Friday, August 31, 2007

More Remains of the Second Temple Found?

Diggers laying in a pipe under for the Al-Aqsa mosque may have uncovered a wall belonging to the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Expect tons of controversy from this.

The site of the Temple Mount plays a big role in religious geography. To the Jews it is the location of the holy temples which were the center of the universe for priestly Judaism. The military victory of the Romans under Titus destroyed the temple and begun the quick end of priestly Judaism. The last remaining confirmed part of the Second Temple is the Western Wall.

Many Orthodox and some Conservative Jews support the creation of a third temple on Temple Mount. Standing in the way of their goal are the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. It is at the dome where Muslims believe Muhammad briefly traveled metaphysically into heaven.

For years access to the Dome of the Rock and Western Wall have been hotly debated between at first Israelis and Jordanians then Palestinians. Halting construction of a Muslim project to investigate something Jewish, while archaeologically sound, will not help the geopolitical situation. Riots in the past have occurred because of similar archaeological claims and digs.

It is said the fifth gospel is the land of Israel itself. If true, it is certainly the most contested and fought over piece of "good news."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sadr "suspends" Mahdi Army

Moqtada al-Sadr, the book ignorant but extremely crafty street smart politician, has "suspended" attacks by his militia against Iraqi and Coalition forces. This is a great victory but needs to be followed up on.

Sadr is the son of a well respected cleric murdered by Saddam's regime. When the Coalition invasion of Iraq reached Baghdad Sadr quickly organized his father's followers and had them distribute food and implement security before the Coalition did. This created a power base among the urban poor Shia of Baghdad and nearby areas. In 2004 Sadr led two open rebellions against the Coalition forces, continued on-again off-again military attacks, and yet managed to become active in the political process.

Fortune began to turn against Sadr in 2007; however. Sadr left before the "Surge" could get to him and his militia split between various groups. The Coalition and Iraqi forces step up action against the Mahdi Army and Iranian-backed rogue elements known as Special Groups.

In response to their loses the Mahdi Army lashed out at enemies assassinating opponents even, possibly, a Shia Badr-backed governor. Killing Iraqis though is unpopular and counter-productive as al Qaeda has found out. The final straw was this weekend when Mahdi Army elements went on a rampage killing Badr militia and other Shia pilgrims in Karbala. These thuggish actions are costing Sadr the support he once enjoyed so he is "suspending" Mahdi Army activity. But with the lack of control of all of the Mahdi Army it waits to be seen if Sadr is still the major player he once was.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Web Camera Travels Through Great Britain

One can use Geograph to see many locations throughout Great Britain. This is nice to get a sense of the area but if one wants to know what is going on now they were out of luck. That is no longer the case now though. Weatherman22, a Google Earth user, has created a KML file which maps out the location of webcams on the isle and allows viewers to see the feed. There are more cameras than one can count so many virtual mini-trips await. Enjoy! (Hat tip: Google Earth Library)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Best Travel Books of All Time

Travel books have always been an important part of popular geography. They tell a story understandable to the common man while conveying a sense of place and a love for the world. That's why I was thrilled when Coming Anarchy linked to the Eighty-six Greatest Travel Books of All Time.

The books range from 1700s explorer diaries like Mungo Park's Travels in the Interior of Africa to modern-day ones like 2004's Along the Ganges. Other featured ones include works by Mark Twain and Rebbecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (which requires the devotion of a monk to finish - Catholicgauze saw first hand what the book can do so I did not even attempt it).

So if you need a book to add to your reading list, here are eighty-six to pick from.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Miss Teen South Carolina is not a Catholicgauzette

Because this blog needs some more humor. With apologizes to South Africa's geographical education policies.


In 1883 the island of Krakatoa in Dutch Indonesia exploded releasing 15 cubic miles of debris into the air. The explosion was so loud that it was heard over 3,000 miles away (sure, the sound waves were moving over water which helped expand the distance but 3,000 miles is nothing to scuff at).

36,000-plus people were killed by the explosion and its effects (Keep in mind that the affected area was much less populated than it is now; the death figures, if the explosion were to happen today, could easily surpass the 2004 Tsunami's figures). The natives on the island and nearby were done in by the blast wave, others were burned alive but hot ash, while most were killed in a series of tsunamis which reached as far as South Africa while odd wave partners as far away as England were reported.

The sky around the world turned a blood red. It is even believed that the famous The Scream art piece depicts this event as was the inspiration of doom for the artist Edvard Munch. A short period of global cooling, volcanic winter, was also recorded.

The change in climate affected crops and the socio-political structure as well. During the period right after Krakatoa there was a noticeable increase in anti-colonial actives by Indonesians and Indians, both of whom feel on hard times due to crop failures.

What is left of Krakatoa's volcano is still active today. A new island, Anak Krakatau, is on the rise.

For more information on the explosion and its effects read the book Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883.

Krakatoa is a prime example of how chaotic nature can be. It is important to remember that while humans are the most constant force on earth, we are not the most powerful.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cancer Survival Rates in the US and Europe

Remember all the fuss about Americans living longer but the world is passing it by? Well, if one has cancer than America is the place to be. A recently released study shows the United States leads in cancer survival rates while Europe lags behind.

The rates go along these lines:
  • First: US 66.3% survival past five years
  • Second: Sweden 60.3%
  • Last: Slovenia 36.6%

  • First: US 62.9%
  • Second: Iceland 61.8%
  • Last: Scotland 48%

Is socialized medicine good for general ills but performs poorly in life and death situations? Or is it something cultural? Something else? The debate rages on.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Flash Earth: The Dynamic Mapper Comparison

Flash Earth is a unique tool which allows one to view the earth through various dynamic mapping engines. The choices one can pick from are Google Maps ("satellite" view only), Microsoft's Virtual Earth (aerial and hybrid), Yahoo Maps (satellite), and (aerial and physical). Other views are OpenLayers and NASA Terra.

One can travel to a location via the search engine or by centering on a spot. Latitude and longitude are given and one can easily change the viewing direction. It is even possible to obtain a direct link of what one views.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tallest/Highest Mountain on Earth

What is the tallest mountain on earth? If you said Mount Everest you are right but it can be argued that you are wrong. There are three places which have some claim to being the tallest/highest mountain in the world.

Mount Everest is the standard answer for highest spot in the world because it rises 29,028 feet (about 5.5 miles) above sea level. Sea level is the base from which everything is measured.

But if one measures from the actual base Hawaii's Mauna Kea is king at 33,476 feet (more than 6.33 miles) from base on the Pacific Ocean floor to tip. However, measured from sea level Manua Kea is only 13,796 feet tall.

Chimborazo in Ecuador comes in at only 20,565 feet but it has geography on its side. The earth is not a perfect sphere but instead one ugly thing called a geoid. Besides a depression at the southern pole a trait of the geoid is a bulge around the equator. While Chimborazo is some 8,463 feet shorter than Everest the bulge of the earth makes it closer to the moon and stars.

So scratch your heads and debate the meaning of tallest/highest and decide which truely is the tallest/highest mountain on earth. But remember, Mount Olympus (Olympus Mons) on Mars is the champion of the solar system and known universe rising to a mammoth height of 88,580 feet or 16.7 miles above the surface!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iranian Nuclear Sites on Google Earth

One of the coolest intelligence agencies in the world is the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). Among its duties are examining geospatial intelligence or GEOINT. A prime example of GEOINT is studying satellite photos of Iran's nuclear project.

Well one no longer needs a top secret clearance to do just that. Several layers for Google Earth allow one to view imagery of some of Iran's nuclear sites and see the change over time. The three best layers (that I have found so far) include a 2006 layer of some locations (KML), and a 2007 layer (KML). A third layer shows the spot of underground buildings (KML).

A way to find more locations is via the Google Earth Community. Today there are hundreds if not thousands of amateur imagery analysis freely sharing information and resources with one another. A brave new future for the public and the intelligence community lies with easily accessed and shared knowledge.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Geography of Human Life

Typically works about geographical theory and applied geography are found in separate books. There is one, easy to read tome which defeats this rule of books. The book is over one hundred years old yet still worth anyone's time who is interested in geography. A Geography of a Human Life by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi is a must read.

Makiguchi realized his students were receiving subpar texts and instructions on geography. None of their work could be tied into the practical world. He feared geography would be abandoned by his students and his country which was experiencing growth in the era of first globalization (sound familiar?).

So Makiguchi wrote A Geography of Human Life. At first the book discusses how one views and thinks of the world. Makiguchi writes how one's homeland is the template for a person's worldview. So for the rest of the book Makiguchi writes about the various features of the world through a Japanese's perspective. The following chapters are broken down into physical geographical features. Makiguchi then gives known Japanese examples of each feature and how it has affected Japanese culture. For example, when discussing islands Makiguchi writes how islands are isolated, that isolation breeds an individualistic mindset, and uses it to explain Japanese uniqueness compared to other Asian cultures. When discussing rivers and how they form, Makiguchi ponders how China would be altered without its waterways. He points out the rice-based culture would be destroyed and control of such a large landmass would be neigh-on-impossible.

All this ties together to form a great book. The first chapters I especially enjoyed because it complemented ideas of how one views the world and touches on the Japanese equivalent of natural and revealed law (long story which I will save you from). A Geography of Human Life is especially hard to come by but if one can buy it or check it out from a library, they will be greatly reward by a rich text.

For more information and a little bit of background read the essay The Significance of Makiguchi Tsunesaburo’s Jinsei chirigaku (Geography of Human Life) in the Intellectual History of Geography in Japan: Commemorating the Centenary of Its Publication (PDF).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Muslim World as Viewed by Americans

Is this the "average" Americans geographical view of the Muslim world? How would the "average" Europeans view differ from that of the American?

There are some cartographic errors on the map including but not limited to the lack of Eritrea, Creek being shown as Cyprus, and the Tamil area of Sri Lanka is violent due to the non-practicing Hindu Tamil Tigers.

(Note: Previously was featured on Coming Anarchy but I cannot find the link)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Iraq War Spill Over into Iran and Vice Versa

The complex nature of the War on Terrorism has been made evident by the recent events in northern Iraq/Iran. Iran has long been fighting an insurgency with (at least politically) US-backed rebels.

Now another chopper has crashed in northern Iran and the anti-Turkey, anti-Iran, anti-US Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has claimed responsibility. In partial response Iran has opened up a new front the PKK's anti-Iranian faction called Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). Iran is doing this by shelling a pro-PJAK village in Iraq and massing troops along the Iraqi border.

The dynamics of this engagement is interesting. Northern Iraq is for all practical purposes its own little country within Iraq. The Kurds tend to avoid the Arab Sunni versus Arab Shia struggle; Kurds prefer to mind their own affairs. The Kurds have their own micro-military and the backing of the United States Army. Iran on the other hand semi-openly supports and arms anti-American forces in non-Kurdish parts of Iraq.

Iran will most likely avoid open conflict for fear of getting into a open war with the United States; something which at the current moment Iran is unready for. However, expect proxies to continue to battle it out in Iraq and elsewhere.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

War on Terrorism Reaches Basilan

The Philippines seems like a peaceful and fun place for soldiers to be stationed. However, the War on Terrorism is hot there and only getting hotter.

The island of Basilan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is the newest battleground. In July, ten Filipino marines were beheaded by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed revenge. The result has been heavy fighting by the marines against Abu Sayyaf and "rouge" elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been in on-again off-again negotiations with the government.

The fighting is not new. It dates back to at least the very beginning of the 1900s. At the end of the Spanish-American War the United States became involved in an even greater war against the Filipinos. In the south the American forces battled Muslim "Moros" until 1913. The fighting was a proving ground for General "Blackjack" Pershing who helped break the will of Muslim rebels by burying dead insurgents with pigs. The future General George Patton also became famous in the south by tying dead insurgents to his car and driving it around the country side. The fighting in the south was long, hard, and disgusting.

Back then the Moro war was primarily tribal and political. Now; however, Islamic fascism has spread and it is part of a larger Jihad. Expect the Philippines to stay in the news for quite sometime.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

National Hurricane Center

Need to know about the impended storm o' doom about to crash in from the Atlantic? Well, the National Hurricane Center should be your primary source! Not only does it have plenty of breaking news and maps on its main page but it also has GIS data, family plans to survive a hurricane, list of upcoming storm names, and much more. Stay safe!

Outside.In: Local News and a Facebook Combined

Catholicgauze is super busy so here's a short post. Except solid posts for the next few days to reward you for putting up with the light stuff...
is a sort of cross between Google News and Facebook. Currently step up for 54 cities (but even the "major" city near Catholicgauze's hometown will sometimes have something posted), it gives a neighborhood breakdown of news stories and blog posts. Local bloggers are listed, restaurant and leisure spots rated, and a social network is born. Check it out today!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Peter Fechter and the Berlin Wall

Forty-five years ago today Peter Fechter tried to escape oppression and cross the newly constructed Berlin Wall. The price for trying to leave a "Worker's Paradise"... death.

The wall was constructed a year earlier to prevent East Germans from entering West Berlin. it was a barrier to keep people in; not out. West Berlin itself was not part of West Germany but those inside held West German citizenship and could freely travel into West Germany. On the other hand, East Berlin served as the capital of East Germany. However, none of the Allied powers ever officially recognized its status claiming treaty laws made East Berlin Soviet Occupied Territory and not part of East Germany.

The wall was built encircling the American, British, and French zones of Berlin (Map).

On the forty-fifth anniversary of Fechter's murder, let us remember and fight for the ideal he believed in: freedom.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Earthquake in Peru

UPDATE: Fixed on the science. Dang you geologists!

From USGS. Click to Enlarge.

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has occurred off the coast of Peru about ninety miles south of the capital Lima. There are unfortunately reports of deaths and housing damage.

The fear now is of a tsunami. Hawaii is on the alert.

For additional geography on the earthquake check out the P-Wave Map. For instance, it took nine minutes and four seconds for the force of the Peruvian earthquake to reach Washington D.C. Also note there was a force on the antipode in Indochina.

For general background: earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale known as the Richter Scale. For example, an 8.0 would cause ten times more shaking and release thirty times more energy as would a 7.0. A 7.0 would cause one hundred times more shaking and release nine hundred times more energy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Virtually Visiting the Arctic

As the heat wave and humidity continue to crush anyone in the Northern Hemisphere unlucky enough to venture outside, a virtual trip to the Arctic may be appreciated. NOAA's Arctic Theme Page has updated images from various cameras stationed in the Arctic. With temperatures barely in the 30s one can cool off just by looking at these photos. (Hat tip: La Cartoteca)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lomonosov Ridge Becomes More Crowded

Several countries are jumping into the fray after the Russians decided to claim the Lomonosov Ridge. Denmark has made the claim the ridge is a subsea portion of Greenland, Canada wants it too and even has plans for military bases to help enforce the claim, and even the United States is weighing its options.

The oil and other resources are up for grabs. Estimates go as high as twenty-five percent of the world's oil could be in the ridge. Expect countries to do almost anything for that energy. Catholicgauze suspects back room negotiations are going right now between the various parties.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Americans living longer; but the world is passing it by

The average American lives up to 77.9 years. This continues a streak of a growing life expectancy. However, the United States is being surpassed by other "countries". Right now the American life expectancy is forty-second and surpassed by places like Japan, most of western Europe, Guam (even though Guam is part of the United States), and elsewhere.

Even though the United States government spends more on healthfare and welfare than any other in the world certain problems do exist in America. Two-thirds of all Americans are overweight. The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than other first world countries. It seems there is a perfect storm of bad family practices (how many children are raised by single parents?), bad culture (poor food choices), bad government policies (waste), and insurance red tape.

Meanwhile the lowest area of life expectancy is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Swaziland has an average life expectancy of 34.1 years due to AIDS and other negative aspects.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gas Prices Dynamic Maps is well known for its American and Canadian gas temperature maps. Now there are two ways to get individual station prices shown on a dynamic map. GasBuddy has an interactive map on their website and on Google Maps' "My Maps" GasBuddy's information is in the featured content section. Enjoy the high prices while I take public transportation!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

1934: The Hottest Year on Record

Here is why I am skeptical on all the doomsday claims of global warming. We all have heard how 1998 was the hottest year on record and some of the 2000s come close. Well, that is not quite true. The US temperature data had a Y2K bug in it and NASA released a corrected version. Now 1934 is the hottest year on record and five of the ten hottest years occurred before World War II.

Now there is still a warming trend but the moral of the story is to keep an open mind before you commit to radical action.

Meanwhile Coyote Blog has this piece of wisdom: "The GISS today makes it clear that these adjustments only affect US data and do not change any of their conclusions about worldwide data. But consider this: For all of its faults, the US has the most robust historical climate network in the world. If we have these problems, what would we find in the data from, say, China? And the US and parts of Europe are the only major parts of the world that actually have 100 years of data at rural locations. No one was measuring temperature reliably in rural China or Paraguay or the Congo in 1900. That means much of the world is relying on urban temperature measurement points that have substantial biases from urban heat."

Be sure to check out Coyote Blog's updated chart of temperatures

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Christian China?

The claim is stunning. Do 10,000 Chinese become Christians daily? Currently there are 111,000,000 Chinese Christians and that makes the People's Republic of China the third largest Christian country in the world (US and Brazil being 1 and 2). The 10,000 conversions a day would have 218,000,000 Christians and China with the country becoming the second most Christian country (even though Christians would make up less than twenty-percent of the population).

The growth is a internal development with Chinese doing most of the conversions. The Communist effort to expel the foreign missionaries actually increased Christianity's successes because the cultural gap between missionaries and subjects was eliminated.

Protestants and Catholics are playing two different games when it comes to converting. The Catholic Church is now trying to negotiate and bring the "official" church in China back into communion. Pentecostal Protestants however are bypassing government controls and setting up their own house churches. So far the Protestants are winning.

Christianity is old in China but ever since the Nestorians were outlawed (it is rumored they nearly converted an emperor). Today the emptiness of a post-communist (not post-Communist) culture has Chinese searching for answers in religion. Christianity and Islam are leading the charge in gaining new followers.

So what does this all mean? Well, in the future the Pope has a growing chance at being Chinese (think what John Paul II was to the Soviets), an African-Chinese tag team might knock on your door asking if you know about Jesus, and of course there is also geopolitics. Would a more Christian China be open to better relations with the West? Time may tell.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Battle for the DC Skyline: God

The United States Federal Government clearly commands a distinctive height on the Washington skyline. It has competition to its throne, though. The power of Heaven itself is imposed on the landscape with two mammoth buildings. These shrines to the divine are the Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The names alone show the power of the District of Columbia. Both churches have "national" in their names; a recognition of the power of the civil government which lies in the city.

The Washington National Cathedral is the home of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. The architecture is English Gothic. It is meant to reflect English heritage and "glorious era" of enlightened, Protestant England. Episcopalians see this era as the genesis of the ideals which would eventually lead to American independence. These ideas include not only a faith in God but belief in "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Episcopals have always had the tradition of being the church of American leadership. As such, the church in the past prided itself as "the church of America." The flags of the various states align the main hall. Symbols of the United States are set in the floor. The massive church is America and America is it.

The National Cathedral also shows its Americanness via its pop culture reference. One of the gargoyles on the outside is the mask of Darth Vader. The Episcopals show their Americaness and openness at the same time with that little monument.

The Catholic Church though has its own place on the skyline. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the biggest church in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth largest church in the world.

The basilica defines itself as America by being a melting pot itself. The design is part Italian, part Byzantine, part Celtic, part Levant, part French, and more. Inside there are various shrines to the Virgin Mary in different cultures. Everything from Our Lady of Lourdes to Our Lady of La Vang (Vietnam) to Our Mother of Africa can be found.

The basilica is not the seat of any bishop and therefore not the headquarters of any diocese of the Church. In the early 1900s Bishop Thomas Shahan proposed a shrine be built to the Virgin Mary who serves as patroness of the United States as proclaimed by Pope Pius IX. The plans called for a place of worship for all Catholic Americans.

Instead of being an American Catholic church the basilica is a Catholic church which reflects the various American cultural groups. Western Catholicism which came from Europe, Latin American Catholicism, and Eastern Rite Catholicism are all reflected by various icons, mosaics, shrines, and statues.

Government and religion have their places on the DC skyline. There is another religion however which combines both faith in a great and government. It is a secular religion of George Washington and it battles for its own place and meaning....

To be continued

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

World Clock: Counting Change

World Clock is an interesting online device which not only gives you the time but also everything from births, to new internet users, to bicycles produced, to number of deaths due to leprosy. The numbers can be viewed in terms of the past year, month, week, or day.

Fascinating and sometimes sad numbers for the past day (so far) include 196,420 new internet users, 323,328 births, and unfortunately 41,302 deaths via cardiovascular diseases

The clock claims to use official numbers but as always one can poke some holes in UN et al's methods. Peter Russell, World Clock's creator, also seems to be a dabbler in New Age thought and methods. So do not take the numbers as gospel but use them instead to gain a general picture of change on the earth.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lebanon's Metn Election Results

It was an election battle royale between the March 14 alliance of Christians and Sunnis versus the Iran pole of Hezbollah and Christian Michel Aoun. The election was close but in the end Aoun's candidate Camille Khoury "won" against former president Amin Gemayel.

I write "won" because the election has an air of Syrian corruption since the very beginning. The election is actually a special one in order to replace Amin's son, Pierre, who was assassinated by Syria last year. During election day Syrians who were nationalized Lebanese because of earlier occupation laws were bused in to vote. They had no clue why they were there because at first they wanted to vote for Hezbollah's Nesrallah then announced their intention to vote for Aoun himself. Several Gemayel supporters were also attacked as they attempted to vote. Add in early results claiming Gemayel was the winner (though many US candidates have suffered this same fate) and one starts smelling something odd.

The strategy of Hezbollah and its allies becomes clearer as time passes. They will not try to take over the country by force, too messy. Instead they will use the political process to keep Hezbollah armed and in charge of their microstate while they try to bring Lebanon itself in line with Hezbollah's goals.

The March 14 alliance meanwhile recognizes short term defeat but vows to continue the fight. Walid Jumblatt, de facto leader of the Druze, claimed Khoury's loss of his own village and needing Syrians to win is proof the Hezbollah opposition has little backing in non-Shia areas. While that is all well and good I am sure a Gemayel victory would have been a better statement.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Catholicgauze interviewed for "GPS Data and GIS System Applications"

Catholicgauze has been interviewed for the GPSFAQ article GPS Data and GIS System Applications.

Several notes though. 1) The information about me is a little out of date. 2) The article is aimed for a person who has little or no knowledge with GPS and GIS. So the Very Spatial and The Grichs of the world will find nothing new. 3) I was asked about the possibility of GIS being evil. So that's why the "good nor evil" bit comes out of the blue in the article. I swear I do not go around warning people randomly about GIS and evilness. I swear!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Zealand Outlaws Fun

Michael Cullen and Trevor Mallard share a very intimate moment full of sweet nothings. (Picture from

Catholicgauze has just broken New Zealand law. New Zealand has passed a law making it illegal for media to use images of members of parliament for satire purposes. The law was passed after the media and others caught the law makers goofing off, sleeping, or showing the world who exactly is number one with their middle finger. The media is fighting back and vowing not to follow the anti-freedom law.

The law is much like the efforts of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or the Alien-and-Sedition Acts of the early United States. It has no place in this world and must go.

China's Control Over Buddhism

The blog has long pointed out the People's Republic of China's desire to control everything from the Catholic Church to the weather.

Now the Communist government is taking on the Buddhist cosmos. China has stated no llama may reincarnate without the government's permission. At first one may think "What, will the divine forces merely stop because Beijing wants it so?" but there are serious, earthly considerations to take into account. Now, unless a llama seeks Beijing's permission (and in effect recognizes the legality of the new law) the government will surpress any effort to find the "reincarnated" llama. Who knows how the search for the next Dalai Lama will work out with the Chinese preventing investigations for the new llama in Tibet.

With Chinese support of brutal regimes in Africa, suppression of basic freedoms at home, and other sins one wonders if there will be a significant outcry around the Olympics. The games are China's coming out party to the world, if countries threaten a boycott, maybe, just maybe reform might take place.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Baseball Team Loyalties Throughout the United States

Map from Strange Maps

Strange Maps hits yet another one out of the ballpark with The United Countries of Baseball. The map shows the loyalty base of teams across America.

There are a few geographical/cultural changes that one could argue
  • Nobody in Florida supports the Devil Rays. Its all Marlins with a small Braves loyalty base leftover from the pre-expansion era.
  • Royals have lost much support to the Cardinals and others due to poor performance
  • Ditto the Rangers and Astros
  • The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Superior, has always been closer to Wisconsin sports teams rather than Detroit's sports teams.
  • The Rockies tend to be liked all throughout the American Mountain West

On the other hand note how Pittsburgh and Saint Louis' support extends deep into the South. I'm sure Deaner of Blue-Collar Baseball agrees.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Battle for the DC Skyline: The Government

From Catholicgauze's office I can see the United State capitol dome, the National Basilica, Washington Monument, and the National Cathedral. If I get up out of my cubical and walk a few feet I can see the George Washington Masonic National Monument. These structures battle to impose their meaning on the Greater Washington landscape. The three sides are: Government, God, and the Hero of the Republic.

The first of three posts of this series will focus on the government's imposition on the landscape. The most noticeable building that I see from the office window is the United State Capitol dome. The dome catches one's eye and reminds the viewer of the permanence and dominance of the government. The symbolize of the dome is so recognized that it's completion was a key priority of President Lincoln during the Civil War. Lincoln wished that the dome would be proof to all that the Union was strong and rise above all other things.

On top of the dome is Armed Freedom. The statue is of a female carrying a sword and shield standing on a pedestal with the national motto. Freedom faces east so the sun will not set upon her.

The capitol itself is the heart of Washington. It is the origin point for the four divisions of the district: northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest.

Finally, the capitol is much like other American federal government buildings in terms of architecture. The building is neoclassical in design. The style makes one think of the "pure and ancient" cultures of Rome and Greece.

The Capitol is one of the first things anyone sees as they enter DC. It serves as a reminder to all that Washington is the Federal City. However, it has competition...

To be continued

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

Now that August has begun the Northern Hemisphere is well into the sultry time of the summer known as the Dog Days of Summer.

The term has its origins from ancient cultures interpretation of astronomy. Around this time Sirius aka the dog star rises around the same time as the sun. The star is the brightest star besides the sun. Egyptian culture noticed Sirius rose right before the Nile flooded and served as a watchdog or reminder for Egyptians to prepare and celebrate the return of rains. Romans believed the star caused the warm weather. They feared these days due to the heat and what they believed were a related increase in animal attacks.

Today the term dog days makes one think of dogs being lazy in the heat. However, as remarked in Romeo and Juliet, the heat can cause one to be more prone to violence. Hot summers are the stereotypical time for riots and short tempers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Most Detailed Image of the Earth Ever

The most detailed image of the Earth ever has been released by NASA. The image is actually a combination of many images taken from the TERRA satellite. Take a moment and enjoy your home.