Archive for the 'Geography in the News' Category



31
Oct
12

Superstorm Sandy Calms

Superstorm Sandy may have calmed down, but New York and the East Coast are just beginning to recover from the aftermath of the Hurricane.

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Check out this article on Lineback World View on How Irene Prepared us for Sandy. Read how Hurricane Irene was reported by Geography in the News’ Dr. Neal Lineback at the end of last year and consider how the lessons learned in 2011 have saved lives during the devastating events of the last few days.

For our subscribers, we also just added a new article to the NEWS network on Maps101: Sandy Deals New York City Flooding, Fire and Blackouts. There is also a collection of Hurricane related videos showing footage of Hurricanes Ivan and Charley and related Hurricane maps available.

Please feel free to share and comment on How Irene Prepared Us for Sandy on the Lineback World View Blog.

03
Oct
12

enter the candidates; the 2012 US Presidential Debates

Cross posting this from our friends at Green Comma.

The first of the 2012 US Presidential Debates start today, Wednesday, October 3, 2012. They are historic for two reasons:

  • These elections will determine the course of the US economy, its role in world affairs,  how social services  are made available to the citizenry, and  what the role of government should be in United States of the 21st century.
  • These debates will be broadcast on more platforms and will be accessible to more people around the globe than at any time in world history.

How about a little debate history:

  • The first senatorial debate was between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858, without a moderator and lasted for over three hours. 
  • The first radio broadcast of a Presidential debate was in 1948 between Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen.
  •  In 1960, the Nixon-Kennedy debate went into the history books not only as the first televised Presidential debate but also for what it revealed about a candidate’s physical presence in front of a camera that got closer to the candidate, literally, than the majority of the voters.

Today, we provide a few fact-checking tools for you to use as you follow the debates. This ability to monitor and access information in real-time is part of the social media world we live in.

Be informed. Vote smart. 

We also we provide you with two links to the debates themselves and to an app that provides you, your children and your students with information for the entire election process.

How to Watch Presidential Debates on Your Mobile

Voter’s Ed iPad app

Courtesy of Green Comma   39 Whitman Street   Somerville, MA 02144-1615   http://twitter.com/greencomma

 

and of course, check out the election resources on Maps101. Your trusted source for classroom resources.

Maps101 is a cross-curricular, online resource that makes K-12 learning engaging and fun.

Maps101 is a cross-curricular, online resource that makes K-12 learning engaging and fun.

18
Sep
12

Wikipedia Map Fail, courtesy of The Atlantic

Once again the news world has errantly relied on Wikipedia for its information. Worse, they used it as the basis for the premise of their article. Max Fisher of The Atlantic recently published an editorial about the protests in the Middle East and beyond (“An Annotated Map of Today’s Protests and of the ‘Muslim World‘ 9/14/12). In it he uses the following map graphic, grabbed from the hallowed ground of Wikipedia and modified to show selected protest sites:

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Red indicates violent protests over the film, yellow indicates non-violent protests. Click to enlarge. (Wikimedia/Atlantic)

If you didn’t catch the issue as soon as you looked at the map, don’t feel bad. Apparently neither did the author nor The Atlantic. If you look closely, you will see that the map’s legend is labeled incorrectly as the percentage of Muslim population. How can any group have over 100% of the population in a country? Must be that new math they keep talking about. What the map actually shows is the total population of Muslims in each country. By using this map in this way, the author is (consciously or simply in error) showing the center of Muslim World much farther eastward towards South Asia, when it is generally accepted that the ‘Muslim World’ is defined roughly as North Africa and the Middle East – where the faith has the greatest influence and control. A better map to use in this instance is a map of showing the % of Muslim population. While we don’t think that this was a malicious or intentional deceit, it is certainly one that we would put in the category of a Map FAIL. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Fisher corrects the error and if the use of a correct map will change any of his conclusions.

25
Jul
12

More flooding devastates China.

For the second time in 2 years China is reeling from massive flooding that has left death and destruction in its wake.

NBC News: Flooding in central Beijing

Last weekend Beijing, China‘s capital, experienced its biggest rainstorm in 60 years. Rain flooded streets and underpasses, caused buildings to collapse and led to 37 confirmed fatalities.

Many residents were critical of the preparations and handling by the Chinese authorities, who announced in 2010 the development of a flood risk map to identify those regions most at risk. The city has been modernized so quickly – with much of the most recent focus around the 2008 Olympic Games – critics are suggesting that essential infrastructure improvements including drainage have not kept pace.

In defense, Ministry of Transport Engineers argue that no city could cope with what equates to six months’ average rainfall in a single day.

Most embarrassing for the Chinese authorities was the closure of Beijings airport – stranding tens of thousands and preventing hundreds of flights from coming in or out. China relies heavily on international business visitors as it continues its global expansion of trade.

One silver lining from the catastrophic events in Beijing was the performance of the Three Gorges Dam, which this week began using the final 32 of its hydroelectric generators making it the world’s biggest power plant of this type. The dam appears to have come through the flood peak unscathed and protected areas in the lower Yangtze river from further damage. The plant can now provide the equivalent output of 15 nuclear reactors to the increasingly energy-hungry nation. What isn’t known is whether massive amounts of trash, which clogged the dam after last year’s rains will return to cause further problems.

NBC News: 3 Gorges Dam

22
Jun
12

Calling All Patrons of Past Pineapple Produce Plantations

Next time you have some extra cash lying around, why not use it to buy a tropical island?  98% of Lanai, the sixth largest island in the Hawaiian chain, was just sold to the sixth richest man on Earth.

Lanai, HI

How does this affect you?  Well, if you happened to be aiming for Hawaiian island ownership sometime in the next few years, let’s just say that it will take more than a few pineapples to barter a deal.  Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison, reportedly forked over roughly half a million big ones to long-time owner and head of Dole Food Company, David Murdock.

Lanai is home to a couple of five-star Four Seasons resorts, amongst other residential and commercial infrastructure, but hold on – it gets more interesting.

Lanai’s Decimated Pineapple Fields

Here’s a breakdown of the island’s geography:

* The land area totals ~141 square miles
* Roughly 3,000 people call Lanai “home”
* At one point in time, 75% of the world’s pineapples were grown on the island
* There is one school: Lanai High and Elementary School
* There are two golf courses; both were designed by professional golfers
* There are NO traffic lights
* 400 of its ~430 miles of roads are unpaved
* Many of the island’s most spectacular spots can only be seen by four-wheel drive

Struggling with tourism, it is speculated that Ellison may provide economic stimulation to draw in more people to Lanai.  Or, maybe he’ll just keep it for himself.  That’s what being a billionaire is all about, right?

Garden of the Gods, Lanai, HI

05
Jun
12

no one’s snoring in dull or boring

Location related news flash:

The tension is building in the closely related, soon (hopefully) to be sister towns of Dull, Scotland, and Boring, Oregon, according to reports from the BBC and MSNBC, as well as numerous other media organizations on what must be a slow news day.

This is a picture of the Boring/Oregon City si...

The scheme, to make them ‘sister towns’ is the brainchild of Perthshire resident Elizabeth Leighton, who traveled through Boring on a cycling vacation and on seeing the name immediately called her friend, a Dull resident. Dull is a small village in Perthshire, not too far from Edinburgh, Scotland, while in mediocre contrast Boring is home, just outside Portland, to 12000 residents in what, unsurprisingly, is an unincorporated area. If that comparison wasn’t startlingly black and white enough for you, Dull’s main commercial activity is tourism, while Boring is considerably more industrial.

Although it is widely reported that Boring was named after settler William H Boring, and Dull from the Gaelic word for ‘meadow’, we are behind the alternative explanation that boring is so called due to a distinct lack of excitement there since the arrival of a straightlaced settler called Bill. Meanwhile Dull earned its name after more than 1000 years of overcast weather predating the Domesday book  (both entirely fictional of course).

A decision out of Oregon is expected to be delivered without pomp or ceremony by Wednesday morning, GMT. It is believed to have been tabled as part of the agenda of the Boring Community Planning Organisation, who’s constitution prohibits ‘extraordinary general meetings,’ we imagine.

 

STOP PRESS: (Well 24 hours later) Officials in Boring DID in fact vote yes to the relationship. Celebrations ensue in Dull and Boring locations. 

 

Dull, Perthshire, Scotland in a rare moment of excitement: Google Maps.

Boring, OR: Enthusiasm couldn’t be higher. Google Maps.

18
May
12

another member of the axis of google-bashers speaks up

With China actively seeking to eliminate Google from its virtual shores, even going to the effort of creating its own version, Iran has turned up the heat on the internet mapping giant this week over its failure to label the Persian Gulf, according to a report from CNN.

National Geographic Bible Lands 1938

1938: National Geographic – The Bible Lands

The Iranians believe that Google is making a political statement by failing to use the Persian Gulf label, which has in recent years been re-titled ‘The Arabian Gulf’ by some believing it is more ‘politically correct’.

The Persian Gulf is coveted by Iranians as a statement of power and ownership over the gulf, and refers back to the nation’s history in the Persian Empire. Proponents of the Arabian Gulf name suggest that as 70% of the Gulf coast is NOT in Iran, that the Arabian Gulf is more appropriate, and that the use of Persia is an anachronism even in Iran, where the population is a mix of Persians, Arabs, Kurds and numerous other ethnic groups.

Iran has raised similar complaints against various institutions for decades. A simple Google search finds correspondence with the Dutch Airline KLM during the mid 1990’s after they referred to the Arabian Gulf in their in-flight magazine. More recently thousands of people protested through Facebook ’causes’ when the US Navy used Arabian Gulf, the Economist magazine was banned when it referred to the waterway as ‘The Gulf’ and reportedly the infamous Louvre gallery in Paris, France found itself in hot water when its guidebooks did the same.

A look at maps going back to the turn of the century in Maps.com’s National Geographic Classic Collection reveals, interestingly that published print maps have always typically used the Persian Gulf label. One edition from 1991 shows both Arabian Gulf and Persian Gulf labels, but was designed to highlight the various disputes and issues of the region at that time.

Referring to the International Hydrographic Organization, sometimes used by Cartographers as the ‘final word’ on water naming conventions (“The Vision of the IHO is to be the authoritative worldwide hydrographic body which actively engages all coastal and interested States to advance maritime safety and efficiency and which supports the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment” ) last updated its materials in 1953 and clearly refers to the water as The Persian Gulf. But for those who use the Times Atlas of the World there is a distinct lack of controversy as they opt to name it ‘The Gulf’ (what next, “The Ocean” and “The Land Mass”??)

National Geographic Middle East In Turmoil 1991

1991: National Geographic – Middle East States in Turmoil

Google is of course an easy, and high profile target when it comes to this type of dispute. For one, any assault on Google, the world’s third biggest superpower behind Apple and Microsoft, is bound to make headlines or at least come out near the top in a Bing search. And for two, any irate consumer who wants to bash the search engine giant can take their pick of lost cities and mislabeled waterways to rant about.

National Geographic Middle East

Today: National Geographic – The Middle East

What they can be accused of is sidestepping the issue a little. If you type ‘Persian Gulf’ into Google Maps, it will take you to the center of the unlabeled body of water with a nice red pin to mark the spot. If you type in Arabian Gulf, it suggests “Arabian Gulf, Kuwait” which when clicked takes you to the same body of water, very close to the coastline of Kuwait. Type in other waterways of lesser profile – Caspian Sea, English Channel, Baltic Sea, Strait of Gibraltar and every one of them is labeled. So maybe Google lost its nerve on this one. (Google maps in fact fails to label the East Sea, AKA The Sea of Japan, depending on whether you are from Korea or Japan – so it has previous form here).  An anonymous Google representative argued that they simply ‘dont have labels’ for every body of water. It can be really frustrating when you run out of labels. Perhaps they could have borrowed the one from “Ditch #1, Osceola AR.”

From our point of view at Maps.com, newly published maps follow the convention set by leading cartographic publishers and organizations like the IHO – and will continue to be ‘The Persian Gulf’ until further notice.

Maps.com World Map

Today: Maps.com – New Century World Map




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