Corn is not what you think. For starters: Most of the time, it's not human food.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Corn is not what you think. For starters: Most of the time, it's not human food.
Land use practices that determine what is grown in a particular place are partly determined by the health needs of a local population, but they are more directly shaped by economic markets. Over 75% of the corn produced in the United States is destined for animal feed or fuel; since global population projections are now supposed to be 11 billion by 2100, these are some important issues for us to consider before we are forced to reassess our societal choices.
The division between Islam's Shiite minority and the Sunni majority is deepening across the Middle East. The split occurred soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nearly 1,400 years ago.
The ghosts of religious wars past are rattling in Iraq; The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This NPR podcast examines the historical and religious aspects of this split to then analyze the political and cultural implications in the Middle East today. Additionally this Pew Research article highlights the 5 countries where the the majority of Muslims are Shiite, with some good demographic data to add to the analysis.
In China's Second Continent, Howard French explores the Chinese presence in 15 African countries. The relationship goes beyond economics: more than a million Chinese citizens have migrated to Africa.
He says there's a debate about the long-term consequences of China's push into the African continent: Will it create development and prosperity, or will it lead to exploitation reminiscent of 19th-century European colonialism?
This is an excellent podcast with many geographic strands running through it.
The high-tech project would help officials decide which abandoned buildings can be demolished.
This crowd-sourced mapping project is an great example of how a community can work together (using geospatial technologies and geographic thinking) to mitigate some of the more pressing issues confronting the local neighborhoods. Many optimists have argued that Detroit has "good bones" to rebuild the city, but it needs to built on as smaller scale. This project helps to assess what is being used by residents and should stay, and what needs to go. Want to explore some of the data yourself? See Data Driven Detroit.
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.
The unsung hero of the global economy: the shipping container.
NPR's Planet Money has produced an 8-part series following the commodity chain of the T-Shirt. This series explores cotton production, textile mills, sweatshops, outsourcing and in this podcast, the transportation infrastructure that moves goods globally. This podcast touches on the same topic as one of my favorite TED talks, how containerization enabled globalization.
The railroad industry is eager to be the go-to oil shipper, but some worry it's moving too fast.
Many hoping to stop environmental degradation of Canada's Tar Sands and the Dakotas "Kuwait on the Prairie" have opposed the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It's been decades since crude oil has been shipped by rail in the United States but fracking technologies have opened up areas without oil pipelines to become major producers. As demonstrated in this NPR podcast, the railroad industry has seized on this vacuum and since 2009 has been supplying the oil industry the means to get their product to the market. Trains, however, are not the safest way to transport oil, even if they are efficient in the short run.
Where you live is important. It can dictate quality of schools and hospitals, as well as things like cancer rates, unemployment, or whether the city repairs roads in your neighborhood. On this week's show, stories about destiny by address.
This hour-long podcast addresses some has key issues in urban geography by exploring the history of redlining, the Fair Housing Act and other fair housing initiatives. The urban cultural mosaic of the United States and the neighborhoods of our cities have been greatly shaped by these issues. Currently gentrification is reshaping many U.S. cities and fits into the wider scope of the issues raised in the podcast.
"A year after Superstorm Sandy stranded many New Yorkers without power for days, a federal judge has ruled that New York City's emergency plans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those shortcomings, the judge found, leave almost 900,000 residents in danger, and many say the ruling could have implications for local governments across the country."
I have many more questions than answers after listening to this podcast. Presumably, most governmental agencies during emergencies are seeking to assist the greatest number of people with limited time and resources; would this court ruling change that mandate? How will this impact urban planning in the future? Just how much can plans in times of emergency account for assisting the disabled? Do you think the City of New York was negligent?
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.
“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”
Take a look at his map.
What do you like about these regional divisions? What do you think about this map is inaccurate? Here is an NPR podcast interview with the author of the book and map.
"What language is spoken in Croatia? Croatian is now the 24th official language of the European Union, but there are disagreements about whether it’s a distinct language or just a slightly different dialect of Serbian. Serbian nationalists believe that everyone shares the same language, “Serbian”. But many Croats persist in making their national language as distinct from Serbian as possible. Listeners will discover how politics is intruding on language, and how it is changing the map of linguistic patterns in unexpected ways."
With Halloween right around the corner, the Salem Witch trials loom large in the collective American psyche. While many emphasize the supernatural and the scandalous, this Maps 101 podcast (based on the article written by Julie Dixon and yours truly) gives the geographic and historic context to understand the tragedy of the 1692 witch trials.
"Charles Marville photographed Paris' transition from medieval hodgepodge to modern metropolis. Marville made more than 425 photographs of the narrow streets and crumbling buildings of premodern Paris, including this view from the top of Rue Champlain in 1877-1878."
This NPR podcast adds some great insight into Charles Marville's 19th century photography currently on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The urban transformations designed by Haussmann made Paris the global capital of modernity and the many cities around the world copied the principles of Haussmannization. A photographic glimpse into Paris before and during these changes that brought about social upheaval is a marvelous tool for an historical geographic analysis of urbanization.
"David Greene talks to writer Jeremy Miller about the American Centroid. That's the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the U.S. would balance perfectly if all 300 million of us weighed the exact same."
Every 10 years the centroid (the center of U.S. population) is calculated using the latest census data. As the map above shows, the centroid has continued moved west throughout history, but in the last 60 years has moved to the south and west. The recent shift to the south coincides with the mass availability of air conditioning (among other factors) which opened up the Sun Belt. In this article in Orion Magazine, Jeremy Miller discusses the historical shifts in the spatial patterns of the U.S. population and the history of the centroid. you can listen to podcast versions of this article as well, one by NPR and a much more detailed one by Orion Magazine.
Questions to Ponder: Would the centroids of other countries be as mobile or predictable? Why or why not? What does the centroid tell us?
A billion people worldwide live in slums, largely invisible to city services and governments — but not to satellites.
Most slums are systematically ignored by politicians and public utilities; squatter settlements are not built legally and they are treated as though they did not exist. Mapping these communities makes them visible, literally putting them on the map can be an important step to legitimize the needs and requests of these poor residents and grant them greater access to public, municipal resources.
"In April, the Associated Press decided the word 'illegal' should only be used to describe actions, not people. It's one of several major news outlets that have been reconsidering how to refer to people who are in this country illegally."
There is power in the words we choose, especially for those those that are in the media that influence the way we frame any topic. If a reporter in a news article, for example, were to describe a group as freedom fighters instead of insurgent rebels it impacts our perception of the news. See also this gallery of images on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Geographer Reece Jones discusses his recent book Border Walls, examining the history of how and why societies have chosen to literally wall themselves apart. He gives a brief history of political maps, how international lines reshape landscapes, and how the trend towards increased border wall construction contrasts with the view of a “borderless” world under globalization."
This 30-minute audio podcast is a great preview of Reece Jones' book Border Walls; and discusses many concepts important to political geography. The physical construction of barriers is an old practice (Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall), but those borders were the exceptions. The recent proliferatrion of walls to separate countries is dramatically reshaping our borders and impacting economics, politics, migration and other geographic patterns (How recent? Over half of the borders with walls and fences we see today have been constructed since 2000). Although walls are often justified as a means to prevent terrorism, most of the world's walls can best be explained as dividing wealthy and relatively poorer countries to prevent migration (download podcast episode here). You can also read his New York Times article on the same topic.
"China's one-child only policy and historic preference for boys has led to a surplus of marriageable Chinese men. Young women are holding out for better apartments, cars and the like from potential spouses...30 to 48 percent of the real estate appreciation in 35 major Chinese cities is directly linked to a man's need to acquire wealth — in the form of property — to attract a wife."
Thousands of workers have flooded into the town. But they're reluctant to call it home.
This oil boom is visible from space; it has created a real estate market where a one-bedroom apartment goes for $2100 a month (census map showing population increase -slide 4). Still, the overwhelmingly male population that works here is not willing to move their families with them and truly put down some roots. Some fear a potential "bust" on this economic prosperity and others don't see the amenities that encourage lasting settlement growth (schools, parks, cultural events, etc.). The city of Williston, North Dakota "feels like a frontier town" and will build a huge recreational center and other things to entice these temporary workers to become permanent residents. More than just jobs are needed to made a city attractive to potential migrants.
|Suggested by Luke Walker|
For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Textbooks|
Executives have recently focused attention on Silicon Valley's workplace culture. While companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo operate by their own set of rules, what happens there may influence how many Americans work.
How does the spatial layout of a workplace impact productivity and corporate culture? "Google has spent a lot of time studying what makes workplaces innovative and casual interactions are important. Sullivan lists three factors to make that set companies apart: learning by interaction, collaborations and fun." Spaces that encourage interaction and collaboration increase productivity. Spaces that are 'fun' help facilitate a vibrant community and deepens worker loyalty.
What would the perfect immigration system look like? We asked three economists to dream big.
This is an intriguing podcast focused on how to best manage national borders if the only goal were to strengthen the economy (they center the conversatri on the United States). These economists envision plans with more incentives to attract a labor force that is more highly-skilled is crucial to having a rational migration policy. How how you manage the borders if you were in charge? How would your plan strengthen the country?
With the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. and a mountain of debt, the island is facing a declining population. But those who stay insist they're there for the long haul.
|Suggested by Tara Cohen|
On the Map author Simon Garfield speaks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about the history of maps, how they can be used as political tools, and how GPS and modern mapping applications are changing the way we see ourselves and our place in the world.
This NPR podcast is a review of the book On the Map that explores how our minds perceive maps and how maps influence or perception of the world we live in. Here is the NY Times review of the same book.