Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Most Popular and Craziest Posts of 2013

With 2013 ending it is time to look back at the top posts of 2013.  I decided to take a look at my most viewed post and the one that caused the biggest comment flame war.

Most Viewed Post

Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.  The Map of Non-European Popes was a huge hit and became an even bigger hit when a South American was elected pope.

View Map of Non-European Popes in a larger map

Most Commented Post/Biggest Flame War

The Native American Nations Map is Beautiful But Invents a Fake Geography of American Indians was destined to be a talked about post, I never knew just how much.  The map is beautiful but, as I and then readers pointed out, there are numerous errors.  It turns out the errors are not mistakes but political favoritism for some nations over others.  By his own comments, cartographer Aaron Carapella showed himself to prefer myth over history, belief that race matters in science, and he even threatened me.  All over a map.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Map of How Parisians View France

The blog No Pasaran linked to the map of how Parisians view the rest of France.  The map in part proves to be a rabbit-hole beyond my understanding.

  • Paris is labelled "Maison" meaning "home".
  • Much of the coastal regions of France is "plages" meaning "beaches".
  • The Alps and the Pyrenees Mountains are great for skiing.
  • The French Reveria is labelled as a land of "menteurs" meaning "liars".  I guess Parisian tourists have had some bad experiences there.
  • Brittany is labelled as a land of alcoholics.  I know the region is known for its strong alcohol but I am unaware that alcoholism is a problem there.
  • The more culturally Germanic region in eastern France is labelled as "depressif" meaning "depressive". 
  • The Basque region and Corsica are labelled as the land of terrorists.
  • Finally, the northern region by Belgium is labelled as "pauvres" meaning "poor".


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kwanzaa: A Holiday Ignoring Geography, History and Implying All Africans are the Same

Kwanzaa is a secular holiday created  in the United States by Dr. Maulana Karenga in order to promote pan-Africanism.  To do this, Kwanzaa stresses certain Swahili-titled principles.

Swahili is a pidgin language combining several East African languages and Arabic.  It was invented by Arab traders to communicate better with their East African customers (interestingly enough, the Arab slave trade was a key driver of the language's development).  Today Swahili is spoken by people mostly in Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Map of where Swahili is  spoken. From Stanford University.
However, most African-Americans are descendants of those who were brought over in the Euro-American-African slave trade.  This slave trade targeted west Africans.

West Africans to the Americas and Europe.  East Africans to the Muslim homeland.  From Slave Voyages.
Kwanzaa ignores this cross-continental divide in peoples' cultures.  European regimes are rightly blamed for ignoring cultures when cutting apart African; yet this holiday does the same sin in principle.   This would be like me trying to promote the impact Irish-Americans have had in the United States by making a holiday using the Gagauz language.

The person who invented Kwanzaa was born Ronald McKinley Everett.  Everett changed his name to "Maulana Karenga" which in Swahili means "Master Teacher Keeper of Tradition". Dr. Karenga is an outsider who rebelled against the current system (both in America in general and specifically African-American society) and created the Kwanzaa myth to oppose the current system and promote himself, much like members of the American Indian Movement and those who support Siouxification.  These myths are harmful because they rob the rich diversity of the truth for an outsider who tries to use these myths for radical means.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Geography: The Geography of the Historical Figures on the First Christmas

Their Advent geography was diverse but the situation changed on Christmas Day.

Mary, Joseph, and the newly born Jesus were in the town of Bethlehem, in the Roman client of the Herodian Kingdom of Israel.  The magi were on their way somewhere nearby.  King Herod stayed in Jerusalem but he would sometime soon order the massacre of children in the little town of Bethlehem.

View Larger Map

Meanwhile, one of the greatest men in the world  (in human terms) spent the day in Rome like nothing happened.  Caesar Augustus had no idea this day was the beginning of a slow but radical change which would forever change his empire and the world.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Map of Christmas Present Giving Entities in Europe and Western Asia

The map of "Who Brings Gift to Europe" is making news on the internet (and I have been unable to track down the source).  However, there are some interesting geographical trends.

Click to enlarge
Scandinavian countries tend to have a pagan or supernatural gift giver vice the Christmas Saint Nicholas-derivative.

Slavic countries tend to have Grandfather Frost.

The map does not mention the Dutch Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) from which the Dutch in New Holland gave the future United States Santa Claus.

Saint Basil beats out Saint Nicholas in Greece(!).

Some form of Father Christmas wins out in Western Europe.

Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, southern Germanic realm (Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, norther Italy), and Hungary have explicitly historical people give out gifts.

Jesus is the gift giver only in the southern Germanic realm and Hungary.

The original Christmas gift givers (the magi) are "still" giving gifts only in Spain (where they give on Three Kings Day and not Christmas).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cape Verde becomes Cabo Verde as Cross-Language Name Nationalism Continues

East Timor, Ivory Coast, and now Cape Verde are considered incorrect by their governments.  They instead prefer that everyone calls the country by its name in the respective local language.

In late October, Cape Verde alerted the United Nations that its name can no longer be translated and always must be referred to as "Cabo Verde".  National Geographic has already recognized the language change and the United States' Board of Geographic Names will most likely follow suit.

Right now there is very little opposition to these minor countries' desire that their native language name be universal.  However, I am wondering if this sort of cross-language name nationalism will hit some more major state.  Would everyone follow the demands of Germany if it demanded everyone refer to it as "Deutschland" in all languages?  Would it be deemed neo-imperialist if the United States told Latin America that "Estados Unidos" can no longer be used?

Personally, I foresee more countries demanding their name be used cross-language as the United States, in particular, and the English language, in general, slowly lose their competitive advantage over other cultures in the globalized world.

Note: Much like South Sudan's independence, Google Maps and Bing Maps are lagging behind OpenStreetMap in recognizing the name change.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Hobbit's Middle Earth on a Google Earth-like Map

I am no fan of the new Hobbit movies.  They seem to miss the whole point of the Christian pilgrimage the story is meant to be, plus, it makes up way too much not in the book.  However, part of the promotion of the new movie is an interactive map.

One can zoom in and out by double clicking on the map.  Each location (a ring) can be interacted with.  While I still dislike the movies, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the music and map convey the beauty of Middle Earth.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Central African Republic War Maps Batch One - Background

The Central African Republic would be a joke if it was not so sad.  The country has been cursed with indept kleptocratic governments which see its diamond wealth as a personal ATM.  Good background on this former French colony, its diamond trade, and relationship with France is the dark comedy-true documentary The Ambassador.

The majority of the country is Catholic and French speaking while there is an Arabic/French-speaking Islamic minority in the north, which also happens to be the location of most of the republic's diamonds.

From an e-mail
In March 2013, a giant coalition of rebels lead by the happens-to-be-Muslim diamond mafia, named Seleka, deposed the non-elected, coup leader-turned-president François Bozizé.  Seleka in turn realized it needed outsiders to help run the country, the economy, and police forces.  So the mafia turned to its Islamist partners in Mali, Chad, and Sudan.

The Islamist foreigners believed the Central African Republic was rip for a limited jihad and began targeting Catholic cultural centers, churches, and businesses.  Catholics in turn organized their own militias and began fighting the foreign Muslims in the west and the capital, Bangui.

The situation became worse in early December when Islamist forces attacked Christians in the capital.  France and the African Union responded by organizing a fighting force to "restore order" in the republic and "disarm all sides."  Since the Seleka do not use French-organizations to move diamonds it is likely the French and the African Union will take the side and put in place a pro-France power, whether they are clean or corrupt.

Note how the French and African allies are not going to the Muslim north.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Southern African War: The World Which Nelson Mandela Fought In

The National Party took power after 1948 South African election due to gerrymandering. The National Party began the pro-Afrikaner, racial separation policy known as Apartheid.

The policy and government crackdowns against reform led activists like Nelson Mandela to found violent militant groups which saw the overthrow Apartheid South Africa.  Meanwhile, all of southern Africa was at war.  The soft-fascist Portuguese Empire was losing Mozambique and Angola and Whites in Rhodesia declared independence from the United Kingdom and fought against Black militants for control of what would become Zimbabwe.  Add in civil conflicts between Communists and pro-Western factions and a trifecta of civil war, decolonization, and Cold War killings was formed.

Map by Nieves Lopez Izquierdo, Mapping the World, 2010

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

GeographicScholar's Explanation of New Orleans' Coffee Culture

New geography blogging friend GeographicScholar is using YouTube is share his geographic knowledge and show the world that geo-literacy can be fun and interesting.  The video below is one he contacted me about.  In it, GeographicScholar explains that New Orleans has a unique coffee culture because one-third of all coffee imported to the United States goes through the city's port.

Monday, December 02, 2013

December 2013 Travel Photo: The Closed World War II Memorial

The government shutdown in October 2013 was a time of extreme partisanship by conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.  National Parks became scenes of the shutdown played out by both sides.  The Obama administration ordered the national park barricaded, breaking past procedure of government shutdowns which left memorials open, just unmanned.

Veteran and conservative groups responded by adopting the "occupy" tactic of political left.  These groups engaged in civil disobedience by trespassing past the barricades (nicknamed "Barrycades" in mocking President Obama's name) around the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  The closing of the monument and actions against the barriers made the memorial the "place" of the government shutdown.

Monday, November 25, 2013

America's Military Intelligence Agency Realizes Geography Matters

Groups like the Defense Intelligence Agency, the pinnacle of military intelligence in the United States, are best known for analyzing opposing military forces.  The "bean counting" of other military can be world changing, such as Winston Churchill's investigations into Nazi Germany's military buildup.

However, the Defense Intelligence Agency realizes that greater geographic factors drive the foundations of cultures and can be a great advanced warning for future threats.  Watch the first half of this promotional video and see what the Defense Intelligence Agency thinks the main things to look out for are.

Interestingly, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, promoted cultural geography in understanding and defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan. (Hat tip: Z-Geographer)

Communist China New Air Defense Map Stakes a Claim to the Senkaku Islands

The People's Republic of China, the Republic of China, and Japan all lay claim to the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in PRC/Tiaoyutai in ROC).

View Larger Map

The islands are part of the chess game going on in the China Seas.  However, until now there have been only small talk of indirect threats.  Now, the PRC has issued an air defense map in which the PRC claims it has the right to shoot down foreign aircraft.

This is a very dangerous development.  These islands are administered by Japan and it will not stand by as its territory to slowly cut apart.  The PRC's land claims nearly lead to war against the ROC, twice in the 1950s and once in the 1990s.  The risk of conflict is approaching the same level.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Geography Awareness Week: Why Geography Matters to Certain Professions

National Geographic's Education wing has made a good infographic on why geography matters to diplomats, operations managers, fashion designers, park rangers, pilots, sustainability directors, ecologists, weather forecasters, urban planners, and agriculturalists.

Click to enlarge
Meanwhile I also recommend I am a Geographer, Hire Me

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gettysburg Address: 150 Years Late

As true today as 150 years ago.  Actually pay attention to the words and meditate on them.  This speech has a whole new life for me since I returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Geography Awareness Week 2013: The New Age of Exploration

Happy Geography Awareness Week 2013!  This year's theme is meant to emphasize the new age of exploration.  I believe exploration stays at home and if you have not explored it before it is new to you!  So I will be trying to find new, unique ways to explore this world of ours.  For today I recommend you look at previous do-it-yourself geography activities and previous GAW posts to share with friends, family, students, or just try it yourself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Poor Infrastructure Adds to Typhoon Haiyan Diaster, Political Geography Makes it Even Worse

Slate has a breakdown of why such horrible disasters in the Philippines are made worse by human issues.  Despite recent economic gains the Philippines suffers from poor infrastructure and many poor people forced to live in areas that are easily flooded, eroded, or at risk of earthquakes.  Because of the poor living conditions, the Philippines leads the world in disaster fatalities.

Meanwhile TDAXP pointed out that political tensions with China over rocks in the middle of the South China Sea has destroyed the feeling of sympathy Chinese may have for Filipinos and Chinese tourists in the Philippines.  A blog post about Chinese tourists stuck in the disaster area has lead many Chinese commentators on the ChinaSmack blog to call these tourists 'traitors" who deserve whatever happens to them.  I do not expect China to offer any aid to the Philippines because of their on-going dispute.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Placing Literature: Crowd Source Mapping Where Books Take Place

Placing Literature is an effort to crowd source map where books take place.  So far over 1,074 places have been mapped.  One can use social media tricks like gamification to "check-in" to places and compete against others.

Quick Note:  Who knew Duluth, Minnesota is so popular in literature?

Monday, November 04, 2013

November 2013 Monthly Travel Photo: Bridge over the Potomac at Harpers Ferry

Photo by TDAXP

Now a regional tourism destination and the half way point along the Appalachian Trail.  In the past the meeting of the two "wild" rivers of the Shenandoah and Potomac near the capital of the United States helped destine Harpers Ferry to being a flashpoint for Civil War.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roma (Gypsies) and Genetic Admixtures

Roma (aka Romai aka Gypsies) are in the news as a wave of fears of child stealing sweeps Europe.  Children with common European features, unlike their parents who have more Central Asian features, are being seized by European governments only to find out that the children are in fact Roma and not Greek, Irish, or whatever the local ethnicity is.

Some are wondering how can this be.  The answer is simple: admixtures.  Roma have not stayed genetically "pure" and have intermixed to varying degrees with local populations.  The mixed off-spring grow up in Roma society and are easily culturally assimilated in though they carry different genetic profiles which will later pop up in later generations.  This is how Jews can still be one overarching grouping while having such a range of features from Germany to Yemen and beyond.

GNXP of Discover Magazine has more on genetic admixtures.  (Hat tip: TDAXP)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Twenty School Lunches Around the World Photo Essay

In the same spirit as the Daily Mail's global food and food price gap photo essay, the San Francisco Gate has a photo essay on school lunches around the world.  At first I was appreciating all the unique cultural dishes until I noticed the African children getting as little as cups of soup.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Atlas of Land Owners in 164 and 1670 Ireland

Trinity College Dublin has a great online atlas which shows the massive shift in landholdings from 1641 to 1670 in Ireland.  The catalyst of this change was the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland.  Cromwell invaded Ireland for two primary reasons 1) to secure the island for the English parliament against King Charles II and 2) to be part of a Protestant expansionist crusade against Catholicism.  It is spatially clear that the Protestants won.

Via @fionamaybuckley
The GIS portion of the atlas is a great genealogical tool as well.  One can see where one's ancestors possibly held property in Ireland.  Sadly it appears that my Irish ancestors were landowners at this time.  My Scot-Irish ancestors did not appear either.  However, while not a direct line, possible English extended ancestors of mine show up in 1670.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Geographical Facts about Cocaine

I recently acquired the latest copy of "Cocaine Smuggling" (2011) by the Office of National Drug Control Policy from my local library.  According to ONDCP, cocaine's scourge is primarily fueled by users in the United States.  The United States has the most users of the drug with Europe and the rest of the Americas splitting the rest.  The top five users are:

United States: 5.33 million users
Mexico: 1.7 million
United Kingdom 1.04 million
Brazil: 954,338
Italy: 884,827
Spain 823,515

The data on how cocaine gets to the United States was surprising.  The old stereotype of airplanes and speedboats going to Florida swamps is dead.  Ninety-five percent of all the cocaine headed towards to the United States goes through Mexico/Central America.  Only five percent goes through Hispaniola and other Caribbean islands.

The Central American route is complex but Honduras is the linchpin of the cartels operations.  132 metric tons reach Honduras overland while an additional 150 metric tons reach the country from the Caribbean.  Only 117 metric tons bypass Honduras by going directly from South America to Mexico, Belize, or El Salvador.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Beautiful Counties of (Historic) California

The vast majority of time I decline offers of advertisements.  In fact, I do not accept any funds for any post with the exception of links to books I reviewed.  I even tend to decline press releases.  So when cartographer David Frank McCarter reached out to me about his Beautiful Counties of California asking me to mention it I was almost ready to send him a "thanks but no thanks" e-mail.  However, the map is just too pretty not to mention. 

Here is part of the press release

The California decorative wall map uses California paintings to represent counties David Frank McCarter has launched a Kickstarter campaign ( to crowd fund his new artistic wall map of California, The Beautiful Counties of…California, which uses California paintings from the mid-1800s to the early-1900s to represent California’s 58 counties. 
“The paintings in the map were chosen to provide the map reader with a sense of place and history of this beautiful and geographically diverse state,” says McCarter. “For example, a painting of Mt. Shasta is used to represent Siskiyou County; California Redwoods for Del Norte and Humboldt Counties; scenes of Pomo Indians in Colusa and Lake Counties; and forty-niners in several of the counties that had large goldfields during the California Gold Rush. The map was made to do more than just show where places are, it was made to tell a story of the places themselves.” 
A table is provided on the right hand side of the map which lists the artists and their paintings that are used. Some of the famous artists that have paintings in the map include Albert Bierstadt, Edwin Deakin, Grace Hudson, Thomas Hill, and Charles Christian Nahl.
The map includes the county boundaries, county seats, and important cities of California. It measures 24” x 36” (standard frame size). 
If the project’s goal of $2000 is reached, the money will cover the cost of printing and shipping. He will also donate 100 of these California wall maps to elementary schools in low-income school districts in California to be used as educational tools in the classroom. For a $20 pledge, the contributor receives a map (shipping included) - other pledge levels are also available.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lee Stranahan Video Blogs on Syria, Lebanon, and Refugees

Because of crowd-funding filmmaker and journalist Lee Stranahan has been in Beirut, Lebanon reporting on Syrian refugees.  He is making small videos to help explain the situation.  Here is a sampling:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Geography: Without Knowledge of It, Your Vacation will be Horrible

Thomas Cook Vacations fields complaints from its customers.  Some of these complaints only exist because of the geo-illteracy of tourists.

“I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

“It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”

“On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

“The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

“We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

“It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

“There were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

“I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

(Hat tip: Seth Dixon)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day 2013

Christopher Columbus is a morality play.  He showed how having a goal, devotion, and patience can change the world.  He also showed how greed and ceasing to see the dignity of one's fellow man can lead to great horrors.

He none the less saved Western Civilization.

From a previous year's post on Christopher Columbus

"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. Fortunately, 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."

Elsewhere, CBS News has a list of five major myths about Christopher Columbus

  1. Columbus wanted to prove the world was round: The origin of this myth is anti-religious propaganda by Washington Irvin.
  2. Columbus discovered America:  The American Indians and only much later the Vikings get credit for this.
  3. Columbus introduced syphilis to Europe:  The disease already was hitting Europe.
  4. Columbus died unknown in poverty:  He died without what Spain promised him but he was not poor.
  5. Columbus did nothing significant:  Two words- New World.

Monday, October 07, 2013's Interview with Dr. Charles Gritzner interviewed Dr. Charles Gritzner, the geographer who has had the most impact on me.  Here's the set up

Despite geography's popularity through venues like National Geographic Magazine, many individuals still do not understand what geography is, what it studies, and why it is important – especially this day in age. Through a series of interview questions, Dr. Charles Gritzner sheds light on this ancient, but seemingly misunderstood discipline. Dr. Gritzner received his doctorate in geography/anthropology from Louisiana State University and taught at the college level for over 50 years, becoming South Dakota State University’s sixth Distinguished Professor in 1993. As an educator, he taught seventy-three different courses, which, he is told, may be a record in any discipline. 

He has authored or co-authored 35 books, published more than 150 articles and book chapters, and won numerous awards for his service to the discipline. Above all, he’s loved by his former students for the way he made learning about the world interesting and engaging.

The New York Times Redrawn Map of the Middle East

Click to enlarge
The New York Times has a nice map showing how Libya, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen could divide into fourteen independent countries.  However, I have a few geographic comments.

Libya: Fezzan in the southwest has no real ability to survive as an independent state.  It has a population of less than half-a-million and its population.  It really is a province of city-states where each population center is an oasis surrounded by desert.  It does have some oil fields but it would need to be transported elsewhere to get into the market.

Yemen: the North and South Yemen are based off real divides.  North Yemen was an Arab Socialist republic and before that a Fiver Shia Islam Imamate.  South Yemen still has its own nationalism from its Communist days which destroyed its tribal culture.  Before that southern Yemen was controlled by the British and has a more cosmopolitan feel to it than northern Yemen.

Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.  Sunnistan will be geographically pulled into fights for water access and oil fields.  Alawitestan may wish to join with Lebanon to become a large "minority-state" but Lebanon will resist this because it knows this would be another civil war.  A Wahhabistan could never exist.  It must either control the oil fields in Eastern Arabia and the Muslim holy cities in Western Arabia or all the legitimacy the house of Wahab and the house of Saud earned will be meaningless.  War and annihilation for the Wahabbis.  No where in between.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October 2013 Travel Photo: Doha Fashion Show

I can only imagine what the Russian fashion models thought about the hijab-wearing Arab women and what the Qatari women thought of the swimsuit-wearing Europeans.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Map of Health Care Insurance Rate Changes Due to Obamacare

Forbes has a great article discussing the geography and overall changes in health care insurance premiums due to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  Overall the Forbes article describes how all the new regulations will make health care insurance less affordable.

Only Colorado and New Hampshire benefit overall with women in Ohio also saving money.  Nebraska is the worse state to suffer in terms of the growth of fees.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Syria is Not Assyria

Some people have been discussing the events in Syria in apocalyptic terms.  Some have gone so far to pick Old Testament references to Assyria as being prophecies about the civil war in Syria.  I have one answer to those who ask if Assyria=Syria: No.

First off, Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, is located inside the modern city of Mosul, Iraq.

Now granted modern Syria and Iraq are artificial creations so one must look beyond simple borders.  Looking at the people it is clear Assyria does not equal Syria.  Assyrians exist today.  Most are either Chaldean Catholic or Nestorian Church of the East.  While there are some Assyrians in Syria (500,000 out of 22,500,000), most Syrians are Arab.

Finally, Assyria ceased to be as an independent power in 605 BC.  Syria became in 1946.

The land, people, and time do not match.  Assyria is not Syria.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Maps of Abortion Policies Worldwide Post-14 and 24 Weeks of Gestation

The United States is in rare company.

The only countries that allow abortion after fourteen weeks of gestation are the United States, Canada, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The nine after fourteen weeks.  Click to enlarge.
The only countries that allow on-demand abortion after twenty-four weeks of gestation are the United States, Canada, the People's Republic of China, and North Korea.
The four after twenty-four weeks. Click to enlarge.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Great" Britain Strikes Back against Russian Insult

During an emotional high over the Syria crisis, a Russian official described the Great Britain/United Kingdom as a small island that no one pays attention to.  The British have apparently taken that insult personally.  The government-funded British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has a full article about just how impressive Great Britain is.

Claims to fame are
1) Ninth biggest island in the world!
2) One of the most populous islands in the world!
3) One of the few islands of significant size that officially calls itself 'great'!
4) One of a series of islands which governed massive empires!

My main family line comes from Great Britain (from what I can tell well established and probably pre-Norman Dane) so please do not believe I am mocking British with this post.  I am amused by the BBC's need to justify Britannia. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Foliage Map 2013

Stormfax has a great webpage and map of fall foliage color changes.  They also link to various states' tourism offices that handle foliage tourists.

Mid-Atlantic Region:
 PENNSYLVANIA  Fall Foliage/Events Hotline  1-800-FALL-INPA
 NEW JERSEY  Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-VISIT-NJ
 DELAWARE | (alt) Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-441-8846
 MARYLAND | (alt) Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-LEAVES-1
 VIRGINIA | (alt) Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-434-LEAF
 WEST VIRGINIA Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-CALL-WVA
 NORTH CAROLINA Fall Foliage/Events  1-800-VISIT-NC

New England Region:
 CONNECTICUT Fall Vacation Hotline  1-800-CT-BOUND
 MAINE Publicity Hotline  1-800-533-9595 or 1-888-MAINE-45
 MASSACHUSETTS | (alt) Fall Foliage Hotline  1-800-227-MASS (6277)
 NEW HAMPSHIRE | (alt) Fall Color Hotline  1-800-262-6660 or 1-800-258-3608
 NEW YORK | (alt) Fall Foliage Hotline  1-800-225-5697 or 1-800-CALL-NYS
 RHODE ISLAND | (alt) Fall Vacation Hotline  1-800-556-2484
 VERMONT | (alt) Fall Foliage Hotline  1-800-VERMONT or 1-800-828-3239

Midwest, West & South:

 ARKANSAS | (alt)  Fall Foliage  1-800-NATURAL
 CALIFORNIA | (alt)  Fall Foliage  1-800-354-4595
 COLORADO | (alt) Travel/Events Hotline  1-800-COLORADO
 GEORGIA Travel/Events Hotline  1-800-864-7275
 ILLINOIS | (alt) Travel/Events Hotline  1-800-2CONNECT
 INDIANA | (alt) Travel/Events Hotline  1-888-ENJOY-IN
 KENTUCKY Color Connection  1-800-225-8747
 MICHIGAN Foliage Hotline  1-800-644-3255
 MINNESOTA Foliage Hotline  1-800-657-3700
 MISSOURI Fall Report  1-800-NATURAL
 MONTANA | (alt) Travel/Events Hotline  1-800-847-4868
 OHIO Foliage & Travel Hotline  1-800-282-5393
 OREGON | (alt) Foliage Hotline  1-800-547-5445
 TENNESSEE Fall Color Hotline  1-800-697-4200
 TEXAS | (alt) State Park Hotline  1-800-792-1112
 WASHINGTON State Foliage Information  1-800-354-4595
 WISCONSIN Foliage Hotline  1-800-432-TRIP
 WYOMING | (alt) Travel Hotline  1-800-225-5996