They say beauty (and sometimes homeliness) is in the eye of the beholder. That saying couldn't ring more true when it comes to the tube-clogging glut of listicles populating the World Wide Web.
Alaska may be the Last Frontier, but it is often Internet listmakers' first and favorite target. Even a casual search of Internet lists turns up dozens that feature the 49th state or its cities. The lists and rankings are made with a wide array of methodologies, from public opinion polls, Internet data and usage information to data-based ratings and good old-fashioned WAGs (wild-ass guesses.)
The Good: Things we should be proud of
Alaska residents are happiest with their own standard of living. The 2013 Gallup Poll found that Alaskans -- despite long, cold, dark winter nights and high costs of living -- rate themselves happiest with the way they live. It may be cold, but hey -- at least we don't have to worry about snakes and alligators.
The Seward Highway is a scenic drive. Country Magazine ranks the Seward Highway -- a 125-mile roadway that weaves through mountains and coastline between Anchorage and Seward -- as the nation's ninth best scenic drive.
Alaska has affordable public universities. The Wall Street Journal ranks the University of Alaska System -- at an average annual cost of $5,855 -- as the nation's second-cheapest for students, behind only Wyoming. Many suspect the actual cost in Alaska is much higher, especially if you factor in the cost of Xtratufs and a pint of beer in the Last Frontier.
Dutch Harbor is the largest fishing port in the U.S. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed the tiny town of Dutch Harbor -- on Amaknak Island -- as the port that brings in the most tonnage of fish. Home to pollock and crab fleets, Dutch took in 9.6 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2012. It also is home to the Elbow Room -- once known as the second most dangerous bar on the planet. (Apparently none of the raters ever threw one back on Second Avenue in Fairbanks during the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline.)
Alaska is a cheap place to operate a car. The list from Bankrate.com places Alaska as the second cheapest for annual car costs (gas, maintenance, repair and taxes and registration). Have they ever seen an Alaska gas pump?
Anchorage is a good place to live if you like winter. Livability.com rated Alaska's largest city as America's best to live in during the winter. The same website rated Anchorage 91st overall for livability among U.S. towns. Of course, another list by the website Areavibes rated Anchorage as ninth worst. Perhaps editors for both sites should get together over halibut and work out their differences.
Anchorage is a good place for young adults. Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated Anchorage as the fifth best city for young adults to live in. Easy access to tasty beer, great fishing, good runs, and jobs -- what more could an under-30 ask for?
Alaska residents have their heads screwed on straight. According to the American Brain Health Index, residents of the biggest state in the U.S. rank fifth for brain health and first for mental health. With the highest rape and suicide rates and among the highest depression rates in the country, the news, while good, is difficult to believe. Perhaps that's because the ranking only considered things like the prevelence of Alzheimer's disease and other mental health ailments in its metrics?
Alaska is a place where people don't mind going against the flow. The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights claims the 49th state has the highest concentration of tea party members. And don't forget hipsters. Travel and Leisure rated Anchorage as the 27th best U.S. city for hipster living. Of course, our hipsters were hip to the 907 before it was cool. So were our tea partiers, for that matter.
The Bad: Things we find a little embarrassing
Alaska is a dangerous place to live. With the highest rates of rape, drowning and suicide in the U.S., it's no surprise a Harvard study ranks the state as the third most dangerous when it comes to violent and property crimes. Only Nevada and Tennessee were found to have higher per capita violent crime rates.
Alaskans like to drink. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Last Frontier is first when it comes to the cost of alcohol abuse, with an estimated price tag of more than $1,000 per person per year for treatment of alcoholics and the cost of alcohol-related crimes and effects on families.
Alaskans feel like crap after a night out. Internet magazine Business Insider -- a serial offender when it comes to stupid Alaska-inclusive lists -- decreed that the Last Frontier is the most hungover U.S. state. Duh!
Alaskans love online smut. A Harvard study found that Alaskans love their porn. The study found only Utah (seriously?) had a higher rate of Internet porn use.
Alaska sucks for retirees. With cold winter temperatures, a lack of senior housing, and a high cost of living, Forbes ranks Alaska second-worst for retirees. Hey, at least Grandpa and Grandma get a dividend check each year -- they don't have those in Florida or Arizona.
Alaska has some of the worst sports fans, the ugliest residents, and the worst food. Business Insider (see above) has created many Alaska-inclusive lists. This one is a real gem, rating the state low on everything from how we eat to how we dress (ever tried to wear Brooks Brothers and Prada at 40 below?).
The Ugly: WTF?
Anchorage is one of the rudest cities in the U.S. Travel and Leisure ranks Anchortown as the nation's fifth rudest community. Don't ask us where to see the northern lights, if we take American currency or whether we own a dog team instead of a car. Just leave your cash on the doorstep and get back on the cruise ship.
Anchorage is awash in douchebaggery. According to a Surveymonkey forum, Anchorage is not just a rude place. It's also full of douchebags. Anchorage ranks 50th on the site's top 100 list for cities where Facebook data indicates its residents "like" the hallmarks of douchebaggery, like Ed Hardy clothing, porkpie hats, and Nickelback.
Alaskans are fast, but are they furious? According to the makers of a new mobile app, Alaskans are the briefest when it comes to getting down to business in the bedroom. Spreadsheets is an app that, when placed on a bed next to two sexual partners, can measure duration, thrust rate and power of coitus -- and it claims Alaskans have the shortest sexual encounters at an average of just one minute and 21 seconds. New Mexico residents are ranked first, with a mind-scrambling average of seven minutes spent each time they fool around. Hey, when it's as cold as it gets here, getting out of the sack and back into your comfy pants and socks can be a priority.
Contact Sean Doogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.