Saturday, October 01, 2005

Maps and Make-Up

A most interesting site:

     The CommonCensus Map Project is redrawing the map of the United States based on your voting, to show how the country is organized culturally, as opposed to traditional political boundaries. It shows how the country is divided into 'spheres of influence' between different cities at the national, regional, and local levels.
It’s easy to fill out the form and when he aggregates enough information, this should be a valuable tool for lots of folks. Not least the beady-eyed Political National Committees who can figure out all sorts of diabolical confluences that none of the rest of us will see…or need.

The author is just beginning this project. You can tell it will take a long, long time to collect enough data for browsing. Meanwhile, his conjectures, projections, and plottings are worth a look:
     The CommonCensus Map Project was created by Michael Baldwin. It was dreamed up in early 2005 at an all-you-can-eat meat barbecue in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. He thought about writing down the idea on a napkin, but didn't think it was necessary.
Iraq's constitution was being battled out between different groups, there were territorial problems in India and China, and Congressional redistricting was a mess. "We live in the 21st century and have atomic weapons, and still nobody can decide on exactly where Upstate New York is!" he thought. He'd done database and web programming, and majored in Political Science. Why not just do the obvious, common-sense thing, and ask everybody where they lived? Tally up the results and draw the first map where the borders were decided by everyone, not just a select group of politicians.
Six months later he finally sat down and started it. His mother provided the name (all those hours of doing crossword puzzles paid off!), and the CommonCensus website was born two weeks later on September 22.

It only takes a minute or two to fill in your information. Then you can look at the maps. We truly are a rainbow nation.

Hat tip: Stephen Bodio's Querencina. While you're there peruse his information on the harvesting habits of the Chinese. Then check your cosmetics for country of origin since you may want to throw some of it away, given your new knowledge. This is a case where "buying American" is probably a good idea.


hank_F_M said...

Neat !

El Jefe Maximo said...

Very cool.. Persons interested in where this subject is going should look at the book "The Nine Nations of North America" (the author's name is escaping me, but you can find it on Amazon), and anything by the liberal author Michael Lind, who is affiliated with a leftie think-tank called the "New America" foundation.

I disagree completely with most of what Lind judges decent and good, but agree totally with his major thesis -- that there is a distinctive Northern and Southern culture in this country, that have been in contention with one another since the Nation's founding. I keep meaning to blog on this subject.

Check the New America Foundation's website -- you can find most of his articles there. He's written a few books, of uneven quality, that amplify the theories in his articles.

Dymphna said...

el jefe --

Just finished a book on America's experience with the Barbary Coast pirates back when we were just beginning to attempt foreign trade. Forget the author's name (it's on a post on my other blog).

What struck me about the politics of the time is how little they have changed from today's. Those factions still exist. We always think we're so "modern" and so unlike those who have gone before us. Sure we are...

But I did learn where the line -- "to the shores of Tripoli' -- in the Marine Corps anthem came from.

And I discovered again how lame are our dealings with Muslims.

Plus ca change...

El Jefe Maximo said...


The Barbary Pirates are worth some thought. The Europeans put up with their depredations for most of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, mostly because they had other fish to fry, and it was cheaper to buy them off. Just like now...cheaper to buy them off and be free riders on US heavy lifting.

In the 19th Century, the Americans were among the first to break this cozy arrangement, as soon as they were militarily able to do so. They were finally put down by the French and British when both powers (especially the French) wished to employ their post-Napoleonic military establishments elsewhere, and interestingly, when both powers were concerned with preventing the other from getting too much of a commerical and political foothold in North Africa.

As for the American politics of the time, and how little has changed, have a look at Michael Lind's "Civil War by Other Means" -- published originally in Foreign Affairs, and available on the New America foundation's website. Gives a good flavor of most of the rest of Lind's work.