27 September 2008

Paul Newman vs. Robert Redford vs. Clint Eastwood vs. Sean Connery vs. Charlton Heston vs. Robert Duvall

Yesterday, Paul Newman died. He was one of the greatest actors of his generation and a remarkable, generous man. I faced him off against his good friend Robert Redford with whom he was often mentioned in one breath, even though they only made two movies together: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969, and The Sting, 1973—but what movies!

I stopped the comparison at April 2008 to exclude the distorting effect of his being terminally ill and dying these last several months. I am at a loss to explain why his top point is in January 2005—does anyone have any ideas? Nevertheless, Redford did slightly surpass Newman on average regarding Google-popularity. However, Redford (72) is actually quite a bit younger than Newman (✝83). So I found four award-winning actors more of his generation who were still alive till this year: Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Charlton Heston and Robert Duvall.

Again to make a fair comparison, I stopped the graph at March 2008, just before Heston's death. To my surprise, Newman was preceded by Eastwood and Connery. Note esp. Eastwood's peaks in February 2005 (4 Oscars and 3 Oscar nominations for Million Dollar Baby) and in February 2007 (2 Oscar nominations for Flags of Our Fathers and 1 Oscar and 3 Oscar nominations for Letters from Iwo Jima).

26 September 2008

Barack Obama vs. John McCain vs. Jim Lehrer

Tonight, I watched the first presidential candidates' debate at "Ole Miss" (University of Mississipi, Oxford). I thought I'd do the same thing I did for the convention speeches with the specific words uttered by Obama, McCain and—why not?—moderator Lehrer. I looked how many words they used. Also, how many sentences and characters (excl. spaces) did the individual debate parts have? I summarized these three measures in a bubble graph:

Lehrer obviously had much less to say than Obama and McCain who ended up with rather similar measures. I guess you could say that McCain used fewer but longer words in shorter sentences than Obama...

Then, using Wordle, I made a "word cloud" each of the debate contributions.

Barack Obama

John McCain

Jim Lehrer

As expected, because Lehrer was the moderator, words such as "senator," both their last names, "minutes" and "question" were prominent. Obama's most frequently used words were "going" (action sentences?), "think" (not impulsive, rash... like McCain?), "make" (constructive, tangible?) and "now" (no living in the past?). McCain's commonest words were "senator" and "know": stressing his experience perhaps? Then came "Obama" (more attacks on the person?) followed by "United States" (patriotism?), "want" (forcefulness?) and "spending" (Republican hot issue of cutting spending). These were just my initial associations of course, I wonder what a linguist would think of these patterns.

Update 10-5-08: As I explain in this new post, Wordle has a lot more settings than I was aware of. Here are the improved, "corrected" word clouds.

Barack Obama (improved)

John McCain (improved)

Jim Lehrer (improved)

25 September 2008

Space Shuttle vs. International Space Station vs. SpaceShipOne vs. Soyuz vs. Shenzhou

I compared the Google-popularity of the five successful human spaceflight projects, using again Google Insights for Search.

The Space Shuttle won this one by a mile. The peak in July 2005 corresponded with its first mission since the catastrophic February 2003 mission (Columbia). Every next trend line high point was linked to a mission. Note how the February, March and May 2008 missions seem to have been met with less interest than the previous ones. SpaceShipOne also stood out due to the two peaks (June and October 2004) corresponding with the successful manned spaceflights, winning the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for the first civilian suborbital manned flight. The October 2005 second Chinese manned spaceflight, the Shenzhou VI, and the interest in today's Shenzhou VII mission are the only times Shenzhou registered in the 2004-today time span. Finally, it appeared that every rise in interest for the International Space Station coincided with a Space Shuttle mission. The work horse of human spaceflight, Soyuz, doesn't get much recognition unfortunately.

24 September 2008

Bay vs. Lake vs. Sea vs. Ocean vs. Gulf

This time I faced off the five largest kinds of bodies of water.

You might have thought that Google-popularity would be linked to size and expected to see ocean or sea on top but it is bay that overall is the "winner." Maybe that has something to do with the existence of a lot of place names (and their derivatives) that contain "Bay"? Note that lake is very seasonal: everybody goes to the lake in the summer, I guess?

23 September 2008

Verizon vs. AT&T or Cingular vs. Sprint vs. Nextel vs. T-Mobile

I had a face-off of US wireless providers (cell phone companies). I combined Cingular (old name) and AT&T (new name) but left Sprint and Nextel, now one company, separate because they're still separate brands and because this way we can see their individual trends before the merger. But first, let's list them according to subscribers (customers) as of mid-2008:
  1. AT&T 73 million
  2. Verizon 69 million
  3. Sprint Nextel 52 million
  4. T-Mobile 32 million

Google-popularity mirrored the customer base except for no. 2 Verizon besting no. 1 AT&T. What is more, Verizon showed a constantly increasing trend while AT&T's trend at first followed Verizon but then about mid-2007 started to decline. Pre-merger, Nextel's customer base was smaller than Sprint's but they still were more popular: advertising advantage? Also, the Nextel side of the new company has been doing worse than the Sprint side after the merger, in other words the Nextel brand has lost proportionally more customers than the Sprint one. This was reflected in their declining trend after-merger.

22 September 2008

Hearst Castle vs. William Randolph Hearst vs. Julia Morgan

I recently visited Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. It is unique and definitely worth seeing. It was built over many years (1919-1947) by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. I thought I'd check on the Google-popularity of the complex, its owner and its architect.

The palatial estate, an eclectic mix of European and Spanish Colonial styles, furnishings and collectibles, was the most popular. The surprise lay more in the fact that the powerful Mr. Hearst barely bested Ms. Morgan. Note that all three trend downwards. I include a few pictures I took at the Castle in August:

Here a few more taken in November 2007:

21 September 2008

Yahoo vs. Google vs. MSN vs. AOL vs. Ask.com

According to Net Applications, the August 2008 global market share of internet search engines was as follows:
  1. Google (79%)
  2. Yahoo (12%)
  3. MSN (5%; incl. Live Search)
  4. AOL (2%)
  5. Ask.com (1%)

I used Google Insights for Search to investigate their global Google-popularity:

It turned out that Yahoo was more popular than Google at least as far as people searching for something relating to these portals was concerned. I would guess that this may have something to do with the extra directory feature of Yahoo. In fact, MSN is about as searched for as Google. Note that Google is the only one to display a sudden sharp increase (mid-2005). It then surpassed MSN about mid-2006. Of course, I live in the US so I get a different impression than people in other countries. So I ran the trend analysis on a few individual countries. First, I took on the US:

Yahoo was more clearly in the lead and Google didn't show that sudden jump as much. MSN was weak and stayed that way. How about Germany?

Google jumped in the lead in mid-2005 and stayed ahead. How were things in France?

Contrary to its European neighbor Germany, France had Yahoo and even MSN ahead of Google. Now I turned to Asia: Japan.

Yahoo was totally in charge. Sure, Google bypassed MSN by the beginning of 2006 but was still way behind. AOL was insignificant. Finally, what about Brazil?

MSN managed barely to stay ahead of Yahoo and Google.