Posts Tagged ‘dorling cartogram’

Political prerogative in the embassies (Kelso via Wash Post)

Monday, October 26th, 2009

gr2009102300322

[Editor’s note: I created this bivariate Dorling cartogram for Al’s column on Friday. The bubbles are grouped by geographic region show number of total ambassadors and the subset (in red) who have been political appointees the last 49 years. The subset is aligned bottom middle instead of sharing the same center point as the total bubble. If you haven’t seen our Head Count interactive database tracking all Obama’s federal appointments, check it out!]

Republished from The Washington Post. Reported by Al Kamen.

Just after the election in November, we wrote that an Obama administration was likely to eschew “the traditional sale of most ambassadorships, so aptly carried on during the Bush administration.” The chatter was that the new team would pick political types, but with some foreign policy cred — as the Clinton administration tended to do — and maybe reduce the percentage of politicals in favor of more career Foreign Service officers.

Yeah, well, we must have been eschewing something. The fat-cat contributors naturally got the plum postings, as usual.

But judging from data compiled by the American Foreign Service Association, the career employees union, it appears that Obama is on track to reduce, at least marginally, the percentage of jobs going to contributors and cronies. While there are still a lot of vacancies, AFSA officials project that Obama is likely to end the year appointing fewer political folks than either Bush or Clinton to the 181 ambassadorial postings — but still too many, as far as the career diplomats are concerned.

About 30.1 percent of Bush’s ambassadors during his eight years were political folks, AFSA found. Clinton’s average, 33 percent politicals, was higher, but Clinton’s folks were a mix of non-career people who actually knew a lot about the countries or regions to which they were named and pure cash types — our favorite was hotelier Larry Lawrence for Switzerland, the guy whose body was exhumed from Arlingon National Ceremony when it turned out he lied about being in the Merchant Marine.

If Obama’s first-year total ends up slightly lower than Bush’s, then Obama’s eventual four-year — or eight-year — percentages will probably be clearly lower than his immediate predecessors’, we’re told, because the first round of appointments tends to skew more to paying off politicals than do the later rounds.

Of course, the politically connected still get the finer spots in the Caribbean and Western Europe. As the accompanying chart shows, the career diplomats head to somewhat less delightful (even nasty) postings in Central Asia (100 percent career since 1960), the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Since 1960, no Foreign Service officer has ever run the embassy in Dublin and only one, Ray Seitz, has gone to the Court of St. James’s in London. On the other hand, no political appointee has ever gone to Chad and only one has gone to Bulgaria.

See AFSA’s full data at http://www.afsa.org/ambassadors.cfm.

SOURCE: American Foreign Service Association, data 1960 through today. | Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Karen Yourish/The Washington Post – October 23, 2009

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

News Dots (Slate)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

slatenewsdots

[Editor’s note: This is one of the first tools I’ve seen that links topics, people & places into a network of graduated circles based on their ranking in the news. The circles are arranged based on their edge connections within the overall topology using the Flare visualization package in Flash AS3. As seen in the above screenshot, Germany is linked to Afghanistan, NATO, the Taliban, The Washington Post, and 20 other nodes. This project is one step forward in the vision I outlined in Topology and Projections: 21st Century Cartography. Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Company, my employer, but I was not involved in this project.]

Republished from Slate.

Introducing News DotsAn interactive map of how every story in the news is related, updated daily.

Like Kevin Bacon’s co-stars, topics in the news are all connected by degrees of separation. To examine how every story fits together, News Dots visualizes the most recent topics in the news as a giant social network. Subjects—represented by the circles below—are connected to one another if they appear together in at least two stories, and the size of the dot is proportional to the total number of times the subject is mentioned.

Like a human social network, the news tends to cluster around popular topics. One clump of dots might relate to a flavor-of-the-week tabloid story (the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping) while another might center on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military. Most stories are more closely related that you think. The Dugard kidnapping, for example, connects to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who connects to the White House, which connects to Afghanistan.

To use this interactive tool, just click on a circle to see which stories mention that topic and which other topics it connects to in the network. You can use the magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out. You can also drag the dots around if they overlap. A more detailed description of how News Dots works is available below the graphic.

Interact with the original and learn more at Slate . . .

Tag Cloud: How Words Could End a War (NY Time)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: This op-editorial art piece (above) from the New York Times shows how a simple tag cloud can show an idea topology in a simple, powerful format. Full op-ed below.]

Republished from the New York Times.
By SCOTT ATRAN and JEREMY GINGES
Orig published: January 24, 2009

AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight.

This small territory is the world’s great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among people we have interviewed across the Muslim world: from Middle Eastern leaders to fighters in the remote island jungles of Indonesia; from Islamist senators in Pakistan to volunteers for martyrdom on the move from Morocco to Iraq.

Some analysts see this as a testament to the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

Across the world, people believe that devotion to sacred or core values that incorporate moral beliefs — like the welfare of family and country, or commitment to religion and honor — are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Our studies, carried out with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, suggest that people will reject material compensation for dropping their commitment to sacred values and will defend those values regardless of the costs.

In our research, we surveyed nearly 4,000 Palestinians and Israelis from 2004 to 2008, questioning citizens across the political spectrum including refugees, supporters of Hamas and Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We asked them to react to hypothetical but realistic compromises in which their side would be required to give away something it valued in return for a lasting peace.

All those surveyed responded to the same set of deals. First they would be given a straight-up offer in which each side would make difficult concessions in exchange for peace; next they were given a scenario in which their side was granted an additional material incentive; and last came a proposal in which the other side agreed to a symbolic sacrifice of one of its sacred values.

Continue reading at New York Times . . .

Who Are You All? Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The reception to my Toni Mair photo essay blog post continues to blow my mind. The first day it was up on March 11th my site got 17,000 page views (7,500 unique) with 97% of those being just for that blog post! If you haven’t seen it already, check it out here.  Since then it’s gotten nearly 30,000 hits, the bulk of which come from a link-sharing site called stumbleupon.com. Hot damn! Another popular post has been about the Carbon Atlas featuring Dorling cartograms.

I started my blog at the end of November just to ramble about this and that and mostly just keep track of things that interest me; like an annotated bookmark list (complete with a tag cloud). Since then my blog has hosted visitors from 123 countries on all the continents and every state in the union. 75% of you are on Windows but 75% are using Firefox and not Internet Explorer. Only 2% are on dialup. Source: Google Analytics.

My Adobe Illustrator automation page featuring Javascript Extend scripts that I’ve either written or promote continues to get good traffic. Readers there stay on that page three times longer than the blog so they must be finding this more technical, time saving information useful, too.

I have a followup to the Toni Mair piece planned next month so please stayed tuned :)