The Digital Reader sends a link to Ugly Gerry’s font made up from congressional site outlines.

Lots of us live in congressional districts which are distinctly odd-shaped. There are often (occasionally, maybe) good reasons for these tricky outlines.

Though Ugly Gerry clearly wants us to raise some protest about gerrymandering, I think that in his alphabet D and O look about as basic and un-gerrymandered as could be — of course you’d have to be there to be sure. Maybe if they’d had a hole in the middle we might raise an eyebrow. The two New York City examples, L and M, are both reorientated through 90º — probably lots of the others are too. The top of the vertical stroke of the L is in Queens and the horizontal bar is Brooklyn as is the bottom of the vertical. The little knuckle at the join is a small bit of Manhattan! The District is currently represented in Washington by Nydia Velázquez (Dem).

I suppose everyone knows the derivation of the word: they almost never say the word on NPR without reference to Elbridge Gerry who as Governor of Massachusetts, signed a bill in 1812 which created a partisan district compared by critics to the shape of a winged salamander, as shown in this contemporary cartoon. Attitudes towards gerrymandering tend to be rather partisan: what we do is a sensible readjustment of districts; what you do is underhand vote-rigging. It is perhaps comforting in the context of these arguments that Elbridge Gerry, who went on to be America’s fifth Vice President, is described at Wikipedia as being a Democratic-Republican.

There appear to have been two or three biographies of Gerry. Amazon offers one of them at $14.24. Let us hope that the gentle trend towards making district redesign subject to independent rather than political party control is allowed to continue and even accelerate.