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Yesterday β€” July 16th 2018Weird&Strange

Queen Elizabeth owns how many swans? Annual count gets underway

An 800-year-old tradition of counting the swans owned by Britain's Queen Elizabeth started on Monday, an annual ceremony of "swan upping" that in modern times has become a means of wildlife conservation.

Next stop on the Piccadilly line is... Gareth Southgate

Southgate underground station has been renamed after England's World Cup manager.

  • July 16th 2018 at 05:58
Before yesterdayWeird&Strange

Buyan the bear predicts Croatia will beat France in World Cup final

Buyan, a brown bear kept in a Siberian zoo, has predicted that Croatia will defeat France in Sunday's World Cup final.

Jailed double murderer runs for US Senate

A man serving a life sentence without parole after being convicted of two murders is running for a US Senate seat.

  • July 15th 2018 at 11:15

Georgia police use coin toss to decide whether to arrest woman

Two police officers in Georgia have been suspended after they used a coin toss to decide whether to arrest a 24-year-old motorist they stopped for speeding, police said.

The orientation of Amsterdam’s streets

By DIRKMJK

Eight days from now, Amsterdam will have a new metro line traversing the city from north to south. But what about the orientation of the city’s streets?

Geoff Boeing - who created a Python package for analysing street networks using data from OpenStreetMap - just published a series of polar histograms of American and ‘world’ cities. Amsterdam isn’t among them, but Boeing made his code available, so I used that to create charts for the largest cities in the Netherlands.

While the pattern isn’t nearly as monotonous as in most American cities, I’m still surprised how many streets in Amsterdam run from north to south or from east to west. The Hague has a strong diagonal orientation; Rotterdam doesn’t seem to have a dominant orientation and Utrecht is a bit in between.

With Boeing’s code, you can also do the analysis specifically for roads that are accessible to cyclists, but for Amsterdam that doesn’t make much difference since most roads are.

Discussion

15 July 2018 - There was some really interesting discussion on Twitter in response to my post from last Friday (I use Twitter names to refer to people; most sources are in Dutch).

Curved streets

Both Sanne and Egon Willighagen asked how the chart treats curved streets. I have to admit I hadn’t checked, but the docstring of the add_ege_bearings function explains that it calculates the compass bearing of edges from origin node to destination node, so that implies that streets are treated as if they were straight lines.

Is that a problem? Probably not for many US cities, for they seem to have few curved streets. As for Amsterdam: most people’s mental image of the city is probably dominated by the curved canals of the city centre. However, many neighbourhoods consist of grids of more or less straight streets. So perhaps curved streets have little impact on the analysis after all.

Length versus surface

Hans Wisbrun argues that the chart type is nice, but also deceptive. The number of streets is represented by the length of the wedges, but one may intuitively look at the surface, which increases with the square of the length. In a post from 2013 (based on a tip from Ionica Smeets), he used a chart by Florence Nightingale to discuss the problem.

Rogier Brussee agrees, but argues that a polar chart is still the right choice here, because what you want to show is the angle of streets.

In a more general sense, I think the charts are an exploratory tool that’ll give you an idea how street patterns differ between cities. If you really want to understand what the wedges represent, you’ll have to look at a map.

Beach ridges

That’s what Stephan Okhuijsen did. He noted that the chart for The Hague appears to reflect the orientation of the city’s coastline. Not quite, Christiaan Jacobs replied. The orientation of the city’s streets is not determined by the current coastline, but by the original beach ridges.

I don’t know much about geography (or about The Hague for that matter), but a bit of googling suggests Jacobs is right. See for example this map (from this detailed analysis of one of The Hague’s streets), with the old sand dunes shown in dark yellow.

See also links to previous similar work in this post by Nathan Yau (FlowingData).

  • July 13th 2018 at 07:55

'Police called' as Build-A-Bear sale sparks chaos

A teddy bear offer has been abandoned amid "safety concerns" after it sparked chaos in shopping centres across the UK.

  • July 12th 2018 at 16:54

Man with world's longest nails cuts them after 66 years

The Guinness World Record holder for the longest fingernails ever on a single hand has had his claws cut after 66 years.

  • July 12th 2018 at 08:59

Florida man with no arms charged with stabbing man with scissors

A 46-year-old homeless man with no arms was arrested in Miami Beach, Florida, for stabbing another man with a pair of scissors using his feet, police said on Wednesday.

Giant crocodile captured in Australia to stop it going to town

Authorities in Australia have caught a saltwater crocodile measuring almost 5 meters (16.4 ft), one of the biggest on record, to stop it from reaching a populated area, the Department of Tourism said on Tuesday.

Lithuanian couple win world wife-carrying championship title in Finland

Fifty-three men slung their wives or partners over their shoulders and hurtled off on an hour-long race in the small Finnish town of Sonkajarvi on Saturday, as thousands of fans cheered from the stands.

Poisonous books found in university library

Three rare books dating from the 16th and 17th centuries have been found by scientists to be covered in a deadly poison.

  • July 7th 2018 at 12:58

Dozens of 'drunk' seagulls found on beaches

Dozens of "drunken" seagulls have become "disoriented and confused" after scavenging alcohol in southwest England.

  • July 6th 2018 at 13:14

U.S. beats Belgium to win (Quidditch) World Cup

Already bored of the soccer World Cup with its single ball, earth-bound players and tiresome reliance on the laws of physics?

KFA decides against punishing egg-throwers

The Korea Football Association (KFA) has decided not to pursue charges against people who threw eggs at the national team after they arrived home from the World Cup, police said on Tuesday.

Shootout win is perfect gift for Russian newlyweds

Russian couple Yekaterina and Dmitry Vasilyev enjoyed a perfect wedding celebration on Sunday as they briefly halted their nuptials to watch the hosts defy the odds by beating Spain in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

'Brides' enjoy match-making on World Cup stage

Russian women wearing elaborate bridal dresses took to the pitch in the World Cup host city of Kazan on Saturday for a friendly soccer match intended to show their love for the sport.

'Space kingdom' seeks citizens for life beyond Earth very soon

(This version of the June 25th story changes paragraph 9 to make clear that membership fee does not yet apply)

Man charged after running in underwear on Atlanta airport runway

A teenager has been criminally charged after running half-naked across an Atlanta airport runway and jumping onto the wing of a Delta Air Lines plane that had just landed.

Mexican party rapped for wraps in tortilla election row

Struggling to catch up with the longtime front-runner, the two chasing parties in Mexico's presidential election have become embroiled in a spat over wrapping used to sell tortillas, the popular flatbread made for tacos.

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