Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blog for National Geographic!

When I was little I told my older brother I was going to work for National Geographic. He told me that it was a journalistic job and not geographical. He was right. But I still did an internship for National Geographic and I am proud that I got to walk "under the stars" everyday.

Now you can blog for National Geographic! A recent comment stated "We're always looking for guest bloggers and collaborative opportunities at My Wonderful World." Anyone who wants to help out should e-mail scaban [at] Good luck!

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

Quick: think of the European explorations of the New World from after Columbus in 1492 to the Pilgrim Puritans landing in 1620. Did you think of anything? Jamestown Colony at least? Well, if you had trouble thinking of anything or want to more about this period then there is a great book for you! (And if guessing was fun take the quiz below!)

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz is a perfect read written with journalistic simplicity while keeping the richness of America's story. The book is really two mixed into one. One part is history where Horwitz writes about Vikings in Vinland, Columbus, Ponce de Leon in Florida, de Vaca's eight year trek for home in the Southwest, and much more. The other half of the book is Horwitz travelling to the historic areas and learning from what is shown and what is not shown.

A Voyage Long and Strange is a quick read written in an independent format where a reader can easily jump into any chapter they so please. It wins an easy five out of five.

Enjoy the video introduction below and get a copy today!

Monday, September 29, 2008

European Space Agency Maps its Dream Moon Base Location

The European Space Agency was looking for a moon base location. It need a place with constant sunlight for solar power, constant darkness for its telescopes, and a place where water could possibly be. The space agency found its prime location near the South Pole along the Shackleton Crater on a mountain called "the Peak of Eternal Light."

The ESA has created a map and 3D models of the area.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Topographic Maps now on the Blackberry

As a person who works in Washington, District of Columbia I frequently see "hillies" (my term for staffers, pages, reporters, and others who work on Capitol Hill) with their BlackBerries. It is an odd thing to discuss hillies communication device. They love it for the instant communication but also hate it with a passion. The freedom of being out the office is gone.

Now; however, BlackBerries may be found on outdoors trails throughout the United States. Northport Systems, Inc., has announced that free Fugawi Touratel topographic mapping software for the U.S. and Canada is now available for Blackberries. The maps can also be viewed online.

So now we enter a brave new world where going out on the trail still does not protect you from the boss.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Geography Blogs List

8Earlier Catholicgauze vowed to create a list of the top geography blogs on the internet. Well, besides having a cold and flu at the same time, the job was made difficult by the range and number of geography blogs. So, in a classic election season flip-flop I decided to create a list of "really good" geography blogs by sub-field.

This list of course ignores your favorite geography blog Geographical Travels with Catholicgauze! - shameless self promotion

Cartographic Blogs - Focus more on maps then geography but are still an useful resource for geographers

Daily Geography Blogs - These blogs are meant to show how geography effects everyday life. This subfield is closely related to educational interest blogs.

Educational Interest Blogs - Are designed to be kept up to date with geography news while having a good educational base.

  • Geography at About has long served as a blog with hundreds of pages of geographical knowledge.
Environmental Geography Blogs - Keep a focus on the environment and climate

Geopolitical Blogs - These blogs focus on the politics of the global scene. Included in this is another subfield which focuses on the War on Terrorism

  • Coming Anarchy is the product of three fans of Victorian imperialistic age. Heavy on today's policy these gentlemen focus on the big and lesser well known political events of our time.
  • Long War Journal is the place to go when you want to know next week's news today. With great information coming out of Pakistan and Somalia besides Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the primer news source for me when it comes to the War on Terrorism.

Geospatial News Blogs - Are blogs which focus on developments in the world of geotechnology.

  • SlashGeo is the place for industry news.
  • Very Spatial has a podcast too! Besides that it is a blog which keeps the average user up to date on geotechnology that almost anyone can use.

Google Earth Blogs - When it comes to news you can use with Google Earth whether it be new data layers or features these are great starting points

Map Geography Blogs - This subfield focuses on maps but explains the geography (story) behind the maps.

  • Strange Maps originally started off as a "look at this strange map" blog but it has lately gone more in depth into explaining the geographical (sometimes geopolitical) background of maps. Take for example Transnistria.
Military Geography Blog
School Blogs - Are a phenomenon found mostly in the United Kingdom. These blogs are for the students of geography classes and help with understanding the homework assignment.

Tourism Geography - Geography and news for the tourist

  • Intelligent Travel is a tourism blog by National Geographic which focuses on environmentally less harmful travel.
  • Travelography keeps tourists up to date with the latest world news.

Urban Geography - Geography of cities and suburbs

New Geography is a strange one to describe. Part urban/part economic blog but all urban geography/economical geography.

Did Catholicgauze leave any categories out? Want to add your own blog to the list? Then comment below and I will update!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Saudis Seek to Map "Arab" Genome

A medical news story from Reuters describes an effort by Saudi researchers to map the Arab genome. The main drive for the research is to help create better medicine and treatments for disease, such as diabetes, which effect a large number of Arabs.

The story has a interesting tidbit of geography buried in it. Out of the 100 Arabs being used fifty are from the Arabian Peninsula and fifty are from elsewhere. An comment how Arabian Peninsula Arabs are "pure" is more than just racism. The Arab Conquests introduced Arab/native intermixing only to a certain point. Many to the north and west adopted Arabic cultural traits so much that for all purposes the considered themselves fully and solely Arab when in fact they were mixed, at best.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Republicanism on the Rise Again in Australia

Queen Elizabeth II of Australia is probably safe but the future King Charles III (or possibly King George VII) may indirectly destroy Australia's monarchy. A recent poll claims fifty-two percent of all Australians wish to end the monarchy's role as head of state and turn Australia into a republic.

Currently Australia is a proud commonwealth with certain official ties remaining with the United Kingdom, namely the monarchy. However, there has long been an effort to end the official ties and give Australia a presidential (or uber-prime ministerial) government thus making it a republic. A referendum in 1999 was suppose to republicanize Australia but it was defeated in an upset.

Things have changed; however. The center-left Labor Party under republican leadership has taken power over from the center-right Liberal Party under pro-monarch leadership. Prime Minister Rudd has repeatedly stated his pro-republic point of view.

Those wishing for a republic will probably have to wait. Queen Elizabeth II is very popular and any effort to end the monarchy would be hampered with her popularity. Charles those has low public approval ratings and is the perfect candidate for the monarchy's end. The last challenge to Elizabeth's position was in Tuvalu where she easily defeated a republican vote.

The biggest daily change for most people, if Australia becomes a republic, would be the flag probably dropping the union jack. But as Australia friends have told me: the republic/monarchy debate just is not that big of a deal for most people, but its fun for starting bar fights!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Electoral College Map Predictions Galore

Catholicgauze for one cannot wait until the 2008 Election season is over. I am so eager for the end I promise that I will not cover election geography until Election Day. The one exception being this post for places where one can see the best Electoral College maps for the election.

Electoral Vote is updated everyday using the most recent polling data for each state. Clicking on each state shows polling data for the recent past.

Politico has polling data for swing states.

CNN's does not judge which way swing states are going but it gives a better pitcher of what is reasonably up for grabs. Video analysis is available as well.

Real Clear Politics looks at a combination of polls to create averages for each state.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Khazar Capital Found

Between East and West: the Khazar Empire's expansion. Yellow are tributaries. From Wikipedia

The Khazars were a Turkic people who lived on the Steppes were Europe and Asia meet. They established the first feudal state in Eastern Europe thus advancing civilization in a land where barbaric tribes still roamed. Their leaders were also Jews who converted out of geopolitical practicality (free from Byzantine Christian and Arabic Muslim cultural pulls). They reigned on the Steppes until 969 when the Rus (proto-Russians) came and destroyed their empire. Rus, Russians, and Mongol assimilated the Khazars until they existed no more as a separate group.

A Russian archaeologist has declared he has found the long lost capital of the Khazars. The city was near the Caspian Sea and along the Silk Road trade route. The city was the only one where the Khazars were allowed to use flame brick, a symbol of permanence in a culture still in a nomadic mindset.

Artifacts from the dig and other Khazar digs are available for viewing on a Russian museum's webpage. One can really see the Turkic nature in the uniforms.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Satellite Maps of the Georgia-Russia War

For those who need more than Google Earth maps of the Georgia-Russia War of August 2008 UNOSAT has heard your cries. They have published large PDF maps of the damage done by the conflict and are giving the maps away for free. Available maps include village damage, building damages, damage to cultural landmarks, war destruction in Poti, and places where there was live fire. Check it out today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Careers in Geography

Frequently I am asked by students and others what careers are available to those who study geography. Many people think one can merely "teach" primary or secondary school courses but in reality the list of geography careers is wide.

The Economic Times of India has a brief description of the various paths geographers can take. SUNY has a bit longer description of the fields of geography which professionals can go into. The Association of American Geographers dedicates a website to geographical careers. And one cannot forget's guide.

One thing that is important is to remember that many geographical jobs do not have the title of "geographer" in them. Depending on one's interest city planner, forest ranger, demographer, GIS technician, oceanographer, imagery analyst are all geographer jobs.

Right now many geography jobs are listed in the field of GIS. Computer skills greatly aid one trying to obtain a job in GIS. However, do not despair if one hates GIS. The programs change so fast and the rise of Google Earth offer anyone a fairly easy chance to jump in. GIS is a good skill to have even if one takes another geography field career as it allows access to research tools.

Finally, websites like USA Jobs,, and the University of Colorado website feature careers for geography. Best of luck in your searches, young geography.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Box

Catholicgauzette gave The Box to me as a gift. Besides the touching note where she finally admitted economics serves as a good subfield to geography, The Box was an eye opening biography/globalization book. The book follows the creation of the modern shipping container and how it changed the economics and economic geography of trade and trade communities.

The BBC has adopted The Box idea for its very own The Box program. The program follows how international goods travel from production to purchase. As a feature the BBC placed a GPS unit in a shipping container and is currently mapping its progress. So far the box has yet to leave the British Isles but I hope for an intercontinetal journey soon.

For those interested in the geography of global trade you cannot go wrong with either The Box book or television program.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Violence Erupts in Bolivia

The violence in Bolivia is getting out of hand. Pro and anti-socialist government gangs are starting to kill each other. Things reached fever pitch this past weekend when a dozen or so pro-socialist government Indians were killed by a mob in the autonomous-declared department of Pando. President Morales has arrested Pando's governor under charges of genocide while calling on the other eastern, autonomous-declared departments to sign a sort of cease fire with him.

Americans are advised to avoid the region until the violence is over. Peace Corp is evacuating.

The violence is the lattest round better the pro-Chavez pole government and the capatalistic east. Other issues are Indian versus Mestzo and landover versus "land reform" concern many.

For more on the violence be sure to read the English language Bolivian blog Mabblog. This blog follows the issue much better than I ever could.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Google Uses Geography to Save Money and Avoid Laws

A popular meme when the internet was first being popularized was "geography is dead." Some people thought the instant access to networks would reduce the importance of geography. However, the rise of neogeography and tools like Google Earth showed that people want to use information networks to better understand places and how to interact with geography.

Google is taking the next step with considering launching a navy to house their network servers. Part of the reason Google is considering this move is to use sea water to cool their computers and thus save money. Another, possibly more important, reason is that having naval ships out in international waters would allow Google to avoid property tax and give it more wiggle room when it comes to laws stating what it can and cannot do. A big drawback though to the legal benefit is that Google still has to reach users in countries including those in censoring ones like the People's Republic of China.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Romans May Have Hurt Medical Geography of AIDS, and Helped Against the Black Death

French scientists have discovered proof of what they believe shows the Roman Empire's impact on the spread of AIDS. The researchers believe the Romans carried a disease which in part killed large numbers of people who had genes which protect against AIDS. People with the gene trait are found more in regions where the Empire had no or very limited presence in Europe.

British researchers fired back saying the Empire's spread protected against Black Death. In parts of the Empire's core the Black Death killed rate was 1 in 20,000 while in never-Roman Northern Europe the rate shot up to 1 in 10.

Regardless of the Empire's impact on AIDS the dreaded disease is most prominent in sub-Saharan Africa, a place the Romans would only know myths about.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Geography Humor: Georgia Not at War with Russia

It was only a matter of time that more people outside of Google were confused about the Georgia war. This image has been going around the internet.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Old Farmer's Almanac Predicts Global Cooling

The American classic Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting the next few decades will be colder due to Global Cooling. The scientists who made the climate and weather section of the almanac predict sunspot activity and its effect on ocean currents.

Global Warming, Climate Change, and Global Cooling are very complex issues which cannot be decided on by just citing a few studies. During the heating period in the 1930s and 1940s there were studies that stated global warming would benefit mankind while melting most Arctic ice by 1950. During the following cooling period up until the 1970s academic and doomsayers the American East Coast and most of Europe would freeze to death in the upcoming ice age. Recently scientists were predicting global warming would lead to super hurricanes; though now studies predict hurricanes will be weaker. Science, data, and models change. These studies probably were the best we could create at the time but we can do better now.

We all need to be rational while trying to create better models so there is less disagreement. Also we need to reasonably weigh countermeasures and pros and cons of any outcome. Going religious on the issue only harms science and the world. Case in point: British vandals were found not guilty damaging a power station because it was an act of self defense against global warming.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Red versus Blue in the United States of Books is featuring a map of the Untied States showing which books are popular reads in each state. The map is surprisingly red, more states reading conservative books rather than liberal one, but this is does not indicate a upcoming Republican landslide. The 2004 map shows much the same. On the other hand, by using the dates of sales one can see that America is shifting to buying more conservative books as the election approaches.

The top three liberal books are all by Senator Obama. The top three conservative books are more of a grab bag including one about Governor Palin, one by former Clinton aide Dick Morris, and one authored by Chuck Norris. John McCain's book ranks sixth but hardcover and softcover are counted separately.

The "Purple" book category features less than partisan books. Tom Friedman's book on the United States, globalization, and the environment is number one in the purple category. I have not read it but I am told geographers would find it interesting.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: Seven Years Later on the Landscape

On September 11, 2001 terrorists flew two planes in the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon. Passengers managed to force the fourth plane crash into a farm field in Pennsylvania. The attacks plunged the world into war with battles currently being fought in Somalia, Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

Seven years after the attacks memorials are being formed at the crash sites. Most sites are sanctified while one while the bloodiest site will be partly rectified.

The Pentagon

The Pentagon Memorial has received much press because it will be open to the public today. The memorial features benches dedicated to each victim to the Virginia attack. The benches in turn form a courtyard where people can come and contemplate the attacks or whatever else is on their mind.

The memorial is making headaches for Pentagon security. Previously the Pentagon reservation was off limits but now there will be a corridor for people to travel via subway or car to see the memorial.

Previous memorials at the Pentagon include a chapel which was viewable to the public only by arranging a tour well in advance.

Flight 93's Field

The Pennsylvania farm field where Flight 93 crashed was quickly turned into a memorial by private mourners. A permanent memorial is being created. Its design was at first accused of being Islamic by those worried about its crescent shape and the fact that the terrorists who were killed in the failed attack would be equated to the victims by having their own stand. The memorial is being altered to address the concerns.

Ground Zero

New York City has a unique approach for the World Trade Center site. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum will share Ground Zero with the Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower will be a commercial building designed to continue the work that the World Trade Center housed. However, the site currently serves as a monument to government inefficiency as bureaucratic red tape has slowed construction.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

List of Top 25 Geospatial, Cartographic, and Neogeography Blogs

Off the Map blog presents a list of the top twenty-five geospatial, cartographic, and neogeography blogs (hat tip: La Cartoteca) A few of Catholicgauze's favorites like The Map Room and more are on the list so congratulations!

There is something to notice though. The blogs are all focused on GIS, Google Earth, or maps. Doing a quick search I could not find a list of blogs focused on geography. So, as a new mission (hopefully within the week) Catholicgauze will present a list of the top geography blogs on the internet!

Pray my busy schedule does not kill me first.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Aborigine Group Seeks to Bring Gap to Australia

The core/gap theory of the world is probably the most recent great geographical development. Spatialness of a rough, not flat, world does have impact on a countries development. Some like TDAXP explore the core/gap theory into a sub-state level to document how competing cultural trends seek to globalize or regress a country. Similar ideas have been discussed on this blog including Arab-style Islamization in Europe and Indian's trying to deny equal rights to women in Mexico.

Now there is a new development with much less impact but still troubling. An edutainment book on Australian culture for girls has lessons on how to play the didgeridoo. Unfortunately for the book publish who later apologized, the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association seeks to bar women from playing the instrument. The association went so far to claim that playing it will cause infertility in girls.

The British documented women didgeridoo players in an informal setting in the early days of Australian colonization. However, like most "native" movements today the association is fundamentalist in nature. It seeks not to keep the conservative ways but create a "pure" version of the past. A past where women had no place. They also seek to create a place for their past today in the gaps of the world.

Fight the power!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Maps that Matter Blog

Long time reader Tony sent me a link to Maps that Matter blog. The two academic bloggers seek to document maps that have heavily impacted geographic thought and practice. Maps that have been featured so far are central place theory, heartland theory, and contiental drift.

Catholicgauze salutes the bloggers who are making an academic blog for the public. Keep up the good work!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Internet Mapping: Bad or Good?

The President of the British Cartographic Society Mary Spence states that internet maps are ruining cartography and dumbing people down. Her main point is that while Google Maps et al are good for driving they do not label cultural sites that maps give. These cultural sites are what give knowledge to maps and drive people to inquire further into the area's culture and history.

The internet response is wide. Map Room blog sums up much of the reaction while GIS Lounge has a good rebuttal as well.

Since no one has asked Catholicgauze his opinion let me offer it. The first online interactive map tools were just driving directions. However, things changed as the online map companies realized people have a natural geographic interest in the world. Google Earth first was used as a tool to look at one's house but quickly became a free GIS program for the people. Almost all Google Earth users now use it for geographical information like the War in Georgia. Wikimapia users add geographical information to online maps to include everything from missile sites, Indian mounds, museums, and historical locations. 3D buildings, niche sites, and much more are being uploaded everyday by regular people turned online cartographers.

The truth is online maps are tools. Like all tools they have a good and bad use to them. Overuse of Google may be dumbing down are research skills but that is our fault. Educators need to teach that a library is still valuable, not that Google and Wikipedia are evil.

Fortunately online maps have democratized map making and are allowing for much more information to be viewed than a regular paper map to a much bigger audience. Geographers should embrace online mapping while giving helpful advice and information to the new legions of online cartographers and map readers. This is Geography's time to shine, let us not blow it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Online Map of Printing Spread Throughout Europe

Humans are said to be in existence in one form or the other for about four and a half billion years. Throughout most of our history not much can be said about intelligence. However, a mere five thousand plus years ago a formal writing system was invented in Mesopotamia and all the sudden the Bronze Age starts and man starts to walk out of the darkness. Civilizations advanced wherever there was writing (Middle East, Far East Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle America, etc). However, the invention of printing help advanced China to the point of a global power that was only stopped by xenophobic internal forces.

So civilizations continued to crawl towards development. However, one thing changed everything. When printing reached Western Europe during the height of the Renaissance, European powers used knowledge to spread out throughout Europe and into the world. Intellectual movements like the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Enlightenment owe themselves to printing that allowed them to spread throughout Europe easily and cheaply.

Long time reader Goethe Girl (thanks Goethe Girl!) sends me a link to the Atlas of Early Printing. The website is an online GIS map that allows one to see the spread of printing in Western Europe compared to locations of paper mills, universities, conflicts, trade routes, universities, and fairs. A sliding scroll allows one to see the changes over time.

The map shows that printing gave knowledge to more power to people which in turn leads to good (more schools) and bad (smarter people, or peasants lead by learned people, tend not to like oppression and start wars). Like with everything else knowledge can be corrupted for evil and wrong.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Ley Lines: Where Human Imagination and Geography Intersect

Ley Lines around Rennes-le-Chateau: Keys to the Scared Pattern or Randomness
Human beings excel with imagination. Our imagination helps create scientific theories, find patterns, and allows us to fear the unknown beast waiting behind the bushes ready to eat us. Sometimes; though, a cigar is just a cigar. Or as a geographer would say, lines are just lines.

Ley lines are hypothetical alignments of archaeological sites, mountains, and other things on Earth's surface. There are some alignments that no one doubts. The Egyptian Great Pyramids are made to align with Orion's Belt and many stonehenges and woodhenges acted as calendar systems with each other and the stars.

While some consider these ley lines, when the controversial word is used another meaning is implied. Ley lines are usually brought up when some hidden knowledge, ancient culture, or massive geoengineering is allegedly involved. Today many New Age "geographers" attribute ley lines to magic discovered or made by ancient civilizations.

Part of the reason for ley lines being seen is that there is scared geography. Patterns exist in holy buildings: crosses for churches, east facing buildings for mosques, etc. Humans seek similiar patterns in nature as proof of their beliefs.

A key example of ley lines is the geography of Rennes le Chateau. The history of a priest selling fake masses to become rich turned into a treasure story which turned into a Jesus had a baby which turned into ancients built a geography/geometrical wonderland which turned into aliens etc. The geographical element revolves around several churches on mountains making a pentagram/star pattern. Do these ley lines prove some ancient force that gave a simple priest massive wealth? No, its all random (great read by the way).

Alignments in archeaolgy reveal complexity in civliziations and can help decode its culture. However, geographers must be careful not to fall in the ley line trap. Crazy ideas like Rennes le Chateau aliens hurt real research in alignments.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Flag Identifier: Finding out what Flags Belong to Who

Ever seen a strange flag that you have no idea who it belongs to? Catholicgauze has and so have many others who ask me about flags. Well now there is the handy dandy Flag Identifier who can help out.

Flag Identifier allows one to search for flags by design, color, features, etc. Countries, cities, states, regions, orgizations, militiaries all have flags that are on Flag Identifier. This is a real useful tool for anyone who needs educational research or just for fun.

Interesting Fact: Aomori, Japan's flag has a map of the prefecture on it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

History and Future of Niagara Falls

The future movement of Niagara Falls. Source

Catholicgauze has just returned from the "Cave of the Winds" tour which involved me getting pelted by water from the Bridal Veil Falls, part of the Niagara Falls.

A neat thing about the tour was being able to see the various layers of rocks that reveal the history of the falls. Originally the falls were much more north, right at the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. The shale and sandstone eroded quickly underneath the harder lockport dolemite forcing rock falls and the slow migration of the falls south. The path the falls have taken is clearly seen in the gorge.

For a detailed explanation on the historic geology of the falls check out Origins of Niagara - A Geological History.