Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Turkish Payback to Ralph Peters and Signs of Things to Come?

Remember when Ralph Peters made his map of a redrawn Middle East and then Catholicgauze got on board too? When I did that post a Turk commented with what his opinion of the idea. It appears the Turk and his friends have created their response. They are featuring a collection of maps which show a redrawn America. Most of the maps and text are in Turkish but some are in English and reveal much about the cartographers.

One map is especially troubling. I will let it speak for it self:



Now I know there are bad apples in any country and the internet gives them all a voice. The map in and of itself is just the work of one man. It may be; however, a poisonous fruit from Turkey, long an ally of the United States and the West, which is finding itself on a new team in the post-9/11 world.

Turkey has been on a slow but steady slide towards reactionary thought. Riots over the Mohamed Cartoons and the Pope's speech occurred in Turkey. A Catholic priest was murdered during mass by an assassin yelling "Allah Akbar!" Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink was murdered by a youth who stated "I shot the non-Muslim" after Friday prayers.

The map shows anti-American, anti-Israeli, and anti-Jewish feelings which are becoming more common in Turkey. America and Israel have done nothing negative to Turkey but in fact have worked together on many issues. The people of Turkey; however, want to take Turkey in a new, dangerous direction.

For more thought on Turkey's future direction see TDAXP's post Turkey-in-Europe, or Turks out of Europe?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jet Li's Fearless


Jet Li's Fearless is an excellent martial arts film with enough drama elements to appeal to both sexes. From a geographer's point-of-view it reveals a Chinese perspective on Westernization, honor, and the urban/rural relationship.

SPOILERS AHEAD


The film is loosely based on the life of Chinese martial arts expert Huo Yuanjia. In the initial third of the movie Yuanjia lives the high-life fighting to become the city's champion. He enriches himself, has a family, and spends lavishly on his friends. He is the nineteenth-century's playboy. He fights for the sheer pleasure of it and fails to recognize honor. When a gaffe of a biblical-proportion occurs because of his lack of honor he goes in self-imposed exile.

Redemption is learned in the rural country side. Here is a clean environment where family is valued. Things like rice are valued above riches. In short the country side becomes a healing place and the antithesis of the city.

When Yuanjia returns to the city to right his past it is a very different place. Soldiers from British India, camels, and missionaries are in the streets. Westernization is occurring.

The movie handles this issue patriotically but not xenophobicly. Yuanjia's friend shows how Westernization and capitalism can help China using China's historic fall from empire to Sick Man of Asia. The heads of the foreign powers are shown as shadowy snakes. The Japanese leader comes off the most negative being the brains of the anti-Chinese group.

The way the foreign fighters are depicted is the most interesting part. The American is a huge, war brute with no quick moves but with mighty power. However, after realizing the skills and honor of Yuanjia the American cheers Yuanjia's victory. The European fighters are only shown on screen fighting and have no redeeming qualities. The Japanese fighter completely counters the negativity of his leader. The fighter meets Yuanjia before the fight and realizes he is an honorable worthy of victory.

Fearless is an excellent movie with a great soundtrack. Rent it today!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Surge Begins

To all my friends and friends of freedom

The surge has begun. In Najaf American and Iraqi forces killed over 250 terrorist fighters. The fighting began when Iraqi police stopped an assassination plot against Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

Meanwhile Haifa Street continues to be the scene of close fighting (video).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mapping Economic Productivity


Economically France is just a colony of Paris while Germany is much more diverse

Geographically based Economic data (G-Econ) is a collection of maps which show economic activity in countries. A higher spike means more productivity. The maps are pretty easy to understand and each country has its own map. (Hat tip: TDAXP via Alberto López Núñez)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

119 Years of National Geographic

119 years ago today in 1888 the National Geographic Society was formed.

It came at a time when other countries had established their own geographical societies. American counterparts included the Association of American Geographers and the American Geographical Society.

However, the National Geographic Society has by far impacted the public more than all other of the societies combined. For the inside story of National Geographic I recommend Explorer’s House.

Geographers have a love/hate relationship with the society’s “branching out” efforts but we all wish it Happy Birthday!

Prince Turki Al-Faisal: We are not your friends


I recently attended a speech by Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud. I expected to be told about the special relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, and some positive spin on the future of Saudi-American cooperation. What I was left with was elitist whining and an even greater distrust of the Saudi-family which rules over most of Arabia.

The speech started off well. The Prince encouraged the 100-plus Saudi students to continue their studies (3 of them were women). He then praised his Kingdom's exchange program with the United States which has subsided over 12,000 Saudi students in American university mostly for engineering programs.

The main point of the speech was public diplomacy. al-Faisal said the era of the diplomat was over. He went on to state that we all conducted diplomacy and that the exchange program was a perfect opportunity for Saudis to learn about America.

Things turned towards the worse when it came to terrorism and suspicion. The prince repeatedly said American suspicion of Arabs and Muslims was based on such a small minority that it was practically unreasonable. He related the weekly calls for Jihad in Saudi-funded mosques to "bigoted" calls by evangelicals. He derided the negative depictions of Muslims in Western media saying it was pushing back relations. No word on Western depictions in Arab media.

The issue of Wahhabism came up also. The prince denied Wahhabism existed claiming it was merely restoring traditional Islam (this is a long running debate). He mentioned how Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab needed Saudi military help "to meet the challenges of the opposition." (Why can we not have reformers like Erasmus? One may not agree with the proposed reforms without the fear of dying with Erasmus-like people.) The prince claimed suicide bombings and "declaration of Jihad" was counter to al-Wahhab's teachings and al-Wahhab "would declare Jihad" against people like bin Laden (follow that logic).

Catholicgauze even had the chance to ask a question. I asked if there was a program which would enable Americans to visit Saudi Arabia. I was hoping that the "exchange" would be somewhere near equal. The prince replied that the Kingdom is "working on it" and took pride in the fact there are "slightly less than forty Americans" studying in the kingdom. But then he encouraged the audience to visit Saudi Arabia. He did not mention; however, that if we were ever seen in Mecca or Medina we would be killed.

A final bit was a diplomatic faceoff between a Shia Iraqi and the prince. The Iraqi wanted to know what the Kingdom was doing to weapons, money, and Jihadi movement from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. The prince replied that anything which leaves the Kingdom has to be documented. This means one of two things 1) That the Saudis are incapable of controlling their own borders and are a security risk with their incompetence or 2) Those in charge of border security allow the flow of tools of death into Iraq and are a security risk that way.

Catholicgauze walked out of the theater with a feminist professor. Both of us agreed that the speech left a sour taste in our mouth. Half-truths and things left unsaid made us worry about the role Saudi Arabia will play in the future.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Canadian Arctic E-Atlas

A class project has turned into an appealing resource about the Canadian arctic. The Canadian Arctic E-Atlas has sections on exploration, people, flora, wildlife, and landscape. Check it out today!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Games and Geography

Kaisergauze was pleased. Mighty Germany had crushed the Paris Commune and followed it up with a quick sweep of France. Why? Because I could and all Germans know the French always have it coming. The nations in the Reich expanded as an African conquer/colonization operation got under way. But the true prize was Russia. A blitz seized Moscow and victory seemed assured. But then the dice went wrong. The Tsar and his men fought valiantly in the Urals while I engaged in battles that made Fredericksburg look like military genius. Elsewhere the Sudanese Mahdi Army smashed my Afrika Corp and the British launched raids against Teutonica. The war ended with defeat after defeat. Relief only came with the end of the day. It was time put War! Age of Imperialism away to go home.

TDAXP has a fun post about his recent experience playing Diplomacy. This post got me thinking on how games can teach geography.

WAR GAMES AND TACTICAL GEOGRAPHY
Strabo said a good military commander can learn alot from geography. Catholicgauze, who rose all the way to the rank of Cadet in the United States Army, personally vouches for this. I impressed my Sargent right off the bat with map reading (being a geographer) but also with my tactical geographic thinking (and this came from gaming).

Playing Civil War Generals and Gettysburg! taught me even a worn regiment can hold a position against fresh troops if placed in protective terrain and entrenched BUT only for a limited time. Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far showed me how to make an enemy bleed by waging a defensive, house-to-house war. It also made me realize that an offensive attack over open ground was suicide. Finally, Operation Flashpoint re-enforced how holding high ground can be a great benefit.

OTHER GAMES AND GEOGRAPHY IN GENERAL
But other games can teach geography too. When I went along the Oregon Trail I used the Oregon Trail games (especially Oregon Trail II) as reference. It was so exciting to see the Saint Marys Indian Mission, Chimney Rock, and Fort Laramie for real. Games like the Gabriel Knight series are so well researched that one actually feels like they have visited Bavaria or southern France. Rome: Total War can be used as a historical geography tool teaching gamers where cities, cultures, and resources were and how they all interacted to create an empire whose influence is alive and well today. Castle Risk taught me about the geopolitical situation in Imperial Europe. Then there is Last Express which gives a complete breakdown of the twentieth-century Europe at the end.

So play games and learn geography! What can be better than that?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Macao: The New Gambling Capital of the World

Macao, the former Portuguese colony in China, appears to be the new gambling capital of the world passing Las Vegas in revenues. In the next ten years it is possible that it could become twice as big as Las Vegas.

Two reasons exist that explain this economic boom. Macao is a port city located on the South China Sea and easily accessible for Chinese and other Asians to visit. Secondly, like Hong Kong, Macao has practically complete independence with internal affairs. This has allowed Macao is have complete capitalism while ignoring China's decreasing, but still present, socialist demands on businesses. As a side effect of their openness and lack of the Communist Party destroying opposition, Hong Kong and Macao are the only places in China with a significant organized crime.

While the newly rich Chinese may prefer Macao and the American masses flock to Las Vegas, Catholicgauze will forever envision Monaco as the gambling haven. Any place which requires women to be in dress and men in formal wear is high class. Monaco wins hands down in the environmental round by being in the Rivera while its competitors are either in the desert or industrial jungle. Also, where else can James Bond-types and Saudi princes play blackjack with millions on the table?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Riots in Lebanon

With the world's attention on Iraq, Hezbollah is, in the words of a Lebanese government official, attempting a coup. After months of quite and mostly peaceful protests Hezbollah has initiated violent rioting by burning cars and setting up roadblocks. Hezbollah demands the government step down. Solders have been called in to help keep the peace.

For pictures of today's events click here.

Your Geotechnology Gadgets Want You Dead

A German motorist was driving along safely and properly until he suddenly veered left and ended up on a railroad track. Why? Because his satellite navigation system told him to.

For a while now I and other bloggers have been denouncing people's over reliance on geotechnology gadgets. While they do greatly aid in travel, if one cannot understand spatial relationships (map reading) the chance for error greatly increases. Then you have occasions when people choose their toys over common sense like the German motorist.

What are other reasons to despise geotechnology gadgets? Well, they will gangbang (video) you if put in groups, they are racist (video), and will make you do 240-some U-Turns in 37 miles.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Who were the First Americans?

As discussed yesterday, a Clovis-first theory just does not pan out.

Another theory that does not work is the "Ice-free" corridor theory in the Clovis timeline. This theory states that around 14,000 years ago Paleo-Indians blitzkrieged across barren lands of a freshly opened corridor and populated the Western Hemisphere in less than 500 years. It took Europeans hundreds if not thousands of years to claim lands abandoned by glaciers after the last ice age. The ice-corridor theory in a Clovis timeline suffers from other problems.
  • No archaeological evidence of Clovis or closely related pre-Clovis Indians can be found in Alaska or Siberia. In fact, the Eskimos of the region appear to come from a much more recent migration.
  • An ice-free corridor would be barren for a very long time, scarred by the glaciers and void of life. When it could support people and large game animals it would have also supported a type of extinct bear which could stand erect at 10 feet tall and thought people were delicious.
So where could the Paleo-Indians of come from and how did they reach America? The favored theory now is that they hugged the Pacific coast either walking and/or boating. Near the Monte Verde site there were Indians which lived as a boating culture surviving along the coast huntings seals and fish for protein up until the early twentieth century.

The exact point of origin is also difficult to determine. Genetics and teeth shape point towards the traditional spot of northeast Asia. There are oddities however:
  • Pottery found in Ecuador bears striking similarities to the Ainu (Caucasian Japanese) culture of Japan. Also, the Spanish encountered chickens which laid brown eggs (native Asian chickens do this, not native North American) and the natives used the entrails to forecast the future- another Ainu trait found no where else in the Americas. Before one pushes this fact aside know that Asian fishings were a fairly common site in the New World after the Spanish arrived. Surviving a journey was possible.
  • Another mystery is Haplogroup X. This group is a very scattered one comprising about 2% of Europeans and a fair amount of people in the Near East. It is also surprisingly found 25% of Algonquian speaking people. How this is possible is anyone's guess.

Catholicgauze has no grandiose theories of his own. He just wants people to know about our mysterious world.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Southern Pole of Inaccessibility and Surprises

The Southern Pole of Inaccessibility is a point in Antarctica furtherest away from the oceans. The point is 545 miles away from the South Pole and 12,198 feet above sea level. It has only been visited by man twice by two Soviet expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, a joint British and Canadian team has reached the pole! Reports are that it is cold, very cold there. In surprising news the team was greeted upon their arrival by a six and a half foot statue of Vladamir Lenin! The statue was erected by the Soviet teams along with a visitor center which was completely buried by snow.

To Catholicgauze, a journey through the southern continent capped off with a greeting by Lenin would be a "Planet of the Apes"-style shock.

Pre-Clovis find in Minnesota

The earliest, "well"-documented culture of Paleo-Indians are Clovis. The Clovis culture dates to around 13,500 years ago. The weird thing is that Clovis culture sites are found all throughout the Americas. This suggests that Paleo-Indians were in the Western Hemisphere much earlier than 13,500 years ago. However, the establishment nature of archaeology has caused any site that suggests pre-Clovis Americans to be very controversial.

A new discovery in Minnesota will add fuel to the fire that is the debate. The site has stone tools which may be up to 15,000 years old.

Catholicgauze finds this easily believable. Pre-clovis sites have been found. In fact, the Monte Verde site in southern Chile has solid evidence of people (including footprints) in the New World 1,000 years before the Clovis, New Mexico site. Here are questions to ponder: 1) If people were in Chile 14,500 years ago how long had people been in the New World? 2) Could the Chile site be evidence of alternative arrivals? More on this tomorrow...


Catholicgauze loves archaeology but hates the establishment nature of Archaeology. Dating problems is a great example of my hatred. Things are dated via radiocarbon dating. However, archaeologist tend to state things are "X years old" but fail to mention this is measured in radio-carbon years and not regular, "calendar" years as everyone understands "years" to mean. Catholicgauze uses the standard, lay definition of "year."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bearings: A Geographer's Blog

Link fixed!

A recent comment has led me to Bearings: A Geographer's Blog. The blog is "an exploration of our culture, and how humans impact the surrounding environment. This is not an eco-blog, or a policy blog. It simply looks at the landscape around us, interprets its history, and offers commentary on the built environment — in all its beauty and ephemerality."

I can sum it up as what would a blog by J.B. Jackson or Terry Jordan (I mean this as a compliment, to some geographers a comparison to TJ are fighting words) would be like.

The author, Jon, is a fellow National Geographic alum and has written for other publications. Some of his work is available online.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Go East Young Man


National Geographic in the February 2007 issue has a map comparing concentrations of single men and single women. It appears many men have taken the advice of John Babson Lane Soule (or Horace Greeley depending who you believe) of "Go west, young man," and left the women in the east. Boston all the down to Washington D.C. is single woman central while it is raining men from Seattle to San Diego.

See Also: Geography and Being Single in America

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Heidi Cullen hates Me!

To an even lesser extent than Robert Christopherson... partly because Dr. Cullen and I never met...

Many people know Dr. Heidi Cullen as the intelligent and friendly climatologist on the Weather Channel. She is a believer in human-caused global warming and believes it will lead to catastrophe if not stopped now. That is her scientific opinion and she is entitled to it.

However, she has called on the American Meteorological Society to "revoke their 'Seal of Approval' for any television weatherman who expresses skepticism that human activity is creating a climate catastrophe." That must be the scientific way, crush internal debate. Galileo would be proud.

I am a huge fan of Harm de Blij and Bjørn Lomborg when it comes to climate change. Both these doctors recognize climate change and Lomborg of the Skeptical Environmentalist fame even acknowledges humans have played some role with recent climate patterns but both these men point out how the Earth can and has violently changed climate quickly.

The most recent warming started in 1850 as the Earth left the "Little Ice Age" period. The pace at first as on par with the increase of today even though industrial activity back then has insignificant compared to today. Also, from around 1945 to 1975 the world was actually cooling at a rapid rate. I wonder what Dr. Cullen thinks of this.

By the way, the Russian Academy of Sciences has predicted global cooling will occur in 6 to 9 years.

The moral of the story is that scientists are still working things out and to terrorize dissenters with censure is wrong.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cross and Crescent on Flags

Religion plays a major role in defining a culture. It should be no surprise then that symbols of religion are commonly placed on countries flags. Just looking at the cross and crescent (no statements of faith like Saudi Arabia's flag) the two largest monotheistic faiths are represented 30 (18 for the cross and 12 for the crescent) times and of course there is Israel showing the Jewish Star of David. Here's a list:

Christian Cross Muslim Crescent
Australia Algeria
Denmark Azerbaijan
Dominica Comoros
Dominican Republic Malaysia
Fiji Maldives
Finland Mauritania
Georgia Pakistan
Greece Tunisia
Iceland Turkey
Jamaica Turkmenistan
Malta Uzbekistan
New Zealand
Norway
Slovakia
Sweden
Switzerland
Tuvalu
Tonga
United Kingdom
Vatican City

An interesting fact on the cross is most of the countries with it are Protestant. This is mainly due to nationalistic and anti-clerical rebellions which occurred in Catholic Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries which deposed the Church-allied monarchs. The most Catholic of countries, Vatican City, only has the cross on top of the Papal tiara.

Also, Singapore’s crescent is not Islamic but was placed there as a compromise between the Muslim population and the ethnic Chinese.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Terrorism in Greece

A Marxist group attacked the United States embassy in Greece. While most of the world is concerned with terrorism from Islamic groups Greece is still haunted by its civil war from the start of the Cold War. Strategy Page has more.

Moving past Racisim

Of all the things to come out of the Age of Enlightenment, one of the worst has been racism. Before there was bigotry of course, but the bigotry was based on religion or culture. No where before had there been a concept which united and divided people across cultural and religious bonds like racism.

So on this day let us all remember the great words: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Demographics of the Future and What it Means

As I have noted before Germany and France have dwindling populations while the United States has a slow growth. However, other places are still expiercing fast paced growth. The two places in the news are China and the third world world.

As Geography@About.com pointed out China will have 30,000,000 more young men then women by 2020. The reason for such a gap is Chinese have been having more abortions on baby girls then boys due to old cultural bias against girls. So where will these 30 million men place their angry sex-deprived lives? Most likely the military. And with Chinese military having the reputation that it does, many observers are worried.

India has a similar trend of aborting more girls than boys and this is placing strains on the culture.

Finally in the Muslim world there is a large increase in the youth population. About third of Jordan and Egypt and nearly half of Somalia and Afghanistan are under 15 (compared to 20% in the United States). This has social scientists like Gunnar Heinsohn worried. Heinsohn's "Youth Bulge" theory, too many young people leads to an increase of crime, war, terrorism, etc, is being applied to the state of the world today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Next Sealand Debate

Sealand was an interesting oddity. With a supposed principality, the Bates family ruled their own oil platform declaring it sovereign while everyone else thought of it as a joke (Geography@About.com has the "rules" for being recognized as a country and relates it to Sealand).

Last year there was a fire on Sealand and everyone thought the harmless joke was coming to an end. When Sealand was put up for sale (officially a "transfer" because countries cannot be "bought" per se) it was reported as a novelty. Now; however, an interesting twist has been added to the play. The Pirate Bay, a Swedish file-sharing website like the Napster of the 1990s, is attempting to purchase Sealand. Pirate Bay is even offering citizenship to those who help by donating money. The motivation is if Sealand is a sovereign state then it can pass its own laws and Pirate Bay could be considered "legal" under Sealand land. That would make it much more difficult to shut the website down due to problems associated with international internet law.

Now this raises an interesting conundrum in my passed-down lawyer blood. If Pirate Bay seizes control of Sealand what will the Swedes (and others who wish to shut down the website do). The physical location of Pirate Bay would be out of reach Swedish law enforcement unless the Swedes waste time and resources doing a military-style assault on a few computer in the middle of nowhere. Or will the legal powers that be entertain the notion of the microstate?

Further down the line is what does a group truly have to do to get recognized. The Taliban controlled land, population, and had a bureaucracy but was only recognized by a few countries. Meanwhile the Somalian government had no territory under its control until recently but had United Nations recognition. Does a group have to blow up a few buses and become politically chic to be recognized? Catholicgauze simply does not know.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

GIS on Google Maps

It is now possible to make thematic maps on Google Maps! Google Map Creator allows one to take ESRI shape files (available all over the internet, just search for GIS data), choose the variable and output one wants, and then creates a thematic map which can be displayed on any website. It is so easy even I can do it! Two of my favorite are the neighborhoods of London and Worldbank GDP. (Hat tip: La Cartoteca)

War on Terror Update

This post dedicated to my personal friends who are now serving in Iraq and elsewhere

Map of Success and Failure (Courtesy of Gateway Pundit)

The big news tonight is President Bush's speech to the nation about the war in Iraq. Iraq has been a success with one critical flaw- Greater Baghdad. In the north the Kurds crushed the Baathists and Ansar al Islam (al Qaeda's Kurdish branch), in the south the British are doing a good job keeping Badr militia and al Sadr's Mahdi militia separate for the most part.

The failure has been Baghdad where al Qaeda in Iraq has battled al Sadr's Mahdi militia in a contest to score the most civilian causalities. After failing to engage al Qaeda during the First Battle of Fallujah, the US/Iraqi alliance has changed course starting with the Second Battle of Fallujah and been constantly wearing Sunni insurgents down. With the Shiite al Sadr things have been different. Twice al Sadr has engaged, lost, and yet been allowed to rebuild his army. This has allowed al Sadr to wage an indirect war against the US and the Iraqi government. It has also made him a target of envy to the Sunnis who see him as Satan's pawn.

Hopefully things are going to change. Bush's plan is to "surge" into Baghdad, mop up the loose confederation of al Qaeda and its allies, and finally destroy al Sadr he does not disarm as warned.

But the War on Terrorism continues on many fronts. After suffering defeat, Islamists in Somalia are on the run with their al Qaeda allies being bombed from the air. It might be possible that the resumption of peace talks in Darfur, Sudan are due to renewed American interest in fighting Islamism in Africa. The Chinese are fighting the East Turkestan Islamic Movement who have been known to send fighters to Afghanistan and Iraq. Elsewhere the battle in the Philippines continues as terrorists bomb public gathering places.

In the Middle East continues along. The often ignored war in Palestine between Hamas and Fatah continues to kill more Palestinians. Meanwhile Hezbollah enjoys fruits of its victory, ruin, while Druzes, Sunnis, and Christians try to move on in Lebanon.

Finally a message to all those who wish to hurt my friends

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Newspaper Front Pages from Around the World

The Newseum, a really neat museum in Washington D.C., has an interactive website which shows the front page of 541 newspapers from 51 different countries. From the Logan Herald Journal to some Tunisian newspaper which I cannot make sense out of there are many interesting news stories to read. (Hat tip: Very Spatial)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Full Moon Name for 2007

Did you know every full moon has its own name? Well, many cultures have given each full moon names. The Wikipedia article gives some explanation for names and Yahoo gives short reasons why various Indian tribes gave the full moon names.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2006 State of GTWC! Address

From January 8, 2006 to January 7, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, I address you on the first anniversary of the launch of Geographic Travels with Catholicgauze! And ladies and gentlemen, my address is one of success!

Brief Rundown
The very first post dealt with one picture of a North Korean "traffic jam" with interpretation. From there the blog has expanded into geopolitics, physical geography, travel, migration of ancestors, and so much more. From one blog to several to many Catholicgauze has manged to befriend compatriots who also enjoy the art and science of geography.

Hurdles to Cross
The primary enemy of Catholicgauze is my own laziness. The online mapping site needs to be finished. I also promise relatively quick finish of the Oregon Trail saga.

As for external hurdles progress is being made. Ask.com no longer blacklists Catholicgauze! And we now have a troll! Yes, GTWC! is so important to someone that they seek pleasure from pain and try to taunt Catholicgauze. Mission success!

What is to Come
While I will continue the wide range of post subjects one thing I want to increase is regional geography. A taste of what that means is the recent posts on religious-majority oddities.

Closing Remarks
I just want to thank all my loyal readers who make blogging worth while!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Catholicgauzes's Resume

The start of a new year means one thing, summer deadlines are soon approaching. Currently I have several applications out their for summer opportunities with government and private groups but Catholicgauze is currently going through a roller coaster ride with bureaucratic inefficiency. So below is Catholicgauze's edited resume to protect my identity. If you know of an opportunity where Catholicgauze can work for a stipend consisting of peanuts let me know! My mother is my first recommendation. :)

Contact: catholicgauze[at]gmai[dot]com
Objective: To obtain meaningful employment doing geographical-related work for the summer whether it be geopolitial, geophysical, geoenvironmental, or etc..

Education
Master's of Arts in Geography (in progress)
GPA: 3.67

Bachelor's of Science in Geography
Minors in Spanish, Political Science, Global Studies
GPA: 3.82 (Magna Cum Laude)


Employment

Graduate Teaching Assistant (current employment)
My primary duty as a graduate teaching assistant is to instruct three sections of Environmental Geography Lab. I have to prepare lessons, make quizzes and tests, and answer any questions students have concerning their assignments. The labs themselves are pre-made by the professor but it is my duty to detail and describe the topic and the assignment. After some trial and error I have discovered tying the topic with local problems is the best way to capture the interest of the students. For example I will tie water scarcity with a drought or the Ogallala Aquifer shortage.

Intern
National Geographic Society
At National Geographic I was one of nine geography interns for autumn of 2005. I worked with the internet and film library divisions researching possible stories and providing a geographic perspective to new educational material. Other duties include writing news pieces for National Geographic Kid’s News Online and aiding the internet division with the recently completed redesign of the homepage. Finally, I assisted the digital film library with research possible videos to adopt for video of the day on MSN and Yahoo.

Student Technology Fellow
The student technology fellowship program was a merit-awarded employment opportunity for technologically literate students founded by the state of South Dakota. Chosen students were initially required to complete rigorous training in both hardware and software. My primary duties included installing necessary network software, answering and assisting professors with questions concerning software and hardware, and creating educational tools for the classroom. With each professor I taught them useful technological skills and they in turn gave me a greater appreciation of their subject field.


Skills
GIS
Certified by home state with both hardware and software knowledge
Teaching
Proficient in Spanish
85+ Words Per Minute typing

Honors
Dean's List every semester of full time study during undergraduate studies.
Duel-enrollment student during high school
Graduate in two years; entered college with junior standing
President of Delta Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon geographical honor society (2004-5)
Award recipient for work done for state's geography convention
Recipient of many department and school scholarships
Full out of state tuition waiver for graduate studies

Memberships
Association of American Geographers
Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
Gamma Theta Upsilon geographical honor society
Golden Key International Honour Society


So that is my resume. Remember, Catholicgauze wants to do geographical work for you! And if you have no opportunities available, you just learned alot about me.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Virtually Traveling the World (with YouTube)

Geography and travel go well together. That's why a section of this blog is entitled virtually traveling the world. And thanks to technology travel and neogeography go together also. A mashup of Google Maps and YouTube allows one to take short video trips to various locations around the world. Travel the World does not drown the viewer in flashiness but instead immerses one with the beauty of the location. Enjoy! (Hat Tip: Great Map)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Trouble in Mexico

While the Mexican "civil war" did not occur, President Calderon has insurrection and microstates to battle.

In the southern state of Oaxaca what was once a teacher's strike turned into a micro-revolution by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). Federal troops had to enter Oaxaca and support actions by police loyal to the governor.

The situation in the north is just as dire. For a while now much of the border region has been in control of Mexican drug lords who crave out their own little feudal lands. They even had sway over the military in the region. Calderon in response has order over 3,000 Mexican army soldiers into Tijuana to reclaim it for the Mexican government. The police have been partially disarmed due to fears of loyalty to the cartels.

The inability of the Mexican government to control its own lands is a dangerous threat. Rogue and cartel-controlled Mexican forces have repeatedly enter the United States. Recently National Guard troops were overrun by Mexican gunmen.

There are fears Mexico could become the next Columbia. With its proximity to the United States: demographics, economics, and politics of both countries are linked and would suffer horribly if this comes to pass.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How Weather Changed History

Live Science has a neat web feature entitled "How Weather Changed History" which briefly sums up Blame It on the Rain by Laura Lee. The online feature gives ten short examples how changes in either weather or climate have altered the course of history. From military history (Russia is mentioned three times!) to cultural history (the Stradivarius violin owns it existence to the Little Ice Age) weather has always played a big role in the tide of time.

Also in the news today was a study by geologists who claim climate shift helped destroy China's Tang dynasty. The claim is that crop failures due to long-term drought added with other variables such as the Islamic invasion, corruption, and of course the Mongol hordes destroyed Tang's China. While one can argue whether or not geologists are the best people to make this call and one can point out the distinct lack of "human caused climate change" back one thousand years ago the moral of the story is weather is a very strong yet unknown force. If a culture can prepare and make plans to adapt before a climate shift the stated culture will be much better off in the future.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

American Cities and Disaster Response Ratings

Only six American metropolitan areas earned the highest grades for their emergency agencies' ability to communicate during a disaster. The report is available in PDF form.

The best places to be rescued are the odd mix of Washington, San Diego, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Columbus, Sioux Falls, and Laramie county, Wyoming. The worst places to be in a disaster are the equally odd mix of Chicago, Cleveland, Baton Rouge, Mandan, and American Samoa.

What does this all mean? Well, size does not matter either way. Sioux Falls, South Dakota is no center of the universe. Cities like San Fransisco are huge centers of trade yet have weak scores. So having money and resources is one thing but putting them to good use is another thing entirely.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saddam's Execution in the Grand Scheme of Things

ONCE AGAIN WARNING: THE VIDEO SHOWS THE EXECUTION AND DEATH OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. THE VIDEO IS UNOFFICIAL AND TAKEN ON CELLPHONE.


I as said before the execution of Saddam Hussein and the video of the execution are touchy. But it is a historical document and will not only have affect in the classroom but also the global stage.

Holding leaders personally account for crimes committed by their countries is a new phenomenon. After World War II trials for crimes committed against humanity were held in Nuremborg against Nazis, in Tokyo against members of the Empire's high command, the Finns prosecuted their own leaders under pressure from the Soviet Union, and the Soviets had their own trial for Japanese war criminals. The trials were suppose to rush in a new world order of justice but the dawn of the Cold War made things to contentious and dirty deeds were done and overlooked for the next half century.

After the fall of international communism things changed. The world was globalized and once again sensitive to crimes against humanity. War crimes and crimes against humanity courts were set up for crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. While these courts are setup by United Nations their background is ironic. The United Nations failed to achieve the peace in these lands (and in the case of Sierra Leone gave the worst war criminal the Vice-Presidency and control of the diamond trade in the name of realism and peace). Peace in Yugoslavia was attand by NATO military and political pressure, Rwanda was allowed to happen until Tutsi rebels liberated the country (and the UN and French finally got involved by saving the Hutus), and Sierra Leone's civil war was ended by the Guinean military.

Like the above Saddam was allowed to run Iraq with slaps on the wrist by the international community. Weapon inspectors were not allowed in, the no fly zone was violated with Coalition planes were shot at and drones shot down, terrorist operations were funded by the government, and torture chambers were used against Saddam's enemies both real and imagined. All the while the people of Iraq suffered under the oil for food scandal. Saddam even had supporters on both the extreme left and right who saw him as a strong lion against Israel and the United Nations. It took military intervention on the part of many countries and nation-building to finally bring Saddam to justice.

The Middle East and surrounding areas is one of few liberties and many tyrants. The extreme popularity of the Saddam Hussein execution video must be frightening to those who oppress their people. Arabs, Persians, Kurds, and others are seeing what can happen to their own monsters. Leaders are paying attention. Right after the Second Gulf War Libya announced it was ending its support of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction program. After the Iraqi elections many Middle Eastern countries held local and regional elections and some even gave women the right to vote. Already people are seeing how Lebanon is working and the potential for Iraq. Many reformers and moderates are demanding change in the region.

Slowly but surely the Middle East is encountering globalization and liberalization on a scale other than economics. People naturally desire freedom while wanting security. Hopefully the Middle East can find a balance similar to that of the West. The current status quo of oppression and exportation of terrorism cannot last nor be tolerated.

On a final note there is a great discussion of the morality of Saddam Hussein's execution. There are both religious pro and anti capital punishment arguments. What one must consider is the world better off with the man dead rather than life in jail. With a Sunni insurgency still going on in Iraq there would be the possibility of hostage taking and execution demanding Saddam's release. This scenario is enough to persuade me. However, think for yourself on this issue.

Postcards for Geographers

I like postcards for the rich geographical information which can be learned from them. Some; however, are clearer than others.

Reader Ben Schlitter has recommended his Geography + Information postcards as a solution. These postcards' fronts are fill-in sheets with space for climate, environment, population, and industry. While I have not used these they do seem interesting for those who wish to give a geographic picture of the places they visit.