Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I like Abigail Goldman’s description in the Las Vegas Sun: “precision party trick — rigorous mapping of ridiculous data.” Be that as it may, these maps are excellent illustrations of what geographers (and other social scientists) call “proxy variables.” Lust itself is not mappable, but STDs are, and they probably have at least some correlation.
I would like to see one more map. Hypocrisy could be estimated by dividing the other variables by membership in Mean-for-Jesus fundamentalist churches or subscriptions to the publications of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This is how I came to know Walsenburg, Colorado -- a high-desert town that served as my introduction to the American West. We had drinks in an actual salloon -- it must have been noon somewhere -- with the long bar, big mirror, and everything. I saw tumbleweeds for the first time -- something I would never tire of watching when Pam and I lived in Tucson, years later. (We were there, by the way, for me to get geography education while Pam got library education.)
Mostly, though, I remember a well-kept elementary school with soft grass, where Mike and I were able to find a bit of shade for our daytime lodging. People drove around and thought us a bit odd, but it was summertime and people were not frightened about schools, so we were left to our rest. The next day, we drove on to Flagstaff, just in time for a big ice-carving event at NAU orientation. I remember Mike buying a couple of notebooks so we could pretend to be students there.
I returned to Flag quite a few times, but have not been back to Walsenburg. I remembered it fondly yesterday, though, when I heard a great story about the little town. As regular readers of this blog may know, I live in a town that whacked its library budget before the current recession. In other places, people have faced tough budget choices during the recession, and libraries have suffered.
In Walsenburg, however, the voters realized what has escaped the voters where I live (in the supposedly progressive Northeast): libraries are among a community's very most important resources. With our without the Internet, libraries are a hub of learning and literacy. Particularly in hard times, it makes sense for each member of the community to contribute a little (even if it is hard to come by) to gain access, really, to the whole world.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago on this blog, the movie Food, Inc. describes the frightening world of corporate agriculture, in which fewer and fewer players control more and more of our food. Now, the Obama Administration is doing something about it.
More specifically, the Justice Department has decided to enforce anti-trust laws against Big Agriculture -- something that was not likely under the Bush or Clinton Administrations. (President Bush never met a business regulation he didn't hate, and President Clinton was a wholly-0wned subsidiary of Tyson Foods.)
If successful, enforcement against Monsanto and other monopolies could be a real boon to local and genuinely organic food. In turn, this could have a significant impact on the cultural and environmental landcape of the U.S.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As some of the online comments point out, the story neglects to mention the fourth border state on the U.S. side: New Mexico. It also refers to neighboring states in Mexico without listing them: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Sunday, August 02, 2009
My favorite of these is the Geography of Jobs from TIP strategies. The animation begins with a 2004 map of job gains and losses by metro area, which shows a clear rustbelt/sunbelt divide:
The map then shows the net gains and losses of jobs over the following five years, as a 12-month rolling average (to smooth out seasonal fluctuations and focus on the spatial variations). The impact of Hurricane Katrina is easy to see, and the subsequent crash of economies coast-to-coast is even more dramatic.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
This site, sponsored by University of Nebraska Lincoln, details the deviations. They are especially severe in my old stomping grounds in South Texas (where people pray not to be missed by hurricanes!
Having lived through cool, wet, gray days and dusty droughts, I won't complain about the rain here in New England any more.