Category Archives: pictures of numbers

November 13, 2013, 7:29 pm

The Great War, Changing Names

The war of 1914-1918 has been known by two main names after it ended: the Great War, and World War I. This is what it looks like as the name changed, abruptly in 1939-41:

A small thing, but interesting.

UPDATE: Bloix, in the comments, points out that “The World War” was also used, and lo and behold:

Even better.

October 9, 2012, 7:33 pm

Your Electoral Update For The Day, Post-Apocalypse Edition*

In honor of Andrew Sullivan’s post-debate freakout, I re-ran my earlier electoral update. This time, I used polls from after the debate or, if none were available, from before the debate but giving Romney a five-point bounce. Unlike last time, I decided to fill in all the states, because otherwise WHAT KIND OF PUNDITRY IS THIS?

So, again using the tool at, this is the map:


The final score, based off of this map? Obama 276, Romney 262. The debate has certainly thrown the results of the election more into doubt than they have been in a while. A shift of any of the substantial swing states (ie not Nevada, NH, or Iowa) from this allocation from Obama to Romney gives the GOP the victory. Yes, Virginia, I’m looking at you.

* Republicans react to bad news by deciding that the entire world is conspiring against them. Democrats react by having meltdowns and engaging in

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November 26, 2011, 11:21 am

Why do they occupy the UC?

Average annual tuition and fees for California resident undergraduates at the UC.


June 28, 2010, 9:48 am

It's only a model.

Dsquared posits,

I think we can all agree that things will go better if all currently working monetary economists stop teaching their models to undergraduates and instead adopt my modelling approach:

January 12, 2010, 8:52 am


While Iraq has been cooling down, Afghanistan has been heating up:

The conflict there has usually been divided between summers and winters, with summers seeing most of the combat. The above chart shows the divide pretty clearly, and it also shows that coalition fatalities in-country are increasing in both seasons.

The worst month for coalition forces in Afghanistan was July 2009, when 77 fatalities occurred. That month still does not rival the worst months of Iraq (141 in November 2004 and 131 in May 2007), but each summer and each winter has seen a higher number of fatalities, and January 2010 is, only 12 days into the new year, already the second-worst January of the war.

(source for fatalities)

October 13, 2009, 10:33 am

Look Ma, one variable.

I was looking for something entirely else on my computer and I found this old data, which I’ve put in a shiny new graph for you. It shows average annual GDP growth 1913-1950 for selected countries as a function of the death rate per thousand of prewar population in World War I.

BEL=Belgium, FRN=France, GMY=Germany, ITA=Italy, JPN=Japan, UKG=Britain, USA=United States, USR=Soviet Union / Russia.

October 1, 2009, 11:25 am

Per capita GDP, selected countries, 1870-1940

Since Ahistoricality asked, some comparisons on late c19 / early c20 levels and growth of per capita GDP.

That’s Germany (DE), United States (US), Britain (UK), Japan (JP), Brazil (BR). Data from Angus Maddison.

August 3, 2009, 3:10 pm

Corpses as artifacts of a cowboy culture.

Speaking of cowboy culture, here’s a chart of the murder rate in the US for most of the twentieth century.1

Douglas Eckberg presents the revised series because the early Census data under-reported homicides and didn’t cover the whole US; Eckberg’s estimates probably provide a more accurate picture of the murderous early c20.

The numbers indicate something long remarked on but little explained. Here’s Richard Hofstadter in his introduction to American Violence:

For the long span from about 1938 to the mid-1960′s, despite the external violence of World War II and the Korean War, the internal life of the country was unusually free of violent episodes. Industrial violence and lynching had almost disappeared. Rioting in the cities—despite the Harlem riot of 1935, the Detroit riot of 1943, and the Los Angeles zoot-suit riot of the same year—occurred less often than in many past…

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July 30, 2009, 4:44 pm

Schooling II.

A number of people asked in comments to “Schooling” if the pattern shown for migrants out of the South wouldn’t be about the same for the rest of the country. I said “no”, but I couldn’t leave it alone. And since AWC didn’t take the bait when I offered to send him data, I did some figuring myself.

Does the pattern of education for all migrants look like the pattern for migrants out of the South? For this we use the same definition of migrants—recent (within the last five years) migrants across state lines, age 26 or older; nonmigrants defined as people over the age of 26 who live in the same house as they did five years ago.

So the pattern is different. Completion of 8th grade is more common among nonmigrants than among migrants.

What about migrants to the South? Here we look at people born in the non-South, resident in the South, over the age of 26, who moved across state…

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July 28, 2009, 3:04 pm


Did education lead to a brain drain in the Jim Crow South? There’s considerable anecdotal evidence that it did, often focusing on college education.1 Can’t keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve been to an ag. school.

I wondered if it would be possible to have a slightly more systematic go at this question, looking at all levels of education, using IPUMS.

The 1940 census asked people if they’d moved across state lines within the last five years. Suppose you look at people born in the South, resident outside the South, who’d moved across state lines in the past five years, over the age of 26—you’d mainly be looking at people who had moved out of the South after completing their education, wouldn’t you? I think so. Anyway, that’s what the graphs show, with migrants defined as “moved across state lines to a state in the non-South within the last five years”, divided into…

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July 20, 2009, 9:53 am

Kill my laptop.

UPDATE: Follow-up here.

This sounds like a survey whose broader implications I might wish were true, but probably aren’t:

A study published in the April issue of British Educational Research Journal found that 59 percent of students in a new survey reported that at least half of their lectures were boring, and that PowerPoint was one of the dullest methods they saw. The survey consisted of 211 students at a university in England and was conducted by researchers at the University of Central Lancashire.

Students in the survey gave low marks not just to PowerPoint, but also to all kinds of computer-assisted classroom activities, even interactive exercises in computer labs. “The least boring teaching methods were found to be seminars, practical sessions, and group discussions,” said the report. In other words, tech-free classrooms were the most engaging.

My confession: I use Keynote …

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July 18, 2009, 7:53 am

Goin’ to the chapel and we’re…undermining the traditional fa-amily

Ben Domenech frets about, among other things, the rising age of first marriage, attributing it to (or taking it as a symptom of) American decline.  Too much porn, too little valuing family and children, you know the routine as well as I ’cause you caught the matinee.

Julian Sanchez counters with a pair of (sort of weird) graphs showing that the age of marriage and fertility rate tracks educational attainment reasonably well.  One of Sullivan’s readers points out that it’s damned expensive these days to live up to what one’s parents took for granted.

I come bearing both information in the form of pictures of numbers and some questions.  Here is a chart that Eric provided when I wished for it, which  shows the median age at first marriage by gender and race from 1850 to 1990.


Four things strike me.

First, that by and large we are talking about a three to five year swing.   This…

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June 11, 2009, 11:28 am

eloquence in graphic design

Logging Haida Gwaii

I’ve been reading John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce, about the strange eco-vandalism incident in 1997 on Haida Gwaii (aka the Queen Charlotte Islands), northern British Columbia. (If you’re interested, the New Yorker article he distilled from it is a better read.) Mostly I’m indulging a mild obsession with a remote corner of the map — now even more tantalizingly quasi-accessible, of course, via Google Earth and such. But in browsing around, I encountered what might be the most beautiful map I’ve ever seen on the Internet, and certainly one of the most effective in conveying its message.

The map shows the extent of logging, both historical and geographical, on the islands since 1900.  It was produced by the Gowgaia Institute, of Queen Charlotte on the islands. Definitely click through for larger versions (without the superposed town names).

Updated to restrain some overheated…

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June 8, 2009, 2:44 pm

One nation.

One of the big stories in US history is the creation of a nation out of a diverse group of sections—particularly by the convergence of the South on the rest of the country. We know this, at some rough level; the South was rich in the era of slavery1 then poor after the Civil War and then in the middle twentieth century began to look more like the rest of the country.

It would be nice to show it, wouldn’t it?

May 19, 2009, 9:56 am


[Following up on this post.]

The valor that garners a Medal of Honor has changed since the Civil War, when the award was first created. In fact, many of the ways that the Medal was previously given no longer hold. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that it is now extremely difficult–if not impossible–to get a Medal of Honor while surviving the acts of bravery. The military denies that this is an official requirement, though there is skepticism:

The U.S. military appears to have toughened its standards for bestowing the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in battle, to exclude troops who survive their heroic acts, a California lawmaker charged Thursday.
Either troops are “not as brave as they used to be, which I don’t believe is true,” or the criteria for the award have been amended “so that you have to die” to receive it, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., told the…

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