Budget Sequestration and US Austerity

First things first, the verb is to sequester. The noun is sequestration. 1 March is not when the sequester begins. It is when the sequestration begins.

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, much is made of high government spending relative to revenue. However, this conversation still misses the point that government spending has fallen significantly. The New York Times charted that recent fall in spending in this graphic. This contraction is the largest drop in over 50 years. Along with the bars indicating recessions, I perhaps would have indicated major US military conflicts given the emphasis the introduction places on those events.

Government spending
Government spending

The piece also looks at government employment, which has been atypically lower than pre-recessionary figures. Taken in sum, the two sets of data point to an extant condition of austerity that shall only be worsened by…c’mon everyone…that’s right, the sequestration.

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia Parlapiano.

Historical Chicago Snowfall

Snow should fall upon Chicago this afternoon and it may measure up to a few inches in depth. But much of this winter has been below average. And that is much the same from last year when snowfall did not even reach 20 inches.

I went through NOAA data to look at the last decade of monthly snowfall to see just how little snow has fallen this winter. (Not a lot.) And then I looked at the entirety of the NOAA records to see where 2011/2 fit in the span of winters. (One of the least snowy.) This graphic is the result.

Historical Chicago Snowfall
Historical Chicago Snowfall

Setting Up a Snowstorm

This weekend I researched meteorological data for a graphic that I will post tomorrow. But in doing that research I came across a series of weather infographics from WGN that are better than the average. The one below details the snowstorm due to impact the Chicago area and how it will form (along with the storm that brought a few inches of snow last week).

The setup for this week's snowstorm in Chicago
The setup for this week's snowstorm in Chicago

Credit for the piece goes to Jennifer Kohnke and Faye Shanti.

Counting Zombie Kills in the Walking Dead

I watched the first season of the Walking Dead, but I have not followed the show closely since. That is not to say it is a bad show or is not entertaining, I just haven’t had the time. Fortunately Richard Johnson and Andrew Barr of the National Post have been following along. Otherwise, they would have not been able to create the infographic from which this cropping comes.

Who Killed What When and How
Who Killed What When and How

The piece examines which character killed which zombie and with what weapon. They then pivot the data to examine the total kills by type and by character. What is interesting, however, is that when the image is reduced and rotated, you get a quick overview of the amount of carnage.

Reducing the image and rotating it provides a concise view of the carnage
Reducing the image and rotating it provides a concise view of the carnage

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson and Andrew Barr.

How Film Trailers Are Crafted

It’s Oscar time. And not in the it’s time for grouchy, can-living commentary. It’s as in movie award time.

How are films promoted? Often through trailers and teasers. But how are those made? Well, the New York Times dissected trailers for five of the nine films up for best film. The piece looks at where the films are cut and spliced to create a 120-second-long overview without ruining the plot. And as it turns out, different types of trailers have different systems for cutting up those films.

Argo's Trailer
Argo's Trailer

The piece is made even better through the annotations associated with different segments of the different films. This paired with the introductory text makes the diagram of the film trailers intelligible to the reader. And then of course you can click on the still and see the actual trailer. A solid piece, all around.

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

Influenza

The Washington Post has an interactive infographic piece out about the spread of the flu. The big draw is of course the map—people like maps and they are easy to navigate. However, this time the map actually can serve a useful purpose because a virus spreads through the contact of people and communities. And when illustrated over time, the user can see a general spread from the deep south to the Mid-Atlantic than the west before becoming a national problem.

The geographic distribution of the flu
The geographic distribution of the flu

But a really sharp component that I enjoy is the index of flu cases from the four most recent flu seasons. While half the years displayed have seen a gradual increase in the number of hospitalisations, the 2012–13 season became quite troublesome quite quickly. It has even surpassed the 2009–10 levels that were affected by the H1N1 pandemic.

An indexed look at the rampancy of influenza outbreaks
An indexed look at the rampancy of influenza outbreaks

Lastly, not shown here, is an illustration of just what the flu is—a virus—and how it spreads and where anti-viral drugs work.

Credit for the piece goes to Darla Cameron, Dan Keating and Alberto Cuadra.

NFL Teams by the Numbers

While the Superbowl was two weekends ago, I have been sitting on this post for a little while. Probably because I really just don’t understand the sport. But over at the Guardian, the interactive team put together an interactive infographic that looked at payroll spending for each team by position and by overall position, i.e. offence vs. defence.

Admittedly I found the position part not as interesting, probably because of my aforementioned lack of understanding of the game. But the small-multiples-based exploration of the offence vs. defence numbers was quite interesting. It allows the user to highlight their preferred team and then sort the view by offence, defence, or special teams.

The overview shows the breakdown of spending by team
The overview shows the breakdown of spending by team
Selecting a team highlights its data
Selecting a team highlights its data
Sorting the data by one of the four metrics atop the table, in this case offence
Sorting the data by one of the four metrics atop the table, in this case offence

Credit for the piece goes to the Guardian US interactive team and Harry J. Enten.

Blizzard Snowfall

If you do not live on the East Coast, you may be unaware that there was some minor snowfall in New England over this past weekend. The Weather Channel went ahead and named the storm Nemo. (I’m going to lay off the suspect and fishy jokes.) I wanted to revisit the storm because of two graphics that both mapped snowfall totals.

The first is from the New York Times. As one would expect, a quality graphic with clear colour ranges to show the impact across the wider New England area, western New York and New Jersey.

The New York Times snowfall totals
The New York Times snowfall totals

But from the local radio station WNYC came an interesting map of users’ observations. Because it’s a local radio station, the difference between the two versions is that the breadth of data is not as far-reaching as the Times’ data from the National Weather Service.

The limits of WNYC user-reporting
The limits of WNYC user-reporting

However, this sort of user-created data allows for more nuanced, locally-specific data visualisations.

User-reported snowfall in the near New York area
User-reported snowfall in the near New York area

Of course, this creates issues with the accuracy of the data. And in the case of this map, whether the amount given was a snapshot of the snowfall at the time the snow was falling or the final tally.

Credit for the pieces go to the New York Times, and to Steven Melendez, Louise Ma and John Keefe for the WNYC piece.

Forecasting Snowfall

So that fishy little storm the Weather Channel called Nemo—you may have heard of it—put a little snow across New England. Last week the New York Times published an interactive infographic that looked at when and where the snow would be falling, from New Jersey to New York to Maine.

The storm at or near its worst
The storm at or near its worst

The times are cut into six-hour blocks and show in the upper left where the snow would be falling by rate per six-hours. To the right of the map is a series of bar charts that show the snowfall pattern in more or less of a wave. Beneath all of it are a comparison of when, over the last several decades, the largest snowstorms hit Boston and New York (and how much snow each city received). A comparison of the map before to the end of the storm, except for parts of Maine.

The forecast for after the worst had passed
The forecast for after the worst had passed

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Giratikanon, Matthew Ericson, Xaquin G.V., Archie Tse, and Jeremy White.

Whence the Popes Came

For the first time in centuries, a sitting pope is to resign. Typically most popes have served until their death. The question for many will now be who will be the next pope. Will it be a cardinal from Latin America? From Africa?

I looked at the origins of the all the popes since Peter. (Although the earliest few centuries are sketchy at best with not a whole lot of data.) As it turns out, there have already been probably three popes from Africa. Granted, they all lived during the Roman Empire, but still…that has to count for something…right?…No?…okay. Fine. Well in that case, you have plenty of Italians, in particular Romans to serve. (At least historically speaking.)

Whence the Popes Came
Whence the Popes Came