Via Andrea James, I came across this clip of comedian Gary Gulman riffing on how the two-letter abbreviations for each state used by the US postal service came about. I sometimes get confused by them, such us not being sure if IA stands for Iowa or Indiana or AL is for Alabama or Alaska.
I started wondering what a better system might look like. The current system is given by this map.
It would have helped if those in charge of naming the states as they entered the union had the foresight to make sure that no two of them shared the first two letters. But alas, that is too late. But the postal service should have avoided some obvious problems, such as by making Iowa IO or IW, which would have been easier to distinguish from Indiana.
They could also have decided that if two or more states shared the first two letters, then none of them would be granted those two letters and instead used two letters that were unique to that state. Michigan would be MG, Missouri could remain MO, and Mississippi could be MP. Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts could be ME, MD, and MC respectively. Alabama could have been AB and Alaska could have been AS or AK. Arizona could be AZ while Arkansas could be AS or AK
There are still some ambiguities in the system because there would be some residual confusion as to whether AS or AK stood for Alaska or Arkansas, unless Arkansas was designated by AN.
I am sure that those residual bugs could be worked out if I put more time into this utterly pointless exercise. The trouble with being retired is that one has the time to pursue useless trains of thought.