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

Includes interactive graphics

By Lewis Lehe and Matthew Green

trafficwavesWho 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

Infographic: What’s An IPO Anyway? (Explained in Just Over 140 Characters)

Includes infographics
NYSE

NYSE

In case you’ve been hiding out in a cave this week (one without a dependable wireless connection, that is), you’ve probably heard that Twitter has gone public.

The microblogging platform that took the world by storm less than eight years ago, now has more than 100 million daily active users worldwide and is valued at close to $13 billion. In September, the company filed for its Initial Public Offering (IPO). And on Thursday, amid much fanfare, Twitter’s stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TWTR, with shares initially priced at $26 a pop. Continue reading

The Voting Rights Act: An Illustrated History

Includes cartoon infographic

The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the first of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, comic journalist Andy Warner tells the story of the Voting Rights Act. Scroll through the slideshow or read it as a single image graphic below.

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The Math of Percentages and Discounts Explained in Three Animated Acts

Includes animated videos

Part I: The Basics

Quick shopping quiz:

That $130 pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for weeks is now marked down 20 percent. To sweeten the deal, you have a coupon for 10 percent off your entire purchase. In other words, you’re looking at a discount of: 10% off 20% off $130.

So … how much would you end up paying?

Percentages. You can run, you can hide … but they’ll find you.

From sports to the news, to — most importantly — shopping, they are pretty hard to avoid. And if you’re among the 80 percent of our population who doesn’t really understand the math behind percentages (OK, so maybe I just made that percentage up), then you’re missing out on a whole bunch of important information (fabulous shopping discounts included). In these three short videos, animator and explainer extraordinaire Josh Kurz, breaks down the basic math behind common percentage conundrums.

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Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement (Infographic)

Includes Cartoon Infographic

Poverty_Line_Problems_Slice6Following up on his last cartoon infographic exploring “the poverty threshold” in the United States, graphic journalist Andy Warner digs into the concept behind “the poverty line,” the origins of that measurement and why it’s considered so outdated today. View it below in full, or in segments as a slideshow. Continue reading

The Debt Ceiling: What Is it, Why Do We Have It and What Do We Owe?

Includes images, video and charts
usd-us-debt_ceiling-2012-16394_billion_USD-v1

This is what U.S. federal debt looks like in physical dollars (and bear in mind that today’s debt has grown to more than $17 tirllion). Image by demonocracy.info

And here I was just starting to get my government shutdown groove on.

I mean, without the thrill of waking up every morning to the debt default doomsday machine ticking down to the brink of economic catastrophe, life honestly seems a bit mundane. At least Congress didn’t go too nuts and actually resolve the issue;  they just went ahead and did what any rational group of people do when confronted with a difficult situation: they put it off for another day — you know, kicked the can down the road. Anyone smell a sequel? (And yes, I’ve already reserved front row tickets for Round 2 in January. I hear it’s gonna be awesome. My sources tell me that before the final death match, John Boehner reveals himself as President Obama’s real father).

But seriously … With the stroke of a pen, the government sputtered back to life last Thursday morning after Obama and Congress ended a 16-day political standoff that had left large swaths of the federal government shuttered and put the U.S. at risk of losing it’s ability to borrow money. The compromise allows federal agencies to resume operations, reopen public facilities and abruptly end the unpaid staycations of hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees. 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

A Brief History of BART (And How We’ve Come To So Depend On It)

Includes video
Some original BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of bart.gov)

No, not the original Star Trek cast: BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of BART.gov)


Bay Area traffic might suck, but Bay Area traffic without BART sucks a whole lot more.

It’s a fact that was made painfully clear in early July to the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area workers who were subjected to cruel and unusual commute conditions created by a strike and system-wide shutdown of the 104-mile regional transit system.

And now, as another BART strike looms, Bay Area commuters are again faced with the prospect of horrendous traffic conditions on the horizon.

Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the essential role BART plays in moving the Bay Area.  Continue reading

A Public Transit Guide to Income Inequality in the Bay Area

Includes interactive maps/charts

Muni_linesAs Bay Area commuters once again brace for the possibility of a prolonged BART strike and look to alternative transportation means, it seems apropos to feature this innovative multimedia piece: a collection of some of the region’s major public transit lines and the dramatic income disparities that exist among the communities living along those routes. Continue reading

Infographic: What Does it Mean to Be Poor in America?

Includes cartoon infographic

By Andy Warner

Poverty_Trend_SliceintroEarlier this month — back in the good ole’ days when our government was actually functioning (sort of) — the U.S. Census Bureau released a series of 2012 income data for American households (and no, I can’t provide the link, because the Census site is still closed for business). The figures shows that despite the nation’s supposed economic recovery, average American household incomes didn’t really budge from where they were the year before. Meanwhile, the poverty rate remained at roughly the same level as it was in 2011 as well. The data underscore a growing gap in wealth inequality in America, with the incomes of lower and middle class households stagnating, while those among the wealthiest continue to rise at a rapid clip. In this comic infographic, graphic journalist Andy Warner breaks down these figures and what they mean for the millions of average American families still just scraping by. To view it as a slideshow in individual segments, click the thumbnail below.
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