Sunday, December 31, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Catholicgauze is taking a well earned day vacation from blogging

Geography Web 2.0 Awards for 2006

Sure while most web awards are decided by group or reader polls, the Catholicgauze Geography Web 2.0 Awards are not. Instead, view this as one geographer's praise upon his comrades who are doing the world a service.

BEST ALL AROUND GEOGRAPHY SITE
Geography@About.com
Not only does Matt Rosenberg have a blog with geography news and interesting bits of knowledge but he also has physical, political, cultural geography information in easily navigable web pages. Do not forget information on geotechnical toys and jobs in geography.

BEST CARTOGRAPHY SITE
The Map Room
2006 was a dark year with the loss of Cartography blog. Fortunately, fellow Canadian
Jonathan Crowe provided all the cartographic wants with news reports and, of course, maps.

BEST MASH-UP SITE
Platial
While some may find other mash-up sites easier or having more bells and whistles for individual maps, Platial has everything one needs and a lively community to boot. One can easily make friends and work together on Platial. Today Nearby merges local news and events with fellow Platial users. Also they are community conscious with support of local businesses and other efforts.

BEST GEOPOLITICS SITE
Coming Anarchy
No, it is not what you think. Instead of young radicals who plot a leftist utopia these bloggers are three men who assume the idenities of Victorian-era politicians and pine for the days when the British Empire "spoke Christian but acted pagan." Whether it be the geopolitical situation of Puerto Rico or Chinese Economic Colonization of Africa these men use a "pessimistic realist” political outlook and worship the ground Robert Kaplan walks upon.

BEST PODCAST
Very Spatial
Very Spatial continues to impress by getting people ranging from academics to employees of National Geographic to update us on the advancement of geography itself.

CATHOLICGAUZE ORDINATION AWARD
TDAXP
This is a special award Catholicgauze uses to thank those who have greatly aided him in one way or the other with the blog. For the first year Catholicgauze has no choice but to award it to TDAXP! Without TDAXP Catholicgauze would have never guess blogged, would have never of started GTWC!, and the blog's readership would be much more limited. Thanks!


These awards go to those who Catholicgauze must thank. I hope next year to have a community effort to decide on awards and increase categories to include the likes of physical geographers and others.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Video of Saddam Hussein Being Executed

UPDATE: Further discussion here.

WARNING: VIDEO SHOWS THE DEATH OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR ALL AUDIENCES

After several requests and debate on whether or not to show it, it has been decided the video of Saddam Hussein's legal execution by the government of the Republic of Iraq has geographical merrit and warrants mentioning. In the first few days of January I shall blog about the significance of this event to the Mideast and the rest of the world.

The Difference Between Sunni and Shiite Muslims


Click to enlarge the map

Many people, including American leaders, do not know the difference between Sunni an Shia Islam and do not know who is who.

Fortunately for all of us, TDAXP has a short, Complete Idiot's-style guide to understand what Sunni and Shia believe. To sum it up: Sunnis are like Congregationalist Baptists who want a Pope (Caliph) while Shiites are like Lutherans who believe their leader has been hiding for about 1,300 years.

Of course within Sunni and Shiite there are differences. These range from unaligned moderate Sunnis in Lebanon who live Western-style lives with Christian neighbors to "Jihad-now!" Wahabbis in Saudi Arabia. The Shia have their own divisions like the Twelvers and Ismailis but these groups differ on who were the rightful leaders in the past.

There are also some smaller groups which fall between the cracks. The Alawites in Syria have communion and a greater emphasis on Jesus (probably influenced by the cultural interaction from the Crusades). Also there is also Sufi Islam which is much more personal and mystical than Sunni or Shia. On the fringe are the Druze who can be considered the Muslim equivalent of Mormonism. This is to name only a few of the other denominations of Islam.

Germany Needs Babies!

Much like France, Germany is in desperate need of children. Germans are not having children and it shows with a negative population rate. So starting on December 1, 2007; women who give birth will receive a $33,300 bonus. Some women are even waiting to give birth until the new year.

No country can just stand aside as its population, its life blood, declines. The Prime Minister of Singapore stated this late last year. For far too long a welfare state mentality has been maintained in Europe. Why have children when they are more of a burden. The state will provide for you. Well, with fewer souls pumping money into the economy and 11.7% of all Germans on unemployment and no need for a job, the system is falling apart. Europe must change or it will fade away and be inherited by someone else.

Hat Tip: Geography@About.com

Friday, December 29, 2006

Victory in Somalia and Lessons from the War

It seems not so long ago that Somalia was doomed. But like many predictions by Catholicgauze this has not been the case!

On December 20th the Islamic Courts Union attacked the last remaining stronghold of the internationally recognized Somalian government at Baidoa. Soon Ethiopian forces came in with American technology and training and turned the tide of battle. The Islamists were defeated on December 26. By December 28 Ethiopian troops stepped aside as the government retook the capital city of Mogadishu.

Islamic Courts Union officials have resigned while die-hards have retreated for their last stand at Kismayo. The Ethiopian government has vowed to hunt down and destroy any remaining threat to Ethiopian and expects military victory by the end of next week.

The similarities to Afghanistan are plentiful. Both the Taliban and Islamic Courts Union believed Shria (Islamic law) was the answer to all the fighting. Both groups came from an urban area with a tribal/rural culture. Each side managed to blitz their way across the country but only controlled a few key areas. The rest of the territory was controlled by allying with or forcing other tribes to become part of a network. Once tide turned against the Islamists their nominal tribal allies were destroyed or, in most cases, switched sides.

Ethiopia won because they followed America's Afghanistan model. Find out who your enemy is (Taliban/Islamic Court Union), find out who opposes them (Northern Alliance/Government), destroy your enemy and let those who oppose them take control right away. This is the way to fight and win the War on Terrorism.

In Iraq America has followed multiple strategies with varying degrees of success. In Kurdistan the Kurds were allowed to run their own government under the Afghanistan model and that area has been quite. In the south the British have managed to keep peace while battling death squads which come from the problem of Iraq- the center. In the center the US and Allied forces have fought against Sunni terrorists all the while trying to negotiate with Sunni terrorists not allied with al Qaeda. Meanwhile Coalition forces have battled against al Sadr's militas while taking no steps to remove the leadership of the gang. All this while trying to get two sides to form unnatural unity governments.

Maybe Iraq would be better off if we went strictly with the Afghanistan model, maybe not. Too much of life is "If they would only heard me out." What should be done is learn how Ethiopia has defeated a common enemy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Where has Greenland gone?

Greenland is missing

As the United States finishes its drive to victory over the United Kingdom in the first annual Geography Cup I could not notice a slight mistake. Besides the forgivable "find Serbia & Montenegro question" I noticed Greenland does not show up on the minimap. D'oh!

Areography: The Geography of Mars

I have long believed the study of other planets was well within geography. I see geography as being the study of things spatially rather than "to write about the Earth"and only the Earth as a literal definition would have us believe.

Areography, the geography of Mars, is one of my interests which I know very little of. Up until now the only thing on the internet of use to areographers was Google Mars. However, Dr. Christine M. Rodrigue, professor of geography at California State University at Long Beach, will be offering a course in areography and is placing her note outline on the internet. Of particular use are the reference sections. Thanks Dr. Rodrigue!

Hugo Chavez: Protestant Archbishop?

Hat tip to Evangelical Catholicism for this weird story. There is a movement (probably started by Chavez and his agents) to have El Presidente made an Archbishop for a Protestant Church of Venezuela. The church would become the official religion of Venezuela, its dogma would be taught in the schools, and most likely membership would be a great resume booster.

After destroying the constitution, rule of law, and brushing aside all those who oppose them God is the next logical step for a power hungry man.

The group Centro Cristiano de SalvaciĆ³n (Christian Center of Salvation) is allegedly behind the law being pushed by their two leaders Esmelin Lugo and Renato Ramirez. This is where things go from strange to weird. An internet search for the group and its leaders in both English and Spanish has so far revealed nothing besides the group's push for the law. The earliest meantioning of the group is this Spanish article from 2002 saying the same thing as the latest news.

Expect those who seek a quick rise in status to join the group if the law is passed. However, this will drive the Catholic Church solidly into an alliance middle and upper classes. Maybe this will led to similar events like what happened in 1980s Poland, maybe not. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Harm de Blij on YouTube

One of the reasons I began blogging was because of Harm de Blij. He has been a man who's Dutch-accented voice can inspire geographers to show the world the wonders of geography. Well, now it is possible for you to enjoy some of his works via YouTube. Parts of his presentation to Texas State University are viewable online. Among the topics discussed are geography in the twentieth-century, climate change, and plate tectonics. Enjoy!

Below is the excellent short on why Harm de Blij became a geographer



(Hat Tip: Radical Geography)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oil Production, Consumption, Exports, and Imports

Off of InfoPlease I saw this interesting chart. The chart shows oil production, consumption, exports, and imports in millions of barrels per day in 2004.
Producers
Exporters
Consumers
Importers
1. Saudi Arabia10.37 1. Saudi Arabia8.73 1. United States20.5 1. United States11.8
2. Russia9.27 2. Russia6.67 2. China6.5 2. Japan5.3
3. United States8.69 3. Norway2.91 3. Japan5.4 3. China2.9
4. Iran4.09 4. Iran2.55 4. Germany2.6 4. Germany2.5
5. Mexico3.83 5. Venezuela2.36 5. Russia2.6 5. South Korea2.1
6. China3.62 6. United Arab Emirates2.33 6. India2.3 6. France2.0
7. Norway3.18 7. Kuwait2.20 7. Canada2.3 7. Italy1.7
8. Canada3.14 8. Nigeria2.19 8. Brazil2.2 8. Spain1.6
9. Venezuela2.86 9. Mexico1.80 9. South Korea2.1 9. India1.5
10. United Arab Emirates2.7610. Algeria1.6810. France2.010. Taiwan1.0
11. Kuwait2.5111. Iraq1.4811. Mexico2.0
12. Nigeria2.5112. Libya1.34
13. United Kingdom2.0813. Kazakhstan1.06
14. Iraq2.0314. Qatar1.02
OPEC members in italics

A few fascinating facts:
  • While the United States is the third largest producer of oil it imports about 58% of the oil it consumes. 42% of all oil is domestic yet look how much we are impacted by foreign events.
  • Russia, the world's second largest producer and once a super-power, consumes the same amount of oil as Germany. Germany has a little more than half of Russia's population yet 360% higher GDP and 273% higher GDP per capita.
  • The United Kingdom and Norway are leading producers because of the North Sea. Yet taxes keep gas sky high.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!


Unto us a child was born who would redeem and save humanity. Let us remember his life and his many messages. Peace be upon you and the world.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Track Santa

There are two ways to track Santa's journey across the world.

The first way is via the now tradition of NORAD's Santa Tracking Website. On Christmas Eve they take a break away from patrolling the heavens for incoming ICBMs and follow Santa around the world.

Google Earth Blog gives us the second way. One can download the official Google KML file for Santa and watch him fly.

Geography and Christmas

Since tomorrow is Christmas Eve so I thought I may give a brief history and geography of Christmas. I will skip the common knowledge beginnings of Christmas and start my story right before the Reformation.

Christmas was a very popular holiday in Catholic countries. When the first wave of the Reformation came many Protestants kept the celebration. The Germans were well known for their Christmas traditions including the exchange of cards and the Christmas tree which represented the continual life of Jesus Christ.

At first Protestant England continued celebrating Christmas until the seizing of power of the Puritans during the English Civil War. The Puritans thought that celebrating Christmas was a Catholic-thing and outlawed it. Several Christmas riots and a restoration of the Monarchy later and Christmas was once again legal to celebrate but a very controversial holiday which was kept low-key.

The United States continued the British custom of observing but not celebrating Christmas. However, as more German Lutherans and Irish Catholics came to America, the Christmas season became much more celebratory in nature. The full coming of Christmas came after the Civil War as Irish gained acceptance and Thomas Nast gave the world the common image of Santa Clause.

In the 1840s class and religious background murmurs finally subsided in England. One of the reasons Christmas became such a celebrated holiday was Charles Dickinson's work A Christmas Carol. Another tradition to come out of this time was the Christmas Card. Both the card and the arrival of the Christmas tree in England can be attributed to Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.

Today Christmas has become such a part of Anglo-culture that it has been naturally secularized. Some have argued the secularization and materialization has led to a War against Christmas where the Christian emphasis has been targeted.

The international Christmas dynamic is fascinating. Some European countries especially in the old Eastern Europe and Scandinavia give presents on St. Nicholas Day which presents are given on. Many Hispano countries traditionally give gifts on Epiphany which is called El Dia de Reys on January 6. Finally, old calendar Eastern Orthodox celebrate Christmas on January 7 (which is December 25th on the Georgian calendar).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bastogne: Remembering the Christmas Heroes


Bastogne was the sight of the stand of the 101st Airborne


National Review has a
much better article than I could ever write so I will just do a short survey.

Winter 1944 was one of a relative calm in Europe compared to the last few years. The Germans were unable to capitalize on the Allies' disaster of Market-Garden and were thought of as contained on the Western Front. The Allies were ready for a peaceful Christmas. The Germans had never launched a major winter offensive since the time of Fredrick the Great.

The Nazis attacked without warning. The Ardennes Forrest was the scene of the massive German drive to the sea. If the Germans could reach the port cities in Belgium they could destroy several Allied divisions, cut off supply-lines, and score a huge dramatic victory.

The blitzkrieg continued deep into Belgium. Only one thing stood between Hitler and victory. The 101st Airborne was rushed to the front. Many immediate suffered from the cold as there was no time to gather supplies and morale suffered as battered soldiers warned of the coming German war machine.

The 101st held the city the Bastogne while surrounded and held the German at bay. When the Germans demanded their surrender the 101st replied "Nuts." Patton led his tanks in a fighting drive and relieved the 101st the day after Christmas.

Today the Mardasson Memorial is dedicated to 76,890 Americans who died or were wounded in the battle. Their bravery help end the war. Let us remember them.

For those who want to know everything about the Battle of the Bulge the official army history can be read here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

GTWC!'s Atlas Best News/World Events Map

Platial has awarded Catholicgauze's Atlas the shared award of Best News/World Events Map. This is great coming right after all of us being Time's Person of the Year. I told you guys reading Catholicgauze was good for you. I share this honor with "Where I was When 9/11 Happened."

Thanks Platial!

The Winter Solistice has Come


It is officially here. December 21 was the start winter for all those in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer for everyone down under. The Earth titled on its axis so that the sun was over the Tropic of Capricorn shining most of its light and heat on the Southern Hemisphere. A bit of trivia for any interested, the Earth is much closer to the sun at this time of year than it is at in June. The axis of the Earth is that powerful in the say of the seasons.

Geography@About.com has good information on the Solstice and the Four Seasons in general.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

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

I recently was advised of a Indian mural along the Oregon Trail in the town of Waterville, KS.

The mural shows shirtless Indians chasing buffalo while on horseback. The mural is partly has some buffalo near the edge of a cliff but no actual signs of hunting the buffalo are present much like the St. Marys and the Blue Rapids murals. After Topeka the representations of Indians on the Great Plains are much more pronounced. The second thing with the mural is the presence of a travois on the left side of the mural. The travois was used by plains Indians to move possessions around due to their nomadic nature. A travois would never be brought on a hunt. Its use can be surmised as giving the message that while Indians were in the local area, they're presence was not permanent.

Now we are finally done with Kansas. Many thanks to the wise one who told me about the mural.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jesus Christ: King of Poland?

Among the many titles Jesus of Nazareth has one of them may soon be King of Poland. Members of both the ruling, Catholic Law and Justice Party and even the opposition Peasants Party, a Christian Democratic party with leftist tendencies. have presented a bill which would give Jesus the honorary title of King of Poland.

However, do not except Jesus to come back for his coronation anytime soon. Many Bishops are against the idea seeing as a political ploy.

Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century

Today's interesting find is the Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century. While the atlas has not been updated in three years the maps available are fascinating. From decolonization to urban growth in the second quarter of the twentieth century to people per telephone it is all here. Also available are interesting charts like the fifteen bloodiest wars. Finally, there is an interesting point/counterpoint on whether or not democracies wage war against each other.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Geography Just Doesn't Get Loved

You think with books like Why Geography Matters and groups like Give Geography its Place we could move beyond "What do geographers do? Teach?" but apparently we are not there yet.

The College Board is doing an audit of all Advance Placement courses in American high schools. The College Board operates the test portion which if students pass the students may receive college credit for the knowledge they know in high school. The College Board is concerned some of the course may not be on par with the mission statement. That's fair.

What irks Catholicgauze is the statement by Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College, a very selective private university in California. Mr. Poch, discussing classes like AP Music and AP Art which he considers useless (Hey, I may see little application but as long as there are art and music majors they might as well get some credit) gave this story "He [Poch] recalled seeing an AP human geography class on a transcript which led to much confusion and laughter among admissions officials."

Ha ha ha! What can a human geography do besides being a consultant, planner, analyst, and much, much more. Poch is not a blogger or someone else who's opinion can be tossed into the wind, he is the DEAN OF ADMISSIONS! The president, David Oxtoby, claims to have an interest in the "international dimensions of education." What about geography? Is that not international enough?

Instead of just complaining, things can be done. Mr. Poch (admissions@pomona.edu) and the President of Pomona College (David.Oxtoby@pomona.edu) can be reached via e-mail. Loyal minions attack!

My message to Pomona is this, "Don't be a Silvestre Reyes, know geography or get lost!" So far the catch phrase is better than my other ideas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Episcopal Church Begins to Split

The Anglican Church has always had an identity crisis. When it was first founded by King Henry VIII it was for all real purposes the Roman Catholic Church with two differences of mass being in English and a new line of bishops. When Henry died the new King Edward VI became the monarch and the church became very Protestant in nature. However, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the church reached a "middle ground" which would lead to confusion and further schism from groups like the Puritans, Methodists, the Oxford Movement, and others.

Today's latest split comes from the United States. Currently the Episcopal Church (the United States' church in the Anglican Communion; countries have their own independent church united in a confederacy of other churches all steaming from the Church of England) has been dogged in its progressive streak by its support of practicing homosexual bishops and priests and its recently election of Katharine Jefferts Schori (who made conservatives mad with her "our mother Jesus" speech).

In response several churches in Virginia have seceded from the Episcopal Church and join the Church of Nigeria under the control of Peter Akinola. These churches are conservative "low churches" which are closer to the Protestant version of Anglicanism than the Catholic past. Some high-church Episcopals are also upset. Several dioceses (above map) are in the process of asking for their own American Anglican church.

The center cannot hold and it has been failing for sometime now. On the high-church side groups like the Continuing Anglicanism split off in the 1970s and 1980s over the issue of ordination of women. Some groups have gone to Anglican Use, Anglicans in union with the Roman Catholic Church, or groups like the Traditional Anglican Communion are in the process of trying to obtain their own rite with communion in Rome. On the low church side splinter groups like the Reformed Episcopal Church have signed agreements with the Anglican Communion Network and the Church of Nigeria.

This Yahoo! Maps mashup of Continuing Anglican Churches is insightful. One can see the conservative, high-church movement is based in areas of high English-decent concentration while lacking any real outreach expect to some Indian reservations.

The Catholic Church had some hiccups after Vatican II but has been busy slowly "reforming the Reform" and splinter groups like the Society of Saint Pius X are being marginalized. The Anglican Communion on the other hand has member churches not recognizing each other and treading into each other's territory. All is not well in the house that Henry built.

There are geoimplications on this. "Western" (read "white") churches in the Communion are not replenishing their numbers. This is actually a fact of pride to their leadership. Meanwhile more conservative churches in the global south (mostly Africa) are having children and those children actually believe in the traditions and teachings of the church. Slowly but surely these believers will impact the direction of Anglicanism and Christianity on a whole (read the guest review of the excellent The Next Christendom).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Random Catholicgauze Thoughts

There is a downside to falling asleep at 7 pm due being extremely tired after a long drive. The downside is waking up at 11 pm praying and thinking its close to dawn.

My 2006 Geography Cup post has been receiving many hits due to recent media attention from the likes of Reuters. All this has managed to attract geographical semi-literate American players which has manage to drive down the United States' score. Oh well.

On the drive back I found another mural along the Oregon Trail due solely to the advice recieved from one loyal reader who shall forever be known as "the great one." Is my nose brown enough yet? I will post on that soon in the Oregon Trail section.

Catholicgauze is Time Magazine's person of the year! It has been decided all of Catholicgauze's readers are people of the year, too! We share the honor with the a bunch of other people. Congrats!

Now it is time to sleep

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Map of Polonium in London

Ever read a good Tom Clancy novel or other type of spy novel and think "wow, these guys are good at spycraft?" Well that was the old KGB. The old KGB could kill a person and make it look like a natural heart attack. The new KGB goes and poison half of Europe with a rare element mostly found only in Russia. Smooth going guys.




Platial has an interactive map of the poisonings in London. Each site is marked giving a tidbit of information. Catholicgauze learned from the map that Alexander Litvinenko, the ex-spy turned victim turned death bed convert to Chechen-style Islam, is buried at Highgate Cemetery. He shares the yard with Karl Marx, author Douglas Adams, and a vampire. Now that is something Clancy could not top.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tatooine in Tunisia

UPDATE: The link is now fixed.

While I am wrapping up things in my "southern command" I ran across this interesting story...

Tatooine is the planet where the Skywalkers of Star Wars fame came from. In the 1970s George Lucas ordered the construction of a desert village so certain scenes could be filmed. When the filming was wrapped up the crew left the buildings standing. Well, the desert culture of Berbers states nothing good should go to waste. So nowadays the Skywalkers home village is inhabited by desert people. The interesting story is here. Just goes to show what two different cultures can see in one thing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Catholicgauze Open Thread

Since it is working for TDAXP, Catholicgauze is holding an open thread. Want to comment on posts or the direction of GTWC!? Go ahead? Want more map posts? More online geography? Should Catholicgauze take his horrible political bias and die in a fire? All is fair! Just drop a comment and let me know!

A Tale of Two Dictators

Castro and Pinochet

Last Sunday Augusto Pinochet died. Elsewhere in Latin America, another dictator lies died or dying somewhere in Cuba. These two men were the same in many respects but have been viewed as widely different and leave different legacies.

Rise
Fidel Castro seized Cuba from the forces of the Dictator Batista. Batista ran a plutocratic government which was generous to business and individuals which played the game of corruption. Reformers, revolutionaries, and others who refused a corrupt government were brutally repressed by the military police. Many groups fought on many levels against Batista. Fidel Castro successfully realized the importance of media in making him the iconic head of "liberation movement."

Augusto Pinochet was the head of a military coup which deposed Salvador Allende. While Allende was elected by plurality, his coalition of socialists and communists managed to upset or terrify nearly everyone and destroy the Chilean economy within three years. On September 11, 1973, the military conducted a coup which installed Pinochet.

Terror
Machiavelli wrote the first thing for a leader to do was establish order. Castro and Pinochet accomplished this through a terror campaign against their own people.

Castro ordered the execution of thousands of Batista supporters, moderates, reformers, socialists who were not part of Castro's wing, religious "oddities" like Jehovah Wittinesses, and even homosexuals. Tens of thousands more were exiled or fled their homes for safety in the United States and elsewhere.

Pinochet feared a revolution by Allende supporters. Pinochet was one of the founding members of Operation Condor, a preemptive terror campaign against real and perceived enemies of the state. The height of the terror was done within the first three years of Pinochet's reign when over 3,000 people were killed and many more tortured.

Legacy
This where the two men differ.

Pinochet, going against common wisdom liberalized the economics of Chile, reduced government's presence in business and allowed the markets to be free. While still being a dictator, he slowly loosened his grip on the country. In 1988 he held a referendum on whether he should stay in power, he lost. After then holding multi-party elections for his replacment, he peacefully stepped down from power in early 1990. Today Chile is the richest country in South America, a democracy, and even the Socialist president and her predecessors dare not change the economic style set by Pinochet.

Castro went the other route. Instead of being a liberator he became an even greater tyrant than Batista. Businesses were nationalized, really Castroized; military secret police still hold political prisoners, freedom of speech is nonexistent, opposition from all sides is crushed. Today Cuba is meeking out an existent surviving on generous gifts of funds and supplies from allies like Hugo Chavez.

And here things get really strange. Everyone pretty much either hates or very, very strongly dislikes Pinochet. The best that is commonly said about him is he built Chile up and left. But Castro is different. While many on the Right hate the man, those on the Left (the Left, not all or even most liberals) seem to have a sort of Castro-fetish. He wines and dines Hollywood stars like Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover, and others. Several college professors in schools I have attended had posters Castro and several extremely intelligent academics I known have said positive things about him while downplaying the negative aspects. And don't even get me started about the weird love affair with Castro's murderer-in-chief Che Guevara.

Conclusion
There is a double standard which even the Washington Post recognizes. It seems the old anti-communist attitude of "they all right with us as long as they are with us" has been adopted by the anti-American crowd. Those who will blame Bush for "destroying freedom" will gladly ally themselves with Islamic Fascists or Communist monsters who oppress and kill their own people as long as they hate American and its leaders.

Pinochet and (possibly/probably) Castro are dead. Let freedom ring.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jimmy Carter: Map Plagiarizer?

The main stream media and the blogosphere are abuzz debating and wondering if former President James "Jimmy" Carter plagiarized maps for his new book on the Israel/Palestine debate. Catholicgauze takes no stand in the debate. All I am wondering is who Carter's cartographer was. That could answer a lot of questions.

Here are the two maps in question. I will let the readers make their own conclusion. (Both maps taken via The Media Blog)

The Ross Map


Carter's Map


Religious Anomalies

Time for some good old regional geography. Enjoy as Catholicgauze takes you around the world surveying some countries whose religious population may surprise you.

Kalmykia
The Republic of Kalmykia is a federal republic (imagine state plus) in Russia. It is located north of Chechnya and it borders the Caspian Sea. It is also the only Buddhist-country in Europe. The Kalmyks are descended from the West Mongols and even further down the line they were a part of the Mongol horde. In the 1600s the Kalmyks accepted Buddhism of the Tibetan variety. Both the Tsar and the Communists tried to suppress the Kalmyks way of life with only moderate success. Today the largest Buddhist temple in Europe is located in Kalmykia.

South Korea
This one is a tricky one. Depending on how you ask, South Korea is either has a Christian majority or Christainity comes in second to agnosticism. While historically Buddhist or Eastern Philosophical, Christianity has been spreading like wild fire in the South. Protestantism like Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Pentecostalism along with Catholicism are the main branches. South Korea comes in second only to America in the number of missionaries it produces. The largest single church (congregation-wise) in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church. Interestingly, two-thirds of all Christians were in the north before the breakup in 1945. Kim Jong il's father, Kim Il-sung was raised as a Christian in the heavily Christian-minority city of Pyongyang.

Suriname
Suriname is the least populated country in South America and is wedged-in between French Guiana and Guyana. The Creole, Mixed, and Black populations generally are either Catholic or Moravian Protestant. A plurality of Surinamers are however Hindu. Many Hindustanis from the northern rim of Indian migrated to Suriname to work on the Dutch plantations after slavery was completely done away with in the 1870s. A majority of Surinamers are either Hindu or Muslim.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Map of the Daylight on Planet Earth

DaylightMap.com is a Google Earth mash-up which shows where the sun is shining and not shining on Earth. Also available is having the option of setting a date and time to see where day and night were/will be.

Right now Catholicgauze is working well within the night zone so one day he can become super rich. (Hat tip: Platial)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silvestre Reyes needs a Catholicgauze

"Dude's got maps, a treasure trove. Geography has never been more important, henceforth, read his blog or miss out and regret the day you confuse where the Shia and Sunni live."
-Short description of GTWC! by Eddie of Live from the FDNF

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Democrat-Texas) needs a Catholicgauze. And by a "Catholicgauze" I mean a geographer. Reyes, the soon to be head of the House Intelligence Committee, was asked by CNN an "easy intel quiz." Reyes failed miserably. When asked if al Qaeda was Sunni or Shia he replied "they are probably both" but stuck his head out even further to say "Predominantly -- probably Shiite." al Qaeda, which focuses most of its time not killing Jews or Christians but Shiite Muslims would be shocked by this stupidity. To add insult to injury Reyes could not comment on Hezbollah and Lebanon. (Stories here)

Reyes will be in charge (directly and indirectly) with foreign policy and funding and he does not know what is going on in the world. Stupidity on both parities has gone too far. Catholicgauze announces candidacy to the United States House of Representatives under the "Americans for Catholicgauze" banner! My platform calls for "Greater Geographical Education, Anti-Stupidity, and Revenge Upon Mein Enemies!" Either that, or the government should hire more geographers!

Happy International Mountain Day

December 11 is International Mountain Day. Mountains play a big role in all aspects of geography. Physical geographers like mountains because of the rich geological and geomorphological library they are. Climatologists love the unique weather patterns which form in the mountainous areas. Human geographers like mountains because of the unique cultures which can live their because of the difficulties of communication and cross-culturalization.

Mountains and mountainous-environments are awe inspiring. The first time I saw snow-capped mountains was in Denver, Colorado. It was an awesome sight. Horrah for Mountains! Happy International Mountain Day!

Recommended sites: Mountain Partnership, International Mountain Day

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 357 Wonders of America

The Seven Wonders of the World and the Seven New Wonders are in the news right now. To add on the "Seven Wonders" excitement is "7 Wonders of the U.S.A." Each state and the District of Columbia is given its own page with a Google Map mashup and information on each wonder. Certainly worth a look. What's your favorite "wonder" in America?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ross Ice Shelf and Climate Change Throughout the Past


UPDATE: The UN is downplaying the level they believe man has impacted the climate.

The Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice piece of ice in the world which just so happens to be the size of France, has shrunk and enlarged throughout time according to a new study.


Click to enlarge. Look at the last 850,000 years! From National Geographic Magazine: November, 1976

The wanning and waxing of the Ice Shelf is just another piece of history of the world's climate. It also is another piece of evidence to Catholicgauze's Law of Geo: The world is a dynamic place and things naturally change, sometimes radically. Just look at National Geographic's chart above. People must aspect "average climate" and "average temperature" do not only have spatial aspects but also temporal.

For those who want a fairly quick read on climate change the U.S. Senate just released the reader-friendly report entitled "Skeptic's Guide to Debunking Global Warming" for free. The title is a bit of a misnomer. The report does acknowledge climate change and hits historic aspects well (Greenland was called "green land" for a reason).

I think Harm de Blij said it best. The event is probably mostly natural but it humans still must make plans to work with it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fifteenth Anniversary of the Fall of the Soviet Union

On December 8, 1991 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was officially dissolved as an entity and replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Belavezha Accords were signed by representatives from the republics which would become Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.

The events which led up to this very final fall started during the August coup when hard liners tried to seize control from the Mikhail Gorbachev government. Even though the coup failed the Baltic Republics, long resentful of their forced joining of the Soviet Union by Stalin, declared independence. Negotiations to keep these rogue Baltic states in the union failed. In early December it was decided nationalist feelings were to strong in all the republics and the once feared Evil Empire, to quote Ronald Reagan, was to be no more. The last aspect of the Soviet Union, a flag over the Kremlin, was lowered on December 31, 1991.

The USSR's first encounter with the outside world was war when the World War I allied powers (including a detachment of the United States army) intervened in 1918 to try to stop the Communist rise to power. Until the fall the Soviets and the West were involved in proxy-wars across the globe. Millions of people died in satlitte wars and states that fell into the orbit of the USSR. The legacy of the Soviet Union lasts today. There are a few communist states still left (including "socialist" thugs like in Zimbabwe and Syria) and some people still look to the Marxist ideals for improvement. All because of the empire which collapsed fifteen years ago today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remembering Pearl Harbor


Large map of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shows immediate geography with ship location and status after the attack. Click image to enlarge.

On December 7, 1941 the United States was attacked by a militaristic empire spurred on by a religion which believed their emperor was divine. 2,403 Americans were killed and many ships and aircraft were lost. Fortunately; however, aircraft carriers, which would turn the tide in the Pacific War, were out on patrol at the time and saved from certain destruction.

A short list of internet resources:

Never forget those who fought and died protecting the world from evil then and now.

Water on Mars?


NASA made a big announcement Wednesday morning. Satellite imagery suggests recent mineral deposits on Mars were caused by flowing water! NASA's full story here.

If the report is correct, water broke out onto the surface and moved minerals before the harsh Martian climate turned the water into a liquid or the thin atmospheric pressure morphed the water into a gas.

While the presence of water ice in the polar caps and fog at the bottom of the Valley of the Mariners (Valles Marineris) has long been known, this discovery is ground breaking. If water is near the surface, it would make a mission to Mars much easier. A big logistical problem about a Mars mission is having to tote enough water (a very, very heavy thing) to Mars for astronauts to live off of for a few months.

And what field of study allowed scientists to realize the possibility of surface water? Physical geography using fluvial morphology. I predict that NASA and maybe other national space agencies will be interesting in geomorphologists as they inch closer to interplanetary expeditions. Geographers can yield information on where landings and bases should be located and help research how planets formed and evolve.

You here that NASA, I and other geographers interested in space study are ready and willing to work for you!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Midwest Snow Storm from Space


Just look at that! A higher-resolution of the image can be seen here. From the article that goes with it:

"A severe winter storm hammered the Midwestern United States on December 1, 2006. According to news reports, the storm iced roads, canceled flights, broke tree branches, left more than two million homes and businesses without electricity, and temporarily shut down part of Interstate 40 in central Oklahoma. Several deaths were linked to the storm, including deaths from traffic accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of the storm’s aftermath on December 3, 2006. By the time MODIS took this picture, the storm had moved off to Canada, and skies over the U.S. Midwest had largely cleared. In this image, the lingering snow looks like a giant finger-paint smear of white on a tan background. Streaks of clouds hover in the east, and lighter cloud cover remains in the north."

A KMZ file of the snow storm is available for Google Earth.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Smithsonian shows us the Earth from Space

The Smithsonian Institution has a wonderful online exhibition of satellite imagery called Earth from Space. There are a variety of categories including the living planet, water and air, structure of the land, the human presence, and satellite technology.

Each category has a few images (zoomable and scrollable) with a small section of text, geographic information, and satellite information.

The website is a good resource for those wishing for a simple introduction into the world of remote sensing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lebanon: Lines Drawn and Violence Beginning

The lines have been drawn. Supporting democratic pluralism is the loose confederation of Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims commonly referred to as the March 14th Movement. The movement is control of some parts of the government and desires more reforms in Lebanon.

On the other side, supported by Syria and Iran, are Hezbollah, its quasi-friend/quasi-rival Shia Amal "Hope" Movement Militia, and the anti-Syrian yet even more of an opportunist Christian Free Patriotic Movement under the command of former general, president, and prime minister Michel Aoun. This axis seeks to bring down the government and replace it with a Hezbollah and Syrian-friendly government.

Things were going typically for a while. Hezbollah held its protests against the government and started camping in front of government bulidings. In the city of Tripoli Sunnis held an anti-Hezbollah protest and honored the memory of Pierre Amine Gemayel, the Christian's whose assassination started the latest flames.

The turn towards the horrible occurred earlier on Sunday. Street fights are breaking out all over Beirut. So far it seems to be contained fighting between gangs and Hezbollah-loyalty militias. One was killed when 300 Hezbollah gangsters entered a Christian neighborhood looking for one anti-Hezbollah Syrian. Catholicgauze has been searching forums and other sources and there are rumors (just rumors so far) that Lebanese Forces, the ex-militia now political party with a bunch of guns lying around, will defend against any further incursions by Hezbollah.

The goals of both camps are well known. The March 14th Movement wishes to globalize Lebanon and make/return it to a "western" country. Hezbollah, while more modern than the Wahhabi Sunni terrorist groups like al Qaeda, seeks to create an Islamic state by replacing Lebanon. They fought a war against Israel and may be preparing for another one. Can the Arab Spring thrive or will the fruit be trampled upon?

Previous: The Coming Lebanese Civil War and Lebanon in Peril

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Pope in Istanbul

The Papal visit to the Patriarch of Constantinople was a historic trip and is wrapping itself up. For a complete rundown of the event check out the official website operated by the Eastern Orthodox.

Quick thoughts: Eastern Orthodox love titles. Secondly, they are sneaky guys having the celebration of Saint Andrew (who started the church there; as opposed to Peter who started it in Rome).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

70,000 Year Old Snake God Discovered


It's the giant snake god!

Remember thinking that the 11,000 year old ox temple was neat? Well, I think we can out do that! Archaeologists have found a 70,000 year-old rock carving of a twenty-foot long snake.

The rock carving was found in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana. Red spear points were found near the site which may signify there was a complex rule set for the cult. To give some background, humans were scattered around in Africa at this time and were also just beginning to penetrate the Mideast.

This discovery is big. Some evolutionary biologist, including Richard Dawkins with his book God Delusion, have argued the idea of a higher being and religion are by-products from the latter days of evolution. The giant snake runs counter to this argument (yet does not discredit the idea). The find advances the theory that religion is a part of human nature. Some deep thoughts to chew on... (and if cosmology is not your thing, just enjoy thinking about a giant snake idol!)

Hat Tip: Evangelical Catholicism

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where is the Midwest?

I have been a part of a series of very interesting conversations dealing with vernacular regions. (For those of you not in the "know" a vernacular region is a region which is loosely defined by people's perception). Places like the American South and Middle East are regions which can be described as vernacular. Common bonds among regions usually include human (similar culture, economics, ethnic group) and physical (similar physical landscape, etc).

The people in my discussion could settle on which states are in New England and in the South but one widely varying region was the Midwest. Some had the Midwest starting as far east as Pennsylvania while others thought it was found only in the Great Plains states. A simple map search reveals no one has any solid idea where the Midwest is.

So where do you all think the Midwest is? Are there any other regions open to so much debate?