I have come to New York for a few days to deliver a paper on family law at an academic conference. There is a wider spread of opinion about family issues than is common at conferences at home. I have not visited for a number of years, and so quite a few things about the city strike me afresh. In no particular order –
There are seats to be had on the subway trains, and they are air conditioned! although the stations themselves are decrepit. But I cannot fathom the bus system.
The streets are clean compared to London, and there are fewer beggars, buskers etc.
Food in the stores and in restaurants seems to be cheaper.
Jewish community buildings appear not to need the round-clock security prevalent in Europe, and the political/media antiIsrael obsession is absent.
The media are concerned with immigration, China, flood barriers and healthcare. Abortion is still a sharply divisive issue. Europe simply does not feature at all, save for the impression that the EU is a decaying institution, and the occasional kindly hope that the gangrene will not spread to the British limb. Surveillance is a big story here too, although the British interest is not mentioned. The point is made that when 9/11 happened, (and likewise the murder of Lee Rigby), the cry went up: did the intelligence authorities not know something about the killers? Why did they not do more to track them? You cannot have it both ways, say the US commentators, that is perfect privacy in an internet age, and also protection against potential terrorists.
Taxis charge about half the London rate, but theatre tickets are twice as much. There are too many ads and nothing worth watching on any of the tv channels.