How China Sees the West

Strange Maps blog has an interesting post regarding the current cover illustration on The Economist news weekly:

The Economist is concerned about the present state of affairs, as they should be:

Although in public China’s leaders eschew triumphalism, there is a sense in Beijing that the reassertion of the Middle Kingdom’s global ascendancy is at hand.

I love The Economist and really miss reading the print copy every week (budget just can’t support that habit right now).  However, I’m tending to agree with some of the comments on Strange Maps site.  Perhaps a better title for the graphic (if not the article) would have been “How China Sees the West”.  I certainly would have at least stuck a skyscraper at Vancouver, BC (Canada), but they didn’t ask me.

Already a big idea has spread far beyond China: that geopolitics is now a bipolar affair, with America and China the only two that matter. Thus in London next month the real business will not be the G20 meeting but the “G2” summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao.

There is alot about China I don’t pretend to understand.  Although I think The Economist may be oversimplifying their graphic design, their ultimate point is well to consider.

Far from oozing self-confidence, China is witnessing a fierce debate both about its economic system and the sort of great power it wants to be—and it is a debate the government does not like. This year the regime curtailed even the perfunctory annual meeting of its parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), preferring to confine discussion to back-rooms and obscure internet forums. Liberals calling for greater openness are being dealt with in the time-honoured repressive fashion. But China’s leaders also face rumblings of discontent from leftist nationalists, who see the downturn as a chance to halt market-oriented reforms at home, and for China to assert itself more stridently abroad…

Wikipedia lists about 60 cities in China with a population of over 1,000,000 people—that’s urbanized population, administrative population (similar to our metropolitan areas?) is much larger.  Can you name more than 2?

I’m not sure I can.

Mapping Minnesota

I love maps.  The Minnesota Historical Society is hosting a special exhibit of historic maps depicting what is now the state of Minnesota. In this video:

Map Curator Pat Coleman gives us an introduction to ‘Minnesota on the Map:’ Four Centuries of Maps from the Minnesota Historical Society Collection: an exhibit he has curated that opens on February 28. The exhibit includes 100 maps from the MHS collection of over 22,000. Pat also shares his insights to a recently acquired globe from 1765.

More commentary on the Delisle Globe (Guillaume Delisle. Globe Terrestre: Revu et Corrige sur les Dernieres Observations et les Meilleurs Carties… Paris:

I am an MHS member, but St. Paul is 200 miles from home.  Hope I can make it up while the display is open.

Tell us about your broadband access

Screenshot of SW MN

Screenshot of SW MN

Two broadband ISPs serve my home in a small town in Southwest Minnesota, Frontier Communications and Mediacom, apparently at Broadband Tier 2 with potential residential download speeds of 1.5 to 3 Mbps and uploads (1st Generation Data) at 200 kbps to 768 kbps .  So says a new project here in Minnesota.

Connect Minnesota, a non-profit subsidiary of Connected Nation, is releasing results of their broadband mapping project.  As I gushed in January, I learned about the project from Blandin on Broadband, who explains that “The maps are being created to help the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force make recommendations to the Legislature regarding a vision for broadband access in Minnesota.”

The idea was Connected Nation (CN) contacted ISPs (internet service providers) who provided them with broadband service maps, which this firm then tested from their office in Texas.  They also asked people to test their own connections, which info was supposed to keep the ISPs honest.  I clocked our cablemodem-linked network at the office at 7286 kbps d/l 512k u/l.

Connect Minnesota has posted PDF & gif maps showing infrastructure, availability and speed on the ground, as well as an interactive map here.  The screenshot above is from the interactive map (which is a bit clunky & times out relatively quickly IMHO).  They have an address finder so you can easily pinpoint your home location and inventoried service providers, although it is unclear which providers provide which speeds.

It’s nice in theory but I wonder how much the ISP info really got tested.  CN did move their testing from Texas to Chicago after some criticism tho the biggest holes in the donut are Outstate Minnesota.  Come out on the Buffalo Ridge and try your gee-whiz gizmos.  A quick lookup for a co-worker who lives out in the country looks like they mapped the Frontier service area, not necessarily where DSL actually works.  It would be nice to have different types of service providers—Cable, DSL, wireless—as separate layers but I expect they were trying to keep it simple.  The interface should be relatively easy for non-GIS types to navigate and provides some good information for consumers and policymakers.

Minnesota’s Broadband Taskforce is meeting today to look over the report for themselves, which I expect Blandin on Broadband will fill us in on ASAP.  Myself, I’ll have to try the site at home and see if it loads at all for anybody still on dial-up 🙂 .

Census of Agriculture 2007

The 2007 Census of Agriculturewas released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS).  While I was at Kiwanis for lunch.  So much for this afternoon’s productivity! 

“The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years.” USDA press release here

The Grand Forks Herald (Forum Communications) summarizes:

In North Dakota, one of 39 states in which the numbers of farms rose in the five-year period, the federal census found 31,970 farms in 2007, up from 30,619 in 2002. Average size decreased, from 1,283 acres to 1,241. Farm numbers increased just slightly in Minnesota, which recorded 80,992 farms in 2007 to 80,839 in 2002. Farm size on Minnesota fell from 340 acres to 332 acres.

Edit 2:45 CST: Star Tribune finds the lemons in the lemonade:

“We’re seeing growth in the two ends of the scale — farms with fewer than 180 acres, and farms with 1,000 acres or more,” said Doug Hartwig, [Minnesota] state agricultural statistician.

Tune in for more in-depth analysis and play-by-play on your favorite rural development channel:

A River Runs… Through a Book

Gapers Block Book Club blog out of Chicago highlights Norman Maclean today—specifically his book, A River Runs Through It.  You might remember a little Robert Redford film was based on it. 

If I didn’t dislike Redford’s politics so much, this would be my favorite movie of all time.  I have tried to disassociate the movie from the men, and the screeplay from the story. 

When I lived in Bozeman, Montana, I met some of the folks who worked behind the scenes and visited shooting locations.  I tried to imagine the Rev. Maclean preaching behind the same pulpit at First Presbyterian Church in Bozeman many years ago.

Never took.

We only have one chance to make a first impression.  My first impression of A River Runs Through It originated in the movie, not the story.  I visualize an actor, not a writer and professor.  I see the Gallatin River, not the Big Blackfoot.  I see Hollywood under the Big Sky.

I have the opposite experience with Maclean’s also excellent book Young Men and Fire.  A friend who had visited Seeley Lake told me about the event and recommended the read.  I have yet to visit Mann Gulch myself. Yet I can visualize the location in my mind like I lived there.

Someday somebody will put this story on film.  There’s a script in circulation.  They will probably shoot in Canada or Southern California because they have no respect for the role of Place in our lives. The images will blur, but not for me. And not for you if you go read the book now.

Friends don’t let friends see movies before they’ve read the book.

In My Goggle Library:
A River Runs Through It 
Young Men and Fire