Tom Tom congestion index, Sydney
  1. For the next three days only, the University of Chicago Press is offering a free download of Neil Sternberg’s exploration of America’s second city, You were never in Chicago. I haven’t read it but the late Roger Ebert was enthusiastic “In this wonderful book, Steinberg weaves a poetic mosaic of his life and the life of Chicago — past, present, real, imagined….He lives in Chicago and Chicago lives in him.” Go here to download it, but you’ll have to be quick.
  2. There’s an old aphorism often cited when talking about statistics: “liars figure and figures lie”. Husband and wife economists Betsey Stevenson and (Aussie) Justin Wolfers offer six rules to separate lies from dross in statistics.
  3. If all the underground metros approved by central officials in China were built, the total cost of construction could exceed $1 trillion (never mind operating cost). According to this report in the China edition of The Economist, A continued infrastructure boom: going underground, 38 cities will have at least one line by the end of the decade, totalling more than 6,200 km of track (London has nearly 400 km). “Many of the underground systems are needed, but some are being built in cities that are too small to justify the exorbitant expense”.
  4. Social capital’s a wonderful thing, but it’s also the glue that makes the mafia such a formidable force. As Andrew Leigh says in this talk to the Australia Institute, Osama Bin Laden wouldn’t have been so successful if he hadn’t had friends! And Chris Bradford looks at The dark side of social capital – it facilitates NIMBYism! In some countries, consanguinity (cousin marriage) binds extended families but is toxic for democratic nation-building.
  5. 1993 vs 2013 – Side by side photos show just how awesome personal technology has gotten in only 20 years.
  6. The Top 10 happiest cities in the world. Rio de Janeiro is No. 1. I’d take it with a grain of salt but Sydney is No. 2 and Melbourne is No. 5. What’s left to list?
  7. The New Yorker on Inequality and New York’s subway. Excellent infographic here.
  8. The Tom Tom traffic congestion index for North America, Europe, Africa and Australia/NZ. Australia’s most congested cities are Sydney and Perth. Sydney’s 24/7 score is 33, the same as North America’s most congested city, Los Angeles (33). Both are well behind Moscow (66). Sydney’s AM peak congestion level though is higher than LA’s (70 vs 56). However need to be careful with the Tom Tom index – it’s a ratio, so the more off-peak congestion there is relative to peak congestion, the lower the score.
  9. Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman endorses ‘weighted density’ (I discussed this concept a couple of years ago, Does density matter for mode share?)
  10. Medium density housing in China. “A bunch of brand-new prisons without space or privacy…China is turning into a desperate nightmare. Wherever you go, you see the same thing.”