Minard 600x286 The Brutal Eloquence of an Infographic

(Click on the flow map to see the larger version on Wikipedia)

This flow map was recently touted by Dr. James Grime on Numberphile as “The Greatest Ever Infographic”. It’s created by Charles Minard, a French civil engineer and a pioneer for “information graphics”.

So, yes, Internet, I was just as startled as you’re now to realize that Information Graphics are not new, and that they used to actually demonstrate useful information and sometimes even tell a gripping story, such as this masterpiece published by Minard in 1869, depicting, in its chilling reality, in graphs nonetheless, Napoleon’s 1812 disastrous March through Russia to Moscow.

All you really need to know to appreciate the totality of Napoleon’s defeat and the enormity of suffering and loss is that the width of the beige colored band represents the size of Napoleon’s army on their way to Russia (442,000); the width of the black colored band, that of his army retreating after Moscow (10,000).

Dr. Grime spoke with great compassion of the point on the flow map where a second black-colored band joins the main one. It tells the story of the Battle of Bérézina, spanning four days in November 1812. The retreating French Army suffered unspeakable loss – the number goes from 50,000 before the Bérézina River to 28,000 afterwards.

I’d never shed a tear looking at a graph. Until I saw this one.

 

…defy the pen of the historian by its brutal eloquence.   — Étienne-Jules Marey

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14 1 1 600x431 Surprises from Germany!

 

Best find in Germany: Kinder Eggs (Kinder Surprises). I was indeed pleasantly surprised that the toy is a Lufthansa plane. And the pieces all fit together nicely. (Remember those horrible experiences with your sobbing, disappointed kid because the cheap toys broke or could not be put together even with Super Glue?) My son said, “Duh. That’s called German engineering!”

You can’t find these in the U.S. because the toys inside pose choking hazards. I just learned of the brouhaha of Kinder Eggs in the U.S. – Not only can you not find them in the stores, the U.S. Customs will confiscate them if they search your luggage and see them. Sometimes even a fine is imposed: My Google search turned up a 2012 story of $2500 fine per egg.

It’s overblown and ridiculous esp. considering how we refuse to even talk about stricter gun laws here in the U.S. The irony is killing me right now.

They say when you are from outside looking in, you learn new insights about yourself. Kinder Surprises. Yup.

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I spent 7 Euro for the privilege of going inside the Berliner Dom. Money so well spent.

 

So… This happened. I walked into the hotel and there’s this giant aquarium about 25 metre tall in the middle of of the lobby.

wpid IMG 20140304 002110 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

 

 

1796527 10152227494861740 2142642822 n 600x600 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

 

A room with a view.

wpid IMG 20140304 002537 600x600 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

 

 

What happens when a German, an Italian, a Dutch, an Asian Indian, an American and a Chinese walk into a traditional German cafe/bar/restaurant?

Have beers, lots of beers of course. Then make fun good-natured of each other’s country and other European countries that were not represented at the table.

#ProTip: For a greater does of fun, shout into the table “How about football?!” when with a European crowd and watch them ribbing each other.

wpid 1393890110791 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

When in Berlin. Muss man Bier und Schweineschnitzel haben.

We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Schwarzwaldstuben, a great, casual bar/restaurant specializing in Swabian food. Rothaus beers are really good. I don’t usually enjoy beer (gasp!) but I happily had 4? 5? I had Schweineschnitzel at almost every meal on this trip and none tasted as good as the gigantic one I had the luxury of polishing off on my own my first night in Berlin at Schwarzwaldstuben.

Of course, I paid the price of having Schweineschnitzel (basically fried porkchop) and beers at every meal for three days…

 

The Berliner Dom at night.

wpid 1393889454230 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

wpid IMG 20140304 003422 600x600 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

 

Flying home from the Berlin airport was a very interesting experience. I marveled at it while at the gate area…

PSA: you’re to find out which gate your flight is departing from on a huge billboard while driving into TXL, ordered by departure time. Each gate has its own custom (2 windows) and there is always a long line. This is when status makes a huge difference. Once you pass custom, you’re in a tiny room with everybody. One pretzel stand. One tiny duty free shop that looks like it’s from the 70s. That’s it. No bathroom. I’m sitting here wondering what do we/they do when someone needs to go?!?!

When boarding came, a shuttle took us on a LONG tour of the airport and deposited us in the middle of the airfield, next to the runaway. My jaw dropped.

 

 Der Rambling über Berlin [sic]

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Snowman Cookie GIF

January 12, 2014 a picture is worth a thousand words

I love this GIF so much. Courtesy of Google+ Autoawesome and Android magic.

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Polar Vortex vs Tardis

January 8, 2014 no manual for parenting

Many would be mightily disappointed by the misleading title of this post. My apology. By Tardis, I mean the awesome Tardis fleece blankets found on ThinkGeek. Each of the boys got one for Christmas. I was blue with envy as soon as I touched it. So soft and fuzzy. AND it’s bigger on the inside! […]

4 comments

Help! Cuteness is everywhere.

December 29, 2013 through the looking glass

I had the privilege of flying on one of Eva Airlines’ Hello Kitty planes today.   Everywhere you turn on the plane, you see signs of Hello Kitty: from the pins on the flight attendants’ uniforms, their pink aprons, the pillow covers, to the air freshener in the lavatory.   I started chuckling as I […]

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Already started…

December 29, 2013 random

My plan to eat nothing until I reach Taipei completely failed. Thanks to Asiana Airlines.  

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Flying home. Musing.

December 28, 2013 random

On ASIANA plane less than 5 minutes I’ve Already noticed vast differences. First of all: Flight attendants’ smiles & willingness to help. 3 flight attendants offered to help me with lifting my carry-on to the overhead bin despite the fact that I’m bigger than all 3 of them combined! They’re also all very young, thin […]

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The Ducks

December 25, 2013 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

According to my computer it is December 26 already and therefore I guess it is safe to talk about why I STILL insist on not wishing strangers Marry Christmas in the U.S. unless I am absolutely certain that they celebrate Christmas: Because Christmas in the U.S. remains a religious holiday. One’d thought that Christians in […]

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Dear America… Never mind.

November 30, 2013 imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

    As a mom to a teenage boy, I’ve yet to step inside any Abercrombie & Fitch. (Let’s leave aside whether I meet the standards for the type of customers the jackassy CEO envisioned wearing his company’s clothes) I find the idea disconcerting to shop at a store that showcases relentlessly half-nekkid virile young men. “Hey, […]

8 comments