Monday, April 06, 2009

Forbes Tops List of Worst Lists

Isn't it fun to rank things? Look, I like my lists as much as the next guy (on the list) and I don't ask much: only that the people making the list are not completely and irretrievably mentally deficient like the sponge-for-brains editors at Forbes.
Portland, ME recently topped the magazine's list of Most Livable Cities. This is almost plausible. It's a nice place. I might even live there. And I can't say enough about the great state of Maine. And the New Englander in me loves to see his native land come out on top. But let's move on down the list a bit more to see — there it is at number 9 — Worcester, MA!

That's it. Throw the list in the trash. Right now. Worcester, MA — the Youngstown, OH of New England — shouldn't be in the top 50 in its own state. Not by any reasonable measure by reasonable people. Even worse now that Moses has been toppled in a fit of rage.

But let's be a bit more objective just for kicks. Here are two impossibly stupid things the Forbes folks did:
  • They looked only at Metropolitan Statistical Areas with over 500,000 people. This might be a sensible thing to do. What makes it completely insensible is to then look at the metrics for tiny towns within those MSAs and apply the tiny town metric to the whole area. Not following me? Here's an example:

    Portland, ME has about 64,000 people living in it. They claim the Portland metro area ranks high on five key metrics and then write about the "513,000 residents living the good life in the Portland metropolitan area". OK, so we must be talking about MSAs and not tiny towns within the MSAs, right?

    Peabody, MA — a harmless, but mediocre tiny town just outside of Boston that by some miracle of pseudo-science is #14 on any list — is indeed in an MSA over 500,000 people. You may have heard of it. It's called BOSTON.

    Look, Boston has its charms, but it's way too expensive ever to make it onto one of these "livable" lists. So these imbeciles at Forbes must be looking at metrics for just the town of Peabody, in which case they're inconsistent buffoons; OR they're looking at the whole MSA, their list is dumber than I imagined, and they badly mispelled (sorry) Boston.

  • At this point do we even need to mention that even a imbecilic chimpanzee would know that income growth over the past five years does not measure how affordable a place is compared with its cost-of-living, as Forbes suggests in commenting that "residents can afford the relatively high cost of living because of a 6.3% income growth rate over the past five years?"
Still think it's one big MENSA meeting over there in the Forbes editorial room? These cretins put Baltimore, MD as the #8 most livable city in the US. My God, how far we've fallen, if that's true. In the real world, Baltimore slugs it out with Green Bay and Detroit for worst places in North America. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Chicago is somehow the 3rd most miserable city in the US!

But I guess in the end it's all good. Darwin's always at work. If you believe the nonsense these fools are selling you, pack up your Chi-town bags and head for BeMore. Both cities just just raised their average IQ. But otherwise cancel your subscription and use your dollars to save some other magazine that might be worth the ink.


Phutatorius said...

Wait -- was that the same imbecilic chimp that was doing lights at the Rigby BOS bout? Chimps are getting a bad rap around here.

Stuns me that Cleveland obtained a higher miserabilitas ranking than Detroit. If Detroit's not #1 on the Miserable Cities list, there's a bug in the program. At least we do have LeBron James, even if odds are even he might leave in 2010.

Yeah, there may be a lot of Lake Effect Snow (as if that indicator should carry the "misery" weight that Forbes appears to assign it in the "Cleveland Is Miserable" blurb) -- but at least come that fateful Saturday in late November, people in Ohio have something to cheer for.

Hey, Forbes, why don't you stop passing judgment on our cities and do your frickin' job, which is to ask tough questions and, where possible, predict economic disaster?

Anonymous said...

Baltimore as one of the worst cities in the U.S.? Sheeeeeit. Baltimore is a city whose Inner Harbor transformation represents the envy of urban developers nationwide. Just look at how many embattled cities have tried to build their own version of "Camden Yards," only to see their projects fail without the cohesive, multifaceted development pioneered by Baltimore. With all due respect to the movie "Field of Dreams," it takes more than a ballpark for people to come.

Love that clip from "The Wire," by the way. "The Wire" brilliantly portrays a city's struggle against decline -- elements present in just about ANY urban center, mind you -- but the show hardly represents the entire fabric of Baltimore. Visit Baltimore one of these days. There's more than the fabled "Western District." Check out Harbor East. Fells Point. Federal Hill. Little Italy. Canton. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Mithridates said...

Sorry, "Anonymous", but I've been to the "good" parts of Baltimore. It's not as bad as Detroit where you can drive all day (and I have) looking for the good part and never finding it. But that "good" part of Baltimore is pretty small and surrounded by, well, not so good parts.

When I was last there for a baseball game, there was an underground chemical fire while it poured in the afternoon. They played "Fire and Rain" on the loudspeakers, which I think might have been an appropriate anthem for Baltimore if not for the them from The Wire.

Anonymous said...

You are correct to generalize from your one game experience that underground chemical fires occur with alarming frequency in Baltimore.

There are plenty of "not so good parts" in Baltimore. But your assertion that the "good" parts are small and isolated distorts the truth. Mt. Vernon, Inner Harbor, Little Italy, Harbor East, Fells Point, and Canton represent contiguous neighborhoods. The overarching plan of the city is to create an expanding wavefront of "good" areas against the blight. It's working.

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