Tag Archives: geography

“God created war so Americans would learn geography”

I heard this quote on the Tim Ferris show with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. During the show, Potts mentions this quote (attributed to Mark Twain):

God created war so Americans would learn geography.

Being a human geography teacher, I know this to be true. Many of my students don’t remember 9/11, they were toddlers or smaller. They don’t remember our 2nd go-round in Iraq, much less the first in 1990-91.
So when Obama gives a speech about ISIL, they wonder several things:

  • What is he talking about?
  • Where in the world are the places he’s talking about?

Vox (in their 14 maps that explain ISIS) has done a great job of showing this critical geography to us.  Here’s one of the maps that shows ISIS control.

isis control vox mapIn our Theory of Knowledge class this past week, we assigned groups of students to represent each of the players involved:

  • Turkey
  • ISIS
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Kurds
  • Israel

What’s amazing is how fast my students could get up to speed on the complexity and dynamics of the region.  Secondly, when each group presented what their country wanted, you get a sense of the challenge involved.  Every country wants something different in this part of the world and there’s very little commonality.

Regardless of what you (or I) think should happen in this part of the world, or what American involvement should be, we should take Twain’s advice and learn the geography – if for no other reason than it’s a gift (divine or otherwise).

 

Mid-terms are not Presidential elections but they could be close

One of my AP US History students asked me if this was the most that a party had controlled the House of Representatives. I didn’t know so we looked it up.
Here’s what we found:
Combined--Control of the U.S. House of Representatives - Control of the U.S. Senate.png
Combined–Control of the U.S. House of Representatives – Control of the U.S. Senate” by ChrisnHoustonFile:Control of the U.S. Senate.PNG
File:Control of the U.S. House of Representatives.PNG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Look at the second box (that’s the House).

Turns out in the 1940’s the Democrats controlled almost 80% of the House. Republicans have 244 out of 435, so they’re getting there (56%). To reach those 1940’s #’s the GOP would have to win almost 90 more seats.
 

Then my student asked a different question:

Does a whooping in the House mean the GOP will win the 2016 presidency?

Not so fast. Why? Because the geographic map (top-right) is misleading. We have to pay attention to where the populations are located. As Obama showed in 2008 & 2012, winning the cities by enough to offset the rural areas was a winning gig.
Here’s a population proportional map of the House.

Where the voters are still matters. It’s not real estate, it’s voters. We’ll see in 2016.

Catalonia, Presidents and Flags

Will Catalonia secede from Spain? This Nation article seems to think so.

    Here’s a key quote:

“For Spain, the secession of Catalonia—and the Basque Country, which wouldn’t take long to follow—would mean the departure of two of its wealthiest regions and would therefore be a significant loss.”

But Colm dismissed my argument:

“But this loss would bring about greater political stability. It would be advantageous for everybody.”

As Juan Enriquez says, “People assume stability where there isn’t any.”

Juan Enriquez – PopTech 2006 from PopTech on Vimeo.

In his book, The Untied States of America, he shows how

No U.S. President has ever been buried under the same flag he was born under.

Catalonia and Spain are in a similar space.