Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Interactive Primary Map

The Iowa Caucus is on its way! January 3rd is marked on many politicos' calenders. However, after that the dates of various primaries is confusing with many states changing dates. This problem can be solved with PBS' interactive primary map. By moving the cursor over a state one can see when both the Republican and Democratic vote dates are. Or, one can pick a date to see which states vote then. Fast Fact: South Dakota votes last on June 3rd (yet those in the southeastern part of the state have been seeing Iowa-aimed ads for months.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Deadliest Drunk Drivers by State

Forbes and Yahoo have articles concerning the deadliest states concerning drunk driving. The deadliest states tend to have small yet rural populations and a history of hard drinking: Wyoming, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, and South Dakota.

The states (and district) with the lowest drunk driving fatalities are the District of Columbia, Utah, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. These states (and district where NO ONE has a car) either have a good public transit operation (and largest numbers keep the per capita down) or a strong religious tradition against drinking.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Map of the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

The above is a geography of a well planned murder. Benazir Bhutto gave a political speech at Liaquat Bagh park and was on her way out when she was ambushed by a bomb-wired, gun-wielding terrorist. The terrorist planners probably knew that getting through the crowd to Bhutto would be too hard so they let her come to them. Once the shooting was done a terrorist blew himself up in the street. It is Catholicgauze’s opinion that the street was picked because there would be more space in between people thus allowing for more collateral damage.

The events mapped above will have a major impact in the region, the War on Terrorism, and the world.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Geography and the Optical Telegraph

Map of the French optical telegraph system from Low-tech Magazine

TDAXP has sent me an interesting article on optical telegraphs (semaphore). The semaphore was a device which allowed messages to be sent by flag combinations.

The original idea for the semaphore was thought up in the 1600s but it was not until the late 1700s when a system was actually put into place. France was the first country to use the tool and used it for republican communications during the revolution. The first message was a coded one between Paris and Lille.

Other countries used the system as well including Sweden (who independently invented their own system), the British (who used their system for naval/coastal communications), Prussia, Russia, and the United States.

Geography proved to be the systems done fall, though. While ports in the United States used flag communications, the sheer size and variety of terrain obsticals made the optical telegraph inefficent for long distance communication. The need for a better system led to the creation of the electric telegraph we all know of.

For some maps and more information (in French) on the optical telgraph click here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The World to the Ancient Hebrews

Click to Enlarge

The above is a map of the cosmos according to the Ancient Hebrews (from the Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible). The map, while a modern creation, teaches one much about the cosmoslogical/geographical outlook of long ago.

The first striking thing I noticed was the lay of the land was not of primary importance. What mattered was the heavens and the underworld's relationship to the earth. Water encompassed everything (water being the "end" of everything for non-sea fearing people).

The Universe from Top-down goes:
  • The highest point of the universe is the divine seat (Heaven) where God lives.
  • Below that is an ocean where precipitation falls while being controlled by floodgates. The gates are connected to walls which connect to the earth by a mountainous wall.
  • In the middle is the earth.
  • Below the earth is Sheol. Sheol is the home of the dead both righteous and wicked.
  • The world is supporting by pillars which sit upon the abyss.
  • The abyss has had several interpretations. It has been viewed as the ocean the earth emerged from, the original choas before God created order, and even Hell (the Book of Relevation tells the Beast will come from the Abyss). What ever it is in cosmology one thing is certain - you do not want to go down there!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

From the Book of Luke:

1And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled.

2This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.

3And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David,

5To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

6And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.

9And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.

10And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

11For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.

12And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:

14Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Concerned Local Citizens Map

Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) are groups of local Iraqis which defend their villages, towns, neighborhoods, and urban neighborhoods from al Qaeda, Mahdi Army, and other militia/thug groups. Currently there are "over 72,000 members are active in the ranks, with over 60,000 on paid contract and 12,000 volunteers." GTWC! has been following the upsurge in local defense in Iraq since early on and CLCs have been playing an important part of the Iraq War.

The Long War Journal (part of Catholicgauze Reads) has a flash map of Iraq which contains information on CLC development and strength per province.

Most of the CLCs are located in Sunni areas (central Iraq). The north has few CLCs expect for around the Mosul area (a partially "Arabized" city where Kurd and Arab do not mix well) and the lands near Baghdad. Shiites in the south are beginning to form their own CLCs to protect against Mahdi Army and other groups. However, Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council with its Badr Brigade are doing what they can to stop the formation of such groups. These elements fear CLCs would empower people and eliminate the need for militias and the "protection" they provide.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Soils Database and Maps

If Catholicgauze was into soils then this site would be heaven. The ISRIC International Soils database is a massive site with everything you ever wanted to know about soils. The database itself has tons of maps which can be searched for using the advanced search or by browsing the various continents using a Google Maps mashup. One just has to go through the mountains of books citations to find the good stuff.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Catholicgauze Reads!

Catholicgauze has been BUSY (oh if you could only know) but here is an updating of the new Catholicgauze Reads list (check the sidebar for everything)...

Greek Orthodox Battle in Israel

I cannot fully tie this picture in but somehow, someway it is relevant. AFP

The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem (GOCJ) owns the land of the Knesset and the Israeli prime minister's residence is on. Like all Orthodox churches it has been allied/tied with the political regime whether it be Christian, other Abrahamic, or even hostile atheist. The GOCJ continues this relationship by having its leaders being approved by the Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis.

A rumbling is going on right now in Israel over these ties. The previous GOCJ, Irenaios I, rented and selling church property to Jewish Israeli developers. Depending on who side you take in the argument Irenaios is either a friend to all or a lying Zionist spy. Add on the facts that most Orthodox in the area are Palestinian Christians and the modern Orthodox hierarchy has an "interesting" relationship with Jews. In 2005 the Orthodox churches agreed to impeach Irenaios and replace him with Theophilos III.

Irenaios is not going down without a fight. Recently the Israeli government refused to recognize the switch and still considers Irenaios the lawful Patriarch. The Israelis are also declined to renew visas for the Greek Orthodox church (most of the clergy is of Greek citizenship). For now the GOCJ is refusing to budge but is powerless to do anything as the Israelis treat Irenaios as the true patriarch.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

King David of the Isle of Man

There is an odd story going on concerning the Isle of Man and David Howe. The weird story is summed up with "Howe filed a claim with Her Majesty's Stationary Office on Dec. 20, 2006, they published the claim in Queen Elizabeth's paper of record, the London Gazette, and after no one objected, they sent him a crown, robe and anointing spoon for the ceremony, he said."

The king has started a website from his home in Maryland and seems to be buying into the idea he is royality. While he supports AIDS relief there is still no news on whether David plans to merge the isle with the United Kingdomor join the European Union or the United Nations. There is also no tax plans or international peace pushes. What is a king good for if not these issues?

All is not well on Man though. The Manx are loyal to their Lord, Elizabeth II. David plans to visit his "kingdom" next year; Catholicgauze hopes for an army of angry peasant to drive him off.

Catholicgauze's king is William IV.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Most Secure American Cities

Farmers Insurance Group of Companies put out a study on the most secure cities and towns in America. Three hundred seventy-nine metro areas were judged on health, prosperity, safety and security.

The overall safest place to live is Corvallis, Oregon with its whopping population of 53,900 people. However, the study then proceeds to break down cities by size. The winners are
  • Largest: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  • Medium: Olympia, Washington
  • Smallest: Corvallis, Oregon

The West Coast and certainly California are well represented on the list. A not so surpring second is the western half of the Midwest (North Central). Cities like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Ames, Iowa; and others are found on the list.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Traveler IQ Challenge Games

Traveler IQ Challenge games is a fun site with a variety of fast moving geographical challenges. There is a wide selection of games have one locate capitals, major cities, popular sites, UNESCO sites, and more. Other boards to play on besides the world include the various continents. To achieve a high score one must be as accurate as possible while being fast as well. Good luck and have fun!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fundamentalist Geography: Limited Geography Model of the Book of Mormon

Book of Momron’s story on the left and proposed real world location of the right. Images taken from [1] and [2]

For Columbus Day week I looked at the geohistory of the settlement of the Americas. There is one "revelation" I did not examine though. The limited geography model attempts to scientifically explain the Book of Mormon's story of the colonization of the Western Hemisphere.

The short version is that a first wave of colonization by the Jaredites came from Babel, prospered and died out around 600 BC. This was followed by the arrival of Lehi and his family. Flash forward and eventually the group splits in two between the Nephites and Lamanites. The Lamanites destroy the Nephites and are cursed “skin of blackness” for their sins. The Lamanites then become what are now referred to as American Indians.

The Book of Mormon’s proposed Indian-origin story is similar to other theories from the early nineteenth century. There were a wide range of theories on Indian origins and ancient Hebrews was one of them. People then and even today seek to map out the proposed geography of the epic.

Most limited geography models have the story taking place in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The book describes a lush land with warm climate with earthquakes, mountains, and volcanoes. The land is also described as being in between two massive bodies of waters. Some Mormon geographers take this to be the isthmus.

While the vast majority of geohistorians see no proof of the tale there are those who seek to explain despite a mountain of evidence. When I was at National Geographic we received some hate mail from a few fundamentalists who were angered that we depicted paleo-Indians coming from eastern Russia.

For more limited geography model information check out

Supporting View: Meridian Magazine: Mormon's Map Puzzle Solved

Opposing View: Does Archaeology Support The Book Of Mormon?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Maps of Europe from AD 1 to 1000

Infonaut Blog links to a neat series of maps showing the changing borders of Europe and the Near East from 1 AD to 1000. It is neat watching the rise and falls of the Roman Empires, the fracturing of the Islamic Caliphate, the rise of the nation-state, and more. The maps are surprisingly detailed and some centuries have city plans available for view.

As any sort of posts dealing with borders of Europe changing, here is the Catholicgauze favorite: the closing credits of Last Express

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Economist puts Eelam on the Map

The description of geography matters almost as much as geography itself. Many in Sri Lanka are upset at The Economist magazine. The magazine had an article on Inida which featured a map of the region. The map showed a region of Sri Lanka entitled "Eelam" which is an area claimed by the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Many Sri Lankans have taken this cartographic work to be an endorsement of the Tamil Tigers by The Economist. Some equate this to a major magazine showing Islamic State of Iraq, Aztlan, or Islamic Emirate of Waziristan in a standard map.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carbon Dioxide Molds the Surface Mars

New data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicates that the surface of the Martian polar ice caps is shaped by carbon dioxide clouds. The carbon dioxide is released during the spring thaws. The gas jets its way from under the ice caps bursting out and thus remolding the terrain of the ice caps.

Terrorism Continues in Lebanon

Catholicgauze noted back in November the stalemate over the Lebanese presidential election. The situation is moving slowly... towards the worse.

The pro-West March 14 Coalition was torn between electing a strong leader and electing a weak one in order not to upset the March 8 Coalition (Hezbollah, Amal, Michel Aoun, Syria). The weaker side prevailed and currently the coalition is working on changing the constitution so that the commander of the army, the Catholic Michel Sulaiman, could be president. Sulaiman in the past has wavered from slightly pro-Syria to neutral. March 7 has proceeded to issue demands in exchange for their "support" (i.e. not blowing people up) of Sulaiman including he resign 18 months into his six year term.

The negotiations have not stopped the terror campaign. A probable replacement for Sulaiman's post in the armed forces, Catholic Francois El-Hajj, was assassinated in a car bomb attack. The bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood with many government and international buildings. Gateway Pundit has a round-up of more detailed news with a hit list of previously murdered March 14 members.

Hezbollah, a group by international law was ordered to disarm, and Syria continue a terrorism campaign against pro-freedom groups while the United Nations et al do nothing. A tragedy continues.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Santa Should Live in Kyrgyzstan

Swedish engineers and geographers have declared Santa should move to Kyrgyzstan. The spot 40.40 N and 74.24 E (somewhat near the Chinese border) would allow Santa to travel around the world while making the fewest detours. (Hat tip: Foreign Policy blog)

Catholicgauze thinks Santa would enjoy the company of the Muslim Turkic people and may feel an affinity with the Yurt dwelling semi-nomads. However, mountain winters of the Tian Shan are different from those of the North Pole.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where Have the Candidates Been in Iowa?

The Politico has an interactive map following where the presidential candidates (scroll down to Tracking the Candidates map and click either Republicans or Democrats) have traveled to in Iowa. The data is shown on a county level. No cities or town are displayed on map so one needs another map of Iowa to geolocate population centers.

By studying the map one can tell the battle for Iowa is focusing on the capital city of Des Moines. The southwest is being ignored and the eastern Mississippi River coast is only receiving nominal attention

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What Lies Ahead After Kosovo links to a story which accurately states Kosovo is about to declare independence. The drive for independence is so overwhelming that all the parties in the recent Kosovar election (which was boycotted by Serbs) had independence in their platform. The winners, Democratic Party of Kosovo (headed by an ex-leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army), stated their intentions to declare independence unilaterally. The European Union and United States have hinted at recognizing Kosovo while Serbia and Russia will not.

The first question after Kosovo's independence is what will happen to the ethnic Serbian minority. After the war there were reprisal attacks and most of the Serbs who stayed moved to the northern part of the country to be close to Serbia proper. These Serbs refuse to participate with the ethnic Albanian government and want to remain in Serbia. Serbia and Russia will probably push for either an autonomous zone or secession to Serbia for the Serbian zone.

Spreading of violence is another concern. Already Albanian terrorist groups have waged war against Macedonia and sought to annex part of Serbia proper. On the flip side there is rising fear of Russians using shadowy means to do hit-and-run attacks for the Serbs against the Albanians.

Geopolitically there is a question of precedence. If it is okay for Kosovo to unilaterally declare independence then what is stopping the Serbian political entity in Bosnia, the Republika Srpska. Russia may then push South Ossetia and Abkhazia into formalizing their independence and into Russia's geopolitical orbit. Elsewhere there are also concerns. While the drive for Kurdish independence from Iraq has tapered off as of late there will always be the Kosovo model to look at.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Bali, Indonesia is currently hosting another climate change convention by the United Nations. The 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference (official website) will discuss latest developments in climate change and possible successors to the Kyoto Treaty.

Not discussed in most of the media are three things. The first is the environmental damage being done. The relocation of government officials and environmentalists is outputting the equivalent of 20,000 cars. Sure one has to burn carbon credits to save carbon credits (?) but couldn't we have a teleconference instead? Secondly, some dissenters are not allowed to present or be in the press. Thirdly, the blame game. The People's Republic of China, the biggest polluter of CO2 in the world, wants other countries to pay up and not itself.

A world problem should rationally be handled by the world.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tax Havens around the World

In case you need to hide your money. The concept of a tax haven has spread from Europe to throughout the world. Countries seeking investments will establish laws allowing people to place money with little taxation or even hide it. While criminals like to use tax havens, the largest like the Cayman Islands lead the way in anti-money laundering campaigns.

One thing needed to be a tax haven is stability. No one wants to invest their money in a kleptocracy. That is the primary reason Africa has so few tax havens. The Caribbean and Central America have the most established, trusted tax havens because of stability in the countries and the strong ties to their former European colonial masters.

Catholicgauze Sleepy

I went to work yesterday and left for a flight out of DCA (Ronald Reagan National Airport). I then waited on the tarmac for over an hour as we were deiced and in the stood in line. I landed at my layover over an hour late and missed my flight. However, I caught the next flight and landed at my home airport a little before midnight.

My brother and I waited at the door and called our sleeping mother to open the door. She was not expecting me so when she saw me the surprised worked.

But now I am tired and will take today off from blogging. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pashtuns and Baluchis are the Problem in Afghanistan

A new United Nations map shows the rise of violence in Afghanistan’s south. It is there where the Taliban have been making a comeback and control swaths of territory. The terrorist entity even controls Musa Qala, an area given to them by the British. The group is currently using their southern lands to launch deadly raids against not only the government and Coalition forces but also humanitarian aid workers. The rise of violence has made much of the south a “No-Go” area.

Compare the violence map to that of Pashtuns and Baluchis. (From Captain's Quarters)

The south of Afghanistan is ethnically majority with Pashtun with some Baluchi. The former is the main ethnic group which the Taliban comes from with the latter being stereotyped as the independent, sometimes supporters of the Taliban. The support of these people will make the destruction of the Taliban difficult. The Taliban and allies are able to keep support another front in the east because of lax border control with Pakistan.

While much of the world is focusing on Iraq it is very important to remember Afghanistan where the international community has only a third of what the Russians in their failed war.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Virtually Visiting Northern Ireland

The BBC is hosting a wonderful website about Northern Ireland entitled Landscapes Unlocked. Through interactive maps one can view and learn about the physical landscape and beautiful locations of Northern Ireland with some human geography thrown in as well. I want to pack my bags now! (Hat tip: Geography at About)

For more Northern Ireland stuff check out my posts of the Murals of Northern Ireland.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Human Terrain Systems: The Culture War

There is a big argument going on concerning Human Terrain System (HTS). HTS is a program by the United States military which places anthropologists, language experts, and intelligence officers on the battlefield to aid in operations. A real life example is when an anthropologist recommended having the military negotiate with an imam instead of the village elders. The recommendation worked and the Taliban were chased out of a district by the locals. Both Afghan and American lives were saved.

In the past I have stressed the importance of knowing cultural intelligence and its role as a force multiplier. However, not all want this to be. Academic leftists have fought tooth-and-nail to prevent the project. Their hatred of the “military system” is shown by their argument anthropologists should not work with the military. Even the executive board of the American Anthropology Association has officially expressed "its disapproval of the HTS program." The association just released a report which recommends members cooperate, but then uses weasel words to beg against working with the HTS program.

The nay-sayers are wrong. HTS and other programs are great opportunities to serve one’s country, study different cultures, and prevent greater violence by cooperating and other standing others. Part of “the surge” strategy in Iraq was understanding the Sunni tribes and getting them to work with the Coalition. So far it has been an outstanding success and death rates are down.

The association has started a blog to further discussion. I will be there commenting, feel free to join in the melee.

Be Patriotic, Understand Cultures, Saves Lives

Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day

AIDS has so far killed around twenty-five million people which makes the pandemic deadly than World War I. The disease came out of Africa and spread into the United States via Haiti. Meanwhile, the globalized world and underworld allowed the plague to spread across the globe.

Besides geopolitical concerns about instability one must be primarily worried about the sheer lose of life. Catholicgauze marks those who have died and suffered directly and indirectly due to AIDS.

Global Health Facts has a series of maps displaying AIDS data via country. Southern Africa is being hit hard.

In the United States AIDS is outrageously high in Washington D.C. with 1 in 50 having AIDS and 1 in 20 having HIV (that is five percent!). The disease in prominent in the big cities. The CDC has a map of AIDS in the United States.

India is facing a crisis in the southern rural areas which has now spread to some big cities. The disease primarily affects the super poor and follows them around from rural misery to urban misery.

Europe has declining death rate but AIDS is still spreading. Once only located in the West, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought down the Iron Curtain and AIDS quickly spread in part due to the depression Russia was going through (drugs seemed popular when all else failed). A map shows the damage.

I wish to thank Nat the Dem for reminding me about World AIDS Day.