The Fix today has a post about the newly released digital version of Vital Statistics on Congress, a partnership between between a few think tanks that contains reams of enlightening data about the institution.
Among the more interesting examples is a table showing the partisan polarization over the years. Chris Cillizza’s take:
There is, really, only one thing you need to understand if you want to see why Congress doesn’t do much of anything these days. And that one thing is this: We are living in a time of historic polarization between the two parties.
It’s clear from the chart in the report that the parties are as far apart as they’ve been in the modern era:
Last year on my birthday I created a quick heatmap visualizing birthdays by their rank on the calendar. Despite its flaws, the graphic went viral by The Daily Viz standards, receiving a quarter million views.
Most of the attention came in the month of May 2012. But what’s been interesting is its long-tail appeal. Every few months or so my traffic spikes — and I always know why. It has been viewed 100,000 times in the last year. This chart from Google Analytics shows the spikes, including one in recent days thanks to links from Radiolab and io9.
Last fall, around the time that birthdays are most common, my wife and I had a baby, Eva, and I’ve found it difficult to keep this blog “daily” while also focusing on my day job. I’m using this most recent traffic spike as inspiration to get blogging again.
I hope, someday soon, to create something that’s more popular than that silly heatmap. Stay tuned.
Follow me on Twitter for updates.
The Washington Post has a fascinating story today about NFL players and injuries, with the local peg being Robert Griffin III’s knee injury. The gist:
Interviews with more than 50 doctors, players, agents, owners and medical ethicists suggest that what the NFL Physicians Society calls the game’s “unique clinical challenges” can result in inconsistent standards in treating players and cause some doctors to depart from best medical practices and safety norms.
These charts, which visualize the league’s injury reports over time, accompanied the story:
Early this month, the Centers for Disease Control released a study analyzing breastfeeding in America, noting that the percentage of babies who were breastfed increased by four points from 2000 to 2008.
But the study showed that less than half of women were still breastfeeding after six months, the period recommended by American pediatricians. This is likely because doing so after returning to work is difficult (as my wife is experiencing now) for mothers.
Slate has more:
Breast-feeding increased across all racial groups as well, though black women still lag far behind Latinos and white women. Over 75 percent of both white and Latino infants who were born in 2008 were breast-fed, while the number of black infants breast-fed the same year was under 60 percent. Researchers checked back in with moms of 2008 babies at six and nine months, and at both points the percentage of black babies breast-feeding was much lower than the percentage of white and Latino babies.
These simple slopegraphs attempt to show the trends using the CDC’s data:
Gas prices risen for the eighth straight day, part of a trend that’s driven the cost up 17% this year, according to AAA data reported by CNN Money:
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline rose for the eighth straight day on Saturday to $3.835. That is now only about 7% below the record high of $4.11 from July 2008.
CNN mapped the gas prices data by state:
CNN also created a map illustrating the percentage of residents’ income spent on gas by state. Mississippi residents spend almost 12 percent of their income on gas, for example:
This line chart uses Bureau of Labor Statistics data (not adjusted for inflation) to show the trend over my lifetime:
Amanda Cox from The New York Times charted the current downturn compared with history:
Horizontal axis shows months. Vertical axis shows the ratio of that month’s nonfarm payrolls to the nonfarm payrolls at the start of recession. Note: Because employment is a lagging indicator, the dates for these employment trends are not exactly synchronized with National Bureau of Economic Research’s official business cycle dates.
Time is winding down on another year of congressional business. How much time have representatives and senators worked this year compared to the past?
Senators, on average, were in session about 155 days a year over the last three decades. This year: 169. Representatives worked less: about 138 days, on average, over that time. This year (as of Dec. 20): 170.
To be sure, governing America is different than the average American job. But how much might they have been expected to work compared to the rest of us? Some context:
There are 365 days per year and about 104 weekend days. This is 260 days. If you subtract the 10 legal bank holidays taken this would be about 250 business days a year.
This chart, created from Library of Congress records, shows how many days each chamber was in session over the last three decades. The Senate’s top year was 1995, after Republicans took over the House in the “Contract with America” sweep (209 days). The House’s top year was 1979 (173 days):
View larger version | Download data
American Airlines’ parent company, AMR Corp., announced today that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. AOL DailyFinance summed up the effect on investors:
AMR’s investors got a nasty little shock after the announcement, as the company’s stock price slid from a close of $1.62 per share on Monday to $0.23 on Tuesday morning. Over a longer timetable, AMR stockholders have had an even worse year: In January, the stock was trading at $8.85.
Here’s how that last sentence looks in a line graph, compared with the overall performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (via Google Finance). The Dow (red line) has remained largely flat, while AMR (blue line) has declined 95%:
See larger version here.
How the U.S. compares with other countries in average broadband download speed, via the Google Public Data explorer: