By Amanda Shendruk - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
No dessert until you finish your dragonflies!
Eating more insects could help combat world hunger, says a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
In North America insects are generally considered to be more of a curse than a course, yet bugs are consumed regularly by about 30 per cent of the world’s almost 7 billion people.
The report lists a number of reasons for considering entomophagy:
- Insects are highly nutritious (with high protein, fat and mineral content).
- They are “extremely efficient” at turning feed into edible meat. For example, crickets require 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein (see chart on p. 60 of report).
- Insect rearing produces far less greenhouse gases and lower ammonia emissions than other livestock (see charts on p. 63 of report).
Will you be adding bugs to your next meal? If you’re willing to give it a try, check out the Florida Pest Control website—they have recipes for termite salsa, meal worm funnel cake, roasted grasshopper casserole … and more!
By Amanda Shendruk - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM - 0 Comments
According to a report from the Conference Board of Canada, 21 of Canada’s 46 medium-sized cities have yet to see employment return to pre-recession levels, and 29 saw negative economic growth during 2008-09.
The majority of these cities (40 of 46) saw a return to growth in 2010. However, in the following two years, 13 of them saw that growth stall.
The charts below detail the growth or decline of these mid-sized cities during 2012, both in terms of GDP and employment.
Note: On the employment chart, stars indicated whether cities have yet returned to their 2008 employment levels.
The chart below details the cities with the most significant GDP growth or decline in 2012.
By Amanda Shendruk - Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 9:41 PM - 0 Comments
Germany has set a new record for solar power output—22.68 gigawatts is the new number to beat.
California also set its own solar power production record; but at 1,790 megawatts, it pales in comparison to Germany’s new numbers.
CA Grid reached a new solar generation peak of 1,790 MW @ 13:48 on April 18, 2013… goo.gl/T8cr7
— California ISO (@CalifornialSO) April 19, 2013
It’s fairly well known that Germany is in its own league when it comes to clean energy (in fact, for a brief period last Thursday, solar and wind power output together provided about half of all Germany’s electricity). But how does the rest of the world compare? Check out the infographic below to see where Canada ranks in comparison (and how many trips Germany can now take in the DeLorean time machine!)
NOTE: The graphic is based on data published by Zachary Shahan at cleantechnica.com, so head over to this link if you want to see more states/countries than those included in the infographic.
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
A BMO report released this week reminds us just how much we all love Florida. It notes that more than 500,000 Canadians own property in the state (Canadians are the largest foreign buyers of Florida real estate), that Canada is Florida’s No. 1 source of foreign tourists, and that perhaps Canadian snowbirds played a significant role in pulling the recession-hit state from its post-2008 slump.
By Amanda Shendruk - Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Canadian senators have been listening to the controversy surrounding their travel expenses, and have responded en masse. According to an analysis of the most recent senate quarterly expense report (released last week), a whopping 70 per cent of senators have reduced their spending on travel.
Last week, journalist Stephen Maher determined that top Senate spenders reduced their travel expenses from the previous quarter. His analysis was fascinating, but what if last quarter was especially high for travel expenses? Or particularly low? How did the rest fare?
I kicked his analysis up a notch and looked even further back by comparing the recently released expense report with each senator’s average (per quarter) travel expenses. Each senator’s average travel expenses were determined by looking at every quarterly expense report since September 2010 (including both “regular” and “other” travel).
The findings were surprising: Almost three quarters of senators reduced their spending from their own average. Three senators reduced their spending by 100 per cent, five reduced spending by more than 80 per cent, and when all was said and done, almost one in four reduced their spending between 50 and 100 per cent.
Below is an interactive bar chart comparing each senator’s average per quarter travel spending (in blue) with what they spent on travel in just the last quarter (in red). Note: New senators, and those who have just left, have not been included in the analysis, or the chart.
By Amanda Shendruk - Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:01 AM - 0 Comments
The 2013 national budget was released Thursday and already it has been dissected, questioned, examined, criticized, and scrutinized down to the smallest details. (Despite the varied analysis, though, I think we can all agree that parents who buy hockey equipment are this year’s budget “winners”).
In all this coverage, however, I’ve noticed a significant gap of analysis: The budget shoes. Yes, we all know Flaherty wore them (we know the colour: black, the style: Oxfords, the brand: Economic Action Plan (oops, I mean Roots), and the cost: $158.00), but how much do we really know? The gravitas of the finance shoe situation has yet to be fully realized.
The fact is the “tale of the finance minister’s new shoes” is not as much of a tradition as we have been led to believe. To date, only eight finance ministers have worn new kicks on budget day.
In fact, of the 68 budgets tabled since 1946, only 18 (or 26.5%) have verifiably involved new footwear
This fantastic tidbit comes from an amazing set of data created by the Library of Parliament—their systematic approach to the budget day shoe tradition is astoundingly diligent.
Read on for a graphical history of the not very traditional budget shoe tradition.
By Amanda Shendruk - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM - 0 Comments
It has been a week since St. Valentine’s Day and the romantic hangover is gone. But are you still hurting? No, I’m not talking about heartache. I’m referring to the weighty pain that accompanies a lighter wallet. Love is expensive: It’s just a North American fact. But one Canadian website—RateSupermarket.ca, a site that provides market comparisons on personal finance—thinks it has finally put a price on that expense. And that cost is $43,842.08.
The website has determined the average cost of “love”: One year of dating, one year of engagement, and a wedding. And it will cost you a pretty penny (or at least a nice nickel, now that the penny has perished).
Check out the basic breakdown below and let us know in the comments: Is love too expensive? (For an extremely detailed outline of dating and wedding costs in Canada, check out Rate Supermarket’s site.)
By Amanda Shendruk - Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 5:45 AM - 0 Comments
Health Canada recently announced they will be regulating the amount of caffeine allowed in energy drinks. Now limited to 180 mg of caffeine per can, that’s significantly less stimulant than is in a small coffee from Second Cup.
In fact, you might be surprised at how much caffeine is found in some of the more commonly consumed brands of coffee: A single venti from Starbucks has 415 mg. That’s 15 mg more than Health Canada’s suggested daily limit of 400 mg.
Canadian adults get less than 10 per cent of their caffeine intake from energy drinks, but 60 per cent from coffee. So, why energy drinks in particular? Should Health Canada also start regulating the caffeine in your cup o’ joe?
Check out the chart below, which details the amount of caffeine in some of the more common coffee brands, and sound off in the comments.
By Amanda Shendruk - Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
Much has been written about the plight of the recent university graduate. She is over-educated, underemployed, and staring down an uncertain job market; the promise of a stable position was the last generation’s reality, not hers.
A newly-released report from the American non-profit Center for College Affordability and Productivity suggests almost half of all graduates work in jobs for which they are overqualified.
In Canada, the situation doesn’t seem quite as dire, but during the last year for which there are numbers, 2006, about one in four university-educated workers was in a position that didn’t require a degree. As Chris Sorensen and Charlie Gillis pointed out in “The New Underclass”, this proportion is believed to be even higher now.
But there must be jobs somewhere, right? In 2011, The Canadian Occupational Projection System (administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) developed a detailed, 10-year labour market projections report that focuses on the estimated trends in labour supply and demand between 2011 and 2020.
Broken into occupational groups, the report determines which jobs are projected to have an excess of positions and which will have an excess of workers. The chart below details 20 of the occupations expected to see the greatest worker shortages between now and 2020. Note: They are not the positions where there are the most jobs, but the areas in which the chances of getting a job (due to the number of job openings exceeding the number of job seekers) are greater. Interestingly, only three require university-level education.
While the projections provide hope for some, they also reveal occupations for which the number of job seekers far outweigh the number of positions. To those seeking employment in the following fields (just to name a few): consider becoming a tailor.
- Management in communication.
- Managers in art, culture, recreation and sport.
- Physical science professionals.
- Athletes, coaches, etc.
- Machine operators and related works in pulp and paper production, wood processing, and workers in fabric, fur and leather.
- Machining, metalworking, woodworking and related machine operators.
By Amanda Shendruk - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 7:03 AM - 0 Comments
How does its $480 million price tag (with the cost of surrounding infrastructure the project is expected to reach $601 million) compare with recent construction costs of other NHL arenas?
Note to readers: This is a corrected version. The previous version of the graphic was titled “Twenty Years of NHL Arenas” and incorrectly listed the Xcel Energy Center and the Scottrade Center in the top 20. The Bridgestone Arena and Rogers Arena have been added to the graphic.
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM - 0 Comments
The Academy Award nominees have been announced, which means the season of speculation has officially begun. So, I decided to look into the statistics of Oscar winners to see how much of a pattern I could find, and if it would be fairly easy to guess, just based on past winners, which movies would take home the award.
In the interest of time, I narrowed my mini statistical survey down to just Best Picture winners and nominees since 1975. I looked at the likelihood of winning based on MPAA rating and genre classification. (Interesting note: No animation, nor any movie rated G has won the Best Picture award since at least 1975). I admit, it’s far from scientific (so don’t go bet the farm), but it’s an interesting way to take a stab at Oscar predictions.
Without further ado: The graphic below displays which Best Picture nominees are more likely to take home this year’s Oscar, and are based solely on my quick and dirty statistical analysis (I actually haven’t seen any of the films myself).
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:29 PM - 0 Comments
Visual blogger Amanda Shendruk has mapped the spread of Idle No More support.
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
Well, the Mayan doom-pocalypse was not as predicted. But at least it’s in good company. Since the beginning of time, humans have predicted the world’s demise. For the highlights of historic end-day prophesying, check out the infographic below. (And for a terrifyingly long list of unrealized predictions, head over to the Wikipedia page that catalogues the non-catastrophes).
By Amanda Shendruk - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:42 AM - 0 Comments
It’s not surprising that talk turns to firearm legislation in the wake of such tragedies as devastating shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Calls for greater gun controls stem from a genuine belief and hope that improved laws will mean less gun violence. The sentiment is understandable: bettering firearm laws could prevent horrors like Newton, Aurora and Colombine, right? Well, don’t be so sure.
Despite what most people accept as truth, there appears to be no (or very little) significant relationship between the overall strength of gun legislation and firearm homicides.
Consider the chart below: You’ll notice no discernible correlation between gun laws and gun murders in the United States. I have graphed state gun murder rates (per 100,000 people) against the Brady Rankings (along the bottom). The Brady Rankings (released by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) assess the strength of state gun laws using a variety of criteria. Basically, the higher the ranking, the better the state’s gun legislation. Note: This graph charts gun murders, not all gun violence.
Of course, the story is never so simple, and there may be situations where firearm laws work to combat gun murders, but current firearm legislation in the U.S. does not appear to influence gun homicide rates the way we think it should.
(For some interesting reading on the topic, check out an article published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, entitled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.”)
Yet, the question remains: What is required to decrease the number of firearm homicides and general gun violence in the United States? The answer isn’t straightforward; however, while legislation may not strongly influence the rate of gun murders, something else certainly does — poverty.
The graph below charts gun murder rates and the percentage of a state’s population living in poverty. Notice that as poverty rates increase, there is a corresponding increase in firearm homicide rates. (Colours correspond to whether the state voted Republican (red) or Democratic (blue) in their last national election).
By Amanda Shendruk - Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:43 AM - 0 Comments
The well-respected medical journal the Lancet published the world’s largest ever systematic study of global disease. The extremely extensive report contains a wealth of data, and the Lancet’s editor-in-chief describes it as “a critical contribution to our understanding of present and future health priorities for countries and the global community.”
Within the study, there is an extensive and fascinating section on mortality risks and causes. We all know that the world will soon end so the report won’t be relevant for long, but until then, the below list ranks the top 15 global risk factors and their change in rank since 1990.
For a more detailed look at risks closer to home, the graphic below ranks the top fifteen risk factors for high-income North America.
By Amanda Shendruk - Monday, December 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Last week, the University of Guelph released their annual Food Price Index report. The researchers suggest that in 2013 overall food prices could jump between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent with items such as pork likely to rise around 8 to 10 per cent.
That means, if a family spends approximately $2,000 on pork in a single year, in 2013 they can expect to pay almost $2,200. That may not seem like a lot, but considering other increases (eggs: 3.5-5 per cent, beef: 6-8 per cent, coffee and tea: 2-4 per cent), the costs will add up quickly.
How much will your favourite foods increase in price next year? (Click on the graphic below to see full size.)
By Amanda Shendruk - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:06 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, Canada was one of only nine nations to oppose the Palestinian Authority’s UN bid to be granted non-member, observer-state status. To nobody’s surprise, the United States also voted against the resolution. Canada’s hardline decision, however, left some wondering “why”?
Costanza Musu, an associate professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, recently told Global News: “Based on Canada’s voting history at the United Nations, the possibility that Canada would’ve been on the opposing side of an American vote is not very high. Normally, Canada would be close to the United States, or one step away.”
For how long has Canada voted in tandem with the United States on questions of Palestine? Interestingly enough, the answer is: Not that long. Check out the chart below for a historic look at what percentage of UN resolutions involving Palestine have received “no” votes, “yes” votes or abstentions from Canada and our neighbour.
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
It’s Black Friday!
Though it has traditionally been an American “holiday,” during the past few years Canadian retailers have jumped on the discount day. And apparently we don’t mind: A recent CIBC poll conducted by Harris/Decima suggested that 9 per cent of Canadians plan to take advantage of the shopping savings.
Many Canadians will take advantage of the weekend discounts to get their Christmas shopping done—all $674 worth of gifts. That’s right, this year’s Bank of Montreal Christmas spending survey suggests we plan to drop almost $100 more than last year on presents (when each person shed $583 for their loved ones).
Despite worries about an upcoming fiscal cliff-induced recession, both Canadians and Americans plan to increase their Christmas spending. But what about the rest of the Western world?
By Amanda Shendruk - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5:37 AM - 0 Comments
26 Billion is the number of the week: During his fall economic update, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the Canadian deficit is at $26 billion, up a whopping $5 billion from the March forecast.
$26 billion sounds like a lot. But is it really?
What can you get for that amount? Planes, cars, boats, mansions, islands(!) don’t cost near a billion dollars, so what does? Take a look at this graphic for some quick context.
(What would YOU would do with $26 billion? Tell me in the comments.)
By Amanda Shendruk - Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
It’s opening weekend for Skyfall, the new James Bond film starring Daniel Craig. It’s Craig’s third stint as Bond and is likely bring in millions this weekend, but we’ll have to wait until the end of its box-office run to see how its bottom line compares to other films in the franchise.
Below, a Bond history of kisses, kills and box-office earnings.
By Amanda Shendruk - Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:51 AM - 0 Comments
Earlier this week, I found myself in a small New York hotel as it was hammered by hurricane Sandy. During a particularly violent blast of wind, the glass from a lobby window shattered and I thought, probably for the first time in my life, that a disaster emergency kit might not be a bad idea.
In fact, it might be a very good idea.
Climate change means weather extremes are becoming the “new normal,” so now that I’m safely back in Canada, I’m making one for my home.
Creating your own natural disaster emergency kit can be easy and cheap. Check out this graphical guide to creating your own.
By Amanda Shendruk - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 7:34 PM - 0 Comments
It’s Halloween week and the stench of zombies is in the air.
There have been zombie walks across Canada, the third season of The Walking Dead just started and Margaret Atwood is writing a zombie novel.
So … when did zombies become so popular?
By looking at the rise in frequency of zombie movies, books that mention zombies and Google searches for the undead, the answer appears to be: very recently.
Check out this Google trends chart of searches for “zombie” since 2004 and note the steady incline. Interestingly enough, a number of the search peaks are due to news events that reference zombies, and not necessarily game or movie releases.
This increase in interest is also reflected in both the book and movie industry.
Here is a chart that details the number of zombie movies released each year (according to the zombie movie list on Wikipedia). Notice that between 2003 and 2008 the number of zombie movies doubles!
Finally, if we look at the Google books Ngram viewer (an online tool that graphs the number of words or phrases as found in over 5.2 million books from 1900 to 2008 (and is normalized by books published each year) , we once again see how recent our interest in zombies really is.
By Amanda Shendruk - Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 6:43 PM - 0 Comments
Newsweek has announced that at the end of 2012 it will cease publishing its print version. From then on, it will be e-only. Is this the beginning of the end of print?
The move is notable, as it represents one of the first major publications to ditch paper and ink. They’re taking an all-or-nothing dive into digital that few have attempted—and the industry will certainly be observing. Just as we watched the pay-wall pioneers to see if readers would pitch in for online news, we will now watch Newsweek, eager to see if its full online embrace will flounder or flourish.
It’s a brave (or perhaps desperate?) action, but is it one that any of our own news publications could even consider? Canada tops most countries in Internet usage, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready for an online-only news industry.
A recent Ipsos Reid poll conducted for the Canadian Journalism Foundation can help us find the answer. What percentage of Canadians are clinging to hard copy, and which are going digital for their daily dose?
It looks like there’s still significant support for printed journalism. But haven’t we all heard the mantra that “print is dying”? Well, in Canada at least, we don’t need to write a eulogy for the newspaper just yet. By looking at the readership of five of the largest newspapers in our country, it’s not immediately clear that the industry is on its last legs. Take a look at how Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, Le Journal de Montreal, the National Post and the Toronto Star have fared during hte past decade.