Rants & Ramblings

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

current events

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.

jul
20
2012

Catharsis In A Cape: On Comic-Book Heroes And Real-World Violence | Monkey See | NPR

In the wake of the Aurora massacre, our comics blogger explores the meaning of the violence that’s such an integral part of the Batman mythos — and suggests that in the face of real horror, our fictional heroes mean more than ever.” A nice reflection by Glen Weldon.

Aurora and the Template of Our Grief | The Atlantic

Garance Franke-Ruta writes, “it’s clear that we as a nation have developed an awful template for reacting to our growing catalog of domestic mass-casualty events.”

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.

How Twitter's Trending Algorithm Picks Its Topics | NPR

Laura Sydell reports, “Sometimes a topic that seems hot, like Occupy Wall Street, doesn’t appear on trending lists, leading some activists to accuse Twitter of censorship. But the secret algorithmic formula prefers stories of the moment to enduring hashtags, so it ignores topics that are popular over a long period of time.” I worked on the chart that accompanies this story. Flot graphing library for jQuery again.

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.

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.

aug
23
2011

DC Earthquake

So you may have heard there was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia today.

jul
06
2011

A Teacher Leaves The Classroom For Afghanistan | NPR

Listen to the audio report for this one. Tom Bowman reports, “Darryl St. George, 29, taught high school history on Long Island, N.Y.‘But I felt like something was missing. … I felt compelled to serve,’ he says. So he enlisted and became a Navy corpsman. His former co-workers had a tough time understanding that decision.” Part of NPR’s “Who Serves” series this week.

jul
04
2011

By The Numbers: Today's Military

To go with a series of NPR stories about “who serves” in the U.S. military, I worked with editor Erica Ryan and news librarian JoElla Straley on a very large infographic about military demographics and casualties. The number of Americans …

may
05
2011

'He Wanted Me To Live A Full Life' | NPR

Today’s installment of StoryCorps is just devastating. (If you can’t see the embedded audio player above, the full story is on NPR’s website.)

may
03
2011

Paying My Respects

After work on Monday, I stopped by the Newseum to check out the day’s newspaper front pages from around the country, then visited the Pentagon Memorial to pay my respects. More Photos »

apr
27
2011

A Royal Family Tree

At work, we succumbed to a little bit of royal wedding fever and put together a “family tree” of the British royal family. With her marriage, Kate Middleton becomes the wife of the second in line to the British throne …

mar
29
2011

If We Raise $26,000 by Friday, Stephen Colbert Will Sing “Friday” with The Roots! | Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Colbert has challenged Fallon’s viewers to raise $26,000 for DonorsChoose. If they succeed, Colbert will perform Rebecca Black’s “Friday” with The Roots. It’s a spectacle I can’t pass up, so I donated to a yearbook class in Tampa, Fla., that needs a new digital camera. I have a few free $25 DonorsChoose gift codes — let me know if you want one.

mar
22
2011

At that moment, though, none of us thought we were going to live. Steve tried to keep eye contact until they pulled the trigger. The rest of us felt the powerlessness of resignation. You feel empty when you know that it’s almost over.

— New York Times journalists Anthony Shadid, Lynsey Addario, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks recount their recent capture in Libya (source)

jan
13
2011

We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us. And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

— President Barack Obama, at a service for victims of the Tucson shootings (source)

A Year Of Challenges: Haiti After The Quake | NPR

A multimedia project collecting NPR radio reports and photos since last year’s earthquake. “A year after a powerful earthquake hit Haiti, the 1.5 million left homeless still live in temporary camps and makeshift homes, and much rubble remains to be cleared. On top of that, the nation is dealing with a cholera epidemic and political chaos. NPR examines the challenges facing the Caribbean nation as it works to rebuild and recover.”

jan
09
2011

Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) Shot By Gunman | Storify

NPR’s Andy Carvin gathers up some of the relevant tweets, videos and news stories from yesterday’s mass shooting in Tucson, showing how the story played out over the course of the day. The Arizona Republic has another timeline of what happened.

jan
03
2011

For Medal of Honor recipient, retelling his story isn't easy | washingtonpost.com

I’ve never seen anyone else asked, ‘What was the worst day in your life? And let’s break it down piece by piece, and please go into detail,’ ” he says. “For some reason, they continually ask me every single day and multiple times a day. Of course it’s difficult. I lost two very good friends that day. They mean absolutely everything [to me], and people brush by their names. And they keep saying, ‘Giunta. Staff Sergeant Giunta.’ That doesn’t feel right.”

nov
03
2010

Election Night 2010

Still recovering a bit from the craziness of last night (and all the prep leading up to it). Will post a wrap-up soon. In the meantime, here’s a slideshow of photos I took at NPR headquarters on election night, mostly …

oct
28
2010

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law | NPR

An NPR News investigation: “The state’s new law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison. An analysis of fund-raising documents, lobbying records and corporate reports shows that the private prison industry helped draft and pass the measure.”

may
10
2010

Links: Oil Spill Resources

Responding to Oil Spills | Software & Data Sets | NOAA's Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration Gulf oil spill datasets from NOAA (tags: data government oilspill) Air Monitoring on Gulf Coastline | EPA Response to BP Spill in …

jun
06
2008

triple crown

Yesterday I worked on a graphic about another kind of horse race: the Triple Crown. Big Brown has a shot at winning this weekend’s Belmont Stakes, which would make him the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown (meaning, he’d …