Archive for the ‘Print’ Category

Limbo World: Countries that don’t actually exist (Foreign Policy)

Friday, January 8th, 2010

KURDISTAN: A shepherd tends to his flock in Iraqi Kurdistan. Few would-be countries have reached a happier state of limbo than this relatively stable Iraqi region.

[Editor’s note: I discovered a dozen or so “countries” working on Natural Earth that exist on the ground but hardly any other nation recognizes. This article from Foreign Policy give you an arm-chair geographer’s guide to several.]

Republished from Foreign Policy (which is a The Washington Post media holding)
BY GRAEME WOOD
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010

They start by acting like real countries, then hope to become them.

On my most recent visit to the Republic of Abkhazia, a country that does not exist, I interviewed the deputy foreign minister, Maxim Gundjia, about the foreign trade his country doesn’t have with the real countries that surround it on the Black Sea. Near the end of our chat, he paused, looked down at my leg, and asked why I was bleeding on his floor. I told him I had slipped a few hours before and ripped a hole in my shin, down to the bone, about the size of a one-ruble coin. Blood had soaked through the gauze, and I needed stitches. “You can go to our hospital, but you will be shocked by the conditions,” Gundjia said. So he pointed me to the building next door, where in about 20 minutes I had my leg propped up on a dark wooden desk and was wincing at the sting of a vigorous alcohol-swabbing by the health minister himself. I was not accustomed to such personalized government service. Fake countries have to try harder, I thought, and wondered whether it would be pressing my luck to ask for the finance minister to personally refund my vat and for the transportation minister to confirm my bus ticket back to Georgia, which is to say, back to reality.

Abkhazia, along with a dozen or so other quasi-countries teetering on the brink of statehood, is in the international community’s prenatal ward. If present and past suggest the future, most such embryonic countries will end stillborn, but not for lack of trying. The totems of statehood are everywhere in these wannabe states: offices filled with functionaries in neckties, miniature desk flags, stationery with national logos, and, of course, piles of real bureaucratic paperwork — all designed to convince foreign visitors like me that international recognition is deserved and inevitable. Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian separatist enclave within Azerbaijan, issues visas with fancy holograms and difficult-to-forge printing. Somaliland, the comparatively serene republic split from war-wasted Somalia, prints its own official-looking currency, the Somaliland shilling, whose smallest denomination is so worthless that to bring cash to restock their safes, money-changers need to use draft animals.

These quasi-states — which range from decades-old international flashpoints like Palestine, Northern Cyprus, and Taiwan to more obscure enclaves like Transnistria, Western Sahara, Puntland, Iraqi Kurdistan, and South Ossetia — control their own territory and operate at least semifunctional governments, yet lack meaningful recognition. Call them Limbo World.

Continue reading at Foreign Policy . . .

Time Awareness in ArcGIS 9.4 Leads to Better Understanding of Complex Geographies (ESRI)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

[Editor's note: In the next release of ArcMap, due this summer, ESRI takes cues from Google Earth and adds a "time slider" to easily visualize time series in GIS.]

Republished from ArcNews (Winter 2009/2010).

Visualizing Time in GIS

In his First Law of Geography, noted geographer and cartographer Waldo Tobler states, “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”

GIS professionals are well versed in visualization of spatial relationships and dependencies, of the proximity of near things and distant things, as in things you can measure with a ruler or with mile markers. But often when studying geography and looking for relationships and dependencies, equally important is proximity in time, as in something that can be measured with a watch or calendar.

click to enlarge
You can control visualization of temporal data in ArcGIS 9.4 using the new “time slider.”

Pioneering environmental planner Ian McHarg is widely known in the GIS community as the “discoverer” of overlay theory, the base theory behind GIS. Another of McHarg’s discoveries—perhaps lesser known, but equally important—is chronology, or the placing of geographic layers in chronological sequence to show relationships, dependencies, and causation through time. “We found the earliest events, mainly of geological history, had pervasive and influential effects, not only on physiography, soils, and vegetation, but also on the availability of resources,” McHarg states, describing an environmental planning study in the 1960s, in A Quest for Life. He calls his discovery of chronology—the order or sequence of features through time—”. . . a most revelatory instrument for understanding the environment, diagnosing, and prescribing,” a construct that leads to a deeper understanding of structure and meaning in the landscape.

click to enlarge
Charles Joseph Minard’s 1869 flow map of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian campaign is a classic example of spatiotemporal visualization (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Chronology is enabled by temporal data. Temporal data is data that specifically refers to times or dates. Temporal data may refer to discrete events, such as lightning strikes; moving objects, such as trains; or repeated observations, such as counts from traffic sensors.

Depicting spatial change over time is a four-dimensional problem, and visualizing temporal phenomena on a two-dimensional map has always been a challenge. The simplest approach is the map series, where individual maps of geographic conditions at certain points in time are presented individually, in chronological order.

Other inventive methods of visualizing change over time and space include creative symbolization, such as in Charles Joseph Minard’s famous map of Napoleon’s march across Russia.

Temporal GIS is an emerging capability for integrating temporal data with location and attribute data, enabling temporal visualization and ultimately temporal analysis. Visualizing change on a computer screen in a GIS environment may give the viewer more options, but it is still a challenge. A simple yet highly effective method of visualizing time in GIS is through animation—displaying a series of maps in rapid succession on the screen.

click to enlarge
A creative method of representing temporal datasets in GIS developed by the Earth and Environmental Science Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (ESRI Map Book, Volume 19).

“The eye and brain are enormously efficient at detecting patterns and finding anomalies in maps and other visual displays,” says Michael Goodchild of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “GIS works best when the computer and the brain combine forces and when GIS is used to augment human intuition by manipulating and displaying data in ways that reveal things that would otherwise be invisible.” Building a robust temporal capability into GIS provides the human eye and brain with powerful visual tools to help determine the reasons why things happened in space-time. It is also key to modeling and predicting things that might happen in the future.

The new time-aware functionality in ArcGIS 9.4 lets you

  • Create and manage time-based data.
  • Display and animate temporal datasets.
  • Publish and query temporal map services.

click to enlarge
The user interface in ArcGIS 9.4 lets you set time properties for one or more layers.

ArcGIS 9.4 makes temporal mapping simple and easy; enables temporal data management, exploration, and visualization; and creates a strong foundation upon which sophisticated temporal geoprocessing tools and workflows can be built in the future. As McHarg states in To Heal the Earth, “Processes, laws, and time reveal the present.” And once we have the tools and techniques in place to fully grasp how the past has created the present, we can use these same tools and techniques to shape our future.

More Information

For more information, visit www.esri.com/whatscoming.

Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

no-trade-zone-us-china-iran-sanctions

[Editor's note: This world map from the Wall Street Journal uses map symbols that reinforce the thematic color coding of countries. The symbols all feature a hand (common gesture for "stop"), and shape and color differences further differentiate the symbols. This graphic overloading of visual variables (using more than just shape, or just color, or just size) ensures a larger number of readers will comprehend the map's visual message. In this case, color between the symbols and the choropleth map colors links the symbols with the countries. All countries are directly labeled with their name and explanation. I like this map for a second reason: the Wall Street Journal is using a new CMS (content management system) that the Washington Post is also working to adopt and it shows how graphics can be flowed inside the article text instead of getting lost in a tab, link, or thumbnail. Many eye tracking studies show that readers spend more time on graphics than on article text but online, graphics are often hard to find (if they are found at all). This new CMS puts graphics back in the natural flow of reading.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By PETER FRITSCH

Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.

A unit of state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., for example, has made nearly 300 illegal shipments to U.S. firms since a ban was imposed on CPMIEC and its affiliates in mid-2006, according to an analysis of shipping records by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nonprofit proliferation watchdog.

A Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.

The CPMIEC shipments, worth millions of dollars, include everything from anchors and drilling equipment to automobile parts and toys. In many cases, CPMIEC acted as a shipping intermediary — activity also banned under a 2006 presidential order.

The ability of CPMIEC and other foreign companies to continue doing business in the U.S. despite the sanctions comes as the Obama administration considers fresh economic sanctions against Iran. The illegal shipments suggest that U.S. sanctions have become so numerous and complex that they have become difficult to enforce.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Graphic: TSA tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scans (Wash Post)

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

[Editor’s note: Props to Bonnie and Laura for this The Washington Post graphic illustrating how the TSA plans to use full-body scans to improve security at airports. Includes actual millimeter wave scans of a man. Related story.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

Security experts say high-tech imagers that detect objects beneath our clothes are vital to safe air travel. Opponents say they are intrusive and too revealing. For now, the process is an optional alternative to a traditional pat-down at airports across the country, including Reagan National and BWI. These are the two types of full-body imaging technology in use or on the way:

View larger version at The Washington Post . . .

Yemen’s deteriorating security, economy could fuel terrorism (Wash Post)

Monday, January 4th, 2010

[Editor's note: Yemen's been in the news of late as the latest about-to-fail state and host to the Christmas bomber. Map by myself with help from Laris and Gene.]

Republished from The Washington Post.

By Christopher Boucek.

Yemen’s problems are many, and some are already spreading beyond its borders. Security and stability are deteriorating. The population is growing rapidly. The economy is collapsing. There are few good options today; things will look worse tomorrow. Immediate and sustained international attention is needed to at least lessen the impact of some problems.

Yemen is a weak state with little history of central government control. The government’s first priorities have been a civil war in the north and a growing secessionist movement in the south; lower on the list has been confronting al-Qaeda, which is now resurgent. The government does not fully control all territory, nor does it have the authority or capacity to adequately deliver social services in many rural areas. Organizations inspired or directed by al-Qaeda have sought refuge in undergoverned spaces.

Spending is not directed toward the root causes of instability but toward war costs, accelerating the economic collapse. Petroleum sales supply the bulk of government revenue, but oil reserves are shrinking and there has been little serious planning for a post-oil economy. A large deficit is forecast for next year, and foreign currency reserves are being spent at an alarming rate. Corruption is a major problem. Separately, mismanagement, rising consumption, increased urbanization and poor irrigation practices are contributing to dire water shortages. Sanaa may be the first capital in modern history to run out of water. The population, most of which is under 30, is expected to double in the next 20 years. Meanwhile, unemployment is on par with levels in the United States during the Depression.

Yemen is often considered a failing state. Its stability should be a critical concern for the United States. The international community needs an integrated and comprehensive approach that addresses both the immediate security issues and the underlying sources of instability and militancy. While military and counterterrorism operations are critical, long-term development assistance is also necessary.

The United States can support police reforms, help to professionalize the prison service, and assist in implementing effective counterterrorism laws. Coast guard and border officials also need quiet aid in controlling smuggling, trafficking and illicit migration. The international community needs to build local capacity in Yemen before it is too late.

Click on map to view larger size . . .

Industrial-Strength Carbon Footprints (NY Times)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

carbonbycompany_nytimes

[Editor's note: Carbon dioxide emissions charted by ton, economic sector, and revenue.]

Republished from the New York Times. Dec. 28, 2009.

Emissions Disclosure as a Business Virtue

Cupping their hands near holes drilled for cable routing, workers at the Boeing Company’s four-acre data processing site near Seattle noticed this year that air used to keep the computers cool was seeping through floor openings.

Mindful of the company’s drive to slash electricity consumption by 25 percent, they tucked insulation into holes there and at five similar sites. The resulting savings are projected at $55,000, or some 685,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Yet Boeing’s goal is not just to save money. The hope is to keep pace with other companies that have joined in a vast global experiment in tracking the carbon dioxide emissions generated by industry.

Boeing and other enterprises are voluntarily doing what some might fiercely resist being forced to do: submitting detailed reports on how much they emit, largely through fossil fuel consumption, to a central clearinghouse.

The information flows to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a small nonprofit organization based in London that sifts through the numbers and generates snapshots by industry sectors in different nations.

By giving enterprises a road map for measuring their emissions and pointing out how they compare with their peers, experts say, the voluntary project is persuading companies to change their energy practices well before many governments step in to regulate emissions.

Scientists estimate that industry and energy providers produce nearly 45 percent of the heat-trapping emissions that contribute to global warming. While some governments are convinced that reining in such pollution is crucial to protecting the atmosphere, a binding global pact is not on the immediate horizon, as negotiations in Copenhagen showed this month.

Until broad regulation is at hand, many investors and company executives say, voluntary reporting programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project may be the best way to leverage market forces for change.

Continue reading at the New York Times . . .

Downturn keeping Americans’ wanderlust in check (Wash Post)

Monday, December 28th, 2009

[Editor's note: Perhaps having a better sense of local place + broadband internet access isn't so bad?]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Carol Morello. Thursday, December 10, 2009

Study: Fewer moving than at any time since World War II

The wanderlust that helped define the American character has been reined in by the recession and the collapse in housing prices, according to a new study showing fewer Americans changing residences than at any time since World War II.

About 12 percent of Americans moved in each of the past two years, down from 13 to 14 percent a year during the first part of this decade. Historical trends show a more precipitous drop. In any given year throughout the 1990s, 16 to 17 percent of Americans changed homes. Throughout the 1950s and in the early 1960s, it was one in five.

William Frey, the Brookings Institution demographer who wrote the study, said the economic slowdown has accelerated a long-term trend of people growing more rooted as homeownership has increased and the average age of Americans has risen. Add the bursting of the housing bubble, the credit crisis and the resulting recession, and many people are cemented in place.

“This triple whammy of forces made it riskier for would-be homebuyers to find financing, would-be sellers to receive good value for their home and potential long-distance movers to find employment in areas where jobs were previously plentiful,” said Frey, who analyzed statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS for the study released Wednesday.

The report paints a picture of an America slowing down. The numbers for metropolises such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, which had been losing tens of thousands of residents in search of more affordable housing, are stabilizing. The flow out also subsided in the Washington area, whose population growth has been fueled by the arrival of tens of thousands of immigrants.

The effect of foreclosures was suggested in the study. In the year beginning in March, the percentage of people who moved to another house in the same county inched up more than half a percentage point from 2007 to 2008. But the percentage of people who moved to another state — a statistic more likely to reflect a new job — stayed the same, a record low level of 1.6 percent.

The phenomenon affected people across every demographic except immigrants.

The young and the footloose in their 20s are usually responsible for an outsized share of those who move, and they showed the steepest decline as jobs grew scarce, prompting many to return to their parents’ homes.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

India to create new southern state of Telengana (Wash Post)

Friday, December 18th, 2009

gr2009121103403[Editor’s note: Time to updated Natural Earth vector already! Last week India added a new state to the national map (see map at right), not without counter protest. India is largely administered by language-focused states. The last time states were added was in 2000. The BBC has some good coverage (second).]

Republished from The Washington Post via the AP.

By RAVI NESSMAN. December 16, 2009.

Demand for new states could change India’s map

NEW DELHI — From scores fasting in demand of a new state in India’s hilly northeast to a powerful chief minister suggesting her region be split up, the map of the nation is facing an overhaul.

Ethnic minorities and activists in economically deprived regions are seeking states of their own, following the government’s surprise decision last week to give in to a hunger strike and create a new state in southern India.

Now, India is confronting serious calls for a grand reorganization of this sprawling, diverse nation of 1.2 billion.

“We are looking at what could be a major crossroads in the political evolution of the Indian system,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a prominent political analyst at Delhi University. “Are 28 states enough for a billion people when 300 million Americans have 50 states?”

China, which India is expected to surpass in 2025 as the world’s most populous country, uses centralized, authoritarian rule to maintain order and unity. India’s democracy has relied on constant negotiation and compromise to empower its different ethnic groups and bind the diverse country, from the rural hill people who live on the Tibetan border to the business tycoons of Mumbai.

The Indian system gives broad power to the states. It was largely created after a Gandhi disciple died from a 58-day hunger strike in 1952, while pressing for the creation of Andhra Pradesh, a new state in the south.

Following the ensuing street protests, the government agreed to reorganize the country based on language groups. India has occasionally tweaked its internal boundaries since then, most recently with the creation of three new states in 2000 that brought the total to 28.

Some states remain so large they have become difficult to govern, leaving politically marginalized regions out of the country’s economic boom.

“You’ve got to try something new,” Rangarajan said. “Something’s not working about it.”

Parties across the spectrum – including the ruling Congress Party – have backed appeals for new states to garner regional support during elections. But as the campaigns fade, so does the pressure for statehood.

In an attempt to re-ignite the passions, politician K. Chandrasekhar Rao embarked on another hunger strike in Andhra Pradesh last month, demanding his neglected region of Telangana be given statehood.

As his health faded and protests grew, the government suddenly gave in – and was immediately swamped by calls for at least 16 other new states.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

A Remote Island Seeks a Boom Without a Bust (NY Times)

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

christmasislandmap

[Editor's note: One of the more enjoyable aspects of working on Natural Earth was finding out about the far flung territories of countries. Australia's Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia is featured in this dispatch from the New York Times.]

Republished from the New York Times.
By NORIMITSU ONISHI. Christmas Island Journal. November 26, 2009

CHRISTMAS ISLAND, Australia — “The good times are back on Christmas Island,” said Trish O’Donnell, this island’s sole real estate agent. “Three-quarters of Australians probably didn’t know Christmas Island belonged to Australia, but now it’s a speculators’ market. All thanks to the I.D.C.”

That’s short for the Immigration Detention Center, a $370 million facility the Australian government opened less than a year ago to house the increasing number of asylum-seekers coming by boat to Australia. Tucked away in the jungle, at the other end of this island’s one inhabited corner, the center nevertheless has brought the whiff of quick, new money here.

The math was simple enough. Since the start of the year, the number of asylum-seekers has grown steadily, so that it now tops the population of local residents, around 1,100.

As immigration officials, guards, interpreters and others now fly in from mainland Australia for stretches of days or weeks, the island’s limited facilities are enjoying a boom. Hotels are booked weeks in advance. Rents have doubled. Lucky Ho’s and a handful of other restaurants turn away patrons without reservations.

Like many other islanders, Ms. O’Donnell, 53, was out to get her share of the new detention money, in her case by opening the Barracks, a restaurant and inn. “When do we get the opportunity to make good money on Christmas Island?” she said. “We usually just sell to each other.”

If there was urgency in her tone, it was because of the knowledge that busts have usually followed booms on Christmas Island.

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

Amy Martin’s Public Option Please Map Illustration

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

public_option_please_us_map_illustration

[Editor’s note: Beautiful map of a blue and red circulation system stretching across the United States with the heart located at Washington, D.C. Selected by a lefty advocacy group as part of their media campaign during the ongoing health care debate. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from The Washington Post. December 2, 2009

Public Option Please, a lefty advocacy group, set out to find a poster artist who could dramatize their argument for government-funded health care. Judges (including Arianna Huffington and Jesse Dylan) found not just a poster artist but a poster girl for their cause. Their winner, Amy Martin of Los Angeles, created her striking image of red and blue blood vessels coursing through a map of the United States when she was home sick with the flu, and a few weeks later, organizers said, lost her job and health insurance. “A healthy United States is dependent on healthy American citizens — which is why I presented America as a vulnerable living system.” She’ll spend her $1,000 winnings on insurance premiums, they said.

Continue reading at Public Option Please . . .