I've been thinking a lot about Google lately. The thing about Google that's really unsettling is that besides knowing all of our respective personal data, they know what's in our hearts. We ask search engines things we'd never ask another human (assuming we knew another human who could even answer such questions as, "Do you know if anyone breeds huge rabbits?"). Market dominance aside, possessing information about what's troubling us makes them easily the most powerful company in history. Good thing they're not evil, probably.
Since the Internet is such a conceptually weird thing to begin with (abstractly: "Here's a functionally infinite well of Man's knowledge that you can access over air... no witchcraft necessary!"), and humans, deep down and stripped of context, are even weirder, getting a peek at our aggregated, collective curiosities doesn't really demonstrate anything useful. Most thoughts we have on a daily basis probably wouldn't seem like they proceeded in a straight line if we listed them out in bullet points. Even if this information could be collated into something usable, we'd still be only moments away from getting distracted by a video of robotic traffic cop girls in Pyongyang, so I'm fine with humanity remaining an unsolvable mystery, since the answer would probably be something like, "Cats and celebrity gossip!".
However, this map, posted today by some place called Estately, troubles me. So much so, in fact, that I returned to it after rewatching that Pyongyang Robogirl video a few times. I'm originally from Kansas, and while I grew up near enough to the Missouri state line that I couldn't reliably tell you where to find livestock (go, uh, west, I guess?), I'm not too surprised by my home state's concern over hoof and mouth disease. The threat is real, people. However, despite the image suggested by having "Universal" as the first part of our company's name, Universal UClick is not run out of a high-rise in Manhattan or in a cargo plane than never lands, it's based in Missouri. So you can understand that it hurts a little that the folks in our home state are so dead set on tracking down Family Circus, a comic that we don't even syndicate.
Above: The star indicates UU's approximate location. I made this myself!
Far be it from me to score a bunch of easy jokes based on insignificant data, but I'm not above stooping down for a handful or two. Content is king, after all.
Photo credit: Nietzsche Family Circus
Some theories as to why our hometown is so curious about Family Circus's whereabouts:
1) Our company is so effective at disseminating comics to the masses that the masses never need to question where to find them. If you're lucky enough to be able to see, we have you covered. Better yet, we've identified underserved segments of the market ripe for further investment! Coming soon: audio-only spoken descriptions of our most popular comics, offered via daily micro-podcasts! Example: "Panel one: Garfield naps. Panel two: Jon walks past with a mustache. Panel three: Oh, jeez, it's really hard to describe, but Garfield does this thing… it's crazy. Crud, I wish you could see it, it's hilarious!"
2) One guy searched "Family Circus" over and over again using the TOR browser to tip the results in an art project similar to that Horse_ebooks thing. The techno-wiz in question goes by the handle of "N0T_M3." Welcome to the payoff!
3) All of our grandmothers live in Missouri, and all of their newspapers are stolen each day by their dirtbag neighbors.
4) No one in Missouri owns a computer, and this map merely bumped Illinois' #2 result over the border so it wouldn't be a weird blank spot. By the way, nice job, Illinois-- your people won't stand for racist jokes they've already heard, so staying on top of the most current, cutting-edge racism is an admirable priority. Shape up, you jerks. Sheesh.
5) Thanks to a loophole in Missouri's tax credit program, hundreds of prospective trapeze artists, human cannonballs, goat-faced women, elephant wranglers and sad clowns migrated to the state a year ago in hopes of finding work and began to intermarry. They sit patiently at libraries across the state each day, searching fruitlessly for a job suited to the skills of their families, then all ride home each night in the same tiny car.
Above: Three squares vs. one circle? For your comic-reading dollar, you can't beat the value offered by Cul de Sac.
I am in no way attempting to discourage anyone eager to check in with Family Circus from doing so; that strip is basically the backbone of my interest in comics, and making fun of it is as mean-spirited as it is hack. But-- and I'd say this even if I didn't work here-- if it's family-centric comics you people are looking for, we have a bunch, and they're all terrific. Cul de Sac? Yes. Literally thousands of them. Jump Start? Believe it, son: that strip has, like, seven different families, each with a distinct silhouette. Grizzwells? Yes, though they're technically all bears. For Better or For Worse? Since its beginning! They even aged in real-time, unlike those poor Keane kids and their chromosomal deficiencies.
Humbly, Missouri, I submit: give us a shot. We could be so good together.