Scottish Independence

“Scotland is about to vote on whether to secede from the UK. There are solid arguments on both sides.”

Source: www.youtube.com

Admittedly, this video is filled with stereotypes, bad words and a strong political bias all delivered in John Oliver’s trademark style–it’s also filled with incorrect statements which I hope most people can recognize as humor, but it captures college students’ attention.  If, however, you are looking for a more insightful piece, I recommend Jeffrey Sach’s article titled “The Price of Scottish Independence.”  Independence in Europe today doesn’t mean what it used to, and this vote will be fascinating regardless of the outcome.    

  

Tags: devolution, supranationalism, politicalEurope, UK..

Oldest and Youngest Populations

“There are 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world today — and that means that many countries have populations younger than ever before.  Some believe that this ‘youth bulge’ helps fuel social unrest — particularly when combined with high levels of youth unemployment.  Youth unemployment is a ‘global time bomb,’ as long as today’s millennials remain ‘hampered by weak economies, discrimination, and inequality of opportunity.’  The world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa.  Of the continent’s 200 million young people, about 75 million are unemployed.

On the flip side, an aging population presents a different set of problems: Japan and Germany are tied for the world’s oldest countries, with median ages of 46.1. Germany’s declining birth rate might mean that its population will decrease by 19 percent, shrinking to 66 million by 2060. An aging population has a huge economic impact: in Germany, it has meant a labor shortage, leaving jobs unfilled.”

Source: www.globalpost.com

The median age of a population call be a quite telling statistic–almost a surrogate for a population pyramid.  I post this with a special attention to Sub-Saharan Africa; the youngest 15 countries in the world are all in Africa, one of the major demographic realities confronting African economies and politics.  Here is a map with the median age of U.S. counties.

Tag: population, demographic transition modelpopulation pyramids.

Digital mapping uncovers ‘super henge’ that dwarfed Stonehenge

“Every summer solstice, tens of thousands of people throng to Stonehenge, creating a festival-like atmosphere at the 4,400-year-old stone monument. For the 2015 solstice, they will have a bit more room to spread out. A just-completed four-year project to map the vicinity of Stonehenge reveals a sprawling complex that includes 17 newly discovered monuments and signs of a 1.5-kilometre-around ‘super henge’.

The digital map — made from high-resolution radar and magnetic and laser scans that accumulated several terabytes of data — shatters the picture of Stonehenge as a desolate and exclusive site that was visited by few, says Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, who co-led the effort.”


Tags: Mapping, geospatial, remote sensing, landscape.

Source: blogs.nature.com

Squatters on the Skyline

Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people. …

Source: www.youtube.com

This video is one of my favorites in my placed-based geography videos collection.  This skyscraper was once a symbol of wealth, and in an incredible paradigm shift, it has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents–especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. This NY Times article from 2011 still shows some great concepts on why informal housing develops and this PRI podcast gives us a 2014 update–that the Venezuelan government plans to clear the Tower of its residents.  

Tags: Venezuela, South America, squatter, urban, planning, density, urbanism, unit 7 cities. 

GE Teach

“Overview video for GE Teach http://geteach.com/maps.”

Source: www.youtube.com

GE Teach is a powerful mapping platform that harnesses the power of Google Earth into a user-friendly format.  I’ve you’ve ever wanted multiple maps on the screen to compare and contrast, this is great tool.  Designed by an APHG teacher, this is a great way to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom.  With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this becomes an interactive globe.  Click here for the video tutorial.  


Tags: googlemapping, virtual tours, geospatialAPHG, edtech.

For Yazidis, Exile From Spiritual Homeland in Iraq Dilutes Ancient Culture

Some are contemplating migration, severing ties to their holy land. Others want to stay and protect their shrines.

Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

When we discuss the geography of religion, frequently we are discussing the distribution of particular religions.  However, some religions are deeply embedded in particular places and their spiritual rites, customs and traditions are intrinsically linked with sacred spaces and particular geographies.  The Yazidi are are religious group that is deeply connected to the mountains of northern Iraq–areas that are now being evacuated because of ISIS.  Some are contemplating migrating to safety, but severing their ties to their holy land. Others want to stay and protect their sacred spaces.

Tagsplace, culture religion, Middle East.

Scottish Independence: New flag for UK?

Members of the Flag Institute have created designs for what the Union Flag could look like in the event of independence

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

I’ve already posted various links this week on Scottish independence and what it might mean, but I think these two are also worth considering.  Flags are the great icons of state identity, and a UK without Scotland might reconsider it iconography.  This links to an article from the Telegraph and a photogallery with 12 ‘candidate flags’ for a UK that does not include Scotland.  Why might some resist the idea of creating a new national symbol?

Tags: devolutionhistorical, political, states, sovereignty, autonomy, Europe, unit 4 political, UK.

Why Democrats Can’t Win the House

Thanks to demographics, the Republicans have a virtual stranglehold on the House of Representatives.

Source: www.nytimes.com

While the first reaction might be to blame partisan redistricting (a.k.a. gerrymandering) for the the political gridlock between the presidential results and House of Representatives.  Gerrymandering does play a role, but the spatial concentrations and distributions of voting constituencies explain why the Democrats have recently won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, but can’t control the House of Representatives.  Metro areas are highly left-leaning, currently creating a national majority for Democrats, but that high concentration is a drawback when trying to win a majority of the seats in the House.  This is a good article as a primer for electoral geography.  

Tags: political, regions, spatial, unit 4 political.

Burning Man and Ephemeral Geographies

“An aerial perspective on Burning Man 2013, in Black Rock Playa, NV”

Source: www.youtube.com

This annual arts festival with a strong counter-cultural ethos literally is an experiment in producing alternative urban and cultural geographies that reject normative regulations embedded within societies. These geographies created last only about a week, as an escape from the regular strictures of society. Burning Man celebrates alternative spiritualities and creates monuments to impermanence while allowing people to wear zany costumes. Many feel that in leaving behind ‘the real world’ they find their true home at Burning Man. The ephemeral alternative geographies then fade back into the desert but not without creating a visually remarkable place. Some feel that the festival has become too popular and famous to be what it truly was intended to be as the rich and famous descend on the playa as well.

Questions to Ponder: Part of Burning Man’s success is due to its impermanence; if this community were created to exist year-round, would it still work? Why or why not? Why do festivals like this attract so many? What does it culturally say about the participants and the societies that they leave behind?

Tags: communityplace, architectureimages, art, landscape.

69fb0fcc-c1df-47c6-b61a-9295f1cb8c08

Scotland’s Decision

From Catalonia to Kurdistan, nationalist and separatist movements in Europe and beyond are watching the Scottish independence referendum closely.

Source: www.nytimes.com

This issue reverberates on many different scales.  As the video embedded in this article demonstrates,  Scotland’s choice on September 18th would obviously impact the local region as some seek to use Scottish history as a rationale to reshape the current political and cultural identity of the region.  Some of the votes are already in and Scottish independence would not only have the potential to reshape the UK and EU, but it could also add some fervor to the various other separatist movements around the world, such as Catalonia.  

Tags: devolutionhistorical, supranationalism, political, states, sovereignty, autonomy, Europe, unit 4 political.