If you’re under 30, probably not.
H/T: Flowing Data
Elections Nova Scotia quietly posted the poll-by-poll results of the October 8 Nova Scotia election on its website last Thursday
Preliminary poll-by-poll results are normally released immediately after the vote, but this year, for the first time in living memory, elections bureaucrats decided to keep the detailed results to themselves for three weeks. The only explanation offered was that the Chronicle-Herald wasn’t interested in publishing them (as it had traditionally), so Chief Electoral Officer Richard P. Temporale decided no one else could have them either.
Aside from this inexcusable delay, the agency did a good job of presenting the tallies, making them available in both PDF format, with accompanying maps of the polling districts, and as a zip file* of 51 Excel spreadsheets, plus a riding-by-riding summary.
(In the past, Elections Nova Scotia has sometimes deliberately degraded the electronic files it makes public, so as to make them all but impossible for researchers to use. This retrograde practice has eased somewhat since Temporale ascended to the throne.)
I look forward to seeing what map geeks can do with these spreadsheets. Elections Nova Scotia publishes mapping shapefiles on its website for the 51 electoral districts, but alas, not for individual polling districts. It’s possible these might be available on request, but Contrarian may not be the best person to ask.
[*Note: I have not linked directly to the zip file, because I expect doing so would trigger spam filters to reject the daily emailed version of Contrarian (see "Subscribe to Contrarian" at right). To download the zip file, click here, and then on the words, "Excel format" in the third bullet point.]
Dan Conlin has kept track of the trick-or-treaters who called at his Duncan St., Halifax, home for the last 17 years. Yesterday’s numbers showed a modest uptick, but the overall trend is dramatic and downward:
This year’s visitors began arriving at 5:35 pm, peaked at 7 p.m., and had vanished into the night by 8:15. Vampires, Princesses, and Ninjas led the parade, at six each.
Only one cat made an appearance, likely the one pictured, feline fancier Rosa Eileen Barss Donham, who lives one street over from Dan.
Conlin gives his Best Overall Costume Award to an eight-year-old walking box of Ritz Crackers, English in front, Français au verso, with nutritional information on the side. Nutritional information about lard pills—what a card!
Pitch Interactive, a data visualization shop in Berkeley, California, has produced an interactive infographic illustrating the results of US drone attacks in Pakistan. I can’t embed it, but clicking on the link will take you to a 90-seconds chronological overview.
Clicking on the ATTACKS, VICTIMS, NEWS, and INFO links in the upper left corner of the infographic adds background information and sources.
Less than 2% of the victims are high-profile targets.
The rest are civilians, children and alleged combatants.
This is the story of every known drone strike and victim in Pakistan.
Since 2004, the US has been practicing in a new kind of clandestine military operation. The justification for using drones to take out enemy targets is appealing because it removes the risk of losing American military, it’s much cheaper than deploying soldiers, it’s politically much easier to maneuver (i.e. flying a drone within Pakistan vs. sending troops) and it keeps the world in the dark about what is actually happening. It takes the conflict out of sight, out of mind. The success rate is extremely low and the cost on civilian lives and the general well-being of the population is very high. This project helps to bring light on the topic of drones. Not to speak for or against, but to inform and to allow you to see for yourself whether you can support drone usage or not.
ESRI Canada, a Canadian supplier of geographic information system services, has produced an interactive map of the Nova Scotia Liberal election sweep. Slide the vertical bar back and forth to change from the 2009 election results to last Tuesday’s.
Unfortunately, I can’t embed the tool, but clicking on the screenshot below will take you to it.
With help from Dave MacLean of COGS, the image is now embedded. Find the source page here.
PC Leader Jamie Baillie’s election promise to hold power rates at current levels came in a position paper that included the following unsourced graph, purporting to show that something called “energy costs to rate payers,” measured in units it did not explain, have increased by 27 percent since 2009:
Wow, that certainly looks shocking!
Contrarian is no statistician, and my graphic skills are tenuous, but I read Darrell Huff‘s classic How to Lie with Statistics shortly after it came out in 1954, and Chapter 5, “The Gee Whiz Graph,” stuck with me. Of the persuasive power of graphs, Huff had this advice for readers deploying them to “win an argument, shock a reader, move him into action, sell him something:”
Chop off the bottom.
Baillie did exactly that with his “energy costs” graph. He chopped off the bottom 64% of the graph. If you start the y-axis at zero, and display the graph in the same horizontal format, it looks like this (with apologies to readers skilled in PhotoShop and Illustrator).
It’s still a significant increase, but not quite so scary or election-worthy as Baillie’s manipulated format. If anyone has the time to parse exactly what’s included in, and excluded from, “energy costs to rate payers,” I suspect we will find that Baillie has selected the fastest rising component of electricity bills to inflate his point.
Bear in mind, too, that the period covered by the graph roughly corresponds to a reduction in Nova Scotia Power’s use of dirty coal from 80 percent to just above 50 percent. That phenomenal drop is a good thing, rarely mentioned by the company’s critics.
Even so, it’s reasonable to ask whether there is some mechanism that could give Nova Scotia access to North American electricity markets and the pricing stability they could bring. Since the first electricity was produced in Nova Scotia early in the 20th Century, we have never had the ability to import or export significant amounts of power.
The reasonable answer is: The Maritime Link, whose principal side benefit, steadfastly ignored by critics, is the robust connection to the North American Grid it would create through Newfoundland, Labrador, and Quebec to the north, New Brunswick and New England to the west. Aside from a guaranteed 35-year supply of predictably priced power, that is the best argument for building The Maritime Link.
[Disclosure: From time to time, I have consulted for NS Power and Emera on issues related to power rates and the Maritime Link. Reasonable people can and do disagree about Nova Scotia energy issues, but they ought to avoid misleading graphics.]
Facebook continually pesters me to entrer the “city” where I live, but rejects Kempt Head, Ross Ferry, Boularderie, and Cape Breton all of which are more-or-less accurate. It will allow me to enter Halifax, Sydney, or Baddeck, none of which is accurate.
Contrast this with Google, which embraces locations with admirable granularity. Google effortlessly adopts islands, villages, hamlets—even micro-locations like Frankie’s Pond and Parker’s Beach—as long as it sees real people using them.
This may seem a small thing, but it strikes me as a profound difference in the cultures of the two organizations. One constantly cajoles you into ill-fitting pigeonholes. The other looks at what you and those around you are actually doing, and continually updates and adjusts to this new information.
(Photos: Above: Black Island (in Gaelic, Island Dhu), Kempt Head, in the real world. Below: Black Island, Kempt Head, on Google Maps.)
Marla Cranston points out the Purcell’s Cove dies not exist in Facebook World.
If Calvert, NL, native Jenn Power were so inclined, she could list Ferryland as her home town, but this would be like asking her to accept Big 8 in place of Diet Coke. Far worse, actually.
Newly minted Margaree Centre resident Stephen Mills cannot list that village as his current residence, but Facebook World does allow “Margaree,” a community that, as Mills points out, does not actually exist.
There is no plain “Margaree” —— just the directional or topographic variations: North East Margaree, Margaree Valley, etc.
Interestingly, Mills contends that
[A]ll the Margarees were a bureucratic decision at some point. Names like Frizzelton and Fordview described the locations at one point.
In some ways, at least. Our old friend Hans Rosling (previous Contrarian appearances here, here, here, and here) brings us up to date, and highlights the amazing recent prograss in (parts of) Ethiopia:
Rosling’s Gapminder data visualization software now has some tools you can download to your own computer.
More than a million people have used Stephen Wolfram’s Personal Analytics for Facebook, a web app that generates a fascinating visual report of your Facebook profile: age, gender, relationship status, and location of your FB friends; the number of your friends’ friends and the number of their friends in common with you; your friends’ most common first and last names; your most ‘liked’ post; your FB use by day of the week and time of day; and a word cloud of your posts (like mine, at right).
Wolfram, best known as inventor of the computer program Mathematica and the search engine Wolfram Alpha, recently invited users of his FB Analytics app to participate in a “Data Donor” program, by contributing detailed data about their FB use for Wolfram’s research purposes.
This week he released a detailed analysis of this data, as usual complete with arresting data visualizations. The whole piece is worth reading, but here’s just a taste:
How many friends do people have on Facebook have, and how does this vary with age?
What do men and women talk about on Facebook: