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On getting the picture but not being in it - Tactical Ninja

May. 11th, 2011

09:09 am - On getting the picture but not being in it

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So this morning I accidentally stumbled over a question while googling for something else, which said "Is John Key running the country or is the IMF?" Being a bit curious about such things, I entered those search terms and found this. It's a piece about how the IMF in 2010 recommended 'further spending cuts' by government in NZ, including Working For Families (a tax credit for those with kids who work), student loans and free doctor visits. In the piece, John Key soundly rejected them.

Now, of course, his tune has changed. This budget he's expected to have a go at Working For Families and there's a rumour going around that interest will be going back on student loans. So, who is running the country? I fear the IMF more than I fear our bumbling, smarmy Prime Minister*, but if they're working together, we're fucked essentially.

How fucked are we? Well, I'm not gonna go into that because I can feel this blog getting more and more political and while I enjoy the occasional rant, I'm aware that it can be kind of boring to read. However, I looked at this article, which says the IMF supports sale of state-owned assets lalala...

* That article is him getting pwned by BBC's Stephen Sackur yesterday over our clean green image. The best bit is where he says the research of NZ's leading scientists into the pollution in our water is 'just opinion' and compares scientists with lawyers. *national facepalm*


But what really bothered me is this. Have a look at the IMF logo:



Notice something funny about that? Have a really good look.

Yeah, that's right. New Zealand is not even on their map of the world.

This might seem like a small thing, especially to those not in New Zealand. But you'd be amazed how often this happens. Yes, we're a tiny blip in the middle of the ocean thousands of miles from everywhere else. It's hard to fit us on maps and trimming us off is the easiest thing to do. But you know what? The fact that we're left off so many of them is a reflection of the way the rest of the world seems to view us.

We really are a tiny blip in the ocean so far away that it's ok not to give a shit if we're left out.

"I'm sorry, this service is not available in your country."

"Yes we can post that, that'll be $189 thanks."

"Sorry you can only have one internet pipe because they're expensive and you're so far away with so few people that it's not economic to put in another one, so you can have crappy internet forever." For those in the US, we pay approximately three times as much for about half the bandwidth that you do. We have bandwidth caps and our 'ultra-fast' internet is way slower than yours. Yeah, I know, No1curr. That's kind of my point. No one has to, because we're not even on the map.

"No I'm sorry, our airline doesn't fly direct to your country, you'll have to get to Australia first."

etc

Have a visual demonstration of what I mean:


The United Nations logo only includes the Northern Hemisphere.














I think you get my point. "Worldwide" often does not include us. These might be silly logos but they reflect our reality, and while I'm aware that there are bigger issues in the world and that compared with many countries that are on the map we have it pretty good, the fact that we are little and distant makes quite an impact on our lives in the availability and cost of goods and services, and in our ability to get traction on the world stage for things that affect us. Never mind that the entire world is geared towards the Northern Hemisphere.

Historically, New Zealand has had to fight hard for a place at the Big Kids' Table, and even then I get the feeling we are often patronisingly tolerated rather than taken seriously. And other, larger and more powerful countries/organisations think nothing of stepping on us to get to China or *insert rising superpower du jour here*. So we negotiate a trade deal with China, now the US wants to get us in its pocket because we have good rep with China and it might give them an in. Not because we're a valued partner, but because we managed to do something they couldn't and now they want us to share our playlunch. And if we do it, they might pat us on the head and give us a cookie (as long as we acknowledge that they are the boss by changing our laws to suit their playground).

And then they'll keep on cutting us off the map.

Sorry, I ranted. This frustrates me because it's such a first world problem and thus utterly dismissable by anyone who doesn't actually live here, but still something that affects our lives daily.


Anyway, last night I reached 2000 words, cut out my Experimental Unitard, and tried not to feel like a paedophile while perving at the nice boys on Skins. And, I discovered that I have a 5 week break between the final test for State Crime and the start of Social Movements. Thank you universe! I plan to think about frivolous things of my own choosing and spend my weekends sewing backless dresses and unitards and knitting Universal Peace And Harmony.

And as a headsup to those in the same position as me, part time students are now in TEC's firing line. Yes, mine's the first comment, why do you ask?

Comments:

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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
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I noticed something else about those maps. Greenland is HUGE. Which makes me think that they're mercatorial projections, a type of mapmaking that is only used in America.

So, the fact that NZ in't on there is relatively unsurprising. What's more surprising to me is that there are countries other than the US on the maps.

I've talked to Americans (in Tennessee) who thought that NZ was a country (or maybe a county, I'm not sure and neither were they) in a place called Yurp. And it was next to Australia (part of Germany, right?) and Old Zealand.

And of course there were the people who thought that NZ was actually just a movie set. With hobbits. And ukeleles. o.0
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
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What is it with the ukelele thing anyway?

And yeah, as a kid I remember looking up to see if an Old Zealand exists. It does, and it's in Denmark.
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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
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I think the ukelele thing was mostly popularised by the Flight of the Conchords boys.

Regarding Old Zealand, I'd always thought it (Seeland) was an island off the coast of the Netherlands. Oh well, at least I was close. :)
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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
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No, it seems I was right about Zeeland after all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeeland
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
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I am now wondering if the island of Zeeland and the island of Zealand had some kind of battle over who got to name NZ.

Yes, I know, Abel Tasman and such - but it's still fun to imagine..
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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
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... and Captain Cook was a Zealand supporter, so he named the country New Zealand, so the people in Zealand could dance around going "we're number one! suck it!" and the people in Zeeland were going "muttermumblegrumblespellingmistakegrumble"...

Yes, I can imagine it too. :)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
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There was jousting!

(please tell me this is true)
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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
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With pillows! :D
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From:t_c_da
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
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people who thought that NZ was actually just a movie set. With hobbits. And ukeleles.

Maybe THAT'S the problem! We actually ARE a movie set, with about as much relevance to the rest of the "real" world...
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From:richdrich
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
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< map geek >
Mercator projections are used everywhere! Google Maps, Openstreetmap and many other map services use them.

Its advantages include distances being true (so you can measure on a map using a ruler) and that the same mapping parameters can be used for the whole (inhabited) world.

One disadvantage is that *areas* are not true, so that Greenland and Antartica look huge and India tiny.

See the Gall-Peters projection for one (of many) equal area projections.

If you want a fully accurate view, a 3D monitor may assist.

< / map geek >
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From:bekitty
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
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Google Maps, Openstreetmap and many other map services use them.

Both Google and Openstreetmap are, originally at least, American. And they therefore use American map standards. Your point? :)
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From:richdrich
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
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The inventor of the Mercator projection (in 1569) was Flemish. OpenstreetMap was founded by a Brit and operates as a UK non-profit. Google is indeed American.




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From:richdrich
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
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Also, leaving NZ off maps isn't an artefact of the projection, it's because the map is centred on the zero meridian, putting us in the lower-right corner.

That meridian is the result of European hegemony, not American - various European mappers put London (or Paris) in the middle of their maps and that became the standard.

Have MacArthurs Universal Corrective Map, made by an Australian. NZ is top-centre, next to Australia.
(and it's a Mercator projection!)



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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:30 pm (UTC)
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I have seen some maps that centre India, and others that centre the US as well. We don't have that problem with these maps because we're not off in the corner somewhere on those ones.

There doesn't seem to be a particular large country that leaves us off - it appears to be pretty universal in the Northern Hemisphere.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
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PS It's the perspective of "Oh there's nothing there really, lets cut that bit off" that rankles with me.
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From:eipi10
Date:May 11th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
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Actually Google *Maps* came from Australia. At least, I vaguely remember the google recruiter wittering on about mapping being in the Sydney office, and the wikipedia article talks about some Danish originators in Sydney whose company got acquired after they pitched proto-maps to the big G.

NZ being left off world maps has driven me mad since I was a kid too. What gets me is that comparative specks like Iceland and tiny dots in the Caribbean and Mediterranean get shown... but not us.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:May 11th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
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Also, "Mercator projection" by itself is often incomplete. You still have to provide the parameters (such as the geodetic datum/shape of the earth) since most GIS.

And we have the NZTM (New Zealand Transverse Mercator) too, although NZMG is more common.

/mapgeek
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From:richdrich
Date:May 11th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
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Indeed. The earth being not a sphere, or even a spheroid, but an irregular bumpy thing (not the bumps we call mountains and oceans, but distortions in the gravity field that defines where sea-level is). To make maps, you choose a spheroid that fits the shape of the earth best for the area you want to map.

NZ (and other places) have the further exciting complication of moving around rather a lot. So your house boundary is legally defined not in GPS lat/long, but in reference to a nearby trig marker. Reconciling these involves a database of regularly updated corrections to NZTM (which get reflected in maps, eventually).

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From:tatjna
Date:May 11th, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
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So a map updated in realtime then played in fast-forward would be kind of blurry? Cool.
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From:t_c_da
Date:May 11th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
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Add the additional problem of some trig markers moving relative to other nearby trig markers, and the problem gets really hairy...

I'm thinking in particular of those round California Park & Drive in Totara Park where some marker posts have moved about a metre in 30 years (relative to adjacent marker posts - I'm going to post a picture of these posts RSN).
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
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There's another take on this of value.

NZ is, by population, the size of a medium city. On the global scale it barely registers.

Given this, the fact that we have our own UN representation, treaties and so on means we're massively over-represented in global politics, compared to ... most other political entities of a similar population.

So I'd argue that, far from being ignored, we're actually given an unusual amount of credibility due to being a "country".

-Will
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely. Do you think we should have less credibility and representation because there are less of us?
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
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I think representation should be in large part proportional to population, yes.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 10th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)
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BRB moving to China before we cease to exist altogether.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 19th, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)
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Does giving 4 million NZers an equal global voice to 1 billion Indians really seem fair to you?
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From:tatjna
Date:May 19th, 2011 03:54 am (UTC)
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In my tree-hugging happy-hippy ideal world, all nations would have equal voice regardless of population. So we and Ethiopia would have the same representation in the WTO as the US.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 19th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
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They do:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wto#Voting_system

Formally, at least.

But some people would argue this is unfair, or at least theoretically unfair, in that the US represents the interests of 300 million+ people, and Ethiopia about 50 million, and in our ideal hippy happy world, isn't it unfair to prioritise the interests of 50 million over 300 million?

(Of course you could argue that it's fair to prioritise Ethiopia because those 50 mill are less privileged and have greater need, but that has nothing to do with their numbers. To bring NZ back into the equation, rules to prevent the interests of poor little NZ, with its high GNI and per capita GDP, from being bullied by big, poverty stricken, terms-of-trade-screwed Ethiopia with its 50 million would be counterproductive and not really doing anything to avert an injustice)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 19th, 2011 07:26 am (UTC)
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I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say here. Also, please learn to link properly.

Anyway, when Ethiopia has one representative at the same WTO gathering that has 160 US representatives it's hard to imagine Ethiopia having the same power to sway consensus, or even make it to all the talks and stay up to date, y'know?

When nearly 50% of the votes in the IMF are held by 7 countries, it doesn't count as representation by population - it's about something altogether different and I don't think it's fair.

Anyway, population-based representation automatically discounts smaller countries, and I've yet to hear a logical or compassionate reason why the needs of one country are more important than those of another, regardless of population.

Also, please identify yourself if you plan to continue commenting here. You are welcome to use a nickname but I have enough anonymous commenters that keeping track is confusing if people don't somehow mark their posts.

Also, please identify yourself.
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From:t_c_da
Date:May 11th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)

OT

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I heard someone recently claiming that Oceania was the biggest continent on the planet - it just had an awful lot of really big rivers in it...
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From:torbenite
Date:May 11th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
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Well if its any consolation I think you guys have better internet connection than you get in South Africa.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 11th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
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From what I could tell when I was there, it seems about the same and the prices were roughly equivalent. I don't know about the coverage there since our phone lines go everywhere (whereas i doubt those wee tin hut communities i saw would have them), but a large proportion of the less populated parts of our country are still on dialup.
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