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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Six Flags?

Because I love roller coasters, I am looking forward to visiting Six Flags New England in Agawam (near Springfield) with my daughter tomorrow. A little bit of geographic knowledge was involved in deciding when to go; our original plan had been to visit the park on Wednesday, but we knew that a strong cold front would make weather conditions much more favorable the following day. Weather maps are among the very most useful ideas geographers have had!

The name of the park always makes me think of a different aspect of geography: the political geography of Texas. The company name and logo do not provide a hint of this connection, but the original Six Flags was called Six Flags Over Texas, and the flags were not generic party flags, but rather the sovereign flags that have flown over the land now known as Texas.

Each of the flags shown below has been the national flag of Texas -- or a significant part of Texas -- during the years indicated. In some cases -- particularly the United States flag -- more than one version of the flag might have been used over time, but these flags do represent the numerous changes in Texas sovereignty. The chronology of these changes on Lone Star Junction,.for example, includes a later version of the Spanish flag than the one below, from a chronology on Toledo Bend. Both sources show an early Confederate Stars and Bars flag that is not as well known as the later Confederate Battle Flag.

More detailed information is available from the Vexillological Association of the State of Texas. Its acronym -- VAST -- is appropriate in a state that prides itself on its great size (more than thirty times larger than Massachusetts).

Oddly enough, the entrance to Six Flags New England features a six-sided tower displaying seven identical U.S. flags -- one on each corner and one in the middle!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Typical Human

National Geographic reports on the most typical person in the world. Before watching the video, consider a few questions:

How old do you think this person would be? Where would he or she be from? Would the person be a he or a she?

Then watch the video for some interesting ideas about the changing geography of humans, and the geographic differences in the choices humans must make and are able to make on a daily basis.