No, Your Vaccine Is Now Fully Operational

Another week is over, and for the past few years I’ve often said we all made it to the end of the week. When in reality, for the last few months, thousands of people were not. We’ve started using Monday to sort of recap the state of the pandemic in a select region of the country. And then we moved straight into how the New York Times addressed the US reaching the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths.

So I want to end this week with a little story told over at xkcd that tries to explain these new mRNA vaccines. Who doesn’t love science, science fiction, and humour woven together into a narrative? True, this isn’t really data visualisation, but it dovetails nicely into the work we’ve been doing and reviewing of late. Plus, levity. We all need levity.

These are not the cells you’re looking for.

You’ll want to click through to read it all.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

New True Blue

Today’s post is not about data visualisation per se, but rather an element of it: colour. Two weeks ago, the Times reported on the creation of a new artificially made pigment of the colour blue.

This screenshot from the article doesn’t do it justice. Click through to see the large photo.

You can read the article for the full details, but the new pigment contains yttrium, indium, and manganese. Combine the symbols for those elements, Y, In, and Mn, and you have YInMn Blue. In particular, the colour exhibits permanence and thus does not fade, say when mixed with water.

And it’s non-toxic, because for those who don’t know, some of the most popular paint colours in history have turned out to be toxic. White paint? Made with lead. Some of your bright, rich reds? Turns out cadmium can kill. And with blues we often see cobalt or chromium as part of the mixture and, guess what, they’re both toxic. But not YInMn.

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the pigment for commercial use. And so we can begin to use it in oils and watercolour paints. (The EPA had approved its use for industrial purposes back in 2017. Check out this article for an image of the blue used to make an electric guitar.)

For data visualisation and design purposes, for web stuff, colours work differently. The blue in the screenshot above from the Times article, that is made by photons emitted by your computer or mobile phone. Whereas, when you view that pile of pigment in person, or a guitar body, or a painting—all in person—what you are seeing is the absorption and reflection of light waves striking the objects. What you see is the portion of the light wave that is reflected, i.e. not absorbed, by the object.

So it’s possible that we could see YInMn Blue as the basis for a paint used in printing and therefore tints of it used to make a choropleth map of freshwater availability. But if your work is strictly digital/web based, this probably won’t make too much of an immediate impact.

The Structure of Europe

Well today’s the day. Earlier this morning (East Coast time) the British government notified the European Council that it invoked Article 50 and is withdrawing from the European Union. So what precisely does that mean? Well, it means the structure of the ties binding Europe will be altered. How could it not when one of Europe’s largest and most powerful countries leaves the European Union?

How all the countries of Europe fit together, and yes that includes Turkey
How all the countries of Europe fit together, and yes that includes Turkey

This piece comes from Bloomberg Politics and it deals with the overlapping structures binding Europe together. My quibble, however, is with the complexity as it now relates to the United Kingdom. Obviously where it fits is an unresolved question. But one of the trickier issues to untangle is just how Ireland and the UK fit. (And then in 2020 we can worry about Scotland’s role in the graphic.)

The Common Travel Area predates the European Union by decades and, loosely speaking, creates border-free travel between the United Kingdom and Ireland. So I tried to amend Bloomberg’s version to show the CTA.

I moved Ireland to show the complexity in its relationship with the UK
I moved Ireland to show the complexity in its relationship with the UK

Credit for the piece goes to the Bloomberg graphics department.

An Arctic Heatwave

Since Christmas was just yesterday, I figured this would be an appropriate way to start the week. The North Pole is sweltering. It’s melting. But, seriously, the scientists are “very confident” that the heatwave is linked to anthropogenic climate change. Their models cannot replicate their observations without adding an anthropogenic signal.

Anthropogenic? That’s just a fancy-sounding word for man-made.

Arctic heatwave
Arctic heatwave

Credit for the original piece goes to the University of Maine and Climateanalyzer.org.

Old Healthcare Policy Renewal

Let’s start this week off with cartograms. Sometimes I like the idea, sometimes not so much. Here is a case where I really do not care for the New York Times’ visualisation of the data. Probably because the two cartograms, a before and after of health policy renewals, do not really allow for a great side-by-side comparison. I imagine there is probably a way of condensing all of that information into a single chart or graphic component.

The before map
The before map

Credit for the piece goes to Keith Collins, Josh Katz, Katie Thomas, Archie Tse, and Karen Yourish.

New Layout

A ways back I decided that when the mobile viewership of Coffee Spoons reached a certain threshold I would implement a new, more mobile-friendly theme—something simpler and faster. Well last week you all crossed that threshold and so today we have a new and responsive theme. I am sure that there will be kinks, but I will deal with them when they arise. For now, enjoy the new design.

Orange is the New Pink

Orange County California was the bastion of California Republicans. I remember even hearing about it as such all the way out on the East Coast. But, the times are changing in Orange County. And so are the demographics. The Los Angeles Times released this interactive slider map showing the changes to the Republican landscape from 2004 to 2012. Orange County has gone from blood red to at best a tender pink while Democrats salivate around the table.

Orange County Republican Party
Orange County Republican Party

Credit for the piece goes to Doug Smith.

Craft Breweries

From the Atlantic Cities, an offshoot of the Atlantic magazine, comes a nice Friday/for-the-weekend post. It looks at states that have the most craft breweries? Surprise, the states with the largest populations! But then comes the more interesting follow-up, what if we account for population differences? Ah, now we are talking. The visualisation type is a choropleth. Nothing fancy. But, hey, it’s a Friday. So bottom’s up. Cheers. Slainte. Salud. Enjoy the weekend.

Craft Breweries per 100,000
Craft Breweries per 100,000

Credit for the map goes to Zara Matheson.