Category Archives: Navel Gazing

Random Philosophizing and Overblown Self Examination

Eventually I’ll stop writing about it.

But I need to get over it first.

I’m still reading the news too much. This site made me feel a bit better, because I can at least be angry.

I also finally found what I’ve been looking for and can maybe read a little less news. What is it? A cartogram of the United States based on population showing the election results in the usual striking red and blue. I also wanted a county by county version of the same. I just couldn’t abide by that big red map with the tiny bits of blue on either end. Why should Wyoming count so much more than Rhode Island, it may be huge, but no one lives there. I want to see a map that looks like the near 50-50 split that the election actually was.

Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan have answered my prayers (google searches). The typical election map looks like the one below, lots and lots of red. What these researchers have done is to shrink or expand individual states based on their population. This gives a truer picture of the popular vote than a map based on land mass, which doesn’t really figure into the equation.
Map of US Election Results 2004 - State by State

Cartogram of US Election results 2004 - State by State

Then next thing I wanted was basically the same data, but on the county by county level. Why? Because my first reaction is to say fuck the south and contemplate cecession, but then I noticed the tip of texas was blue. What? No, really, there are parts of Texas that vote blue. Parts of every state that vote blue except Utah and Oklahoma.
Map of US Election Results 2004 - County by County

Cartogram of US Election Results 2004 - County by County

So what is all this analysing about? I guess it is grieving really, I had higher hopes for my fellow Americans despite all likelihood. I would still like to see the difference between a cartogram based on population and one based on electoral college votes. Maybe one superimposed over the other with enough space between states to make individual comparisons. I guess I’m wondering how broken this system is, I’ve read that it weights more heavily rural votes than urban votes. Michael, Cosma, and Mark, can I have that too?

Their whole report.

the namesake

Cover of the namesake by jhumpa lahiriby jhumpa lahiri

Maybe the immigrant experience is universal, maybe it doesn’t depend on what country you have left or are working to integrate into. This book was far better than Interpreter of Maladies because of the continuity, the development of the characters, and the obvious sincerity with which it was written.

She cried as she feeds him, and as she pats him to sleep, and as he cries between sleeping and feeding. She cries after the mailman’s visit because there are no letters from Calcutta. She cries when she calles Ashoke at his department and he does not answer. One day she cries when she goes to the kitchen to make dinner and discovers that they’ve run out of rice. She goes upstairs and knocks on Alan and Judy’s door. “Help yourself,” Judy says, but the rice in Judy’s canister is brown. To be polite, Ashima takes a cup, but downstairs she throws it away. She calls Ashoke at his department to ask him to pick up the rice on his way home. This time, when there is no answer, she gets up, washes her face and combs her hair. She changes and dresses Gogol and puts him into te navy blue, white-wheeled pram inherited from Alan and Judy. For the first time, she pushes him through the balmy streets of Cambridge, to Purity Supreme, to buy a bag of white long-grain rice. The errand takes longer than usual; for now she is repeatedly stopped on the street, and in the aisles of the supermarket, by perfect strangers, all Americans, suddenly taking notice of her, smiling, congratulating her for what she’s done. They look curiously, apreciatively, into the ram. “How old?” they ask. “Boy or girl?” “What’s his name?”

Mine might be a bichon frise, but he has had somewhat the same effect on icy Parisians. Too bad I didn’t get him sooner.


To deny freedom, on the grounds that some may abuse it, disregards the possibility that the denial of freedom also fails to recognize our call to experience the fullness of human life.

~Patricia Mullins, Becoming Married, Towards a theology of marriage from a woman’s perspective

I think I’m becoming a feminist.