I am often surprised when people talk about the total implausibility of the events in Márquez’s fiction. Having been born and lived in a deeply spiritual and extraordinarily resourceful part of the Caribbean, a lot of what might seem magical to others often seems quite plausible to me.

Of course a woman can live inside her cat, as the character Eva does in Márquez’s 1948 short story ‘Eva Is Inside Her Cat.’ Doesn’t everyone have an aunt who’s done that?

Edwidge Danticat remembers Gabriel García Márquez: http://nyr.kr/1nu3MMs (via newyorker)

(via newyorker)

day following the release of a new solo record and video, Wu-Tang affiliated rapper Andre Jonson, AKA Christ Bearer, was taken to a hospital following a failed suicide attempt. He threw himself from a second-story balcony after deliberately severing his penis. Members of his group, North Star, who live in the same building as him, heard his fall and his screams and raced to the ground floor to find him running around screaming incoherently. 

The Internet has mainly reacted with shock, a lot of WTFs and surprised/concerned emojis. But many are hung up on the penis aspect of this case, using the opportunity for a quick dick-joke or flippant comment about mental illness. Billboard embedded the Northstar song “Crazy” in their article that broke the news about this story. Tasteful. Twitter users have, of course, been using this as the opportunity to make dick jokes. Because how else should you respond to a man’s suicide attempt?

Read more

Thank you. This man needs compassion, not mockery.



Watch: CNN compares traditional Maori greeting to Chippendales and horny emus

How long does it take for the most trusted news source to turn a boring non-story into a racist, xenophobic nightmare?

About 13 seconds it turns out, and that’s only because CNN news correspondent Jeanne Moos takes her time narrating the intro.

Read more

The only thing surprising about this is that it wasn’t split-screened with the fucking plane.

Whoa. Hi, @wilwheaton. Thanks for reblogging this horrible thing I wrote about.


Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population

A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading

Quick update: If you’re the kind of map lover who cares about cartographic accuracy, check out the new version which fixes the Gulf of California. If you save this map for your own projects, please use this one instead.

Map observations

The map tends to highlight two types of areas:

  • places where human habitation is physically restrictive or impossible, and
  • places where human habitation is prohibited by social or legal convention.

Water features such lakes, rivers, swamps and floodplains are revealed as places where it is hard for people to live. In addition, the mountains and deserts of the West, with their hostility to human survival, remain largely void of permanent population.

Of the places where settlement is prohibited, the most apparent are wilderness protection and recreational areas (such as national and state parks) and military bases. At the national and regional scales, these places appear as large green tracts surrounded by otherwise populated countryside.

At the local level, city and county parks emerge in contrast to their developed urban and suburban surroundings. At this scale, even major roads such as highways and interstates stretch like ribbons across the landscape.

Commercial and industrial areas are also likely to be green on this map. The local shopping mall, an office park, a warehouse district or a factory may have their own Census Blocks. But if people don’t live there, they will be considered “uninhabited”. So it should be noted that just because a block is unoccupied, that does not mean it is undeveloped.

Perhaps the two most notable anomalies on the map occur in Maine and the Dakotas. Northern Maine is conspicuously uninhabited. Despite being one of the earliest regions in North America to be settled by Europeans, the population there remains so low that large portions of the state’s interior have yet to be politically organized.

In the Dakotas, the border between North and South appears to be unexpectedly stark. Geographic phenomena typically do not respect artificial human boundaries. Throughout the rest of the map, state lines are often difficult to distinguish. But in the Dakotas, northern South Dakota is quite distinct from southern North Dakota. This is especially surprising considering that the county-level population density on both sides of the border is about the same at less than 10 people per square mile.

Finally, the differences between the eastern and western halves of the contiguous 48 states are particularly stark to me. In the east, with its larger population, unpopulated places are more likely to stand out on the map. In the west, the opposite is true. There, population centers stand out against the wilderness.


Ultimately, I made this map to show a different side of the United States. Human geographers spend so much time thinking about where people are. I thought I might bring some new insight by showing where they are not, adding contrast and context to the typical displays of the country’s population geography.

I’m sure I’ve all but scratched the surface of insight available from examining this map. There’s a lot of data here. What trends and patterns do you see?


  • The Gulf of California is missing from this version. I guess it got filled in while doing touch ups. Oops. There’s a link to a corrected map at the top of the post.
  • Some islands may be missing if they were not a part of the waterbody data sets I used.


©mapsbynik 2014
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Block geography and population data from U.S. Census Bureau
Water body geography from National Hydrology Dataset and Natural Earth
Made with Tilemill
USGS National Atlas Equal Area Projection



10 most popular ‘Game of Thrones’ baby names

There are more Khaleesis than Betsys being born.

Read moreFollow policymic

Hey guys, I did some data journalism.


Teaching 4-year-olds how to be journalists in @thanksimadeit classroom! #journalism #press #teaching #school #classroom #onassignment #future #children (at National Museum of American History)

Love this!


The lobby of the old “Daily News” building on East 42nd Street, built in 1929 features a beautifully detailed spinning globe



Watch: 'Batman the Animated Series' returns with new short

Follow policymic

Hey, I wrote this thing!

The article, I might add, not the short. Though it’s a really good short and I’d be super proud of myself if I had.


A House Divided

A lobbying firm took data from the National Journal’s annual congressional voter ratings to compare liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. From top to bottom, we have 1982 to 2013.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza attributes the polarization to redistricting, with the parties effectively creating safe voting districts. But, as he points out, the Senate is equally partisan:

More intriguing — and harder to explain — is how the middle has dropped out of the Senate, which is not subject to redistricting. Because senators represent entire states, self-sorting should be less powerful…

…[M]ore than half of the Senate fit between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democrat in 1982. For the last two years, there has not been a single Republican with a more liberal voting record than any Democrat and not a single Democrat with a more conservative voting record than any Republican. Not one.

Cillizza does the math: In 1982, 75 percent of congress fell into an ideological middle. Today, .7 percent does. Read through for the rest and to view the Senate chart.

Dang. Especially interesting/disheartening in light of a new study about how white Americans react to demographic shift data: They become more conservative.

While researching for “On the Precipice of a ‘Majority-Minority’ America: Perceived Status Threat from the Racial Demographic Shift Affects White Americans’ Political Ideology,” psychologists Maureen A. Craig and Jennifer A. Richeson conducted four experiments to assess how people who identify as white reacted to racial demographic changes regarding three different population sets. The first study showed that making Californians aware of the shift in demographics led “politically unaffiliated white Americans to lean more toward the Republican party and express greater political conservatism.” The other experiments showed similar results.