This week’s visualization: Deaths in Police Custody, California, 1981 to 2015

DeathsCustody ai 79 1 RGB GPU Preview

So I made this in R and prettied it up a bit in Illustrator, which of course changed its interface again to do a bunch of things that just make it confusing as all hell to output graphics. So this is a screen shot instead of a jpeg. Why? Because for reasons beyond me, Illustrator has either moved or eliminated its save for the web options. Argh.

There are some things here that I think attest to latent variable influences of mental health and race, but I will let people interpret what they see. It’s associations of categorical data–and the categories have some problems. I am frankly ashamed of the number of groups I had to put under “Asian and Pacific Islander” as the data keep track by ethnicity. So there is a lot of diversity hidden in that category–I may go back and explode that category into its own graphic. But…for Latino…there is an equal amount of ethnic diversity, too, I am sure, but in the database itself, it’s all “Hispanic.”

In any case, this will give my class something to discuss today.

Karl Ove Knausgaard and writing and the city

So irritating. I picked up My Struggle, volume 1 out of 5 of Karl One Knausgaard “autobiographical novel”–whatever that really means–and expected to find it god-awful. I didn’t. There was a point, when he took us step-by-step through an awful, tedious, boring teenage party scene, when I thought eh, this I can put down. But I stuck with it because the language is, simply, remarkable.

I’ve been rewarded with new ways of thinking about things, like writing.

From page 192:

Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. There, that is writing’s location and aim. But how to get there?

If there is a good description of writing, it’s this. That shadowy feeling you know something, followed the struggle to write that something down, to really find out what it is you think you know and can communicate to others.

And a good description of the city, in this case, Stockholm, on pages 194-195:

Chaos and unpredictability represent both the conditions of life and its decline, one impossible without the other, and even though almost all our efforts are directed toward keeping decline at bay, it does not take more than one brief moment of resignation to be thrust into its light, and not, as now, in shadow. Chaos is a kind of gravity, and the rhythm you can sense in history, of the rise and fall of civilizations, is perhaps caused by this. It is remarkable that the extremes resemble each other, in one sense at any rate, for in both immense chaos and a strictly regulated, demarcated world the individual is nothing, life is everything. In the same way that the heart does not care which life it beats for, the city does not care who fulfills its various functions. When everyone who moves around the city is dead, in a hundred and fifty years, the sound of people’s coming and goings, following the same old patterns, will still ring out. The only new thing will the faces of those who perform these functions, although that new because they will resemble us.

And another priceless bit about writing:

Writing is more about destroying then creating.

This is in reference to one of my favorites, too, Rimbaud.

And now, crap, I’m hooked and I’ll probably spend the rest of this year reading the whole thing. Damn you, Karl Ove!!

No clue on how to read Norwegian…but Don Bartlett surely deserves a shout-out as translator. The English prose is really worth reading.

This week’s visualization: policy chronology and mass incarceration in the US

I’m not 100 percent convinced I have the right events stuck to the timeline, but my justice class has been interested in mass incarceration, and I’ve been scrambling to try to understand it myself. Suggestions are welcome here. I just threw this together with Keynote.

It’s the deadline to submit an abstract for ACSP! I got nothing, folks I just don’t know what I should be presenting on.

On sketching, however badly, instead of smoking

When I did give up smoking, it was in deference to my beloved husband’s request that I not. I really, truly enjoyed smoking. It is bad for one, no doubt, but I found that what I missed most about smoking was the reason it gave me to stop and just hang around outside for a bit.How many excuses are there, now, simply to sit quietly by yourself and watch the world go by. Now we must stand. At our desks, no less. If we are outside, we must be walking, hiking, going, getting that exercise, being well. OR ELSE WE DIEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Nobody expects all of that one of when one is smoker. Nope. When one is smoking, everybody assumes you are a self-destructive fool and leaves you be, free to idle away a few minutes with your cigarette, before you extinguish and they all rush up to you how mussssssssssst change. It’s all so marchy-marchy and productive that it is exhausting.

Not that smoking is good, because it isn’t, but it did create a nice armor around me from conversation. Go away. Let me sit here and be.

Sketching for me became a way of creating a reason to sit, outside, by myself. Sketching is not a social exercise, either, except for the people who ask you what you are doing and, now, the security guards who push you around in the name of “security.” Me and my little sketchbook might bring down the USA Bank building. It could happen. Hey, some of those pencils are *sharp*.

I am not a particularly adroit sketcher, but I do it, nonetheless, as a means to steal time and energy away from the relenting do-do-do and go-go-go pace of life in most cities.

Of particular interest: fanciful gates, cats, flowers, and transit–anything that rewards the act of spending time, and looking, looking again, and looking again.




Go stand at your own desk.

Cicero on the ideal statesman

Doo die doo…I wonder why this is resonating so hard today, from the Republic:

And indeed there is no more degenerate state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best. *clears throat loudly* But what can be more splendid when a man gives orders to a state governed by worth, where the man who gives orders to others is not the servant of greed, where the leader himself has embraced all the values which he preaches and recommends to his citizens, where he imposes no laws on the people which he does obey himself, but rather presents his own life to his fellows as a code of conduct.