Friday, March 18, 2011

Understanding the US

I began writing this post as a private joke, however the deeper I got, the less funny and more creepy it became. Let's see what you think.

If you are not from here, America can be an incredibly hard idea to wrap your head around. We are hypocritical, we are rich, we are poor, we are libertines, we are puritans, peace lovers and war-mongers. We have the best colleges in the world and so so education below that. We're neither pushed, pulled, stressed or strained,bent, folded or mutilated. When left alone, the place works.

For all that we are, may be or want to be, there is one single map, one picture which explains in black and white or color all a non native would need or want to know about the US. It may be the single best road map to find people just like you. The telling thing is that for almost whatever topic you pick, be it political party affiliation, religious belief, support for Nascar, education level, health, wealth, teen age birth rate or number of vegetarians, the same map holds. The map above. This is a near constant in America. There's them, and then there is us.

Flummory, you say?

Let's see some examples:

"Correlation does not imply causation" is today's lesson. Repeat this mantra often, it's calming.

The high percentage of passport holders in the Mexico/Canadian border states reflects that a US passport is necessary to travel to and from those countries. Also, there are large numbers of naturalized citizens in those states.

map of private health insurance holders

map of life expectancy

Map of Prosperity levels

The diabetes map, in many ways reflects relative poverty levels. It also shows the likelihood of finding something good to eat nearby.

Church membership

Political Party affiliation by state

map of evangelical church membership

Region of Family Ancestry

Unemployment, gun permits, Muslim centers... Admittedly some of the maps show both sides of the same coin, but anyway you slice it, endemic regional poverty is a blight on the US.

Late in my explorations I came across the Mapping the Measure of America web site. I am a map junkie, and know nothing of the sponsors of the site, but found it fascinating just the same.


Divine Theatre said...

Gah! You had me until the Two Party paradigm showed it's ugly face!

Shelley said...

Fascinating stuff. I don't understand the politics at all, mind.

Martha said...

Toad -- that was really interesting.

LPC said...

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. Reminds of us what matters, really.

JMW said...

Wow - very interesting. My state is the best armed...well, if we're invaded by Indiana, we'll be ready.

SouthernProletariat said...

Strange that you posted this today. I was just thinking that we have become a nation that likes to neatly group ourselves as "us" vs "them" no matter what the issue...its easily seen online- just throw out a statement and watch as everyone picks sides. (and it can be as innocent as I hate tomatoes or I like the color blue).

Mrs. Blandings said...

Really enjoyed this. Isn't Colorado interesting?

Jg. for FatScribe said...

ah, yes, well, good thing our governance isn't practiced in a Manichean, binary, two-color mapped world. though i LOVE these maps and the website has my curiosity up indeed.

good stuff and food for thought. you make one think, sir.

robyn james said...

"2009: College Degress by County"

Degrees is misspelled

submitted by a Mississippi-educated person; one who does not go to church, votes Democrat, and has held a passport since the age of 17

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