74 - The United States of Stellaland
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.
Nowadays, the southern tip of Africa is dominated by a single state, the Republic of South Africa (punctuated by Lesotho, one of the world’s few enclave-states). But starting about a century and a half ago, when the usurping British were pushing the Dutch-originated Afrikaners inland, the eastern part of the RSA’s present territory was littered with a number of Boererepublieke (‘boer’ means ‘farmer’, but became synonymous with white, Afrikaans-speaking and anti-British).
\nThese republics were later annexed by the British, after two Anglo-Boer Wars at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The largest and best-known of these republics became constituent provinces of the Union of South Africa (later Republic of South Africa): the Orange Free State, Transvaal and Natal. But there were also smaller Boererepublieke that just disappeared off the map, including the intriguingly small and short-lived United States of Stellaland (1882-1885).\nStellaland owes its existence to the war between the Batlaping and the Korannas, black tribes that had both hired white mercenaries. David Massouw, leader of the Korannas, had promised the Boers homesteads if they helped him win the war. After the war ended in July of 1882, these homesteads were granted to exactly 416 white farmers, who thereafter considered themselves ‘free citizens’ and formed the independent republic of Stellaland on July 26, 1882.\n
The name was chosen to refer to the comet that was visible in the sky at the time of the decisive battle (although Stella is Latin for ‘star’, not for ‘comet’). The capital city was called Vryburg (‘Freetown’), on a place known to the Tswana as Huhudi (‘Running Water’). First and only president was Gerrit Jacobus van Niekerk (1849-1896). Stellaland expanded to include the neighbouring boer republic of Goosen. The two nations were known collectively as the United States of Stellaland.\nStellaland aspired to be united with the big boer republic to the east, Transvaal. The British government, then in control of the formerly Dutch Cape Province, objected to the westwardly expansion of Transvaal, and decided to invade. An expeditionary force under Sir Charles Warren entered the territory in February 1885, and it was formally annexed to British Bechuanaland on September 30, 1885.\nDuring Apartheid, the area around Vryburg was a ‘white’ island in the (nominally) independent Bantustan of Bophutatswana. Since 1994, when the RSA’s administrative divisions were reorganised following the end of Apartheid, the area is part of the North West Province of the RSA. Today, the name ‘Stellaland’ is still used to refer to the area around the villages of Vryburg, Stella and Reivilo.\n
Stellaland has had three different flags in its short existence, the first being the state emblem on a green background, the second a six-pointed white star on the same green and the third an eight-pointed white star on a field split vertically between green (left) and red (right). One of the reasons for this diversity is that apparently the president’s wife had to make all those flags herself, and didn’t always have the right material to copy a previous design.\n
This map taken from the Wikipedia page on Stellaland.\n
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- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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