Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The size of ... where?

Get serious!
Originally uploaded by NetParrot.

Whether people in Rhode Island like it or not, the smallest state has become a benchmark to measure enormous things. Storm systems, glaciers, tropical deforestation, are all often measured in Rhode Island sized units. If Rhode Island collected a dollar every time a reporter breathelessly described icebergs or asteroids as being "the size of Rhode Island", the streets of Providence would be paved over with gold.

You will occasionally hear something enormous being described as being "twice the size of Rhode Island". The state of Delaware is nearly twice the size of Rhode Island, and yet, very little is described as being the size of Delaware. I wonder why?

Of course, Rhode Island's Lilliputian reputation only applies to square mileage. With a population of just over 1 million, the Ocean State is only the 7th smallest state by population (with Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware and Montana respectively trailing Rhode Island).

Quahog has an interesting take on the habit of using Rhode Island as a unit of measure, as does Slate.


Tracy said...

Can they patten/copyright that? They would make a killing for everytime someone said Rhode Island. Oh crap, I just said it, I owe $1 :)

Kim said...

Nothing amuses me more than the born-n-bred RhodeIslander just NOT being able to cross state lines. They talk about packing an overnight bag - while apparently I trekked from the North Pole to RI every day for 2 years.

Thanks for the note on the website, it's nice to see you blogging.

Roger Williams said...

Now you've discovered the secret of Rhode Island: if something's 20 minutes away, it's just too far away to bother with.