Sunshine Recorder

Link: Kohr Principles

Countries are defined by the lines that divide them. But how are those lines decided — and why are some of them so strange? In Borderlines, Frank Jacobs, author of “Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities,” explores the stories behind the global map, one line at a time.

Unless you’re North Korean or Lou Dobbs, you probably don’t think about your country’s borders every day. Yet those borders — or at least their scope — can have a profound effect on how you think about your country and its place in the world.

If you live in a large country, this may give you a certain perspective on, say, matters of land management (“Drill it, build it — we’ve got plenty of space!”) or even global self-confidence (“Shush, or we’ll call in an airstrike”). The same applies, conversely, to living in a small country, which perforce limits the size of your national ambitions (have you ever heard of an Irish space program?) and the weight of your punch on the international stage (hence never any Malawian vetoes on the United Nations Security Council).

Geographical size not only influences how countries view themselves; it also determines how they interact. The wrong mix of sizes can be disastrous for international equilibrium. One could argue, for example, that this was a factor in both world wars. Or as Henry Kissinger succinctly put it: “Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.”

It was precisely this problem of geopolitical girth that exercised the mind of Leopold Kohr, a 20th-century Austrian academic whose work inspired both modern political anarchism and the Green movement.

Kohr was born in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, an Austrian village directly on the border with Germany, in 1909. After brilliant studies in law and political science at universities in Innsbruck, London and Vienna, in 1937 he became a freelance correspondent from the frontlines of the Spanish civil war. There, he befriended George Orwell and shared a writing desk with Ernest Hemingway. He also experienced first-hand the short-lived anarchist experiments in governance, in Catalonia and elsewhere in republican Spain.

These brief flickers of an idealism that ran counter to an otherwise totalitarian age — crushed between the rock of Communism and the hard place of fascism — would continue to inspire Kohr’s writing and thinking. Barely escaping the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, Kohr fled to America. After a brief stint working in a Canadian gold mine, he made his way down to the United States and a resumption of his academic career.

The guiding principle of Kohr’s work was, like that of his friend the economist E.F. Schumacher, “Small is beautiful.” In 1941, while working for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, Kohr wrote, “We have ridiculed the many little states, now we are terrorized by their few successors.”


The OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution. OldMapsOnline has been created by a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland.

The OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. It allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution. OldMapsOnline has been created by a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical GIS Project based at The University of Portsmouth, UK and Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland.

These elegantly simple transit map posters were the wonderful result of a collaboration between a graphic designer and an engineer. They are available for sale at lineposters.

(via staceythinx)

Our Massive Impact on Earth: Whether it’s building cities, railroads, or even power lines, our interconnected world has a heavy footprint on the rest of the environment. These mind-blowing renderings by the cartographers at Globaïa show the awe-inspiring power of human ingenuity.

Globaïa, an educational organization that aims, among other things, to promote “a better understanding of big history,” recently created a series of stunning maps to help us all wrap our heads around what this era looks like. Globaïa calls the project “A Cartography of the Anthropocene.” The maps were created by anthropologist Felix Pharand-Deschenes, using data from a variety of government agencies. They tend to focus on our cities and the transportation and communication networks that serve as civilization’s nerve fibers and arteries. Several of them show roads, shipping lines, and airline routes. Others show the world’s energy infrastructure: the transmission cables and underwater pipelines that keep our lights on. (Note how much sparser they are in Africa.) In addition to the maps we’ve featured here, the Globaïa site has many more. The project also includes an alarming collection of charts that illustrate the rapid expansion of human influence by many different measures, from the rise of shrimp farming to the proliferation of McDonald’s restaurants. Looking at civilization this way is both daunting (how can we ever stop climate change?) and a little awe-inspiring. We humans are not just another species. We’re an incredibly disruptive force, for better or worse.


Why Is China Building These Gigantic Structures In the Middle of the Desert?

This is crazy. New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. Is this a military experiment?

Why Is China Building These Gigantic Structures In the Middle of the Desert?

This is crazy. New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. Is this a military experiment?

(via jtotheizzoe)