Thursday, July 24, 2008

UH Tier 1 Flagship, rankings, plans, fans, and more

According to the Chronicle today, seven different universities are going to pitch the legislature on being elevated to Tier 1 research university funding status at the same level as UT-Austin and TAMU (extra $70m a year). They may choose one or two, but it's unlikely to be more than that. According to this paper, UH and Texas Tech are the most obvious candidates, with the highest annual research spending. My own thinking is that UH should be able to pull it out *if* they get strong unity of Houston-area legislators. DFW's legislators will be splitting their support between UT-Dallas, UT-Arlington, and the University of North Texas, while San Antonio (UT), El Paso (UT), and Lubbock (Tech) all have relatively small populations and therefore fewer representatives. With top research spending, some strong departments, unified legislative and community support, a good growth plan, and excellent new leadership, UH should be able to win the beauty contest. Good luck. Kuff has more.

Moving on to some smaller misc items for your weekend reading:

"Houston is interspersed with old and new areas, wealthy and poorer neighborhoods, low and high density housing and we can’t even hear the screams of people complaining about a Lowe’s store being constructed next to a residential neighborhood. Imagine that.

Houston grows because businesses can flourish there with little interference by government. If you and I wanted to begin a construction project of winding, tree-lined streets and comfortable homes, we could walk into the building permit section, acquire our permits and begin construction today — just as it should be.

Oddly, there are many people who have served on the City Council who believe the city government has the best answer of what the homes should look like, how tall they should be, how best to construct them and where the building should be placed on the parcel of land. It’s like a giant Sim City computer game played by bureaucrats with other people’s money.

What a great scam."

Finally, a minor item that made me smile recently. I was watching the Universal HD channel on cable, and they started running a promotional commercial for the movies they're showing this month. Each movie got two clips totaling a few seconds, starting with the text "Life is better with..." over the first clip, and then some answer over the second clip relevant to that movie. I instantly recognized the traumatic explosion clip from "Apollo 13" when they started it, saying "Life is better with...". Can you guess the answer in the second clip? A shot of frenetic activity at NASA mission control:
"Life is better with... Houston."

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At 8:05 PM, July 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think every major city in Texas should have a university recieving Tier 1 funding so give it to


Dallas is tricky since it has multiple public universities to choose from.

But the university system in Texas is pretty messed up. When I graduated as a Civil at UH three years ago we did not have an undergrad petroleum engineering program, although the mechEs did have an elective class available. The state will not allow the oil capital of the world to have a pet eng program because then it would be competing against UT and A&M. And then the state wouldnt let UH open a northwest houston campus because SHSU and Prairie View complained.

At 9:07 PM, July 24, 2008, Blogger Michael said...

As to the point on cities versus suburbs and social alienation, you should read the other post which attempts to refute this at Planetizen.

Cities were actually found to be slightly more social overall than less dense areas, but the assumption was made that cities tend to attract more gregarious people, and this self-selecting bias needed to be taken care of. That makes for hardly very convincing evidence that the suburbs are more social.

The bottom line is, in real life cities are the more social places. I don't really care if that is because more social people self-select to live in them or not.

From the article:
"Brueckner and Largey use an instrumental-variables (IV) estimation to put numbers on what they call an "unobservable propensity," the tendency of gregarious people to locate in cities. IV estimation is used to correct for what the authors assume is the self-selection bias of people who want to live close to their neighbors."

And my favorite:

"Brueckner and Largey conclude that someone who is looking for a richer social life would do better to move to a cul-de-sac on a one- to two-acre lot. That cul-de-sac is populated by introverts, according to their own formula. That's a parody of social science at its most ridiculous."

At 5:13 PM, July 25, 2008, Blogger Brian Phillips said...

While many major cities are watching their economies struggle, Houston serves as a shining example of freedom. Yet our "wise" leaders want to force more government planning upon us.

At 1:50 AM, July 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Houston2020 World Expo bid is old news. If anything it is more of a ghost bid by some Houston booster fanatic--the site hasn't been updated in months and though I have no sources to cite, I believe the last semi-official mention of this idea was in the Chronicle after Houston's short-lived 2016 Olympics bid.


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