Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The Art Insitute in Chicago has created a Green Map course and has a very good results page. It is good to know that a school is teaching urban geography, field methods, and cartography all in one. It is a pitty most geography departments do not do that.
Monday, January 28, 2008
The law, like many other multicultural efforts, has allowed reactionary values to trump the liberal values which allowed the reactionaries the chance to come back. Mexican Indian women have lost the right to vote and hold office in certain parts of the country.
May liberal values such as freedom win out against backwards cultures. However, cases like this are found throughout the world from the international level like Europe turning a blind eye to the oppression of Muslim women in the ghettos to small incidents like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's policy of banning women from certain parts of the campus because of its openess to the mentally ill homeless.
Hat tip: Catholicgauzette
Sunday, January 27, 2008
On this day we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a time to remember the slain in this horrific event, other horrific events in history, those who are being murdered today, and take action so something like this may never happen again.
The Holocaust Museum has the Holocaust Encyclopedia and a maps page for more information.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The Iraq Parliament has voted to change the national flag. For the mean time they have agreed on a temporary flag.
The post-Saddam flag was a slight modification of the 1991 Saddam flag which in turn was a slight modification of 1963 Baath Iraq flag. That flag had three stars and "God is Great" in Arabic. The stars originally meant Syria, Egypt, and Iraq; representing the Baath Party's goal of uniting all Arab countries. In 1991 "God is Great" in Saddam's handwriting was added in an effort to unite Islamic nations with Iraq against the US-led campaign to liberate Kuwait and the stars meaning was changed to the Baath Party motto of "Unity, Freedom, Socialism." In 2004 the "God is Great" motto was changed to standard font.
The recent change is part of Iraq's effort to move on. The 2004 flag is banned in the Kurdish Autonomous Region and many are upset because the three stars were remained. No one can still agree on what the new flag should be (the Kurds are pressing hard for Kurdish iconography) so the new flag will last for one year. Everyone wants to avoid the fiasco of the proposed 2004 flag.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Fuller is right in the sense that a world (and especially the Middle East) without Islam would not be some sort of utopia. Terrorism, assassinations, suicide bombings, world wars, weapons of mass destruction, riots, religious violence, and a whole lot of other nasty things all have their origins independent of Islam. The Middle East itself was the scene of wars, just like everywhere else, before Islam. Jewish Zealots waged war for God and nation against the Roman Empire, Arab tribes raided caravans for loot, and Persia and the West fought each other dominance all before Muhammad.
However, the essay falls apart in its historical and cultural geographical analysis. Ignorance about demographics, religion, political, and the rise of Europe greatly hurt the thesis that the world would be the same.
First, there is the statement “Without Islam, the face of the region still remains complex and conflicted. The dominant ethnic groups of the Middle East – Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Jews, even Berbers and Pashtuns – would still dominate politics,” is flawed when one looks beyond face value. The Middle East would probably be more ethnically diverse. Arabs before the Islamic conflict were limited to the Arabian Peninsula and the fringes of Syria and Jordan. The Islamic Conquest spread Arab culture more than actually Arabian Arabs. This shows today with the physical differences between an Iranian Gulf Coast “Arab” and an Egyptian-Sudanese “Arab.” Arab today is much more of an identity, spread through Islam, rather than an actual ethnic group. Without Islam bringing Arab as a common unifier the Middle East would be a salad bowl of Syriacs, Assyrians, Phoenicians, and other groups. The Middle East may be even more ethnically fractured if Islamic Arabs did not unify it.
The assumptions Fuller makes concerning religion also have problems. Fuller states without Islam Christianity would probably have continued its dominance of the region. This is probably correct. However he goes on to discuss how the region would be Eastern Orthodox and that would be bad because Eastern Orthodox tend to be suspicious of the secular and culturally Catholic West. The problem is this is three fold.
First the region would be a mixture of Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Oriental Orthodox like the Egyptian Copts and the Assyrian Church of the East. Oriental Orthodox probably would have kept the momentum they had before Islam and would have legitimate shots at converting much of India and China. The mindset of Oriental Orthodox would indeed be counter to the West in that they would negatively see both Roman and Constantinople as those who opposed them during the early days of Christianity. Religion would be even more political with joining the Eastern Orthodox or keeping communion with Rome being even more political than it is today.
Secondly, the Eastern Orthodox would not be so anti-West if Islam was had not arrived. The Eastern Orthodox Church actually reunited with Rome before the fall of Constantinople. After the Turks seized the city they had the new patriarch withdraw from the union. The Muslim Turks kept the Eastern Orthodox separate and rivals of the Western Church (A joke goes: “Q: If Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are so similar in dogma why do Protestants not claim the Patriarch is the anti-Christ? A: Because the anti-Christ has better things to do than listen to the Sultan for 500 years.”). Religious struggles would be present in a world without Islam but the playing field would be completely different.
Thirdly the essay states “what were the Crusades if not a Western adventure driven primarily by political, social, and economic needs? The banner of Christianity was little more than a potent symbol.” Byzantine Emperors Michael VII and Alexius I Comnenus, Pope Urban II, and the peasants of the People’s Crusade disagree. Urban II whole justification was the plea of the Byzantines’ who cited Muslims destroying Christian communities. Western Christians first started caring about the Muslim ruled Holy Land not when it economically suited them but when Fatimid caliph, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher destroyed in 1009. The essay then brings up the Fourth Crusade as premanetly damaging Eastern Orthodox-Catholic relations. Without Islam there would not have been a Fourth Crusade.
The political makeup of the Middle East would be different in a world without Islam. The Muslim goal was to rebuild the world according to their divine revelations. That included disposing with old political, economic, and cultural systems. Muslims were the only group to dispose of the Roman-base system once the Romans or their direct descendants lost control. The Roman-based systems and legal setups would probably be found in the Middle East today and maybe spread as Christianity did. This could mean either a greater respect for human rights but could also leave the door open for dictators who would abuse the power structure for their own benefit like Mussolini or Hitler.
(Side note: If Constantinople had not fallen Moscow could have never of claimed to be the Third Rome. This claim and prestiage help Moscow become a major power.)
The last flaw with the essay is that it assumes only Europe would rise in a world without Islam. The essay states that a Christian Middle East would oppose European colonialism just how all other regions of the world did. But this assumes that only Europe would make “the great leap” forward which spurred the Ages of Exploration, Conquest, and Imperialism. With all of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and perhaps more in the relatively same cultural sphere, the Renaissance and Age of Reason may have spread throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. The Muslim world we know would not be stuck in the slow decline it has been in for the last 500 years but instead it may have rapidly advanced just like Western Europe did. The Middle East and elsewhere may have shifted its glances in other directions like further south around Africa and maybe even the Americas. The great mercenary explorers of Italy may have guided Christian Indian fleets to Australia, Arab fleets around the Cape of Good Hope, and even African Vandal fleets to Brazil. Who knows. This is a double-edge sword. With so much competition and conflicting thoughts in the same realm, English individualism and Protestant freedom (both of which heavily influence America and the free world today) may not have been able to succeed.
Mr. Fuller is right when he writes the world would not be a peaceful utopia if Islam had not existed. There would still be religious violence and most residence of the current Muslim world would still be peaceful and friendly people like everyone else. The world would not be just like it was; however, it would be radically different. For either good or ill.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Law of the Sea Treaty allows countries to claim submerged land all the way to the continental shelf. However, with good but limited mapping ability and politics in the way the exact boundaries of these submerged borders are murky. Add in trillions of dollars of resources up for grabs and one has the last great land grab on Earth.
Continental Shelf mapping may not be as loud as an issue as climate change; however, it is just as political.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Hispanos in blue, Blacks in purple, Whites in yellow. Click to enlarge. From National Review Online.
The American birth rate is the highest it has been since the end of the baby boom (1961). Besides more people having children, another reason is the decrease in abortions. The major reason though is the higher birthing rate of minorities in the United States. Blacks have a fertility rate slightly above 2.1 while Hispanos fertility rate is almost 3.0. The fertility rate of Whites is actually below that of France. A final reason for the increase of population (from 1961 to 2007 the fertility rate was in negative growth direction) is immigration. The good economic and political freedoms of the United States have attracted people from all over the world.
To avoid negative population growth and to stay out of the "needs babies" category America must remain free, value life, and be open to a form of immigration. Lacking one of these three traits would make the United States like the other first world countries in a demographic spiral.
Monday, January 21, 2008
On the Democratic side Barack Obama has a map which allows one to go to local state pages. John Edwards and Hiliary Clinton do not use maps. There are some use of social networking sits though. The Republicans also use social networking like Facebook and MySpace but maps are rare as well. Rudy Guliani has "Why Rudy" testimonial maps but the Google Map mashup was down as of the post publishing. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul have Meetup pages which have a map option for, well, meetups.
So neogeography fans, like many Americans, feel there is not a candidate for them.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Now people can enjoy blurbs online using a Google Maps mashup. A fair number of countries are already up with more added each week. The previous and current "featured" countries of the week has multiple entries. One can even download a KML file for viewing in Google Earth.
Be sure and check it out today! If not you will never know the exact time the sun will set on the British Empire, East Timor was a country that got some sense bombed into it, and just what sort of nightmares do occur in the Democratic Republic of The Congo.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
These tunnels are mostly used for drug smuggling but some are also used for human trafficking. This makes them a law enforcement concern. Geotechnology is playing a part in curbing use of these tunnels. Popular Mechanics has a feature on how the types of geotechnology being used. Everything from "standard" ground penetrating radar to measuring oh so slight changes in Earth's magnetic field can be utilized. The neatest one involves cosmic rays- it is so easy a 12 year old did it!
A new book that is coming out which covers this subfield (note: the editors contacted Catholicgauze and allowed me to view an electronic edition for free) entitled An Atlas of Radical Cartography. The "atlas" is a collection of essays with a visual aid usually in the form of a map.
The politics of the atlas are clearly leftist. Some of the essays though are good like the one which starts off about avoiding security cameras in Manhattan but quickly becomes an article on how geography and geographical products can be used in grassroots campaigns. Others quickly go off the deep end. One article is an interview with a guy at first about rendition flights. After a brief detour into the different types of chart the interviewee states the United States is engaged in a Latin American-style Dirty War complete with tens of thousands of domestic murders.
It is hard to give an objective rating to the product. Those who favor Catholicgauze for President best stay away to avoid leftism combined with academic jargon. On the other hand, if post-Fordism and Hugo Chavez inhabit your dream world then there is something here for you to enjoy.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The main weak point for the KMT is that its foreign policy program can be described as jerkish. The ROC has territorial claims against almost of all China's neighbors. Instead of trying to make alliance ROC has complaints against everyone including Afghanstan!(?) The KMT victory may calm nerves but one day it may be forced to make sacrifices.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The German government recently launched an initiative to appeal to these Americans. German Originality is a site with heritage information and genealogical links for research. But the main feature of the website is the interactive map (guess which caught my attention first). One can view the various regions of Germany and click on towns for heritage and tourist information. One of Catholicgauze's German branches comes from the town of Hilter (yeah, I miss read that too the first time). While nothing is marked for Hilter the Pied-Piper Story historical event occurred right near by.
Sadly the website is not for those Americans of German descendant who's ancestors came from Austria, Switzerland, or the various "lost lands" of East Prussia, North Tyrol, and elsewhere. For more German heritage research be sure to check out the surname mapper.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The universe is a funny thing. It only weighs about a tenth of what is suppose to using current models and something interferes with the gravitational systems in many places. So the concept of dark matter and dark energy were born to help us comprehend just what the heck is going on out there. These two things play a big role in our space models aiding in warping galaxies and expanding the universe. However, since we know so little about them they are like the blank spaces on the maps of old. While there were no monsters in those; science fiction ingrained monster, space aliens, time travel, and more live in our imaginations of dark matter.
Astronomers were looking at a star system when they noticed some warping going on. For example one stated "A circular galaxy will become distorted to resemble the shape of a banana if its light passes near a dense region of dark matter." The group decided to map out the weirdness to see if there was any pattern. To their surprise dark matter was clumping in spots which mass was ten trillion (10,000,000,000,000) times the Earth's sun Sol! The matter seems to be there because several galaxies have collided here.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The high heel shoe has its roots in ancient times. Depictions from Ancient Egypt show both men and women wearing the style of shoe. However, since art work back then only displayed important events it is unknown whether high heels were for ceremonial purposes only or were part of upper class fashion.
In Europe and parts of "Eurasia" the high heel came and went as the preferred horse riding boot. In the 1400s the French began adopting it as a fashion statement. Men would wear the "court shoe" and a sort of arms race began as everyone tried to have the highest yet most uncomfortable shoe. Future French Queen Catherine de Medici started the fashion craze for women by showing that not only do women look in heels but it also brings them to the height of men.
High heels were popular in Europe and the colonies until the era of revolutions (early to mid 1800s). High heels were associated with the monarchies and conservative ways. Once politics settled done high heels made comebacks in cycles.
Imperialism and the various waves of globalization have brought high heels all over the world. Japanese women would wear high heels before World War II, but only during functions where they dressed as Westerners. Koreans therefore hated high heels (like everything else which was associated with the Japanese); however, the fetish market brought the shoe "through the back door." Today high heels are becoming common almost everywhere. A primary exception is more traditional Muslim countries were there are still taboos against women's beauty in public.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Mount St. Sepulchre features the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary in dozens of languages. It is neat to see it and try to identify linguistic ties between not only European tongues but also the Asian, African, and American ones.
Well, now one can kinda of see the relationships concerning the European langauges. Strange Maps features the above map which shows the start of the Lord's Prayer in the dominant language around 1750.
As usual Strange Maps describes the map in great detail but I will point out some things mentioned in the article and expand a little bit. Note the presence of German in the Baltics. It took World War II to remove the German population but German archeticture and even the German leader of the Russian Orthodox Church remain. Notice the Russian lands. Just look at the wide range of languages which are found across the Steppes. Just like the proto-Catholicgauzes discovered, Russia has proven to be a land where diverse groups of semi-nomads gather and settle.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Today's world of asymmetric warfare allows for greater application of geoprofiling. Many terrorist cells are local and territorial. They refuse to leave there small little havens and tend to favor easily accessible attack points from which they can retreat from. Geography skills allows us to understand, identify, and stop these attacks.
Monday, January 07, 2008
The map above comes from reader's blog Nat the Dem. Nat takes a look at states where the governor, lieutenant governor, or the sole state representative is a woman. It is pretty clear that woman have gone along way from the days when only the egalitarian interior West would elect them.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
The blog JIOX has a link to the long paper Culture: The New Key Terrain, Integrating Cultural Competence into Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (PDF) by Major O. Kent Strader. The paper argues that it is possible to weaponize culture and understanding and exploiting culture will allow for better military operations. It is a long paper but the summary does a good job while using few words for those who do not have the time.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Whenever one has elections one has maps! The Politico has a flash map which shows results by county meanwhile Google (does it strike anyone odd that a search engine is now a leader in geography?) has a map showing county results.
On the Republican side Huckabee won big. Romney manged to win the Sioux City-Council Bluffs corridor and the more populous, industrial Mississippi River coast area.
For the Democrats Edwards won the blue farmers (populists who love their farm subsidies) in the south, Obama won the more youthful votes in the east, and Clinton pulled away the suburban west and north.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The Washington Post has a great interactive map on the Political Geography of the Iowa Caucus. Each candidate is studying the geography of Iowa in order to try to win the state.
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee is focusing on the rural, conservative northwestern section of the state. Christian conservatives are more concentrated here (anyone who knows that region knows it is filled with 'Dutch').
Mitt Romney: Romney is going where the votes: Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. He has been in the state for along time and hopes his ground network can suppress the Huckabee insurgency.
Barak Obama: Obama's campaign of "hope and energy" is focusing on youth. In particular Obama is focusing on the university towns of Ames (Iowa State University), Cedar Falls (University of Northern Iowa), and Iowa City (University of Iowa). This may be a smart strategy because the students at these universities will be on break and spread all throughout the state. Obama may have his own missionaries engage in fifth generation warfare (5GW).
John Edwards: Edwards is a union man and has centered his energy around Des Moines and the industrial and populist farmer town of Newton. His energy here has cost him somewhat with possible support from other blue-collar areas like the Mississippi River Coast and Sioux City.
Hillary Clinton: Clinton is focusing on the middle class, (sub)urban woman. The natural environment in Iowa for these women is Des Moines. Attention here has cost here with other caucus voters elsewhere in the state.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
In the 1920s the sugar industry in Louisiana was nearly destroyed but importing of Asian varieties of the cane allowed the crop to come back. The proposal of the Sugar Bowl was meant to emphasize that sugar was back and its importance to the state.
Today America's sugar industry in Louisiana, Florida, and Hawaii is doing well but under false preeminence. Tariffs keep the cost of foreign sugar high eliminating much foreign competition. This not only makes drinks like Pepsi and Coke use corn syrup instead of sugar, it also limits the marketability of sugar-based ethanol.