Saturday, July 22, 2006
Midwest Turmoil
Blogging has been sparse lately. My apologies.

I am not at all a fan of the current events in the Middle East. That being said, I stumbled upon this old Onion story I remember from long ago:

Midwest Peace Talks Shattered By Illinois Toll-Booth Bombing

"Lake Geneva Convention." Awesome.

There's always bit of interstate rivalry in the Midwest, a lot of it fueled by football rivalries collegiate and professional. I still despise the FIBs recklessly speeding north on I-39 to defile our pristine northern lakes with their obnoxious jet skis every summer weekend.

Anyway, I was reading about Minnesotan lakes today (yeah, I do things like that) and remembered, as a kid, being told that, even though Minnesota's license plates have the boastful caption "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Wisconsin actually has more lakes.

Nowadays, I'm armed with a laptop and a search engine. Result:

Minnesota: 11,842 lakes
Wisconsin: 15,081 lakes

Gophers suck.

Update: (Minnesotan) Justin, in his deconstructionist, relativist, there-is-no-knowable-truth manner, pointed out that Minnesota's number refers only to lakes larger than ten acres, so it's an unfair comparison.

Really, you cannot begin to qualatively assert whether or not one state has more or fewer lakes than another—our contemporary understanding of what is a "lake" versus, say, a "pond" is caught up in a social construct of a lake's identity—that is, when considering a body of water and its potential properties (depth, area, or volume, for example), there is no universally apparent metric that can be used to determine, at exactly what point, that the "lakeness" of the water in question is such as to undeniably bestow "lake status" upon it. We can not hope to objectively reach a consensus as to what configurations of these variables do and do not constitute lakes. Using the strictest of standards, neither state has any lakes, while if we choose a point far too low on the continuum, we're charged with tallying up every insignificant puddle.

With that, I argue that the number of lakes in either state is, then, inherently unknowable.


While I begin the process of removing my tongue from my cheek, I will say that it's probably a wash and I shouldn't dare be boastful, as I very likely could be wrong. I saw a blog post on the topic while searching along:

Bill asks: Does Wisconsin or Minnesota have more lakes?

As Cindy writes,
My official answer is that both states have a WHOLE BUNCH OF LAKES.

A number of your 15000 fancy lakes were less than 10 acres in size. In Minnesota, we don't count such puddles as lakes. You cheeseheads though, it seems like you would.

Oh, and I get that Minnesota has 15291 lakes larger than 10 acres. When you get some comparable numbers, we'll talk.

Minnesotan out.
Okay, fine.

Didn't you guys elect a former professional wrestler as your governor?

Please name your state's most memorable senator.

Anyway, nice update!
I don't like the FIBs not only because they sully our lakes but because every time I go visit my grandma in Michigan I have to drive through stupid Chicago, which costs a million dollars because they can't possibly just pay their taxes like normal human beings. Also, toll booths in combination with FIBs make driving hell.
This "lake vs. puddle" debate reminds me of a conversation we have in Alaska from time to time: hill vs. mountain. There is no definitive height at which a hill becomes a mountian, it seems. Different sources say different things; some go out of their way to be vague on the topic.

Example: "Mountain: A natural elevation of the earth's surface having considerable mass, generally steep sides, and a height greater than that of a hill." (

Yeah, thanks for clearing that up.
well then, no-one can ever blame me for making mountains out of mole-hills again!
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