Falling spin rates in baseball after rule enforcement

NYT’s The Upshot analyzed spin rate on pitches before and after enforcing a ban on sticky substances that provide more grip on the ball. The rule has been in place for decades but wasn’t enforced. However, there’s been more strikeouts than usual, which makes for less exciting sports, which means less people watch, and therefore, the league makes less money. So, bye sticky stuff.

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Rise of K-pop

K-pop seems to be inescapable these days, which really confuses me. Marian Liu, Youjin Shin, and Shelly Tan for The Washington Post explored the rise in popularity and what makes the songs and artists so popular.

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How long it takes a ball to drop on various Solar System bodies

James O’Donoghue made this straightforward animation that shows how long it takes for a ball to drop one kilometer on different planets:

It might be surprising to see large planets have a pull comparable to smaller ones at the surface, for example Uranus pulls the ball down slower than at Earth! Why? Because the low average density of Uranus puts the surface far away from the majority of the mass. Similarly, Mars is nearly twice the mass of Mercury, but you can see the surface gravity is actually the same… this indicates that Mercury is much denser than Mars.

Okay, sure, but what’s heavier on Mars: a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? [via kottke]

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✚ Analyzing Data, General to More Specific – The Process 148

Welcome to issue #148 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members about how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m remembering to start an analysis with the basics — to get over the initial hump — and then generate questions towards more specific answers.

Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.

Slowing and then renewed interest in getting vaccinated

When countries gained access to vaccines, there was an initial burst of vaccinations, but the rate leveled off in most places. Then a variant arrives, and an incentive or another push for vaccinations increases the rate. Reuters looks at the rate shift in different countries, in the context of trying to reach 70 percent vaccinated.

The set of difference charts took me a minute to digest, but then seems straightforward after. More orange fill means much slower than the initial vaccination rate, and more green fill means a bigger bump after a lull.

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Noah Kalina’s averaged face over 7,777 days

Noah Kalina has been taking a picture of himself every day since January 11, 2000. He posted time-lapse videos in 2007, 2012, and 2020. Last year was the 20th of the project.

Usually Kalina’s videos are a straight up time-lapse using every photo. But in this collaboration with Michael Notter, 7,777 Days shows a smoother passage of time. Notter used machine learning to align the face pictures, and then each frame shows a 60-day average, which focuses on an aging face instead of everything else in the background.

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Map of drying reservoirs in the west

To show water levels in California’s drying reservoirs, The Washington Post used upside down triangles to represent each reservoir.

I like the idea to use an encoding that kind of looks like a reservoir, but my brain can’t help but read the fill level through height instead of area. Maybe the tradeoff isn’t worth it in this case? Compare this against a circle representation from 2015.

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UEFA Euro 2020 matches visualized with triangle sets

Krisztina Szűcs used sets of animated triangles to show how each match played out. The triangles in the middle move up as each team scores, and the triangles on the side represent penalty kicks.

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Value of R, the Statistics-specific language

Paul Ford has been learning R to better understand the field of Statistics. The takeaway:

Deep in its heart, R is a language for making charts, and it’s genuinely fun to go into its world: statistics, natural sciences, sociology — all right there. You will never pry me away from JavaScript or Python or the whole web stack of standards and protocols. They’re how I make things happen in the world, and they are very much my home base, but using more specific tools is always an education. It’s like suddenly discovering a new wing of a big museum, and realizing that there’s still a lot to learn.

I would say it’s a language for analyzing data, and charts are a big part of the process. But the big sell of R has always been its specificity. The need to understand data drives its design and growth, which means you avoid starting a lot of analyses from scratch.

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✚ Retired Minard – The Process 147

Welcome to issue #147 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members about how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m thinking about finite years, the long game, and learning visualization at an older age.

Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.