Some things look small because they’re far away. Some things look small because the BBC chooses a perspective that makes them look small. Some things look small because they are small. And some small things are small because they have to fit within the brain case of a yoonatic journalist. Atoms are tiny, but they’re made up subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are themselves made up of even more miniscule elementary subatomic particles, like quarks, antiquarks, and leptons. And elementary subatomic particles are made up of the tiniest thing in the known universe, the intellect and imagination of a Westminion.
Today on social media, the usual suspects in the spannerbag of Scottish media yoonettes mocked an SNP MP for pointing out that Scotland looks disproportionately small on the BBC weather map. How stupid is he, eh eh, they joked with one another. Of course it’s small because the world is a globe. How dumb is that? But your TV screen isn’t a globe, it’s a two dimensional surface, and there are recognised ways and means of representing the surface of a sphere on a two dimensional surface. When you spend your career looking for ways to attack the Scottish government, it’s easy to miss out on geometry lessons, never mind cartography.
For reasons best known to its metrocentric self, the BBC has chosen to use a non-standard map projection for its weather maps. This has the effect of making Scotland and the north look tiny and making London and the south look much larger than they really are. On the BBC weather map, the south of England is disproportionately large. This annoys some people who are convinced it’s part of a BBC plot to diminish Scotland. It’s not a plot. However the BBC weather map also annoys more reasonable people who are convinced that it was just some BBC graphics wheeze to represent a globe implemented by a corporation which didn’t give a toss that what they were doing was presenting a point of view to the rest of the country which privileged the south of England, and then calling themselves a national broadcaster. Symbols are important, you’d think that a media corporation ought to know that, and the BBC’s southern-centric weather map has become a symbol of the centrally controlled BBC’s London-centric attitudes.
Map projections are means of displaying the surface of a three dimensional sphere on a two dimensional surface like the page of a book, or indeed a television screen. If you tried to stick the surface of a sphere down on a flat surface, you’d end up with a crease the size of the arsecrack into which the Labour party in Scotland has so recently vanished. To get around this, the map can be distorted in various ways. Some map projections like Mercator stretch out areas as the map approaches the poles so that Greenland appears larger than Australia when in fact it is smaller. Other projections show equal areas at the expense of foreshortening. The BBC’s weather map doesn’t use a projection familiar from an atlas, it uses an idiosyncratic projection which some geek in their design department thought looked modern.
And here’s where our small minded yoonidities only show their own ignorance when they mock those who point out that Scotland looks small on the BBC weather map. But it’s a sphere they say, and go off on tired riffs on a Father Ted sketch. What they forget, or more plausibly never understood in the first place, perhaps because they’re genetically programmed to knee-jerk scottiscoff, is basic geometry. From the point of view of someone looking down on the surface of a sphere, any point on the surface of that sphere can be equally distant – it all depends on the point of view which is chosen in the first place. But then it’s easy to overlook that when your chosen point of view is a cringey one. Since their default position as Scottish yoon media loveys is that the Scottish media is too wee too poor and too provincial to report on global affairs, then grasping the properties of a globe is clearly going to be beyond them. We should be kind, because it is cruel to mock those with learning difficulties.
The BBC chooses to display a map showing a view of the UK from a point in space somewhere off the southern coast of England. They could, if they wanted, have chosen to depict the UK from a point in space somewhere above central England, northern England, or even Scotland. But they didn’t want to do that. They chose a view which gave prominence to those parts of these islands which are most important to managers in the BBC, and that would be London and the south of England. Scotland looks small on the BBC weather map because it’s far away from London.
The BBC weather map isn’t very important in the cosmic scheme of things. It’s a symbol of the lack of consideration that the BBC has for the places that the news announcers call “where you are”. The BBC spends risible amounts on ‘regional’ broadcasting, and artificially boosts the amount which it does claim as spent on ‘the regions’. Network programmes are packaged as ‘regional’ and the BBC claims that this counts towards fulfilling their commitment to producing Scottish programming. That’s how shows like Waterloo Road, about an English school following an English curriculum full of English kids and English teachers, just happens to be set in Greenock.
From the weather map perspective of the BBC, Scotland is very much a small and insignificant region, a tiny place far far away. The weather map itself isn’t important, but what the BBC weather map has come to represent is the lack of consideration for Scottish broadcasting, the lack of funding for Scottish broadcasting, and the London control of Scottish broadcasting. The perspective of the BBC weather map symbolises all those things, and they are very important indeed. Ignoring that, and focussing on the map itself, that’s the typical wilful yoonidity of a mind that thinks small because it is small.
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