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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
If more proof were needed that the U.S. is two nations in one, it was offered by the recent mid-term elections. Democrats swept the House, but Republicans managed to increase their Senate majority. There is less middle ground, and less appetite for compromise, than ever.
To oversimplify America's electoral divide: Democrats win votes in urban, coastal areas; Republicans gain seats in the rural middle of the country. Those opposing blocs have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' states decades ago.
Occasionally, and often after tight-run presidential elections, that divide is translated into a cartographic meme that reflects the state of the nation.
Jesusland vs. the U.S. of Canada
Canada annexes the entire West Coast and borders Mexico.
Image: Strange Maps
In 2004, this cartoon saw the states that had voted for Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry join America's northern neighbor to form the United States of Canada. The states re-electing George W. Bush were dubbed Jesusland.
Trumpistan vs. Clintonesia
Trumpistan is a perforated continent, Clintonesia is a disjointed archipelago.
Image: The New York Times.
In 2016, these two maps disassembled the U.S. into Trumpistan, a vast, largely empty and severely punctuated land mass; and Clintonesia, a much smaller but more densely populated archipelago whose biggest bits of dry land were at the edges, with a huge, empty sea in the middle.
Soyland vs. the FSA
Following state borders, a line separates 'red' America (in the south) from the 'blue' half of the country.
Image: Jesse Kelly
Writing in The Federalist, Jesse Kelly in April this year likened America to a couple that can't stop fighting and should get a divorce. Literally. His proposal was to split the country into two new ones: a 'red' state and a 'blue' state.
On a map accompanying the article, he proposed a division of the U.S. into the People's Republic of Soyland and the Federalist States of America (no prizes for guessing Mr Kelly's politics).
It's a fairly crude map. For example, it includes Republican-leaning states such as Montana and the Dakotas in the 'blue' state for seemingly no other reason than to provide a corridor between the blue zones in the west and east of the country.
Mr Kelly admitted that his demarcational talents left some room for improvement: "We can and will draw the map and argue over it a million different ways for a million different reasons but draw it we must," he wrote. "I suspect the final draft would look similar (to mine)."
A county-level division between red and blue, with contiguous territories for both.
Image: Dicken Schrader.
"No, this map won't do," comments reader Dicken Schrader. "It's too crude and would leave too many members of the 'blue' tribe in the 'red' nation, and too much 'red' in the 'blue' state."
Agreeing with the basic premise behind Mr Kelly's map but not with its crude execution, Mr Schrader took it upon himself to propose a better border between red and blue.
Analyzing election maps from the past 12 years, he devised his own map of America's two nations, "inspired by the original UN partition map for Israel and Palestine from 1947." Some notes on the map:
- To avoid the distortions of gerrymandering, it is based on electoral majorities in counties, rather than electoral districts.
- As with the UN partition plan for Israel/Palestine, all territories of both states are contiguous. There are no enclaves. Citizens of either state can travel around their nation without having to cross a border.
- The intersections between both nations are placed at actual interstate overpasses, so both states have frictionless access to their own territory.
- In order to avoid enclaves, some 'blue' islands had to be transferred to 'red', and some 'red' zones were granted to the 'blue' nation. "This exchange is fair to both sides, in terms of area and population".
- Both nations have access to the East, West and Gulf Coasts, and each has a portion of Alaska.
Red vs. blue
Washington DC would remain part of 'blue' America, and its capital.
Image: Dicken Schrader
Some interesting stats on these two new nations:
Progressive America (blue)
- Area: 1.44 million sq. mi (3.74 million km2), 38% of the total U.S.
- Population: 210 million, 64.5% of the total U.S.
- Pop. Density: 146 inhabitants/sq mi (56/km2), similar to Mexico
- Capital: Washington DC
- Ten Largest Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Jacksonville
Conservative America (red)
- Area: 2.35 million sq. mi (6.08 million km2), 62% of the total
- Population: 115.4 million, 35.5% of the total
- Pop. Density: 49 inhabitants/sq mi (19/km2), similar to Sudan
- Capital: Dallas
- Ten Largest Cities: Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Louisville, Kansas City, Omaha, Colorado Springs.
What about the nukes?
The partition would not create enclaves, but allow citizens of either nation frictionless access to the entire territory of their state.
Image: Dicken Schrader
'Blue' America would be roughly half the size of 'red' America but have almost double the population.
In terms of area, 'blue' America would be the 13th-largest country in the world, larger than Mexico but smaller than Saudi Arabia. 'Red' America would be the 6th-largest country in the world, larger than India but smaller than Australia.
In terms of population, 'blue' America would now be the 5th-most populous county in the world, with more population than Brazil but less than Indonesia. 'Red' America would be the 12th, with more population than Ethiopia but less than Japan.
For those who think this divorce would end the argument between both tribes, consider that both countries would still have to live next to each other. And then there's the question of the kids. Or, in Mr Schrader's translation to geopolitics: "Who gets the nukes?"
Many thanks to Mr Schrader for sending in this map.
Strange Maps #948
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.