TIME facebook

The Man Who Wired the World

CF087007.JPG
Zuckerberg in Chandauli, a village in India where a new computer center opened this year Ian Allen For TIME

Mark Zuckerberg’s crusade to put every single human being online

Chandauli is a tiny town in rural India about a four-hour drive southwest of New Delhi. India’s a big country, and there are several Chandaulis. This is the one that’s not on Google Maps.

It’s a dusty town, and the roads are narrow and unpaved. A third of the people here live below the poverty line, and the homes are mostly concrete blockhouses. Afternoons are hot and silent. There are goats. It is not ordinarily the focus of global media attention, but it is today, because today the 14th wealthiest man in the world, Mark Zuckerberg, has come to Chandauli.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

TIME language

Oxford Dictionaries Adds ‘Duck Face,’ ‘Man Crush’ and ‘Lolcat’

Dictionary
Getty Images

'Five second rule' and 'Obamacare' also made the cut

In their latest — and biggest-ever — quarterly update, Oxford Dictionaries Online added words that remind us who we are and what we care about in 2014.

Take xlnt (adj.), a symbol of our desire to skip tedious letters in today’s fast-paced conversation. Consider digital footprint (n.), a phrase that encapsulates our increasing worries about privacy and being monitored online. Or ponder man crush (n.), which explains modern man’s natural, platonic reaction to Benedict Cumberbatch.

All told, Oxford added about 1,000 new entries this quarter. It’s important to note that this deluge is flowing into the branch of Oxford that reflects modern usage — the words we’re using now and how we use them. The bar for entry into the historical Oxford English Dictionary is much higher, requiring words to prove they have greater staying power.

Here’s a selection of the new admissions:

al desko (adv. & adj.): while working at one’s desk in an office (with reference to the consumption of food or meals).

chile con queso (n.): (in Tex-Mex cookery) a thick sauce of melted cheese seasoned with chilli peppers, typically served warm as a dip for tortilla chips.

cool beans (exclam.): used to express approval or delight.

crony capitalism (n.): (derogatory) an economic system characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials.

digital footprint (n.): the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity.

duck face (n.): (informal) an exaggerated pouting expression in which the lips are thrust outwards, typically made by a person posing for a photograph.

five-second rule (n.): (humorous) a notional rule stating that food which has been dropped on the ground will still be uncontaminated with bacteria and therefore safe to eat if it is retrieved within five seconds.

hawt (adj.): (chiefly US) informal spelling of “hot.”

IDC (abbrev.): (informal) I don’t care.

jel (adj.): (informal, chiefly Brit.) jealous.

lolcat (n.): (on the Internet) a photograph of a cat accompanied by a humorous caption written typically in a misspelled and grammatically incorrect version of English.

MAMIL (n.): (Brit. informal) acronym: middle-aged man in Lycra. A middle-aged man who is a very keen road cyclist, typically one who rides an expensive bike and wears the type of clothing associated with professional cyclists.

man crush (n.): (informal) an intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by one man for another; a man who is the object of another’s intense liking or admiration.

misery index (n.): an informal measure of the state of an economy generated by adding together its rate of inflation and its rate of unemployment.

Obamacare (n.): (in the U.S.) an informal term for a federal law intended to improve access to health insurance for U.S. citizens. The official name of the law is the Affordable Care Act or (in full) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

permadeath, n.: (in video games) a situation in which a character cannot reappear after having been killed.

Secret Santa (n.): an arrangement by which a group of friends or colleagues exchange Christmas presents anonymously, with each member of the group being assigned another member for whom to provide a small gift, typically costing no more than a set amount.

shabby chic (n.): a style of interior decoration that uses furniture and soft furnishings that are or appear to be pleasingly old and slightly worn.

simples (exclam.): (Brit. informal) used to convey that something is very straightforward.

tech wreck (n.): (informal) a collapse in the price of shares in high-tech industries.

the ant’s pants (n.): (Austral. informal) an outstandingly good person or thing.

WTAF (abbrev.): (vulgar slang) what the actual f-ck.

xlnt (adj.): (informal) excellent.

TIME politics

Elizabeth Lauten Still Doesn’t Seem to Get How She Dehumanized Young Black Girls on Facebook

Elizabeth Lauten
Elizabeth Lauten Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

I'm glad she resigned. But her statement speaks to a much larger problem

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Following a long, hard weekend that included much “shade” and reportedly even more prayer, Elizabeth Lauten has finally done the right thing and resigned from her job as spokeswoman for Representative Stephen Fincher (R., Tenn.) after posting inappropriate criticisms of First Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama on Facebook.

This is great because America wasn’t really in the market for a Troll in Chief, and the subsequent apology Lauten offered didn’t help win friends and influence people. The long weekend was a tender time that had already left a lot of people feeling exposed as many Americans wrestled with the meaning of the secret proceedings that led to the Ferguson Decision.

Then, as now, is not the time to revel in shades of racism and mean-girl snark to make a political point, which is exactly what Lauten did. Spectacularly tone-deaf to where we’re at as a country right now, she went all in on Malia and Sasha, Michelle and Barack’s daughters, and Marion Robinson’s grands for their seeming and refreshing disinterest in the corny tradition that is the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey pardon.

“I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class,” Lauten wrote.

What she neglects to acknowledge is just how awful those teen years can be. Instead, she piles on. These young ladies are shown standing exposed to the world when everything about them is changing and adjusting at a rapid pace in ways they might not understand because that is what it means to be an adolescent.

Worst of all, Lauten needlessly sexualized the girls by saying, “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar.”

Girls have a hard enough time feeling good about their developing bodies without creepy, inappropriate and out-of-context comments like these. This comment felt just as bad as any leering guy on the street wolf-whistling to female passers-by.

It has never been more important to value a young woman’s humanity as she works to be vital and relevant, living and loving, hoping one day she’ll be valued for her efforts and be paid fairly and rewarded accordingly.

And in a society where bullying is rampant, it’s honestly unbelievable to me that Lauten so blindly bullied these girls. Did Lauten not even see the movie Bully? I still cry thinking about it.

While I appreciate that Lauten later tried to apologize, to me it was a failure.

By not directly addressing her apology to the First Daughters (notice how her initial heartless critique was directly addressed to them, though?), Lauten ascribed “superhuman” qualities to them. Meaning, she didn’t consider how her comments might make them or other girls feel, bearing out what Adam Waytz and his research team revealed in a recent study about white attitudes toward blacks.

“Today, a subtler form of dehumanization of blacks persists, with powerful consequences; it increases endorsement of police brutality against blacks and reduces altruism toward blacks,” according to the paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

It is no surprise to me that social media went apoplectic over the weekend upon learning what Lauten had done and how she handled it. It shows that the public has had it up to here with the nastiness of political discourse, especially when race, gender and sexuality are involved.

In her position as the spokeswoman (now former) for Representative Fincher, it was Lauten’s very job to be a communications expert, yet she proved incapable of reading the signs of the times and the particularly sensitive moment happening in this nation right now.

Lauten appears to be one of those women who vote against their own interests, mistaking proximity to the white power structure for real power.

It isn’t.

The lack of respect in her original Facebook post and the subsequent half-hearted apology was unforgivable and unforgettable. Regardless of what Lauten meant, her bad behavior is a reckoning moment for so many other things.

Now that Lauten has given up her job, perhaps she can spend more time reclaiming her own humanity — on her way to seeing ours.

Douglas is a journalist living in Chicago.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Now You Can Actually Attend a Hogwarts-Like Wizardry School

Harry Potter
Warner Bros.

The real-life event stays true to the Harry Potter books

Aspiring wizards from Poland and Denmark evidently got sick of waiting for owls with their acceptances to Hogwarts to arrive and created their own real-life College of Wizardry.

The fan-made Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry was held in a Polish castle for four days in November and will reconvene on April 9-12, Entertainment Weekly reported. The first event involved almost 200 live-action role players (or LARPers) from 11 different countries pretending to be students, teachers and other wizards. Attendees were sorted into five different houses and worked to complete their S.P.E.L.Ls (Senior Protective Enchanter’s Lifelong License).

Outside of the classroom, students attended Wizard dances, explored the magical grounds and played Quidditch, obviously.

Those who wish to attend the second session will have to pay about $345 for the privilege, not including travel expenses.

[EW]

TIME politics

Does America Need More Than One President?

American flags
Getty Images

Two presidents would have a potent incentive to cooperate

The question comes to mind as we watch Barack Obama abandon cooperation in favor of strategies that bypass Republican obstruction on Capitol Hill. Obama’s approach is understandable, but turning to executive orders and other paths to one-party action will only aggravate the problem of political dysfunction. In the short run, Obama may be able to ram his preferences through, but he invites similar action by future Republican presidents. Instead of defusing partisan conflict, Obama will fuel its expansion.

For a solution to our high levels of partisan conflict, we would do well to learn from the legacy of Nelson Mandela. The late South African president understood a key principle for effective governance—if you want everyone to work together on behalf of the common good, you have to give everyone a meaningful voice in government. Mandela rejected one-party control and instead chose a politics of inclusion. As former President Bill Clinton observed about Mandela, that’s the only politics “that works.” Indeed, said Clinton, “it’s the only thing that’s working in American communities today.”

But we currently have a politics of exclusion in Washington, and that explains much of the dysfunction that prevents Congress and the president from solving the country’s pressing problems. Democrats and Republicans both are well represented on Capitol Hill, but only one party is represented in the White House.

It was not always a problem to have a one-party presidency, but over the past 75 years, the Oval Office has amassed an exceptional amount of power. Presidents control policy for air quality, energy exploration, education, health care, consumer protection and many other matters through agency regulations, executive orders, and other unilateral actions. Presidents dominate foreign policy even more. They decide when we go to war, which foreign governments we recognize, and which undocumented immigrants we deport. As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., wrote, we now have an imperial presidency.

When a single person exercises the immense power of the modern presidency, people fight tooth and nail to secure that power. They spend billions to win the election, and they spend the ensuing four years positioning their party for the next election. One side of the aisle in Congress backs the president; the other side devotes itself to obstruction. Instead of responsible governance, we get the permanent campaign. It is no surprise that the sharp increase in partisan conflict has paralleled the huge expansion of presidential power.

The United States would do well to replace its one-person, one-party imperial presidency with a two-person, two-party presidency. Instead of electing the candidate with the most votes, we would send the top two finishers to the Oval Office. Presidential partners usually would come from the Democratic and Republican Parties, but they also could emerge from third parties.

By giving both sides of the political spectrum a voice in the executive branch, we would temper partisan conflict. Currently, half the public is shut out of the White House and turns readily to partisan opposition. A coalition presidency would represent the views of nearly all Americans. Hence, a much higher percentage of the public would be comfortable with executive branch initiatives. Even if legislators wanted to play partisan ball, they would not find a receptive electorate. There no longer would be a mass of disaffected voters to mobilize against the Oval Office.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle would have other reasons to cooperate with a bipartisan White House. For example, they could share in the credit for presidential achievements. During President Obama’s first term, Republicans recognized that even if they voted for the economic stimulus or health care reform, Democrats would receive all of the credit for the programs. GOP members of Congress could benefit politically only by opposing legislative initiatives from the White House and hoping the initiatives would be defeated or would fail after enactment. With bipartisan presidential proposals, both parties could share in the credit for success.

All members of Congress also would be in a better position to get help from the executive branch for their constituents. As I found during my service in the Indiana House of Representatives, legislators often do more for their districts by cutting through governmental red tape than by passing bills. But I also found that I could help my constituents with the executive branch only when it was headed by a governor of my own party. With a two-party executive, every member of Congress could find a receptive ear in the White House.

Shared power would promote better presidential decision-making. The Constitution envisions an executive who primarily implements policy decisions made by Congress. But the modern president has assumed much of the legislative branch’s policymaking authority. While it makes sense to have a single person who can act decisively and with dispatch when the person is an executor of policy made by others, the founding fathers correctly reserved policy making for multiple-person bodies. As Woodrow Wilson observed, “the whole purpose of democracy is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man.”

Has shared governance ever worked? Experience with multiple executives is not very different from that with single executives. One-person presidential governments have fared well in some countries but poorly in others (e.g., in Eastern European, African and South American nations). Similarly, coalition executives have performed well in some countries, such as Switzerland and Austria, but not in others.

The key question is not whether to have shared governance but how the sharing should be structured. Game theory supplies a sound answer. If we gave two presidents equal power, we would give them the right incentives to cooperate. Elected officials may be highly partisan, but they are partisan for a purpose. In typical power-sharing settings, one person can hope to establish a dominant position by outmaneuvering the other person. In a properly designed coalition presidency, neither president could hope to prevail over the other president. During their terms, they would share power equally, and reelection also would come with half of the executive power.

Two presidents would have a potent incentive to cooperate. If they spent their terms locking horns, they would not be able to implement key policy goals. And having reached the pinnacle of political life, presidents care most about their legacies of achievement. Accordingly, they likely would come to accommodations that would allow them to implement meaningful policy changes. Presidential self-interest would prevent stalemate.

A two-person presidency also would be fairer to voters than a one-person presidency. Barack Obama exercises 100 percent of the executive power after winning only 51 percent of the popular vote. It makes much more sense to give Mitt Romney 50 percent rather than 0 percent of the executive power for his 47 percent support in November 2012.

While the founding fathers preferred a single executive in 1787, they likely would approve of a bipartisan executive today. They wanted the presidency to speak for everyone, not just residents of a particular interest group or political party. The founding fathers also believed in radical reform. When their political system failed, they understood the need for major structural change. To restore the Constitution’s vision of a truly representative government, two presidents really would be better than one.

David Orentlicher is Samuel R. Rosen Professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. A scholar of constitutional law and a former state representative, David also has taught at Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School. He earned degrees in law and medicine at Harvard and specializes as well in health care law and ethics. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square.

Read next: Why Mandarin Won’t Be a Lingua Franca

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Why I Brought My Young Kids to a Ferguson Protest

Crowd with Hands in Air
Getty Images

The consensus was overwhelmingly that it is stupid, if not negligent, to bring children to a protest

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I was going to do some Thanksgiving prep the other day. You know, make a pie crust. Maybe even some stuffing. That’s what you do two days before Thanksgiving, right? Instead, my children and I spent the afternoon at a Ferguson protest in support of Michael Brown.

On our way to the protest, my teenage daughter shared a photo of herself and her sisters on a local news station’s Facebook page and immediately received dozens of negative comments about bringing children to a protest. Some suggested that Child Protective Services be called while others mocked her for everything from her presumed ignorance to her age to the color of her hair. The consensus was overwhelmingly that it is stupid, if not negligent, to bring children to a protest.

Living in Seattle, I’m nowhere near Ferguson. I’m as lily white as they come. I’ve never experienced racism, and in fact I’ve noted my own privilege plenty of times. I’m not sure that I used to notice it at all, or was even aware that it existed, until I moved to the troubled neighborhood of South Seattle a few years ago.

We were the racial minority in that neighborhood, but we were also the privileged minority. The police were friendly…to us. A young black woman was less lucky when a police officer punched her in the face next door to the Starbucks we frequented. I’m pretty sure that a lawsuit came out of that case, but the Seattle Police Department is no stranger to lawsuits. In a city that’s famous for its progressive values, it’s almost shocking to remember that here, too, was the site of the 1999 WTO protests and that just last month a judge threw out a lawsuit by members of the Seattle PD who felt that reforms designed to curb the use of excessive force violated THEIR civil rights. Seriously, I’m not making that up. They really tried to sue for that.

Last week’s protests were peaceful. Hundreds of high school students joined hundreds of members of the community to march through the streets of Seattle. The groups converged on the steps of the Federal courthouse, where a rally was held. We stood in the rain, hands up, chanting “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.” We came together to lend our voices to the growing chorus of outrage against a system that rewards violent white men and institutionalizes the murder of black men.

Frankly, I would rather have baked a pie that day than attended a protest. But, as a mother, it’s my job to teach my children right from wrong, and you don’t do that with words. You do that by getting out there in the rain, with nowhere to pee, feeling a little awkward and wondering what you have to add to a racial discussion, but throwing your hands up and making your voice heard anyway. You do it by leading by example, not by ranting on Facebook. You do it by, cliché or not, being the change you want to see, and trusting your kids enough to allow them to be there, too.

Statistically, my kids had a dramatically higher chance of being harmed on the drive to the protest than at the protest itself. I decided not to let fear rule me and I made a parenting decision that introduced my children to social activism.

My young daughters held their hands up and joined in the chants, asked a few questions, and then played on the steps of the courthouse as the protest continued behind them.

Afterward, we walked away from a courthouse lined with police officers, knowing that we were safe and that we wouldn’t be stopped, harassed, or otherwise harmed as we walked. No one would detain or search us. No one would pull my car over for a “routine” traffic stop. No one would pay us any attention at all, unless to smile at my children or perhaps say hello. Unlike Michael Brown’s parents, I have the security of knowing that my children will see the friendly, smiling side of the local police.

A friend once told me that she doesn’t give the homeless money because she’s afraid of her children witnessing someone drunk or mentally ill. While she wants to help the homeless she sees asking for money on the streets, she believes that it’s simply too dangerous for her children to be involved. Although I understand her fear, I wonder how we expect to raise thoughtful, compassionate adults if we shield our kids from every unfortunate situation around us.

There are age-appropriate ways to discuss almost any topic with your kids, and we do our kids a disservice when we treat them as delicate hothouse flowers. Our kids are strong, and they can handle the sight of a man sleeping under a restaurant awning and can raise their hands in support of equality. It is those experiences that have led my children to organize neighborhood food drives and to declare their desire to be a police officer who helps instead of harms.

And, hopefully, it is those experiences that will lead my kids to a nuanced understanding of social issues instead of the simple comfort of a black and white worldview.

Ultimately, who knows how any of our kids will turn out. As parents, the best we can do is our best, and there’s no such thing as a perfect approach. But, today, let’s take a few minutes to talk to our kids about racism, privilege, and oppression, and to remind them that those in power aren’t always right, that the system isn’t always perfect, and that we have a voice to raise. And, then, let’s find a way to take action.

Because, in the end, it’s our actions, not our words, that truly teach our children.

Jody Allard is writer and mother living in Seattle.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Science

Boys May Actually Be Meaner Than Girls, Study Says

Boy using hedge clippers to cut down butterfly mobile
Getty Images

Debunking the "Mean Girls" myth

Move over, Mean Girls. It turns out that boys might actually be the crueler ones.

A new study from the University of Georgia (UGA) published in the journal Aggressive Behavior reveals that when it comes to being mean to your peers, it’s not girls who rule the school, but boys.

It has long been speculated by social researchers that boys are more physically aggressive while girls are more relationally aggressive. To put that in middle-school terms: boys are more likely to shove you into a locker, while girls are more apt to spread a rumor that you didn’t wear deodorant to gym class. Relationally aggressive behavior is the stuff that Mean Girls is made of — malicious rumors, social exclusion and rejection — and it turns out that boys are pretty good at it too.

In fact, as researchers followed a group of boys and girls from middle school to high school, they found that, at every grade level, boys engaged in so-called relationally aggressive behavior more often than girls. The boys were also more physically aggressive than the girls, which leads to an interesting side note: the study seems to have scientifically proved what many have known to be true — middle school ain’t fun. The UGA study shows that the highest levels of physical and relational aggression are present in students from sixth through eighth grade, with all levels of aggression declining throughout high school before reaching a low during senior year. In short, aggressive behavior is at its worst in middle school, but it gets better.

Pamela Orpinas, a professor of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health at UGA, led the study and analyzed data collected from 620 students randomly selected from six northeast Georgia school districts. Student participants completed yearly surveys, which allowed the UGA researchers to identify and group them in distinct trajectories for relational aggression and victimization as they progressed from Grade Six to 12 trusting the students to self-report both physically and relationally aggressive behavior and victimization.

“Overall, we found relational aggression to be a very common behavior,” says Orpinas, who notes in an interview with TIME that for the most part, middle school and high school age children are not particularly aggressive, even if they may make snide comments about a classmate at some point. “Almost all of the students surveyed, 96%, had passed a rumor or made a nasty comment about someone over the course of the seven-year study.” Her study revealed that a majority (54%) of the students were unlikely to be perpetrators of relationally aggressive behavior and only 6.5% were ranked “high” as likely perpetrators. Among those students who were perpetrators of violence, the study found that boys were more likely to be both moderate perpetrators (boys 55%, girls 45%) and high perpetrators (boys 66.7%, girls 33.3%) of relationally aggressive behavior.

Still, the study has its limitations: it’s based on a relatively small sample size of students from Georgia schools, rather than looking at a nationally representative sample. Orpinas notes there’s little research on mean boys so far, but hopes to look more closely at the phenomenon in the future. For now, with the “mean girls” myth dispelled, she recommends boys be included in the same school-based programs that have traditionally been used to keep girls from being mean to each other. And maybe that Mean Girls sequel should be called Mean Boys, which would be so fetch.

For more parenting stories and advice on raising a child in today’s world, check out the new TIME for Family subscription.

TIME society

Students With These Names Are the Absolute Worst

According to a survey that claims to reveal the names of students with the best and worst behavior

School Stickers, a website started by a UK teacher where PreK-12 students earn “rewards” for good behavior and achievement from teachers, has compiled a list of boys and girls who have been “naughty” and “nice” based on the most common names.

Nicest Girls

Amy
Georgia
Emma
Charlotte
Grace
Sophie
Abigail
Hannah
Emily

Naughtiest Girls

Ella
Bethany
Eleanor
Olivia
Laura
Holly
Courtney
Amber
Caitlin
Jade

Nicest Boys

Jacob
Daniel
Thomas
James
Adam
Harry
Samuel
Jack
Oliver
Ryan

Naughtiest Boys

Joseph
Cameron
William
Jake
Joshua
Jamie
Lewis
Benjamin
Ethan
Luke

(h/t BuzzFeed)

TIME society

Here Are the 10 Most Misquoted Holiday Songs

“Don we now our day of peril”

The following 10 songs are the most frequently misquoted holiday classics and the funniest ways people have interpreted them, according to an Amazon survey. The data is a promotion for X-ray for Music, an application that displays lyrics as tunes play. Happy sing-a-long!

  • “Auld Lang Syne”: “Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mine, should all acquaintance be forgot in the land of old man time.”
  • “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your toes”
  • “Winter Wonderland”: “Later on, we’ll perspire”
  • “Deck the Halls”: “Don we now our day of peril”
  • “Jingle Bells”: “Bells on cocktail rings”
  • “The Twelve Days of Christmas”: “On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, four colly birds”
  • “Silent Night”: “Round John Virgin, mother and child”
  • “Joy to the World”: “Joy to the world! The Lord has gum”
  • “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”: “Grandma got run over by a reindeer walkin’ home from outhouse on Christmas Eve”
  • “We Three Kings of Orient Are”: “We three kings of porridge and tar”
TIME

This Is the Most Popular Christmas Song Ever

TIME crunches the merry numbers behind the most popular Christmas songs of the modern era

The names Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber have largely vanished into the annals of Christmas tormentors, but their greatest triumph lives on. “Silent Night,” which Mohr wrote the lyrics for (in German) in 1816 and Gruber put to music two years later, is the most recorded Christmas song in the modern era of the holiday’s substantial oeuvre.

To determine this fact, TIME crawled the records at the U.S. Copyright Office, which offers digitized registrations going back to 1978, and collected data on every Christmas album recorded since that time. “Silent Night,” it turns out, is not merely the most popular carol; with 733 copyrighted recordings since 1978, it is nearly twice as dominant as “Joy to the World,” a distant second with 391 records to its name.

As one might surmise, songs that are no longer under their original copyright are considerably more prominent on modern Christmas albums, given that one needn’t share the holiday windfall. This lends an obvious advantage to the ecclesiastical hymns and tunes, like “O Holy Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” As intellectual property lawyer Paul C. Jorgensen explains, this does nothing to prevent artists from copyrighting their own recording of a song and collecting royalties whenever a radio station wants to play it–assuming the other 732 renditions weren’t to taste.

Nor is it strictly limited to American recording artists. “A lot of international artists will go ahead and register things in the United States,” Jorgensen said.

To determine secularity, TIME measured the likelihood that a song appears on the same album with either “What Child Is This?”, a decidedly devout 1865 tune, or “Jingle Bell Rock,” roughly it’s polar opposite. (The choice of those two songs is rather arbitrary, but proved in trial and error to offer the clearest dichotomy.) In true Christmas spirit, “Silent Night” aptly bridges that great divide: It co-headlines with just about anyone.

Methodology

This project began by downloading every copyrighted recording of “Jingle Bells,” then expanding to every song on the same album as “Jingle Bells,” and so forth until the universe of Christmas music was exhausted. The data only includes “sound recording” records from the Copyright Office, as opposed to sheet music arrangements, videos, and other formats in which one might copyright a song. Variations on the same material, such as “O Christmas Tree” and “O Tannenbaum,” where grouped as one song.

Design by Alexander Ho

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser