Aviation Accidents

April 8th, 2008

Using data provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, I created a map of aviation accidents occurring between 1983 and 2007. The data includes 9,389 aviation accidents resulting in 19,740 fatalities in all 50 states. I neglected to illustrate Alaska and Hawaii on the maps but will include them in a future version.

The first map shows the number of aviation accidents by state. 1,213 aviation accidents (or 12.92%) occurred in California. Florida, with the next highest number of aviation accidents, only recorded 647 aviation accidents (or 6.89%) during the 25-year period. Surprisingly, only 406 aviation accidents were recorded in Alaska (not shown). My hypothesis before creating these maps was that Alaska, where air travel is prevalent*, would claim the most aviation accidents.

*According to the Wikipedia article on air transport in Alaska, “Alaska has the highest number of pilots per capita of any U.S. state: out of the estimated 663,661 residents, 8,550 are pilots, or about one in 78.”

The second map represents the number of fatalities caused by aviation accidents. It illustrates a similar message as the first map, but is skewed by the aviation accidents of commercial airliners that resulted in a large number of fatalities.

Most of the accidents – in fact, 99.4% of them – caused only one fatality. Nearly 50% of the accidents resulted in 10 or fewer fatalities. Only seven of the aviation accidents occurring between 1983 and 2007 resulted in more than 100 fatalities. Those aviation accidents are illustrated in this third image (essentially, a layer over the second map).

Click on maps to view at a larger resolution.

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There Is More To A Place

September 6th, 2007

People are the most important part of places. I have written about this before. Twice. And I am delighted to read that the guys at Penny Arcade agree. In their news post today, Gabe recounts the success of PAX – the three-day game festival they host every year in Seattle, WA. He recalls that representatives (or perhaps, spies) from other festivals were taking notes and mapping the exhibits with the expectation that applying the same formula and using the same ingredients as PAX, they could reproduce the atmosphere and their festival could be just as successful. What they neglected to realize (as Gabe aptly wrote) is that it is not the physical setting that ensures the festival’s success – it is the community.

I have noticed the same phenomenon at bluegrass festivals. At FloydFest, like many other bluegrass festivals, an entire village is constructed only to be disassembled four days later. If such temporary and haphazard infrastructure can support thousands of people and accommodate their basic needs, what is the need for urban planners? Minimal planning was done to organize the campers at FloydFest. Rough guides were given in the form of tape laid out on the ground indicating recommended camping areas, but the festival attendees ultimately organized themselves. As an urban planner, I am often deeply concerned that while I may design an efficient and beautiful place, it will not be appreciated to its fullest potential without its intended population. Does the place – the physical setting – even matter without the people to animate and enliven it? And will people ultimately adapt their activities to whatever space they occupy regardless of how well-planned it was?

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September 2nd, 2007

Filmed in 1972, the movie Deliverance tells a story about four suburban professionals who endeavor on their final canoe journey down a river in rural Georgia that is scheduled to be flooded by real estate developers – imminently burying the valley, its provincial residents, and their culture along with it. By depicting the conflict between rival characters – city men and the country folk they encounter – the film addresses the deeper theme of urbanism versus rurality. It is not just a movie about survival, wit, and human nature; it is a movie about the rapidly disappearing countryside.

Based on a novel written in 1970, Deliverance illustrates the disparities between rural lifestyles and overpowering suburban culture. Suburbs became prevalent in the United States in the 1960s with the rise of Levittowns – mass-produced neighborhoods designed to supply affordable housing to veterans after World War II. This movie confirms that aversion to suburbs is not a recent phenomenon. As little as a decade after they became widespread, the threats that suburbs presented to the rural landscape were apparent and were being deliberated in film and literature. Why, then, were no efforts made to prevent reckless growth?

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The Globalization and Localization of American Folk Music

June 9th, 2007

This is a paper I wrote in 2005 for a globalization class at Virginia Commonwealth University that basically says that globalization is a Good Thing. This class was my second favorite class in my college career. My favorite class was Buddhist Reason and Debate.

Globalization refers to the rapid dissemination of people, ideas, and goods across geographic and political borders. Critics of globalization contend that cultures and societies are becoming homogenized due to unregulated trade. They argue that only a few ideals and values will prevail in a survival of the fittest battle. What these critics overlook is that cultures are not being destroyed – they are merely evolving. In fact, globalization is contributing to the diversification of civilization.

Music has always played an important role in society. The music one listens to reflects one’s values and beliefs. The fact that so many genres of music exist reinforces the notion that cultures are represented by music. For the most part, country music is associated with the rural South, the blues are associated with African-Americans in the Mississippi delta, and punk-rock is associated with the do-it-yourself ethic that originated in the United Kingdom. The traditions and principles of a culture are revealed through its music.

In the information age, sharing music is easier than it has ever been. Many people, especially university students, disregard copyright regulations and download music via peer-to-peer file sharing software. Before this significant break in technology occurred, it was rare for a person to hear music that wasn’t played on local radio stations or through other popular media outlets. Now, people are exposed to music of different genres and origins. A broader knowledge of world music strengthens the awareness, appreciation, and tolerance of global diversity.

Music is experienced everywhere. Globalizing forces have made it possible to share ideas and styles creating not a universal genre but an amalgamation of new styles. Music becomes diversified and localized through vernacular adaptations and interpretations. For example, consider John Mayall and his band The Bluesbreakers. He pioneered the British Blues movement which was originally influenced by American blues, but by the mid-1960s had its own distinct sound. Another example of the localization phenomenon can be found in American folk music.

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