It is impossible for me to average how much research I use when I’m composing an essay. A recent essay on the Mad Max franchise took about three hours and some moderately intense internet digging to compose, while a recent essay on blues music was a number of weeks and dozens of books before I began writing anything, while an essay on Stephen King took all my life to nail down. What I have discovered is that I do enough research that sometimes a list compiles itself in the corner of my office while I’m not looking, bits and pieces cobbling together under a theme or slant of the light. This is one of those.
I looked at some of the things floating around my office and discovered that I had a lot of disturbing research of a certain type – interactive maps – that, compiled a certain way, could be…not less disturbing, but more useful. So here is a list of interactive data that will likely depress you, but give you some sense of the scope, national or international in context, for the problems we all face in some way. Or worse, contribute to. What can I say: I love data. I am the Neil deGrasse Tyson of race (and apparently, post-apocalyptic scenarios).
There’s an interactive map if you want to:
1) Drop a nuclear bomb and see its effects
Pick a city, pick your bomb, detonate, weep for humanity. I came across this one doing research for my article on Mad Max: Fury Road and was stuck for an hour weighing the implications of what I was looking at…and clicking.
2) See what cities will be underwater due to climate change
In about ten years you won’t have to have this discussion with your Republican co-worker anymore because they’ll be underwater.
3) See where the most racist/ableist/homophobic Twitter users are
Geography of Hate
Anybody surprised by the racism manifesting during an average day on Twitter doesn’t have a Twitter account. This map shows you where they live down to the county. Bonus feature: you can parse out your hot zones by slur (in the event that you want to move somewhere that hates chinks and homos, but is pretty decent to their niggers). Hint: go West, young black gay man in wheelchair.
4) Watch slavery spread across the U.S.
The Spread of U.S. Slavery
I mean, ugh. The only silver lining here is that it’s history, not a forecast or running tally.
5) See how many fast food restaurants there are
Business Insider’s Fast Food Map
America is an unhealthy country, and when you look at this map you can begin to see why. It breaks down the number of fast food restaurants per state and worse, how many restaurants for every 1000 people in the state. Now, if you’re in Maine and you see the stat is 1:1000 that sounds bad. At the same time, Maine only had 1.3 million in 2008. But New York had almost the same ratio with 19 million people. That means you had about 32 billion fast food restaurants, Big Apple (Pie)!
6) See where all the food deserts are
USDA Food Access Research Atlas
Finding a McDonalds in the ‘hood is easy. A fresh head of lettuce? Not so much.
How far people live from supermarkets affects how their nutrition, which affects their health and so on. And if you’re poor and don’t have a car, you might live in a food desert. Imagine having to get a ride from someone to get a fresh fruit. Well, some people don’t have to imagine it, and you can see the ones in your neighborhood with this handy and depressing map.
7) Watch black people killed by police chronologically
Hundreds of black people were shot and killed by police in 2014. This map puts each killing this study was aware of on the map one at a time, chronologically. It’s like watching a virus grow, and was easily one of the most chilling maps I came across.
Also: If you’re of the #AllLivesMatter ilk and you want a map that doesn’t break out by race and just shows you the 5600 killings between 2000-2015 coded by means of death, here you go. (Vox)
Also: If you want a map that shows you nearly a hundred incidents when cops tried to suppress cameras, filming of their behavior, and actual video evidence since 2005, here you go. (CopBlock)
8) Determine how corrupt your cops are regardless of your race
Searchable Map of 2009 & 2010 Misconduct Incidents
Police may not report their abuses with any consistency, but of the cases of misconduct we are aware of, here’s a map (2009-2010) that graphically shows you where you really need to keep your seatbelt on or have some cash handy.
9) See why aliens won’t speak to us
Vision of Humanity’s Global Peace Index
Where does your country rank against the world in terms of homicides, political instability and general perceived criminality? Find out here, then weep over how much work we have to do as a species.
10) See how financially imbalanced the world is
The Economic Freedom Heat Map
The Wu-Tang Clan was right: cash is LITERALLY ruling everything around us.
The moral response to the question of money being the root of all evil isn’t to have less money. Much of the world suffers from corruption and a lack of equitable resources, especially money, and we live in a time when you can practically put a dollar on what a life is worth. So know that everywhere you see red, some really bad things are happening in terms of economic freedom.