Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Europe Mislabeled by Americans!

After seeing America mislabeled by Australians and Europeans, let's see whether Americans can do any better labeling a map of Europe. Thanks again to BuzzFeed.

For the full set, see:

I didn't know Middle Earth was a country in Europe, but at least this person knows what matters about Scandinavia.

If we don't know what all the countries are, at least we know why they're important: pot, pierogies, ravioli, fjords, Mr. Darcy, and Dracula.

Europe would be easy to label, if it weren't for all those fake countries.

Four Polands, but at least this person knows where Benedict Cumberbatch lives.

This person obviously played Risk, but still doesn't know where Kamchatka is.

A college education doesn't seem to help.
But at least we know where Borat is from.

Mislabeled America!

Earlier, I posted a map of the United States with the states labeled by an Australian who'd never been here. BuzzFeed asked some British people to do the same thing, and here are some of the funniest examples.

For the full set, check here:

I like the state of "Middleshire." We definitely need one of those.

Three Utahs, and who knew Dorothy came from Detroit?

The Wild West states of Alaska, Wisconsin, Ohio, and "Arkinsaw"

It's good to know the British watch Breaking Bad.

This person's actually been to New York and can't find it on a map! Notable for the fact that Every. Single. State. h e labels is wrong.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Does Poverty Make My Ass Look Fat?

The correlation between poverty and obesity is more complicated than it first appears. "Poorer women are the most likely to be obese among all ethnicities. But there are a few counter-intuitive surprises here. The richest men were, overall, more likely to be obese than the poorest groups. The groups with the lowest rates of obesity were rich white women and poor black men. Obesity rises with income for black and Hispanic men, but it falls with income for black and Hispanic women. The relationship is clearly more complicated than 'a disease for poor people in a rich country.'"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

American Nations

Colin Woodard's excellent book American Nations explores the idea that the various waves of American immigration constitute individual "nations," with distinct cultures, mores, and values. We live not in a single "United" states but in a collection, and much of the conflict and issues we face today result from this. He wrote an excellent article about it in the Tufts University alumni magazine, and I'm copying part of what he wrote below: 

YANKEEDOM. Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public’s shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.

NEW NETHERLAND. Established by the Dutch at a time when the Netherlands was the most sophisticated society in the Western world, New Netherland has always been a global commercial culture—materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience. Like seventeenth-century Amsterdam, it emerged as a center of publishing, trade, and finance, a magnet for immigrants, and a refuge for those persecuted by other regional cultures, from Sephardim in the seventeenth century to gays, feminists, and bohemians in the early twentieth. Unconcerned with great moral questions, it nonetheless has found itself in alliance with Yankeedom to defend public institutions and reject evangelical prescriptions for individual behavior.

THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.

TIDEWATER. Built by the younger sons of southern English gentry in the Chesapeake country and neighboring sections of Delaware and North Carolina, Tidewater was meant to reproduce the semifeudal society of the countryside they’d left behind. Standing in for the peasantry were indentured servants and, later, slaves. Tidewater places a high value on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics. It was the most powerful of the American nations in the eighteenth century, but today it is in decline, partly because it was cut off from westward expansion by its boisterous Appalachian neighbors and, more recently, because it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.

GREATER APPALACHIA. Founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Appalachia has been lampooned by writers and screenwriters as the home of hillbillies and rednecks. It transplanted a culture formed in a state of near constant danger and upheaval, characterized by a warrior ethic and a commitment to personal sovereignty and individual liberty. Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom. It was with the Union in the Civil War. Since Reconstruction, and especially since the upheavals of the 1960s, it has joined with Deep South to counter federal overrides of local preference.

DEEP SOUTH. Established by English slave lords from Barbados, Deep South was meant as a West Indies–style slave society. This nation offered a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was the privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many. Its caste systems smashed by outside intervention, it continues to fight against expanded federal powers, taxes on capital and the wealthy, and environmental, labor, and consumer regulations.

EL NORTE. The oldest of the American nations, El Norte consists of the borderlands of the Spanish American empire, which were so far from the seats of power in Mexico City and Madrid that they evolved their own characteristics. Most Americans are aware of El Norte as a place apart, where Hispanic language, culture, and societal norms dominate. But few realize that among Mexicans, norteños have a reputation for being exceptionally independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and focused on work. Long a hotbed of democratic reform and revolutionary settlement, the region encompasses parts of Mexico that have tried to secede in order to form independent buffer states between their mother country and the United States.

THE LEFT COAST. A Chile-shaped nation wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade and Coast mountains, the Left Coast was originally colonized by two groups: New Englanders (merchants, missionaries, and woodsmen who arrived by sea and dominated the towns) and Appalachian midwesterners (farmers, prospectors, and fur traders who generally arrived by wagon and controlled the countryside). Yankee missionaries tried to make it a “New England on the Pacific,” but were only partially successful. Left Coast culture is a hybrid of Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration—traits recognizable in its cultural production, from the Summer of Love to the iPad. The staunchest ally of Yankeedom, it clashes with Far Western sections in the interior of its home states.

THE FAR WEST. The other “second-generation” nation, the Far West occupies the one part of the continent shaped more by environmental factors than ethnographic ones. High, dry, and remote, the Far West stopped migrating easterners in their tracks, and most of it could be made habitable only with the deployment of vast industrial resources: railroads, heavy mining equipment, ore smelters, dams, and irrigation systems. As a result, settlement was largely directed by corporations headquartered in distant New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco, or by the federal government, which controlled much of the land. The Far West’s people are often resentful of their dependent status, feeling that they have been exploited as an internal colony for the benefit of the seaboard nations. Their senators led the fight against trusts in the mid-twentieth century. Of late, Far Westerners have focused their anger on the federal government, rather than their corporate masters.

NEW FRANCE. Occupying the New Orleans area and southeastern Canada, New France blends the folkways of ancien régime northern French peasantry with the traditions and values of the aboriginal people they encountered in northwestern North America. After a long history of imperial oppression, its people have emerged as down-to-earth, egalitarian, and consensus driven, among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy. The New French influence is manifest in Canada, where multiculturalism and negotiated consensus are treasured.

FIRST NATION. First Nation is populated by native American groups that generally never gave up their land by treaty and have largely retained cultural practices and knowledge that allow them to survive in this hostile region on their own terms. The nation is now reclaiming its sovereignty, having won considerable autonomy in Alaska and Nunavut and a self-governing nation state in Greenland that stands on the threshold of full independence. Its territory is huge—far larger than the continental United States—but its population is less than 300,000, most of whom live in Canada.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why Maps Are So Much Fun!

Here's somebody who's just as enthusiastic about maps as I am: a nice overall profile of why we have More Fun With Maps!

By the Vlogbrothers.

What's Your Real Capital City?

People were asked: On the level of North America as a whole, what major city do you feel has the most cultural and economic influence on your area overall?


Rapid Transit! — Traveling in the US in 1800

How long would it take to get from New York City to New Orleans in 1800? Four weeks! (Discovered on Pinterest,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Living Wage Calculator — What Does It Cost to Live in Your City and State?

This interactive tool developed by MIT lets you pick any state and city in the US to find (a) the living wage needed to meet a minimum standard of living, the poverty wage, and the legal minimum wage, along with a lot of supporting data for where the figures come from.

From the website (

Introduction to the Living Wage Calculator

In many American communities, families working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to live locally given the local cost of living. Recently, in a number of high-cost communities, community organizers and citizens have successfully argued that the prevailing wage offered by the public sector and key businesses should reflect a wage rate required to meet minimum standards of living. Therefore we have developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region. The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location.

The original calculator was modeled after the Economic Policy Institute's metropolitan living wage tool. Users should know there are many researchers contributing tools and resources to the movement to achieve living wages. Diana Pearce at the University of Washington, Seattle is an important contributor to the living wage movement. Her work provides an alternative calculator.
Our tool is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low wage families. The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living. The realism of the estimates depend on the type of community under study. Metropolitan counties are typically locations of high cost. In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and child care. Consider the results a minimum cost threshold that serves as a benchmark, but only that. Users can substitute local data when available to generate more nuanced estimates. Adjustments to account for local conditions will provide greater realism and potentially increase the accuracy of the tool. As developed, the tool is meant to provide one perspective on the cost of living in America.

Click here to visit the Living Wage Calculator.

Thanx and a tip o' the Hatlo Hat to Michael McCulley, aka @DrWeb2 on Twitter.