Butterflies and blue whales

Just yesterday I was thinking about what I was starting to call the Illusion of Nations: the idea that all nation states are different instances of the same sort of entity. It’s customary to anthropomorphise nations as figures like Uncle Sam, Britannia or John Bull; the history of this sort of thing in Australia is slightly marred by racism and very much marred by icky sentimentality and in general, these days, it’s confined to the more plodding sorts of political cartoons, but I wonder how much of it we subconsciously carry around with us: do we think of countries as differing from one another only by as much as people do? It’s an illusion to think of relations between employers and employees as a meeting between equals; how much more so when considering relations between the USA and Australia, for example.

And then I found this map, which illustrates my point much better than my explanation. Caveats: I don’t entirely trust the Freakonomicists; I don’t trust economics as a discipline in general; I don’t trust my distrust, because I have never been able to get my head around economics anyway. But it’s still fascinating from a visualisation point of view.

In other news: Sydney needs to throw more Film Festivals, it’s the only way we can keep Sbg blogging.

And Philolsophers got a mention on Language Log.

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One response to “Butterflies and blue whales

  1. Hey there. I recently interviewed one of the Freakonomics guys if you’re interested in having a bit of a read.

    http://www.bloggerview.net/2007/06/011-stephen-j-dubner-freakonomics.html

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