For some of us, the day after Thanksgiving is for quiet family time and home-cooked leftovers. For all too many, though, it's a grisly rush to the Black Friday sales at the mall and a lot of scarfing of fast food.
Which makes this an excellent time to check out Stephen Von Worley's novel way of calculating just how completely the empire of the golden arches and its cohorts have conquered America and its fat, unhappy citizens.
Von Worley, an artist and scientist whose site Data Pointed offers interesting forays into data visualization research, recently decided to chart the spread of strip mall sprawl and mindless consumerism in the most direct way he could think of -- by figuring out just how far you could go in the contiguous United States without bumping into a McDonald's.
His efforts to escape the fast-food plague produced this startling map:
"As expected, McDonald's [locations] cluster at the population centers and hug the highway grid," Von Worley explains on his site. And while the solid mass of Big Macs eases west of the Mississippi, note the heavy concentrations of golden starch that represent Denver and Salt Lake City.
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Von Worley then set out to find the one spot in the lower 48 that's farther from a McDonald's than any other. Initial calculations suggested South Dakota, but then he located a spot in the northern Nevada desert that's 115 miles from (equidistant to) three of the fast-food chain's gazillion outlets.
Here's a video of Von Worley's journey to that Ronald-forsaken spot. Kind of makes you hungry.
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