Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

business & money

aug
02
2012

How to Boost Your Medal Count in Seven Easy Steps | Grantland

Economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier on the economics of Olympic success, including a country’s population, comparative advantage, level of government investment and more.

may
30
2012

Sizing Up The American Dream | NPR

I worked with April Fehling and Tanya Ballard Brown on an infographic about some of the typical components of the “American dream” — part of our series “American Dreams: Then And Now.” View the Project »

mar
19
2012

I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter | NYTimes.com

By Julia Moskin. “Tales from the ink-stained (and grease-covered) wretches who actually produce most of the words attributed to chefs in cookbooks.”

feb
02
2012

The iEconomy

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend The New York Times’ new series about the economics of Apple’s supply chain and working conditions at the Chinese plants that manufacture Apple products. Stories so far: “How the U.S. Lost …

dec
15
2011

Long-Term Unemployment: How Do You Compare? | NPR

We’re running a series about the long-term unemployed and underemployed this week, based on an NPR / Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Today, we rolled out an interactive that allows users to compare themselves against poll respondents on certain questions. On the geeky tech side, I put this together entirely with HTML/CSS/jQuery (look, Ma, no Flash!). Took a little longer than Flash would have, but it was a good learning exercise. (Just forgive my horrible jumble of code.)

dec
07
2011

Can Eurozone Countries Actually Follow Their Own Rules This Time? | Planet Money | NPR

When the euro was set up in the late 1990s, the Stability and Growth Pact clearly spelled out limits for deficits and debt. But nearly everyone broke those rules, including France and Germany. Now that European leaders are trying to create new rules, the question is — how will they enforce them?” Simple HTML tables, with tabs to flip between. I think Jess Jiang’s shading idea worked really well.

dec
05
2011

Top 10 reasons why Darth Vader was an amazing project manager | GeekWire

Brandon Koeller writes, “From a certain perspective his mass murder, brutal oppression, and frequent deception to serve his own ends makes him seem like a pretty bad guy. But if you look past all that to his action, you will find a very capable and effective project manager.”

dec
02
2011

Looking At Unemployment By Age, Education And Duration | Planet Money | NPR

Caitlin Kenney reports, “Unemployment has reached its lowest level since March of 2009, according to this morning’s jobs report.” More fun with Flot jQuery charts.

nov
28
2011

How the U.S. Postal Service Fell Apart | Time

Josh Sanburn on the past and present of the U.S. Postal Service. “Even today, the USPS’s methods to deliver our mail are just as remarkable. Want to send a letter to the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? The postal service will take it there by mule. Need to mail a package to the Alaskan wilderness? The USPS can get it there by parachute or snowmobile. (It used sled dogs until 1963.) Have to mail something along Alabama’s Magnolia River? The USPS has boats that travel from dock to dock. It has even sent mail via pneumatic tubes, missiles and hovercraft. And somehow, it’s still just 44 cents to get a letter anywhere (well, 45 cents starting Jan. 22).” (Via Christina)

nov
21
2011

The End of Borders and the Future of Books | Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Ben Austen offers “an inside look at the real reasons for the once-beloved chain’s demise.” Poor choices, poor timing. (Via Patrick Cooper)

nov
10
2011

Yelping With Cormac

Yelp reviews as one person imagines Cormac McCarthy might write them. (Via Paulo Lopez)

nov
04
2011

32 Ways Of Looking At Unemployment, In One Chart | Planet Money | NPR

The chart below allows you to explore these differences in detail. You can see how the unemployment rate has changed over time for people of all ages and all levels of educational attainment.” Produced using Flot, a jQuery charting library. Reusing something I set up for previous projects.

sep
15
2011

How The European Debt Crisis Could Spread | NPR

The world’s major central banks are so worried about Europe’s debt crisis that they are moving to shore up eurozone banks. The troubled banks hold billions in sovereign debt of Greece, Spain, Portugal and other struggling countries. Left unchecked, this crisis could spill over into the U.S. economy. Here’s how Europe’s troubles could migrate to the U.S. and the rest of the world.” I worked on this interactive with Marilyn Geewax and Avie Schneider, producing the maps and building out the HTML/CSS/JQuery-based interface.

sep
09
2011

The Dark Art of Pricing | Jessica Hische

Really useful post about things to consider when pricing illustration / lettering freelance work.

sep
02
2011

U.S. Unemployment: A Historical View | WSJ.com

Track the national unemployment rate since 1948 — the first year in which the government provides data that can reliably be compared with the current rate. Numbers are seasonally adjusted.” Nice heatmap / timeline treatment.

aug
18
2011

Independent bookstores add a new chapter | The Washington Post

Neely Tucker reports, “The small, independently owned bookstore is staging a modest rebirth in the midst of a bone-killing economy.” Filed under #thingsthatmakemehappy. I still have yet to visit the One More Page bookstore mentioned in the story, though I’ve followed them on Twitter for months. Must make that happen (because, seriously — books, wine and chocolate?).

aug
08
2011

Why S. & P.’s Ratings Are Substandard and Porous | Five Thirty Eight | NYTimes.com

Interesting statistical analysis from Nate Silver about S&P’s recent track record.

jul
14
2011

A User's Guide To The Budget Battles | NPR

Marilyn Geewax reports, “Budget battles involving Republicans, Democrats and President Obama have become so frequent that they may sound like one big shouting match. But there actually are three separate budget debates going on simultaneously.”

jul
08
2011

Got Government Default Jitters? | NPR

Remember credit-default swaps and the financial crisis? They exist for U.S. government debt, too — and they’re spiking as investors get more nervous. “As the debt-ceiling deadline draws closer, economists fear panic could start to set in. If the United States were to default on any of its debt, interest rates on U.S. Treasury securities could shoot up. So far, that has not happened; calm has prevailed. But in another area — credit default swaps — signs of jitters are growing.”

jul
05
2011

Paying the Mortgage, Two Weeks at a Time

The New York Times ran a story this weekend about biweekly mortgage plans, where a homeowner submits half a mortgage payment every two weeks. If you have recently taken a mortgage, you are likely to receive solicitations pushing these plans, …