Geo-Joint: Shipbreaking in Southern Asia

From the beaches of Santa Barbara you can see them anchored a half-mile offshore: giant, white, floating boxes called cruise ships. They are enormous, but nothing compared to the behemoth tankers and container ships that ply the ocean road between the mainland and the local Channel Islands. Though they appear tiny on the horizon, their astounding size is evidenced by … Read More

Geo-Joint: Northern Ireland’s Peace Walls

Robert Frost sagely noted that good fences make good neighbors, an admission that keeping a healthy distance and clearly marking my territory versus yours can keep trouble from starting. It developed kind of the other way around in Northern Ireland. In the early part of the 20th century, forces in Ireland banded together to fight for Irish independence from the … Read More

Geo-Joint: The Enduring Bristlecone Pine

There are a lot of ways to establish records. Hairsplitting a category can make for multiple “biggest” or “tallest” or “oldest” of whatever. Just ask Guinness—it keeps them in business. So it is with the oldest living things. There are various kinds of organisms, even if you narrow the categories down to just trees. We’ll save some of the other … Read More

Geo-Joint: South Pacific Atolls

Beauty is a subjective thing, but almost everyone agrees that the settings of Polynesia are among the most pleasant and soothing in all the world. The warm water helps, but the colors of the sea and sky, and the rich green plant life and colorful sea life all add to the beauty. It’s also nice not to have to dodge … Read More

Geo-Joint: Disconnected USA – the Northwest Angle and Point Roberts

Besides its far-flung “empire” of island territories and possessions distant from its mainland, the United States includes a large number of relatively nearshore islands off its several coasts. Of course, our two youngest states, Alaska and Hawaii, are totally separate from the Lower 48, but today’s subject is not so obvious. The area in question isn’t along our southern border, … Read More

Geo-Joint: The Colossus of Prora

As human beings go, Hitler was pretty much the bottom of the barrel. He may have dressed neatly and been educated, but the workings of his mind were a plague upon humanity. Given all that, he put together a concept in pre-WWII years that actually brought some benefit, although not quite as he envisioned it. Hitler, uncharacteristically, developed a healthful-seeming … Read More

Geo-Joint: The Erie Canal—The Water Road to Expansion

Two hundred years ago, the country witnessed the birth of a profound mark on the national landscape—on that oh-so-American date of July the Fourth. That was when Chief Engineer James Geddes began construction on the Erie Canal. As a piece of American history, the Erie Canal is probably as well known as the Liberty Bell or The War of 1812. … Read More

Geo-Joint: Gibraltar

Even if you’re not sure where it is, you’ve heard of the name or seen it on an insurance logo. The Rock of Gibraltar has an iconic status as something solid and prominent, which it definitely is. And you may know that it lies at the very western end of the Mediterranean Sea, on the (duh) Strait of Gibraltar. Along … Read More

Geo-Joint: Borders and Consequences

Even when our earliest ancestors (including those who had a lot more hair and longer arms) were wandering around the planet, there was probably an understanding of place. Humans aren’t good at detecting territory defined by urine the way animals with better noses can, so there were most likely more physical markers. They might have included man-made marks on trees, … Read More

Geo-Joint: Underground Fires

A forest fire is a huge spectacle, as towering trees explode in flame, and thick smoke billows away from the roaring inferno. Though they sometimes burn for weeks or months, the hard work of fire crews, retardant-dropping airplanes, or the change of seasons that brings rain and snow eventually wins out over the flames. Not so with peat fires. Peat … Read More