A Brief History of ‘God Bless America’

In 1918, Jewish immigrant Irving Berlin was serving the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York when he started composing a Ziegfeld Follies-style revue for the soldiers. For its finale, he penned a little diddy called “God Bless America.”

Berlin didn’t end up using tune, and didn’t think of it much again until about two decades later. With World War II looming, the songwriter wanted to pen an anthem rallying for harmony. “I’d like to write a great peace song,” he said, “but it’s hard to do, because you have trouble dramatizing peace.”

He dug up his discarded musical number from the WWI revue, and Kate Smith ultimately debuted the revised version on her radio show on Armistice Day in 1938. She reportedly said: “As I stand before the microphone and sing it with all my heart, I’ll be thinking of our veterans and I’ll be praying with every breath I draw that we shall never have another war.”

The new song had a few modifications. Among other things, to avoid any confusion regarding politics, Berlin changed the phrase “to the right” to “through the light” by the time the sheet music was published. The song was a fast sensation. It was featured a few years later in 1943’s This is the Army (appropriately starring Ronald Reagan), which is where the above clip comes from.

Smith and Berlin would later squabble over proprietorship, foreshadowing a bit of the kind of contention the song would continue to engender for many years to come. It’s seen a complicated history, and the phrase itself occupies a strange place in the American zeitgeist. And while those in the political landscape argue over its meaning and ownership, it’s technically the property of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of New York City. Berlin established the God Bless America Fund in 1940, and its royalties go directly to the young adult organizations. An estimated $10 million in profits have gone to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the decades since.

Image credit: YouTube

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Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


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