Patrolling the US–Mexican Border

If you haven’t heard, we share a border with Mexico. And we patrol it. And the Washington Post published a graphic looking at the patrolling of the US–Mexican border.

Border patrol staffing
Border patrol staffing

Credit for the piece goes to Anup Kaphle and Bill Webster.

The Muslim World

Today’s post comes via a co-worker of mine and is from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. The infographic is of the long-running image type, but in this case is neatly sliced into digestible morsels of tasty infographic-ness. Below is a cropping of the longer piece. It looks at how Muslim populations in different countries feel about the importance of their religion in their daily life.

The Muslim World
The Muslim World

Mexican Drug Cartels

Mexico has some serious problems. Primarily with the drug cartels. About two weeks ago the National Post created an infographic that looked at the northern spread of Mexican drugs into the United States. The infographic also included details on the transit and transportation networks the different drugs take along with the geographic spread of the various cartels from the Tijuana, Federation, Juarez, and Gulf Cartels as reported by US cities.

Foreign Policy magazine rates countries as to how close they may or may not be to becoming failed states. Mexico is among those that have fallen into the “Warning” category over the recent years. The second half of the infographic looks at why. In short, in the past few years over 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related homicides and several more thousand have simply disappeared. The police, military, civilian officials, journalists, &c. have become targets of the cartel if they oppose the cartels.

Mexico has some serious problems. Sadly problems have a tendency to spill over borders.

Cropping of the Mexican Cartel infographic
Cropping of the Mexican Cartel infographic

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Rivait and Richard Johnson.

Drought Footprint

A lot of people’s minds may be on the Olympics that open up today in London. However, a very important story that was covered a little while ago deserves a post.

The United States has been suffering from a severe drought across much of the country. Droughts are nothing new, though climate change is likely to increase their intensity in the coming decades. This means more than lawns with dead grass; it means crop failures. Crop failures mean lack of food for humans and cattle. That means lower supply while demand holds steady. That means increasing prices. That means increasing pressure on already straining household budgets. Ergo, severe droughts can be a big deal.

The New York Times charted the geographic spread of droughts over the past century as small multiples. The print version was different, alas I have no photo, but the online version neatly groups maps by decade. Of some interest is how similar the scale of the 2012 coverage is in relation to that of 1934, the year of the Dust Bowl.

Drought
Drought

Credit for the piece goes to Haeyoun Park and Kevin Quealy

Rusyns of Slovakia

The Slovakian government has published the results from its 2011 census. The census looked at many things, including nationality and language. This should allow the government in Bratislava to better fund and support the ethnic minorities in Slovakia.

Of course, some of my ancestors were one of the small ethnic minorities in Slovakia. Ergo, I have a personal interest in the data. The result is a quick infographic about the Carpatho-Rusyns of Slovakia. Click on the cropping below to learn more, meaning, see a bigger and fuller version.

Cropping of the Rusyns of Slovakia
Cropping of the Rusyns of Slovakia

Credit for the work goes to me. For the data, the statistics office of Slovakia.

Crossing the Detroit River (Panic in Detroit)

The National Post’s business section, branded separately as the Financial Post, posted a comment about a proposed bridge that would span the Detroit River and add a third major crossing to the Detroit–Windsor area. The comment used a graphic to explain one of the key points of the story, that early 21st century traffic projections haven proven to be very much incorrect. Unfortunately, it took me a little bit of time to realise that in the graphic.

Crossing Options Original
Crossing Options Original

So without access to the raw data provided by United Research Services I have made a quick attempt to improve the graphic within the confines of Coffee Spoons’ main column space, i.e. 600 pixels. The original locator map is quite useful and therefore not included in my effort.

Detroit River Crossing Traffic Revisited
Detroit River Crossing Traffic Revisited

My main issues with the charts are the separation of the estimates from the actuals and the spacing between the estimates. I would have preferred to have seen, as in my example, how the actuals for 2010 fell far short of the 2004 projections. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen the original estimates for the intervening years between 2010, ’20, and ’30, however that data was not provided in the comment if it is even available from the original source. Consequently, unlike the original, I have kept the spacing of the actual data in the estimates with the intervening gaps.

The subtle effect of this increased spacing is to reduce the visual speed, if one will, of the projected growth. Over the original and narrower space the rate of increase appears fairly dramatic. However when given the correct spacing the ‘time’ to reach the projections lengthens and thus the rate ‘slows down’.

Credit for the original piece goes to Richard Johnson. The reinterpretation and any errors therein are entirely my own.

Voyager 1

So my prediction of the health care law being thrown out did not come to pass. But what will pass is the space probe Voyager 1 out of the solar system in the very near future. (Don’t worry unlike Voyager, I will return—albeit to the original subject matter next week.) So from the National Post we have an infographic that details just what is Voyager 1. (And no, it is not V’ger, that was the fictional Voyager 6.)

Voyager 1
Voyager 1

Credit for the piece goes to Joshua Rapp Learn, Andrew Barr, and Richard Johnson.

Sometimes Small Infographics Are Most Important

This is certainly not the largest, nor the most glamorous infographic. But to drivers in Los Angeles, probably a very useful one. It is a diagram of forthcoming changes to a series of on- and off-ramps to Interstate 405 and Wilshire Boulevard.

Ramp changes
Ramp changes

Simple things like having a dangerous red for the soon-to-be-closed ramps set against the calmer, desaturated colours of the safer, separated ramps of the future highlight the important area of the shared lanes. I probably would have called those areas out with something more than a black, many-pointed star, but it does still work.

Credit for the piece goes to Tia Lai and Anthony Pesce.

Oil.

Oil, sweet oil. How we depend upon you for modern civilisation. BP published a report on world energy that Craig Bloodworth visualised using Tableau.

Oil production
Oil production

The piece has three tabs; one is for production, another consumption, and a third for reserves. (The screenshot above is for production.) But when I look at each view I wonder whether all the data views are truly necessary?

In production for example, is a map of a few countries truly informative? The usual problem of Russia, Canada, the US, and China dominating the map simply because they are geographically large countries reappears. Furthermore the map projection does not particularly help the issue because it expands the area of Siberia and the Canadian arctic at the expense of regions near the Equator, i.e. the Middle East. That strikes me as counter-intuitive since some of the largest oil producers are actually located within the Middle East.

A map could very well be useful if it showed more precisely where oil is produced. Where in the vastness of Russia is oil being sucked out of the ground? Where in Saudia Arabia? In the US? Leave the numbers to the charts. They are far more useful in comparing those countries like Kuwait that are major producers but tiny geographies.

Lastly about the maps (and the charts), the colour is a bit confusing because nowhere that I have found in my quick exploration of the application does the piece specify what the colours mean. That would be quite useful.

Finally, about the data, the total amount of oil produced, but more importantly consumed, is useful and valuable data. But seeing that China is the second largest consumer after the US is a bit misleading. Per capita consumption would add nuance to the consumption view, because China is over three-times as large as the US in population. Consequently, the average Chinese is not a major consumer. The problem is more that there are so many more Chinese consumers than consumers in any other nation—except India.

A bit of a hit and miss piece. I think the organisation and the idea is there: compare and contrast producers and consumers of oil (and consumers of other energy forms). Alas the execution does not quite match the idea.

Credit for the piece goes to Craig Bloodworth, via the Guardian.