Smart Cities on a Dumb List

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The Daily Beasthas mad social smarts. No one but Tina Brown, the site's masterful editor in chief would dare publish a survey of America's "smartest" and "dumbest" cities. But Brown thinks she can outrun the tidal wave of criticism you'd expect when you rank New York no. 13 and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. the smartest place in the nation.

So how do you come up with this stuff, Tina? Apparently by getting the stats for the number of degrees held in a city; levels of community engagement; so-called "intellectual environment" and even voter turnout. As our statistics professors might say, "Oy vey, you call that a methodology?"

Hang onto your graphing calculator. Let's look at the Top 10 "Smart" Cities:

  1. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.
  3. Boston, Mass.
  4. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
  5. Denver, Co.
  6. Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
  7. (tie) Seattle/Tacoma, Wash.
  8. (tie) Washington, D.C.
  9. Portland, Or.
  10. Baltimore, Md.

Dumbest city on the list? Fresno, California (ranked no. 55). (Is that why they call it "Oh No Fresno"?)

Smarty-pants Washington, D.C. (ranked no. 7) may be running the nation, but apparently isn't smart enough to crack the top five without lobbyists. Denver? Why are they ranked no. 5? Aren't they too busy eating granola and skiing? And heaven forbid, New Yorkers don't even make the top dozen! Maybe Tina Brown is too English for her adopted hometown.

This list is blowing minds like when that round, red thingee dropped on Newton's head (or was that Einstein? Dunno. Help, "smart city" resident!)

Let's look at San Francisco, ranked no. 2. The mega-brains behind Frisco-based Google are probably behind closed doors right now creating a free, mind-splitting app to unhinge Raleigh-Durham from its perch. Maybe it's powered on virtual Rice-a-Roni and targets university researchers. Watch out!

Bronze-medal Boston: They was robbed! The believed heirs to the intellectual throne are probably charting complex equations to assert their rightful place on this list. American meritocracy? Ha! Everyone knows brains can be bought! Boston is probably importing brains from overseas this second to off-set the stupid offspring of legacy enrollment. Are they also masterminding a way to compensate for the snooty stereotype of Haaahhvaahd-types in wool cardigans?

Now, nothing against the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. After all, they're home to the Mall of America, a glass-enclosed orgy of shopping and spending which any smart American will agree is capitalistic-tastic. The idea to sell everything from glitter body gel to chainsaws under one roof is genius. Pure genius! Moreover, props to humble Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who graciously insisted that even with a high ranking, there's always more work to be done.

But to have Minneapolis-St. Paul out-brain and out-rank New York City? Really? New York City is a place where having an advanced degree is as common as wearing socks. Not to mention the heaps of street smarts necessary to deal with the elbow-to-elbow population. If ranking were based solely on "smart asses" there would be no doubt of New York City's preeminence.

So, Ms. Brown: we have some suggestions for next year's list. Add a street smarts category. Add a smart ass category. Maybe, just maybe, add a write-in category. Some cities are smart enough to throw themselves in the ocean than submit to IQ posturing - like Atlantis.
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