Timelines and Visualizations

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How San Francisco’s Population Ebbs and Flows Throughout the Day

Includes visualization and interactive chart

screenshotThe 2010 Census put San Francisco’s population at about 789,000. But take a citywide head count in the middle of an average weekday, and you’re guaranteed to find a whole lot more people here.

Nearly 21 percent more — upward of 162,000 additional folks.

That’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which calculates a statistic called the Commuter-Adjusted Daytime Population to estimate the number of people present in a particular city during normal business hours. Calculated by adding the number of non-working residents to the total working population, the figure underscores the idea that many cities dramatically expand and contract throughout the course of a day — their true populations determined by much more than simply the number of people who actually live there. It also highlights the additional challenges faced by local governments responsible for planning and building infrastructure for both residents and all inbound travelers. Continue reading

Your Reactions to the 20 Biggest Stories of 2013

Includes interactive timeline

The 2013 news cycle came with nary a dull moment.

From the Boston marathon bombings, NSA leaks and same-sex marriage Supreme Court decisions, to the George Zimmerman verdict, government shutdown and health care exchange fiasco, there was an abundance of game-changing news this year in the United States, replete with a steady flow of provocative headlines. In this interactive timeline, Andrea Caumont and George Gao at Pew Research chart 20 of the biggest stories of the year, noting how the public reacted based on polls conducted in the aftermath of each event.

Forget Miles per Gallon: Why We Should Switch to Gallons per Mile

Includes visualizations
Pumping_gas

Wikimedia

To begin, a quiz:

Bob and Jane Smith have two vehicles: One is a 15 MPG (miles per gallon) pickup truck that Bob uses for his construction job. The other is a 28 MPG sedan that his wife Jane uses for her work commute. The couple wants to upgrade to something more fuel efficient, but only has the cash to replace one of their vehicles. Assuming each drives the average American distance of about 13,500 miles per year, which of the following options would save the most gas?

 

a. Replacing the 28 MPG sedan with a 38 MPG compact

Or

b. Replacing the 15 MPG truck with a 20 MPG truck Continue reading

What Are Traffic Waves and Why Do They Happen So Much?

Includes interactive graphics

By Lewis Lehe and Matthew Green

Who doesn’t love sitting in traffic? Especially when there’s no apparent reason for it: no crashes, no tolls, no flaming mattresses. Just a sudden and infuriating slowdown of the cars ahead, causing you to slam on the brakes, spill coffee all over yourself and slow to a glacial crawl, usually when you’re already late for something important — a job interview, for instance. Pure gridlock.And then, when all hope seems lost, the congestion breaks as seemingly spontaneously as it began. And you’re on your way again … for a good 2 minutes before the whole thing repeats itself. Welcome to the world of traffic waves, a phenomenon that’s been exasperating drivers since the first cars started coming off Ford’s assembly line a century ago. Continue reading

Chart: How BART Pay Compares to Pay at Other Big Transit Agencies in California

Includes interactive charts
Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Ah, BART. Never a dull moment.

If only its unions and management could learn the virtues of unity and cooperation that our elected officials in Washington have so magnanimously exhibited (hmmm …).

Well, it’s happened again. At the stroke of midnight, following a breakdown in negotiations, unionized BART workers went on strike, grinding the entire rail network to a disgruntled halt just in time for the Friday morning commute. Continue reading

Timeline: A Robust History of Recent U.S. Military Invasions

Includes interactive timeline
Ahmad Mansur/Wikimedia Commons

Ahmad Mansur/Wikimedia Commons

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military has had its hands full. Starting in 1990, we’ve fought three official wars, and been involved in no less than seven additional military interventions.

It is still unclear whether the U.S. will engage in a bombing campaign against Syria as punishment for that government’s supposed use of chemical weapons against its people. Until the announcement last week of a tentative deal between the U.S. and Russia (Syria’s most powerful ally) requiring the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to destroy its entire chemical weapons arsenal within a specific time-frame, a U.S. military intervention seemed imminent.

Although far from a guarantee against the a U.S. bombing campaign, the agreement — if adhered to by all parties– has the promise of preventing U.S. military involvement. If, however, the deal is broken, intervention is all but assured, making Syria the 11th large-scale military action the U.S. has taken in less than 25 years.

Scroll through this interactive timeline — produced by Al Jazeera — to learn about the history, causes, and outcomes of each military conflict that the United States has gotten itself involved in. Click here to view the full-size version.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 7.44.52 PM


Ten Government Leaks that Rocked the Boat

Includes interactive timeline

The high profile trials and tribulations of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, both of whom leaked large amounts of classified government information to the media, have placed renewed focus and debate on the importance of leakers and whistle-blowers in American politics. The following is an interactive timeline chronicling some of the most famous — and infamous — leaks in U.S. history.

Best viewed in full-screen mode

How Much Does it Really Cost to Live in California?

Includes interactive infographic

In order to pay for basic living expenses, a single California resident with no children would need to make, on average, roughly $11.20/hour.

That’s according to the Living Wage Calculator created by Amy K. Glasmeier, a professor of urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Below are estimates of how much each adult in various-sized households needs to make in order to pay for basic monthly living expenses. Keep in mind that these figures are estimated statewide averages. The actual cost of things in California, of course, varies significantly, by region. Whereas rent in Stockton may be lower than what’s shown here, San Francisco’s average rent is, well, fuggedaboutit!

All estimates below are based on Glasmeier’s calculator, which uses government data to estimate average living wage expenses for every state and county in the country.

As Glasmeier notes, consider results a minimum cost threshold, and likely an underestimate for metropolitan areas and other higher cost areas. Additionally, you many notice that households with two adults and children are listed as having lower costs than households with one adult and children. The discrepancy is due to child care costs: two adult households — with one sole earner — assume one adult stays home with the children.

(Additional methodology explained below charts.)

Methodology (as explained by MIT’s Glasmeier):

The calculator lists typical expenses, the living wage and typical wages for the selected location … The tool is designed to provide a minimum estimate of the cost of living for low wage families. The estimates do not reflect a middle class standard of living. The realism of the estimates depend on the type of community under study. Metropolitan counties are typically locations of high cost. In such cases, the calculator is likely to underestimate costs such as housing and child care. Consider the results a minimum cost threshold that serves as a benchmark, but only that. Users can substitute local data when available to generate more nuanced estimates. Adjustments to account for local conditions will provide greater realism and potentially increase the accuracy of the tool. As developed, the tool is meant to provide one perspective on the cost of living in America.

How California’s Prop. 8 Clawed its Way Up to the Supreme Court

Includes multimedia visualization

How did the Prop. 8 case go all the way from California to the U.S. Supreme Court? Scroll through this interactive to trace the path. Use the arrows to advance, and zoom in to blow-up text size and images. It can also be viewed in full screen mode (click on bottom left button).

Abigail Fisher’s Fight with Affirmative Action

Includes interactive timeline

Update July 24: The Supreme Court sent a challenge to the University of Texas’ affirmative action admissions process back to a lower court.

The compromise ruling throws out the decision by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Texas admission plan.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said the appeals court did not test the Texas plan under the most exacting level of judicial review. He said such a test is required by the court’s 2003 decision upholding affirmative action in higher education.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the lone dissenter.


Next week the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on the constitutionality of race-based admissions policies at public universities. It will be the latest ruling in a long history of challenges to various affirmative action efforts. Specifically, the court will determine whether the goal of greater racial diversity on campus justifies preferential treatment for minority applicants.

Abigail Fisher, a white honors student who was rejected from the University of Texas in 2008, didn’t think so. She sued the school, claiming that its race-conscious admissions policy unfairly favored black and Hispanic applicants over whites and Asians. She said:

“There were people in my class with lower grades who weren’t in all the activities I was in who were being accepted into UT, and the only difference between us was the color of our skin… For an institution of higher learning to act this way makes no sense to me.”

The case came before the Supreme Court last October. The court’s upcoming ruling could have broad implications for universities and employers around the country.

Scroll through the timeline below for a history of game-changing events in the evolution of affirmative action.

(Best viewed in full screen mode