5th June 2004
New York is composed of five "boroughs" which are Manhattan, The
Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Manhattan is the heart of NY,
although the heart is spilling over into Brooklyn. The
island of Manhattan is about half the area of San Francisco, maybe 2
perhaps 12 miles long. Running along the length of the island are
broad Avenues, numbered from 1 to 12 (on the West) with a few
intervening, unsequential streets. Mostly the streets form an
orthogonal grid, except in the south. At the bottom (South, below
14th street) the
street names are disorganized, but from about two miles from the bottom
they are numbered from the south, and the lots are numbered either East
or West of 5th Avenue. Central Park is
about half a mile wide, and a couple of miles high. It lies
between 59th and
110th streets, and between 5th and 8th Avenues. Unlike many
cities in the US, the building lots are numbered sequentially. (as in
most Australian cities, not numbered by the block.)
The ambience of Manhattan, like that in most US cities, was more
varied than I had anticipated. Like San Francisco, the city is
compressed. As you walk from
one district to another there is little difficulty in determining which
district you are in.
Like San Francisco and LA and Sydney it has panhandlers (bludgers) and
homeless (derros), and hucksters (street salesmen). It is dirty
and expensive and has an excitement and an energy in the air.
Perhaps that explains why New York is one of the great cities of the
(according to New Yorkers it is the Greatest city in the world.)
Everyone had warned me about the parking, but NY parking seemed no
worse than Boston or inner Sydney. Metered spaces are always
for charges of 25c for 10 or 12 or 15 minutes, with a
usual maximum stay of an hour. (A fair bit less expensive than in
where the charges under Mayor Sartor got up to $6/hour).
lots of unmetered parking spaces located in and around the residential
areas, but of course they are nearly always occupied. Every car
York must be moved at least twice a week. The city sends cleaning
machines along each street, and notices advise (e.g. "No Standing
9:00AM - 10:30AM Monday & Thursday") that cars must be moved for
street cleaning. While walking around after a "cleaning event" I
noticed that the residents seem to co-operate in reserving spaces for
each other after street cleaning.
traffic in NY was no worse than that in Parramatta Road during rush
hour. (Of course the problem is slightly exacerbated by the fact
that everybody drives on the wrong side of the road).
are everywhere, and drive as aggressively as any in Sydney.
people put Sydney people to shame when it comes to obeying
traffic laws. Both cars (especially taxis) and pedestrians treat
traffic lights as "advisory" rather than "control" devices. If
there is no car threatening, or if gridlock exists, about 80% of
pedestrians will cross
against a red light. I regularly have to dodge taxis and cars
that cross red lights against a "walk" sign. Not that they are
rude about it, they wait for me to cross, but make it clear that the
red light is no disincentive. And the police? They seem
(rather like Sydney coppers most of the time) determined to ignore the
Broadway is New York.
Broadway is the backbone
of New York. One end is at the bottom of Manhattan Island.
It meanders its way north from there, crossing and recrossing most of
the streets & avenues in a promiscuous manner, spawning block sized
parks and "Squares" at major intersections until it reaches the top of
Manhattan island, where it crosses into "The Bronx".
In Sydney, the most
expensive properties are near the water. In NY, expense seems to
related to distance from Broadway. The river (with apologies to
sensibilities) is not a great view.
Broadway is the voice of New York. Shows (theatre) are either
"on Broadway" or "off Broadway" (although there is a third option, they
could be on "old broadway"). Squares along Broadway are
named after Newspapers. (Times, Herald).
Broadway has a social status is like that of showpeople, it has no
intrinsic status, but it is at ease in all strata. Above the business
district are the civic center, the ethnic & restaurant districts of
Chinatown and Little Italy. Above those are the Gay &
east & Greenwich "villages", the Yuppie Chelsea, the establishment
Upper West side, leading to the predominantly Afro-American Harlem.
Broadway is the wallet of New York. In the south it passes
heart of the financial district, where it links with Wall Street.
the major banks are on Wall Street. Higher up, it passes through the
commercial district and the fashion district, those incredible engines
The sorry saga at Telstra continues, as Ziggy struggles in a position
which was never within his capabilities. Of course it would have
required an outstanding technocrat to bring Telstra into the 21st
century anyhow, as is illustrated by similar difficulties facing the
baby bells in the USA.
The story started about three decades ago, when the US government
decided to strip the Bell Telephone company, which was at the time the
largest company in the world, of its quasi-governmental monopoly
status. To give the process momentum, it ordered Bell to split
itself into several organizations. The research division went one
way, and eventually became Lucent. Other splinters became
Southwest Bell etc. Except for Lucent, the baby bells owned a
local (copper) loop, and thus a gold mine. Governments have been
unable to successfully regulate access to the local loop.
Of course it should have been predictable, (and it probably was
predicted by everybody important except the technology forecasters of
the telcos and the fund managers) but technology has begun to supercede
the copper. And guess who didn't cover their arse?
In the US the cable companies have begun to offer teleco
services. The baby bells are desperately buying and selling
different technology corporations which they hope will maintain their
monopoly, something like new Lego blocks, in an attempt to find the
solution to their waning markets. Verizon appears to be having
some success, but is probably also doomed. The trouble is, the
cost of cellular phones is dropping so rapidly, and the cost of copper
is rising so rapidly, that the process of switching over can only
I have no sympathy for Ziggy and the telcos. We did tell you
so. We complained bitterly about your exhorbitant charges.
You were (and still are) milking the customers too hard. As you
make savings due to technology, you must give those savings back to
your customers, not raise the prices (because the service is now
better) and increase the returns to shareholders. Now we have one
of the most expensive data networks in the world, (well except for
Europe, Asia, Africa, South America...). The point is, in the USA
I have a wireless connection (with T-Mobile) that connects me to the
internet at any Starbucks store, or Kinko or Borders bookshop. It
costs me US$30 a month, with no setup fee, has no limit on data
downloads, and has an access rate of 11 Mega Bits per second.
Equivalent accounts over cable cost as low as $15 per month. I am
very glad I am not a Telstra shareholder any longer, and I wish Johnny
would hurry up and sell of my share of Telstra (The 51% still held by
the Federal Government.) Because I suspect that within five
years, the total value of Telstra will be the scrap value of the copper
in the ground, and the value of any real estate, together with the
unfunded super liability. And that equation could turn out to be
THE INDIAN ELECTION -
It is a sorry matter for a direct democracy libertarian like myself to
confess, but my fellow man (and woman) seem to want a leader in whom
they can place their trust to govern them. Probably this is an
evolutionary hangover, from the time when tribal decisions were
autocratically made by the tribal chief or medicine man.
The Indians on the Asian subcontinent seem to be developing a new
version of democracy. They appear to be developing an uncrowned
royal family, which is the family of Ghandi. The uncrowned Queen
Sonia Ghandi is not taking an active part in government, but has, like
the British Queen Elizabeth II, given the imprimatur of approval to the
people who will form a government. Perhaps the reluctance of
Queen Sonia to take a direct part in government is because she was born
Italian and is a Ghandi by consort. However the people of India
seem happy to accept her.
The great problem with elected leaders is that they nearly all feel
bound to "do something" to justify their election. It seems that
they must start a war, or enact a social program, or enlarge the public
service, or whatever. What we the people really want is a leader
who does nothing. (As distinct from newshounds, which always want
something to report.). Lower level functionaries can enact the
laws that keep government operational. Our leaders should just
preside, and DO NOTHING.