Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Orleans

Two muffuletta sandwiches to go later (and currently eating in the car), we're outta New Orleans. And sad to go. This visit really was a reminder of how much ass New Orleans kicks.

Because we had a car, we got to visit more than just the French Quarter,., Bucktown, the Garden District, St. Louis cemetary number 3... stuff we normally wouldn't be able to do. And lots of pictures! But, for now, off to Fort Worth, Texas.

Frenchmen St.: better than Bourbon street.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Orleans

Walking around New Orleans. The weather is not cooperating, which kinda makes it all the better.

Stopped in for lunch at Coop's Place.

Gumbo, with a load of okra, and a taster plate.

New Orleans is absolutely fantastic. I forgot how much I like it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Piano Man

Pat O'Brien's... Actually followed by 'Baby Got Back'..

Riverwalk, San Antonio


-- Post From My iPhone

Good morning, sunshine!

La Quinta, San Antonio!

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

White sand missle range

Got here by mistake, looking for the white sand national monument, not the white sand missle range.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chope's Restaurant

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, January 25, 2010

And we are now live and on the road...

So when we drive off the road, you'll know where to send the cops.

To update where we are, just push refresh on your browser.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


While at the HardRock blackjack tables around 2:30 am last night, a lovely couple of dudes informed us that the Grand Canyon area, and Flagstaff specifically (where we are planning to stay the night before visiting el Canyon), was dumped with over 50" of snow.

After giving eachother a few awkward, worried looks, Adam and I finished our bourbons and decided to cash out. Back in the room we looked up the number to call the Canyon Village after we woke up to hear about the road conditions...

\so, it sounds like the roads look ok... we're gonna continue on!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm off.

The last few days have been a bit of whirlwind, and I haven't put up what I wanted to.. it'll have to wait for after me thinks.

For now, I'll update the blog on the road, and maybe even try to get some gps tracking up here... Of course, that all depends if my unlocked phone is actually unlocked.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Granite Club

Can I just say, the Granite Club is unbelievable.

• Two twenty-five metre, six-lane pools, a 'tadpool' and an activity pool for the little swimmers
• Summer tennis - twelve clay courts
• Winter tennis - eight bubbled courts
• Indoor skating rink
• Five single squash courts and two double
• Four badminton courts
• Winter golf dome
• World-class curling facility

Umm.. one of those swimming pools has a RETRACTABLE ROOF.

Saturday morning Derek invited me to play squash with him up there, and he gave me a tour of the place... Cameras felt frowned upon, but I did manage to take these with my phone.

No squash pics unfortunately. Derek used to be an ace and ranked on the high school circuit. We played 4 matches I managed to win the last one! I was/am very excited about that!

Oh, and we had lunch afterward, as we watched Josée Chouinard coach some young figure skaters.

I guess the food was mediocre. A man has to take a stand somewhere; back to the Y.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indentifying fake art, update...

Can you spot which one is real and which one is fake?

Apparently you can.

Teaching a computer to spot a bogus Bruegel.

Just a small update from the Playing the Part and F for Fake Orson Welles-ish post, a computer model to identify fakery is being developed (via Geekpress).

Rockmore, a mathematician at Dartmouth College, knew of statistical techniques to detect individual styles in other arts, such as writing. Back in the 1960s, Frederick Mosteller and David Wallace had statistically analyzed a dozen essays from The Federalist Papers whose authorship was disputed. Mosteller and Wallace compared the frequencies with which the essays used non-contextual words such as “by” and “from” and showed that all 12 were far more consistent with the writing style of James Madison than that of Alexander Hamilton or John Jay.

The challenge for Rockmore was to define the “words” that comprise a painting and then to find characteristic regularities in the way a particular artist uses those elements.

To code the complex images that appear on the retina into a simple form in the brain, the human visual system takes advantage of the fact that the natural world is pretty predictable. If one spot we’re viewing is white, for example, the spot next to it is very likely to also be white. So once an image strikes the retina, the brain uses “filters,” neurons that are triggered by particular patterns in a small patch we’re viewing, Graham says. One filter, for example, might detect something like a horizontal white stripe on a black background, while another might detect a vertical white stripe on a black background. Two or more filters might be triggered by a single patch.

The particular filters our brains use are exquisitely tuned to the world around us. The brain seems to have evolved so that it needs only a handful of filters to sense any patch from an image in the natural world. But if we traveled to some world with very different visual characteristics, our brains would have to use many more filters at a time to represent what we would see.


This kind of project really highlights the current mini-theme here of perception, identifying things correctly and incorrectly, and why we like what we like. It's starting to make sense that there are certain key characteristics that define an object one way or another, authenticity vs. forgery, like vs. dislike, real or surrogate. It is also starting to become clearer that these characteristics are often such small modifications from the standard norm that often they're not immediately recognized as key characteristics for identification, at least consciously. And if it is recognized, is it a fair assessment given the bounty of experience you've had in your life?

I think it's pretty fair to say that's on a case by case basis. Anyway, I like this shit, perception needs to give way soon.. just one or two more!...

Basing ideas and concepts on a lack of evidence?

Yeah, and this naturally flows into the idea of forming conclusions based on the perception of certain observed 'key' characteristics. Thanks Matt!

It's usually pretty easy to disprove something; it's obviously a lot harder to prove something. And this is further complicated by change (Heisenberg Principle chiming in?). Is it possible to prove, even rightly conclude anything through observation alone? Quantum Mechanics (and life, really) tells us that things change the second we observe them... And the second we observe them, we change and react. It's the ultimate black box problem, where observation B not only provides only a clue to input A, but moreover changes what input A is.

I know I keep harping on this idea; I'll continue to for at least a little bit. How do you know when something is real? Attacking the problem from many sides... perception, ideas, are obviously quite complex ;)

Everything is connected. This shit is awesome.

Fish May Not Have Evolved Gills to Breathe

Fish May Not Have Evolved Gills to Breathe (via BoingBoing)

In order to keep from shriveling like your fingers in the bathtub, fish must constantly exchange ions, such as sodium and potassium, with the water. Larval fish can exchange ions through their skin, and early fish likely used rudimentary gill structures known as branchial baskets. But when the salinity of the water changes rapidly--as happened when fish invaded freshwater habitats--fish would have needed a much more efficient way of exchanging ions with their environment. That means large, complex gills.


The team placed the rainbow trout larvae in a box with two compartments: one for the head, where gills develop, and one for the tail. Clarice Fu, then a graduate student at the University of British Columbia in Canada, measured ion and oxygen levels at both ends of the larvae. After about 15 days, gills were exchanging more ions than the tail was. It took another 10 days or so for the same thing to happen with oxygen ... Greg Goss, a biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, says the study has made him much more confident in the hypothesis that gills evolved to exchange ions. But he'd still like to know which genes turn on first--those involved in oxygen exchange or those involved in ion exchange.


This kinda makes sense and explains a few things to me.

First, you need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. To ask the right questions you need to know A LOT. I know, pretty vague, but let me dive in here a bit. Things are very rarely as simple as they appear. The process of natural selection has been taking place over millions of years within the context of millions of variables.

Now, I'm not going to tell you anything you haven't heard before, but the process of folding to increase surface area for absorption is really something special. This growth through 'branching' and folding (I'm not even going to start on the fibonacci sequence here yet.. ) is something quite special. Who could forget villi?

Both villi and gills are a great and efficient way to expand with minimal resource investment. Form often equals function... or at least originally? Things end up doing multiple things.

Leading from that, (Second,) it seems that these scientists are basing their 'what came first (evolutionary)' hypothesis on 'what comes first'. As in, since the process of ionization happens first in development, gene expression, and function, it therefore must have been the basis for the actual form of the resulting product. Is this right? It makes sense, but doesn't necessarily account for the whole story.

Anyway, this is all rather trivial in a sense.. but, I'm happy reinforcing those two ideas. I mean, some things take a long motherfucking time, tonnes of shit fails, and tonnes of shit, because it initially succeeds, grows and adapts into something more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mitchell F Chan's 'Visions of the Amen'

Kinetic Sculpture Installation, Performance and Exhibition Reception:
Friday, January 22, 2010, 7-10 p.m. Performance, one night only.

The Spoke Club Gallery
600 King Street West, 4th Floor

The Spoke Club and O’Born Contemporary present Mitchell F Chan’s Visions of the Amen, an architectural-scale immersive installation of string and brass bars, which is brought to life as soprano Ashleigh Semkiw performs a piece by Oliver Messaien. As her voice moves through different pitches, the different strings in the cage are excited; the louder the pitch is delivered, the faster each string rotates, and the resultant shape carved out becomes wider and shorter.

The exhibition also features two series of images mounted on the Spoke Club walls: the first, a set of concept and design “sketches” pertaining to the project, executed by Chan as full size paintings in encaustic, oil, string and collage on linen; the second, a series of drawings presenting mechanisms and concepts of the architectural absurd, by Tom Ngo.

Mitchell F Chan’s work is exhibited in association with Engine Gallery and Tom Ngo’s work, in association with LE Gallery.

Visions of the Amen is a kinetic sculpture that responds to song to change form. Each string is hung from a motor and weighed down by a brass rod. As the singer sings, software written by the artist analyses the frequency and volume of the note being sung. Each string is activated by a different note, and spun with a velocity corresponding to the volume of that note. The rotation of the string creates the dynamic three-dimensional volumes seen in the video. As the strings are pulled outward to create those forms, so do they pull up on the brass rods, inciting them to dance along.

Friday night. I unfortunately can't make it. It'll be busy though, so go early.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So, who are Thrush Hermit? In 25 minutes?

Inspired by the NxNE post, here's a short, self-made documentary of Thrush Hermit. No reading required!

The Cribs at The Pheonix

Friday night, went with Adam to see the Cribs play at The Pheonix. I think I've seen them twice before, and wasn't really impressed either time. This time they kinda blew my socks off... No longer just playing 'noise', they seemed to have honed their live sound a bit, and that may have had something to do with The Pheonix. Or Johnny Marr. Or, just practice and experience.

The highlight of the show for me was "Be Safe", with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth speaking video behind them...

This was great. Really reminded me of REM's Belong. This is how I've always pictured this song done live, and the chanting draws parallels for me...

Anyway, The Cribs are an English 4-piece indie rock band from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The band consist of twins Gary and Ryan Jarman and their younger brother Ross Jarman. Recently they have been joined by ex-The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr who has been made a formal member of the group since 2008. The band, who first became active on the concert circuit in 2002, were initially tied to other like-minded UK bands of that time, most notably The Libertines, by a British music press that were looking for a 'British rearguard' to the wave of popular US indie rock bands of the time. In 2008, Q magazine described the band as "The biggest cult band in the UK" (wikipedia).

They're touring on their newest album, Ignore the Ignorant. Download here.

Buster Rhino's

Jordan rallied the troops for a feasting at Buster Rhino's (Southern Ribs) this Saturday. I'll leave the description of how great the place is to Cladam, who can actually write:

Whitby may be a long drive to satisfy barbecue cravings, but it takes a lot longer to drive south of the Mason-Dixon line, and this is the closest you’re going to come to that culinary experience. Rhino’s doesn’t look like much—a converted space in the middle of an industrial outpost with a “hillbilly fire alarm” bag of popcorn dangling from the ceiling. In fact, it’s not even primarily a restaurant; much of the space is used to prepare meats for supplying to other restaurants. In the front, owner Darryl Koster—who’s become a cult hero among local ’cue fanatics—dishes out his wares, cafeteria-style, in takeout containers. But the food more than makes up for the presentation: the ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket are all smoked to perfection. The spice rub alone offers more than enough complement to the meat; the peppery house-made barbecue sauce is barely necessary, though we recommend buying a bottle to take home. Come on a Thursday or Friday evening, when the ribs are fresh out of the smoker, and you may consider immigrating to the burbs. But do not, under any circumstances, complain about the white bread used for your sandwich; that’s how they do it in the South, and Koster wouldn’t have it any other way.

Having taken out from there a few times, I can say that even their freezer products are fucking amazing. Eating their stuff as it just exits their smoker is entirely a different level though.

Jordan found this: Basically a sitting to sample small servings of some of the best Buster offerings.

Our sitting consisted of:

Kool-aid pickles

Candied bacon (pretty good... Very crispy, slightly dried and sweetened bacon.)

Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers
- Ok.. these were fucking awesome. The best part of the tasting.

Bacon explosion - Sausage interweaved with bacon. Can't type, salivating.

Pulled pork sandwich
- always delicious, with or without their sauce.

Brisket sandwich
- I'm now liking the brisket more than the pulled pork - basically, it's perfect.

Ribs and hushpuppies - the ribs made me cry.

Bacon apple pie
- really good. The apple pie was fantastic, the bacon made it phenomenal.

Smoked Mars bar - like cold Mars bars, with a strong smokey smell, and a hint of flavour.

Curious George Learns A Hard Lesson About Desire

(via poppedculture)

Ahh.. Herzog... what a lovely voice you have.

HERZOGFEST - a screening, every second Tuesday of some of the Herzog's full-length works, paired with one of his shorter films,with a guest introduce each evening. The events will be free of charge, and take place in the back room at The Ossington. Popcorn will be provided free of charge as well.

January 19th

Introduction by

Blake Fitzpatrick
Graduate Program Director, Documentary Media (MFA)
Ryerson University


1977 documentary film

Herzog visits an island on which a volcano is about to erupt. The pretext of this film was provided when Herzog "heard about the impending volcanic eruption, that the island of Guadeloupe had been evacuated and that one peasant had refused to leave, [he] knew [he] wanted to go talk to him and find out what kind of relationship towards death he had" .

1992 documentary

An apocalyptic vision featuring the oilwell fires in Kuwait after the Gulf-War, as a whole world burst into flames. This film is stylized as science fiction, as there is not a single shot in which you can recognize our planet.

Bike ridin'

With the idea of taking it too lightly, I turned out to be right.

So, first off, as you may have noticed, there was no live gps tracking. I tried out a few different programs for the phone to upload my position, but all required a constant data link. I don't have an unlimited data plan, and was hoping / assuming the programs uploaded positional information intermittently via SMS. Ahhh.. I was wrong. It is intermittently, but via the internet, not via the 'this totally makes more sense' SMS route. As a side note, for the upcoming south-western trip, I'm hoping to have an unlimited data plan down there (with a pay-as-you-go US plan), so that should be up and running, assuming my phone doesn't flake out. Anyway...

The plan last week was to cover the TTC streetcar tracks by bike, approximately 104 kms. I changed up the route originally suggested there, cutting out some of the overlap and accounting for wind, trying to not cross the city twice.

I had three bucks in my pocket and took the subway to St. Clair station; that really does seem to be the most logical starting point as there aren't any connecting streetcar points around there and it's north of the city (the city gets (up)hilly north of Dupont - also, Long Branch was the second option, but I really didn't want to take the streetcar to start trip). I then went west (with the wind) across, and down back into the hood. I took a bit of a detour as I grabbed the camera I forgot at home, along with an extra pair of gloves. First part, pretty easy... biking with the wind, and although St. Clair feels like a back alley wide, single lane hell for cyclists, all went swimmingly. Next step, getting out to the east end.

The day was not as nice as originally predicted. Not sunny, windier than anticipated, and a bit colder. I apparently started noticing all this going against the wind.

What most people don't notice is that experiencing any wind, while on a bike, is a MAJOR factor, SIGNIFICANTLY changing your experience. On a flat road, aerodynamic drag is by far the greatest barrier to a cyclist's speed, accounting for 70 to 90 percent of the resistance felt when pedaling (read this).

From the site linked above (ok, don't link over, I'll try to explain), here's the take home message.

Let's say you're biking on flat land, and you weigh and are shaped about (+/- 10%) the same as me. Now, you're traveling at a very comfortable* 20 kms/hour on the bike. There is a wind of 10 kms/hr. This is not a very strong wind at all. Most days have at least a 10 km directional wind (in fact, looking at it, all next week has a 10km/hr predicted wind velocity - check it out yourself).

So, let's say the wind is with you, at your back. Looking at the calculations, you are burning approximately 0.05 calories a minute (over your resting calorie consumption), or, about 15 extra calories PER HOUR. Sometimes biking is FUCKING GREAT.

However, if that slight wind is against you, you are burning approximately 1.25 calories per minute, or 375 calories PER HOUR.

That's almost 15 TIMES THE EFFORT! (*hence the * on 'comfortable'). It's really insane how much wind drag matters on a bike. And, it's exponential. The faster you go, the more calories you have to burn per km pre hour. Wind resistance is a bitch.

As a reference, biking with no wind at 20 km/hr will burn about 111 calories per hour over resting. Approximately 3500 calories is equal to a pound of your weight.

Anyway, back to riding!

As a pedestrian, wind like this isn't as big a factor... Tonnes of people were out, at least in the west end.

The end of the line.. First real break time.

I decided to check out the R.C. Harris Treatment Plant at the end of the road. Despite its age, the plant is still fully functional, providing approximately 45% of the water supply for Toronto and the Region of York (wiki)!

And then that's when it happened. Taking the picture above, with the wind, the dirt, my eyelashes, my face pressed up against the back of the camera, I lost my left contact lens. Damn.

Fuck, actually. That never happens. Daily disposables, but no backups in pockets. Ok... after looking around, I had lost it. So, now what?

Well, I had to abort and go home. Admitting defeat, reaching for my wallet to take out three bones for the streetcar, I just realized I didn't bring that either. hahaha/.. Traveling light - well done, sir.

So, my expertise on monocular biking is this:

It's not so bad... The only really tough parts come when there are bumps - waves - in the road. While biking, you'll notice that at busy intersections there are 'waves' in the pavement, presumably made by the constant beating the road takes from the cars almost constantly along the same path (particularly bad at the Bloor-Dundas intersection, for example). They're not major bumps, but they are there, and normally one kinda naturally let's off the pedals, rides these waves, and just coasts. Well, apparently depth perception is preettyyyy important to notice these waves... and going full throttle over them is not fun.

Other than that, I wasn't expecting wet roads. Granted they were all day, but with one eye, those wet streetcar tracks are hazardous. I've wiped out on them before, two-three winters ago... those things are kinda scary when wet. I really couldn't afford wiping out now, and took my sweet-ass time through and around them. Still, damn you, streetcar tracks.

So, feeling slightly defeated, kinda cold, but glad to be home. One hot toddy later and it's into the shower.

Oh, and look who's waiting for me! Already undressed, ready for a good scrubbing!

What, you've never showered with your bike? I mean, I've probably been on it more than anything else in my life... oh.. or wait. That's probably not true...

After a great scrub down, some cheesy pasta. Oh. so. fucking. good.

Anyway, I tried to follow those damn streetcar tracks, and failed. I don't feel so bad about it though... (liberal mush coming... ) I tried! I think that's why there is more than 1 day in the week. Next time, I'll be better prepared. Practice! Oh, and maybe wait until it gets a bit warmer.

Streetcars, you take this round, but not really ;)


Oh, and I wore with my skiing helmet for the ride. It's a lot warmer, easier to work with than a hat and a regular helmet, and, it has built-in headphones. Music along the ride was great. And no, it wasn't played loud, so I could still hear, even conversations along the sidewalk.

The first song that came on after I lost my contact lens? Perfect.

Goodness gracious me, I'm sure
It's raining harder than it ever has before
I can feel it coming down so hard
Can't help but think somebody's got my calling card
I'm waiting on admission into heaven
So wake me up at 7:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I'm gonna make a speech and I'm gonna charge admission

We're gonna have a big parade
To celebrate all the money that we made
I wanna ride on the top of the float
And stare at all the people and gloat
I don't like sleepin' in late
So wake me up at 8:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
There's gonna be no reason for this ugly indecision

Well here we are, and I'm shit outta luck
So I feel it's time for me to pass the buck
If I'm in the car when it crashes
Miss me most and you can kiss my ashes
Things seem to be comin' up all the time
So wake me up at 9:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I'll let'em lay me on the table and make the first incision

I heard once that it don't make sense
To build a wall where you should have put a fence
I heard twice you should not put me
Where you put a fridge, a couch and a TV
The world needs a few good men
So wake me up at 10:00
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision…
I'm still waiting on admission into heaven
So wake me up at quarter past eleven
I'll go out and find something to do
And one of these days, when I have my vision
I will gather my disciples for the final expedition

Friday, January 15, 2010

Doctors without Borders

It's exactly what it sounds like: a temporary hospital with inflatable components that can be deployed whenever needed. Doctors Without Borders has been employing them for years, including an impressive inflatable nine-tent, 120-bed center in Pakistan following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake there in 2005.

Globe reporter Les Perreaux reached Port-au-Prince Thursday and finds a city destroyed, streets filled with bodies and people struggling to seek aid.

Your gift, not yours, but yours to give.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti earthquake

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti this evening, causing extensive damage to the capital, Port-au-Prince. The main shock appears to have initiated less than 25 km southwest of Port-au-Prince. (all via Scienceblogs).

The catastrophe is just starting to come to light.

What can you do?

Doctors without Borders.
The Globe and Mail has a good list as well.

Bamboo bikes

Carbon fiber and aluminum are so 2009. This year's best bicycling model is made out of bamboo and hemp. A new generation of manufacturers are coming up with some of the most environmentally friendly transport yet. Lighter, stronger, more comfortable and these bikes have also got a much smaller carbon footprint.

Around a hundred frames later, Calfee had finally built a bamboo bike frame he could believe in. His verdict: The vibration absorption of the bamboo frame was better than that provided by a carbon fiber frame. "The bamboo bikes are a much smoother ride," he says. He also found that the bike had impressive impact resistance and was tougher than carbon fiber and less prone to fracturing. These results were confirmed after the bamboo frames were tested at the EFBe bicycle testing laboratory in Germany. But such hardiness has a price -- a mountain bike frame made out of bamboo will set the average rider back around $2,700 (€1,879).,1518,670689,00.html

This stuff isn't new... Bamboo seems like a pretty great resource for building.

Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth; it has been measured surging skyward as fast as 121 cm (48 in) in a 24-hour period,[6] and can also reach maximal growth rate exceeding one meter (39 inches) per hour for short periods of time. Many prehistoric bamboos exceeded heights of 75 metres (250 ft). Primarily growing in regions of warmer climates during the Cretaceous period, vast fields existed in what is now Asia.

Unlike trees, all bamboo has the potential to grow to full height and girth in a single growing season of 3–4 months.

It also shows an potential to replace concrete in many parts of the world, which has been extimated to contribute 5-10% of the world's greenhouse gases.

Phyllostachys aurea, Tetragonoclamus angulatus, Phyllostachys nigra f. punctuata,
Phyllostaches bamb. violascens, Phyllostachys nigra f. 'Boryana',Phyllostachys viridis
'Sulphurea', Phyllostachys bambusoides.
(Illustration Photo by Wetterwald M.F. - via here.)

It even has better tensile strength than steel. Bamboo's tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel.

Bamboo fibers, unlike those found in trees, contain silica, the substance associated with the glassy sturdiness of sand. This silica content also helps bamboo resist rot and termites.

Knowledge on mechanical properties of bamboo in strip forms (strip or strand) is very important because LBSL contains bamboo in these forms. Studies on the anatomy of bamboo internode cross-section have revealed that the strength properties change (increase) from inner to outer layer of the culm.

Here's some stuff to build out of bamboo.
Here's where you can get bamboo cheap (distribution centre in Toronto). Ebay is also really cheap.

Thrush Hermit ticket sales are up!!!

All shows. I got one ticket for each of the Toronto shows. If anyone is up for a roadtrip let me know, and I'm in.

How Poland votes, 2007

Mr Hecht did some overlay work, and came up with this remarkable fit: “The divide between the (more free-market) PO and the (more populist) PiS almost exactly follows the old border between Imperial Germany and Imperial Russia, as it ran through Poland! How about that for a long-lasting cultural heritage?!?” How about: amazing, bordering on the unbelievable?

“Your map showing the electoral divide in Ukraine (#343) is quite interesting, and put me in mind of a similar one that I saw last year, that prompted me do a bit of map research,” writes David G.D. Hecht. “If you look at the Wikipedia article on the Polish legislative elections of 2007, there is a map there similar to the Ukrainian one. I looked at this map and thought, hmmm…where have I seen this divide before? Looks very familiar. This isn’t just some urban/rural, professional/worker, white-wine-and-brie/beer-and-sausages thing!”

The Ukraine map isn’t the first example on this blog of electoral cartography showing older cultural divides. Map #330 demonstrates a correlation in the Southern US states between areas of intense cotton production in 1860 and counties voting for Obama in 2008. And map #108 shows the regional divides at issue in France during the 2007 presidential election. I am reminded of German artist Heinrich Böll (b. 1917 in Cologne), who once said that he could still sense the cultural difference between both banks of the Rhine, once the border between the Roman Empire and the barbarian hordes across the river.

Old habits die hard.