Charting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Discharges Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ended today, eliminating a practice that led to more than 13,000 service member discharges since 1993. Its enforcement has been in decline since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to unofficial stats from Wikipedia

See larger, interactive version | Made with Tableau Public

FOIA-ing the White House

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

Last month I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House asking for a list of President Obama’s official trips since he took office. I’m seeking the data not for my day job, but as a personal visualization opportunity (and because presidential travel guru Mark Knoller won’t share his famous database with me).

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I’m seeking a historical electronic listing of trips made by President Obama since he took office in January 2009. Specifically, I’m seeking a database,spreadsheet or comma-delimited text file disclosing his travel withthe following fields, if maintained: Trip ID, date, address(City/State) of trip destination(s), and any notes or descriptions of the event.

I’m not seeking PDFs or paper printouts. I’m not seeking data on future trips. I’m not seeking any fields that contain security information, or information about the president’s family (if they accompanied him on any trip). If you do not maintain some of the fields I’ve requested, I will amend my request accordingly.

Please let me know if you or your office need clarification, or if you believe some or all of the records might fall under a FOIA exception. I’m willing to discuss amending my request, if needed, especially if doing so would prevent a denial of my request, reduce the burden on your staff or speed the release of the records.

Today, I got this letter from the Office of Management and Budget, the agency that handles the White House’s open-records requests: 

At least I know they’re processing the request. As it turns out, OMB is pretty quick when it comes to handling FOIA requests. From 2008-2010, the agency closed its request cases in just over a month on average. So, there’s hope that some day soon I’ll know whether I get the data. I’m still not too hopeful, though.

Here’s a comparison of some major federal agencies and the time it took each to process requests during fiscal years 2008-10: 

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Source: FOIA.gov

Texas: 70% Republican?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

A colleague today asked for a spreadsheet copy of the Tribune’s Directory, which has biographical, political and official details about 242 elected officials in Texas (statewide, Legislature, high courts, congress, etc). Turns out only 70 of them are Democrats, whose ranks were thinned considerably after the Republican wave in November:

Or…

Or…

Once, Twice, Three Times a Governor

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

A cross post from my work blog:

Most people know that Gov. Rick Perry, inaugurated to a third full term Tuesday, has served longer than any other chief executive in Texas history.

What’s remarkable, though, is just how much longer than the state’s previous governors — even those who’ve served during the modern era, according to historical data maintained by the Legislative Research Library.

This bar chart illustrates that longevity, which now spans more than a decade in office. No previous governor has served more than eight years, not even since the early 1970s, when the late Dolph Briscoe became the first governor under a new four-year gubernatorial term.

Perry has served four years longer than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who left early to serve as president. And he’s served twice as long as 40 previous governors, including Ann Richards, Mark White and Bill Clements (who, in fairness, served two non-consecutive four-year terms). Since 1846, the average length of time in office for Texas governors is 3.5 years.

Assuming Perry doesn’t run for president, or leave office early, he will have served Texas longer than the late Franklin D. Roosevelt served as president. FDR’s tenure lasted just over 12 years.

Data: CSV

Is ‘Green Hornet’ Super Bad?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

The Green Hornet“ opened this weekend to lukewarm reviews by critics, earning low scores on movie score aggregators like Metacritc and Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s one of my favorites: “A big, sloppy, loud, grating mess of a movie,” wrote the Detroit News’ Adam Graham.

Elise wondered how “Hornet” compared to other movies based on comic books characters and superheroes, so we compiled a quick list from Wikipedia. I then pulled in their scores from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes and uploaded the data to Many Eyes.

This block histogram shows the average score along the bottom, or X axis. The Y axis shows the number of films in that range. Green Hornet gets grouped with Daredevil, Batman Forever and the Fantastic Four sequel — all mediocre movies. 

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I then created a basic Excel bar chart, which has both scores for each film, but is sorted by average. Superman II, seriously?

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Data: CSV