Right around the block from here

Crisis is a (pretty mediocre) drama series about some very well informed gangsters kidnapping 20 kids from Washington’s most powerful parents to extort demands from them (the parents, not the kids). When the parents do what they are asked, they usually get their children back. If that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, I don’t know what does!

Anyway, this post is about episode 5, where two parents had to steal sensitive data from the CIA (on a memory stick attached to a cellphone no less – don’t ask). They did their job, so they can have their stupid brats back. For that purpose, they are told GPS coordinates they can relay to the Feds no earlier than 3pm. Makes sense since the kidnappers would want to wait for the parents to be successful before they bring their hostages to the point designated by the coordinates. So far, so plausible.

Picture (c) NBC
Picture (c) NBC

The GPS coordinates we are told are 38.9072309 77.0364641 – a location, as the Feds quickly find out, is “right around the block from here”. Maybe they have more sophisticated equipment than I have, but Google Maps is usually quite sufficient. Let’s look them up, shall we?

Picture (c) Google
Picture (c) Google

Well, I wouldn’t call that “around the block” at all unless you happen to live in the absolute middle of nowhere in rural China. I guess the parents didn’t memorize the coordinates properly or the kidnappers are just daft. I’m going with the former theory because so far, the kidnappers thought of everything. Hell, they even have a handwritten (and handdrawn!) journal detailing every single step of their criminal activities.

But fortunately, the FBI is smart and powerful, so they must have seen the obvious error: GPS coordinates in the USA have a negative longitude – for example, 38.95282387 -77.14719311 are the coordinates for the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. So what do we get if we just modify the coordinates given by the kidnappers accordingly?

Picture (c) Google
Picture (c) Google

Wow! That’s smack dab in the middle of Washington D.C. – you could call that “right around the block” from Langley, although you’d still be driving for a while. However, there’s something slightly off with the location: it’s a tunnel. And even if you ignore that and just move to the surface …

Picture (c) Google
Picture (c) Google

… you’d be in the middle of a busy street crossing at the Hahnemann Memorial in quite the pretty neighborhood – I highly doubt there’s an alley like this nearby:

Picture (c) NBC
Picture (c) NBC

(The obviously fake “no parking in alleys” sign sure is a nice touch!)

Thank god for the FBI! They can quickly find your abducted children even if the kidnappers give them an entirely wrong location!

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