Monday, October 31, 2011

7 Billion Humans on Earth

Twelve years ago, 1999, an advertisement for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six computer game featured the phrase "Play as if 5.7 billion lives depended on it."  How the earth population has grown.  Today, October 31st, the United Nations is guestimating that the world's population reaches seven billion (7,000,000,000). 

Granted the margin of error of this guestimation, not all countries have censuses and even many that do are not high quality, is plus or minus six months so who knows when and where the seventh billion human alive was born.

While this growth seems fast most population estimates have the world's growth slowing down.  According to most demographers, the world's population will reach 9 billion around 2050 and stabilize.

To celebrate seven billion humans the BBC has made a web application that allows one to see where they are in the world's population count based on birthday.  Comparing the my ranking to that of my parents and grandparents current showed the quick rise in the world's population.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Blog: Exciting Cartography

Reader Michael G has started a new blog called Exciting Cartography.  The blog only has a few posts but so far I can tell its subject matter will focus on interesting maps, the stories behind said interesting maps, and other cartographic matters.  I wish Michael the best of luck and look forward to seeing some new beautiful maps described on his blog!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lord's Resistance Army Crisis Map

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) claims to be the movement for the implementation of the Ten Commandments.  In reality it is a murder cult that combines African mysticism (spirit mediums), Christianity (soldiers pray the Rosary), and even little bits of Islam (some LRA prayer practices require bowing to Mecca).  The war cult is well known for its massacres and brainwashing kidnapped children to become soldiers forced to kill their parents.

Originally the LRA was confined to Uganda but the Ugandan military forced the LRA out in the early 2000s.  The LRA then attempted to turn its effort to capture control of Uganda into a central African regional war.  In 2008 the Ugandans, Southern Sudanese military, and Democratic Republic of the Congo forces chased the LRA out of their sanctuary in northwest Congo.

Sadly the war against the LRA goes on.  The excellent World Geography Blog has linked to the LRA Crisis Tracker which maps out the latest news of LRA battles and crimes.  With American special forces advisers being deployed to combat the LRA this map might heat up soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brief History of Egypt in Maps: 1500 to 1800

There is a nice short video of the evolution of Egypt in maps from about 1500 to 1800.  While one is unlikely to learn anything new cartographically, it is interesting to see the old maps of Egypt and how the land was displayed.  Hat tip:  Sky to Earth

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Globe and Mail Notice What "Geographers" Do Today

American-born Canadian journalist Margaret Wente loves her adopted homeland.  So in loves that she once wrote of a story of how she tried to live out Pierre Berton's saying that "a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe" and she humorously wondered if present-day immigrants would try to live that out as well.

Sadly for her the present-day elites of geography accused her of racism.  One of those elites is the current head of the Association of American Geographers, the Canadian Audrey Kobayashi.  These geographers-elites wrote such words as "Against a backdrop of imagined wilderness, it [the love-in-a-canoe comment] privileges the universality of Canadian canoe culture, marginalizes dark-skinned bodies as peripheral to national origins, and positions white heterosexual procreation in a canoe as the highest achievement of national identity."

This so surprised and confused Wente that she looked into the present state of academic geography and wrote the article They hijacked the humanities, then my canoe.  While I wish I could defend geography here I have to agree with Wente that many academic geographers, more in the human subfield vice the physical subfield, are no longer doing geography.  She provides a few good examples of how academic geography has been hijacked by the same wave of Marxists, femistists, and even "queer" "geographies." Instead of actual geography much of what is discussed is radical theory with no real purpose or possible implementation.

This infiltration has been mirrored in lower education as documented in Global Perspectives in the Geography Curriculum: Reviewing the Moral Case for Geography.  In the meantime, those who want real geography can read National Geographic or some of the fantastic geography blogs that I follow as well as this one!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Home is Where the Heart is for Some Fleeing Dictators

Muammar al-Qaddafi has been killed right outside his hometown of Sirte, Libya.  His choice of a last stand around his hometown puts him in a line of dictators who decided to flee towards home during their downfall.  Here is a list another geographer (who realized this "home is where the dictator is" relationship) could put together of other post-World War II dictators who went home.

Saddam Hussein - Republic of Iraq:  Saddam was captured in 2003 outside his hometown of Tikrit.

Nicolae Ceausescu - People's Republic of Romania:  In 1989 Ceausescu was the last Communist dictator to fall in the year that brought down multiple regimes.  After being chased out of the capital Bucharest Ceausescu and his wife fled into his native south.  It was in the south where the police captured them and eventually turned them over to the rebellious army.

Benito Mussolini - Italian Social Republic: Il Duce of Italy, Benito Mussolini, was forced out of his position in the Kingdom of Italy and placed under arrest in 1943.  However, he was quickly sprung by the Nazi SS and spent the last year and a half of his life leading the Italian Social Republic in his native northern Italy.

While not all post-World War II dictators fled towards for home it makes sense that some would as home is usually a support base where well rewarded relatives, friends, and follow travelers live but it is also where the heart is.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cartoon Map of Middle Eastern Countries' Feelings for Each Other

The Economist has a hilarious but accurate map showing the feelings various Middle Eastern countries, and the United States, have for each other.  The map reminds me of The Onion's map of World War I's complex alliances.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Geography of the Occupy Protests: It is a West Coast Thing

The New York Times political blog 538 has a geography of the Occupy movement in the United States post.  After examining the various protests and assigning them into census bureau regions (PDF) the blog has discovered the Western Census Bureau Region by far has the most protesters.  Over half the protesters despite only having twenty-three percent of the countries population. 

Further examination shows that most of the Western Census Bureau Region protests are along the West Coast, which is jokingly called the "Left Coast" by conservatives.  The West Coast still has a large plurality of protesters even when one excludes non-coastal Western cities like Denver and Las Vegas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Income gaps and Comparison of the Poor and Rich Around the World

A recent book by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic, The Haves and the Have-Nots, reminds one that the United States is very fortunate, especially those less well off in the country.  The New York Times economics blog features the below graph showing income disparity and comparisons to the world for the populations of the United States, Brazil, India, and the People's Republic of China.

From The Haves and Have-Nots

The chart takes a little explaning to understand but it does indeed show a lot.  The flatter the line the closer the highest and lowest incomes in a particular country are in comparison to the rest of the world. 

The height of the lines for Brazil and China show that those countries have some of the richest and poorest people on the planet.  The United States' line begins at about 68%.  This shows that the poorest Americans are better off (in comparison of goods, government provided care, and income) than 68% of all other humans.  The initial step from the very poor to poor shows a steep difference that begins to level off in the "regular" low, working, middle, upper-middle, and upper classes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seven Seas: Sailing the Seas of Your Imagination

The term "sailing the seven seas" is engrained in many people's minds.  One can imagine long voyages to new lands across vast spaces of water.  But what exactly are the Seven Seas?  The beautiful thing is that the Seven Seas are whatever you want them to be.  Imagination can make the Seven Seas your travel plans or the vast, single connected world ocean.

After extensive literary review and online research including reader friendly sites such as the Library of Congress and has shown that the idea of seven seas seems universal.  Sumerians praised their gods for the seven seas as far back as 2300 BC.  The Romans called the salt marshes around present-day Venice, a great place for training ship captains, as the seven seas and believed one should know how to sail in and out of the marshes before becoming sea going.  The early Muslims wrote of the Seven Seas between Arabia and present-day Indonesia (a very popular trade route).  And now today geographers and others will create unique categories of oceans and seas to create their own Seven Seas.

Perhaps it is the old belief that seven is a perfect/God's number.  No one can say for sure but when various cultures consider the vastness of water Seven Seas is agreed upon as the great openness out there to be explored.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

94 Years of Fatima

Pray for Peace

Wisconsin Cheese Tourist Map

Wisconsin is known for its cheese.  Many of Wisconsin's promotions are tied in with cheese in one way shape or form.  Now travelers and tourists in Wisconsin have means of finding locations to sample Wisconsin's wide range of cheesy delights.  A Traveler's Guide to America's Dairyland is made by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.  The map shows locations of member cheese farms and stores where one can buy Wisconsin's pride products.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Online Geography Dictionary

ITS Tutorial School, an English-language tutoring service for Hong Kong students, has a growing online dictionary of geography terms.  The dictionary is lacking in GIS terms for the most part but is rich in human and physical geography terms as well as those from related sciences such as geology and biology.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day 2011

Happy Columbus Day!

Map of Columbus' 1492 voyage. Image from Wikipedia
Christopher Columbus was a bad geographer.  His theory on the rounded Earth's circumfrance was dead wrong (it was way too short).  The first country he approached, Portugal, told him never to contact them again because the Portugese geographers correctly knew that the distance between Europe and East Asia was far larger than Columbus' claims.

However, by his mistake and Spanish support, Columbus opened the New World.  Besides proving St. Augustine's geography wrong he also helped give Nicolaus Copernicus the idea to rethink the universe.  His opening of the age of exploration also added greatly to the geographic knowledge of the world.  He also saved the world

First, he saved Europe.  A few years ago I wrote in 1491 that Europe was slightly ahead of the Islamic world.  Wrong.  The authors of Nuremberg Chronicle thought the world was going to end soon because things were going so poorly.  Italian Franciscan monks switched sides and became Islamic pirates, thousands upon thousands of people were captured into slavery in raids all along the Mediterranean by Islamic pirates, and the great Roman Empire fell in 1453 to the Ottomans.

 The great book Admiral of the Ocean Sea : A Life of Christopher Columbus by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison describes the situation pre and post-Columbus in Europe as so

At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .
Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”
Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.

Most importantly he ensured Western European ideals, specifically and ironically English-ideals, survived.  Ideals of a separation between religion and State (the Catholic states had this compared to Islamic Caliphate and Sultanates where secular and religious offices were one in the same), the rights of individuals apart from being property of the state, and check-and-balances in governments were threatened by the Ottoman horde.  Fortuantely, New World gold supplied the Hapsburg Empire with enough money to build an army and navy which could stop the Ottomans.  Trade of New World goods destroyed the Ottoman's economy which was based on controlling the old trade routes.  The stopping of the Ottomans and appeal of New World resources encouraged France, the English, and others to colonize.  These colonies brought ideas of freedom to the New World.

Columbus' drive led to the opening of the New World.  Western ideals of limited government and personal freedoms grew in the New World.  While New World governments have not been perfect, sometimes failing miserably, in putting these ideals into practice, there is a constant drive to make a more perfect system.  The New World also led the charge for the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Meanwhile, the former Ottoman world suffers somewhere between troubled democracy and dictatorship.

Columbus was not perfect.  Spanish and other colonial rules had horrible defects.  However, history has shown how the New World made the whole world better.

Friday, October 07, 2011

20 Cool Facts About the New Madrid Seismic Zone

I grew up learning about the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the major earthquakes of 1811 and 1812.  The earthquakes led to mass migrations outside the area, modified the borders of Missouri, caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards, and was felt as far away as Boston.

Click to Enlarge

The USGS has made a neat poster of twenty "cool" facts about the zone.  One can view the PDF version online or click on the graphic above to read it.  For those interested in historical and physical geography this is an interesting read!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Maps Uncommon on 2012 Presidential Campaign Websites

In 2007 I remarked on how both French presidential candidates used interactive maps on their websites.  In the same post I pointed out only Wesley Clark, among all the 2008 American presidential candidates, had an interactive map on his campaign site.  Now in the 2012, interactive maps are not to be found.  What is somewhat worse though is that anysort of map on a presidential campaign website is rare and those to be found are likely to have noticeable errors.


Among the Republicans Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, and Michele Bachmann all lack a map on their main page.

Both Mitt Romney and Herman Cain have a map of the 48 contiguous states, no Alaska nor Hawaii, serving as a link to subpages.

Ron Paul has a map of all fifty states on his homepage; however, the map also has Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron as states as well.

Ron Paul's America has a gold currency and 53 states (Lake Erie and Lake Ontario apparently are Canadian provinces)
Only Garry Johnson, the alternative to Ron Paul libertarian candidate, has all fifty states (and only fifty) on a map on his homepage.

None of the maps are mashups though and they all serve as merely links to other subpages.


Barack Obama's 2012 website has a "choose your state" map which includes Alaska and Hawaii.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Growing Jobs Market for Geographic Minded People

Not everyone is meant to be a geographer is a geography degree a must.  However, spatial knowledge (the understanding what is where, why there, and why care) and skills to not only "map" out what needs to be studied but also being able to analyze are needed skills in many jobs.  ESRI, the United States Department of Labor, and the British Royal Geographical Society (PDF) are all emphasizing how businesses need not necessarily "geographers" but people who can do geography to improve business.  The Department of Labor even predicts the geospatial technology field will continue to be a "high growth industry."

So if you or someone you know is educating themselves for a future career, consider taking geography courses that will emphasize spatial thinking.  You never know who will look at your resume and see spatial thinking as a plus.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Syria Civil War Maps Batch Two - Syrian Air Defenses

Libyan War Maps 
Syrian Arab Spring Protest Maps - Batch One
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Two - Syrian Air Defenses 
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Three - Twitter and News Update Maps 
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Four - The Soccer Map  
Syria Civil War Maps: Batch Five - Ceasefire Violations
Syria Civil War Maps: Batch Six - Houla   
Syria Civil War Maps: Batch Seven - June 2012    
Syria Civil War Maps: Batch Eight - Battle of Damascus 
Syria Civil War Maps: Batch Nine - September 2012 
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Ten - October 2012 
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Eleven - Propaganda Maps
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Twelve - First Quarter 2013

Syria Civil War Maps Batch Thirteen - Chemical Weapons Attack?
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Fourteen - Israel Strikes Again
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Fifteen - Second Quarter 2013
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Sixteen - The Coming Western Intervention
Syria Civil War Maps Batch Seventeen - Al Qaedastan in Iraq and Syria

The protesters, now turning into rebels, in Syria are desperately trying to copy the success the rebels of Libya.  First, the Libyan rebels established a republic by founding a National Transition Council so the Syrian rebels setup on Sunday the Syrian National Council (SNC).

Now the SNC realize that a NATO-led air war in the model of Libya is needed to stop the tide of the Baath Party's Syrian Arab Republic's war machine.  The SNC has not only learned the lessons of Libya but also the need to establish easy to reach information like in Tunisia and Egypt.  To accomplish this SNC has published maps of the Syrian Arab Republic's air defenses!  This pretty much says "bomb here to establish air dominance."  Unlike Iranian protesters, it seems Syrians have no problem with foreign intervention right now.  (Hat tip: Foreign Policy)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

October 2011 Travel Photo: Justice Square, Riyadh

From Saturday to Thursday Justice Square in downtown Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is a normal courtyard in front of the Ministry of Justice building.  Children play in the water fountains and men play soccer in the vast openess while women gather and chat.

Then Friday comes around.  On Friday thieves who were caught for the third time and murders are drained of blood to lower their resistance.  They are then brought to the square where the fountains do not run, children and men do not play, and women do not chat.  Instead the square is filled with people who want to see what some call "chop-chop square."  A Saudi police man has a sword while an imam gives prayers.

Non-Muslims are actually highly encouraged to go the front of the crowd.  Saudis like to show off what "true justice" is.  Meanwhile, as a Saudi told me, the government likes to tell the condemned that the last thing they will see is an infidel looking at them.

The deed is done and the crowd disperses. The fountains begin to run again.  The water helps wash the blood into the drains.  The kids, men, and women return to Justice Square to talk and play.