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June 16, 2011

State of the States

Thick in the wake of a Californian associates six day stay in Logan, I was reminded of the inferiority of the state I call home. Somehow my mind had managed to forget that people not from Utah enjoy mocking the state of beehives. Which is only natural. Ever since the establishing of this country there has always been a pecking order among the states; a nation wide food chain of sorts, or in this case, a rude chain.

Californians mock Utahns. Utahns mock Idahoes. Idahoes -- in a strange twist of cannibalism -- mock Prestonites. And everyone mocks North Dakota (Sorry Brooke, I'm not saying this because you broke up with me, but because a friend of mine awaiting a mission call specifically highlighted North Dakota as the one place in the world she would not want to be sent to. She singled it out as the only state without a distinguishing feature worthy of mention. I countered that a state whose capital city rhymes with the word "skidmark" is definitely recognizable but she didn't buy it.). With so many states claiming superiority over others, it's typical to find publications ranking the states from first to fiftieth.

Of course, how can one measure which state is best? Various factors would demand consideration: employment opportunities, crime rates, recreation sites, temperatures, attractiveness of females, etc. And to spend six hours forging those factors into a formula would be a waste of time I could otherwise be channeling into Survivor Australia watching. Instead this post will attempt to answer a specific question that has a more gossipy tabloid feel to it: which state is the trashiest?

To answer this question will require reliance on everyone's favorite website, Because while some mock the people of Utah, and others mock the people of Idaho, everyone mocks the people of Walmart. Those who receive the dubious honor of being featured on the site are the embodiment of trashiness, the MVP's of the trailer park, as you can see for yourself in the picture below. Wait, on second thought, scratch that bit about the photo. I can't violate my policy of exclusively posting pictures of attractive women or BYU players on this site. Sorry.

Ahh, that feels better

Anyway, during a recent bout of free time (not spent watching Survivor) I compiled a list of how many photos each state had submitted to the website. By mathematically mating the picture totals with a state's population, a listing of how many trashy pictures are submitted by state (per million residents) is developed. We'll assume that the higher the number of trashy pictures submitted, the higher the number of trashy persons who inhabit the state. Fair enough? Behold the rankings:

Pictures Submitted per Million Residents

-- Top Five, Most Trashy
Complete Rankings
     1. Oklahoma, 19.5
     2. Arkansas,  11.4
     3. Nevada,  10.99
     4. Utah, 10.97
     5. Florida, 10.2

-- Bottom Five, Least Trashy
   46. Connecticut, 2.8
   47. New Jersey, 2.1
   48. New York, 1.7
   49. Massachusetts, 1.5
   50. Rhode Island, 0

For the record my money was on Alabama to take the top spot on this list, so to see Oklahoma as the number one trashy state (nearly doubling the runner-up) was a real shocker. Though not as shocking as seeing my own abode pop up as fourth trashiest nationwide (I suppose the polygamists have to shop somewhere). The northeastern section of the U.S dominated the rankings, adding evidence to the claim that east-coast living really is the way to go. And as far as the Idaho-Utah rivalry is concerned, Idaho ranked 37th overall at 3.8 pictures per million residents, effectively proving that their state is three times less trashy than the one below it. Ugh.

I'll save the critics some time and point out for them the many potential flaws with this simplistic ranking system. Population is a decent denominator for the rankings purpose, but picture submissions are affected by the number of stores per state as well which was a factor not taken into account in this equation (for example, Texas has 259 Walmart locations while California only has 17; the two share similar populations but dissimilar store quantities). Likewise troubling is the fact that I had to rely on and for the contributing data, two sites which don't necessarily scream of statistical accuracy.

And of course this data doesn't necessarily mean that the states with the highest totals are trashy. Could be that these states just really like photography, or particularly enjoy mocking others, or just have nothing better to do than hang out at Walmart.  Either way, I'm still disappointed in Utah. While we may never be able to abandon Walmart and its timely sales, my fellow mates and I would do well to modify and follow the words of the prophet:

"Be in the store, but not of the store".