Top 100 places

Fort Collins! No, Ann Arbor! No, Madison! Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Every day recently, I log in and I’m kind of blown away by how many new subscribers we’ve added. Thanks everyone, and please share this newsletter and ask friends and family to subscribe.

Here’s something you might find interesting thing about Substack, which is the platform I’ve been using for Understandably.

Because of how Substack collects data, unless you choose to start emailing with me and engaging—which granted, quite a few of you do—but unless you do that, all I get for each subscriber is an email address.

No “real name,” no city and state or even country, no real info on how you found this newsletter to begin with.

That’s fine, your call.

But it means that sometimes, when I set out to write a fairly specific newsletter like today’s, I don’t know if I’m sending something that people will find intriguing and different—or if they’ll either nod in agreement or or shake their heads.

Today, we’re talking about the supposed 100 best places to live in America. An extraordinarily focused site called came out with its list this week, and I got sucked in. Their methodology or criteria:

We analyzed more than 1,000 small to mid-sized cities on factors like safety, affordability, economic stability, outdoor recreation, accessibility, community engagement.

This year’s list was also informed by a new metric: an “opportunity score” we used to determine each city’s landscape of opportunity, including variables like job numbers, broadband access, economic resilience and growth.

As it turns out, six of the 100 spots they picked are in the great state of Wisconsin, which is one of only three states I’ve never visited. (The others are North Dakota and Alaska.) Am I missing something?

Anyway, here are their top 10 places to live, along with a couple of others that I found intriguing—plus this link to the full 100 so I don’t get sued for copyright infringement.

I’d be interested to know if any of my subscribers live in any of these places, and whether you agree or not. Or else, what other places should rank high on the list?

  1. Fort Collins, Colorado: Their take was, “No surprise here — set against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is a vibrant and growing city that’s overflowing with opportunity.”

  2. Ann Arbor, Michigan: “Ann Arbor is perhaps best known for being the home of the world-renowned University of Michigan, but this energetic city is so much more than a college town.”

  3. Madison, Wisconsin: Perhaps the most oblique description: “Madison is a town that defies definition.”

  4. Portland, Maine: “The secret’s out — Portland is on the rise, thanks to its supportive business climate, incredible quality of life and creative residents.”

  5. Rochester, Minnesota: “If you know the Mayo Clinic, then you know Rochester.”

  6. Asheville, North Carolina: “Asheville is known as both the world’s first Foodtopian Society and ‘Beer City USA,’ boasting more breweries per capita than any other U.”

  7. Overland Park, Kansas: “Overland Park — or OP as the locals like to call it — is not only the birthplace of talented human/everyone’s imaginary BFF Paul Rudd, but it’s also making the suburbs look cool again (yeah, we said it).”

  8. Fargo, North Dakota: “It’s no secret that Fargo is thriving.”

  9. Durham, North Carolina: “From the arts to the outdoors, Durham is a cozy city booming with opportunity.”

  10. Sioux Falls, South Dakota: “Think South Dakota is boring? Think again.”

The other five from Wisconsin: Eau Claire, (#28), Appleton (#38), Green Bay (#40), La Cross (#77), Milwaukee (#91).

The only place in New Jersey, where I live? Jersey City (#56). I’m a former resident before we moved to the ‘burbs; I can vouch.

And, there are nine states for which not a single place made the list: Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Hawaii.

That last state not on the list just seems nuts to me; if it weren’t for how far away Hawaii is from the continental U.S., and my friends and family, I think it might be number 1 for me.

Anyway, this is just one list. Let me know whether you have first-hand experience with any of these and what you think, or if there are other places you think should rank higher.

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7 other things worth your time

  • Former N.J. governor Chris Christie, who just spent a week in the hospital with Covid-19, now says he was “wrong” not to insist on wearing masks. (NBC News)

  • This is wild. A baseball fan whose apartment overlooks San Diego’s Petco Park, and who hates the Houston Astros because of their 2017 cheating scandal, used the Pythagorean theorem to figure out the distance from his balcony to home plate (700 feet). He then bought a megaphone loud enough that he could be heard by batters during games, and has been haranguing them with jeers. I’m not sure I’m doing this justice—but I love that it’s a single fan, named Tim Kanter, and that reporters figured out where he lives and interviewed him. (USA Today)

  • Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who was Mexico’s defense minister for six years, was arrested on drug charges when he arrived Thursday at LAX. (The Washington Post)

  • Do not scale the side of the New York Times building, you will get arrested. Case in point: a man who made it to the sixth floor (from the outside) before cops nabbed him. (Fox 5 NY)

  • You want to see a superspreader event? I’ll show you a superspreader event: this Swiss yodeling competition that attracted 600 people, and presaged regional Covid-19 infections going from 500 to 1,238 in a matter of weeks. (Yahoo News)

  • Dr. Fauci on Thanksgiving 2020: “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you're pretty certain that the people that you're dealing with are not infected.” (People)

  • How do TV commercial directors film ads when there are no professional actors available due to the pandemic? In some cases, they shoot with their friends and family. (WSJ, $)

Are you an American citizen? Then don’t forget to vote! There are 18 days left in the 2020 election season, and more than 17 million Americans have already cast their ballots, either via mail or in-person early voting. (I voted almost two weeks ago.) In 2016, a total of 138 million people voted.

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