Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Abortion Bans

As a result of Friday’s Supreme Court power grab immediate abortion bans have gone into effect in numerous states with many more to follow soon*. 

Map via New York Times
In many cases these bans are without exceptions for the mother's health (very pro-life) or for rape or incest. This puts these states on an equal footing worldwide with a tiny handful of countries in Central America, Africa and Iraq.

Map via NBC Chicago

*Exact numbers are tricky with a number of lawsuits still pending.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Isolated Tribes of the Amazon

Indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips were recently murdered on an expedition in the remote Javari (or Yavari) Valley in westernmost Brazil. They were studying and working to protect isolated indigenous tribes. These are tribes that do not want contact with the outside world. They are under threat from illegal fishermen, religious missionaries who want to convert them, dieases, drug trafficking, and the large scale destruction of the Amazon by agriculture and logging, along with a right wing government that is actively promoting those interests.  There are 28 conformed isolated tribes in Brazil, 10 in the Javari region, and possibly as many as 86 nationwide.  

The above map is from El Pais. Due to some technical problems I can only shows the western half at a good enough resolution to be able to read the text. Here is the map's legend,

and the entire map at a less readable resolution.

Pereira and Phillips were killed by a local fisherman on the Rio Itacoai while heading north to the town of Atalaia do Norte. A map from Uol News shows the area where they were last seen.

There is a good, detailed summary of the threats to these tribes in El Pais.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Global Inflation

Inflation is causing economic stress here in the United States. It is often covered in the news as a failure of the US economy, but as this map shows, inflation is a global phenomenon and the United States is in one of the lower categories.

The map, via statista show projections from April, 2022. The countries with higher rates tend to be "developing nations" that are experiencing inflation as a consequence of economic growth. The highest rates are found in countries that are experiencing conflict such as Venezuela (500%*-ouch!) and Sudan. The accompanying article on statista, explains the inflation situation in much greater detail. 

Another map from statista, that is on Forbes, shows global gas prices.

The United States is in the middle category here but still gas is much cheaper here than in Canada, Europe, South and Eastern Asia and Australia. While this map is also a few months old, the current info from Global Petrol Prices still has the US in the same approximate position.

While looking for more information on statista, I found this interesting map showing ships are currently jammed up trying to get to the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. Delays in container shipping are one of the major stressors contributing to inflation.

* In looking at inflation trends I've seen other numbers for Venezuela that are around 250%. I imagine it's not easy getting accurate numbers given the political turmoil in that country.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Book Review-Make Me a Map of the Valley

Here is a review of a book you probably weren't planning to read: Make Me a Map of the Valley: The Civil War Journal of Stonewall Jackson's Topographer

Jedediah Hotchkiss was a brilliant cartographer who worked for Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and other Confederate generals after Jackson's death. Originally from upstate New York, he settled in Virginia and became a loyal soldier of the Confederacy.

I bought this book after reading about it in an online forum. I was under the impression that I would get some insight into 19th Century cartographic practices. Disappointingly, there is no discussion of how the maps were produced, just "Worked on a map of {such and such} County", the occasional mention of "map reduction" and his need for materials, mostly just paper.

As a northerner, I must put aside my biases and acccept the U.S. Army being referred to as "the enemy". His religious sanctimony and hypocritical complaints about the government taking away the freedoms of people who own slaves are also annoying, but to give this book a fair review, that is all I will say about it. 

There are several examples of his maps at the end of the book. To avoid copyright issues, here is an example from the West Virginia Encyclopedia. There's some state name confusion as West Virginia was a brand new state and many locations were still referred to as "Virginia" as in the map below. I suspect the color was added later. The maps in the book are in black and white.

Unfortunately the example maps from the book are provided without context and in most cases they are very hard to place within his journal passages. Many of the maps are of battles that are not even mentioned.

Hotchkiss kept a massive journal covering most of his adult life. This book only covers his military service during the war, from March, 1862 to April, 1865. The passages are very dry and hard to read. There is a lot of name and place name dropping, usually devoid of the context that would make it interesting, or at least understandable. Here is a typical passage:

"Wednesday, Dec. 3rd [1862]. Travelled by the Plank Road, towards Fredericksburg, turned off just below Verdiersville and taking the Catharpen Road through an almost unbroken forest. Went to within 6 miles of Spotsylvania C.H. A Mr. Davis, of Rockbridge Co. was with me: we got a good dinner at Mr. Wright's; found Charles Harris of the Q.M. Dept. where we spent the night. The roads are badly cut up. The day was fine; sunshiny and pleasant. Hd. Qrs. at Guiney's, at Mr. Chandler's"

Major battles such as Antietam and Gettysburg are mentioned but without much indication of the importance of these events. In his defense, it is hard to know in the middle of a war, what will become the major events of a war. Also Hotchkiss takes on a kind of cheerleader role in his journal by talking up the "routs" and captures of the enemy. There is little indication that his side is losing the war until the last few pages. The footnotes even mention that his letters to his wife reveal a much more despondent tone on the progress of the war.

The most interesting parts of the book are the Foreword and Introduction (there is also a Preface). The foreword discusses how both sides lacked maps of the area where most of the fighting took place. Most of the battles were in rural locations that were off the main transport routes. The Introduction, written by historian Archie P. McDonald, covers the events of that period. Detached from the day to day details, it provides the overall context that is missing from the journal entries. I re-read it after finishing the journal part to make sense of what I had just read.

The key event is when General Jackson asked Hotchkiss to "make me a map of the Valley, from Harper's Ferry to Lexington. showing all the points of offence and defence in those places...." This huge 100-inch long map of the Shenandoah Valley is considered his masterpiece. 

It would have been helpful to have included at least part of this map in the end papers, though maybe technically difficult to do for such a large map. Many of the obscure locations referenced in his journals can be seen here. The full map above can be seen via the Library of Congress web site. You can see much more of his work from LOC's Hotchkiss Map Collection.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Transit Maps for Sports

 Designer Lou Spirito is making "Vignelli Inspired" transit maps of major sports leagues, named for Massimo Vignelli, designer of New York's famous 1970s era subway maps. 

Each transit line represents a division.

This gives a nice sense of how compact some divisions are versus others, the NBA being a great example.

Whereas leagues like the NHL and NFL have these strange configurations with Florida teams grouped with teams in the northeast.

It is also interesting to note the differences between the sports with purely geographic alignments (basketball and hockey) and baseball and football with their National/American splits. I would like to see how other leagues look such as Major League Soccer or the WNBA.