Railway maps and why all Christian superbowl ads are flawed

An Obadiah Slope column

Smokebreak via Jeannine Baird


Warning – railway and design nerd item ahead: Watching a doco about the misunderstood genius Harry Beck, who designed the famous London underground map, Obadiah learned something now – Beck, it appears, also designed a map for Sydney. or did he?

Beck’s London map took the leap of transforming geographic maps of the underground into a diagram, using horizontal, vertical and (in a stroke of genius) 45-degree diagonals.

Compare it to its predecessor from 1926, rightly described as a bowl of spaghetti. You’d have to go to New York these days to find such a bad map. From Tokyo to Oslo to Bangkok most of the world has followed Beck.

Beck was paid the princely sum of five guineas (£5.25) for his map and had a series of running battles with the Transport companies. he was always the outsider. Beck died relatively unknown in 1975, but his legacy has spread around the world. A copy of the original print run of 1933 will set you back £50,000.

A Beck map of Paris was never used, but in Sydney, in 1939, this map appeared.

It was clearly based on Beck. RMIT honorary professor, William Cartright, who has a keen eye for cartography, has been on the case writing several papers. In the latest paper Obadiah has found from Cartwright’s research he adds additional evidence.

Looking at these folded map covers, Cartwright observes, “The cover for this folded map is almost identical to the Central London map of the previous year, 1938. When looking at the two covers … the layout, type, logo and graphics border, the similarities are obvious.”
But despite researching the NSE government archives and the records of the railways, and then the records from Waite & Bull, the company that produced the map, no record of Beck’s involvement was found.

Cartwright finished his paper with a quote from archivist Mike Jones, which he describes as “somewhat a railway buff, “The branding would have been approved by the Railway Commissioners and, possibly, the Minister. I would be astonished if they got formal approval from LU. Intellectual property concerns were far less of an issue in those days, and the NSWGR was well known for just using patents (for example).”

So Harry Beck may have been ripped off again, downunder. But we’ll probably never know if he drew that map.


30 seconds of fame: While the watchers of the US “Superbowl” football final seemed divided between fans of the game and Taylor Swift, for some Christian parts of the internet, it was an ad by a group called He Gets Us.

The ad features an array of people having their feet washed, for example, a police officer washing a black man’s feet.

Anglican pastor/blogger David Ould analyses the pairings to conclude that an oppressor/oppressed paradigm is being promoted. “I think the messaging is pretty clear – if you’re on the “power” side of these relationships, then you need to take the knee and wash some feet as an act of love – by implication, your previous stance is one of hatred. So the cop maintaining the law in a tough situation is hating. The protestor quietly holding up a sign at a clinic and praying that women walking through those doors would turn from being duped into killing their children … well they’re hating too. You get where this is going.”

Canadian writer John Stackhouse notes a different framing of the ad comes from the left. “The “He Gets Us” campaign has been sponsored in part by the folks who own Hobby Lobby. In the view of many, it appears, the ads are immediately linked with homophobes, MAGA, and all things alt-right. (Here is one typical fulmination in Salon.)”

Could it be that the funders of the ad, who have supported conservative causes such as anti-abortion campaigns and opposed pro-LGBTQIA laws, have swung to the left – or simpy that how you percieve the ad can derive from how you see the world?

Blogger/author Stephen McAlpine and others crticised the ad for not being sharp enough. “The point of good advertising is to play up your difference and demonstrate why a customer should explore – and then purchase – your product as opposed to others,” McAlpine wrote.

“This ad did not do that. In fact it downplayed the difference Jesus makes, and instead played up one virtuous fruit of the gospel that has become so accommodated by the modern West, that it risked subsuming Jesus under it.”

Along with others, McAlpine points to a rival ad quickly put togther in response by a Northern Ireland pastor as an exemplar of what sort of ad he would have done.

Instead of “he gets Us” – criticised for implying jesus is okay with how humanity behaves , the line is “He Saves Us.” And a series of shots show “forners”, people who one were a witch, athiest (“former Dawkin’s right hand man”), jihadist, KKK member, drug addict, gang leader, drag queen and prostitute, abortionist, trangender, porn star, new age guru, lesbian activist. tagline “Jesus doesn’t just get us, he saves us.”

Now as evidence there is no such thing as a perfect 30 TVC for Jesus, can Obadiah point out a possible flaw in the second ad?

Do only people with extreme or out of the mainstream lives need Jesus to save them? What about a former greedy corporate executive? The last line of the ad references “such were some of you” from 1 Corinthians 6:9–11.

Its interesting what gets left out of that list when it’s quoted. isreal Folau left out greed when he quoted that passage , too.