Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Short Geography of Vampires

The modern vampire is a product of myths evolved through both space and time. There is no one single origin for bloodsucking beasts but one can see a progression from ancient Mesopotamia, to Judaism, to Eastern Christianity, to Protestantism, to the secular today. Each stage offered its own perspective on vampires for its own reasons.

The world changed immensely when ancient man settled in cities. For the first time the outside world was a hostile place rather than the more neutral state is was for nomads who experienced not only negatives but positives of the wild. For civilized man the animals of the night represented hostile beasts. One of these new threats was the owl. For those who settled in now day Iraq the owl was an evil creature.

The Ancient Israelites were one of many groups with repeated cultural contact with the Mesopotamians and it appears the owl legend merged with one of the Jews. The evil owl merged with Lilith. The story of Lilith is found in the occult stories of Judaism. It deals with Adam's "first wife" who instead of being submissive decides to have devil children. Lilith's hell spawn are killed by angels. This causes the "rhymes with witch" to go on an eternal blood sucking killing spree against the descendants of Adam and Eve. Lilith becomes so ingrained into ancient Judaism the Bible mentions her by name (or in other translations as an owl or "night monster") in Book of Isaiah 34:14 which deals with a nasty part of the end of the world.

Flash forward to the AD 400 and 500s. The myth of the vampire begins to take a shape which is easily recognized. Rome has fallen and the Eastern Roman Empire, which viewed itself as the last stand of civilization against a monstrous world, is under siege by pagan European/Asian barbarians, Muslims on Jihad, and disease. The northern, mountainous border is seen as a meeting point of light and darkness and it is here where the stories of damned dead arrive. Some bodies do not decay in the moist soul and disease spreads quickly. At this desperate time people saw the Devil at work. The people believed sinners were damned by God and the non-decaying bodies were infested by demons which spread sickness. Blood expelled by the dead body was believed to that of the victim. Only tools blessed by the Church could stop the undead.

For a while these stories of undead did not reach Western Europe (while werewolves, demons, and other monsters did). The primary reason is because if a body does not decay in Catholic tradition it is a sign of holiness. The incorruptibles are a morbid source of pride for Catholics. While there are a few stories in Ireland and Celtic Great Britain there are no major stories of non-decaying dead being vampires until the Protestant Reformation. The denial of Catholic tradition added to the spread of disease once again allowed a new religious belief to explain vampires to the West. The Protestant Vampire spread as far as 1890s Rhode Island.

The most famous vampire, Dracula, was the first truly modern vampire. Aristocratic foreigner who stormed the beaches of England to still British women. He was eventually defeated by Dr. Van Helsing. Dracula represented the fear of foreign influences counter-colonizing England and could only be defeated by combining science and the Church of England. It was the first time faith needed help from science. The use of women allowed Dracula to be neigh-pornographic while still fitting into Victorian norms.

The twentieth-century saw vampires moving into film. Nosferatu was the first time sunlight killed a vampire and changed the monster forever. But Christopher Lee made the biggest change. The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s vampire was secular and a sex fiend. The sexual revolution changed everything.

Today the vampire is a global phenomenon. Chinese and Indian vampire movies are a globalized version made famous by Lee. The 2003 movie Underworld sums up the monster today: stylish, exotic foreigner (not a xenophobic nightmare) while dangerous is also appealing (though there is a counter-movement to have vampires as monstrous like those in 30 Days of Night).

The vampire has gone from a combination of many local legends to a globalized phenomenon. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2007 Hurricane Season Non-Eventful

Once again the hurricane forecast for the year as overly hyped. The North Atlantic is a third more quite as normal and the Eastern Pacific is a fully sixty percent below normal, according to Florida State University's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies. This makes 2007 the least active year since 1977.

1989 to 1998 have been the peak years for hurricanes in the last thirty years. 2004 and 2005 were above average and this led some to declare global warming was at work and the next few years would be even worse. So far this has not been the case.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Kingdom of the Netherlands versus The Netherlands

Here is something to file under interesting. When most people say "The Netherlands" they think of the small European country between Germany and Belgium. This is correct to a point. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is legally a federation of the Netherlands proper and the autonomous associated states of Aruba and Netherlands Antilles.

On paper each country in the kingdom is suppose to be equal. However, European Netherlands has about 98% of both territory and population of the kingdom, not to mention the cultural meaning of being the Netherlands.

There are uniqueness to each country, though. European Netherlands uses the Euro as the primary currency but Aruba has the florin and the Netherlands Antilles uses the gulden. European Netherlands official language is Dutch but Frisian, Dutch Lox Saxon, and Limburgish are also recognized. Aruba's official languages are Dutch and a creole language Papiamento while English and Spanish are also known to many. Netherlands Antilles recognizes Dutch, Papiamento, and English officially.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The National Map Corps

While Catholicgauze remains extremely busy, Very Spatial points out the National Map Corps. The NMC is a volunteer effort where GPS users go out and geolocate features a on a given map. That way USGS can confirm places and monitor changes. Consider doing a patriotic duty today!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

High Altitude and Sports

Many baseball fans are excited with the World Series going to Denver. The reason for their joy is the "Coors Field Effect" which is the reason why baseballs travel farther in higher altitudes. The reason for this phenomenon is simple: the air is thiner. Air molecules are farther apart and therefore a baseball has less resistance as it flies.

The thiner air poses some medical threats to athletes, though. Each breath takes in less oxygen. Less oxygen in the lungs and blood stream can lead to mountain sickness. Training and play can be modified; however, to reduce negative effects. It can take up to eight days to adapt to the higher altitude. That's a huge plus to the Rockies and bane to the sea level Red Sox.

Update: FIFA banned international soccer matches in high altitude cities because of the impact on players. Some countries such as Bolivia are quite upset at this.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Google Earth Being Used by Terrorists, Again

Terrorist can bridge the gap of little more than two miles and aim their rockets at targets using the latest free geotechnology (click to enlarge)

Going around the various blogs and e-mail accounts of geographers is the Guardian story of how Fatah-allied terrorists are using Google Earth to target missiles at the small town of Sderot, Israel (video of a launch).

This is not the first time terrorists have used the free, high-quality imagery of Google Earth for evil purposes. Shiite terrorists used Google Earth as a sort of God-eye's spy to target the inside of British bases in Iraq. The attacks were such an issue that the British managed to persuade Google to use pre-Iraq War imagery instead; so that the terrorists could not target what they were unable to see.

While the egalitarianism of geotechology can be good like saving time driving, it like all tools can be used for nefarious purposes. There is a debate roaring about the balance of freedom of information versus security. Some countries ban the use of Google Earth while others have successfully "requested" Google censor or blur "critical" locations. Other mapping programs such as GeoPortail have white spaces where key military structures are.

Except more censorship issues as those who seek ill use Google Earth for their own purposes. A brave new future indeed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Moving Japan Remade the Pacific and the World

About fifty million years ago the a underwater mountain chain, the Izanagi Ridge (named after a Japanese creator god), slid under a tectonic plate which in turn was plugged like a cork by Japan. Pressure and crust-in-formation managed to escape by the underworld elsewhere and in turn remade the Pacific Ocean.

Islands like Tonga and those in the Solomon Sea owe their existence to this occurrence. But perhaps more importantly Australia is indebted to the plugging. Apparently the plugging allowed Australia to migrate much further north than it could have under "normal" circumstances. Australia would have been an cold to cool land with much snow expect for the very northern parts say around Darwin.

The fact Australia was habitable allowed for English migration and culturalization. The island continent allowed the British to extend there empire and by effect common law and the ideals of human liberty (even if they were not practiced all the time). Australia has proven to be a major player in the Anglosphere leading efforts in World War I, World War II, and today's Global War on Terrorism. Without the collapse of Izanagi Ridge who knows what the world today would be like physically and culturally.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

GPS Finds Secret Paths, Gnostics Angry

When one thinks about driving directions they usually plan the most simplistic route even if it is slightly longer. The maze of neighborhood side streets are avoided for the the main interstates, state highways, or major arteries of urban streets. Things are beginning to change however. The Examiner has a short blurb article on how GPS units are finding quicker ways from point A to point B that go through neighborhood side streets. Not everyone is happy though. Police are staking out these spots "and asking where they [drivers are] are going" as an intimidation tactics to keep down traffic. The mindset is only a select few are allowed to drive on "their" streets. Geotechnology, like all other technology, is libertarian in fundamental nature and allowing for egalitarian benefits. Not everyone likes to share; however.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cultural Understanding in Military Geography

JIOX has a great post which links to several excellent military sites on the importance of culture. While it is preaching to the choir for me, the things cited by the various links offer a wealth of information and evidence why true cultural geography is important in this globalized era.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Immigration, Assimilation, and Identity in Geopolitics

Two very different developments occurred this weekend. Bobby Jindal won the election to become governor of Louisiana and the Swiss People's Party won more seats to continue its dominance in the ruling coalition of Switzerland. Both these elections have to deal with immigration, assimilation, and identity.

Jindal first ran for governor in 2003 and nearly won. However, reliably conservative areas of northern Louisiana voted the center-left Kathleen Blanco rather than the conservative Jindal. Both candidates were Catholic so religion did not play a role (which it usually does in mixed Louisiana). The main factor in the voting switch was Jindal being of Indian-descent. Political pundits pointed out how even though Jindal was born and raised and Baton Rouge he was still seen as a foriegner to some.

Things changed in 2007. With many other side factors like Hurricane Katrina, the inability of the state's Democratic Party to handle the disaster; the important factor was Jindal having a proven record in congress and thus proving himself a strong champion of his home state. He captured the northern parishes in a hard fought battle with his opponents constantly launching racist attacks against him. Jindal's key to shoring up his landslide victory was proving himself as an American and Louisianan. Jindal proved that even though his parents were not native to America; he was fully assimilated into the American mainstream.

Meanwhile in Switzerland a more nativist view has taken the day. Europe has a much larger and noticeable immigrant population for a reason. Europeans do not want the immigrants to assimilate. The social isolation has become a self-feeding cycle where the non-adapted immigrant population walls itself off my the popular culture and in many cases turns to multiple levels of violence. This feeds into anti-immigration backlash once only seen on the "far right" and now is common in center-right and even in some center-left parities. Many "native" Europeans are tired of what they see as troublesome foreigners disproportionately taking advantage of the welfare state (though these "foreigners" do the jobs Europeans will not do). But above all else the "foreigners" are different. They are not the secular cultural Christians found throughout much of the central and western parts of the continent but tend to be more devout Catholic/Orthodox/or Muslims. They stay among their own and try to assert themselves on the landscape. The "native" culture feels threatened and like any animal that is threaten; it will defend itself from real and perceived threats by any means possible. The lack of assimilation on both sides has created a brewing political firestorm.

Earlier this year immigration and assimilation reached fever pitch in the United States with President Bush deeply damaging himself with his conservative base over the issue of amnesty. The large increase in Hispanos with an extremely vocal minority of them being overtly aggressive in non-assimilation is starting to make "native" Americans feel threatened. Hopefully assimilation can succeed in the United States and the problems of Europe be avoided.

It is said that America's political and cultural landscape is fifteen years behind Europe. Tonight Amsterdam is on fire...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Finding the True Borders of Baseball Team Loyalty

A while back I featured a map of Baseball team loyalties throughout America and Canada. Now Major League Baseball via the "The United Countries of Baseball" is trying to map out the true boundaries of team loyalty. So go online and and help create a more accurate map!

Hopefully they will show things readers commented on like Yankees fans in Florida and Upper Peninsula Michigan being loyal to Milwaukee and not Detroit. Until then you still can download the old map for computer wallpaper. (Hat tip: Blue-Collar Baseball)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

World's Oldest Painting Found

An 11,000 year old painting has been discovered in Syria. The ancient men who made the painting were still unable to farm or domesticate animals but something new was occurring in their brains. The geometric symbols, which unfortunately look like modern art and prove the Catholicgauze's opinions on modern art, meant something so important to the artist(s) that they spent considerable time, energy, and resources to make a prominent display.

Also around 11,000 years ago religion was picking up in Syria. While giant snake gods were known before hand elsewhere, it appears modern man's mind was evolving at a rapid pace during this time period.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Geography Blog from Networlddirectory

Geography Blog From Networlddirectory is a blog on physical geography updated about once or twice a week; and its a fascinating read. Geography Blog from Nwd is a great source for physical geography information (something which GTWC! only pays partial attention to) and it manages to keep things understandable yet remains educational. Enjoy!

Obesity Map of America

While the Germans may be fat, so are Americans. CNN has a frightening map of obesity in the United States. It was not so bad in 1985 but after 2001 obesity spread from Mississippi to the South then to the rest of the country. If the greater than twenty-five percent obese states were to vote for a Fat Party presidential ticket, the nominee would get 313 electoral votes (more than enough to win)!

Really Dry in North Carolina

Right now it is pretty dry in on the east coast. Reader Natalie sends a link to a drought map which shows just how dry it is. It is drier than eastern North Carolina barbecue.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Geography of Barbacue in the United States

Map from Kraft Foods. Click to enlarge

Three things can rile Americans up into a frenzy: religion, politics, and barbecue. One's opinion on what exactly barbecue (barbeque or BBQ) is and how it is prepared betrays one's origins.

The geography of American barbecue can be broken down by using the techniques of regional geography.

Midwest: Home of true BBQ (bias alert!). Catholicgauze has been blessed with growing up with the Kansas City-school of barbecue. The main dish is pork ribs in a rich, tomato-based sauce. The Kansas City-school has a plurality of favoritism when it comes to national chains and sauces sold throughout the country. It is seen as a mixture of the regions (much as the Midwest itself) and is palatable to almost everyone. Beef brisket and chicken are rising in popularity, though.

South: The original home of American barbecue. Southerners have always favored pork over beef. That however is the extent of unifying factors. A friend once joked each Southern county has its own style of barbecue. Because of the poorness of the past, every part of the pig was used. This allowed for all sorts of variations to be created. Some prefer rib while others prefer pulled meat (Carolina-style for example). And once one starts the sauce versus rub or even sauce versus sauce debate the gloves come off! The maps below demonstrate the uniqueness of Southern barbecue.

Greater Texas: The state of Texas continues its uniqueness with its barbecue. Texas is a beef state with maybe some chicken on the side (however in central Texas pork shares the spotlight with the other two to become "the holy trinity" of BBQ). The cattle industry of post-Civil War Texas allowed this style to spread all the way north into southern Kansas. While other barbecue fans will argue amongst themselves over what the truest form of barbecue is, Texans usually have problems with even recognizing anything but beef brisket.

Unique Zones
Pacific Coast: The Pacific Coast and especially Hawaii have their own unique style. The sauce is usually fruit based (Catholicgauze once sampled a delicious jalapeño-pineapple sauce) and it is spread on sea food or sometimes chicken or beef. Along the Columbia River it is possible to order some barbecued Salmon. That's something on my list to do.

Interior West: The American West is not well known for its barbecue. The West is more known as "steak and potato" country than for "traditional" barbecue styles. However, this has allowed the competing schools to enter the region. National Chains like Famous Dave's (Midwestern and Southern mix) dominate but competitions like Best in the West in Sparks, Nevada attract all sorts of styles.

Northeast: "Blue bloods don't know barbecue," I was once told. "They go to national chains and think they know it." The Northeast however has given something mighty to the barbecue world. Buffalo sauce, usually found on chicken wings, can be used on barbecue for those who want something spicy. If one is in Buffalo, New York you must careful. Be sure to order "chicken wings" because ordering "Buffalo wings" will betray you as an outsider.

So let us see if we can map this out. Where are you from (generally) and what is your definition of a good barbecue?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

World's Most Evil Globe for Sale

Have around $15,000 to $20,000 to spare? Then why not buy the world's most evil globe? An American GI is auctioning off the globe from Hitler's Eagle's Nest. GI John Barsamian discovered the globe as one of the few things not looted by Nazis who fled before the Allies reached the mountain top. The fact no SS stormtroper realized the beauty and coolness behind any and all globes acts as further evidence of how truly evil the Nazis were.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Street Smart: How to do Urban Geography from a Military Geography Perspective

RAND has published a great resource for both purchase or free PDF download entitled Street Smart: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations. While it was meant to be used by intelligence professionals, no urban geographer's library would be complete without it.

The outdoor or rural landscape has been well studied by military geographers and other researchers. Deserts, forests, tundra and other landscapes offer a variety of challenges and solutions. Urban environments; however, have traditionally been lumped together as one with disastrous results. Besides just being buildings closer together, cities have physical, cultural, economic, infrastructural, social, and many more elements. Cities are also vastly different from each other. An intelligence professional who knows the makeup of a Stalingrad does not necessarily know anything about a Mogadishu.

Street Smart consists of aides and examples of how to do urban research. The beginning of chapter five is particularly useful to cultural geographers because the authors supply new suggestions on how to visualize the cultural dynamics.

The book is a great aid to many geographers. Some who would prefer something along the lines of feminists perspectives on the social geographies of urban environments will be disappointed, but urban geographers and those who wish to have applied, practical uses for their abilities will surely find something of value in Street Smart.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunquakes may disurpt the Earth

A new debate among scientists is whether or not vibrations on the Sun can "shake" the Earth. One study claims p-modes and g-modes on the Sun reach the Earth and cause general disruptions like dropped cell phone calls, interference with undersea communications, and issues with electricity. Those who disagree with the theory claim it is impossible for the modes to leave the Sun or that solar winds negate any mode traveling to Earth. However, if true, study of the modes would allow for a better understanding for the interior of the Sun.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Old Maps of Air Travel

Coming Anarchy (via Mutantfrong via Airchive) features the above map of Japanese Air flights. The map is from the 1970s and shows how the restricted airspace of the Soviet Union (unless a plane was going to land in the USSR) affected international travel. The map also does a good job making people think about distances between the continents (too often we get stuck in the mindset of the flat map centered on the equator where the north pole is forgotten).

The neat thing is the map has plenty of friends. Airchive has a map pages (A-H, I-P, and R-Z) featuring maps from various different domestic and foreign air line companies throughout the years. Be sure to check it out and enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Columbus Day and the New World Revolutions

515 years ago the Vikings, Polynesians, Ainu-like people, and to an extent the descendants of the paleo-Indians were made secondary or footnotes in American history. Christopher Columbus and crew landed on San Salvador and started the European wave of conquest and immigration of the New World.

In an immediate sense Columbus was not important. He came, went, came a couple more times, and then left again. What matters though is Columbus finally proved to Europeans that there was something out there.

Europe was slightly ahead of the Islamic world and slightly behind the Chinese in the sense of scientific accomplishments in 1491. Access to the resources and opportunities in the New World allowed Europeans to advance well past others. For those all ready in the Americas things changed as well. The Spaniards and others brought diseases which the Indians had no immunity to, the weapons and tactics of the newcomers overpowered those who resisted, and the regional empires crumbled. The vacuum was quickly filled by the newcomers.

There were several approaches to colonization. The Spaniards mostly came for "Gold, God, and Glory." This led to an overwhelming male migration to the New Spain. Without the oppurtunity to marry Spanish women many turned to marrying Indians. The Mestizo race was born in the early days. Indian elements transfused with Spanish culture creating something new. The Our Lady of Guadalupe embodies this revolution: Spanish culture with an American identity. Military conflicts with Indians died off quickly besides a few areas of non-intermixing in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.

The English had the second approach. They sought to transplant their identity to the Americas. They brought women with them along with various creeds of Christianity. The English saw themselves as completely separate from the Indians. Wars would rage between the cultural descendants of the English and the Indians for centuries. However, the English ideals of freedom and liberty (which was not perfectly practiced) allowed for the United States to become realized. The United States has sense experienced triumph and tragedy; and has become a become of freedom for the rest of the world.

Others would come as well. The French had limited success creating a New France (Quebec) but on the frontier they copied the Spanish model of men mixing in with Indians. Catholic tribes and better trading relations was common wherever the French frontier was. The Dutch came and went quickly from North America but left a legacy of arming Indians against other European powers. The colony wars were much bloodier because of them. The Portuguese have Brazil as their landmark. For a while Brazil was European in the sense of its culture. It even acted as the seat of government for Portugal-in-exile.

And let us not forget the Africans who were sold into slavery by other tribes and Arabs to Europeans who saw them as draft animals. Those of African descent have struggled for freedom and reached various results. Jim Crow laws stunted political growth for 100 years in the United States while those in the Caribbean gained control via the democratic process. After the end of slavery in Brazil a new culture was born as the races began to mix together.

Christopher Columbus was not the first one to discover America but he was the start of a revolution. With him the geography of the New World was changed forever and the earth we live on along with it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Searching for the First Americans

Vikings, Polynesians, Ainu-like people oh my! Now we touch on the quest for the first Americans.

"We don't know." That sentence started off my formal education in North American archaeology. The statement is related to the who and how of the first Americans. There are many theories of who the first Americans were and how they got here and the more evidence we find the less certain we are.

Many of us have been taught the Bering Land Bridge theory. This theory states that Siberian nomads crossed the Bering Land Bridge around 13,000 years ago and spread like wildfire all throughout the continents of North and South America. The dogma of this faith was Clovis technology. This culture, united in the technology of hunting tools designed to bring down mammoths, was believed to have been the first Americans who arrived in America around 13,500 years ago.

Problems existed however. First Clovis tools were found only in certain areas. There were no Clovis tools found in the possible passage way which the Siberians could have taken. Neither could they be found in Alaska or Siberia. Secondly, a clear passage way would have been a nightmare for nomads. Sure, all game animals would be in that narrow passage way but so would anything else with a tasting of meat (There were bears which could stand 12 feet high back then!). And finally as a nail in a coffin, there have been sites in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and even Chile which pre-date Clovis.

So other theories have arisen to explain the settlement of the New World. A rising prominent theory of how the Americas were colonized is the Pacific Coastal Model. This states that Asians hugged the coast (now submerged) and migrated south. This helps explain why sites like Monte Verde in Chile and elsewhere along the Pacific Coast tend to be older than interior sites. Moving along the coast line would allow groups to obtain a large food supply without risking glaciated lands.

Other theories exist however and they have some evidence to back them up. Pre-Siberian American Aborigines is another possibility. Those who back this do not deny the Asian origins of modern Indians but claim there were humans here before that migration. Some of the oldest bones in North America have traits of Australians, Melanesians, and even Africans. It is thought that these small groups were one way or another absorbed into the invading post-Siberian/paleo-Indian population. The Olmec Indians of Mexico created giant heads which look like black Africans but evidence of African heritage is flimsy at best. Elsewhere, Polynesians got as far as Easter Island. Going the rest of the way to Chile would not be out of the question (and it appears some did and brought chickens with them).

Another theory, which I do not subscribe to but brings up powerful points, is the Solutrean hypothesis. Two well respected archaeologist proposed that Clovis technology is actually based on older European technology. Solutrean "culture" was in Europe from about 21,000 years ago until it completely vanished around 15,000 years ago. The theory says Europeans followed the edge of the sea ice to North America and settled there. Problems with this hypothesis are the impracticality of ancient men travelling along sea ice in the middle of the ocean going as far as the Americas (sea ice does not make a good camping site). Also, why the gap of several thousand years between European Solutrean and American Clovis? There should be some overlap.

The Solutrean hypthoesis has one trump card: Haplogroup X. Primarily a European genetic trait, 25% of all Algonquian people have the genetic marker. The sheer number and background checks suggest this is way too high even with the mixing of American Indians and Americans of European descent. Add onto the geographical eastern bias of Algonquians and it seems there reasonably could have been a European migration which mixed with post-Siberian paleo-Indians.

The main history still stands. Genetic tests and physical traits like shoveled teeth still point to an Siberian Asian origin for American Indians. This population was the first one to successfully settle and dominate the Americas. More would come though. The Eskimos came latter and began a bloody campaign to dominate the Arctic. Groups came and went. Some lived in cities which rivaled those of the classical Old World, some lived in cities which were on par with the ancient ones of Mesopotamia, some became farmers in villages, some reached the point of semi-settled but remained partly nomadic, and others like the Sioux were the equivalent of the Barbarian Hordes of Europe. They lived and left there mark on the New World which in part last today. Many place names still carry their memory.

Even with pre-Columbian contacts, things evolved on an independent path for the most part. Then a group of men in 1942 led by an Italian under a Spanish flag would change the whole world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Kennewick Men

Sort of doing a backwards in time North American exploration unofficial celebration week on Catholicgauze. So far we have discussed Leif Erikson and previously we did Polynesians in America. Today we look at the Kennewick Man and his ilk.

9,000 years ago a man died in present-day Washington state. He is a special case unlike other 9,000 year old American dead. The Kennewick Man was not a "paleo-Indian" but a Caucasoid. He does not have any direct link to a present ethnic group but the closet one is the Ainu, the first permanent and surviving settlers of Japan. He was not alone. Up until 8,000 years ago there were other Caucasoids who walked in North America (its been awhile since North American Archaeology class so I cannot remember the names but we found others). The remains of these have been found in the western United States including the states Nevada and Washington. This suggests they hugged the coast either from Alaska down then headed into the continent or they came from over the Pacific.

Then they disappeared. But as one passes 8,000 years ago and approaches the present only the paleo-Indian line is found.

The Kennewick Man has created controversy. Fearful of scientific research some tribes tried to have him buried and not examined. Scientists sued and won the right to examine the Kennewick Man pointing out that he was not related to the present day tribes at all. However, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and senate Democrats have and are trying to change this.

The Caucasoids of paleo-America came and went. But they are not forgotten.

For more information be sure to read the Time Magazine article: Who Were The First Americans?

For the remainder of the unofficial ancient explorers/settlers of America
Thursday: The waves of Paleo-Indians
Friday: The end of an era and beginning of a new with GTWC! discussing Columbus on the true Columbus Day

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Leif Erikson Day

Happy Leif Erikson Day! Today is the day set aside for the contributions of Leif Erikson and Americans of Nordic descent in general.

In 986, Bjarni Herjolfsson saw a strange land to the west of Greenland now believed to be Baffin Island. Because of the earth was going through a "hot period" the land seemed hospitable but Bjarni was in a hurry to get home so he and his men did not visit the land. No one took interest in Herjolfsson's claim except a recent Christian convert named Leif Erikson.

The story of Leif Erikson is told in the Vinland Sagas (the Saga of Erik the Red and the Saga of the Greenlanders). Erikson set out around 1000 and first set foot on Helluland (now day Baffin Island). There they made contact with the Skraelings or natives of the area. While there is a story of Vikings saving a pair of Indians no meaningful cultural exchanges took place. After Helluland the Vikings traveled to Markland (Labrador) had chopped down trees to take back to Greenland (Labrador is now too cold to grow the tree which was chopped down).

A settlement related to the journey of Leif Erikson is the colony at L'Anse aux Meadows. Here the Vikings hope to have a launching base for colonization of North America and trading with the natives. However, cultural misunderstandings with the natives including a Viking bull on a rampage turn the Indians against the Vikings. Rather than stay and fight it out in a strange new world the Vikings instead leave North America and return their attention to Europe. It would take an Italian in Spain's service to reopen the New World to European interests.

Today Leif Erikson's impact on America is a mere footnote. Sad but true. However, let us not forget those first Nordic-Americans who tried, but failed, to live with the natives and call America "home."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bjorn Lomborg's Suggestions to Save Lives

Bjorn Lomborg believes in human caused global warming. He is also hated, yes hated, by many who share that opinion. Robert Christopherson lost control and yelled a rant at the very mention of Lomborg's name.

But that does not stop Lomborg from trying to save people's lives and find ways to curb climate change. He recently wrote an editorial called "Chill out" and proposed methods to save lives and money in a changing world. Everything from clean energies, to combating diseases, to geoengineering are discussed.

While one can debate global warming and the sources of its causation; Lomborg calls for everyone to be rational and proposes actions which can unite all people.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

GTWC hacked

I just want to apologize to readers if they encountered any offensive material on GTWC! The website was hacked and some hyperlinks changed. Everything should be back to normal but I will continue to check.

Italy Needs Adults

While the rest of Europe needs children, Italy also needs adults. Eight in ten of all Italians under the age of thirty live with their parents. The majority of these basement dwellers are men and have been dubbed Mammoni or Big Mommy's Boys.

The mammoni pose a grave threat to Italy. They do not get married, do not make babies (fertitilty rate is at 1.29 children/woman when 2.01 is where a population breaks even), the lack of their own place limits the amount of money pumped into the economic, and innovation decreases with the absence of independence. This all feeds a cycle of economic lethargy and high cost of living which are the primary reasons for so many mammoni.

There are so many mammoni that the Italian government is offering money for them to leave their parents' homes. There in lies the problem. The nanny-state mindset is ingrained so deeply in Italians. Why have babies when they are a burden and the state will take care of you? Why leave your parents home when they and the state will take care of you? The only solution the Italians can see is having the state take care of the problem with another handout. Expect to see more problems like the mammoni until having a family, hard work, and chance taking are rewarded by the state and culture.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Performance of State Highway Systems

Reason Foundation has a mash-up map of how state highway systems perform according to their data (PDF). The quick and dirty of the map is that the Northeast has problems when it comes to their roads. Deaths, worn infrastructure, narrow lanes, etc. cause problems for commuters (I am glad I do not have a car). The central and western states do much better; however, the South has problems though not as bad as the Northeast. Money spent does not equal road performance.

The five best states are
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Kansas
  • New Mexico
  • Montana

The bottom five states are
  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island (53.01% of all bridges are "deficient")
  • New York
  • Alaska (like anyone uses them anyways)
  • New Jersey

Friday, October 05, 2007

The 2008 Upcoming Geographic Travels of Catholicgauze

Catholicgauze will be attending the 2008 Association of American Geographers convention in Boston this upcoming April. I hope to meet up with all my academic friends!

In great news I will be at the International Geographical Union convention in Tunis, Tunisia. Yes, Catholicgauze is going to the Africa! Which leaves the question. Should he spend some money and take a few days to go to Rome, Jerusalem, or somewhere else?

Hazlitt: A Gazetteer of the Ancient Classical World

I am a huge fan of the study of the ancient and classical world. Western Civilization owes its very existence because of places like Babylon, Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. Other places like villages and fields have been the sites were kings have been born and empires won or lost. These locations range from well known to obscure.

But now its possible to understand where these sites our. The Ancient Library has a scanned copy of Hazlitt, The Classical Gazetteer. Hazlitt was written by William Hazlitt in 1851. The gazetteer has "15,000 classical places—famous, obscure and jaw-droppingly obscure. Of the latter, most are absent from the common classical dictionaries."

Although not operation now, Google is expected soon to index the book and thus make it searchable. Now one can select a letter and flip through the pages.

So enjoy and learn facts like the Gabri were a people of Sarmatia near Cissii. Just imagine this with hyperlinks to an encyclopedia!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's New Map

Rudy Giuliani is using geography to convince Republicans to support him over his competition for the presidential nomination. Guiuliani has released a series of maps (PDF) which are suppose to show how Rudy is the only person who can defeat the all but anointed challenger Hillary Clinton.

In the Rudy versus Hillary scenario, all states are either Republican or toss-up with the expections of Vermont, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia. The message displayed here is one of how easy it would be for Rudy to pick up swing and traditionally blue states with his moderate-liberal views on some positions.

The Thompson versus Clinton map depicts one of desperation. Clinton has already secured the Blue States and the swing states were once Republican-voting states. The once great hope for conservatives would only be appealable to conservatives and unable to attract others.

The McCain versus Clinton race is neck and neck with Hillary holding a slight lead. The race would be won or lost in the region cornered by Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania (an area where Republicans lost in 2006 and thus lost all in 2006). While this shows McCain as a possible winner, the Rudy map "asks" readers if they really want another close race like 2000 and 2004.

The ire of the map set is saved from Romney. In a Romney versus Clinton match up the race is already over with Hillary having four more electoral votes than needed. The map speaks volumes: while Romney may be able to win in Iowa after campaigning there for a year he cannot win the national race.

Now it is important to note that the map's data was gathered from the Giuliani's own campaign so bias must be suspected. However, everyone should note how the maps are used to say things that would be too wordy for a memo or letter. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a map is worth a million.

Maps Catholicgauze would like to see include landslides like John McCain versus Lyndon "Freaking Crazy" LaRouche or Barack Obama versus Ron "No Chance" Paul. Would the map be a solid color for the first time in history?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fires in Lebanon From Space

Click to enlarge

A satelitte image of the fires in Lebanon. Read boxes highlight clusters of large fires. Image obtained from Flash Earth.

Lebanon on Fire

A few hours ago fires (over 200) broke out in the north, central, and southern parts of Lebanon.

The civil defence chief of Lebanon blames the fires on a vast conspiracy to... collect cheap charcoal. Others are not convinced however. Already rumblings are starting to blame the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah Axis which has been active in assassinations of their opposition. If set up the axis, the fires serve a purpose. Lebanon's parliament is about to appoint a President. The razor-thin majority March 14 Alliance has been vowing to replace the pro-Syrian president with a strong anti-Syrian president. The fires, along with the assassinations, could be a message of ill things to come with March 14 does not appoint a moderate as president.

UPDATE: Imagery now available

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

United Nations Fiddles While Burma Dies

The pro-democracy protests in Burma have been Crushed. A thousand plus have been executed, a college campus has been turned into a death camp, and it is expected worse is going on in the country's north.

So what does the United Nations do. Little to nothing. A United Nations envoy has vowed to meet with the junta's leader and did so for about fifteen minutes. The United Nations human rights council met to discuss the matter and passed a finding against Israel. Yeah, Israel. The United Nations human rights council, with members including Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Angola, and Russia; has spent the last year discussing Israel 74% of the time, Sudan 21%, and Burma 5%. No other country was singled out by the Human Rights Council. None. The United Nations Security Council nearly took action against Burma but that was derailed by the Junta's allies of Russia and China. Countries like Russia, China, and India have block intervention because of their economical ties with the Junta. This is a sort of repeat of Iraq 2002 with governments avoiding change so they can keep their business contacts.

So with a war in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, genocide in Burma, Syria murdering Lebanese politicians, the question is: what good is the United Nations on the highest level?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Race Returns to Europe

If one tries to do academic research on the various races in Europe one will quickly find out exact numbers are impossible to find for the most part. Most European censuses do not ask for race because the last time Europeans got hung up on race the Nazis killed 11 million people and the Soviets did much worse.

Well, as the Bible says everything old will be new again. Gates of Vienna has a roundup (bias alert!) of the European Union's proposal to start classifying people into races again. The reasoning is that there is racism in Europe so the government must classify people into races so that the "spoils" may be equally divided up. However, as the American experience has shown, people tend to be upset when race "justice" enters the arena. Look for center-right and "far" right parties to exploit this as a European Union attempt to pander to certain groups (i.e. Muslims).

Europe is different than America. While the States have had and do have its racial problems there is still the underlying current that we are all Americans. However, in Europe there is still the attitude that the descendants of immigrants are still guests and not entitled to full Europeaness. Look for much controversy to come from this.