The view from our apartment in Seoul. Some days are better than others.
The air quality in Seoul — a mega city home to 70,000 taxis and 10 million residents — can get rough at times, especially for people already sensitive to pollution. It’s been an adjustment for my family, though it could be worse.
We could live in Beijing or Shanghai.
This chart, from a recent work collaboration with my wife, shows the number of days in 2015 that the pollutant PM2.5 reached certain health thresholds in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index. It compares Seoul to Beijing and Shanghai in China and New York and Los Angeles in the U.S.
Seoul isn’t terrible — but it isn’t great, either:
What of the biggest surprises about moving to Seoul, South Korea — aside from the impenetrable language and other cultural adjustments — was the pricey cost of electricity.
The monthly power bills in our high-rise apartment, which doesn’t have western-style central air conditioning, have been shockingly expensive — and not just in the summer months.
In the past year the bills have totaled nearly 8 million won, or about $6,500, for power. The building also adds on a host of fees, from common-area electricity charges to trash collection. Those have totaled an additional 5 million won, or $4,000. Ouch.
The group maintains a detailed database of each crash back to 1918, the early days of flight, allowing users to search 22,000 cases by year, operator, plane type and cause, among several other variables. This one is at least the 18th involving an Airbus A320, according to the database.
The chart below shows the number of crashes catalogued by the group during that time. You can see a spike in 1944, during World War II, when many military aircraft went down in battle, resulting in more than 4,300 casualties:
Since then, the number of crashes peaked in 1978 and has declined over time. There were about 120 crashes last year, according to the bureau’s records.
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.
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.
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:
Amanda Cox from The New York Timescharted 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):