Improving Efficiency

Today’s post comes from xkcd. It looks at how much time can be spent improving efficiency before you become an inefficient efficiency person. It is important to note that this is over a five year span. And while I do not know about my readers, I can barely stick doing one thing for more than a year.

Improving efficiency
Improving efficiency

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Analysing Amtrak

The Brookings Institution released a report investigating the ridership of Amtrak’s various routes in an attempt to identify ways of cutting costs. They also released an interactive piece along with the report that pairs a map with a simple table.

Highlighting a route in the table highlights the route in the map and links the two together for the user. Clicking a dot on the map shows the details for the metropolitan area ridership along with the total number of stations. Lastly, because the table is sortable, the user can identify for themselves the conclusion reached by the report. To become solvent, Amtrak should divest itself of its long-haul routes that run at significant losses and focus on the profitable routes that could subsidise the popular though still minor loss-making routes.

Amtrak routes with the Northeast Regional highlighted
Amtrak routes with the Northeast Regional highlighted

Credit for the piece goes to Alec Friedhoff.

Japanese Radiation in Perspective

Japan continues to deal with damage from the earthquake and its subsequent tsunami. Yet, much of the news that seems to come out of Japan focuses on the leak of radioactive materials from the Fukushima power station. Certainly that is a story, but is it more important than the tens of thousands of people missing and presumably dead?

The New York Times printed a graphic on Saturday that details the danger from the radiation at the plant, near the plant, across Japan, and then across the rest of the world.

Radiation Graphic Reduced
Radiation Graphic Reduced

And largely, if you live in the United States, you have no reason to fear the radiation leak. In general, unless you maybe live near the plant, you have no reason to fear the radiation leak.

Overall, it communicates its message clearly and adds nice detail in the bottom third of the graphic about whatever spread of radiation there has been.

Credit for the graphic goes to Joe Burgess, Amanda Cox, Sergio PeƧanha, Amy Schoenfeld and Archie Tse.