Latest Trends

Note: this post was written Monday evening. It’s likely that some of the data will have changed by the time you read it.

I see Google is reporting a lot of interest in the forthcoming Hall & Oates tour. I mention this not because I’m particularly interested in the duo–I’m not, beyond taking the opportunity to point out their take on “Family Man” falls into the category of cover versions that have become definitive, despite being far less interesting than Mike Oldfield’s original.

But this is the first time I’ve dug into the details on Google’s latest version of their “Trends” page.

The “Interest over time” chart is fun–though a longer baseline would be nice–but the chart I found most intriguing is “Interest by subregion”. In this case, you can read “subregion” as being equivalent to “state”; I presume this is done to make the chart more flexible for use in other countries.

It’s not particularly surprising that most of the interest in Hall and Oates is in Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. They’ve always been big in the middle of the country. I was surprised to see Louisiana coming in at Number Four. Maybe some influence floating down the Mississippi River?

But the fun part was looking at the states with no apparent interest in them at all: aside from Alaska, which often goes its own way, we’ve got Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming: a tight cluster of states immediately to the north of the center of Hall and Oates’ support. What’s happening there?

I’d say something about not giving the obvious answer (“Nothing”), but that might actually be the correct answer. Consider the interest from another item on Google’s list.

Searches for “Asteroid, Earth” are hot, probably because right-wing news sites are spreading FUD about the government shutdown putting Earth at risk for an asteroid strike.

Leaving aside the stupidity of the claim*, I found the geographical breakdown of interest fascinating. The most interest is in Alaska–remember what I said about them doing their own thing? But the next most interest is in North Dakota. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got Hawaii (which is justifiably more concerned about missiles than asteroids right now), Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

* First, the risk of an asteroid hitting Earth is no higher whether we’re watching or not. Second, it’s not entirely clear to me whether the shutdown has any significant effect on the Asteroid Watch program–it’s a distributed program with participation by astronomers, both professional and amateur, from around the world. And third, even if we know an asteroid is coming, there’s very little we can do about it at this point. The technology to intercept and redirect or destroy an asteroid isn’t there yet.

Yeah, three of the four central states that have no interest in Hall and Oates are also the only central states that have no interest in their chances of being wiped off the map by an asteroid. (Insert your own joke about being wiped off the map by Hall and Oates here.)

I can only come up with two possible interpretations: either the inhabitants of those states aren’t interested in anything or they’ve already been wiped out by zombies.

Note that those states show no interest in Netflix or the Supreme Court. But Montana and North Dakota are right near the top of the list when it comes to the Megyn Kelly/Jane Fonda contretemps.

I rest my case–and suggest you update your zombie vaccinations before you visit Montana.