Can Geography Be Radical?

Guernica recently interviewed "radical geographer" Denis Wood about his work and the power of map (a topic we've touched on before). Here's a particularly interesting excerpt:

But I’ve seen maps that I find completely terrifying. Maps of uranium mining and of various illnesses in the Navajo reservations—they’re just insane. They just make you furious. Bill Bunge’s map—which I still think is one of the great maps, the map of where white commuters in Detroit killed black children while going home from work—that’s a terrifying map, and that’s an amazing map. He knew that. They had to fight to get the data from the city. They had to use political pressure to get the time and the exact location of the accidents that killed these kids. They knew what they were looking for. I didn’t have anything to do with that project, so when I saw the map for the first time, it was like, “Oh my god.” It’s so powerful to see maps like that. That’s the power of maps, or one of the powers of maps: to make graphic—and at some level unarguable—some correlative truth. We all knew that people go to and from work. But to lay the two things together reveals something horrible.

(HT: The Daily Dish)

Flight Status

If you are in the least bit an airplane junkie, you should follow the advice of Jason Kottke (no relation to Daniel, or Leo, fwiw) and search for "planes overhead" on the Wolfram Alpha search engine. It returns a list of airplanes above your geographical location, including carrier, origin/destination, altitude, angle, type, slant distance, as well as a sky map so you can find the actual planes in the sky:

Expanding Waistlines Around the World

Obesity is far from just an American problem. These nifty maps from the Economist display average BMI for males around the world in 1980 and 2008, and the percentage change.

Google Earth as Big Brother?

Google Earth isn't just for kicks anymore: FP reports that governments around the world are using the service to catch everyone from tax evaders to marijuana growers.

Crime as Elevation

Prostitution peaks in San Francisco.

Some Maps That Changed the World

Be on Guard! and Google Maps both made the cut.

Can Gerbils Read Maps?

National borders may sometimes seem like arbitrary lines drawn on a map, but a new study from the University of Haifa reveals that those borders mean something to the resident animal populations.

Maps: Fighting Disease and Skewing Borders

A while back, we blogged about a site called Strange Maps, which features all sorts of strange, fascinating, and even influential maps. (Maps in general have since come up on this blog quite a few times.)

Frank Jacobs, the London-based journalist and creator of Strange Maps, has now published a book, Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities.

He has agreed to answer a few of our questions about maps and why he finds them so compelling.

The Paradox of Road Choice

Two physicists and a computer scientist used Google maps to study traffic in Boston, London, and New York, and found that when people use real-time driving maps to try to pick the fastest routes, traffic slows down.

Mapping Power

An Economist article discusses how simple maps have become one of the most powerful tools that interest groups use to promote their causes. The Grim Reaper's Roadmap, for instance, maps out mortality rates in Britain from different causes in hopes of sparking investigations., by mapping instances of violence in Kenya, wants to hold the government accountable. And MAPlight maps political donations to show how money influences congressional votes.