Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Post-1953 Incidents Between North and South Korea

The terms "North Korea" and "South Korea" are a bit misleading.  No country claims to be a "north" or "south."  Both Koreas claim to be the sole legal government of the whole peninsula.  As such it is not really surprising to know that both the Personality Cult in the north and the liberal democracy in the south are still in a state of war since the cease fire ended the First Korean War in 1953.

The Guardian has a Google Maps mashup of incidents between the two Koreas since the end of the first war.  Not surprisingly, the North has been up to much of the incidents that have nearly brought the pennisula back to the shooting war.  While the military dictatorship South did have its own major problems, being curtailed by the United States and the transition to democracy helped to keep it as a peacemaker when the North engaged in violence. (Hat Tip: Google Maps Mania)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Geography of Common Thanksgiving Foods

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today Americans will be gathered with family or friends or will be marking the day alone.  However, no matter what the social scene, there are certain foods common throughout the United States that will be eaten today.  The geography of the primary Thanksgiving foods shows that the meal is primarily American but influences from the rest of the Western Hemisphere and Europe cannot be ignored.

Turkey:  Wild Turkeys are native throughout much of the eastern United States and were hunted by Indians long before the first Puritan-American Indian Thanksgiving.  Turkeys were first domesticated by Inidans in Central America.  Turkeys are now a staple animal of American agriculture though the wild turkey is still hunted during hunting season.

Corn:  Corn is the longest lasting accomplishment of American Indians.  The crop was engineered by Indians in present-day Mexico off the natural grass Teosinte.  Between A.D. 500 and 1500 the crop spread across the Western Hemisphere as agricultural Indians realized how nutritious the plant was.  Today corn is grown all over the world and is responsible for being the life supporting crop for millions.


Mashed Potatoes:  The potato was not used at the first Thanksgiving.  The crop actually comes from the Andes Mountains of Peru and Chile.  It was brought over by the Spanish.  The crop spread throughout Europe since it was able to grow in poor soil conditions and its ability to properly feed large populations.  The potato was not planted in significant number in the United States until the early 1800s.  Today China, Russia, and India grow more potatoes than the United States.

Butter/Creme for the Potatoes:  The milk-based product to make mashed potatoes creamy comes from the Europeans who had domesticated cows.

Pumpkin Pie/Pumpkin Bread:  Pumpkins were grown by many Indian tribes as a staple crop.  The vitamin and mineral rich squash helped many survive the harsh northeastern winters.  Puritan records state that pumpkins were given to the Puritans by Indians during the hard few years.

Cranberries:  Various spieces of cranberries are found throughout the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere.  It was a popular food of Indians and is believed to be one of the foods given to the Puritans by the Indians.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I am Thankful for

The blessings that I have:  my wife, the rest of my family, my friends, my job, the ability to put geography to good use, and my fellow countrymen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Blogging Break

On Thursday I will have the Thanksgiving post up.  But for the rest of the long holiday I am going to enjoy some free time before Afghanistan.

Know Your Female Islamic Headdress

Burqa has to be one of the most misused terms for the last decade.  The word has been used to describe any female Islamic headdress.  However, this graphic sent to me for Afghanistan training shows the different types of head coverings in the Islamic world.






The (really) rough rule of thumb for where these headdresses are popular is

Hijab:  Roughly used everywhere in some form.  Many times a generic word for head covering.
Al-Amira:  A hijab found in Arabic countries and those places where Muslims wish to immitate Arab outside influence.

Chador: Required by law in Iran.  Traditional in Persian areas.

Niqab: Popular in the Arabian Pennisula.  Some use in Pakistan since the 1970s.

Burqa:  Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Becoming the Islamic fundamentalist dress of choice in Europe.

When I was in Iraq the women wore regular Hijabs in the "hair scarf"-style.  The only place I knew where the burqa was worn was in a city of 100,000 called Karmah (roughtly between Fallujah and Baghdad).  Karmah turned out to be a primary place for al Qaeda to breed as the city was already Wahabbi (the only city to have a native Wahabbi population).  The city still is a launching pad for al Qaeda attacks against Fallujah, Ramadi, and Baghdad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

People's Liberation Army Navy's Offensive Defensive Map

Military expos are conventions in which the host country shows off their newest military weapon systems.  The conventions are also a way a country can say "I'm a freaking (insert expletive here)" and send other threatening messages to enemies both real and imagined.

The People's Republic of China recently held the Air Show China 2010 military expo.  Most commentators discussed the new Chinese drone weapon system but overlooked by many was the message the Communist leadership was sending to the United States via a map.

Unlike the Israelis, the Communist Chinese do not feel vulnerable with their geographyFrom the Wall Street Journal.
The above map shows the People's Liberation Army Navy taking on an attacking foreign navy.  The attacking fleet is heading straight to Taiwan, which is home to the government of the Republic of China but the island is claimed by the People's Republic of China.  The attacking fleet is headed by a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.  Only the United States has Nimitz class carriers.

Tensions between the governments of both Chinas wax and wane in long cycles.  Right now relations are good between the two.  However, one of the main missions of the People's Liberation Army is to take over Taiwan in case relations reach a point of no return.  Taiwan can not defend itself against the hordes of Red forces.  The only military hope the island of Taiwan has is the United States.  The threat of American intervention stopped at least two planned invasions of the island and continues to pose problems for any Communist invasion planner.

The map at the Air Show China 2010 clearly is meant to give the message to the United States that any attempt to interfere in a Taiwan operation will end in failure.  This map of a defense is really an offensive weapon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Geography Awareness Week: Fresh Water and Religion

Water truly is the building block of life.  Our bodies are made from it and we need water to think, act, and live.  It is somewhat natural therefore that fresh water plays a role in many world religions.  Whether because of some divine tradition or some holy act, water has become holy for many faiths.

Christianity

Globally

The Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are the closest things Christianity has to holy bodies of water.  The Jordan River was the sight of several Old Testament miracles including Elisha ordering Naaman to bath in the Jordan so that Naaman would be cured of leprosy (2 Kings 5:14).  The Jordan River plays a large role in the New Testament as the place where John the Baptist preaches and Jesus is baptized (Matthew 3).  The Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake in the world with its surface 686 feet (209 meters) below sea level, is the sight of several miracles including Jesus' walking on water (John 6:19) and Jesus feeding the masses (Mathew 14: 16-20).

These bodies of water, while held highly in regard, are not considered to have holy properties (unlike the Spring at Lourdes, for example).  However, both the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee are popular pilgrimage sites and there is a trend among Evangelicals to be rebaptized in the Jordan River to imitate Christ.
Locally

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ties water well into the Rite of Baptism.  Water in this ritual represents the word of God, Christ’s death and rebirth, a purifier of sins, and the source of life.  Catholic, Orthodox, and most Protestants require water baptisms, of "living water" i.e. fresh, because of the importance assigned to water.

Hinduism

Globally

The Ganges River is the major holy river in Hinduism.  While holy tradition or divine acts make mundane bodies of water holy in other traditions, Hindus believe the Ganges River itself is divine.  Most Hindu traditions hold that the river is the goddess Ganges.  Hindus believe that water from the Ganges can wash away sins and free one from the cycle of reincarnation.  Having one's ashes released into the river is seen as being completely absorbed into the goddess and heaven.  There are also six other major rivers viewed as holy in Hinduism: the Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu, and Kaveri Rivers.

Locally

Fresh water plays a major role in Hindus' daily lives.  From a morning cleansing ritual to having funeral grounds next to rivers, fresh water is a must for Hindus.

Islam

Globally

Depending on the branch of Islam there might be a holy source of water or an oasis which was visited by a prophet and therefore held in estimate.  However, one thing Muslims of all domination can agree on is that the Zamzam is a very holy spring.
The main Islamic tradition holds that when Hajar and baby Ishmael reached present-day Mecca they found an extremely hot valley and had at the same time run out of water.  Ishmael began to cry which put Hajar into a panic.  As Hajar frantically searched for water Ishmael began to dig his feet into the ground.  The feet dug into the earth and a spring of water emerged saving Hajar and baby Ishmael from dying of thirst.  Another tradition holds that the Angel Gabriel dug the well for Hajar and baby Ishamel.
Today the building housing the well that pumps water from Zamzam is located next to the Kaaba (the big black cube) in Mecca.  The building was constructed in the early 1900s because the old building housing the spring was getting in the way of the millions of pilgrims who were making their way to the Kaaba.  So now a well pumps water into the building from the spring.
Water from Zamzam is considered holy and there are many Muslims who believe it can purify the soul or help cure sicknesses.  A black market has emerged in countries, including the United Kingdom, of people selling fake Zamzam water.  Saudi Arabia, which king's title includes being the caretaker of religious sites, prohibits the sale of Zamzam wonder considering it the right of every Muslim to have access to it.
Locally
Fresh water in general is considered a purifier.  Many Islamic purification rituals require one to wash themselves with water.  Mosques will either have purifying water inside or outside a mosque, usually in a courtyard, for one to prepare themselves for prayer.

Judaism

On fresh water traditions within modern Judaism, whether global or local, I must admit my ignorance.  However, a well trusted a graduate student in Jewish studies (and reader of this geography blog!) gave me some insight.  While there is no globally-viewed holy body of water, water is used as a purifier in the mikveh bath.  The rabbi states, "the mikveh is used for purposes of ritual purity, including for the use by women following menstruation.  It is used for important lifecycle events in the life of men and women and is an important component in the conversion process.  There must be a natural water source (living water) for the mikveh - from rainwater, a flowing stream, or from snow for a mikveh to be valid.  The rituals can also take place in a living body of water like a river or the ocean."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Videos about GIS Careers

Right now one of the major markets for those interested in doing geography is in a GIS-related field.  These videos below offer some insight into various positions that GIS skills are employed.





Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Geography Awareness Week: Water-Related Lesson Plans

Thinkfinity, an outreach of Verizon, has teaching lesson plans on water for kindergarten all the way to twelfth grade.  These resources are good not only for geography but can also be used in some science classes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New South Wales Fights for Physical Geography

Frequently human geographers, myself included, will overlook the place of physical geography in the overall field.  Sadly, many physical geographers have gotten the clue that they are not fully valued in Geography and therefore they have gone over to fields like geology or environmental studies.  Just look for a self-declared "geographer" doing terrain analysis for any space agency.  They all claim to be geologists.  Geography is losing out, badly, because of the sidelining of physical geography.

Fortunately, there are those who fight for physical geography.  The New South Wales Board of Studies is fighting against the newly purposed Australian national geography curriculum for schools because of its overemphasis of various forms of human geography at the expense of physical geography.  Right now it appears that New South Wales is the only state that cares about geography in Australia; all other states merely place geography into social studies classes.

The change of geography from its modern "five themes" definition (including its emphasis on physical geography) to a human-based global perspectives class has been discussed in Alex Standish's book Global Perspectives in Geography Curriculum.  The downfall of geography from the liberal education science to global perspectives has already hit England and the United States hard and now only New South Wales is fighting for traditional geography in Australia.  Good luck to them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Geography Awareness Week 2010: Very Rare Fresh, Usable Water


Geography Awareness Week is upon us and the theme for 2010 is freshwater.  Freshwater is the absolute must for human life.  While we are commonly taught that seven-tenths of the world's surface is water we ignore the fact that most of it is unusable salt water.  The United States Geological Survey has some great charts showing just how rare fresh, usable water is



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Notes from Afghanistan Training: War is Not for Catholics and Catholic Thought

This post is not a geography post but part of my diary of preparing for my time in Afghanistan


Try to Save a Life?  That's a War Crime. 

Situation:  Taliban forces are attempting to storm a firebase.  American and Afghan forces are succesfully elminating the attacking waves.  An American solider spots a Taliban solider cowering near a rock.  The Taliban solider appears to have been providing support fire but now seems to be in a panic unable to decide if he should reload, try to storm the firebase, or runaway.  The American solider has three choices of what to do in this combat situation.

1) Shoot the target in the head.  Outcome:  The solider decides to take out the threat.  He takes aim at the Taliban's head and fires off a round.  The bullet hits the Taliban in the face, killing him instantly.  At the end of the battle the solider gets to brag about his "head shot" while leadership congradulates everyone on neturalizing the enemy.

2) Shoot the target in the chest.  Outcome:  The solider decides to take out the threat.  He takes aim at the Taliban's chest and fires off a round.  The bullet punches through the chest and into the right lung causing a sunken chest wound.  The Taliban sets his back against the rock in a desperate attempt to breath.  The Taliban suffers an agonizing thirty minutes until he finally dies.  The solider gets to brag about how he got a "Hajji to suffer" while leadership congradulates everyone on neturalizing the enemey.

3)  Shoot the target in the arm.  Outcome:  The solider decides the Taliban is not an immediate threat therefore should be forcably neutralized but not killed.  He takes aim at the Taliban's dominant arm and fires off a round.  The bullet enters and exits the arm, causing some bone and marrow fly out, forcing the Taliban to drop his weapon and scream in pain.  The solider knows the threat is disarmed and the wounded Taliban solider can recieve medical attention at the end of the battle.  However, leadership detains the American solider and charges with him maiming which is against the rules of engagment.  The American solider can now be tried in a military court of justice.

Under military rules of engagement, a solider can only maim an enemy during a prisoner escape.  To do it at any other time is consider cruel and could possible be considered a war crime (yet killing him and bragging about it is just fine).  That is what I recently learned in training.

The rule was introduced to prevent overt cruelty but sometimes it is the right thing to do; especially when one remembers many of the foot soldiers are "accidental guerrillas" and not global Islamists.

Need a Chaplin?  Good Luck.

There are an estimated one million Catholics in the whole DoD/Military-related complex (which includes Veteran's Hospitals, DoD civilians, etc).  Of that approximately a quarter million Catholics are in the armed service.  There a total of 285 Catholic chaplains in the Military Archdiocese.  I was blown away when I learned this.  For those who wish to help with funding chaplins and much needed resources it is possible to donate to the Military Archdiocese.  Thank you for any support.

Always Hope

So what is a Catholic suppose to do?  Pray for peace and follow the examples of Fatima and Emperor Karl of Austria.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Map of the Likelihood of Car-Deer Collisions in the United States

Click to Enlarge.  From Statefarm Insurance
Statefarm Insurance has a map showing the likelihood of an automobile driver having a car collision with a deer. (Hat tip: Dr. Fred Shelly)

The three states where a driver is most likely to crash itno a deer are
  1. West Virginia (1 in 46)
  2. Iowa
  3. South Dakota
The three states where a driver is least likely to crash into a deer are
  1. Hawaii (1 in 13,011)
  2. Arizona
  3. Nevada
There is a belt of states from the mid-Atlantic seaboard to the upper interior where deer collisions are most likely.  These states have woodlands and large agricultural areas where deers can still thrive.  However, roads through the woods and separating farm fields makes the car-deer disaster very possible for any driver.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nicaragua Invaded Costa Rica to Make a Canal?

First Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica, then they acted like a jerk, and to wrap things up they blamed Google Maps.  Nothing seemed quite right though as Oogle Earth has shown Nicaragua has long recognized the small newly contested area as part of Costa Rica yet Nicaragua still objects to Google fixing the border.

Now Haaretz, a major and center-left newspaper from Israel, is reporting that they have sources stating that Nicaragua crossed the Rio San Juan into Costa Rica as part of an effort to cow Costa Rica to give up its share of the river... in order to build a new Caribbean-Pacific canal!  The report states Nicaragua is a player in a conspiracy by Iran and Venezuela to create an alternative to the Panama Canal which would bypass American-influence and covert oversight.  This either is an epic plan or Haaretz is going down the rabbit hole.

Regardless, Nicaragua's action has driven a stake between the Latin American Left led by Chavez and reasonable, center-left led countries like Costa Rica.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Israel's Withdrawl from Ghajar Part of the Creation of the Jewish State?


View Larger Map

Ghajar is a village in the Golan Heights, an area conquered and annexed by Israel from Syria after the Six Day War.  The village was so close to the Lebanese border that the construction of a few houses caused the village to spread into Lebanese territory.


View Larger Map

The village is populated by ethnic Arabs of the Alawi faith, an offshoot of Shia Islam that believes Muhammad's cousin Ali was an incarnation of God.  However, these villagers willing accepted Israeli citizenship.  They hoped that joining a stable, pluralistic democratic state would be better than staying in a no-functioning, pluralistic thugocracy (Lebanon) or joining a stable police state (Syria).

Sadly, because of geopolitics they will pay for their belief.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel will withdraw from Ghajar.  While this has been a possibility for a while, Israel gave up on any negotiating with Lebanon about the protection of the villagers.  Who will take over the village?  The closest military power: Hezbollah.  Twelever Shia Hezbollah sees these Alawites as political traitors and heretics.  Most likely many Ghajaris will flee to Israel out of fear of Hezbollah.

Some are wondering why is Israel doing this.  I propose that it is part of an overall trend in Israel to reestablish the idea of the Jewish state.  Recently Israel announced plans to immigrants take an oath which states Israel is a Jewish state.  Previously, Israel abandoned settlements and occupation of the Gaza Strip because holding would eventually force Israel to absorb over a million Muslim Arabs.  While Ghajar might give territory to Israel it would not advance the cause of a Jewish state.

The Lebanese will view a withdrawal as a victory and Israel will view it as one as well.  The only ones to lose are the ones who care the most: the two-thousand villagers of Ghajar.

Veterans Day - Remembrance Day 2010

For the 2009 Post on Why Poppies Are Used and for Tributes to Various Armed Forces click here



Thank you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

U.S. Coast Survey Civil War Era Maps

The United States Coast Survey, now part of NOAA, has been in charge of mapping the coastline of the country since 1807.  These geographers, oceanographers, and cartographers proved the importance of geography during the Civil War (1861-1865) by providing the Union military detailed maps of the Confederate coastline and naval defenses. 

Now NOAA has made these hundreds, if not into the thousands, of maps available online.  This site is a dream come true for map and Civil War buffs.  Be sure to check it out!  (Hat Tip:  Matt Rosenberg's Mrgeog Twitter Account)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Geography in Song: Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) is not a serious song.  It was not serious when first performed by The Four Lads nor was it serious when the modern group They Might Be Giants covered it.  The music video from the television show Tiny Toons is not serious as well.  However, there are still cultural geography insights to be gained from listening to the song and watching the cartoon.



The song and video does represent geographic confusion in Western culture.  
  • The fez was popular in the last one-hundred years of the Ottoman Empire but prior to the modernizing reforms 1820s it was only worn in certain parts of the empire.
  • Sand dune deserts and tents are steretopyical visions of Arabia.  Istanbul/Constantinople is in Europe.  
  • The two-humped, Bactrian, camels are found in Central Asia and Mongolia, not in the lands of the Ottoman Empire.  The most common camel in the empire was the Dromedary, also known as the Arabian, camel.
So where does the whole mix up of the European-Ottoman, Arabian, and Central Asian regions come from?  A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.  That book is a combination of stories from across the Islamic world.  Its popularity in nineteenth century Europe and early America served to create the template for the stereotype of the Islamic world for Westerners: camels, sultans, deserts, palaces, and buried treasures.  All these were envisioned in the music video.

By the way, why did Constantinople change to Istanbul? Well, that is no one's business but the Turks and Greeks.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

ISCM Guide to All Things Map Related

The Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping, a combined Australia-New Zealand governmental body, has excellent map education resources online.  Everything from map history, types of maps, datums, GPS, marginalia information, and much more is available for studying.  While cartographic literate will not learn much if anything new, this is a great resource for teachers or those who want to know more about the various aspects of cartography.  (Hat tip: Shireen Richardson on Twitter)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Nicaragua invades Costa Rica, Acts Like a Jerk, then Blames Google Maps

Going around the geography blogosphere including sites like Geography@About.com, the Map Room, and Basement Geographer is the story of a brief invasion of Costa Rica by Nicaragua.  This was not a harmless "Switzerland invades Liechtenstein" story as Nicaraguan forces took down a Costa Rican flag and took sediment from a river and dumped it onto Costa Rican soil.  The troops then returned to Nicaragua.  However, a diplomatic row has begun with Costa Rica's president urging calm and vowing "justice" will be done.

What makes this story of interest to the geography blogosphere is that the commander of the Nicaraguan troops blamed his actions on Google Maps and it misplacing the border.

Border comparison in the location where Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica.  Google has it wrong while Bing has it right.  Image from: Search Engine Land.

Google in turn is blaming the error on receiving bad map data from the United States State Department.  The State Department has not released any statement as of the early morning of November 6, 2010.  Meanwhile Google says it is working with the State Department to fix the border.

Such a shame I warned about bad maps being more than simple mistakes but things that could negatively impact diplomatic and military operations.

However, the Nicaraguans are not in the clear.  Their own geographic organization recognizes the disputed area as part of Costa Rica.

Costaricangauzette sent me this map with the red circle showing Nicaragua knows the area of action is Costa Rican.
So what happened?  The fact that the Nicaraguans quickly blamed Google Maps implies they probably did plan the mission with Google Maps and not their own.  I suspect that the Nicaraguans wanted to flex some muscle and thought Google's error showed that they area was disputed and gave them an excuse to be jerks (seriously, do Central Americans militaries need to concern themselves with anything but counter-narcotic and counter-insurgency operations?).

Is it also possible that they thought Google Maps was correct and innocently failed to do any further research?  Yes.  In Iraq I was shown a presentation by an Iraqi geographer who used Google Maps and Microsoft Paint to make his maps.  Sometimes it is amateur hour for those who have the guns.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Note from Afghanistan Training: GPS versus Paper Map

Instructor(Holds up a GPS)  What's this?
Class:  A GPS unit.
Instructor(Slams GPS unit on the ground causing it to break) What is it now?
Student(After a moments pause) A piece of junk.
Instructor:  A piece of junk.  (Holds up a map) What's this?
Class:  A map.
Instructor(Polks a hole with his finger through the map) What is it now?
Class(Silence)
Instructor:  A map with a hole through it.  Can you still use it?
Class:  Yes.
Instructor:  Can you still use the GPS?
Class:  No.
Instructor:  Any questions?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Catholic Geographers and the Global War on Terrorism

As I prepare for Afghanistan I will sometimes be asked how can I justify helping out the military (even indirectly through development work) with my Catholic faith.  I usually answer with stating it would be uncharitable for me not to use my geography skills to help my neighbor. 

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver recently gave a speech but how Catholicism and a moral military knighthood co-exist.  From his speech:


I want to offer you just four quick points tonight. Here's the first. Military service is a vocation, not simply a profession.  
 
The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word vocare, which means to call. In Christian belief, God created each of us for a purpose. He calls each of us by name to some form of service. No higher purpose exists than protecting other people, especially the weak and defenseless. This is why the Church, despite her historic resistance to war and armed violence, has held for many centuries that military service is not just “acceptable.” It can also be much more than that. When lived with a spirit of integrity, restraint and justice, military service is virtuous. It's ennobling because – at its best – military service expresses the greatest of all virtues: charity; a sacrificial love for people and things outside and more important than oneself. It flows from something unique in the human heart: a willingness to place one's own life in harm's way for the sake of others. 
 
The great Russian Christian writer Vladimir Solovyov once said that to defend peaceful men, “the guardian angels of humanity mixed the clay [of the earth] with copper and iron and created the soldier.”    And until the spirit of malice brought into the world by Cain disappears from human hearts, the soldier “will be a good and not an evil.” (i) He expressed in a poetic way what the Church teaches and believes. And you should strive to embody this vision in your own service.
The archbishop further discusses how the solider needs to be moral.  As I did in Iraq, I will make sure that every action I do and cause will be morally good.


Finally, I feel the war itself is currently morally justifiable when one considers the actions of the whole al Qaeda-network and similar groups including the Pakistani-funded terrorist armies.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following on the only possible justification of war:


2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.  The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
 So I will go to Afghanistan to do geography in order to build a better Afghanistan and hopefully entice most of the enemy to lay down their arms in order to build a better world for everyone.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Map of Anglican Churches in the United States Joining the Catholic Ordinariate

It has been a year since Pope Benedict XVI offered the chance for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.  This offer has enticed some Anglo-Catholics, both inside and outside of the Anglican Communion, to request membership in the Anglican Ordinariates.

Shane Schaetzel of the St Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Use Society in Springfield, Missouri has created and is updating a map of Anglican churches in the United States that are joining the ordinariate. (Hat Tip: The Anglo-Catholic


View Emerging U.S. Anglican Catholic Ordinariate in a larger map

The map shows how the various Anglican parishes are entering the ordinariate.  Most are joining the already established, but previously limited, Anglican Use and will therefore be grandfathered into the ordinariate.  The second group is part of the Anglican Church in America, which is a branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion.  The ACC and TAC have long been trying to be incorporated into the Catholic Church.

The final category is currently limited to Mount Calvary Church of Baltimore, Maryland.  This parish is leaving the Episcopal Church USA  (TEC is official branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States).  Currently TEC is fighting tooth-and-nail against evangelical parishes that have left it for other branches of Anglicanism in lawsuits over church buildings.  In these cases the wealth of TEC has only had to contend with parishes that manage to merely stay afloat financially.  It will be interesting to see if TEC will sue Mount Calvary Church and the Catholic Church over the church building.  That could turn into a lawyer war with both sides being well funded.

Monday, November 01, 2010

November 2010 Travel Photo: Saudi Bedouin Chairs


In what can only be described as a Pink Floyd album cover, this was the sight I encountered out in the desert of Saudi Arabia this past spring.  Two Bedouin shepherds had Lazy-E-Boys to watch their flock.

These Bedouin own their own goats.  The goats provide diary products and meat.  The camels; however, do not belong to the Bedouin who care for them.  In the area outside of Riyadh, most Bedouin take care of camel herds that belong to the urban rich.

Coming next month: A non-Middle East photograph!