Monday, July 25, 2011

Judging States Scientifically: An Introduction

featuring Kansas vs. North Dakota

Over at PWoT, there was a trend of saying things like "Oh of course this happened in WISCONSIN" whenever a news story about Wisconsin came up. The thing is, this happened for every state and every news story about every state, so it really didn't make any sense. If Wisconsin was a state founded to house the nation's odd news-makers (like a less deadly and thus slightly more amusing Australia), then it would make sense that everyone reacted that way.

But not every state was founded on those principles. In fact, states like Michigan, the handshake of Wisconsin, were founded on the principle of housing the nation's most boring people. In a time before 24-hour news networks, this seemed like a safe way to never have to put up with people who have sock collections ever again.

Anyway, it was clear that we needed a way to settle, once and for all, what states had which properties. And we would have to do it scientifically, based on a thorough analysis of their state coins--the reasoning being that states would try to represent their best sides on a coin that was going to be distributed amongst all the other states. Think of it like advertising. Would you make an advertisement saying "Come to Florida! We've got sand and also poison jellyfish and maybe sharks!" with neon pink as a predominant color? No, you wouldn't, unless you lived in a combination of Nebraska (the stupidest advertisers) and Tennessee.

Tennessee is where we put all the offensively bad graphic designers

So the theory was that we'd get a conservative reading of how much states sucked or what properties they had--but this was intentional. If bad things slip through in a representation of the best things a state can say about itself, then you know that state has problems. And boy, did a lot of states have problems.

This is going to be kind of a recurring feature, so we'll start off nice and slow with just a simple comparison:

See, where one coin has one bison, the other has two. Now, you could argue that since the two-bison coin came out later, they should get points off for being uncreative and pathetic, since the only thing they could come up with was an animal that was already on another state's coin, but:

1) Kansas loses points for not thinking ahead (they should have stuffed that coin with as many bison as possible; if you're making an animal claim about your state, make it proudly), and

2) North Dakota is not just making the claim "We have bison," they are clearly making the claim "We have the most bison," and that is a very different and worthy claim, since bison are an American Animal.

3) Additionally, the Kansas coin is flat and boring. The North Dakota coin is still boring, but it is less so.

4) Notice, also, that North Dakota is one of quite a few states making claim to the sun itself (or some part of it). We'll be discussing these states later.

Winner: North Dakota

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