Kenya presently waits for the results of its presidential election, one that pitted incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against Raila Odinga, a many ran but never won candidate. Now, if you will indulge me, the Kenyan elections have interested me since December 2007, which if you recall provoked sectarian violence to break out across the country.
At the time I had just started working at my undergraduate thesis, a book using Fareed Zakaria’s Future of Freedom as the text (with a parallel narrative from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart) and I wanted to use specific case studies and data to add to the point of the book. Kenya with its election result data and horrific outcome allowed me to do just that. I juxtaposed awful images of that violence with quiet text and a full-page graphic of the results. I still find it one of the stronger spreads in the book, but as we await the results in Kenya, I am hoping that a ten-year anniversary piece will not be required.
And yes, I have learned a lot since 2007. Including my deep-seated antipathy for pie charts.
Credit for the piece goes to a much less knowledgable me.
Well after the last two weeks of recording solo trivia performances, I decided that this week I would showcase a team effort.
And we finally placed, ending the performance tied for first place. But if you look closely you will see the final score has us at second. Why when we were tied with the same number of points? Because tiebreaker. And after I was selected to represent the team, I needed to respond, within three seconds, with the names of Tom Hanks films in a back-and-forth response.
I could name only Saving Private Ryan and Castaway. My competitor, she named three. They won.
This past Wednesday I once again ended up playing trivia at the pub solo. Once again, I decided over the final pint that I would attempt to visualise my performance.
One thing to keep in mind is that on Wednesday there were fewer teams competing—five instead of nine. And while I never placed higher than tied for third, this week’s bar charts show how I was incredibly competitive until the final music round.
Despite an abysmal performance at naming celebrities as they were as children, my near-perfect second round kept me only five points behind first place. And a perfect fourth round meant heading into that final round I climbed back to being only three points back. Thankfully I knew more of the songs this past week. And enough to not finish last. But, I was close enough that a perfect round would have been enough to still place first.
Super helpful that Lord of the Rings questions appeared a few times.
Wednesday night I had the dubious honour of playing the weekly pub trivia solo. Accordingly my team name was Hats Solo. (After I opted not to wear my fedora one night, another regular team called itself Where’s Your Hat?) I started strong, had a second wind, but still faded to a seventh place (of nine) finish. As I finished my G&T, I decided I would visualise the results. Here, two days later, are my results.
Credit for the highlights, mine. The lowlights, someone else.
Pennsylvania was the country’s first state to operate a nuclear power plant for electricity generation and is today the second-largest nuclear-generated electricity state after Illinois. But in recent years the triple threat of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale natural gas boom, wind power subsidies, and solar power subsidies have hit the state’s nuclear industry hard. Consequently the power company Exelon has announced plans to shutdown the generating station at Three Mile Island—yes, that Three Mile Island—in 2019 if Pennsylvania does not rescue the industry as have the states of Illinois and New York, each facing similar challenges.
I wanted to take a look at the electricity generated by nuclear power in Pennsylvania, but had to settle for energy produced. And while the data was only as recent as 2014, it did extend back to 1960 thereby dating back almost as far back as nuclear power in Pennsylvania—it began in 1957.
The subject has always been of interest to me and was the focus of one of my first data visualisation pieces back at university. And so while the data is not quite the same, nor over the same geographic area, it is interesting to see the spike since even 2008. (Worth noting that even in a coal state the long, slow decline of coal even before President Obama is self-evident.)
Unfortunately the EIA data came through a .pdf and not a more accessible data file so I spent most of my time recreating the data. Consequently, I had little time to do more than track these changes. But even still, I think you would agree the message is clear: natural gas has quickly disrupted the market. (Let’s again ignore the fact I could not plot renewable energy sources.)
Small disclaimer I suppose, I have always supported nuclear power as part of a non-carbon energy portfolio. But I also grew up within sight of and fascinated by the Limerick Generating Station steam clouds, so call me biased.
On Thursday President Trump announced that the Commerce Department would investigate imports of steel to the United States. This falls under the Buy American campaign pledge. A lot of talk in the media is, of course, about the threat of Chinese steel to the United States. So I dug into the Census Bureau’s website and found their data on steel imports.
Well, it turns out that steel imports were already down by over 5 million tons before Trump took office. And from 2015 to 2016, China fell sharply from 7th to 10th in a ranking of our import partners. In fact the only country from whom we import significant amounts of steel to see a rise over that period was Mexico.
But we’ll probably need their steel to build the wall to keep out their steel.
I visualised the data in this datagraphic. Enjoy. And look for a later post today in the usual, light-hearted vein.
Credit for the data goes to the US Census Burea. The graphic is mine.
Yesterday the United States dropped a GBU.43 on a cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. The bomb is better known by its nickname MOAB, Mother Of All Bombs. But just how does the GBU.43 compare to some of the more common—and not so common—weapons in the US arsenal?
What we do know is that yesterday was the detonation of the largest non-nuclear bomb in warfare. We do have an even larger conventional weapon called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator—phrasing?—but its size and warhead are not as large as the MOAB. MOP is instead intended to be used as a super bunker buster.
Between travelling and being ill, I apologise for a lack of posting the last week or two. But as promised, we are back with a small update to the Trump–Russia ties. It turns out that shortly before the Syria air strikes, news broke that Jared Kushner omitted dozens of contacts with foreigners on his security clearance form. One, of course, is Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But the other was Sergey Gorkov, who runs Vnesheonombank, which is a bank owned by the Russian government, which is obviously headed by Vladimir Putin. Both Gorkov and Putin share a second tie as they were both trained by the KGB/FSB.
There is also news out of the UK today, via the Guardian, that British and other European intelligence agencies began, in summer 2015, to note contacts between Russian agents and persons of interest and people within the Trump campaign. And these European agencies were the ones that alerted American agencies, because American agencies are not allowed to collect intelligence on American citizens. More smoke and people who saw it earlier than we previously knew.
Well, this wasn’t what I was expecting to post today. But that’s okay, because it’s big news all the same and allows me to get my hands dirty. Yesterday the Washington Post broke news that the United Arab Emirates, specifically Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the UAE’s national security advisor, arranged a meeting between an official reportedly close to Vladimir Putin and Eric Prince.
Who is Eric Prince? Besty DeVos’ brother for starters. But more importantly for the story, a major donor and supporter for and of the Trump campaign. He also has ties to Stephen Bannon, Chief Strategist for the President. Most importantly, the article alleges, potentially damningly, that Zayed would not have arranged the meeting without “the nod” from both Trump and Putin.
What was discussed? Allegedly the strategic aim of separating Russia from Iran. Yeah, that’s probably a good thing. But given things like the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, the Bushehr nuclear generating station, and the ongoing support of the Iran-Assad-Hezbollah faction in Syria, it is highly unlikely that Putin would be very willing to suddenly drop his support for Iran.
Why is this on my blog today? Well, I have been increasingly curious about all the stories about how various people and organisations are linking Trump and Putin. To be fair, a link is not inherently, necessarily nefarious let alone illegal. But, given the intelligence collected that Russia was attempting to influence the election in Trump’s favour, and given his electoral college win, and given the known connections, it is important that we look at the breadth and depth of the unknown connections.
And that is what this graphic will be. For now it will be a static graphic that I update whenever news breaks—and when I have time to go cite previous news articles—about unveiled connections. Ideally in the future I can turn this into a more dynamic and interactive piece.
Credit for the news goes to the Washington Post. Graphic is mine.
You know, I was trying to find a nice and funny graphic that related to the Irish for today since today is St. Patrick’s Day. But, I keep circling back to that piece I posted last year. Because, unfortunately, these are not terribly uplifting times.
We make a great big deal about how we need to enforce deportation orders and build walls to keep out Mexicans and others from Latin America. But, the Irish are a far smaller, but still significant ethnic group that tends to arrive here and stay here in an undocumented fashion.
And somehow—though on this I would love to be wrong—I think the United States would generally make a bigger deal about Peter O’Toole being deported to Donegal than Pedro Toledo to Durango.
The point is that these are all people. And the Statue of Liberty does not say: “Give us your, wealthy, high-points earned on a merit system, looks like you and me, believes like you and me, and ready to contribute to society.”. No, it says, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Surely that lamp wasn’t meant to flicker only a greenish glow.