News & Politics

NetNomad 61

Five offbeat, timely reviews of Web sites on the arts, politics and news -- with a dash of the absurd thrown in for good measure. This week: ... Disturbing Search Requests ... U.S. Surname Distribution ... Beyond Face Value ... Made In Tokyo ... Songs of the Century.
Disturbing Search Requests

Somewhere out there, right at this very moment, someone is performing a search on the Internet. They might be searching for a cheap hotel in Berlin, or cheat notes for "Romeo or Juliet." Or, as we learn at the Disturbing Search Requests site, they might be looking for pictures of "copulating couples," or "strip dare story ping," " Evil Yogurt," "full moon surf naked" or "grim reaper photo." All actual searches, placed for the most part on sites that could hardly be expected to carry any of the above. The searches are culled for log files from various sites and is updated daily!

U.S. Surname Distribution

Simply type in a surname and a map will be produced showing you the greatest concentration of that name throughout the US. A common name like Smith will of course result in a largely red map, indicating that 1 in 100 people (or more) in that state have the surname, while a less common one (such as this author's) produces no result according to the 1990 Census, and a paltry 1 in 300 for the 1920 survey. Who knows what happened to those poor souls in the meantime.

Beyond Face Value

It has recently come to the attention of many scholars that many of the monetary notes circulated in the South during Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction Eras actually featured images depicting slavery. As we learn here, "just as railroad locomotives and factories provided the themes for many illustrations on Northern bank notes, slaves often provided inspiration for those in the South. Artists depicted slaves as happy, healthy workers, and portrayed overseers and owners as benevolent." There are many examples of the images here, of course, along with very concise and interesting overviews on the era in general.

Made in Tokyo

We could not find a word of introduction on this site, as though the authors expected that the photographs should speak for themselves, leaving us to do pretty-much the same. There are five series of photographs here, each depicting various aspects of life in Tokyo, a city that looks so Japanese in some ways, and so "American" in others. Well-worth a visit.

Songs of the Century

We don't generally put too much stock in "best of" lists, especially those that purport to cover the history of music, but the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has pretty much hit the mark with their "Songs of the Century" list. They call it " a nationwide education initiative intended to promote a better understanding of America's musical and cultural heritage in our schools" but it is actually much more interesting than that (it would almost have to be.) What surprised us, as long-time music fanatics, was the scope of the songs included on the list. You'll find The Carter Family's "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin," "Wabash Cannonball" by Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and of course Jimmie Davis' "You Are My Sunshine."
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