Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dinosaur replicas finally find place for reinstallation

Rawal Lake in Pakistan is an artificial reservoir that provides the water needs for the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Korang River along with some other small streams coming from Margalla Hills have been set to form this artificial lake which covers an area of 8.8 km². Korang River is the outlet stream of Rawal Dam. Rawal Lake is located within an isolated section of the Margalla Hills National Park.

From The Nation (Pakistan): Dinosaur replicas finally find place for reinstallation
ISLAMABAD - The Capital Development Authority has at last found a fenced wet ground alongside the bank of Rawal Dam to dump worth Rs 25 million replicas of different-sized dinosaurs, those were supposed to be reinstalled at Ankara Park.

Dozens of fibreglass models of dinosaurs are left abandoned by the Authority on left side of the entrance of Rawal Dam, where they owing to extensive humidity in atmosphere and wet ground are deteriorating at a fast pace. While the heads of two directorates of the authority including Project Management Office (PMO) and Parks Directorate are vigorously attempting to disassociate their respective directorates from the ownership of these expensive replicas of dinosaurs.

It was back in year 2008 when CDA’s PMO directorate has purchased these models to install them in Lake View Park. But for some reasons it was decided to install them in Ankara Park on Club Road.

“The fibreglass models were installed but were removed from the Ankara Park after 10 days of their installation owing to the damage incurred by the models at the hands of visitors,” said an official. Since then CDA remained fail to find out a suitable site to reinstall them. While the original purchaser, that is the PMO directorate, has shifted the responsibility in this regard to Parks directorate.

The models were first dumped at Ankara Park in open air but owing to media criticism now the city managers have found a relatively less-visited site to place them. During the course of last four years several sites were suggested by the concerned quarters to CDA’s high-ups including Kachnar Park of I-8 or Japanese Park or another public park in I-9. But since than city managers remained flop to materialise any of such suggestion.

A concerned official wishing not to be named, for curbs the recently appointed chairman Farkhand Iqbal has imposed on officials of the authority regarding interaction with the media, said two days back a meeting of officials of PMO, Parks Directorate and contractor firm of the project have had a meeting in CDA’s main official complex.

The issue they thoroughly discussed there was about the development of Ankara Park, where issue of reinstallation of replicas of dinosaurs also came under discussion. He said at first the issue was to fix the ownership of these models.

“During the course of meeting it was decided that CDA’s Park Directorate would be responsible for the look after of these replicas. It was also decided that contractor who was given the contract of purchase of these replicas would install the models at Ankara Park and later the maintenance would be the responsibility of Park D

irectorate,” he added. He further informed that installation of dinosaurs’ replicas was the part of PC-I of the development of Ankara Park. “Over the period of time CDA remained fail to select any other suitable place to install them but the Ankara Park, as the installation in mentioned in its PC-I.”

To save the replicas from damage at the hands of visitors it was decided in the meeting that models would be erected after their complete fencing. He said minutes of the meetings regarding models installation at Ankara Park had been sent to all concerned directorates. “In the light of minutes of the meeting the replicas would be reinstalled with a period of 15 days,” he assured.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Schools neglect Pacific cultures

From the Canberra Times: Schools neglect Pacific cultures
For many of us studying geography may be just a distant memory of pouring over maps of ''mountains and rivers''. Of course, today our geography curriculum is a key part of preparing students for the increasingly globalised world of the 21st century. It's why the draft Australian Geography curriculum from the Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority (ACARA) is so important. It was released in October last year and consultation closes this month. It is scheduled to be introduced into schools next year. While the draft curriculum is to be commended for having a global focus, there are some rather glaring omissions. The new draft geography curriculum fails to include any study of our own Pacific region. Despite our important trade, aid, migration, sporting, military and tourism links with countries like Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Zealand and the Solomon Islands, the region is never explicitly mentioned.
Australian school students and families with a national or cultural background in the Pacific may justifiably feel ignored and overlooked.

The Pacific has often looked like Asia's poor cousin in the Australian education system. Critics have argued there is a failure to teach about Pacific cultures in our schools and nothing to give us hope that Australia may move beyond the ''us and them'' mentality in thinking about Pacific policy.

Unfortunately, the new draft geography curriculum may do little to change this.

At a recent Social Educators Conference in Melbourne, when asked why the Pacific was omitted, Peter Hill, the chief executive of ACARA, suggested that the Pacific was in fact part of Asia. How can Australia be a good international neighbour if we are not teaching our young people about the issues facing our own neighbourhood? Yet there are other concerning omissions in this latest draft. While every state curriculum, including the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008), affirms the role of education in building social justice or ''an equitable and just society'', this document has pointedly dropped the goal.

References to social justice are relegated to the general capabilities heading ''ethical behaviour''. Surely we want our young Australians to be informed and active citizens who can contribute to the development of a socially just and sustainable world. This is an essential part of the contemporary issues our world is facing in the study of geography. The draft curriculum also fails to include specific language around human rights. Australia has played a leading role in the development of international human rights standards, and is party to six major United Nations human rights treaties.

According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Australian Government is obliged to make the Convention known ''by appropriate and active means'' to children. The study of human geography is the natural place for this to take place but again the language of human rights is never made explicit in the curriculum's content descriptors or elaborations. Instead, like ''social justice'', the language of ''human rights'' is tucked away in the general capabilities section. In learning about human rights, we learn about ideas of respect, fairness, justice and equality. In our globalised world, young Australians need to be able to identify and protect human rights - both here and overseas. The study of human rights is not just a study of history.

No other learning area in the school curriculum draws on both the natural sciences and social sciences in the way of geography. Geography is the one subject that addresses the contemporary local, national and global issues of the 21st century. As head of Australia's largest overseas aid organisation, every day I witness the compassion and generosity of Australians to give to those beyond our borders that are in dire need. In fact, about 400,000 Australians sponsor children through World Vision, giving life and hope to children in some of the world's poorest communities. Yet I also see an emerging isolationism, in which people would prefer Australia turned its back on helping those around us. I believe helping our students to understand the global connectedness of our world today and their role as global citizens is a critical element of our education system. While the new draft geography curriculum has some very strong content, these omissions are baffling. It can only be hoped they will be addressed when the final write-up of the curriculum is undertaken before it is introduced into our schools next year.

Tim Costello is chief executive officer of World Vision Australia and patron of the Australian Geography Teachers' Association.

Monday, February 27, 2012

MarketsandMarkets: Global Food Preservatives Market worth $2.5 Billion by 2016

PR from Global Market Watch: MarketsandMarkets: Global Food Preservatives Market worth $2.5 Billion by 2016
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Globalization, world trade, merging consumer tendencies and choices, growing concerns regarding food safety and quality are some of the key factors driving the food preservatives market. Food processing industries have been driven to invest in research of preservation alternatives which are also perceived as being natural and healthy, in addition to their primary function of enhancing the shelf life of the product of concern.

The report coverage encompasses preservatives from natural sources (salt, sugar, honey, etc.) and those which are derived from chemical synthesis (sorbates, benzoates, propionates, etc.). In addition, the report also addresses the preservatives on the basis of their target organism namely bacteria, fungi, yeasts or other specific targets. Considering the various sources of food contamination and spoilage, the report includes sources other than microbial spoilage as potential for preservatives market such as enzymatic and redox reactions. Segmentation of the preservatives on the basis of their functionality such as anti-microbial, anti-oxidant (BHA, BHT) and others like chelating agents, enzyme attackers is a key aspect of the report. Major applications like oils and fats, dairy products, frozen foods, snacks and convenience foods, confectionery and condiments, beverages and more, have been used to categorize the food preservatives market.

Geographical segmentation of the Food Preservatives market views the scope and trend across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World. Market figures for the segments and categories are provided for the period of 2009 through 2016. Information contained in the report includes market sizes, revenue forecasts, market and product trends, and regulations. Competitive information includes key developments, strategy deployed to win, M&A's and JV's of key players. The report profiles leading companies such as The Kerry Group (Ireland), Danisco (Denmark), Galactic Corp (Belgium), DSM (The Netherlands), Purac (The Netherlands), Sorbic International Plc (UK), Univar Inc. (U.S.), Vitiva (Slovenia) and to name a few.

The study in this report estimates the global food preservatives market [ ] to be at $2552.4 million by 2016, growing at a CAGR of 2.5%, essentially boosted by the fast growth amongst natural preservatives. North America stands as the leader, followed by Asia-Pacific, which shows promising growth and a considerable market share. North America and Asia-Pacific together contribute close to 70% in the global food preservatives market. The emerging markets within Asia-Pacific, such as China and India drive the high growth rate. Natural Preservatives, the latest development in the sector, is the key driver of the growth of 2.2% in Europe. The high growth within Europe is in Germany, France, U.K., and Italy.

About MarketsandMarkets

MarketsandMarkets is a global market research and consulting company based in the U.S. We publish strategically analyzed market research reports and serve as a business intelligence partner to Fortune 500 companies across the world.

MarketsandMarkets also provides multi-client reports, company profiles, databases, and custom research services. MarketsandMarkets covers thirteen industry verticals; including advanced materials, automotives and transportation, banking and financial services, biotechnology, chemicals, consumer goods, energy and power, food and beverages [ ], industrial automation, medical, pharmaceuticals, semiconductor and electronics and telecommunications and IT.

We at MarketsandMarkets are inspired to help our clients grow by providing apt business insight with our huge market intelligence repository. To know more about us and our reports, please visit our website .

Friday, February 24, 2012

NE: County looks into geographical information system project

From the Fremont Tribune: County looks into geographical information system project
Dodge County officials are taking another look at their shelved geographical information system project after speaking Wednesday with a representative of GIS Workshop Inc.

Brenda Wilson of the Lincoln firm told supervisors that with the county in the process of taking back the assessment function from the state, and with a $25,000 grant available this year, now would be a good time to proceed with the project.

The county hired Kirkham, Michael and Associates Inc. in 2009 to conduct a pilot GIS project using Elkhorn Township. The same company completed a GIS project for the City of Fremont.

The county has not gone any further with the project, which could ultimately contain county-wide information accessible online ranging from land use and valuations, to 911 addresses, zoning and soil classification in layered maps and databases.

Meanwhile, the Lower Platte North and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources Districts hired GIS Workshop to map irrigated agricultural acres in Dodge and other counties.

With the NRD and Fremont projects, a lot of the work in Dodge County has already been done, Wilson said.

“What that means for you,” she told supervisors, “is that you already have a foundation established. That’s less work that needs to be done, which of course would mean a lower investment.

“On top of that, there’s a fabulous opportunity that has presented itself this year,” she went on. “The Nebraska State Records Board has grant funds available. Last year we helped seven counties get funding for GIS projects.”

The maximum grant per project is $25,000 and the application deadline is April 9.

The board took no official action to apply for the grant, but asked Wilson to write a project proposal and return to the board at a later date.

Wilson said more and more counties are building GIS systems.

“The difference between GIS and an autocad environment is you can really do analysis because you’re able to pull out all that information that’s in that database that’s married to the map,” she said.

“Probably the biggest motivator I hear over and over again is it’s an aging workforce, and there’s a big concern that a lot of knowledge lies in people’s heads that are not going to be here in five years. They’re really realizing what a risk that puts them at. GIS can take that information and make it available across the board,” she said.

“It’s a county-wide GIS that allows everyone in the county to access it. It’s easy, you don’t have to learn GIS, you don’t have to have special software on your computer,” she said.

Wilson said she was unable to offer a cost estimate, but said costs would be based on the various departmental tabs the program would contain. Typically, she said, there is a setup cost and then an annual maintenance fee.

Mitt Romney’s geography goof

This is one of many reasons why you need to know your geography! From the Washington Post: Mitt Romney’s geography goof
There was plenty of truth-stretching during Wednesday night’s GOP debate--along with a few outright whoppers. But we noticed one slip-up from Mitt Romney that we can only assume is a simple matter of geographical confusion.

The former Massachusetts governor, when talking about the threat from Iran, mentioned Syria, which he said was Iran’s ” “only ally” in the Arab world. Well, maybe not-- Iran and Iraq have been pretty chummy of late. But let’s give that a pass. Then Romney, in highlighting the ties between the two countries, claimed that Syria “is also their route to the sea.”

Um... that seems unlikely, unless the Iranians are taking a pretty convoluted path. In fact, Iran has direct access to waterways, thank you very much, with some 1,520 miles of coastline along the Arabian Sea. It doesn’t even share a border with Syria, so this “route to the sea” that Romney spoke of would involve cutting through Iraq (rugged terrain!) before cutting through Syria to get to the sea. The journey from Tehran to Damascus is about 1,000 miles.

Not an easy jaunt. Or a terribly rewarding one--Syria has a measly 119 miles of coastline fronting the Mediterranean Sea.

Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, says Romney probably was referring to the fact that Syria is Tehran’s “most heavily used logistical route for resupply of Hezbollah and Hamas.” But, she says, that’s got nothing to do with water. “That relationship has little if anything to do with access to the Mediterranean,” she says.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Research reveals water management and climate change in ancient Maya city

From PhysOrg: Research reveals water management and climate change in ancient Maya city
The city is located in the elevated Puuc Region of the Yucatan in Mexico. The city – featuring a great pyramid and other elaborate architecture – was built above one of the few cave systems in the region that penetrates the permanent water table. Mapping and excavations of the ancient city revealed a network of cisterns and reservoirs that fed the community’s water supply. The cave exploration has discovered hills of broken pottery and charred sacrifices, also indicating the cave was a key religious site that involved worship of the rain gods.

Researcher Nicholas Dunning, a UC professor of geography, says the cave, located in the ancient ruins of the city of Xcoch, was used continuously from at least 800 BC until the 19th century, when it was still used for rituals. UC geography doctoral student Eric Weaver has led a team mapping Xcoch Cave, assisted by other experienced cavers including UC biology graduate students Beth Cortright and Jane Slater.

“This is in a region that has no surface water,” says Dunning. “There are only a handful of caves that go deep enough to get to the permanent water table, so for anyplace that’s bone dry for five months out of the year, this is a pretty special location.”

Two large reservoirs are located in the middle of the city – next to the monumental architecture – and the smaller reservoirs and cisterns extend into the residential area and surrounding farm land.

Dunning says the area was by far the largest city in the region during the Preclassic Period around 800 BC to 100 AD, but adds that there are significant signs the city was abandoned between 100 AD and 300 AD, most likely due to drought.

“The Maya built a stairway to the cave entrance that we have to crawl in to enter and look for stalagmites – cave formations,” says Dunning. “Since this is a seasonal climate, the stalagmites act in the way that tree rings do – recording the rainfall – because they only grow during a part of the year when there’s rain.”

The field work is far from glamorous. Entering the deep cave involves a good deal of crawling through long, narrow tunnels. The summer expeditions also involve working in hot, humid temperatures that can rise as high as 105 degrees. “The oxygen content is so low, you can’t even light a match,” says Dunning.

“We found all kinds of broken pottery,” Dunning says. “The Maya ‘sacrificed’ pottery by putting materials in it, then ritually killing it, as a means of releasing its essence, or to receive blessings from the rain gods with their sacrifices,” Dunning says. Human and animal remains were also found, but researchers are still exploring whether those remains were sacrifices or burials.

Authors on the paper include Dunning, Xcoch project director Michael Smyth, an anthropological archaeologist for The Foundation for Americas Research, Eric Weaver and Philip van Beynen, professor of geography and environmental science at the University of South Florida.

Funding for the project was supported by a grant through the National Science Foundation Arctic Social Science Program awarded to The Foundation for Americas Research.

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. For a century, the AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography. Its members from more than 60 countries share interests in the theory, methods and practice of geography.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Odd geography in new Illinois congressional map

From Chicago Tribune, Illinois: Odd geography in new Illinois congressional map
During his three decades in Elmhurst, John Morrissey has been comfortable being represented in Washington by a generation of conservative congressmen.

Now the retired 61-year-old business manager is coming to the realization that after having been a constituent of the late conservative icon Henry Hyde and current House Republican Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam, his next representative in Congress is likely to be Mike Quigley, a liberal Democrat from Chicago's North Side.

"It's probably not good for Elmhurst to be tied to the North Side of Chicago," said Morrissey, a member of Elmhurst's library board and a Republican precinct captain for the last 10 years. "It's not just a different set of interests, but it's also the way Chicago politics is run."

Welcome to the new world brought on by congressional redistricting, where millions of Illinois residents will soon find their congressman is no longer their congressman. The shifting is what happens when one political party — in this case the Democrats — assumed total control of drawing new district boundaries.

The idea, according to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee memo that surfaced during a Republican lawsuit challenging the new map, was to create as many Illinois Democratic districts as possible to help a national effort to take back the House.

It's led to some odd geography throughout the state. In addition to the Elmhurst/North Side example, Rockford has been split into two districts, Chicago's South Side is now lumped in with Kankakee, and Aurora and Joliet are joined.

New boundaries have to be redrawn after every federal census to reflect population changes. Illinois lost one of its current 19 House seats because the state's population failed to grow as fast as in other states.

Illinois has had 11 Republican congressmen and eight Democrats since the November 2010 election. The new map, designed by the dominant Democrats, could flip that advantage to as many as 12 Democrats and only six Republicans.

The approach contrasts with the one taken a decade ago, when the state's Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed among themselves on new boundaries that reduced the delegation by one seat. The map was mostly an incumbent preservation plan.

The way the new map was drawn tracks closer to the political dynamic of 20 years ago. Republicans won the right to draw the boundaries, and the lines forced several Democratic congressmen to battle each other in primaries. The GOP picked up seats.

This time around, five Republican congressmen opted to run in new districts that mostly lean Democrat. The result is only one head-to-head GOP primary: the northwest and north-central Illinois 16th District campaign between first-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Manteno, which is west of the Indiana line, and veteran Rep. Donald Manzullo of Leaf River, southwest of Rockford.

The favorable map lines created new opportunities for Democrats, who are waging several primary contests ahead of the March 20 election.

Those include Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.of Chicago against former Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete in the new expanded 2nd District, a multicandidate battle in the new north suburban 10th District to run against first-term Republican Rep. Robert Dold and the new northwest suburban 8th District matchup between Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi for the right to take on first-term GOP Rep. Joe Walsh.

Chicago's population declined by 200,000 over the past decade, and the congressional districts of Democrats such as Jackson, as well as Reps. Bobby Rush, Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis, lost nearly 185,000 people.

To preserve minority-represented districts under the federal Voting Rights Act, Democrats vastly expanded city congressional districts by stretching the boundaries to the suburbs and beyond.

The resulting map reveals just how far the advance of computers has helped political cartographers. Congressional districts once were drawn largely along township and ward boundaries, but mapmakers now dissect boundaries based on the partisan nature of individual voting precincts, splitting up cities and towns to have a better shot at reaching political goals.

In one instance, Democrats snaked together an oddly shaped new 11th District linking Democratic-favorable territory in Aurora, Bolingbrook and Joliet.

At the same time, the new map fractures Rockford into two different congressional districts, after having been represented by a single House member since 1850, according to federal court testimony. Rockford's west and south sides are now part of a Democratic-leaning district linked to Peoria and the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River.

Collinsville, a southwestern Illinois community of fewer than 26,000 that is home to Republican Rep. John Shimkus, finds itself split into three congressional districts. One district runs north to include parts of Springfield, Bloomington, Decatur and Champaign.

Throughout the suburbs, many towns that used to be in one district are now divided in two. Among them: Crystal Lake, Gurnee, St. Charles, Melrose Park and Oswego.

The effect is on display through much of Republican-leaning DuPage County, where Carol Stream, Lombard and Elmhurst were chopped into two districts. Naperville had been in one district but is now three.

The Democratic map shattered the old 13th Congressional District held by veteran GOP Rep. Judy Biggert into six districts.

The Hinsdale congresswoman's home was put into the southern tip of the new 5th District, where Quigley lives. Republicans told a federal court that the new district contains more than 70 percent of Quigley's old district, but less than 1.5 percent of Biggert's old district. Biggert opted to run in the open-seat Democratic-leaning 11th District to the west of her current boundaries.

The collateral damage of the Democratic move shifted Roskam's 6th Congressional District further north and west into McHenry and Lake counties, though it's still Republican territory. Part of Elmhurst was diverted into the new 8th District drawn to favor Democrats. Another portion joined the Chicago-dominated 5th District.

"It's a completely new environment for the politically tuned-in people in Elmhurst to find themselves in a Democratic congressional district," said former Elmhurst Mayor Thomas Marcucci, an executive with a Chicago-based bakery.

"Our priorities, I'd be surprised if they were the same as our new congressman," Marcucci said. "Having said that, he appears to be … not the worst of the bunch. As far as I'm concerned, it could be a lot worse."

Quigley points out his west suburban roots, growing up in Carol Stream and graduating from Glenbard North High School, to defend his familiarity with the area. The congressman also notes his push for ethics reforms against former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger during Quigley's time on the board.

"I care about the same issues they care about," Quigley said. "There's a nonpartisan quality to service. We're accessible. We'll have offices throughout my district. We'll talk about what governments need, whoever they are. We'll talk with constituents, whoever they are. No one asks Democrat or Republican. They ask, 'Are you accessible, and can you get things done.'"

Quigley also said he has worked to promote bipartisanship in the delegation, including his recent efforts with Dold on legislation that would ban congressional pensions for those convicted of federal corruption. The measure was prompted by the conviction of a predecessor in the 5th District, Rod Blagojevich, though it would not affect the former governor.

A lone Republican has filed for the right to take on Quigley. Dan Schmitt, who lives near the junction of the Kennedy and Edens expressways in Chicago, has not filed a federal campaign disclosure report, required when a candidate raises or spends a total of $5,000.

On his website, Schmitt said he's running "to protect our right to ride motorcycles, race motorcycles, ride motorcycles off-road and live a great life without the federal government looking over our shoulders."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Eve Le QiNu's Money

I put together a book for scrabble players - available on the Kindle and the Nook. Those interested in geography will find it interesting because it's all about currency around the world, and for each entry I give some background on the country. The reasons why I haven't posted much in the last 3 days is because I've been putting the finishing touches on this book which is now available for Nook and Kindle. Adds about 500 words to your vocabulary - coins and paper notes used around the world, and various financial terms. Kindle Nook

Friday, February 17, 2012

East to surpass West, says historian

From Stanford Daily: East to surpass West, says historian he world at the end of the 21st century will differ more from today than how present day is currently compared to the world of cavemen, said Ian Morris, an archaeologist and historian in the Department of Classics, Thursday evening during a lecture in the Sloan Mathematics Corner.

The lecture, entitled, “Why the West Rules–For Now: The Silk Road, the Atlantic Economy and the Pacific Century,” was based off his 2010 award-winning book, “Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future.”

Morris said that geography is more important than culture in explaining patterns of the major power shifts and economic transitions throughout history, and argued that these patterns can predict the future direction of the world.

He also challenged the idea of Western and European superiority, which he said is a false perception.

Arguing that Europe’s rise was due to geographical factors, Morris said, “Europe had the benefit of the Atlantic slave trade, which incentivized a community of thinkers to ask questions that caused Europe to flourish intellectually.”

“Europe had access to the Americas before the East Asians did simply because it was easier to get there based on distance, not because they were smarter or more wicked,” Morris added.

Morris also drew a parallel between how the Atlantic trade helped to elevate the United States to its current position of prominence in the global economy, and how the Pacific trade is indicating the same trend with China.

Using a social development index he developed–which takes into account factors such as energy captured per person, organization, spread of information and war making–Morris mapped out the history of two civilizations since the last ice age that scored the highest on the index: East Asia and the West.

He pointed out that the shapes of the graphs were similar, which he said debunks the idea of Western superiority. Furthermore, Morris pointed out that from 550 CE to 1750 CE on the graph, the East was actually ahead of the West and produced crucial inventions such as ships that could sail the world.

Morris also highlighted the role the Silk Road and the peoples of the steppe region that lies between Western Europe and East Asia had in connecting the two regions and shaping their history in a way that is not often acknowledged.

Morris concluded with a graph based on his social development index, which projects a future in which the East will overtake the West in 2103.

“Western domination will evaporate,” he said. “This process is driven by geography and cannot be reversed.”

“The changes that will happen in the 21st century will be on a scale that will dwarf anything that has ever happened to human history,” Morris said.

India’s Sacred Geography

From Harvard Magazine: India’s Sacred Geography
Three decades ago, Diana L. Eck—master of Lowell House and Wertham professor of law and psychiatry in society (a scholar of South Asian religions, despite her chair’s title)—wrote Banaras: City of Light, exploring Hinduism through its holiest pilgrimage site. Her perspective has become ever more expansive, as she has explored the interconnected pilgrimage sites throughout India. Now she explicates that interwoven world-view of the sacred and the profane in India: A Sacred Geography (Harmony Books, $27)—a sweeping examination of texts, places, and beliefs that may also help to explain to Western readers the rise of place-based Hindu nationalism in Indian politics. From chapter 2, “What Is India?”

In ancient Greece, Eratosthenes, in the third century b.c.e., was the first to coin the word “geography.” He clearly saw his work—the mapping of the known world, the oikoumene, and the calculation of its circumference—to be quite distinct from the kind of world description found in Greek myths or in the epics of Homer. Ernst Cassirer has distinguished the “geometric space” that concerned Eratosthenes and, a few years later, Euclid, from what he calls the “space of perception” and “the space of myth.”…While Olympus and Delphi retained their mythic charge in Greece itself, the study of geography began to diverge from the image of the world composed by the great Greek mythmakers.…

Students of Hinduism or travelers in India quickly become aware of what prolific mythmakers Hindus have been. The Hindu tradition is famous for its mythologies, and for the multitude of gods and goddesses one encounters in the temples and public spaces of India. Less well known, however, is the fact that Hindus have been equally avid geographers who have described with considerable detail the mountains, river systems, and holy places of India. For the most part, Hindu mythology has been studied by one group of scholars, primarily historians of religion, while the geographical traditions have been studied and catalogued by another group, primarily British and Indian civil servants, historical and cultural geographers. The great geography scholar Bimala C. Law speaks for this latter group when he confesses, “One finds it tedious to read the legendary history of tīrthas or holy places, but to a geographer it will never be a fruitless study.”

Here we look at mythology and geography together, in a single view, to see what we can learn of this complex conception of the land of India. Rather than focusing exclusively on texts, however, we begin “on the ground,” with shrines, rivers, and hilltops where pilgrims have enacted the sense of connectedness that is part of pilgrimage. This intersection of mythology and geography reveals how the people who have come to be called Hindus have “mapped” their world and how they have understood the land they have called Bhārata in relation to the larger universe. There is arguably no other major culture that has sustained over so many centuries, and across such diverse regions, a fundamentally locative or place-oriented world-view.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Globe-Trekking Couple Sets Sail With Princess Cruises on a Mission to Reach 50 Countries on Six Continents in 424 Days

From MarketWatch: Globe-Trekking Couple Sets Sail With Princess Cruises on a Mission to Reach 50 Countries on Six Continents in 424 Days SANTA CLARITA, Calif., Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- For the next 14 months the globetrotting team of Darren and Sandy Van Soye will be trekking the planet on a global adventure to raise awareness about world geography and make the subject more accessible to children around the globe. The Southern California couple has just begun the first leg of their more than year-long journey by boarding Pacific Princess for a cruise across the Pacific bound for Sydney, Australia.

The couple, who are chronicling their journey at , were inspired to plan their trek after they saw first-hand what a positive impact a previous family trip around the globe had on their two daughters' lives. Their full travel itinerary incorporates five different Princess Cruises voyages, totaling 96 days at sea. Both the first and last legs of their journey, plus three legs in between, will be aboard a Princess cruise ship.

"Our dream is to educate children about geography and world cultures so we've planned the ultimate trek around the world to do just that," said Sandy Van Soye. "We wanted to use cruise ships as part of our travel method because they offer an efficient way to reach all the different stops on our voyage while minimizing our global footprint. Once we decided to cruise for part of our trip, it only made sense to book our sea travel with Princess Cruises based on our previous travel experience with them and the fact that their ships go everywhere in the world. Our five cruise itineraries will enable us to reach all the destinations on our list while also giving us the opportunity to relax onboard between our land treks."

A video capturing some of the excitement of their first day on board Pacific Princess is available at .

In total, the Van Soyes' journey will cover 50 countries on six continents over the course of the 424-day world tour. Throughout their travels, the couple will share 60 different geography education modules they have created as well as pictures and videos of their travels for anyone in the world to use. So far more than 700 classrooms around the world will be following their travels, representing 50,000 students.

"We frequently hear stories from travelers who cruise to accomplish a goal - from celebrating milestones with family members to crossing something off their bucket list," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "Sandy and Darren are a great example of how cruise travel can be both relaxing and rewarding. We're inspired by their story and we're honored they've chosen Princess to help them achieve their trekking goals."

In addition to creating educational materials and providing live updates from their travels, the Van Soyes will also be presenting lectures for Princess Cruises passengers interested in geography. Like any world travelers, they're looking forward to visiting some "bucket list" worthy destinations including The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Bali in Indonesia, Casablanca in Morocco and The Amazon River in Brazil.

The Van Soyes' cruising plans include:

Jan. 28 to Feb. 27, 2012: San Diego to Sydney aboard Pacific PrincessMarch 17 to April 6, 2012: Sydney to Singapore aboard Ocean PrincessDec. 2-20, 2012: Rome to Fort Lauderdale aboard Pacific PrincessDec. 20, 2012 to Jan. 4, 2013: Fort Lauderdale to Manaus aboard Pacific PrincessMarch 10-26, 2013: Santiago to Los Angeles aboard Star Princess

Their full 424-day itinerary is available on their website, where they will be journaling their trip ( ) and fans can also follow them on Princess will also be providing updates on The Van Soyes will complete their global journey in March 2013.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company's website at .

About Princess Cruises:
One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 16 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess carries 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (nyse/lse:CCL) /quotes/zigman/322070/quotes/nls/cuk CUK -0.17% .

Princess Cruises is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World's Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at .

Find us: Blog: InspiredToCruise.comFacebook:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VA: National Geographic map comes to Pittsylvania County schools

From the Star Tribune, Virginia: National Geographic map comes to Pittsylvania County schools
Elementary students in Pittsylvania County will soon be exploring North America in a big way with one of the world's largest maps of the continent.

The map, measuring 35 feet by 26 feet, gives student explorers a fun, interactive experience through rich content and exciting activities that enliven the study of geography.

The map will travel to five elementary schools in the county.

It will be at Gretna Elementary, Feb. 27-28; Chatham Elementary, Feb. 29; Southside Elementary, March 1-2; Twin Springs Elementary, March 5-6; and Kentuck Elementary, March 7-8.

The map is on loan as part of National Geographic's Giant Traveling Maps program, organized by National Geographic Live, the public programming division of the National Geographic Society.

The brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface of the map accurately illustrates North America's oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals.

The map, designed for grades K-8, comes with a trunk full of accessories, including interactive games, geography adventures, atlases and books that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its rich history and varied cultures.

One of the activities included is "A Tale of Twenty Cities," in which students explore the physical and economic reasons behind the locations of North American cities.

"We are fortunate to have a great working relationship with The National Geographic Society so as to gain access to this resource," said Clarke Scott, lead director of history and social studies for Pittsylvania County Schools.

"The giant map is a wonderful and exciting way for students to gain a better understanding of the world in which they live," said Scott.

The maps showcase My Wonderful World, a multiyear, National Geographic led campaign to improve geographic literacy and to help students become more informed global citizens.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guyana on Stamps 1981

Guyana (i/ɡaɪˈænə/ gy-an-ə),[6] officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana,[1] previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America and also borders the end most of the Caribbean Sea. The nation is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and (for over 200 years) of the British. It is the only state of the Commonwealth of Nations on mainland South America, and the only one on that continent where English is an official language. It is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which has its secretariat headquarters in Guyana's capital, Georgetown. Guyana is one of the very few Caribbean nations that is not an island. Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 26 May 1966, and became a republic on 23 February 1970.

Historically, the region known as "Guiana" or "Guayana" comprised the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River known as the "Land of many waters". Historical Guyana is made up of three Dutch colonies: Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Modern Guyana is bordered to the east by Suriname, to the south and southwest by Brazil, to the west by Venezuela, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean.

At 215,000 km2, Guyana is the third-smallest independent state on the mainland of South America (after Uruguay and Suriname). Its population is approximately 770,000 (2002 demographic data) of which the majority are of East Indian descent (43.5%) and African descent (30.2%).

What does Essequibo is Ours Mean?
The Dutch established a trading post in 1616 25 kilometers up from the mouth of the Essequibo River in what is now Guyana. Dutch sovereignty was recognized by the Treaty of Munster in 1648. The Dutch invited British settlement and by 1760 the British were in the majority. Following a war between Britain and the Netherlands, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars the colonies of Demarara and Essequibo were ceded to Britain by the London Convention in 1814. In 1833 the colony of Berbice was united with Demarara and Essequibo as Brithish Guiana.

In 1840 Robert Schombergk surveyed the area for Britain. He determined the limits of Dutch possession and the area from which all trace of Spanish influence was absent. Venezuela insisted that the Essequibo River was the natural bounday between Venezuela and Guyana. In 1899 an international tribunal awarded 94% of the territory to British Guiana, and in 1905 both Venezuela and Britain accepted the boundary. Venezuela renewed its claims in the 1960's. In 1966 Guyana became independent. The protocol of Port-of-Spain which provided a 12 year moratorium was signed by Guyana and Venezuela in 1970, but in 1981 Venezuela refused to renew the protocol. In 1990 the Guyanaese Defense Force and the Venezuelan Army signed a protocol. And that is where the dispute remains.

Educators can apply for institute

From Hattiesburg American: Educators can apply for institute Educators are encouraged to apply for the Mississippi Geographic Alliance's Summer Institute. Applications will be accepted until March 15.

The institute will be July 8-13 at the University of Mississippi. Rooms and most meals are provided. Participants will increase geography content knowledge; learn education strategies to help students learn geography - regardless of the subject taught; take home lesson plans, classroom activities, books, atlases and maps; participate in hands-on workshops; complete half of the requirement to reach National Geographic Teacher Consultant status; and receive 3.6 CEUs.

Contact Carley at the MGA office at or (662) 915-3776 to receive an application.

Friday, February 10, 2012

20,000 Leagues, Part II, Chapter 22

Chapter 22
The Last Words of Captain Nemo
THE PANELS CLOSED over this frightful view, but the lights didn't go on in the lounge. Inside the Nautilus all was gloom and silence. It left this place of devastation with prodigious speed, 100 feet beneath the waters. Where was it going? North or south? Where would the man flee after this horrible act of revenge?

I reentered my stateroom, where Ned and Conseil were waiting silently. Captain Nemo filled me with insurmountable horror. Whatever he had once suffered at the hands of humanity, he had no right to mete out such punishment. He had made me, if not an accomplice, at least an eyewitness to his vengeance! Even this was intolerable.

At eleven o'clock the electric lights came back on. I went into the lounge. It was deserted. I consulted the various instruments. The Nautilus was fleeing northward at a speed of twenty–five miles per hour, sometimes on the surface of the sea, sometimes thirty feet beneath it.

After our position had been marked on the chart, I saw that we were passing into the mouth of the English Channel, that our heading would take us to the northernmost seas with incomparable speed.

I could barely glimpse the swift passing of longnose sharks, hammerhead sharks, spotted dogfish that frequent these waters, big eagle rays, swarms of seahorse looking like knights on a chessboard, eels quivering like fireworks serpents, armies of crab that fled obliquely by crossing their pincers over their carapaces, finally schools of porpoise that held contests of speed with the Nautilus. But by this point observing, studying, and classifying were out of the question.

By evening we had cleared 200 leagues up the Atlantic. Shadows gathered and gloom overran the sea until the moon came up.

I repaired to my stateroom. I couldn't sleep. I was assaulted by nightmares. That horrible scene of destruction kept repeating in my mind's eye.

From that day forward, who knows where the Nautilus took us in the north Atlantic basin? Always at incalculable speed! Always amid the High Arctic mists! Did it call at the capes of Spitzbergen or the shores of Novaya Zemlya? Did it visit such uncharted seas as the White Sea, the Kara Sea, the Gulf of Ob, the Lyakhov Islands, or those unknown beaches on the Siberian coast? I'm unable to say. I lost track of the passing hours. Time was in abeyance on the ship's clocks. As happens in the polar regions, it seemed that night and day no longer followed their normal sequence. I felt myself being drawn into that strange domain where the overwrought imagination of Edgar Allan Poe was at home. Like his fabled Arthur Gordon Pym, I expected any moment to see that "shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men," thrown across the cataract that protects the outskirts of the pole!

I estimate—but perhaps I'm mistaken—that the Nautilus's haphazard course continued for fifteen or twenty days, and I'm not sure how long this would have gone on without the catastrophe that ended our voyage. As for Captain Nemo, he was no longer in the picture. As for his chief officer, the same applied. Not one crewman was visible for a single instant. The Nautilus cruised beneath the waters almost continuously. When it rose briefly to the surface to renew our air, the hatches opened and closed as if automated. No more positions were reported on the world map. I didn't know where we were.

I'll also mention that the Canadian, at the end of his strength and patience, made no further appearances. Conseil couldn't coax a single word out of him and feared that, in a fit of delirium while under the sway of a ghastly homesickness, Ned would kill himself. So he kept a devoted watch on his friend every instant.

You can appreciate that under these conditions, our situation had become untenable.

One morning—whose date I'm unable to specify—I was slumbering near the first hours of daylight, a painful, sickly slumber. Waking up, I saw Ned Land leaning over me, and I heard him tell me in a low voice:

"We're going to escape!"

I sat up.

"When?" I asked.

"Tonight. There doesn't seem to be any supervision left on the Nautilus. You'd think a total daze was reigning on board. Will you be ready, sir?"

"Yes. Where are we?"

"In sight of land. I saw it through the mists just this morning, twenty miles to the east."

"What land is it?"

"I've no idea, but whatever it is, there we'll take refuge."

"Yes, Ned! We'll escape tonight even if the sea swallows us up!"

"The sea's rough, the wind's blowing hard, but a twenty–mile run in the Nautilus's nimble longboat doesn't scare me. Unknown to the crew, I've stowed some food and flasks of water inside."

"I'm with you."

"What's more," the Canadian added, "if they catch me, I'll defend myself, I'll fight to the death."

"Then we'll die together, Ned my friend."

My mind was made up. The Canadian left me. I went out on the platform, where I could barely stand upright against the jolts of the billows. The skies were threatening, but land lay inside those dense mists, and we had to escape. Not a single day, or even a single hour, could we afford to lose.

I returned to the lounge, dreading yet desiring an encounter with Captain Nemo, wanting yet not wanting to see him. What would I say to him? How could I hide the involuntary horror he inspired in me? No! It was best not to meet him face to face! Best to try and forget him! And yet . . . !

How long that day seemed, the last I would spend aboard the Nautilus! I was left to myself. Ned Land and Conseil avoided speaking to me, afraid they would give themselves away.

At six o'clock I ate supper, but I had no appetite. Despite my revulsion, I forced it down, wanting to keep my strength up.

At 6:30 Ned Land entered my stateroom. He told me:

"We won't see each other again before we go. At ten o'clock the moon won't be up yet. We'll take advantage of the darkness. Come to the skiff. Conseil and I will be inside waiting for you."

The Canadian left without giving me time to answer him.

I wanted to verify the Nautilus's heading. I made my way to the lounge. We were racing north–northeast with frightful speed, fifty meters down.

I took one last look at the natural wonders and artistic treasures amassed in the museum, this unrivaled collection doomed to perish someday in the depths of the seas, together with its curator. I wanted to establish one supreme impression in my mind. I stayed there an hour, basking in the aura of the ceiling lights, passing in review the treasures shining in their glass cases. Then I returned to my stateroom.

There I dressed in sturdy seafaring clothes. I gathered my notes and packed them tenderly about my person. My heart was pounding mightily. I couldn't curb its pulsations. My anxiety and agitation would certainly have given me away if Captain Nemo had seen me.

What was he doing just then? I listened at the door to his stateroom. I heard the sound of footsteps. Captain Nemo was inside. He hadn't gone to bed. With his every movement I imagined he would appear and ask me why I wanted to escape! I felt in a perpetual state of alarm. My imagination magnified this sensation. The feeling became so acute, I wondered whether it wouldn't be better to enter the captain's stateroom, dare him face to face, brave it out with word and deed!

It was an insane idea. Fortunately I controlled myself and stretched out on the bed to soothe my bodily agitation. My nerves calmed a little, but with my brain so aroused, I did a swift review of my whole existence aboard the Nautilus, every pleasant or unpleasant incident that had crossed my path since I went overboard from the Abraham Lincoln: the underwater hunting trip, the Torres Strait, our running aground, the savages of Papua, the coral cemetery, the Suez passageway, the island of Santorini, the Cretan diver, the Bay of Vigo, Atlantis, the Ice Bank, the South Pole, our imprisonment in the ice, the battle with the devilfish, the storm in the Gulf Stream, the Avenger, and that horrible scene of the vessel sinking with its crew . . . ! All these events passed before my eyes like backdrops unrolling upstage in a theater. In this strange setting Captain Nemo then grew fantastically. His features were accentuated, taking on superhuman proportions. He was no longer my equal, he was the Man of the Waters, the Spirit of the Seas.

By then it was 9:30. I held my head in both hands to keep it from bursting. I closed my eyes. I no longer wanted to think. A half hour still to wait! A half hour of nightmares that could drive me insane!

Just then I heard indistinct chords from the organ, melancholy harmonies from some undefinable hymn, actual pleadings from a soul trying to sever its earthly ties. I listened with all my senses at once, barely breathing, immersed like Captain Nemo in this musical trance that was drawing him beyond the bounds of this world.

Then a sudden thought terrified me. Captain Nemo had left his stateroom. He was in the same lounge I had to cross in order to escape. There I would encounter him one last time. He would see me, perhaps speak to me! One gesture from him could obliterate me, a single word shackle me to his vessel!

Even so, ten o'clock was about to strike. It was time to leave my stateroom and rejoin my companions.

I dared not hesitate, even if Captain Nemo stood before me. I opened the door cautiously, but as it swung on its hinges, it seemed to make a frightful noise. This noise existed, perhaps, only in my imagination!

I crept forward through the Nautilus's dark gangways, pausing after each step to curb the pounding of my heart.

I arrived at the corner door of the lounge. I opened it gently. The lounge was plunged in profound darkness. Chords from the organ were reverberating faintly. Captain Nemo was there. He didn't see me. Even in broad daylight I doubt that he would have noticed me, so completely was he immersed in his trance.

I inched over the carpet, avoiding the tiniest bump whose noise might give me away. It took me five minutes to reach the door at the far end, which led into the library.

I was about to open it when a gasp from Captain Nemo nailed me to the spot. I realized that he was standing up. I even got a glimpse of him because some rays of light from the library had filtered into the lounge. He was coming toward me, arms crossed, silent, not walking but gliding like a ghost. His chest was heaving, swelling with sobs. And I heard him murmur these words, the last of his to reach my ears:

"O almighty God! Enough! Enough!"

Was it a vow of repentance that had just escaped from this man's conscience . . . ?

Frantic, I rushed into the library. I climbed the central companionway, and going along the upper gangway, I arrived at the skiff. I went through the opening that had already given access to my two companions.

"Let's go, let's go!" I exclaimed.

"Right away!" the Canadian replied.

First, Ned Land closed and bolted the opening cut into the Nautilus's sheet iron, using the monkey wrench he had with him. After likewise closing the opening in the skiff, the Canadian began to unscrew the nuts still bolting us to the underwater boat.

Suddenly a noise from the ship's interior became audible. Voices were answering each other hurriedly. What was it? Had they spotted our escape? I felt Ned Land sliding a dagger into my hand.

"Yes," I muttered, "we know how to die!"

The Canadian paused in his work. But one word twenty times repeated, one dreadful word, told me the reason for the agitation spreading aboard the Nautilus. We weren't the cause of the crew's concern.

"Maelstrom! Maelstrom!" they were shouting.

The Maelstrom! Could a more frightening name have rung in our ears under more frightening circumstances? Were we lying in the dangerous waterways off the Norwegian coast? Was the Nautilus being dragged into this whirlpool just as the skiff was about to detach from its plating?

As you know, at the turn of the tide, the waters confined between the Faroe and Lofoten Islands rush out with irresistible violence. They form a vortex from which no ship has ever been able to escape. Monstrous waves race together from every point of the horizon. They form a whirlpool aptly called "the ocean's navel," whose attracting power extends a distance of fifteen kilometers. It can suck down not only ships but whales, and even polar bears from the northernmost regions.

This was where the Nautilus had been sent accidentally—or perhaps deliberately—by its captain. It was sweeping around in a spiral whose radius kept growing smaller and smaller. The skiff, still attached to the ship's plating, was likewise carried around at dizzying speed. I could feel us whirling. I was experiencing that accompanying nausea that follows such continuous spinning motions. We were in dread, in the last stages of sheer horror, our blood frozen in our veins, our nerves numb, drenched in cold sweat as if from the throes of dying! And what a noise around our frail skiff! What roars echoing from several miles away! What crashes from the waters breaking against sharp rocks on the seafloor, where the hardest objects are smashed, where tree trunks are worn down and worked into "a shaggy fur," as Norwegians express it!

What a predicament! We were rocking frightfully. The Nautilus defended itself like a human being. Its steel muscles were cracking. Sometimes it stood on end, the three of us along with it!

"We've got to hold on tight," Ned said, "and screw the nuts down again! If we can stay attached to the Nautilus, we can still make it . . . !"

He hadn't finished speaking when a cracking sound occurred. The nuts gave way, and ripped out of its socket, the skiff was hurled like a stone from a sling into the midst of the vortex.

My head struck against an iron timber, and with this violent shock I lost consciousness.

Chapter 23
WE COME TO the conclusion of this voyage under the seas. What happened that night, how the skiff escaped from the Maelstrom's fearsome eddies, how Ned Land, Conseil, and I got out of that whirlpool, I'm unable to say. But when I regained consciousness, I was lying in a fisherman's hut on one of the Lofoten Islands. My two companions, safe and sound, were at my bedside clasping my hands. We embraced each other heartily.

Just now we can't even dream of returning to France. Travel between upper Norway and the south is limited. So I have to wait for the arrival of a steamboat that provides bimonthly service from North Cape.

So it is here, among these gallant people who have taken us in, that I'm reviewing my narrative of these adventures. It is accurate. Not a fact has been omitted, not a detail has been exaggerated. It's the faithful record of this inconceivable expedition into an element now beyond human reach, but where progress will someday make great inroads.

Will anyone believe me? I don't know. Ultimately it's unimportant. What I can now assert is that I've earned the right to speak of these seas, beneath which in less than ten months, I've cleared 20,000 leagues in this underwater tour of the world that has shown me so many wonders across the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the southernmost and northernmost seas!

But what happened to the Nautilus? Did it withstand the Maelstrom's clutches? Is Captain Nemo alive? Is he still under the ocean pursuing his frightful program of revenge, or did he stop after that latest mass execution? Will the waves someday deliver that manuscript that contains his full life story? Will I finally learn the man's name? Will the nationality of the stricken warship tell us the nationality of Captain Nemo?

I hope so. I likewise hope that his powerful submersible has defeated the sea inside its most dreadful whirlpool, that the Nautilus has survived where so many ships have perished! If this is the case and Captain Nemo still inhabits the ocean—his adopted country—may the hate be appeased in that fierce heart! May the contemplation of so many wonders extinguish the spirit of vengeance in him! May the executioner pass away, and the scientist continue his peaceful exploration of the seas! If his destiny is strange, it's also sublime. Haven't I encompassed it myself? Didn't I lead ten months of this otherworldly existence? Thus to that question asked 6,000 years ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes—"Who can fathom the soundless depths?"—two men out of all humanity have now earned the right to reply. Captain Nemo and I.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

20,000 Leagues, Part II, Chapter 21

Chapter 21
A Mass Execution
THE WAY HE SAID THIS, the unexpectedness of this scene, first the biography of this patriotic ship, then the excitement with which this eccentric individual pronounced these last words—the name Avenger whose significance could not escape me—all this, taken together, had a profound impact on my mind. My eyes never left the captain. Hands outstretched toward the sea, he contemplated the proud wreck with blazing eyes. Perhaps I would never learn who he was, where he came from or where he was heading, but more and more I could see a distinction between the man and the scientist. It was no ordinary misanthropy that kept Captain Nemo and his companions sequestered inside the Nautilus's plating, but a hate so monstrous or so sublime that the passing years could never weaken it.

Did this hate also hunger for vengeance? Time would soon tell.

Meanwhile the Nautilus rose slowly to the surface of the sea, and I watched the Avenger's murky shape disappearing little by little. Soon a gentle rolling told me that we were afloat in the open air.

Just then a hollow explosion was audible. I looked at the captain. The captain did not stir.

"Captain?" I said.

He didn't reply.

I left him and climbed onto the platform. Conseil and the Canadian were already there.

"What caused that explosion?" I asked.

"A cannon going off," Ned Land replied.

I stared in the direction of the ship I had spotted. It was heading toward the Nautilus, and you could tell it had put on steam. Six miles separated it from us.

"What sort of craft is it, Ned?"

"From its rigging and its low masts," the Canadian replied, "I bet it's a warship. Here's hoping it pulls up and sinks this damned Nautilus!"

"Ned my friend," Conseil replied, "what harm could it do the Nautilus? Will it attack us under the waves? Will it cannonade us at the bottom of the sea?"

"Tell me, Ned," I asked, "can you make out the nationality of that craft?"

Creasing his brow, lowering his lids, and puckering the corners of his eyes, the Canadian focused the full power of his gaze on the ship for a short while.

"No, sir," he replied. "I can't make out what nation it's from. It's flying no flag. But I'll swear it's a warship, because there's a long pennant streaming from the peak of its mainmast."

For a quarter of an hour, we continued to watch the craft bearing down on us. But it was inconceivable to me that it had discovered the Nautilus at such a distance, still less that it knew what this underwater machine really was.

Soon the Canadian announced that the craft was a big battleship, a double–decker ironclad complete with ram. Dark, dense smoke burst from its two funnels. Its furled sails merged with the lines of its yardarms. The gaff of its fore–and–aft sail flew no flag. Its distance still kept us from distinguishing the colors of its pennant, which was fluttering like a thin ribbon.

It was coming on fast. If Captain Nemo let it approach, a chance for salvation might be available to us.

"Sir," Ned Land told me, "if that boat gets within a mile of us, I'm jumping overboard, and I suggest you follow suit."

I didn't reply to the Canadian's proposition but kept watching the ship, which was looming larger on the horizon. Whether it was English, French, American, or Russian, it would surely welcome us aboard if we could just get to it.

"Master may recall," Conseil then said, "that we have some experience with swimming. He can rely on me to tow him to that vessel, if he's agreeable to going with our friend Ned."

Before I could reply, white smoke streamed from the battleship's bow. Then, a few seconds later, the waters splashed astern of the Nautilus, disturbed by the fall of a heavy object. Soon after, an explosion struck my ears.

"What's this? They're firing at us!" I exclaimed.

"Good lads!" the Canadian muttered.

"That means they don't see us as castaways clinging to some wreckage!"

"With all due respect to Master—gracious!" Conseil put in, shaking off the water that had sprayed over him from another shell. "With all due respect to master, they've discovered the narwhale and they're cannonading the same."

"But it must be clear to them," I exclaimed, "that they're dealing with human beings."

"Maybe that's why!" Ned Land replied, staring hard at me.

The full truth dawned on me. Undoubtedly people now knew where they stood on the existence of this so–called monster. Undoubtedly the latter's encounter with the Abraham Lincoln, when the Canadian hit it with his harpoon, had led Commander Farragut to recognize the narwhale as actually an underwater boat, more dangerous than any unearthly cetacean!

Yes, this had to be the case, and undoubtedly they were now chasing this dreadful engine of destruction on every sea!

Dreadful indeed, if, as we could assume, Captain Nemo had been using the Nautilus in works of vengeance! That night in the middle of the Indian Ocean, when he imprisoned us in the cell, hadn't he attacked some ship? That man now buried in the coral cemetery, wasn't he the victim of some collision caused by the Nautilus? Yes, I repeat: this had to be the case. One part of Captain Nemo's secret life had been unveiled. And now, even though his identity was still unknown, at least the nations allied against him knew they were no longer hunting some fairy–tale monster, but a man who had sworn an implacable hate toward them!

This whole fearsome sequence of events appeared in my mind's eye. Instead of encountering friends on this approaching ship, we would find only pitiless enemies.

Meanwhile shells fell around us in increasing numbers. Some, meeting the liquid surface, would ricochet and vanish into the sea at considerable distances. But none of them reached the Nautilus.

By then the ironclad was no more than three miles off. Despite its violent cannonade, Captain Nemo hadn't appeared on the platform. And yet if one of those conical shells had scored a routine hit on the Nautilus's hull, it could have been fatal to him.

The Canadian then told me:

"Sir, we've got to do everything we can to get out of this jam! Let's signal them! Damnation! Maybe they'll realize we're decent people!"

Ned Land pulled out his handkerchief to wave it in the air. But he had barely unfolded it when he was felled by an iron fist, and despite his great strength, he tumbled to the deck.

"Scum!" the captain shouted. "Do you want to be nailed to the Nautilus's spur before it charges that ship?"

Dreadful to hear, Captain Nemo was even more dreadful to see. His face was pale from some spasm of his heart, which must have stopped beating for an instant. His pupils were hideously contracted. His voice was no longer speaking, it was bellowing. Bending from the waist, he shook the Canadian by the shoulders.

Then, dropping Ned and turning to the battleship, whose shells were showering around him:

"O ship of an accursed nation, you know who I am!" he shouted in his powerful voice. "And I don't need your colors to recognize you! Look! I'll show you mine!"

And in the bow of the platform, Captain Nemo unfurled a black flag, like the one he had left planted at the South Pole.

Just then a shell hit the Nautilus's hull obliquely, failed to breach it, ricocheted near the captain, and vanished into the sea.

Captain Nemo shrugged his shoulders. Then, addressing me:

"Go below!" he told me in a curt tone. "You and your companions, go below!"

"Sir," I exclaimed, "are you going to attack this ship?"

"Sir, I'm going to sink it."

"You wouldn't!"

"I will," Captain Nemo replied icily. "You're ill–advised to pass judgment on me, sir. Fate has shown you what you weren't meant to see. The attack has come. Our reply will be dreadful. Get back inside!"

"From what country is that ship?"

"You don't know? Fine, so much the better! At least its nationality will remain a secret to you. Go below!"

The Canadian, Conseil, and I could only obey. Some fifteen of the Nautilus's seamen surrounded their captain and stared with a feeling of implacable hate at the ship bearing down on them. You could feel the same spirit of vengeance enkindling their every soul.

I went below just as another projectile scraped the Nautilus's hull, and I heard the captain exclaim:

"Shoot, you demented vessel! Shower your futile shells! You won't escape the Nautilus's spur! But this isn't the place where you'll perish! I don't want your wreckage mingling with that of the Avenger!"

I repaired to my stateroom. The captain and his chief officer stayed on the platform. The propeller was set in motion. The Nautilus swiftly retreated, putting us outside the range of the vessel's shells. But the chase continued, and Captain Nemo was content to keep his distance.

Near four o'clock in the afternoon, unable to control the impatience and uneasiness devouring me, I went back to the central companionway. The hatch was open. I ventured onto the platform. The captain was still strolling there, his steps agitated. He stared at the ship, which stayed to his leeward five or six miles off. He was circling it like a wild beast, drawing it eastward, letting it chase after him. Yet he didn't attack. Was he, perhaps, still undecided?

I tried to intervene one last time. But I had barely queried Captain Nemo when the latter silenced me:

"I'm the law, I'm the tribunal! I'm the oppressed, and there are my oppressors! Thanks to them, I've witnessed the destruction of everything I loved, cherished, and venerated—homeland, wife, children, father, and mother! There lies everything I hate! Not another word out of you!"

I took a last look at the battleship, which was putting on steam. Then I rejoined Ned and Conseil.

"We'll escape!" I exclaimed.

"Good," Ned put in. "Where's that ship from?"

"I've no idea. But wherever it's from, it will sink before nightfall. In any event, it's better to perish with it than be accomplices in some act of revenge whose merits we can't gauge."

"That's my feeling," Ned Land replied coolly. "Let's wait for nightfall."

Night fell. A profound silence reigned on board. The compass indicated that the Nautilus hadn't changed direction. I could hear the beat of its propeller, churning the waves with steady speed. Staying on the surface of the water, it rolled gently, sometimes to one side, sometimes to the other.

My companions and I had decided to escape as soon as the vessel came close enough for us to be heard—or seen, because the moon would wax full in three days and was shining brightly. Once we were aboard that ship, if we couldn't ward off the blow that threatened it, at least we could do everything that circumstances permitted. Several times I thought the Nautilus was about to attack. But it was content to let its adversary approach, and then it would quickly resume its retreating ways.

Part of the night passed without incident. We kept watch for an opportunity to take action. We talked little, being too keyed up. Ned Land was all for jumping overboard. I forced him to wait. As I saw it, the Nautilus would attack the double–decker on the surface of the waves, and then it would be not only possible but easy to escape.

At three o'clock in the morning, full of uneasiness, I climbed onto the platform. Captain Nemo hadn't left it. He stood in the bow next to his flag, which a mild breeze was unfurling above his head. His eyes never left that vessel. The extraordinary intensity of his gaze seemed to attract it, beguile it, and draw it more surely than if he had it in tow!

The moon then passed its zenith. Jupiter was rising in the east. In the midst of this placid natural setting, sky and ocean competed with each other in tranquility, and the sea offered the orb of night the loveliest mirror ever to reflect its image.

And when I compared this deep calm of the elements with all the fury seething inside the plating of this barely perceptible Nautilus, I shivered all over.

The vessel was two miles off. It drew nearer, always moving toward the phosphorescent glow that signaled the Nautilus's presence. I saw its green and red running lights, plus the white lantern hanging from the large stay of its foremast. Hazy flickerings were reflected on its rigging and indicated that its furnaces were pushed to the limit. Showers of sparks and cinders of flaming coal escaped from its funnels, spangling the air with stars.

I stood there until six o'clock in the morning, Captain Nemo never seeming to notice me. The vessel lay a mile and a half off, and with the first glimmers of daylight, it resumed its cannonade. The time couldn't be far away when the Nautilus would attack its adversary, and my companions and I would leave forever this man I dared not judge.

I was about to go below to alert them, when the chief officer climbed onto the platform. Several seamen were with him. Captain Nemo didn't see them, or didn't want to see them. They carried out certain procedures that, on the Nautilus, you could call "clearing the decks for action." They were quite simple. The manropes that formed a handrail around the platform were lowered. Likewise the pilothouse and the beacon housing were withdrawn into the hull until they lay exactly flush with it. The surface of this long sheet–iron cigar no longer offered a single protrusion that could hamper its maneuvers.

I returned to the lounge. The Nautilus still emerged above the surface. A few morning gleams infiltrated the liquid strata. Beneath the undulations of the billows, the windows were enlivened by the blushing of the rising sun. That dreadful day of June 2 had dawned.

At seven o'clock the log told me that the Nautilus had reduced speed. I realized that it was letting the warship approach. Moreover, the explosions grew more intensely audible. Shells furrowed the water around us, drilling through it with an odd hissing sound.

"My friends," I said, "it's time. Let's shake hands, and may God be with us!"

Ned Land was determined, Conseil calm, I myself nervous and barely in control.

We went into the library. Just as I pushed open the door leading to the well of the central companionway, I heard the hatch close sharply overhead.

The Canadian leaped up the steps, but I stopped him. A well–known hissing told me that water was entering the ship's ballast tanks. Indeed, in a few moments the Nautilus had submerged some meters below the surface of the waves.

I understood this maneuver. It was too late to take action. The Nautilus wasn't going to strike the double–decker where it was clad in impenetrable iron armor, but below its waterline, where the metal carapace no longer protected its planking.

We were prisoners once more, unwilling spectators at the performance of this gruesome drama. But we barely had time to think. Taking refuge in my stateroom, we stared at each other without pronouncing a word. My mind was in a total daze. My mental processes came to a dead stop. I hovered in that painful state that predominates during the period of anticipation before some frightful explosion. I waited, I listened, I lived only through my sense of hearing!

Meanwhile the Nautilus's speed had increased appreciably. So it was gathering momentum. Its entire hull was vibrating.

Suddenly I let out a yell. There had been a collision, but it was comparatively mild. I could feel the penetrating force of the steel spur. I could hear scratchings and scrapings. Carried away with its driving power, the Nautilus had passed through the vessel's mass like a sailmaker's needle through canvas!

I couldn't hold still. Frantic, going insane, I leaped out of my stateroom and rushed into the lounge.

Captain Nemo was there. Mute, gloomy, implacable, he was staring through the port panel.

An enormous mass was sinking beneath the waters, and the Nautilus, missing none of its death throes, was descending into the depths with it. Ten meters away, I could see its gaping hull, into which water was rushing with a sound of thunder, then its double rows of cannons and railings. Its deck was covered with dark, quivering shadows.

The water was rising. Those poor men leaped up into the shrouds, clung to the masts, writhed beneath the waters. It was a human anthill that an invading sea had caught by surprise!

Paralyzed, rigid with anguish, my hair standing on end, my eyes popping out of my head, short of breath, suffocating, speechless, I stared—I too! I was glued to the window by an irresistible allure!

The enormous vessel settled slowly. Following it down, the Nautilus kept watch on its every movement. Suddenly there was an eruption. The air compressed inside the craft sent its decks flying, as if the powder stores had been ignited. The thrust of the waters was so great, the Nautilus swerved away.

The poor ship then sank more swiftly. Its mastheads appeared, laden with victims, then its crosstrees bending under clusters of men, finally the peak of its mainmast. Then the dark mass disappeared, and with it a crew of corpses dragged under by fearsome eddies. . . .

I turned to Captain Nemo. This dreadful executioner, this true archangel of hate, was still staring. When it was all over, Captain Nemo headed to the door of his stateroom, opened it, and entered. I followed him with my eyes.

On the rear paneling, beneath the portraits of his heroes, I saw the portrait of a still–youthful woman with two little children. Captain Nemo stared at them for a few moments, stretched out his arms to them, sank to his knees, and melted into sobs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Maps on Stamps: The British Empire

I found this stamp on ebay, and the description is not very helpful.

I think it is a stamp FROM 1898 (from Canada, obviously) showing the British Empire as it is then, not one from modern times, celebrating the British Empire as it was in 1898.

(It's a 2 cent stamp - in 1963 a US Airmail stamp was 8 cents. Could mail have only gone up 6 cents in 65 years???

1898 Canadian Stamps #85i MNH. Map of British Empire on Mercator Projection

20,000 Leagues, Part II, Chapter 20

Chapter 20
In Latitude 47° 24' and Longitude 17° 28'
IN THE AFTERMATH of this storm, we were thrown back to the east. Away went any hope of escaping to the landing places of New York or the St. Lawrence. In despair, poor Ned went into seclusion like Captain Nemo. Conseil and I no longer left each other.

As I said, the Nautilus veered to the east. To be more accurate, I should have said to the northeast. Sometimes on the surface of the waves, sometimes beneath them, the ship wandered for days amid these mists so feared by navigators. These are caused chiefly by melting ice, which keeps the air extremely damp. How many ships have perished in these waterways as they tried to get directions from the hazy lights on the coast! How many casualties have been caused by these opaque mists! How many collisions have occurred with these reefs, where the breaking surf is covered by the noise of the wind! How many vessels have rammed each other, despite their running lights, despite the warnings given by their bosun's pipes and alarm bells!

So the floor of this sea had the appearance of a battlefield where every ship defeated by the ocean still lay, some already old and encrusted, others newer and reflecting our beacon light on their ironwork and copper undersides. Among these vessels, how many went down with all hands, with their crews and hosts of immigrants, at these trouble spots so prominent in the statistics: Cape Race, St. Paul Island, the Strait of Belle Isle, the St. Lawrence estuary! And in only a few years, how many victims have been furnished to the obituary notices by the Royal Mail, Inman, and Montreal lines; by vessels named the Solway, the Isis, the Paramatta, the Hungarian, the Canadian, the Anglo–Saxon, the Humboldt, and the United States, all run aground; by the Arctic and the Lyonnais, sunk in collisions; by the President, the Pacific, and the City of Glasgow, lost for reasons unknown; in the midst of their gloomy rubble, the Nautilus navigated as if passing the dead in review!

By May 15 we were off the southern tip of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. These banks are the result of marine sedimentation, an extensive accumulation of organic waste brought either from the equator by the Gulf Stream's current, or from the North Pole by the countercurrent of cold water that skirts the American coast. Here, too, erratically drifting chunks collect from the ice breakup. Here a huge boneyard forms from fish, mollusks, and zoophytes dying over it by the billions.

The sea is of no great depth at the Grand Banks. A few hundred fathoms at best. But to the south there is a deep, suddenly occurring depression, a 3,000–meter pit. Here the Gulf Stream widens. Its waters come to full bloom. It loses its speed and temperature, but it turns into a sea.

Among the fish that the Nautilus startled on its way, I'll mention a one–meter lumpfish, blackish on top with orange on the belly and rare among its brethren in that it practices monogamy, a good–sized eelpout, a type of emerald moray whose flavor is excellent, wolffish with big eyes in a head somewhat resembling a canine's, viviparous blennies whose eggs hatch inside their bodies like those of snakes, bloated gobio (or black gudgeon) measuring two decimeters, grenadiers with long tails and gleaming with a silvery glow, speedy fish venturing far from their High Arctic seas.

Our nets also hauled in a bold, daring, vigorous, and muscular fish armed with prickles on its head and stings on its fins, a real scorpion measuring two to three meters, the ruthless enemy of cod, blennies, and salmon; it was the bullhead of the northerly seas, a fish with red fins and a brown body covered with nodules. The Nautilus's fishermen had some trouble getting a grip on this animal, which, thanks to the formation of its gill covers, can protect its respiratory organs from any parching contact with the air and can live out of water for a good while.

And I'll mention—for the record—some little banded blennies that follow ships into the northernmost seas, sharp–snouted carp exclusive to the north Atlantic, scorpionfish, and lastly the gadoid family, chiefly the cod species, which I detected in their waters of choice over these inexhaustible Grand Banks.

Because Newfoundland is simply an underwater peak, you could call these cod mountain fish. While the Nautilus was clearing a path through their tight ranks, Conseil couldn't refrain from making this comment:

"Mercy, look at these cod!" he said. "Why, I thought cod were flat, like dab or sole!"

"Innocent boy!" I exclaimed. "Cod are flat only at the grocery store, where they're cut open and spread out on display. But in the water they're like mullet, spindle–shaped and perfectly built for speed."

"I can easily believe Master," Conseil replied. "But what crowds of them! What swarms!"

"Bah! My friend, there'd be many more without their enemies, scorpionfish and human beings! Do you know how many eggs have been counted in a single female?"

"I'll go all out," Conseil replied. "500,000."

"11,000,000, my friend."

"11,000,000! I refuse to accept that until I count them myself."

"So count them, Conseil. But it would be less work to believe me. Besides, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, Danes, and Norwegians catch these cod by the thousands. They're eaten in prodigious quantities, and without the astonishing fertility of these fish, the seas would soon be depopulated of them. Accordingly, in England and America alone, 5,000 ships manned by 75,000 seamen go after cod. Each ship brings back an average catch of 4,400 fish, making 22,000,000. Off the coast of Norway, the total is the same."

"Fine," Conseil replied, "I'll take Master's word for it. I won't count them."

"Count what?"

"Those 11,000,000 eggs. But I'll make one comment."

"What's that?"

"If all their eggs hatched, just four codfish could feed England, America, and Norway."

As we skimmed the depths of the Grand Banks, I could see perfectly those long fishing lines, each armed with 200 hooks, that every boat dangled by the dozens. The lower end of each line dragged the bottom by means of a small grappling iron, and at the surface it was secured to the buoy–rope of a cork float. The Nautilus had to maneuver shrewdly in the midst of this underwater spiderweb.

But the ship didn't stay long in these heavily traveled waterways. It went up to about latitude 42°. This brought it abreast of St. John's in Newfoundland and Heart's Content, where the Atlantic Cable reaches its end point.

Instead of continuing north, the Nautilus took an easterly heading, as if to go along this plateau on which the telegraph cable rests, where multiple soundings have given the contours of the terrain with the utmost accuracy.

It was on May 17, about 500 miles from Heart's Content and 2,800 meters down, that I spotted this cable lying on the seafloor. Conseil, whom I hadn't alerted, mistook it at first for a gigantic sea snake and was gearing up to classify it in his best manner. But I enlightened the fine lad and let him down gently by giving him various details on the laying of this cable.

The first cable was put down during the years 1857–1858; but after transmitting about 400 telegrams, it went dead. In 1863 engineers built a new cable that measured 3,400 kilometers, weighed 4,500 metric tons, and was shipped aboard the Great Eastern. This attempt also failed.

Now then, on May 25 while submerged to a depth of 3,836 meters, the Nautilus lay in precisely the locality where this second cable suffered the rupture that ruined the undertaking. It happened 638 miles from the coast of Ireland. At around two o'clock in the afternoon, all contact with Europe broke off. The electricians on board decided to cut the cable before fishing it up, and by eleven o'clock that evening they had retrieved the damaged part. They repaired the joint and its splice; then the cable was resubmerged. But a few days later it snapped again and couldn't be recovered from the ocean depths.

These Americans refused to give up. The daring Cyrus Field, who had risked his whole fortune to promote this undertaking, called for a new bond issue. It sold out immediately. Another cable was put down under better conditions. Its sheaves of conducting wire were insulated within a gutta–percha covering, which was protected by a padding of textile material enclosed in a metal sheath. The Great Eastern put back to sea on July 13, 1866.

The operation proceeded apace. Yet there was one hitch. As they gradually unrolled this third cable, the electricians observed on several occasions that someone had recently driven nails into it, trying to damage its core. Captain Anderson, his officers, and the engineers put their heads together, then posted a warning that if the culprit were detected, he would be thrown overboard without a trial. After that, these villainous attempts were not repeated.

By July 23 the Great Eastern was lying no farther than 800 kilometers from Newfoundland when it received telegraphed news from Ireland of an armistice signed between Prussia and Austria after the Battle of Sadova. Through the mists on the 27th, it sighted the port of Heart's Content. The undertaking had ended happily, and in its first dispatch, young America addressed old Europe with these wise words so rarely understood: "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will."

I didn't expect to find this electric cable in mint condition, as it looked on leaving its place of manufacture. The long snake was covered with seashell rubble and bristling with foraminifera; a crust of caked gravel protected it from any mollusks that might bore into it. It rested serenely, sheltered from the sea's motions, under a pressure favorable to the transmission of that electric spark that goes from America to Europe in 32/100 of a second. This cable will no doubt last indefinitely because, as observers note, its gutta–percha casing is improved by a stay in salt water.

Besides, on this well–chosen plateau, the cable never lies at depths that could cause a break. The Nautilus followed it to its lowest reaches, located 4,431 meters down, and even there it rested without any stress or strain. Then we returned to the locality where the 1863 accident had taken place.

There the ocean floor formed a valley 120 kilometers wide, into which you could fit Mt. Blanc without its summit poking above the surface of the waves. This valley is closed off to the east by a sheer wall 2,000 meters high. We arrived there on May 28, and the Nautilus lay no farther than 150 kilometers from Ireland.

Would Captain Nemo head up north and beach us on the British Isles? No. Much to my surprise, he went back down south and returned to European seas. As we swung around the Emerald Isle, I spotted Cape Clear for an instant, plus the lighthouse on Fastnet Rock that guides all those thousands of ships setting out from Glasgow or Liverpool.

An important question then popped into my head. Would the Nautilus dare to tackle the English Channel? Ned Land (who promptly reappeared after we hugged shore) never stopped questioning me. What could I answer him? Captain Nemo remained invisible. After giving the Canadian a glimpse of American shores, was he about to show me the coast of France?

But the Nautilus kept gravitating southward. On May 30, in sight of Land's End, it passed between the lowermost tip of England and the Scilly Islands, which it left behind to starboard.

If it was going to enter the English Channel, it clearly needed to head east. It did not.

All day long on May 31, the Nautilus swept around the sea in a series of circles that had me deeply puzzled. It seemed to be searching for a locality that it had some trouble finding. At noon Captain Nemo himself came to take our bearings. He didn't address a word to me. He looked gloomier than ever. What was filling him with such sadness? Was it our proximity to these European shores? Was he reliving his memories of that country he had left behind? If so, what did he feel? Remorse or regret? For a good while these thoughts occupied my mind, and I had a hunch that fate would soon give away the captain's secrets.

The next day, June 1, the Nautilus kept to the same tack. It was obviously trying to locate some precise spot in the ocean. Just as on the day before, Captain Nemo came to take the altitude of the sun. The sea was smooth, the skies clear. Eight miles to the east, a big steamship was visible on the horizon line. No flag was flapping from the gaff of its fore–and–aft sail, and I couldn't tell its nationality.

A few minutes before the sun passed its zenith, Captain Nemo raised his sextant and took his sights with the utmost precision. The absolute calm of the waves facilitated this operation. The Nautilus lay motionless, neither rolling nor pitching.

I was on the platform just then. After determining our position, the captain pronounced only these words:

"It's right here!"

He went down the hatch. Had he seen that vessel change course and seemingly head toward us? I'm unable to say.

I returned to the lounge. The hatch closed, and I heard water hissing in the ballast tanks. The Nautilus began to sink on a vertical line, because its propeller was in check and no longer furnished any forward motion.

Some minutes later it stopped at a depth of 833 meters and came to rest on the seafloor.

The ceiling lights in the lounge then went out, the panels opened, and through the windows I saw, for a half–mile radius, the sea brightly lit by the beacon's rays.

I looked to port and saw nothing but the immenseness of these tranquil waters.

To starboard, a prominent bulge on the sea bottom caught my attention. You would have thought it was some ruin enshrouded in a crust of whitened seashells, as if under a mantle of snow. Carefully examining this mass, I could identify the swollen outlines of a ship shorn of its masts, which must have sunk bow first. This casualty certainly dated from some far–off time. To be so caked with the limestone of these waters, this wreckage must have spent many a year on the ocean floor.

What ship was this? Why had the Nautilus come to visit its grave? Was it something other than a maritime accident that had dragged this craft under the waters?

I wasn't sure what to think, but next to me I heard Captain Nemo's voice slowly say:

"Originally this ship was christened the Marseillais. It carried seventy–four cannons and was launched in 1762. On August 13, 1778, commanded by La Poype–Vertrieux, it fought valiantly against the Preston. On July 4, 1779, as a member of the squadron under Admiral d'Estaing, it assisted in the capture of the island of Grenada. On September 5, 1781, under the Count de Grasse, it took part in the Battle of Chesapeake Bay. In 1794 the new Republic of France changed the name of this ship. On April 16 of that same year, it joined the squadron at Brest under Rear Admiral Villaret de Joyeuse, who was entrusted with escorting a convoy of wheat coming from America under the command of Admiral Van Stabel. In this second year of the French Revolutionary Calendar, on the 11th and 12th days in the Month of Pasture, this squadron fought an encounter with English vessels. Sir, today is June 1, 1868, or the 13th day in the Month of Pasture. Seventy–four years ago to the day, at this very spot in latitude 47° 24' and longitude 17° 28', this ship sank after a heroic battle; its three masts gone, water in its hold, a third of its crew out of action, it preferred to go to the bottom with its 356 seamen rather than surrender; and with its flag nailed up on the afterdeck, it disappeared beneath the waves to shouts of 'Long live the Republic!'"

"This is the Avenger!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, sir! The Avenger! A splendid name!" Captain Nemo murmured, crossing his arms.