Thursday, August 31, 2006

The New Wave of European Emigration

Did you know that half of all Britons have considered emigrating from the United Kingdom and thirteen-percent said they were hoping to do it in the near future? Those numbers, and especially the last one, are monstrously high. Europeans have said they dislike high unemployment, high taxes, and high cost of living. Places like Canada, Australia, and the United States have a lower tax burden and still have competitive market economies.

More examples are abound. Germans are leaving their fatherland looking for jobs. 145,000 Germans have emigrated last year amid record postwar unemployment, pushing emigration to its highest level since 1954. Right now unemployment in Germany is flirting with pre-Hitler levels.

All this is bad for Europe as an economic/political system. Birth rates are below two children for every mother causing negative population growth, there is a lack of workers, and immigration from groups like Turks and Arabs who, sometimes violently, reject the native culture. The riots in France both in the spring were caused by youth who violently fought against making the market more competitive. If France and the rest of Europe cannot adapt then they will perish as we know them. Things will only get worse as the most productive and competitive citizens leave Europe for better lives elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fellow Bloggers Update

Catholicgauze has some more recommendations on blogs to read.

Fantom Planet is done by a fellow geographer and contains the opinionated output about geographically related things.

Geography for Travelers contains blog posts and podcasts. Subjects covered obviously deal with travel, tourism, and travel geography.

Islamic Cartography is a blog which is the public face of Tarek Kahlaoui ongoing disertation on The Depiction of the Mediterranean in Late Islamic Cartography, from the 13th to the 16th Centuries. This one looks promising.

Finally there is Outsourced by Nick Moles. Nick is a Texan living in Prague, Czech Republic (they really need to figure out a name for that place). Nick writes about his day-to-day life in Czechland and his journeys. Check out some of the neat photographs he has taken!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Water wars or is the world just nuts?

A US company managed by the United Nations is working studying the Guaraní Aquifer's structure and is devising ways to sustainably develop and manage the cross-border resource for farming, drinking supplies, and geothermal energy. Meanwhile the United States is training Paraguay Special Forces to monitor Islamic drug lords. Are these two events unrelated- most probably. But crazies out there since the dark hand of the United States!

National Geographic News is reporting on a conspiracy theory being advocated by some including Adolfo "US is a terrorist state" Esquivel which NG describes as an "activist" and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The South Americans allege the United States is trying to steal their water or something along those lines. It looks like this is an extension with the fears of a worldwide water shortage.

I have participated in many discussions concerning anti-Americanism. Some of the people I have discussed the phenomena with tell me American policy is to blame. But these South Americans are just nuts. If a group based in the United States being managed by the United Nations cannot even research putting an aquifer to more efficient use without being accused of being part of an American invasion; what can America possibly due to curb anti-Americanism?

Category: Geopolitics

Monday, August 28, 2006

Postcards to Catholicgauze: Louisiana

This past summer Catholicgauze received several postcards from friends. One of them was from Louisiana.

Studying postcards has long been a sub-section of geography. Postcards usually show how a town, region, state, country wishes to be seen and what the town, region, state, country considers important.

The Louisiana postcard is a caricature drawing of the state showing various things all throughout the state.

In the middle of the postcard a "Cajun cabin" and fence are seen expanding from the Toledo Bend Reservoir to the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge. This fence goes roughly along the Anglo Baptist North and French Catholic Southern parts of the state.

Baton Rouge is shown as a city of 1930s progress with the "New Governor's Mansion" and the state capital building. These buildings are living remnants of Huey Long's reign throughout the state.

In both the northern and southern parts of the state antebellum plantation houses are seen and there is also a Scarlett O'Hara-type woman. The romanticism of the Old South is alive and well.

New Orleans is shown as a party town (the dancer) with history (Saint Louis Cathedral) but still a modern city (the Superdome). I firmly believe New Orleans had the best chamber of commerce and tourism bureau ever. No where on the postcard or in people's mind before Katrina did one associated New Orleans with runaway crime and corruption.

The only black person depicted in a state with 32.5% black population is a person practicing voodoo. Voodoo does have a rich history in Louisiana and deserves to be marked but the postcard's cartographer seems to think that is the only black contribution to the state of significance.

No where on the map are any war references. No War of 1812 and no Civil War sights are marked. When it comes to the Civil War the state's history is counteracted by the state flag with the motto of "Union Justice and Confidence."

Category: Postcards

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Space Tourism Continues to Grow (with Anousheh Ansari!)

Space is the final frontier... of tourism. Already three people have gone into space and in September Russia will launch yet another tourist into space on a Soyuz.

Russia
is currently working with Space Adventures, a privately owned company based in Arlington, Virginia. Space Adventures working with the Russians to create a space plane designed specifically for space tourism. The operations would be carried out from spaceports in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. The current price for a ticket is 20 million dollars.


Space Adventures has competition for Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic is the offshoot for the famous Virgin brand and managed by Sir Richard Branson. Virgin is making its own spacecraft (the first one being named the VSS Enterprise - go Star Trek!) and it will be based in New Mexico. Virgin will be receiving training aid from NASA. Plans are to launch 500 people a year into space starting around 2008. The price to go up in the VSS Enterprise will be only $200,000.

Right before Dennis Tito became the first space tourist there was some rumblings from NASA. It is this type of snobbish attitude which has distanced the public from space exploration. I say if one has the money and goes through the training then they should have the honor of becoming astronauts. What's so special about being hand picked by NASA: a failing government agency?

There is some interesting news about the latest space flight. Japanese businessman Disuke Enomoto was pulled off the flight because of health reasons. Maybe this was a good thing because he was planning on going up as his favorite anime character. His replacement will be American business woman Anousheh Ansari. Ansari was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. She and her husband are self-made millionaires.

As a homage to TDAXP and to honor a request by a female friend I offer pictures of the stunning Anousheh Ansari (or as TDAXP would put it "Beautiful, Hot, and Sexy Iranian Astronaut Pictures"). Just remember boys she is married! (Note: Done in good humor, Catholicgauze respects women; he just fails alot)












Category: Space

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Representations of Indians and US Army along the Oregon Trail: Kansas up to Topeka


After leaving Independence heading west I quickly entered the state of Kansas. Not many people know that Kansas was once the original Indian Territory. Tribes like the Pottawatomi, Sacs and Fox, and Delaware were forced from their eastern homes and made to live with the Osage, Pawnee, and others. Whites could enter Kansas to trade, emigrate out west, and a few were allowed to live in Kansas as government agents and missionaries (not always exclusive in nineteenth-century America). The United States Army, based at Fort Leavenworth, kept the piece in Indian Territory until 1854 with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which made Kansas a territory and singled the end of for the aborted Indian land.

The first city one enters in Kansas is Kansas City, Kansas. Here some of the main, historical roads are based on old Osage paths that connected the various nearby villages. No acknowledgement can be found by markers along the roads in either Kansas or Missouri.

The Oregon National Historic Trail Auto Tour Route then takes a highway along side the interstate through Lawrence and passed Lecompton, sit of the pro-slavery capital of Kansas, and into Topeka; which is the capital of Kansas and served as the anti-slavery capital of Kansas.

In Topeka there are three sites of interest. The first is Burnett Hill. The hill is named after Chief Burnett who was a leader of the Potawatomi Tribe. The hill was named by John "The Pathfinder" Fremont. The hill is now the resting place for Burnett. The cemetery is on private property but the landowner does his best to preserve its history. A little marker tells of Burnett. No mention of Fremont is made.

The next stop is the Kansas State Historical Society Museum. The Museum is full of history from pre-Cambrian times to modern day. The Indians section; with everything from paelo-Indians of the Clovis time up until circa 1850 was between the entrance and the pioneer section. The chosen symbol for this on the floor map is a teepee, the seemingly international symbol for American Indian. This ignores the fact that most of the native and transplanted Indians of Kansas lived in either wigwams or wooden lodges. Some members of the Citizen Band of Potawatomi lived in single family housing made in the style of the average white American farm house. The displays are kept separate from the continuous stream of white Kansan history. A shame really because the local Oregon Trail and many local towns were key meeting points for both whites and Indians. While there was a section dedicated to Bleeding Kansas there was no mention of Fremont, Pike, Kearny, or the other Army explores who went through Kansas.

The main affront (and I may be completely wrong about this; further research is need) is the White Buffalo Monument. I blogged about this before and I still can only locate evidence that Sioux, a group found nowhere in Kansas, worshiped white buffalo historically.

The compensation was the Pottawatomie Baptist Mission near the museum. The mission museum shows what life was like for the Indian students who went to the school detailing duties, schooling, and showing off the rooms were their days were spent. The exhibits point out most of the students were mixed blood.

So concludes the brief time from Kansas City to Topeka. Next up were the relatively unknown towns of Rossville, Saint Marys, and Marysville. These towns were to be of monumental value of study covering the three themes of accurate portrayal, "all Indians are the same," and "nothing to see here." Making key appearance would be the mixed bloods of the Pottawatomi and Father DeSmet.

Category: Oregon Trail

Friday, August 25, 2006

Getting to know the Enemy: Islamist Fascism


“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” - Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu's words are very true. In this age of global struggle his advice is being used not only by military and political leaders but also by the average citizen who forms the base of any democratic society.

Because Catholicgauze is such an advocate of everyone being an informed member of society I offer these links which provide first and secondary information (some from the terrorist themselves) about these monsters who call themselves Jihadis.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has a translated copy of The Management of Savagery by Abu Bakr Naji. In this horrible piece of literature Abu Bakr Naji outlines how Islamist terrorists should go into Muslim countries, kill all those who oppose them, and institute a fascist-style government. He cities numerous examples from Afghanistan to Somilia.

Little Green Footballs has some links to terrorist websites. The only one English-language in is Press Release. This blog contains the press releases (with information like praising allah for the deaths of innocent civilians) from the Mujahedeen Shura Council of Iraq. The council is an umbrella group of terrorists including al Qaeda in Iraq.

Finally one should read up on Koran, which Islamist terrorists base their ideology on. CAIR offers a free Koran give away. I received one and was horrified by what I read.

End note: When I was talking about this blog post some asked why I was giving direct links to terrorist handbooks and propaganda. My answer is this: The terrorists already have access to this information; but if the Western citizen can see this primary information they will see the monsterism of those who oppose us. And the army agrees with me (PDF).

Category: War on Terrorism

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Review of Online Mapping Sites: Ask.com


Five points to he or she who sees the easter egg first

It's back. The long delayed review of online mapping sites continues. Ansiguy has been kind enough to review Ask.com's entry into the mapping world. Catholicgauze decided he could not be an impartial reviewer because of the whole "declaring holy war upon them for trying to astroturf me" thing. The review was originally posted here but I have copied it for my readers' convenience (but be sure to read TechPoint blog!)

Some of the popular mapping websites are Mapquest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Mappoint, Ask, etc. While most of them source from Navteq or TeleAtlas; the way they are presented makes a huge difference in the user experience. Companies try to stay ahead of competition by doing something different. One common thing is to provide a feature that competitor’s don’t offer. But sometimes it leads to some interesting features such as ask.com’s map providing an option for walking directions.

For walking in downtown New York or Chicago or big similar big cities this feature would be very useful and Ask.com is the only service that provides it.

An interesting direction would be 223 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603 to 339 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60606. Compare between Driving directions and walking directions. Due to one way routes, driving directions are not the best to take if you plan on walking. Great!

I searched Ask’s map direction from Chicago, IL to Detroit, MI and just for the heck of it I clicked on walking directions and I found the time estimate as 125 hr. 20 min.

Now I would be curious to know who would walk so many hours?

The reason for my curiosity is Ask.com probably is optimizing routes for driving and walking, because the Chicago – Detroit driving directions shows a shorter route while walking directions shows a longer route may be due to the fact that you cannot walk on all the routes that you can drive.

Pretty much walking directions is the only feature that would attract you to Ask.com’s mapping site. There are no other standard features such as reverse directions which is a commonly used feature and available in other mapping sites.

Mapquest still stands as my top pick. Mapquest’s sole business is maps and they do a good job at that. Mapquest is the only service that allows you to perform advanced options such as Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Avoid Highways , Avoid Tolls and Avoid Seasonally-Closed Roads. Mapquest may not be up to mark with the top notch technology such as ajax or flex, but they sure do provide good and accurate directions with some really good advanced options.

Related posts:
Yahoo maps beta released - feature rich
Google Maps Vs Mapquest - what’s your pick?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

GEO Data Portal


Guess which region is has a large crude birth rate

The United Nations Environment Programme's GEO Data Portal is a very handy tool to access geographical and demographic data in map, graph, or numerical form.

The description on its website goes "The GEO Data Portal is the authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments. Its online database holds more than 450 different variables, as national, subregional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP. Display them on-the-fly as maps, graphs, data tables or download the data in different formats."

Category: GeoInfo

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Worldwide Water Shortage

Financial Times has an excellent article concerning water shortages around the world.

Fascinating points include:

Egypt already imports half its food because of water scarcity (imagine if one of the Nile dams goes, what would happen to fields. This is a scary possibility in the age of terrorism).

870 gallons of water are used each day in Italy to produce each person’s food each day!!!

Agriculture uses 70 times more water than domestic use. The American Middle West faces a major problem with the slow but steady declining Ogallala Aquifer.

Man does not have a good track record with water management. The Salton Sea was once the Salton Sink. There was also once a thing called the Aral Sea until the Soviets diverted water for cotton fields in the desert. Now there is this.

Category: Physical Geography

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Representations of Indians and US Army along the Oregon Trail: Independence


And so begins my project to blog my findings concerning my trip along the Great Plains section of the Oregon Trail. I set out to examine interpretations of the US Army and Indians from the time of the trail. The geographical journey begins in the same town where the trail first started: Independence, Missouri.

Independence was founded in 1827 near the banks of the Missouri River. It served primarily as a trading town and shipping port. Many Indian groups which were forced into Kansas (at that time Kansas was dumping ground for Indian tribes from the Eastern states) went to Independence to trade. In 1831, Joseph Smith Junior led the Mormons to the town. He claimed he had received a vision in which God told him the third temple of New Jerusalem would be located just west of the Jackson County Court House. The town steadily grew in size with the influx of Mormon and frontiersmen.

Also in 1831 an event occurred which would herald the greatest intranational migration in American history. Four Flatheads Indians passed through Independence on their way to Missouri to request medicine men and their religion. The call was issued forth by both Protestants and Catholics that the Indians desired to have the Christian religion. One of the people who answered the call was Marcus Whitman. He, his wife, and some other missionaries left Independence in 1836 for Oregon Territory. The importance of their journey was that they proved a wagon could travel the "Great American Desert." Another important person to answer the call was Father Pierre-Jean De Smet. De Smet was a Belgium-born Jesuit Priest who would play a great role not only with the Oregon Trail but also American history.

The Oregon Trail started in earnest in 1843. Wagons and people would arrive at Independence landing. Supplies would be bought from the local stores. Men would gather in the court house square to discuss the formation of wagon trains. Because of its history as the start of the Oregon and other trails Independence is known as the "Queen City of the Trails."

In Court House Square there are plaques to the start of the Oregon and Santa Fe Trail. The place to go for history is the National Frontier Trails Museum. The Museum has displays showing the many aspects of western expansion via the trails.

While the museum is a very nice place and very informative it lacks some necessary interpretation. The only depiction of the military is concerning the Mexican-American War. No solid mentioning of the famous forts of Kearny or Laramie. There is a section dedicated to Indians. However; all encounters are written accounts by the emigrants. The museum does a good job showing the wide range of opinions the emigrants had. Having something from the Indian's point-of-view would have been nice however. The museum has a variety of paintings of the trails. The majority of paintings which depicting Indians had them in the background as the wagon trains (progress) marched onwards. It felt like the part of the Passion "... and John looks on." Relegated to background noise.

At Jackson County Courthouse Square there is a store, operated by Indians, which sales a variety of overpriced Indian trinkets. Most of the things were from tribes from the Southwest or Upper Midwest. The logo for the store is an Indian Chief with a huge feather headdress. The stereotype of Midwestern Indians being the model of all Indians is alive and well- a trend which will continue.

No where to be found in the rest of the city were any more interpretations of Indians or US Army from the time of the Oregon Trail. I surmise the lack of Army representation was because Missouri was already a state at the trail's time and the counties had their own militias to keep the peace. The lack of Indian representations is a little bit more shocking. Osage Indians had created the path ways which would become the roads of Independence and Kansas City hundreds of years before any whites were in Missouri. I am NOT a "revisionist" historian/geographer but give the people some credit!

One of the oldest churches in town is Saint Mary’s Catholic Church which was founded as an Indian mission. Only a small marker tells of its past. Nothing inside the church could be found discussing its past. Why does the church not take pride with its past?

It is time to leave Independence and Missouri. 700 miles and many more places separate us from the end of the Great Plains section at Fort Laramie.

Category: Oregon Trail

It is Coming...

Its coming... Its coming... Tomorrow GTWC! gets a new in-depth feature... (That I literally have no choice but to finish!)

Clustrmaps


As readers have noted I am now using Clustrmaps to show where my readers are coming from. Clustrmaps provides maps of, well, clusters of users from general areas around the world. It is a pretty neat service.

People may also be interested in SiteMeter's mapping abilities. Site meter can map up to the last one hundred visitors (for free) to any website.

Category: Neogeography

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Virtually Visiting Ancient Egypt

Former volunteer and blogger Jason Clay has recently returned from Egypt. While there he took photos and created short movies of the ancient pyramids and temples of Egypt. They are well wroth the look and so is Jason's blog.

Category: Virtually Traveling the World

Friday, August 18, 2006

Map of The Simpsons' Springfield

Many of you and I were/are fans of The Simpsons. I personally feel the show has gone down hill during the last 8 years (!) and so do many others. However, enough ranting by an old man, let us get to the good part- the geography!

Map of Springfield has section maps of the fictional city and a complete "big map" of the area which the show takes place in. Who remembers places like John Bull's Fish and Chips, Fort Springfield, and the Monorail?

Category: Maps

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cryptozoology in Maine

Whether it is vampire-like creatures in New England or just plan weird things going on, I have a side interest in studying the "odd" things in the world. I feel the terms "supernatural" and "paranormal" have been corrupted (much like the term UFO which is now utilized in popular culture as "identified spacecraft from beyond this planet") so I prefer the term "odd." The problem is only two groups study odd things today: pseudo-scientists who are jokes and crackpots and debunkers who already have the conclusion settled before they begin studying. It would wise to investigate this field further, you never know what you may find.

Take the case of the monster of Turner, Maine. In this small Yankee town there have been stories for about the last 15 years of some sort of monster attacking dogs, scaring people, and making strange sounds in the night. Most people thought the legend steamed from a dog attack and then took a life of its own being exaggerated. However, last Saturday the "monster" meet civilization and became road kill. No one knows for sure what it is but I tell you it is one ugly thing. The legend, in this case, seems true.

Now there are other cases that should be solved. What was the Beast of Bray Road? It sounds like the Beast of Gévaudan sans killing people. And more importantly, what has been mutilating farmers and ranchers' cattle throughout the American West? In my grandfather's hometown a cattle was mutilated and no one could say what did it but they all knew it was not a wild animal attack.

Category: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Geography of "We're All Going to Die!" ... or Maps of Disasters World Wide

ÉLETVESZÉLYES HŐMÉRSÉKLET! ÉLETVESZÉLYES HŐMÉRSÉKLET!

The RSOE Havaria Information Service offers human and natural disaster maps online. The maps are mash-ups which use Google Earth as the base. Each marker can be clicked for more information on the disaster. The markers flash in such a way one imagines it is the end of the world.

Currently maps of Hungary, Europe, and the World are available. Some disasters like "civil war" or "ethnic cleansing" are absent but most events are depicted.

Also viewable is the weather reporting system for picturesque Lake Balaton. Right now all seems well and it almost makes me want to leave the States to go on a sailing vacation. I qualify the previous sentence with the word "almost" because there is an epidemic of some horrible sort going on right near by in neighboring Serbia. (Hat Tip: Le Petit Blog Cartographique et/and Very Spatial)

Category: Maps, Neogeography, Physical Geography

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

European Railroad Maps

Traveling on any train can be a very relaxing experience. I have had the opportunity to and I greatly enjoyed it. Seeing the country side pass one bye in seats much larger than on an airplane all the while having the opportunity to get up and walk from car to car is a traveling rite of passage.

One of the main ways of traveling in Europe is train. Whether for business or pleasure many people utilize the vast railroad network for transportation. For tourists, the railroads of Europe have a certain romanticism associated with them. Just think of the Orient Express and one will have visions full of emotions.

So what can make the railways of Europe better? Maps of course!

Map Room Blog linked to an excellent collection of maps which show electrification, tourist lines, and others. I like this collection of maps because the cartography is simple yet elegant.

The technological and detailed awards go to RailEurope.com. They feature interactive flash maps of Europe. Each country map has its own little trivia section while the map loads. Very neat!

Category: Maps

Monday, August 14, 2006

Geography and Games: Conflict


Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator is a computer game from 1990 but still is very timely.

The game's simple background story is that you are replacing the former Prime Minister of Israel who was assassinated. The purpose of the game is to keep Israel independent, not get overthrown but an insurgency, and topple all neighboring countries via invasion, insurgency, or have another nation conquer. One can buy an army, police the Palestinians, and work on Israel's nuclear program.

The game is a fun diversion (any round can be completed in ten minutes) but there are some geopolitical problems. If one gives the Palestinians independence the "Palestinian problem" is permanently solved. No more PLO, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. If it was that simple I think we could have solved Middle East violence long ago. Also, I doubt it is possible that Israel-Arab relations could improve as is possible in the game. Countless times I have used an Israeli-Iraqi alliance to bring down Syria.

That said Conflict is good clean fun. Can you nuke Egypt and not have things spiral out of control into World War III? Try out for yourself! The game and manual can be downloaded here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ask.com caught! Crusade on them!

Lately I posted concerning TDAXP's report about Ask.com using Hezbollah-like tactics against critical media sources.

Last night Ask launched an astroturf campaign against the Catholicgauze. One "Jimmy O'Reilly" commented on TDAXP and then an "Anonymous" posted over on GTWC! quickly afterwards.

An investigation quickly revealed that "Jimmy" is an Ask.com comment spammer. The spammer has been busy on Yahoo groups singing the praises of Ask. He calls Ask.com maps "massive cool," and in the rest of his posts he goes out of the way to give credit to Ask.

Ladies and gentlemen: A very dishonest practice has been uncovered. This event has convinced me once and for all that Andy Yang (e-mail address:
ayang@ask.com) has indeed lied to me when he stated on record that Ask.com did not blacklist GTWC!

I have made a chart comparing Catholicgauze, Ask.com, and Hezbollah (joking of course)


GTWC!

Hezbollah

Ask.com

Anti-Terrorism

Pro-Terrorism

Never said anything against terrorism

Fights with a Blogger name

Hides amongst civilians

Hides amongst civilians

A leading general Geography blog

Only number 2 in terrorism

Wishes it was number 2 in the search engine game



Ask.com: Enemy of free speech and critical review

Geography and Books: Persepolis

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an autobiographical account of an Iranian girl and her parents’ lives from the end of the Shah's rule to the height of the Iran-Iraq War.

The book is a graphic novel and approximately 160 pages long. It was originally written in French but has been excellently translated into English.

Marjane was the great-granddaughter of the former emperor of Iran. However, she grew up in a mostly-secular Zoroastrian home with parents who were both avid Communists. The family opposes the Shah and participates in the revolution. Things take a dramatic turn when the Mullahs make Iran an Islamic Republic. The supporters of regime change become enemies of the state. Women are forced to wear veils, men must grow facial hair, and political dissent is violently crushed. More than once Marjane nearly received the fate of young Atefah Sahaaleh.

The most interesting factor in the book is the irony behind the Communists. Marjane grows up reading about Castro and Arafat, learns that Israel is the enemy of the people, and pretends to be Che. However, her dad drives a Cadillac, the family is upper class, they enjoy American music and bands, and they have maids. The maids are not allowed to eat at the table and the father breaks up a relationship because one of the maids is from a lower class. When the family thinks of fleeing the country they consider Austria, France, or the United States but no Communist states.

The book also serves as a reminder that most of the world has a much deeper sense of history than the United States. Marjane twice mentions how the Iraqis are the second Arab invaders in 1,400 years and she makes it seem like yesterday.

Persepolis is a quick read and can be finished in a day. The point-of-view it provides into recent Iranian history, culture, and totalitarianism in general is invaluable.

Category: Books

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Geographic Travels of Oil

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting series of articles in an investigation of oil geopolitics. It is hard to describe but worth a look.

It is important that one realizes oil is everything in this globalized age. As long as the world is dependent on oil it will be dependent on unstable regions only made worse with kleptomaniac governments. All the more reason to research alternative energy sources.

Category: Geopolitics

Friday, August 11, 2006

New High-Quality Earth Imagery from the ESA


Sunny in Eire yet cloudy over Ulster

The European Space Agency has announced that one thousand images are now available from their imagery website with most in TIFF format! My favorite is above but I am also partial to the one showing France and her neighbors.

I wish to give the hat tip to Spatial Ireland who will be joining the Catholicgauze Reads list!

Category: Physical Geography

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ask.com Update

I have arranged for a fellow blogger to do a guest review of Ask.com's Mapping Site. Why? Because the only thing I can come up with is "They blacklisted Catholicgauze!"


TDAXP has another report on Ask.com and its strategy. He compares Ask.com to the murderous, ungodly terrorist group Hezbollah. It is a fun read!


*********************************************************************

UPDATE: Ask.com caught!

Catholicgauze and the AAG

I know it is early but it is time to make plans. I will speak at the Great Plains-Rocky Mountain and West Lakes Division Fall 2006 meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska on October 5 through 7.

But more importantly I will speak at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers in San Francisco sometime between April 17 and 21.

Will any other bloggers or readers be there? I am already in communication with another blogger about meeting up and enjoying a drink together. Comment if anyone else is interested. Let us try to make something work!

Yet Even More Hezbollah Lebanon Israel War Maps


(For previous maps I posted check out the War on Terrorism Section)

I think Catholicgauze has been schooled. The Perry-Castañeda Library has THE collection of war maps. Included are day-to-day battle maps, general war maps, and maps of the countries involved.

Category: Maps, War on Terrorism

Salem Witch Trials

Exactly 200 years before New Englanders were battling vampires they were busy hanging "witches" (and by witches I mean their neighbors). The Salem Witch Trials were a bloody affair in which 20 people were executed and scores more imprisoned or accused.

Catholicgauze believes it is important to study this episode in America history to learn more about ourselves, ideas on government and justice, and gain an understanding and appreciation of American history.

An excellent place to acquire information on the witch hunt is the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. My favorite section of the website is the maps page. Maps of Salem Village and neighboring villages abound including an interactive map of some of the accusations.

As a special bonus check out the map of Andover. Andover was home to four generations of Catholicgauze's ancestors. In fact, one of my ancestors was accused of witchcraft but was cleared of the charges.

Category: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Online Mapping Sites Review Comparison

While I slowly gain strength to continue my review series of online mapping sites I wish to point you all to TechPoint blog by Ansiguy. He has made a comparison of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Mapquest and comes to the same conclusion as I did: Yahoo Maps kicks butt!

Maps compared

Yahoo maps beta

Google Maps

Mapquest

Data

Navteq and TeleAtlas

Navteq

TeleAtlas

Technology

Flash/Flex

Ajax

Traditional

Drive from/Drive to

Yes

No

No

Multiple stop points

Yes

No

Yes

Categorized classifieds

Yes

No

No

Satellite

Yes

Yes

No

Reverse direction

Yes

Yes

Yes

Round trip

Yes

No

No

Points of interest

Yes

No

No

Send to cell phone

Yes

No

Yes

Graph by Ansiguy

Be sure to read Ansiguy's blog!

Category: Neogeography

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Daily World News on a Map

Buzztracker daily image
Click to go to Buzztracker

Most international news websites have category lists where one can select news from a location. However, geographers (or at least I) have always desired to browse world news geographically. Now it is possible. Buzztracker allows one to scan the most popular places on a map and to view the stories.

Category: Neogeography

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Next English

***UPDATED STORY CONTINUES BELOW ORIGINAL TEXT***


In the ancient days the educated spoke Greek, in the Medieval era Latin was the international language, and around the Age of Enlightenment French was the Lingua franca. Now it is English's time. But in what form will English be the new international language?

The New York Times has an excellent short article on English being the new international language. While there is no doubt of English's dominance no one knows for sure what the English of tomorrow's world will exactly be. So the question is who's English will be spoken? Unlike Spanish with the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española or French with either the Académie française or Office québécois de la langue française there is no body which controls English and therefore there is no official version of English. With no one version of English one is left to wonder will the world spell the other word for hue as "color" or "colour"? (-Hint freaking hint you grammar monsters!)

There is a third way the new international language could go. There are several versions of the English language which were created specifically to aide in communication with non-native speakers. With English being so complicated with both Germanic and Romance influences, a simplified, artificial English may be the best way to have non-native speakers interacting in the globalized world.

Basic English is one of the oldest artificial dialects. With 850 words Basic English seeks an easy, simplified system. As of today some international companies like Caterpillar use forms of Basic English to write and communicate internationally. "Easy English" is another derivative of Basic English which is being used to make simplified translations of the Bible. Nothing beats Deuteronomy 1:14 "You answered me, '"That is a good idea!'"

Special English is used by Voice of America. Special English has a limited vocabulary, eased grammar rules, and is read slowly.

Globish is the "open source" of international Englishes. Starting off with 1,500 words Globish seeks to be defined not by grammar rules but by use. The creator of Globish is a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Paul Nerriere (a surprising fact when one considers who xenophobic the French have been with English words slowly appearing in everyday use). Nerriere has humorously explained in both American English and Globish why he thinks his version of English is better as a language of international communication.

Globish actively seeks to become an international business language. I do see some problems however. With no strict guidelines the language is doomed to fracture and schism like an evangelical church suffering scandals on Pentecost. (And I just do not see myself or anyone else praying the Globish version of Our Farther and "Hello, Mary.")

If the American dominance of English continues look for the downfall of civilization. It would not be the English one heard from the read letters of Ken Burn's Civil War but the "English" spoken and utilized by teenage girls! Teenage girls "are the most dominate force in the evolution" of my mother tongue. That's like totally like not cool.

Category: Languages

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Old Maps on Flickr

Map Room Blog once again does magic. On Flickr there is a new group called Old Maps. The group is a collection of map lovers who have posted online some really interesting maps. Catholicgauze even posted his favorite puzzle: a map of the world from the early days of World War II. Join the group and help out today!

Category: Maps

Saturday, August 05, 2006

National Geographic's Pro-Castro Bias

National Geographic has been a huge asset to the America and the world. The magazine, while not perfectly a geography magazine, has increased interest and knowledge of the world in many people's mind.

During World War I, World War II, and the early parts of the Cold War, National Geographic provided in-depth reports about the global geopolitical struggle. Those days are over.

National Geographic News has a story praising Fidel Castro as a conservationist. Stay with me and try to stop your head from exploding.

"[Cuba] has embraced organic farming and low-energy agriculture because it can't afford to do anything else." -Embraced is an incorrect word to use. Maybe "forced by market economics" would do. Embracing implies they want to go this way. Also, organic farming is a style of agriculture. Cuba is doing primitive agriculture. I wonder if National Geographic will praise Robert Mugabe for using "organic" agriculture free from "white colonial influences." How about a historical piece on organic farming by the Huns?

"Students in every department at the University of Havana, for example, have had the opportunity to share a bonding experience by living in an impoverished fishing village while working to protect marine turtles."

and

"As a result, many of Cuba's leaders in all spheres have had a common experience reconciling poverty alleviation and nature conservation," Pearl said. "It is not surprising that this has left a legacy of concern for nature, despite the country's economic challenges." -So an internship helping turtles. -That is nice. How is the supposedly communist state of Cuba helping the improvised fishermen and their families? Castro is loaded; why is he not taking care of his people???

"So what will happen if Castro's regime falls and a new, democratic government takes root? Conservationists and others say they are worried that the pressure to develop the island will increase and Cuba's rich biodiversity will suffer. Barborak said he is concerned that "environmental carpetbaggers and scalawags" will come out of the woodwork in Cuba if there is turbulent regime change." -............. A society can afford to preserve the environment once it can afford a reasonable scale of living. What does Barborak suggest? That people stay under a dictatorship with free speech and religion be crushed to protect a hummingbird?

"One could foresee a flood of extractive industries jockeying for access to mineral and oil leases,” -Do some research! Castro is selling rights right and left.


I love the environment as much as anyone else. However, to write love pieces for Castro is low. If Castro had the chance Cuba would be as developed as any other Caribbean island. What the heck National Geographic? What the heck?

More on Global Warming

Self-declared prophet and weatherman Pat Robertson says he believes in global warming because it is hot outside. No matter what one believes about global warming (believes is the right word; very few do research on both sides of the debate) using day-to-day weather is a bad way to reach conclusions about climate change (and having Pat Robertson on your side does not help either).

For over the past one-hundred years scientists have been claiming the world is either getting warmer or colder. The 1920s and 30s were unusually warm and dry to the point dust bowls were common in the American Midwest. The heat wave of 1930 was hotter than the current one in the United States. The hot period in the mid-century was noticed by the scientific community and in "The Present Climatic Fluctuation," Hans W:Son Ahlmann in The Geographical Journal (Vol 112, 1948 - Part of Catholicgauze's Personal Stash) wrote about rapidly diminishing glaciers and other effects of global warming. Ahlmann finished his article about the benefits climate change offers to mankind.

But in the 1970s things changed. Global Cooling became all the rage. Time Magazine even published an article about the chances of another ice age. Things flip-flopped again in the late 1980s with Global Warming. Now in the late 00's evidence is showing that global warming is happening on other planets.

So what am I trying to say? I am trying to show that "scientific consensus" has changed over time. Climate change may or may not be real. The climate may be in a flux period or it may be in a correction. What causes climate change is also unknown. Finally, how many times have we heard it is too late. Why seriously handicap the economny and world development if the ship is doomed. Everyone needs to calm down and take a second look at things.

The major problem lies with people who get so wrapped-up in the issue and harden their hearts to other points-of-view. When I was at Harm de Blij's National Geographic Lecture some people were vocally enraged afterwards when de Blij (a believer in climate change) did not agree with the belief global warming is solely man-made. Some environmentalists make the environment their religion and those who dissent become heretics. On the other side, those who do not even consider another Little Ice Age-type era risk being caught without a contingency plan.

Category: Physical Geography

Friday, August 04, 2006

Europe Jokes

Exhales breath... What can I say about Europe? Well, the proto-Catholicgauzes found it good pillaging ground. Europe is also a land ripe for jokes at its expense. So without further ado I present to you: A Geographic Journey of Europe Jokes!

France:
Fromage, Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys! In the last few years France has been subject to a variety of jokes especially from the political Right in America. Jokes about France can be found from a variety of websites. One of my favorites has to be searching for "french military victories" using Google.

Italy:
There are two Italys: the angry Germanic northern half and the Italian southern half. Many have wondered if Italians are European. This shockwave video (takes some time to load but it is worth it) proves that Europeans and Italians are two different breeds.

Germany:
Deutschland has suffered a fall from grace and is still recovering from the whole nasty business. One of its negative legacies is the Neo-Nazi movement. However, did you know that Neo-Nazis are people too and have problems we can only begin to understand?

Russia:
Russian Jokes tend to be either self-hate or jokes at the cost of other groups in the multi-national republic. Who can forget the classic, "What did the New Russian say to the Old Jew? 'Can I borrow some money, Dad?'" This is why I favor humor not done by Russians (except for Yakov Smirnoff). All I know for sure is that I am taking back my Communist Monopoly game before the KGB agent gets cranky.

My loyal European readers (comment dang you!) may be asking "But Catholicgauze, what about humor at the expense of America? Why not show some of that?" Why? Because America has George Washington! Six foot twenty and %&$#@!* killing for fun! (Video is not safe for children!)

Hat Tips to TDAXP, Curzon, Younghusband, and Younghusband again

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

¿Una Cuba Libre Pronto?

¿Castro está muy enfermo o está recuperando? No sé, pero yo conozco que... things are going to change in Cuba soon.

Fidel Castro has been a trouble some thorn in the side of Americans and democrats worldwide. At first he was seen as a liberator against a corrupt government. However, he quickly turned out to be a leftist monster. Pro-democracy, the religious, union members, and even homosexuals (search for "homosexual" in the article) were common targets for arrest and sometimes even execution. Freedoms were squashed. The era of Castro is the era of refugees. It is no wonder why so many oppose Castro.

Recently Castro went under the knife to stop internal bleeding giving most of his power to his brother Raul Castro. When news of this was released internationally there were celebrations in Miami and calls to break out the cigars in celebration of Fidel's flirting with death.

It is a little too early to celebrate- there is work to do. Bush has stated there are plans in place to aide a post-Castro Cuba. Catholicgauze has his own recommendations:

It is key to help the people and hurt the government as much as possible. I recommend that the embargo be lifted once Fidel is out of the picture and have business setup shop in Cuba. Pro-democracy propaganda (no; that's not a bad thing) should be beamed into the island country. Refugees should be prompted to organize a government network in coordination with democrats on the island. The Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed when people ignored the central government rules and allowed horizontal-control (grassroots). Maybe then the nostalgia times can return (sans the corruption).

While the above is just a standard Catholicgauze rant; I think we can all agree having a real life Hidden Agenda would be horrible and must be avoided at all responsible cost.

Category: Geopolitics

South Dakota Weather

I am swamped with research. To make matters worse my temporary headquaters of South Dakota has been suffering a heat wave of 108,108 degrees. The wave is finally over for now but there seems to be a hurricane over the state. Why does God hate South Dakota? (Two points for the two "theologians'" logic I am using)