New Olympic sports explained

The 2020 Summer Olympics are here, so ’tis the season for experimental visual explainers. The Washington Post uses a combination of illustration, video, and augmented reality to show off three new Olympic sports: skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing.

The skateboarding piece with Heimana Reynolds uses a left-right hover to move back and forth through a time-lapse. It lets you see each part of the trick, which can be a challenge to see in real-time. The climbing piece with Brooke Raboutou employs AR so that you can place a 3-D model of the 50-foot wall and Raboutou in your living room for scale. Neat.

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Case rates adjusted for the unvaccinated

Covid-19 cases in the United States were down, but they’re moving up again, mostly among the unvaccinated. Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro for The Washington Post break down the comparisons by state.

A difference chart for each state shows the overall rate compared against an adjusted rate for the unvaccinated population. As you might expect, the rate for the latter is always higher.

There are three more points of reference. A dotted line shows the adjusted national rate, a black dashed line shows how the current rate is a step back to a previous time, and a smaller, zoomed out version of the chart in the top right provides context back to March 2020. You can see it for cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

Getting vaccinated strongly appears to be the way to go any way you cut it.

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Case rates adjusted for the unvaccinated

Covid-19 cases in the United States were down, but they’re moving up again, mostly among the unvaccinated. Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro for The Washington Post break down the comparisons by state.

A difference chart for each state shows the overall rate compared against an adjusted rate for the unvaccinated population. As you might expect, the rate for the latter is always higher.

There are three more points of reference. A dotted line shows the adjusted national rate, a black dashed line shows how the current rate is a step back to a previous time, and a smaller, zoomed out version of the chart in the top right provides context back to March 2020. You can see it for cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

Getting vaccinated strongly appears to be the way to go any way you cut it.

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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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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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How big tech grew by acquiring small tech

Big tech — Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook — got big and then got bigger with acquisitions of smaller companies. The Washington Post took a comprehensive look at all of the acquisitions over the years:

They all followed a similar pattern. First, they became dominant in their original business, like e-commerce for Amazon and search for Google. Then they grew tentacles, making acquisitions in new sectors to add revenue streams and outflank competitors.

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Mail slowdown

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy proposed new standards for first-class mail, which would slow down how long it takes for you to receive a letter. The Washington Post made an interactive (paywall) to see how the plan would change delivery times from your ZIP code.

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Welcome to heat dome

It’s hot here in the western United States, and it’s only mid-June. From The Washington Post, we’re stuck in a heat dome:

Hot air masses expand vertically into the atmosphere, creating a dome of high pressure that diverts weather systems around them. One way to gauge the magnitude of a heat wave is to measure the height of the typical halfway point of the atmosphere — at the 500 millibar pressure level. For this pressure level to stretch to heights of 600 dekameters, or 19,685 feet, is quite rare, but that marker was forecast for this week, and it was indeed reached in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Tuesday.

Splendid.

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Scale of a mouse plague

There’s a mouse plague in Australia right now. The words alone don’t express the scale and seriousness of this problem, but this Washington Post piece sure does. The combination of video, photos, and graphics clearly demonstrates the scale. It starts with a pair of mice and escalates quickly from there — and might give you the willies along the way.

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Hospitalization rates for the unvaccinated

Overall, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are down in the United States, but much of that is from vaccinations. When you look at only those who are not vaccinated, the rates are still high in many areas of the country. Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro for The Washington Post show the differences.

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