Weekend Work

Here’s a rare weekend post to showcase some Olympic-related work.

The following graphic looks at how the ranking changes for the Top-10 countries if medals are weighted. To me it is ridiculous that Kazakhstan is ranked higher than Russia because Kazakhstan has won 4 gold medals compared to Russia’s 3 when Kazakhstan has a total of 4 medals whereas Russia has 24. (All counts current as of this post.) So while I have been ranking countries according to their total medal count, what happens if I weight the gold and silver medals against the bronze?

It turns out that the leaders don’t change, but the rest of the Top-10 ranking gets shuffled a bit. For example, Japan has performed well at an overall level with 21 medals thus far. But only two of those have been gold medals and so its rank in the system below fell three positions.

Change in Rank for a Weighted Score
Change in Rank for a Weighted Score

Olympic Performance vs Economic Performance

The Olympics are now fully underway and we can begin to see some patterns about who is doing well and who is, well, not. This infographic has a lot more to say about who had been doing well up through 2008. That is important because that was the last year before the fiscal/financial crisis brought about the first global recession since World War II. Stay tuned for the post-Olympic piece where I look at medal performance in 2012 compared to GDP per capita. Some interesting stories appear to be happening.

One can clearly see that GDP per capita is (generally speaking) a good variable for estimating Olympic success. So the countries in this graphic are three major economic regions. The G7, BRIC, and the Future-7. The G7 are the world’s richest/most productive countries. BRIC are supposed to become the next G7. And the Future-7 is a Euromonitor International grouping that looks at a group of countries that are expected to become the next BRIC-like group of countries.

Economic Groups Compared
Economic Groups Compared

It is probably worth noting that despite this being an infographic for work, where I generally am not allowed to write analysis, the written analysis is mostly mine with some key ideas brought to my attention by co-workers.

Comparing Ad Spending in Three Key Election States

In this infographic about campaign ad spending in three battleground states, the New York Times shows that small multiples can work to create effective comparisons through an efficient use of space.

Campaign Ad Spend
Campaign Ad Spend

Mexican Drug Cartels

Mexico has some serious problems. Primarily with the drug cartels. About two weeks ago the National Post created an infographic that looked at the northern spread of Mexican drugs into the United States. The infographic also included details on the transit and transportation networks the different drugs take along with the geographic spread of the various cartels from the Tijuana, Federation, Juarez, and Gulf Cartels as reported by US cities.

Foreign Policy magazine rates countries as to how close they may or may not be to becoming failed states. Mexico is among those that have fallen into the “Warning” category over the recent years. The second half of the infographic looks at why. In short, in the past few years over 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related homicides and several more thousand have simply disappeared. The police, military, civilian officials, journalists, &c. have become targets of the cartel if they oppose the cartels.

Mexico has some serious problems. Sadly problems have a tendency to spill over borders.

Cropping of the Mexican Cartel infographic
Cropping of the Mexican Cartel infographic

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Rivait and Richard Johnson.

Drought Footprint

A lot of people’s minds may be on the Olympics that open up today in London. However, a very important story that was covered a little while ago deserves a post.

The United States has been suffering from a severe drought across much of the country. Droughts are nothing new, though climate change is likely to increase their intensity in the coming decades. This means more than lawns with dead grass; it means crop failures. Crop failures mean lack of food for humans and cattle. That means lower supply while demand holds steady. That means increasing prices. That means increasing pressure on already straining household budgets. Ergo, severe droughts can be a big deal.

The New York Times charted the geographic spread of droughts over the past century as small multiples. The print version was different, alas I have no photo, but the online version neatly groups maps by decade. Of some interest is how similar the scale of the 2012 coverage is in relation to that of 1934, the year of the Dust Bowl.

Drought
Drought

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park and Kevin Quealy

Supreme Court’s Real Impact on Health Insurance

In a small piece, the New York Times looks at the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Fewer people are insured and total cost for the programme falls.

Impact
Impacy

Washington Monument

Last summer an earthquake rattled the East Coast; I felt it while lounging on the beach at the Jersey shore when I was on holiday. But Washington got hit pretty hard. The Washington Monument lost some stones. I just lost an iced tea that spilled. But, the Monument is now going to be closed until perhaps 2014 for repairs. This infographic from the Washington Post details where the damage is found on the Monument and how the slabs will be repaired.

Damage to the Washington Monument
Damage to the Washington Monument

Credit for the piece goes to Cristina Rivero.

Who Has Won the Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France over the weekend; he is the first Briton to do so since the Tour began in 1903. (But to be more accurate, Wiggins was born to an Australian man and English mother in Belgium.) Naturally the BBC covered this topic in an infographic focusing on the nationality of those who finished in the Top-10 of the Tour over the course of its history.

Historical Performance
Historical Performance

Except when I first saw this I was confused. So far as I understood, the Tour is not run by individuals (as in the Olympics) or by national teams (as in European “football”). Rather, it is more like Formula 1 racing with individuals as part of a corporate team. So naturally I expected to see which teams had won. Instead I was looking at “by country”.

This I then figured meant by position within the Top-10 as each person/position is clearly segmented. That sort of made sense as I looked at the first few rows and saw red (America) and I recalled the success Lance Armstrong enjoyed. But that sense fell away when I reached the end of the list that should have had Frenchman in the top. It turns out that the legend for the piece dictates the order of the nationality of the winners of the Top-10 without respect to their actual placement. That perhaps could be a bit clearer.

The colours sort of make sense as groupings of countries. Blue groups the Benelux + France whereas red groups English-speaking countries. Orange for Italy and yellow for Spain while green groups former Soviet states and grey/black appears to be a collection of the rest.

Further down the rows, I ran into a smaller problem in that the number sequence seemed a bit out of sorts. The Tour was cancelled during the World Wars, but no mention of that is made in the graphic itself.

A worthwhile graphic—after all who does not want to see their country winning?—but its labelling could stand a bit higher finish.

Your Central Visual Field

From XKCD comes an informative infographic about your central visual field. As always, it’s quite informative. It’s not quite light hearted for Friday, but you’ll probably get an odd look or a laugh when you move your face really close to your monitor…

Central Visual Field
Central Visual Field

Also as always, credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.