379 - Russia to US: You're Breaking Up (Too)
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Endtime prophecy is not the province of the religiously excitable alone. Even the die-hard materialists of the Russian intelligence service FSB (formerly the KGB) dabble in apocalyptic musings – although the scope of this particular prediction is not global, but limited to the imminent demise of that old-and-new archenemy, the United States.
Igor Panarin has been predicting the “moral and economic collapse” of the US for about a decade now; he set the Endtime for the American Empire at the year 2010, and the recent arrival of the credit crunch lends some credence to his outlandish forecast - at least as far as the Russian (state) media is concerned. Panarin, formerly a KGB analyst and now an academic, gets about two interview requests a day.\n
The break-up predicted by Panarin would be the result of mass immigration, economic decline and moral degradation, all of which would trigger a second American civil war, and the collapse of the dollar. This would then lead to the break-up of the United States, by mid-2010, into half a dozen regional sub-entities. These would be dominated or absorbed outright by foreign powers.\n
- Alaska would revert to Russia, and Hawaii would become Chinese or Japanese. \n
- The West Coast (the three Pacific states, joined with Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Arizona in a Californian Republic), would fall to China or at least be under Chinese influence. \n
- A Texas Republic, which would also include New Mexico, Oklahoma and all the other traditionally southern states (except the Carolinas, the Virginias, Kentucky and Tennessee), would similarly be either directly or indirectly under the sway of Mexico. \n
- The aforementioned southern exceptions would join the northeastern states in forming a bloc that might join the European Union. \n
- The rest – all midwestern and western states – would be at Canada‘s mercy. \n
Imagine Chinese overlordship of Utah – another Tibet waiting to happen -, the Maple Leaf flag flying at the Gateway Arch and the European Union and Mexico meeting just south of there, on the Mississippi. As far-fetched as that may sound, Mr Panarin is no fringe looney. He heads the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats (and Russia will need quite a few more of those, if his prediction comes true). Mr Panarin also is one of the talking heads on (Russian state) tv whenever US-Russian relations are at issue.\n
The popularity of his end-of-America views mirrors the Kremlin’s semi-official anti-Americanism, and it is all the more popular for the pithy sympathy he wraps up his predicitions in: Panarin claims his disintegration scenario has about 50% chance of happening, and if it did, it would not be the best outcome – for Russia, that is. Even though the Russians would again cross the Bering Strait to retake possession of Alyaska, the disintegration of Russia’s main trading partner would spell economic trouble for the resurgent world power.\n
One can’t help but feel that Mr Panarin’s view is less a realistic scenario based on cold, hard facts (as he claims), and more a kind of payback for America’s and the West’s gleeful spectatorship of the Soviet Union’s collapse. Mr Panarin explicitly refers to political scientist Emmanuel Todd, who in 1976 predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. “People laughed at him”, Mr Panarin is quoted as saying by this article in the Wall Street Journal, implying that he can relate to the scorn felt by Mr Todd at the time, and is anticipating a similar vindication.\n
As with religious eschatologists (at least those careless enough to posit a near and definite date for the world’s end), the only way definitely to disprove Mr Panarin’s reverse Schadenfreude is to wait for his prediction to outlive itself. So let’s see exactly what Mr Obama remains president of, if anything, come August 2010…\n
Many thanks to the dozens of readers who sent in this map.\n
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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