Saturday, July 24, 2010

Face cards: jack, queen, king, ace and joker

A quickie this time. There are four face cards - Jack, Queen, King, Ace - and the Joker. I have no idea where the names come from, particulary 'jack' and 'ace'. It's all a bit silly, really. What are people Googling? Well, as it turns out:

Five distinct lines, no overlap. King way out front, then Jack, then Queen, then Ace, then Joker. People searching for 'King' are looking for Martin Luther King and Burger King, and the #1 country is, charmingly, Swaziland. People looking for 'Queen' are looking for 'Queen Elizabeth' and 'Dairy Queen', and Canada tops the list - the top five all Commonwealth countries except the USA. Americans look for 'Jack' most: Jack Johnson, Jack Black, Jack Russell, Jack Daniels. 'Ace' is high in Nepal, and it's about 'Ace Hardware' and 'Ace Ventura'.

More with cards:

Surprised by how low diamonds are, and by how much clubs are dropping. Hm.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Springfield, USA and Springfield, Australia

So I've heard that Matt Groening decided to name the fictitious city where the Simpsons live "Springfield" because there's one in almost every state. Turns out that's quite accurate - and, laughably, there are five Springfields in Wisconsin alone. The map of where in the USA people are Googling "Springfield" looks like this:

Certainly an atypical map. What's going on? Well, here's a list of the top ten states, and the population of the community within their borders called "Springfield":

  1. Missouri (157,630. Metro: 430,900)
  2. Massachusetts (154,082. Metro: 680,014)
  3. Illinois (116,909. Metro: 201,437)
  4. Vermont (9,078)
  5. District of Columbia (None)
  6. Oregon (52,864)
  7. Arkansas (No Wikipedia page, but it exists)
  8. Ohio (65,358. Metro: 140,477)
  9. Connecticut (None, but Sprinfield, MA borders it)
  10. Kentucky (2,634)
Okay, that didn't make a lick of sense, did it? Here's the same thing for Australia:

  1. Queensland (5,732)
  2. New South Wales (3,921)
  3. Northern Territory (None)
  4. ACT (None)
  5. Victoria (There are two, but no population listed for either)
  6. South Australia (541)
  7. Tasmania (There is one, but no population listed)
  8. Western Australia (None)
 Okay, that made even less sense. I'll just stop now.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

American States: second most popular sport

So I tried the Google Insights / Inkscape trick again to make another map. I would have liked to make a map showing which sport is most popular (where 'most popular' means 'most Googled' in which state, but that would have been pretty boring: a single-coloured map in which 'football' is most popular in all fifty states. Without exception.

Of course, this being the USA, 'football' refers not to the sport of the World Cup but the one of the Super Bowl. Or at least in theory it does: who can tell what people are actually looking for when they type 'football' into Google's search engine.

Anyway... removing football from the list and replacing it with the other big sports - baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer (yes the other football) - suddenly presents an intriguing map:

It's an odd one. The only one it's easy to say much about is hockey: the sport thrives in northern states, along the Canadian border. None of the states coloured blue here has an NHL franchise, but with the exception of the Green Bay Packers neither do they have a franchise in any of the other main professional team sports. Washington State uniquely prefers soccer, something not easy to explain. You might chalk it up to Washington's large immigrant community, but certainly a good many states here have high immigrant populations.

Now... baseball vs. basketball? It's tough to see what's happening here. The South and the Northeast seem to prefer baseball, but why? And why is the heartland so basketball-happy?

I can only make a stab at an answer. The populous states, containing big cities, seem to prefer baseball: California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York. Perhaps states with successful baseball franchises get the interest in baseball, whereas states with no MLB team gravitate to basketball. Why? Well, like American football, basketball is also a college sport, and the NCAA competes for attention with the NBA. Perhaps it's the college level, something baseball doesn't really have, that pushes it ahead.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

American States: big cities

I've done up two maps of the USA, using Inkspace and Google Insights. The first one, this one, was perhaps better in concept than in execution. But oh well. Anyway, what I did was to take five 'regional hub' cities, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles, and see in each of the 50 states which of the five was Googled most often. I expected to find obvious results in New York State, Illinois, Georgia, Texas and California, but it was the other 45 states I was curious about. The results:

The principle was right: there are 'regions' in the States where people gravitate towards certain big cities - if for no other reason than because they're following the nearest big sports team. So in particular there's a three-state 'zone' (or 'tristate' as they say there) around Houston and around Atlanta. What surprised me was not the fact that New York appears to be the 'default' (among other things, it is of course also the name of a state) but (1) that outside of California itself there is no state where Los Angeles is Googled more often than the others on this list and (2) Chicago has a huge 'zone' of eleven states, extending as far away as Wyoming. Intriguing, and not something I can entirely explain. What has people in Wyoming more interested in Googling Chicago than any other of these cities?
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