I ran across a couple of articles today that involve ranking places. First, Philadelphia won #42 in the list of “Best Student Cities in the World.” We’d prefer top-ten status, but 42 isn’t bad in a global context. The list, made by career/education networker Quacquarelli Symonds Limited, weighs factors like educational institutions, population size and student mix, quality of living, and affordability. Philadelphia gets high points for employer activity, but loses out on quality of life. Hm: we’d like to see how that’s measured.

Another article features my home state of Texas, but less triumphantly. I moved away from Texas over 10 years ago, and during visits I quickly get tired of the local driving (lots), smoking (ubiquitous), roads and cars (both big), and egos (bigger). But I take pride in my family – five generations’ worth of Texans – and the rolling hill country around Austin, and the phenomenal food makes Mexican food elsewhere inevitably disappointing. And I admire the egos, even if they stymie road courtesy and encourage rampant sprawl. There’s something to be said for feeling that a place is special enough to justify large pride.

So when I saw this piece thumbing its nose at Texas on behalf of the rest of America, I got a little riled up. Texas ranks 37th in popularity among the states? THIRTY-SEVENTH?! What other state could you possibly like more than Texas – or feel strongly about at all? And then I read on:

However Texas is viewed, residents can take comfort in knowing Americans aren’t indifferent to its Lone Star. More than half of respondents answered “not sure” when asked about their opinions of most states. But only 29 percent were unsure whether they liked Texas — a credit to its distinct culture and style… [But] Texans can take heart: 25 million people can’t be wrong. Their state always will be the biggest as long as you’re not counting Alaska. It has lots of oil and presidents and a really big water park. And people like it more than New Jersey.

Well. That’s true.