Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Gender Spectrum Explained

I've been following the various controversies regarding gender issues with increasing interest over the last year or so. In the process my opinions have become a little more fixed, and I feel it may be time to express them here on this blog. Some of the opinions will no doubt offend some readers, however this is not my aim, so I hope anyone reading will appreciate my sincerity if not the content.

The idea of gender-fluidity in particular seems something shrouded in confusion at the moment. I would agree that there is some fluidity regarding gender, but that the fluidity isn't quite as fluid as many of the more vocal proponents of the idea often claim.

It might be easier if we imagine a spectrum of gender. At one end extreme masculinity, at the other extreme femininity. With a slightly blurred dividing line in the middle.

(A hypothetical Gender Spectrum where 100 on the left would
represent extreme masculinity and 100 on the right extreme femininity)

Now each of us are born somewhere on this hypothetical (and admittedly crude) spectrum. For instance, I myself am male. However, I'm not the most manly male you'll ever meet. I'm not especially muscly. I don't have a very deep voice. I don't have particularly masculine features. If I had to put myself somewhere on the above chart I'd probably reluctantly put myself somewhere roundabout the 40 mark on the male side. I say reluctantly, because as well as being male I'm also straight, and if I'm being truly honest I would have to say that I'd like members of the opposite sex to see me as being very masculine and consequently more attractive.

Now this gets to the point at hand quite neatly. I could make myself more masculine. I could go to the gym everyday to build my muscles. I could change my diet and lifestyle with the aim of increasing the flow of my male hormones. I could even seek medical treatment and utilise medication. Likewise I could do these things to make myself more feminine. However, there is a limit to how far I can change my nature. No matter how much I try to make myself more manly I'll never be as manly as someone who was born at the far end of the masculine spectrum. And the women that I hope to impress by my endeavours may still view me as being less manly than the more brutish, lumbering jocks I'm up against.

Now, sadly, this is just the way it is, and there isn't too much I can do about it. I may think that the women judging me are being unfair, however I can't force them to see me as more manly. Nor would I want them to pretend they see me as being more masculine just to make me feel better. Though a little sympathy and consideration would be nice :)

If I was born around the 40 mark on the male side of this graph then to some extent I'll always be around that mark, whatever I do - though there is some fluidity, and I may be able to move myself a little one way or the other. Plus, because I'm comfortably on the male side, I'll always be male. And my underlying physiology will always be male, no matter how extremely I try to change this.

So, people can become more feminine or masculine, but the only people who can truly move from the male side to the female side (or vice versa) are the people born around the middle of this chart.

Of course, it should also be noted that there are people who are born with actual physical hermaphroditism. Where their gender is physically undefined or difficult to define. There are also other genetic conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome that can result in hormonal problems. (These issues go beyond the scope of this article and my knowledge on such topics is very limited. So my apologies to anyone reading this if I've misunderstood or misrepresented these issues in any way.)

My own feeling is that people born with actual physical, biological conditions that result in gender issues are often under-represented in the debates surrounding this topic. I feel it's important that everyone on all sides of the argument appreciate that in some cases these decisions are forced upon people, and the parents of people born with such conditions, through no choice of their own.

As for the more contentious issue of people that are born with no such physical condition, but who feel that they have been assigned, or have been born into the wrong gender, this is a slightly different matter. My honest position is one of scepticism. How can someone define what it feels like to be a certain gender? Or how a female brain thinks in a way that is fundamentally different to how a man would think? How can someone make this judgement without it being anything other than subjective? I may feel I think like a man, but without experiencing life through the eyes of another man, or indeed the eyes of a woman, how can I make a relative judgement?

However, saying this, I am very much open to the possibility that some people may have this exact experience, and may feel like the opposite sex from a very early age. I know one transgender person in my real everyday life who claims to have always felt "like a girl" from as young as three years old. I remain sceptical though.

What I would say is that I think it's fundamentally wrong for parents to allow children to be given gender reassignment medication or medical treatment if it's simply based on such feelings. To base such important and serious decisions on something so subjective, without any objective physical evidence to back that up is very dangerous and irresponsible in my opinion.

Of course, that's not to say that I have an issue with adults doing such things for the same reasons. In a free society adults should always have the freedom to change their own body as they wish, and I would always defend a persons right to do so - though I may disagree with their choices at times myself. However, to put an otherwise physically healthy child through such treatment is something I'm very much opposed to, and I can't stress that enough in this article.

I also feel uncomfortable with the idea of telling children that their gender is fluid in school lessons. Especially if it gives the impression that it's perfectly easy to transition from one sex to another. I think gay and lesbian children will be particularly confused by such talk. It's not too hard to imagine that a young girl, noticing that she's attracted to other girls and not boys, could easily come to the erroneous conclusion that she's a boy trapped in a girls body. The idea that it's easy and completely routine to make such a transition would no doubt make the temptation to think such thoughts even more likely.

People often point out that sexual preference and gender are two different things, and they're quite right to do so. However, there is a little bit of correlation between the two. Obviously sex and gender are quite heavily linked - the very purpose of sex in nature being to procreate. So the two issues can't ever be completely separated.

It's also interesting to note, though I may be wandering a little off topic here, that there are benefits and disadvantages to being born on all parts of the gender and sexual spectrum. It could also be argued that it's beneficial to society to have people from all parts of it.

In my general experience there seems to be a bit of a balanced relationship between sex and creativity. For example, at both ends of the spectrum we have the same stereotypical image - at one end the dizzy, ditzy, but attractive woman, and at the other end the ape-like dominant male. The stereotypical bimbo and the stereotypical jock. Now both these stereotypes are generalisations and perhaps a little bit unfair as well. However, there is some truth to these generalisations, and in a general sense at least I think most people would agree they recognise these stereotypes. The people at the extreme ends of the gender spectrum also tend to be the people who are more successful with the opposite sex, and more likely to settle down and have children. A very important job in society of course.

Alternately we can also see that people towards the middle of this spectrum tend to be more creative and academic. Most pop stars and musicians, both male and female, have a tendency towards the androgynous. This is quite clear to see from Bowie to Lady Gaga and so on. Also, if you imagine say, a science laboratory, you'll probably notice that most the men working there are a little more on the geeky side than the musclebound. And likewise the women there will tend to be more serious than girly. Again these are stereotypical generalisations, and there are of course countless exceptions to the rule. There is though a certain truth to these observations.

Returning to myself. Though it's a little disappointing that I'll never be considered the most rough and manly of males to many of the women I meet. At the same time I probably wouldn't be sat here writing this article if I was more of a stereotypical unthinking hulk. There are benefits to both positions, and neither are necessarily right or wrong - just different. Wider society probably benefits from having this variation too.

The natural influence sexual desire has on society means that it can be hard for people outside the statistical norms of both sex and gender. We all have this innate desire to be found attractive. Or even just to simply fit in. So if we don't fit the norm it can be difficult, and the further from the norm the harder it often gets. Consequently the small fraction of people that are born on the blurred line of the gender divide often have it hardest of all. So it's important that such people are given the utmost consideration by wider society. However, it's also important that honest consideration is given. The reality is that there may be no easy answers for people born in such difficult positions. Pretending everyone is equally normal doesn't really work in real life. It just creates a false facade over an already existing reality.

I also worry that our desire to normalise people that are statistically-speaking not normal is kind of missing the point a little bit. Maybe this otherness should be acknowledged as other and celebrated as such. Androgynous rock stars are not normal people, and if everyone was normal there would be no such rock stars. Or poets, or painters, or original thinkers.

There are benefits to being different as well as negative consequences. Maybe both these aspects need to be considered when we think about the type of society we'd like to live in. I often think of how in India people born with physical differences are worshipped as gods. I'm not sure how true this is, or how practically useful this would be in reality, but in some ways it does seem like a more healthy attitude to have. Maybe it's because of our inherited western mindset that we have this situation where if a child is born, let's say hermaphrodite, we see the need to medicate the "problem" away so no one ever sees it, and so that the child can go through life appearing perfectly normal to everyone else.

Maybe if we had a different cultural heritage having a friend that was hermaphrodite would be no different to having a friend that was gay or lesbian. Maybe it would just be another natural variation of the human type.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Antarctic Real Estate

In a previous article I mentioned how the Spanish had underestimated the breadth of the Pacific Ocean in the 16th century. A narrower Pacific, of course, would also mean a smaller globe - i.e. the distance around the circumference of the Earth would be shorter.

Interestingly, Columbus originally underestimated the circumference of the Earth as well. He believed the distance was significantly shorter, so much so that he was confident that on sailing west he would, in reasonable time, reach the east coast of Asia. Had the Americas not been in his way his journey would have been almost impossibly long due to this drastic miscalculation.

The following passage is from a book titled The History of Cartography by Beau Riffenburgh;
The navigator [Columbus] believed the estimates produced in the ninth century by the Persian astronomer Alfraganus (Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kasir al-Farghani), which indicated that a degree of latitude at the equator was equal to approximately 91km (56.7 miles). However, Columbus did not realize that Alfraganus was working in Arabian miles (about 1,830 m) rather than Italian miles (about 1,240 m). This caused Columbus to underestimate the circumference of the Earth[.]
In the same passage the author also notes how the famed astronomer Ptolemy had underestimated the circumference of the Earth in the 2nd century AD;
He underestimated the size of the Earth and indicated that Europe and Asia combined to cover half of the planet's circumference, whereas in actuality these two continents extend to only 130° (rather than 180°).
So we have a situation where Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth to a reasonable degree of accuracy two hundred years before Christ. Then four hundred years later Ptolemy is less accurate. Then the Persians re-calculate it accurately once again in the 9th century. Only for Columbus six hundred years later to regress back. Then on top of this, in the following century, the Spanish (who actually sailed both oceans) still remained in error about the circumference.

Now on this blog I've speculated that the current measurement of the Pacific Ocean could be wrong. Obviously this is quite a bold, and possibly very foolish thing to think, but if the world map is wrong in any way - and questioning the validity of the map is the very purpose of this blog series - then it would be much easier to misrepresent the oceans than it would to misrepresent the landmasses. The land gets lots of people traffic - billions of humans are milling about on foot and in cars every day, but the oceans much less so - and then it's mainly the traffic of people being ferried by boat or plane, who have only a vague idea of the vast journeys they're making.

So if this was the case what would be the consequences for the rest of the globe? For a start if the Pacific was slightly narrower the circumference of the Earth would be smaller. Also there would not only be less ocean, but also a little less space at either pole.

I've already looked at the North Pacific and the Arctic in previous articles on this blog, however I've yet to look at the Antarctic. So if we follow a straight line south through the middle of the Pacific Ocean where do we reach?

A place called Marie Byrd Land, named after the wife of the famous polar explorer Admiral Byrd. Oddly it's the only part of Antarctica not subject to a territorial claim by any individual sovereign country.

Marie Byrd Land (in pink)
[By Jfblanc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link]

[The claimants to the other segments of Antarctica are the U.K., New Zealand, Norway, France, Australia, Chile and Australia.]

If we look at the following map from Wikipedia of research stations in Antarctica we can also see that Marie Byrd Land seems strangely devoid of activity.

Antarctic Stations Map
(Click to enlarge)

Interesting. Although, it should also be noted that there have been Antarctic research stations in this part of Antarctica in the past - such as Byrd Station, established during Operation Deep Freeze II, and a Russian station called Russkaya.

Where is the Curvature? Where?

On a final note it's worth mentioning, especially as we're talking about Antarctica here, that a smaller circumference of the Earth would also mean more observable curve - i.e. it would be easier to see the curvature of the Earth's surface, as the globe itself would be slightly smaller in relation to any observer. This is a familiar topic for anyone interested it the current Flat Earth revival online.

Interestingly, if we look at the UN logo - one of the favoured, in-your-face, flat earth depictions - you can see that the more recent version (first introduced in 1946) shows a Pacific Ocean somewhat broader than what's shown in the original logo (which was produced in 1945). Now I'm sure this was purely a question of aesthetic taste on the part of the UN. After all, it's meant to be a symbol of the world and not necessarily an accurate usable map. Still, though, it's quite interesting.

The current version of the flag

You'll notice in the above depiction that Australia and South America are separated by approximately 3/8 of the map - or about three pizza slices if that's easier to visualize :)

However, on the original 1945 version below the distance is more like 2 and half slices.

UN flag, April 1945

Again, I'd say the more recent version probably looks more pleasing to the eye, plus the continents seem less chunky and distorted. So I'm guessing the change in ocean distance is more a consequence of design than actual measurement.

Oddly though the International Maritime Organization still use a logo that's similar to the original.

The flag of the International Maritime Organization 

You would think these guys would get the seas right :)

An interesting explanation of why the design of the flag was changed is given on Wikipedia;
The globe used in the original design was an azimuthal projection focused on the North Pole with the United States, the host nation of the conference, at the centre. The projection that was used cut off portions of the Southern Hemisphere at the latitude of Argentina, which was acceptable at the time, as Argentina was not planned to be an original member of the United Nations. The projection was later altered so that no country will be at prominence within the flag. The new logo was now designed so that the globe is bisected in the centre by the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line.

EARTH HOAX; Korean Revisionism

Just a short post, mainly to make reference to some other research that may be of importance. It comes from Korea and tallies quite well with what I've been looking at here.

The research can be found on the following blog.

The Arctic and the Arctic Sea, proving the `Arctic Sea` is the North Sea of ​​COREA with icebergs

The blog is in Korean so Google Translate will help :)

I'll flesh out their general theory below;-

After studying old maps and looking at anomalies in Korean history they've come to the conclusion that many places have been "moved" on the world map. For instance, they point out that on all the older maps Mongolia is located in the north east of Asia, next to the Arctic Ocean. As opposed to its current location in the centre of East Asia.
They also claim that pre-1700 the American and Asian continents were still joined together, and that they've only recently been separated in the last three centuries. One potential cause being the deliberate creation of a "canal" joining the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific.
Their general view is that world history regarding this part of the world has been fabricated or suppressed in order to disenfranchise the people of Korea, who were once in possession of a much larger share of the Earth's territory.

In the map below they provide an illustration of how places on the world map may have been shifted.

From what I've read so far they don't seem to be questioning the current world map, only the history of the world map. They don't yet have the same luxury I have of simply dismissing all the satellite images "proving" the lay of the land :)

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; Antarctic Real Estate

Monday, July 31, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Fleshing Out A Possible Narrative

So how could we reach such a point where an elaborate conspiracy would be needed to hide the true reality of the Arctic and North Pacific? I'll flesh out one possible narrative below.

(The North-West Passage - John Everett Millais)

Europeans begin exploring the world's oceans and landmasses during the Age of Discovery (15th to 18th century). Some sail east, some sail west. Europeans expand their influence eastwards across the known world and start making discoveries in the new.

At first it's assumed that this New World is joined by land to the old. However, as South America is circumnavigated this starts appearing to not be the case. As explorers travel even further up the west coast of the Americas, this time well into North American territory, the case for separation becomes even stronger.

This belief or speculation that the Americas are indeed a separate landmass leads explorers and mapmakers to start dreaming of the very real possibility of a "Northwest Passage" - a passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via sea routes above or through the North America continent.

However, discovery of this short cut between the two oceans is continually thwarted by the impenetrable icy seas of the Arctic Ocean. Consequently no-one can prove or disprove any theories about this part of the world, and no accurate map can be produced.

Meanwhile, settlers from the old world are constantly spreading across the new, claiming land, safe in the knowledge that what they are claiming is virgin territory. With just the unorganised, newly discovered Native Americans standing in the way of their progress.

"America", with its manifest destiny, is envisioned before it's even conquered. Around the same time Alaska is "sold" from Russia to the U.S. even though knowledge of the region is so limited that no-one can really be one hundred percent certain what they're even buying or selling.

Areas in the region are claimed and re-claimed, fought over, discovered and re-discovered by countless people, companies and countries. All of whom are making maps as they go along. Filling in the blanks with speculation and anecdote, possibly even mapping and naming areas that have already been mapped and named and claimed by others.

It would therefore be easy to imagine how a mapmaker in say, Europe, hearing two tales - one from a Russian explorer speaking of a newly discovered island, complete with a Russian sounding name. Another from an English sailor with tales of an Island newly discovered and christened with an English name. It would be easy for the mapmaker to simply assume he was hearing two stories about two different and completely separate places. Both may make their way onto his latest "world map".

But, what if they were in fact the exact same island? Or the same piece of land? How would he know? How would either the Russian or the Englishman know, given that they were making discoveries in such an uninhabited and unknown region of the world. A part of the world so incredibly difficult to map and to penetrate to begin with.

What if the World Map became bloated in this region with duplicate places and territories? What if North America, Russia and North East Asia were all much closer than they'd convinced themselves was the case? What would happen if one party discovered this? Or if the populations in general gained knowledge of this huge catastrophic mistake?

Would the world leaders simply admit their error and renounce their claims to land? Or would there be countless backdoor discussions, deals and cover-ups? I would guess the latter.

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; Korean Revisionism

EARTH HOAX; Arctic of the East

According to orthodoxy North America was at one time connected by land to the Asian continent. Up until very recently, approximately 10,000 years ago according to their estimates, a land bridge existed connecting Alaska to what's now north-eastern Russia. This connection, now the location of the Bering Strait sea passage, is generally labelled the Bering land bridge - or more poetically Beringia.

It's across this bridge of land that humans first entered the Americas. The general hypothesis is that humans made this migration in various waves before the land bridge was submerged by the ocean. After this the populations on both sides remained isolated from each other, expect perhaps for limited sea-migrations, up until the modern period of European exploration. Many different theories abound though, and some less orthodox researchers have suggested that native peoples may have been making sea journeys across the Pacific with more sophistication than is generally imagined by mainstream academics.

Anyway, with that brief explanation out the way it's time to have a little look at the people on both sides of this divide.

First up it's worth noting that nearly all Eskimos look East Asian. The only obvious exception being the Sami people of northern Scandinavia, and even then some Sami look quite oriental. In fact, it may be worth looking at this in a future article.

Now I'm using the term Eskimo, and not Inuit or some other more politically correct term, simply because it's much more straight forward. Everyone reading this will know what I mean by Eskimos .. native populations that live in Arctic regions. I'd rather not get bogged down with technicalities for the sake of looking like a nice guy.

Now on both sides of this Bering Strait divide Eskimos look distinctly East Asian - from Russia, across Canada, right on through to Greenland.

Going clockwise, starting top left;
Siberian Yupik woman holding walrus tusk (Russia), Eskimo women at Ashe Inlet (Canada, 1884), Inupiat Woman (Alaska, 1907), Inuvialuit drummers (Canada), Nunavik Woman (Canada), Inuit children (Labrador, Canada 1926), Kalaallit family (Greenland)

On face value (literally) they look like one contiguous population. They certainly don't look like they've been separated for thousands of years.

Now I'm not sure if the official history of the peopling of the Americas precludes Eskimos from traversing around the Arctic regions in kayak-type boats over the last few thousand years. Surely officialdom must maintain the same degree of separateness for Eskimos though, as if Eskimos can make the trip then what would be stopping everyone else from making the trip too. Especially when the original flow of humans into the Americas occurred in this very area.

So what about when we go further south? Do the Native Americans of North America have much in common with their counterparts over on the Asian continent?

Well actually they do have quite a bit.

For a start we're all familiar with the pointy tipi tents that Native Americans lived in, famous from numerous Cowboy movies. Well, people on the other side of the Pacific also lived (and still do live) in a very similar style of tent called a chum.

From Wikipedia;
A chum is a temporary dwelling used by the nomadic Uralic reindeer herders of northwestern Siberia of Russia. The Evenks, Tungusic peoples, tribes, in Russia, Mongolia and China also use chums. They are also used by the southernmost reindeer herders, of the Todzha region of the Republic of Tyva and their cross-border relatives in northern Mongolia.
(Sioux tipi, watercolor by Karl Bodmer, ca. 1833)

(Chums in Tyva, Russia)

Now again, Native Americans often look quite similar to their counterparts in Asia in appearance. The similarity isn't as pronounced or consistent as with the Eskimos, but it's still hard not to notice. This wouldn't be out of keeping with the orthodox theory of course, as the Native Americans are said to be descendants of people who crossed the land bridge from Asia, albeit in prehistoric times. However, the parallels are still quite striking even when taking this into account.

I also came across the following article noting the genetic links between Native Americans and Mongolians.

The article states;
Altai in southern Siberia sits right at the centre of Russia. But the tiny, mountainous republic has a claim to fame unknown until now - Native Americans can trace their origins to the remote region.
DNA research revealed that genetic markers linking people living in the Russian republic of Altai, southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America.
A study of the mutations indicated a lineage shift between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago - when people are thought to have walked across the ice from Russia to America.
Another commonality is shovel teeth. These are teeth that have a scoop or shovel shape that are common amongst Asian and Native American populations, but are uncommon or absent in Europeans and Africans.

Finally, it may be worth mentioning Great Tartary here. This was the name used in earlier times to designate the great tract of land stretching across northern and central Asia out to the Pacific. The label appeared in various forms on many older maps, but then simply disappeared as we began to enter the modern age.

Chart of the Coast of Asia and America - R. W. Seale, 18th Century (detail)

To my ears the name Tartar sounds a little similar to the word Arctic. I wonder if there was some confusion between what lay to the east and what lay to the north of Europe in earlier centuries? The Arctic Ocean was also sometimes labelled as the Tartar ocean/sea on maps as well.

Arctic Ocean labelled as "mer de Tartarie" - Vaugondy, 1772

It's also interesting to note that in the 16th century the French had a colony in South America named France Antarctique. This would suggest that at some point South America, or at least a part of it, was labelled the Antarctic. Once again we have a possible confusion between a polar region of Earth and a more temperate region. If it was believed at the time that the American continent was joined to Asia further north then this naming would make sense - as South America would've been viewed as a sub-equatorial portion of Tartary/Asia.

Pierre de Vaulx chart, 1613 (detail)

Monday, July 17, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Pacific Dimensions

The Pacific Ocean, at its greatest east-west width, is approximately 19,800 km. That's approximately half the circumference of the Earth.

Interestingly, in earlier times, when the Pacific was dominated and sailed by the Spanish Empire, it was reckoned to have a noticeably shorter width. According to the book The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake by Samuel Bawlf;
"..the Spanish continued to understate the breadth of the Pacific by thousands of miles, America was generally depicted as being joined to Asia somewhere to the north."
Stating elsewhere in the book;
"Soon after he succeeded to the throne of Spain, King Philip began to take an interest in the potential of his Philippine Islands. Under the Treaty of Tordesillas the islands, like the Moluccas, were actually located in the Portuguese hemisphere. In the absence of any agreed method of determining the eastern line separating the two empires, however, its position was disputed. To support his claim to the islands, Philip had his cartographers produce maps that understated the sailing distance across the Pacific, and argued that the line of demarcation actually cut through the Strait of Malacca 1,000 miles farther west."
It's worth noting that the Spanish were actually making frequent sea journeys between South America and their dominions in Asia at this time.

The Pacific Ocean is also the location of the International Date Line - this is an imaginary and somewhat arbitrary line running north to south that demarcates the change from one calendar day to the next. Right up until the 19th century the Philippine Islands found themselves on the "wrong" side of this line and consequently a day behind their Asian neighbours in the region. A legacy of their Spanish rule.

The following map depicting the line illustrates this - though the map, from the 1888 Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, was erroneous at its time of publication as the Philippines had shifted to the west side of the line in 1845.

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; Arctic of the East

Sunday, July 16, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Islands of the Arctic and North Pacific

The most notable island chains in the North Pacific are the Kuril and Aleutian Islands. The Aleutians arch out from Alaska towards Russia, and the Kurils stretch from the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, to Hokkaido, Japan.

(The North Pacific Ocean)

(The Aleutians and the Kurils courtesy of Google)

The Japanese invaded the Aleutians during World War II. The Japanese occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska, but both were eventually regained by American forces.

The Kuril Islands however are still contested to this day. The two southernmost islands, Iturup and Kunashir, were annexed by Russia in the aftermath of World War II. The issue continues to be a political sore point between Russia and Japan to this day.

Interestingly, I also discovered that there are still disputes between Russia and the U.S. over island territory, only this time in the Arctic Ocean. I came across the following article which essentially claims that successive American presidents have been secretly negotiating with Russia over competing claims in the region.

Of particular interest is Wrangel Island, situated in the Arctic Ocean, north of Russia.

(Wrangel Island)

The article explains;
The Island is named for Russian explorer Baron Wrangel who had heard of the island but didn’t set eyes on it, let alone a foot. The U.S. had reason to believe we owned the island(s) and to back that up, there is a Treaty ceding land to the U.S. and the GiveAway “Agreement” ratified by the U.S. Congress but never signed by Russia. While the later document is an “Agreement” our State Department refers to it as a “Treaty.” Never mind the truth.
There is a concern about Alaskan fishing rights as well as thousands of miles of “rich sea beds” at stake. Today Alaska says their state was never consulted, and did not consent before the giveaway that Russia DID NOT accept. AND HERE’S THE KICKER, the original maps used to draw the boundary lines governing the Agreement are lost. Neither side can produce the maps, and as you can guess, both sides dispute what belongs to their side.
It's very interesting that these maps are "lost" - and also very suspicious. I wonder what these maps would show, or even if they ever existed at all.

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; Pacific Dimensions

Saturday, July 15, 2017

EARTH HOAX; The Bering Strait

I was going to look at the native peoples that inhabit both sides of the Pacific divide in this article. However, I think it would be better to first take a more in depth look at the current map of the North Pacific. I'll take a look at populations in a future article.

The stretch of water separating Russia from the USA, the Bering Strait, is approximately 51 miles wide at its narrowest point.

(Satellite Image)

Such a short distance. I did have a look at how difficult it is for normal citizens to make this journey and discovered that there are quite a few restrictions. Especially when it comes to accessing Chukotka - the north-eastern most province of Russia.

(Chukotka Autonomous Okrug)

I'll share some passages below from an article I came across on the topic. The article discusses some of the difficulties in crossing the strait, and the even bigger difficulties in getting permission to enter and travel through this area of Russia.

Despite the fact that a ferry could potentially cross from the USA to Siberia in two hours, political hurdles restrict traffic across this body of water.  It is virtually impossible for a westerner to receive permission to arrive on the Russian shores of the Bering Strait.  An adventurer wishing to kayak, swim, walk over the ice, or sail from Alaska to Siberia across the Bering Strait would have to do so illegally.

The article has a question and answer section on the various permissions required.

How do you cross the Bering Strait legally?
This is very difficult.  Not only is it necessary to arrive in Russia in an official port of call, but it is also necessary to depart from an official port of call.  We have not heard of any adventurers who have received permission to arrive or depart from the remote shoreline of Russia.
What is required to arrive and travel through Eastern Siberia?
Chukotka, Russia’s most NE state, is the last closed part of the country.  This means that many of the barriers that were in place during Soviet times still apply and free travel is not allowed.  This does not mean that foreigners are banned, but strict protocol must be followed.

It then lists some of the requirements;

If one were to arrive in Providenia in a small vessel such as a rowboat or sailing vessel several things are required:
Russian Visa:  This is fairly easy to acquire and the procedure is outlined on the Website of most Russian consulates.  You can get a Russian visa for up to a year.
Rasporyazheniye: The only thing harder than pronouncing the name of this permit is actually receiving it.  Visitors to the closed state of Chukotka need an additional permit that is not required in the rest of Russia.  In order to receive a rasporyazheniye you need a Chukotkan resident to sponsor you and vouch to look after you for the duration of your stay.  This sponsor also needs to be registered with a special division of the government, which most people aren’t.  Those who have this special registration are mainly the owners of the few “tourist” agencies so it is necessary to go through them.


Additionally, because free travel is not allowed, a detailed itinerary and outline of your route must be submitted.  Each administrator or mayor of the various communities en route must give advance permission for you to enter their community.  The itinerary also must be okayed by the military.   It is very difficult to change your route once in the country, so plan carefully. After these requirements have been met a rasporyazheniye will be granted.  It is virtually impossible for an outsider to take care of these requirements so a Chukotkan “tourist” agency must be recruited and compensated to look after these details.

Finally, it even mentions restrictions on communications devices.

Special Permits:  Any communications devices (including cell phones) and electronics that communicate with satellites (such as a GPS) need special permits from Moscow.  If the official documents from Moscow are not procured upon arrival, these items will be confiscated.

Sorry, I know that was a lot of reading, but it does illustrate just how restricted access to this part of the world is. You can travel east to Moscow and other places with relative ease, but this area of icy wilderness to the west of the U.S. seems very much off limits.

[Incidentally, as a side note, Roman Abramovich, billionaire businessman and owner of Chelsea Football Club, was once governor of this region, from 2000 to 2008.]

The Alaska Purchase

A further interesting thing worth remembering when considering all this is that Alaska used to belong to Russia until it was sold to the U.S. in 1867 - the famous Alaska Purchase.

In fact, Russia used to lay claim to quite a lot of land in North America right up until the 19th century. The following map from Wikipedia shows the extent of these claims.

A Wikipedia page on the Russian colonisation of the Americas states that Russia established an outpost in Northern California named Fort Ross in 1812. It also contains the following description of a Russian church bell unearthed in California in the early 20th century;

In 1920 a one-hundred pound bronze church bell was unearthed in an orange grove near Mission San Fernando Rey de EspaƱa in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. It has an inscription in the Russian language (translated here): "In the Year 1796, in the month of January, this bell was cast on the Island of Kodiak by the blessing of Juvenaly of Alaska, during the sojourn of Alexander Andreyevich Baranov." How this Russian Orthodox Kodiak church artifact from Kodiak Island in Alaska arrived at a Roman Catholic Mission Church in Southern California remains unknown.

In the next article I'll look at some of the islands in the North Pacific and the various disputes over them.

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; Islands of the Arctic and North Pacific

Friday, July 14, 2017

EARTH HOAX; Index Page

I'm using this as the index page for my Earth Hoax series. I always find it useful to have a place to collate everything. Things can get a little mixed up, especially on blogs where articles on other topics are interjected between more continual topics. And where older, but important articles get buried in the timeline. So this is kinda the homepage for Earth Hoax.

The above video is a little promo I knocked up which I'll eventually use to inform the few YouTube subscribers I have that I'm continuing the topic here on this blog.


EARTH HOAX; Having Fun With Maps

So as I move into more modern speculations about the world map I think I'll begin by mentioning my first foray into this topic. Well, my first public foray into the topic anyway. This was a tongue-in-cheek video I uploaded to YouTube in March 2016. I'd been taking an interest in the history of the North Pacific for a while and was beginning to think it possible that maybe something could be amiss - unlikely though that would seem. So I decided to have some fun and play upon the idea that North America and the Asian continent were in fact joined. I pretty much just rehashed what I'd seen in the older maps and mixed it in with the idea that we're living in a Truman Show reality.

I just wanted to throw something out there and see what would happen. Have a little fun, and see if anyone else would have anything interesting to add. At first it only received a trickle of visitors and the odd comment. However, it's now picked up a little and has currently clocked up 1,331 views - 18 likes and 10 dislikes.

(HOAX USA; North America is a Fake Continent)

I even went to the trouble of producing a brand new map for it :)

It took me quite a while.

I also included within the video a genuine anomaly that I think is worth thinking about. Namely the population density of Russia. In the illustration below we can see that most of the Russian population is situated in the west, next to Eastern Europe. The rest of the country is quite sparsely populated.

Now of course there are logical explanations for why this may be. The most obvious, and often touted, is the extreme cold in these regions. Particularly during the winter months. So it's not at all unreasonable that this would be the case. However, it's still always struck me as slightly odd that such a vast underpopulated wilderness could be situated directly to the north of the most populated region on Earth. There are of course over 2 billion people in India and China alone if the figures are correct.

Plus when I've seen pictures of these parts of Russia they look rather beautiful and attractive - though again I'm sure these pictures would have no doubt been taken during the summer months when it's nice and pleasant. Also Russia, being such a huge landmass, has a huge border. I often wonder how they manage to control it. Even a smallish Island like ours, the UK, struggles to manage immigration (though maybe this failure is deliberate? - again though, another topic). So how does Russia manage?

Bonus material.

The following image is an outtake from the video. I was going to include a joke about Mexicans looking quite similar to Japanese people, but feared it could possibly be taken the wrong way XD . Plus I couldn't quite work it into the narrative. It's a good place to finish this article though as my next one will probably include a look at the native populations on both sides of the Pacific divide.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

EARTH HOAX; What Did The Old Maps Depict?

It's interesting to look at this topic from a historical point of view. Old maps especially so. When we do look it becomes quite clear that the complete picture of the world map we have today was only finalised very recently. The poles for example were only fully explored as recently as the beginning of the 20th century - just 100 years ago.

Even as recently as the 18th and 19th century large parts of the world were still untraveled. Captain Cook's famed sea voyages were made in the late 18th century, and even then he couldn't penetrate the icy north and south seas.

Looking at maps from these periods illustrates how big the blanks were. The following map from the mid-18th century simply has a huge void labelled "PARTS UNKNOWN" where the North Pacific, Arctic Ocean and western half of North America should be. Australia is half-mapped, New Zealand not at all.

The next map, like many from this period and earlier, shows land filling those voids - no doubt based on speculation and anecdotal accounts from seafarers and travellers. California is depicted as an island (!) . This was actually a common belief regarding California at the time and persisted well into the 18th century.

Also above the North Pacific ocean a place named "Compagnies Land" is depicted. This was another recurring depiction on some of these older maps. The explanations for the name are a little vague, but I would speculate that this was possibly land said to belong to a chartered company, like the many that controlled trade across the high seas in those heady days of exploration. For example, the Muscovy Company, the East India Company, the Hudson's Bay Company, etc.

Many earlier maps also show North America connected by land to Asia. In fact, this was famously the original belief of Columbus when he set sail westwards. Hence the naming of the native Americans as Indians and other apparent misapprehensions.

The following is an illustration of this persisting belief concerning the joint nature of the two continents following the discoveries of Columbus.

A very strange worldview, and certainly a lot of confusion regarding that part of the world.

However, in this blog series I'm asking what we know now. How much certainty can I have about what the North Pacific looks like today? Will there be anomalies and blank spaces when I look? In the next article I'll explore this.

EARTH HOAX; Can We Doubt the World Map?

We're living in a strange time. Though there is still legal and governmental authority, there seems to be no real intellectual or moral authority (maybe this was always the case?). It's difficult to know what to believe. I have few answers and plenty of questions. The Flat Earth Renaissance exposed how little we all know. None of us have a clue really. We thought we knew a lot of stuff, but we had misplaced faith.

Me, personally, I've returned (like many others) to firsthand, first-person experience. What do I know? What can I prove for myself without simply accepting the word of others?

I'm now a little bare. I have less knowledge, but better foundations for what I do have. I genuinely stand open-minded as to the nature of the "world" we live in. The result is that my canvas on which my previous worldview was painted now has a lot more blank space. Speculation now fills these gaps ..that is what follows.

I Doubt The World Map

I'm now of the opinion that most of the "space exploration" we see on TV and elsewhere is propaganda. For what purpose I'm unsure, I may speculate on that another time. Consequently I now doubt the images and footage we've been shown from space. Once this footage is taken from the table then it follows that the map of the world itself - which we all have imprinted on our minds - can also be doubted. My certainty that that was an accurate representation of the lay of the land rested firmly upon this certainty that it had been viewed from space. We could actually see that it was true. We had absolute certainty - so much so that we didn't even think to question it. It was as real as the world we see in front of us. But without this view from space what else do we have? Is there anyway I can reaffirm this view without resorting to NASA & Co?

Now at this point I should probably address the people that may be reading this right now who are thinking how odd it is that someone would believe it even possible that the entire Space Race could be one huge conspiracy. To those people I would ask one of two things. Either, if the interest takes them, to go and do some of their own research into the authenticity of the footage we're shown from space before reading further - YouTube videos may be helpful ;) . Or, if it's too much of a stretch to even consider the possibility that reality may be so askew, then to simply view this whole text as an exercise in epistemology. A thought-experiment of sorts, designed to re-assess our worldview. An audit of our collective and individual knowledge regarding the world map. Even if I'm completely barking up the wrong tree by questioning the integrity of NASA and their friends this project may still be useful in pointing out other anomalies or areas for research.

So what can I know for certain about the world map...

Well, to begin with I have firsthand experience of the place that I live and the places I've travelled (admittedly not very far). I can be fairly certain that the map is accurate in regard those places and their distance/direction in relation to each other. But what about places further afield that I've never visited? Let's say Paris. Now although I've never been there myself I do know people that have, so I have secondhand evidence from people I trust. I also have endless streams of secondhand evidence from other sources - TV, social media, books, etc - and although this isn't as good as firsthand experience, I do have plenty of it, and it would be foolish to doubt it. I'm also safe in the knowledge that I can hop on a plane, or make a few train journeys, and check it all out for myself.

Were Paris to be somewhere different on the world map in relation to England, or to not even exist at all, it would need thousands and thousands and thousands of people lying or misrepresenting things on a daily basis for this untruth to endure. To question such a thing would be to question the very nature of reality itself. A wander into philosophy that I'm not really prepared to make at the moment :) I'm happy that England and France are very much real and accurately depicted on the world map in relation to each other - and in relation to me.

However, what about places even further afield? What about the deepest, darkest Amazon? Or parts of Central Africa? How much knowledge do I have about these places in actuality? How much secondhand experience do I have? Certainly much less than I have for Paris. Can I check these places out for myself through travel? Most probably yes, but it would no doubt be much more difficult and expensive. Is there a commercial plane flight? Would I need permits and Visas? What about places that few people live or have ever visited? Or places with military restrictions? What about Antarctica, or North-Eastern Russia, or Islands in the Arctic Ocean? Now we're getting somewhere. How certain can we be that things aren't being misrepresented in such far flung places? How many people would need to be involved in such a misrepresentation?

Now, of course, I'm not saying these places don't exist, or that they're most definitely being misrepresented in someway, but what I am pointing out is that I have less secondhand knowledge and zero firsthand experience of these places. So I simply can't have the same certainty I have as I do when it comes to places closer to home. It becomes reasonable to question what I know, and what others claim to know, about these places.

We assume the world map is %100 correct, but how certain are we?

We believe we live in a globalised age and that the world has truly opened up to us. We can walk into a travel agents or an airport and almost without thinking begin a journey halfway across the world. We've never felt so free ..but what we're blissfully unaware of is how truly proscribed these choices are. You can only really go somewhere if there's a flight to that place. What seems like endless choice is in reality just a choice between the places you can go, excluding the places you can't. An average holidaymaker may choose a predictable vacation to sunny Spain or the Caribbean. A more adventurous person, with a thirst for real travel, may opt for Nepal, or India, or some other exotic location.

Seemingly endless choice, but what if you want to go somewhere where there isn't a commercial flight or package deal? What if you decided to make your own way there? What would you think if you weren't allowed to visit that place or make that journey? Would you question it or just accept the restriction and move on?

How much certainty can you have about, let's say North Korea, when you're not allowed to visit and most the information you have comes from the TV and a limited number of other sources?

In this series of blog posts I'll be questioning such things as this. Hopefully it'll be an interesting and worthwhile exercise. Feel free to join me.

Next Up: EARTH HOAX; What Did The Old Maps Depict

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Heresy; the Jo Cox Legacy

I awoke today to see articles in the news commemorating the death of Jo Cox. It's nearly a year since her apparent death and watching the media that reported it at the time now solidify it in our country's history made me think of heresy. If we look at the etymology of the word heresy we can see it connotes history; heritage, inheritance. People that have a different heritage, a different history, a different version of events become heretics. They don't believe the state orthodoxy, they have their own traditions counter to the orthodox.

The story of King Herod, who killed the first born, also comes to mind. In many cultures of course it's the first born that inherit the family legacy. It's interesting to note that the name of Herodotus, the famed Greek historian, also begins with Herod. So it would seem if we follow this etymological logic that the so-called "father of history" actually had a name simply meaning historian.

I had a dream last night that seemed rather prescient of this topic. I normally don't put too much score on dreams but this one was quite vivid. In it I was trying to explain to people how an international elite often subvert democracies by using the media and the military, but as I was doing it a dog, the colour of a fox, kept jumping up at me and playfully biting my hands so I couldn't tell the story.

I can't help but wonder if the dream was telling me to be more cautious when it comes to telling people this sort of stuff, or to stop proselytising to people who don't want to hear it. Maybe it's more sensible to simply make sure the candle of alternative history doesn't get blown out than to run around looking for kindling?

As I sit struggling to type this on my phone as I ride the bus to work in these early hours it's apparent to me that by simply not believing the official state history we now find ourselves as heretics, holding views different to the great mass of other people.

The official state religion has created the myth of a martyr, that true or false, we simply don't believe. By not believing this myth we find ourselves in the position of heretic, outcasts with our own tradition.

Maybe this is how many secret traditions began. A counter history that was forced into secrecy rather than chosen for secrecy.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

#FEPE: Photo? Or Penguin

It's been a while since I've posted about Flat Earth on this blog, but this seems like something too interesting not to pass comment upon; the recent #Fepe furore.

Fepe is essentially a rip-off penguin version of Pepe the Frog, solely designed to promote Flat Earth awareness. His genesis came about from discussions led by the YouTuber Infinite Plane Society aka IPS.

This has now started a mini-Meme War, with Fepe essentially trying to kill and replace Pepe. I don't think fans of Pepe the Frog are much aware of this yet, maybe at some point memes will be made in response.

I only became aware of IPS a few months back when I started subbing his channel. I was surprised there was someone so new in the scene that I wasn't aware of with such a strong following. (I haven't been paying attention to the scene as much as I was when I started blogging about it in 2015.) His channel seems to be one of the main YouTube hubs in the scene now. Anyway, I enjoyed listening to some of his live-streams from time to time and when they started this fepe thing I thought it was quite an entertaining development. He also coined the hashtag #globexit which I think is quite a cool variant on the Brexit hashtag.

However, things have taken a turn for the worse, or perhaps better, it's hard to tell. IPS recently appeared in a news article on American TV talking about the Flat Earth movement, but instead of using his own name he gave the name Math Powerland.

Now you may remember that Math is probably my all time favourite YouTuber, and he's the artist/comedian that pretty much started this entire flat earth scene. He's not too happy that IPS used his name without his consent, and is now stating that this whole thing, including the Fepe meme, is part of a plan to co-opt and destroy the entire flat earth movement. And in the process erase and replace him from its history and conception.

The Real Math Powerland

Personally I'm not too sure what to make of all this, however it does seem that IPS is a-shill-iated to some extent; i.e. he's associated with people that I deem shills. I won't go into that here - I much prefer to call out shills on YouTube ;)

I'm a little loathe to drop the Fepe meme just yet though. Some of them are quite funny, and although I don't quite approve of some of the more violent ones, I definitely quite like the idea of another Meme War. I'm still not sure what my thoughts are on the entire Pepe the Frog Great Meme War of 2015/16, but I certainly got a lot of entertainment out of it.

Going back to the TV appearance IPS made though I do find it odd that it's so hard for Math Powerland (the actual Math Powerland that is) to get any mainstream media coverage whatsoever. The mainstream media seems very reluctant to even mention flat earth, and when they do it almost looks like they're handling nuclear waste they're so careful with it, but Math in particular gets zero recognition at all.

In fact, this reluctance of the mainstream media to mention flat earth is possibly the biggest piece of evidence we have that there maybe something to it.

It's such an entertaining topic, and Math is a very entertaining performer. I think it's better than Game of Thrones XD Surely the mainstream media could embrace this conceptual adventure and have a little bit of fun with it.

This whole thing started taking off in 2015, yet here we are in mid-2017 and no-one in the mainstream media has taken up the idea - not even simply as a piece of science fiction. It would make an unbelievable movie wouldn't it. Has not one person thought of stealing the idea? I find this baffling ..unless.

Anyway, I'll leave you all with some of my favourite Fepe memes so far. Let's see where all this goes next. If anywhere.