Showing posts from March, 2012

Continued Patriarchy: The Lack of Women in State Legislatures

After thisthis, and now this post all in a row, I promise this will be my last map post for a while. This time I returned to the state legislature as the subject of analysis, and I looked here at the percentage of women in every state legislature. Let's take a look at my result:

The clear impression is one of inequality: Only in four states are over a third of the legislators women, and leader Colorado still only has 41%, which means all the states fall far short of any sort of gender parity. The national total is that 24% of state legislators are women. While this is the highest percentage in our country's history, I don't think it's anything to be proud of.

There isn't quite a red state-blue state division apparent in the map, although all eight of the states with 16% or less sent their electoral votes to McCain in the last presidential election. The top-performing "red state" according to the 2008 election would be Arizona, tied for third, but Colora…

How Many State Constitutions?

Perhaps I shouldn't get too carried away with mapmaking, but I have now made another map, only a day after this one about state legislatures. In that post yesterday, I said I'd probably make new maps about the number of legislators in each state, or the ratio between numbers in the house and senate. This time, however, I found something that's probably much more interesting: the number of state constitutions that each state has had.

Now, this is definitely related to my pretty recent post about how ironic it is to love the U.S. Constitution but hate the U.S. government. In it, I concluded that if you have a problem with how the Federal Government works, you probably should want to change its founding document - not enshrine it forever. This map shows which states have changed their founding documents, and how many times they've done it.

The clear image is one of southern states having had the largest number of constitutions: Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, …

State Legislatures: Odd or Even?

After my project a few weeks ago of Senators Per State Since 1959, I have now returned to state-based mapmaking. The idea for this map came to me totally out of nowhere: Out of the fifty state legislatures in the United States, which ones have an odd number of members, and which ones have an even number?

I quickly realized I should break the question down even further, according to each chamber of the legislature. Since 49 of the states are bicameral, this made it simple to make a Punnett square of the four combinations possible with an odd or even house and an odd or even senate. Look at the results for yourself:

Now, an odd or even number of politicians in each state's representative body may seem like a completely random data set to analyze. Indeed, the results shown on the map would seem to say as much, as there are few easily graspable patterns. No region of the country is characterized by a single set-up: not New England, not the Deep South, not the Great Plains, not the Pac…

Two Things Everyone Should Know About U.S. Education

I'm glad that I started following the blog Schools Matter a few months ago. This is an excellent blog with a constant stream of intelligent writing on education, schools and teachers. Often, the blog's authors take stands against so-called school "reformers" and the ideas they are pushing so strongly in the U.S. right now, including union bashing, teacher bashing, increased standardized testing, increased teacher "evaluation" and "accountability," increased school choice, and increased promotion of charter schools.

This new, post-NCLB wave of education "reform" is typified by the ridiculous pseudo-documentary Waiting for Superman, which I reviewed and critiqued two months ago. Rather than go on a long diatribe about these issues, however, I'd just like to provide you with two succinct, all-important points that encapsulate the key problem in American education and the key reason why so-called "reform" is nothing more than a…

The Irony of Constitution-Loving Government-Hating Types

Let's say we take your average American conservative, or libertarian, or conservative-libertarian. If you talk to them long enough, (and it probably won't take long), you'll find that they are utterly in awe, utterly worshipful of the ideas forever enshrined in the U.S. Constitution - the democracy created by our founders (you know, democracy for white landholders).

If you take your average American and asked them what they'd do to change and improve our system of government - say, by writing a new constitution - I don't know if they'd be able to think of anything concrete. If you went back to that conservative-libertarian though, they'd think your question was blasphemy. Considering how conservatives (and politicians in general) talk about the Constitution, they would never for a moment consider that something better might be created. It's rather like the Bible, actually - conveniently infallible, for easy reference and selective quoting. (For further …

Revisiting Fargo-Moorhead

Last year I visited my girlfriend for my spring break at her college in Moorhead, Minnesota. (You can see some photos from then here.) This year I did it again, coming back from break a few days ago, on Tuesday. This year, though, I didn't have a sprained ankle, and my girlfriend has an apartment to herself, rather than one with three roommates. (Quite an improvement!)

Moorhead is a college town directly across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota, which itself has a lot of education going on, though it's an important city on its own. I think the two communities make a pretty nice amalgamation - two states, two sides of a river, very flat and very spread out, but filled with lots of nice people. Although it was my "spring" break, the snow and cold were still in place for most of the time I was there. It did melt off by the end though! Here are some of the photos I took:

I don't think Blogger is very good at letting you arrange photos in a post. Oh well! I hope …

Les Personnages et l'identité dans L'Aventure ambiguë

Three weeks ago I wrote my first essay in French since I've been back in the United States. As with my assignments from Strasbourg that I posted on the blog, like here and here, I'll just leave this as I wrote it in French and at least a few people across the internet may find it of some use. This is an essay about the novel L'Aventure ambiguë (The Ambiguous Adventure) - a classic of Francophone and African literature. In it, I argue that the author presents his ideas through his use of the characters with whom the protagonist interacts. Getting the paper back, my professor said that in general, I should write more simply and be more clear with my ideas. I think he must be right, so I'll be focusing on that next time. In any case, here's the essay.

Les Personnages et l'identité dans L'Aventure ambiguë
La formation d’identité constitue l’enjeu central du roman L’Aventure ambiguë, écrit par le Sénégalais Cheikh Hamidou Kane en 1961. Comme indique son titre, ce…

Senators Per State Since 1959

Inspired by this chart from the Economist, I decided to make a map according to the number of individual senators each state in the U.S. has had since 1959 (the year of the 49th and 50th states' entry into the Union). I guess since it's a presidential election year in America, politics is on people's minds, and for me one thing that always sticks in my craw is the lengthy terms many senators and representatives have maintained in states around the country. I was particularly wondering whether my home state of Alaska would stand out in this respect. After all, Ted Stevens was our senator for forty years, and Don Young is currently running for his 21st term as our representative in the House.

However, in the course of my Wikipedia-based statistics-gathering and cartographic pixel-manipulation, I discovered that Alaska isn't very unique in having long-serving legislators. In fact, there are seven states that have had fewer senators than Alaska over the past 53 years: Hawa…

Hot Chocolate Addendum: Epicurean and Company

After writing this review of three places to get hot chocolate around Georgetown University, I was walking around in the northern reaches of the campus, (the medical area, mostly), and I realized there was one place on campus I had missed where I could buy hot chocolate: Epicurean and Company. Apparently this buffet-style restaurant - also with a hibachi restaurant on the side - used to be one of the universities cafeterias. Now it's a hangout mostly for medical students and hospital personnel, and probably for people who live at that end of campus who, (like me), think it's a long walk down the campus to Leo's Dining Hall (right where I live). The Georgetown campus is actually very small and compact compared to most universities, I think, but everything is relative, especially to lazy college students.

Anyway, realizing I'd overlooked Epicurean, I promptly went in and got a large hot cocoa, just as I'd done at all the other places. I immediately discovered this wa…

Korea's March First Movement and Some Upcoming Centennials

Very appropriately, today was the day I had my midterm for my course on modern Korea. I didn't even realize it until my professor mentioned what day it was - but today is March 1st, and 93 years ago in 1919, Koreans started a huge and inspiring movement that expressed their national identity and their defiance of Japanese colonialism. It was a topic that we had addressed in class just a few weeks before, and of course it was something I wrote about on my midterm.

Now, 93 years may not seem like that big an occasion, (though March 1st is always important in Korea, where it's a national holiday), but it's interesting to think about the historical centennials and bicentennials that are approaching in the next couple years. The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, for example, will take place just next month on April 15th. Then the bicentennial of America's War of 1812 will be a few months later. The events that started the First World War will see their hundr…