Prince, Prince, Goose?

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.

Prince, Prince, Goose? Because a sheikh is kind of like a prince.
Prince, Prince, Goose? Because a sheikh is kind of like a prince.

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.

Election Day

Well this is it. Well at least for you American readers of this blog. It’s Election Day. If you had told me that this is what it would come to almost a year and a half ago, I would have laughed. But it did. And now it comes down to all of us to vote, unless unlike me you live in a state with early voting. And then when the polls begin to close, nerds of the political and data persuasion will be following the results in state, counties, and congressional districts.

And we will be following it all because not all the people on the ballots are named Trump or Clinton. I lived eight years in Illinois. There, you guys are, among others, choosing between Kirk and Duckworth. Here in Pennsylvania, it’s between Toomey and McGinty. Here there is also a referendum on judicial retirement ages. Other districts, counties, and states will have other things upon which to vote.

And while local politics and governance impact us the most, let’s face it. We’re all here for the title fight. The heavyweight class: Trump v. Clinton. So today being Election Day, how is it going to turn out? Well I have my thoughts, check them out here, but who really knows? But who also doesn’t want to try and guess? Enter the New York Times. They have a great interactive decision tree that allows you to experiment. But even without selecting a thing you can see how much more likely a Clinton victory is. She simply has more paths to 270 electoral college votes.

Decide who wins by deciding who wins which state
Decide who wins by deciding who wins which state

But that all said, a Clinton victory is far from guaranteed. If the narrow polls are wrong in any one of her “firewall” states, Trump can win. And while it may seem forever ago, remember Bernie Sanders in Michigan? The polls had him down by at least five points to Clinton throughout the race. He won the state by two points. Now a seven point swing is a bit extreme, and I am not suggesting any state will be in that much error. But three to four points is very plausible. And Clinton’s leads? In many of these states, they are within that uncomfortable margin. So here is a plausible scenario that makes tiny New Hampshire and its four votes the deciding state.

Leaving it all to New Hampshire
Leaving it all to New Hampshire

So remember, if you haven’t already, go vote. And if I learned anything from Chicago, it’s vote once, vote often.

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Impeaching Rousseff

Who is Rousseff? She is the president of Brazil and both she and her government are currently mired in a corruption scandal. Yesterday a parliamentary committee voted in favour of proceeding with impeachment, the first step in a lengthy process. What is that process? Thankfully, we have a BBC graphic to explain it all.

Brazil's impeachment process
Brazil’s impeachment process

Credit for the piece goes to the BBC graphics department.

Making Sense of the Syrian Civil War

Well, I mean trying to is this piece by the Washington Post. Included are several diagrams at key phases of the conflict that attempt to show how the various parties interacted with each other.

Look at all the actors on stage…
Look at all the actors on stage…

Ultimately the key takeaway is that Syria is a mess and it is not getting any better. So let’s just add some more lines in there, am I right?

Credit for the piece goes to Denise Lu and Gene Thorp.

Surviving Holiday Parties

The Christmas holidays are known for many things. One of them is the office holiday party. Today’s post looks at a flow chart put together by the company for which I work, Euromonitor International. As it was put together by the design team, you might very well think that I had something to do with it. But I couldn’t possibly comment.

The beginning of the flow chart
The beginning of the flow chart

Credit for the piece goes to the Euromonitor design team.

Explaining Why Some People Are Losing Their Health Insurance Plans

I have received a few questions in the non-blog world about why certain people have been receiving notices in the post that they are about to lose their insurance plans. The short answer for many of those people is that they likely bought individual, private plans and those plans fall short of the new minimum requirements. But, if you are not satisfied with that explanation, the New York Times does a much better job explaining it than I ever could. It is a piece worth a quick read.

The private insurance market
The private insurance market

Credit for the piece goes to Larry Buchanan, Alicia Parlapiano, and Karen Yourish.

The Calderon Connections

I am not terribly familiar with local politics outside of my local areas. So the background and details of this piece escape me. However, this interactive graphic and story from the Los Angeles Times does a really great job of leading the reader through the story.

First, the piece starts with a general overview or flowchart of the network of connections. Mouseovers do a fine job of highlighting and filtering for the appropriate piece. For example, a person shows the entities to which he is connected whereas the entities show the people to which it is connected.

The flow diagram of connections
The flow diagram of connections

Secondly, the piece then goes in detail about the different connections. The example screenshot below shows how each story is highlighted by a red dot as the user scrolls down the page. When that story is highlighted, the network diagram to the left changes, either replacing the contacts or highlighting the contacts specifically noted in the story.

Example of the connections in this story
Example of the connections in this story

As I said at the outset, this is a very nice piece that step-by-step shows and explains how all the connections work while filtering out the momentarily irrelevant data. Very well done.

Credit for the piece goes to Byron Lutz.

A Data-driven Web Application for Global Economic Statistics

In the interests of transparency and full disclosure, for my employer I design interactive web-based applications that display significant amounts of data on various countries and industries—along with other design things. So I am always curious to see how others handle similar types and quantities of data. This interactive application—I hesitate to call something like this an interactive infographic because of its scale and scope—comes from the Global Economic Dynamics project.

The GED application
The GED application

I commend the designers for opting not to use a map despite the nature of a dataset that focuses on countries. Especially in this application, where the full pattern of trade or migration would only be visible through multiple clicks to load maps of export/import markets of a particular country.

The user can add multiple countries, switch to a different dataset, change the year of the displayed data, currency, metrics, &c. There is quite a bit going on in this application and the controls are carefully placed in the margins of the piece.

And while I could probably write a lot more about this piece, I will end up the ability to share any insights made while using this application. Because what is the value of a kernel of knowledge if you cannot share it? Consequently, this piece offers a multitude of options. The usual social media options are present. You can also download a .png for use in a presentation, e.g. PowerPoint, or you can download the data. But fascinatingly, the application allows you to embed the piece into your own site.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any specific designers attached to the project. So credit goes to the Global Economic Dynamics project.