Donald Trump and I have one thing in common today. Boy are we both glad today is finally Friday—what a week.
So in that vein, let us keep it semi-light today with a piece from the New York Times that I saw earlier this week. Before we share the screenshot, however, I should point out that there have been studies showing a relationship between knowing who is where in the world and an understanding that geopolitics are complex and messy. From the article:
Geographic knowledge itself may contribute to an increased appreciation of the complexity of geopolitical events.
So when it comes to North Korea, there are interesting correlations between policy options and people who could either find or not find North Korea on a map. The article is really worth the read.
But enough, where did users click to identify the location of North Korea?
If you missed it—and these days that is entirely possible—over the weekend, North Korea tested yet another missile. It did land very far away as it fell just off the coast of North Korea near Russia.
But it did travel far enough away to be of concern. Why? Well, this print graphic from the New York Times does a great job showing what that missile test really tested.
I want to end on a geography lesson for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those little dots in the upper right part of the circle? Those are the Aleutian Islands. They are like that island in the Pacific known as Oahu, which is part of the state of Hawaii. The Aleutians are part of the state of Alaska, which is, you know, one of the 50 states. Just trying to help you out, sir. So if you ask why we care about defending those islands in the Pacific, well now you know.
Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.
Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election yesterday. So Guess what we have a graphic or two of this week? If you guessed Mongolian puppies, you were wrong.
Thursday afternoon the Wall Street Journal—they seem to really be upping their game of late—published an article breaking down the connection between a Le Pen support in the first round and unemployment. For me, the key to the article was the following graphic, which plots those two variables by department. The departments that she won, generally speaking, suffer higher unemployment.
Colour coding relates to the winner of the department. I am not certain that the size of the voters in the department matters as much. But the annotation of particular departments, qualified as being limited to the French mainland—see my problem back in April about when France is more than France—flows through the several graphics in the piece.
This is a piece from the Thursday running up to Sunday’s vote. Tomorrow we will look at a piece from the day before the vote that looked at another key component of Macron’s win.
Credit for the piece goes to Martin Burch and Renée Rigdon.
Yesterday, President Trump asked why there had been no discussion about the causes of the Civil War.
No, that is not a joke.
Well, Mr. President, turns out that there has been quite a bit of discussion over the last few years. And the broad consensus?
Note the above, with the darker shaded counties representing those with greater percentages of the population held in slavery. What do most of those states have in common with the Confederacy? That they are in the Confederacy.
To be clear, the Union was not perfect. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri remained part of the Union, but were states where slavery was legal. In fact both Kentucky and Missouri had two governments. Kentucky provides a great example of the fault line with the pro-Union capital of Frankfort situated in the low-slavery east whereas the Confederate capital was located in western, high-slavery Kentucky.
But the point stands. Slavery was the link between Confederate states and Confederate-aligned parallel governments in Union states. So, Mr. President, when you are asked about the cause of the Civil War, now you know the answer.
Credit for the piece goes to E. Hergeshimer of the US Census Bureau.
Another day, another story about the administration to cover with data-driven graphics. We are approaching Trump’s 100th day in office, traditionally the first point at which we examine the impact of the new president. And well, beyond appointing a Supreme Court justice, it is hard to find a lot of things President Trump has actually done. But on his 99th day, he will also need to approve a Congressional bill to fund the government, or else the government shuts down on his 100th day. Not exactly the look of a successful head of state and government.
Why do I bring this up? Well, one of the many things that may or may not make it into the bill is funding for Trump’s wall that Mexico will pay for, but at an undetermined later date, because he wants to get started building the wall early, but late because he promised to start on Day 1.
Several weeks ago the Wall Street Journal published a fantastic piece on the current wall bordering Mexico. It examines the current state of fencing and whether parts of the border are fenced or not. It turns out a large portion is not. But, the piece goes on to explain just why large sections are not.
You should read the full piece for a better understanding. Because while the president says building the wall will cost $10 billion or less, real estimates place the costs at double that. Plus there would be lawsuits because, spoiler: significant sections of the border wall would cross private property, national parks, and Native American reservations. Also the southern border crosses varied terrain from rives to deserts to mountains some lengths of which are really difficult to build walls upon.
But the part that I really like about the piece is this scatter plot that examines the portion of the border fenced vs. the number of apprehensions. It does a brilliant job of highlighting the section of the border that would benefit most significantly from fencing, i.e. a sector with minimal fencing and a high number of apprehensions: the Rio Grande Valley.
And to make that point clear, the designers did a great job of annotating the plot to help the reader understand the plot’s meaning. As some of my readers will recall, I am not a huge fan of bubble plots. But here there is some value. The biggest bubbles are all in the lower portion of fenced sectors. Consequently, one can see that those rather well-fenced sectors would see diminished returns by completing the wall. A more economical approach would be to target a sector that has low mileage of fencing, but also a high number of apprehensions—a big circle in the lower right of the chart. And that Rio Grande Valley sector sits right there.
Overall, a fantastic piece by the Wall Street Journal.
Credit for the piece goes to Stephanie Stamm, Renée Rigdon, and Dudley Althaus.
Yesterday we looked at the result of, but today I want to talk about covering of the French presidential election. It dovetails nicely with a recent story here in the states about Hawaii.
Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticised a court ruling because it came from a judge “on some island in the Pacific”. That island, of course, is Oahu. Oahu is one of several islands that comprise the state of Hawaii, including the eponymous island. But it does not matter that the state is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the fifty states of the union. And in terms of population, it isn’t even the smallest state. Should we not care about court decisions in Wyoming because so few people live there? No, because it is one of the fifty states.
Now you are likely asking, what does that have to do with the French presidential election? Well, it has to do with choropleth maps of French results. Well, most likely you were not looking at a map of the French Republic. Take this map from the New York Times.
It looks like France, but it’s only a part of France. Instead, we have France 24 presenting the map correctly. The thing missing? All those little geographies around the border.
You may recall that France at one point had an empire. At home, France was organised into state-like entities called departments. By contrast, the United Kingdom had an empire with its home territories organised into counties. Then in the 20th century, both empires began to dissolve. In the UK that meant independence for most places, but others transitioned from colonies to crown dependencies, e.g. Gibraltar and until 1997 Hong Kong. But technically, they are not part of the United Kingdom. (Don’t get me started on the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey.)
In France, there were some conflicts—here’s looking at you French Indochina/Vietnam—and some independence. But for those that did gain independence, the territories took a different track from the crown dependences in the UK. France integrated them into the French Republic and made them full-on departments. (It is a little bit more complicated than that, but for now we’ll keep it simple.) So now, if you visit Canada and take a day trip to St. Pierre and Miquelon, you are stepping on France. This is also different from Puerto Rico and the United States, where Puerto Rico is not fully part of the United States.
And so what does this mean for electoral purposes? Well, as you have probably figured out, this all means that French elections are geographically broader than those of the UK or the US. Gibraltar does not vote for Parliament and so you will not see it on the June election maps. In 2016, notice how you did not see Puerto Rico in the US presidential election maps. But because of how France integrated its former colonies as departments, Cayenne, French Guiana gets as much of a say on the French president as does Paris.
So remember, next time you look at a map of France on Europe, it’s like looking at a map of the United States without Alaska and Hawaii. Because France too exists on an island in the Pacific. It’s called New Caledonia.
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.
Let’s go back in time briefly to last week and the whole Obamacare thing. It’s not perfect and could be improved. I stridently believe that what the administration proposed was worse. But this article from Vox does highlight one of the things that could be improved—making more choices available to consumers. And they make the point with a map.
That map shows the counties where there is only one insurer and almost a dozen counties in Tennessee where there are none. Note the colour—blue are counties that voted for Clinton and red for Trump. If Trump attempts to “explode” Obamacare, he will—much like the plans from last week—be hurting most those people who voted for him. Very strange politics if you ask me.
Sorry about last week, everyone. I had some trouble with the database powering the blog here. Great week for things to go down, right? Well, either way, we’re back and it’s not like the news is stopping. This week? Brexit’s back, baby.
I’m never using the word “baby” again on this blog.
I have been saving this piece until the announcement of Article 50 by the UK government. I know the British and Europeans among my audience likely know what that means, but for the rest of you, Article 50 is the formal mechanism by which the United Kingdom starts the two-year process to leave the European Union.
Think of it like signing the divorce papers, except that the divorce isn’t unofficial for two years until after that date. The interim period is figuring out who gets which automobile, the dinnerware, and that ratty-old sofa in the basement. Except that instead of between two people, this divorce is more like a divorce between polygamists with multiples husbands and wives. So yeah, not really like a divorce at all.
This piece from the Guardian attempts to explain what the various parties want from the United Kingdom and from the eventual settlement between the UK and the EU. It leads off with a nice graphic about the importance of a few key issues in a cartogram. And then several voting blocs run down the remainder of the page with their key issues.
I really like this piece as the small multiples for each section refer back to the opening graphic. But then on a narrow window, e.g. your mobile phone, the small multiples drop off, because really, the location of the few countries mentioned on a cartogram is not terribly important to that part of the analysis. It shows some great understanding of content prioritisation within an article. In a super ideal world, the opener graphic would be interactive so the user could tap the various squares and see the priorities immediately.
But overall, a very solid piece from the Guardian.
Credit for the piece goes to the Guardian’s graphics department.
I could have covered the pieces on Gorsuch or the budget—and we will get to those—but I wanted to cover some data released by the World Meteorological Organisation that puts 2016 as the warmest year on record.
But that’s cool, climate change is a hoax.
The graphic comes from a BBC article covering the news, and is a reuse of work from the National Oceanian and Atmospheric Administration. It portrays how much this past January deviated from long-term averages. Because, and I am probably preaching to the choir, remember that day-to-day highs, lows, and precipitation are weather. Longer term trends, patterns, and averages are evidence of climate.
Just so happens that today is also supposed to be the warmest day of the week here in Philadelphia.