Unprecedented times?

or a stark deja vu of a history we don’t claim boldly?

What is this? In a word, “accountability”. I am working on a book proposal and decided to work it out in a public forum. Beyond the first sample chapter (to include in the proposal) I will continue introducing the subsequent chapters in this newsletter.


A man enters an exhibit in the Great Apes House, Bronx Zoo (NYC) 1963. It is billed as The Most Dangerous Animal in the World. What he glimpses in the cage is his own reflection. And the description of the exhibit.

“You are looking at the most dangerous animal in the world. It alone of all the animals that have ever lived can exterminate (and Has) entire species of animals. Now it has achieved the power to wipe out all life on earth.”

The story goes, the description was later updated to read, “This animal, increasing at a rate of 190,000 every 24 hours, is the only creature that has ever killed off entire species of other animals. Now it has achieved the power to wipe out all life on Earth.”

We are living in either unprecedented times or a stark deja vu of a history we don’t claim boldly. US news at the time was dominated by civil rights protests and activists and a war where US involvement was steadily growing. It might have seemed like Democracy hung in the balance.

I want to take a look back over the most pivotal moments of the last approximately 60 years from a historical perspective using modern analytics and data visualization.

I was born in the waning days of 1963, November to be exact. Recent work with the US Census left me a bit surprised to learn how recent classifications of negro were still used by the US Government and enumerators still determined how race would be collected as recently as the 1950 Census. In fact, 1960 was the first Census to allow self selection of race but would have to wait until 2000 to record multiple categories.

I started digging around and listing the findings as little lines of facts. This book is the result of what I found to be a collection of the most extraordinary facts. The goal is to revisit the past along with the data to help pull the thread to the present.

As a geospatial data analyst I became curious about what data might exist to shed light on this monumental moment in time. Described as “One of the most dramatic years of the century” 1963 included the assassination of a president, the coldest winter in 200 years, Martin Luther’s I Have a Dream Speech, the death of Medgar Evers, and many other pivotal moments in history.

What is the famous saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"?

Partial Table of Contents

Next up…January 1963