Detroit's 8 Mile road segregates white (blue) from black (green) residents. Image from

Detroit’s 8 Mile road segregates white (blue) from black (green) residents. Image from

Dustin Cable at University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service has created ” the most comprehensive representation of racial distribution in America ever made.” (H/T WIRED). Based on census 2010 data, each dot represents one person. Says Wired:

It isn’t the first map to show the country’s ethnic distribution, nor is it the first to show every single citizen, but it is the first to do both, making it the most comprehensive map of race in America ever created.

Check out the whole map here – it’s interactive and stunning.

Needless to say, this segregation is not accidental, nor is it benign. It comes as a result of centuries of institutional policies from both government and private enterprises, and locks communities of color in geographical settings where opportunities are often scarce.

I Have a Dream is Not For All

Alex Pasternack from Vice Magazine explains  why MLK’s iconic “I have a dream” speech is under copyright, and strictly so:

Any unauthorized usage of the speech and a number of other speeches by King – including in PBS documentaries – is a violation of American law. You’d be hard pressed to find a good complete video version on the web, and it’s not even to be found in the new digital archive ofthe King Center’s website. If you want to watch the whole thing, legally, you’ll need to get the $20DVD.

Usually a speech like this would be in the public domain, but King sued to get copyright in 1963, and his estate sold the rights to EMI in 2009. It’s been used in ads, but often documentary filmmakers can’t pony up the hefty fees for licensing.

What would King have made of all this, and of SOPA? I think he might have reframed the question, with poetry: how does ownership of ideas effect how we exist together in the world? How does the spread of ideas help push forward better understanding among men. What price are we willing to pay to keep ideas free? How do we decide who deserves access to ideas, who gets to build on them, and who gets to “own” them? Who gets to censor them, and at what cost?

For what it’s worth, a full copy of the speech that hasn’t been taken down yet is here: 


Gin & Tonic and the Empire

Kal Raustalia over at Slate on how Gin and Tonic helped maintain the British Empire:

Tonic, initially, was a method of consuming quinide, which was vital in protecting the British colonizers against the malaria that was so hampering their efforts. But even after it became commercialized, it wasn’t always very tasty.

It was only natural that at some point during this time an enterprising colonial official combined his (or her) daily dose of protective quinine tonic with a shot (or two) of gin. Rather than knock back a bitter glass of tonic in the morning, why not enjoy it in the afternoon with a healthy gin ration?

Ok, so the article doesn’t actually end up arguing that this mixture specifically helped; I’m sure they would’ve taken their tonic regardless. Mildly interesting factoid, though.