It didn’t represent a spike or surge either. The term popped-up regularly year-after-year from many different readers, places and sources. OK, I got it. Expect a 12MC article on cornfields.
I noticed a handful of entertaining and sometimes baffling entries as I combed through the data.
12 Mile Radius Around Yateley: This was an example of a type of query I’ve called "oddly specific" in previous instances. For this query to be effective, not only would 12MC have needed an article on Yateley (a small town in Hampshire, England – map), it would have also needed to discussed a very specific radius around it, like the purpose of 12MC was literally about nothing but drawing twelve mile circles.
Difference Between Lettuce and Lattice. Seriously?
An interesting Easter Egg appeared in the query log after I discussed this topic the last time: "Why is he obsessed with what people search?"
I’m afraid I don’t have an answer.
Topics for 12MC drop into my brain from many different places. Still, they don’t generally derive from dreams. I had that happen for the first time a few nights ago. I thought of an absolutely amazing article topic while I was dreaming, and in the dream I actually had the wherewithal to understand that I needed to write it down before I forgot. Half awake, I put pen to paper and went back to sleep.
It was about a map. Maps have become insanely popular on the Intertubes. I can write 12MC for years and gather a handful of faithful readers. Anyone with a collection of pretty maps will gain thousands of readers almost instantaneously. As I recall I was excited about the possibilities during my dream. My enthusiasm waned once I examined my note in the light of day. My brilliant idea? A map of places where people use chopsticks.
Maybe dreams aren’t the best source for article topics.