Category: InfoGraphics

Great white surprise: the well-travelled shark

In March, 2013, the non-profit, open-source research organization, OCEARCH, caught a four-metre, 900 kg, female great white shark off the Atlantic coast of Florida near Jacksonville, then released it after attaching monitoring and tracking devices. In the year since, the shark has travelled 31,000 kilometres, visiting Cape Hatteras, Bermuda, George’s Bank, Placentia Bay, and the Grand Banks, before crossing the mid-Atlantic ridge to a point 1200 kilometres off the coast of Ireland.

Shark's year of travel

In late October, Lydia, as the researchers nicknamed her. spent three days exploring Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay and Merasheen Island:

Shark in Placentia

You can follow Lydia’s travels on OCEARCH’s interactive, live-tracking map. You can follow OCEARCH on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Here’s a video of Lydia’s capture and tagging.

The UK Telegraph has more on the story. H/T: Alexis Madrigal.

Remember this?

If you’re under 30, probably not.

It’s a sonogram of a dialup modem connecting to an internet server, courtesy of Scotty Hull on Youtube. Quite beautiful, actually, as long as you don’t have to listen to it to get on line.

For your further edification, Oona Räisänen has diagrammed the component sounds and explained what’s happening each step of the way.

H/T: Flowing Data

Attention #NSPoli geeks: those tardy poll-by-poll results are finally in

Elections Nova Scotia quietly posted the poll-by-poll results of  the October 8 Nova Scotia election on its website last Thursday

6-PhuddPreliminary 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.]

Trick or treat on Duncan Street — by the numbers

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:

TrickOrTreat

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!

Complete details on yesterday’s West End Halifax’s confectionary extortionists here; For comparison purposes, see designer Kinnon Elliot’s infographic about Hallowe’en costumes here .

Out of sight, out of mind: 175 dead children

Drones

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.

H/T: Himalaya

What do you call that baby girl?

Lisa reigned through the ’60s, Jennifer in the 70’s and early 80s, before yielding to Jessica.

ku-bigpic

Jezebel assembled the map gif from data published annually by the US Social Security Administration (which issues social security cards at birth). At the SSA website, you can look at data for the last 100 years, wherein you will find that Mary held sway from 1911 through 1946, when Linda took the lead before yielding to Mary again from 1953 through 1961.

Anyone got data from Canada?

Interactive map shows the sweep

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.

H/T: Dave MacLean. Credits: Elections Nova Scotia and ESRI.

How to lie with graphs

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 12.48.09 PM

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:

PCGraph3

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).

PCgraph4

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.]

Real world vs. Facebook’s world vs. Google’s world — Updated

Black Island Kempt Head

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.)

Black Island

[UPDATE]

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.

Despite what you may think, the world is improving

In some ways, at least. Our old friend Hans Rosling (previous Contrarian appearances hereherehere, 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.

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