Of top cities in the world, Pittsburgh is best US city at 29th, Vancouver the best

We didn’t realize that the US was such a terrible place to live until the Sydney Morning Herald reported it this morning. According to the Economist’s 2009 liveability survey, Pittsburgh is the most liveable city in the United States of America, ranked 29th in the world.

At the top of the list? Vancouver, Vienna, Melbourne,Toronto and Perth, giving Canada and Australia two of the top five cities in the world each. Dakar (Senegal,) Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Kathmandu (Nepal) were at the bottom of the 131 polled cities.

“Liveability” was ranked using a number of factors including stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

You can read the full report over at the Economist, although to read the entirety of the data you’ll need to pay the modest $250 fee.

[via the Sydney Morning Herald]

Let’s not complain about the price of gas here

In the US, gas still really isn’t that expensive. At least it doesn’t seem that way if you compare it to the prices in Asia (look at the chart to the right, published in The Economist a couple of weeks ago.)

The article talks about putting caps on fuel prices and argues that not only are price controls no long-term cure for inflation, but if domestic fuel prices are not allowed to rise in line with crude-oil prices, then motorists from Beijing to Bangalore will guzzle more oil. This, in turn, pushes global oil prices higher.

Let’s not even get into the prices of gas in Europe, shall we?

Audio guides for business travelers from The Economist

The fine folks at The Economist have created a series of audio guides for those doing business in unfamiliar cities.

They provide recommendations for getting around, accommodations and restaurants, as well as the finer points of doing business. Each guide is about 15 minutes long and you can listen to them at economist.com.

Here is a glimpse:

  • “Start running towards passport control as soon as you get off the plane”. (Tip for passengers landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport)
  • “Pack a sense of humor and a good sense of the ridiculous”. (To those traveling to Dubai)
  • “You can arrive on Sunday or Christmas Eve and still have business meetings. (On arriving in San Francisco)

Which Country Drinks the Most?

The Economist released a study on which countries drink the most, and guess which came in first? Luxembourg, the tiny, landlocked country nestled between France, Belgium and Germany. But why Luxembourg? “One explanation is that the duty on alcohol is relatively cheap in the tiny nation, encouraging booze tourism from its more heavily taxed neighbours.” There’s no explanation for Ireland being second, however. I guess they just drink a lot.

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Ireland
  3. Hungary
  4. Moldova
  5. Czech Republic

To see the rest of the list, visit The Economist. Related: Which country smokes the most?

Welcome Aboard, Enjoy Your Flight

This week’s Economist had a great short piece (sorry, subscription only online) where they quoted a fictitious, but factual, in-flight service announcement, from “Veritas Airways.” The idea was that those largely-ignored, repetitive, pre-take-off announcements–that we’ve all memorized like something from catechism class–were less than truthful. I happened to be reading it just as the flight attendant was demonstrating that ever-so useful ‘proper method’ for buckling my seat belt.

There were some gems. For example: “Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero.”

Luckily, we had not yet reached cruising altitude and the drink cart had not yet come around with the beverage service, or else I would have snorted the contents of my plastic cup of cola through my nose while reading the article. Fortunately, my squirming with laughter was probably enough to ward off deep-vein thrombosis–at least on that flight.