Posts Tagged ‘wsj’

The Dictionary of American Regional English (WSJ)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: Geography of vernacular language in the United States of America. Check out this post about regional names for drainage features like stream, creek, run and more. Thanks Chrys!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By DALE BUSS

DARE to Be Finished—Maybe Next Year

The Dictionary of American Regional English gets ready to close the book on its already 45-year-old project

It’s axiomatic that even on the East Coast long sandwiches go by a host of names: hero (especially New York City), grinder (chiefly in New England), hoagie (mainly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and submarine (everywhere). Only if you’re an aficionado of the Dictionary of American Regional English are you likely to know that when kids still play hopscotch, they may call it “potsy” in Manhattan—but it’s “sky blue” in Chicago.

And it’s surprising how many different names Americans have for that strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street: “boulevard,” “grass plot,” “parkway” and “tree bank” are among them. So after a child abductor in the ’90s left a note demanding that ransom be deposited in a trash can “on the devil strip” at an intersection, a forensic linguist used this dictionary to help solve the crime—because the term was common only in a small part of Ohio.

For 45 years, DARE has been documenting America’s geographically variant vocabularies. Despite the conforming effects of air travel, television and the Internet, neither mobility nor media seem to be able to erase regional patois.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Time and Again, the Calendar Comes Up Short (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

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[Editor’s note: If you haven’t gotten a 2010 calendar yet, please try my Illustrator script for making your own. Its nifty! Many of my projects last year focused on time and less on mapping. It can be harder to count days than you might think!!!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By CHARLES FORELLE

Sticklers for Symmetry Lament Imperfections in the 400-Year-Old Gregorian System; Earth’s Inconvenient Orbit

Friday marks the start of another new year, and for a small band of reformers, another missed opportunity.

For the 428th straight year, much of the world will again use the familiar Gregorian calendar. We will suffer the fiscal quarters of varying lengths and the 52 weeks that don’t quite fill the year. We will recite rhymes to recall how many days are in June, and shrug if we are asked whether Halloween is on a weekday.

Almost since Pope Gregory XIII promulgated the new calendar — itself a reform of Julius Caesar’s calendar — in 1582, proposals have bubbled up for something better.

Apostles of efficiency lament that each year needs a fresh wall calendar. The astronomically precise complain that Gregory’s leap-year formula (every four years, except centuries not divisible by 400) is erratic, and a hair off the real year’s length anyway. The financially fixated sigh that next year there will be more shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than this year.

“We have a world-wide consensus about this second-rate calendar that the pope imposed 400 years ago,” Simon Cassidy, a California software engineer and amateur calendar scholar, says by telephone from New Zealand, where he is spending the northern-hemisphere winter.

Creating a calendar is like fitting a lot of round pegs into not quite as many square holes. Western tradition demands a seven-day week. Ancient custom, rooted in moon cycles, calls for a 12-month year. The Earth’s tilted axis produces four seasons. But the Earth, uncooperatively, takes 365 days, plus a tad more, to go once around the sun, and 365 is divisible by none of seven, 12 or four. And thanks to the extra bit of time — about one-fourth of a day — required for a complete orbit, leap years are needed to keep things on track.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

When the Swiss Voted to Ban New Minarets, This Man Built One (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

hc-go382_mirane_bv_20100104162501[Editor's note: When is a minaret a minaret? This man has a sense of humor and humanity.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By DEBORAH BALL and ANITA GREIL

Mr. Morand Put It on His Roof, Shined Spotlights on It and Thumbed His Nose

BUSSIGNY, Switzerland — In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets, the towerlike structures that adorn mosques. A week or so later, in an apparent act of defiance, a new minaret unexpectedly sprang up here.

But the new minaret is not attached to a mosque; this small town near Geneva doesn’t even have one. And it’s not the work of a local Muslim outraged by Switzerland’s controversial vote to ban the structures, which often are used to launch the call to prayer.

Instead, Bussigny’s minaret is attached to the warehouse of a shoe store called Pomp It Up, which is part of a Swiss chain. It was erected by the chain’s owner, Guillaume Morand, who fashioned it out of plastic and wood and attached it to a chimney. The new minaret, nearly 20 feet high and illuminated at night, is clearly visible from the main highway connecting Lausanne and Geneva.

“The referendum was a scandal,” Mr. Morand said recently at his cavernous warehouse, near pallets piled high with shoe boxes as pop music played on an old stereo system. “I was ashamed to be Swiss. I don’t have the power to do much, but I wanted to give a message of peace to Muslims.”

Mr. Morand’s provocation has attracted national interest as Switzerland grapples with the fallout of the referendum. On Nov. 29, 58% of Swiss voters approved the ban on new minarets, thus sparking a fresh debate around the world over the integration of Muslims in Western society. While civic and religious leaders in many Muslim countries denounced the ban, the feared backlash against Swiss interests around the world hasn’t materialized.

In Switzerland, the debate over the referendum is still hot. On Dec. 13, hundreds of Swiss Muslims protested the vote in Bern, the capital. According to Swiss legal experts, it is next to impossible to contest the outcome of a referendum. Indeed, on Dec. 18, a Swiss federal court refused to hear a plea by two Swiss citizens to nullify the vote.

But one Swiss Muslim leader has already requested that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, consider whether the ban violates international law on freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Continue to read at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

no-trade-zone-us-china-iran-sanctions

[Editor's note: This world map from the Wall Street Journal uses map symbols that reinforce the thematic color coding of countries. The symbols all feature a hand (common gesture for "stop"), and shape and color differences further differentiate the symbols. This graphic overloading of visual variables (using more than just shape, or just color, or just size) ensures a larger number of readers will comprehend the map's visual message. In this case, color between the symbols and the choropleth map colors links the symbols with the countries. All countries are directly labeled with their name and explanation. I like this map for a second reason: the Wall Street Journal is using a new CMS (content management system) that the Washington Post is also working to adopt and it shows how graphics can be flowed inside the article text instead of getting lost in a tab, link, or thumbnail. Many eye tracking studies show that readers spend more time on graphics than on article text but online, graphics are often hard to find (if they are found at all). This new CMS puts graphics back in the natural flow of reading.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By PETER FRITSCH

Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.

A unit of state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., for example, has made nearly 300 illegal shipments to U.S. firms since a ban was imposed on CPMIEC and its affiliates in mid-2006, according to an analysis of shipping records by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nonprofit proliferation watchdog.

A Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.

The CPMIEC shipments, worth millions of dollars, include everything from anchors and drilling equipment to automobile parts and toys. In many cases, CPMIEC acted as a shipping intermediary — activity also banned under a 2006 presidential order.

The ability of CPMIEC and other foreign companies to continue doing business in the U.S. despite the sanctions comes as the Obama administration considers fresh economic sanctions against Iran. The illegal shipments suggest that U.S. sanctions have become so numerous and complex that they have become difficult to enforce.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Name that Body of Water: East Sea or Sea of Japan?

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Last week an unnamed group (commentary elsewhere) ran this full page ad (below) in The Washington Post disagreeing with the use of Sea of Japan over East Sea for the body of water between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The series of ads has also appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The group also has informational pamphlets on several other contested issues.

In the US English, the conventional, Federal Board of Geographic Names toponymn for this body of water is “Sea of Japan”, and the conventional alternative name is also “East Sea” (Tong-hae romanized from Korean native script). When space is available, the placename is shown as “Sea of Japan (East Sea)”. As with any placename, alternatives are dropped under space constraints (such as with a 1 column map).

When the 8th Edition National Geographic Atlas of the World was published earlier this decade, a similar campaign (though more threatening) was run about the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf).

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Pressure on the Presses (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: Fascinating look at newpaper trends across the U.S. in 4 yearly time slices. Circles are sized latest circulation figures, colors change per year according to how well (or poorly) the newspaper is doing. Table below the map provides additional supplementary information like owner and year by year summary.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
Produced by Megan Ballinger, Mei Lan Ho-Walker, and Susan McGregor.

A precipitous drop in ad spending has cut profits at U.S. newspapers sharply. Some dailies are in bankruptcy, some are printing fewer papers and some have closed altogether. Thousands of reporters, editors and others have left the industry. Track events and readership at the top 50 newspapers by circulation, at left, and in the top 100 in the table below.

Interact with original at the Wall Street Journal . . .

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Screenshots above and below… click images to go to real copy.

wsj_print_reductions_table

New Programs Put Crime Stats on the Map (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

pj-ap982_pjcrim_d_20090602211218 pj-ap988_pjcrim_d_20090602153833

[Editor’s note: Instead of screen scrapping police logs printed in community papers, web mappers are partnering directly with city police departments to get timely, accurate reports up online in map form. Thanks Yifang!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
June 3, 2009. By BOBBY WHITE

When a burglar broke into a home on the outskirts of Riverdale Park, Md., last month, some locals quickly received an email alert about the incident. Once police confirmed the crime on the scene, they followed
up with a more thorough email disclosing the time, location and type of crime.

The alert is part of a crime-information service that the Riverdale Park police department provides its residents about illegal activity in their neighborhoods. “It helps us keep the public informed,” says Teresa Chambers, police chief of Riverdale Park, a suburb of Washington, D.C. “It’s also a way for us to solicit help [from residents] in solving some of these crimes.”

Across the country, Americans can increasingly track crime trends block by block as more police departments contract with Internet-based crime-mapping services. Since 2007, more than 800 police departments have begun working with Web sites like CrimeMapping.com, CrimeReports.com and EveryBlock.com. The services take live feeds from police record-keeping systems and automatically post the data on their sites.

Police say they use the sites to help change citizens’ behavior toward crime and encourage dialogue with communities so that more people might offer tips or leads. Some of the sites have crime-report blogs that examine activity in different locales. They also allow residents to offer tips and report crimes under way.

Police have traditionally depended on media reports and community meetings to inform the public about neighborhood crime. Many departments have been reluctant to share too much information with the public out of concern it could be used as a political tool, says Thomas Casady, police chief of Lincoln, Neb. But the rise of Web services that publish records online has forced some of the departments to reconsider. Some of these sites operate independently of the police department, putting pressure on police to participate, Mr. Casady says.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Banks Need at Least $65 Billion in Capital (Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

[Editor’s note: This interactive from the Wall Street Journal delves into the top 19 banks in the US and the Treasury Department’s recent “stress test”. The user can analyze across 5 different metrics for the same company in one view. Thanks Christina!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
Related article: Banks Need at Least $65 Billion in Capital
MAY 7, 2009

Stress: Comparing the 19 Banks That Were Tested

Details so far on the government’s analysis of financial health. Click on a bank to compare it to others.

View the interactive version at the Wall Street Journal . . .

wsj_bankstresstest

Produced by Andrew Garcia Phillips and Stephen Grocer, The Wall Street Journal.

Iran Missle Test Map Review (KELSO)

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Back in July, Iran tested a new class of missiles including the Shahab-3 which Tehran maintains is able to hit targets up to 1,250 miles away from its firing position. Parts of western Iran are within 650 miles of Israel.

Read more about this (old) news development at the Washington Post and NY Times, including how Iran tried to cover up the misfiring of one of the test rockets.

News media produced a wide range of maps for this event. A good map needs to:

  • show the range contour, with Israel in the hit area
  • accurately preserve distances (scale) on a
  • projected base map (centered on Iran) and
  • show an organic distance contour based on the outline of the country (not concentric circles out from a single point from within Iran).

Most of the maps below get the basic facts right (the range and what countries (eg: Israel) are within reach). Some maps presented these basic facts better than others.

Washington Post

New York Times — Not an optimal projection.

BBC – Winner for smallest map.

CNN

Wall Street Journal – Only one missile launch site in Iran?

Global Security – Good context of other rocket types. More of a data exploration map than presentation.

Satellite-Surveillance Program to Begin Despite Privacy Concerns (WSJ)

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Republished from the Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1st, 2008. By SIOBHAN GORMAN. Thanks Laris!

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security will proceed with the first phase of a controversial satellite-surveillance program, even though an independent review found the department hasn’t yet ensured the program will comply with privacy laws.

Congress provided partial funding for the program in a little-debated $634 billion spending measure that will fund the government until early March. For the past year, the Bush administration had been fighting Democratic lawmakers over the spy program, known as the National Applications Office.

The program is designed to provide federal, state and local officials with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery — but no eavesdropping — to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism.

Since the department proposed the program a year ago, several Democratic lawmakers have said that turning the spy lens on America could violate Americans’ privacy and civil liberties unless adequate safeguards were required.

A new 60-page Government Accountability Office report said the department “lacks assurance that NAO operations will comply with applicable laws and privacy and civil liberties standards,” according to a person familiar with the document. The report, which is unclassified but considered sensitive, hasn’t been publicly released, but was described and quoted by several people who have read it.

The report cites gaps in privacy safeguards. The department, it found, lacks controls to prevent improper use of domestic-intelligence data by other agencies and provided insufficient assurance that requests for classified information will be fully reviewed to ensure it can be legally provided.

A senior homeland-security official took issue with the GAO’s broad conclusion, saying the department has worked hard to include many layers of privacy protection. Program activities have “an unprecedented amount of legal review,” he said, adding that the GAO is seeking a level of proof that can’t be demonstrated until the program is launched.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said department officials concluded that the program “complies with all existing laws” because the GAO report didn’t say the program doesn’t.

Addressing the gaps the agency cited, Ms. Keehner said current laws already govern the use of intelligence data and the department has an additional procedure to monitor its use. The department will also work with other intelligence agencies to “ensure that legal reviews and protection of classified information will be effective,” she said.

In response to the GAO report, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi and other Democrats asked Congress to freeze the money for the program until after the November election so the next administration could examine it.

But the bill Congress approved, which President George W. Bush signed into law Tuesday, allows the department to launch a limited version, focused only on emergency response and scientific needs. The department must meet additional requirements before it can expand operations to include homeland-security and law-enforcement surveillance.

The restrictions were “the most we could have required without a complete prohibition,” said Darek Newby, an aide to Democratic Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who heads the House homeland-security spending panel.

But California Rep. Jane Harman, who heads a homeland-security subcommittee on intelligence, said that even limited funding allows the department to launch the program, providing a platform to expand its surveillance whether or not privacy requirements are met.

“Having learned my lesson” with the National Security Agency’s warrantless-surveillance program, she said, “I don’t want to go there again unless and until the legal framework for the entire program is entirely spelled out.”

Rep. Thompson vowed to fight expansion of the program until privacy issues are further addressed.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com