Last week, the U.S. political blogosphere was abuzz over a map that solved the inequities of the Electoral College system (and those of the U.S. Senate) by dividing the country into 50 states of equal population. The compiler, Neil Freeman, had some fun with it - people from Austin, after his reform, would hail from the great state of Big Thicket. (Which is in some ways no stranger than people from Seattle having to endlessly specify “Washington State,” but never mind.)
Italian elections results of the lower house. (In French, but transparent)
With the State of the Union address tonight, The Guardian plotted the Flesh-Kincaid grade levels for past addresses. Each circle represents a state of the union and is sized by the number of words used. Color is used to provide separation between presidents. For example, Obama’s state of the union last year was around the eighth-grade level, and in contrast, James Madison’s 1815 address had a reading level of 25.3.
As the Senate prepares to take up the first major gun control debate since last December’s shooting massacre in Connecticut, a Sunlight Foundation analysis of the political pressures on 26 key senators paints a pessimistic picture for passage.
Absent a major pressure campaign to push senators to support gun control legislation, the political calculus points against the Senate passing any reform.
Last Thursday the United Nations opened an inquiry into the “civilian impact of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing.” Data - data about casualties, targets, frequency, and other topics - will play an important role in this investigation, led by the UN special rapporteur for human rights and counterterrorism. Visualization can add important context to help the public follow this inquiry. Adding markers dynamically can be a serious game-changer for visualizations using time-sensitive data, and something that you can do with MapBox.”
In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama on Wednesday announced new national gun control measures. He has already urged members of Congress to do the same. Here is our comprehensive look at where lawmakers stand on guns, as well as political spending and voting history. Explore and share what you think Congress should do about guns in this country.
Following a New York newspaper’s controversial decision to publish the names and address of local gun owners, state legislators are moving to make such information private, even as a Sunlight Foundation analysis shows that in a majority of states, the data are already off the public record.
Because of some the work we’ve done before on last minute negotiations and divided government, Sunlight prepared the following graphic that visualizes the recent history of US House votes on the debt ceiling, based on public voting records and a CRS report.
We’ll have more commentary forthcoming, but here are a few initial thoughts on what this graphic makes clear:
- Opposition to raising the debt ceiling is often partisan, with opposition coming from either party, based on who is in the White House. Many House Republicans have voted for raising the ceiling, just as President Obama voted against it when he was a Senator.
- Divided government has necessitated support from both parties to raise the limit.
- There is a significant untold story about the Gephardt Rule, a House Rule which enabled the limit to be raised with little public record. The role this rule played in setting up the current showdowns has been insufficiently examined.
- Good access to congressional data and reports enables this kind of analysis; it could be improved.
- Each of these votes was a predictable consequence of budgets that were passed before them, demonstrating another facet of political hypocrisy.
As we expand on our vision for local government transparency, we realize we need to start with defining what we mean by local.
The general scope of the work we’re taking on is targeted at the idea of “municipal” government, something we’ve been referring to internally as city government, though we’ve quickly realized it’s not that simple. Municipal government takes many forms, and if we’re being accurate, we have to set our scope a bit wider.
Time roughs up presidents. Photos of Barack Obama on Election Night 2008 look like they were taken much longer ago. Now his face has deeper creases and crow’s feet, while his hair has turned white. “You look at the picture when they’re inaugurated and four years later, they’re visibly older,” said Connie Mariano, White House physician from 1992 to 2001. “It’s like they went in a time machine and fast-forwarded eight years in the span of four years.”
We’ve experimented with it though I know it annoys a lot of people.
What do you think? Yay or nay?
Not a data visualization or an infographic but important none the less.
A community’s great loss: RSS co-creator, early Reddit employee, tech activist Aaron Swartz dies at 26
Swartz committed suicide as he faced a federal trial on criminal charges. One of the hacker world’s most iconic personalities, he had played a key role in building a number of things that defined the internet’s voice, helping build the RSS spec at the age of 14, helping build Reddit in its early days, and playing a key role in modern tech activism. It was this last aspect of his life that got him into significant legal trouble, as he faced a FBI investigation after publicly releasing large parts the for-pay PACER database to the public, then, two years later, found himself facing criminal charges after downloading millions of articles from the private JSTOR academic journal database. Swartz faced $4 million in fines as as many as 35 years in prison over felony charges related to the case — though both MIT and JSTOR declined civil actions in the case. (photo by quinnums/Flickr)
EDIT: Here’s a roundup of some noted tech-world reaction to Swartz’s death.