Monday, March 31, 2014

The Geographer of the Second Half of the 20th Century, Harm de Blij, is Dead has posted the sad news of the passing of Harm de Blij.  de Blij was one of the last voices arguing for a politics-free geography focused on the traditional ways of examining the world.  Today the field is stuck in a fever swamp which lacks direction and focuses on non-geographical subjects.

We interviewed Harm for the blog and greatly admired his work.  A 2005 speech he gave at National Geographic in fact was responsible for a series of guest post which later spun off to form this very blog.  He will be missed.

Geographic Travels strongly recommends Harm's autobiography Wartime Encounter with Geography in which he describes how his experiences growing up in Nazi-occupied Netherlands fostered a love of geography.

Rest in Peace.

But let me give the last word to Harm himself talking about geography and the future.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Denmark Needs Babies so Danish Businesses Take on Population Decline

The great European social welfare state experiment has failed on a fundamental level the Catholic European politicians did not foresee: the complete destruction of the traditional family.  People feel they no longer need children as a social safety net so they instead rely on the state and live a life of comfort.  However, without new children becoming tax payers the system will and is collapsing.

The Danish government has been unable to address the decline and is struggling with decline like Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.  The situation is so noticeable that a Danish travel company is encouraging Danes to "do it" for Denmark.

Warning:  Mildly Not Safe for Work/Children

Demographic decline in the West, including the United States, will become more of an issue as native groups decline in size and governments/economies suffer because of lack of workers.  Do not laugh at these efforts, they will become more common and needed. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Moon's Size Compared to the United States

From NASA and Arizona State University

Yandex Gives Crimea to Russia, OpenStreetMap Plays Both Sides, American Online Map Services Side with Ukraine

Russian search engine giant has given the Crimean peninsula to Russia.

However the English-language version of Yandex still has the peninsula under Ukrainian control.

OpenStreetMap has the label "Autonomous Republic of Crimea" in Ukrainian and "Republic of Crimea" in Russia thus acknowledging both sides.

Click to enlarge to see both labels.
Meanwhile the American online mapping giants Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all have the Crimea under Ukrainian control.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Ukrainian Solider Killed Was a Geographer

Rest in Peace.
The first Ukrainian solider killed by Russian solider was a cartographer/geographer.  His death was either a war crime, as the Ukrainian prime minister stated, or, if there is no war as Russia claims, he was murdered.

Crimea Declares Independence, Set to Join Russia

The authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol have declared independence as the Republic of Crimea and seek admittance into the Russian Federation.  So far Russia only recognizes this independence and this is likely a mere formality in the process to annex the Crimea (which is likely to include the Republic of Crimea and small towns already occupied by Russian-aligned on the peninsula in Kherson oblast, Ukraine). It is unlikely any other country will recognize the Republic of Crimea unless Putin's efforts to annex it are stalled.

So far the big three of online mapping: Google, Bing, and OpenStreetMap have not recognized the change.  None of the Russian map services I know of show the change yet, either. Like South Sudan this blog will monitor for any changes.

Changing European borders also give the excuse to show the Last Express closing credits.  If you have not played the game on PC ($5.99 on GOG) it is now available for iOS and Android.  I strongly recommend it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Follow-up to the Crowd Sourced Effort to Find Malaysia Flight MH370

Last week we posted about the call for people to be imagery interpretation geographers to help find Malaysia Flight MH370.  Now iRevolution's Patrick Meier, one of the world's leader concerning crowdsourced geospatial data, has an update video on the effort.

Meanwhile the effort has expanded to the Indian Ocean and possible islands where the plan could have landed.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2014: Music and a Flashback to 2013's Genealogy Post

Emblem of the Ancient Order of Hibernians
Éirinn go Brách!  Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  As an American with Irish Catholic and Scot-Irish Protestant ancestors I look back on today on all the hard work all my family has done to make it in America.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day I've decided to celebrate both the St. Patrick's mission of spreading Christianity and the Irish-American experience in music.

First, the ancient Irish hymn Ag Criost an Siol which means Christ is the Seed.

To celebrate all Irish in America I have chosen the Appalachian Scotch-Irish song Loving Hannah.  Ulster-Scots were monumental in forming the United States with a pioneering race that left its deepest lasting mark in Appalachia.

From the 2013 post

As always, I am using Saint Patrick's Day to share some genealogical tools one can use.  The Irish Times newspaper has a searchable surname mapper available.  There is also a searchable version of the below ESRI map available here.

Click for a larger version.  For full downloadable version (30+ MBs) click here.  From ESRI
For those with Scot-Irish roots via Ulster, Ancestry Ireland has a Scots in Ulster page where one can search surnames and historical information.  They also have this map of Scottish landlords in old Ireland.

Click to Enlarge.  From Ancestry Ireland

Monday, March 10, 2014

Be an At Home Geographer: Find Malaysia Airlines MH370

Geolounge has a great link: there is a crowdsourcing effort to find Malaysia Airlines MH370.  Below is information from Geolounge
To help with the effort to locate the missing aircraft, Tomnod and Digital Globe have launched a crowdsourcing map application to bring together the power of the masses to scour satellite images that have captured the geographic area where search and rescue crews are trying to located the missing plane. 
The public can help with the search effort by reviewing satellite imagery captured by two of Digital Globe’s satellites that have been trained to capture imagery of the area in the Gulf of Thailand.  Users can search tile by tile for any potential signs of an airplane crash such as oil slicks, wreckage, and life rafts.  Digital Globe uses an algorithm to elevate for review areas that receive a minimum number of tags from users.  Those areas will be reviewed by in-house satellite imagery experts.
Other At Home Geography Crowdsources: Find Genghis Khan's Tomb and Help with Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts by Judging Damage.

Video Guides on How to Research Irish Genealogy

For all those with Irish heritage who want to look up their family trees.  The videos are long but if your serious about genealogy they are worth it.

Nazi Germany's Connection to the Union of Crimea and Ukraine

Various historical forces have tried to rule both the Crimea and Ukraine.  The Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union were the first modern powers to firmly control both.  However, Crimea usually remained under different regional authorities than Ukraine itself.

An interesting historical geographical fact I learned from National Geographic: the first time the Crimea fell under rule based in the Ukraine was Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ukraine.

Map of Translated Names of Irish Counties

The Atlas of True Names is a fun map series which shows the translation of place names.  Now the Irish news site The Journal has created a map showing the translated Irish and Viking county names of Ireland.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Videos and Teaching Aides About the Irish Potato Famine and the Great Migration

There are an estimated 80 million people worldwide who claim Irish heritage/ethnic identity.  About 40 million United States citizens claim Irish as their main ethnicity.  The entire population of the island of Ireland, both the Republic and Northern Ireland, is only 6.3 million.  The reason for this practically unrivaled 12 to 1 ratio of diaspora to homeland (there are 1.6 Jews outside of Israel for every Jew living in Israel, for example) is the Great Irish Potato Famine and migration due to the famine.

The Irish-American fraternity group the Ancient Order of Hibernians created a series of videos and teaching tools about the An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger.  Their teaching tools such as document-based questions, crosswords, fill in story, multiple choice questions, word searches, and even a vocabulary sudoku are available at the An Gorta Mor website.  The videos are available on YouTube or the DVD can be purchased.  I have posted the videos below for easy access.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Russia-Ukraine War Map Batch One - The Opening Moves in Crimea

A FSSP-Gauzefans Effort  

Other Russia-Ukraine War Maps
Ukraine: An Artifact Like an African Country But One People Call Home

Other War Maps
Syrian Civil War
Central African Republic (2013)
French-Islamist War Maps (2013)
Israel-Hamas War (2012)
Libya War (2011)
Russia-Georgia War (2008), Cartoon Maps
Israel-Hizbollah War (2006)

Daily Mail produced a map showing the language divide in Ukraine as well as a comparison of Ukrainian forces to that of Russia's forces deployed along the border.  Ukraine's 132,950 troops, 27 warplanes, and 21 warships is out gunned by 150,000 Russians, 210 warplanes, and 80 warships positioned against the Ukrainian border.

The absolutely great Contemporary Issues & Geography has a great update map on where Russian forces are deployed in the Crimea and where Ukrainian forces have surrendered or are resisting while under siege.

Finally, AFP produce a map showing the gas politics which will influence the European response of the war.  Notice all but one of the pipelines transporting Russian gas to Europe go through Ukraine.  One third of all gas consumed in Germany comes from Russia with France and Italy being major consumers as well.

March 2014 Travel Photo: Overlooking from Marye's Heights

In December 1862 a crime was committed by Union generals Ambrose Burnsides, Edwin Sumner, and Darius Couch.  Union forces were meant to distract Confederate forces, firmly entrenched on Marye's Heights, while the main Union force worked its way around the Virginian town of Fredericksburg.  Instead Union commanders ordered one brigade at a time to assault the position.  Fourteen times Union soldiers were easily cut down.  8,000 Union men were needlessly killed.

Standing on top of Marye's Heights it is easy to see why the assault failed despite urban encroachment and trees.  The heights dominate an easy slope which denied Union forces much cover.  With the main Confederate force entrenched at the base of the heights and artillery and snipers placed on top, I could easily see how Union forces were picked off piecemeal.  Famed groups such as the Irish Brigade, an infantry outfit made up of Irish Immigrants and the third most causalitied Union unit in the war, were among the victims of the slaughter.

Photo take at the edge of the "National Cemetery" (center).  Notice how the heights drop off suddenly.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Where Europe Ends (Short Version): A Look at Ukraine and Areas Torn Between Russia and the European Community

Back in 2009 I blogged about Where Europe Ends, the documentary focusing on parts of the former Communist bloc still separated from European integration.  With the crisis in Ukraine it is helpful to see what many pro-Western Ukrainians are afraid of.