Catallaxy Files

polymathic pontification, bleeding heart economic rationalism and liberal secularist contrarianism

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    Wednesday, March 24, 2004
    Thanks a lot to blog host c8to Catallaxy now has a new, more reader friendly set up. Please redirect your links to
    Criminal Carlton

    I can't think of anywhere I'd rather live than Carlton, but its rough edge survives alongside the latte-sipping types (like me) who have moved in over the last 30 years. I've been in my current apartment for four years, and on average there has been a crime nearby involving shooting once a year. The latest was yesterday's underworld killing.

    Except possibly for a drive-by shooting at a Brunswick St restaurant, though, none of these crimes have been random assaults, the crimes that really create fear among residents. Yesterday's killing made part of my normal route home a crime scene, but apart from adding 5 minutes to my walk it will have no negative repercussions for me. Indeed, with one of Melbourne's nastiest criminals dead and another in custody (perhaps what happens when you shoot someone about 2 minutes drive from a police station) this seems like a good result for those of us whose lawbreaking doesn't extend beyond getting back to the car after the meter expired.

    Carlton wasn't always as safe as it is now. I've been dipping into an advance copy of an excellent new history of the suburb, and not so long ago much of it was a dangerous slum. The notorious 1920s criminal Squizzy Taylor was shot dead just up the street from where I now live (in another crime, the site is now an ugly block of flats). The age and size of the police station suggests that law enforcement has long been a big local industry.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2004
    Calling c8to a.k.a. Vogelsang
    I don't know what your current email address is but I'd like to discuss the possibility of moving this site over to Moveable Type. I'm happy to offer appropriate compensation for your efforts. email me or reply in the comments box.

    Monday, March 22, 2004
    An Australian Atlantic Monthly?

    An article in Saturday's Age profiled Melbourne property developer Morry Schwartz (article not on-line), the man with the money behind the patchy Quarterly Essay series. The profile reported that later this year Schwartz plans to start an Australian version of The Atlantic Monthly.

    I'd be delighted if such a project could work. But I doubt it will. Australian publishing is littered with the ruins of previous such attempts, The Eye and The Independent Monthly being the latest two to crash. There aren't enough writers or readers to make it work. Partly this is a vicious cycle. There aren't enough readers because the magazines don't have the must-read quality of their American models, but the Australian imitators never get to that quality because they fail through lack of readers before the pool of writers able to write long, intelligent articles for a lay audience can be developed.

    Though the blogs offer quite a different kind of reading experience to Atlantic Monthly type magazines - short, sharp comment, often based on first impressions - they do compete for the scarce time of people who are interested in this kind of thing. So they will probably make life more difficult for Schwartz's magazine. On the other hand, if it is any good they'll speed the positive word-of-mouth.

    My early prediction: it will be gone in less than twelve months.
    A captive audience

    Taking a taxi during a weekend in Canberra I got the driver to stop briefly at the National Library, so I could take a quick look at a book on public goods and private wants. Canberra taxi drivers are often quite educated, and mine asked me what I had been looking at and why. I explained that I was writing a paper on economic reform and public opinion.

    "I had a famous professor in the car who'd written a book about something like that" he said, " a guy with strange mannerisms."

    "Michael Pusey?" I replied.

    "That's him. He gave me a copy of a lecture he had given at the Senate. He couldn't stop talking. I never read it.'

    Taxi drivers would be a more than usually sympathetic audience for Pusey. After all, they are protected from competition and charge high prices. But isn't it pathetic that Pusey cannot even take a taxi to the airport without boring people with his political views?




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