Monday, October 31, 2011

NATO chief rules out no-fly zone for Syria

The Libyan rebels would never have succeeded in toppling Ghadafy if the US hadn't intervened with its drones and air strikes (and never openly declaring war.) Ghadafy's family is now suing NATO.

Meantime, Syria is the next country in the region to whom the US might...or might topple the government and replace it with...who knows? Sharia law?

From The Egyptian Gazette: NATO chief rules out no-fly zone for Syria
TRIPOLI - NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone for Syria, in remarks to an AFP correspondent as he travelled to the Libyan capital Monday on a surprise visit.

"It's totally ruled out. We have no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria," Rasmussen said when asked if there was a possibility NATO would now spearhead a no-fly zone in Syria.
Rasmussen made a surprise visit to Tripoli hours before NATO's mission in Libya was due to end officially, seven months after Western powers fired the first barrage of missiles against Muammar Gaddafi's forces in an air war that played a major role in ousting the veteran dictator.

Just where is Syria?
Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.

The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.

The population of Syria is 74% Sunni Muslim, with a 13% Shia Muslim population, 10% Christian and 3% Druze. Combined, some 90% of the Syrian population is Muslim, which largely includes Arabs and significant minorities of Kurds and Circassians, while some 10% are Christians, which mainly includes ethnic Assyrians, but also Arab Christians and Armenians. The ethnic minorities include Kurdish (10%), Assyrian/Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian populations, while the majority is Arab (90%).

The modern Syrian state was established as a French mandate and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971.

Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963–2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad is the current president, and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office since 1971. The Syrian government is currently facing massive protests as part of the Arab Spring, and one government, that of Libya, has de-recognised it in favor of the opposition Syrian National Council.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heidelburg University in Triffid, Ohio vs Heidelburg, Germany

Germany's Heidelburg:
The Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Heidelberg University, Ruperto Carola) is a public research university located in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Founded in 1386, it is the oldest university in Germany and was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire. Heidelberg has been a coeducational institution since 1899. Today the university consists of twelve faculties and offers degree programs at undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels in some 100 disciplines. It is a German Excellence University, as well as a founding member of the League of European Research Universities and the Coimbra Group.

Rupert I, Elector Palatine established the university when Heidelberg was the capital of the Palatinate. Consequently, it served as a center for theologians and law experts from throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Matriculation rates declined with the Thirty Years' War, and the university did not overcome its fiscal and intellectual crises until the early 19th century.

Subsequently, the institution once again became a hub for independent thinkers, and developed into a "stronghold of humanism", and a center of democratic thinking. At this time, Heidelberg served as a role model for the implementation of graduate schools at American universities. However, the university lost many of its dissident professors and was marked a NSDAP university during the Nazi era (between 1933 and 1945). It later underwent an extensive denazification after World War II.

Modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology, psychiatric genetics, environmental physics, and modern sociology were introduced as scientific disciplines by Heidelberg faculty. The university has an emphasis on research and has been associated with 30 Nobel Prize laureates. It is consistently ranked among Europe's top overall universities, and is an international education venue for doctoral students, with approximately 1,000 doctorates successfully completed every year, and with more than one third of the doctoral students coming from abroad. International students from some 130 countries account for more than 20 percent of the entire student body.

Heidelberg comprises two major campuses: one in Heidelberg's Old Town and another in the Neuenheimer Feld quarter on the outskirts of the city. The university's noted alumni include eleven domestic and foreign Heads of State or Heads of Government.

and Heidelburg University in Triffi, Ohio
and Heidelburg University in Triffin, Ohio
Heidelberg University is a private liberal arts college located in the city of Tiffin, Ohio in the U.S. state of Ohio. Founded in 1850, it was known as Heidelberg College until 1889 and from 1926 to 2009.

Heidelberg University was founded by the German Reformed Church in 1850 and is currently affiliated with the United Church of Christ. At that time, there was a significant number of German immigrants in Ohio, and the German Reformed Church had seventy-four churches in the state when members decided to establish the college. The College had an initial graduating class of five students.

From Things to go bump at the ’Berg
Enter if you dare.

Trick-or-treaters brave enough can participate in activities Thursday in Heidelberg University's France Hall, which is believed to be haunted by several ghosts.

Rebecca Dickinson, a sophomore from Middleburg Heights studying history, has helped organize the fundraiser, which is to be 7:30-10 p.m. Thursday at the residence hall. The resident assistants of Brown and France halls are putting on the event with the help of other organizations.

"We worked hard on trying to get campus organizations involved with the project," she said.

Dickinson said the family-friendly event is to have activities and candy for children and also areas geared more toward adults.

There is no cost, although any donations are to go toward the renovation of France Hall's basement, she said.

"It's a haunted house, but we do have an area designated for kids," she said.

A couple of months ago, a Heidelberg class went ghost-hunting in France Hall.

April Beisaw, assistant professor of anthropology at Heidelberg, taught an honors class titled "Science or Pseudoscience?" that focused on testing methods and whether ghost-hunting is a science. She said she purchased ghost-hunting equipment, and students broke into small groups to go hunting in the attics of France and Pfleiderer halls and the basement of Founders Hall.

She said France Hall is the only place where something that could be considered paranormal happened, and unfortunately, it happened to her.

"I did research afterwards," she said.

Beisaw recalled preparing to take her students into France Hall and securing two keys, one for each side of the attic. She explored the attic before taking her students up, closed the door and went downstairs to get the students. She then returned to the attic with them.

"I went to open the door, and the door wouldn't open," she said.

Beisaw said she had been given the keys to a padlock, which she was holding. The door had locked with the old mechanism, which staff wasn't using anymore.

"We couldn't get the door open," she said.

She and the students went downstairs and returned to the attic through the other entrance. After the ghost hunt, she did research and learned the female ghost who is supposed to be in the attic is known for locking doors.

"I didn't know that when that happened," she said.

Beisaw said some students believed the experience because they wanted to, while others weren't sure.

"It was fully locked, so that was really the main thing that happened up there," she said.

Wednesday, Beisaw is taking students ghost-hunting in an octagonal house the university owns on Perry Street. She said the class is going to be giving a report about the history of the house and what the class thinks should be done to it to President Robert Huntington.

"It's just falling apart sitting there by itself. ... We'll see how (the ghost-hunting) goes," she said.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Delhi zoo to get a major facelift

From the Hindustan Times : Delhi zoo to get a major facelift

Aquarium, insectariums and a butterfly park along with different zones representing different geographical areas of India will be part of the revamp work to be carried out at the National Zoological Park over the next two decades. Authorities at the park, popularly known as Delhi Zoo, are all set to unveil the masterplan with focus on its overall upgrade and increasing its inhabitants.

The draft plan, which is almost finalised, envisions that Rs 150 crore will be spent on the park's upgrade over the next two decades.

Ever since 2008, thanks to reasons ranging from a court case to changes in the administration, had delayed the zoo's masterplan, which is under the purview of the Union ministry of environment and forests.

Major re-hauling works include a new comprehensive visitor centre along with automated parking and a fine dining facility outside the ticketing area. On the premises, revamp work will include re-working the visitor circulation path
and coming up with an aquarium, insectariums and butterfly park. With the introduction of three new sections, the administration plans to increase the number of species and figures of animals, birds and reptiles at the zoo over the next few years.

At present, the zoo houses 105 species and 1,300 inhabitants. “We plan to increase the species to more than 200 and the number of animals, birds, reptiles etc to more than 2,000,” said zoo director AK Agnihotri.

“For living up to the nomenclature of ‘national’ zoological park, the zoo will also have different zones representing Himalayan foothills, Central Indian highlands, Peninsular India among other areas,” Agnihotri added.

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) — a regulatory body for zoos across the country — has cleared the master layout plan and on its basis, the zoo masterplan will be prepared.

Investors failed to study the geography

From the Bangkok Post: Investors failed to study the geography
Re: ''Foreign companies show restraint as losses mount'' (BP, Business, Oct 24).

A glance at a physical map of Thailand should have given sufficient warning before the development of modern Bangkok.

The capital and its greater urban sprawl is built on silt that has been washed down into the valley that stretches for 200 miles to the north. This valley is nature's main drain into which flows all the surface water from the higher land to its north, west and east: hence the build-up of silt. It has done this for millennia and the two main rivers carrying the water to the sea, the Chao Phraya and the Tha Chin rivers are slow moving as can be seen by their shape. Therefore their capacity is low and before development of roads, factories and housing, additional auxilliary channels should have been formed.

Marc Spiegel of the JFCCT mentions taking ''proactive measures''. It is too late for pro-active measures, the disaster has happened. Any measures now taken will be reactive, following the avoidable, appalling suffering of thousands of innocent people.

There is a great deal more to sound investment than finance and the ''bottom line''. Prime consideration must be given to social well-being, location and dependable infrastructure such as drainage, water and energy. Chasing the easy, quick buck is not sound investment; consider the ''wisdom'' of Wall Street over the past decade.

This current flooding disaster is no more the doing of nature than was the Fukushima disaster. Building a nuclear plant close to a sub-marine fault line at sea level was the cause of the disaster. Bangkok is a large block in a natural drain and it is sinking slowly under its own weight. It could face submersion both from the sea in the south and fresh water from the north due to its geographical position. But, as with the fresh water flooding, if consideration is not forthcoming, in the future the current flooding will be seen historically as a picnic.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cultural conquest of Indian Ocean

From the Oman Observer: Cultural conquest of Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean contains within its rim the greatest diversity of race, religion and living language in today’s world as well as half of the civilisations which are existed according to Huntington’s thesis. The countries that fringe its shorelines together wield considerable, strategic weight in the global economy and this influence is expected to assume leading status in the 21st century.

Geographically, the Indian Ocean divides the continents of Africa and Asia as far as Australasia, and although the account of a 3rd century merchant, Al-Tawaf Hazel Al-Bahr Al-Eritri (A Tour of the Eritrean Sea), describes the Indian Ocean as an African sea, we understand that even at that time it was believed to be an internal body of water, albeit one that linked the coasts of Oman, Yemen and the Red Sea with the east coast of Africa. As such it was an African/ Asian sea.

A more detailed geographical knowledge of the Indian Ocean was established in the 8th century AD as awareness grew of the extent of its reach, bounding in parallel the Silk Road, or long-distance overland trade route from Far Eastern Asia (Turkestan and China) to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. It was originally thought that the Silk Road served for the transporting of merchandise across countries that did not benefit from sea or coastline, or from long navigable rivers. Now, however, we know that this land route was used for the carriage of soft commodities, while the sea and ocean routes were reserved for the shipment of hard commodities or substantial quantities of goods and raw materials.

If it is the case that the Silk Road spread beyond local and domestic traffic boundaries from ancient times, as a consequence of peaceful accord and the amicable conduct of goods trading activity, the Indian Ocean effectively broke through local and internal (conceptual) boundaries from the 9th century AD, when Muslims succeeded in navigating their merchant fleets between Basra, Sohar and Seraf in the Arabian Gulf to the coasts of India and the China Sea via the Strait of Malacca.

The ocean continued to instil fear because of its ferocious storms and cyclones, as recounted in the stories of Sinbad, in Aja’ ib Al-Hind (The Wonders of India), and the voyage of Sulaiman the Merchant. As the shipbuilding industry advanced and knowledge of the ocean’s islands expanded, these could be sought out for refuge or as a temporary anchorage where merchants could engage in the exchange of goods until the storms passed or the trade winds returned. Or they could await the arrival of Indian and Chinese merchant ships to the islands for an exchange of contact and goods.

From the 10th century AD onwards, the ocean was a medium of peace, commerce and internal exchange for small merchant vessels plying the ports on both sides, as well as large merchant ships making the long crossing between Oman, Basra, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea and the ports of India and China. In this way, the Indian Ocean had come to encompass, geographically, a vast continuum that depended on three principal advances: firstly, expansion in the knowledge of marine weather, of cyclones and astronomy; secondly, progressive innovations in the shipbuilding industry; and thirdly the success of Muslims in prevailing over communities and countries throughout the ocean and over its eastern, western and southern shores.

Ibn Habib in his work kitab al-Muhabar mentioned that the Chinese and Indian ships reached Oman during 4th century AD Arabia and their main port was Diba in the Northern Oman; moreover he adds that these ships paid taxation to the Julandanian kings of Oman. This is the only statement in Arabic literature shows the fact of Arab-Indian-Chinese Maritimes trade pre-Islamic period. From the 8th century AD onwards, the ports of Sohar, Basra, Seraf and Aden were known as the ‘Indian’ ports.

The Indian epithet was not an indicator that some Indian state had attained control over these regions, but rather reflected the presence of large colonies of sailors from Indian territories and because of the quantities of Indian merchandise available there. History also tells us that maritime trade conducted by Muslims remained in private hands, continuing to attract the investment of leading merchants and encountering no state intervention beyond the collection of taxes and tolls in major ports.

Again, it was not the state that ensured the protection of sea commerce and the merchants who conducted it, but rather the presence of Muslim communities after the 8th century on the African and Asian shores of the Indian Ocean and the adjacent lands, including much of the territory along the Silk Road. And so, historically, trade remained private and merchant fleets also remained in private hands; civilian fleets maintained and overseen by the traders themselves.

As such, it was the traders who funded and invested in the development of the shipbuilding industry and in the advancement of marine knowledge, both in terms of technical innovation and the exploration of ocean waters and islands.

Because capital is risk averse, as we know, it followed that merchants, as concerned as they were about protection on the high seas, were just as keen to maintain dominance over the ports through the services of local authorities who held sway by controlling communication and co-ordination, and through a ‘generation’ of supportive authorities, so to speak.

We also know, historically, that again and again crises broke out between Omani traders and Buiyds when they were controlling Sohar, which in one case ignited a rebellion in Oman led by Rashid bin Hafs to defeat the Buiyds, or again between the Makarama traders and the new Mamluk authorities following the occupation of Aden. These latter were looking to monopolise trade in certain commodities or to raise unreasonably exhorbitant excise duties and tolls on goods. It is a fact that the private and peaceful nature of trade in the Islamic era was not confined to the Indian Ocean but also included the Mediterranean Sea.

The situation in the Mediterranean differed from that of the Indian Ocean, for in the latter Muslims were importers and exporters, while in the Mediterranean they were exporters only, with the merchants of Italian cities being importers. The Italian cities merchants, who also received delivery of Indian goods from the ports of the Levant and Egypt, were not, indeed, in communication with Islamic authorities beyond the payment of taxes and tolls. All other matters were dealt with on their behalf by Muslim traders, including issues related to security and disputes, which were conducted by proxy all the way to arbitration.

The Italians subsequently established agencies and neighbourhoods in coastal cities for the storage of merchandise following its purchase and prior to shipment. In this way they progressed their interaction with Muslim authorities, without the consequences ever leading to war, because Muslim trade syndicates remained dominant and because the concept of war fleets or warships was not yet known or familiar.

Excepted were certain port-based security vessels, some of which Muslims and Europeans occasionally leased on a temporary basis during certain seasons and in certain ports, especially during times of political upheaval and periods when security was threatened, such as when incidents of piracy were prevalent in the northern Indian Ocean and along the coast of Oman. It was times such as these that forced Imam Ghassan bin Abdullah (reign 808-822) to establish a naval garrison to deal with piracy.

Similar times were recorded during the Crusades and some periods of political unrest in the port cities of the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Arabian Sea.
Even when Islamic shores on the eastern extremities of the Indian Ocean were visited in the 15th century by the Chinese war fleet under Admiral Cheng Ho, this was with the knowledge of the authorities and the fleet was loaded down with merchandise and gifts. No tension of a military nature occurred in association with the visit and we do not know, even today, what the real objective of this visit was because it was not repeated.

Nevertheless, we do know that historically the concept of war never tarnished the Indian Ocean or the maritime trade it facilitated until after the arrival of the Portuguese in the early years of the 16th century AD. After the successful rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, fleets of Portuguese warships appeared, escorting Portuguese, Spanish and Italian merchant vessels, and proceeded to confiscate non-European trading vessels. They went further, constructing coastal way stations protected by naval garrisons, even in ports south and east of the Arabian Peninsula and on the sea route to the Strait of Malacca and India.

Strategy represents a third landmark. From the 8th century AD, the Indian Ocean, like the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding local seas, became a zone of strategic importance for the Islamic world. However, there were differences between the two maritime zones, or between the Mediterranean and the ocean.

In the ocean, Muslim dominance rested on the emergence of Islamic urban communities in coastal areas and ports, or the prevalence of peaceful or allied communities throughout the region, and this lasted up to the 16th century. In the Mediterranean, on the other hand, Muslims found they were obliged to avail themselves of military fleets to ward off hostile attacks from Western Europe on the eastern and southern Mediterranean coasts.

There the islands were in a constant state of rebellion or in threatening mode, even after the capture by the Muslims of Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain).
It is known that Muslims continued to collaborate with Italian merchants in order to protect seagoing commerce from hostilities, but the Italians could not remain neutral during the Crusader wars and subsequently throughout the European-Ottoman standoff. They leased their vessels for the transport of soldiers from Western Europe or volunteered warship carriers in the hope of earning trade concessions in the wake of victory by the invaders.

So the Europeans, from the days of Byzantine control up to the 7th century and the Crusader wars, then beyond to the Ottoman era, never permitted Muslims to establish dominance in the Mediterranean. Neither did the code of peace and collaboration ever come to prevail in the Mediterranean Sea itself, or in its connected waterways or ports, if we exclude the Italian merchants who persevered in their efforts to maintain a climate of co-operation and peace with the southern Mediterranean up to the beginning of the 18th century.

From the foregoing we can see that in terms of strategic control, we have absolute dominance by Muslims in the Indian Ocean up to the 16th century, and some relative prevalence of Muslims in the Mediterranean up to the 18th century. In the Indian Ocean, the collapse of Islamic influence did not occur all at once, with the defeats suffered by the Mamluks and Ottomans in their confrontations with the Portuguese, and this was due to the presence of Islamic communities and territories on the eastern, western and southern, shores of the ocean.

As the influence of the more powerful Islamic countries waned, resistance grew among the small states and local communities and persisted over the following two centuries, until the new era of imperialism arrived on the two ancient continents and in the New World and resistance was forced underground.

On the high seas this defiance was limited to acts of what would have been deemed piracy, or challenges to the merchant trading cartels established by the European powers as they extended their reach across oceans and seas, in war and in trade. The established pattern of seaborne commerce, once strictly a process of simple mutual exchange in which the state had little or no input, was being transformed.

European trade was a strategic activity, one that had, since the 16th century, pursued an orientation in which the owners of seaborne goods aligned themselves with the politics of the international capitalist world, especially with those of Dutch and British establishments, culminating in the foundation of the Dutch and British East India companies. In every case, the state was either a partner or a patron, and wielded strategic control in the expansion of the European presence throughout the world.

Trade, Culture and Civilisation:
While it is true that power is not completely absent in the act of exchange, it is not the dominant element of trade and it did not become so before the eras of colonialism and imperialism, both spearheaded, as we know, by Europeans. Nor was this a feature of the Indian Ocean alone; rather it was repeated in every part of the world.

Even Ibn Khaldun, when he wrote of power in the context of trade, did not perceive it as an act of war but rather of artfulness, a matter of intellectual skill where the merchant’s superior hand in the exchange relied for its success on his knowledge of the merchandise and the marketplace. The culture of exchange in the Indian Ocean preserved a special character, which continued to prevail there even after the emergence of Portuguese, Dutch, French and British competition.

It was a culture established in the Indian Ocean region by Omanis and other traders and seamen of the southern Arabian Peninsula. Islam itself rode the cresting wave of sea commerce, and Muslim communities made inroads into the furthest reaches of India and China from trading outposts and way stations. Certainly upon to the beginning of 20th century, the two third of the total Arabian population settled along the Indian Ocean costal between the straits of Humuz and Bab -Almindab.

In this sense, that is to say with the establishment of, in particular, a culture of exchange in the Indian Ocean, we may speak of a cultural imprint that prevailed in the territories influential among Muslim communities who inhabit the ports or coastal areas of Asia and Africa that overlook the Indian Ocean.

From this was derived, in the 20th century, the culture of a capitalist market, to be replaced today by the networking culture of globalism. There were no Islamic military incursions into any of the territories bordering the Ocean. No Muslim armies arrived to impose religious dogma or political control in any territory between the Arabian Sea and India and China.

Instead, many small colonies spread along the shores of the ocean later developed into communities that were ethnically and religiously pure. There is no doubt that this was not solely due to the features of commercial exchange, interlocked as it was with the spread of Islam, but to the similar character of the inhabitants of these areas in Africa and Asia to that of Muslim traders who visited them. The difference between the communities and colonies established by Muslim traders in coastal Africa lies in their origin as small, rural, fishing and barter communities, while Asian urban areas were relatively large.

Things are greatly changed today, with capitalism struggling and globalisation more or less shelved, but also because a major power has grown along the ocean seaboard, and because Asian religions, as well as Islam, are alive and clear and thriving. And so we watch with interest as the Indian Ocean becomes, once again, into a significant arena for exchange and trade in the world today, with the principal commodity of exchange being the trade off between its diverse cultural milieux, as well as the expansion of a simple human vision of the 3rd century Sea of Eritrea into the global ocean of peace and cultural exchange that is the Indian Ocean today.

In defence of geography and our space for critical thinking.

From The Mark: In defence of geography and our space for critical thinking.
The Feminist Geography Collective writes in response to Margaret Wente’s column,
“They hijacked the humanities, then my canoe,” which appeared in The Globe on Oct. 22.

Dear Peggy,

This weekend, you took a cheap shot at our colleagues and our own research pursuits.

In Saturday’s column, you attacked Andrew Baldwin, Laura Cameron, and Audrey Kobayashi’s book, Rethinking The Great White North: Race, Nature and Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada.

We invite you to read the entire book – there are 18 other contributing authors from a variety of social science and humanities disciplines – as we believe you would see how you’ve taken those scarce few lines about you out of context.

We are a group of approximately 70 academics (from across disciplines) who read your column with brittle bemusement. We draw from geographical perspectives in our teaching and research, and we think you might benefit from a Geography 101 primer.

Your characterization of geography left us puzzled because geography is far from irrelevant. In fact, geography achieved even greater widespread popularity in the early 1990s – disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and English began to borrow from geography, explaining that it offered the tools and knowledge needed to make sense of our ever-changing world, including new migration patterns and globalization.

This is especially the case in Canada, where geographically inspired analyses have led the way in making contributions to a variety of policy spheres – health, social, and environmental among them. Geography departments in Canadian university programs are growing in popularity with both undergraduate and graduate students.

But policy-relevant research is only one part of geographic pursuit.

Geographical thought is also about turning the world upside down, probing taken-for-granted policies and ideas in search of other ways of thinking. It's about giving histories to the present, and putting things into context. It's about dreaming and imagination, too – for a future different than the past, one where reconciling with our colonial, settler history means true economic and social justice.

Universities provide spaces for critical thinking. Those critical-thinking skills help students challenge false assumptions and both open and hidden prejudices. They help those students contribute to effective planning and policy practices. The role of a liberal arts education where geographical analyses are front and centre is to promote critical thought. In geography classrooms across the country, we encourage students to re-examine what they think they know about place, the region, and the nation.

Feminist geography allows us to consider the perspectives of those who are marginalized, who almost always have a better understanding of the unconscious underpinnings of society and culture than do the majority or the elite. Many of us have examined how dichotomous ways of thinking about spatiality are misplaced. We challenge binaries like home and work. We ask what a truly fair city would look like – one sensitive to differences in gender, class, status, race, sexual orientation, and ability – and what it might take to create such a city.

We invite you into our geography classrooms to learn more about what we really do. Indeed, journalists are no strangers to our lecture halls. We often ask them to come in to help us understand our world. Nicholas Kristoff of The New York Times will be a keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers in February, for example.

If you take us up on this, you will learn that geography is not just about rocks and trees and National Geographic. In our classes, we talk about the rights and responsibilities of immigrants to Canada, the cyclist-driving divide, and the ways that Canada’s three largest cities are bifurcated by income and race, among other things.

And ultimately, that’s what Rethinking The Great White North aims to do. The authors believe that understanding life in Canada today, and making decisions about its future, demands a clear understanding of the past. Nature has a history and it is of pressing concern when, for example, indigenous landscapes are viewed as “pristine” wilderness. The “Great White North” – as a metaphor, myth, economic frontier, and comedy – has long endured in collective imagination. The book aims to challenge and rethink its place in Canadian self-understanding. Surely that’s important for all Canadians?

So come on in and visit us, Peggy.

You might see that the students we teach think of themselves in ways that are vastly different than you imagine.

We promise to make sure you don’t feel like a black fly blasted with a bazooka. Do your j-stroke and paddle upstream to us. We understand you spent time during your Masters in English at the University of Toronto drinking tea with Robertson Davies. We’ll have a cuppa waiting for you.

One lump or two?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Have Map Will Travel: Avenza's PDF Maps App Launches on iOS Appealing to Travel Enthusiasts, Students and Sport Adventurers

From MarketWatch: Have Map Will Travel: Avenza's PDF Maps App Launches on iOS Appealing to Travel Enthusiasts, Students and Sport Adventurers

TORONTO, Oct 25, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher(R) cartographic software for Adobe(R) Illustrator(R) and Geographic Imager(R) geospatial tools for Adobe Photoshop(R), announced the launch of the PDF Maps app, the first and only geospatial PDF reader on Apple iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that introduces a modern approach to discovering the world for a new generation of digital trailblazers, explorers and map users in general.

Already winning accolades from the International Map Trade Association (IMTA) for the "Best Use of New Technology and New Media," Avenza's PDF Maps features a marketplace for publishers to feature specific geographical maps detailed to a certain locale while offering consumers a library of maps that are global, interactive and expanding on a daily basis. PDF Maps take advantage of geospatial technology that allows travelers to view and measure real world locations and attributes. Paired together with mobile devices that utilize GPS, such as an iPhone, the PDF Maps app provides constant access to geographic locations and even points of interest without the risk of losing reception due to cell tower proximity -- making it the ultimate traveling accessory for those that travel abroad, sailing enthusiasts, cross-country backpacking or any activity that requires a little direction or extends to any area where internet bandwidth is not available.

"Smartphones have made an impact on how the world communicates and processes information -- they are able to provide immediate, tangible data that can be accessed at any time and almost any place. By combining mapping technology with PDF functionality, we are able to provide users with an interactive experience where you can see where you are, input notes digitally and offer a new way of exploring," said Ted Florence, President of Avenza Systems Inc. "Just as easily as people can buy books, music and videos from iTunes, they can now easily buy maps, which is perfect for planning trips or accessing data from thousands of maps available to the public around the globe."

Unlike other map apps that provide one view of a location using GPS coordinates as many maps do, PDF Maps expands a traveler's choices, allowing them to access detailed geography or points of interest created by specific map publishers for use on land and sea. Digital maps are also green eliminating the need for both paper and ink used in paper maps that may need to be updated annually. PDF Maps allows consumers to access information while at a destination, providing travelers an opportunity to make the most of their time experiencing their environment rather than searching for cell reception, a local store or passerby for directions.

Currently, Avenza's vast PDF Maps app library covering maps for domestic and international travel includes more than 55,000 USGS (United States Geological Survey) topographic maps organized by state and area. All maps available through the map store offer the following capabilities:

-- Access and load maps through iTunes File Sharing, Wi-Fi or cellular
network to read maps anytime
-- Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live
network connection (offline)
-- View your location on the PDF map using the built-in GPS device or via
Wi-Fi triangulation
-- Find coordinates of any location in the map, including the ability to
type in a coordinate to search
-- Display coordinates as Lat/Long (WGS84), Lat/Long (Map Default),
Northing/Easting, or Military Grid Reference System (MGRS/United
States National Grid (USNG))
-- Support for GeoTIFF files to create tiles similar to how a geospatial
PDF is tiled
-- Map rendering in higher resolution
-- Overlay Google search results
-- Add waypoints and collect/record information about locations,
including photos
-- Measure distances and areas
-- Open current map extents in the Maps app
-- Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick,
double tap)
-- Change pin colors, position and label names

PDF Maps is available now on the iTunes App Store free of charge. For more information about PDF Maps, visit the Avenza website at . Pricing of each map is set by the publisher and free maps remain free to users through the PDF Maps app in-app store.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spend the night in the world’s deepest underground hotel in Sweden

From YahooNews: Spend the night in the world’s deepest underground hotel in Sweden
In the next few years, extreme travelers could spend the night floating around in a space hotel. For now, what the Earth can offer will have to suffice. Thankfully, some options have the potential to satiate even the most adventurous — take for example the deepest underground hotel suite in the world. Located in the old, 15th century Sala Silvermine in Sweden, the suite lies 509 ft. deep under the earth's surface.

The tunnels of Sala's mine were used to excavate for silver until 1908. Now, it houses a museum, a theater, two ornate dining rooms, and a hotel suite where two people can spend the night. Guests are first toured around the underground facilities so they know their way around, but ultimately left alone overnight — attendants stay on ground level. If you're hit by the call of nature in the middle of the night, you'd have to go up to 165 ft. to access the nearest toilet; no bathroom exists within the mine. Phones, of course, do not work that deep underground.

Clearly, if you're claustrophobic, agoraphobic, or if you really just can't stand gloomy places, this hotel is not for you. But if you fancy a stay underground for whatever purpose you might have, you can spend a night in Sweden's Sala Silvermine suite for $580

Friday, October 21, 2011

Civil War Geography: Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West, Florida

The location of Fort Zachary Taylor on Key West. (the red circle.)

Fort Taylor, Key West, today.

A couple of days ago I shared a map of the harbor in South Carolina where the various forts were located - in particular Fort Sumter, where the shots that started the Civil War were fired on 12 April 1861.

I should have started even earlier than that. As soon as President Lncoln was elected, certain states started talk of seceeding, and when they eventually did secede, immediately took over various items of Federal propery, in particular forts.

Expecting this eventuality, on November 15, 1860, US Navy Lieutenant T. A. Craven "informed Washington that due to the 'deplorable condition of affairs in the Southern States' he was proceeding to take moves to guard Fort Taylor at Key West and Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas (both Florida) from possible seizure.

(Fort Taylor and the Key West area will later become a vital coaling station for the Union Navy and blockading squadron.)

From Wikipedia:
The Fort Zachary Taylor State Historic Site, better known simply as Fort Taylor, (or Fort Zach to locals), is a Florida State Park and National Historic Landmark centered on a Civil War-era fort located near the southern tip of Key West, Florida.

History of Fort Zachary Taylor
Construction of the fort began in 1845 as part of a mid-19th century plan to defend the southeast coast through a series of forts. The fort was named for United States President Zachary Taylor in 1850, a few months after President Taylor's sudden death in office. Yellow fever epidemics and material shortages slowed construction of the fort, which continued throughout the 1850s. At the outset of the U.S. Civil War in 1861, Union Captain John Milton Brannan seized control of the fort, preventing it from falling into Confederate hands and using it as an outpost to threaten blockade runners. Originally, the fort was surrounded by water on all sides, with a walkway linking it to the mainland. The fort was completed in 1866, although the upper level of one side was destroyed in 1889 to make way for more modern weapons, with the older cannons being buried within the new outer wall to save on materials. The fort was heavily used again during the 1898 Spanish-American War.

In 1947, the fort, no longer of use to the Army, was turned over to the U.S. Navy for maintenance. In 1968 volunteers led by Howard S. England excavated Civil War guns and ammunition buried in long-abandoned parts of the fort, which was soon discovered to house the nation's largest collection of Civil War cannons. Fort Taylor was therefore placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Due to the filling in of land around the fort, including the creation of an attractive stretch of beach, the park now occupies 87 acres (352,000 m²).

Truman Annex
The Fort's land that is closer to downtown Key West became part of the Truman Annex to Naval Station Key West, which is about three miles to the northwest. The Annex was originally called the "Fort Zachary Taylor Annex" and it included a submarine base.

President Harry S. Truman used it for his Winter White House for 175 days in 11 visits. The Secret Service had a private beach built on the land for the president's security, but he reportedly only visited it once, preferring the public beaches. The beach name is called "Truman Beach." The fort, along with its related support buildings, was later renamed for Truman.

The Annex was decommissioned in 1974 because the U.S. Navy had decommissioned nearly all of their diesel-electric submarines and contemporary nuclear powered submarines were too big for the existing port. Most of the then-former Naval Station became an annex (Truman Annex) to the remaining Naval Air Station Key West and served as the landing point for many during the 1980 Mariel boatlift of Cuban refugees.

Those buildings in the Annex and associated real estate not retained by the Navy as part of NAS Key West were sold to private developers. There's a museum for the Truman White House and the Navy continues to own and maintain the piers and that portion of the Naval Station property to the south of Fort Taylor, primarily in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - East and the Naval Security Group Activity.

Current uses
In addition to the role of the fort and its adjacent beach as tourist attractions, Fort Taylor is also the location of a number of annual events, including week-long Civil War reenactments. On the weekend preceding Halloween, it is transformed into a haunted fort, much like a haunted house but on a grand scale and with a distinctive Civil War theme.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Civil War Geography: Fort Sumter, South Carolina

The first shots of the Civil War were fired on 12 April 1861, from Confederate batteries on Fort Johnson.

This ended a stand-off that had been in place since 26 December 1860 when US Army Major Robert Anderson had, upon learning that South Carolina had seceded from the Union, evacuated his men from nearby, indefensible Fort Moultrie, to Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter National Monument encompasses three sites in Charleston: the original Fort Sumter, the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, and the Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Access to Fort Sumter itself is by a 30 minute ferry ride from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center or Patriot's Point.

The Visitor Education Center's museum features exhibits about the disagreements between the North and South that led to the incidents at Fort Sumter. The museum at Fort Sumter focuses on the activities at the fort, including its construction and role during the Civil War.

April 12, 2011 marked the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War. There was a commemoration of the events by thousands of Civil War re-enactors with encampments in the area. A United States stamp of Fort Sumter, and first day cover, was issued that day.



The Civil War Day By Day: An Almanac 1861-1865. E.B. Long with Barbara Long, De Capo, 1971

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Council launches volcano research center in Datun

Where and what is Taipei?
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean. Another coastal city, Tamsui, is about 20 km northwest at the river's mouth on the Taiwan Strait. It lies in the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city's western border.

The city proper (Taipei City) is home to an estimated 2,618,772 people. Taipei, New Taipei, and Keelung together form the Taipei metropolitan area with a population of 6,900,273. However, they are administered under different local governing bodies. "Taipei" sometimes refers to the whole metropolitan area, while "Taipei City" refers to the city proper. Taipei City proper is surrounded on all sides by New Taipei.

Taipei is the political, economic, and cultural center of Taiwan. The National Palace Museum which has one of the largest collections of Chinese artifacts and artworks in the world is located in Taipei. Considered to be a global city, Taipei is part of a major industrial area. Railways, high speed rail, highways, airports, and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. The city is served by two airports – Taipei Songshan and Taiwan Taoyuan.

Taipei was founded in the early 18th century and became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century. The Qing Dynasty in China made Taipei the provincial capital of Taiwan in 1886.

When the Japanese acquired Taiwan in 1895 after the First Sino-Japanese War, they retained Taipei as the capital of the island, and also advanced an extensive urban planning in Taipei.

The Republic of China took over the island in 1945 following Japanese surrender. After losing Mainland China to the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) resettled the ROC government to Taiwan and declared Taipei the provisional capital of the Republic of China in December 1949.

Republic of China (aka Taiwan)
The Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, is a sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan, which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor islands. Neighboring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the east and northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Its capital city is Taipei.

The Republic of China, established in mainland China in 1912, is the oldest surviving republic in East Asia. As the legal successor state of the Qing dynasty, most of mainland China was governed by the Republic of China (without the island of Taiwan, which was under Japanese rule) after Chiang Kai-shek-led Kuomintang reunified China in 1928. Taiwan and accompanying islands were subsequently surrendered to Republic of China rule from the Empire of Japan at the end of World War II in late 1945, when both mainland China and Taiwan come under the ROC rule for four years until 1949.

Since the ROC's loss of its mainland territory following the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the Chinese Communist Party-led People's Republic of China (PRC) on mainland China in 1949, the ROC and the PRC have been claiming to represent all of "China" respectively, and both officially claim each other's territory. The PRC claims to be the successor state of the ROC and therefore claims Taiwan and other ROC-held areas as part of its territory which, along with mainland China, under Chinese sovereignty. Similarly, the ROC also officially claims sovereignty over "all China" under its constitution; although in practice, the ROC government has ceased to actively pursue this stance since 1992.

This ongoing dispute over the claim and legitimacy of "China" and also the sovereignty over Taiwan is a lingering issue from the unresolved Chinese Civil War which forms part of the complex political status of Taiwan. The tension between the two Chinas colors most of the political life in Taiwan, and any move towards "Taiwan independence" is met by threat of military attack from the PRC.

The PRC's official policy is to reunify Taiwan and mainland China under the formula of "one country, two systems" and refuses to renounce the use of military force, especially should Taiwan seek a declaration of independence.[citation needed]

The political environment in Taiwan is generally divided into two major camps in terms of views on how Taiwan/Republic of China should relate to PRC/Mainland China, which is referred to as Cross-Strait relations, is a main political discrepancy between two camps: the Pan-Blue Coalition (majority Kuomintang) believes that the ROC is the sole legitimate government of "China" but supports eventual Chinese reunification under the terms of 1992 Consensus, which defines the One China Principle. The opposition Pan-Green Coalition (majority Democratic Progressive Party) regards Taiwan as an independent, sovereign state synonymous with the ROC, opposes the notion that Taiwan is part of "China", and seeks wide diplomatic recognition and an eventual declaration of formal Taiwan independence.

A single-party state under the Kuomintang lasting from 1928, in the 1980s and 1990s the Republic of China evolved into a multi-party democracy. It has a presidential system and universal suffrage. The president serves as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The Legislative Yuan is the ROC's unicameral legislature. During the latter half of the twentieth century, the Republic of China on Taiwan experienced rapid economic growth, industrialization, and democratization. The ROC is a member of the WTO and APEC. It is one of the Four Asian Tigers, and it has an industrialized advanced economy. The 19th-largest economy in the world, its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. The ROC is ranked highly in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, economic freedom, and human development

From the Taipei Times: Council launches volcano research center in Datun
The National Science Council’s Taiwan Volcano Observatory Datun (TVO), an observation and research center to monitor volcanic activity at Datun Mountain in Taipei, was officially launched at the Jingshan Nature Center yesterday.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Tzu-ling said that although geological research reports showed that the Datun volcano group had not erupted for a very long time, observations and analyses in the past decade have shown that they could be dormant active volcanoes.

The government therefore asked the council to set up the observatory to serve as a volcanic data integration platform, combining various pieces of information collected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Central Geological Survey, the Central Weather Bureau, Academia Sinica and other academic units, she said.

Lin Cheng-horng, director of the Taiwan Volcano Observatory project and a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Earth Sciences, said that in the initial stage the observatory would monitor earthquakes, movements of the earth’s crust, earth temperature and fumarole images, as well as analyze geochemical aspects, including volcanic gas and water from hot springs.

The observatory can simulate the range of tephra — debris spewed out during a volcanic eruption — according to location and the direction of the wind during each season, he said.

Yang Tsan-yao, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Department of Geosciences, said there are various levels of indicators for volcanic eruptions, such as changes in temperature, particles in water from hot springs and gas releases, that can be observed weeks or months before an eruption, as well as movement of the earth’s crust during the days before an eruption.

Lin said that Yang’s studies on helium isotopes in the fumarole and hot spring gases from the Datun volcano group indicated that 60 percent of the gas was derived from the earth’s core, suggesting that there may be a magma chamber under northern Taiwan.

They said evidence showed that the Datun volcano group probably last erupted between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago.

National Science Council Deputy Minister Chen Cheng-hong said that while most people see volcanic eruptions as terrifying, they can also be objects of beauty, such as eruptions in Hawaii.

However, understanding the phenomenon before it occurs is important to avoid disaster.

Eruptions can be roughly predicted through an analysis of integrated data and can give enough of a warning so that precautionary actions can be taken, he said.

Six personnel will man the observatory on a daily basis and if they observe irregular patterns that indicate a possible eruption, a response task force would be assembled to assess the situation, Chen said.

Lin said they plan to add additional monitoring methods to improve the data, such as electromagnetic studies and satellite images.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Travel America: Boise Idaho: Idaho Heritage Inn

There are three Boises in the USA (in addition to Boise Idaho) - Boise, Texas, Boise, a neighborhood in Portland, Oregon and Boise City, in Oklahoma.

From the website of the Idaho Heritage Inn:
The Idaho Heritage Inn was built in 1904 for one of Boise’s early merchants, Henry Falk. The Falk family owned The Mode department store downtown which still houses retail shops. The Inn remained in the Falk family until 1943, when it was purchased by then-Governor Chase A. Clark.

Governor Clark enjoyed a prestigious career in public service which culminated in his appointment as a federal judge. The home was used by the Clark’s daughter, Bethine, and her husband, Senator Frank Church, as their Idaho residence during Senator Church’s 24 year tenure in the U.S. Senate. The home remained in the Clark/Church family until 1987, when it was restored as a Bed & Breakfast. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Idaho Heritage Inn continues to welcome its guests with dignity and grace.

This six-room bed and breakfast, lovated in the former Governor's mansion, offers private baths, local TV, modem hookups, full breakfast service, a fax/copier, and quaint air-conditioned rooms perfect for a quieter setting than in the downtown area.

109 W. Idaho,
Boise, Idaho, 83702

Writers & Artists Hideouts: Great Getaways for Seducing the Muse. Andrea Brown. Quill Driver Books. 2005

Sons of American Revolution honor black woman for heroics during War for Independence

The news article below doesn't really have anything to do with geography...but the newspaper from which it comes is the Athens Banner-Herald. That'd be Athens, Georgia, not Athens, Greece. (Other US states that have a city named Athens are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and WIsconsin!

So here's info from Wikipedia on both of these Athens.

Athens, Greece
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece.

Athens dominates the Attica periphery and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an Alpha world city. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.

The Greek capital has a population of 655,780[10] (796,442 back in 2004) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond the administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,074,160 (in 2011),[14] over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). According to Eurostat, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) is the 7th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 4th most populous capital city of the EU) with a population of 4,013,368 (in 2004).

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery.

Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.[15] Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.

Athens, Greece
Athens-Clarke County is a consolidated city–county in U.S. state of Georgia, in the northeastern part of the state, comprising the former City of Athens proper (the county seat) and Clarke County. The University of Georgia is located in this college town and is responsible for the initial growth of the city. In 1991, after a vote the preceding year, the original city abandoned its charter in order to form a unified government with Clarke County, referred to collectively as Athens-Clarke County.

As of the 2010 census, the consolidated city-county (including all of Athens-Clarke County except Winterville and a portion of Bogart) had a total population of 115,452. Athens-Clarke County is the fifth-largest city in Georgia and the principal city of the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 189,264 as of the 2008 Census Bureau estimate.

In the late 18th century, a trading settlement on the banks of the Oconee River called Cedar Shoals stood where Athens is located today. On January 27, 1785, the Georgia General Assembly granted a charter by Abraham Baldwin for the University of Georgia as the first state-supported university. Sixteen years later, in 1801, a committee from the university's board of trustees selected a site for the university on a hill above Cedar Shoals in what was then Jackson County. On July 25, John Milledge, one of the trustees and later governor of Georgia, bought 633 acres (2.6 km²) from Daniel Easley and donated it to the university. Milledge named the surrounding area Athens after the city that was home to the academy of Plato and Aristotle in Greece.

The first buildings on the University of Georgia campus were made from logs. The town grew as lots adjacent to the college were sold to raise money for the additional construction of the school. By the time the first class graduated from the University in 1804, Athens consisted of three homes, three stores and a few other buildings facing Front Street, now known as Broad Street. Completed in 1806 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin College was the University of Georgia and the City of Athens' first permanent structure. This brick building is now called Old College.

Athens officially became a town in December 1806 with a government made up of a three-member commission. The university continued to grow, as did the town, with cotton mills fueling the industrial and commercial development. Athens became known as the "Manchester of the South" after the city in England known for its mills. In 1833 a group of Athens businessmen led by James Camak, tired of their wagons getting stuck in the mud, built one of Georgia's first railroads, the Georgia, connecting Athens to Augusta by 1841, and to Marthasville (now Atlanta) by 1845.

During the American Civil War, Athens became a significant supply center when the New Orleans armory was relocated to what is now called the Chicopee building. Fortifications can still be found along parts of the North Oconee River between College and Oconee St. In addition, Athens played a small part in the ill-fated Stoneman Raid when a skirmish was fought on a site overlooking the Middle Oconee River near what is now the old Macon Highway. As in many southern towns, there is a Confederate memorial. It is located on Broad Street, near the University of Georgia Arch.

During Reconstruction, Athens continued to grow. The form of government changed to a mayor-council government with a new city charter on August 24, 1872 with Captain Henry Beusse as the first mayor of Athens. Henry Beusse was instrumental in the rapid growth of the city after the Civil War. After holding the position of mayor he worked in the railroad industry and helped to bring railroads to the region creating growth in many of the surrounding communities. Freed slaves moved to the city. Many were attracted by the new centers for education such as the Freedman's Bureau. This new population was served by three black newspapers – the Athens Blade, the Athens Clipper, and the Progressive Era.

In the 1880s, as Athens became more densely populated, city services and improvements were undertaken. The Athens Police Department was founded in 1881 and public schools opened in fall of 1886. Telephone service was introduced in 1882 by the Bell Telephone Company. Transportation improvements were also introduced with a street paving program beginning in 1885 and streetcars, pulled by mules, in 1888.

By its centennial in 1901, Athens was a much-changed city. A new city hall was completed in 1904. An African-American middle class and professional class had grown around the corner of Washington and Hull Streets, known as the "Hot Corner." The theater at the Morton Building hosted movies and performances by well-known black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. In 1907 aviation pioneer Ben T. Epps became Georgia's first pilot on a hill outside town that would become the Athens-Ben Epps Airport. Athens got its first tall building in 1908 with the seven-story Southern Mutual Insurance Company building.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy built new buildings and paved runways to serve as a training facility for naval pilots. In 1954, the U.S. Navy chose Athens as the site for the Navy Supply Corps school. The school was located in Normal Town in the buildings of the old Normal School. The school is now scheduled to be moved in 2011 under the Base Realignment and Closure process.

In 1961, Athens witnessed part of the civil rights movement when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes became the first two black students to enter the University of Georgia. Three years later, a gas station attendant and member of the KKK followed black Army reserve officer Lemuel Penn out of town and murdered him in Madison County near Colbert, Georgia. This received national attention. Despite the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954, the Athens – Clarke County school district remained segregated until 1970.

From the Online Athens Banner-Herald: Sons of American Revolution honor black woman for heroics during War for Independence
Mammy Kate was a big woman. Some tales have her towering to almost 7 feet tall. She was a slave, the mother of nine children, and as legend has it, a heroine of the Revolutionary War.

On Saturday, Mammy Kate, her husband, Daddy Jack, and four others, including Mammy Kate’s master, former Gov. Stephen Heard, will be honored when members of the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution lay wreaths at their graves.

Mammy Kate will become the first black woman in Georgia ever honored by the groups as a patriot of the American Revolution.

Austin Dabney, who fought at the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County and is buried in Pike County, was the first black person in Georgia honored by the SAR.

The ceremony takes place at 10:30 a.m. at Heardmont Cemetery in Elbert County, where Mammy Kate and the other honorees — Daddy Jack, Stephen Heard and Capt. John Darden — are buried and will be remembered in a ceremony. A second ceremony will follow at 2 p.m. in Stinchcomb Methodist Church in Elbert County, where patriots Dionysus Oliver and Peter Oliver will be honored in a similar ceremony.

The story of Mammy Kate’s heroics is based primarily on Heard family history, said Larry Wilson, a member of the Samuel Elbert Chapter of the SAR, which is hosting the event that is expected to draw SAR and DAR members from across the state.

“I don’t think the Heard family has any written documents. It’s all passed down by word of mouth,” Wilson said.

The story is that Mammy Kate rescued her master, Stephen Heard, in 1779 from a British prison camp in Augusta, where he was to be hanged, said Peggy Galis, an Athens resident who grew up in Elberton and is a descendant of Heard.

The late John McIntosh, who in the 1930s prepared a history on Elbert County published in 1940, quotes from an 1820 letter in the book that describes Mammy Kate as a “giantess, more than six feet tall,” and a woman who was of “pure African blood and declared herself to be the daughter of a great king.”

“Mammy Kate is one of the most remarkable figures in Georgia,” said Galis, who learned about Kate’s legacy as a child. “I’m so thrilled,” she said about Kate’s recognition for her heroics in the War for Independence.

Briefly, the story is that Mammy Kate, upon learning Heard was captured, traveled to the prison camp in Augusta where she volunteered to wash clothes for the British officers, a deed that gave her access to the prison and eventually to Heard. Given privileges not only to wash clothes, but to bring in food, she entered the compound with a clothes basket, secured Heard — who was a physically small man — in the basket and carried him outside the prison, according to Galis.

Heard, who was grateful for the woman’s ingenuity and bravery, gave Mammy Kate her freedom, along with some land, but she insisted on staying at the Heardmont plantation, Galis said. Kate and Daddy Jack are both buried within the rock walls of the Heardmont Cemetery.

While written documents on the actual rescue do not exist from the 1700s, this is not surprising. Galis said, as few things were recorded during those days. For example, the Hargett Library at the University of Georgia, which houses historical documents, has only one letter from Stephen Heard, she noted.

When Heard died in November 1815 without a will, his son, John A. Heard, administrator of the estate, created and filed a will in 1816 with the courts. Mammy Kate and Daddy Jack are each mentioned in the former governor’s will as drawn up by his son.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Travel America: Boise, Idaho: Owyhee Plaza Hotel

Boise ( Boy-zee) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Idaho as well as the county seat of Ada County. Located on the Boise River, it anchors the Boise City-Nampa metropolitan area and is the largest city between Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon.

As of the 2010 Census Bureau, Boise's city population was 205,671.[2] The Boise metropolitan area is home to about 616,500 people and is the most populous metropolitan area in Idaho, and the third most populous metropolitan area in the U.S. Pacific Northwest region (behind only the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR metropolitan areas). It is also the 104th largest U.S. city by population.

The Owyhee Plaza Hotel is "located in the middle of downtown, close to restaurants and shopping, with a pool, room refrigerators, room service, and a restaurant and lounge, TV, air conditioning, modem hook-ups [probably wireless internet by now!], businress center, and 100 rooms with desks.

1109 Main Street
Boise, ID 83702

Here's what their website has to say about the hotel:
The Owyhee Plaza Hotel has been a downtown Boise landmark since 1910. Although recently renovated to reflect the luxury of today, great care has been taken to preserve historic charm.

The hotel features an excellent restaurant, the Plaza Grill which offers a casual dining experience.

An outdoor pool, complimentary airport shuttle, free parking, a morning newspaper and high speed wireless Internet access are just a few of the hotel amenities.

Named for the majestic Owyhee Mountain Range and white water river gracing the beautiful state of Idaho, The Owyhee Plaza maintains its reputation for excellence and rich hospitality.

Writers & Artists Hideouts: Great Getaways for Seducing the Muse. Andrea Brown. Quill Driver Books. 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indonesia's Bali rattled by large quake

Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island (strictly speaking, the province covers a few small neighbouring islands as well as the isle of Bali).

With a population recorded as 3,891,000 in the 2010 Census,[2] the island is home to most of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. In the 2000 census about 92.29% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder follow Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Bali, a tourist haven for decades, has seen a further surge in tourist numbers in recent years.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck off Indonesia's popular resort island of Bali on Thursday, sending people fleeing from their homes and hotels in panic. No tsunami alert was issued, and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Some roofs collapsed, and witnesses told local radio and television stations they saw cracks in the walls of buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 was centered 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of the island. It struck 36 miles (60 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor.

"It knocked me off my motorcycle," said one resident, Miftahul Chusna.

Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.

A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh.

New feature: Geography of the American Civil War

At least once a week, but probably more often, I'll post something on the "geography of the American Civil War".

Most of the battles of the war took place in Virginia, but there were big battles in Pennsylvania (Gettysburg) and other placse.

What were the Confederate states of America?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On travel til Wednesday

I'm visiting elderly relatives in Box Elder, SD who do not have internet.

Will try to sneak out now and again to an internet cafe to post, but more than likely will not be posting until Wedneday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Threat of Volcanic Eruption Spurs Evacuation on Canary Islands

From WIkipedia:
The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa,100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union. The islands include (from largest to smallest): Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste and Isla de Lobos. The Canary Islands are legally recognized as a nationality of Spain.

The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Teide National Park and Mount Teide (the third largest volcano in the world), make it a major tourist destination, with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

The islands have a sub-tropical climate, with long hot days in summer and cooler days in winter. Due to their location close to the equator yet away from tropical storms and location above the temperature inversion layer, these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.

The capital for the Autonomous Community is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canaries since 1768, except for a brief period in 1910. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site) on Tenerife.

During the times of the Spanish Empire the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to America because of the favorable easterly winds.
(From Sept 29, 2011)
From International Business Times: Threat of Volcanic Eruption Spurs Evacuation on Canary Islands

More than fifty residents and tourists have been evacuated from the foot of a volcano on the Canary Islands following a spate of earthquakes that sparked fears of a deadly eruption.

Local officials prepared for the emergency as early as Wednesday after rumblings beneath the Pico de Malpaso mountain raised worries of a possible eruption and flying volcanic rocks on the island of El Hierro in the Atlantic Ocean.

A resident named Herminio Barrera told Agence France Presse: "I have never felt shaking like it. I notice it especially at night. We can also hear a rumbling and sounds from deep down. I am staying calm but there are people who are more worried, particularly those with children. We are very close to the mountain. My father-in-law left yesterday."

According to Agence France Presse, local authorities are establishing an emergency shelter that can hold up to 2000 people.

A German tourist named Tuengen Maier told AFP: "We were having some wine yesterday evening when the Civil Guard told us to leave the house because we were too close to the mountain. We are just going to pick up our luggage this morning. This is too dangerous. We cannot stay."

The Canary Islands are an archipelago of more than a dozen islands that are an autonomous region of Spain. Popular with tourists, the Canaries are located about 100 kilometers west of Morocco.

The national defense ministry also said it has dispatched 31 military personnel to assist with the evacuation.

The regional government of the island stated it was in a ‘pre-alert’ state and has been stocking up on water and medical supplies.

According to reports, Alpidio Armas, chief of the local council, downplayed the scale of emergency.

"We will not have to evacuate the island," he said. "The number of tremors has increased, but most of them are in the sea."

Indeed, the Spanish National Geographic Institute said it has detected 8,000 tremors in the area since July 19, but most of them were too small to be felt. However one tremor recorded Wednesday reached 3.4 magnitude.

A spokesman for the Canary island government told media: "We have not seen this kind of movement with such frequency on El Hierro since records began [more than 100 years ago].”

She added that the last volcanic eruption on the Canaries occurred on La Palma in 1971.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rare catch of a tiny sailfish is made off Cabo San Lucas

Way back in the 1970s, I used to watch a TV show called The Love Boat. They were always talking about docking in Cabo San Lucas...
Cabo San Lucas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaβo san ˈlukas], Cape Saint Luke), commonly called Cabo, is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the municipality of Los Cabos in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. As of the 2010 census, the population was 68,463 people[1]. It is the third-largest city in Baja California Sur after La Paz and San José del Cabo (although it is only slightly less populous than San José del Cabo), it has experienced very rapid growth and development, often with adverse environmental impact.

Cabo is known for its sandy beaches, world-class scuba diving locations, balnearios, the distinctive sea arch El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, and abundant marine life. The Los Cabos Corridor has become a heavily trafficked holiday destination with numerous resorts and timeshares along the coast between San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

From Tehethomasoutdoors: Rare catch of a tiny sailfish is made off Cabo San Lucas

A good fish story always seems to involve a monstrous catch or marathon battle, but perhaps more impressive is the catch of a truly tiny member of a big-game species.

Behold the sailfish in the accompanying photo. It was reeled in last Saturday off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, a Baja California angler's paradise known for its much larger billfish. It's impressive because of its rarity: People simply do not catch baby billfish.

Chris Fuller, who was aboard the Petrolero, was fishing for tuna in the Sea of Cortez and using a live sardine and 40-pound-test line. After the ravenous little sailfish grabbed the five-inch bait, it performed the typical sailfish acrobatics for a very brief period before being pulled aboard, photographed and released. (Fuller is pitured above, holding his catch.)

Its weight was estimated at about three pounds and scientists, after inspecting the photo, guessed its age at about 4 months.

Tracy Ehrenberg, general manager of Pisces Sportfishing, which has been operating off Cabo San Lucas for more than 30 years, supplied the image for this story. She had heard of only one other tiny sailfish being caught, the other a slightly larger specimen in 2009.

The 2009 catch was not released. Measuring 42.1 inches and weighing nearly 3.7 pounds, it was recorded as the smallest sailfish to have been caught aboard a sportfishing boat out of the popular resort destination. Its age was determined to be 5 months.

Of the more recent specimen, Ehrengerg said, "I have never seen a billfish so small."

For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Assn. lists the all-tackle world record Pacific sailfish as a 221-pound specimen caught off Ecuador in 1947.

Scientists say both catches are important because they prove that the region off Cabo San Lucas -- at Baja California's tip, where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez -- is a nursery area for sailfish.

Fuller was using a circle hook, designed to catch in the corner of a fish's mouth to allow for safer releases. Said Ehrenberg on the Pisces blog: "After a brief five minutes on the line and posing for the paparazzi, the tiny sailfish was successfully released."

Perhaps in a few years it can be recaptured at a much larger size, and become one of those other types of fish stories.

-- Image showing Chris Fuller (left), deckhand Ruben Orantes and Capt. Rob Lawford posing with juvenile sailfish is courtesy of Pisces Sportfishing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Utah: Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a U.S. National Park in eastern Utah. It is known for preserving over 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations.

The park is located just outside of Moab, Utah, and is 76,679 acres (31,031 ha) in area. Its highest elevation is 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) at the visitor center. Forty-three arches have collapsed due to erosion since 1970. The park receives 10 inches (250 mm) of rain a year on average.

Administered by the National Park Service, the area was originally created as a National Monument on April 12, 1929. It was redesignated as a National Park on November 12, 1971

Olympic National Park: Places on the Historic Register

There are 28 places on the National Register of Historic Places in Olympic National Park. We continue, alphabetically:

Elkhorn Guard Station - The Elkhorn Guard Station, also known as the Elkhorn Ranger Station, comprises four buildings in the backcountry of Olympic National Park, Washington. The station was built by the U.S. Forest Service between 1930 and 1934, before the establishment of the national park, when the lands were part of Olympic National Forest (USFS). The structures were designed in the Forest Service's interpretation of the National Park Service rustic style, using native materials and construction techniques. The complex was built using labor from the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Elkhorn Guard Station is one of five surviving USFS-built guard stations.

Elk Lick Lodge - No info given for it!

Elwha Campground Community Kitchen - The Elwha Campground Community Kitchen was built in Olympic National Park to serve the Altair Campground. It is an open octagonal shelter built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps personnel from the Elwha River Camp in the National Park Service Rustic style. The peeled log structure is capped with a cedar shake roof, enclosing a cooking fireplace and chimney. The Elwha and Altair Campground Community Kitchens are the only such structures remaining in Olympic National Park.

The kitchen structure was listed on National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 2007.

Elwha Ranger Station - The Elwha Ranger Station is a historic district in Olympic National Park, originally built in the 1930s for the U.S. Forest Service. The complex of fourteen buildings is divided in two by the Elwha River Road. To the east lie the ranger station and three residences, with nine maintenance buildings on the west side of the road. The complex was turned over to the National Park Service in 1940 when the land was added to Olympic National Park from Olympic National Forest. Construction is typical of USFS practice, and reflects the Forest Service's preference of the time for bungalow and American Craftsman style architecture.

The Elwha area was designated as one of fifteen areas in Olympic National Forest to be used for public recreation. The "Cleator Plan," named after Forest Service recreation engineer Fred W. Cleator, envisioned the construction of appropriate structures to support these activities, including a ranger station. In the mid-1930s a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established nearby, contributing labor for forest construction projects. When the area was taken over by the National Park Service in 1940 the complex continued in use virtually unchanged, retaining its Forest Service character.

Enchanted Valley Chalet - The Enchanted Valley Chalet is a backcountry lodge in Olympic National Park. The chalet was built in 1930-31 for the Olympic Recreation Company by Tom E. Criswell and his son Glenn, about 13 miles (21 km) from the nearest road access. It was a popular destination for hikers and horse tours through the 1940s. In 1943, the chalet was closed as an accommodation. It was used for a short period as an Aircraft Warning Service station during World War II, watching for Japanese airplanes.

It did not reopen until 1953, after the National Park Service had purchased the Olympic Recreation Company's holdings in 1951, having purchased the Chalet itself in 1939. After a period of neglect, the chalet was restored in 1983-84. It was one of four such accommodations built by the Olympic Recreation Company and the Olympic Chalet Company; Low Divide Chalet, Nine Mile Shelter, Graves Creek Inn and the Enchanted Valley Chalet. Of the four, only the Enchanted Valley Chalet and the bathhouse at Low Divide remain.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maine: Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a National Park located in the U.S. state of Maine. It reserves much of Mount Desert Island, and associated smaller islands, off the Atlantic coast. Originally created as Lafayette National Park in 1919, the first National Park East of the Mississippi, it was renamed Acadia in 1929.

The landscape architect Charles Elliot is credited with the idea for the park. It first attained federal status when President Woodrow Wilson, established it as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, administered by the National Park Service.

On February 26, 1919, it became a national park, with the name Lafayette National Park in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, an influential French supporter of the American Revolution. The park's name was changed to Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929.

From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage trails throughout the park. He sponsored the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, with the nearby family summer home Reef Point Estate, to design the planting plans for the subtle carriage roads at the Park (c.1930).

The network encompassed over 50 miles (80 km) of gravel carriage trails, 17 granite bridges, and two gate lodges, almost all of which are still maintained and in use today. Cut granite stones placed along the edges of the carriage roads act as guard rails of sort and are locally known as "coping stones" to help visitors cope with the steep edges. They are also fondly called "Rockefeller's teeth".

Fire of 1947
On October 17, 1947, 10,000 acres (40 km2) of Acadia National Park were burned in a fire that began along the Crooked Road several miles west of Hulls Cove. The forest fire was one of a series of fires that consumed much of Maine's forest as a result of a dry year. The fire burned for days and was fought by the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, local residents, and National Park Service employees from around the country.

Restoration of the park was supported, substantially, by the Rockefeller family, particularly John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Regrowth was mostly allowed to occur naturally and the fire has been suggested to have actually enhanced the beauty of the park, adding diversity to tree populations and depth to its scenery.

Centennial Initiative Project
The National Park Service, as part of their Centennial Initiative celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, created a project to promote voluntary, multimodal park access for present and future generations. Going “car free” offers visitors the opportunity to explore Acadia by foot, bicycle, shuttle bus, commercial tour bus, private automobile, or private and commercial vessels. The project includes an inter-modal transportation center on state-owned land four miles (6 km) north of the park, multiple-use trails to connect gateway communities with the park, and rehabilitation of historic carriage roads surrounding Eagle Lake.