on-the-subway

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Shoko Asahara was the head of the controversial buddhist group  Aum Shinrikyo, which was responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, which resulted in the deaths of 12 commuters.

The exact motivation for the attacks remain unknown, originally it was hypothesised that the attacks were either an attempt to start a prophecised apocalypse or were an attempt to install Asahara as king of japan, with the thought that the attack would somehow overthrow the government. Later, a different theory was put forward that the attacks were simply an attempt to divert police attention away from Aum Shinrikyo, as they had carried out previous attacks against judges which were presiding over a real-estate lawsuit involving the group. Asahara would later state that he did not know the motivation for the attack, and that it was independently organised by other members within the group.

Asahara would ultimately be convicted on murder charges and sentenced to death for his involvement. His execution was postponed in 2012 as a result of further arrests of Aum Shinrikyo members.

Data Visualization: “London Heartbeat” by Oliver O’Brien

I’m loving this interactive map by Oliver O’Brien that uses entry and exit data direct from TfL to build a picture of how the Tube across the course of a typical day – with around 5 million rides or so. (The data doesn’t yet include the newly-introduced Night Tube, so things wrap up as the last “day” trains finish their journeys at the moment.) 

Watching the day progress is mesmerising enough – especially the flow during the two major peak periods – but you can also drill down to see detailed information for individual stations, which is kind of amazing. Interestingly, while the map uses a heartbeat as a metaphor for the flow, I almost see it as breathing: inhaling (inbound) for the morning peak, and exhaling (outbound) in the evening. Either metaphor works to describe how vital the Tube is in making London a living city. This is really lovely work by Oliver, and definitely worthy of detailed perusal! 

Go explore by clicking here.

A heart filled with
a dead hamster-emptiness
kart wheels across
the grassy landscape of my youth
like a little girl doing kart wheels
across her front lawn
on the last day of summer.

The little girl’s parents
watch from the window,

arguing over which one of them
is going to break the news
that the family cat has torn
her pet hamster to shreds.