Sunday, January 19, 2014

Olympic numbers: Who will be there?

Daily articles appear about the upcoming Sochi Olympics.  Stories about security issues, money, athletes and what they’ll wear. 

What doesn’t get much attention, beyond predicting who will take which medals, are countries that will, or will not, participate.  Except for the parade that’s part of the opening ceremonies there’s not much said about the group overall.    The Olympics are a unique event bringing together representatives from of countries of the world for a peaceful (hopefully) gathering.  It’s an opportunity for citizen-to-citizen engagement.  So who will be there?

There would be 94 nations (of the approximately 195 countries in the world).  Some of those are in the Olympics for the first time.  (Zimbabwe, Dominica. Toga, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Paraguay, Malta and British Virgin Islands.)

One major nation whose flag will not be seen in the opening parade of nations:  India.  They were banned from participation by the Olympic Organizing Committee due to a corruption scandal.  However, three of their athletes will participate.  Look for the Olympic flag in the parade of nations. The people in that group will be the three Indian athletes.

The size of the athletic teams coming is a varied as the size of the countries sending them.  The largest?   Russia and the United States with more than 200 representatives.  The smallest?  Nepal, Algeria, Bermuda, Pakistan and Tajikistan are part of a group sending just one person.

Over the next few weeks we'll hear lots of numbers:  the count of volunteers, spectators, television viewers, medals won.  Through all that let’s remember its people representing countries around the world, engaging in a shared, peaceful activity.   

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Maps - GDP, Kisses and BBQ

A birthday gift brought me a new collection of maps  - ones with stories to tell.  Strange Maps, An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs  ( is filled with fascinating bits of information.  Want to know how many kisses to offer as a greeting in France?  Check out his Turn the Other Cheek map (and visit the website

Traveling to South Carolina in the United States and curious about the regional food  BBQ or barbecue?  Check the map May the Sauce Be with You: Battle Lines in the Barbeque Wars.  You’ll quickly see whether vinegar, mustard are the preferred ingredient to this famous sauce.

And for another way at comparing countries of the world check a map that's not in the book.  Countries in the world are overlaid on a United States map matching countries to US States based on the GDP of both countries and states.

Although a little dated, created in 2007, it’s fun to see the matches.  California and France; Texas with Canada; Ohio and Australia, New York holds Brazil and Tennessee matches with Saudi Arabia.  While the numbers have changed over the last seven years, the idea of the map offers a fresh way to consider the economies of the world.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Who will be elected?

In the United States  we are already confronted with stories about the 2014 Congressional elections to be hold in November plus previews and speculation about  who will run for President in 2014.  It would be easy to think that ours are the only elections happening.  But that is far from true.

Check the list of . “Top 10 Upcoming Global Elections” prepared by the Globalist.

Then you can mark your calendar to discover who will be elected President in Afghanistan (April 5), in Turkey (August), Columbia (May 25), Indonesia (July 9) or  Brazil (October 5).

Plus, the European Union parliament has elections in May that may bring up to 751 new members to that body (  South Africans will vote for the national assembly between April and June.

But the ten on the Globalist list aren’t the only elections scheduled for this year.  Wikipedia publishes a National Electoral Calendar that lists a total of 41 elections including those in Hungary and Romania.

The National Democratic Institute has its own 2014-2014 Election calendar (  That list is even longer.  It includes  43 different elections to be held in 2014 and more for 2015. Interested in Moldova, Mozambique or Bolivia?  Check this list and dates to note in your calendar.

Who will be in charge where?  The outcomes of elections in countries big and small are likely to have an impact on all of us whether we get to vote or not.