Click image to enlarge; thanks to John Fleck, via Rabett Run, for this beautiful graphic. Of course it reminds you that the city’s water – Chinatown and all that – is coming from desert rivers that don’t flow quite like they used to.
Two densely populated countries in northwest Europe, with similar mild-if-dreary climates. The difference? Cycle infrastructure. It’s why “going Dutch” has become a motto for cycle advocates in Britain.
Who would benefit from going Dutch? From San Francisco to London (two cities I happen to pay attention to, for personal reasons), public concern about bicycle safety and infrastructure focuses on hardy adults, 18-60, at risk of being hit by motor vehicles – particularly trucks – when commuting. Sometimes we cycle commuters are not the most sympathetic lot, especially when pumped with adrenalin after a near-death experience on the road. For an excellent discussion of why quality cycle infrastructure is not about today’s cycle commuters but the much larger population of potential cyclists – disproportionately children and old people – see this post at AsEasyAsRidingABike. Continue reading
We went to Italy in the first half of August, partly to relax and see friends but mostly because Simona’s father had just died, and Leonardo needed to spend time with his nonna [grandmother]. Just before we went I read about a big mafia bust in Ostia, a town on the sea near Rome. Sicilian mafia families, it seems, pretty much run the streets in Ostia, wringing protection from businesses and controlling the allocation of beach umbrellas, as well as running guns, drugs and prostitutes. Things had been getting out of hand – somebody gunned down in the middle of Ostia, and too much mafia activity was moving into Rome itself – so some arrests were needed.
Simona’s mother was staying not far away, near the beach not far to the south-east of Ostia, north-west of Anzio. Simona and I hung around for a few days while Leonardo and Nonna settled into a new routine, without Nonno. After we paid for dinner one evening at a restaurant by the beach, I observed that Simona had not asked for a receipt, as she would have done in Rome. She’s always told me – I have never actually seen this happen – that the Guardia di Finanza might stop us as we came out of a restaurant and demand to see our receipt, to verify that our payment had been recorded for tax purposes. “There’s no need for a receipt here”, she said, “this is all mafia, all up and down this coast. The police Continue reading
- map from Eric Rodenbeck, writing (and mapping) in Wired. Thanks to Louis Suárez-Potts for the link.
For many, San Francisco’s transition from center of finance, trade and manufacturing to a new role as a suburb of the Silicon Valley (the latter comprising the ex-surburbs to its south), seems wrong – a vibrant, heterogeneous city gentrified, converted into a pretty place for techies to perch. It feels wrong to me, too, but at the same time it says something beautiful to me: Continue reading
Gravity-defying CEO pay is not a payment for talent. It’s not looting by the executives, either. It’s the outcome of principal-agent relationship in a market where new technologies combined with regulatory dereliction have created a lot of winner-take-all situations.
More of that, and a few links, below. But first, what prompts this Continue reading
Andrew Gelman links to this nice paper by Nosek, Spies and Motel, about an exciting “result” in psychological research: instead of rushing to publish, they scrupulously rushed to replicate, and the result disappeared. The fairy tale ending is that they got a nice publication from using this experience to tell us what we already know – that “significant” results obtained from small, ad hoc experimental samples are pretty much worthless. Continue reading
Congo, Lumumba, Mobutu… we all know the ending of this one, and appropriately the play is in a Brechtian mode: there are characters, but the tragedy is created by material interests – colonial mining interests (played by a chorus of puppets) and Cold War superpowers are Fates holding forth from opposing balconies. Character (flaws, virtues…) serves only to shape the roles the different people are given in the tragedy. With fine performances, singing, dancing, puppets and set, wonderfully in your face in the Young Vic. Continue reading