A Week of Unrest Across the Middle East

Over the last week a video clip on YouTube that mocked the Muslim prophet Mohammad sparked unrest across the Muslim world, from Morocco to Bangladesh and from Turkey to Kenya. While most of the protests were peaceful, a few were not. In Libya, the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked—in circumstances still not entirely clear—and four Americans were killed, including the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens. In Khartoum, Sudan, the embassies of the US, the United Kingdom, and Germany were all attacked. While in Afghanistan, the Taliban successfully attacked the UK’s heavily fortified base of Camp Bastion, nearest to Kandahar, killing two US Marines and destroying six Harrier jets.

Combing through several news sites, including the BBC, AP, and Reuters among others, I mapped where protests occurred and sought to show how much of that country’s population identifies as Muslim. Most nations were, not surprisingly, heavily Muslim. But several countries with rather small Muslim populations such as Kenya, Sri Lanka, and India also hosted protests, some violent. Not included, because of the difficulty in changing the map, is Australia. Sydney experienced protests nearing rioting as protestors marched.

Click the map for the full-sized view.

Map of Muslim Unrest; click for the full-size view
Map of Muslim Unrest; click for the full-size view

Canadian Tradin’

The Globe and Mail of Canada published an infographic that where I work would probably be called a datagraphic. It presents data in a graphic fashion without a lot of context or conclusions that turn data into information. The piece in question looks at Canada’s balance of trade, i.e. how much it imports from other countries vs how much it exports to other countries.

Canadian trade
Canadian trade

While I appreciate the goal of the overall piece and fully understand that it may have in fact first lived in the print edition, the version shown on their website feels too large for the few data points contained within the graphic. The bars on the right and beneath the timeline are far too wide. The sections could likely have been condensed into a smaller, more compact space that would have given more visual weight to the timeline that clearly tells the story of a more volatile trading period for Canada since the global recession of 2008.

I also would probably change the chart type or simply look at a different data set for the trade balance with principal partners because the data for Japan barely registers. And while the other data can be seen, the minor differences are difficult to read. I would probably shift the emphasis from the actual dollar value of exports and imports to the percentage growth (or decline) of each over the last year.

Ivory Trade

This graphic from the New York Times looks at the illegal ivory trade out of Africa and into, primarily, the markets of Asia. I think the map works fairly well in showing why certain countries are centres for the illicit industry. But the two donut charts integrated into the graphic as part of the Indian Ocean are a bit weaker.

Ivory trade
Ivory trade

My main problem is that the shares are a bit difficult to distinguish as arcs, especially when looking at the export countries. But the second chart with the import markets does work a little bit better. In this case there are really only three markets: China, Thailand, and Others. But the chart contains the ambiguous China or Thailand. So in theory, that demarcation could fall anywhere between China and Thailand—a point harder made if comparing simply by bars. This means that the chart really is looking at China vs Thailand that combine to 87% vs. Others. The trick is finding the break between China and Thailand. Is this chart perfect? No, but in this case I think it an acceptable use of the donut—though I likely would have treated it a little bit differently to emphasise that point.

Made in the USA. Exported to Mexico.

We trade a lot with China. Everyone knows that. But people might not realise that both Canada and Mexico are also among our largest trading partners. (I suppose it helps that they are both right next door.) Mexico is the second-largest importer of US goods after Canada. (China is third.) The Washington Post looked at which states are exporting the most to Mexico and what their largest exports happen to be.

Exporting to Mexico
Exporting to Mexico

Credit for the piece goes to Wilson Andrews, Emily Chow, and Bill Webster.

Revising the Jobs Reports

Last Friday was the jobs report for the month of August. And it was not as high as economists had expected. The problem is that the initial report is often inaccurate despite the fact we make such a big deal about the report. So the Washington Post looked at the revisions that take place in the months afterwards. Yeah, the initial reports are not so accurate.

Revising the Jobs Reports Numbers
Revising the Jobs Reports Numbers

The first two sets of charts (not shown above) look at the initial versus the revised numbers. The third (the cropping above) looks at the difference between those figures. The result is that the first few years of President Obama’s presidency created more jobs than expected but that the last two months have seen worse-than-expected job creation. I would be curious to see how this correlates to the end of the stimulus plan, but I imagine it would be difficult to link that to the jobs reports.

Credit for the piece goes to Todd Lindeman.

Climate Change

When I was younger—albeit not by much—I applied my interests in geography, history, and politics to create maps of fictional places. I used knowledge of things like the Hadley cell and the Koppen climate classification system to figure where on the maps I drew people would be able to live in temperate climates and where nobody could live because it would be an arid desert. I also read encyclopedias growing up, so go figure.

But I never bothered to apply my amateurish interest in geography and climatology to Earth. Rather, to an alternate Earth. But Randall Munroe over at xkcd did take a “what if” about a rotated Earth’s surface and investigated what would be the results. Of course he is also not an expert and even after thousands of years of living on this planet, humanity has yet to figure out all the variables that determine climates. But he gave it a shot. And he explained how it works (in theory). The result is called Cassini.

Climate of Cassini
Climate of Cassini

Blue is cold; think Siberia. Green is temperate; think rain and trees and, well, green things. Yellow is arid; think deserts. Red is hurricane zones—appropriate for summer. Think, well, hurricanes.

Cities on Cassini
Cities on Cassini

Turns out Philadelphia would still be a great place to live. Just saying.

How Has the Republican Party Changed

Yesterday I shared an infographic looking at the demograhics behind the evolution of the Democratic Party—and by comparison the Republican Party. Today is the Washington Post’s infographic on the evolution of the Republican Party’s policy platform. Since the 1960s the party has shifted from a socially liberal agenda coupled with fiscal conservatism to an extremely conservative social agenda and an even more fiscally conservative platform. (For example, one wonders if the Tea Party remembers how the great conservative in Ronald Reagan raised taxes because it was how to generate increased revenue?)

An evolving GOP platform
An evolving GOP platform

Credit for the piece goes to Marc Fisher, Laura Stanton, and Karen Yourish.

How Has the Democratic Party Changed

This past weekend the Washington Post published an infographic looking at how the Democratic Party has demographically changed over time and compared those changes to those in the Republican Party. The piece is large, but shows some interesting trends particularly with the racial diversification of the political parties—or lack thereof. It is an important trend when considering the white population is growing at much slower pace than minority groups.

Democratic Party trends
Democratic Party trends

The Second Battle of Bull Run or The Second Battle of Manassas. Take Your Pick.

So the battle has two different names, but it was undoubtedly bloody. The Washington Post created an infographic exploring this important battle of the Civil War that led to a bloody Union defeat.

Second Bull Run
Second Bull Run

Credit for the piece goes to Gene Thorp, Brenna Maloney, Laura Stanton, and Don Troiani.