If we are what we Google, then Google Hot Trends —an hourly rundown of search terms "that experience sudden surges in popularity"—is the Web's best cultural barometer. Here's a sampling of today's top searches. (Rankings on Hot Trends list current as of 9 a.m.):
No. 5: "Trina Thompson." A 27-year-old Monroe College graduate is suing her alma mater for $70,000 because she can't find a job. "They have not tried hard enough to help me," Thompson said of the Bronx-based college, where she majored in Information Technology. If Thompson wins her lawsuit, New York colleges could be inundated by unemployed comp lit majors looking to recoup their tuition: The city's jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent last month.
No. 42: "Sudan Trouser woman." Meanwhile, in Sudan, women are being arrested for wearing pants . Lubna Hussein is a former U.N. worker who was picked up at a restaurant in a raid by morality police and sentenced to 40 lashes for wearing "indecent" trousers. Hussein is appealing the verdict in order to draw attention to women's rights issues in Sudan.
No. 94: "1916 shark attacks." It's shark week . The Discovery Channel's annual aquatic bloodbath kicked off yesterday with a two-hour dramatization of a spate of 1916 shark attacks on the Jersey Shore that eventually inspired Peter Benchley's Jaws . Mike Hale in the New York Times explains the misleading-but-enthralling "shell game" Discovery plays each year with Shark Week: "exploiting the queasy fear that sharks inspire while noting in passing how rarely they attack."