Friday, July 15, 2005

Amazon.com's Top Sellers

For their 10th Anniversary, Amazon.com has, among other things, listed their top sellers in books (charted by author), DVDs, and music. While they don't say it, I'm guessing this is by volume of purchases, not money made. Here are the lists:




























AUTHORS
DVDs
MUSICIANS

1. J.K. Rowling
Fellowship of the Ring
The Beatles

2. Spencer Johnson
The Two Towers
U2

3. Nora Roberts
Return of the King
Norah Jones

4. Dan Brown
Star Wars Trilogy
Diana Krall

5. Dr. Seuss
The Matrix
Eva Cassidy

6. John Grisham
Finding Nemo
Frank Sinatra

7. Stephen King
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Santana

8. J.R.R. Tolkien
Pirates of the Caribbean
Enya

9. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
Gladiator
Bob Dylan

10. Jim Collins
Shrek
Rolling Stones

11. Phil McGraw
The Phantom Menace
Dave Matthews Band

12. Robert Atkins
Adventures of Indiana Jones
Bruce Springsteen

13. C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Sarah McLachlan

14. Mitch Albom
Saving Private Ryan
Dixie Chicks

15. Ken Blanchard
Sex and the City: First Season
Josh Groban

16. James Patterson
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Elton John

17. Stephen R. Covey
Monsters, Inc.
Rod Stewart

18. Mary Pope Osborne
Attack of the Clones
Pink Floyd

19. Marcus Buckingham
Band of Brothers
Jimmy Buffet

20. Lemony Snicket
Godfather DVD Collection
Celine Dion

21. John C. Maxwell
Shrek 2
Sting

22. Janet Evanovich
Seinffeld: Seasons 1&2
Johnny Cash

23. Robert T. Kiyosaki
Braveheart
Ray Charles

24. Arthur Agatston
The Simsons: First Season
Van Morrison

25. Tom Clancy
Spider-Man
Elvis Presley

Of Note:
Best Picture winners appeared on the DVD list 5 times (Return of the King, Gladiator, Godfather I & II, and Braveheart)
TV shows appeared on the DVD list 4 times (Sex and the City, Band of Brothers, Seinfeld, and the Simpsons)
2 authors on the authors list, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote books which were adapted into movies on the DVD list.
Dead authors appeared on the author list (at least) 5 times (Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Atkins, and C.S. Lewis).
One fictional author appears on the author list (Lemony Snicket)
Dead musicians/disbanded groups appear (at least) 5 times on the musicians list (The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley)
Both Ray Charles and Enya have music in movies feature on the DVD list.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Pope-pourri

In honor of JPII and the new BXVI, here's some Pope dope.

Official Title
"Pope" is an informal title; the full title is "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God." Addresses to the Pope are styled to "His Holiness."

Longest Reigning Popes
  1. St. Peter (30 to AD 64/67): 34 or 37 years
  2. Bl. Pius IX (1846 - 1878): 31 years, 7 months and 23 days (11,560 days).
  3. John Paul II (1978 - 2005): 26 years, 5 months and 17 days (9,665 days).
  4. Leo XIII (1878 - 1903): 25 years, 4 months and 29 days (9,280 days).
  5. Pius VI (1775 - 1799): 24 years, 6 months and 14 days (8,962 days).
The ambiguity surrounding Peter's papacy stems from the uncertainty in the year of his death. Additionally, he was officially Bishop of Rome for only 25 years, but his papacy is considered to start upon Jesus' decision to name him to the position.

Shortest Reigning Popes
  1. Urban VII (September 15September 27, 1590): reigned for 13 calendar days
  2. Boniface VI (April, 896): reigned for 16 calendar days
  3. Celestine IV (October 25November 10, 1241): reigned for 17 calendar days
  4. Sisinnius (January 15February 4, 708): reigned for 21 calendar days
  5. Theodore II (December, 897): reigned for 21 calendar days
Note: Stephen II died three days after his election, but he was never consecrated as Pope, so he was never an offical pope. This has caused confusion as to the naming of the Stephens.

Years with Multiple Popes
In 1276, there were four popes: Pope Gregory X, Pope Innocent V, Pope Adrian V, and Pope John XXI. There have been many years with three popes: 752, 827, 896, 897, 928, 965, 1003, 1046, 1187, 1555, 1590, 1605, and 1978.

Papal Names
52 Papal names have been chosen. Until 1978, when John Paul I chose his name, Lando (913) was the last Pope to have a unique name; Lando is also considered to be the last pope to use his birth name as Pope. John II (532-535) was the first Pope to adopt a new name upon ascension to the papacy.

Papal Myths
Pope Joan, the female Pope: Rumor has it she was outed as a woman after giving birth during a procession. Sadly, however, there has never been a woman Pope.
Papal Crown: Some circles believe that the phrase Vicarius Filii Dei appears on the side of the papal crown. After converting the appropriate letters to Roman numerals and counting the "u" as a "v", one can add the numbers to get 666 -- thus signifying the Pope as the anti-Christ. However, nothing like this phrase appears on the crown, and none of the numbers on the actual crown add up to 666.

Random Facts
Youngest Pope: Leo X, assumed papacy at the age of 37.
Anti-Popes: There have been 52 anti-popes: 43 before 1500 and 9 since the adoption of the Novus Ordo Missae in lieu of the Tridentine Latin Mass. The current anti-Pope is Lucian Pulvermacher, who resides in Montana.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

First/Last Deaths

US Civil War
First Death: Private Daniel Hough---killed during the salute of the flag during the surrender of Ft Sumter when an ember fell into a powder keg 14 April, 1861.
Last Death: Private John J. Williams of Company B, 34th Indiana---killed during the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, Texas 13 May, 1865.

Capital Punishment in England
First: John Storey was the first killed---he was hung, drawn, and quartered---at the "Triple Tree," which was introduced as a permanent gallows at Tyburn, 1 June, 1571.
Last: Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans---real name, John Robson Walby ---on 13 August 1964. Ruth Ellis was the last woman to hang,13 July, 1955.

Capital Punishment in US
First: George Kendall for spying/espionage, in Virginia, 1608.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Three Magi

Caspar (or Gaspar), Melkior, Balthasar are traditionally held to be the three Magi who visted Christ after his birth. However, their names and number are disputed---depending on to whose translation you subscribe. Some sources ascribe them as being kings, others as magi---a sect of Zororastrian priests.

Bede supposedly wrote:
The magi were the ones who gave gifts to the Lord. The first is said to have been Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard... who offered gold to the Lord as to a king. The second, Caspar by name, young and beardless and ruddy complexioned... honored Him as God by his gift of [frank]incense, an oblation worthy of divinity. The third, black-skinned and heavily bearded, named Balthasar ... by his gift of myrrh testified to the Son of Man who was to die.
The author goes on to claim that Melchior was the king of Arabia, Balthasar the king of Saba (Ethiopia or Yemen), and Caspar the king of Tarsus (in Turkey).

The Magi arrived in Bethlehem on January 6, Epiphany, which is the twelfth day of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

History of Thanksgiving

While the most widely know first occasion of Thanksgiving was the 1621 Plymouth, Massachusetts celebration, some claim that the December 4, 1619 celebration in Berkeley, Virginia was, in fact, the first Thanksgiving.

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress decreed one or more celebrations of thanks per year; a tradition that Washington, Adams, and Madison continued as President. Various state governors decreed their own Thanksgivings all through the first half of the 19th century.

It was, however, Lincoln -- prompted by editorials by Sara Josephea Hale -- who decreed the first official Thanksgiving in 1863; Lincoln further decreed that this nation holidy should be continued and held on the last Thursday of November.

In 1939, Roosevelt bowed to pressures from retailers to move Thanksgiving back a week to allow for more sales before Christmas; his recommendation, however, was not required, and many states did not adopt it -- creating multiple celebrations, even within the same state. This split holiday -- with Roosevelt's choice being dubbed "Franksgiving" -- continued until 1940 when Congress proposed a compromise: Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday of November, which would sometimes be the last Thursday and sometimes the penultimate one.

The tradition of the President pardoning a turkey began in 1947.

Canadians trace their celebration of Thanksgiving to a 1578 feast held by Martin Frobisher in Newfoundland. The first official Thanksgiving was in 1872, but did not become a national holiday until 1879. Since 1957, it has been held on the second Monday of October.

Wealth/Poverty Rankings

US States With Highest (Personal) Income Per Capita
  1. Connecticut ($38,450)
  2. New Jersey ($35,521)
  3. Massachusetts ($35,333)
  4. Maryland ($32,680)
  5. New York ($32,451)
US States With Lowest (Personal) Income Per Capita
  1. Mississippi ($20,142)
  2. Arkansas ($21,169)
  3. West Virginia ($21,327)
  4. New Mexico ($21,555)
  5. Utah ($21,883)

Nations With Highest Per Capita Income

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Bermuda
  3. United States
  4. Norway
  5. Liechtenstein

Nations With Lowest Per Capita Income

  1. Sierra Leone
  2. Malawi
  3. Tanzania
  4. Burundi
  5. Democratic Republic of Congo

The figures for the countries are based on purchasing power as $100 will get you more in Egypt than it will in Switzerland. Other lists may use less realistic determinations of income. The PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) indices use a base value determined by a nation's GDP divided by the population. This artificially boosts nations with favorable banking and tax laws -- like Luxembourg, Monaco, et al -- as their GDP is boosted by foreign investments without a commensurate increase in the population count. It is near impossible to separate domestic from foreign incomes in these nations, so the statistics are left as skewed.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Most Dangerous Cities in America

Morgan Quitno Corp released their "Most Dangerous Cities" list. Detroit fell one spot from 1st to 2nd. Camden, NJ overtook Detroit for the coveted spot. The rankings look at the rate for six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. It compares 350 cities with populations of 75,000 or more that reported crime data to the FBI.

Most Dangerous Cities, 2004

1. Camden, NJ
2. Detroit, MI
3. Atlanta, GA
4. St. Louis, MO
5. Gary, IN
6. Washington DC

Least Dangerous Cities, 2004

1. Newton, MA
2. Brick Township, NJ
3. Amherst, NY
4. Mission Viejo, CA
5. Clarkstown, NY

If metro areas are considered rather than cities proper, Detroit reclaims its crown. Also, the St. Louis police failed to report to the FBI more than 5,000 crimes last year; with these figures included, St. Louis overtakes Atlanta for the number 3 spot.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Famous and Almost Famous Little People

With the demand for dwarf actors and a constrained supply of them, a handful of dwarfs -- to use the Tolkien plural -- play a plurality of roles in movies and TV shows.

Kenny Baker: R2D2 (Star Wars), Dufflepod (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Nelwyn band member (Willow), Goblin Corps (Labyrinth), Parody Commendatore (Amadeus), Fidgit (Time Bandits), Plumed Dwarf (Elephant Man).

Jack Purvis: Golg (Silver Chair), Dufflepod, Jeremy/Gustavus (Baron Munchhausen), Nelwyn band member, Goblin Corps, Dr. Chapman (Brazil), Teebo (ROTJ), Wally (Time Bandits), Chief Ugnaught (ESB), Chief Jawa (Star Wars).

Warwick Davis: Professor Flitwick (Harry Potter), Marvin the Paranoid Android (Hitch-hiker's Guide), Oberon (Ray), Wald/Pod Race Spectator/Mos Espa Citzen (Episode I), Pechet (Prince Valiant), Grildrig (Gulliver's Travels), Glimfeather (Silver Chair), Reepicheep (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Willow Ufgood (Willod), Goblin Corps, Wicket (Battle for Endor, Ewok Adventure, ROTJ).

Verne Troyer: Mini-Me (Austin Powers), Griphook (Harry Potter), Band Member (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Baby Joe (Mighty Joe Young), Wee Waiter (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Wrestler (My Giant), Alien Son (Men in Black).

Tony Cox: Marcus (Bad Santa), Shonte Jackson (Me, Myself, and Irene), Vohnkar Warrior (Willow), Preacher (Beetlejuice), Dink (Spaceballs), Willy (Battle for Endor, Ewok Adventure, ROTJ).

Nelson de la Rosa: Majai (Island of Dr. Moreau).

Hervé Villechaize
: Tattoo (Fantasy Island), Nick Nack (Man with the Golden Gun).

Shari Weiser: Trollog (Babes in Toyland), Hoggle (Labyrinth).

Peter Burroughs: Nelwyn Villager (Willow), Goblin Corps, Ewok, Additional Performer (Dark Crystal), Dwarf (Flash Gordon).

Danny Blackner: Short Stack Stevens (Muppet Treasure Island), Goblin Corps, Ewok.

Malcom Dixon: Nelwyn Band Member, Goblin Corps, Ewok, Additional Performer (Dark Crystal), Strutter (Time Bandits), Dwarf (Flash Gordon), Oompa Loompa (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).

Anthony Georghiou: R.O.U.S. (Princess Bride), Goblin Corps.

Rusty Goffe: Nelwyn Villager, Le Muff (History of the World: Part I), Dwarf (Flash Gordon), Kabe/Jawa/GONK Droid (Star Wars), Oompa Loompa.

Angelo Muscat: Oompa Loompa, Butler (The Prisoner), Chumblie (Dr. Who).

Marcus Powell: Horseflesh (Time Bandits), Midget (Elephant Man), Rycar Ryjerd (Star Wars), Oompa Loompa.

Deep Roy: Oompa Loompa, Mr. Soggybottom (Big Fish), Gorilla Kid/Thade (Planet of the Apes), Droopy McCool (ROTJ), Additional Performer (Dark Crystal), Aura's Pet, Fellini (Flash Gordon), Italian Assassin (Pink Panther Strikes Again).

In Labyrinth and ROTJ: Michael Henbury Ballan, Paul Grant, Andrew Herd, Richard Jones, Peter Mandell, Nicholas Read, Linda Spriggs.