Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The City of Samba – Cidade Maravilhosa

The City of Samba video - Tilt shift photography of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival (2011), from:

This is about the spirit of a place, and the place is Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time. Done using time lapse, tilt shift photography, the video gives a good general overview of the city of Rio de Janeiro – you know, all the typical sites and sights - the fabulous white sand beaches, the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer with outstretched arms presiding over the city, cable cars ascending Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar), etc.  Then the second half of the video focuses on what Rio is most famous for – Carnival!  So even though we missed posting this on Mardi Gras itself, it is still very enjoyable to watch. 
I found the segment dealing with the parade very spectacular, of course, but very different than what I thought I knew Carnival to be, as obtained primarily from seeing how Carnival is depicted in the movies, such as one of my all-time favorites, Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro), and of course, James Bond’s Moonraker, with its famous (and nerve-racking!) Carnival parade sequence. 
The depiction of Carnival in this video The City of Samba (and it may just have something to do with the nature of the tilt shift photographic technique itself) seems very mechanistic, everybody moving with military-like precision.  The floats are HUGE!  Of course, it would have helped if the video used actual samba music as a soundtrack instead of that ethereal/frenetic stuff that’s playing on there in the background.  But it’s still pretty spectacular. 
Thanks to the Brazilian blog-meister of Urban Demographics, for posting the video.  Tilt shift never fails to amaze, and when the place that’s captured is amazing to begin with, well, what more can one say.  Fabulocity!  Cidade Maravilhosa, indeed! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Map of the Week 2-27-2012:Map of Exclusionary Techniques

“Inspired by Pieter Bruegel’s Netherlandish Proverbs, this illustration depicts 101 weapons of exclusion and inclusion operating in an imaginary urban landscape.  Interboro Partners created this mural with illustrator Lesser Gonzalez for the forthcoming book The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion.”  From

“Recent books like Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City celebrate the capacity of cities to bring people together to hook up, swap ideas, and influence and inspire each-other, but it’s important to remember that our cities are pretty good at keeping people apart, too.  More than forty years have passed since the Fair Housing Act outlawed discrimination in the sale, rental, and marketing of homes, in mortgage lending, and in zoning, and still most Americans live in communities that are racially, economically, generationally, and even politically and religiously segregated.   How can we explain this? What produces segregation? Is racial segregation merely the legacy of policies and practices—like racial zoning or racial and religious covenants—that the Fair Housing Act illegalized?  Or are there newer, subtler things that continue to produce racially homogeneous communities?
This map—and the forthcoming book that it appears in—is meant to support that latter claim. Hidden in the map are forty commonly-used, contemporary “weapons” in what we call the “Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion,” a collection of policies and practices that are used by architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, community activists, neighborhood associations, and individuals to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation, between NIMBY (not in my back yard), and WIMBY (welcome in my back yard).”  From

One of the (few!) techniques missing from this comprehensive inventory of exclusionary methods is the idea that I have researched extensively of "expulsive zoning" a different take on exclusionary zoning.  Rather than restricting who can live in a place by setting expensive-to-adhere-to regulations about lot sizes, construction materials and costs, etc., this is in a way the reverse.  Expulsive zoning has two basic manifestations: in one, public planning policy, in collusion with private developers, take an area where poor and/or minority people live, and in the interests of gentrification, facilitate it becoming too expensive for the poor/minority people to live there anymore.  This is sometimes accomplished by reducing existing manufacturing or industrial zones so that new residential or commercial development then has the space to come into the neighborhood.  This increases the attractiveness of the place to the more wealthy outsiders, who come into the new developments, thereby resulting in increasing rents in the existing housing and commercial, and forcing out poorer residents and mom and pop stores, etc. who can no longer afford the rents which have been driven higher by the spill-over effect of the new development. 
The other manifestation of expulsive zoning is that by increasing manufacturing zones or intensifying the allowable industrial uses in them, poor people and minority populations will be forced out of the neighborhood by making the place virtually unlivable, due to increasing levels of pollution, noise, traffic congestion, and other quality-of-life issues.  Both of these techniques have been used by city planning agencies (and their developer henchmen) as weapons against the poor and communities of color in the name of “neighborhood improvements.”

Here are some of the methods of exclusion, as detailed by Interboro Partners, who are, by the way, located in Brooklyn, NYC. 

Racial Steering
“Racial steering refers to the illegal practice whereby real estate brokers guide prospective homebuyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. Racial steering is not a thing of the past: in 2006, Corcoran, one of New York City's biggest real estate brokerage companies, made headlines when a sting operation by the National Fair Housing Alliance revealed that Corcoran brokers were drawing maps of Brooklyn that outlined neighborhoods that were ‘changing.’  The maps — whose source was a Census map showing percent change in numbers of African-Americans — were used to show white families where they should consider living.  The map was not shown to black families with similar financial qualifications.”

One-Way Street
“Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore is a wall.  On the east side, 85% of residents are black, 16% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $40,000.  On the west side, 96% of residents are white, 75% have a Bachelor degree, and the median income is $75,000.  Such rapid shifts in demographics are common in Baltimore, but this stretch of Greenmount Avenue is interesting for the physical devices that one side deploys to maintain a disconnect from the other.  For example, of the eight streets that intersect Greenmount Avenue between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane, only one (39th Street) allows travel from east to west.  Six of the streets are one-way pointing east (i.e., out of the wealthy, white side), and one of the streets (34th Street) thwarts westward movement with bollards.”

Minimum Lot Size
“Minimum Lot Size regulations, typically found in municipal zoning codes, define the smallest lot size that a building can be built on.  Minimum Lot Size is in the Arsenal of Exclusion because suburban municipalities use them to exclude affordable housing, public housing, and the poor, for whom building on large lots is not possible.  An early exclusionary use of Minimum Lot Size regulations can be found in New Caanan, CT, which in 1932 zoned 4,000 undeveloped acres “two-acre residential.”

“Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are rules governing land use in private communities.  Typically drafted by a Homeowners' Association, or HOA, CC&Rs attempt to guard the property value of homes in the community by regulating everything from paint colors to landscape materials to lawn ornaments.  CC&Rs are in the Arsenal of Exclusion because they are often classist (CC&Rs have restricted aluminum siding, barbecue grills, lawn ornaments, basketball hoops, and even American flags).  In his book Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government, Evan McKenzie writes of a family in a private development outside Philadelphia that was forced to remove a swing set because it was made of metal and not, as the CC&Rs stipulated, wood.”

“While some cities in the southwest still annex territory, most of the American cities of the midwest and northeast have not expanded much further beyond their 1900s limits (New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis haven't added territory since the nineteenth century).  As Kenneth Jackson illustrates in Crabgrass Frontier, a combination of new laws that made incorporation easy and annexation unworkable, improved suburban services, a rising anti-urbanism that came to see the cities like New York as too big, foreign, and ungovernable, and an ensuing desire for home-rule effectively boxed big cities in.  Without tax-revenue sharing, small municipalities — who still relied on the big cities for working, shopping, transportation, and entertainment — depleted the cities' tax bases, and created the city / suburb divide that still plagues cities today.”

For the rest of the definitions and explanations of exclusionary techniques, see
For more thought-provoking urbanism projects by Interboro Partners, see 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tracking Y Chromosomes Through Time

Tracking Y Chromosomes Through Time, from the magazine “Natuurwetenschap en techniek,” Oktober 2009

Here’s an immigration map of a different type – it traces the migration of earliest modern man (in this case, literally “man” and not woman) out of East Africa, which has been shown to have been the birthplace of homo sapiens - or “wise man” - (and more than likely earlier incarnations of hominids, as well).  So, we are all Africans originally, it’s just a matter of how long ago we left our first homeland.  According to this map, which is based on a study of Y chromosomes in contemporary men, Australian aboriginal people were among the first to leave the African continent, and Europeans and those who ended up on the American continents were amongst the last to leave (or at least, amongst the last to arrive at their eventual destinations).  
I added this map as a coda to the blog posting Map of the Week 2-20-2012: Ancestry and Immigration, after I received a comment from a reader asking (basically) how hate groups could so willfully ignore the truth that we are all Africans under the skin.  This is my response: 

Greetings, and thanks for your comment.  I agree that the best scientific evidence we have points to an East African origin for all humankind.  There has been not only forensic/fossil/archaeological evidence, but also solid research on genetic markers showing us our origins.  Reasonable and well-informed people do not doubt this any longer.  Your second statement that members of hate groups are “rather ignorant” is putting it mildly!  I think they are a great deal more than “rather” ignorant, and they are also extremely dangerous to the rest of us. 
Unfortunately, just showing people facts and evidence does not ensure that it will be believed, as witnessed by many current scientific debates right now, such as global climate change.  Heck, a lot of these people don’t even believe in evolution, or the vast age of the Earth, and they maybe only just got around to believing that the Earth is not flat and the sun doesn’t revolve around the Earth!  Some still think that man was created in the Garden of Eden in the middle east and woman was fashioned from the first man’s rib, and that the creation of the world can be precisely identified as having occurred 6,000 years ago, based on a calculation of all the begetting and begatting in the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible! (see, for instance, for creationism's defense of the "young Earth" theory.  Astounding!)  Many of these people think it is against Church doctrine to believe in evolution – they staunchly deny and are offended by the idea that humans are descended from monkeys, even though of course the principles of evolution have never claimed any such thing.  So to get these people to understand that we (humans) all belong to the same species, and that race is a societal construct is probably asking too much at this time. In any event, acknowledging the origins of something doesn't necessarily mean you don't end up hating it, despite the knowledge.  Didn't Christianity originate out of Judaism?  Wasn't Jesus a Jew? Didn't Islam have strong links with both Judaism and Christianity?  Aren't Jesus, Abraham, and Moses prophets in the Qur'an? Did this ever stop Muslims, Christians, and Jews from holding the other groups in contempt? 
For some odd reason, some people feel the need to hate.  It doesn’t necessarily involve race (although it usually does), and it oftentimes extends to hatred of foreigners, immigrants, people of other religions, other sexual identities, different lifestyles, different political views, you name it.  And then there is the big one - hatred of women.  There are whole areas of the world where women are suppressed in every imaginable way (and in some unimaginable ones) and sex is used as a weapon against them.  I have added another map to the blog posting that shows our exodus out of Africa, based on genetic markers.  I think it is an important addition to a post about ancestry and immigration, so thanks for spurring me to add it.  

Here’s another one showing our dispersion out of Africa, based on tracing the mitochondrial DNA, from:

        This is a world map of human migrations, with the North Pole at center.  Africa, harboring the start of the migration, is at the top left and South America at the far right. (Extra points to anyone who can tell me what kind of projection is used here!) Migration patterns are based on studies of mitochondrial (matrilinear) DNA.
Numbers represent thousand years before present.
The blue line represents area covered in ice or tundra or during the last great ice age.
The letters are the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups (pure motherly lineages); Haplogroups can be used to define genetic populations and are often geographically oriented.  For example, the following are common divisions for mtDNA haplogroups:
·         African: L, L1, L2, L3
·         Near Eastern: J, N
·         Southern European: J, K
·         General European: H, V
·         Northern European: T, U, X
·         Asian: A, B, C, D, E, F, G (note: M is composed of C, D, E, and G)
·         Native American: A, B, C, D, and sometimes X

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Map of the Week 2-20-2012:Ancestry and Immigration

The Largest Ancestry groups in the United States, by state and by county, based on Census 2000 data, from:

This is an oldie but goodie (from 2006), and I found this very interesting – a map of the United States, by county (and also shown by state in the upper right of the layout) identifying the largest ancestry group for the population in each.  When you look at the map by state, it is amazing how many states have German as their largest ancestry group.  It’s no wonder that at one time German was seriously being considered as a primary language instead of or in addition to English - this would have been between the late 18th century through the early 20th century, but prior to WWI, when German became verboten since the U.S. was fighting them in the war.  Although this is often thought of as a legend or myth, (see it is true that in certain places (like New York City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and much of Pennsylvania) there was probably more German spoken at home, in the streets, in the workplaces, and in the churches than anything else.  I suspect, looking at this map, that it was the same story in some of the Midwestern states.  The Midwest also has some smaller pockets of predominantly Norwegian, Dutch, and Finnish ancestry.  However, as was the case with many later immigrant groups from Europe, people tried to assimilate and fit in, and oftentimes jettisoned their native languages in favor of English so as not to appear any more foreign than they had to, and so that they would not be considered outsiders.  Often immigrants would purposely not teach their children the language of their homeland, preferring the children to only speak English, so they would have an easier time in school, getting jobs, and finding better places to live.  There was a lot of prejudice against foreigners in the U.S. (some things never change).
I find the counties (mainly in the southeastern states) identified as having “American” ancestry to be thought-provoking.  What could that mean?  We all came from somewhere else, except the Native American Indians (who also came from somewhere else, but a very long time ago).  Does this mean they (the self-identified “Americans”) don’t know where their ancestors came from?  Or they feel they have been here so long they are entitled to say their ancestry is all “American”?  Or that they are so multi-culti that they couldn’t pick just one national/ethnic group as their ancestors?  I would have thought this later problem would have occurred most often in big city “melting pots” not in relatively homogenous rural mountain areas.  Some of the readers’ comments on this topic on the website include the following: “I guess 5 generations of hillbilly isn’t a listed checkbox”  (mean and snarky!) and “I believe ‘American’ translates to Scotch-Irish ancestry, as that’s the dominant Caucasian ancestry for pretty much all of those areas covered by the label.”  Yes, I think that many people don’t think of themselves as having any ethnicity other than American when their ancestors have been here for a few hundred years. 
Also, the census allows you to check off more than one box for ancestry (this info was collected on the long form in 2000, in other words it is a sample of the total population, but now I’m not sure how it works since they did away with the long form in the 2010 census), so some of this maybe double-counting ancestries.  In any event, according to the 2000 census, about 1 in 6 Americans list their ancestry as “German,” making it the largest ancestry group in the U.S.  However, there are nay-sayers, who argue that if you combine all the British groups (English, Irish, Scots, Scots-Irish, Welsh, Canadian (?), etc.,) and the people who ARE of that heritage checked that off instead of “American,” British would be the largest ancestry group.  I think this whole thing is pretty tricky, many Americans don’t really know where their ancestors are from, or they just don’t think about it in those terms, and also you realize that you hardly ever meet anyone who tells you their ancestry is “English” or “British,” especially when their ancestors have been here since colonial days.  (Unless they belong to the Daughters of the American Revolution or descended from the Mayflower pilgrims or something equally high falutin. Or unless they are immigrants from the UK themselves, or first generation with parent(s) from the UK.)
Now, if you look at New York State, although there are many counties identified as having German, Irish, or English (and French in the New York State counties bordering French Canada) as their dominant ancestry, when you look at it on the state version of the map, Italian is the dominant ancestor group.  This is true of New Jersey, too, I guess no big surprise there, as anybody who has watched Jersey Shore can attest (only kidding!  No hate mail please! I love NJ!)

And now, for a REAL oldie but goodie, Charles Joseph Minard’s “Carte figurative et approximatative represéntant pour l’année 1858 les émigrants due globe,” or a flow map of immigration around the world.  From the American Memory site

This is another wonderful example of data visualization by Monsieur Minard, he of the seminal graphic depiction of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812, a graph/map that charts the course and attrition rate during Napoleon’s doomed march on Russia – well known to all Edward Tufte devotées (“The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”).  This map of global immigration was produced in 1862, and rather ingeniously synopsizes the primary routes of migration in 1858.  I tried to find a higher resolution version, but was unsuccessful.  Nevertheless, by zooming in on this one, it is possible to decipher most of the legend, which is in French, and also somewhat confusingly vacillates between naming the countries of origin of the immigrants or the ports they departed from. 
So, from the Legend's top, the green is from “England,” (strangely enough, Ireland is not shown, even though in 1858 it would seem that many of the British immigrants were still coming from Ireland in the wake of the great famine.  Most of the English in 1858 were headed toward the Unites States, Canada, but mostly to Australia); the pink is from “Hamburg and Bremen” (these are the major German ports immigrants departed from in Germany, cities in the old Hanseatic League.  In 1858, when this map was made, this was prior to the unification of Germany, so these numbers of immigrants might include those from other parts of what is now or was then Germany, such as Prussia, Pomerania, Bavaria, Saxony, etc., other neighboring European countries such as Poland, and some of the Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark, as shown by the narrower pink line); teal lines denoted immigrants from France (notice the line linking France to Algeria); grey lines were immigrants from Portugal (going mainly to Brasil, as were some French and Germans); Brown were immigrants from Africa (at this time there was only a relatively small amount of illegal slave trade to most of the Americas, the trade from Africa having been outlawed in 1808 in the US, and 1807 in England and her colonies, [this outlawed the importation of enslaved people, not the institution of slavery itself, which obviously continued apace in the US and other countries for decades longer], but notice still a line linking west central Africa to Jamaica and Trinidad.  This may have been the people from the Congo who went to these Caribbean outposts of England as indentured servants, more like serfs than slaves, but they were voluntary immigrants.  The thickest line from Africa in 1858 led to the Indian Ocean Islands off the coast of Africa – the islands of Reunion and Mauritius, French colonies);  Yellow designates Chinese immigrants (headed towards the west coast of the US where they built the railroads and participated in the gold rush activities, but they also went in numbers to Australia and the Caribbean); and tan were immigrants from India (notice how the lines from India go to the Anglophone Caribbean and British Guyana, in part to make up for the nearly complete stoppage in the trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa, and the actual emancipation of slaves in many Caribbean islands by the 1830's.  The Indians came as indentured servants, for the most part, to work the plantations and assume other labors formerly performed by African slaves). 
It’s difficult to see, but the lines have numbers written on them, indicating the numbers of immigrants.  1858 was prior to the great migration to the US from eastern and southern Europe and from Russia, which happened later in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  All in all, a fascinating snapshot of immigration in mid-19th century, a time of great political upheaval and social unrest in the world, and at the height of industrialization and all its attendant evils.  Of course, it’s a very coarse snapshot, and much detail and nuance is omitted, but nevertheless a pretty good effort, considering the paucity of data that Minard likely had at his disposal back then.  A comprehensive bibliography of the graphic works of Charles Joseph Minard can be viewed at

While we are on the subject of immigration, here is something a bit more recent, a map of the status of immigration laws in the United States. 

            And just to round it out, since talk of immigrants and immigration (at least in the U.S., but I think unfortunately in many other countries, as well) comes back around to hatred and intolerance, here is a map of Hate Group locations in the U.S. (Please ignore the weird projection.)

See: for more immigration/migration mapping.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Map of the Week 2-13-2012:Mapping the Impacts of Four Degrees

This map was produced by the Met Office, the UK’s National Weather Service.  See the interactive version at:

“In order to understand more about the human impact of high-end climate change, the Met Office Hadley Centre has produced a map outlining some of the impacts that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4  C (7  F) above the pre-industrial climate average.
Although the average temperature rise over the globe is 4  C (7  F) the projection on the map shows that this average rise will not be spread uniformly across the globe.  The land will heat up more quickly than the sea, and high latitudes, particularly the Arctic, will have larger temperature increases.  The average land temperature will be 5.5  C above pre-industrial levels.  The map was produced by the Met Office (on behalf of HM Government), but contains contributions from climate scientists from other institutions conducting the latest research on climate impacts.  You can view it as an interactive map online or as a layer on Google Earth.
The impacts on human activity shown on the map are only a selection of those that may occur, and highlight the severe effects on water availability, agricultural productivity, extreme temperatures and drought, the risk of forest fire and sea level rise.
  •          Agricultural yields are expected to decrease for all major cereal crops in all major regions of production.
  •         The availability of water will be affected by melting of glaciers, particularly in areas such as the Indus basin and western China, where much of the river flow comes from melt water.
  •          Population increases, combined with changes in river run-off as a result of changes in rainfall patterns and increased temperatures, could mean that by 2080 significantly less water is available to approximately one billion people already living under water stress.
  •          For many areas of the world sea-level rise, combined with the effect of storms, will threaten low-lying coastal communities.  There are often very dense populations living along coasts, as well as important infrastructure and high-value agricultural land, which makes the impact of coastal flooding particularly severe.  The intrusion of salt water on farming land, and the risk to lives of flooding events could affect millions of people worldwide every year.

            The impacts shown on the map are frightening, and the list is not exhaustive.  However, the map represents a world where climate change has gone unmitigated, where we have continued to emit greenhouse gases at the rates we are today.  If we continue to do this, then the likelihood of the planet warming by 4  C (7  F) increases, and as it does, so the risk of these impacts being realised also increases.
By taking strong and effective action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it may be possible to limit this temperature rise to 2  C (4  F).  Although this would still bring some adverse impacts, the risk of the very severest impacts, as shown in the Met Office map, is significantly reduced.” From:

Download the 4o Google Earth climate change map at:

Predicted Temperature Rise Relative to Pre-Industrial Levels - The globes show the latest results from the Met Office's climate change research.  The data are based on a mid-range IPCC emissions scenario A1B.  
“The computer climate models used for the majority of the work at the Met Office Hadley Centre are detailed three-dimensional representations of major components of the climate system.  They are mostly run on the Met Office's supercomputers.  As part of the Met Office's Unified Model, the atmosphere component of the climate model represents the same physical processes as that used for operational weather forecasts.  However, due to the longer timescales involved in climate prediction, other components of the climate system are added including:
·         three-dimensional representation of the ocean and sea ice;
·         an interactive carbon cycle model;
·         interactive atmospheric chemistry models;
·         the coupled atmosphere - ocean - carbon-cycle - chemistry model is known as an earth system model.
For both weather and climate prediction, the Met Office also runs its models at higher resolution over particular regions.  Currently regional climate models are typically run at 25 km resolution.”  From:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Map of the Week 2-6-2012:LiDAR Mapping

Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) map of forest carbon stocks (high values in red, low values in light blue, dark blue areas are clouds) in Panama.  From:

This is an example of a valuable use of LiDAR (LIght Detection and Ranging) technology.  By conducting flyovers of the last great forests in the world such as the Amazon basin, and the use of LiDAR, scientists at the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, part of the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University in California, have been able to map various attributes of the forest, including measures of biodiversity, carbon stocks, and evidence of deforestation due to mining and other human activities.  In this way, they have been able to create baseline data which is being used to assess current conditions and monitor future changes in deforestation and degradation for programs such as REDD, the United Nation’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation initiative, which will be the biggest future source of funding to protect the planet's tropical forests.
An aerial image of the Amazon rainforest in Peru, taken by Greg Asner and his team from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory.
The headlines and leader from an article in The Guardian (UK Newspaper) says: “Amazon rainforest mapped in unprecedented detail - Scientists record Amazon's structure and biodiversity by bouncing laser beams off forest 400,000 times per second - the result is a three-dimensional map of the forest showing unprecedented detail.”  From:
            Thanks, Lesley Kunikis, for sending me the link to the article.  Also check out the CAO website for more of their LiDAR projects, including the mapping of archaeological discoveries, lion kills in Africa, termites on the savannah, Hawai’ian rainforest invaders, fire in African savannahs, and California’s rare ecosystems. 

Carbon stocks in the Colombian Amazon.  Photograph: Carnegie Department of Global Ecology/Stanford University

California Floristic Province