Want To Be a Zombie™ Super Hero™? You'll Need to Ask Marvel™.

Some 'real' super heroes

Marvel Comics, like many businesses in creative industries, relies heavily

on trademarks and licensing to generate revenue. As evident from the popularity of Marvel-licensed films – X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Blade, etc. – it’s clearly working for them.

The company – also known as Marvel Publishing, which is part of Marvel Entertainment, which since December 2009 is part of Disney – has registered some interesting trademarks in its time.

Super Hero and Super Heroes are both Marvel trademarks, as is the less commonly used Super Villains. From 1975 to 1996, Marvel also owned a publishing trademark for the word Zombie. Perhaps understanding that this trademark wasn’t enforceable, in 1996 they registered Marvel Zombies, which states in the registration document, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use zombies“.

According to the ever-dubious Wikipedia, Marvel Comics also own trademarks on two sounds that their characters make: the “thwip!” of Spider-Man’s web shooters, and the “snikt!” of Wolverine’s claws. Our searches of the US Trademark database have yet to uncover proof of these claims, however, and no citation is provided on the Wikipedia page.

Photograph under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Sam Howzit

Most Successful Songwriters: 1890-2008 and 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s

Most successful Billboard songwriters from 1890-2008

The Whitburn Project is an informal group that collects data about all songs in the Billboard chart, and has amassed a huge amount of information from 1890 onwards. The data is a little inconsistent (due to the nature of mass collaboration) and isn’t 100% complete, but it still allows for some interesting analysis.

Here we present the most successful songwriters of all time and per decade (from the 60s onwards), according to this data. Note that inconsistencies may result in some songwriters having their data split across multiple spellings of their name, e.g. Timbaland may appear as both Tim Mosley and T.V. Mosley in the 2000s chart.

Most successful Billboard songwriters from the 1960s

Most successful Billboard songwriters from the 1970s

Most successful Billboard songwriters from the 1980s

Most successful Billboard songwriters from the 1990s

Most successful Billboard songwriters from the 2000s (to 2008)

Source Data

Song Writer Writing Credits
Babyface 94
Gerry Goffin 96
Eddie Holland Jr. 97


Brian Holland 102
Lamont Dozier 105
Burt Bacharach 105
Hal David 111
John Lennon 127
Paul McCartney 141
William “Smokey” Robinson 61
Carole King 67
Eddie Holland Jr. 73
Lamont Dozier 74
Brian Holland 74
Burt Bacharach 76
Gerry Goffin 76
Hal David 79
John Lennon 86
Paul McCartney 86
Brian Holland 28
Neil Diamond 28
Robin Gibb 28
James Brown 31
Lamont Dozier 31
Carole King 32
Norman Whitfield 34
John Lennon 38
Barry Gibb 39
Kenny Gamble 47
Leon Huff 48
Paul McCartney 52
B.Springsteen 14
B.Taupin 15
H.Knight 15
J.Vallance 15
D.Child 17
Babyface 18
D.Warren 19
*Prince Symbol* 20
D.Foster 22
J.Harris III 26
T.Lewis 27
Madonna 21
L.A.Reid 21
R.Kelly 21
D.Simmons 25
T.Riley 26
*Prince Symbol* 26
J.Harris III 45
T.Lewis 45
D.Warren 47
Babyface 69
A.Thiam 17
Jermaine Dupri 17
Marshall Mathers 17
S.Smith 19
T.E.Hermansen 19
J.Dupri 20
T.V.Mosley 25
S.Garrett 26
Tim Mosley 28
Pharrell Williams 28
Chad Hugo 35
R. Kelly 37

Why are the East of Cities usually Poorer?

Smoke / Pollution

Many older cities rapidly expanded during the Industrial Revolution, as workers flocked to the urban centers. As the towns and cities expanded, the residential areas for the workers tended to be in the east, with the middle and upper-classes in the west.

The reason for this is that

in much of the northern hemisphere, the prevailing winds are westerlies – blowing from west to east. The massive, unchecked pollution from these early industries would therefore drift eastward, making the air quality much lower in the east end of cities, lowering the desirability (and price) of the housing. Middle classes preferred the cleaner west ends.

The issue was probably even pre-Industrial Revolution, as smoke from personal chimneys would still have caused problems to the east.

In many cities, this will have been compounded – or confused – by the direction of the main river in the environment, which would have been relied on for many uses, including sewerage. London, as an example, displays a massive east/west divide, caused in large part by both early industry and the west-to-east flow of the River Thames.

Smoke image under Creative Commons license, by Flickr user Señor Codo

UK MPs Can Earn Over £1000 Per Hour

How much UK MPs earn, per hour, on 'external' jobs

The annual salary for a UK MP is currently £65,738. This income is often topped-up with payments from other jobs; one-off consultancy projects, board member salaries, or media appearances. Using the Register of Members Interests raw data provided by the invaluable They Work For You, we can see how much extra they earn.

The graph above plots many of the individual payments we extracted data for, normalised by £/hour – how much the MP earned for each hour worked. The highest hourly wage goes to William Hague, at £7,331 per hour (£14,662 for a two hour talk).

You can see a clear plateau at £150/hour in the graph (click for a larger version), with slightly smaller £200/hour and £100/hour plateaus either side. The average rate was a little over £250/hour.

Although many of the tasks appear to be costed at a low hourly rate, it should be noted that we gave many MPs the benefit of the doubt: for those that recorded ‘1 day’ (rather than the standard number of hours), we assumed this was 24 hours, not a 7.5 hour working day.

Ten MPs managed to record a rate of £infinity/hour, by receiving payments for 0 hours worked: these include three payments of over £3,500 to John Gummer and three payments of £3,500 to Edward Leigh.

23 MPs managed to earn over £1000/hour, and 46 managed over £500/hour.

Of the top 10 highest paying items (in terms of £/hour) – each of which was between approximately £1500 and £7000 per hour – only Vince Cable, who appears twice on the list, donated his fee (in both cases) to charity. All other MPs – including William Hague, John Greenway, Michael Gove and John Gummer, appear to have retained their


9 Fascinating Datasets Available Online for Free

Data is invaluable for our continued advancement as a society. We use it to decide which hospitals to attend, which foods to eat, what career to take. We can learn incredible lessons from the past, and make vast sums of money from predicting future


As individuals, we are lucky to have access to more data than ever before, as data sets continue to be made available online for free.

Primarily as an excuse to let you know about the amazing Infochimps website (that catalogues datasets and makes them available), here are some interesting data sets that you might want to explore:

  1. 500,000 email messages from Enron senior management
  2. 500,000+ US pager intercepts from the 9/11
  3. Frequency of Sex versus Satisfaction Levels
  4. Meat Consumption by Type and Country
  5. The Location of Michael Jackson’s White Glove in 10,000+ Video Frames
  6. Drug Use by Arrestees in Major U.S. Cities
  7. Characters from Baywatch
  8. 1,000 Most Frequently Used English Words by Frequency
  9. UFO Reports, by city, shape, duration