Visual explanations: US states GDP map

by Map on October 15th, 2008

I was searching for some stats on the world’s GDP and came across this amazing map: US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs. Wow. The only problem with this map is when staring at it in a fully mesmerized state of mind :-) I tend to attribute the size of country’s GDP to the size of the corresponding state, which is not correct, of course. Other than that, it’s a wonderful little example of information visualization.

The ephemeral beauty of rocks

by Ulf on August 11th, 2008

Last week one of the famous rock arches of Arches National Park in Utah -called Wall Arch- collapsed from erosion under its own weight. These are before/after pictures of it:


How not to win friends

by Ulf on July 29th, 2008

“If we have more NATO troops in Afghanistan, then that’s potentially fewer American troops over the long term, which means we’re spending fewer billions of dollars, which means we can invest those billions of dollars in making sure we’re providing tax cuts to middle class families who are struggling with higher gas prices that will have an impact on our economy.”

Way to go, Mr Obama. He said this (in a CNN interview) while still being in one of the countries he’s asking to contribute more, no less. As the WSJ notes, this is not the way to keep up a flowering romance. The rebuke was short and swift: “Under no circumstances will [ taxpayers ] pay with more money and more troops for Afghanistan for tax cuts in the U.S.”

I’m not sure if this Middle-Eastern/European trip achieved its aim of convincing voters in the USA that Mr Obama is not the foreign-policy lightweight he’s made out to be, but by this remark alone he undid all the good will he might have accrued over here. Maybe foreign politics isn’t so simple after all.

What’s a good symbol to associate with?

by Ulf on July 24th, 2008

Much ado about Senator Obama in Berlin

Today Mr Obama is visiting Berlin, and as part of the visit he gives a public speech on … something. We don’t know yet what it’s about. All we know is that there has been a two-week-long brouhaha about where he could give the speech.


The new American embassy building in Berlin

by Ulf on July 5th, 2008

Yesterday the new American embassy building in Berlin was officially opened. The building has been a long time in the planning and making, but various security considerations have repeatedly led to postponements. Now that it‘s been built in the same spot where the USA had an embassy in the 1930s -a very rarefied spot at Pariser Platz, close to Brandenburger Tor- it has been variously described as functional, but uninspired. The comparison to the old Blücher Palais is interesting, but of course unfair – times have changed, and so have the ways of diplomacy. It‘s hard to say how much of that is due to said security constraints, but the building is certainly less adventurous than the nearby French and British embassies.


Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus To Our House

by Ulf on July 3rd, 2008

From Bauhaus to Our House(This book review has been sitting in my Out box for a while. Finally I’ve got a place to publish it, and it puts the pressure on Map to publish her review of The Architecture of Happiness, which she promised to do if I wrote this one.)

Tom Wolfe does not like where American architecture has gone in the 20th century. It started out all right with Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and others, but according to Wolfe, it took an ugly turn in the 1920s with the arrival of the Bauhaus-influenced International Style, which evolved into what came to be known as Modern Architecture. Then it got much worse in the 1930s when the Bauhäusler themselves fled Europe and made the USA their new home. Led by Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, they had a profound influence on a generation of American architects, and their ideas dominated architectural thinking for the next 50 years.