The secret of a happy life, TEDxHou, 4% transit, Metro, TX boom, and moreGotta open this week's post with a big announcement: I'm now in the official speaker lineup for TEDx Houston Saturday June 11th at the University of Houston. The official title of my presentation will be "Changing the Future of Cities, Organizations, and Education: What is Social Systems Architecture and why does it matter?" The bulk of the presentation will be about cities, including Opportunity Urbanism and the right commuter transit solution for Houston. Hope to see you there.
Now to some smaller misc items this week. They've seriously backlogged in the last month, so I'll have to spread 'em over at least a couple of posts and probably more.
- I've been noting for a long time that trains - especially high-speed ones - are much more vulnerable to terrorism than planes or buses because of the hundreds of miles of essentially unprotectable track - a task on par with patrolling our border with Mexico. A well-timed rail explosion or cut can easily kill hundreds. Well, it turns out the terrorists are thinking along the same lines, based on materials found in bin Laden's home.
- NYT on the new oil shale boom riding in on the heels of the gas shale boom and how transformative it could be for the Texas and national economies. Excerpts:
...the economic benefits of pumping previously inaccessible oil from fields that could collectively hold two or three times as much oil as Prudhoe Bay, the Alaskan field that was the last great onshore discovery. The companies estimate that the boom will create more than two million new jobs, directly or indirectly, and bring tens of billions of dollars to the states where the fields are located, which include traditional oil sites like Texas and Oklahoma, industrial stalwarts like Ohio and Michigan and even farm states like Kansas.
“It’s the one thing we have seen in our adult lives that could take us away from imported oil,” said Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, one of the most aggressive drillers. “What if we have found three of the world’s biggest oil fields in the last three years right here in the U.S.? How transformative could that be for the U.S. economy?”
- Why transit is stuck at the 4% solution and can't get much better. Bottom line: it just takes far too long to get people where they want to go - cars get people there far quicker, even at the worst of rush hour.
- In case you missed it: Bill King's excellent op-ed on how Houston Metro is beating Dallas DART by investing in cheap, flexible buses instead of expensive, inflexible rail. Based on a new Brookings study.
- Metro's financial forecast is getting bleak. When will reality get acknowledged and the rail plan re-thought instead of plowing forward zombie-like chanting "The 2003 referendum is making us do it"?
- "What Texas can teach us" in the Washington Examiner. Mainly focused on comparative economics and business friendliness. Hat tip to Joel. Great excerpt:
"The lesson of the previous decade seems clear: if you take a previously prosperous and creative state (CA) and subject it to high taxes and intrusive regulations, it loses 5% of its private sector jobs; if you take a previously somewhat less prosperous and creative state and govern it with low taxes and light regulation, it gains 9% more jobs, even as the nation’s economy is suffering."