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Quoting "Thomas R. Wier" <[log in to unmask]>:
> > > Chicago has about as many people as Paris, and St. Louis about
> > > as many as Rome.  For Americans, their size alone merits knowing
> > > about them.  And if being a capital is so important, wouldn't that
> > > imply that Europeans should be able to identify Albany (NY) and
> > > Columbus (OH)?
> >
> > Because they are state capitals, but not country capitals (I had
> > already made the distinction before).
>
> In fact, neither of these cities is a state capital.  As John and
> I have already pointed out, only a few of the state capitals are the
> largest cities in their respective states (e.g. Boston, Atlanta,
> and Phoenix).

For some reason I thought Christophe was referring to
Chicago and St. Louis.  Apologies.

But one point should be made:  state capitals in the U.S. have
more significance in the world economy today than most other
administrative centers in Europe that are not national capitals.
This is because many states are, economically speaking, every
bit as complicated as nation-states -- indeed, California has
a GDP larger than that of France, and because American states
have far, far more autonomy from the central government than
most subdivisions of European states (more so than German Laender,
even), economic decisions in the state are due in large measure
to their own decisions (witness the vast difference between the
electric deregulation debacle and its almost flawless execution
in Texas).  All of which are reasons for paying attention to
State capitals.   (Which is not to say they should be studied
solely and at the expense of noncapitals like Chicago or St. Louis.)

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Thomas Wier            "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics    because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago   half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street     Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637