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Posts Tagged ‘demographics

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want”*…


How do you spend your days?  Since 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Time Use Survey have asked thousands of people this question.  See the answers– and use interactive charts to see where you fit– at “Counting the Hours.”

* Calvin (Bill Watterson)


As we consider a nap, we might send thoughtful birthday greetings to Baruch (or Benedict) de Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher whose rationalism and determinism put him in opposition to Descartes and helped lay the foundation for The Enlightenment, and whose pantheistic views led to his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam; he was born on this date in 1632.

As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honored save justice and charity.

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670



Written by LW

November 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Different languages, the same thoughts; servant to thoughts and their masters”*…


Every year, the US Census Bureau releases data on the languages spoken in American homes. Usually it groups the languages in 39 major categories. Now it has released much more detailed figures, which show that Americans speak not 39, but more than 320 distinct languages.

The bureau collected the data from 2009 to 2013 as part of the American Community Survey, which asks Americans all kinds of questions to create highly granular estimates on various demographic indicators. The new data estimate that more than 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home…

Learn more– and see the breakdown– at “All 300-plus languages spoken in American homes, and the number of people who speak them.”

* Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun


As we choose our words, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that Sesame Street premiered on public television in the U.S.  In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children.  By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was broadcast in over 120 countries, and 20 international versions had been produced. And as of 2014, Sesame Street has won 159 Emmy Awards and 8 Grammy Awards—more than any other children’s show.  The show, which was itself based on mountainous research,  has been the subject of, literally, thousands of studies on its effectiveness as a learning vehicle for children; it has been a keystone of English (and native) language learning in the U.S. and around the world.



Written by LW

November 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

“There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last”*…


Japan’s government will no longer reward its centenarian citizens with a silver sake dish worth ¥8,000 ($64), saying the growing number of long-lived Japanese are putting a strain on the country’s budget.

The Japan Times reports that the government will find a more frugal gift in time for the country’s annual celebration of the elderly on Sept. 15. Last year, the government spent ¥260 million ($2 million) on the program, which provided dishes for more than 29,000 centenarians. Japan expects as many as 38,000 more people to celebrate their 100th birthday in 2018…

More on longevity– and the prospect of a “demographic time bomb“– at “Japan has so many 100-year-old citizens that it can’t afford to give them presents anymore.”

* Robert Louis Stevenson


As we settle in for the long haul, we might send birthday greetings to Abilene (Wrage) Spiehs; she was born on this date in 1898.  When she died (on November 24, 2008), she was 110 years old– the oldest living Nebraskan at the time, and one of a select group of humans who lived to that age.



Written by LW

September 4, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion”*…


 click here for larger, zoomable version

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.

More discussion of unoccupied America (and other nifty maps) at @nikfrrr‘s mapsbynik.com.


* Democritus


As we search for signs of intelligent life, we might spare a thought for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; he died on this date in 1955.  A Jesuit theologian, philosopher, geologist, and paleontologist, he conceived the idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving) and developed Vladimir Vernadsky‘s concept of noosphere.  Teilhard took part in the discovery of Peking Man, and wrote on the reconciliation of faith and evolutionary theory.  His thinking on both these fronts was censored during his lifetime by the Catholic Church (in particular for its implications for “original sin”); but in 2009, they lifted their ban.



Written by LW

April 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time”*…


Benedikt Groß (designer of a cool typeface made up of satellite imagery, among many other nifty things) has created Population.io, a new site (still in Beta) that visualizes a user’s place in the world’s population in a series of elegant tables and charts… including one that estimates the time of the users death (at least loosely– that is, based on average life expectancy where he/she lives).

Locate yourself.

* Mark Twain


As we settle into the global village, we might send speculative birthday greetings to Philip Kindred Dick; he was born on this date in 1928.  A novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher, Dick published 44 novels and 121 short stories, nearly all in the Science Fiction genre.  While he was recognized only within his field in his lifetime, and lived near poverty for much of his adult life, eleven popular films have been based on his work since his death in 1982 (including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau, and Impostor).  In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923; and in 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.



Written by LW

December 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Demographics is destiny”*…


… or not.  One can decide for oneself by consulting ZIP Lookup

How much can where you live say about who you are? According to a new interactive map by geographic information firm Esri, a whole hell of a lot. Esri’s “Tapestry Segmentation” database mines socioeconomic and demographic data to create a picture of who lives in each ZIP code–i.e., what marketers assume about you based on your particular neighborhood or city. Using Tapestry‘s 67 neighborhood classifications for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics–complete with cutesy names like “American Dreamers,” “Front Porches,” “High Rise Renters,” and “Diners and Miners”–Esri has created an interactive map of the U.S. called ZIP Lookup that lets you dig deep into the stereotypical lives of residents of your ZIP code, along with their average and income, and the neighborhood’s density…

Read more at “What Your ZIP Code Says About You,” then find out what to expect as you trick-or-treat this evening.

* Arthur Kemp


As we disagree with Arthur (on this, as on so many fronts), we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that The World We Live In (The Insect Comedy) opened in New York.  Written by Karel Čapek (who had two years earlier coined the word “robot” in his play R.U.R.) and his brother Josef, the play features a tramp/narrator who falls asleep in the woods and dreams of observing a range of insects whose lifestyles and morals stand in for various human characteristics– the flighty, vain butterfly; the obsequious, self-serving dung beetle; the ants, whose increasingly mechanized behavior leads to a militaristic society; et al.– an allegorical account of life in post-World War I Czechoslovakia.



Written by LW

October 31, 2014 at 1:01 am

“You can’t be at the pole and the equator at the same time”*…


Harvard grad student Bill Rankin, the proprietor of the fascinating Radical Cartography, has created maps that display the sum of all population living at each degree of latitude or longitude (circa 2000).  As one can see above, there’s a decided northerly bias: roughly 88 percent of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere; about half, north of 27 degrees north.  As Rankin observes, “taking the northern and southern hemispheres together, on average the world’s population lives 24 degrees from the equator.”

As for longitude, there’s a wholly-unsurprising skew to Asia…

[TotH to Geekosystem]

* Vincent van Gogh


As we search for the strength in numbers, we might send exploratory birthday greetings to Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay; he was born on this date in 1828.  An archaeologist and an inveterate traveller, Charnay is remembered both for his explorations of Mexico and Central America, and for his pioneering use of photography to document his journeys.  Using the then-newly available wet collodion process (which was, coincidentally, invented by Frederick Scott Archer, who died on this date in 1857), Charney became expert at producing large photographic plates in difficult field conditions; he thus created an early photographic record of various cultures (and with Le Plongeon, various archaeological sites) around the world.


Written by LW

May 2, 2013 at 1:01 am


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