Pew recently released a report into the Asian American experience. The report used 66 different focus groups to gather feedback and then summarised that with quotes, video bits, and lots of text. But at the beginning of the report was a nice little graphic that detailed the composition of the focus groups.
This is not a fancy graphic, nor need it be given its supplemental role to the overall piece. But I think it does a reasonable job of showing the construction of the overall focus group demographics, a key point to understanding the responses.
On the left we have a simple count of the number of focus groups by origin. For Indonesians we see there were two focus groups. And thus we have a number two besides the two blocks. Here the two is entirely extraneous and serves as a distracting visual sparkle at the end of the blocks. The advantage of using blocks as opposed to say a bar is that you can visualise the individual components or units, in this case there were two distinct focus groups of Indonesian origin. A user reading this chart should be able to count two blocks. And if they cannot count two blocks, I suspect they would be unable to grasp what the “2” means let alone the rest of the report.
To the right we have two pie charts. My…reticence…to use pies is well-known to long-time readers of Coffeespoons. But here we have the same type of data, counts of focus groups, and I have to wonder: why the designers did not stick with the same model of using individual blocks?
Here I chose to redesign the pie charts.
Nothing here is really new, I just removed the labels because people can count if they need to know the exact number. The labels add visual clutter to the design. And then of course I removed the pie charts and replaced them with blocks like on the left. I was even able to keep the layout roughly the same, albeit within my own graphics template.
Credit for the original goes to the Pew graphics department.
Last night I went to see Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel to the 1986 film Top Gun. Don’t worry, no spoilers here. But for those that don’t know, the first film starred Tom Cruise as a naval aviator, pilot, who flew around in F-14 Tomcats learning to become an expert dogfighter. Top Gun is the name of an actual school that instructs US Navy pilots.
Back in the 1980s, the F-14 was the premiere fighter jet used by the Navy. But the Navy retired the aircraft in 2006 and it’s been replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a larger and more powerful version of the F/A-18 Hornet. So no surprise that the new film features Super Hornets instead of Tomcats.
And so I wanted to compare the two.
The important thing to note is that the Tomcat flies farther and faster than the Hornet. The F-14 was designed to intercept Soviet bombers that were equipped with long-range missiles that could sink US carriers. The Hornet was designed more of an all-purpose aircraft. It can shoot down enemy planes, but it can also bomb targets on the ground. That’s the “/A” in the designation F/A-18. In the role of intercepting enemy aircraft, the F-14 was superior. It could fly well past two-times the speed of sound and it could fly combat missions over 500 miles away from its carrier.
In the interception role, however, the F-14 had another crucial advantage: the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. It was a long-range air-t0-air missile designed for the Tomcat. It does not work with any other US aircraft and so the Hornet uses the newer AIM-120 AMRAAM, a medium-range air-to-air missile.
There are plans to design a long-range version of the AIM-120, but it doesn’t exist yet and so the Hornet ultimately flies slower, less distance, and cannot engage targets at longer ranges.
However, dogfighting isn’t about long-range engagements with missiles. It’s about close-up twisting and turning to evade short-range missiles and gunfire. And even in that, the F-14 could use four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles whereas the F/A-18 carries only two on its wingtips.
By the 2000s F-14 was an older aircraft and while the moving, sweeping wings look cool, they cause maintenance problems. They were expensive to maintain and troublesome to keep in the air. But they are arguably superior to what the Navy flies today.
Moving forward, the Navy is beginning to introduce the F-35 Lightning II to the carrier fleets. Maybe I’ll need to a comparison between those three.
Tonight the Boston Celtics play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, one of the most dominant NBA teams over the last several years. But since the start of the new century and the new millennium, more broadly Boston’s four major sports teams have dominated the championship series of those sports. In fact tonight marks the 19th championship series a New England team has played since 2001. And in those 18 series thus far, Boston teams have a 12–6 record.
Of the 12 titles won, the New England Patriots account for half with six Super Bowl victories out of nine appearances. The Boston Red Sox have won all four World Series they have played in since 2001. Rounding out the list, the Celtics and Bruins have each won a single championship with the Bruins appearing in three Stanley Cups and the Celtics in two NBA Finals. Tonight begins their third.
Last month, a 2-year old shot and killed his 4-year old sister whilst they sat in a car at a petrol station in Chester, Pennsylvania, a city just south of Philadelphia.
Not surprisingly some people began to look at the data around kid-involved shootings. One such person was Christopher Ingraham who explored the data and showed how shootings by children is up 50% since the pandemic. He used two graphics, one a bar chart and another a choropleth map.
The map shows where kid-involved shootings have occurred. Now what’s curious about this kind of a map is that the designer points out that toddler incidents are concentrated around the Southeast and Midwest. And that appears to be true, but some of the standouts like Ohio and Florida—not to mention Texas—are some of the most populated states in the country. More people would theoretically mean more deaths.
So if we go back to the original data and then grab a 2020 US Census estimate for the under-18 population of each state, I can run some back of the envelope maths and we can take a look at how many under-18 deaths there had been per 100,000 under-18 year-olds. And that map begins to look a little bit different.
If anything we see the pattern a bit more clearly. The problem persists in the Southeast, but it’s more concentrated in what I would call the Deep South. The problem states in the Midwest fade a bit to a lower rate. Some of the more obvious outliers here become Alaska and Maine.
As the original author points out, some of these numbers likely owe to lax gun regulation in terms of safe storage and trigger locks. I wonder if the numbers in Alaska and Maine could be due to the more rural nature of the states, but then we don’t see similar rates of kid deaths in places like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
Credit for the original piece goes to Christopher Ingraham.
Earlier this week I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the political prospects of some of the candidates for the open US Senate seat for Pennsylvania, for which I and many others will be voting come November. But before I get to vote on a candidate, members of the political parties first get to choose whom they want on the ballot. (In Pennsylvania, independent voters like myself are ineligible to vote in party primaries.)
This year the Republican Party has several candidates running and one of them you may have heard of: Dr. Oz. Yeah, the one from television. And while he is indeed the front runner, he is not in front by much as the article explains. Indeed, the race largely had been a two-person contest between Oz and David McCormick until recently when Kathy Barnette pulled just about even with the two.
In fact, according to a recent poll the three candidates are all statistically tied in that they all fall within the margin of error for victory. And that brings us to the graphic from the article.
Conceptually this is a pretty simple bar chart with the bar representing the share of the support of those polled. But I wanted to point out how the designer chose to represent the margin of error via hatched shading to both sides of the ends of the red bar.
In some cases the hatch job does not work for me, particularly with those smaller candidates where the bar goes negative. I would have grave reservations about the vote should any candidate win a negative share of the vote. 0% perhaps, but negative? No. I also don’t think the grey hatching works as well over the grey bar in particular and to a lesser degree the red.
I have often thought that these sorts of charts should use some kind of box plot approach. So this morning I took the chart above and reworked it.
Overall, however, I really like this designer’s approach. We should not fear subtlety and nuance, and margins of error are just that. After all, we need not go back too far in time to remember a certain candidate who thought she had a presidential election locked up when really her opponent was within the margin of error.
Another week, more combat and refugees in Ukraine. I’m going to try and hold the war update until tomorrow pending some news that hasn’t been confirmed yet: the fall of Mariupol. Instead, we’re going to again look briefly at the refugee situation in Ukraine—technically outside. I haven’t seen a recent number on the internally displaced, though we have begun to see some people return to Ukraine especially in the north and around Kyiv. It’s unclear to me if the data includes those people returning.
Regardless, we are at over 4.6 million Ukrainians who have fled Ukraine.
The question now is as Russia refocuses its effort now on the Donbas—though fierce fighting has been waged in the area for eight years now—will these numbers begin to see a notable change.
It’s been a week since my last update and that’s in part because a lot has changed. When we last spoke, the Russians had announced they had successfully completed the first phase of the “special military operation”.
Instead, Russian forces have completed a full-on retreat from northern Ukraine, sending troops and equipment back to Belarus and western Russia for refit, repair, and resupply. These are then likely to head south towards the Donbas and eastern Ukraine, the new focus of the war.
That area, in particular the south, has been Russia’s lone area of success in this war and it makes sense for Russia to reinforce its success and take the loss in the north where it was in fact losing. In fact, during the Russian retreat we saw continued, limited gains in the Donbas and the south. There, Russia appears desirous to envelop Ukrainian forces and cut them off from resupply, especially in the area of Kramatorsk.
For those that recall my coverage back in 2014, get ready to start hearing the same cities and towns mentioned all over again.
Russia wanted to capture Kyiv and cities in the north to topple the Ukrainian government. But militarily, offensive operations in the north prevented Ukraine from reinforcing their units in the south. Since 2014, Ukraine has been conducting the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in the Donbas. These are the best-equipped and most-experienced Ukrainian troops int he war as they’ve been fighting the Russians and Russian-backed separatists for eight years. I suspect that Ukraine’s success thus far is in no small part due to the knowledge Ukraine has gained about how to fight Russian units and counter Russian tactics in this very theatre. In other words, Russia needed to prevent these forces from being resupplied. With Russia’s retreat, this is an option.
That isn’t to say Ukraine can send its whole army south, because I imagine some Russian troops will remain on the Russian side of the border north of Kyiv just in case a moment of opportunity arises.
So if Russia cannot stop Ukrainian reinforcements by pinning or fixing Ukrainian units to the north, Russia needs to cut off routes of resupply. Not surprisingly then, we’ve been seeing increased numbers of operations to take cities and towns that serve as vital rail and road hubs. And further away from the battlefield, Russian artillery and cruise missiles have been relentlessly striking similar towns in attempts to destroy transport infrastructure.
For now, it seems as if Russian forces continue to probe Ukrainian defences in an attempt to find a weak point in their lines that they can then exploit through an artillery barrage and likely an armour and mechanised infantry blitz. What works for Ukraine is that despite being surrounded on three sides, that makes it easier to shuffle units and supplies between forces facing the most pressure. Russia, on the other hand, has to move its reinforcements along the entire circumference of that bubble.
Ukraine obviously wants to retake all the territory lost to Russia thus far. In the southwest, we have seen some successful operations in repulsing the Russians around Mykolaiv and pushing Russian forces back to the outskirts of Kherson. Kherson and Nova Kakhovka control the only two southern bridges across the Dnieper. Russia needs to defend these in order to keep Ukraine from attacking its units in the south from the rear so to speak. Russian units are holding in the cities thus far despite enormous pressure.
Russia still controls the vital rail lines leading up from Crimea that allows them to keep Russian forces in that theatre resupplied. The lack of resupply was one of the issues in the north, but Russian infrastructure is better in the south and east and that could present an obstacle to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.
Finally we have the city of Mariupol, which remains under siege. Russian units continue to make bloody but slow and steady progress into the city. What’s fascinating are reports of Ukrainian units being resupplied despite the siege. And that may explain Russian attacks on civilian convoys, because with no air, rail, or sea transport links into the city, the only way Ukraine must be able to resupply its units is under the guise of civilian lorries or cars. And if Ukrainians are using civilian vehicles to resupply their military forces, that could open civilian vehicles to being sometimes legitimate targets.
So long as Russia continues to control broad swathes of territory surrounding the city, I think it’s a matter of time until Mariupol falls. But the longer the city holds out, the fewer combat effective troops Russia will later have to reorganise for a push north into Zaporizhzhia oblast and the Donbas, which is ideal for Ukraine.
I don’t think I’m going to touch on the atrocities we’re seeing coming out of northern Ukraine in this post. But I will say that the visuals we’re seeing confirm some of the worst reports and rumours that had been circulating on the internets over the last few weeks.
Just a quick update as I try to update my battle map. Today we’re taking another look at the refugee crisis Putin created in eastern and central Europe. Over four million Ukrainians have left Ukraine and millions more have been displaced internally within Ukraine.
Whilst we may hope they will eventually return home, the photos and videos we are seeing of Ukrainian areas that had been captured by Russian forces show that many Ukrainians no longer have homes or even villages to which they can return.
This problem will persist for years as Ukraine tries to rebuild. And that doesn’t include the fact that much of southern and parts of eastern Ukraine remain under Russian control. And some of those areas continue to see fierce fighting.
I took a few days off from covering the war in Ukraine. Now it’s time to jump back in and catch up on things.
Putin and his generals have declared the first phase of his “special military operation” over and that it was a success. They claimed that their goal was never the capture of Kyiv or other major cities in the north and east. Rather, those were all feints or diversions to prevent Ukraine from reinforcing their units in the Donbas as Russia “liberates” those regions.
Of course, I believe very little of that. There is a value in “pinning” or “fixing” an enemy’s forces in place so they cannot reinforce them somewhere else. To an extent, Russian and Belarusian forces have been doing this in western Ukraine. There they remain just north of the border without having crossed it. This keeps Ukrainian forces in place to defend against a new axis of Russian invasion.
I would argue that if Putin really wanted to keep the Ukrainian units around Kyiv fixed in that area of operations, he could have done so with fewer units and with a different strategy that would have cost far fewer lives and far fewer military assets. And the same can be said for Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv.
Rather, we are seeing successful small-scale Ukrainian counterattacks across the country.
You can see how around Kyiv, Ukrainian forces have retaken several suburbs, including Irpin, the focus of weeks of fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers. Whilst Russian forces have been pushed back and Ukraine has liberated the city, Russia continues to heavily shell the area.
Another big change on this map from last week is the Russian advances especially south and east of Sumy. That city had been effectively isolated, but Russia has withdrawn some of its forces and looks to be sending them south of Kharkiv on the push towards and south from Izyum. Ukraine has been following the withdrawing troops and liberating towns and, crucially, reopening those supply lines into Sumy. Russian losses? They appear to be heavy. But, Russia is not abandoning the front entirely, instead they are fortifying their positions.
Another area of Ukrainian success is in the south. They’ve driven Russia from the outskirts of Mykolaiv back to near the city limits of Kherson. There’s been some evidence that Ukrainians are also pushing south from north of the city along the western bank of the Dnieper, though Kherson itself remains in Russian hands. Critically, Russia still holds the two bridges that cross the Dnieper south of Zaporizhzhia.
West of Kherson and south of Kharkiv, however, Russia has been having slow but costly successes. In Mariupol, Russia’s bloody siege continues with the town resembling 1990s Grozny more and more day by day. On the streets, Russian forces continue to take more of the city block by block in bloody, house-to-house combat. The question in Mariupol will be how many Russian forces remain intact, or combat effective, when—it no longer appears to be an if—the city falls to Russian forces? If Russia has sufficient numbers of combat effective troops to garrison the city and reinforce forces north of the city, Russia could push further into Donetsk oblast and try to take more of the Donbas. But if the losses are too heavy, Russia would be forced to only garrison the city.
Northeast of Mariupol, the Russians continue their pincer movement heading west from Luhansk towards Severodonetsk and other points. Meanwhile troops from the region of Kharkiv have been making painful progress, albeit progress, south. These are the units trying to take the city of Izyum. At the moment it appears there are perhaps three different sub-axes of advance, with Russia likely probing to find weaknesses in Ukraine’s defences in that area of operations.
And in the air, Russian artillery shells and multiple-launch rockets continue to rain down upon Russian cities. Yesterday, Russia sent a cruise missile into the state government building in Mykolaiv, killing at least 12 people. Russia uses long-range standoff weapons to hit targets in western Ukraine as well as in Kyiv.
Finally, to end on a positive note.
You may recall the story of “Russian warship, go fuck yourself”. 13 Ukrainian soldiers “died” defending Snake Island. Well, it turned out they surrendered after they ran out of ammunition and Russian forces took them to Crimea as prisoners of war. They were then exchanged for a similar number of Russian prisoners of war. And yesterday one of those Snake Island defenders was given a medal for the defence of the island.
This data took far longer to clean up than it should have. And for that reason I’m going to have to keep the text here relatively short.
We still see tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Putin’s war in Ukraine. Although, we are down from the peaks early on in this war. In total, nearly four million have fled their homes for safety abroad. This does not include those people internally displaced. I’ve seen estimates that including those people, the number may be closer to ten million.
Keep in mind that Ukraine’s pre-war population was about 44 million. In other words, almost 1 in 10 people have left the country and 1 in 4 have fled their home for somewhere else. Given that most men are prohibited from fleeing the country, we also know that half of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes.