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April 01, 2003

SARS gets closer

According to this article in the New York Times, a flight from Tokyo to San Jose was quarantined on the runway after 4 onboard complained of SARS-like symptoms. Oddly enough, only the 4 were kept for observation; you would think at least their seatmates might have been kept around for a few days as nobody really knows how easy it is to transmit. Other passengers were given information and told to contact their doctors if they experienced symptoms.

I'm wondering what David makes of this chart accompanying the story. It would be nice if the little dots could indicate who among the infected died.

It would also be nice if China would give the rest of the world the information about the epidemic they've been sitting on since January!

Posted by jay at April 1, 2003 03:10 PM | TrackBack
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Actually, according to Tufte's principles, it's not a bad chart. It's multidimensional: it presents disease generation (colour of dot) location (on the map) and time (follow the arrows) on a single chart. The data tell a story, and the chart benefits from scrutiny.

On the downside, the layout inhibits the interpretation of the spatial arrangement, and as you say, there's no visual information about who of those infected actually died. The doctor from Singapore is possibly represented twice (it's not clear if he is one of the "37 other" in Singaport, but he gets his own dot when he's in Germany). And third and fourth generation infectees are all blue, might have been nice to distinguish them.

But overall, it's an appealing, informative chart which does not mislead. And frankly, that's often too much to hope for in the media these days.

Posted by: david on April 1, 2003 04:18 PM

Wouldn't it be nice and tidy if Saddam contracted SARS and died? Then the media could cover something other than these two topics...

Posted by: Marti on April 2, 2003 12:34 PM

What's to say he hasn't? How would we know? :)

Actually, Saddam simply disappearing is about the worst thing that could happen. I can only imagine what Little Bush would do having let TWO primary targets simply slip thought his fingers and disappear. Maybe he'd have to choose a slower, more visible and less wily target. I suggest Barney the Dinosaur.

Posted by: david on April 2, 2003 03:10 PM

David, while I agree with you that Barney being at large definitely represents a threat to global security, I take issue with you that he would be any less wily than either Saddam or Ossama. Really, I'm thinking we should be devoting a lot more of national resources into this effort to taking down the Martha Stewart regime, else I fear she'll one day be joining those bad boys of Islamist extremism in redecorating their hideaway.

Posted by: paulette on April 2, 2003 03:47 PM

I'm having problems displaying your style sheet - maybe because I'm running safari on OSX?

Posted by: term life insurance on November 23, 2003 02:34 PM
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