Saturday, February 23, 2008

Downunder Perplexion

These four pictures of parts of little towns in Australia are taken directly from Google Earth, and have not been altered at all. They should present a puzzlement to modestly well-informed North American viewers of above-average perceptiveness.

So, what’s puzzling about these images? The first person to get it right will win a box of brand-new, unused semicolons from Brian Fies, or, if the winner is Brian Fies, a box of dots. Real elevated dots, not those newfangled, deflated, tired, lying-on-the-line ones.

(Click on the images to see a larger version... if you need to, wimp!)

Broken Hill, New South Wales, Argent (upper right to lower left) and Oxide (perpendicular thereto) Streets.

Forbes, New South Wales, Templar (upper left to lower right) and Lachlan (perpendicular) Streets, with a roundabout intersection.

Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Hannan (left) and Egan (right) Streets.

Parkes, New South Wales, Highway 39 (left) and Currajong Street. I first recognized the oddity that this quiz refers to at about the location of the light-blue “39” shield in this image in April of 1986, when I passed through Parkes on a little pilgrimage.

Good luck!


Brian Fies said...

No takers? I would have had a go sooner, but had to verify that Australians drive on the left side of the road (or, as I would say, "wrong") like everyone else who had anything to do with England during their formative automotive years. According to my crack research staffer Mr. Google and his aide Ms. Wiki, it appears that they do.

That makes the angles of diagonal parking the opposite of what one might expect, by which I infer that these are among those few wacky locales in which one backs into a diagonal parking space. Can't quite tell from the photos which way the cars are facing, but I'll bet that's it.

I hope I'm right. I don't really want to part with any semicolons, and I could sure use some dots.

Got any interrobangs?!

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

So that's it! I looked and said to myself, "That's interesting. Australians drive on the right. They must - i mean, look at the parking angle. Well, enough of this diversion, what am i supposed to be noticing...""

So is that what people do? Back in?

Mark Jackson said...

The cars in the first and third photos are angled properly for driving on the left. Those in the second and fourth are not; the angle is also nearer to perpendicular, and close inspection suggests the cars are indeed backed in.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Neil Robinson and Mark sent their solutions by e-mail before you posted here, Brian, so I'm afraid no dots for you!

Yes, indeed, it appears that diagonal parking's direction (innie or outie) is a matter of an individual town's whim. As Mark notes, the towns in which one backs into a diagonal space have their spaces more nearly perpendicular to the curb -- and, since people don't back up as gracefully as they drive forward, the resulting distribution is a little more ragged as seen from Google Earth's vertical perspective.

It's interesting that GE's "high resolution" imagery is of just the right resolution to make this quiz work: much sharper, and the orientation of the cars' fronts would be obvious -- but much fuzzier, and the diagonal parking orientation probably wouldn't have been so easily discernable.

Thanks for playing!