Charting Taiwan’s Sea of Scooters

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Taiwan

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

Scooters at a Taipei intersection. Credit: Quatro Valvole/Wikimieda

I’m in Taiwan this month to study Mandarin. During breaks, I’ll be posting occasionally about the island nation’s demographics, politics and (sticky) weather.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the streets of Taiwan — other than the excellent food, sweet people and formidable humidity, of course — is the constant buzz of scooters. They are everywhere — and loud and perhaps a little unsafe.

That’s true even in Taipei, the capitol region, which has a world-class subway system and yet about 1 million motorcycles on the roads (as opposed to roughly 800,000 cars and trucks).

It turns out there’s a proportionally startling number of motorcycles, as the government classifies them, on the roads across this country: More than 13 million in nation of just 23 million.

Most homes have them, for example:

And there are nearly twice as many motorcycles on the roads than cars and trucks, according to the government:

Though the rate of motorcycles per 1,000 population is declining:

Someday I’ll Say Goodbye to Seoul. I Might Miss the Weather.

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been in Seoul just over a year, and I can’t stay here forever, so I’m starting to think seriously about the next city. For me, a key consideration is weather (and, you know, work and kids’ schools and such).

Seoul’s been pretty great, especially the relatively mild summers. But what can I expect from the next town? Here are the average monthly temperatures for the likely contenders. Some are warmer than others:

weather

Or maybe one of these 269 places?

Data source: NOAA Comparative Climate Data

Charting the Popularity of ‘Hillary’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, News, Policy & Politics

Despite her big win in New York, trouble looms for Hillary Clinton in the general election, according to a new poll that shows her favorable/unfavorable ratings at dangerously low levels among key demographic groups.

Clinton has seen her fair share of bad polls over the years, yet she’s found ways to rebound. The same can’t really be said about her first name, however.

Perhaps one measure of her favorability — if so, a cruel one — is the frequency with which American parents have decided to call their daughters “Hillary”. The name peaked historically the year her husband, Bill Clinton, won the White House. It then plummeted dramatically, according to Social Security card application data released by the federal government.

This chart shows the proportion of parents who picked “Hillary” since 1947, the presidential candidate’s birth year:

hillary

“Hillary” was most popular in 1992, when about 2,500 girls received the name — roughly .13 percent of those listed in the data that year. Two years later, only about 400 girls received the name, or about .02 percent. (“Hillary”, by the way, made a small but brief comeback in 2008).

The figures in both years seem low, given the size of the country. But remember that Americans get creative with their kids’ names. There were about 1.84 million girls who received Social Security cards in 1992, and their parents picked at least 15,000 different name iterations, from Aaisha to Zykeia. Ashley was most popular with about 38,000 applications (or roughly 2 percent of the listed names).

Perhaps Hillary would be slightly more popular if parents conformed (or could spell). In 1992, for example, a few hundred poor souls got these iterations of Clinton’s name: Hilliary, Hillery, Hillari, Hillarie and Hillaree. Also: Hilary.

My name — Matthew — has taken a roller coaster ride, too. It peaked in 1983, with about 50,000 boys receiving it — roughly 2.8 percent of the 1.8 million boys who received Social Security cards with that birth year. What caused the name’s rise? Perhaps I’ll never know, though my mother picked it not from the New Testament but from a John Denver song.

Thanks, Mom. (At least you spelled it correctly).

matthew

Want to see your name? Tell me in the comments.

New Show, Knife Raise O.J.’s Google Profile

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, News

More than 20 years after his blockbuster murder trial, O.J. Simpson is back in the news — this time after Los Angeles police reportedly found a knife on the grounds of his former estate.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson

According to the Los Angeles Times, a retired police officer “has handed over a knife given to him by a construction worker who helped raze Simpson’s mansion in 1998.” The knife, which could have been used in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, is now being tested by the police.

The news comes a month after a new television show dramatizing his sensational trial began airing on FOX.

The renewed interest in Simpson, now serving a prison term in Nevada for an unrelated robbery and kidnapping case, is reflected in online search traffic, according to Google Trends.

This graph shows search volume since 2004. Traffic has been relatively dormant over the years except for spikes, like in September 2007, when Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas on multiple felony counts after an altercation over sports memorabilia. Another spike in late 2008 reflects his conviction at trial. He’s now serving out a 33-year-term but is eligible for parole next year.

Searches for his name spiked significantly after the new show, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., began airing Feb. 2.

Regional trends are also evident in the searches. This map shows that searches in Nevada and the Las Vegas metro area more common than in other parts of the country. That makes sense because of the location of his trial and incarceration.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 09.23.51

Someday O.J. Simpson will no longer capture the collective imaginations of Americans. Today is not that day, apparently.

“Bernie Baby” and the Decline of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: News, Policy & Politics

“Bernie Baby,” a Los Angeles infant who gained attention on social media after his mother dressed him like Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has died, the Associated Press reports.

The apparent cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome, according to a family member. Oliver Jack Carter Lomas-Davis was just shy of four months old.

Such stories are terrifying, especially for parents who, like me, are caring for an infant. But they are relatively rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 3,500 infants die in the U.S. each year from sudden, unexpected causes — about 40 percent of which are later determined to be sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

This graph, created by the agency, shows the rate of sudden unexpected infant deaths, or SUIDs, from 1990 to 2014. Such cases involve three main categories, the most high profile being SIDS. It dropped from 130.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 38.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014.

Trends in Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Rates by Cause, 1990-20

The overall drop could be attributed to increased public awareness, including two government safety campaigns initiated in the early 1990s, according to the agency.

Charting Billions of (Endangered?) $100 Bills

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance, Policy & Politics

hundred-face

The ubiquitous $100 currency note — the Bill, the C-Note, the Benjamin — might be ready to cash out, at least if a group of influential economists have their way.

In a recent paper, scholars at Harvard University argue that the elimination of the $100 bill, along with other high-value currency notes around the world, could reduce corruption and restrict criminal enterprises.

Their findings even prompted a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, to suggest that governments should stop printing $50 and $100 notes, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“I’d guess the idea of removing existing notes is a step too far. But a moratorium on printing new high-denomination notes would make the world a better place,” Mr. Summers wrote in an item for The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

As the Journal reports, though, the $100 bill isn’t quite spent. About 10 billion of them — roughly $1 trillion in currency — are still circulating through the world economy (though far too few are in my wallet these days).

They’ve been printed at a steady rate during the last 30 years, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And another 1.5 billion have been ordered for the 2016 fiscal year, the agency says.

This chart plots the printing rates of the various U.S. dollar notes since 1980. Note the recent spike in $100 printing during the 2013 fiscal year. That fall the government began issuing a new round of $100 bills with enhanced security features. The printing fell off again last year to reflect the burst in new paper.

Government Currency Printing: 1980-2014

See a full-screen version.

Data: U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

How’s The Weather In Seoul? Pretty Temperate. (Sorry, Austin Friends)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: My family recently relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is the first in an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics (and occasionally weather).

I enjoy Austin, and I still consider it “home,” even after moving to Washington, D.C., and, now, Seoul. But one of my top complaints about the Texas capital is the blazing summer heat. And by “summer” I mean March to October, essentially. In 2011, the year we left, there were 69 days in which the high temperature reached triple digits — only tying a record.

So, yes, I’ve enjoyed D.C.’s relatively temperate weather, despite the occasional winter snow or those few sticky days in August. But I wasn’t sure what to expect in Seoul, other than I suspected the winters were chilly. Turns out the temperatures are much like those in D.C., which makes sense because both cities are near the 38th north parallel above the Equator.

These simple charts show the average high and low temperatures in each place:

Tomorrow, I’ll chart the average number of rainy days — and the average monthly rainfall totals — in each place. Hint: Summer is the rainy season in Seoul.

Sources: WorldWeatherOnline.com (average temps.); Highcharts JS (charting library); ColorBrewer (color palette).

Charting The Premier League Season

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Sports

Last fall I posted some Tufte-inspired sparkline charts to visualize how Major League Baseball teams fared during the 2012 season.

I’ve created something similar for clubs in the English Premier League, where the season is winding down with Manchester United holding a strong lead in points. This chart shows how they’ve done it — by winning, not just drawing, with their opponents. United has 21 wins so far, while their cross-town rivals — Manchester City — have just 15.

Matches that end in draws are still important to a club’s success in the league, but I wanted to see their performance in wins and losses. The lines on the chart represent the total number of games over .500 for all 20 clubs. Click here to see the interactive version.

TheDailyViz

TheDailyViz

Charting Views On Gun Control

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows support among Americans for stricter gun control laws:

The massacre of children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., appears to be profoundly swaying Americans’ views on guns, galvanizing the broadest support for stricter gun laws in about a decade, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

This chart shows the trend:

Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 7.52.30 AM

See the full graphic to see the interesting regional differences in Americans’ attitudes toward gun control.

Charting Americans’ Turkey Consumption Per Household: 1967-2012

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Economy & Finance

Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving generally enjoy a good bird, myself included. But is that the case in some years more than others?

This chart shows turkey production (254 million this year) normalized by the number of households estimated each year by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the sixties, turkeys were produced at lower per-household rates than, say, the 1990s. We’re back down to about two turkeys per household now:

Who knows why this shift occurred. Perhaps diets changed, or people purchased more food in bustling economic times, like the 1990s, or we started importing turkey from China. Any ideas?

You can gobble up the turkey data here.