Where in the United States is Your Film’s Protagonist?

It is finally Friday. And if you are in one of those areas where it is forecast to rain this weekend, you may find yourself watching a film. If you do, then xkcd has a post that will help you identify the movie by its background scenery.

Where in the United States is your film's protagonist?

Where in the United States is your film’s protagonist?

Personally, my favourite is the reference to the Grand Banks in Hunt for Red October.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

The Growth of Urban Walmarts

Today’s piece comes via my co-worker and is about the growth of urban Walmart stores. The article is from NPR and includes a nice series of small multiples of store locations in three select cities: Washington, Chicago, and Atlanta. In full disclosure, I live about two blocks from one of the urban Walmarts in Chicago. So go figure.

The growth of urban Walmarts

The growth of urban Walmarts

Credit for the piece goes to April Fehling, Tyler Fisher, Christopher Groskopf, Alyson Hurt, Livia Labate, and Ariel Zambelich.

Predicting the UK General Election Results

(To be fair, I forgot to schedule to publish this post before I left somehow.)

Your humble author is still on holiday. So, today, you can enjoy a nice interactive piece from FiveThirtyEight that predicts the results of the 7 May general election. Of particular interest, the box part of the plot that shows the 90% confidence range.

Dot plotting the results

Dot plotting the results

The piece also has a choropleth map. My only feature request(s) would be to have a zoom feature for urban constituencies and/or to have a search field that allows the user to see the predicted results for a specific constituency.

Credit for the piece goes to Matthew Conlen and Ritchie King.

Friday Baseball Drinking

Your humble author is out of town today. And unfortunately he is not watching a ball game. But if he were, he would be drinking a beer. And even more unfortunately, his favourite team and favourite ballpark has the most expensive beer. And most unfortunate, the other two teams he is perhaps most likely to watch have the…same most expensive beer. Business Insider charted the prices and the price per ounce. To be fair, I am often too busy scoring a game to get drunk during a game.

It's expensive getting drunk at Fenway. And Citizens Bank. And Wrigley.

It’s expensive getting drunk at Fenway. And Citizens Bank. And Wrigley.

Credit for the piece goes to Business Insider.

Pitch Recognition

Hitting a baseball is hard. Really, really hard. You’re good at it if you fail 7 out of 10 times. Part of the way you get good at hitting baseballs is by recognising the spin or rotation of the red seams on the white outside of the ball. This article from CBS takes a look at five common pitches and what they look like to the batter.

I have certainly never been able to see these

I have certainly never been able to see these

Credit for the original piece goes to an unknown person, I don’t think it was the article’s author.

Baseball’s Pace of Play

So now the baseball season is in full swing, one of the things we will be looking for is shorter duration for games. As I have probably said many times before, I enjoy the long games. But there are none longer than Red Sox–Yankees match-ups so take that with a grain of salt. I am spoiled. Anyway, in time for the season, over at Time they plotted the 2014 winning percentage and average length of game for all Major League teams.

Winning isn't based on pace of play

Winning isn’t based on pace of play

Clearly from this chart we can see that neither playing slowly nor playing quickly has any correlative impact on a team’s winning percentage. Teams are spread out all over. But, in many ways, baseball is all about timing and getting inside the head of the pitcher or the batter. And one way to take the advantage is to mess up the other’s timing. By eliminating that element of the game—or at least attempting to—the game becomes a little bit duller.

Credit for the piece goes to Lon Tweeten.

Baseball in 2015

For most of us, baseball, the 2015 edition, began yesterday. For the Red Sox, it was an 8–0 victory over the Phillies in which Boston’s Clay Buchholz kept the ball down in the strike zone, where it is tougher for batters to make solid contact. Whereas Cole Hamels of the Phillies kept the ball up in the zone and thereby let the Boston lineup hit four home runs in five innings. (Boston added a fifth, a grand slam, in the ninth inning.)

But low strikes are nothing new. In fact, umpires increasingly have been calling low strikes as seen in this chart by FiveThirtyEight in an article looking at 2015′s trends in baseball. (Interestingly they also chart something on Cole Hamels.) It is not the most complicated chart, but it does serve as a reminder that for the next six months, baseball is back.

Pitch height over the last few years

Pitch height over the last few years

Credit for the piece goes to Rob Arthur.

Cutting into Cables

Today we look at the cross section of a coaxial cable. It fits into a story from the Wall Street Journal about how some media providers want to be classified as a different type of company so they can gain access to different parts—mainly less congested—of your data service.

Cutting into the coaxial cable

Cutting into the coaxial cable

Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal’s graphics department.

What Will You Have

Now that it’s Friday, it’s time for happy hour drinks. Well, maybe not quite yet. Let’s get through the workday first. But over at the Wall Street Journal, together with Yep, they looked at which cocktails are most popular in eight cities based on Yelp reviews. They do note that the metric is not perfect as people will complain about Manhattan in a New York bar review but not actually drink a Manhattan. But, honestly, when you’ve had a few cocktails, the maths are bound to get a bit fuzzy.

A cropping for the top ten in half the cities

A cropping for the top ten in half the cities

Of course the next step would be to make an interactive version with links to recipes. And from the visualisation side, you could cluster the data by drink bases. And no, the martini should not start with vodka. Come on, people, you use gin.

Credit for the piece goes to Rani Molla.

Baseball’s Pace of Play and ESPN’s Pie in Their Face

Baseball is my sport. I love it. Some of my favourite games are the four-hour long matches between my Red Sox and the scourge of the Earth, the Yankees. Games can take a long time for a number of reasons. But in an increasingly fast-paced world, critics argue that younger generations do not have the patience for even three-hour games. So Major League Baseball this year is actively trying to reduce the time of games through pace-of-play improvements. To do this, they are looking at and collecting more of baseball’s copious amounts of data.

Unfortunately, ESPN in an article about the improvements for this year took the data and did nothing with it.

For the love of god, why?

For the love of god, why?

Above we have survey results. I want to vomit in my mouth. Wait, hold on…sorry about that, I am back now. Some organisations have done some really nice visualisations with baseball data, of which we have a lot because the sport plays 162 games per year. We surely could be looking at more timing data. But, instead we get three-dimensional pie charts from ESPN. The rest of the article is not much better, though their styling of bar charts still leaves things to be desired.

Credit for the piece goes to ESPN’s graphics department.