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Web App Reveals How Misleading Maps Really Are

If you grew up thinking Greenland was bigger than India, or that Alaska was the size of Brazil, you probably learned geography from a Mercator map. Originally created in the 16th century for sailors, the immensely popular Mercator map eventually made its way into 20th century elementary schools, where, for decades, it left all of us confused about the relative sizes of countries around the world.

Fortunately, if you’re still befuddled by the sizes of our planet’s land masses, there’s now a simple way to rectify that. WIRED reports that a new web app called The True Size Of, created by James Talmage and Damon Maneice, makes it easy to see how big different countries are and lets you compare them to their distorted representation on the Mercator projection.

The app, which was inspired by an episode of The West Wing, lets users drag the outline of any nation around on the Mercator map to see how it really compares to other countries. For instance, as you drag Greenland south on the map, its outline begins to shrink, while dragging countries closer to the equator far into the northern or southern hemisphere makes them grow.

“Every map projection introduces distortion, and each has its own set of problems,” Talmage and Maneice explain on their website, “We hope teachers will use [The True Size Of] to show their students just how big the world actually is.”

[h/t WIRED]

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The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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The Most Popular '90s Sitcom in Each State

Do you have the same taste in TV as the majority of the people in your state? The folks over at satellite provider USDish.com put together a map of the most popular '90s sitcom in each of the 50 states.

The company's data is from Google search interest from 2004 to the present, capturing the tail end of the run of some of these shows and the beginning of an era of fans constantly watching reruns on TV. It's no surprise that the universally popular Friends dominates the map, with 13 states claiming it as their most-watched show. It is not, however, New York's most-watched show: fellow New York City-set series Seinfeld has that honor. Out of the Friends contingent, six are states in the Midwest: perhaps these viewers are dreaming of leaving cornfields behind and moving to The City That Never Sleeps.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came in second as the favorite of four states (Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) plus Washington, D.C. Weirdly, Pennsylvania isn't in this group: Pennsylvanians' fave program is Step by Step. It's also the only state to choose Step by Step. Guess they really love family in PA!

There are a few other instances in which a show is claimed by the state in which it's set: Washington loves Seattle-centric Frasier; Ohio roots for the Cleveland-set Drew Carey Show; and Wisconsin can't stop watching That '70s Show, which is set in fictional Point Place, Wisconsin.

Utah supports 3rd Rock from the Sun, which makes sense given that the state is a hotbed for UFO sightings. What about California, home of Hollywood and the beautiful people in the film and TV biz? Well, those beautiful people like to watch yellow cartoon people. That's right, The Simpsons is Cali's most-loved show.

See the map below and visit USDish.com for an in-depth look at the data.

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