Tag Archives: information design

What Else Has Been Shot Down in Ukraine

The Boeing 777 jetliner was not the first nor even at this point the latest aircraft shot down over eastern Ukraine. Just yesterday, two Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft were shot down—the Ukrainian government claims from medium-altitude surface-to-air missiles fired from within Russia. While I was working on drawing something up to catalogue just what has been shot down, I stumbled upon this piece from the Washington Post that does just that.

Planes shot down by the separatists

Credit for the piece goes to Gene Thorp.

Restricted Airspace

One of the questions in the wake of last week’s shoot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is why was the aircraft even flying over eastern Ukraine? Generally speaking, because it was not banned from doing so. In today’s graphic, the Washington Post takes a look at those areas that the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricts flights or warns against travel due to hostile threats, e.g. war. Also note that the Post has included Ben Gurion Airport, which is still under the 24-hour period ban because of a Hamas rocket landing a mile away from the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

FAA restriction areas

FAA restriction areas

Credit for the piece goes to Katie Park, Kevin Schaul, and Gene Thorp.

Am I Your Type, Politically Speaking of Course?

Maybe? But thanks to Pew Research, you can see if we align politically. Today’s post comes via Pete, a coworker of mine, and it is basically a survey that works by asking you 23 political questions on topics from big/small government, immigration, climate change, gay rights, defence spending, &c. They crunch some numbers and spit you out on a results page, the image below a crop from the results for your humble author. (For better or worse revealing my political leanings.)

My type

My type

From a survey standpoint, I found it interesting the questions presented only binary responses. In general, I found that I never agreed with either statement entirely and was forced to choose the “closest” response. Since I never see myself on the conservative side of the spectrum, I was surprised to see my “type”, Young Outsiders, coloured with a tint of red. Regardless, I’m still thankful that according to Pew, I am still more in the centre than on the ends as it makes it a lot easier to compromise. I’ve heard that that is an adult thing to do.

By the way, if you want the results of the full survey upon which this quiz was based, you can check out that site here. It’s full of bar charts for those who like the data visualisation.

Credit for the piece goes to the Pew Research Center.

The Air Defence Systems of Eastern Ukraine

Last week, separatists in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with what appears to have been an SA-11 Gadfly missile. Separatists had previously claimed to have had this system in operation and days earlier shot down a high-altitude Ukrainian military aircraft—though not necessarily with the SA-11. How much more powerful is the SA-11 than the other two known surface-to-air missile systems the separatists have used to shoot down Ukrainian military helicopter and aircraft? Well, I decided to create a small graphic to show you that the SA-11 is a significant advancement over the shorter range systems in use up to now.

Eastern Ukrainian SAM systems

Eastern Ukrainian SAM systems

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Talk about an airline with bad luck this year. Malaysia Airlines—yes of the missing flight in the Indian Ocean fame—lost another aircraft yesterday as separatists in eastern Ukraine allegedly shot it down with an SA-11 Gadfly surface-to-air missile. For those unaware, that is a much more deadly and capable system than the shoulder-launched missiles separatists have been using to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft. (In my non-expert opinion, the separatists probably thought they were doing just that, shooting down a Ukrainian transport plane.)

In short, there is quite a bit going on in eastern Ukraine today. Thankfully we have the New York Times creating a page of maps to explain the shoot-down of MH17.

Not all airlines have flown over Ukraine

Not all airlines have flown over Ukraine

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

Death Toll in Gaza and Israel

Today’s piece, the first not on Québec, is a small but poignant reminder of the disparity between the number of deaths in Gaza and in Israel during this most recent conflict. According to the article, as of 16 July there has been one death in Israel for 194 in Gaza. This small piece from the New York Times shows the geographic location of the attacks from both sides and tallies the number of strikes. And the number of dead.

Comparing the death toll

Comparing the death toll

Credit for the piece goes to Craig Allen, David Furst, Nilkanth Patel, Archie Tse, and Derek Watkins.

Cannon Along the Walls of Québec

In what I think is the last set of diagrams and illustrations describing the fortifications of Ville de Québec, we have the reason why the overall design and construction were so difficult as well as why there are so many star-like bastions pointing out of the walls.

The difficulty comes from the topography. Québec was, as I mentioned earlier, described by Charles Dickens as the Gibraltar of North America. It features a high, defensible cliff and then a city on the lowlands below it. But building a wall that defends it from the cliffs to the river is not easy. Especially because the angles and slopes of the walls have to account for the fact that enemy cannon near Cap Diamant could otherwise see very well into the city below. And therefore target the city. But how drastic was the descent?

A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River

A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River

And then to point the second, why so many stars? Well, the problem with straight walls is that if you manage to get beneath the firing range of the cannon along the wall, the defenders really cannot fire at you. And that gives you all the time to plant explosives and blow a massive hole in the fortifications. So the stars actually give the defenders nearly a complete field of fire along the entirety of the city walls.

Defending the city walls with cannon

Defending the city walls with cannon

Credit for the pieces go to the graphics department of Parks Canada.

Palisades and Ramparts de Québec

Today I have a little bit more about the fortifications near Artillery Park. The original fortifications were not massive stone works, because those take time. Instead, a lot of the original defences of the town were wooden palisades and earthworks. The following illustration shows the wooden defences of 1690.

Wooden defences of Québec

Wooden defences of Québec

The woodworks were more than just timber inserted into the ground. It involved some earthworks to support the wooden posts, but also to give the defenders a better view of the approaches. And a better firing position.

Rampart design

Rampart design

The palisades were divided into sections by redoubts. These were the strongpoints along the town walls.

Redoubts of 1690

Redoubts of 1690

But due to the ever-present fear of an amphibious invasion, the palisades were eventually replaced with an earthwork fortification. Trees were planted along the walls and they served as spikes to deter forces from scaling the walls.

Replacing the palisade

Replacing the palisade

Credit for the piece goes to the Parks Canada graphics department.

City Walls of Québec

Beyond la Citadelle, Québec also enjoys a defensive wall that nearly surrounds Vieux-Québec, or Old Québec. These graphics come from the Barracks Sector, which used to house the Royal Artillery during the British period.

The Barracks Sector

The Barracks Sector

The walls in this section of the city date to 1745, but the redoubt in this area goes back to 1712, you can see that as the orange rectangle.

City walls over time

City walls over time

Credit for the pieces go to the graphics department of Parks Canada.