Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Haha-jima, the Galapagos of the East [*]

[*] Please see [SIDEBAR] at the end of this post for a discussion of the geographical (in)accuracy and inherent ambiguity of this title.
The location of the Ogasawara Archipelago in the Philippine Sea. 

Regular viewers of my blog postings will have noticed my strange fascination (obsession, almost!) with the locations of my blog readers.  I suppose this is not so strange, considering I am a geographer!  I do track where viewers are pinging in from, quite religiously.  I find it very calming and therapeutic, somehow!  I take great delight when someone enters my blog from a far-off, remote, or inaccessible place, and when that happens, I zoom into the map to see what the place looks like, as far as can be gleaned from road maps and satellite images on google maps.  Some of my favorite viewers so far, in terms of the remote-and-inaccessible factor, have been from Tromso, Norway; Tsetserleg, Mongolia; Manicore, Brazil (accessible only by a tributary river, deep in Amazonia); Arviat up on Hudson Bay in Nunavut Territory, Canada (there are local roads but they don't connect up with anything; access is by plane to tiny airstrip, seasonal shipping, or maybe overland by dogsled!); Estancia Harberton, Argentina (just about the end of the road in Tierra del Fuego!); Tiferte Ait-Hamza, high up in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco (pretty much goat trails to get there); and Sipisipi in the heart of the rain forest in Papua New Guinea (no roads AT ALL visible on the satellite image!).  Ain’t the World Wide Web a wonderful thing!  It's pretty much world wide, at any rate.  The most recent of these far, far away places is Haha-jima. And "remote" doesn't even begin to cover it! 
Recently, for some odd reason, my blog has been getting a lot of traffic from viewers in Japan.  One day, I had over 400 page views from Japan alone!  And yesterday, I noticed a push-pin marker in a location seemingly out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (well, the Philippine Sea, to be exact), and I figured it was one of those lonely islands in Micronesia, or the North Mariana Islands, or somewhere else equally as far-flung from the mainland continents.  Or maybe it was Dan, my former student who is doing field work in Palau! 
Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the icon and it said “Japan, Tokyo prefecture.”  At first, naturally enough, I figured “Ah HA! This stats tracking program has totally wigged out now!  It has made a BIG mistake!”  It looked like it was about 1,000 km from the city of Tokyo, or anywhere, for that matter.  As an isolated island in the middle of the largest geographic feature on earth (the Pacific Ocean) it certainly did look like it was in the middle of nowhere. Definitely NOT Tokyo.  But the more and more I zoomed in, the more I saw it was an island in a small archipelago called the Ogasawara Group, (formerly the Bonin Islands) and the particular island my viewer came from was Haha-jima (“Mother Island”).  I googled Haha-jima, and found out that indeed, it was part of the Tokyo prefecture, technically one of the eight villages of Tokyo, even though it is over 1,000 km from Tokyo.  There is a supply boat that goes to the main island of Chichi-jima ("Father Island") a few times a month from Tokyo, and the crossing is rough and takes about 26 hours (in good weather!).  From Chichi-jima, there is a ferry crossing of another 2 hours to get to Haha-jima.  There is no airport on either of the two inhabited islands in the Ogasawara Group.  So to say that it is hard to get to is putting it mildly. 

The Ogasawara Island Group is sometimes likened to the Galapagos Islands, because there are a number of striking similarities.  Both sets of islands are volcanic, were never part of any continent, house many species of endemic flora and fauna, and went through a unique evolutionary process.  Like the Galapagos, each island in the group has its own related but separate species.  Rather than the well-known and varied tortoise species of the Galapagos, the Ogasawara Islands are famous for their many endemic species of land snails.  As much as the Galapagos tortoises are huge, the Haha-jima land snails are tiny.  In fact, most of them are so small that they can be digested by birds and still come out of things alive, if you catch my drift.  There are about 90 species of endemic land-snails in the archipelago, most on a remote peninsula of Haha-jima.  And, as in the Galapagos, the endemic species are threatened by invasive species brought in by the human settlers. 

Crab-crossing sign in Hahah-jima, from:

A Haha-jima snail, which can apparently survive after having been digested by birds. From  “Biogeography of wingless terrestrial invertebrates, in particular snails, is often faced with mysterious long distance dispersal patterns that can only be explained by hand waving arguments involving birds' feet or guts or cyclones. This is the first study showing that birds can indeed transport a substantial [number of] micro land snails in their gut alive.”

For most of their history, the Ogasawara Islands were uninhabited (also like the Galapagos, where people have lived permanently only the past couple of hundred years, although both sets of islands served as seasonal whaling stations before permanent settlements were established).  Both sets of islands are about the same distance from the mainland and the countries that own them.  Both have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites (the Ogasawara Islands gaining that distinction just recently in June, 2011).  But while Ecuador has, over the past three decades or so, aggressively promoted organized tourism in the Galapagos, with tourist ships becoming so frequent as to almost inundate and overwhelm the delicate ecology of the central islands, the Ogasawara Group is still relatively untouched by tourism, and what tourism there is seems very small-scale, probably due to the length of time it takes to get there and the arduous nature of the journey.  Only 2,400 people live there, most of them on the main island of Chichi-jima, and only about 450 on Haha-jima.  Although the archipelago consists of more than 30 islands, and even more islets, only those two are inhabited. 

The archipelago’s original name, the Bonin Islands, is a corruption of Bunin-jima, or “uninhabited islands.”  Stone-age tools found on the islands seem to indicate that the islands were inhabited in ancient times but when the islands were discovered by a Spanish explorer in 1543, and by the Japanese in 1670, they were uninhabited.  Some Americans, Hawaiians, and Europeans formed the first permanent settlement here in the 1830’s.  The islands have at various times been under the jurisdiction of the Japanese, the British Empire, and the United States.  Because the islands’ original settlers were mainly Americans and British, a pidgin or creole language developed on the islands, still spoken today, that is a combination of English and Japanese, called Bonin Islands language.  The U.S. operated a naval facility on the islands until 1968, when the islands reverted to Japan. 
Another island in the Ogasawara Archipelago is Iwo-jima, which was an infamous battleground during WWII, and much memorialized in the U.S. by the iconic photograph of five American Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the American flag.  The island, only 8 square miles, saw 20,000 of the 21,000 Japanese Imperial troops stationed there killed (or dead from ritual suicide) within the 36 days of the battle, and 6,800 Americans dead.  I can't imagine that level of carnage in such a small space.  The Americans captured the island, including the three airports.  Although the chief of Naval Operations expressed doubts on the wisdom of such ferocious fighting to take Iwo-jima, saying “the expenditure of manpower to acquire a small, God-forsaken island, useless to the Army as a staging base and useless to the Navy as a fleet base ... [one] wonders if the same sort of airbase could not have been reached by acquiring other strategic localities at lower cost,” his statements were meant to obscure the real need for the island by the U.S. – to serve as a staging area and emergency landing site for the atomic bombs intended to be dropped on the main Japanese islands shortly thereafter.  Now the island is uninhabited except for a Japanese military base, and civilian access is restricted to those veterans and their families from both sides attending memorial services to honor the war dead. 

The "Fake Map" Part of the Story

One of the “fake” maps based on that by Shimaya Ichizaemon (Tanaka Archives).
 And, of course, there is a map story that figures into the history of the Ogasawara Islands.  Even more interestingly, it is a “fake” map story.  The Japanese did not “discover” the Ogasawaras until 1670, when a merchant ship was blown off-course and drifted there.  Five years later the islands were officially explored and declared as a Japanese territory, although they were more or less abandoned by the Japanese for the next 180 years.  In 1727, a masterless samurai named Ogasawara Kunai Sadatou made a petition to the feudal government for passage to the islands on the claim that he had an ancestor called Ogasawara Sadayori, who supposedly had discovered the deserted islands in 1593.  Sadatou recorded some baseless fantasies in his Tatsumi Bunin Tou Sojou narabi ni Koujou Tomegaki (“Dictated Petition for the Deserted Islands to the Southeast”), which he submitted to the magistrate’s office, in addition to some fake maps and other falsified documents.  His description of the islands’ dimensions is particularly fanciful, making it appear as though Chichi-jima was as large as Taiwan.  The island’s shapes were also drawn wrong, and he located them incorrectly, placing the position of Chichi Jima “at a point where the North Star is somewhat greater than 32 and one half degrees up from the ground,” which is the wrong latitude altogether.  Additionally, he claimed there was gold dust for the taking, and fur seals swimming in the warm seas around the islands, neither of which is true. 
Judging from the numerous popular articles about the Bonin Islands which appeared after Sadatou’s claim and which apparently draw from a common source, it seems that the “Dictated Petition for the Deserted Islands to the Southeast” and the other falsified documents that Sadatou left behind were later copied and widely circulated.  His petition for passage was initially granted, but eight years later the whole thing was exposed as a lie, and Sadatou was put into exile (although it's hard to imagine a better exile place in those times than the Ogasawara Islands themselves!). 

Mori  Kinsai (1752)  Map of the Ogasawara Islands, alias the Bonin Islands.  (Japanese National Library of Public Documents).  On this map, there is a rather extensive explanation of the history of the islands and the products found there, including the presence of fur seals, which would be unusual if not impossible on a tropical island, but the information closely follows the falsified documents that the masterless samurai Sadatou trumped up 25 years earlier.

The 2 main industries on the islands are fishing and rum production (sugar cane).  Here is a fisherman in an outrigger canoe showing his lure for catching wahoo.  From:

Gastrocopta chichijimana – Chichijima Whorl Snail, now extinct.  Depiction from: ‘G. W. Tryon; H. A. Pilsbry: Manual of Conchology. Second series: Pulmonata, Vol. 24, 1918-1920′

Gastrocopta chichijimana – Chichijima Whorl Snail
“The reasons for the extinction of the Chichijima Whorl Snail and many other native snail species of the island of Chichijima, are quite easy to find.  At about the middle of the 19th century Japanese settlers begun to cultivate the Ogasawara Islands, which were at that time only sparsely populated, mostly by whalers.  During that period, large areas of native vegetation were destroyed and many animal and plant species, both domestic and wild ones, were imported. Later, in the beginning of the 20th century, when the islands where something like Japans biggest agricultural region, Giant East African Snails (Achatina fulica) were introduced as a food resource.  These snails soon were established and – as in all other places, where they have been introduced, became a pest for agriculture. To stop the uncontrolled spreading of the Giant East African Snails, Rosy Wolf Snails (Euglandina rosea) were introduced to the Ogasawara Islands (to Chichijima in the year 1965), a snail species that has adapted to stalk and kill other snail species.
The worst snail killer, the Snail-eating Land Planarian (Platydemus monokwari), however, was introduced to Chichijima in the 1990s. This creature indeed preys on the Giant East African Snails, on young as well as on adult ones, and it even preys on the Rosy Wolf Snails too. But unfortunately the planarian doesn’t make a difference between introduced, invasive species and such that are native or endemic and rare.
This – the destruction of large parts of the native vegetation plus the persecution by introduced predators – are the reasons for the loss of about 70 % of the native or endemic snail species on the island of Chichijima.”

- Takashi Ohbayashi; Isamu Okochi; Hiroki Sato; Tsuyoshi Ono: Food habit of Platydemus manokwari De Beauchamp, 1962 (Tricladida: Terricola: Rhynchodemidae), known as a predatory flatworm of land snails in the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, Japan. Entomology and Zoology 40: 609-614. 2005
- Takashi Ohbayashi, Isamu Okochi, Hiroki Sato; Tsuyoshi Ono; Satoshi Chiba: Rapid decline of endemic snails in the Ogasawara Islands, Western Pacific Ocean. Restoring the Oceanic Island Ecosystem, Part 2: 27-33. 2010

Some interesting historical publications about the Ogasawara Islands:

By the Rev. A. F. KING.
This one was written in 1898, about a nurse who came to the Ogasawara Islands from the Caroline Islands, and eventually died in Chichi-jima at 112 years of age. 

This one was written in 1854 about Commodore Perry’s visit to the island, whereby an American colony was established on the island, and Perry himself purchased some land.  

The Bonin Islands
By Russell Robertson, Esq.
Read before the Asiatic Society of Japan on the 15th March, 1876.

For a more contemporary look at Haha-jima, see this blog about a recent trip to the islands. Ringed by coral reefs, it is a scuba-diver's paradise. From:


When I was deciding upon a title for this post, I wanted to convey the geographic, ecological, and evolutionary similarities between the Ogasawara Islands and the Galapagos.  Reference material I had read seemed all to refer to them as the “Galapagos of the Orient,” an appellation I was reluctant to use since “the Orient” as a descriptor has fallen into disrepute as a non-PC term and somewhat pejorative and Euro-centric (and not in a good way!).  Never mind that fact that “Orient” really just means “east” and “to orient oneself” meant to find east and then you would know where you were.  Somehow over the recent years it had taken on unfortunate racial undertones, and calling people “Orientals” was frowned upon as an old-fashioned and insensitive term. 
Then I thought, hmmm, the “Galapagos of Asia”? but that didn’t really capture it either, since by all standards, even though the islands are part of an Asian country, they are really culturally, geographically, geologically, and ecologically part of Oceania.  But the “Galapagos of Oceania” just didn’t have that certain ring to it, besides being of potentially dubious accuracy.  
So I settled on the “Galapagos of the East,” but this brings up another vexing conundrum that has plagued me since graduate school when there was much talk in my theoretical and critical geography classes about “the [global] South,” “the North,” “the East,” and “the West,” none of which was used in the geographically accurate sense, but merely to denote some index of economic development and worldview.  Australia, for instance, was in the global north, Mexico was in “the South,” despite being on the North American continent, and Japan, being a highly developed country, was often considered to be “Western.”  I never understood why we had to use misleading geographical descriptors when we really weren’t talking about geography at all but measurements of economic or technological development, or affluence, or demographic phase, or political influence. And, of course, speaking even strictly geographically, "east" and "west" are relative terms, depending upon your own position. Asia is only "the east" because it is east of the Europeans who coined the term.  

The major island groups of the Pacific Ocean, showing the Galapagos in the eastern portion of the Pacific, and the Ogasawara Archipelago in the western Pacific, just northwest of where the Northern Mariana Islands are indicated on this map.  
     But the real problem for me, vis-á-vis this post title, started when I looked at the geography of the two sets of islands from the perspective of the Pacific Ocean.  The Galapagos, not the Ogasawara Islands, were in the east!  And the Ogasawaras were decidedly in the western part of the ocean.  But “the Galapagos of the Western Pacific” seemed too confusing (and uninteresting), so I stuck with “the Galapagos of the East.”  Please excuse the geographical inaccuracy of the post title. I guess we can think of it as the geographical equivalent of poetic license.
    Oh, and as a coda to my interest in where my blog viewers hail from, today I "captured" viewers from THREE new countries!  This is rare, to get three new countries in one day, especially since there are only a handful of countries remaining "uncaptured." (c'mon, Vatican City, Antarctica, Chad, Tajikistan, and East Timor!)  Three new viewers have appeared, one from Barrigada, GUAM; one from Longdenville, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES; and one from Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO.  Wonderful! Have to update my map now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Map of the Week 9-26-2011: Visualizing Empires Decline

Visualizing Empires Decline From:

This is a cool visualization about world empire dissolution.  It looks at the four major maritime empires of the 19th and 20th centuries, (France, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal) and shows their relative size as the various colonies and territories break off of the mother countries.  It is very amusing visually, since when the colonies become independent, the mother countries start jiggling and bubbling, and then the colonies pop out and float away.  Either the empire is giving birth to the newly independent nations, or excreting them out - one is not sure about the symbolism here. 
Most of the action takes place in a couple of concentrated time periods.  The 1820’s, when many of the South American colonies gained their independence from Spain and Portugal, and the 1920's-30's.  But there is a veritable explosion in the late 1950's-1960’s, when many of the African and Asian countries became independent of France and Britain.  And check out the way the French Empire gets very large after it absorbs all those West African Francophone countries in the late 19th century after the Berlin Conference, where the African continent was carved up amongst the major Euproean powers of the time - France, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Portugal, and Spain. 
I did find a couple of oversights and mistakes, such as no sign of Haiti in 1804 popping out of the French Empire, and Cuba breaking off from Spain too early.  And if you look at the comments on the YouTube website you will find many more errors pointed out, a number of which are actually incorrect, and the animators had it right in their version.  A number of viewers chastised the animators for failing to include the American colonies leaving the British Empire, but the animation doesn’t start until 1800.  Duh.  And a number of viewers also took the animators to task for not including other empires, such as the Dutch, Russian, and American Empires, which led to a heated discussion about whether or not the United States could be said to have (or have had) an empire.  And some geniuses wanted to know where were the Turkish, Persian, Roman, you-name-it empires.  HELLOOO!  Major 19th and 20th century Maritime Empires? Clearly, you can’t please everybody on YouTube!  
Despite all the critiques and second-guessing, I find this a very satisfying visualization, even though it is not, strictly speaking, a map. For the best effect, and so that you see everything, watch it full screen on YouTube.  The download loses some quality. 

From the animators: “This is mainly an experimentation with soft bodies using toxi’s verlet springs in Processing.  The data refers to the evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the XIX and XX centuries by extent. The visual emphasis is on their decline.  The first idea was to visualize the decline of the maritime empires. Along with that came the idea of fluid and timeless boundaries, and thus some kind of soft bodies dissolution. 
Those are some screenshots displaying the springs in the system.  In white we have the springs that form each shape’s skeleton. There are other more robust configurations but as the forces were minimized the shape kept its body like behavior. The collisions were implemented using the red springs — center to center connections that repulsed at a minimum distance.  
The data refers to the evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the 19th and 20th centuries by land extension. I chose the maritime empires because of their more abrupt and obtuse evolution as the visual emphasis is on their decline. The first idea to represent the independence of a territory was a mitosis like split — it’s harder to implement than it looks. Each shape tends to retain an area that’s directly proportional to the extent of the occupied territory on a specific year. The datasource is mostly our beloved wikipedia.  I chose to pick the dates where it was perceived a de facto independence (e.g. the most of independence declarations prior to the new state’s recognition). Dominions of an empire, were considered part of that empire and thus not independent. 
I don’t wanna call this small experiment information visualization neither information art. Either way sounds too pretentious — information aesthetics, perhaps?. Nevertheless, it works very well as a ludic narrative. I ultimately found it very joyful." Text from:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

End Slavery NOW! Interactive Map

End Slavery Now - Interactive map

Global Anti-Slavery Action Map Advances Fight Against Human Trafficking

Some of you who are active in Human Rights issues may have already gotten the scoop on this, but several new interactive maps about modern day slavery and a “Slavery Footprint” survey app (similar to the Carbon footprint ones) have been launched within the past few days.  
“End Slavery Now (ESN) today announced the successful launch of the new anti-slavery ‘Action on the Ground’ project map, the first comprehensive and interactive web-based app to track the global fight against human trafficking.  The new tool allows partner NGOs around the world to upload projects, photos and links; making it easy to see what organizations are doing to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate modern-day slaves, as well as stem demand. 
Leading anti-slavery nonprofits including Free the Slaves, Polaris Project, Shared Hope International and International Justice Mission helped seed the map with their work.  Icons distinguish the varied forms of modern slavery, such as forced labor, child soldiers, or sex trafficking.
‘The world map looks depressing when you flag it with the types of slavery that people endure in different countries,’ said Dr. Kevin Bales, co-founder and president of Free the Slaves. ‘But it can look quite hopeful when you also flag it with the frontline projects that are combating slavery around the globe.’  Prior to the launch, participating NGOs posted over 80 projects in 30 countries.  More actions are being uploaded daily.
Lauren Taylor, ESN's founder and president, said, ‘Our goal is to create the most comprehensive visualization of the movement's true scope, and by doing so foster greater coordination, cooperation and communication amongst all the members.’
‘Now that's a map with the kind of information I -- and others -- can use,’ said Jim Greenbaum, founder and managing director of The Greenbaum Foundation, and member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).  Mr. Greenbaum is attending CGI's annual meeting in New York City this week, where he is directing NGOs and other philanthropists to the website. ‘This is the tool we've all been waiting for.’
As a free public resource, the project map can be viewed by anyone with access to the Internet.  ‘What's equally important about this initiative is that now we'll be able to see the gaps where the work isn't being done,’ said Amanda Kloer, a Director of Organizing for and Special Correspondent for CNN's Freedom Project. ‘As the anti-slavery movement gains momentum, this platform will help funders, activists, organizations and agencies use their resources wisely, instead of duplicating efforts. 27 million people are counting on it.’

About End Slavery Now
End Slavery Now (ESN) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit working to end modern slavery by developing a comprehensive Internet-based platform for growing and advancing the anti-trafficking movement that: integrates resources to allow members of the anti-trafficking movement to efficiently coordinate their respective efforts to combat slavery; allows information to be shared with, and resources directed toward, partners and other stakeholders; coordinates grassroots efforts through social networking and allows individuals to make meaningful contributions in the anti-trafficking movement.  Since its founding in 2009, ESN has launched the ESN Take Action database and the New Underground Railroad, the world's largest database of volunteers, facilities and service providers working together to fight human trafficking.  For more information, please visit

The Products of Slavery

Anti-Slavery International (ASI)”Products of Slavery” interactive map of slave labor
Another good website for interactive info on global slavery, this time from the point of view of product supply chains, is at  It shows where products are being made using child labor or forced labor.

“Last October, Free the Slaves’ UK partner Anti-Slavery International (ASI) launched an interactive website that helps consumers get a global snapshot of slave labor in product supply chains. shows you which products and industries have been found to use slave labor—and where in the world this occurs.  The interactive map is based on data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor in a 2009 report.
Founded in 1839, ASI is the oldest human rights organization in the world. In 1850, they were already targeting slavery in supply chains with their “slave-free produce” action groups, which promoted the consumption of slave-free plantation sugar. ASI was way ahead of its time—because 160 years later, the elimination of slavery in supply chains is now the focus of many activists and policy makers in the anti-slavery movement.
Just last September, California passed the Supply Chain Transparency Act, which requires all companies that gross over $100 million to disclose what they do to eliminate slavery in their supply chains. And in July, legislation was passed that requires U.S. companies to similarly disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery in products made with Congo minerals.”
From Free The Slaves website at

The "Slavery Footprint" Survey

Take the Slavery Footprint Survey

Can Social Media End Modern Slavery?
“How many people does your lifestyle enslave? A new website and mobile app will calculate your ‘slavery footprint’ based on how many forced laborers around the world likely harvested the beans in your coffee or mined the mica in your eyeshadow.
The sleekly-designed application—which queries users on their consumption habits, then helps them draft letters to companies addressing the slaves in their supply chains—is aimed squarely at the socially-minded social media user accustomed to the instant gratification of accessing e-activism in her back pocket. Sign a petition! Tweet a hashtag!  End modern slavery in 11 easy steps! The technological approach is already a hit:  After launching yesterday morning, overwhelming traffic crashed the website for much of the day.
Now back online, the application has some clever built-in features to manage some of the more problematic aspects of keypad activism. While the app helpfully identifies the forced labor products sitting in your garage, coffee grinder, and medicine cabinet, it can't tell you how to buy your way out of the slavery supply chain by switching from Starbucks to Caribou or Revlon to MAC. ‘We wanted to make the application brand-agnostic because this is an issue that is affecting everyone,’ says Ambassador Luis CdeBaca of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, who helped develop the app. ‘There is not a company out there that isn't tied up in this in some way.’
That feature tends to complicate the human slavery accountability process for consumers. Coffee drinkers and cosmetics users can't just wash their hands of forced labor by firing off an angry letter and realigning their brand allegiances, and that's a good thing. ‘We're not interested in rewarding or punishing one particular brand right now,’ says Justin Dillon, the developer behind the app.  If only select companies were to eliminate slavery from their supply chains, that could create a problematic economy for non-slave products.  Instead, the Slavery Footprint hopes to build enough pressure around the issue to bring about industry-wide change.  Dillon says he wants to avoid creating a market for ‘boutique’ products built without slave labor that are only accessible to well-to-do consumers with ‘more discretionary income to spend on ethically-sourced products.’  If any particular company pledges to eliminate its reliance on slave labor in its production process, ‘that's great,’ says Dillon, ‘but there are still 27 million-plus people in these conditions.  We don't want to give anyone the opportunity to just jump off the bus.’
Even radical lifestyle changes are unlikely to cut any consumer's Slavery Footprint down to zero.  As the application makes clear, slave labor is so pervasive in the American lifestyle that eliminating all the produce, transportation, and electronics that employ forced laborers is impossible (even the smartphone you use to access the application was likely built with slave labor). ‘You're going to be touched by slavery no matter what, and I think that's actually a liberating thing,’ says CdeBaca.  ‘We can no longer say that this is someone else’s problem.  I don’t have a maid in my basement that I’m abusing,’ CdeBaca says, but he does ‘eat shrimp that contributes to people being enslaved in Thailand and Malaysia.’  The point came home to CdeBaca while sitting in a business meeting about the project, when he realized that everyone in attendance was using smartphones and wearing cotton shirts. ‘If there was shrimp laying around,’ CdeBaca says, ‘we probably would have eaten it.’
American consumers aren't currently equipped to eliminate their contributions to modern slavery, so the app's developers hope a heightened awareness of that fact will be powerful enough to spark change.  With the app, consumers are empowered to inform companies:  ‘I'm in the store, looking at your product, thinking about slavery,’ CdeBaca says. ‘My activism is more judo than karate,’ Dillon adds.  ‘Almost everything we consume is made with slavery. Why not try to use the benefits of those products to actually fix the problem?’ from

That Slavery Footprint survey somehow reminds me of the late-18th and early-19th Century English abolitionists who refused to use sugar in their tea because it supported the plantation slave trade. It was called "Sugar Abstention," since the term "Boycott" didn't come into being until the late 1800's.  The practice of "boycotting" was named after an Irish land agent of the same name who was apparently cruel enough in his dealings with his tenants that the entire local community shunned him and refused to either work for him or sell him goods (or even to deliver his mail!) You know things are seriously bad when they name something like that after you! The term now-a-days for a prolonged boycott is "moral purchasing."  

This is by the Chalk Project, the same people who chalked the names of the Triangle Fire victims on streets of NYC for the anniversary of the fire. See

And one last map – Trafficking of Females from

 Oh, I know I said this is the last map three maps ago, but I am adding a couple more! Some of these are not the greatest cartographically, but they do make their point.  And as I always say, "A clear map IS a beautiful map." 

 A little historical perspective...
Slave Trade from Africa to the Americas 1650-1860:  Outflow of Africans to the Americas and Europe. This one is from an interesting blog about slavery

And this really is the last one, just because it is so nice, cartographically (even though the resolution sucks).

TransAtlantic Slave Trade Routes

For those of you with an interest in history (and what right-thinking person doesn't have an interest in history, I ask you!) I also highly recommend the beautiful book "Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade," by Eltis and Richardon, 2010, Yale University Press.  It was featured in my "Geography Beach Books" post and one day I will post a review of it. But if you can't buy it, take it out of the library - it is a really special book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Milestone – 100 Posts!

from a 1956 French Geography Textbook

OK, folks, another milestone has been reached by my blog – I have made it to 100 posts!  This one constitutes my 101st posting!  My stats have changed since I wrote the last milestone post at the 6-month mark back in June, 2011. And I have started a new feature called the Map of the Week, which is a lot of fun for me to put together, since it involves just looking for, finding, and researching about interesting maps and other types of geographic images and data visualizations.  And we just successfully ran our first map-inspired contest.

Blog Statistics:
Other than that, blog statistics have been changing, too.  The first month of the blog back in January, 2011, attracted about 1,500 page views, whereas now the blog’s highpoint numerically was August, 2011, with 13,332 page views for the month.  Daily high was on August 25th with 3,318 page views.  This was due to the impending hurricane, and the hurricane maps I had posted.  Almost all of these viewers were from the NYC metro area and the rest of the northeast.  It looks like we will finish up the month of September with about 11,000, based on the current 9,000+ page views as of this morning.  Overall total page views for “all time” is 51,000+.  And recently, the average daily has been around 400-500. 

Favorite Posts (by number of page views):

The “All Time” favorite postings are as follows,

Jun 25, 2011, 5 comments
7,944 Pageviews
Jun 16, 2011
1,919 Pageviews
Jun 17, 2011
1,435 Pageviews
Apr 3, 2011
1,236 Pageviews
May 16, 2011
1,214 Pageviews
Aug 11, 2011
1,051 Pageviews
Feb 26, 2011
964 Pageviews
Feb 21, 2011, 5 comments
913 Pageviews
Jun 16, 2011
882 Pageviews
Mar 27, 2011, 1 comment
633 Pageviews

Some of my personal favorites have come off the 6-month mark list, old stalwarts like “Kodachrome and the Great Depression,” and “Mapping Urban Inequality: Using the GINI Coefficient to Measure the Urban Divide but new ones have joined the list, such as “Unconventional (yet informative!) Maps of the Big Apple,” and, somewhat inexplicably, “Fun with Map Projections: Oblique Case.

Blog viewers:
The blog’s highest viewing country remains the United States, with over 33,000 page views, followed by the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Greece, France, India, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
The blog’s highest viewing individuals are from (in no particular order) New York, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Mesa, Arizona; Johannesburg, South Africa; Emerson, NJ; Cincinnati, OH; Forest Hills, NY; Athens, Greece; and Barcelona, Spain.  The highest individual page viewer visited the site more than 500 times.  It wasn’t me!  I have elected not to track my own page views or have them counted in the totals. 
The map of blog viewers’ countries has been significantly filled in from last time.  As you may recall, at the 6-month mark I was lamenting that no one from geographically large countries like Ethiopia and Kazakhstan had pinged in, and now they have! 
People in a total of 155 countries have viewed the blog, including new-timers such as Iceland, Papua New Guinea, Armenia, Swaziland, Botswana, Senegal, Monaco, and Guernsey.  I am now just waiting for some last hold-outs, like Antarctica, Vatican City, Andorra, Tajikistan, Gaza, Gibraltar, Myanmar, Pitcairn Islands, and St. Pierre and Miquelon! 

Search Terms
One thing that I’ve been looking at more “scientifically” is the type of search terms that bring viewers to my blog.  Most of them are fairly normal and straightforward, like “flat globe projection,” or “Indiana Jones World Map,” or “Desert tortoise habitat map.”  But then there are MANY others, and some are so funny!  Either they are from people who don’t know how to use search terms, or, well, I don’t want to be insulting, but I do have to wonder at some of these.  I have collected some of the more strange and hilarious ones for your amusement. 

Funny Google search terms that led to my blog

first i was in france for short visit :p but i wasn't happy there  [This has got to be one of the best search terms I have ever seen!]

tiger poops japan [OK, in a weird way, I understand this one! AND – it actually matches up with an image in one of my blog postings on zoomorphic satirical maps.]

maps of jewish countries [are there many of these Jewish countries?]

continents duck [huh?]

dog with globe {again, huh?]

world map north American deserts [why do you need a world map if you are interested in just American deserts?]

where's puerto rico on a map [There were many searches asking for where is some place or another on a map.  I am not sure what is wrong with these people.  I could understand it a little bit if the places they were looking for were remote or unusual, but c’mon!  Puerto Rico? Really?]

where is tombo on a map? [this is like “where’s Waldo?”  Where is Tombo, anyway?  It turns out, it is not really a place, but a language, one of the Dogon languages of Mali in west Africa. Interestingly enough, especially considering my love of these creatures, it is also the Japanese word for dragonfly!]

where's wall street map [getting tedious now]

hipsters are the source of all problems in the world [yes, we can all agree on this, but why are you searching on those words, anyway?]

goddess homolosine  [they most probably meant Goode’s homolosine, but believe it or not about 12 people searched with the same mistaken spelling!]

map of the north pole its vegetation – [yeah, good luck with finding anything much on that one!]

not happy  [what on earth was this person searching for? And what post on my blog did they match THIS up with?]

ancient print feathers 1854  [HUH?]

Hookerville, central park [pretty sure they meant “Hooverville” but maybe there was a Hookerville in Central Park, as well! Anyway, their search term led them to my post about the Depression and Kodachrome, where I talk briefly about Hoovervilles around the country, so I hope they found what they were looking for]