Statistics Saturday: Top United States Of The World


  1. United States of Mexico
  2. United States of Central America
  3. United States of Brazil
  4. United States of the United Provinces of the Netherlands
  5. United States of America
  6. United States of Greater New Zealand
  7. United States of Mongo
  8. United States of the United States of Travancore and the United States of Cochin
  9. United States (2007, Smashing Pumpkins)
  10. United States of Mexico 2.2

Reference: Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, Margaret MacMillan.

Statistics Saturday: US Acting-Presidents Under The 25th Amendment Name Lengths Over Time


Three data points: Bush, Cheney, and then Cheney. Names are represented as blue dots; the average length (5.333) as green dots.
I know what you’re thinking: wait, didn’t George H W Bush serve as Acting President twice while Ronald Reagan was under anaesthetic for colon surgery? No, it was just the one time. Dick Cheney served as Acting President twice, for two of George W Bushs’s colonoscopies. I don’t know how you and I both got this mixed up. Yeah, Bush should have been Acting President while Reagan was in surgery after getting shot but nobody was on top of things enough to organize that at the time.

Reference: Measuring the Universe: The Historical Quest to Quantify Space, Kitty Ferguson.

Statistics Saturday: US Vice-Presidential Name Lengths Over Time


Chart showing, in blue, the length of the names of all US Vice-Presidents in order. In blue is the less fluttery chart of five-Vice-President running averages. The average length rose slightly from Colfax through Coolidge and has mostly declined since then.
I know what you’re thinking: wait, there was a vice-president named ‘Johnson’ before Dallas and King? I know, I was shocked too. Turns out the United States has had THREE vice-presidents named Johnson. George Clinton and John C Calhoun are counted only the once because while they each served parts of two terms, for different presidents, their times in office were continuous.

Reference: Keeping Watch: A History of American Time, Michael O’Malley.

Statistics Saturday: US Presidential Name Lengths Over Time


The rise and fall of US Presidential name lengths, per successive administrations. Also included is a five-president running average. The average name length is rather higher from Garfield-to-Kennedy and has been in a long-term decline since Eisenhower.
Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: I’m treating successive presidential administrations as a proxy for time, as though the term of office of, say, Zachary Taylor were equal to that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Believe me, I thought about weighting this against term of office and then literally everybody I know wrestled me to the ground and slapped me silly so this is what you’re going to get.

Reference: Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo-Saturn Launch Vehicles, Roger E Bilstein.

Statistics Saturday: Uncertainly Named United States


  • Maybesota
  • Arkansish
  • Kansish
  • Possylvania

Source: Who’s Who In Mythology: A Classic Guide to the Ancient World, Alexander S Murray.

Well, the thing is, sometimes you know you have a good solid premise on the board, and you put it through the full development process and you see that it isn’t there yet, and you go back and you give it another two weeks of work, and you know the idea hasn’t blossomed to what it should. So you can either go with what you have, or write off the whole project as a loss, or toss it back into the scraps for use in a future piece. But what else could this be used for? A joke about not being able to remember the names of states? When is that going to come up? I mean, two-thirds of my jokes are based on remembering some impossibly petty bit of nonsense, like who was the Secretary of the Treasury in 1853 or something. Not being able to think of Arkansas? Impossible. Switch over to indifferently named states? You have to throw away all of these, really. Maybe not Kansish. But all you get back from it is “Mehvada”. Possibly “Alabamnah”. Not getting any closer done. Anyway I still believe in this premise.

The Most Perfect Sentence I Have Ever Seen In Print This Week


So I was reading Seymour I Schwartz’s The Mismapping of America, which as you inferred from the title is all about the challenges in making an integrated-circuit design and surrounding circuit board that would be lightweight and reliable enough to serve as the Apollo Guidance Computer for the moon landings. In the last full chapter Schwartz discusses the history of mapping the Great Lakes and how we got around to having two Lake Superior islands — Isle Phelipeaux and Isle Pontchartain — which define part of the boundary between the United States and Canada despite neither actually in fact existing. Here “neither” refers to Lake Superior and to the United States, which should be a considerable relief to everyone but the mapmakers. And now consider this following sentence, about the late-1680s exploration reports by Louis, Baron de Lahontan et Hesleche, of the Fox River in what we now think of as Wisconsin.

Lahontan’s text includes an extensive, although improbable, description of domesticated beavers in the area.

And now try to tell me that sentence hasn’t caused you to pause in your day’s worries and allow a gentle, delighted smile to cross your face. You can’t do it, and for good reason. I thank whatever twists and turns of fate led Seymour I Schwartz to the point of writing such a delightful sentence. It’s rare for fourteen words to do so much for the human condition.

Statistics Saturday: The United States In Descending Order Of Thickness


Also including the District of Columbia because, heck, what does that cost me?

State Or District Of Columbia Thickness
Alaska 20,310 ft / 6191 m
California 14,783 ft / 4506 m
Washington 14,417 ft / 4394 m
Hawaii 13,803 ft / 4207 m
Nevada 12,665 ft / 3860 m
Arizona 12,565 ft / 3830 m
Idaho 11,954 ft / 3644 m
Utah 11,354 ft / 3461 m
Oregon 11,249 ft / 3429 m
Colorado 11,123 ft / 3390 m
Montana 11,003 ft / 3354 m
Wyoming 10,709 ft / 3264 m
New Mexico 10,323 ft / 3147 m
Texas 8,751 ft / 2667 m
North Carolina 6,684 ft / 2037 m
Tennessee 6,466 ft / 1971 m
New Hampshire 6,288 ft / 1917 m
South Dakota 6,276 ft / 1913 m
Virginia 5,729 ft / 1746 m
New York 5,343 ft / 1629 m
Maine 5,270 ft / 1606 m
Georgia 4,784 ft / 1458 m
Oklahoma 4,686 ft / 1428 m
West Virginia 4,623 ft / 1409 m
Nebraska 4,587 ft / 1398 m
Vermont 4,300 ft / 1311 m
Kentucky 3,887 ft / 1185 m
South Carolina 3,560 ft / 1085 m
Massachusetts 3,489 ft / 1063 m
Kansas 3,361 ft / 1025 m
Maryland 3,360 ft / 1024 m
Pennsylvania 3,213 ft / 979 m
North Dakota 2,757 ft / 840 m
Arkansas 2,698 ft / 822 m
Alabama 2,413 ft / 736 m
Connecticut 2,379 ft / 725 m
New Jersey 1,803 ft / 550 m
Minnesota 1,700 ft / 518 m
Missouri 1,542 ft / 470 m
Michigan 1,408 ft / 429 m
Wisconsin 1,372 ft / 418 m
Iowa 1,191 ft / 363 m
Ohio 1,094 ft / 333 m
Illinois 955 ft / 291 m
Indiana 937 ft / 286 m
Rhode Island 811 ft / 247 m
Mississippi 807 ft / 246 m
Louisiana 543 ft / 165 m
Delaware 447 ft / 136 m
District of Columbia 408 ft / 124 m
Florida 345 ft / 105 m

Source: Wikipedia from which I learn there’s only two states that have spots below sea level? That’s weird. Like, I understand Colorado not having any spots below sea level, but there isn’t one rocky crag somewhere in, like, North Carolina that runs below the ocean level? And like how has someone not dug a big cement-lined pit somewhere on Long Island to set it underneath the sea level just to show they can do something pointless like that? You know? Also, I guess mines and stuff don’t count for lowest elevations, which is fair enough, but wouldn’t they start counting if the mine’s ceiling collapsed? It seems like states could totally rig their thickness rankings if they wanted. Plus, like, I know for a fact that New York State claims sovereignty over the seabed of the entire Hudson River; doesn’t that count as the lowest elevation in the state? I’m saying while I give you this list I think there’s a lot of pointless argument to have about what the lowest points of elevation in states such as New York and Delaware are and yes that is because I’m from New Jersey and angry about the implications of colonial-era borders.

You know, you never really think of Kansas as having more of an elevation change than Pennsylvania does. I feel a bit weirdly defensive about it myself.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index fell five points today when no one brought an umbrella and it got all drizzly out.

116

My Big City Plan


OK, so my brilliant plan. I’m going to find one of those cities laid out in the decades right after the American Revolution. The ones that have their downtown streets named Washington, Adams, Jefferson, et cetera in this neat pattern right up to the point where they gave up, which was Monroe. Then, I take it over. (Some work needed on this part.) Next, I finish the renaming — “Quincy Adams”, guys, it’s not that hard — of streets to complete the Presidents set. And then I go pointing out to news-of-the-weird item types that this town, established 1802 or whatever, has a street grid that perfectly predicts the Presidents of the United States. And finally announce that therefore we can say with certainty that the next President will be Commerce Park Drive North. Done.

Robert Benchley: American Anniversaries


We haven’t heard from Robert Benchley in a while, have we? Here’s a piece from Love Conquers All, from the section that consists of book reviews. Benchley found in books of facts almost exactly the same thrill that I find in them. The reference to the Treaty of Breda makes it possible to say confidently that this essay was first printed in 1920. The student of post-Great-War America might have figured that out from the gently pointed social commentary near the essay’s end. A fascinating thing about the Treaty of Breda which Benchley doesn’t mention is that since it was to end the Second Anglo-Dutch War, which included fighting all over the world in a time when communications were slow and clumsy, it specified different dates on which the hostilities would officially end for different parts of the world.

AMERICAN ANNIVERSARIES

MR PHILIP R DILLON has compiled and published in his American Anniversaries a book for men who do things. For every day in the year there is a record of something which has been accomplished in American history. For instance, under January 1 we find that the parcel-post system was inaugurated in the United States in 1913, while January 2 is given as the anniversary of the battle of Murfreesboro (or Stone’s River, as you prefer). The whole book is like that; just one surprise after another.

What, for instance, do you suppose that Saturday marked the completion of? . . . Presuming that no one has answered correctly, I will disclose (after consulting Mr Dillon’s book) that July 31 marked the completion of the 253d year since the signing of the Treaty of Breda. But what, you may say — and doubtless are saying at this very minute — what has the Treaty of Breda (which everyone knows was signed in Holland by representatives of England, France, Holland and Denmark) got to do with American history? And right there is where Mr Dillon and I would have you. In the Treaty of Breda, Acadia (or Nova Scotia) was given to France and New York and New Jersey were confirmed to England. So, you see, inhabitants of New York and New Jersey (and, after all, who isn’t?) should have especial cause for celebrating July 31 as Breda Day, for if it hadn’t been for that treaty we might have belonged to Poland and been mixed up in all the mess that is now going on over there.

I must confess that I turned to the date of the anniversary of my own birth with no little expectation. Of course I am not so very well known except among the tradespeople in my town, but I should be willing to enter myself in a popularity contest with the Treaty of Breda. But evidently there is a conspiracy of silence directed against me on the part of the makers of anniversary books and calendars. While no mention was made of my having been born on September 15, considerable space was given to recording the fact that on that date in 1840 a patent for a knitting machine was issued to the inventor, who was none other than Isaac Wixan Lamb of Salem, Massachusetts.

Now I would be the last one to belittle the importance of knitting or the invention of a knitting machine. I know some very nice people who knit a great deal. But really, when it comes to anniversaries I don’t see where Isaac Wixon Lamb gets off to crash in ahead of me or a great many other people that I could name. And it doesn’t help any, either, to find that James Fenimore Cooper and William Howard Taft are both mentioned as having been born on that day or that the chief basic patent for gasoline automobiles in America was issued in 1895 to George B Selden. It certainly was a big day for patents. But one realizes more than ever after reading this section that you have to have a big name to get into an anniversary book. The average citizen has no show at all.

In spite of these rather obvious omissions, Mr Dillon’s book is both valuable and readable. Especially in those events which occurred early in the country’s history is there material for comparison with the happenings of the present day, events which will some day be incorporated in a similar book compiled by some energetic successor of Mr Dillon.

For instance, under October 27, 1659, we find that William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson were banished from New Hampshire on the charge of being Quakers and were later executed for returning to the colony. Imagine!

And on December 8, 1837, Wendell Phillips delivered his first abolition speech at Boston in Faneuil Hall, as a result of which he got himself known around Boston as an undesirable citizen, a dangerous radical and a revolutionary trouble-maker. It hardly seems possible now, does it?

And on July 4, 1776 — but there, why rub it in?

Ridiculous Episodes Of History


Tamim Ansary’s book Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan describes the first time Afghanistan sent a diplomatic mission to the United States:

The Afghan delegation came to New York in 1922, but as it happened a ludicrous adventurer hit town at the same time: an old woman named “Princess” Fatima Sultana … She came festooned in jewels and looking like every New Yorker’s image of a Theda Bara-style exotic from the mysterious east. Her jewels included one particularly large diamond she called the Darya-i-Noor (River of Light). She was travelling with a rascal who called himself the Crown Prince of Egypt. …

To make matters worse, these two con artists fell victim themselves to an American con artist named Weymouth, who convinced them he was with the Department of the Navy and said he would present Fatima to the president of the United States — he had his eye on that diamond. The New York press didn’t know which was the real diplomatic delegation, and they picked the one they found more entertaining: Princess Fatima and her entourage.

Princess Fatima would lose her diamond and run out on her hotel bill. The actual Afghans got ignored. And we have to wonder how the United States lived through a bad episode of Top Cat. I don’t mean to make myself sound too intelligent. I was nine before I realized I was smarter than some episodes of Three’s Company. But I was definitely only eight years old before I couldn’t buy the fake-exotic-royalty-in-New-York plot. The heck, people?

But the incident reflects something historians hope you won’t ask about. Until about 1975 the whole world was so casually run that anybody could put anything over on anybody else, anytime they wanted. For example, from 1927 through 1931 the cash-strapped Soviet Union stayed afloat by selling counterfeit trains on the New York Central. Passengers would gather around a marvelous painting of what looked very much like a train. They’d only notice fourteen hours later that neither it nor they had gone anywhere. The scheme finally ended when the United States extended diplomatic recognition to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The Pennsylvania Railroad wanted to laugh about this, but they had just bought track rights through the Canadian province of “Roberta”.

In 1852 a group of Americans hoped to take over Cuba for the benefit of the Cubans, they kept telling themselves and everyone else. So they built a replica of the White House and the Capitol in Havanna out of some wood they had left over from another project, to lure the American government over. As it happens they only managed to fool the vice-president, William R King. He didn’t die of embarrassment at being fooled, but when he left for the real Washington he only got as close as Alabama.

In 1817 Great Britain annexed the Caribbean island of Saint Martin O’The Lee. Its exact location was unknown to everyone and the land was proven in 1932 to never have existed. Despite that, sectarian violence continues along the arbitrarily-drawn border known as Chamberlain’s Belch. That’s named for Neville Chamberlain, but not that Neville Chamberlain. Also not the other Neville Chamberlain you’re telling people you thought of right away because you want to seem smarter to them. It’s the other other one.

In the mid-30s a mysterious figure claiming to be another brother wormed his way into Popeye’s nephews. The hoaxer would appear in shorts for over a decade before vanishing, probably absconding, never to be heard from again. And the amazing thing is that five years after that another of the so-called nephews would vanish, revealing he had been an impostor all along too.

In 1645 an Italian lawyer presented King Louis XIV with a moon for Venus. Astronomers kept insisting they saw it for over a century. It wasn’t until 1762 that everybody involved admitted that they had to be dead of old age by then. And so it they were, and we went back to ignoring that big shiny moon-like thing hovering around Venus. Don’t stare.

Dozens of Rhode Island cities in the 19th century fell for groups of organized rowdies presenting themselves as the state government. The actual state government chased after them, wielding brooms and biographies of Roger Williams, for decades before the last of them finally set up in New London (“Mystic”), Connecticut as a government-in-exile. They’re still there.

We’ve tightened things up since those days. Today, anybody can still put anything over on anybody else. But they have to go through a metal detector and put their keys and loose change in a plastic bin first. It’s progress.

Statistics Saturday: The States Of The United States In Order Of Their md5 Hashes


  1. Missouri
  2. Iowa
  3. Maryland
  4. North Carolina
  5. Mississippi
  6. Colorado
  7. Nebraska
  8. Alabama
  9. New Jersey
  10. California
  11. Louisiana
  12. Arizona
  13. Maine
  14. Minnesota
  15. Arkansas
  16. Idaho
  17. New Hampshire
  18. Ohio
  19. Wisconsin
  20. Illinois
  21. Utah
  22. Washington
  23. Kansas
  24. Massachusetts
  25. West Virginia
  26. Wyoming
  27. Texas
  28. New York
  29. New Mexico
  30. Michigan
  31. Nevada
  32. Oklahoma
  33. Kentucky
  34. Pennsylvania
  35. Tennessee
  36. Montana
  37. North Dakota
  38. Hawaii
  39. Rhode Island
  40. Delaware
  41. Indiana
  42. Virginia
  43. South Carolina
  44. Oregon
  45. Vermont
  46. Alaska
  47. Georgia
  48. Florida
  49. South Dakota
  50. Connecticut

The most surprising result of all this is it was quicker for me to type up a list of the state names and write the PHP code for finding all their md5 hashes than it was to do anything else I accomplished this week.

Statistics Saturday: The Most Common Days Of The Week


For Saturday or Sunday or what have you, I offer this list of the most common days of the week, as experienced by current territories of the United States, July 1776 – present. Accurate as of March 8, 2014.

  • 1. Friday
  • 2. Thursday
  • 2. Saturday [ tie ]
  • 4. Sunday
  • 4. Monday [ tie ]
  • 4. Tuesday [ tie ]
  • 4. Wednesday [ tie ]

Another View Of The United States


Based on the graphics I see passed around the friends of my Twitter feed, it’s really popular to make maps that equate states of the United States (America) to nations of the world, in terms of population, or gross domestic product, or area, or what have you. And since lists of statistics are unmistakably the most popular thing I write around here, let me get in on the action. For your convenience, here’s a list of the fifty certified United States matched up with one of the world’s nations that has just as many letters in the name.

United State Matches Nation
Alabama Uruguay
Alaska Belize
Arizona Burundi
Arkansas Kiribati
California Kyrgyzstan
Colorado Malaysia
Connecticut Cook Islands
Delaware Dominica
Florida Lebanon
Georgia Georgia
Hawaii Latvia
Idaho Japan
Illinois Mongolia
Indiana Romania
Iowa Peru
Kansas Mexico
Kentucky Portugal
Louisiana Nicaragua
Maine Qatar
Maryland Slovenia
Massachusetts Cayman Islands
Michigan Paraguay
Minnesota Venezuela
Mississippi Philippines
Missouri Slovakia
Montana Tunisia
Nebraska Barbados
Nevada Greece
New Hampshire Turkmenistan
New Jersey Singapore
New Mexico Argentina
New York Estonia
North Carolina United Kingdom
North Dakota Sierra Leone
Ohio Mali
Oklahoma Honduras
Oregon Jordan
Pennsylvania United States
Rhode Island Saint Helena
South Carolina Virgin Islands
South Dakota Switzerland
Tennessee Macedonia
Texas Haiti
Utah Oman
Vermont Nigeria
Virginia Djibouti
Washington Bangladesh
West Virginia Guinea-Bissau
Wisconsin Lithuania
Wyoming Jamaica

I just hope that someone finds this list and discovers how very much time it saves having it on hand.

Oh, I should have made this a picture, shouldn’t I? Too bad.

Giving The People What They Want


I’ve learned through sources that some of my best-liked posts are the ones where I just state my statistics for the month, with the countries listed and all of that stuff. So, well, who am I to argue with what’s successful? Here are some countries and some associated statistics.

Country Statistic
United States (America) 139,608
Canada 24,432
Denmark 1,305
Belize 139,608
Ecuador Quito
Carpatho-Ukrainian Republic 139,608
Free City of Krakow 1,164 (449)
Silicon Dioxide 42 J mol-1 K-1 standard molar entropy
Muonium 2.2 microseconds
The Long And Winding Road 3:38 (Lennon-McCartney)
United States (Reprise) 139,608

I hope you’ve enjoyed this data.