Articles in North America
When it comes to people who speak French at home, California has only the third largest population of all U.S. states. California’s francophone population shrank by about 4% between 2000 and 2005. But historically, the situation was quite different, as French used to be an important and widely spoken tongue in the state.
A recent article in Health Affairs by David Kindig and Erika Cheng examined trends in male and female mortality rates from 1992–1996 to 2002–2006 in 3,140 US counties. What they found is a worrisome trend of female mortality on the rise in 42.8% of counties. The situation with male mortality rates is much better, increasing in only 3.4% of counties.
A few years ago, geographers from Kansas State University tried to map the spatial distribution of an abstract notion, that of evil. Geography research associate Thomas Vought and his colleagues used certain statistical measurements to quantify transgressions and came up with a county-by-county map purporting to show various degrees of the “seven deadly sins” in the USA. These maps are instructive as they highlight and juxtapose a number of interesting social issues.
A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont, once again looked into the question of where happy people live. Previous studies on the geography of personality, discussed in earlier GeoCurrents posts, were interview-based attempts to assess permanent personality traits (which may even be encoded genetically). This recent study looks at the state of happiness, temporary as it may be for any given person.
Maps are generally two-dimensional representations of the world, so by their nature they cannot represent time. Yet often it is interesting to see how the spatial distribution of a given parameter changes over time. Some creative ways have been developed to track temporal changes through maps. One such technique is designing a series of similar maps representing different time points and using the same color scheme to depict the scope or intensity of a given feature.
While research on the geography of personality, such as the 2008 study by Rentfrow and colleagues, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science and described in the previous GeoCurrents post, provides an interesting insight into the distribution of psychological traits over the country, there are a number of problems with this sort of inquiry, some recognized by the authors and others …
When I moved from upstate New York to California some five years ago, the culture shock was almost as significant as when I had moved from Russia to Israel, then to Canada, then to the UK, then to Norway, and then to the United States. This time the language, the currency, and the shape of power outlets were the same, but people appeared quite different in how they handled themselves, socialized with others, or approached life’s problems. Neurotic New Yorkers versus Laid-Back Californians? Perhaps. Is there such a thing as a psychological portrait of a state? According to some sociological studies, such regional stereotypes are not mere clichés, but have empirical support.
As noted in an earlier GeoCurrents post, most states remain more “purple” than “red” or “blue”, whereas on the county level the situation is quite different, with differentiation into Democratic and Republican voting localities becoming ever more pronounced. It should also be noted that many of the counties that went overwhelmingly for one candidate or another are demographically homogeneous. For …
As we wrap up our series on Indo-European origins and spread (one more post coming up on this issue), we thought it timely to repost Martin W. Lewis’s video lectures on the “History and Geography of U.S. Presidential Elections”, a Stanford Continuing Studies course from the Fall 2008.
Lecture 1: the basic principle of political geography; the “red and blue” …
Websites designed to help expectant parents find the perfect baby name abound on the Internet, offering statistics on the most popular names by year and sometimes by country or state. A few sites, such as The Baby Name Wizard and NameTrends.net, even have maps of name popularity past and present for each American state.
The history of the American Midwest has a French flavor which hasn’t quite vanished.
Yukon, Canada’s westernmost territory, has few people but generates much mining revenue.
As recently highlighted on the weblog Per Square Mile, amateur geographer Crystal Dorn has mapped county-level U.S. data on official disasters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and published it as a webGIS. Taking this map at face value, it seems that 54 years has not been enough time for clear patterns to emerge when each county is shaded …
A previous GeoNote highlighted a collaborative effort to map historical changes in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin RiverDelta. In a similar spirit, the fantasy satellite map shown at left, created by Central Valley geographer Mark Clark and noted by Frank Jacobs, imagines what the entire state might have looked like in 1851. Perhaps the map’s most salient feature is massive Tulare Lake, …
A recent political maneuver by the state government of Utah is stirring up intense of controversy. “Utah’s Nuttiest Idea of All,” reads a June 2 headline in the Salt Lake Tribune. A more recent opinion piece by geographer Eric C. Ewart in the same newspaper argues that that the move is blatantly unconstitutional and will “derail the largest single part of Utah’s economy: tourism.” Looking into the future, Ewart contends that tomorrow’s youth will be asking their elders, “Grandpa, why did you destroy Utah’s natural landscapes in search of quick profit?”