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Charles Minard's flow map of Napoleon's March thru Russia in 1812

(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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I was surprised to learn that the Pulitzer Prize is only worth $10,000. I guess you really need to be in this field for the love of the game.


Now with the doom and gloom not just predicted but realized in numbers for print journalism, and the difficulty in turning online content into actual dollars, we should be concerned about the future of journalism. I enjoy reading a good blog and all, but without the investigative RIGOR that comes with good, solid, journalistic practices, we should be worried. Really worried.

News print circulation drop

Balloon Boy Brouhaha immediately comes to mind.

p.s. Does the number for USA Today include the not-so-free copies they leave outside your door in hotels across the country? The same USA Today for which the hotel charges you $0.75 a copy unless you CALL the front desk to deny the delivery? And you have to CALL, you cannot just TELL THEM when you check in? The same USA Today that every morning when you leave your hotel room you actually step over because you don’t even bother picking it up to read it even in the taxi on your way to your meeting/office/client’s site?

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American Vice: Mapping the 7 Deadly Sins (from Wired, where else?!)

Seven Deadly Sins

Average income compared with number of people living below the poverty line.

Interesting…  Have to say…  Chicago is looking very very greedy here…

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People in Germany need to have more sex. Or keep their clunkers. According to the Economist. Well, kind of.

August 14, 2009 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

People in Germany really need to start having more sex. Otherwise they are really going to need Death Panel for Grandmas, you know, when there are no more young people to take care of the old people. That was my first thought when I saw this chart. On second thought, sex does not necessarily lead […]


Which countries lead in Teenage Drunkenness? Note to self: Do not move to Denmark…

April 9, 2009 Making sure you know I read the Economist so you know I'm not dumb, just obnoxious

This Daily Chart from the Economist solved it for me: have been agonizing over whether to move to Denmark since we love Legos so… Now I know with two impressionable boys, this is a country we should keep away from during their teenage years… Denmark and excessive drinking? No surprise really, if you have seen […]

Americans pay $650 billion more for health care than comparable countries…

February 18, 2009 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

It is technically $643 billion, the additional amount Americans paid for health care in 2006 compared to the other countries with comparable wealth and health, according to the research article “Why Americans Pay More for Health Care?” in the December 2008 issue of the venerable McKinsey Quarterly. (Ok, probably not as venerable as The Harvard Business Review, but […]

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Mankind’s reach for the sky – The Tower of Babel apparently did not teach us anything…

February 17, 2009 random

Instead, we seem to pride ourselves on it. Free will. The power to accomplish the unthinkable. The art of one-upmanship. Many did not realize that the 2300-foot tall Burj Dubai is “only” the world’s Tallest Structure, and not the Tallest Building yet. Until Burj Dubai is completed and occupied, the honor of “The World’s Tallest […]

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Latest Poll: Less than 40% of Americans believe in Evolutionism… Wonder whether Canada fares better

February 13, 2009 Making sure you know I read the Economist so you know I'm not dumb, just obnoxious

as they have more Democrats and Liberals than we do? This is the latest poll by Gallup this month, in honor of Darwin’s 200th birthday, an update from the Economist Daily Chart that I posted a week ago: data for that chart was from 2006, and at that time, less than 50% of the Americans […]

Fewer than 50% Americans believe in the Evolution Theory… How many of the rest believe in aliens?

February 6, 2009 Making sure you know I read the Economist so you know I'm not dumb, just obnoxious

Numbers (or Bars) speak louder than words. Draw any conclusion based on your own bias and convictions. And don’t send me any hate mail, but this visual impact is too much for me to bear. I feel dizzy. Would be interested to see how this affects the government’s and Bill Gates’ professed belief and vowed […]

The Lipstick Index: Myth Busted?

February 2, 2009 Making sure you know I read the Economist so you know I'm not dumb, just obnoxious

The first time I heard about the Lipstick Index was from a Mary Kay rep: I learned from her that the three recession-proof products are lipsticks, alcohol, and cigarettes. It is not difficult to understand why alcohol and cigarettes are recession-proof: if you are addicted to something, you are going to get your drink on, […]