Mapping football teams with Parallax

One day as I was flying high above the Earth, as I like to do, I happened across this corner of London (Fulham, actually) wherein I spied a lovely football pitch situated thus:

“Great cows!” thought I, “all those soccer fans and not one scrap of parking! In my homeland this would not be.”

Compare this with the parking on offer at, say, Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, home of the Brady-less Patriots. It’s a stark contrast, and a good reminder that there’s no need to take public transportation as long as there’s PLENTY OF PARKING FOLKS!

This got me wondering how many fans attend that stadium in London (answer: 26,000 at full capacity). Which in turn made me wonder what team played there (answer: Fulham F.C.). Fulham plays in the Premier League, which put me on to something I’ve wondered about before. I know the names of a number of English football teams, but I have no idea where they are. Okay, Manchester United is in Manchester, but what about Arsenal? For some reason, when I last looked into this, I couldn’t find a simple map that showed what I wanted to know. I’ve since found several, but no matter, because this gave me a great opportunity to try out Parallax.

I learned about Parallax from Ben Hyde. As Ben observes, you should really watch the video to understand what Parallax does, but I would describe it like this: a search engine that carries along piles of intermediate results as you move toward your ultimate aggregated final answer. To pick a simple question: how many presidents went to West Point? It’s not a hard question to answer, but you’d have to visit a lot of Wikipedia pages to get the definitive result. Parallax lets you lasso all the presidents and then pick other questions to ask about the entire set. So we quickly discover that U.S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower went to West Point. Jimmy Carter is the only presidential graduate of the Naval Academy (John McCain went there too, for what it’s worth).

Back to English football: starting with Arsenal, I continued to the entire Premier League. From there I clicked on Arena/Stadium, and then Show results on map and voilĂ :

Wow! Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Chester A. Who? The Presidents Quiz Game

Here is a diversion that is quick, fun, and educational, even if you’re a smarty-pants who can do the whole thing without a mistake: Can you name all the U.S. Presidents?

The interface is very pleasing. You just type in last names, one after another, and as soon as it recognizes one, it puts it in the right place quick as a wink. Once you’ve played the game to completion, they have another feature that shows who the most forgotten presidents are. I was correct in guessing that Chester A. Arthur was at the bottom of the barrel, being forgotten by more than half of the contestants, but Chester has company. Rutherford B. Hayes, that other middle-initial-totin’ Gilded Age cipher, scored equally poorly. And for persistent obscurity, it’s hard to beat the Run of the Antebellum Unknowns between Andrew Jackson and Abraham What’s-His-Name. The vacant Warren Gamaliel Harding was our most obscure 20th Century Chief Executive.

I can picture them there, all hanging out in the Dead Presidents’ Lounge. Naturally they are curious about the results of this contest. James Polk didn’t expect to do well, so he’s pleased to have Chester and Rutherford to pick on. But over at the cool kids’ table, you can just imagine how Teddy Roosevelt is giving Tommy Jefferson hell about coming in last in the Rushmore gang. Meanwhile, “Big George” Washington, who’s been at the brandy again, is re-telling the same old war stories while Abe rolls his eyes and tries to read his Harry Potter book.

Now you try the presidential challenge. Or just describe another scene from the Dead Presidents’ Lounge. What would Lyndon Johnson have to say to Andrew Johnson?