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All entries categorized “Media”

Mapping Moves

Friday, Sept. 10th, 2010 10:56a.m.

My friend and colleague, Danny Sheehan was interviewed on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show this week talking a map he designed that tracked the flow of residential mobility among Brian Lehrer listeners. Among 1,600 entries, his was selected as one of the 15 featured, and one of two people interviewed about his design on-air live. You can see a video his map here.

Since my research is about where people move, this is obviously more than of just passing interest to me and Danny's visualization of moves is an incredibly helpful tool to detect patterns of neighborhood change. I know this because Danny helped us with a project that I presented at ASA last month mapping where former residents of Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago moved after demolition of the project (in fact, he gives us a shout out around the 7:45 mark in the interview). Thinking about how to incorporate movement and the increasing availability of tools to do so can add a whole new dimension to residential mobility research.

  tags: data-visualization, residential-mobility, WNYC categories: Media & Neighborhoods

Obesity is a Badge of Honor

Thursday, June 10th, 2010 6:56p.m.

Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells about his new book, Pandora's Seed. About half-way into the interview (3:55, to be exact), Stewart asks a great question:

But isn't our obesity almost a medal, a badge of sorts, congratulating us on our...utter domination of the planet?

I'm not sure how well obesity-as-badge-of-honor will get anyone, but to a large degree it is true and example of what demographers call the demographic transition. Rather than dying of infectious diseases that left the human population with relatively high death rates, we now find that disease in developed nations is largely due to chronic conditions. What is interesting about obesity, and why as a sociologist I find it so fascinating, is that it is not only a chronic condition that, as Stewart points out, is an exclusively modern condition (because having enough to eat is a thoroughly modern phenomenon) that has a large behavioral component to it as well. While ecologically obesity might symbolize our triumph, physiologically it might represent a significant step back. The complete list of reasons for my interests in obesity research is a topic for another day, but understanding how the social and cultural logic of that is linked to the physciological component is, in my opinion, an extremely intersting sociological question.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Spencer Wells

  1. I think that being a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence has to be the coolest job ever. I want to figure out how to become one of those. 

  tags: demography, Jon-Stewart, obesity categories: Media & Public Health

Endings, Beginnings

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 4:06p.m.

This weekend, one of my favorite academic-flavored blogs on the internet shuttered its doors. Effect Measure was a blog about public health and public health policy. The authors, who collectively wrote under the pseudonym "revere" in recognition of Paul Revere's service on the first local Board of Health in the U.S., are expert epidemiologists that brought detailed technical expertise to issues of public health along with a broad knowledge of public health policy and its role on American health. Although I read their blog regularly, their daily -- indeed, sometimes hourly -- analysis of the swine flu outbreak were indispensable and made it a daily read during and after the outbreak. Being flu epidemiologists they provided sorely-needed analysis of the technical aspects in common language that really helped explain the crisis. They were so skilled at doing this that their writing ended up being more science journalism than expert testimony. They brought the same level of attention to topics such as food safety, occupational health, and science policy. They have handed off their role of the public health blog of record at Science Blogs (a great collection of blogs about various topics relating to different disciplines of science and medicine) to The Pump Handle. Although I will miss the "reveres," if they recommend a blog as highly as they do The Pump Handle, I look forward to reading more.

And, speaking of looking forward to reading more, also filling the absence will be a new blog -- Improving Population Health -- founded and edited by David Kindig at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.1
David is not only an expert in the field, he literally defined the field. He writes that it is "intended to serve as a forum for discussion and a call for action as we consider what all of us -- across all sectors -- can do to improve the health of our communities." His work has already done that for many years, most recently with the publication of the County Health Rankings earlier this year. The blog is already off to an auspicious start with a great lineup of guest contributors including my colleague, Sarah Gollust, in a few weeks.

Godspeed, Reveres, thank you for your contribution to the world of public health and welcome to the blogosphere, Dr. Kindig!

  1. The blog is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation who funds the Health & Society Scholars Program that pays my salary. 

  tags: blogs, David-Kindig, population-health, public-health category: Media

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