I wanted to try my hand at creating 3D elevation models and thought trying to model some of the popular (and some of my favorite) national parks would be a good starting point.
Once a 3D elevation model is selected and shown you can manipulated it in multiple ways:
You can select a number of different parks from the drop down menu. If you have suggestions for additional parks, I may be able to add them to the list.
Note: the elevation files are data intensive since the visualization is downloading the elevation across in some cases, many hundreds or thousands of square miles. To keep the data needs down, I’ve reduced the resolution of the elevation data. Though the original data is 90 meter resolution (elevation is specified across every 90 x 90 m square in each park, I’ve averaged these squares together so that each park model only has about tens of thousands of these squares, regardless of the actual area of the park. This improves data loading and rendering times and makes the improves the responsiveness of the model.
Sources and Tools:
The rate of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the US is crazy high after the 2020 winter holidays and maybe still be going up. This visualization shows the number of COVID cases that occur in one hour or the COVID deaths that occur in one day based on the average of the last five days. This is another attempt to show the true scale of how many cases and deaths the US is dealing with, since it is often hard to understand large numbers. I have also attempted to show the scale of US deaths/cases here and here. Unfortunately, there are so many people getting sick and dying, it’s hard to fathom just how many people this actually is.
The 5-day averaging was done to smooth out any peaks and troughs in data reporting due to weekends/holidays, since I noticed that some states were literally reporting zero COVID cases some days while reporting many hundreds or thousands of cases other days.
The dots shown on the animation are located in the state that the cases or deaths occur but are randomly spread out within the state. This is done for visual clarity since if they were shown in their actual location, most of the dots would be overlapping in urban, high density areas. This approach lets you see which states have high COVID instances but still locate them by state.
You can share this animation by putting ?cat=deaths or ?cat=cases behind the url or copying and sharing one of these links:
Sources and Tools:
Updated to include the $1400 stimulus payment per adult and dependent in March 2021.
Use this stimulus check calculator to figure out how much you will receive in your thrid stimulus check.
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion dollar stimulus package in response to the COVID pandemic. The bill authorizes economic assistance to Americans in the amount of $600 per person subject to income limits. It also includes expanded unemployment benefits, rental assistance and an extension to the eviction ban. This calculator helps you calculate the amount of stimulus check that you can expect to receive based on your 2019 tax return filing status, adjusted gross income and number of dependents under 17.
Changing the inputs to the calculator, will show you how your expected stimulus check amount will change. The graph shows for a giving filing status (single, married filing jointly or head of household) how the stimulus check amount will change as a function of income and number of children. You can share a URL with specific parameters included
Sounds like some checks may even get to folks at the end of December and many more will get them in January 2021.
On March 5, congress passed the American Rescue Plan which includes $1400 payments for all Americans. The phase out of this stimulus check is different in that over a $10000 range the stimulus goes from 100% to 0% at the phase out threshold, no matter how many dependents you have. This changes things significantly as you’ll see in the calculator.
Sources and Tools:
The visualization I made about county election results and comparing land area to population size was very popular around the time of the 2020 presidential election. As the counties were represented by population, it was clear that democratic-leaning areas on that map tended to grow in size, while republican-leaning areas tended to shrink. This raised the question of exactly how population density correlates with election results.
Hover over (or click on) the bubbles to see information about the county.
It’s clear there is a very strong correlation between the vote margin and population density. Vote margin is the percentage amount that one candidate beat the other candidate by in the county (0% means a tie while 50% means that one candidate got 75% and the other got 25% of the voteshare). Population density is calculated as people per square mile in the county and is shown in the graph on a log scale, where each major grid line is 10 time greater than the previous one. This is done because there is one to two orders of magnitude difference in the densest counties (in New York City) and even moderately dense counties. There are also several counties with population density below 1 person per square mile (several in Alaska because of the size of their counties) but these are excluded from the graph.
Richmond County, NY (i.e. the Borough of Staten Island) is the densest county (17th densest) in the country that Trump won. The densest counties favored Biden quite heavily as he won 45 of the 50 densest counties in the country, which also tend to have a fairly high population.
This second graph is a histogram that specifically categorizes counties into discreet bins by population density. Note that they are on a log scale as well. You can toggle the graph to show the number of counties won by each candidate or the number of votes won in each of the population density bins. The black line shows the percentage of counties (or votes) won by the democratic candidate (Joe Biden) in each of those bins.
Hover over (or click on) the bars to see information about each county bin.
It’s pretty clear in these graphs that low population density areas clearly favor the republican while the denser areas favor the democrat.
Data and Tools
Each state has two senators in the Senate, even though there is a great disparity in the populations of the states. This was a compromise that the framers of the Constitution dealt with in creating the framework of the US government. While the US House of Representatives is based on proportional representation, the Senate was designed to have two senators per state regardless of population. This leads to some interesting variations in the number of votes that some senators get relative to other senators (and how many people they represent).
This graph is called a treemap and shows the total number of votes cast for the winner of each senate race of the current sitting senators. They are shown in order from largest to smallest vote totals, where the area of the rectangle is proportional to the number of votes. The treemap can be organized by party if desired. This graph does not show the number of votes that their opponents got.
If you hover over (click, on mobile) one of the boxes in the treemap, you can compare the number of votes received by that senator to the number of senators that received the same number of votes combined. This helps highlight the disparities in the representation of voters in large states in the Senate relative to that of voters in states with low populations.
For example, Kamala Harris, Democratic senator of my home state of California, received 7.5 million votes when she won her senate race in 2016. This large number of votes is larger than the combined votes for 22 of her Republican colleagues in small states. This is even more impressive since, as noted before, she ran against another Democrat Loretta Sanchez, in the election.
Note that some of the recently elected senators shown in the table are no longer serving in the Senate:
Because of the large variation in population sizes and a tendency for more populous states to vote for democrats, Democratic Senators received many more votes in their elections than their Republican colleagues did, despite having fewer numbers. The 47 Democratic (and Independent) senators received a total of 67.5 million votes while the 53 Republican senators received 59.5 million votes.
This graph shows a slightly different set of data. Instead of total votes for the winning candidate, it shows the vote margin (i.e. the number of votes the winner received vs the opponent of a different party). The reason I specify it this way is that the two Democratic California senators defeated other democrats to win their elections (i.e. no republican was on the ballot in the general election because no republican got enough votes in the primary). This comparison is interesting because not only do some senators receive very few votes (because they live in small states), but they may only win by a small margin over their opponents. Comparing margins of victory, shows how few votes it would take to “flip” a Senate seat between the two parties.
If you take Kamala Harris’s margin of victory over Republicans to be her vote total (7.5 million votes) since there was no Republican running against her, her margin of victory is greater than the margin of victory of 43 of her Republican Senate colleagues combined.
Sources and Tools: