The Realms of GAFA

The Economist often does clear, concise graphics to accompany their articles. And from to time they also do more interactive works  that allow a more in-depth exploration of data. And then sometimes they do awesome maps like this. The realms of GAFA.

Realms of GAFA
Realms of GAFA

Credit for the piece goes to David Parkins

Mexico: the Land of Many Countries (or Comparisons Thereto)

On Thanksgiving, the Economist published an interactive map that looked at Mexico across three metrics: murders, murder rates, and population. Mexico is one of the more populated countries in the world, but it is also one of the most dangerous. In the middle of the previous decade, the Mexican government began to crack down on the drug cartels. But the cartels have violently resisted. Very violently.

The map is nothing new. It labels different Mexican states by comparing their statistics to those of countries across the world. For example, the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, one of the “fronts” of this new drug war, has a population of 3.41 million people. The total number of murders so far this year is 2,350. That is only six murders fewer than in the entire country of the Ukraine. Did I mention the population of the Ukraine is over 45 million. More than ten times the size of Chihuahua. And the comparisons go on, though as the map clearly points out the distribution is not uniform.

Murder rates in Mexico
Murder rates in Mexico

In terms of interactivity, a nice little feature is the filtering of the map by the legend at the bottom. Hover over one of the bars and only those areas appear coloured in the map.

Flickers of Red in a Deep New York Blue

The New York Times breaks down the 2012 presidential election results at the precinct level. It shows that despite the city being a bulwark of Democratic support, areas of deep Republican support still exist.

New York City Precinct Results
New York City Precinct Results

Maps Are Not Silver Bullets

I make a lot of maps in my line of work. Often times, they are not particularly interesting. Mostly because they follow similar patterns to this. More stuff is bought and sold where there are more people. More stuff is bought and sold where more people have more money. Et cetera, et cetera.

Maps are not always helpful
Maps are not always helpful

Maps are sometimes very useful. But I have a saying when people ask for a map of some kind of data tied to geographies: Maps are not silver bullets. That is to say, just because you throw data about countries, states, or counties onto a map does not mean you are going to see anything worthwhile let alone new or unexpected.

Credit for the XKCD piece goes to Randall Munroe

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little—Damn That’s Bright.

We’ve had a lot of the rough and gritty politics of late. So now for some  bright and starry-eyed idealism. Well, maybe less idealism and more stars. Lots of them. Courtesy a Google Chrome experiment.

Stars…
Stars…

Turkey

No, Turkey is not having an election this week. Instead, we start to transition out of election coverage. By moving into Thanksgiving. The New York Times created a flow chart that looks at different turkey cooking options.

Starting out on your Thanksgiving turkey feast
Starting out on your Thanksgiving turkey feast

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia DeSantis and Kevin Quealy.

Election Stuff You Might Have Missed

The United States is not the only country in the world to have an election this November. It isn’t even the only big country. China is/had elections to replace the top leadership in Beijing. That’s right, it’s that about that time once every ten years when the Chinese political leadership is replaced.

The Wall Street Journal had a nice interactive piece introduced with an animated video explaining just how the Chinese political system works. Or at least how we think it works. It’s not an entirely transparent system. Though as Americans have discovered lately, the transparency in seeing how large pieces of legislation are conceived, written, and passed is not necessarily a good thing.

Along with the diagram of the system, the piece offers photos and brief biographies for the presumed front runners. The “winners” of the elections should be announced sometime Thursday. Along with the new leaders, the Communist Party may also reduce the Politburo Standing Committee from nine members to seven members for more efficient governing. But nobody knows. We’ll see Thursday.

The 18th Party Congress
The 18th Party Congress

History of Congress

Today is Election Day. Did you vote yet? If not, why the hell not?

But you are not just voting for president, you are also voting for senators (in some states at least, like Pennsylvania), your congressman or congresswoman, state assemblies, ballot initiatives, &c. And in that spirit, this last pre-vote result post comes from xkcd and looks at the history of Congress and how it leaned right or left over all the years. It’s big, but worth a look.

History of Congress
History of Congress

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe

The Paths to 270

There is one day to go until the presidential of 2012. But despite what many say and a fewer number want, the United States is not a democracy. It was never meant to be. Instead it is a democratic republic. We elect people who make decisions for us. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood ways in which this happens is through the election for the president.

The popular vote does not matter. If the popular vote did matter, Al Gore would have been elected president in 2000, not George Bush. Instead, your state’s electors matter because they belong to something called the electoral college. Different states have different numbers of electors (loosely based on their political representation in Congress). Given which states are certain to vote for President Obama (Illinois) and Governor Romney (Georgia), there are only a few states that are available for either to win (Ohio).

Different combinations of states can be had to reach 270 electoral college votes, which is the number necessary to become president. While Governor Romney might be able to make 50.1% of the national vote, as this interactive piece from the New York Times shows, his path to 270 votes is very narrow and he cannot stray too far and still hope to win. And it is because of this fact (generally speaking) that many, e.g. Nate Silver of the New York Times, are saying that a re-election of President Obama is far more likely than a Governor Romney victory.

There are two ways to really play with it. First, select different states and see how many different routes are left open to Governor Romney. The second is to leave the selections blank and then follow the flow chart given by the New York Times.

Play with the Toggles Until You Get a Winner
Play with the Toggles Until You Get a Winner
Follow the Red Road for Romney
Follow the Red Road for Romney

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