Dropping JV crime, new flights, Metro press, nanomedicine, and moreA few smaller and mid-sized items:
- A story on the dramatic one-third drop in juvenile crime since 1997. My theory: the rise and now ubiquity of the internet, cell phones, and video game consoles have got to be a big factor here. Youth don't get bored and cause mischief as much anymore - there's always something entertaining to do close at hand. Or with texting, IM and social networking, they're always informed of the latest social events to go join. While I don't think a continuous stream of novelty/entertainment/socializing is the ideal way to grow up, it's better than some of the darker alternatives like drugs and crime.
- A YouTube video visualization of planned improvements to the 290-610-10 interchange. They can't happen soon enough. Hat tip to Gonzalo. And here's a video on the plans for BW8 and 290, along with the new Hempstead Tollway.
- Some of my long-time readers probably know I'm also a bit of an aviation nerd, so I got pretty excited by the Continental announcements of new 787 service from IAH to both New Zealand and Nigeria in the fall of 2011 (once they get the planes). Nigeria is all about the oil industry, but New Zealand is all about the feed to and from Star Alliance partner hubs at each end: Air New Zealand to points all over NZ and Australia, and Continental to the eastern US, Latin America, and even Europe. The only other US service to Australia or New Zealand is from California, but Houston can offer a lot more connections than LA or SF can. I was a little disappointed Continental is not offering thru-service from IAH to Sydney with a stop in Auckland, but evidently it's a crew-rest issue (you'll be able to easily connect on Air New Zealand). I also understand that the schedules allow them to use just three 787s to provide a circulation of flights covering both destinations (usually it would require four, since each leg is over 12 hours). Anyway, all in all it's pretty cool and a nice feather-in-the-cap for Houston (take that, DFW!), as is this designation from the press release:
"With the addition of flights to Africa, Houston will become one of just four cities in the world - and the only city in the Western Hemisphere - to have nonstop service to every inhabited continent on the globe."
Well, that's if you assume New Zealand is part of the Australian continent, which is debatable, but I'll buy it. For the curious, the other three cities with similar service are Doha, Dubai, and Johannesburg.
- The Austin American-Statesman reports on Metro's problems and how they're factoring against Bill White in the governor's race. White was pretty hands-on early on in his administration, and I was a big fan when he converted some of the planned lines to cheaper BRT (which were unfortunately later switched back to LRT), but then it didn't seem to be high on his priority list after that. The Houston Press also has a cover story on the "Train Wreck" at Metro, although there may be some errors of fact (see the comments).
- A story on Houston's rapidly developing Nanomedicine industry (hat tip to Justin). Excerpts:
"I can see in Houston the nanomedicine industry developing like Silicon Valley," said Mauro Ferrari, chairman of the Department of Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "I think it’s a big opportunity for the city and the state, and it’s developing at a good pace."
In the 3½ years Ferrari has been conducting research in Houston, his lab has brought in close to $70 million in funding.
"By the summer, my department will have brought in over $100 million," he said. "Those are unprecedented numbers. That speaks to the growth of nanomedicine and that Houston has excellence in research in nanomedicine and excellence on the clinical side."
"If you put together the numbers for my department, plus these 170 faculty in the alliance, you have by far the largest collection in the world of nanomedicine expertise, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars in funding coming in," Ferrari said. "Nanomedicine is an area that has an unbelievable economic impact, and to be leaders in this high-growth field has a huge impact on Houston and on Texas."
Houston’s position as a hub for nanomedical research has also spawned a number of startup spinoffs in the private sector, including Leonardo Biosystems, with which Ferrari is affiliated. The company is developing a technique to deliver drugs that would fight refractory breast cancer.The Texas Medical Center continues to grow and provide great high-tech diversification from energy, space, and the port for the Houston economy.
Finally, I've mentioned before that I also have a companion blog at the Chronicle called Opportunity Urbanist. Some of you may be interested in a new series I've started running over there on Friday afternoons where I re-post (and occasionally update) highlight posts from the archives at Houston Strategies. I've started at the beginning in mid-2005, and am moving forward from there. You'd be amazed how many readers front page placement on Chron.com can bring in...