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.

North American Transit Map

Wrapping up this week of map-themed work, we have xkcd. He created an integrated map of North America’s subway systems from Vancouver to Chicago to Philadelphia to Washington to Mexico City.

I only wish I could take the Red Line from Belmont and transfer to the Market–Frankford near West Trenton. Because I could then take the (Frankford) El out to 69th Street and catch the 104 to West Chester.

Subways of North America
Subways of North America

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Maps Are Not Silver Bullets

I make a lot of maps in my line of work. Often times, they are not particularly interesting. Mostly because they follow similar patterns to this. More stuff is bought and sold where there are more people. More stuff is bought and sold where more people have more money. Et cetera, et cetera.

Maps are not always helpful
Maps are not always helpful

Maps are sometimes very useful. But I have a saying when people ask for a map of some kind of data tied to geographies: Maps are not silver bullets. That is to say, just because you throw data about countries, states, or counties onto a map does not mean you are going to see anything worthwhile let alone new or unexpected.

Credit for the XKCD piece goes to Randall Munroe

History of Congress

Today is Election Day. Did you vote yet? If not, why the hell not?

But you are not just voting for president, you are also voting for senators (in some states at least, like Pennsylvania), your congressman or congresswoman, state assemblies, ballot initiatives, &c. And in that spirit, this last pre-vote result post comes from xkcd and looks at the history of Congress and how it leaned right or left over all the years. It’s big, but worth a look.

History of Congress
History of Congress

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe

How About Those [Insert Team Here]?

It’s Friday. And it might almost be time for sports conversations. Thanks to xkcd I know that as an American, in the month of September, I should be discussing football (with the pointy-ended ball). But don’t worry, I’ll leave my support for the Red Sox at the front door.

Sports Cheat Sheet
Sports Cheat Sheet

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.

Your Central Visual Field

From XKCD comes an informative infographic about your central visual field. As always, it’s quite informative. It’s not quite light hearted for Friday, but you’ll probably get an odd look or a laugh when you move your face really close to your monitor…

Central Visual Field
Central Visual Field

Also as always, credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.