"World Affairs" Category

Statistics for a Fact Based World View

2014 Aug 12   category: World Affairs   author:  

Gapminder.org is a website that presents statistics on global economic development in a way that is entertaining and interesting. Their first challenge was to tap into those statistics, which are typically held by organizations such as the United Nations but are not generally presented in a way that captures the imagination. They then developed the Trendalyzer software, which presents that data in time lapse fashion and graphically illustrates key changes over time. Watch some of their videos and you may well come across some recent trends in global development that will surprise you.

Assessing Atrocities

2014 Aug 08   category: World Affairs   author:  

It is perhaps something we should all be more knowledgeable about – the sadly astonishing number of deaths caused by human directed activities throughout history. It has become a passion for Matthew White to trawl the available information and tally up which of humanity’s achievements has been the deadliest. His findings are published in his book Atrocitology, which is interesting to delve into but perhaps a bit too depressing to read in full. A brief analysis at the end might challenge a few misconceptions but the number one deadliest event will be no surprise – the second world war with 66 million deaths. Alternatively he suggests that several of the global conflicts during the 20th century could be grouped together as one interconnected ‘hemoclysm’ (Greek for blood flood) causing a total of 150 million deaths.

So is there any hope that the 21st century will be less deadly than the one before? It no doubt helps to understand just how deadly our past activities have been. On the other hand it may also help to recognize mankind’s most life-saving activities, for example the eradication of smallpox must surely have saved millions of lives.

2012 Olympics: Final GDP Adjusted Medals Ranking

2012 Aug 13   category: World Affairs   author:  

It’s been a magnificent 2 weeks of sport, efficiently organized, well supported and highly competitive. Congratulations to all those involved in the London 2012 Olympics. Regarding our modest effort to add to the fun, the final standings are now available in our 2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Table. Just as they did in 2008, Jamaica win by a comfortable margin. Grenada won just one medal, but it was gold and from such a low GDP base that’s enough to place them second. In third place, with a remarkable host nation effort, are Great Britain. Russia should probably beat Great Britain on raw medals value but they have a higher GDP and so take fourth place in our ranking. Meanwhile the two great rivals for supremacy in the standard table, China and the USA, lie 14th and 15th respectively, with China outdoing the USA by just two ranking points. In other rivalries congratulations go to New Zealand for beating Australia, Germany for beating France and North Korea for beating South Korea. Check out the complete ranking to see how your nation fared. It’s been fun and we look foward to trying to level the playing field yet again for the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Table Update

2012 Aug 09   category: World Affairs   author:  

We’re approaching the finishing line of the London 2012 Olympics and the race for top spot in our 2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Ranking is going down to the wire. A single gold by the small nation of Grenada was sufficient to propel them into first place yesterday but today they have been overtaken by Jamaica with 3 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronzes. Jamaica came top of the 2008 Olympics GDP Adjusted Ranking and it looks like they will be tough to beat this time too. Meanwhile, there are gripping contests lower down the ranking as well. Hungary moves into 3rd place with a very creditable 15 medals, of which 8 are gold. The hosts, Great Britain, hang on to 4th place, while other large nations are finally starting to move up – China 6th, Russia 7th and the USA 9th.

2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Table Update

2012 Aug 05   category: World Affairs   author:  

There’s been lots of movement in recent days in our 2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Performance Ranking with Great Britain finally demonstrating host nation advantage, reaching second place in the rankings by the end of yesterday. North Korea however, in top spot from the first day courtesy of 3 weightlifting golds, has been hard to dislodge owing to their very low GDP. Today however, another contender emerged as Jamaica sprinted up the table to snatch second place. Kazakhstan, currently in 4th place, continue to perform well with the remarkable distinction that all of the 6 medals they have won have been gold! While little separates China and the USA as they contend to head the traditional medals table, it will be hard for the latter to surpass the former if adjustment is made for GDP (they lie 5th and 9th respectively in our adjusted ranking).

2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Table Update

2012 Aug 01   category: World Affairs   author:  

North Korea seems to have taken an unassailable lead in our 2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Performance Ranking. Their haul of 4 golds and 1 bronze is punching well above their GDP weight, which is perhaps a consequence of their alternative economic model. Meanwhile the race for second place is much tighter with Kazakhstan, Georgia and China all with 81 ranking points. Great Britain picked up a nice cluster of medals today but it merely served to move them up from 27th to 20th. We might expect the host nation to do rather better on a level playing field but it is early days yet.

2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Medals Table

2012 Jul 28   category: World Affairs   author:  

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games being held in London are finally upon us. After a unique and entertaining opening ceremony the athletes now get the chance to reap the reward of years of training by participating in and perhaps excelling in the greatest multinational sporting event of all. FlagAndMap applauds all participants and congratulates the medal winners. At the same time we will have a little fun by trying to determine which nation might be said to be performing best given a level playing field – by which we mean after adjustment is made for the differing resources they have at their disposal. This is achieved by assessing the value of medals won and adjusting that value according to national GDP. We’ll skip the details and merely note that our algorithm is designed to minimize the spread of results and maximize the number of nations that have a chance of winning.

It’s early days yet so our 2012 Olympics GDP Adjusted Performance Ranking is looking a little lean but already we can see the benefit of a more level playing field. China’s early haul of 4 golds is impressive but Italy places above them with only 2 golds by virtue of being a smaller nation with a lower overall GDP, yet they in turn are pipped by even less wealthy Kazakhstan thanks to Vinokourov’s gold in the cycling road race. We’ll be updating this table at the end of every day so check in again to see how your country is performing.

Who Won the Athletics World Championships?

2011 Sep 06   category: World Affairs   author:  

The recently completed Athletics World Championships held at Daegu, South Korea, provided another exciting opportunity to enjoy multinational sporting competition at the very highest level. There were some superb individual performances and a thrilling finale as Jamaica took the 4x100m relay title with a new world record time. Our congratulations go to the organizers and all the athletes who participated and made this event such a success. The only question that remains is, ‘who won?’

By ‘who won?’ we mean which nation and, just as with the Commonwealth Games 11 months ago, we’re curious to see if it’s possible to compare national performances so that all countries, regardless of vastly differing resources, have a chance to come out on top. This time we have used the results provided in the final placing table to calculate a results score that is then adjusted for national GDP in a way that minimizes the spread of results. It’s not an exact science and we’ll skip the fine details but we think that the resulting GDP adjusted ranking is quite plausible and makes for interesting reading.

So on the basis of this analysis we declare Kenya the winners with Jamaica the runners up and we suspect that few people would quibble with this. Both relatively small nations excelled in their favorite disciplines. Russian athletes also performed well and did enough to move ahead of the better resourced USA team in our GDP adjusted ranking. Also noteworthy are two very small nations, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis, both of which made our top ten. So please take a look at the ranking to see how your favorite nation fared and how good their prospects might be for next year’s Olympics.

CWG 2010 Final GDP Adjusted Ranking

2010 Oct 15   category: World Affairs   author:  

The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi have now ended and congratulations are due to India not only for hosting a successful event but also for their fine performance at the Games, which saw them place second in the official medals table, where gold medals outrank any number of silvers or bronzes.

In addition to enjoying the Games we’ve remained captivated by the competitive dynamic of our GDP Adjusted Medals Ranking. The aim was to create a performance ranking that represented a more equitable relative comparison between participants regardless of their human or financial resources. In this we reckon to have been largely successful as both small and large nations have had a degree of success in our ranking. Tiny Nauru won after winning one gold and one silver, which truly is an exceptional achievement for such a small nation. In a similar way Samoa placed second by winning three golds and a bronze. By any measure Australia continues to excel in multi-sports competitions and even after a large 3.16 ‘GDP Factor’ adjustment they still secured third place in our ranking. They were, however, nearly caught by Kenya, who ended fourth after some exceptional track performances. Following Kenya in our ranking there wasn’t much to choose between England, India and New Zealand, who finished in that order.

We congratulate all the participants in these Games and look forward to applying this methodolgy to future multinational sports events such as the Olympics.

CWG 2010 Day 8: Still a lot to play for

2010 Oct 11   category: World Affairs   author:  

8 days of the 11 day 2010 Commonwealth Games have been completed and our GDP Adjusted Medals Ranking is providing a very credible picture of the relative performances of the nations. It has also yielded some very close contests for position that are only likely to be resolved on the final day of competition.

Two very small nations, Nauru and Samoa, sit in the top two positions and are not likely to be overtaken. This is not surprising as we would expect small nation performance to be quite variable from one Games to the next and at any given Games one or two of the small nations are likely to achieve exceptional results, when adjusted for GDP.

Australia still look solid in third place but could be overtaken by Kenya whose strong track results have seen them rise to fourth place. Our first neck and neck contest comes at positions 5 and 6 between India and England. India have the edge but by the narrowest of margins – just one ranking point. India have performed well at these Games while England might be a little disappointed that golds make up less than 25% of their 111 medal haul. Lower down we have Nigeria, Jamaica, New Zealand and Canada all within 5 points of each other. Which of these 4 capable nations will have final bragging rights? There is still a lot to play for so check back to see how this ranking will shift as the final days of competition are completed.

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