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25 Maps That Describe America

Despite being just one country, anyone who lives in the United States knows that no two states are alike. Here are 25 maps that show some of these regional differences.

1. The Second-Largest Religion in Each State

Reid Wilson/Washington Post

This map from the Washington Post's GovBeat uses data from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies to pinpoint the second-most practiced religion in each state. (Christianity is first in each state.)

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2. The Most Commonly Spoken Language in Each State Besides English and Spanish

Ben Blatt/Slate

Slate's Ben Blatt used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. He created several other language maps, too, including each state's top Native American, Scandinavian, and African language.

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3. The Most Famous Brand From Every State

Steve Lovelace tried to determine the corporation or brand that best represents each state. (He sells a poster version of this map.)

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4. The Most Popular TV Show Set in Each State

Geography professor Andrew Shears has made a couple versions of this map.

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5. The Most Popular TV Show Set in Each State [Rebuttal]

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider 

And this version, from Business Insider, cuts out most of the reality shows.

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6. The Most Iconic Food Chain in Each State

This map from Thrillist shows "the most noteworthy restaurant chain (with an emphasis on fast food where possible) associated with each state."

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7. What Do You Call Sweetened Carbonated Beverages?

One of many maps examining regional dialect variation created by Joshua Katz.

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8. The Greatest Sports Figure From Each State

In December 1999, Sports Illustrated ranked the 50 all-time greatest sports figures from every state. Here's a look at each state's best.

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9. The Most Popular Baseball Team by County

In honor of 2014 Opening Day, Facebook released data on the most popular team in every county, based on the number of likes of team pages. As Darren Everson of The Wall Street Journal noted, three teams don't have a plurality of (Facebook) fans in any U.S. county: the New York Mets, Oakland A's, and Toronto Blue Jays. Here's a closer look at that key:

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10. The Most Popular NFL Team by County

And here's a similar map for the NFL.

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11. Do You Live in a Cat State or a Dog State?

Over at Wonkblog, Roberto A. Ferdman and Christopher Ingraham set out to see where cats are more popular than dogs. The purplish states are dog country, while cats inhabit the greenish spaces.

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12. The U.S. Map Distorted by Population

The folks at social networking site MyLife created this map, which resizes the states based on their population. Look at poor Wyoming squeezed in there.

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13. The Parts of the U.S. Where Nobody Lives

Using 2010 U.S. Census data, Nik Freeman highlighted the 47% of the country that remains unoccupied.

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14. Half the Country Lives in These Counties

Walter Hickey and Joe Weisenthal/Business Insider 

This map used Census data to determine that half the people in the United States live in these 146 shaded counties. You can see a list of those counties on the original Business Insider post.

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15. The Most Famous Book Set in Each State

Melissa Stanger, Melia Robinson & Mike Nudelman/Business Insider

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16. The Most Popular Girls' Names in Each State

Using Social Security Administration data on the top baby names of 2013.

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17. The Most Popular Boys' Names in Each State

The boy version.

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18. The Largest Immigrant Population in Each State

Jens Manuel Krogstad and Michael Keegan at Pew Research Center

You can see the changing immigration patterns on Krogstad and Keegan's animated map.

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19. The Most Common Cause of Death in Each State Besides Heart Disease and Cancer

Ben Blatt/Slate

One more from Ben Blatt. (Here's what the map looks like when you leave in heart disease and cancer, which lead to more deaths than the next eight causes of death combined.)

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20. The Map With Only 38 States

In 1973, California State University geography professor George Etzel Pearcy suggested that the U.S. redraw its antiquated state boundaries and narrow the overall number of states to 38.

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21. The Most Iconic Soft Drink in Each State

One more from Thrillist.

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22. The Richest Person in Each State

Real estate site Movoto used data from Forbes to find the richest American in each state (see larger).

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23. How Much Is $100 Really Worth in Each State?

How far does $100 go? This map, which comes from the Tax Foundation and uses data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, answers that question state by state.

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24. The Best-Selling Vehicle in Each State

Mike Nudelman and Alex Davies/Business Insider 

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25. Which Job Is Most Unique to Your State?

Click to enlarge

We teamed up with CareerBuilder to find the "most unique" job in each state, using a measurement called location quotient (LQ).

The Afternoon Map is a semi-regular feature in which we post maps and infographics. In the afternoon. Semi-regularly. 

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
iStock
Sponsor Content: BarkBox
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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
Original image
iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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