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Most Distinctive Last Names by State

According to the most recent publicly available U.S. Census data from the year 2000, the five most common last names in the United States are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones. But what are the regional variations? While the Census Bureau breaks out each last name by race and ethnicity, it doesn’t provide a count by state. There are other data sources, however. In 2014 Ancestry.com ran the numbers from their own database, and compiled the top three most common last names by state. With the exception of the Southwest states and Hawaii, the top few names nationwide tended to also dominate the state-specific rankings.

However, another way to uncover regional differences at the state level is to calculate the most distinctive last name by state. Using a methodology similar to the “Most Distinctive Obituary Euphemism for 'Died' in Each State” map, I calculated the difference between the state and national prevalence of each of the top 250 last names nationwide, based on Social Security Administration data. The highest value gives the last name that is most distinctive to that state.

By and large, the results are reflective of each state’s demographics and immigration history. In New England and Appalachia, Irish and English names dominate (Walsh, Sullivan, Payne). In the Midwest and Mountain States, German and Scandinavian names are common (Jensen, Snyder, Carlson). In California, Florida, and the Southwest, it's Latino names (Lopez, Hernandez, Gonzalez). New York and New Jersey’s Jewish communities also show up (Cohen, Schwartz, Hoffman).

To see the top five names for each state and for more about the methods and sources used to create this map, visit this post at SimonKnowz.com.

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Afternoon Map
The Richest Person of All Time From Each State


Looking for inspiration in your quest to become a billionaire? This map from cost information website HowMuch.net, spotted by Digg, highlights the richest person in history who hails from each of the 50 states.

More billionaires live in the U.S. than in any other country, but not every state has produced a member of the Three Comma Club (seven states can only lay claim to millionaires). The map spans U.S. history, with numbers adjusted for inflation. One key finding: The group is overwhelmingly male, with only three women represented.

The richest American by far was John D. Rockefeller, repping New York with $257.25 billion to his name. Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Bill Gates clock in at the third and fifth richest, respectively. While today they both make their homes in the exclusive waterfront city of Medina, Washington, this map is all about birthplace. Since Gates, who is worth $90.54 billion, was born in Seattle, he wins top billing in the Evergreen State, while Albuquerque-born Bezos's $116.57 billion fortune puts New Mexico on the map.

The richest woman is South Carolina's Anita Zucker ($3.83 billion), the CEO of InterTech Group, a private, family-owned chemicals manufacturer based in Charleston. Clocking in at number 50 is the late, great socialite Brooke Astor—who, though a legend of the New York City social scene, was a native of New Hampshire—with $150 million.

[h/t Digg]

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Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
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There’s a Ghost Hiding in This Illustration—Can You Find It?
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

A hidden image illustration by Gergely Dudás, a.k.a. Dudolf
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

Gergely Dudás is at it again. The Hungarian illustrator, who is known to his fans as “Dudolf,” has spent the past several years delighting the internet with his hidden image illustrations, going back to the time he hid a single panda bear in a sea of snowmen in 2015. In the years since, he has played optical tricks with a variety of other figures, including sheep and Santa Claus and hearts and snails. For his latest brainteaser, which he posted to both his Facebook page and his blog, Dudolf is asking fans to find a pet ghost named Sheet in a field of white bunny rabbits.

As we’ve learned from his past creations, what makes this hidden image difficult to find is that it looks so similar to the objects surrounding it that our brains just sort of group it in as being “the same.” So you’d better concentrate.

If you’ve scanned the landscape again and again and can’t find Sheet to save your life, go ahead and click here to see where he’s hiding.

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