Flying Low

There are many wonderful things about the US. Its airports are not among them. As Joshua Gans mentioned recently (in wishfully-numbered post 787), America’s flying delays seem far worse than in Australia or Europe.

We’re presently flying back from Philly to Sydney, but due to some combination of bad weather and incompetent air traffic controllers on the east coast (our pilot was blaming both), we spent 2.5 hours on the tarmac in Philly, and didn’t make the connection. So United has checked us into a hotel in LA. This would be fine if it was just Gweneth and me travelling, but 5-month old Sebastian decided that four hours’ sleep was quite sufficient, so woke us up with his burbling just as dawn was breaking over LA.

Just before going to sleep last night, I turned on my Australian mobile phone to SMS my parents about when we’d be arriving in Australia. In the two minutes that my phone was on, I received a phonecall from the Today show, asking me to appear to talk about illegal street racing. I’m guessing that after this awful tragedy in St Mary’s, a Google search for people who’d written about street racing led them to this 1993 SMH article and this 1995 academic paper. I haven’t done any work on the topic in the past 12 years, but my guess is that the situation isn’t all that different from the early-90s: street racers are mostly mechanics, with very little involvement in other forms of crime. And any strategy to get them off the streets needs to involve making closed-course racetracks available to them on a regular basis.

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