Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Rise and Fall of Milo

While I am loathe to bring more attention to Milo Yiannopoulos, I will do so simply as a way to blog something for the month. I noticed how quickly his name entered my consciousness, and how quickly it left. Surely he is far more important than I recognize, since I hadn't heard of him before the incident with Leslie Jones, which caused Twitter to ban him. I won't recapitulate his long history of targeting and abusing vulnerable populations. What is interesting is how a Google image of his "trending" has but 3 peaks, and otherwise is fairly flat-lined.

One notices the first small peak that occurs in July 2016. This is when Twitter banned him for hate speech and inciting violence. The second peak in early February 2017, is when he cancelled a Berkeley, CA paid speaking engagement at the university because he apparently became frightened by some snowflakes. Shortly thereafter he appeared on the Bill Maher debacle, where he caught the attention of a Canadian teenager who disapproved of the provocateur's earlier history of supporting pedophiles, and she decided to take down the Breitbart editor by reminding the public about those prior comments (which were always available on the interwebs, were one inclined to do some googling). Milo's sugar-daddies (Breitbart, CPAC, and Simon & Schuster) decided he was no longer able to please them, so they cut him loose.

Milo, not satisfied with a graceful bow-out, decided to very publicly become what he had preached against to win his earlier acclaim--a "victim" of circumstances beyond his control, psychically injured by abusive people. While I can sympathize with his situation, what will certainly take years of concerted effort from which to heal, I cannot now suddenly accept that his years of abuse of other people is justified by claiming "victims become victimizers." The irony is so delicious. His fame and supporters loved the fact that he lashed out at people who were weak and oppressed by a patriarchal, heterosexist, racist system. The stigmatization that comes from not falling into line within this system is brutal, not only psychologically, but physically and materially. Yiannopoulos intentionally pretended none of this damaging reality existed. Now that he has been cut out by the gatekeepers of this system, he claims the system is victimizing him and has begun shifting the blame elsewhere. He falls into the camp of those who love and vigorously support a system from which they benefit, but which creates fundamental and profound inequalities for others--until he no longer benefits, he himself has become the 'other.' Now he suddenly finds flaws with the system and wants some support. Granting such at this stage would seem to make his life far too easy compared to the evil he has perpetrated.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Median Family Income by County: 1950-2012

I was interested in geographical economic capital flows in the U.S., but had no idea how to search for it, since Googling for "United States," "geography" and "capital" just kept giving me the state capitols. So with some inspiration from some FB friends, I grabbed some Census data, spent 2 days hand-transcribing some old PDFs from the pre-computer era, and created this GIF. It's median family income by county from 1950-2012. From what I can tell, there is no county-level data prior to this. I could be wrong, feel free to correct me. The red are the poorest areas that year, and the green are the richest areas.

I used QGIS to make the maps, Excel to manipulate the data, OpenOffice to bring the Excel data into a format QGIS could use, and Paint Shop Pro, Animation Shop to make the GIF.