Monday, March 31, 2008

Open Fourm and Suggestion Box

It is time for you readers to comment on Catholicgauze. Questions, comments, complants? Want more posts that explain academic papers? Geographical theories posts? Less current events? More geography of the world posts?

The Genetic Map of Lebanon

WES1, in red, is the most common haplotype in Lebanese Christians. Note how it is not found anywhere near Lebanon but located in Crusader producing and conquered areas.

Lebanon is known for its diversity. It was the last Christian country in the Middle East up until the early to mid 1900s. It has both Catholics and Orthodox, Sunni and Shiites, and even Druze. The upper classes speak French just as well as Arabic. It is inspired by European-ideals like religious freedom and democracy.

The reason for Lebanon's diversity is geography. Lebanon is located in one of the world's crossroads and its hilly landscape makes it easy for embattled groups like Marionites, Druze, and Shiites to fend off greater threats.

The crossroads aspect is explored by National Geographic and an academic paper entitled Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Lebanon Is Structured by Recent Historical Events (PDF). The long-story short is that Christians in Lebanon are more likely to have European traits while Muslims and Druze have roots back to Arabia. The Ottoman Turk conquest of the 1600s apparently left little impact on the Lebanese genetic makeup. Turks conquered and ruled as an insular caste not mixing in with the locals. This was one of the reason that led to their decline.

Interesting note: Proto-Catholicgauze relatives of the M17 line are more likely to be Druze and Muslim than Christian according to the study. This makes sense because M17 is found more in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia rather than the Crusading states of Western Europe.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

London Murder Map Mashup

The Telegraph links to a Google Maps mashup of murders in London. The map is inline with Strange Maps' view of London with few murders in the rich areas but alot elsewhere. The middle class areas of Harrow, Richmond, Merton, and Kensington and Chelsea were also murder free. The enclave of Lambeth leads the way in murders so better be careful out Lambethers!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fitna: Watch it Online

Normal Geography Blogging to Resume

After Live Leak gives into terrorist threats it has been hard to watch Fitna. The UN Secretary General has denounced it yet no one seems to denounce those who make threats. Wilder's is wrong on his xenophobia. Sheer numbers of Muslims in Europe is nothing to worry about. The radicalism of the very few who can do so much damage is the topic which should be discussed. Freedom is based on equal protection of the law. We may not like all speech, but as long as it does not pose a clear and present threat, we must be tolerant or lose our freedoms.


Friday, March 28, 2008


Warning: Some Extremely Disturbing Images. Watch with Caution.


Fitna is a movie which is both a call to action to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheistic, Agnostic and all other types of Europeans while also a tool for political advancement. Fitna uses images of terrorism and video of hateful dialogue that threaten the liberal freedoms of today's West.

The film avoids the purposefully confrontational Koran burning because of creator's Geert Wilders political ambitions. If the Koran were to be burned Islamic outrage would probably surpass the cartoon riots and Dutch worldwide would be put into serious risk. That would greatly harm Wilders' electability. Instead, he can now claim bringing up a serious issue with a conciliatory tone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Geotechnology to Assist in Gunshot Cases

The D.C. Examiner has a short article on the Shotspotter system. The system uses acoustic technology combined with GPS to locate where guns are fired, how many shots, and the type of gun used.

The technology is in the news because it will probably be called into evidence to help convict an accused murderer in Washington D.C. According to the Examiner, "[I]n the 17 months since, the system has been used to recover 10 weapons and make eight arrests.” According to the official website Shotspotter is protecting 90 square miles in 28 cities equaling a total of 584,433 people. The website also has links to news stories, news videos, and informational videos on how the technology works and its successes.

Computer games first exposed geotechnology like this to me. I remember thinking how useful things like this would be protecting citizens. With geotechnology aiding the War on Terrorism hopefully tools like ShotSpotter can keep civilians and soldiers safe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Formerly Independent Countries of the United States of America

The United States of America was designed to be a federal system comprising a union of independent states (countries) bonded together for the betterment of all members. Some states in the union were either European colonies before obtaining statehood or territorial status while others were American territories.

A few though were their own independent countries. These countries were either formed out of desire for freedom or an attempt at joining the United States.

Kingdom of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands were united by King Kamehameha the Great in 1795. The kingdom consolidated power by moving the capital from the island of Hawaii to Honolulu, the main trade city, on Oahu Island in 1845.

The kingdom was respected by Western powers and treated with more recognition than any of the Amero-Indian powers. The United Kingdom and the United States competed for influence over the Polynesian monarchy cooperating with the kingdom on generous terms. Hawaii sought to appease both powers by having a flag with red, white, and blue stripes while donning a union jack.

The kingdom became solely westernized by the slow increase in power of the legislature and adaptation of western-style clothes by the ruling elite.

American dominance rose dramatically with an 1875 free trade treaty. This along with missionaries and American business men created an elite caste allied with the monarchy. When Queen Lili’uokalani sought to limit American influence with possible expulsion plans. Americans under the leadership of Sanford Dole led a coup in 1893. President Benjamin Harrison signed a treaty of annexation but the newly elected President Grover Cleveland opposed it as imperialism. It took five years of the Republic of Hawaii to be annexed. In the meantime the cosmopolitan nature of Hawaii showed itself in a pro-Monarchy uprising by the mixed-blood Robert William Wilcox and his joint Hawaiian, European, and Chinese army. When Hawaii became a territory Wilcox was elected to congress as a pro-independence statesmen but was succeeded by a former Hawaiian prince turned Republican politician.

Nationalism has simmered in Hawaii and been gaining strength in the last decade. The spelling of the state (Hawaii versus Hawai’i) and how American-Hawaiian historical relationship are taught in schools are the chief battlegrounds today. A bill currently exists in Congress which would treat native Hawaiians like Indians giving them reservation and tax privileges. The bill is highly controversial. Some view it a multicultural-historical justice effort while others see it as resurrecting racism.

State of Vermont
Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys spent the early years of the American Revolution fighting off loyalist forces from New York and New Hampshire. In 1777 the Republic of New Connecticut was declared. Many Vermont citizens favored union with the United States but New York and New Hampshire refused to release their claim to the state. Statehood was not achieved until 1791 when Vermont was peacefully annexed as a free state to balance out Kentucky’s entrance as a slave state.

Republic of Texas
As noted in an earlier post, the Republic of Texas was at first an effort by American and Mexican-Texans to restore liberal democracy to Mexico. It soon became an effort to remove Texas from Mexico.

Northern states opposed allowing Texas to join the Union because the high population of American Southerners demanded Texas be a slave state. For nine years the effort to annex Texas stalled. So in the meantime a republic was formed with on-again off-again tensions with Mexico. The treaty that annexed Texas allows it to spilt up into five different states as it sees fit. The fact that the Texas flag flies at the same level of the United States’ is not in the treaty… it happens because of ego.

Republic of California
1846 was a tense time in Mexican Northern California. American and European immigrant settlers were moving in and refusing to adopt Mexican culture. The Mexicans were sensing a repeat of Texas and plans of population control were discussed. American solider, pioneer, and future Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont raised fears among the Americans of expulsion.

In the town of Sonoma Americans revolted and formed their own republic nicknamed the Bear Flag Republic because of its flag. Within thirty days the United States military arrived on scene and told the republic’s leaders about the state of war between the United States and Mexico. The republic voluntarily folded and entered into American domain.

The Overlooked Indians
The various Indian tribes had their pre-state political bodies. Some formed confederacies like the Iroquois. The Jesuits pushed for western-style Indian governments that would be annexed by the United States and treated like an equal. The Delaware Indians were the first Indian nation to sign a treaty with the United States and sought their own state. The Indian territory of now-day Oklahoma was a continuation of the “Indian state” ideal.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Islamic Ruling Party in Turkey may be Banned

The political conflict between the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the secular nationalist Republican People's Party (CHP) and its allies is entering a new stage. Secular (Kemalist: named after the founder of the modern Turkish Republic) prosecutors are asking the Constitutional Court to outlaw the AKP and ban the prime minister and president from holding office because of “antisecular activity” like allowing once banned head scarves on university campuses.

The banishment movement has the backing of the Kemalist elite and military. In the past, any effort to impose a greater Islamic identity on Turkey was viewed as an attack against Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s reforms. Turkey has basically been a functioning democracy with the military as the enforcers of democracy in the mold of the cult-like figure of Kemal. The military has done coups in the past against perceived threats.

The court has also outlawed parties before including parties in the mold of the AKP such as the National Order Party, Welfare Party, and the Virtue Party. Plus, most of the judges on the bench (more than needed to outlaw the AKP) were appointed by the Kemalist former president.

The court could very well outlaw the AKP, ban the leaders from politics, and perform a “soft coup.” The military would then make sure a CHP Kemalist administration takes over. This will subside any rising Islamism in Turkey for now but as history has shown it will come back.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mash-up Challenge

Adrian sends my way a link to Mash-Up Challenge. The site is featuring a contest on creating a new Google Maps-style mash-up. The maps have to be related to “social issues” but the definition of that is wide open.

Catholicgauze wishes everyone to participate and help create new cartographic features that spatial explain data.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oceans Buck Global Warming

While it does not mean there is no such thing as global warming, the seas are acting funny. According to NPR "80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters" yet somehow the oceans are cooling without significant atmospheric warming. Where is the heat going and how does this affect the grand scheme of things, who knows?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Geography 2008: Passion Week Map

The great and previously mentioned took an idea of mine and perfected it! They have created a map of the last week of Christ and put it up on Google Maps and Google Earth. One finally understands the spatial closeness of the events.

Be sure to check out's blog for more developments on Biblical neogeography.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Geography 2008: Apostolic Sees

Apostolic Sees are the bishop/patriarchal seats who trace their lineage to one of the Apostles. The sees are highly respected positions because of the leadership role they give. The holder of the office is viewed as the successor to the Apostle who in turn received authority from Jesus Christ.

Below is a description of some of the major sees.

Apostle: Saint Peter
Current Successor: Pope Benedict XVI

The See of Peter gives the holder the title of Pope and leadership over all Catholic Churches in communion with it (Latin Rite and all the Eastern Rites). Probably the most famous of sees and the one most contested over time. For a while the See of Peter had ultimate political sway over all of Western Europe.

Constantinople (Istanbul)
Apostle: Saint Andrew
Current successors: The Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I or the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan.

This one claims to be New Rome and for a while claimed to be above the See of Peter because it became the See of Caesar (capital of the Roman Empire). The Eastern Orthodox patriarch is the "first of equals" of all Eastern Orthodox leaders while the Armenian patriarch is not the leader of the Armenian Church.

This see has suffered under 500 plus years of Turkish rule. The Eastern Orthodox patriarch took orders from the Sultan to break communion with Rome in the late 1400s and by law even today must be a citizen of Turkey. The Armenian Church was not even in Constantinople until the Sultan invited it in during an effort to play Christians against each other.

Apostle: Saint Mark the Evangelist
Current Successors: Coptic Catholic Patriarch Antonios Naguib, Coptic (Oriential) Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, Greek Orthodox Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II.

A see right now contested with nationalistic overtones. The Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox heads are leaders of their respective church and Coptic Egyptians (not ethnically Arab but native Egyptian) while the Greek Orthodox is Greek.

Apostle: Saint Peter
Current Successors: Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Pierre Cardinal Sfeir, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Syrian Catholi Patriarch Ignace Pierre VIII Abdel-Ahad, Eastern Orthodox Ignatius IV, and Syriac (Oriential) Orthodox Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

The first major see made by Peter is also the most fought over. The first three are all in communion with Rome while the Roman Catholic Church even had their own patriarch until the 1950s. Both Orthodox and the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchs are based in Damascus while the other two Catholics are in Lebanon.

Apostle: Saint James
Current Successors: Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarch Fouad Twal, Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos, Armenian Patriarch Torkom Manoogian

The Eastern Orthodox and Latin churches members are mostly Arabs but only the Latin Patriarch has the tradition of having Arab patriarchs while the Eastern Orthodox church is led by Greeks. The Armenian Church is headed and caters to the Armenian expat community. The Armenians has had a presence since the 600s because the Eastern Roman Empire was unable to extinguish the Armenian Church in its hinterlands.

Apostle: Saint Thomas
Current Successors: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly or Assyrian Church of the East Catholicos Dinkha IV

Both these churches are native to Iraq. The Assyrian Church of the East was once in the majority but a series of great geopolitical "wrong choices" has caused mass migration, conversion, and death. The Chaldean Catholic is headquartered in Baghdad but the Assyrian Church of the East has been forced to relocate to Chicago ever since Iraqi independence.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mexico's Left Stuck

Former Mexico City mayor Alejandro Encinas has been elected to lead the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution. Encinas is a supporter of self-proclaimed Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a supporter of Hugo Chavez, and rejects the presidency of Felipe Calderón. This puts him way too the left of the New Left and its pragmatic leader Jesus Ortega.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution continues to obstruct government efforts and by effect, limit its own influence. Calderón is popular as a result of his disaster relief efforts and military-led anti-drug campaigns. The opposition party leadership of Encinas will ensure the Mexican left will remain isolated and Mexico a regional U.S. sympathizer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Information Points to American Colonization in Steps

New information is leading scientists to believe the first main wave of migration to the Americas started 22,000 years ago but got stuck in Alaska. It took another 7,000 years for climate change to allow the colonization to continue south.

Another piece of evidence genetically links all Amero-Indians to six women who lived between 18,00 and 21,000 years ago.

The evidence further damages the Clovis First Theory of nothing before 12,000 years ago then massive population. What is missing from the studies is the step-colonization of 22,000 years ago the only wave before Europeans came. Many of the oldest Indian sights are along the Pacific coast in Central and South America. Interior artifacts of equal age are strangely missing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Day That Is Not Saint Patrick's Day

Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Montserrat may be officially observing Saint Patrick's Day along with Irish and Irish-posers around the world but today is not Saint Patrick's Day. The holiday was moved to the 15th of March because today is part of Holy Week.

So keep your blue at home (Saint Patrick's color was changed in popular culture to a more Irish nationalist green during the rise of Irish republicanism).

But hey, as part of the twelve percent of Americans who have Irish decent and the two percent or so that has Scot-Irish decent, Catholicgauze salutes all those who this day wish they were Irish.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easter Geography 2008: Christianity in Numbers

Previous Easter Geography posts focused on the world at the time of Jesus' passion. These year we will look and the triumphs and tragedy's of what came from that passion.

Today's post examines the numbers of the various denominations:

Catholic (Roman and Eastern Rite): 1.3 Billion

The Catholic Church is the clear winner of the numbers game. The various Catholic Western European had babies and spread out across the world with both conquest and missionary mindsets.

Protestant: 675 Million

The above number includes mainstream groups at 270 million, Pentecostals at 129 million and 77 million Anglicans. While Protestantism came from Northern Europe, Protestants can thank the United Kingdom and the United States for various colonial and missionary expeditions for their numbers.

Eastern Orthodox (Both Recognized and Not): 260 Million

The One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church - Eastern Divison has a siege mentality for a reason. If the Ottomans are not holding them down it is the Communists. Orthodox Churches are divided upon nationality and that really hurts expansion efforts. The recruiting pool is limited.

Oriental Orthodoxy: 79 Million

The Council of Chalcedon enrages the Christians from the Eastern fringes of the old Eastern Roman Empire. Copts, Ethiopians, Armenians, and some Indian Christians hold themselves to be the true Orthodox.

Latter Day Saints: 13.25 Million

Thirteen million Salt Lake City Mormons and a few resistors fight for the sucessor of Jospeh Smith. Salt Lake City is trying to shake the pure English-image of the Church, dump its racist legacy, and convert minorities in former English colonies.

Nestorians: 1 Million

Also from the hinterlands of the Empire, Nestorians once nearly took China. Now they are mostly in the United States exiled from their homeland in Iraq by the Baathists and Islamists.

Tibetans Riot Against China; Sign of Things to Come?

The past several days have seen protests and riots by Tibetans against the People's Republic of China's (PRC) imperial rule over the province. The unrest will be fully and brutally put down by the Communist regime, of source and sadly, but Beijing can expect much more to come.

The world's attention is now focused on the PRC because of the upcoming Olympics. Groups in China who have claims will be more bold because they know their message can be spread globally and will receive attention right now.
  • Xinjiang aka East Turkestan is another region that will pose problems. The native Uyghurs have ties to violent Islamic extremists and there are fears of terrorist attacks on the Olympics.
  • The Republic of China (ROC) may also be bold in embarrassing the PRC. The ROC has two referendums coming up on United Nations membership. Though both these are likely to fail because of partisan party disputes, the ROC may judge that PRC would not conduct military reactions right before the Olympics. This may leave the window open for more assertive demands or claims of independence.
  • The Catholic Church has many members in the PRC. Pope John Paul II knew how to embarrass Communists in Eastern Europe and his friend Pope Benedict XVI may have the skill as well. Benedict may try to have the Chinese "Patriotic" Bishops publicly recognize Rome right before the games.
Sadly the games are unlikely to be boycotted and the PRC will receive false praise like being taken off the list of human rights offenders. Globalization has been noted for bring freedom to the oppresed but it also can aid the oppressor. Let us all pray for a free and just China.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Judeo-Christian Outlook on Geography: Part 1

The start of an on-going series

While chanting Psalms at Church my mind dwelled on the Biblical outlook on physical geography. Themes of fallen and redemption are applied to the Earth. Also, physical features both natural and man-made are given importance.

Part 1 - Pits

The Biblical view on the world can be examined vertically. If the surface represents the status quo, normal good and bad then the higher the elevation the better. The lower on goes the worse things become.

Openings in the Earth are bad. Pits and other interiors are frequently mentioned as places where people and nations become stuck and lost from God. They are blasted lands to be avoided.
  • "The nations fall into the pit they dig; in the snare they hide, their own foot is caught. The LORD is revealed in this divine rule: by the deeds they do the wicked are trapped. " Psalm 9:16-17
  • "Therefore, as I live, says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Moab shall become like Sodom, the land of Ammon like Gomorrah: A field of nettles and a salt pit and a waste forever. The remnant of my people shall plunder them, the survivors of my nation dispossess them." Zephaniah 2:9
  • Pope John Paul II's service on the Scriptural Way of the Cross mediates about how Jesus' tomb was in Earth's "womb" away from the sight of God.

The worst part of the interior of the Earth is the Pit. Not a whole to the center of the Earth but more as an opening into the Abyss. The Abyss is Hell, the complete opposite of Heaven. It has been described as eternal torment, abandonment, and complete destruction of the soul. The Abyss and Pit are so horrible that it is a hell for Satan himself. In short: the end.
  • "He will take pity on him and say, 'Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found him a ransom.'" Job 33:24
  • "What gain is there from my lifeblood, from my going down to the grave [pit]? Does dust give you thanks or declare your faithfulness?" Psalm 30:10
  • "They had as their king the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek Apollyon [the destroyer]." Revelation 9:11 (Yeah)

Why such a negative view of the inside of the Earth? Genesis 1:1-3 help explain.
  • "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light."
The interior of the Earth and the Abyss are the oldest parts as the surface was shaped later, according to the Creation story. While the surface and above received the good works of God the insides were left in their original state free to corrupted by both the Fall and Satan. Naturally ad by God's design man was not meant to be underground. So it is best just to stay away. The interior of the Earth is no place for Man.

Next post in the series: Peaks- Monuments of the Lord

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Coups Around the World

Coming Anarchy has a map showing countries whose leaders came to power via coup. The map reveals stagnation and progress.

Countries that have coup leaders as heads are now limited to Africa, Asia, and Fiji. These countries are in the “Gap” as defined by Thomas Barnett. Sadly these countries are corrupt with traits (sometimes in combination) such as Islamic resistance to Western ideals such as political liberalism, African tribal corruptioness, or just military bossiness.

Latin America, once known for its banana republic dictators, has experienced liberalization. Unfortunately as former extreme Rightist countries open up extreme Leftists are now becoming democratically elected potential dictators.

The future is mixed for these coup countries. Bahrain is becoming more democratic as the Sunni monarchy tries reform in order to please the Shia majority. Pakistan has a rising tide of democrats going toe-to-toe with failed military leaders and Taliban. Meanwhile coup Africa seems stuck while formerly war-torn western African republics rebuild their democracies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Post-Election Violence in Kenya Maps

Since December 2007 violence has been wagging between supporters of the corrupt Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and the corrupt, Islamist friendly Raila Odinga.

The violence is going along ethnic lines and segregating the country as the above New York Times map shows. Odinga's Luo supporters are being pushed west while groups friendly to Kibaki flee east to government controlled strong holds.
In a sign of online geographical activism the site Ushahidi is creating a mash-up using Google to report the violence. Witnesses can report crimes and users can view incidents on a map.
Like Darfur's Google Earth layer neogeography is being used to inform the world. While some falsely believed readily accessed information would stop genocide because of instantaneous global outcry, it has allowed for more people to become knowledgeable on issues and try to help in their own small ways.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Malaria Atlas Project and How to Help Stop Malaria

Even though DDT is making a comeback Malaria still remains a major problem killing nearly three million people a year. The disease is referred to as a “poverty disease” because treatments and prevention are readably available only to countries and people who can afford it.

The disease is found around the equator up to the tropics. The only areas “free” of the plague are mountainous because of the difficulty for malaria-spreading mosquitoes to survive.

The Malaria Atlas Project has detailed maps both static, animated, and in KML format along with the supporting data.

A major way the stop infections is to have mosquitoes nets cover one-self as one sleeps. The infected mosquitoes tend to come out at dusk and night. For those interested in helping the distribution of nets check out Against Malaria for more information. The charity even has a map page of where the nets are going!

Monday, March 10, 2008

A New Cartography to View the World

An old Robert Kaplin article "The Coming Anarchy" has a section entitled "Lies of the Mapmakers." A good point of the section that traditional maps do not do an adequate job showing what I call overlooked spaces (like slums), unofficial de facto areas, contested places, and mixed areas.

Standard cartography like the one Kaplin complains about lead to a flawed perception of the world. New technology and new ways of thinking are the only way to rectify this error.

New Thinking

When the developers of Delta Force: Black Hawk Down were designing the action game they consulted actual Somalia veterans on whether or not the game captured the "feel" of Mogadishu. Designers were shocked that veterans said the environment did not feel like the actual slums even though designers used detailed maps. What the developers left out were slums. When they added slums into the game the combat veterans gave their blessing.

Slums and shantytowns in India, Brazil, and elsewhere play a huge rule in health, social, political, and the personal lives of millions. Planners of everything from infrastructure to military operations use maps to create proposals and remind the world of the situation on the ground. Overlooked areas need to be map so a more accurate outlook on the world can be gained.

Geotechnology Can Aid in New Thinking

New and old geotechnology can aid in the new cartography. GIS allows for layering. The layers can be used to overlay contested place. Transnistria, Tamil Eelam, Northern Cyprus, and other de facto places can be shown as both separate and part of their respective countries.

3D graphics is especially suited for the new cartographic thinking. Google Earth can have heat maps either attached to the ground or have the data hover above the Earth. The maps can represent, for example, loss of control of a neighborhood. This allows both "politically correct" data and "ground truth" data displayed on top of each other easily viewable by the user.


In this chaotic world we commonly hear how students cannot locate certain countries on a map. The problem is not location memorization is lacking per se but that students do not know spatial data. Mapping overlooked and contested places will better help to understand local and medium-range geography better. With better knowledge on those levels, people can become more knowledgeable citizens.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Daylight Saving Time

All American readers who are affected should remember to push their clocks one hour ahead because March 9th at 2 A.M. local time is the start of Daylight Saving Time.

The idea is American in origin, invented by Benjamin Franklin to save lamp oil and aid the economy. The reason the change is at 2 A.M. is because most people are asleep, bars are already closing, and few trains operate.

Daylight Saving Time is an international thing and very political. This map page has information about countries which use DST. Some countries adopt it to be Western while others drop it to be independent like Kazakhstan breaking away from Russia or the Palestinian Territories changing the dates to be different from Israel.

Allowing more daylight is desirable for much of the world away from the equator. Web Exhibits continues their great DST explanation with a neat interactive map showing daylight versus nighttime.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Mannahatta: New York at 1609

Imagine a land of tidal marshes, oak-chestnut forest, and rocky streams. A land with black bears, elk, brook trout, and passenger pigeons flying over head. This land is Mannahatta which is present-day New York.

The Mannahatta project is an effort to recreate the "land of many hills" as it looked when Henry Hudson arrived almost 400 years ago. The effort is on going but maps and some aerial recreations have been published. For a good background on what the land was like read Mannahatta: An Ecological First Look at the Manhattan (PDF).

Neat New York trivia: The island of Manhattan has grown about three square miles because of human geoenigneering efforts. (Hat tip: La Cartoteca)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Google Earth Continues to be Used for All the Wrong Reasons

And now a guest post by Catholicgauzette

Last week protestors against an expansion at Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom were able to breach security and gain access to the rooftop of Houses of Parliament. From there they managed to stay for a few hours, draping large banners over the building. The noteworthy news is that the protestors, planning this endeavor since the fall of 2007, used
Google Earth
to plan each step along the roof as well as in the interior of the building.

Fear of Google’s products because of use by terrorists or simply car drivers is an old phenomenon in the neogeography world. The Department of Defense just decided to prevent Google from putting military bases on street view. Terrorists could plan out and even do test runs online.

And just think – James Bond still has to rely on intelligence reports and stolen blueprints to do his job.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Remembering the Alamo in Historical Geopolitical Context

One hundred seventy-two years ago today, forces under Mexican dictator Santa Ana seized control of the Alamo Mission. Today the battle is viewed as a key event in the Texan Revolution. While true, it played a small role in the greater contemporary geopolitic of Mexico and the United States.

In 1823 the Mexican government invited Americans to move into Mexican Texas if they accepted Mexican citizenship, converted to Catholicism, spoke Spanish, and freed any slaves under their possession. Texas at that time (under the constitution of 1824) was part of the state Coahuila y Tejas. When Santa Ana established a dictatorship in 1835 and changed the federal republic to a centralized one under his authority the state of Coahuila y Tejas went into rebellion along with other parts of northern Mexico. In late 1835 a provisional government was formed in Texas to oppose the central Mexican government while staying true to the 1824 Constitution. They also supported slavery, remain Protestant, and the ability to conduct government in English.

Texas was ripe for war. 30,000 Anglos or simply “Texans” (Texans of American origin) and 15,000 Tejanos (Texans of Mexican origin) were torn between the 1824 constitution or the more radical choice of independence. A few quick Texan victories in late 1835 scared Santa Ana so much that the full force of his army was brought down upon the rebellion.

The Battle of the Alamo itself began started February 23, 1836. Before the end of the battle on March 6, Texas declared independence as the only way to “preserve the liberties” originally promised by the Mexican government. While mostly signed by “Texans” a few Tejanos also signed the declaration. The first (interm) vice-president was a Tejano named Lorenzo de Zavala.

The Alamo fell, Texas won its independence, and the republic then state became part of the vernacular American South. Most “Texans” were from the American South and made sure that the land was made in their image.

With the success of the rebellion and a few years of development other Mexican states rebelled against Santa Ana. In 1840 the Republic of the Rio Grande was established and crushed. In the 1840s the Republic of the Yucatan was established and temporally fought off Mexican reconquering attempts. The rebellion inspired the native Maya to launch their own war against the Hispanos of the Yucatan. The Indians nearly won and the United States was promised by the republic that if it would put down the Maya that the republic would recognize American annexation. Congress failed to act and the republic accepted reunion with Mexico in exchange for military aide.

The Alamo itself remained a rally cry for both Tejanos and “Texans.” Legal tussels were fought over how it should be restored (the now day “look” of the curved top of the Alamo is much different than the original Spanish mission look – the Catholic and Spanish design was abandoned for a more “American look”).

Today; however, the Alamo is becoming a battle again. The influx of Hispanos from Mexico with no ties to the pro-revolution Tejanos see the Alamo as a symbol of Anglo imperialism against Mexico. The controversy is being played out in Texas history textbooks and even in soccer where the Major League Soccer team Houston 1836 renamed itself the Houston Dynamo after Hispano activists launched protests.

Remember the Alamo.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Panoramas of Civil War Battlefields

Behind the Stonewall is a neat website that features interactive (but small) panoramas of Civil War battlefields. Each battlefield has the panoramas listed by alphabetical order and by a map! Current battlefields include that of Harpers Ferry, First and Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga. The under construction page also has panoramas of Shiloh, Anderson Prison, and Perryville.

Sadly the page has not been updated since 2001. However, it is a sight for all history buffs to virtually visit these hallowed grounds which shaped the American nation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chavez threatens war against Colombia

Hugo Chavez's Venezula and Rafael Correa's Ecuador ares threatening war against Colombia. The two leftist powers are upset over Colombia crossing into Ecuador in order to destroy a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia aka FARC terrorist camp where FARC number two Luis Edgar Devia Silva aka Raúl Reyes was staying.

Colombia's President Alvaro Urbie has recently stepped up efforts to destroy FARC and other terrorist groups. So far he has been successful in weakening leftist groups and finalizing the disarmament of rightist/drug gangs like the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia aka AUC. The raid which killed Reyes is just the latest step in a methodical war.

The leftists have two reasons to rattle their sabers. First it has been a bad year for Chavez. He lost an important referendum to extend his power, the barely free media mocks him, and FARC is being difficult in hostage negotiations. Only the rising price of oil is keeping Chavez a float. The second reason for the aggression is that Colombia knows the truth: both Ecuador and Venezuela are actively supporting FARC. Colombia is much more likely now to do cross border operations and/or black ops against the two leftist powers.

Colombia's army is better trained and equipped than Venezuela's though Chavez has recently upgraded his air force. Hopefully this is just Chavez making noise trying to distract his people... hopefully.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dmitry Medvedev Elected President of Russia

Vladamir Putin won his third term with Dmitry Medvedev being elected President of the Russian Federation. Medvedev won promising to continue Russia oil-fuled rise back towards the top and made sure to meantion that Putin supports him... alot.

Medvedev is a political nobuddy who was endorsed by Putin and backed by the in-power United Russia party. The top "comepitors" include the pro-Kremlin, pro-Putin, pro-Glory Days Communist Party, the pro-Kremlin, pro-Putin, very scarily anti-West while still named the innocent Liberal Democratic Party, and the pro-West token Democratic Party of Russia. Parties such as Another Russia and others had little chance at stopping Putin's machine but were barred anyways.

Putin has promised the people that he will stay on as hopefully the Premier (prime minister). Right now Russia's system has the president as the most powerful spot but Putin is likely to control things either through reform or behind the scenes. Medvedev will continue Putin's policies of having Russia being a stick in the eye against American plans.

The reason Putin allowed the elections is to have the junta system look democratic. It is interesting to note; however, that this is the first time a Russian leader has voluenteraly transfered power without resigning, dying, or being forced out since the rise of the Tsars over 500 years ago!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Cultural History Behind Calendars

Languages are the blood of culture because it is through language that one thinks about and expresses the world. Calendars then must be the blood of history. For it is through calendars that one thinks about and expresses time.

Some cultures that worshiped the moon like lunar calendars (ancient Arabs and Persians) while Sun worshipers favored solar calendars (Romans). Their pagan preferences live on into today.

When Pope Gregory XII recommended his new calendar most Catholic countries and some Protestant Dutch provinces followed suit. Other Protestant countries rejected the more accuarate calendar because it is a Catholic, Papist invention. It took the United Kingdom and its colonies until 1752 to start a transfer over to the Gregorian calendar (however the tax calendar, based on the Julian, only was align in 1900). British citizens rioted against the new calendar because they though the Pope stole time from their lives. Such were the anti-Catholic feelings back then.

The Julian Calendar continued to live on in Eastern Europe. Civil affairs there were either handled by Russia or the Ottoman Empire (which used the Muslim calendar but allowed for Orthodox churches to use the Julian). When the Balkans became free efforts were launched to Europeanize the countries and that included adopting the Gregorian calendar. Russia adopted the calendar under the Soviet October Revolution (which occurred in the Gregorian month of November). Greece was the last Eastern European country to switch in 1923. The Orthodox Churches though refused the Catholic invention. So some adopted the Revised Julian Calendar which just so happens to be almost exactly the same as the Gregorian. Some Greek Orthodox thought changing the way the church sees time to the Roman way to be heresy and broke off. Today these groups are known as Old Calendarists.

The Gregorian Calendar like the Julian is centered on Christ's original assumed birth date. B.C. comes after the date and means "before Christ" while A.D. comes before the date and translate to "In the year of Our Lord." Some academics prefer B.C.E "before current era" and C.E. "current era" after the date in an effort to secularize time.

Fighting God in time is not new in Europe. The French Republican Calendar was the pride of the French Revolution. It featured 10 day weeks, 3 week months, 12 months, and a series of special quasi-holidays to fill in the rest at the end of the year. The days were named first day through tenth day and instead of Saints each date was given a fruit name. The calendar started on the Gregorian September 22, 1792 - the date of start of the French First Republic. The calendar lasted thirteen years. The Soviet tried something different after tinkering with the Gregorian calendar. The Soviet Revolutionary Calendar had 5 day weeks, 6 week months, 12 months, and a series of holidays in between. Each day was given a color to correspond with a worker's day off. The calendar lasted in one form or another for about 11 years until 1940. The Soviets lost out to the Orthodox tradition of Sunday being a day of rest with workers taking that off as well.

Other Christians mark time in unique ways. The Copts of Egypt use the ancient Egyptian calendar reformed and sinked in with the Julian calendar by Roman Emperor Augustus. The calendar starts in the Greogiran/Julian year of AD 284, the year Diocletian became Emperor. His reign was marked by tortures and mass executions of Christians. The calendar dates are marked with A.M meaning "After the Martyrs" or "Year of the Martyrs."

Other groups mark time since creation like the Hebrew Calendar of Judaism. Muslim instead mark Muhammad's exile from Mecca. Both these calendars follow the lunar cycle just as their long dead ancient ancestors of Sumeria and Arabia did.