Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beer and Peace

The world is invariably made up of two kinds of people, depending on which point one wishes to make about human nature, or what human peculiarity has captured the attention. FloatingSheep has mapped social networking in GIS to give us a new twist on the old Blue State/Red State divide. The map below depicts areas of the nation during a week in June in which tweets about either beer or church predominate (I'll let you guess which color stands for which tweet).

It is another of life's ironies that, although I have had to foreswear beer forever, I live in that not quite negligible portion of Colorado in which tweets about church predominate. The best I can hope for is that most of the church tweets have to do with the quality and amount of the communion wine. But there is an upside to this - the technological limits of Twitter dictate that any theological observation must be encompassed in 140 characters. Take that, John Calvin.

Imagine, between Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Aquinas's Summa Theologica, Luther's hymns, theses, catechisms, tracts, tractatuses and what-have-yous, not to mention a host of commentaries by and about Mohammed, plus all the world's Melancthons, Knoxes, Husses, Niebuhrs, Bonhoeffers, Kungs and innumerable lesser lights, what floods of ink and blood we might have all been spared in our evolutionary climb towards enlightenment. Might we not, after all, find world peace through beer

"San Francisco," the data analysis notes, "has the largest margin in favor of 'beer' tweets (191 compared to 46 for 'church') with Boston running a close second. . . . In contrast, Dallas wins the FloatingSheep award for most geotagged tweets about 'church' with 178 compared to only 83 about 'beer.' " San Francisco is the city, you may recall, where city ordinance permits elderly men to go about naked. So it's not all foam on your beer there, either.

This Red/Blue split roughly correlates with another FloatingSheep mapping of bars versus grocery stores across the U.S.:

There are all sorts of ways to slice this apple, of course. I doubt there's any correlation between, say, the incidence of grocery stores versus churches (we all have to eat); but a high correlation between churches and Denny's, since that's where you go to eat after church.

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