A Rare Thos. Friedman Moment

So I was listening to a taxi driver yesterday and this morning, about other taxi drivers. People with cars complain about the traffic in Tbilisi, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. For the capital of a medium-income country, a capital that moreover accounts for upwards of two-thirds of the country’s economic activity, getting across town doesn’t take as much time as one would think. A vigorous campaign of minor physical improvements over the last year has also partly curbed some of the bad habits that used to cause bigger backups. Better infrastructure and easy availability of alternatives make for fewer cars on the roads.

Public transport isn’t bad, but the key components of transport in Tbilisi are the shared taxis, known locally as marshrutki. Continue reading

Who’s Next?

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigns as Germany’s defense minister, regrets heeding career advice from Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky

Helen Pidd of the Guardian writes that the now ex-minister was widely tipped as a future chancellor, but I can’t imagine who was doing the tipping. Bavarians don’t get elected chancellor in Germany: a career at the federal level in Berlin (and previously in Bonn ) takes them too far away from the maneuvering needed to put or keep them atop the CSU, while a stint as Minister-President of Bavaria takes them too far away from Germany’s mainstream to get elected chancellor.