"For Regional Geography, I ask that all my students take an online quizzes before coming to class because it is very difficult to intelligently discuss European issues if you don’t know the countries of Europe, where they are and what other countries are on their borders. Quizzes and knowing places doesn’t define geography, but if geography were English literature, knowing about places could be described as the alphabet–before you write a sonnet or critique an essay, you better know your ABC’s and basic grammar. Given that, I like the Lizard Point Geography quizzes, Sheppard Software quizzes and those from Click that ‘Hood; they are simple, straightforward and comprehensive."
Drop bears are less likely to attack people with Australian accents, according to experts at the University of Tasmania.
Cam E's insight:
Beware the dangerous Drop Bear! This marsupial can be up to 260 pounds, and are extremely fake! There's been a popular joke around the internet and Australia about this fake animal, and while it's funny, it's also an interesting experiment in other culture's conceptions of Australia. The popular imagination is Australia is filled with animals waiting to kill you, and while that may be... more true than other places. It's not nearly as bad as one would think. I think the idea that Drop Bears only target tourists is a parody of that fear.
Fearing that climate change could wipe out their Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the population to Fiji.
How urgent is the issue of climate change? That question is not only geographic in content, but the response might also be somewhat contingent on geography as well. If your country literally has no higher ground to retreat to, the thought of even minimal sea level change would be totally devastating.
This is more than immigration, this plan is moving an entire country within another! Climate change doesn't effect the world equally in the same way that different countries are nowhere near equal. In a place as small as Kiribati, the entire place could be wiped out. The population of the nation is around 100,000 for reference.
UK comes 10th in OECD index, behind US and Scandinavian countries but ahead of France and Germany (RT @guardian: Australia is rated best place to live and work for third year running http://t.co/303ziQyhmm...
I wonder if these ratings take "horrible spiders hiding in your car and shoes waiting to strike" into account, but in all honesty this is not much of a problem in the cities of Australia. Tourists and foreign businesses in the area do have to worry about the occasional Drop Bear (make sure to look this one up), but in all seriousness Australia has an interesting take on things, compulsory voting ensures that citizen participation in the government is always high, and health scores far outstrip many other industrialized regions.
DE: The fact that Australians fight in the War in Afghanistan only reinforces just how small the globe is and how the West has literally become more and more its own entity. Australia, since its colonial days, has contributed soldiers to both world wars, Vietnam and many other conflicts, including Afghanistan. Their citizens too lay their lives down in the name of democracy and freedom. While it is an American war, soldiers from throughout the free world (America, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, etc.) unite under common beliefs and leadership to attempt to spread their democratic ideals.
The article brings up some important facts about the conglomerate known as "The West," and while Australia is geographically displaced in relation to the other countries, it plays just as much as a part due to its history and the cultural heritage of its people.
Asia Times Online. The Asia News Hub providing the latest news and analysis regarding economics, events and trends in business, economy and politics throughout Asia.
Cam E's insight:
With this, Indonesia has formally entered the South China Sea dispute. The question I have is why now of all times? They've stayed out of it for over two decades. Could it be due to China's increased aggression? If they're intent on taking the area, then their opponents will also logically get louder. Maybe in this case Indonesia always had a stake in the matter, but didn't feel the need to speak up until tensions had risen to the point they are at now.
Southeast Asia is right in China's backyard, and is very important to China as a trading partner. Not only this, but China is on its way to becoming a superpower, and expanding their influence in every direction is one way to cement this fact, usually at the expense of others.
Indonesia has the largest share of the world's mangroves — coastal forests that have adapted to saltwater environments. They play important environmental and ecological roles.
Mangroves play a key role of acting as an ecological buffer in coastal region that provide the area with resilience against tsunamis, hurricanes and other forms of coastal flooding. Their role in carbon sequestration is also vital as energy emissions globally continue to rise. So let's jump scales: how are global issues locally important? How is the local deeply global? How can stakeholders at either scale find common ground with the other?
Mangroves are a natural barrier to hurricanes, tsunamis, and the flooding that come with it in a very important way. It's often suggested that there is a battle between opposing sides of the environment and business, but in a situation like this, and in many others, the natural environment exists for a reason and protects the land against severe damage. In this way there's an economic incentive to protect natural environments as well as an ecological one.
Another image gallery! This one showcases the Thailand flooding. I found the first picture immediately interesting in that the highway signs are identical to our ones over here, save the difference of language. There's also just as much play as their is damage here. Many pictures show children and even older people taking the time to play around in the sudden water that floods into their city. In countries where flooding is a matter of "when" rather than "if," the citizens are often more prepared and take a less frantic approach as they know what to do. That being said, it is more rare of flooding to hit Bangkok than many other places in Thailand, so this did cause some serious disaster.
Yet another collection of pictures I'm scooping, but this time there's over 100 of them! Getting a western view into the insulated society of Burma is a rare opportunity, this shows some interesting pastimes such as Water buffalo surfing, but also things of major cultural significance, such as the importance of Buddhism.
China called on the United States on Tuesday to restrain ally Japan and chided another U.S. ally, the Philippines, at the end of talks between American and Chinese defense chiefs ...
Cam E's insight:
I wanted to scoop this article for the implications of the headline rather than the dispute that it covers, as it shows an interesting dynamic between East Asian countries and the United States. China is calling for the US to "Restrain" Japan as if Japan were solely a proxy of the US. This has historical context as the US was integral in rebuilding Japan after World War 2, and to this day Japan is not allowed to have a traditional "military", but still find a way to have one through the Japanese Self Defense Force... which is 10th on many lists for most powerful armies in the world. The wording of the article also suggests that China doesn't see Japan as too much of a threat, it suggests that Japan is only a minor nuisance and it's more effective to just go to the "higher power" of sorts than to deal with them. This is of course a little presumptuous as Japan is independent, and quite powerful on their own. Finally this article demonstrates the dynamic of the US and the rest of the world. The US doesn't necessary have to even take action, but just by supporting or condemning something, the actions of other countries will change.
Through his Vanishing Cultures Project photographer Taylor Weidman documents threatened ways of life. About his work in Mongolia, he states: "Mongolian pastoral herders make up one of the world's largest remaining nomadic cultures. For millennia they have lived on the steppes, grazing their livestock on the lush grasslands. But today, their traditional way of life is at risk on multiple fronts. Alongside a rapidly changing economic landscape, climate change and desertification are also threatening nomadic life, killing both herds and grazing land."
Time for more pictures, my favorite part of scooping. Mongolia is almost entirely forgotten in US education, to the point where many of the people I know aren't even sure if there's a government at all. My favorite part of these pictures comes from the fusion of technology and tradition though. We see traditional housing and boys carrying water to their homes, and then a flat screen television in the makeshift house. Motorcycles are used to herd animals, and solar polar is used to power cell phones for the nomads. What I think is important here among other things is the idea that humanity has potentially reached a point where we cannot go backwards tech-wise. The dark ages in Europe saw knowledge being lost, and there are claims that humanity will wipe out its own tech in a great war, but now that we have the knowledge and ability to use solar panels and automobiles, I don't believe we'll ever lose them as a species.
Kate looks flawless, holds cute baby, manages to not fall
Cam E's insight:
Focusing less on Kate Middleton herself, but more of what's going on here. It seems very normal to us, but If an alien came down to Earth and was only provided basic geopolitical understanding, they might wonder why a royal family from across the world is visiting this country out in the ocean? New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses settled by humans, with only a 300-400 year gap between the first settlers, and the appearance of the Dutch. It later became a dominion of the British Empire, which is why it's now very European.
In the 1960s when the island of Surtsey (literally) erupted onto the scene off the coast of Iceland, it's national sovereignty was not really called into question. The seamount, or near island named Ferdinandea in the Mediterranean is not even an island yet and countries are already positioning themselves to claim it. Only 6 feet below sea level, this seamount is incredibly valuable real estate because is a country can successfully came this territory, they could also lay claim to an Exclusive Economic Zone, extending up to 200 nautical miles beyond the coast.
This isn't an article from Oceania necessarily, but one that pertains to it. In an area made up of small island nations, the literal overnight emergence of new ones can change the politics of the surrounding countries, and even the number of seats at the United Nations in the far future.
The insect is so large — as big as a human hand — it's been dubbed a "tree lobster." It was thought to be extinct, but some enterprising entomologists scoured a barren hunk of rock in the middle of the ocean and found surviving Lord Howe Island...
Island Biogeography is endlessly fascinating and provides some of the most striking species we have on Earth. The physical habitat is fragmented and the genetic diversity is limited. Within this context, species evolve to fill ecological niches within their particular locale. This NPR article demonstrates the story of but one of these incredible species that never could have evolved on the continents. In modern society, more extinctions are happening on islands than anywhere else as 'specialist' species are in greater competition with 'generalists.'
I wouldn't want to come across that in my bed at night! The Europeans called this thing the "Tree Lobster" in the past, and it seems to hold up. Is it possible that these critters exist only on this island? What movement in the past caused them to be isolated like this?
Thank God It's... Saturday? December 30th was cancelled in Samoa due to the country being right on the border of the international date line. It's important for them to stay in step with New Zealand and Australia where many of their business connections lie. It's important to remember that calenders are a man made invention too, as odd as this whole situation sounds.
The Supreme Court in the Philippines approves a birth control law, despite a fierce fight by the influential Catholic Church.
Cam E's insight:
Many people wouldn't think it, but the Philippines is the third largest Catholic country in the world after Brazil and Mexico. As expected this is a product of colonization, this time being from the Spanish during the 16th century. Over 80 percent of the country identifies as Catholic, that's about 75.5 million people. An important thing to keep in mind in catholic countries is the presence of the influence from an extra-national body, this being the Catholic Church. In this way the views of the Pope wield great influence.
"Think of coffee and you will probably think of Brazil, Colombia, or maybe Ethiopia. But the world's second largest exporter today is Vietnam. How did its market share jump from 0.1% to 20% in just 30 years, and how has this rapid change affected the country?"
The story of how this happened is linked to colonization, as most articles like this are. Vietnam was a climate primed to make coffee, but what effect does the introduction of this foreign crop have on the local wildlife and fauna? When the carefully developed placement of plants and animals is disturbed by human interference, there will always be consequences in some way.
Another day, another photo gallery. This time we have a stunning array of pictures from Southeast Asia, mainly from Vietnam and Cambodia. Many of these pictures showcase the importance of the sea to life in those regions, as well as the history, which is deeply involved with Buddhism, that is often glossed over in western history books.
Many companies have moved their customer service lines to Manila to take advantage of workers who speak lightly accented English and are familiar with American culture.
The geography of globalization is epitomized by relentless change and marked by continual turnover. Cultural and economic factors play significant roles in creating potential advantages for receiving outsourced jobs (whether that is beneficially long-term is another discussion).
The fact that so many Filipinos speak English is an important one to understand. This brings jobs to the Philippines, but at the expense of local culture. High income and social standing in the Philippines is often correlated with English, as many of the high-ranking citizens attend universities in the United States and return with degrees, and in turn teach their children English. This marginalizes their own language in a way, and is something to keep aware of, as it's one thing that the United States does not face in many areas, that most other countries around the world do.
The ancient city of Angkor — the most famous monument of which is the breathtaking ruined temple of Angkor Wat — might have collapsed due to valiant but ultimately failed efforts to battle drought, scientists find.
Why do societies collapse? Often they are overextended, consume too many resources for their hinterland network to supply or they aren't able to adapt to changes to the system. Angkor Wat, the largest urban complex of the pre-industrial world, collapsed primarily due to drought conditions and a changing ecology. Without sufficient water resources, the network collapsed. What other environment 'collapses' can you think of?
It's easy to forget that for most of history, even the greatest of empires were subject to the whims of the climate. The ability to survive in places where humans really shouldn't thrive is only a recent development thanks to technology, but a drought is something the mightiest army can't fight, and all the wealth in the world will not stop, without the right technology.
NHK WORLD is the international broadcasting service of NHK.
Cam E's insight:
This is an interesting historical find that's important to the culture of Japan. This document was the blueprint for the education policies and morals implemented in schools which can help account for Japan's militaristic tendencies during the Second World War. It's important for even history which is not so wonderful to be put on display, as it's just as much a part of the past. An interesting side note also is the idea that history is portrayed differently in different countries. Japan was an ally of Nazi Germany during the second World War, and as such, one will find that the Nazis aren't as vehemently opposed as they are in the US and Europe. One thing I've found from consuming media from both countries is that the US more often than not portrays "evil" Nazis, while Japan flips this around and portrays German soldiers neutrally or "more human" more often than not.
At a new restaurant, expats find a taste of home and locals try foreign treats like fortune cookies.
Imagine living in China and missing Chinese food. It happens. American expatriates who grew up with popular takeout dishes like General Tso's chicken can't find it in China because it essentially doesn't exist here. Much of the Chinese food we grew up with isn't really Chinese. It's an American version of Chinese food. Chinese immigrants created it over time, adapting recipes with U.S. ingredients to appeal to American palates. Now, Americans living in Shanghai can get a fix of their beloved Chinatown cuisine at a new restaurant.
Now this is interesting. Migrants from a home country shift their culture to appeal a bit more to the country they integrate into, and then the home country adopts these changes to cater to tourists from the integrated country. I can't tell if this counts as reclaiming a facet of culture that was changed, solely a smart business move, or both.
The thing that always stumps me about pictures after bombings and other disasters is the reason why some things are left standing. Here we see buildings destroyed and utterly annihilated as far as the eye can see, yet the telephone poles are still standing in some areas. The picture can't capture the true scope of the destruction, but it also shows how destruction is a bit random in its own way.
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