Monday, October 8, 2012

The Most Divisive Maps In America

More on the art and science of map making. This time it is Robert Draper in The Atlantic writing about the history and politics of gerrymandering: works of art, redistricting maps continue to evoke a crazed but symbolically rich dreamscape of yearnings, sentimentality, vendettas, and hyper-realism in American political life. Districts weave this way and that to include a Congress member’s childhood school, a mother-in-law’s residence, a wealthy donor’s office, or, out of spite, an adversary’s pet project. When touring Republican strongholds, Tom Hofeller enjoys showing audiences the contours of Georgia’s 13th District, as proposed after the 2010 census, which he likens to “flat-cat roadkill.” (The map that was ultimately approved is shaped more like a squirrel that hasn’t yet been hit by a car.) This redistricting cycle’s focus of wonderment, in Hofeller’s view, is Maryland’s splatter-art 3rd District, which reminds him of an “amoeba convention.” He tends not to mention the gimpy-legged facsimile that is his own rendition of North Carolina’s 4th District.

 My speciality, Geographic Information Systems plays a role too:

“There’s an old saying: Give a child a hammer, and the world becomes a nail. Give the chairman of a state redistricting committee a powerful enough computer and block-level census data, so that he suddenly discovers he can draw really weird and aggressive districts—and he will.”

Fascinating article..

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