Electrical Outages from Sandy

Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore before moving northwest through southeastern Pennsylvania. These were two maps from two different electric utility companies providing information on the number of outages. This first and smaller graphic is from PECO. The second and larger is from FirstEnergy. The graphic from FirstEnergy breaks into the township level when zoomed in sufficiently. Clearly from being able to post this, I am among the fortunate with my electricity still up and running.

PECO Outages on Tuesday
PECO Outages on Tuesday
First Energy Outages on Tuesday
First Energy Outages on Tuesday

Clearly these are not all outages, only the outages reported by these two electrical utilities. At the time of writing some 1.3 million people were without electricity in Pennsylvania and over 7 million in the Northeast while Sandy—now an extra-tropical low pressure system—continues to dump rain and snow on the interior reaches of the area.

Drone Wars

This is a small interactive piece by the Washington Post that looks at the drone wars being waged by the United States specifically in Pakistan and then Yemen/Somalia. Clicking on a specific date in the timeline brings that date into focus with articles about the attacks in question.

Drone Wars
Drone Wars

What would have perhaps been interesting is a comparison of the number and location of drone strikes between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Regardless, it illuminates a dark front of our ongoing wars.

Credit for the piece goes to Julie Tate, Emily Chow, Jason Bartz, Jeremy Bowers, Anup Kaphle and Olga Khazan.

My Electoral College Prediction

So my airport card still is not working on my laptop. And I am heading back east into the cold embrace of Sandy so who knows if I’ll have access to the internet while on holiday. But because of those two things, this is my official forecast for the election on 6 November. Granted, a big disaster (such as a $1 billion dollar storm) or a big gaffe (anything that Joe Biden says) could change the race, but that’s becoming increasingly less likely as we wrap up the final days of the campaign.

So thanks to the Huffington Post’s election map dashboard (click here or the image to go and make your own):

My Electoral College Prediction
My Electoral College Prediction

In short, I think Obama holds most of the states he won in 2008, but drops Indiana and North Carolina. He might still lose Florida, but with the better-than-expected economic growth figures out earlier today, I suspect that will halt Romney’s gains and perhaps roll them back just a bit.

Playing in the Swing States

The 2012 elections are now less than two weeks away and so let the sporting analogies begin. We’re in the home stretch now. Homeruns, field goals, and running out the clock. Et cetera et cetera ad nauseam.

But over at the New York Times we have an interactive piece that looks at what they call the state of play of the swing states in terms of the latest tracking polls at a state level along with campaign stops and commentary from the paper. It’s a concise way to look at those few states that will largely determine the outcome of the election.

Swing states
Swing states

Show Me Some Swing

Problems with my access to the tubes of the internets prevented me from posting this piece last week. But it’s still good and still relevant, especially in the wake of last night’s presidential debate. The New York Times and the FiveThirtyEight forecast came together to create this interactive flow chart, if you will, of the ebb and flow of electoral politics.

Show Me Some Swing
Show Me Some Swing

Two different views, one based on electoral votes and the other on the margin of victory, determine the basic chart type. But both let you watch swings states vacillate between Republican and Democratic support. Context is provided to the side of the main graphic to explain just what was going on in particular elections.

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Bostock, Shan Carter, and Amanda Cox.

The Red Sox Were Truly Awful in 2012

The Boston Red Sox hired John Farrell this weekend to be their manager just one season after hiring Bobby Valentine for the role. There is a lot to be said about just who is to blame about the Red Sox’ awful season. But it was pretty awful. How awful? The Boston Globe shows us in this interactive piece.

It’s a series of small multiples of line charts. However, one of the big problems with the infographic is that the labels are entirely absent. As best I can tell the line is the number of games over .500, i.e. an even split between wins and losses. But, it could be more clearly called out if not in the legend or on the axes than in the title.

But over all it does put this past season into a sober perspective.

How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.
How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.

Credit for the piece goes to Daigo Fujiwara.

Tracking the Royal Navy in World War I

I’ve always liked naval history. So I was pleased when several days ago this movie of Royal Navy ship movements during World War I was released. Using data from navigation logs, it plots the locations of the UK’s naval ships throughout the course of the war and so when played out over time you see the changes in those positions. The screen capture below shows just how much the UK depended on guarding the trans-Atlantic convoys. But also note the UK’s operations on rivers deep inside China.

Escorting the convoys
Escorting the convoys

My only complaint is that I could not find a way to slow it down or pause it once it had started.

Credit for the piece goes to CartoDB and Zooniverse, via the Guardian.

The Armstrong Doping Scandal

All major sports eventually have a big scandal seemingly about drugs. Here’s looking at you, baseball and Manny Ramirez (see the Mitchell Report). But this time it’s cycling’s turn. Here’s looking at you, Lance Armstrong. The New York Times published a timeline of exactly how the USADA alleges Armstrong ran a team-wide doping programme. It should be noted that while Armstrong denies the allegations, he is not contesting them.

The timeline
The timeline

Credit for the piece goes to Joe Ward and Alan McLean.

Absentee Ballots

This graphic comes from a set by the New York Times that looks at absentee and mail-in ballots, which are particularly popular in western states. The representation of the absentee ballot from Minnesota in 2008 is then examined to see which areas were the reasons for discounted ballots.

Minnesota's 2008 ballot
Minnesota's 2008 ballot

Follow the directions to the best of your abilities, people. Make your vote count.

The Drop in the Unemployment Rate and How to Spin It

On Friday we received the monthly jobs report. And the furore that arose with it. Principally the anger stemmed from right-leaning commentators who believed that the non-partisan Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency tasked with collecting data on employment among other metrics, “cooked the books”/ “massaged the figures”/ flat-out lied to show a significant drop in the unemployment rate that could not be attributed to people who had stopped looking for work—a cause of some earlier drops over the last few years. As someone who works with data originally collected from national statistics offices across the world on a daily basis, those claims touched a nerve. But I shall leave that rant for another time.

Instead let’s look at the New York Times piece that quickly followed on the outrage of fools. We can look at and analyse the data in different ways—the origin of the phrase lies, damned lies, and statistics—and surely the Republican and Democratic parties would do just that. They did. This New York Times piece shows how that can be—and was—done. It involves points of reference and context.

First the facts:

The Facts
The Facts

Then how the Democrats spin them:

Spin it from the left…
Spin it from the left…

Finally how the Republicans spin them:

Then spin it from the right.
Then spin it from the right.

But the facts themselves do not lie. 114,000 non-farm jobs were added to payrolls. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, the lowest rate since January 2009.

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Bostock, Shan Carter, Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy.