Monday, January 30, 2012

Map of the Week – 1-30-2012:Great Britain-Her Natural and Industrial Resources

Great Britain – Her Natural and Industrial Resources, from

This is an attractive early infographic, created and published in New York City, and distributed by the British Information Services, an agency of the British Government, in about 1939.  The map is at the scale of 1:1,100,000, and an original is held now by the Boston Public Library.  The University of Miami’s map collection also has a copy. 
The map is a bit cluttered, (there is apparently a lot going on in Great Britain in the pre-WWII era) but by a careful back-and-forth with the legend, it is fairly easy to apprehend what is being depicted.  I also note the way Great Britain is referred to as “her”!  We don’t see that very often now-a-days anymore! 
            I include a blow-up of a section of Scotland, showing all the variety of industries and agricultural pursuits in the Glasgow area, where I now reside.  There was smelting, coal fields, coal export, chemicals, cement, food processing, fishing, cattle raising, cotton, wool, engineering, and of course, ship building.  The Glasgow area produced most of the ships built for the British Navy during WWI and WWII, and the decline of ship building after the war ended was one of the major blows to Glasgow’s economy and strong tradition of working class trade unionism. 
Historically, engineering was an incredibly vital part of the Glaswegian economy, and had been for centuries.  Think James Watt (steam engine), and Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), to name a few.  (See and for a more complete and very impressive listing of Scottish inventions and discoveries, which include penicillin, RADAR, the field of thermodynamics, cloned sheep, television, anaesthetics, and the hypodermic syringe, among dozens of other things).  Not only ship-building, and everything connected with ships and navigational equipment, but also the design and construction of train locomotives were huge industries here. In fact, engineering and industrial design was such a mainstay of the economy that “Clyde Built” became a slogan appended with pride to things produced in the Glaswegian region of the River Clyde, and it was a catchphrase that was understood around the world as indicating that the product was well-designed and well-made, to the highest available standards. 
Textile manufacturing was the other extremely important industry in the Glasgow region for several centuries, even prior to the 20th when this map was created.  Wool and cotton were processed and woven here, and Glasgow and several nearby towns were centers of textile production famous the world over.  The town of Paisley produced cottons popularizing the paisley design, with the Scottish town giving its name to the distinctive amoeba-like motif originally created in India and Persia.  At first the cloth was imported from Asia via the East India Company, but supply couldn’t keep up with demand, so it began to be manufactured locally in Scotland.  Although it was originally woven, later on the paisley designs were printed, which made the cloth even less expensive and more affordable for mass production and consumption.  In the early 19th century, over 100,000 workers were employed in the cotton mills, over 70% of them women and children.
Raw cotton from the Americas was one of the commodities that made Glasgow’s “Tobacco Lords” wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in fact was one of the impetuses for Scotland finally agreeing to a Union with England in 1707.  The English Government’s Navigation Acts prohibited Scots from trading directly with England’s new colonies, prior to American independence.  Scotland’s Union with England would allow Scotland to trade directly with the American colonies, especially in cotton, tobacco, and sugar, the most profitable commodities.  As opposed to most merchant endeavors involved in the “triangular trade” between European ports, Africa, the Caribbean, and mainland North America, Glasgow (unlike Liverpool, for instance) did not play an active part in the transport of slaves.  However, the Scots were very involved in plantation crops – cotton, tobacco, and sugar – and many Scots owned numerous plantations, especially in the Caribbean.  “By all accounts, the Caribbean plantations were the most inhumane; the owners preferred ‘salt-water slaves’ – straight from the ship – who they would work to death before buying a new consignment.  The horrible truth is that much of the money made through the work of slaves financed the making of Glasgow as a major industrial centre.” From “The Tears that made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow,” by Carol Craig, 2010, Argyll Publishing.
During the American Civil War, the continued importation of cotton from the southern United States into Glasgow helped the Confederate cause.  In fact, the roles of shipbuilding and cotton importation in Glasgow were intertwined during the American Civil War.  Glasgow’s shipyards produced the world’s fastest steam-powered ships, called runners, which were very successful in out-running President Lincoln’s naval blockade of the southern states’ coastlines.  The South had few of the industries needed to equip and support armies of half a million men.  Despite the stereotype of the Confederate army as being poorly-clothed and under-equipped, they were often better clothed and armed than their Northern counterparts, due to the help of the Glaswegians.  Because the Glasgow ships could get through the blockade, they were able to supply the southern states with much-needed goods for the army, including rifles, munitions, and finished clothing, and in turn take the cotton produced in the south to market in Europe, whereas otherwise it wouldn’t have reached buyers.  Even though the Glaswegian merchants were on the losing side of the war, they still made enormous profits from their undertakings.  Glasgow profited from supporting the South in this war, and thereby supported slavery.  Cotton prices in Europe had skyrocketed, a bale of cotton could be bought for £15 in the American South and then sold in Liverpool for £75.
            “While America tore itself apart, fortunes were made by the Clydeside shipbuilders and brokers building ships to beat the blockade.  At the height of the boom in 1864, Warner Underwood, the US Consul in Glasgow, complained that an astonishing 27 Clyde yards were employing 25,000 men and boys building no less than 42 large runners.  The cash rewards for the Scots were phenomenal.  It was calculated that the sum total spent on building and refitting blockade runners up to 1864 was £1.4 million (£140m in today’s money) – a third of which was pure, war-inflated profit.”  From
             For more information about the global importance of the US cotton crop, see King Cotton and His Retainers: Financing and Marketing the Cotton Crop of the South, 1800-1925, by Harold D. Woodman, 2000,  Beard Publishers.  For more on the British collaboration with the Confederacy, see Guns for Cotton: England Arms the Confederacy, by Thomas Boaz, 1996, Burd Street Press.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Northern Lights of January, 2012

This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval at the north pole, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite. “Center time” is the calculated time halfway through the satellite's pass over the pole.  From

As some of you are aware (i.e., Kristen Grady, who sent me the wonderful photos of northern Scotland’s sightings of the aurora) the high northern latitudes have been getting quite a display of the northern lights.  Unfortunately, I have not been privileged to see them here in Glasgow, possibly due to light pollution, cloud cover, or we are just not far north enough (hard to believe!).  It seems that many of the best sightings are quite a bit further north, and in more remote areas (the Orkney Islands, the Shetlands, Iceland, Norway, Alaska, Finland, Canada’s Northwest Territories, etc.) even though according to the Guardian’s Google mapping of sightings, many in the eastern UK and as far south as Margate, have also seen them, albeit as rather weak and ephemeral manifestations. I have seen them, many moons ago, in both Iceland's Faroe Islands, and northern Norway. 
            The aurora borealis has apparently been very strong for the past few nights, and covering more of the globe, due to the intensity of the solar storms occurring now.  This past week of geomagnetic storms has showered the earth with radiation, resulting in the incredible light show known as the Northern Lights.  (There is also a Southern Lights phenomenon, visible at the higher latitudes near the South Pole, as well as on other planets in our solar system.  Jupiter and Saturn have similar magnetic-pole based aurorae, and like Earth’s, they are powered by solar winds.) 
            The aurorae normally occur in a band 10 to 12 degrees from the magnetic poles, although during a geomagnetic storm such as in effect now, this zone can expand to lower latitudes.  The Aurora Borealis was named after the Roman goddess of the dawn (Aurora), and the Greek name for the north wind (Boreas).  The North American Cree people called them “The Dance of the Spirits,” and in the Middle Ages in Europe they were seen as a sign from God (of course!). 
            There is even a live webcam of the aurorae in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in Canada, (Photo above) broadcast by AuroraMAX, which is a five-year educational initiative to raise awareness of the science of the Northern Lights, and how the Sun’s relationship with Earth can affect our daily lives.  AuroraMAX will allow skywatchers to follow the intensity and frequency of the aurora borealis leading up to Solar Maximum, which is the most active period of the Sun’s 11-year cycle (which produces the most active auroras), and is expected to peak in 2013.

And check this out!  The Guardian (UK newspaper) set up a Google map for people to enter their locations and photos of the northern lights.  Surprisingly, quite a few places in England and Scotland, but mainly on the east side of the island.  Also, the lights are not nearly as prominent as they are further north.
Great photos from all over! This one is from Ivalo, in northern Lapland, Finland.

Some photos from Scotland:

Photos of various aurorae (both southern and northern lights) from the space shuttle.  Astronauts can see the aurorae from both sides from the International Space station, etc.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Map of the Week 1-23-2012:Sockets of the World

Commonly Used Electrical Sockets around the World, from

So you can see what is on my mind after this move to a different continent/country/SOCKET ZONE!!!! 
PLUGS!!!!  As anyone who has traveled to a different country knows, you usually are not going to be lucky enough to be able to use your existing electrical appliances without some help from adaptor plugs.  I had gotten spoiled by all my travels from the US to Jamaica, which uses the same type of electrical outlets as the US (as well as using a US-model, civilized three digit telephone area code with a 7 digit number, not like this insane UK system where you have to know when to drop the leading zero of a phone number, and everything is different depending whether you are calling from a landline or a mobile phone, but that’s another story!).  When I was in Morocco last year, I had a big problem with the plugs and outlets, and my laptop was effectively useless after it ran out of battery power.  I had dozens of little adaptor plugs with me (I had bought a whole contingent of them, seemingly every possible configuration) but none of them worked.  The hotel seemed to have its own personal standard of socket, which worked with nothing I had.  I even had brought a little step down transformer with me (or probably I mean a step UP transformer) but no dice, couldn’t get the juice to power my gizmos. 
Since I was in the UK during last summer, I knew that I had all the right adaptors, and that all my necessary electronic devices were 110/240 volt compatible (OH, yes, that is another whole scenario – making sure you have the right voltage, otherwise your device – or you! - can fry, even if you have the right adaptor to plug into the socket!)  Although this time I did bring one adaptor plug with me for my laptop, I realized that it was inconvenient to keep switching back and forth whenever I needed to use another appliance (camera battery charger, cell phone charger, hair dryer, etc.). 
I had to go out and forage for more adaptor plugs!  I came across an electronics shop selling adaptor plugs to transform a US plug so as to be compatible with a UK outlet, but unfortunately, they were out of the simple kind.  The only kind they had (which in my desperation, is what I ended up buying) was a universal adaptor plug.  It is actually very clever.  It has all these little pins and metal bits that you can pull down and slide out from the main plug housing (which is gargantuan) depending upon what country you are in and where you are coming from.  Supposedly it will accommodate nearly every possible permutation of plug types going in and socket types being plugged in to.  The only issue is that it is HUGE!  No lie, it protrudes from the wall at least 6 inches, maybe more, after your device is plugged into it.  But nevertheless, IT WORKS! 
            Why does the world need so many different types of plugs and sockets, you might well ask.  Well, there is an amusing little article about this very topic that helps to clarify the historical background of this insanity, called “Gizmodo explains why every country has a different fucking plug.”
Apparently there are about 13 different plugs in general usage throughout the world.  At least now the Eurozone is more or less standardized onto the same plug, which was decidedly NOT the case when I traveled around dozens of European countries on a Eurail Pass in my salad days.  At least we didn’t have to lug around computers and digital cameras back then, but there were still the all important HAIR DRYERS!! 
            Gizmodo says, by way of explanation as to WHY so many different sockets, and who ended up with what, “Basically, the best way to guess who's got which socket is to brush up on your WWI/WWII history, and to have a deep passion for postcolonial literature. No, really…”
            And they conclude by saying it probably isn’t going to change any time soon, owing to the number of sockets extant in the world, and the investment this represents.  “Your Walmart shaver will still die if you plug it into a European socket with a bare adapter, Indians will still be reminded of the British Empire every time they unplug a laptop, Israel will have their own plug which works nowhere else in the world, and El Salvador, without a national standard, will continue to wrestle with 10 different kinds of plugs.”
This map shows similar information as the one above, but actually indicates a higher level of complexity than the more simplified map.  Things are not so straightforward in the real world, as I can vouch!

The British Plug – a gargantuan three-pronged beast! With a fuse built right into it, it is one of the world’s weirder plugs.  (see “Type G” plug on the map above.)  If you are in Nigeria or the parts of Africa that comprise Cecil Rhodes' old "empire" ("from Cape to Cairo") then you are in luck with this British plug.  Otherwise, not so much. 

Sockets of the World – UNITE! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Map of the Week 1-16-2012:Underwater Internet

The Internet’s Underwater Paths:  Interactive map.  (Image: TeleGeography/2011 PriMetrica, Inc./Global Bandwidth Research Service/Europa Technologies/Geocentre Consulting/INEGI/Tele Atlas/Google)

“Ever wondered how your email can cross the vastness of the ocean and be delivered almost instantly, anywhere in the world? It's all down to a network of fibre-optic cables that link up the continents and transmit terabits of data every second.
Thanks to TeleGeography, a US telecommunications research firm, you can now view these submarine cables on an interactive map and get a sense of the physical infrastructure that keeps the internet going.
The map shows 188 active and planned submarine cables, along with their landing points. Clicking a cable gives you more information, such as its name, its length, who owns it and where it meets land. Clicking a landing point will also tell you which cables terminate at that location.
The map is only a stylised representation, so the real cables and landing points may lie in slightly different locations.  That should protect cables from thieves, who have caused communications outages in south-east Asia, but it won't help ships avoid breaking cables by dropping anchor.” From:
          Now that I am far away from most everyone I know, and communicate mainly through the Internet, this has taken on more than the usual importance for me! 
The Internet cable map bears a startling, but, I suppose, somewhat unsurprising, similarity to this much older (110 years older!) map of telegraph lines under the oceans.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Map of the Week 1-9-2012:Old Glasgow, Scotland

Old Glasgow Map, 1878. 
            Glasgow - my new home - long known as the “Second City of the Empire.”  I love the names of the streets around here – “Saltmarket;” “Parsonage Square;” “Blackfriars Court;” “Ropework Lane;” and the mysteriously named “Goosedubbs” and “Spoutmouth” - evidence of a rich mediaeval history and centuries’ worth of settlement and occupational identification with specific locations of the city.  And then when trans-Atlantic shipping became the mainstay of the Glaswegian economy, names such as Virginia Street and Jamaica Street reflected where the trading ships were headed. Click on the map and zoom in to see some of the incredible detail. 
This map is a Victorian representation of the secular part of the city in 1547, created from original records by Sir James Marwick who was Town Clerk of Glasgow from 1873 to 1903.  The detail shows the Trongate area.  This is in what is now called the Merchant City section of Glasgow, “tron” being a corruption of “trone,” an Old French word for scales.  The weighing station for the market was located here.  In the 18th century, Merchant City became the most desirable place for the new captains of industry to build their grand residences and warehouses.  Many of these buildings still stand today, testament to the large amounts of money made by the "tobacco lords," who profited from the trade in shipping tobacco, sugar, and tea. The buildings are now home to the gentrifying classes of Glasgow. 
“Glasgow Cross in pre-Reformation times was known as Mercat Cross.  Argyle Street and Trongate are shown in the map as ‘St Tenus Gait or Tronegait.’ ‘Gait’ is an old Scots word meaning ‘the way to.’  St Tenus Well was situated at the western end of St Tenus Gait at what is now St Enoch Square.  The eastern end of Tronegait, at the Mercat Cross, was the site of the ‘Trone’ used for weighing goods brought to market.  Saltmarket, where the fish curers operated was known at this time as ‘Walkergait.’  The trade carried out by the waulkers was cloth bleaching.  ‘Stockwellgait’ was known earlier as ‘Fishergait.’  The fishermen who worked there got water supplies from a ‘stock’ or wooden well which gave its name to the street.” From:

This study, published in 1844, relates to the fever epidemic which struck the city in the previous year.  Written by Robert Perry (President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and Senior Physician to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary), it uses local medical reports, statistical tables and a color-coded map of the city to highlight the link between poor sanitation, poverty, and poor health.  It is an excellent example of early thematic mapping, and pre-dates both Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps of London (1886-1903), and John Snow’s cholera maps of Soho, London (1854).  Perry’s map, with different neighborhood areas colored differently to designate the severity of the epidemic, made it obvious that the effects of the epidemic were not distributed evenly throughout the city, but disproportionately affected the poorest, most densely settled areas, where as many as 20% of the population had succumbed to the disease.  See more on Robert Perry and the 1843 fever epidemic at
Detail of Robert Perry's map - Three of the districts most seriously affected by the epidemic, bordered by Stockwell Street, Bridgegate Street, Trongate, and Saltmarket.  Near where I now live!  The dots represent the locations of fever victims.

 This map shows the area bounded by the Old College of the University of Glasgow and the River Clyde, Stockwell Street and Glasgow Green in 1764.  Many streets, closes, and markets are named.  It is believed to have been produced by surveyor James Barrie for the Town Council and is the earliest surviving map on a detailed scale.  Several versions of the map have appeared in various publications over the years.
The map arose from a court action.  The Town Council had received complaints about the state of the Molendinar Burn and the dam at the sawmill belonging to timber merchant William Fleming.  The magistrates revoked the lease for the sawmill and ground in 1764 and had the mill demolished, and Fleming sued the Town Council for his losses.  The final judgement in the court case was made in 1768, when the Council was ordered to pay substantial damages to the timber merchant.  Maps being used in a nuisance land use case! The aggrieved landowner and pollution-maker winning! Some things never change! 
Saint Mungo, patron saint and founder of Glasgow (died 614 AD). He is shown with symbols of his various miracles – the robin, the tree, the bell, and the fish with a ring in its mouth.  St. Mungo and his symbols all appear in Glasgow’s Coat of Arms. He is revered in the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and his feast day is January 13th. You may be familiar with St. Mungo from the Harry Potter book series, which featured the fictional "St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries."

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Year Anniversary of the Geographer-at-Large

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Saint Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD.

One year ago, on January 2nd, 2011, I had a brainstorm -- born of a boring day-after-New-Year’s-Day -- to start a blog about mapping, GISc, and geography in general.  Most people make harmless and impossible-to-keep New Year’s resolutions about losing weight and quitting smoking, but I made a vow to WRITE MORE!  As if I don’t write enough already for my job!  I didn’t know what I was doing, and I certainly didn’t know what I was getting myself into!  I never paid that much attention to other people’s blogs, and so had no extensive body of knowledge to draw upon.  I more or less invented (or re-invented) things as I went along.  Setting up the blog design was an adventure, but finding material was easy.  It’s all stuff I’m interested in anyway, so it’s just pure fun for me to put together the posts.  I suppose when it starts feeling like real work I will have to cease and desist, and I know many bloggers start off enthusiastically and then a year or so down the road get tired and disillusioned with it. 
        That’s one of the reasons that I keep doing these “milestone” posts – just to remind myself, if no one else, why I am doing it, and give a little progress report on how it’s going from my point of view, and also from the points of view of some of my readers who have been kind enough to send me comments and offer encouragement.  So, I have done a one month milestone post (getting to one month of blogging was something of a triumph for me!); a six-month milestone post; a 100-posts milestone post; and now this one-year anniversary post.  I can promise you, I won’t do anymore milestone posts for quite a good long while.  Maybe at the 500-post mark, or even the 1000-post mark.  We shall see!  For this past year, I have been averaging a bit more than 11 posts per month, but this varies significantly, depending upon my time commitments at the moment (you know, REAL work, family, health, travel, and home obligations). 
One of the things people have told me they like about my blog is the variety of the posts – I don’t really focus on a too-narrow range of topics, but meander all over the realm of geography (which is to say, the realm of everything, just about!).  I have always been a meander-er, much to the dismay of some of my Ph.D. advisors and graduate school professors.  One actually wrote on one of my papers that my writing “meanders more than the Mississippi River near New Orleans.”  Since I love that part of the world, I was not too insulted by that remark, even though I knew that in academia it is the kiss of death not to be succinct, dispassionate, and to offer no more than bare-bones expository writing.  I am verbose.  I don’t apologize for it.  
        A few honest readers have told me they just don’t have the patience to read some of my more lengthy posts, and I understand that in this Internet age, with Twitter, texting, and what-not, people’s attention spans are tiny and getting tinier, and abbreviations rule.  Fully spelling out whole words?  Writing in complete sentences?  Digressions and side bars?  So passé!  Readers crave the short and sweet.  It’s hard for me to do the short and sweet, since there is so much interesting background to every story.  I always figure that if I’m interested in something, then it is bound to be equally fascinating to others, as well, but I have come to realize that it may be fascinating only to those others sharing my slight tendencies towards the "Medici effect" (being insanely interested in EVERYTHING, sometimes known as being an “intersectionalist.”  It’s like Asperger’s but without the social adjustment and repetitive movement issues. The term probably derives from the association between the Medicis and the idea of the Renaissance man).  Part of being one of these insane intersectionalists is the need to spread the word – we are incorrigible educators or would-be educators, and feel compelled to turn everyone else on to these terrifically interesting concepts and connections.  And then we are amazed if the rest of the non-Medici world resists.  Ah, well.  True confessions time.  Maybe there should be a 12-step program for Interested-in-too-many-things addicts.

Miroslav Sasek, 1916-1980 
So, in the spirit of my previous milestone posts, I will list the most popular posts to date, the countries with the highest numbers of visitors to my blog, the individuals with the highest number of pageviews, and the ever-popular funny Google search terms that have led to my blog. 
I have gotten over 100,000 page views in my first year, most from the United States, with the U.K., Canada, Germany, Australia, Greece, France, Japan, India, and the Netherlands rounding out the Top 10 countries.  Last January, 2011, the blog's first month, I had around 1,500 page views for the month, and I was thrilled.  In December, 2011, I had almost 20,000 for the month (and I was thrilled again).  The blog has been read (or at least looked at) by people in 170 countries or sovereign territories, including some that were still hold-outs as of my last milestone update in September: Uzbekistan, North Mariana Islands, Liechtenstein, Dijbouti, Faroe Islands, Myanmar, Reunion, Bhutan, San Marino, Syria.  Still waiting for East Timor, Gibraltar, South Sudan, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Andorra, Cuba, and many of the central African countries. 

Here are the Top 10 posts of all time, based on number of pageviews.  These posts span in time from January, 2011 to October, 2011, and nearly every month is represented:

Here are my current Top Visitors (not listed in any particular order of pageview numbers, but each one has more than 50 page views):

Ile-de-France, Paris, France
Ohio, Cincinnati, USA
New York, New Rochelle, USA
New York, Forest Hills, USA
Abu Dhabi , Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
California, Fullerton, USA
Arizona, Scottsdale, USA
Berlin, Germany
Johannesburg, South Africa
Athens, Greece
Istanbul, Turkey
Roskilde, Denmark
Belgrade, Serbia

And here are some of the more odd-ball Google search terms, with my (hopefully) pithy comments appended:

Evil Mercator [OK, I know we all love to demonize Mercator’s projection, but I draw the line at thinking of the man himself as “evil”!]

Albanian Evil cartoon [not at all sure what this one is about, but there was a run on “evil” search terms at one point]

elleanor roosevelt visting the minority in africa map [she was visiting white people in Africa?]

hilarious world map [yes, because it’s such a hilarious topic!  btw, they matched this up with the politically-incorrect maps in my blog posting]

afghan tortoises habitat on earth [because we KNOW that Afghan tortoises are also on Venus and Mars! This person wants to see ONLY the habitats on Earth, please]

hispanic rate going up in us [it makes “Hispanic rate” sound like it's measuring a disease!]

asia map with segregated borders [I’m still trying to work out how borders can be segregated.]

typography of expansion [this actually sounds very interesting, but I have no idea what it could mean]

madworld mappa mundi [this sounded interesting, so I actually googled it myself.  What came up was just a bunch of sites that were selling books that happened to have either the “madworld” or the “mappa mundi” terms in their titles.  Disappointing.  Not sure how it led to my blogsite, exactly.]

hooverville it seems there wasnt any depression at all [yeah, right! Tell that to the people living in the Hoovervilles!]

[And here are three that I don’t even know what to say about, except: HUH???]

the map like are world with roads;
borders region and hating each other;

Thanks to all my loyal readers and even to the others who just stop by to grab a map or photo but might stay to actually look more in-depth at a post.  And thanks especially to my friends, family, and students who send me interesting maps and articles that I then turn into blog posts. Keep 'em coming!  As I start my 2nd year of blogging, I will be doing so from a new location (a new geographic location, NOT a new cyber-location - blog address remains the same).  It is safe to say that the topics covered in my blog might reflect this geographical shift, or maybe not!  Time will tell.  I imagine that there might be a temporary slow-down in my posting, while I get settled, but then again, maybe not!  In any event, as I like to occasionally intone in a somber voice at times of transition and unknowable futures: ALL WILL BE REVEALED!  

Map of the Week 1-2-2012:By the Year 2050

By the Year 2050 - some projections of what the world will face.  From: (full size version of map)

              To ring in the New Year - Another great map graphic by Haisam Hussein - I'll be close to 100 years old by 2050, but this is what he projects the world will be like then.  Some good stuff, some bad stuff.  Check it out on the website above to see it in all its detailed glory.

             The map's title reminded me of that old 1960's tune "In the Year 2525" with its very pessimistic, anti-technology lyrics.  Apparently, alot of people identified with the song's message, since the song shot up to #1 on the Billboard charts, and stayed there for six weeks, all through the summer of the 1969 moon landing and the Woodstock Music Festival.  It was a major part of the soundtrack of that summer, which is saying alot considering that many people believe that to be one of the best years for pop music, ever.  The words are in the same vein as another song from that general era, Eve of Destruction, also a bit depressing! Didn't mean to be a downer on New Year's!  HA HA!  But really, for a song written in 1965, (46 years ago!) when it did seem as though we were on the Eve of Destruction, I ask you: have things changed all that much....

Check out the videos for a blast from the past! 
In the Year 2525

Eve of Destruction

And, just to end on a more positive (?Maybe?) note, here is a good info-graphic map on Pioneers of the Millennial World: The Most Innovative Countries and Technologies, from Reuters.  Some of this is rather surprising to me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mythogeography: Wanker-Free Drifting

From the "Association for the Liberation of the Lingerer" an advert flyer for Wanker-free "drifting"
Thought you might be interested in whatever it is these psychogeographers get up to these days! Interesting!  Was a little mystified by their vehemence against "moleskins," which, since the writers are clearly Brits of some stripe, I took to mean what we would call "bandaids."  So it MIGHT mean that, or it might mean a kind of new fancy diary/journal/city map/notebook, called "Moleskines."  Sort of like the old Filofaxes were in the 1980's: no self-respecting yuppie would be without one.  I guess either way it makes sense.  They don't want any tender-footed, map-toting, journal-scribbling posers on their "drift." Crazy-ass dudes. HA HA! 
I ask you, is this the modern-day incarnation of Le Flâneur? It would seem so, by their own name: "Association for the Liberation of the Lingerer."  (See a previous post about Flâneur-ism at, and also a recent post on emotion-mapping and psychogeography at
This photo of the flyer is from a book called Mythogeography, by Phil Smith.  I haven't read it as yet. See a short review below.

“...quite possibly the strangest book I have ever read. Partly novel, and partly philosophical treatise, the book is a sort of field guide to exploring and interacting with urban and rural environments. It’s informative and witty, but mostly a celebration of finding, or making, weirdness in the most ordinary (and extraordinary) places. There’s also a manifesto, but as Phil cheerfully admits it’s palpably impossible to follow.”

Here is the author's definition of Mythogeography:
“Mythogeography describes a way of thinking about and visiting places where multiple meanings have been squeezed into a single and restricted meaning (for example, heritage, tourist or leisure sites tend to be presented as just that, when they may also have been homes, jam factories, battlegrounds, lovers' lanes, farms, cemeteries and madhouses). Mythogeography emphasises the multiple nature of places and suggests multiple ways of celebrating, expressing and weaving those places and their multiple meanings.
Mythogeography is influenced by, and draws on, psychogeography – seeking to reconnect with some of its original political edge as well as with its more recent additions. While engaging seriously with academic discourses in areas like geography, tourism studies and spatial theory, mythogeography also draws upon what Charles Fort might have described as ‘the procession of damned data’. So, occulted and anomalous narratives are among those available to mythogeography, not as ends in themselves, but as means and metaphors to explain, engage and disrupt.”
 Mythotour of the Royal William Victualling Yard In Plymouth, England. "Beer, Beef, and Royal Steps"
I like the way he calls this a "Twalk," cleverly combining Talk and Walk.  They are nothing if not clever, these Mythogeographers! (no, I am NOT being snarky, I MEAN it!)