1. 3eanuts:

    September 26, 1985 — see The Complete Peanuts 1983-1986

  2. meanassmoses:

    colorful, minutely detailed, uh-mazing nuclear reactor cutaways courtesy of Bibliodyssey and the UNM University Library. There’s over a hundred of them there and I zipped ‘em all into one file for you.

    According to the Flickr you can order these bad boys from:
    wdal AT neimagazine DOT com
    hope that’s still true today.

    (via meanassmoses)


  3. Process post: how to make a giant oil spill map the hard way


    Pray listen, stranger, to a tale of noble deeds and bitter struggle, of fffffttt nope it’s about me doing computershit for around three weeks. But I am proud of this graphic and interactive map on oil spills and it has a sort of Homeric-level story behind it. But only if the first thousand stanzas of the Odyssey were him trying to untangle rigging while yelling “Does anyone know how to sail?”

    I pitched a bigass graphic timed with the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill, which was both an ecological catastrophe and a watershed moment for petro-tragedy regulation. Recap: a tired third mate under the command of a drunk captain plowed an oil tanker into a reef, around 1/5 of its crude poured into a remote Alaskan sound, and a lot of wildlife death followed. Thousands of people hosed rocks and scrubbed birds, Exxon paid far out the butt, and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 firmed up liability law for spills. 25 years later and there’s residual crud stuck to beaches and fewer Orcas than there should be. So yeah, heavy hydrocarbons tend to linger. Try and keep them out of the biosphere.

    I wanted a map showing all oil spills in U.S. waters since the Valdez. Step zero: find a dataset. I alighted on the National Response Center query tool, which is the pollution incident reporting clearinghouse run by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is, naturally, pretty dated-looking and also uses flash. A classic tale of news dev woe. I grabbed the yearly summary data files, found they were inexplicably wrapped in self-extracting .exes, took a round trip to my windows laptop, out came two dozen excel files with ~12 tabs each, which I then ran through some excel macros to split into 231 discrete CSVs covering the years 1990 to 2012. Phew.

    From those I wanted to sift the incident date, the vector (ship, refinery, etc.), the stuff spilled (petroleum only), the spill amount and the location. Of course there was no documentation to help me sort the useful field names from the PTF_FLAG_Ys that made up the bulk of the column headers, but with a little bit of OpenRefine and a lot of emails, I figured I could likely sort that out.


    So now I had data from 1990-2012 in a sorta-convenient format, but I had to use a python script to grab 2013-2014 pollution incidents from the query tool.


    At least I would have done that but for being caught between the Scylla of website maintenance and the Charybdis of pokey FOIA approvals: the query tool went down, so I was not getting any more data. Wasn’t too awful a fate since the editors okayed using data up to 2012.

    But then I took a closer look at the data and noticed how locations were stored. Addresses. Cities. States. Oh lord, geocoding. I’d need to geocode an apocalyptic number of incidents, sure to overwhelm whatever API I could throw at it. A pall fell over the project. Mostly because I’m bad at thinking things through.



    NICAR 2014 interrupted my panic, the news-Calypso to break up my hideous journey. I especially enjoyed David Fallis’ talk on tracking guns and the four “intro to SQL” classes I had to camp out for (note to NICAR 2015: overflow rooms for the hands-on seshes would help). SQL, SQL…yeah…this gives me an idear.

    As with most situations involving me and editorial graphics, fortune intervened to cut the knot. Hallelujah: there was another Coast Guard database that I could use. And it had distinct advantages:

    1. It tracks chemical and oil spills specifically. Incidents of that sort are included in the National Response Center data set, but it’s more of a giant pollution clearinghouse and thus cluttered with wacky stuff. Exhibit A: someone called the government to tell them a mercury thermometer broke.

    2. Instead of locating the incidents by address, they have latitude and longitude columns! No desperate shitfights with geocoding confidence levels! Just beautiful decimals! Deliverance! Praise to William Harrison!

    Now I had more data, in a better format, with better documentation. By pure luck. Not a good strategy but one can’t argue with results. Anyway I knew I had to face the database music this time: Excel would choke and die on the 20mb TSVs I had to deal with. Again, lucky me, I’m blessed enough to have Toph Tucker at my elbow, a true Phaeacian who could be relied on to provide deep sighs and plenty of “you forgot the semicolon again”s.

    I loaded my tab-delimited text files into a MySQL database using SequelPro (great product) and got to querying. Being a neophyte, this naturally took a while, so we’ll skim over my troubles here. With Toph’s help I was able to format queries to retrieve oil spills that a) actually involved petroleum products b) involved them in some non-picayune quantity and c) had lat/longs associated with them.


    After all sorts of false starts and late nights, I ended up with a spreadsheet that included all oil spills from ships, facilities, pipelines and random dumpage, of petroleum products, of 1,000 gallons or more, from 1973 through May 2013. That’s a winnowing of ~600,000 rows down to ~4,300.

    Time to get plotting, right? Not so fast: while most of the rows had decimal lat/longs, some had this N25456 E055186 nonsense. C’mon son. Some Excel magic remedied that:


    And I had my final output, looking damn fine if I do say so myself.


    CartoDB was used for the public-facing interactive map, but also proved invaluable at this stage because it’s so easy to prototype with. I could upload my master spreadsheet and within seconds see where the clusters were, what the data looked like as scaled circles, if any lat/longs ended up in the middle of Greenland, etc. Anything that minimizes the time spent futzing in MAPublisher is good in my book, a regular Aeolian wind bag (the Odyssey? Eh? Cute huh?).

    The rest was relatively easy window dressing: major oil ports and pipelines came from the EIA, major commercial waterways came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The usual MAPublisher nightmares ensued, but I was on familiar territory for once:



    The map’s foundation was poured, so it was time to sift arcane spill remediation PDFs and conduct some interviews. My mother always told me “journalists make phone calls” so I rang up Dr. Jeff Short and the nice folks at the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

    After the callouts were written and bones of the map were set, it was time to recruit the best art directors on the continent: Cynthia Hoffman and Chris Nosenzo. To demonstrate their talent I placed the first draft next to the final.


    From assey to classy in only 30 drafts. I lost the geographic literalism that I began with, which bummed me out since I get real sweaty whenever I get to go all National Geographic carto on a project, but in the end the reader won out. Cindy and Chris tuned up the colors, fixed my type hierarchy, got some cuter illos, and a two-page spread was born. Honey I’m home clean your room Telemachus har har har har.

    The final product, loud and proud


    Next came the interactive map, which thanks to CartoDB, was mostly finished! CartoCSS made it trivial to match the magazine’s color and line weight styles, but the combination of tiles and vector symbol scaling did not sit well with CartoDB:


    No matter what I did, the Deepwater Horizon circle was too damn big to render properly. And to get the jump on any pedants, yes I remembered to do the square root thing. Anyway Cindy had the idea of saying “screw it” to the circle scaling, which looks better anyway:

    Et voila. As a beautiful coda, Toph made a mobile-optimized teaser. I couldn’t begin to tell you how he did it. Go ask him.


    Until the next graphics nightmare,
    Evan Applegate • on twitter • on tumblr


    Oh so you think you could have done better? Is that right, punk?? Well be my guest, make a better map! Seriously please do, Businessweek is hiring an editorial cartographer. Come map for us and spare my poor editors and art directors the goofery detailed above.



  4. ★☆★☆ Bizweekgraphics is hiring! ★☆★☆


    The Businessweek graphics desk makes neat charts, maps, comics and explainers for both print and web, with equal enthusiasm for daily, weekly and long-term projects. As part of the award-winning Businessweek design department we emphasize original thinking and close work between designers and devs to try new things.

    We’re currently expanding and looking for talent. If you have a nose for reporting, know that “the numbers don’t lie” is itself a lie and the phrase “data viz” makes you cringe, then talk to us. You’ll get a lot of creative freedom, a competitive salary, and the chance to shape the graphics presence of an extremely good outlet. Check out the postings below and send a cover paragraph, resume, and a few projects you did/are working on/want to work on to:
    bizweekgraphics [at] gmail dot com.

    P.S. We’re in lovely midtown Manhattan. Very original, I know.

    News Developer
    We’re looking for a full-stack web developer to help us build dynamic graphics, news apps, tools and infrastructure. This is a job for someone who wants to grab readers’ attention and get them to understand the more complex aspects of business, finance and technology.

    JavaScript and d3js are central and critical, but you’ll use whatever needed to get the job done…which is going to be more than JavaScript and d3js. Something server-side, some good MV* framework, and your database of choice. A strong data sciencey or statistical background helps. Be warned/piqued: you won’t be sliding into a hierarchy of devs. We’re building the airplane during an Immelmann turn, so you’ll necessarily be independent and self-directing. If you’re not afraid to be the nucleus of our dev team, then come all, ye ambitious!

    Data Journalist
    Do you dream of mastering VLOOKUP or scraping data off assey government websites? Have an itchy FOIA finger? Have a mint collection of NICAR shirts? Bubbling over with data-driven story ideas that span a variety of time scales, i.e. a daily project, a weekly, and a long-form slog? Have you ever started a project, thought “I’d need to learn ____ to even start this,” and then learned that thing? 

    Then we’d like to hear from you. Don’t worry if you’re short on design skills (we can teach you that) but you need to be mega-curious and have little fear of phone calls. A background in statistics, math, or engineering would help, but at minimum you need a familiarity and sunny disposition toward numbers. You’ll be working with Python, R, d3js, Excel, Illustrator and InDesign to get your stories and make them presentable.

    Editorial Cartographer
    Of course you like maps. But to map for us, you need to be able to:

    • Know which lines to keep, which highway shields to place, and what kind of hierarchy a map needs to be legible
    • Know how to dig out raster and vector datasets on tight deadlines, e.g. find that one shapefile in a haystack of awful county websites
    • Cobble together an interactive map with Leaflet.js
    • Do a bunch of joins and queries with postGIS
    • Make a hillshade, then make the rest of the map look just as cute
    • Whip out a competent lil’ static locator-style map within 20 minutes when news breaks
    • Come up with a rickety geocoding workaround for when one has too many addresses and not enough API keys
    • Pick up the phone and call whoever maintains the file you’re poking around when, inevitably, you can’t decipher a field name

    You should know: the useful parts of Creative Suite, ArcGIS/QGIS, PostgreSQL + postGIS, familiarity with GDAL, Python, and d3js required. MAPublisher a plus.

    Page through our tumblr and flickr to see examples of our carto, which is super thematic but completely terrain-less even when it could really use some. Hoping you could change that. Important to note: we’re not looking for just another pair of hands. You will be the chief cartographer, the grand mapping poobah, with all attendant heaviness of that crown: you will have pretty much no one to turn to for answers. But if you like leeway, you got it buddy! So if you’re all about figuring stuff out for yourself, rube-goldbering solutions together on deadline, and have an editorial sorta mind, give us an email.


  5. A better Pi Day (if you ignore Kepler)

    “Pi Day” is borderline numerology. This has been bugging me, so I was glad to see Vi Hart’s great video on the topic today.

    Even assuming π is worth celebrating (which I think is reasonable), one problem is that, by our apparent collective folk methodology, Pi Day falls on very different days depending on which base you use to represent it:


    (For the record, @cornfact's theory is that, like Hallmark “invented” Valentine's Day, Pi Day is a crass creation of Big Pie.)

    But there might be a better day to celebrate something more substantial, less arbitrary, and closely related.

    Earth’s orbital period is 365.25636 days. Divide by 2π (or τ) and we find that we have subtended an angle with respect to the sun of one radian after 58.132355 days. So, at 3:10 a.m. on February 28, we have traveled along an arc as long as we are distant from the sun.


    This annual event is invariant with respect to digital base, as well as with respect to your π/τ opinions (if any), and it gets at the actual point of π, which is… the relationship of radius to circumference.

    (Except π shows up somewhat more often than that, so maybe there’s something more fundamental? The circumference is just the set of equidistant points, where the distance is the radius, so it’s, like, the ratio of the measure of the equidistant set to their common distance to a distinguished point? I don’t know, I never studied Lebesgue measure. How exactly does the periodicity get into that? And multiplication by imaginaries is basically rotation, so the complex exponential function ends up showing basically the same periodicity as relates squares and circles… which seems curious, but only because I don’t understand it.)

    But wait! I have quietly been assuming the Earth’s orbit is circular! (It’s elliptical.) While trying to make the math half-respectable, I have terribly disrespected astronomy and physics.

    Never celebrate anything.

    Just kidding. Briefly, let’s see… we sweep out equal areas in equal times, so when we’re farther, we must be moving more slowly, and farther plus slower unambiguously means lower angular velocity, so the time to subtend one radian varies. Moreover, the tidy equality of radius and arc-subtending-one-radian is broken, as the perimeter of an ellipse is, uh, non-trivial.

    So I don’t know! What else have I got wrong?

    I’ll get back to work now.


  6. Do you dream of mastering the VLOOKUP function in Excel or scraping data off pesky government websites? How about learning how to turn words into charts, maps, lines, bars or scatter plots? Good news! We’re looking for a graphics intern to join our data-wrangling team.

    Don’t worry if you aren’t a designer (we can teach you that!) but ideal interns will have a background in statistics, math, engineering or, at a minimum, a no-fear attitude toward spreadsheets and numbers. Interns will learn how to find data, explore it, understand it, visualize and design it for both print and the web through programs such as your brain, Excel, Illustrator, InDesign and even a little Python, R and d3js. We can pay interns $12.50 for up to 20 hours per week — after that, you’re on your own! :) If you’re interested, send three data-driven pitches to Cynthia Hoffman (cyn.hoffman@gmail.com) and Allison McCann (allisontmccann@gmail.com) and we’ll see if you’ve got what it takes to to make chart magic. 


  7. The tortuous road to a McDonald’s infographic. Spoiler: it’s a table.


    McDonald’s decision to include cucumbers in the McWraps was a BIG DEAL. Space at their restaurants is scarce, so new menu items tend to be ever more complex assemblies of a limited number of basic ingredients.


    Connecting all items by the ingredients they share begins to reveal the groups and patterns sitting within the system. And it’s a beautiful system, one whose complexity surely reveals the involvement of some cognizant higher being.


    The complicated subway map scenario. The bacon and cheese quarter pounder is Times Square, and reduced fat vanilla ice cream is the Staten Island Railway.

    imageWhat if we remove the breakfast items and side dishes and start all the ingredients at the same place? Sure, we lose the beautiful little breakfast-lunch crossovers like the tortilla’s foray into breakfast or liquid margarine’s one lunch/dinner appearance. But it would look less complicated.


    The last time I was at a McDonald’s I had a hash brown, seconds removed from the deep frier. It was delicious - crisp, oily, easily the match of any tempura or fried frogs legs you could name. And this isn’t less complicated at all.image

    OK, fine. We’ll scrap it all and go for something people might *understand* and *enjoy*. How does one draw habanero ranch sauce?


    The McDonald’s itself was depressing so I ate my hash brown in the car. And I have a depressing car.



  8. "Goodbye."
    — For those who haven’t heard…. I left BizweekGraphics. Allison and Evan and Dorothy will continue to update this tumblr… but I have moved on…here and here. #shamelessplug 
  9. I’m proud of you, Allison McCann.

    Our latest…. Rappers who lie about their DOLLAR DOLLAR BLING



  10. beepbopboopbeepbop:



    Kazane 51cm pinkish gold frame
    Fixed, with front break
    Phil Wood white hubs
    Aurora Pedal Straps
    White handlebar wrap 

    Last seen JUNE 19th IN MY APARTMENT LOBBY on FLATBUSH and 6th AVE. My BLACK Bern helmet with brim and U-Kryptonite lock was attached but locked to itself.





    Other details:

    Has tiny red tag (easily removable) on seat post (parking pass for my office building)
    used wine cork to seal the handle bar wrap on the right side
    Minor scratches

    I’m disgusted and sick by the loss of this bike which has brought me so many memories of New York. I am offering a REWARD if found no questions asked. 

    Please pass along.