from the world's big
The Best of States, the Worst of States
These maps show the best and worst qualities of all fifty states in the US, and all European countries.
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all: with advice like that, we'd only have two of the four maps below.
Using a wide range of statistics, the maps show what each state is best at, and worst at, for both the US and the EU.
It must be said that some of the best-in-class examples sound like backhanded compliments. Really, Cyprus? Best at handling euro coins & notes, that's your stand-out quality? And Hawaii, Least likely to collide with a deer? Well, duh. There are no native deer on Hawaii (1).
But there's plenty more to snicker about, or marvel at, on these maps.
What each US state is best at
Some qualities seem self-evident. Washington state, most bicycle-friendly? Oregon, most craft breweries per capita? Wisconsin, biggest cheese producer? I'll buy that.
Other best-in-class qualities of the but-of-course kind include: Alaska, most pilots per capita; Arizona, sunniest state; Georgia, top peanut producer; Michigan, most lighthouses; Colorado, least obese.
Many labels reflect the positive attitude of that state's citizens: South Carolina, most polite; Utah, most charitable; Iowa, lowest divorce rate; Kansas, most teenage volunteers; Ohio, most library visits per capita; Vermont, most frequent exercises.
But for quite a few states it seems like it was a struggle to come up with something genuinely nice: Wyoming, lowest rate of syphilis (despite the proximity of North Dakota, biggest penises); Montana, longest cat lifespans; Alabama, most concealed carry licenses; Virginia, most vanity license plates; Tennessee, largest walleye ever caught.
What each US state is worst at
Few things please us more than another person's flaws and failures - hence reality TV. This less than commendable tendency also explains why this map is much more eye-catching than the one above.
Just as a warm-up, some traffic horror: Illinois, most rail accidents; Pennsylvania, worst bridges; Idaho, worst drivers; Montana, most traffic fatalities per capita (how do those two categories not overlap?); Florida, most recreational boat accidents; Maine, fewest heliports (sounds like a one-percenter problem, though).
Other worst-in-class qualities reflect badly on the moral fibre of each state's citizens, although arguably not to the same degree. Alabama's most child smokers seems worse than Oklahoma's lowest produce consumption. Delaware's fewest regular exercisers sound less malign than next-door Maryland's worst at incarcerating the elderly. And Nevada's highest divorce rate is preferable over Wyoming's highest suicide rate.
Some labels sound like reverse-backhanded compliments. Utah, nerdiest state? Good for you. North Dakota, least visited? More of your state to yourself! Nebraska, least furniture manufacturing? If that's the worst thing you can come up with...
But some labels are genuinely disturbing. Visit Indiana, state with most meth incidents? Only if we have to. How about Missouri, home of the worst puppy mills in the land, or Kentucky, worst state to be an animal overall? Perhaps not. And definitely not Kansas, state with the ugliest scenery.
What each EU state is best at
France is the Colorado of Europe: both places have the lowest obesity rate within their respective Unions. And Iowa and Ireland have the lowest divorce rates in the US and EU, respectively. But most European best-ofs don't have an equivalent on the American map, leaving us to wonder: Which US state is the twin of Portugal, top cork producer in the EU? And where in America do they have the most work experience with robots, as in Slovakia?
Danes regularly top the lists of happiest people in the world; perhaps not unconnected to the fact that they're the dancingest, singingest people in Europe.
Many Europeans excel at being good to the environment, and their place in it: Belgians recycle most, Estonians waste least, the Dutch quit smoking the most, and the British kill each other the least.
The Germans are Europe's happiest workers, the Italians live the longest and the Austrians are the least likely to be unemployed. Bulgaria has the cheapest electricity, and Slovenia the fewest teen moms. And Greece, much maligned of late? At least it has the lowest rate of tuberculosis.
What Each EU state is worst at
The rosy picture painted by the statistics above has a Dorian Gray-like twin, bringing out Europe's ugly side.
Let's hope an apple a day keeps the doctor away: Poland produces most of the former, but has fewest of the latter. The Netherlands has the highest share of cyclist deaths among road fatalities. Perhaps it's all those ex-smokers trying to shape up.
The Czech Republic (or, newly, Czechia) is the best at drinking beer but, disconcertingly, also has more slavery than anywhere else in the EU. If Hungarians have the lowest illegal spend in Europe, perhaps it's because they have less to spend per se: nobody pays more in VAT.
Lithuania has more secondary school graduates than anywhere else in Europe, but also higher suicide rates. And those Danes? They're the Mainers of Europe, stuck with the continent's biggest first-world problem: fewest Zaras per capita.
(1) Axis deer, native to India, were introduced on Molokai and Oahu in 1868, Lanai in 1920 and Maui in 1959. But their numbers are kept in check through targeted hunting. There were no axis deer on the Big Island until four were illegally introduced in 2009. Their offspring is actively being eradicated under the aegis of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee. This Facebook page monitors axis deer sightings on Big Island.
Strange Map #781
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Got $55 million lying around? If so, you might be able to score a spot aboard the International Space Station starting 2024.
- NASA awarded a contract to startup Axiom Space to attach a "habitable commercial module" to the International Space Station.
- The project will also include a research and manufacturing module.
- The move is a major step in NASA's years-long push to privatize.
Image: Axiom Space<p>But first, space-tourist-hopefuls would have to pass through physical and medical exams, and 15 weeks of expert training. After that, the trip sounds pretty comfy:</p><p>"There will be wifi," Suffredini <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/09/style/axiom-space-travel.html" target="_blank">told the New York Times</a> last year. "Everybody will be online. They can make phone calls, sleep, look out the window. [...] The few folks that have gone to orbit as tourists, it wasn't really a luxurious experience, it was kind of like camping. [...] Pretty soon we're going to be flying a butler with every crew."</p>
A render of the ISS tourist experience.
Image: Axiom Space<p>In a blog post, NASA wrote:</p><p>"Developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit is one of <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-opens-international-space-station-to-new-commercial-opportunities-private" target="_blank">five elements</a> of NASA's plan to open the International Space Station to new commercial and marketing opportunities. The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA's long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit."</p>
NASA's push to privatize the ISS<p>When a Russian rocket launched the first module of the ISS into space in 1998, NASA expected the space station to operate for about 15 years. But the agency has extended the life of the ISS twice, with funding currently set to expire in 2024. NASA spends between $3 and $4 billion per year operating and shuttling astronauts to and from the station. That's a decent chunk of the agency's $22.6 annual budget. What's more, the "major structural elements" of the ISS are certified only through 2028.</p><p>Meanwhile, NASA has been eyeing other projects, namely: putting humans back on the moon in 2024 and establishing a lunar presence. So, to save and redirect money, the agency has been starting to hand over the aging space station to the private sector, which could use it for commercial research and space tourism.</p><p>But some have questioned the move to privatize the ISS, including NASA's own inspector general, Paul K. Martin.</p><p>"An obvious alternative to privatization is to extend current ISS operations," Martin wrote in a <a href="https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/CT-18-001.pdf" target="_blank">2018 report</a>. "An extension to 2028 or beyond would enable NASA to continue critical on-orbit research into human health risks and to demonstrate the technologies that will be required for future missions to the Moon or Mars."</p>
Image: Axiom Space<p>Martin noted that "research into 2 other human health risks and 17 additional technology gaps is not scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2024," meaning that any slip-ups in the process would mean such research might go uncompleted. He also wrote that it's "questionable" whether the private sector could turn a profit on the ISS without "significant" government funding. The Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded research and development center, <a href="https://docs.house.gov/meetings/SY/SY00/20180517/108302/HHRG-115-SY00-Wstate-LalB-20180517.pdf" target="_blank">also found</a> that it "is unlikely that a commercially owned and operated space station will be economically viable by 2025."</p><p>The implication is that, if the ISS is handed over to the private sector, taxpayers could end up indirectly supporting space tourism for the ultra-rich. Whether that's worth any of the research benefits that might come from the ISS post-2024 is anybody's guess.</p><p>As the ISS enters its final years, China <a href="http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/17/c_138479514.htm" target="_blank">plans</a> to complete construction of a manned space station in 2022.</p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
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Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
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