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Category Archives: Civics Through Spreadsheets
18% of American's Can Determine 52 Senators?
I was listening to a podcast this week where I heard James Carville state that "18% of American's can determine 52 senators." I thought this was an interesting quote that I could have the students I tutor verify using Excel and Power Query. All of the data is available online and the problem has a relatively short solution. Continue reading
US Government Management of Western Forest Lands
I am always looking for data analysis exercises for the young folks that I tutor online. While watching the coverage of the massive forest fires on the west coast of the US, I noticed that all the media were reporting that much of the forest land in these states are managed by the US government, which makes them responsible for managing these forests. I thought it would be a good exercise to show the students how to calculate the percentage of forest land that is managed by the US government. Continue reading
USNS Comfort Bed Count Relative To Other US Hospitals
Because of COVID-19, I am currently sheltering-in-place at my cabin in northern Minnesota. I was reading news reports of the USNS Comfort docking in New York City to provide the city with another 1000 bed hospital. I had no idea as to the average size of a hospital and decided to take a quick look at the number of beds in hospitals around the United States using a histogram. Continue reading
Visualizing House of Representative Data Using Power Query
I have been following certain bills through the US House of Representatives and wanted to know how the voting varied by US regions and political parties. I also want to generate tables that show how my state's representatives vote (Figure 1). Fortunately, the votes are documented online and Power Query was able to easily grab and process the data. Continue reading
Posted in Civics Through Spreadsheets, Excel Comments Off on Visualizing House of Representative Data Using Power Query
Age of Supreme Court Justices at Confirmation with Power Query
I was listening to a political pundit mention that both US political parties want to confirm young Supreme Court justices to ensure that their judicial philosophies endure. I was curious as to whether that was true over time. I went to the Wikipedia and saw that they had a list of all the justices since the founding of the US and web pages for each justice. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for a bit of web scraping! Continue reading
Statistics of US Senate Disciplining Its Members
The controversial senate candidacy of Roy Moore has resulted in some discussion of how the US Senate would respond if he won the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has mentioned the possibility of expulsion. I could not recall hearing of anyone being expelled from the Senate recently, so I decided to grab some data from the Senate web site and summarize it here. Continue reading
Posted in Civics Through Spreadsheets 5 Comments
Fact Checking: Comparison of Military Budgets
I heard a news commentator say that the US defense budget is larger than the combined defense budgets for the next ten largest spenders. I thought that this would be easy to check and would provide my staff a beginner's example to use for their Excel self-training. Continue reading
Posted in Civics Through Spreadsheets, Fact Checking 2 Comments
History Through Spreadsheets: Executive Orders
During my recent seminar on Excel's Power Query feature, I showed my team how to grab data executive order data from the web and generate a simple plot (Figure 1). After generating the plot, I asked the audience what we could learn from this graph. I was expecting to hear that the early 1900s – the time between Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt – was a time of massive use of executive orders. Continue reading