Friday, July 31, 2009
When we last examined Moldova the pro-Europe opposition rioted while using Twitter and then the Communist majority of sixty parliamentarians was unable to gather sixty-one votes to elect a new president and by default forced new elections.
The new election results are in and how they were reported reflects poor understanding of different political procedures. The Communist Party earned forty-eight seats while the closest opposition group, the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, only won seventeen. This lead to some news reports stating that the Communists had won. However, the opposition combined won fifty-three seats. The four parties (a center-right pro-EU party, a pro-EU and ex-Christian Democratic party, a social-liberal yet pro-market party, and a socialist party) have all vowed to create a unity government.
If the personality-driven opposition parties can work together as promised then they will appoint the prime minister. However, with fifty-three seats they are eight short of electing a president. The opposition will have to work with the Communists to find a president who will do basically nothing so not to upset anyone a la Lebanon's Michel Suleiman.
The feud between Moldova against Russia and Transnitria will continue, it may be a little more tense with a pro-Europe prime minister but the lack of sixty-one plus majority will allow the pro-Russian Communists to keep any anti-Russian moves in check. And while there is still a strong drive in some Moldovans to unite the country with Romania, the pro-European parties' leadership is unlikely to support these efforts (they now see the benefits of ruling their own little fiefdoms). However, this election will reassure many in Europe about Moldova's desire to part-take in the European Union and foster better integration between the EU and Moldova.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Catholicgauze retorts that the above is a stupid question. According to My Wonderful World, only 37% of American teens can find Iraq on a map. Meanwhile only 19% only have a map. (And only half can find New York on an American map!)
Besides that point there is real geopolitics that matters in the Stans. The Taliban were a product of an ever enlarging world connectivity. The student movement was first aided by the transport mafia who wanted to freely trade within an Afghanistan lacking warlord tolls. Next Pakistan backed the Taliban to be the advanced guard of a Pashtun-style Islamic movement. Finally, the Taliban began to affect the United States and the first first with opium (which they at first profited from before banning), then oil pipelines meant to bypass Russia, and finally terrorism.
In the globalized, connected world countries have interests beyond their own borders. This is not to justify imperialism or any military expedition. However, in a connected yet fragile world people must realize that if a tribe launches raids against the government-owned pipeline then the price of oil goes up followed by gas prices and the web is finalized with an increase in food for not just us but also people barely getting by around the world.
Instead of saying "it does not matter we cannot find it on a map" we should be teaching ourselves and others to grab a map, find it, and figure out the spatial relationships.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Even though Jordan lost control of the West Bank in 1967 they inherited Palestine, its people to be precise. Quickly a majority of Jordan were Palestinians and the Jordanian Arab elite refused to grant the refugees and their children rights. After Jordan fought the Black September civil war against the Palestinians things began to slowly change. Jordan became the only Arab country to allow Palestinians to become citizens and work rather than be forced into craps like in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.
For almost two decades Jordan has been viewed as a moderate Arab state and an example of how Palestinians could avoid being screwed over by their Arab neighbors. However, Jordan is realizing the cultural difference between Jordanians and Palestinian-Jordanians. About seventy percent of Jordanians are now Palestinians. To curb this massive change Jordan is beginning to revoke citizenship to refugees. Jordan is probably worried about becoming a major part of the pretty-much-has-to-exist-but-needs-to-moderate Palestinian state.
Because of that fear and cultural conflict Jordan will hurt Palestinians continuing the cycle of pain that is the Middle East.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The Giant Impact Hypothesis states that Earth was indirectly impacted, a deep glancing blow, by another planet referred to know as Theia. Massive debris flew everywhere with most of it falling back down to the now apocalypse going on the surface of Earth. Some material would stay in space though. The material that was flung far enough to avoid falling back while still stuck by Earth's gravity would begin to merge together. Eventually this would form what we know as the moon today.
It is hard to say exactly (geological terms) when this event happened but it would have to be close to Earth's creation but far enough away for most of the Earth's iron to submerge to the core. While there is some iron on the Moon, the core is believed to be lacking in iron. This equates to maybe 4.4 billion years ago.
Like all scientific theories this one is subject to being taken as truth until the next best theory comes around. But signs do point towards this idea being the one that actually happened.
The Moon has long been thought as a dead rock that floats in the sky. I; however, view it as the only landmass visible from any point on the Earth that came from the most active period of geomorphic creation since creation.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in 1969. A few more followed in their footsteps. The purpose of these trips were to give the United States the honor of being first on the Moon. The only scientist to walk on the Moon, geologist Harrison Schmitt, was on the last flight. From 1972 up to today, no human has walked on the Moon. Robotic probes have flown around, crashed, and roomed around on the surface but humanities attention has been elsewhere. NASA and other space agencies have played scientific games on space stations, launched probes to other planets and into deep space, and been accused by politicians and the public for wasting money.
The best minds are right now torn between a Moon base or a manned Mars mission. They offer no reason but to say we went. If they win with that arguement these missions will suffer the fate of Apollo and the International Space Station: praised then abandoned.
The only way humanity will return to the Moon and stay is to follow in the footsteps of the Chinese. The Chinese Lunar Program (publicity website by China Daily) is headed by the geologist Ouyang Ziyuan. Ziyuan knows the Moon is rich in iron and the nuclear fuel Helium 3, something that is rare on Earth. Ziyuan has the full blessing of the People's Republic of China to create a exploration program that will eventually lead to full scale mining with a population on the Moon. This puts China firmly on the path of other great explorer powers such as Rome, Spain, and the United Kingdom who's drive for geographic exploration was fueled not by a "we traveled for traveling sake" but for resources.
The rest of the world will then follow like all the other powers who went on explorations. Envy led the Portuguese to shift from Africa to the New World and the Americans to follow the Russians into space. It will also drag the rest of the world to the Moon, Mars, and the stars.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The reason for seeing one hemisphere is tidal locking. The Earth's gravity captured the Moon so intensely that the near side is forced to always face the Earth. This is called synchronous rotation. Part of the far side is visible during periods of libration.
The far side is mistakenly called the dark side of the moon. The far side gets sunlight as well.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The moon was formed around four and a half billion years ago. During its formation process rubble of the Earth and other space junk impacted the surface creating lowlands. Starting around four billion years ago, peaking around three billion years ago, and finalizing a billion years ago the lowlands began to fill in with lava due to volcanic activity. The lava then cooled down leaving the dark iron-rich soil known as basalt to form the maria. The lava was the only force of erosion on the Moon.
The term maria was given to the basalt flats because early astronomers thought these were actual water seas. The seas were named after various emotions like Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis) though this naming convention was dropped and seas are named after things like animals, weather, an astronomer, and even Moscow.
Besides seas there are also lakes (lacus), bays (sinus) and marshes (paludes). These are merely smaller seas.
Approximately fifteen percent of the Moon's surface is mare. The vast majority of these are on the side of the Moon which faces Earth. The probable explanation for this is that most of the impacts the Moon suffered came from debris from the Earth.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Google Moon is the mapping source one needs when exploring the moon. Google has several layers that allow one to quickly view in detail the eighth continent. Not only is there the standard lunar map, but there is also an "Apollo" layer which has up close imagery with annotations. What really makes Google Moon great though are the charts. The charts not only have elevation data but also enough selenographic (geographic) background data to make any geek do a lunar jump of joy.
Later today Google will announce something big to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing. It will probably be integration of Google Moon into Google Earth (like they did with Google Mars). Catholicgauze will keep you all up to date with the latest information.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The program of events is
Monday: Apollo 11-17: Mapping the discoveries
Tuesday: Mare: The Seas of the Moon
Wednesday: Near Side versus Dark Side
Thursday: Where did the Moon come from?
Friday: How the Moon impacts the Earth
Saturday: When will we return?
Until then be sure to enjoy a flyover of the Moon due by the Japanese Kaguya probe
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Coming Anarchy had a great blurb about Micronesian stick maps. The Micronesians colonized the vast South Pacific in the era of sea fairing canoes. How they did it was geography. But not geography as Westerners, or even most Easterners, would understand it. They made stick maps that included spatial data as well as currents and waves. The system is so foreign (and very complex) that it is beyond Catholicgauze's understanding.
A map well beyond me.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Venus is too often overlooked by Earthlings who instead gaze upon Mars with their dreams of space fairing and colonization. Venus is closer to the Earth and about the same size. The reason for Venus' non-presence in human minds is two fold, 1) astronomers could gaze upon Mars and see the canali while Venus was covered by clouds and 2) Venus has a combination of Hell-like heat, crushing atmospheric pressure, and the air is a combination of poisons and raining acids. So one will hear news stories about signs of water once being on the surface of Mars but never about the same for Venus.
Until now. Satellites measuring heat and the atmosphere has produced some surprising results. Scientists reading the results have interpreted the readings to suggest that granite is on Venus' surface. On Earth granite is formed by plate tectonics crushing volcanic rock and subsequent interaction with large bodies of water. So if there is granite then it is probable Venus did have oceans and plate tectonics. The oceans bit is fascinating because the atmospherics on Venus make water oceans impossible. Something had to go horrible wrong (at least different) in Venus evolution compared to Earth's.
Studying why Venus died could reveal new insights into the planetary systems and Earth's own creation process. Whether or not there is granite on Earth, just reading about Venus makes own grateful to be a native of Sol III.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Israeli transportation minister is recommending road signs be in Hebrew and transliterated into Arabic and English rather than using Arabic and English place names. For example, a road sign for יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (Jerusalem) would have the Hebrew but instead of "Jerusalem" the English-language part would show "Yerushalayim" and the Arabic language sign would be whatever Arabic transliteration of יְרוּשָׁלַיִם is, instead of القُدس (al Quds). The minister has stated Israeli nationalism is a big reason why he wants the change. Arabs feel discriminated against and English speakers would have to learn a whole new set of place names.
However, it could make things easier for English speakers. Many places have multiple English-language spellings so the translation process would give each place an official Latin-alphabet spelling standardizing everything.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
The map above depicts the various ways Europe has been divided.
Historically, the great divide between Eastern and Western Europe has been the Catholic/Orthodox line (Gold Line). Those to the west of the line kept religious allegiance to Rome and generally politically-separate from the Constantinople-based Roman (Byzantine) Empire. People east of line stayed loyal to the combined religious and temporal leadership in Constantiople by being Eastern Orthodox.
The red line is many Cold War-babies dividing line between the two Europes. The Iron Curtain shaped many people's perceptions of a free, liberal west and a Communist, dictatorship east. The west began forming a common European community while the east were satellites of Moscow.
The late twentieth and early twenty-first century is one of Western European ideals, and maybe therefore Western Europe itself, expanding into the east. The light green countries are members of the European Union which itself is the descendant of the European community started by the Western European states during the Cold War. Pink countries are official candidate states up for a vote to be allowed into the European Union while peach countries are states with either significant government or popular support to join the union.
While new European Union members and those countries that wish to join the union have distinct cultural traits that set them apart from traditionally-thought Western European countries, western ideals are beginning have taken hold in these countries because of the desire to join the union. Open markets, liberal election laws, and better minority rights and recognition are just some things thought impossible in "Eastern Europe" just twenty-five years ago. Even countries not thought of as European at all, like Turkey and Georgia, have begun adopting Western European thoughts and policies to join the union.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
TDAXP, fresh from the PRC, has been reading up on the PRC/ROC battle over the Olympic Games. He has documented the Olympic fight between the two Chinas over membership and competing privileges. His list, edited version below, documents the formerly strong position of ROC, the rise of the PRC with the One China Policy, and the international non-recognition of ROC.
1936: Berlin Games: ROC participates
1945-1946: Olympics receives Chinese IOC Committee headquartered in Nationalist Shanghai
1946-1949: Olympics receives Chinese IOC Committee headquartered in Nationalist Nanking
1949-1951: Olympics receives Chinese IOC Committee headquartered in Communist Nanking
1952: Oslo Session: No ROC or PRC participation
1952: Helsinki Session: Olympics refer to “Chinese People’s Republic” and “State of Taiwan”
1952: Games: PRC participates
1953: PRC establishes a National Olympic Committee
1954: Olympics recognizes PRC “Olympic Committee of the Chinese Republic”, alongside PRC “Chinese Olympic Committee”
1956: Melbourne Games: PRC boycotts
1957: Olympics renames “Olympic Committee of the Chinese Republic” to to “Olympic Committee of the People’s Democratic Republic of China”
1958: PRC begins boycotting Olympics
1959: Olympics expels ROC “Chinese Olympic Committee”
1960 Rome Games: ROC “Olympic Committee of the Republic of China,” under the banner “Formsa”
1964: Tokyo Games: ROC “Olympic Committee of the Republic of China,” under the banner “ROC”
1968 Olympic Games: ROC “Olympic Committee of the Republic of China,” under the banner “The Team of the Republic of China”
1979: Olympics recognizes ROC “National Olympic Committee of Chinese Taipei” under the banner “Chinese Tapei”and PRC “Chinese Olympic Committee.” ROC sues Olympics
1980: ROC loses court case in Switzerland. Moscow Games: ROC boycotts
1989: ROC “”National Olympic Committee of Chinese Taipei”" and PRC “Chinese Olympic Committee” both agree to translate “Chinese Taipei” as “中华台北,” meaning “(Culturally) Chinese Taipei”
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The World Bank has released the second edition of their Atlas of Global Development. The atlas is available online and is embeded below (text further below).
The atlas is basically the state of the world's countries. Global patterns and trends are mapped throughout the book with commentary. The overall trend is up but some countries are still lagging and the full effects of the global economic downturn have not been measured yet.
The atlas is a great addition to any geographer's online library and really complements the CIA World Factbook. For easy to comprehend information with plenty of maps, the Atlas of Global Development is a must.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
The above is a chart by The Economist showing improvements and declines in government accountability in the last ten years. Accountability is measured with civil rights (including freedom of speech, assembly and religion), freedom of participation in elections and press freedom.
Serbia leads the way with its efforts to become European Union-suitable while Niger, Sierra Leone, and Ghana show great improvement in west Africa. Sadly, terrorist-sponsoring dictatorship Eritrea is has the greatest fall from grace. Thailand comes in number two due to the King's and military's meddling in the parliament.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
The term "nation-state" is frequently misused while the words "nation" and "state" are commonly confused in geographic context. So here is a handy guide to understanding the terms "nation," "state," and "nation-state."
A nation is a group of people who share some, if not all, common traits like religion, ethnicity, language, culture, and history. Nations start out in one geographical area but can move, expand, or shrink in zone. Most nations have a strong ethnic component (Hungarian, Japanese) while a few exceptions are based on things like religion and history (Arab) or ideals like liberal freedom (American).
A state is an independent country. "State of Israel" means the country of Israel. Many Americans are confused by "state means country" because of the official name of their country, the United States of America. The reason for the official name is that the founding fathers envisioned the United States as a league of independent states united for commerce and defense. It was not until the end of the American Civil War that the dominance federal union was proven above the state.
A nation-state is a country established for the dominant nation within its border. For a true nation-state the primary nation needs to be the overwhelming majority group in the country.
Stateless Nations: Roma and Samaritians
Multinational State: Spain, Switzerland, Bolivia
Nation with more than one state: The German nation with Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland (65% ethnic German but with never interested in union with other Germans)
Single-nation politically dominant over other nations in one state: Russians in Russia compose eighty percent of the population (formerly 50% of the Soviet Union) yet have always been above other ethnic groups for centuries. Han Chinese have also dominated multi-national China.
True Nation-State: Over ninety-percent Hungarian with laws that enshrine Hungarian culture.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Trade, immigration, and political cooperation all have benefits that, when properly applied, greatly outweigh any associated negatives. Goods are exchanged for rare or previously enviable resources, bright minds and manual labor allow for increased productivity, and protection and joint-development flourish. However, sometimes an advanced culture (or a culture that thinks itself advanced) decides that foreigners are a disease and need to be kept away. So the advanced culture cuts itself off from the world. The culture begins a slow decay while neighbors continue to improve. Eventually foreign states look at the once-great backwater and decide the area is ripe for invasion, colonization, or dominance. Imperial China languished because of isolation. North Korea once was industrial while South Korea only had farms. It is possible for countries to recover from isolation, like Japan after the United States opened it up, but it can come at a cost (Japan's rapid rise caused social chaos that allowed for a technocratic military to seize power).
Spaceship Earth-like thinking in geographers
I will scream if I here the term "spaceship earth" uttered by a geographer again if it does not immediately relate to the ecosystem. The theory of spaceship earth states Earth is an enclosed system with a finite amount of resources available to its inhabitants. Further, spaceship earth constricts geographers to studying things from the planet's core to edge of the atmosphere.
The theory ignores outside influence on the planet from the mundane (Sun heats the Earth, Moon's relationship to tides), to worthy of study (Sun's cycles effects on climate), to God-level impacts (Tunguska). It also voids the truth of resources off Earth that can be exploited for future use. Finally, it ties geographers down and closes our minds to geographical studies of the Moon, Mars, and other planets. This is a bold frontier that geologists are exploring without us. We must not be left behind.
Lebensraum-like theories: Homelands are all well and good. But when a culture decides that lesser races are an impediment to progress and must be removed for future growth, bad things happen.
Cultural relativism: "No right, no wrong." Sounds all well and good when studying others but it ignores fundamental values and evolution of one's culture. Is killing homosexuals, anti-female practices, or slavery right? What good is studying the world's problems if one does nothing about them?
Monday, July 06, 2009
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is today known as an escape for many who wish to do exercise and withdraw, if only briefly, from the daily world. What many do not know was that the trail was first dreamed up as an attempt to complete remake American culture. The plan was made by Harvard-educated forester and self-described philosopher Benton MacKaye in An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning (PDF). MacKaye proposed a trail which people would hike, towns would be founded along the trail to support hikers, farms would then be created near the towns to support the towns. MacKaye then predicted the whole east coast would get in on the act with cities depopulating as hikers choose to remain near the trail in little trail-cities. American culture was to be remade as the urbanization was reversed.
The Appalachian Trail continues to be a fun diversion for some but MacKaye's dream of remaking America failed miserably.
Husband and wife-team, geographers with urban planning backgrounds Dr. Frank Popper and Deborah Popper had an idea to deal with the depopulation in the interior center of the United States. In The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust the Poppers state that the Great Plains should be depopulated in a massive government spending and reeducation program so the area could become a safari-playground for those who live on the east and west coast.
Needless to say this made "the natives restless" while others pointed out the massive loss of farm and ranching land. While some have taken elements of the Buffalo Commons-idea like increasing tourism appeal this is one geographic theory that managed to cause great outrage and not much else.
Total Wildfire Suppression
When one thinks of forest fires the image of Smokey the Bear comes to mind. While Smokey is still used to educate the public about the risks of wildfires, thankfully his original message does not remain. In the early days of United States forestry the main way to fight fires was total wildfire suppression. No fires were allowed to break out. This was unnatural though. Underbrush was allowed to overgrow and the forest floor was littered with natural debris like fallen trees. When massive fires like Yellowstone's and others broke out many people realized this artificial solution to fire control was no good. Now, control burns and allowing wildfires some freedoms keeps such events small, manageable, and less deadly.
Coming Tuesday: The second and final part of crazy, wacky, bad, and evil geographic ideas.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
In the meantime enjoy this Catholicgauze Classic
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The life on the ocean's bottom are merely living cells, nothing even close to anything in the Animal Kingdom. This life survives on radioactive decay of hydrogen and marine snow.
Just reading about this makes one truly understand the feelings the ancients had towards The Abyss - a dark otherplace empty of light, life, everything.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
A new study out predicts that the Louisiana could lose 6,000 to 9,000 miles (10,000 to 15,000 kilometers) coastline. Catholicgauze has been following this issue for a while. The numbers in this study are probably too high (it factors in catastrophic climate change) but its main point is accurate: the loss of the Mississippi Delta and the swampy coast is bad news for wildlife and humans. Little towns of rich, Arcadian culture will be lost. As will the swamps that do much to absorb storms and protect oil industry and New Orleans from storms.
The coast line's biggest threat has been eating away at the swamps for decades. Dams on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other rivers have prevented coastal regenerating sediment from counteracting erosion. The results have been devastating.
The coastline of Louisiana needs to be saved for wildlife, culture, industry, and above all people.