June 22, 2011

Iraq 2011: Jet skiing the Triangle of Death, listening to Bee Gee songs--and pondering what comes next

Emma Sky

The taxi driver to Beirut airport tells me that yom al-qiyama (the day of judgment) is approaching. There will be a big explosion soon -- a very big explosion. The revolutions sweeping the Arab World are not good. Islamic parties will come to power everywhere. There will be no more Christians left in the Middle East. Believe me, believe me, he insists. In anticipation, he will make the Hajj to Mecca this year, inshallah. I tell him that I am traveling to Iraq as a tourist. The look he gives me in the rear view mirror says it all: He thinks I am crazy.

I am heading back to Iraq nine months after I left my job as Political Advisor to the Commanding General of U.S. Forces Iraq. Earlier this year, a Sheikh emailed me from his iPad, "Miss Emma we miss you. You must come visit us as a guest. You will stay with me. And you will have no power!" I am excited and nervous. The plane is about a third full. I am the only foreigner. I look around at my fellow passengers. I wonder who they are and whether they bear a grudge for something we might have done.

The flight is one and a half hours long. I read and doze. As we approach Iraq, I look out of the window. The sky is full of sand and visibility is poor. But I can make out the Euphrates below. Land of the two rivers, I am coming back.

I do not have an Iraqi visa. Visas issued in Iraqi Embassies abroad are not recognized by Baghdad airport. I have a letter from an Iraqi General in the Ministry of Interior, complete with a signature and stamp. In the airport, I present my passport and letter, fill out a form, pay $80, and receive a visa within 15 minutes. I collect my bag. I am through. I want to reach down and touch the ground, this land that has soaked up so much blood over the years -- ours and theirs.

Posted by jez at 5:25 AM

June 11, 2011

Visualizing Historical Data, And The Rise Of "Digital Humanities"

David Zax

All historians encounter them, at some point in their careers: Vast troves of data that are undeniably useful to history--but too complex to make narratively interesting. For Stanford's Richard White, an American historian, these were railroad freight tables. The reams of paper held a story about America, he knew. It just seemed impossible to tell it.

Impossible to tell in a traditional way, that is. White is the director of the Stanford University Spatial History Project, an interdisciplinary lab at the university that produces "creative visual analysis to further research in the field of history." (The images in this post are taken from the project's many visualizations.) Recent announcements on the project site announce "source data now available" (openness is one of the project's tenets) on such topics as "Mapping Rio," "Land Speculation in Fresno County: 1860-1891," and "When the Loss of a Finger is Considered a 'Minor' Injury."

Posted by jez at 4:52 PM

May 21, 2011

Henry Kissinger talks to Simon Schama

Simon Schama:

Not so much, though, as to get in the way of treating China as an indispensable element in any stabilisation of perilous situations in Korea and Afghanistan. Without China's active participation, any attempts to immunise Afghanistan against terrorism would be futile. This may be a tall order, since the Russians and the Chinese are getting a "free ride" on US engagement, which contains the jihadism which in central Asia and Xinjiang threatens their own security. So was it, in retrospect, a good idea for Barack Obama to have announced that this coming July will see the beginning of a military drawdown? The question triggers a Vietnam flashback. "I know from personal experience that once you start a drawdown, the road from there is inexorable. I never found an answer when Le Duc Tho was taunting me in the negotiations that if you could not handle Vietnam with half-a-million people, what makes you think you can end it with progressively fewer? We found ourselves in a position where to maintain ... a free choice for the population in South Vietnam ... we had to keep withdrawing troops, thereby reducing the incentive for the very negotiations in which I was engaged. We will find the same challenge in Afghanistan. I wrote a memorandum to Nixon which said that in the beginning of the withdrawal it will be like salted peanuts; the more you eat, the more you want."

Posted by jez at 9:07 PM

March 27, 2011

Frank Jacobs: Publisher of Strange Maps

As told to Sarah Duguid:

always thought that mapophilia was a lonely affliction until I started my blog, Strange Maps, in 2006. I remember the first map I posted - it was a map of the location of asylums for the insane in Pennsylvania. It provided a bizarre geography of insanity, and it interested me because it was not the kind of map that would have a place in mainstream cartography. Equally, the map didn't tell us much about mental health. I loved it because it was such an interesting juxtaposition of a condition that is so difficult to define with something as cool, rational and delineated as cartography.

I'd find strange maps online - I don't draw my own - and then categorise them, describe them and link them to other maps. I have more obvious categories such as history, science and tech, and politics, as well as unusual ones: love, sex and happiness, life and death, truth and justice. One type is the allegorical map. In the 19th century, symbolic maps were very popular, especially during prohibition in America. Prohibitionists would draw moral maps. They'd describe the country of drunkenness and how to travel from it to the continent of sobriety. The road to success was drawn across chasms of despondency and mountains of procrastination.

Posted by jez at 9:56 PM

March 15, 2011

Video from Japan's Tsunami Zone

Matt Allard & Dan Chung

Both Matt and myself have been covering the tragic events surrounding the Tsunami in Japan. I have left Japan now but Matt is still there and headed back into the disaster zone to do more reports. I'm sure both of us will talk more about what it was like later on, but for now the story is the priority.

Posted by jez at 10:26 PM

March 13, 2011

How we lost our voice

Harry Eyres:

Like everyone, I have been gripped and stirred by the events unfolding in the Maghreb and Middle East. Unlike some admirable and astute commentators, I didn't feel primarily moved to try to "make sense" of what was happening in Tahrir Square, or to speculate on what the millions of Egyptians not in the square were thinking. Such speculation seemed and still seems to me beside the point and actually rather odd. I didn't hear a comparable call at the time of the demise of Salazar and Franco and the Greek colonels, or the fall of communism and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, to try to "make sense" of those events, or to wonder what all those not celebrating and tearing down chunks of concrete were up to.

People, not everyone to be sure, but an overwhelming mass including the bravest and best and most articulate spirits, no longer wanted to live in police states or kleptocracies. They no longer wanted to be tortured or murdered by goons or spied on by spooks and kept under surveillance by their neighbours. They wanted free and transparent elections. They wanted the greater measure of control over their lives that they imagined to be a function of democratic government. No doubt they also wanted a better chance of prosperity. None of this, as we watched it unfolding in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya and other places, seemed to me to need to be teased out by some subtle process of reasoning. The primary sense of it was overwhelmingly clear.

Posted by jez at 9:46 PM

February 9, 2011

Angela in Wunderland: What Germany's got right, and what it hasn't

The Economist:

THE West has rightly marvelled at China's economic miracle. Less noticed is a minor miracle in its own midst. It is time to pay attention to Germany's new Wirtschaftswunder.

Germany had a savage recession as manufacturing orders dried up, but its economy has since bounced back strongly, expanding by 3.6% last year, far faster than most other rich economies. For sure, this was partly a "bungee effect" after a particularly deep downturn, but it is no one-year wonder. By several measures, including keeping unemployment down (it is at its lowest since 1992) and the prosperity reflected in the growth of GDP per head, Germany was the star performer among the rich G7 countries over the past ten years (see article). Germans entered 2011 in their most optimistic mood since 2000, according to Allensbach's polls. Business confidence is at its highest since the Ifo institute began tracking it 20 years ago.

What's Germany's secret? It helps that the country did not experience a property or credit bubble, and that it has kept its public finances admirably under control. But above all Germany's success has been export-driven: unlike most other big rich economies it has maintained its share of world exports over the past decade, even as China has risen.

Posted by jez at 10:01 PM

February 4, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi

The night before I am due to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, I take a battered taxi to the ancient Shwedagon Pagoda where it all began. It was here on an August morning in 1988 that the daughter of General Aung San, Burma's independence hero, gave her first big speech, an address that was to plunge her into the cauldron of Burmese politics.

Although she was naturally reserved and the crowd was extraordinarily large - anything between 300,000 and 1m people - she spoke without apparent fear. Behind her was a portrait of her father, the Bogyoke, or "big leader", assassinated at the age of 32, only months before his dream of Burmese independence was realised.

"Reverend monks and people," Suu Kyi, then 43, began, asking for a minute's silence for the 3,000 democracy protesters gunned down or hacked to death in that momentous month of revolution and suppression. "I could not, as my father's daughter, remain indifferent to all that is going on," she said, launching what she called "the second struggle for national independence". Although she sought reconciliation over conflict, the underlying message was clear. Her father had liberated Burma from the British. She would help liberate it from Burma's own generals.

Posted by jez at 4:06 PM

January 21, 2011

Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war

Henry Kissinger:

America's exceptionalism finds it natural to condition its conduct toward other societies on their acceptance of American values. Most Chinese see their country's rise not as a challenge to America but as heralding a return to the normal state of affairs when China was preeminent. In the Chinese view, it is the past 200 years of relative weakness - not China's current resurgence - that represent an abnormality.

America historically has acted as if it could participate in or withdraw from international affairs at will. In the Chinese perception of itself as the Middle Kingdom, the idea of the sovereign equality of states was unknown. Until the end of the 19th century, China treated foreign countries as various categories of vassals. China never encountered a country of comparable magnitude until European armies imposed an end to its seclusion. A foreign ministry was not established until 1861, and then primarily for dealing with colonialist invaders.

America has found most problems it recognized as soluble. China, in its history of millennia, came to believe that few problems have ultimate solutions. America has a problem-solving approach; China is comfortable managing contradictions without assuming they are resolvable.

American diplomacy pursues specific outcomes with single-minded determination. Chinese negotiators are more likely to view the process as combining political, economic and strategic elements and to seek outcomes via an extended process. American negotiators become restless and impatient with deadlocks; Chinese negotiators consider them the inevitable mechanism of negotiation. American negotiators represent a society that has never suffered national catastrophe - except the Civil War, which is not viewed as an international experience. Chinese negotiators cannot forget the century of humiliation when foreign armies exacted tribute from a prostrate China. Chinese leaders are extremely sensitive to the slightest implication of condescension and are apt to translate American insistence as lack of respect.

Posted by jez at 7:41 AM

January 15, 2011

Panorama: Lingotto Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli @ Turin

Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli:

In a fascinating space designed by the architect Renzo Piano inside the historic industrial complex of the Lingotto in Turin, the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli permanently houses 25 masterpieces from Giovanni and Marella Agnelli private collection.

Opened on September 20th, 2002, the gallery marks the final step in the twenty-year-long restructuring process of the whole Lingotto site.

The structure that today hosts the picture gallery of the Giovanni and Marella Agnelli Foundation in the "Scrigno" (literally, jewel box or treasure chest, an extraordinary container that dominates the roof-top test track), is the result of a long historical and architectural process of development that begins at the turn of the twentieth century. After this huge conversion process, the 90 years old building maintains the architectural power and freshness of the car factory designed by Giacomo Mattè Trucco, and wends its way effortlessly to the Lingotto designed by Renzo Piano.

A stunning place, particularly the roof top race track on the old Fiat factory.

View the full screen panorama here.

Posted by jez at 8:10 PM

January 8, 2011

Christmas: Lyon - Turin - Parma - Florence - Bologna - Venice; a Few Recommendations

Lodging recommendations & comments:

  • Lyon, France: Artelit. A superb location with a fabulous proprietor. Frederic Jean's friendship and professionalism was a joy to experience, particularly when facing a very difficult parking situation! Highly recommended.
  • Turin: Best Western Hotel Piemontese. A surprisingly spacious facility, conveniently located near the rail station, bus stops and a number of Turin destinations. Great service and a surprisingly extensive breakfast.
  • Parma: A number of hotels were closed over Christmas. We stayed here: Vittorio Dalla Rosa Prati. Friendly service and a fabulous location adjacent to the Baptistry. Rooms include a refrigerator, sink and range so one can shop at the nearby markets and prepare meals.
  • Florence: Relais Uffizi. A charming, small find next to the Uffizi Gallery. Close to everything with very helpful staff.
  • Bologna: Albergo Centrale. Tremendous location in a fascinating city. Don't forget the gelato, which was poetic.
  • Venice: Hotel Antico Doge. Very helpful staff with superb restaurant recommendations. Well located, but smoke seemed to be present in the room, unfortunately.

I am very thankful to have "met" Madeline Jhawar, who suggested the stops in Turin, Parma and Bologna. I am grateful for her assistance and intelligence. I also took a look at Lonely Planet's suggestions, the New York Times travel section and Karen Brown.

We rented a car from Europcar, flew via Lufthansa (insufferable coach seats in my experience but very friendly staff) and used buses, trams, water buses, gondolas and most of all our feet.

Posted by jez at 4:59 PM

December 10, 2010

Incredible journeys

Financial Times Summary

William Dalrymple

Herat, Afghanistan

Herat, in western Afghanistan, is one destination in that tragic country that is still safe, or relatively so. It is one of the most spectacular cities in the entire region and, for a brief period after the death of Timur in 1405, was the capital of the Timurid empire. Here Bihzad illuminated his miniatures; Babur wrote some of the most telling passages in his memoirs; and the Timurid princess Gohar Shad built one of the great colleges of the world. Today there are occasional reports of kidnappings and hold-ups between the airport and the town. But inside the city, there is no sense of tension or danger, and no one looks at you askance as you wander through the mosques, the ruins and the fabulous covered bazaars.

Instead, it feels welcoming, gently prosperous and, by Central Asian standards, surprisingly middle class. On the outskirts, on the hillside of Takht Safar, where the bright young things of Herat gather to watch the sun going down, to picnic, sip tea and listen to music under groves of cedars, mulberries and umbrella pines, you can grasp what Afghanistan would be like if peace were miraculously to break out: it feels not dissimilar, and no more threatening, than inland Turkey. In some ways, Herat feels as if it is high on the Anatolian plateau not far from Ankara; but here, you have the place, and the ruins, to yourself. There is not another traveller to be seen.

When Robert Byron was here in the 1930s he loved not just the grand ruins but also the eccentricity of Herat, and much of that still survives. When our plane touched down on the tarmac, the passengers were not taken into the old 1950s terminal, as the man who had the key had gone off for noon prayers. So, instead, our luggage was delivered by tractor, and dumped on the edge of the apron. It seemed an unsurprising fate for bags carried by an airline, Pamir Air, which at check-in had given me a boarding pass marked "Kabul-Riyadh" and when I pointed out that I was going to Herat, replied that it didn't matter: "They'll let you on the plane anyway."

Posted by jez at 10:32 PM

November 23, 2010

Golf @ The Golden Gate

The Lincoln Park Golf Club.

Posted by jez at 10:26 PM

November 17, 2010

Cartography: Google goofs

The Economist

THE Caribbean end of the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua follows the course of the San Juan river, which was once considered a possible route for the trans-isthmus canal. The border was originally determined by the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of Limits in 1858.

The boundary follows the northern branch as the river splits into two, the southern branch is called the Colorado river. According to the treaty, the right bank of the San Juan river is Costa Rican territory but the river itself is Nicaraguan. In 1888 Grover Cleveland, then president of America, arbitrated in the dispute and gave a ruling stating that Costa Rica had the right to use the river for commerce but "has not the right of navigation of the river San Juan with vessels of war". President Cleveland also commissioned a mapping survey of the area, conducted in 1897 by E.P. Alexander.

In 2009 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Costa Rica cannot re-supply its armed police border posts using the river, but also that Nicaragua cannot demand visas from Costa Rican tourists traveling along the river.

Posted by jez at 9:34 AM

November 11, 2010

God's Glorious Fall Colors

Madison has been blessed with a glorious fall.

Posted by jez at 8:06 PM

October 28, 2010

Beautiful Fall Colors

Posted by jez at 10:16 PM

September 5, 2010

God's Glory: A Fabulous Madison Sunset

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

September 3, 2010

A September Country Drive

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:02 PM

September 2, 2010

Clearing Storm Near Paoli

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:28 PM

August 24, 2010

Lucky Boy Burgers: A Step Back in Time....

I enjoyed a decent veggie burger at Lucky Boy, a vintage stop in Pasadena, CA.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:59 PM

August 23, 2010

Changing Times, From this.....

to this....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:46 PM

Red Rocks

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:12 PM

God's Glory: A Retreating Storm Mountain Sunset

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:07 PM

August 16, 2010

Flowers: God's Handiwork

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:21 PM

August 10, 2010

Matt Simmons, Author of "Twilight in the Desert" and Peak Oil Speaker, Dies at Age 67

Gail the Actuary:
In his view (and in ours, too), way too many people hear about the huge reported reserves of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, and assume that this oil is really available for extraction. Matt makes the point that these reserves, and many others around the world, have not been audited. In fact, they seem to be political numbers, so we cannot depend on them. He also points out that we also do not have detail data with respect to historical oil extraction from individual fields in the Middle East, so we really do not know how close to decline Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries really are.

In 2005, Matt Simmons wrote a book called Twilight in the Desert. In it, he summarized what he learned about Saudi Arabian oil production by reading 200 academic papers. He concluded from his analysis that the oil extraction techniques being used there were techniques that one might use if the fields were quite depleted. Because of this, he doubted that we should believe stories that Saudi oil production can be greatly expanded. Instead, he raised the possibility that in the not too distant future, Saudi oil production will suddenly decline. Matt's research underlying the book was no doubt behind his concern that oil reserves and oil production rates are not audited.

Another thing Matt is known for is his educational graphics about "what is really going on" with respect to oil extraction. For example, in his talk at the 2009 ASPO--USA conference, he shows this graphic of the amount of conventional oil discovered by decade.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 AM

August 8, 2010

Community Yoga

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:10 PM

June 29, 2010

God's Glory: A Gorgeous Sunset

Shot with the fairly impressive iPhone 4 camera.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 AM

June 26, 2010

"Forgotten Places" - Native American Mounds at Madison's Elmside Park

iPhone / iPad and iPod users click here.

Worldwide Panorama is collecting panoramic scenes with the theme "Forgotten Places". Nancy suggested Madison's Elmside Park. Here it is.

From Native American Mounds in Madison and Dane County (A Madison Heritage Publication):
At the corner of Lakeland Avenue and Maple Avenue overlooking Lake Monona are two well-preserved Late Woodland animal effigies now referred to as a lynx and a bear. These mounds were originally part of a dense and extensive cluster of mounds that extended along the north shore of Lake Monona. Once part of the Simeon Mills farm, this site was still a favored Winnebago campground as late as the late 19th century. Most of the mound cluster, which included a bird effigy with a reported wingspan of 568 feet, was destroyed by turn-of-the-century residential development. Nearby, the beautiful sculpture, entitled "Let the Great Spirits Soar," was carved by Harry Whitehorse, a Winnebago whose ancestors have lived in the Four Lakes area for hundreds of years. The sculpture was carved from a storm-damaged hackberry tree and honors his Indian ancestors and the effigy mound builders.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:42 PM

June 22, 2010

Water, Water: Fitchburg's Dunn's Marsh after the Storms

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:56 PM

May 28, 2010

The Tragic Race to be First to the South Pole

Betsy Mason:
In 1910, two men set out to be the first to reach the South Pole in a race that would be both heroic and tragic. The men had different reasons for their journeys, took different routes and made different decisions that would ultimately seal their respective fates, and those of their teams.

The American Museum of Natural History delves into this storied event to bring visitors as close as possible to this historic event and the people involved in their new exhibit, “Race to the End of the Earth,” starting May 29. Artifacts, photographs, replicas and models give life to the two rivals and their treacherous 1,800-mile marches to the center of Antarctica.

Robert Falcon Scott set off from Wales on July 15, 1910 on what was originally intended to be a primarily scientific expedition, but which quickly morphed into a quest to make history on behalf of the British Empire.

Meanwhile, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, whose plan to reach the North Pole first had been thwarted by both Frederik Cook and Robert Peary, had secretly turned his sights on the South Pole. He left Oslo in June 3, 1910 with the intent of beating Scott to his goal.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:35 PM

May 14, 2010

Iceland, Eyjafjallajokull Time Lapse HD Video

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:25 PM

May 10, 2010

Interview: Jung Garden Center's Dick Zondag

Patricia Olsen:
MY grandfather started our mail-order company 100 years ago. In the early 1950s, customers were driving to Randolph, northeast of Madison, to see what they were purchasing by mail from us, and my dad saw an opportunity to start a local garden center.

One of my first jobs was to take the orders for shrubs from the garden center to a storage area and to take the shrubs to the customer. I was 11. I also hoed the weeds and detassled corn.

In the 1990s, the two branches of our family split the business. The Jungs received Jung Seed Genetics, which sells agronomic seeds to farmers, and the Zondags got the catalog division and the garden centers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:50 PM

Brooklyn Bridge - Cold Evening

Clusty Search: Brooklyn Bridge.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 PM

April 23, 2010

A Manhattan Evening Walk

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:33 AM

March 15, 2010

Earthquake in Chile

The Big Picture:
At 3:34 am local time, today, February 27th, a devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. According to Chilean authorities, over 400 people are now known to have been killed. The earthquake also triggered a Tsunami which is right now propagating across the Pacific Ocean, due to arrive in Hawaii in hours (around 11:00 am local time). The severity of the Tsunami is still not known, but alerts are being issued across the Pacific. (Entry updated four times, now 45 photos total)
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 PM

March 14, 2010

Las Vegas Sunrise Scenes

A beautiful sunrise. A recent evening panoramic scene of "The Strip" can be seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:56 PM

February 14, 2010

Cham Ruins: My Son Panorama - Another View

This Cham Ruins panorama (click to view) was captured in My Son, Vietnam during the month of April, 2007 by Jim Zellmer

Another panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:42 PM

Hanoi Panorama: Temple of Literature, Another View

Click to view the panoramic image. Enjoy a full screen view by clicking the panorama icon in the lower right. Clusty Search: Temple of Literature.

Another Temple of Literature panorama can be seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:47 PM

February 8, 2010

Temple of Literature Panorama: Hanoi, Vietnam

Click to view the panoramic image. Enjoy a full screen view by clicking the panorama icon in the lower right. Clusty Search: Temple of Literature.

Another Temple of Literature panorama can bee seen here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 PM

January 23, 2010

God's Glory: Wind, Fire, Surf - Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu 21.868449 -159.444172 by Jim Zellmer. December, 2009
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:38 PM

January 22, 2010

Waimea Canyon Kauai Panorama

Click to view this Waimea Canyon Kauai panorama 22.071472 -159.661410. Clusty Search: Waimea Canyon.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 PM

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu

Kauai Sunrise Panorama @ Poipu 21.875483 -159.46195.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:05 PM

January 19, 2010

Maui Sunset Panorama

Quite a beautiful afternoon: 20.646188 -156.442577. Click on the image to view the panorama, and try the full screen icon (lower right).
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:05 PM

January 17, 2010

God's Glory: A Beautiful Sunday Morning in the Arboretum

The trees in Madison were spectacular this morning.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 PM

January 11, 2010

Kilauea Lighthouse Panorama

Click to view the Kilauea Lighthouse panorama. Clusty search: Kilauea Lighthouse.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:32 PM

January 10, 2010


Kauai flowers at sunrise.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:01 PM

January 6, 2010

Kauai Sunrise Panorama

Click to view this panoramic scene.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:55 PM

December 14, 2009

Berlin's Class War

Feargus O'Sullivan:
Twenty years after it was toppled, the area around the Berlin Wall is becoming a battle­ground again. In the streets neighbouring Berlin’s Todesstreifen – the once heavily guarded “death strip” on the east side – a new conflict is brewing. This time, it is between wealthy newcomers to the German capital’s regenerated core, and less monied residents, who fear being displaced.

Silvia Kollitz, an anti-development activist, is a resident of Prenzlauer Berg, a once dilapidated but now chic district of east Berlin. She feels her local area, with its pretty, tree-lined streets and sleek cafés, is being turned into a refuge for the rich. “The new buildings being put up are just for people with lots of money – who don’t use state schools and look at the rest of us as ‘local colour’ from behind their locked gates and high walls,” she says.

While Kollitz and fellow activists are seeking to halt these changes, they are fighting a strong tide. For the first time since the second world war, Berlin is attracting the international wealthy. Shaking off its gloomy cold war past, the city’s rebuilt centre is now packed with designer emporia, five-star hotels – Berlin has more than New York – and restaurants, sandwiched between Prussian palaces and new ministry buildings.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:46 AM

November 25, 2009


Madison is truly blessed to have such a fine facility, courtesy of Jerry Frautschi's landmark $200M+ gift. However and unfortunately, the financial spaghetti behind its birth is complicated and controversial, particularly at this moment when Overture's parent lacks liquidity to fund the project's remaining debt.

Yet, the facility is simply stunning. Have a look at these panoramic views.

Overture Hall Lobby:


In an effort to preserve the pre-Overture scene, we shot panoramic images in 1999 and again, after construction in 2006.

I do have one financing suggestion. Give Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein a call. After all, Goldman Sachs' record bonuses are a direct result of massive taxpayer intervention to prop up certain banks and other "too big to fail" entities such as AIG. GS is well connected at the very top of our Government.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:06 AM

French Chef Puts Spin On Thanksgiving Dinner

Steve Inskeep:
Chef Dominique Crenn was raised in Versailles, France. She now makes an incredible Thanksgiving dinner, but when she first came to the U.S., the entire holiday threw her off.

She sat down with NPR's Steve Inskeep to discuss how she cooks for Thanksgiving.

"I was a little bit lost when I came here," she told Inskeep. "I had no idea what Thanksgiving was about."

In France, turkey is eaten at Christmas. So the American phenomenon of Thanksgiving turkey and dressing mystified her.

"Oh, a month before Christmas, we're gonna eat Turkey?"

But now, she's hooked. Crenn has been celebrating Thanksgiving for about 20 years. "This is a pretty cool holiday," she said.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:09 AM

November 7, 2009

Another Glorious Saturday Photo

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:23 PM

October 24, 2009

God's Glorious Fall Colors

On display in Madison today. A wonderful, sunny day after several rainy, cold episodes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:53 PM

October 11, 2009

Loma Prieta Plus 20 Years

Carl Nolte:
An earthquake that began beneath an obscure mountain in Santa Cruz County called Loma Prieta struck terror into Northern California 20 years ago this week on a beautiful fall afternoon, just as a World Series game was about to begin in San Francisco.

The quake lasted only 15 seconds, but it killed 67 people, smashed downtown Santa Cruz, wrecked San Francisco's Marina district, broke the Bay Bridge - and changed much of the Bay Area.

Loma Prieta was one of those watershed events; in some ways, the disaster was a blessing in disguise. Out of it came a brand new San Francisco waterfront, the revival of a rundown neighborhood in Hayes Valley, major upgrades of classic buildings in downtown Oakland, and new laws on unreinforced old buildings. One of these years, a new eastern half of the Bay Bridge will open.
More notes and links on Loma Prieta, including my recollection(s) and that of Brian Zimdars.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:02 AM

October 4, 2009

Visiting Costa Brava

Sue Style:
Mention the words Costa Brava and for most people they will evoke visions of high-rise hotels, wall-to-wall traffic, pubs, fish and chips and Full English Breakfasts. Yet 100 years ago, the Catalan poet Ferran Agulló was so moved by the rugged pine-clad cliffs plunging to deserted sandy coves and turquoise waters that he dreamed up the name Costa Brava, meaning “the wild coast”.

Today it can be a stretch to imagine what it was about this famous area that so bewitched people. But a recent trip to this beautiful stretch of coastline, which runs from Portbou on the French border in the north down to Blanes (short of Barcelona) in the south, showed how much is worth rediscovering.

I’m having a bit of a battle with myself, though. On the one hand, in the interests of those who know and understand the Costa Brava, I should button my lip about its delicious coves, its singular small hotels, quirky restaurants and distinctive wines. On the other hand, it was such a revelation to me to discover that the Costa Brava is not all tat and tattoos that I can’t help blurting it out.
Beautiful, indeed. Years ago, I spent an evening on a Port Bou beach whilst the French trains were on strike.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:29 PM

September 20, 2009

Curb Litter: Pacifier, Cigarette Butts and Fall Leaves

This photo was taken in downtown Madison.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:53 PM

September 13, 2009

The Ghost Fleet of the Recession

Simon Parry:

The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination - and is why your Christmas stocking may be on the light side this year.

The tropical waters that lap the jungle shores of southern Malaysia could not be described as a paradisical shimmering turquoise. They are more of a dark, soupy green. They also carry a suspicious smell. Not that this is of any concern to the lone Indian face that has just peeped anxiously down at me from the rusting deck of a towering container ship; he is more disturbed by the fact that I may be a pirate, which, right now, on top of everything else, is the last thing he needs.
His appearance, in a peaked cap and uniform, seems rather odd; an officer without a crew. But there is something slightly odder about the vast distance between my jolly boat and his lofty position, which I can't immediately put my finger on.
Then I have it - his 750ft-long merchant vessel is standing absurdly high in the water. The low waves don't even bother the lowest mark on its Plimsoll line. It's the same with all the ships parked here, and there are a lot of them. Close to 500. An armada of freighters with no cargo, no crew, and without a destination between them.

Posted by jimz at 7:51 PM

September 11, 2009

An Interesting Look at France & Great Britain During as the Wall Came Down...

James Blitz:
The tensions that rocked the British government following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 are revealed in a series of Whitehall documents published today.

The papers throw fresh light on the struggle between Margaret Thatcher, prime minister at the time, and senior Foreign Office figures over German reunification.

As the Financial Times revealed yesterday, the documents show that Mrs (now Lady) Thatcher and François Mitterrand, the late French president, harboured fears that a united Germany would threaten Europe. They display the degree to which Mrs Thatcher clashed with Douglas Hurd, then foreign secretary, and Sir Christopher Mallaby, then ambassador to Bonn, who felt reunification was inevitable.

After Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, announced a 10-point plan for reunification on November 28, 1989, Mrs Thatcher expressed her opposition.

She told Mr Mitterrand in talks on December 8 that Mr Kohl had "no conception of the sensitivities of others in Europe, and seemed to have forgotten that the division of Germany was the result of a war which Germany had started".

A separate memorandum by Charles Powell, her foreign policy adviser, underscores her opposition. "We do not want to wake up one morning and find that. . . German reunification is to all intents and purposes on us," he wrote.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:17 PM

August 5, 2009

Old Town Prague Panorama

Click to view this scene, which was taken atop the Hotel U Prince.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:25 AM

July 12, 2009

July 9, 1958: Surf’s Up, as 1,700-Foot Wave Scours Alaskan Bay

Tony Long:
1958: The tallest wave ever recorded — splashing nearly 500 feet taller than the Empire State Building — explodes down Lituya Bay in the Gulf of Alaska.

Lituya Bay is a T-shaped fjord on the coast of the Alaskan Panhandle, west of Glacier Bay and about 120 miles west-northwest of Juneau. It measures 7 miles long by 2 miles at its widest point and has a narrow mouth (roughly 1,600 feet wide) that makes navigation difficult during high tides. Once inside, however, vessels (mostly fishing boats) find a snug anchorage among the coves lining the shore. Water from three glaciers empties into Lituya Bay, which is over 700 feet deep in places.

This topography was a major ingredient in the formation of the tsunami. (Or, more informally, megatsunami, a word used to describe a wave in excess of 100 meters, or 328 feet).
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:02 PM

July 4, 2009

Independence Day USA

I had the opportunity to recently visit Budapest's House of Terror Museum. The museum is housed in a former security services building and provides a powerful reminder of the forces of tyranny. This photo features victim images above a Soviet era tank.

An appropriate reminder of the price of freedom, today, the Fourth of July, 2009.

An a more pleasant note, Jeff Sullivan posted a gorgeous Yosemite image set here.

It is hard to go wrong at stunning Yosemite! God Bless America.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:23 AM

June 25, 2009

Stunning pictures of the volcano that blew a hole in the sky as astronauts witness eruption from International Space Station

Eddie Wrenn:
Framed by a circle of clouds, this is a stunning illustration of Nature's powerful force. A plume of smoke, ash and steam soars five miles into the sky from an erupting volcano. The extraordinary image was captured by the crew of the International Space Station 220 miles above a remote Russian island in the North Pacific.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:34 AM

June 21, 2009

The City of Your Dreams

Tyler Brule:
“Could you live here?” and “would you live here?” are two of the most common questions colleagues ask each other at the end of a business trip. Responses rarely take the form of a shrugged “I don’t know” or a half-hearted “I guess so”. Rather, they typically come in vehement declarations suggesting that considerable thought has gone into the topic already. Here are a few I’ve heard over the years:

On the train to Chicago’s O’Hare: “No way. It’s neither one thing nor the other and just look at this sad excuse of a train to the airport.”

In a cab to Vancouver International Airport: “Definitely not for me – seems a bit sleepy and limp.”

In a big Mercedes en route to Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok: “I could do it for a short stint but it wouldn’t be for the quality of life.”

Hitching a ride with an associate to Geneva’s Cointrin: “If I could get a great flat close to the lake and move my five closest friends, then it would be amazing.”

Being taxied to Fukuoka airport: “If I wanted the best of Japan but also great connections to the rest of Asia then it would be my first choice.”

Assessing quality of life is a difficult business and, as a result, surveys on the subject throw up different results.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability ranking, released this past Monday, put Vancouver, Canada, in the top spot out of 140 world cities, followed by Vienna.

Canada, Australia and Switzerland dominated the rest of the top 10, with Melbourne in third place, Toronto in fourth, Calgary and Perth tied for fifth/sixth, Geneva in eighth and Zürich and Sydney tied for ninth/10th. Helsinki was seventh, while London was 51st, behind Manchester at 46th. Asia’s best city was Osaka, Japan, at 13th, while the top US spot was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 29th.

Mercer’s quality of living survey, released in April and covering 215 cities, was led by Vienna, followed by Zürich, Geneva, Vancouver and Auckland. Singapore was the most liveable Asian locale in 26th place, Honolulu was best in the US at 29th and London was the highest UK scorer at 38th.

There are similarities between these lists and Monocle’s and the reason is simple. According to Jon Copestake, editor of the EIU report, cities that score best tend to be mid-sized, in developed countries, offering culture and recreation but without the crime or infrastructure problems seen in places with larger populations.

Most of us tend to play some version of the game every time we travel and, while some quickly conclude they wouldn’t trade their current set-up for anywhere else in the world, I’d argue there are considerably more who are tempted to give up their current address for a place that promises better housing, worklife, transport, schools, restaurants, weather, shopping and weekend pursuits.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:01 PM

May 17, 2009

A Few Spring Garden Photos

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:46 PM

May 7, 2009

The Americans in Pyongyang

Isaac Stone Fish:
The first thing our guide Mr. Li said to the people whom he knew had inflicted untold suffering onto his country was “Welcome. I hope you had a good flight.” Then he paused. "We call you the U.S. Imperialists, since you came in and divided our homeland. When some Korean calls you U.S. Bastards or U.S. Imperialists, I will just translate that. I hope that’s okay, I’m just doing my job.”

a Mr. Li was one of the guides on a tour of Pyongyang in October of 2008, the last month that American tourists were allowed access to the city. I visited as part of a group of 25 Americans, mostly young professionals and students; many said they wanted to see the country before it collapsed under the weight of its own obsolescence. We knew beforehand that our movements would be strictly controlled throughout the tour, and that we were not allowed to wander freely. Our guides showed us the parts of Pyongyang that we were supposed to see. Their filtering the trip was a very valuable way to process information in a place so radically different from anything resembling our definition of normality.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:09 PM

March 15, 2009

A Gorgeous Bird Video Short

from the Phillipines.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:02 PM

March 4, 2009

Wall Street on the Tundra

Michael Lewis:
celand’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavík, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, the author follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown. by MICHAEL LEWIS April 2009

Just after October 6, 2008, when Iceland effectively went bust, I spoke to a man at the International Monetary Fund who had been flown in to Reykjavík to determine if money might responsibly be lent to such a spectacularly bankrupt nation. He’d never been to Iceland, knew nothing about the place, and said he needed a map to find it. He has spent his life dealing with famously distressed countries, usually in Africa, perpetually in one kind of financial trouble or another. Iceland was entirely new to his experience: a nation of extremely well-to-do (No. 1 in the United Nations’ 2008 Human Development Index), well-educated, historically rational human beings who had organized themselves to commit one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history. “You have to understand,” he told me, “Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.”
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:12 AM

March 2, 2009

For Some Taxi Drivers, a Different Kind of Traffic

Marc Lacey:
The tour guide’s voice dropped to a whisper as he pointed out the left side of his open-air taxi and said conspiratorially: “See that house? It belongs to Chapo.”

At the spot, where Mr. Félix's brother Ramón was killed in 2002, in an infamous murder.

The State Department warns tourists about the drug wars. The guide recovered his normal tone around the corner, well out of earshot of anyone who might be inside what he claimed was one of the beachfront hideaways of Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who is known universally by the nickname El Chapo, or Shorty.

Although Mazatlán markets itself as a seaside paradise in which the roughest things one might encounter are ocean swells, it is a beach resort with a dark side — one that many enterprising taxi drivers are exploiting with unauthorized “narco-tours.”

Mexicans are fed up with their country’s unprecedented level of bloodshed as rival drug cartels clash with the authorities and among themselves. But the outrage is tinged by a fascination with the colorful lives of the outlaws.
I visited Mazatlan many years ago, during college.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:26 PM

January 22, 2009

Sunrise: Madison's Vilas Park

A very pleasant sunrise this morning, perhaps to a warmer day?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:29 AM

January 18, 2009

Refugees Abandoned on the High Seas

South China Morning Post
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:52 PM

January 8, 2009

Vietnam imposes new blogging restrictions

The rules ban any posts that undermine national security, incite violence or crime, disclose state secrets, or include inaccurate information that could damage the reputation of individuals and organizations, according to a copy of the regulations obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The rules, which were approved Dec. 18, attempt to rein in Vietnam's booming blogosphere. It has become an alternative source of news for many in the communist country, where the media is state-controlled.

The new rules require Internet companies that provide blogging platforms to report to the government every six months and provide information about bloggers on request.

The companies are also required to prevent and remove content the government deems harmful.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:49 AM

January 1, 2009

A Short Bird Video From the Phillipines

Romy Ocon:
Common name : Yellow-vented Bulbul
Scientific name: Pycnonotus goiavier
Habitat: Common in gardens, scrub and early second growth.
Total length: 178 mm.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:27 AM

December 11, 2008

Warm Thoughts as Winter arrives in Madison: Hawaii's Big Island at Sunrise

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:47 PM

December 9, 2008

More from Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens website.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:56 AM

October 29, 2008

Flyover Country

Flyover Country; a sunrise view from Fitchburg.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:25 PM

October 17, 2008

Monona Bay Sunrise

Posted by jez at 5:11 PM

October 14, 2008

Morning Light: Fall Colors

Madison has enjoyed a gorgeous, warm fall. Perhaps this will continue through April?
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:17 AM

September 22, 2008

Sunrise: Madison's Lake Wingra


Posted by jez at 11:06 AM

September 21, 2008

A Fascinating Look At Iraq

Dexter Filkins:

At first, I didn't recognize the place.

On Karada Mariam, a street that runs over the Tigris River toward the Green Zone, the Serwan and the Zamboor, two kebab places blown up by suicide bombers in 2006, were crammed with customers. Farther up the street was Pizza Napoli, the Italian place shut down in 2006; it, too, was open for business. And I'd forgotten altogether about Abu Nashwan's Wine Shop, boarded up when the black-suited militiamen of the Mahdi Army had threatened to kill its owners. There it was, flung open to the world.

Two years ago, when I last stayed in Baghdad, Karada Mariam was like the whole of the city: shuttered, shattered, broken and dead.

Abu Nawas Park -- I didn't recognize that, either. By the time I had left the country in August 2006, the two-mile stretch of riverside park was a grim, spooky, deserted place, a symbol for the dying city that Baghdad had become.

Filkins is the author of: "The Forever War".

Posted by jez at 10:22 PM

September 18, 2008

The Presidential Contest in Wisconsin

The Economist:

TAMMY WYNEN stands near the back of a crowd outside a paper mill in Kimberly, Wisconsin. At a bank of microphones, speakers rail against Adam Smith; one, from the United Steel Workers, literally blames "The Wealth of Nations" for the mill's impending closure. Many also hint that the soon-to-be unemployed mill workers should vote for Barack Obama in November.

But Mrs Wynen, a 27-year veteran of the paper mill, is not so sure. She cannot remember the last time she saw Mr Obama recite the pledge of allegiance. And her family loves Sarah Palin, John McCain's new running-mate. Her children have lines from Mrs Palin's convention speech off pat. Still, Mrs Wynen says she doesn't know who she will vote for. The candidates look poised to spend a lot of time and money in Wisconsin wooing her.

Posted by jez at 8:59 AM

Ken Burns' Latest: National Parks

Christopher Reynolds:

It's too early for civilians. As dawn's first light falls on the jagged peaks, creeps down the dwindling glaciers and glides across glass-faced Swiftcurrent Lake, most of the tourists in the Many Glacier Hotel are still snoozing.

But down at water's edge, three early risers huddle around a camera. One of the guys, leaning on a tripod and waiting for the clouds to arrange themselves over the jagged peaks, has a Beatles haircut, the build of a shortstop and a face you've seen before somewhere.

Perhaps during pledge week.

"I want more of the color," he says, peering through a viewfinder. "OK, I'm doing it." And the film rolls.

Yes, it's Ken Burns, solemn PBS documentarian of the Civil War, jazz, baseball, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, Congress, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more than a few other American characters and institutions. Beside him stand cinematographer Buddy Squires and writer Dayton Duncan. Upstairs in the hotel, Burns' wife and 3-year-old are sleeping.

Related: Yellowstone Sunrise VR Scene and Waterton Lakes National Park

Posted by jez at 7:58 AM

September 15, 2008

Personality Variation by USA Region

US personalities vary by region, say researchers. It's pretty thin on the details, but luckily the original paper can be found online in full, A Theory of the Emergence, Persistence, and Expression of Geographic Variation in Psychological Characteristics. I haven't read the whole thing, nor do I know much about personality, so I have put the maps which illustrate regional variation in traits below the fold. But I do want to note the correlations between Openness and the following metrics on the state level:

Posted by jez at 7:14 PM

September 12, 2008

God's Handiwork @ Sunset: Cannon Beach, Oregon

45.880822 -123.962131

Clusty Search: Cannon Beach, OR

Posted by jez at 8:12 PM

September 1, 2008

Sunrise: Madison "Beltline" Highway

Posted by jez at 12:33 PM

Sunrise, Labor Day 2008

Fitchburg, WI

Posted by jez at 12:11 PM

August 18, 2008

Ancient Midwest

Keith Mulvihill:

THE earthworks left behind by the long vanished civilizations of the Midwest are harder to spot than the pueblos and kivas of Arizona and New Mexico. For a long time many of them were hidden in plain sight or dismissed as little more than heaps of soil. But the more today's archaeologists learn about the Midwestern mounds, the more intriguing is the picture that emerges from 1,000 or more years ago: a city with thousands of people just a few miles from present-day St. Louis, a 1,348-foot earthen serpent that points to the summer solstice, artifacts made of materials that could only have arrived over lengthy trade routes.
Looks like a fascinating drive.

Posted by jez at 10:23 AM

August 11, 2008

Siesta Key VR Sunrise Scene

Full Screen VR Scene.

Map 27.247581 -82.536145. Clusty Search: Siesta Key. A beautiful beach.

Posted by jez at 5:02 PM

July 29, 2008

Florida Sunset: Alligator Alley

26.149775 -81.348610. Clusty search: Alligator Alley.

Posted by jez at 4:17 PM

July 24, 2008

Many Glacier Hotel

Glacier National Park, Montana. Clusty Search.

48.796716 -113.656107

Posted by jez at 8:08 AM

July 22, 2008

Waterton Lakes National Park: VR View from the Prince of Wales Hotel

A rather spectacular setting, representing the classic road not taken. Links:

Posted by jez at 8:57 PM

Yellowstone's Old Faithful at Sunrise

VR Scene here.

Posted by jez at 4:49 PM

July 19, 2008

Athabasca Glacier VR Scene: Jasper National Park Canadian Rockies

The journey to the glacier is an adventure, particularly the "Ice Explorer" ride.

Full screen vr scene.


53.203399 -117.239571

Posted by jez at 8:27 PM

July 18, 2008

Sunrise VR Scene with the BBC at Old Faithful

While capturing this sunrise scene at Old Faithful recently, I learned that the BBC is shooting a 3 part series on Yellowstone. Their videographers, equipped with some very nice equipment, spent the past two mornings waiting for the "perfect" sunrise behind Old Faithful. This scene, on their third day, was best, according to their National Park Service Ranger minder. The program will evidently air in the UK this fall and here sometime in 2009.

Location: 44.460174 -110.829563

The kind ranger also mentioned that she is often asked "where they put the animals at night?"

Full screen vr scene.

Posted by jez at 4:11 PM

July 11, 2008

Lake Agnes Photo

Clusty Search: Lake Agnes Banff National Park Canada. This photo was taken after a hike up from Lake Louise. A pleasant "Tea House" awaits the hiker adjacent to Lake Agnes.

Posted by jez at 10:33 PM

June 28, 2008

Lake Wingra / UW Arboretum Clearing Storm Photo

43.050537 -89.411019

Posted by jez at 6:33 PM

June 12, 2008

Drained Lake Delton VR Scene

Full Screen VR

Posted by jez at 4:01 PM

May 28, 2008

A Tear: Vietnam Approves a $4.5 Billion Dollar Coastal Casino Project. Atlantic City on the South China Sea?

Bruce Stanley:

Communist Vietnam is set to become the latest country in Asia to embrace Las Vegas-style casinos, with a Canadian property developer planning to break ground Saturday on the first phase of a $4.5 billion casino-resort project on the nation's southern coast.

The project, called Ho Tram, will be the biggest foreign investment to date in Vietnam, said Michael Aymong, chairman of Toronto-based Asian Coast Development Ltd., the project's lead investor, with a 30% stake. Its main partner in the project is New York hedge fund Harbinger Capital LLC, which has a 25% share.

The initial phase will cost $1.3 billion and consist of two five-star hotels with a combined 2,300 rooms and a casino with approximately 90 gambling tables, 500 slot machines and an area for VIP customers. When completed in 2015, the resort will comprise five hotels with 9,000 rooms and a second casino, Mr. Aymong said.

Ho Tram also will target vacationing families, with features including an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman, a Cirque du Soleil theater, and a site for guests to swim with dolphins.

"It's a needed project in Vietnam" that, in spite of the country's poor infrastructure, will be able to "effectively compete" with integrated resorts in neighboring China, Malaysia and Singapore, Mr. Aymong said

Susan Spano offers another perspective after a recent visit.

The photo was taken on Highway 1 several hundred kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Posted by jez at 8:30 AM

May 16, 2008

VR Scenes from China's Earthquake

The Washington Post has published several VR scenes from Central China.

Posted by jez at 1:32 PM

May 15, 2008

On Burma

The Atlantic posted a 1958 Supplement on Burma here.

Posted by jez at 9:51 AM

April 22, 2008


Bob Lefsetz's latest on Manzanar brought back memories of a drive down the Eastern Sierra via 395 many years ago. My email to Bob:

Great right turn, one I made in 1990, when I left San Francisco and drove east to a new job in my fun MR2. I took some time on Frost's "Road not Taken" - which indeed made all the difference.

395 has some great history, including Manzanar and The LA Department of Water & Power's Owens Valley H2O grab. I drove East to Tahoe, then South, stopping again for a Mono Lake Sunset. Continuing on past Mammoth, I made the Manzanar stop. No one was around (this was before the National Park Service took over). Somewhere, I have some photos - I'll have to look them up.

Driving further south, I recall the dust, where Owens Lake used to host an extensive habitat, before the water was sent to the lawns of LA.

Some vr scenes:

Virtual Guidebooks

VRMag virtual tour links

Clusty on Manzanar.

Posted by jez at 9:46 AM

April 18, 2008

Dodge County Sunset

Posted by jez at 4:05 PM

March 27, 2008

Addressing: The Revenge of Geography

Timothy Grayson:

Pondering a future for location intelligence is a speculative journey through geographic permanence and human transience that ends with proving location intelligence to be evermore crucial to businesses and governments.

The Canadian postal context
The post office has a natural connection to location and an unbeatable advantage over geo-matics, spatial mapping and so on: postal carriers go regularly to all locations.

Opened in 1755, the first Canadian post office facilitated commerce and nation-building at a time when locating people and places among the buffalo and beaver was a real challenge. By 2005, Canada Post was delivering 11.1-billion letters and packages - about 37-million pieces every day - to over 31-million individual Canadians plus over 1-million businesses and institutions at some 14-million points-of-call.

Canada Post has established an electronic pedigree as well. epostTM serves about 4-million subscribed Canadians, delivering electronic bills for over 90-percent of Canadian large volume mailers. Canada Post also provides both an electronic courier service to securely transmit large electronic documents and an Electronic PostMark.

Posted by jez at 2:10 PM

March 25, 2008

Out of East Germany via Bulgaria

Nicholas Kulish:

Two dangling strands of barbed wire have haunted Olaf Hetze for over a quarter century, since his failed attempt to escape from the Communist bloc, not by going over the Berlin Wall but around it by a little-known route through Bulgaria.

Mr. Hetze still believes that he and his girlfriend, Barbara Hille, might have made it if he had managed to cover their tracks better, trimming the loose ends after cutting the top wire of a border fence. If he had, Mr. Hetze said in an interview at his home in Munich earlier this year, he might never have seen the shooting stars of tracer bullets arcing across the night sky, or had to watch his girlfriend twist in the air and fall to the ground, blood rushing out of a life-threatening wound to her shoulder.

But the dangling wire was far from the only reason they failed.

Thanks to the work of a dedicated German researcher, the full extent of the escape attempts through Bulgaria, and the danger, is just now coming to light. At least 4,500 people tried to escape over the Bulgarian border during the cold war, estimated the researcher, Stefan Appelius, a professor of political science at Oldenburg University. Of those, he believes that at least 100 were killed, but no official investigation has ever been undertaken.

Posted by jez at 8:59 PM

February 12, 2008

The List: The World’s Best Places to Be an Immigrant

Foreign Policy:

Throughout the developed world, countries are tightening up border security, building fences, and raising citizenship requirements. But there are still a few places left that are willing to say: “Give us your huddled masses.”

Posted by jez at 9:27 AM

February 5, 2008

Thinking of Summer: Antibes

antibesbeachzmetro082008.jpg This image of a woman jumping from a rocky cliff into the Mediterranean was taken from a "people's beach" adjacent to the Hotel du Cap [Clusty search]. A useful image as we Madisonians face another snow shoveling event. Clusty search: Antibes.

satellite view

Posted by jez at 9:17 AM

January 14, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary: A Life in Pictures

National Geographic:

Edmund Hillary (left) and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay approach 28,000 feet (8,534 meters) on Mount Everest on May 28, 1953. The next day Hillary would become the first human to stand atop the world's highest mountain, with Tenzing joining him seconds later.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:21 AM

January 9, 2008

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency


An impressive waterfall, particularly in Winter with ice climbers scaling the heights. Clusty search.

Bonjour Quebec:

The Montmorency Falls, cascading 83 metres down to the river below (30 metres more than Niagara Falls), are situated on a historical site of natural beauty in the Montmorency Falls Park. A cable car runs up to the Manoir Montmorency, where a restaurant, reception rooms and boutiques await the visitor.
Satellite View.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:58 PM

December 14, 2007

'Cartographia' Showcases Maps as History, Art

Talk of the Nation:

Vincent Virga's Cartographia is a rare collection of 250 color maps and illustrations drawn from the world's largest cartographic collection at the Library of Congress. The collection spans everything from maps of ancient Mesopotamia, to maps of Columbus' discoveries, to contemporary satellite images and maps of the human genome.

Virga says that maps are like time machines — they reveal as much about the society that created them as they do about the geography of the places they describe.

Virga discusses the collection, which he culled from the Library of Congress' millions of maps and tens of thousands of atlases.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:39 AM

November 28, 2007

"The" way vs "a" way (Japan v China dept)

James Fallows offers up an interesting contrast between Japan and China.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:02 AM

October 8, 2007

Fall Colors: Upper Mississippi Valley

Buena Vista Park, Alma, WI. Map

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:36 PM

October 1, 2007

The Need for New Maps


If it were not for Rand McNally, I wouldn’t know I was in Europe, separated by an ocean from my family and friends. As far as I’m concerned, the urban culture of Berlin is closer to the culture of New York City than it is to, say, the German hinterland, to say nothing of the American hinterland. It is only through a certain way of looking at the world — from the privileged view of the orbiting satellite, in this case — that it appears the way it does. Our traditional maps, from the rough sketches of the Middle Ages to the latest map/satellite hybrids of Google, place geographic proximity above all other considerations in terms of importance.

But what about cultural proximity? Lifestyle proximity? “Energetic” proximity? What about the fact that I can take a direct flight (more or less) to any world capital, but to get to a mid-sized city in the States, I have to take two or three? It costs more money and takes more time to get from Denver to Upstate New York than it does from Denver to Amsterdam, Paris, or Milan — wouldn’t that make Denver CLOSER to the European capitals than it is to small cities in its own nation? That is my contention.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:05 AM

September 23, 2007

France & America


Paris Sunrise: August 2007 (taken while zooming around in a Paris cab driven by a former exchange student - who spent a year on a Iowa dairy farm).

Interesting interview with French President Nicolas Sarkozy:

“I want to tell the American people that the French people are their friends,” he said. “We are not simply allies. We are friends. I am proud of being a friend of the Americans. You know, I am saying this to The New York Times, but I have said it to the French, which takes a little more courage and is a little more difficult. I have never concealed my admiration for American dynamism, for the fluidity of American society, for its ability to raise people of different identities to the very highest levels.”

Mr. Sarkozy, who has been accused of being too enamored of all things American, said he considered France and the United States to be on equal footing and somehow better than many others, because they believe that their values are universal and therefore destined to “radiate” throughout the world. The Germans, the Spaniards, the Italians, the Chinese, by contrast, do not think that way, he said.

I had an opportunity to visit with a French Foreign Legion officer while on travel. This man mentioned that he had served with Americans in many places, including Afghanistan, Bosnia and other locales. I asked him for an impression of America after these interactions (he's also travelled to the states with family): Resources. He said that when the Americans arrive, they always seem to have incredible resources. An well equipped base can be in service within "days".

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:24 PM

July 8, 2007

The Resurrection of the Lower Owens River

Louis Sahagun:

Healing ailing rivers is Mark Hill's specialty. So when the tall and lean ecologist visits one of his works in progress, he's prepared to paddle a long and sinuous route to assess the health of his watery patient.

In this case, his charge is the Lower Owens River, a 62-mile-long stretch left essentially dry in 1913 after its flows of Sierra snowmelt were diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. After decades of political bickering, water was directed back into the riverbed in December, launching the largest river restoration effort ever attempted in the West.

Ecologists knew the Lower Owens would come back to life. But how fast would it rebuild itself? Which wildlife would appear first? Which plants?

Scientists have been surprised by some of the early answers, and to flesh out the details Hill recently took his first survey by kayak of the river. Hill, the lead scientist in the Lower Owens River Project, stepped into a blue inflatable 16-foot kayak, said "Let's go," and was soon scooting through the channel that cuts across the Owens Valley.

Highway 395 provides a gorgeous drive through the Eastern Sierra Nevada. It's also an interesting place to observe the effects of LA's ongoing thirst.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:14 PM

June 15, 2007

Rory Stewart in Kabul

Paul Kvinta:
Stewart, who now heads a nongovernmental organization called the Turquoise Mountain Foundation (TMF), had come into Aziz's good graces by way of his ongoing efforts to save the Old City from imminent destruction. One could be forgiven for assuming that, in Afghanistan, such a threat might be related to Taliban missiles or suicide bombers. But in counterintuitive fact, the culprit is a real estate boom. Everywhere in Kabul, bulldozers are flattening whole city blocks of traditional Afghan mud architecture to make room for modern glass-and-concrete buildings, fueled by billions of dollars in aid money and opium profits.

Stewart and I had spent the morning slogging through the mucky, trash-strewn lanes of the Old City, specifically a quarter called Murad Khane on the north bank of the Kabul River. Initially I had a hard time appreciating exactly what it is that's worth saving. Murad Khane is a warren of boxy, flat-topped, one- and two-story mud buildings laced with winding passageways so packed with decades of uncollected garbage that street levels had risen seven feet (two meters) in some areas, forcing residents to contort themselves to enter their front doors. There was no plumbing, no sewage system, no electricity. Residents relieved themselves in the open. Loitering men smoked hashish.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:27 PM

May 17, 2007

Why Squatter Cities are a Good Thing

Rockford Native Stewart Brand [video]

More on Brand.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:26 PM

April 14, 2007

Arctic Eagles Bid Mud Hens Farewell at Alaska Airlines

Susan Carey:
They called themselves the Arctic Eagles. For years, they flew Alaska Airlines passengers on the lonely routes from here to 20 remote outposts across the nation's largest state. With limited instruments and little air-traffic control, they faced blizzards, bear heads, gravel runways and volcanic eruptions.

But after 25 years, the Eagles are being disbanded.

Alaska Air two weeks ago retired the last of its dedicated fleet of banged-up old Boeing 737-200s affectionately known as "mud hens." As the airline expands its routes, it is sending the roughly 60 pilots onto newer aircraft that they'll have to fly to California, Mexico and the East Coast as well as the Alaskan destinations.

Alaska is no longer their exclusive fief, either. Some of the airline's other pilots will be able to fly the Arctic routes as long as they're "checked out" on some of the most demanding airports.
I flew on one of these Alaska Air flights years ago, it took a few tries to land at the fogged in airport. Sat next to a woman who lost her husband - an air taxi pilot - in a crash.
Posted by James Zellmer at 3:19 PM

March 22, 2007

Exploring Antarctica

Washington Post. Fabulous.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 AM

March 15, 2007

Pictures from the Sky

An amazing collection.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:39 PM

March 10, 2007

Wake-up Call

Niall Ferguson:
AT AGE 42, NIALL FERGUSON HAS BECOME one of the world's most famous and provocative historians, with high-profile posts ranging from Harvard to Oxford to Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Born in Scotland and educated at Oxford, he is not only a prolific author of books, including Colossus (2004), an examination of American empire, and The War of the World (2006), a study of World War II, but a media star with a weekly newspaper column and numerous television projects. Ferguson also has developed a growing fan club on Wall Street and in British financial circles, where he has stressed in speeches that investors are too complacent about geopolitical risk, notably growing instability in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Geopolitical issues and economic history are Ferguson's specialty, and he approaches both with uncommon intelligence, style and vigor. His rightward-leaning views have been embraced by those who believe that the American empire can and should be a force for good in the world. Some on the left have attacked him, perhaps unfairly, as an apologist for imperialism -- Britain's in days of old, and the American strain that critics charge has mired the U.S. in Iraq. In a recent column, reprinted in the Chicago Tribune, Ferguson berated Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, "with his melting-pot roots and his molten-hot rhetoric," for calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by March 2008, in the misguided notion it would hasten a peaceful solution to that nation's "internecine conflict."

Amplifying this theme, Ferguson told Barron's that America's speedy departure likely would transform Iraq into "as violent and unstable a place as Central Africa was in the 1990s." An ardent supporter of Britain's former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, he is about to be named an adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

FERGUSON IS FASCINATED by what he calls the "paradox of diminishing risk in an apparently dangerous world." By that, he means ebullient global stock markets and record-tight yield spreads between risk-free U.S. Treasuries and junk bonds and emerging-market debt. He also cites declining volatility in stock, bond and foreign-exchange markets, and an abiding faith in the ability of the Federal Reserve and other central banks to rescue the investment community from any potential financial crisis. Although the global stock-market selloff two weeks ago wasn't spurred by geopolitical events, it validated his concern that investors have willingly downplayed risk.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:48 AM

March 7, 2007

We Can't Tell You, It's a Secret"

Joe Francica:
At GITA, Dr. Bill Gail of Microsoft's Virtual Earth team addressed a question as to working with highly sensititve imagery of perhaps a national security concern and whether they might be asked to black out areas on Virtual Earth. Google had been asked to do this previously for certain areas and Microsoft wanted to preempt such situations. Gail said that Microsoft has sat down with various government agencies to ask them about these potential conflict areas that they thought might be blacked out if asked to do so. Their answer was, "it's a secret, we can't tell you."
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:36 PM

February 23, 2007

Specter's Letter from Moscow

Michael Specter:
The murder of Anna Politkovskaya was at once unbelievable and utterly expected. She had been hunted and attacked before. I 2001, she fled to Vienna after receiving e-mailed threats claiming that a special-services police officer whom she had accused o committing atrocities against civilians (and who was eventually convicted of the crimes) was bent on revenge. While she was abroad a woman who looked very much like her was shot and killed in front of Politkovskaya’s Moscow apartment building. Polic investigators believe the bullet was meant for Politkovskaya. In 2004, she became violently ill after drinking tea on a flight to Beslan in North Ossetia, where, at the request of Chechen leaders, she was to negotiate with terrorists who had seized a school and take more than eleven hundred hostages, most of them children. The Russian Army, which had bungled its response to the siege, did no want her there. Upon landing in Rostov, she was rushed to the hospital; the next day, she was flown by private jet to Moscow fo treatment. By the time she arrived, her blood-test results and other medical records had somehow disappeared. She survived, only t be called a “midwife to terror.” The threats became continuous: calls in the middle of the night, letters, e-mails, all ominous, al promising the worst. “Anna knew the risks only too well,’’ her sister told me. Politkovskaya was born in New York while her fathe was serving at the United Nations, in 1958; not long ago, her family persuaded her to obtain an American passport. “But that was a far as she would go,” Kudimova said. “We all begged her to stop. We begged. My parents. Her editors. Her children. But she alway answered the same way: ‘How could I live with myself if I didn’t write the truth?’
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:39 PM

A Rare Heavenly Arc

David Perlman:
No, this isn't an upside-down rainbow, and the photographer hasn't faked the picture. It's an unusual phenomenon caused by sunlight shining through a thin, invisible screen of tiny ice crystals high in the sky and has nothing at all to do with the rain.

Andrew G. Saffas, a Concord artist and photographer, saw the colorful arc at 3:51 p.m. on a beautiful day recently when a slight rain had fallen in the morning. He thought it was a rainbow, created by raindrops refracting sunlight the way glass prisms refract any bright beam of light.

Instead, what Saffas saw was what scientists call a circumzenithal arc, according to physicist Joe Jordan, a former NASA space scientist at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, who is now director of the Sky Power Institute in Santa Cruz, which promotes solar power and other alternative fuels.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:47 AM

February 4, 2007

Antarctica Photos

Duff Johnson:
In January of 2007, I travelled to Antarctica (specifically, the tip of the Antarctica Peninsula and environs) with my wife and stepfather.

This page is intended to offer a few stills, some movies and a thought or two on the experience. Nothing heavy, I assure you.

It is not my habit to promote my latest vacation. Antarctica is so extraordinary, and the tools for recording memories are (nowadays) so capable that I decided to "give it a go".
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:44 PM

January 13, 2007

Travel Scenes

Tarantula: Wikipedia | Clusty. Big Bend National Park.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 PM

December 31, 2006


Happy New Year!
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:26 AM

December 24, 2006

Surfer Survives Two Shark Attacks

Jim Doyle:
Royce Fraley has surfed the unforgiving, storm-swelled waves of Northern California for three decades, and also -- by chance -- explored the hunting habits and appetites of great white sharks.

But this holiday season he's spending time ashore in Guerneville with his wife and their two young children. He hasn't been surfing since his latest brush with fate. Two weeks ago, he became one of the world's few surfers to have survived two separate shark attacks -- the latest incident involving a shark that pulled him at least 15 feet below the surface.

"I'm not chomping at the bit to get back into the water," Fraley, 43, told The Chronicle. "I had an offer to go surfing with a buddy last Sunday, and I declined. I'm definitely taking a break and enjoying my family. ... If my feet were dangling down, I might not even have a leg or be here today. It's made me more respectful of my life and my family."
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:52 AM

December 3, 2006

Greek Blue Cave Photo Gallery

Natural Arches:
These two beautiful arches are located near the Blue Caves at the north end of the Greek island of Zakynthos. Unfortunately the boat trip from the city of Zakynthos to the Blue Caves no longer visits these arches. Photo by Dimitris Raptis, who has a very nice web page about the island of Zakynthos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:31 PM

November 26, 2006

As goes Peoria (Plano?)....

Virginia Postrel:
Plano does represent the New Economy, built on skilled, creative people. But it fits neither Brooks’s emphasis on bohemianism among the professional classes nor Richard Florida’s new industrial policy prescribing groovy uptowns with lots of gays. As Harvard economist Edward Glaeser wrote in a review of Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class: “I’ve studied a lot of creative people. Most of them like what most well-off people like—big suburban lots with easy commutes by automobile and safe streets and good schools and low taxes. . . . Plano, Texas was the most successful skilled city in the 1990s (measured by population growth)—it’s not exactly a Bohemian paradise.”

In fact, Plano boomed because it’s cheap—the Stein Mart of towns. It allows residents to live a scaled-up, globalized version of the family-centered life of the postwar suburbs, a twenty-first-century Wonder Years. While you can find a $7 million estate in Plano, you can also buy a perfectly reasonable vintage ranch house, possibly with a pool, for less than $200,000. From that address, you can send your kids to excellent public schools. By contrast, on Kaus’s modest street in Venice, a tiny two-bedroom, one-bath bungalow was recently on the market for $754,000, making it one of the cheapest houses in the area (and the schools are lousy).
Plano is the home of Frito-Lay, EDS, JC Penney, Cadbury Schweppes, Ericsson, among others.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:33 PM

Polar opposite districts top nation in turnout

Craig Gilbert:
Jim Sensenbrenner's (5th) constituents would seem to have little in common with Tammy Baldwin's (3rd) constituents.

Sensenbrenner's heavily suburban U.S. House district is the state's most conservative. Baldwin's, anchored in Madison, may be its most liberal.

But voters in both places have come to share a striking distinction: They flock to the polls in greater numbers than voters almost anywhere else in the country.

More than 314,000 people voted in the Republican Sensenbrenner's 5th District on Nov. 7, and more than 304,000 voted in the Democrat Baldwin's 2nd District.

Only two congressional districts in the nation produced more votes, and both are at-large, statewide seats (Montana and South Dakota) that have a lot more people than other districts.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:25 PM

November 19, 2006

Feingold on the Long War

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold addressed the Madison Civics Club yesterday. His speech addressed the Long War. Adam Malecek was there:
Feingold said that Africa also presents a number of critical issues related to terrorism, and that it is a growing haven for many terrorist operatives. He noted that terrorists blew up American embassies in Africa, not in Afghanistan or Iraq, and that the culprits went to South Africa to hide.

He said even though he was well-educated and studied abroad, at 39 years old he didn't know anything about Africa -- and he was on the Foreign Relations committee.

"And I spent 15 years since learning about (Africa). But I offer that as a commentary on how prepared this country was on 9/11," he said.

Feingold pointed out the fact that the northern part of Africa is only about 20 miles from the Middle East.

"But we don't think of them that way. We think of them as separate," he said, adding that the United States needs to work on determining the complicated interrelationships between various nations and terrorist groups.
Useful sites on the Long War:Andy Hall has more as does Douglas Schuette.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:14 PM

November 13, 2006

Madison #5 in US in % of "Exurban" Population!


Alan Berube, Audrey Singer, Jill H. Wilson, and William H. Frey of [1.5MB PDF] The Brookings Institution:
  • Madison 2000 Census Population: 501,774
  • Total Exurban Population: 110,127
  • Percentage Exurban: 21.9%
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 AM

November 9, 2006

Mt. St. Helens VR Scene

Fullscreen 360
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:58 PM

October 31, 2006

This is Baghdad. What Could be Worse?

UW-Madison Grad Anthony Shadid:
It had been almost a year since I was in the Iraqi capital, where I worked as a reporter in the days of Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the occupation, guerrilla war and religious resurgence that followed. On my return, it was difficult to grasp how atomized and violent the 1,250-year-old city has become. Even on the worst days, I had always found Baghdad's most redeeming quality to be its resilience, a tenacious refusal among people I met over three years to surrender to the chaos unleashed when the Americans arrived. That resilience is gone, overwhelmed by civil war, anarchy or whatever term could possibly fit. Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life.

"A city of ghosts," a friend told me, her tone almost funereal.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:57 AM

October 2, 2006

More Fall Color

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:30 PM

August 10, 2006

Where You Vote Matters

"Subtle environmental cues can influence decisions on issues of real consequence,” write Jonah Berger and Marc Meredith, two doctoral students at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and S. Christian Wheeler, a Stanford marketing professor, in a paper (summary) reported in July's SER. The “environmental cues” are surprising indeed: according to the authors, the polling places used by voters may influence their choices. One study showed voters in Arizona in 2000 were more likely to support a measure to increase the state sales tax, with the proceeds going to public education, if they voted in a school.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:57 AM

August 1, 2006

Back to the Future: The Suez Crisis

The Economist publishes a timely look back at the Suez Crisis:
The Suez crisis, as the events of the following months came to be called, marked the humiliating end of imperial influence for two European countries, Britain and France. It cost the British prime minister, Anthony Eden, his job and, by showing up the shortcomings of the Fourth Republic in France, hastened the arrival of the Fifth Republic under Charles de Gaulle. It made unambiguous, even to the most nostalgic blimps, America's supremacy over its Western allies. It thereby strengthened the resolve of many Europeans to create what is now the European Union. It promoted pan-Arab nationalism and completed the transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute into an Israeli-Arab one. And it provided a distraction that encouraged the Soviet Union to put down an uprising in Hungary in the same year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:54 PM

July 16, 2006

Southwest Utah Trip: Zion National Park [N 37 13.027' W 112 58.064']

More photos here. [N 37 13.027' W 112 58.064']
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:22 PM

Southwest Utah Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park [N 37 36.249' W 112 09.396']

Many more photos here. [N 37 36.249' W 112 09.396']
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:03 PM

July 1, 2006

A View Near the Kiva Koffeehouse N 37 46.332' W 111 25.022'

Kiva Koffeehouse.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:40 PM

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument & Grovsner Arch N 37 27.267' W 111 49.969'

More photos here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:20 PM

June 18, 2006

Boulder, Utah Photos

More photos from our recent journey. This time, the Boulder, Utah area:

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 PM

May 22, 2006

2006 Political & Economic Risk Map

Political, economic and social environments can shift at a moment’s notice, disrupting business operations for anyone involved in international commerce. Companies can be subjected to discriminatory action – or inaction – of foreign governments and third parties, potentially leading to forced shutdowns, relocations and other unforeseen expenses.

The impact of these political and economic exposures is examined by Aon Trade Credit in its 2006 Political & Economic Risk Map, created in conjunction with Oxford Analytica, an international, independent consulting firm of more than 1,000 senior faculty members at Oxford and other major universities and research institutions around the world.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:40 PM

April 16, 2006

A City of Great Magnitude

Janis Cooke Newman:
In April 1906, 70 years before my own first visit, Enrico Caruso also thought he was lucky to be here. The famed Italian tenor was supposed to be in Naples, but Mt. Vesuvius had erupted two weeks before, and Caruso thought he would be safer in San Francisco , where, after all, there are no volcanoes. "God has sent me here," the singer declared before he went to bed the night of April 17. When he was shaken from that bed the following dawn, Caruso changed his opinion of the Almighty's intent. "We are all doomed to die!" he shouted at his valet.
Jeanne Cooper chronicles the great quakes from 1906 to 2006.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:05 PM

April 9, 2006

The Great Quake - 1906 to 2006

Carl Nolte:
San Francisco, the 'Paris of America,' was booming with industry and culture — a Gold Rush city built in an instant. It was also a calamity waiting to happen.

This is the first of a 10-part retelling of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake — and its aftermath.

Samuel Dickson was 17 years old, almost a man, that April night in San Francisco 100 years ago. He and a friend had gotten standing-room tickets for the opera and heard the great Caruso sing.

The night was clear and beautiful, so after the opera they went to the top of Telegraph Hill to look at the city -- the lights of the Barbary Coast, the steeple of Old St. Mary's Church on California Street, the rounded domes of Temple Emanu-El on Sutter, the alleys of Chinatown and the distant gilded dome of City Hall.
Somewhat related: I wrote about my Loma Prieta (The "Pretty Big One") experience here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 AM

April 8, 2006

The Mishap at Mammoth

Bob Lefsetz:
My inbox and voice mail are filling up with questions/concerns re the tragic accident at Mammoth Mountain today.

With 79" of new snow, the ski patrol had to do a great deal of maintenance work to make the hill safe for skiing. In clearing up the Face of 3, a group of ski patrollers went to adjust a fence around a volcano vent on the far side of the slope. The ground collapsed and they were trapped and the latest report is three people died. It is not clear whether the fall killed them or the lack of oxygen or the volcanic gases.

It was very strange. One started to hear whispering. And then the upper lifts were running but they wouldn’t let anybody board. And then they stopped the upper lifts completely.

Different stories were circulated. One, that the snow just collapsed. Two, that by covering up the vent previously, the gases found a new exit and a larger area was rendered unstable.
Usha Lee McFarling notes the risks for those who work and play atop one of the nations largest active volcanic systems. Steve Hymon and Amanda Covarrubias have more.

Mammoth has had 638 inches (!) of snow this year. The lifts will be open until July 4th!

Mammoth Mountain
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:21 AM

December 19, 2005

Top Ten 2005 National Geographic News Videos

National Geographic News:
Killer hurricanes, swarming sharks, and wildlife fighting for survival headlined this year's most popular videos from National Geographic News. Replay the year in science, nature, and exploration with 2005's top ten videos.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 AM

December 14, 2005

City of Madison Comprehensive Plan

Kristian Knutsen:
A couple of hours before the council meeting in the same room, they attended a presentation about the City of Madison Comprehensive Plan. This plan, mandated by state law, and a work in progress over the last couple of years, will serve as a long-term roadmap for the city's infrastructural future. It is also up for a vote on Tuesday, Dec. 13 by the full council, though it is likely to be referred to a subsequent meeting in early January.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:01 AM

November 21, 2005

A Brief History of Rand McNally

The Map Room:

Samuel John Klein’s Brief History of Rand McNally is up on Designorati today. Interesting to see that William Rand and Andrew McNally started with railroads (road travel was some decades away); their first map, in 1872, was the Railway Guide.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM