Housing market cooldown

I heard you like spiral charts when the data is seasonal. I think that’s what Kevin Schaul and Hamza Shaban, for The Washington Post, had in mind when they charted housing demand through the lens of percentage of houses sold within two weeks.

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Border enforcement data collection

Drew Harwell, for The Washington Post, reporting on a growing database and who has access to the records:

The rapid expansion of the database and the ability of 2,700 CBP officers to access it without a warrant — two details not previously known about the database — have raised alarms in Congress about what use the government has made of the information, much of which is captured from people not suspected of any crime. CBP officials told congressional staff the data is maintained for 15 years.

Details of the database were revealed Thursday in a letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who criticized the agency for “allowing indiscriminate rifling through Americans’ private records” and called for stronger privacy protections.

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Gerrymandering detection with simulations

Harry Stevens, for The Washington Post, how simulations can be used to detect severely gerrymandered congressional districts. In the interactive, you play the role of concerned citizen with the task of proposing a map that more closely resembles the political leanings of the state as a whole.

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Losses and comebacks of Serena Williams

We tend to celebrate the wins in sports and often forget about or don’t see the climb that athletes take to get to the top. Artur Galocha and Adrian Blanco, for The Washington Post, look back at Serena Williams’ winning career, focusing on who or what she had to compete against from age 15 to 40.

They start with a wideout view that shows Williams’ full career. Then they zoom in to notable career milestones where past competitors fade in and out of the picture. Years and age run along the same axis, and annotation points to key wins.

The timeline view is simple and static, but it is well-made.

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Welcome to Meltsville

It’s getting hot in cities around the world, each city with its own set of problems. The Washington Post combined all the problems into one fictional city called Meltsville. There are travel delays because the road is melting, bridges are cracking from heat expansion, and it’s generally a hard place to live.

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Indicators for a recession

People disagree whether the United States is in a recession or not, because there isn’t a generalized formula you can just plug some numbers into. Instead, the translation of of many economic indicators to a binary definition is more complicated. For The Washington Post, Alyssa Fowers and Kevin Schaul report on work from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

A set of baseline charts show how indicators currently compare to past recessions. Things feels worse, but some indicators show better days. The pandemic, surprise, makes these current times more of a challenge to define.

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A plea to stop climate change from the guy who makes maps

For Washington Post Opinion, a struggling mapmaker makes a plea to stop climate change, because there are no more suitable colors left in the spectrum to show hot:

My point is, unless you are here with some kind of innovative new color that is clearly hotter than red and won’t create these ambiguities, our only alternative is to stop climate change. If you won’t do it for the charismatic megafauna or the less charismatic fauna of normal size, or for your grandchildren, or for yourselves, do it for me, the guy who designed the heat scale for weather maps.I know this is a stupider reason than the reasons that already exist for you to take action, but people often do things for asinine reasons that they would not do for good ones, so maybe if you think about me having to color the map a confusing shade of vermilion or cochineal or, I guess, go back around? I have nothing! you will take pity in a way that you didn’t when human beings were literally dying? I don’t know, man. I’m not sure how many more heat waves like this my map can take. And that is the problem, of course. My map.

This is very important.

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Melting popsicles to visualize a heat wave

Many European countries are experience record high temperatures, so The Washington Post used melting popsicles to attach something relatable to the numbers and standard heatmap. But:

It turns out that it takes popsicles much longer to melt than we had expected. In this unscientific experiment, the shortest melt time was around 12 minutes, in 90 degrees Fahrenheit, under Madrid’s beating sun. It took as long as 50 minutes earlier in the day and in the shade.

I wish they’d taken it one or two steps further with a more scientific method. Try to use the same color or type of popsicle, put the popsicles out at the same time of day, or get a time-lapse of a control popsicle so that there’s a way to compare something. As it was made, the melting popsicles are just background images.

I’m sure there were time and resource constraints across countries, but it was such a good idea.

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Full scope of gun deaths in the U.S.

As I’m sure you know, mass shootings, which gain attention because the scale of their severity is so high, make up only a fraction of total gun deaths. Several tens of thousands of people die from gun shots every year in the U.S. The Washington Post describes the full scope, covering purchases, restrictions, race, and geography.

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Why the galaxy pictures from the Webb telescope are pretty cool

The first public picture from the James Webb telescope is kind of cool and all, but you can’t fully appreciate it unless you know what those glowing blobs represent and how they came to be. For Washington Post Opinion, Sergio Peçanha provides context for why NASA’s recent accomplishment is so awesome:

Everything about the Webb telescope is mind-boggling. Ponder this: Humans sent a telescope the size of a tennis court into space and parked it four times farther away than the moon.

There it orbits the sun along with us, just so we can get some pictures.

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