The BEST and WORST of EVERYTHING Almanac rates people, places and things

December 19, 1991|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Evening Sun Staff

YOU SAY you need a job? Move to Orange County, Calif., where the employment outlook is the best in the country.

You think life's too short. Move to Hawaii. Its residents lead the nation in longevity.

You're single and looking for a man? Move to Bahrain, where more than 60 percent of the population is male.

Of course, the editors of "The Best and Worst of Everything," a newly released paperback (Prentice Hall General Reference), don't promise all their solutions are practical.

What they do say is that their almanac of listings is meant to be a relatively serious look at "data on the most relevant aspects of our lives -- the people, places and things that we confront on a regular basis."

Editor-in-chief Les Krantz and a team of researchers have come up with the 10 best and/or 10 worst in hundreds of categories, ranging from air pollution to zoos. They reveal the fastest automobile (Corvette ZR-1), the wealthiest American family (Du Pont), the fastest-growing job (medical assistant), the healthiest fast food (Wendy's chef salad), the most popular method of murder (gunshots) -- every facet of day-to-day living . . . and dying.

Some of these bests and worsts may seem pretty predictable. After all, who would be surprised to learn that Americans' favorite chocolate candy is M&Ms, their cigarette of choice Marlboro and their most popular cereal Cheerios?

But other findings are truly mystifying. Who could have guessed that you'd find the country's fastest bank tellers in, of all places, Chattanooga, Tenn.? Or the fastest talkers in Columbus, Ohio?

And apparently, the country's thirstiest residents live in North Carolina, where each person consumes an average 55 gallons of soft drink a year.

Texas -- equally as hot but only 10th thirstiest -- has other claims to fame. The state has more toxic waste, more parolees and more suicides in local prisons than any other state.

Unfortunately, Baltimore shows up in more "worst of" lists than "best of." It has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate, the seventh-highest number of violent crimes and the seventh-highest property taxes per capita. It ranks ninth in the number of cocaine-related emergency room visits and is the 10th most racially segregated city.

The only list on which Baltimore comes out on top is what might be termed "tightest wads in baseball." The Orioles organization has the smallest payroll of any major league team. (It paid its players an average salary of $279,326 in 1990.)

Despite the cheap team, Baltimore sports fans rank third best in the country in loyalty.

Krantz, president of American References Inc., and his staff compiled much of their findings from objective sources, including the Congressional Record, various U.S. agencies, trade associations, publications and major opinion polls.

Other choices are labeled "best and worst original" and were determined by the writers' "pseudo-scientific" measurements, meaning they did the best they could with the data they could get.

After all, they write, "who can reasonably measure the best

hamburger? Matters of taste are hard to rate."

A bit of trivia

JUST HOW familiar are you with the best and worst in our lives? Here's a little quiz to test your knowledge of how things rate. (Answers appear on Page C9.):

1. What state spends more per capita on the lottery than any other?

2. What is the most stressed-out city in the country?

3. Who is America's highest-paid businesswoman?

4. In what professional do Americans have the most trust?

5. What city's residents have the most VCRs?

6. Whose face is the most valuable on baseball cards?

7. What job involves the least amount of stress?

8. What airline loses more luggage than any other?

9. What is the all-time best-selling paperback book?

10. What is the all-time longest-running television series?

Almanac rates people, places and things

Here are the answers to the quiz on Page C1, revealing the best and the worst in 10 categories:

1. Massachusetts. Its residents spend an average $235 a year, according to "Gaming & Wagering Business." (By the way, Maryland is No. 3, with $185 per person).

2. Reno, Nev. And in second place is Las Vegas. A high incidence of alcoholism, suicide, divorce and crime -- high-stress indicators -- determined their top ranking. (State College, Pa., was ranked the least stressful.)

3. Margaret Hunt Hill, who owns and operates oil and real estate interests in Dallas. The eldest child of tycoon H.L. Hunt earns an annual salary of $55 million.

4. Druggist. (Tied for last place in this Gallup poll were car salesmen and state officeholders.)

5. Anchorage, Alaska. According to Nielsen Media Research, 86 percent of the households in that chilled-out city own VCRs. (Minneapolis, Minn., on the other hand, has the fewest VCRs.) 6. Honus Wagner, 1910. One of only two known cards picturing the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, who had his cards withdrawn after he learned tobacco companies sponsored them, sold earlier this year for $451,000.

7. Musical instrument repairer. According to "Jobs Rated Almanac," the job has a stress score of only 4.69, compared to a firefighter's score of 115.15.

8. America West. U.S. Department of Transportation figures show the airline loses an average of 8.6 bags per 1,000 passengers.

9. "Baby and Child Care." The book by Dr. Benjamin Spock has sold nearly 40 million copies in the United States and abroad.

10. "The Wonderful World of Disney," no longer in production, lasted 32 seasons.

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