State Rorschach

That’s Mimal the elfin chef with a pan of fried chicken. He is named after the first letter of each state that he is composed of: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It’s an old gag but it still amuses me, and it always unburies the age-old question. Do the states make Mimal or does Mimal make the states? The question is so deep and profound that I don’t dare try to answer it.

Mimal came across my desk the other day, and as I stared longingly at his pan of fried chicken, I wondered:

“Are there more Mimals among us? What other characters are hidden in our boundaries? And are these clues that I can pass on to Nicholas Cage to find the next national treasure, or does he already know about them? Am I just wasting my time?”

I brushed off my insecurities and fear and began the journey. And began it did. Here’s what I found.

States and shapes

Here’s the thing though. If you stare at the states long enough, your mind tricks you into seeing anything. I mean, come on. Green slug with an orange wig and an underbite? That’s a stretch.

But this. This my friends is glaringly obvious, and like Mimal, once I saw this I could not believe it was there all along, right in front of me.

Smiley county

Life, as we know it, will never be the same.

Become a member. Support an independent site. Make great charts.

Join Now

Favorites

What Qualifies as Middle-Income in Each State

The meaning of “middle-income” changes a lot depending on where you live and your household size.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but …

19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.