Oct 10, 2022Liked by Siddhesh

Hi Siddhesh,

I remember really enjoying reading and responding to your post about the culture of the U.S. (which originally inspired me to subscribe to your newsletter). As a not-very-well-travelled-within-the-U.S. American, here are a few more additions:


- People often have to fly between parts of the state because not all are connected by road!

- Some parts have native communities that speak Inuit languages (historically known as Eskimo languages), and there are a large number of Inuit place names

- They have a negative income tax (people get paid to live in the state)


- Surprisingly, also very important agriculturally as the Central Valley (which is extremely poor compared to other parts of the state) is extraordinarily fertile and intensively cultivated. Americans associate agriculture much more with the Midwest region, but certain crops are primarily grown in California.


- The classic TV series *Mork and Mindy* (with the brilliant comedian Robin Williams co-starring as a space alien) also took place here :-)

- Denver is called the Mile High City because it is at an elevation of about 1 U.S. mile above sea level

- Lots of very sporty people who do year-round outdoor sports (cycling, hiking, snow sports...)

- NORAD (U.S. aerospace / nuclear command-and-control) is here, deep inside a mountain

- And some other Air Force facilities


- Also the center of the insurance industry


- Also large swamps

- Extremely long causeways connecting islands to the mainland

- One of the most culturally and politically divided "swing states"

- One of the most vulnerable states to hurricanes

- One of the states with the most Latin American culture and where Spanish is most widely spoken (especially in and around Miami)


- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

- Coca-Cola Company


- Pearl Harbor (site of Japanese attack on U.S. Navy base which drew the U.S. into World War II); the base is still there and still operating

- Pineapples

- Active volcanoes

- Hawaiian language is widely spoken by indigenous Hawaiian people, and many people know at least a few words

- Like other Polynesian languages, it has an extremely minimalist sound system with only a few consonants and a few vowels, and no consonant clusters

- It's recognizably related to other Polynesian languages from around the Pacific


- Very famous for potatoes


- Main railroad hub of the United States (in Chicago)

- Sears Tower in Chicago (now called Willis Tower) was the world's tallest building for decades

- Great Lakes

- Peoria, Illinois is considered a classic boring / average / mainstream U.S. city


- "Name seems like a ripoff of India" : indirectly yes, because it's named after American Indians, who are named after the Indies, which is named after India - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_name_controversy#%22Indian%22_and_%22American_Indian%22_(since_1492))


- Also very agricultural

- One of the largest recreational cycling events in the United States: https://ragbrai.com/

- Ames is a pretty important college and research center (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ames,_Iowa)


- Famous for tornadoes (partly through the Wizard of Oz although they really do happen there a lot)

- Topeka is also sometimes considered a somewhat boring / average / mainstream U.S. city (like Peoria, mentioned above)

- One of the most politically-divided swing states at the time of the U.S. Civil War, with outbreaks of mob violence between pro-slavery and anti-slavery constituencies


- Major role for French language and culture

- Cajuns, who are descended from Acadians (a French-speaking group expelled from Canada)

- The only U.S. state whose legal system is based on civil law (continental European style) rather than common law (British style)

- Major oil and shipping industry largely due to Mississippi River (the largest and most commercially important river in the U.S.) reaching the ocean here

- Mardi Gras


- Lobsters

- Even though it often superficially looks on maps like Canada is only north of the U.S., it is in fact also east of Maine (in a fairly large part of northern Maine you can reach a land border with Canada by going east, and the American continent continues extremely far east and northeast from there within Canada's Maritime Provinces)


- Home of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which creates important technical standards and is active in metrology and precision timekeeping and various kinds of research

- Home of the National Security Agency (NSA), which tries to spy on everyone's communications


- "Super cold" : the autumn is lovely! With beautiful foliage as deciduous trees change color. (You can also see this in most other northeastern states, and to a pretty large extent in the other northern U.S. states.)

- Famous for U.S. colonial and revolutionary history as one of the top three most economically and culturally important colonies during this period (along with New York and Virginia).

- U.S. revolution actually started here

Expand full comment
Oct 10, 2022·edited Oct 10, 2022


- Largest shopping mall in the United States is here

- Many people of Scandinavian descent


- Partly contains Yellowstone (see below on Wyoming)

- A lot of major national parkland


- Much lower taxes than California

- Many people move here from California and/or shop or gamble here

- Lake Tahoe is half located here (the California / Nevada border's sharp corner is located inside of this lake)

- Only U.S. state with (some) legal prostitution

- Nuclear testing and other secret government activities in the desert

New Hampshire

- Home of the Free State Project where some U.S. libertarians all pledged to move to the same state in order to influence its politics

New Jersey

- Much of the New York metropolitan area is actually located in New Jersey

- Atlantic City is a gambling resort

- New Jersey Turnpike is a major road with a lot of strip malls and shopping centers all along it (mentioned in a famous Simon and Garfunkel song, "America")

New Mexico

- High desert

- Lots of artists

New York

- "Terrible subways (I later used them and yes, they were not good)" : They have their impressive aspects, like the fact that they run 24 hours a day (most subway systems don't) and that New Yorkers of all socioeconomic classes use them regularly. But many trains and stations are poorly maintained and some lines can be unreliable.

- Of course New York City is the most famous and probably the most important city in the world, and the United Nations headquarters is there, in addition to some of the most famous hospitals, universities, theaters, companies, restaurants, buildings, etc., etc.

- Sometimes people cite statistics about how many languages are spoken in New York City; this is of course very hard to measure because you have to think about whether you're counting people who live there, or work there, or visit there, or whatever, and not all of them will tell you all of the languages they speak ... but it's common to hear that more than 100 languages are regularly spoken in New York City (probably by large speaker communities, not just by isolated families or something)

- Niagara Falls along the Canadian border (the largest waterfall in the Northern Hemisphere, I think?)

North Carolina

- Historically the main center of the U.S. tobacco industry

- Research Triangle area is an important technology and education hub


- Three very big cities starting with C: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati

- Sometimes cited as a major part of the "Rust Belt", a formerly industrialized and now deindustrializing and economically depressed region in the U.S.

Rhode Island

- More colonial history

- The horror author H. P. Lovecraft was from here


- One of the U.S. states with a chemical element named after it (!) (tennessine, atomic number 117) (because of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a major U.S. nuclear research center)


- Somewhat akin to California, became an independent country after English-speaking settlers there declared independence from Mexico (though Texas remained independent for a much longer period of time than California)

- Has an occasionally active independence movement now as the culture and politics of Texas are sometimes claimed to be very different from much of the rest of the U.S.

- Oil industry

- Lots of other manufacturing

- Lots of cattle

- President Kennedy was assassinated here


- Lots of dinosaur fossils (and other interesting and beautiful geology)

- The Great Salt Lake (very salty, so extra buoyancy)

- Bonneville Salt Flats, an enormous flat area where people often go to try to set speed records with various experimental vehicles (like rocket-powered racecars and so on)


- Looks very similar (in size and shape) to neighboring New Hampshire on the map

- But Vermont is consistently more left-wing politically and New Hampshire is consistently more right-wing

- You can remember this easily because Vermont is to the left of New Hampshire on the map

- Both Vermont and New Hampshire are often considered more relaxed and "mind your own business" than some more urbanized states

- Has Lake Champlain (shared with New York State) which is said to be the home of a legendary lake monster, called "Champ" (you can also take ferries across the lake to New York and try to spot the lake monster)


- A lot of U.S. government stuff is located here, especially military, law enforcement, and spy stuff

- Including the Pentagon, the Arlington National Cemetery (I think largest military cemetery in the U.S. and resting place of many political leaders), and the CIA

- A lot of Virginians work for private companies that are contractors for the U.S. government


- Has agriculture in the east, including famous apples and onions

- Borders British Columbia, Canada, including the major Canadian city of Vancouver, which is extremely close to the U.S. border

- So, there's a lot of tourism and cultural and business connections in both directions

- Lots of ferries and marine transportation along the coastal waterways

- Setting of the Twilight vampire romance series

West Virginia

- One of the poorest and most rural states

- Home of the National Radio Quiet Zone, where it's illegal to operate most equipment that generates radio signals

- In order to allow radio telescopes (and possibly spy equipment) to operate more effectively


- Famous for dairy products and especially cheese

- Green Bay Packers, a non-profit American football (NFL) team which is owned by its fans


- Main home of Yellowstone National Park, one of the most famous and most extensive national parks

- Not to be confused with the also-impressive-and-famous Yosemite National Park, which is in California

Expand full comment

Always appreciate your detailed inputs, Seth. This info is fascinating.

Expand full comment
Oct 9, 2022Liked by Siddhesh

Omg I had so much fun reading this hahahaha❤️ really well written

Expand full comment