The Economist has an interesting article about the geography of recession. As they call it in the article, the ‘R’ word is being bandied about more and more in the US, but we tend to examine it as a country wide phenomena. The article points out that these things happen in a much more localized fashion than one expects.
Anyone who’s been an avid pizza eater in the US knows there is a great deal of variation across the country on pizza. Most people know the difference between Chicago Deep Dish and New York style, but could you pick a New Haven style pie out of a lineup? Neither can I. Luckily for us pizza aficionados, the good people over at Slice Serious Eats have seen fit to detail all the regional styles for us! There’s even a pretty cool set of pizza maps for those who might live in the areas they’ve visited.
I am, as usual, a bit behind on the blogs and podcasts. But as I am catching up (aka procrastinating writing) I wanted to highlight a couple of podcasts that have come out recently.
With the 2008 Presidential season in full swing, I thought I’d take a moment to post a couple of links to how all of this works. I know it can be rather confusing for people in the US as to the delegate system for picking the two parties candidates, so it has to be downright baffling for those who didn’t grow up in it. Here’s the link to the Democratic National Convention website. The real gem is buried a little further down – how the delegate system works. At the bottom is a map detailing how many delegates each state receives and how those delegates are allocated. It’s a pretty good discussion on their system. Unfortunately, while the Republican party has a good website detailing the convention itself, I couldn’t find a similar map/detail about the Delegate selection process. There is a link for Delegates on the main page, but it only show “coming soon”. Hopefully they’ll update that section with a map in the near future much like the DNC has already.
It’s a new year with the requisite resolutions! Being that “eating healthy” is a common resolution (and a personal one for both Barb and I), I thought this link listing a few tools for eating locally might be of interest to our readers. Often eating healthy means eating fresh, unprocessed foods. Knowing your local growers and where they sell their products might help you learn more about your food supply.
Japan has set a target to increase it’s number of solar powered houses to 14 million by 2030. It’s a fairly lofty goal. The exceptionally noteworthy part of this is that Japan is focusing on reducing the costs of panels, increasing the power output, and increasing the ease of installation. Since Japan produces roughly half the solar panels in the world, hopefully some of these improvements will find their way to other shores. I know I looked at solar panels for my house a couple of years ago when I was building. It just wasn’t cost effective for our area at the time. Hopefully with the rising price of electricity, these potential improvements will be a big boon!
Engadget is reporting a news item that the UK is planning on powering all the home in Britain via off shore wind power by 2020. That’s a pretty ambitious project. The interesting portion of this is the off shore wind farms, which have been in use in Europe for upwards of a couple decades. The US has been rather slow to adopt off shore wind farms for a variety of reasons. Hopefully plans like these – even if ultimately unsuccessful – will spur the US to explore the technology further.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this project, as I’m a HUGE proponent of offshore wind energy.
In other Google news, they have decided to invest some of their billions into renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. The plan is to make renewable sources cheaper than coal sources. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s good to see even companies not in the energy sector realize the importance of growing our renewable energy pool.
Forbes has a run down of the most obese cities in the US. Suffice to say I have a few issues with their methodology, but it is interesting to see fully half of them (and arguably a couple more, depending on how you define the region) are in what I would call the South. As Jesse and I can attest, southern cooking isn’t what one would call the healthiest in the world – although I’d rank it up there for yummiest! I thought it was interesting how they showed a link between poverty and obesity. I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s expensive to eat healthy.
We are back with day four of the Geography Standards which brings us to the humans. Element 4: Human Systems contains 5 standards on its own, which makes sense since the standards are focused on K-12 education, which includes Geography in Social Studies. This generally covers history, political and economic geography, and other humanities content. Here are the 5 standards of Element 4.
9) The Characteristics, Distribution, and Migration of Human Population on Earth’s Surface
10) The Characteristics, Distribution, and Complexity of Earth’s Cultural Mosaics
11) The Patterns and Networks of Economic Interdependence on Earth’s Surface
12) The Processes, Patterns, and Functions of Human Settlement
13) How the Forces of Cooperation and Conflict Among People Influence the Division and Control of Earth’s Surface
Quite a bit to go through in just one column so I am just going to touch on them briefly (and hopefully finish by the time we land in Chicago). Standard 9 is fairly broad and actually encompasses aspects of each of the other 4 standards in this element, especially with its focus on characteristics, distribution and migration of human populations. These processes play crucial roles in determining the cultural, social, economic and political make up of our world, where as Standard 10 begins to narrow it down a bit with a focus on cultures. How cultures are formed, the impact they have on how we live and interact, and the relationships between cultures are often thought of as the focus of Anthropology, but the spatial patterns and impacts of cultures are more important aspects of understanding our human species and are squarely within the realm of Geography.
One of my standard answers for â€œwhat is Geographyâ€ is to talk about it as a series of connections that go beyond location to show larger relationships that include spatial patterns of human and physical systems. Standard 11 focuses on those relationships as networks of economic interdependence. While this network has always been important, the trend towards globalization has brought it to the fore as we no longer have the weeks or months that it used to take to exchange goods over long distances. Instead we live in a world where information is exchanged in seconds and materials can make it around the world in a day or possibly even less.
Standards 12 and 13 are often interrelated. Standard 12â€™s focus on human settlement considers how and why people put down roots in places. Standard 13 looks at the interactions between groups that determine how the world is divided, primarily politically, but also culturally and economically. Where people settle often defines the boundaries and interactions between groups. While often these interactions lead to cooperation and positive benefits, in some cases, disputes arise due to conflicts in various beliefs.
This was definitely a dash through these 5 standards, but they truly do lay the basis for a lot of what is taught in middle schools and high schools in Social Studies classes in the US.