America’s Fittest Cities – ACSM

The annual American Fitness Index is well-intentioned but conflicting metrics dilute its focus.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their sixth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) which “evaluates the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States.”

I’m going review their study and tell you what they did right, and where the ACSM could improve their analysis.  In fact, I’ll show you how in their effort to make a great study, they actually ended up making their index much weaker.

Continue reading “America’s Fittest Cities – ACSM”

U.S. News names “Worst Places to Retire”

Another half-baked and misleading list from another site desperate to attract readers.

U.S. News recently released a list of The 10 Worst Places to Retire.  Wow, I thought, these places must be awful to be chosen as “the worst”.  They must have deadly air and water pollution, rampant crime, unchecked disease, unsafe nursing homes, no public transit, and are probably bankrupt to boot.

Actually, the U.S. News analysis consisted of only one criteria, the metro’s cost of living.  As the article explains their methodology, “Retiring  in a city with an inordinately high cost of living means you will have  to save more money and invest more successfully just to make ends meet.”

Continue reading “U.S. News names “Worst Places to Retire””

“Coming Apart” Book Review

the cover of the book entitled "coming apart"

“Coming Apart – The State of White America 1960-2010″ by Charles Murray  focuses on the increasing divergence of upper and lower classes in the United States.  Besides the economic inequality, the two classes are actually becoming different cultures.

There, I just summarized the first half of the book, and saved you untold hours of wading through demographic minutia.  And his conclusion makes sense, but what’s the point?

In the second half we find out, when the author veers from analysis to opinion presented as fact, such as:

1)      There is “no doubt” that America could not succeed without the “founding virtues” of “industriousness, honesty, marriage, religiosity.”

and

2)      “The answer is that there are just four” (domains of happiness), “family, vocation, community, and faith.”

In the last chapter (“Alternative Futures”), we finally get to some meaty discussions such as “the American Project vs. the European Model”.  Basically, the author feels that the Europe cripples its population by robbing them of self-respect and self-actualization.

Mr. Murray’s ultimate hope is that there will be a “Civic Great Awakening” in the response to the “collapse of the moral pillars of the welfare state” and leading the change will be the “new upper class”.

In the last few paragraphs, Mr. Murray invokes the popular concept of American Exceptionalism.

“Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.”

Really, is he serious? Continue reading ““Coming Apart” Book Review”