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Middle America

At Seattle Mariners games, grasshoppers are a favorite snack

“Chapulines [grasshoppers] have become a snack favorite among baseball fans in Seattle. Follow their path from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Safeco Field. To many, the insect might be a novelty – a quirky highlight for an Instagram story from a day at the ballpark. To those in Mexico consuming them for centuries, they are a building block of nutrition.”

Source: www.espn.com

Eating insects is incredibly nutritious; raising them is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. And yet, the cultural taboos against entomophagy in the West are barriers to the cultural diffusion of the practice.  At some baseball games and high-end restaurants, grasshoppers are sold as a novelty item.  What I especially enjoy about this ESPN article is that it covers the cultural production of the chapulines in Mexico and follows the story to the consumption of the grasshoppers in the United States.  

 

Tags: sport, popular culturediffusion, culturecultural norms, foodMexico, economic, agriculture.

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Nicaragua on the Brink, Once Again

Jon Lee Anderson on protests in Nicaragua over proposed social-security reforms that are threatening the stability of the government of President Daniel Ortega.

Source: www.newyorker.com

The status quo of the Nicaraguan political system threats to be completely upended and this article is a good primer for getting a handle on the situation. 

 

Tags: Nicaragua, political.

Maya civilization was much vaster than known, thousands of newly discovered structures reveal

Scientists using high-tech, airplane-based lidar mapping tools have discovered tens of thousands of structures constructed by the Maya.

 

Archaeologists have spent more than a century traipsing through the Guatemalan jungle, Indiana Jones-style, searching through dense vegetation to learn what they could about the Maya civilization. Scientists using high-tech, airplane-based lidar mapping tools have discovered tens of thousands of structures constructed by the Maya: defense works, houses, buildings, industrial-size agricultural fields, even new pyramids.

The lidar system fires rapid laser pulses at surfaces and measures how long it takes that light to return to sophisticated measuring equipment. Doing that over and over again lets scientists create a topographical map of sorts. Months of computer modeling allowed the researchers to virtually strip away half a million acres of jungle that has grown over the ruins. What’s left is a surprisingly clear picture of how a 10th-century Maya would see the landscape.

Tags: lidar, spatial, remote sensing, geospatial, unit 1 GeoPrinciplesGuatemala, Middle America.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

Divided island: How Haiti and the DR became two worlds

Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a border, and an island. But the two countries are very different today: the Dominican Republic enjoys higher quality of life for many factors than Haiti. I went to this island and visited both countries, to try and understand when and how their paths diverged.

Source: www.youtube.com

This video is an exciting debut for the new series “Vox borders.”  By just about every development metric available, the Dominican Republic is doing better than Haiti, the only bordering country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the DR.   

 

Questions to Ponder: How does the border impact both countries?  How has sharing one island with different colonial legacies shaped migrational push and pull factors?

 

Tags: Haiti, Dominican Republic, video, poverty, development, economic, labor, migration, political, borders.

Mexico City 1968

“The 1968 Olympics took place in Mexico City, Mexico. It was the first Games ever hosted in a Latin American country. And for Mexico City, the event was an opportunity to show the world that they were a metropolis as worthy as London, Berlin, Rome or Tokyo to host this huge international affair. The 1968 Olympics were decreed ‘the Games of Peace.’ So Wyman designed a little outline of a dove, which shop owners all over the city had been given to stick in their windows. A protest movement, led by students, was growing in the city around [the organizers and designers]. These protestors believed the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) catered to wealthy Mexicans rather than the poor, rural and working class. Although the country had been experiencing huge economic growth, millions of people had still been left behind. The ‘Mexican Miracle’ hadn’t reached everyone.”

Source: 99percentinvisible.org

Few years are as powerful in the minds of Mexican identity as the year 1968.  Like so many 99 percent invisible podcasts, this blends urban design, social geography, local history in a way that deepens our understanding of place. The built environment can be molded to project an image, and can be used to subvert that same message by the opposition.    

 

Tagssport, Mexico, Middle America, urban, architecture, place, landscape.

 

Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

“A host of environmental factors are threatening to push a crowded capital toward a breaking point.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

Urban ecology, environmental justice, gendered inequities, primate city politics, the struggle of growing megacities…it’s all here in this fantastic piece of investigative reporting.  The article highlights the ecological problems that Mexico City faces (high-altitude exacerbates air pollution, interior drainage worsens water pollution, limited aquifers that are overworked lead to subsidence, importing water outside of the basin requires enormous amounts of energy, etc.).  just because the article doesn’t use the word ‘geography’ doesn’t mean that it isn’t incredibly geographic. All of these problems are at the heart of human-environmental nexus of 21st century urbanization. 

   

Tags: urban, megacities, water, environment, Mexico.

The Staggering Wealth Of Mexico City

Walk on the streets and you´ll be exposed to its informal economy: people who do what they can to eke out a living including washing windshields, selling food, or even singing, dancing, and performing acrobatics for a tip.

What Americans may not know is that Mexico City is home to the wealthiest people, the poshest neighborhoods, the most exclusive shops, entertainment venues, and cultural centers on the planet.

Source: xpatnation.com

Mexico City has been the economic center of Mexico for a long time and is a true primate city. “Wealth accumulation in Mexico City has historically been concentrated in the hands of a few. In colonial times, the elite was mostly composed of Spanish-born immigrants who held high-ranking offices or worked as business owners or export-oriented merchants. Later, the wealthy were those who owned large estates known as haciendas…It is estimated that around 40 percent of Mexico’s income is owned by just 10 percent of its population, while 52.3 percent of Mexican citizens live in poverty.”

 

Tags: urban, megacitieseconomic, labor, Mexico.

#RenunciaYa–Quit Already!

Morales will take office in the wake of Guatemala’s worst political crisis in decades, resulting in the resignations of President Otto Pérez Molina, Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and multiple cabinet members—all of whom are now prosecuted for their role in a massive corruption ring.”

Source: gimletmedia.com

How does an online movement become a revolution?  Much has been made about how much organizing for the Arab Spring was conducted online, but it still needed old-fashioned protesting, gathering in the streets, and controlling symbolic public spaces to add meaning to their movement.  This podcast shows the behind-the-scenes look at how a small online Facebook group against corruption in Guatemala, not only pulled down their targeted villain (the vice president), but also eroded support for the president that propped up the whole system.

  

Tags: Guatemala, political, podcast, Middle America.

American football has taken root in Mexico at all levels

“Why is the NFL in Mexico? A visitor to the capital city can sense right away why the league is so bullish on the country’s potential.”

 

The last time the NFL ventured into Mexico was in 2005, when the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers in Estadio Azteca. Top-level American football is returning to the same venue in Mexico City on Monday night, when the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders will face off in a contest that has been sold out since July.

Just don’t assume the 11-year gap is related to a lack of interest. In reality, Mexico is the top international hotbed for American football, with the largest NFL fan base of any country outside the United States. There are more fans of the league in Mexico City than in most actual NFL markets.

But the sport’s popularity in Mexico goes well beyond NFL fandom. From youth leagues that are overtaking soccer in popularity in some parts of the country to a new pro league, American football is a major player south of the border. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at where the sport stands on every level in Mexico and how fans there consume the game.

 

Tagssport, popular culturediffusion, culture, Mexico, Middle America.

Source: www.espn.com

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