Last night I got stood up at the movies. Not that I mind -- I've actually gotten used to going to movies by myself since I am (a) a movie lover, (b) a night person (c) the father of young kids and (d) married to a morning person -- but I felt bad for Justin whose meeting ran a little to late to make the late show. Something about some zoning rule regarding tree pruning or hydrant maintenance or some such thing.... I'm thinking he just didn't want to see Elysium, which was okay but far from amazing. There's been a dirth of good movies the past few weeks. Let me know if you have an obscure recommendation I've missed.
Enjoy the week's news.
- I'm not sure who Global Site Plans is and why a list put together by them should matter (sorry dudes), but nonetheless, if their plan was to get me to share their ranking and thus drive up their hit count, well here we go. The site ranked Strong Towns #10 in their top twenty list of "city builder" websites, which is pretty nice considering the top nine. Our friend Clarence at Streetfilms was ranked #9 which puts us in good company.
- Last Friday I did a radio interview for a show called the Outspoken Cyclist. It was a fun interview and things turned out pretty well so here's the link.
- The latest edition of the Minnesota Journal by the Citizen's League was released this week. Nate Hood pointed out to me that the article I wrote on the Next Generation DOT was featured on page 11. It's kind of fun, and a little surreal, to watch my writing end up in places where I know people are reading it.
- Speaking of readership..... I really have to say thank you to all of you, especially you Friday News Digest readers (you guys are here rain or shine). Last month was our biggest month ever with double the unique readers from a year ago. And a year ago was pretty impressive as it was. Thank you so much.
- It is sad that it took me to the fifth bullet point to mention that we almost lost Andrew Burleson this week. Well, almost lost might be a stretch, but a plane hitting a bird and then emergency landing is nothing to laugh about (at least until the next day). I can't say how glad I am that you're still with us, Andrew.
None of the 124 passengers and 5 crew members were injured.
"Then we clapped. Everyone clapped. It was an uproar. It was a beautiful thing. We landed and were safe and it was a huge relief," she said.
Shackleton called it "a roar of applause."
"I high-fived the guy next to me over his crying girlfriend," he said.
- This editorial gave me hope. Please copy/paste/sign and send to your local paper.
How long will this generation keep adding to the bill future generations in Northeast Ohio will be stuck with paying to repair and replace the infrastructure we create in our unabated push outward from the urban core?
It is the height of selfishness — and, might we add, stupidity — to ignore the long-term economic and financial consequences of the decisions we make today about where to build our roads, bridges and sewers. Those who act as though there is no cost to those decisions display astounding levels of shortsightedness and foolishness.
- This also gave me hope. If they can do it in Kansas City, they can do it anywhere. And they CAN do it in Kansas City. If you have a few bucks to make this happen, it is a worthy cause.
- Earlier this week, I reacted to the headline and lead of this article (We’re building a billion-dollar downtown bridge, then incentivizing drivers not to use it) by saying it was akin to throwing taxpayer money out the window and then charging people to pick it up. As I dug deeper into the article now I realize that this is actually a great discussion on the Projections Fallacy and how, if we ask the right questions (and finance people are starting to ask the right questions when it comes to muni bonds), then little we do involving local government infrastructure makes much sense.
They did a preliminary toll study three years ago. What (the final toll study) seems to indicate, and obviously we should ask to know more, is that the total demand for bridges in this community instead of going up by 100 percent, as they claimed the need was to justify two bridges …. it appears the expectation now is, it’s only going to increase by 20 percent over the next 17 years.
Not only that, they seem to indicate there will be less demand for the I-65 corridor downtown by an enormous amount than there is today. That’s in the study. It says today there are 122,000 cars per day that use the downtown bridge … the Kennedy Bridge and Spaghetti Junction. After we spend $1 billion downtown to rebuild the junction and build a new bridge, the expectation is, 17 years from now, there will 82,000 cars a day going across the Kennedy.
- Economist Ronald Coase died this week at age 102. He actually wasn't an economist, which is likely why his insights were so important. The Coase Theorem -- which the man himself grew to dislike due to what others did with it -- is brilliant at its essence. That he was actually able to be stimulating and engaging just a year ago on one of my favorite podcasts is amazing. We've lost a great man.
While teaching at Virginia, Professor Coase submitted his essay about the F.C.C. to The Journal of Law and Economics, a new periodical at the University of Chicago. The astonished faculty there wondered, according to one of their number, George J. Stigler, “how so fine an economist could make such an obvious mistake.” They invited Professor Coase to dine at the home of Aaron Director, the founder of the journal, and explain his views to a group that included Milton Friedman and several other Nobel laureates-to-be.
“In the course of two hours of argument, the vote went from 20 against and one for Coase, to 21 for Coase,” Professor Stigler later wrote. “What an exhilarating event! I lamented afterward that we had not had the clairvoyance to tape it.” Professor Coase was asked to expand on the ideas in that essay for the journal. The result was “The Problem of Social Cost.”
- Today payroll numbers are released, another statistic in a string of coarse data being used to do economic surgery with a machete. The markets are taking seriously the talk of tapering, so much so that the 10-year treasury yield is nearing the "magic" 3% number. Well, "magic" here is a euphemism for "not seen in a while". We may experience 3% a few more times -- heading down and up -- before we reach anything like an equilibrium.
"You are seeing a normalization in the economy so you should see a normalization in rates," said Craig Elder, fixed income strategist at Baird Private Wealth Management in Milwaukee.
Elder and other analysts say the 10-year yield could break above 3 percent if an August payrolls report, due Friday, adds support for a Fed pullback on the bank's $85 billion per month in buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
- Last week I made fun of a gentleman out of the UK named Mr. Pickles who was upset with anti-parking dogma. I was apparently wrong in my assumption that there couldn't possibly be anyone named Mr. Pickles not employed by a children's network. My apologies to Mr. Pickles.
Meanwhile, Eric Pickles has been making waves by criticising 'anti-car' Cambridge for prioritising the choices of 'the elite'. Manifietso counters that at least Cambridge offers a choice - while Cambridge Cyclists wonders if Pickles is talking about the same Cambridge he cycles as he's not seeing much prioritising of the bike. As Easy As Riding a Bike points out Pickles misses the real clutter on our streets, the LCC thinks he should look to what really regenerates town centres, Pedestrian Liberation points outnot even the motoring lobby agrees with him - and even Richard Branson would prefer to see more filtered permeability. If only we didn't have such a scientifically illiterate government, then we might get politicians who recognise you shouldn't destroy your tax base to keep on accommodating traffic.
- Many of you sent me this link describing a 9+ day traffic jam in China. A few of you asked what they should do. Isn't it obvious? They just need to add another lane.
- And finally, I laughed out loud with this list of the 29 Most Minnesotan things. Number 9 is for you, Andrew Howard.
Take care, everyone, and enjoy your weekend. See you back here Monday morning when I let you know how my hometown is working feverishly to have a plan in place by 2016 for how to proceed with biking and walking facilities. Oh yes, we're serious now.