irish-singer1From Elvivia’s photostream on Flickr. An extraordinary talent.


What’s a World-Class City, Anyway?

vienna2We spend a lot of time tossing around the term “world class.” HR company Mercer (a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan) conducts an annual quality of living survey in more than 380 cities worldwide based on detailed assessments of 10 key categories and 39 criteria. The results?

1. Vienna
2. Zurich
3. Geneva
4. Vancouver
5. Auckland
6. Dusseldorf
7. Munich
8. Frankfurt
9. Bern
10. Sydney
11. Copenhagen
12. Wellington (NZ)
13. Amsterdam
14. Brussels
15. Toronto
16. Ottawa

You get the picture. No US city has ever cracked the top 10. Honolulu appears at 29, having eked out San Francisco at 30 (tied with Helsinki). Boston is 35, Portland 42, and Chicago 44 (tied with Lisbon, Osaka, and Washington DC). NYC sneaks in at49, with Seattle rounding out the top 50.

The criteria are here.

A refreshing dose of reality for those of us who drink deeply our own Kool-Aid


nyt-photoPablo Martinex Monsivais/AP
There continue to be moments of brilliance despite the newspaper meltdowns. Mazzetti and Shane in yesterday’s NYT offer an extraordinary glimpse of the Bush Administration and the wrangle over torture. Must reading; the accompanying photo couldn’t be telling.

Thanks to reader ASR for the ping.


lionels-photoVia Lionel*’s Photostream on Flickr

Lifting Body

1958-pontiacToday, Jalopnik features a memorial to the late-lamented Pontiac: fifty ads promoting products that proudly bore the Chieftain (if in name only).

In 1958, Pontiacs were featured in scenes showing our belated nascent space effort. Rather than the usual Redstone or Nike Hercules rockets, the background of this ad features a primordial lifting body, precursor to the cancelled Dyna-Soar, and the soon-to-be-lamented Shuttle, Pontiac of the heavens.

Future Tense

velourOne can only hope that we still have velour and go-go boots in the 23rd century.

As Spock once said, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

Isn’t Riverside the birthplace of the immortal Priceline Negotiator?

Via AP/Yahoo News

Pass the Cheese Curds, Edna

lustAndrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish posted maps of the seven deadly sins by Kansas State geographers.

What the heck is so lustful about central Michigan, western South Dakota and the Texas/New Mexico and Arizona/New Mexico borders?

According to the Las Vegas Sun (where all the maps can be seen), the mapping was a bit of a joke — the ‘rigorous mapping of ridiculous data’ — using proxies like STD data for lust and number of fast food restaurants for gluttony. Sloth was measured using expenditures on arts and entertainment, and envy and wrath were based on crime stats — burglary, robbery, and larceny for envy, and violent crimes per capita for wrath. Pride was the aggregate of the six. All to gauge the Sodomosity that is Las Vegas.

Turns out that, though #1 for greed, Vegas is no better than third for pride (behind Biloxi and Shreveport), which as we all know, goeth before a fall.

And when it comes to gluttony, everyone knows that Wisconsin is, and ever shall remain #1. Pass me the bar dice and order me another brandy.