Monday, August 23, 2010

The Interesting Stuff Is Not in the Newspaper

More links to interesting things I've been reading lately:

Auckland Transport Blog has thorough discussions of public transport issues in Auckland, based on detailed examination of the relevant geography, economics and engineering. Some of it is pretty wonkish, and a bit detailed for those of us who don't live in Auckland, but this deconstruction of the argument that "Auckland is not densely populated enough for mass transit" is interesting (needs to be followed into the comments section). It seems that the belief that Auckland is one of the least densely populated cities in the world was generated by Kenneth Cumberland in the 1960s, who included large swathes of rural and wilderness land in the Auckland district to make the numbers look kind of right.

I'm also enjoying Reading the Maps, a multi-author blog covering New Zealand literature, art and history, among other things. The posts, and subsequent comments, which try to engage with John Ansell over the "Coastal Coalition" billboards and the attitudes that lie behind them, are particularly compelling.

Crooked Timber is another favourite: an enticing blend of philosophy, development studies and politics. An interesting recent post is about productivity and lifestyle differences between Europe and the US. It's an old and oft-rehearsed argument, but always interesting, with its mix of value judgements and technical arguments about the facts.

Last but not least, Terence Wood's blog Waylaid Dialectic is an excellent resource for anyone interested in development studies. It combines link-fests with incisive, open-minded reviews and incisive commentary about aid effectiveness, development economics and social justice. (Declaration of interest: Terence is a graduate from the VUW development studies programme, currently working on his PhD in Canberra).

PS: distractions are useful; it's good to keep learning things, and you can't work on your thesis the whole time.

1 comment:

terence said...