Now this is not just a list of interesting spots.Â Oh, no.Â This is a list of “THE”Â places youÂ must visit, and becauseÂ the placesÂ have been precisely and lovingly vetted and curated, there are exactly 46 of them.
Not 50 places, because any hack can throw together a list with a nice round number like that.Â By choosing 46 locations, it lends an air of precision and perfection to the crafting of the list.
So check this out… At #7, out of all the places in the world, is Houston (yes, that Houston… Texas.)Â Right after Rio, Marseille, Nicaragua, Accra (Ghana), Bhutan, and Amsterdam.Â (“What’s in Houston?Â Culture and food.”)
One explanation why different states think the way they do
Iâ€™ve looked for explanations why there are geographic pockets of behavior or thinking.Â Iâ€™ve looked for reasons to explain why some attributes, conditions, traits, behaviors, qualities and characteristics seem to cluster in certain areas,Â while residents of other places tend towards the opposite.
Why do certain states reliably vote in predictable patterns?Â Why is the South especially prone to violent crime?Â Iâ€™ve performed regression analyses and searched for correlations between certain variables such as income, education, climate, occupations, geography, housing, recreation, cost of living and crime.
The Forbes list and the story is pretty straightforward; a callout of theÂ large U.S.Â metro areas with the worst scores for air and water quality, plus measures of toxic releases and Superfund sites.
And It’s a fairly accurate list.Â All the places named have issues, but I’ve got to say thatÂ I’m not proud of being associated with stories like this.
Stories like thisÂ focus on the negative, andÂ have titles guaranteed to be irresistable to the casual web browser – America’s Dirtiest Cities, Miserable Cities, Worst Cities to Live, Depressing Cities, Dangerous Cities,Â Dying Cities, Drunkest Cities, Fattest Cities, Worst Schools, and Dumbest Cities.
I was reminded that I promised to do a follow-up to my blog post about Stephen Bloomâ€™s article in The Atlantic, which lambasted his home state of Iowa, its residents and its way of life.Â If it sounds like Iâ€™m exaggerating, read the original article here.
Mr. Bloom justifies his criticism variously as â€œunspeakable truths,â€ â€œopinions,â€ and â€œsatire and parody.â€ If he seems confused about the focus of his piece, it has gotten him a lot of attention (with over 2,000 comments on the magazineâ€™s web site, and even an interview on NBCâ€™s Rock Center) which is perhaps what he wanted all along.Â Tellingly, he is quite vocal about the responses to his article, citing a death threat, anti-Semitism, and being forced into â€œhiding in an undisclosed location.â€
The description of the video interview with the reporter (Arden Dale) states â€œWhen states raise taxes millionaires move out.â€Â And the interviewer starts the piece by declaring, â€œMillionaires are fleeing from taxes!â€
Wow, that sounds serious, and certainly very definitive.Â Letâ€™s learn more.
Interviewer â€“ â€œSo tell us, where are the millionaires going?â€
Ms. Dale â€“ â€œPeople donâ€™t want to be taxedâ€¦ but when we looked the actual numbers, the actual studies of whether â€˜Millionaire Flightâ€™ occurs, what we found was that there is no really great statistical data that shows that it does.â€ (Note: while this is being said, a banner on the screen reads â€œMillionaires moving to avoid taxes.â€)
You’ve seen the news – Dallas, Texas has been hit hard by major tornado activity.
I can’t say I’m surprised, because about this time last year the New York Times published my rankings of Natural Disaster Risk.
And my topÂ pick of the 379 metros areas in the United States?Â Â Yes, Dallas.
Check out the link to the story.Â The New York Times creates beautiful and insightful infographics.
(Click map to expand in new window)
I hope this all this tornado activity and unseasonably warm weather isn’t a precursor to a summer of extreme weather.Â Meanwhile, I’ll hunker down here in the soggy Northwest, and feel lucky that the most we usually suffer from are unrelenting gray days and drizzle.
I use a lot of metrics to measure and rate the quality of life in different cities and towns.Â I haven’t seen anyone else use this particular measure but I think it provides a good insight into the sociological health of a place.
So, I was heartened to read about a trend in New York City.
Where the cost of living (and private schooling) is amongst the highest in the world, some of the wealthy are opting to send theirÂ kids to public schools.Â Thereâ€™s a twist as well â€“ itâ€™s foreigners who are leading this charge.
In the study of cities,Â getting biggerÂ is usually seen as desirable if not inevitible.Â So interesting issues are raised whenÂ growth starts to bring with it some questionable effects.
Austin, TexasÂ has been a sanctuary for pickers, singers and painters for generations.Â The problem is, the creative class is startingÂ to get squeezed out.
People move to Austin because it’s so cool and hip, but the influx has pushed theÂ costÂ of livingÂ UP and the artists OUT.
Now Austin is the priciest place to live in Texas.Â The fancy $500,000 condos must be the target of the famous “Keep Austin Weird” slogan on the back of every VW van down there.
It’s a tricky chicken-and-egg situation when prosperity rides into town withÂ unaffordabilityÂ as its sidekick.Â Austin is stepping up admirably, though – the city has spent $55 million on affordable housing in the past five years.
Finding a job these days is tough enough, but holding one down while being a mom raises a whole new set of concerns.Â I was consulted by ForbesÂ for a recent study that looked at the Best Cities for Working Mothers.
This is the study’s third year, and I think you’ll find the results interesting.Â You can read the article here: