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.