An Explanatory Graphic: How People Live in Different Cities

This graphic compares the types of housing you’ll find in the 40 largest cities in the U.S.

I’ve suggested before that it’s time to replace clichéd infographics with what Nigel Holmes calls “explanation graphics.”

To show what I mean, I’ve decided to start linking to graphics that help people understand something in a clearer way than they could if reading raw numbers.

This graphic is from a Washington Post “WonkBlog” post about the kind of housing you’ll find in different cities. At the bottom of the post, there’s a chart like this that displays the 40 largest cities in the U.S.

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(Click image for larger view. Visit the Washington Post for a chart that goes 40 cities deep.)

The only thing that can save Yahoo is a ham radio that talks with the year 1999

[Note: This post includes spoilers related to a 12-year old movie you’ll probably never see, if you haven’t already.]

With each new backwards somersault in the never-ending dive of Yahoo! into the abyss, I keep remembering the first movie I can recall that included an internet startup’s business success in the story line.

It was the Dennis Quaid film that came out in the year 2000, Frequency. It was a, hmm, science fiction, time travel, alternative history, kind of movie that revolved around the easily believable premise that Quaid’s son, as an adult in the year 2000, could use a ham radio to talk with his father who was living back in the year, 1970. Apparently, if you understand how sun spots work, you’ll find this premise very plausible (if you live in Hollywood).

Quaid’s son used this time-warping communication power to warn his fireman father that, unless he watched out, he would die in a fire the following night (convenient timing for that sun spot, no?) After that worked out, Quaid’s son told him how to keep his wife’s (the son’s mother) from being murdered. If you’ve read the most recent Stephen King novel, 11/22/63, you’ll understand why you shouldn’t go around messing with history next time you have the chance to travel back in time and fix something that needs fixing. But in the movie Frequency, everything works out just fine.

Indeed, things work out so fine in Frequency, that Quaid’s son not only saves the lives of his father and mother, he tells his dad to inform Gordo, the best friend of the son, to remember the word “Yahoo” when he grows up.

So Gordo, grows up and invests early in Yahoo! and in the year, 2000, Gordo’s Yahoo! stock has made him rich. So rich, that at the end of the film, there is a feel-good scene during which an old Dennis Quaid and his wife are playing softball and a foul ball busts the headlight of Gordo’s Mercedes — and we get to marvel at how rich Gordo is, as we see his New York vainty car tag enscribed with Yahoo 1.

It’s hard to believe today, but back in Bubble 1.0, the term “Yahoo!” didn’t just mean, Internet startup, it was the internet company that had become the pervasive pop-culture metaphor for “getting rich.”

But then…

Almost at the precise moment the film Frequency came out, the pop culture meaning of Yahoo! started a journey that would reposition the company’s brand to mean pretty much anything but getting rich. Or being smart. Or being anything, but “formerly important.”

If Frequency were to be remade, Dennis Quaid’s son would be telling his son to dump Yahoo! the day after the softball game.

Infographic: A (dec)line graph of the name Rex

line graph tracking a century of the name Rex
[Click to embiggen.]

On Thursday, the Social Security Administration added 2010 baby names to its web-accessible database of top 1,000 popular names for boy and girl babies. Reuters says reality television and movies have influenced the rapid rise of such names as Maci, Bentley and Kellan. If you don’t know the source of these names, consider yourself lucky.

The Popular Baby Name database has a feature that allows the user to see how a name ranked in popularity for each year, dating back to 1878. Okay, I bit and decided to plug in the name, Rex. What I discovered first made me think: If someone named Rex doesn’t get on a reality TV show, the name could soon be (r)extinct.

And then I remembered, one Rex was. By coincidence, that evening, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show to promote his new book. Noting that Rex’s brother, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, is named “Buddy,” Colbert quipped, “Is everyone in your family named after a dog?” (When your name is Rex, such jokes are a constant.)

Curious, I discovered this Wikipedia entry on the given name, Rex and after reviewing the list, concluded that the best hope for a resurgence in babies being named Rex is for the Jets to win the Superbowl.

As I’m a Titans fan, I’d prefer that not happen, however.