The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Geography of Cotton and Democrats

Via reader KT, the Boston Globe picked up on a map comparison of voting patterns this election and cotton agriculture in the antebellum South:

The bottom map dates from 1860 (i.e. the eve of the Civil War), and indicates where cotton was produced at that time.... The top map dates from 2008, and shows the results of the recent presidential election, on county level. ... The pattern of pro-Obama counties in those southern states corresponds strikingly with the cotton-picking areas of the 1860s, especially along the Louisiana-Mississippi and Mississippi-Alabama borders (the pattern corresponds less strikingly and deviates significantly elsewhere).

The link between these two maps is not causal, but correlational, and the correlation is African-Americans.

In related news, the runoff for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss (R) will go ahead. We'll see.

Indians, rock, and art

The Cleveland Indians sold out 455 games in a row from 8 June 1995 to 3 April 2001, a record likely to stand as long as baseball itself. But on Thursday of this week, having dropped ten in a row, only 22,665 showed up, only 52% of the park's capacity. Too bad, really, because the Indians tossed the Tampa Bay Rays into Lake Erie, 13-2, including a 7-run 8th inning with 11 at-bats.

I went to the game to chalk up Park #9 on the 30-Park Geas with a friend who works for Progressive. It turned out to be the first time she'd ever sat through an entire major-league ball game, this despite growing up in Boston. After this experience she might go to another some day.

(By the way, I thought it odd that the only deal Progressive gives their employees is for 2-for-1 tickets in two sections of the park. Every seat has great visibility, but still? After paying $56 million to put their name on the thing possibly they could have gotten a skybox? Not that I'm complaining. We sure got our $12 worth from those tickets.)

Almost as strange, the Cleveland fans seemed quite subdued. I'm used to Wrigley Field which sells out every game and packs us in a lot more tightly, but still: these fans hardly made a peep until the 5th inning. Even more disturbing, when a fan tossed back the home-run ball Tampa Bay hit in the 3rd, security ejected him. Tossing back the visitor's ball is part of baseball! What's wrong with these people?

Still, the home team won, my friend and I had really good beer from local Great Lakes Brewing Co., and the crowd worked up more excitement once it became clear the Indians had broken their streak.

That left us in a pretty good mood with an entire day to bum around the city.

Cleveland surprised me. The afternoon before the game my friend and I walked to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, both constructed in the mid-1990s as part of a massive redevelopment of Cleveland's waterfront.

Friday morning we hit the Cleveland Museum of Art which partially re-opened in June after a major renovation.

And Friday afternoon, before heading to the airport, we swung by Progressive's headquarters. (There's a story about why they moved to Mayfield Village instead of downtown Cleveland, but that will have to wait.)

I don't know whether I'll ever go back to Cleveland, but I left with a totally different impression of the city than I had 19 years ago.

I'm back

I have returned from my latest travels, patted Parker, had a good night of sleep, and am offloading several hundred photos from two digital cameras. This, plus restocking my fridge, will take a little bit, so in the meantime: Paul Krguman explains why speculators have nothing to do with oil prices right now:

Imagine that Joe Shmoe and Harriet Who, neither of whom has any direct involvement in the production of oil, make a bet: Joe says oil is going to $150, Harriet says it won't. What direct effect does this have on the spot price of oil — the actual price people pay to have a barrel of black gunk delivered?

The answer, surely, is none.

Good ribs, not great

One more rule I forgot to mention: eat locally. And in KC, that means barbecue.

Tonight I went to the Gates BBQ, in Independence, Mo., as reccomended by the hotel's driver, Martin. Interesting. The pit-fired meat fell right off the bone, with a crunchy outer shell from the intense heat they use. The sauce, though. Hmmm. It wasn't what I expected.

I always associated KC-style ribs with a sweet-tangy, tomato-based sauce. Gates uses a tomato base but their sauce has more heat and less sweet, almost like a Memphis-style barbecue. Plus, the meat seemed awfully salty.

So, not the best ribs I've ever had—those would be the ones my brother and stepmother make as a team—but not too disappointing.

Almost forgot, I drank locally, too, having a Boulevard Pale Ale with dinner. Good clean finish, light flavor, decent beer. This one I'll have again.

Follow-up, 6:15 pm: I just had an enlightening conversation in the hotel gift shop*. It seems that there are two different cultures in Kansas City, and Gates BBQ belongs firmly to one of them. I'm proceeding delicately here because I think I'm a little offended, and I don't want to offend anyone else. Apparently, those in Kansas City who look more like me than Martin does avoid Gates because, well, it's not their style of BBQ on the one hand, and on the other, it's still 1958.

I have to think about this some more.

* Despite planning to have ribs for dinner, I neglected to pack dental floss.

Why KC?

I have a little time before I go off in search of a slab of ribs to explain why I'm in Kansas City.

One of my friends decries people who say "I've always wanted to [insert relatively accessible activity here]..." but who haven't actually done [activity]. For example, on more than one inauspicious first date the guy has said, "You lived in Europe? I've always wanted to go there!" Since she's dating single men who are over 30 and over the poverty line, "always wanted" is obviously not true, becuase they would have gone already.

To honor that, I will say I've not always wanted to see a baseball game in every major-league (and American League ;) park—but I've always mused about it.

Therefore, as a single man over 30 and over the poverty line, I've decided to do it. Since I've already been to five (in order: Wrigley, Dodger Stadium, Shea, Enron Field, and Miller Park), this gives me almost three full seasons to get the last 25 before I turn 40. Here are the rules:

  1. Spend as little as possible on the quest. This means, among other things, bunching games up geographically and looking for the cheapest airfares available.
  2. In any park other than U.S. Cellular Field, if the Cubs are not playing, root for the home team.
  3. In any park where the Cubs are not playing, when a hat must be worn, wear a Cubs hat to American League parks and a Red Sox hat to National League parks, on the theory that the hat would therefore be neutral.
  4. If the Cubs are playing, wear a Cubs hat and root for the Cubs, obviously.

Which brings me back to Kansas City. I'm here because I had a previously-scheduled trip to San Francisco anyway, and this was the least-expensive option.

Photos to follow. Now, I'm going to get some sizzlin' baby backs.