from the world's big
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 email@example.com.
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From "if-by-whiskey" to the McNamara fallacy, being able to spot logical missteps is an invaluable skill.
- A fallacy is the use of invalid or faulty reasoning in an argument.
- There are two broad types of logical fallacies: formal and informal.
- A formal fallacy describes a flaw in the construction of a deductive argument, while an informal fallacy describes an error in reasoning.
Appeal to privacy<p>When someone behaves in a way that negatively affects (or could affect) others, but then gets upset when others criticize their behavior, they're likely engaging in the appeal to privacy — or "mind your own business" — fallacy. Examples:<br></p><ul><li>Someone who speeds excessively on the highway, considering his driving to be his own business.</li><li>Someone who doesn't see a reason to bathe or wear deodorant, but then boards a packed 10-hour flight.</li></ul><p>Language to watch out for: "You're not the boss of me." "Worry about yourself."</p>
Sunk cost fallacy<p>When someone argues for continuing a course of action despite evidence showing it's a mistake, it's often a sunk cost fallacy. The flawed logic here is something like: "We've already invested so much in this plan, we can't give up now." Examples:<br></p><ul><li>Someone who intentionally overeats at an all-you-can-eat buffet just to get their "money's worth"</li><li>A scientist who won't admit his theory is incorrect because it would be too painful or costly</li></ul><p>Language to watch out for: "We must stay the course." "I've already invested so much...." "We've always done it this way, so we'll keep doing it this way."</p>
If-by-whiskey<p>This fallacy is named after a speech given in 1952 by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_S._Sweat" target="_blank">Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr.</a>, a state representative for <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi" target="_blank">Mississippi</a>, on the subject of whether the state should legalize alcohol. Sweat's argument on prohibition was (to paraphrase):<br></p><p><em>If, by whiskey, you mean the devil's brew that causes so many problems in society, then I'm against it. But if whiskey means the oil of conversation, the philosopher's wine, "</em><em>the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning;" then I am certainly for it.</em></p>
Slippery slope<p>This fallacy involves arguing against a position because you think choosing it would start a chain reaction of bad things, even though there's little evidence to support your claim. Example:<br></p><ul><li>"We can't allow abortion because then society will lose its general respect for life, and it'll become harder to punish people for committing violent acts like murder."</li><li>"We can't legalize gay marriage. If we do, what's next? Allowing people to marry cats and dogs?" (Some people actually made this <a href="https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/national/cats-marrying-dogs-and-five-other-things-same-sex-marriage-won-mean/dLV9jKqkJOWUFZrSBETWkK/" target="_blank">argument</a> before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.)</li></ul><p>Of course, sometimes decisions <em>do </em>start a chain reaction, which could be bad. The slippery slope device only becomes a fallacy when there's no evidence to suggest that chain reaction would actually occur.</p><p>Language to watch out for: "If we do that, then what's next?"</p>
"There is no alternative"<p><span style="background-color: initial;">A modification of the </span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">false dilemma</a><span style="background-color: initial;">, this fallacy (often abbreviated to TINA) argues for a specific position because there are no realistic alternatives. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used this exact line as a slogan to defend capitalism, and it's still used today to that same end: Sure, capitalism has its problems, but we've seen the horrors that occur when we try anything else, so there is no alternative.</span><br></p><p>Language to watch out for: "If I had a magic wand…" "What <em>else</em> are we going to do?!"</p>
Ad hoc arguments<p>An ad hoc argument isn't really a logical fallacy, but it is a fallacious rhetorical strategy that's common and often hard to spot. It occurs when someone's claim is threatened with counterevidence, so they come up with a rationale to dismiss the counterevidence, hoping to protect their original claim. Ad hoc claims aren't designed to be generalizable. Instead, they're typically invented in the moment. <a href="https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ad_hoc" target="_blank">RationalWiki</a> provides an example:<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Alice: "It is clearly said in the Bible that the Ark was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Bob: "A purely wooden vessel of that size could not be constructed; the largest real wooden vessels were Chinese treasure ships which required iron hoops to build their keels. Even the <em>Wyoming</em> which was built in 1909 and had iron braces had problems with her hull flexing and opening up and needed constant mechanical pumping to stop her hold flooding."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">Alice: "It's possible that God intervened and allowed the Ark to float, and since we don't know what gopher wood is, it is possible that it is a much stronger form of wood than any that comes from a modern tree."</p>
Snow job<p><span style="background-color: initial;">This fallacy occurs when someone doesn't really have a strong argument, so they just throw a bunch of irrelevant facts, numbers, anecdotes and other information at the audience to confuse the issue, making it harder to refute the original claim. Example:</span><br></p><ul><li>A tobacco company spokesperson who is confronted about the health risks of smoking, but then proceeds to show graph after graph depicting many of the other ways people develop cancer, and how cancer metastasizes in the body, etc.</li></ul><p>Watch out for long-winded, data-heavy arguments that seem confusing by design.</p>
McNamara fallacy<p>Named after <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_McNamara" target="_blank">Robert McNamara</a>, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Secretary_of_Defense" target="_blank">U.S. secretary of defense</a> from 1961 to 1968, this fallacy occurs when decisions are made based solely on <em>quantitative metrics or observations,</em> ignoring other factors. It stems from the Vietnam War, in which McNamara sought to develop a formula to measure progress in the war. He decided on bodycount. But this "objective" formula didn't account for other important factors, such as the possibility that the Vietnamese people would never surrender.<br></p><p>You could also imagine this fallacy playing out in a medical situation. Imagine a terminal cancer patient has a tumor, and a certain procedure helps to reduce the size of the tumor, but also causes a lot of pain. Ignoring quality of life would be an example of the McNamara fallacy.</p><p>Language to watch out for: "You can't measure that, so it's not important."</p>
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Generation Ships<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a1e6445c7168d293a6da3f9600f534a2"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H2f0Wd3zNj0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.
Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.