Yet Another Geographer

A stray thought on the US, UK, and celebrity in Politics

Lots of people criticize American democracy for being very celebrity-driven,1 in the sense that the media portrays it often as a set of individual conflicts between celebrity-politicians whose career trajectory is ultimately decided by name recognition. But, because there’s no one point of media focus, opposition politicians can avoid position-taking2 fairly easily… they can keep their head down. Conversely, this means that opposition politicians that want to “break out” of their current party hierarchy can use the media as a tool to circumvent the party.

A Famously Bad Gamble

Man, I am so easily nerd-sniped. First, I can just tell that the wedding profession matcher is going to push me to dig out all sorts of weird, distinctive patterns in the pairings between professionals. But, recently, I found myself idly simulating the answer to another kind of question altogether. The St. Petersburg Paradox The St. Petersburg Paradox describes a game with a mathematically “infinite” expected payoff but one that definitely does not feel worth playing.

Dynamic Dispatch is Awesome

tldr: the social and technical architecture of object-oriented programming encourages us to centralize our focus onto a few core implementations, objects, of the main concepts we use. This creates coordination problems when we want to extend or modify them; we have to work together and agree on how an object in the commons is modified. Alternatively, dynamic dispatch, a programming strategy that makes the proceedures we exececute depend on the types of their input, solves these social and technical challenges with very few tradeoffsin general.

Is depopulation harder to redistrict?

Over the last month and a half or so, my colleagues at the University of Bristol Quantitative Spatial Sciences Lab (QuSS) have done a hell of a job examining the Boundary Commission for England’s draft plan for Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies across England. We published our findings in a report and a webmap (with explanation, full-screen). One thing that was very surprising to me is the interplay between depopulation and boundary change:

Something just hit me about a month after I turned thirty

For all the change, contrast, and development that arises from your first thirty years, in the second (or third, I suppose, if you’re lucky…) do you just basically continue to exist how you are? Generally speaking, you’re not going back to college, learning to play the piano again, choosing another career… nobody in my generation has (or will have) the time or means for that, if we’re lucky enough for it to be an option.

The disappointing finitude of screens

One thing I’ve started to realize over lockdown, as I have restricted access to books, printers… physical media, is that the new paradigm of touch heavy full screen apps is fundamentally opposed to the “physical” mode of interaction that the desktop computing metaphor tried to mimic. Concerns about skeumorphism aside, the main idea of physical desktops that the desktop computing metaphor matches is that you can arrange documents/windows into stacks within a work area.

Boomeranging: It's all coming back to us

I’ve been getting very interested in the concept of the “boomerang generation” and the tension that broader social trend has with ideas around Cottagecore. They’re two very strong forces acting on the middle class… returning to intergenerational houses, folks can afford to live in the city. But, if the young increasingly don’t want to live in cities due to changing tastes and preferences, then we get another wave of suburbanization. Given my own short stint “boomeranging” to the countryside during the COVID-19 lockdown,1 I’ve been very intrigued by the intersection of the “return of the multi-generational” household and (possible) change in the tastes and preferences of young, house-buying people.

Gunnar Olsson and the Counterfactual Imagination in Geography

I suppose I’m writing this as an act of defiance against the lethargy of the Great Stall, or maybe just a way to process some feelings, but I’ve really tried to branch out across the full set of geography recently. I’ve been reading so much more than I used to, especially across the breadth of human geography. It’s been enlightening. For instance, after finishing the excellent piece on the discontinuing of the Univeristy of Michigan department of geography by Huntley and Rosenblum, I found myself working back through some of Olsson’s work.

Spatial Modelling 2 Lectures: Topics in Advanced Spatial Modelling

For an intro & discussion of some of the fundamental ideas in spatial statistics, we’ll cover a few main topics. Logistics Courses start at 11AM on the date listed. The “Join Remotely” links will work at 10AM for students to check their AV equipment. The remote sessions will be open from 11AM, through both practical sessions (1-3PM, 4-6PM). Plotting & spatial relationships in R (notebook) This practical/component will cover some of the fundamental concepts in quantitative geography, such as:

CUSP London, Exeter, and ASU

Man, it’s been a busy start to 2020. I’ve had such a great time talking to folks about new ideas on cities, spatial statistics, and machine learning. Back in late January, I gave a talk on our now-published paper on social boundaries in cities at CUSP London (slides), invited by my gracious and wonderful host, Jon Reades. Then, I went off to western Ireland for some short R&R, catching gale force winds at the Cliffs of Moher & some nice evenings in Dingle, Co.