As young geo-nerds, my brother and I started digging a hole in our back yard in Pennsylvania. Eventually we hoped to reach China because that was the cliche of the time. This ignores the fact that you probably wouldn't dig precisely downwards without a level and if you did, you'd melt when you got to the earth's core. We also didn't realize that a straight dig downwards would have put us off the coast of western Australia. This is our antipode - the opposite side of the earth.
Most places don't have very interesting antipodes - North America is opposite the Indian Ocean and most of Europe and Africa is opposite the Pacific. Spain, however shares an antipode with New Zealand. The Antipodes Spain/New Zealand School Map is a tool teachers can use to teach geography and hopefully set up relationships between schools on opposite sides of the globe.
Zoom in on a location and you can see the closest opposite school.
In a large city such as Madrid, the idea breaks down a bit as you have numerous schools competing to partner with New Zealand's Weber School, located in a low density area with few nearby schools.
The area around Wellington, New Zealand, being opposite the triangle between Madrid, Salamanca and Valladolid, has much better opportunities for anitpode sister schools though most of the city is paired with the Miguel De Cervantes School.
Like many Americans, I spent way too much time Monday night watching the NCAA Championship football game. While not paying total attention, this commercial for the Big Ten Conference really jumped out at me. The commercial is called "Maps" and is based on the Game of Thrones intro (with the same music.)
It constructs a flyover of the US, starting at the Rose Bowl. As you pass by iconic buildings, stadiums and landmarks pop up from the landscape. Here is a tour using screen grabs from YouTube.
From the west coast you fly across the mountains to Nebraska, the current westernmost outpost of the conference.
Next comes Iowa, then Minnesota, then Wisconsin.
One of the most dramatic moments is watching the Chicago skyline pop up in front of the Northwestern logo. Note the theater references for Northwestern and Iowa. The mist coming off the Ohio River adds to the medieval theme.
The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is about as big as it gets.
From there, it makes the jump to the east coast to cover the conference's recent acquisitions. Here are Penn State and Maryland with east coast icons such as the Capitol building, Washington Monument, LOVE statue and the Liberty Bell.
The flyover heads over the Atlantic and turns back to the west to include Rutgers the "birthplace of college football" (according to the ad) along with the NYC skyline and the ferris wheel at Seaside Heights, New Jersey. I like the reflections off the water.
The Toronto Star published a set of maps in 2007 showing the second language (after English) for more than 1000 neighborhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. The map (based on 2006 Census data) is a nice, colorful illustration of where different immigrant groups chose to settle - although languages such as Spanish and Portuguese (and even Chinese to some extent) don't tell you much about where those settlers really came from. The original map is pretty large - here are some smaller images from Bricoleurbanism.
Particularly striking and unexpected (to me) is the number of Italians. Although many of the green neighborhoods are lower density suburbs creating a false illusion of dominance, Italian is still the largest
second language with almost three times as many speakers as French. The dull, generic gray color used for French (mostly in the far eastern part of the region) minimizes the visual importance of Canada's second language, whether intentionally or not.
Three neighborhoods where English is not the first language are highlighted with circles and expanded on.
I made a screen shot of the main urban area to show some of the patterns of diversity that are less apparent from the large map. These patterns include Greek (black) in the east, Portuguese (light blue) in the west and various eastern Asian languages, mostly east and north of downtown. There are also numerous French speaking areas, if I'm interpreting the generic gray correctly.
The entire map can be downloaded from the Star here.
A hundred years ago today the fighting stopped - temporarily. The Christmas Truce was a series of ceasefires along the Western Front. World War I had degenerated into a stalemate and trenches were dug along the front lines. Opposing trenches were often very close and after a couple of months of living in close proximity under miserable conditions, a degree of empathy arose between enemy combatants. Soldiers sang Christmas Carols to each other across the trenches and eventually emerged to help each other with burials, exchange rations and play football.
Many soldiers on both sides felt little reason to hate the enemy troops. Some of the Germans had worked in England before the war and many of them knew enough British culture to sing familiar songs to the "enemy" troops. Military and political leaders were deeply troubled by this lack of hostility and actively discouraged future truces, punishing those who attempted them.
If the truce was in part a protest by the troops about the futility of their situation, the map below (from a military history site) justifies their sentiments. It shows the Western Front in the summer of 1916, almost completely unchanged after a year and a half of suffering and death. The front lines changed little until near the end of the war, almost four years after the Christmas Truce.
*Much of the information above is also from Weintraub's book-link here.
In 1914 Ernest Shackleton sketched out his plan to cross Antarctica on a menu card for the London Devonian Society's Annual Dinner.
Shackleton served on two previous Antarctic expeditions but Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole, in 1911. After failing to be the first at the South Pole, Shackleton switched his focus to crossing the Continent, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. Here is the map in as much detail as I can find it online.
The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition left Buenos Aires, Argentina on October 26, 1914 hoping to reach the continent by December and the South Pole by Christmas, 1914. The ship got stuck in ice in the Weddell Sea for almost a year and was finally crushed by the ice. The last contact was made from South Georgia on December 3rd, 1914. Here is a map from a 1916 Daily Telegraph article discussing the lack of news from the Expedition - via xefer.
The party endured a horrific multi-year rescue but they all eventually returned home alive. For more details see Wikipedia, or wait for the movie Endurance to be released next year.