Lee Pitts: The Rectangular States of America
June 30, 2015
Despite hating mathematics in general, there was one math class I liked: geometry. I think this is because I have always liked shapely forms, if you get my drift! Couple this love of geometry with the fact that I have visited every state in the nation and you can see how I developed a hypothesis that has come to be known in scientific circles as Lee's Law of Rectangles. Simply "stated" it says, "The more rectangular a state is the better that state is to live in."
My theory has pretty much replaced Plato's Principle of O's which judges the worthiness of a state by the number of O's there are in its name. Residents of New Jersey and Texas may have noticed that they come up short in both their shape and spelling, but before Texans fly off the handle please hear me out.
In my Shape of the Union Address I explained that people who live in nearly rectangle states live longer, enjoy life more, have fewer body piercings, less freeway congestion, far fewer high speed police pursuits on the freeway, less random gunfire in their neighborhoods and fewer residents with the last name of Kennedy. Whereas people who live in states with shapes that look like flattened roadkill are far more likely to know what arugula is, are more apt to live in two bedroom shacks that sell for two million dollars, have more big cities where rude people live, and are far more likely to think that "getting back to nature" means a walk through Central Park followed by a mango smoothie.
While my theory may be bad news for folks who live in New York and West Virginia, it does speak well of states shaped like nearly perfect rectangles including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming. There are many states, like Nebraska, that only need a bit of tidying up around the edges and they too would be perfect.
There is a corollary to Lee's Law of Rectangles that hypothesizes that the closer a state comes to being a square the more "square" its people are. And I mean that in a good way. Take Iowa and Utah for example. Square off Iowa and cut the top off Utah and they'd be perfect squares; friendly, polite, old fashioned, slower paced, earthy and boring. You know, "squares".
All we need is to realign some boundaries to bring many states into alignment. Take Idaho and Montana for example. In my opinion, they are two of our better states, and if we'd just cut off a bit of western Montana and give it to Idaho both states would become almost perfect rectangles. By cutting off the bottom of Indiana it too would become more rectangular. All Tennessee needs is to stand up straight, as it is now it is more like a parallelogram, if I remember my geometry correctly. Put Vermont and New Hampshire together and they'd also be square, although I don't know that their citizens would get along. Cut the panhandle of Oklahoma off and it really would be OK.
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Oregon, Washington, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Pennsylvania just need a few cosmetic changes to become rectangular but for states like Massachusetts, Louisiana and Florida I'm afraid there little hope that we can shape them up or straighten them out.
I happen to be a fifth generation Californian and I'm afraid my state may be too far gone to save, but I feel a person should stay where he was born and try to fix what's wrong, rather than move to Idaho, Oregon and Colorado and ruin those states too. My solution for California is to make a square new state out of northern California and where it starts to turn kinky, right around San Francisco, hope for a timely earthquake along the San Andreas fault which would shear off the liberal coast from the agrarian interior.
There is one BIG exception to Lee's Law of Rectangles and that's Texas. It's one of my favorite states but it breaks all the rules. I'd love to live there but how would it look for the originator of Lee's Law of Rectangles to live in a state that looks like it was gerrymandered by a committee of drunk Democrats and shifty-eyed Republicans?.