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  #1  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:21 PM
fighting ignorant fighting ignorant is offline
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Puzzle - ordering of US States

Check out this puzzle on Google Answers Any ideas? Let's show the world that THE STRAIGHT DOPE is smarter than anyone!
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2002, 02:35 PM
Strainger Strainger is offline
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Well, it can't be anything related to educational performance. Arizona's way too high up on the list for that.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2002, 05:02 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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I thought it might have something to do with state bond ratings, bankruptcies, IPOs, tax revenue, or some other finance-related issue (since Delaware, home of corporations seeking freedom from state taxes, tops the list), but I can't find anything.
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  #4  
Old 08-13-2002, 08:40 AM
Milton De La Warre Milton De La Warre is offline
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A WAG: The date (exlcusive of year) in which they became part of the US or ratified something or other?
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  #5  
Old 08-13-2002, 09:58 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
The date (exlcusive of year) in which they became part of the US or ratified something or other?
It's been eliminated.

Oh, and FYI for those who haven't visited the link (or who had trouble accessing it, as I first did), the list is:

1. Delaware
2. Connecticut
3. Massachusetts
4. Rhode Island
5. New Jersey
6. Illinois
7. Wisconsin
8. Texas
9. Arkansas
10. Louisiana
11. Indiana
12. Ohio
13. Iowa
14. Arizona
15. Alabama
16. Mississippi
17. Florida
18. Minnesota
19. West Virginia
20. Maryland
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  #6  
Old 08-13-2002, 10:03 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Naval vessels? How would I check that?
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  #7  
Old 08-13-2002, 10:44 AM
Ottoerotic Ottoerotic is offline
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Not Navy vessels.

U.S.S. Delaware 1910-1924

U.S.S. Connecticut 1906-1923

U.S.S. Massachusetts 1939-1965?
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  #8  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:05 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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Any way to find out what order the Electoral College votes were read in 2000?
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  #9  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:11 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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What are the street names on the east side of Broadway?
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  #10  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:25 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Actually, I think that might be a red herring
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  #11  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:35 AM
dreamlab dreamlab is offline
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Haven't found the site that proves it, but I suspect it has something to do with unclaimed property filings (or escheat tax), or the amount of property being held by the state that has been abandoned or the owner remains unknown. Since Delaware is a haven for corporate registrations, I can see how they would be first on the list.
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  #12  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:11 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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dreamlab, wouldn't New Hampshire be high on such a list?
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  #13  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:14 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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I blelieve Kentucky is typically the first to close the polls and would probably be at the top for that sort of list. Seems to me that Arizona is WAY too high for it to be about time order in presidential elections.
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  #14  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:17 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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Besides, there sits Florida at number 17...
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  #15  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:32 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Be sure to check through the chatter on the link provided by the OP. It eliminates a bunch of stuff, and the guy posing it adds the following clues:

Quote:
1. The puzzle started with one state revealed during the first month, and then one state every month after that. With 19 states revealed already, the puzzle has been going on for 19 months now.
2. I asked the creator / discoverer of the puzzle for some hints /
clues, and he gave me the following specific hints:
a. The answer is available on the internet
b. The answer may be either 48 or 50 states
c. The answer was published in a publication "with many colorful
pictures" (this comment made me suspect USA Today, and the puzzle creator in fact gets a daily subscription to USA Today. This might be circumstantial evidence ...)
It turns out that the guy works at Microsoft, in the Sports Games Studio, where the contest originated. The originator of the contest was the head of the studio, and, thus, there is a strong possibility that it's sports related. He also promises $100 to anybody who cracks it for him, so be sure to take him up on it.
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  #16  
Old 08-13-2002, 12:37 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Quote:
I blelieve Kentucky is typically the first to close the polls and would probably be at the top for that sort of list. Seems to me that Arizona is WAY too high for it to be about time order in presidential elections.
You're misunderstanding me. In December, the Vice-President reads the Electoral College votes in front of the Senate. I'm asking if we can find what order those ballots were read in.
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  #17  
Old 08-13-2002, 02:12 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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Another problem with "election" theory: Washington DC makes 51 places from which electoral votes come. The list is of 48 or 50 states.
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  #18  
Old 08-13-2002, 02:14 PM
jessicala jessicala is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by yabob
It turns out that the guy works at Microsoft, in the Sports Games Studio, where the contest originated. The originator of the contest was the head of the studio, and, thus, there is a strong possibility that it's sports related. He also promises $100 to anybody who cracks it for him, so be sure to take him up on it.
How funny - one of my good friends works in that department too and sent me this puzzle about a year ago. The originator's prize, BTW, is $100 per month that the puzzle is running, so I'd ask for a bigger cut than $100 ....

Most of the stuff we guessed at the time has been eliminated in the chatter on the Google site, but one other thing we tried was connecting the states in the order they were listed, thinking that they might form letters that spell out a work. But we didn't get anything useful out of that approach.
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  #19  
Old 08-13-2002, 03:12 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Quote:
Another problem with "election" theory: Washington DC makes 51 places from which electoral votes come. The list is of 48 or 50 states.
Incorrect. The District of Columbia has no representation in the Electoral College. Citizens of the district therefore have no influence on presidential elections.
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  #20  
Old 08-13-2002, 03:18 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Whoops. Not sure if that went through or not, but I apparently had no awareness of the 23rd Amendment.
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  #21  
Old 08-13-2002, 04:46 PM
jessicala jessicala is offline
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A couple wild speculations ...

Now you've got me thinking about this again and I'm never going to get any work done

Wacky idea: could it have something to do with the pattern of stars on the American flag? (e.g. name each star reading across, and then go back and list off the stars reading down ...) That could account for the "48 or 50" thing. It would also mean that Alaska and Hawaii would be the last two in the list of 50.
Then again, since the number of stars in each row is different for the two versions of the flag, it probably would not be possible to get the same sequence for both the 48-star flag and the 50-star flag.

Since the answer could have 48 or 50 states, numbers 49 and 50 must be irrelevant to the answer, otherwise the sequence would have to branch somewhere. And assuming that the organizer is willing to give the entire sequence if necessary (at which point you'd have to give only the logic to win the prize), the sequence must be identical through the whole list of 48, or else he'd have to start posting two flags each month when the sequence branches. (Does that make sense to anyone else?)

So the obvious assumption to make there is that it has something to do with the contiguous 48, with Alaska and Hawaii tacked on at the end. But maybe that's just a trick.
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  #22  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:10 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Here are some more possible ranking orders I have not been able to rule out via Google.

- highest per capita highway expenditures/debt
- lowest ratio of students to computers
- highest rate of farmland preservation per capita
- highest % of families exercising public school choice (charter schools, etc.)
- largest number of banks per capita
- greatest number of chickens per capita

All should probably involve data available as of early 2001, naturally.
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  #23  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:35 PM
BobT BobT is offline
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Pieces of mail received per capita?

Delaware might get a disproportionate share because of all the incorporations and Connecticut gets a lot of mail because a lot of insurance premiums payments are mailed there.
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  #24  
Old 08-13-2002, 05:48 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Wacky idea: could it have something to do with the pattern of stars on the American flag? (e.g. name each star reading across, and then go back and list off the stars reading down ...)
I assume you mean to list them by the order they were admitted to the union. Doesn't work. Top of the list:


Delaware
Pennsylvania
New Jersey
Georgia

Connecticut

Those middle three rule out even the first row matching up with the sequence.

Quote:
Not Navy vessels.

U.S.S. Delaware 1910-1924

U.S.S. Connecticut 1906-1923

U.S.S. Massachusetts 1939-1965?
There were naval ships in Revolutionary times named Delaware and Connecticut. The first Massachusetts didn't show up until the late 1800s, though, so that's pretty much out. Could be when the latest namesake of each was commissioned/decommissioned, though.
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  #25  
Old 08-13-2002, 07:43 PM
dqa dqa is offline
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I think it may be relevant that the three smallest states in area rank in the top four of this list. You'd think Hawaii ought to be in there, but other than Arizona, all states are from the eastern half of the country.

But I have no guess.
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  #26  
Old 08-13-2002, 09:09 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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It has been stated that it's a list from a newspaper (likely USA Today) so it's probably not a trick along the lines of the date (not year) admitted to the union or something "puzzle-like."

It's probably something like consumption of red wine or most soft ball leagues per capita.

Haj
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  #27  
Old 08-13-2002, 09:20 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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You think they drink a lot of red wine in Texas?
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  #28  
Old 08-13-2002, 11:40 PM
mazzer mazzer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JS Princeton
You think they drink a lot of red wine in Texas?
*smack*

Focus on the question, son!
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  #29  
Old 08-14-2002, 01:52 AM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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Connecticut's insurance industry isn't what it used to be, so the mailing thing may not be as strong as you think.

Quote:
- highest per capita highway expenditures/debt
- lowest ratio of students to computers
- highest rate of farmland preservation per capita
- highest % of families exercising public school choice (charter schools, etc.)
- largest number of banks per capita
- greatest number of chickens per capita
-highest per capita highway expeditures
Texas is 46, not 8

-lowest ratio of students to computers
Massachusetts is 41, not 3

-highest rate of farmland preservation per capita
Couldn't find any info

OK, I'll do the others later, but I don't think it'll be as complicated as that. I don't think that it will involve some esoteric and frequently changing statistic, it'll be something that in the end will make us go .
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  #30  
Old 08-14-2002, 03:45 AM
Wikkit Wikkit is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dqa
I think it may be relevant that the three smallest states in area rank in the top four of this list. You'd think Hawaii ought to be in there, but other than Arizona, all states are from the eastern half of the country.

But I have no guess.
I like to think that Iowa is in the western half, since most people divide it by the Mississippi. However, the fact that the vast majority is in the east should mean something. I'd think that it has nothing to do with any sort of farming.

I'm guessless too.
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  #31  
Old 08-14-2002, 05:56 AM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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My WAG is that it may be "age of consent". I remember reading somewhere years ago that Delaware had the lowest age of consent in the nation (y'know, the age that one ceases to be "jailbait")...
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  #32  
Old 08-14-2002, 08:15 AM
richardb richardb is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by yabob
a. The answer is available on the internet
b. The answer may be either 48 or 50 states
c. The answer was published in a publication "with many colorful pictures"
OK, here's my two cents, and a possibility if anyone wants to look it up.

That the answer may be 48 or 50 states does not automatically mean, as JayLa is guessing, that it could be both (although I can't rule that out, either). It could simply mean that the final list, already completed and posted somewhere, has 48 states in the list or it has 50 states in the list, but he isn't going to tell us which it is until somebody solves the puzzle. Then we'll know which it is.

My WAG: the clues indicate it is probably sports related and "the answer was published in a publication with 'many colorful pictures'". This could be a SPORTS MAGAZINE, such as Sports Illustrated.

I seem to recall an issue a few years back where they had an article that listed the top athletes throughout history (well, modern 20th century history, anyway) from each state. I used to save my copies of SI, but don't anymore. I don't remember exactly, but perhaps they also had a compiled list placing all those athletes (the 10 from each state) in order. Perhaps this list of states corresponds to that in some way.

I tried going to SI's website (the answer is posted on the internet, after all) and tried to search for this article but came up with nothing.

I'm afraid I don't want to expend any more time on this, other than to submit this post.

But if this leads to the answer and someone wins a bunch of money because of me, I won't refuse a thank-you token of appreciation!
__________________
"For the snark was a boojum, you see"
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  #33  
Old 08-14-2002, 02:28 PM
Gozu Tashoya Gozu Tashoya is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by An Arky
My WAG is that it may be "age of consent". I remember reading somewhere years ago that Delaware had the lowest age of consent in the nation (y'know, the age that one ceases to be "jailbait")...
I dunno, I'm pretty sure Hawaii's legal boinking age is still 14.

OTOH, there was a bill brought before the governor that wanted to raise the age (to 16, I think), but was initially vetoed since the bill, as presented, had violations rated as a class C(?) felony, and the governor thought that 30 years in prison was a pretty harsh punishment for having sex with a 15 year old.

Anyway, last I heard, HI was still 14, which I would hope would put it in the top 20 in the list.
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  #34  
Old 08-14-2002, 02:52 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Good guess, richardb, but it looks like that doesn't pan out.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/fea...9/states/main/

1. California
2. Texas
3. New York
4. Pennsylvania
...
47. Wyoming
48. Maine
49. Alaska
50. Delaware

Unless someone wants to crunch the data some other way...
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  #35  
Old 08-14-2002, 03:52 PM
andrew dupont andrew dupont is offline
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I agree that the fact that the small states are so high on the list has some sort of significance. My first thought was population density, but as well as being too obvious it's just not right. New Jersey is #1 in that category.

However, I'm willing to bet it has to do with some sort of ration--per capita, per square mile, something like that.
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  #36  
Old 08-14-2002, 04:19 PM
andrew dupont andrew dupont is offline
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Arr. Make that RATIO.
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  #37  
Old 08-14-2002, 04:42 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Could be when the latest namesake of each [naval vessels] was commissioned/decommissioned, though.
Not decommissioned. The Arizona is still in active service, officially, at least.

The "small states up front" and the "mostly eastern states" observations are, of course, related: There are very few small states in the West. Any "small states" explanation has to cope with Texas being number 8, though. If it's something per area, then Texas has a heck of a lot of whatever it is. My guess is that it's something with a bias towards eastern states, and the fact that many eastern states are small is a coincidence.
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  #38  
Old 08-14-2002, 04:57 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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Quote:
If it's something per area, then Texas has a heck of a lot of whatever it is.
Hence, the first clever thought I had - average county size. Texas has an unusually large number of counties. Unfortunately, Rhode Island is smaller than Delaware and has more counties.
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  #39  
Old 08-14-2002, 05:15 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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The "bias to the east, independent of size" supposition has a troubling feature, too - New York and Pennsylvania haven't appeared, though the first five are their neighbors, and they would likely share many traits biased to those states. NY and PA, of course, are larger eastern states.
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  #40  
Old 08-14-2002, 06:16 PM
Horseflesh Horseflesh is offline
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I googled for a bit but couldn't find anything listing state weather statistics. Could it be weather related? Temperature, precipitation, wind, lightning strikes, etc.

A WAG on why the answer could have either 48 or 50 states is that states #48, 49, and 50 could have the same statistic, so it wouldn't matter if you listed the other two as long as one of the three was #48.
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  #41  
Old 08-14-2002, 07:11 PM
chique chique is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chronos
Not decommissioned. The Arizona is still in active service, officially, at least.
Not true (last paragraph of the first section).

There's an amazing amount of statistics out there, you know. Acres of parkland per capita, acres of parkland as a per cent of total, miles of waterways, crime rates per the DoJ, per cent change in population in a particular year, movie rentals per person per (time period), state song titles in alphabetical order.....

Heh. Guess I know what I'm doing this weekend
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  #42  
Old 08-14-2002, 10:05 PM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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Quote:
My WAG is that it may be "age of consent". I remember reading somewhere years ago that Delaware had the lowest age of consent in the nation (y'know, the age that one ceases to be "jailbait")...
I'd read somewhere that New Mexico was 13, and this was a reliable source, so no dice.
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  #43  
Old 08-14-2002, 10:33 PM
JS Princeton JS Princeton is offline
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There's a lot of consecutive bordering states:

-Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
-Illinois, Wisconsin
-Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana
-Indiana, Ohio
-Alabama, Mississippi, (Florida) (note: Florida does NOT border Mississippi)
-West Viriginia, Maryland

Don't ask me what it means, it just seemed to stick out.
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  #44  
Old 08-14-2002, 10:53 PM
bup bup is offline
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-States ranked by percentage of people whose primary source of income is out of state (Texas at #8 is troubling, but lots of the early states act as suburbs for nearby metropoli).

-States ranked by amounts in their treasuries.

That's all I can think of right now.
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  #45  
Old 08-14-2002, 11:09 PM
Big Kahuna Burger Big Kahuna Burger is offline
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Quote:
-States ranked by amounts in their treasuries.
Nah, Connecticut's treasury is bone-dry. We, like most states had a budget crisis this year. I'd think that at least one more state would have more dough than us.
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  #46  
Old 08-15-2002, 09:36 AM
TheTopher TheTopher is offline
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It seems more likely to me that it is a word puzzle, although I have no ideas right off hand, we may want to try to concentrate on the state names as words instead of trying to find a statistical list.
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  #47  
Old 08-15-2002, 10:30 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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More leads I haven't been able to discount:

- greatest number of PhD's per capita
- greatest number of colleges per capita
- order in which the Miss America Pageant participants performed (can't be rankings/winnings ... Miss Delaware has never won, apparently, even though the contest itself seems to have had its origins in Rehoboth).

I thought "greatest number of credit card issuing banks" could have been it, but South Dakota (I think ... looked it up yesterday) is number 2.
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  #48  
Old 08-15-2002, 10:46 AM
TheNerd TheNerd is offline
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WAG:

Ranked by the number of presidents from that state? hm. probably not, given there haven't been that many presidents total.
But maybe some other position. Cabinet member, etc.
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  #49  
Old 08-15-2002, 12:24 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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Nope Nerd. No.1 would be Virginia, followed by Ohio. Several 0's
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  #50  
Old 08-15-2002, 01:19 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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The presidents thing is a very standard trivia question, and Ohio and Virginia is by birth. By home state at time of election, it's actually New York and Ohio.

For any type of national official which there has been a large enough sample to have gotten some from all states, I would expect the distribution to roughly match a "people-years" measurement of population times duration as a state. The absence of NY or PA would make me suspect that this isn't the sort of thing we're after here.

Remember, that Delaware is not only physically tiny, it has a small population (as opposed to MA, say, which contains Boston).
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